A Kerry Presidency Wouldn’t Make The Democrats Get Serious About Security
I don’t normally read Andrew Sullivan anymore unless I want to see what the other side is doing, but Sully has finally “officially” endorsed Kerry. Sure, once Bush came out for a Constitutional Amendment to protect marriage everyone knew which way Sullivan would go and for all intents and purposes Sully endorsed Kerry back in July, but let’s not quibble over small matters.
In any case, since one ludicrous part of Sully’s endorsement is getting some noteworthy play, I thought it would be worth responding to Sullivan’s incoherent argument about Kerry, Democrats, and the war on terror. Here’s Sullivan making his case…
“Does Kerry believe in this war? Skeptics say he doesn’t. They don’t believe he has understood the significance of September 11. They rightly point to the antiwar and anti-Western attitudes of some in his base–the Michael Moores and Noam Chomskys who will celebrate a Kerry victory. I understand their worries. But they should listen to what Kerry has said. The convention was a remarkable event in that it pivoted the Democratic Party toward an uncomplicated embrace of the war on terror. Kerry has said again and again that he will not hesitate to defend this country and go on the offensive against Al Qaeda. I see no reason whatsoever why he shouldn’t. What is there to gain from failure in this task? He knows that if he lets his guard down and if terrorists strike or succeed anywhere, he runs the risk of discrediting the Democrats as a party of national security for a generation. He has said quite clearly that he will not “cut and run” in Iraq. And the truth is: He cannot. There is no alternative to seeing the war through in Iraq. And Kerry’s new mandate and fresh administration will increase the options available to us for winning. He has every incentive to be tough enough but far more leeway to be flexible than the incumbent.
Besides, the Democratic Party needs to be forced to take responsibility for the security of the country that is as much theirs as anyone’s. The greatest weakness of the war effort so far has been the way it has become a partisan affair. This is the fault of both sides: the Rove-like opportunists on the right and the Moore-like haters on the left. But in wartime, a president bears the greater responsibility for keeping the country united. And this president has fundamentally failed in this respect. I want this war to be as bipartisan as the cold war, to bring both parties to the supreme task in front of us, to offer differing tactics and arguments and personnel in pursuit of the same cause. This is not, should not be, and one day cannot be, Bush’s war. And the more it is, the more America loses, and our enemies gain.”
This is just a bizarre argument for so many reasons, but one line that Sullivan wrote in particular stands out,
“I want this war to be as bipartisan as the cold war, to bring both parties to the supreme task in front of us, to offer differing tactics and arguments and personnel in pursuit of the same cause.”
Did Sullivan just step out of a time machine? The Cold War ceased to be a “bipartisan effort” (if it ever truly was) about the time George McGovern ran against Nixon. Hell, John Kerry himself met with the representatives of the Vietcong, opposed Reagan’s military build-up, wanted to coddle the Sandinistas, thought Reagan was wrong to invade Grenada, and called Reagan’s presidency a “moral darkness”. Conservatives — like Ronald Reagan — did whatever it took to beat the Soviets while liberals — like John Kerry — opposed them at every turn. On what planet is that considered “bipartisanship”? The left in this country has practically been dead weight on national security issues — including the Cold War– for more than 30 years now.
And that’s the problem with the idea that “the Democratic Party needs to be forced to take responsibility for the security of the country”. Their record over the last three decades or so (at least) shows they’re not willing to take that responsibility seriously.
John Kerry is a dovish liberal who has worked to weaken the military and our intelligence services during his Senate career, wasn’t a “Cold Warrior,” didn’t support the invasion of Grenada, the Gulf War, or the invasion of Iraq, and opposed funding our troops in Iraq. To expect a man like Kerry to turn into Scoop Jackson once he gets into office is nutty.
It’s like taking a gazelle, putting it into a cage where the only food is small animals, and expecting it to turn into a carnivore because meat is the only thing it has to eat. Well, the gazelle is probably going to starve to death because it’s not its nature to eat meat. The same principle applies to anti-war liberals like John Kerry. He’s not going to turn into a hawk just because the situation requires it. Instead, we’re going to get BOMBED while he twiddles his thumbs at the UN.
