Blogs > Cliopatria > William Safire's Misguided Analysis

Oct 4, 2004 3:11 pm


William Safire's Misguided Analysis



In today's NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/04/opinion/04safire.html?oref=login) William Safire says that Kerry is the newest neo-con. His evidence is that at the debate Kerry said we have to clean out the enemy in the Sunni Triangle. That makes Kerry a neo-con? Nonsense.

Nor did Kerry by taking a hard line suddenly become the pro-war candidate, as Safire claims.

But Safire is onto something.

Kerry brilliantly succeeded in the debate in reaching out to two audiences simultaneously. 1. He scored points with the anti-war crowd by calling this war a colossal mistake.

That shored up his support among Deaniacs and other anti-war Democrats.

2. He succeeded in reassuring the Patriotic crowd that a Kerry presidency would see to it that the Iraq war is won. That helped him win over swing voters, who don't want to face the consequences of Bush's bumble headed war.

That Kerry succeeded in satisfying both groups without apparently alienating either was a remarkable testament to his political skills. It's the first time in this race he has achieved such success.

Of course, there's a paradox here. He accused Bush of living in a world of fantasy. But Kerry's policy is built on a fantasy. He won't get the Allies to share our military responsibilities. If we do go into Falluja guns ablazin' we will alienate the very people whose support we need.

Kerry's loophole may be that he didn't say how he defines success. Maybe we can get out quickly be turning affairs there over to a strongman government, as Daniel Pipes recommends.

But for now Kerry is having his political cake and eating it too.




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Michael Meo - 10/9/2004

While it is certainly true that Kerry's statements about the war in Irq lack any consistency, the orientation to work with a coalition of allies in order together to fight nuclear proliferation, global warming, and the odd genocidal dictator does make a lot of sense.

Allow me to separate the rhetorical flourish from the underlying message. It is rhetorical to say, as Kerry does, that he has a plan to win in Iraq. The underlying message, however, is a return to a multilateral orientation to U.S. foreign policy; a return, that is, to the standard orientation of this country's behavior in the international arena in the years 1948-2000.


HNN - 10/5/2004

He left himself plenty of room.


Jonathan Dresner - 10/4/2004

...is commit more resources. Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but it seemed to me that what Kerry was saying was that he would actually commit the resources necessary to get the job done, and would define the job as not just shooting, but also creating relationships and building infrastructures, guiding democratic processes.

But I've been wrong before.