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Between the Lines

May 27, 2004

Kerry's stealth campaign

Current events have been doing a lot of John Kerry's campaign work for him. Abu Ghraib. Fallujah. Najaf. The Ahmed Chalabi spying fiasco. More than 900 Americans dead in Iraq and Afghanistan and thousands of others wounded.

So it's understandable why Kerry may have been content to stump around on the hollow theme of "let America be America again," whatever that means. But can he continue to get away with it? Blogger Matt Yglesias and author Paul Waldman kick the question around at The American Prospect.

Yglesias: "The tactic of trying to stay out of the headlines leaves his presidential hopes dangerously exposed to the vicissitudes of current events."

Waldman: "There is something rather bizarre about suggesting that a presidential candidate keep a low profile, but Kerry isn’t going to do himself much good by injecting himself into the stories currently dominating the news. There are two reasons. First, speaking about issue stories that are nothing but trouble for President Bush will turn them into campaign stories that end up as a wash. Second, Kerry’s own positions don’t do much to help him."

Read it all here.

Kerry, meanwhile, appears to be leaning toward Yglesias' view. He launched 10 days of speeches on national security – one of the two overriding issues in this campaign and the one in which the polls indicate he still trails President Bush – with this address in Seattle.

"It’s time for a new national security policy guided by four new imperatives: First, we must launch and lead a new era of alliances for the post 9-11 world. Second, we must modernize the world’s most powerful military to meet the new threats. Third, in addition to our military might, we must deploy all that is in America’s arsenal -- our diplomacy, our intelligence system, our economic power, and the appeal of our values and ideas. Fourth and finally, to secure our full independence and freedom, we must free America from its dangerous dependence on Mideast oil."

Kerry was short on specifics, but at least some of those presumably will emerge over the next several days.

Posted by tbrown at 11:52 AM


Professor Drezner weighs in

Daniel Drezner, a University of Chicago professor, blogger and supporter of the goals of the war in Iraq, has a good piece at The New Republic Online on how things went haywire. Was it the strategy of trying to democratize the Middle East by attacking one of the worst tyrannies there? Or was it bungled execution?

"As I argued repeatedly last year, the social science evidence suggests that democracy was not an unreasonable goal in Iraq," Drezner says. " … While flawed, the neoconservative plan of democracy promotion in the Middle East remains preferable to any known alternatives. Of course, such a risky strategy places great demands on execution, and so far this administration has executed poorly. It would be a cruel irony if, in the end, the biggest proponents of ambitious reform in the Middle East are responsible for unfairly discrediting their own idea."

Posted by tbrown at 11:49 AM


Now we've got a bullet shortage

Yes, we're shooting them faster than we can make them. It is, however, no doubt solvable.

Posted by tbrown at 11:46 AM




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