Friday, October 08, 2004

More Talking Points

Matt Miller (no relation) has such an excellent set of lines for Kerry that I simply must post them in their entirety. A key distinction made is between a war of our choosing and one thrust upon us. While the Bush (hswib) administration vainly tries to characterize Iraq as the latter the truth is that it's the former. And with that truth all the excuses evaporate from before our eyes. Here's the stuff:
"There are terrible ways to do a good thing," Kerry should begin, regarding Saddam.

"At every step on Iraq, George Bush has made choices that have made us less secure and more isolated. And the truth is that there can be no possible excuse for these mistakes and misjudgments - because Iraq was a war fought at a time of our own choosing.

"If the war with Iraq had been thrust upon us, our judgment of George Bush's performance might be different. There might have been no time to court our allies and to build the kind of genuine coalition that George H.W. Bush assembled for the first Gulf War - a coalition that bore 90 percent of the cost of that conflict.

"But in a war fought at a time of our own choosing, there is no excuse for these diplomatic failures. Why didn't George Bush fly to Paris or Berlin, and make major speeches in those capitals, knowing how dramatically world opinion stood against us? Then at least we could have said we respected our longtime allies enough to try to persuade them of our course. Now instead we stand diminished and isolated, viewed with reason as arrogant, trigger-happy and untrustworthy.

"If the war with Iraq had been thrust upon us, there might have been no time to worry about plans to stabilize the country in its aftermath.

"But in a war fought at a time of our own choosing, there can be no possible excuse for failing to make adequate plans. We know Colin Powell told the president what was always obvious about Iraq: 'You break it, you own it.' Yet George Bush ignored his military advisors when they told him more troops were needed. He ignored his own government's plans for bringing order to the inevitable postwar chaos. Indeed, no one can point to a single meeting or memo in which this president thought seriously about how to manage the occupation of this country. Every day coffins come home that bear witness to this failure.

"If the war with Iraq had been thrust upon us, there might have been no way to consider how, at the same time, we could make sure rogue regimes in Iran and North Korea did not acquire nuclear weapons.

"But in a war fought at a time of our own choosing, there can be no excuse for failing to balance the risks of nuclear proliferation in these dictatorships with the chance that a prolonged insurgency in Iraq would place everything else beyond this White House's capacity to cope. Yet now we know North Korea has quadrupled its nuclear stockpile, and Iran is at the brink.

"If the war with Iraq had been thrust upon us, there might have been no time to make sure that America's homeland was as secure as it needs to be.

"But in a war fought at a time of our own choosing, how can anyone excuse that fact that more than three years after 9/11, only one in 50 of the cargo ships that come into our ports are inspected ... that frontline firefighters and public health officials have been cheated of the federal money they were promised ... the list goes on.

"Add it up, and the price of George Bush's mismanagement in Iraq is too frighteningly high to risk for another four years.

"There is the cost to America's credibility - for who will believe us next time we say a rogue state has dangerous weapons and the world must act?

"There is the cost in treasure: $200 billion and mounting ... more than 30 times the cost of the first Gulf War. And these were knowable costs that a top Bush advisor was fired for uttering publicly before we invaded ... costs about which this president deceived us in order to pass big tax cuts for the wealthy at a time of war.

"There is the cost of other dangers that have been allowed to fester - in Iran and North Korea, in Russia, and in Afghanistan, which we have once more abandoned to the warlords in order to focus on Iraq.

"There is the cost of not securing our ports and streets and power plants from attack. And there is the cost of taking our focus away from al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden - the author of 9/11 - whose terror movement continues to spread like a cancer while we stumble without leadership respected enough to bring the world to our side to finish the job in Iraq.

"I do not believe George Bush had bad intentions when he chose to conduct this war in this fashion. But good intentions are the excuses children offer - they do not suffice for a president.

"So yes, there are terrible ways to do a good thing. And because George Bush has mismanaged, misjudged and misled on Iraq, we are less safe.

"These few years after 9/11 would have been challenging times for any leader, so we ought not judge George Bush harshly for his efforts beyond rendering this one judgment: It is time for him to go. I will be the first American ready to give President Bush the gold watch for good intentions, and to thank him, in the end, for deposing Saddam. But it is time now to let serious people come in and clean up the global mess this president has created through historic failures of judgment, neglect and mismanagement.

"I say to George Bush: You have squandered America's credibility, America's authority and America's reputation. We are less secure as a result. You cannot possibly recoup these losses. I will."
Hear, Hear!

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