Furthermore, Sullivan is totally wrong about this,
“There is no alternative to seeing the war through in Iraq.”
Sure there’s an alternative. It’s called “cutting and running” and in one form or fashion it’s what Kerry would likely do in Iraq.
Let me tell you why I say that.
For his entire campaign against President Bush, Kerry has been making grand promises about Iraq. His pitch to the American people has in essence been,
“Everything George Bush is doing in Iraq is wrong, but I can fix it! And how will I do that? My plan is to do what George Bush has been doing, but better! Just wait until I get the French, the Germans, NATO, and the UN involved. Boy howdy, everything will be great then! I’ll get allies to do the fighting and dying while we bring the troops home. Yes, with John Kerry running the show, it’ll be all rainbows, sugar cookies, puppy dog tails, and fluffy kittens in Iraq!”
But once Kerry gets into office, he’s going to get a dose of ugly reality.
All those allies he’s promising aren’t going to materialize or their contributions will be minimal. Moreover, the allies we already have will start to look for a way out since they can’t count on “Mr. Wrong War, Wrong Place, Wrong Time” to hang in there.
The “insurgents” will probably RAMP UP their attacks as well. Everyone knows Kerry may bug out of Iraq. That’s a morale builder for the enemy. It gives them hope and a reason to keep killing that they wouldn’t have if George Bush were in office. Outlasting Bush? It’s not going to happen. But, outlasting Kerry? That’s a real possibility and everybody, including the enemy, knows it.
And after Kerry has been in office a few months, what happens when soldiers are still dying and Iraq doesn’t turn into paradise? What happens when the majority of Kerry’s base, which didn’t support the war in the first place, starts yelling, “Get out, get out, get out!?!” I’ll tell you what’s going to happen. Some smart guy, some political genius is going to tell Kerry…
“Hey, this war in Iraq is thought of right now as “George Bush’s War”. But, if you stay there long enough, people are going to regard it as “John Kerry’s war”. Your base doesn’t want to be there and since we haven’t turned the whole country into Belgium in 6 months, it’s starting to hurt you at the polls. So here’s my advice: get out of Iraq as quickly as possible and just tell the American people that George Bush screwed things up so badly that you couldn’t fix it. There’s your ready made excuse to run for the hills.”
You can say, “Oh, that wouldn’t happen; it would be a disaster,” but that depends on how you look at it, doesn’t it? Was the way Vietnam turned out a disaster? People like me, we’d say “yes, absolutely”. But for liberals, a war one of their own — Lyndon Johnson — hopelessly screwed up is still to this day their first line of defense when they argue against other wars,
“We can’t fight this war, it’ll turn into another Vietnam!”
“Sure the war is a week old, but someone got killed, just like in Vietnam!”
“War doesn’t work, remember Vietnam!”
If we get John Kerry in office and he blows Iraq, that’ll just give the Michael Moores, Ted Ralls, and yes, the John Kerrys of the world one more reason to argue that war doesn’t work. Hey, it’s exactly what they did after Vietnam.
Summing this all up: putting John Kerry in the White House isn’t going to make liberals, other than the odd Christopher Hitchens type, get serious about national security. Remember that the Democrats had a credible candidate running for the nomination who was serious about national security. His name was Joe Lieberman and he got BURIED. What does that tell you, especially in the post-9/11 world we live in, folks? If 9/11 didn’t wake the Ted Kennedys and Nancy Pelosis of the world up, what makes anyone think putting John Kerry in charge of Iraq will do the trick given that Kerry can just let Iraq nosedive into the pavement and blame Bush for it? It just doesn’t make any sense. That’s why people who are serious about protecting America from terrorist attacks are going to be voting for Bush, not the party of Lyndon Johnson, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, & John Kerry.
*** Update #1***: PoliPundit reader Dominick S has got Sullivan’s number…
“Really Sullivan could have summed up his endorsement in about two dozen words:
“John Kerry is wrong on every issue facing this country today. But he’s against the Federal Marriage Amendment that the President has called for. Therefore, I support John Kerry.”
The rest was just lame justifications for a position that he probably doesn’t truly feel is right in his heart.”