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Kerry on Iraq


The fine people at Fox News were kind enough to broadcast Kerry’s Iraq speech at NYU this morning, live and uninterupted. I’ve been surfing around looking for a transcript, or even a decent online recap, with no success as of yet. Choose your news here.

At any rate, I’d encourage those who have been hounding Kerry to formulate a coherent and clear Iraq policy to have a look at this speech. I should note that while I generally agree with this campaign advice, I think those making the criticism may not be sensitive to just how difficult crafting an electorally appealing message on Iraq is for Kerry. A frank and accurate message would look like this: “We’re fucked. We’re probably still fucked if I’m in charge, but slightly less so, because I’m less incompetent. Unfortunately, a more competent approach to Iraq might involve more direct military engagement in the short term, and as a result more short term casualties.”

Now that would, I think, be more or less accurate, but it seems clear enough Kerry simply can’t say it. What I’ve long been thinking is that he needs to formulate a nice little 5-6 point plan for Iraq, with some of the points specific and obvious, but perhaps minor, and other big and general, but not too specific. This way such a plan would be potentially immune to criticisms that it’s too vague and that is won’t do the job. Ideally, most or all points of the plan should highlight a particular specific of the great Bush failure (this part is easy, perhaps unavoidable).

Anyway, I’d say basically Kerry followed my advice. He only had four points, but that’s OK. I think they’re all things he’s said before in one form or another, but the Media and pundits need things made easily digestible before they admit they exist.

I might not have put internationalization/burden sharing first if I were Kerry. It’s the one that he’s talked about the most, and it doesn’t get him anywhere except mocked. Still, the speech seemed smartly and effectively written and delivered, and it was very heartening to see (and a shoutout to occasional reader, frequent couchsurfer and fellow FNC addict Ron M. for turning it on this morning, or else I would have missed it altogether). Of course, it will only have a positive impact if the media covers it and covers it reasonably. Maybe the Dan Rather lynch mob can spare a couple of members to cover this?

UPDATE (from Scott): C-SPAN will be re-broadcasting the (excellent) speech at 8ET/5PT.

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