Thursday, September 9


Red Scare, Updated:

The problem with Cheney's assertion about terrorism is that it makes no sense. Nothing in John Kerry's record, and certainly nothing the senator has said recently, suggests he would be any less tough on terrorism than George Bush. There is ample evidence to suggest, however, that he would not have gone off half-cocked into Iraq before finishing the job in Afghanistan. Opening up a supposed second front has not made the United States any safer. Hussein is in jail, but bin Laden is not and terrorists are striking all over the world. Under the gallant leadership of President Bush, the Marines hit the wrong beach.

The other night on the Jim Lehrer "NewsHour," former secretary of state Madeleine Albright called Iraq a mess and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger said it wasn't -- and then proceeded to describe a mess. At the moment, the United States has lost more than 1,000 service members, and whole hunks of that country are under the control of one militia or another. The situation has deteriorated so much that when Kerry promised he would try to get U.S. troops out of the country within four years, neither Bush nor Cheney quibbled. Four years? But this was supposed to be a liberation. Did we somehow miss the parades, the inauguration of Ahmed Chalabi, Martha Stewart re-creating the hanging gardens of Babylon? (A hanging garden is a good thing.)

Sorry, Henry, Iraq is a mess. And Cheney is one of the chief architects of that mess -- pride of place after Bush himself. But rather than answer for what they have done, they both prefer to resort to odious scare tactics, an updated version of the old soft-on-communism charge. Even before McCarthy, this was standard stuff in politics. As Cheney knows, when you don't have any answers, it's best not to have any shame, either.


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