The PoliBlog

The Collective
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
By Dr. Steven Taylor

I am of the opinion that Kerry has no core beliefs on the issue of Iraq and is simply looking for a message that will garner votes. Certainly, if he has a core position on the subject, he hasn’t shared it with the voters (and no, it isn’t a quesiton of his much ballyhooed “nuance”–there is geniune contradiction in his public statements and actions over the past two years). As such, I don’t think that voters can make any assessment on what Kerry will do once in office based on anything he is saying on the stump–which is the kind of problem a candidate generates when the main reason that they want to be president is that they want to be president (call it Bob Dole Syndrome). Now, one can, if one is familiar with the persons he is likely to appoint to relevant positions, make assumptions about the shape of his foreign policy–but that has very little to do with how he is conducting his campaign, or the way in which most undecided voters will make their selection. Indeed, most (although not all) voters who are undecided at this point are likely largely non-political types who are highly unlikely to know who Richard Holbrooke is, for example.

However, in terms of making appeals to voters, he has made a series of strategic errors and his only hope is that a sufficiently large number of people haven’t been paying attention so that his past statements don’t resonate. Of course, one can count on the fact that Bush campaign and their supporters will do their best to remind voters of the inconsistencies in question.

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Filed under: Iraq, US Politics, 2004 Campaign | |


  1. My fear is that one day (not this election, but soon & for the rest of our lives) “I Hate Bush”-ness will stick ANY goof in the Oval Office & in control of the switch. Kerry has no soul; he won’t fight for anything.–yet he has “supporters”!!! What the hell are they supporting?

    Comment by cagey — Tuesday, September 21, 2004 @ 1:31 pm

  2. Respectfully, this is simply not based on the available facts. It absolutely amazes me how effective Rove’s “flip-flop” campaign has worked against Kerry. Kerry made a HUGE mistake by letting the Bush campaign define him early on. Rove used the now-famous $87 billion sound-bite to paint Kerry as a flip-flopper, when any reasonable person who stops to think for two seconds realizes that there were TWO bills, and that’s not a flip-flop. No reasonable senator is going to vote for simply any $87 billion bill that comes along. Obviously a bill was going to pass one way or the other, but that’s no reason to give Halliburton no-bid contracts. Besides, Kerry voted for the $87 billion the first time, when the Republican senate didn’t. There’s no flip-flop here. Bush has flip-flopped on dozens of far more important issues. (I could list them, but I’d be getting a bit off-track.)

    The Bush campaign has quite effectively also tried to paint Kerry as a flip-flopper on Iraq (and the media, seemingly more obtuse than ever, has sometimes played along), when his policy has been pretty consistent for several YEARS. Kerry did not make the decision to go to war in Iraq. He voted to give Bush the authority to make that decision. There is a BIG difference, especially because Bush promised to exhaust all non-military options before invading, WHICH HE DID NOT. Thus, Bush flip-flopped, while Kerry has been pretty consistent on this issue from day one. No reasonable outside analyst can plausibly argue that Bush really exhausted all options. In fact, I can make a good case that Saddam Hussein cooperated better with weapons inspectors than has any leader in history, and the inspections were more sophisticated and more intrusive than any in history. He allowed people to inspect sites, to interview scientists alone and without taped record, etc. What more do you want from a guy? He lives in a region where conflict is pretty normal, and Saddam practically pulled down his own pants for the inspectors, revealing his entire military and security apparatus for everyone to see. That’s a lot to ask of a power-hungry dictator (albeit one who had been sitting quietly, doing next-to-nothing, for more than a decade).

    This campaign, to be honest, is wearing me out. There’s so little attention to facts. Facts are whatever people want them to be. I see America heading straight for a cliff, and no one notices because Bush just turns up his “war on terror” bluster and people eat it right up.

    To say that I’m worried would be an understatement. I just hope America makes the right decision this November. Eight years of Bush will risk far too much for the future of this country.

    Comment by krj3 — Tuesday, September 21, 2004 @ 9:36 pm

    A reader mails in response to my claim that if the key battleground for the remaining weeks of the campaign is national security Kerry will face an uphill struggle. He disagrees: This strikes me as an odd analysis. True, the

    Trackback by Peaktalk — Wednesday, September 22, 2004 @ 1:56 am

  4. Someone is actually saying Kerry hasn’t flipflopped?

    Kool-aid is yummybob

    Comment by bob — Wednesday, September 22, 2004 @ 5:04 am

  5. Good god
    Just read the whole thing and it is scary

    Comment by bob — Wednesday, September 22, 2004 @ 5:05 am

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