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I suggest that the reason Kerry hasn't put the Iraq war vote flip-flop controversy to rest is because the ideal time hasn't yet arrived for it.  Many, many sympathetic pundits and bloggers have said how easy it would be to forcefully regain the upperhand on the Iraq issue, so why doesn't he?  I believe that he is playing a clever waiting game-waiting to deliver the knockout blows at the debates.  When the question comes up (we all know it will), he can look Shrub in the eyes and answer it as follows:

"Mr. President, when I voted to give you the authority to go to war I honored you, as millions of Americans honored you, with our trust.  We trusted you to check and re-check your evidence before you committed us to war.  We trusted you to exhaust all diplomatic avenues before you committed us to war.  We trusted you to have a detailed, organized, flexible, effective plan for the post-war before you even considered committing us to war.  Sir, you did none of these well, and I and a majority of Americans feel betrayed by your performance.  You didn't listen to dissenting voices in the CIA about the evidence. You didn't listen to generals, long-time allies, fellow Republicans-anybody who didn't already agree with you-even though they had legitimate concerns that would have improved planning.  You didn't listen to anybody who suggested that our troops might not be met with flowers.  You committed us to war in such haste that you sent our troops on their way without adequate armor.  The buck stops with you, sir. Americans trusted you with the decision about going to war; I trusted you with my vote.  Now you call us flip-floppers because we hate how you misused our trust.  Sir, have you ever acknowledged to the American people that you made a mistake, any mistake, in taking us to war the way to did?"

Addressing this to his face, talking to him (no matter who asks the original question), delivers a powerful non-verbal signal of strength-that Kerry has the cojones to speak truth to power.  It also has a good chance of triggering a reaction in Bush that will finish him as "leader."  Doing this earlier, in stump speeches, doesn't leverage the direct authentic power (not to mention the audience) of the face-to-face confrontation and it allows Bush and the evil spin conglomerate to test all kinds of responses and lessen the blow.  By saving it for the debates, he gets to have Bush respond without any benefit of spinmeister advice and he gets to confound expectation positively by laying a groundwork of "nuance" and "waffling" only to destroy it suddenly in the debates.

Originally posted to outofthebox on Wed Aug 18, 2004 at 11:55 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I agree (none)
    I also think that he's waiting for the debates to hit one out of the park about energy independence vis-a-vis national security.  Speaking of national security, I would love to see Kerry take a question about Gay Marriage in the debates and speak to Bush's gays-in-the-military policy, which compromised national security by discharging arabic linguists.
  •  I hope you're right. (none)
    It would be so delightful to watch the debates and get that exhilerated and empowered feeling that so many Americans are missing right now.

    I know the debates will be heavily controlled and that Rove will do everything short of sticking his hand up W's heinie and moving his hand, but there is still an element of risk for him there.  Personally, I think he will be a miserable failure, and will be firmly dispatched by Kerry.  At least, I really hope he presents cold, hard facts that cause Bush's lip to quiver and for his eyes to glaze over.

    They're freedom haters. We're freedom lovers. Don't tell Canada. - David Cross

    by noshenanigans on Wed Aug 18, 2004 at 04:06:46 PM PDT

  •  This is exactly... (none)
    the same fantasy I've been having. Exactly. It also puts Kerry in the position of representing all of us, speaking for us. He can lean forward, look W in the eye and say, "We trusted you and you betrayed us."
  •  Careful (none)
    Bush has never lost a debate.  He is a wily debater because  he's a bully, he has an excellent sense for how to identify his opponent's popular weaknesses, or how he doesn't "fit in", and then call these weaknesses out with mendacious comments and a few well-placed sniggers and smirks.  Remember the "fuzzy math" comment?  Bush smacked Gore down hard with that comment among the rubes.  

    Expect Bush to be brimming over with hateful innuendo, malicious lies, and ad hominem jabs at the debates.  If Kerry doesn't turn every attack around on Bush with a forceful response and putdown of Bush, then Bush may come out ahead.  Kerry must not try to stay above the fray, he's got to roll up his sleeves and wade into Bush's sewage patch if he wants to win decisively.

    "In an abstract love for humanity one almost always loves only oneself." --Fyodor Dostoevsky, "Notes From The Underground"

    by Subterranean on Wed Aug 18, 2004 at 04:12:16 PM PDT

    •  Re: Careful (none)
      But you would agree that the time for Kerry to do the poke and jab and smack is during the debates and not via ads and stump speeches?  My point is that the debates are the tactically best time for that approach because its format is tacitly a "battle."
      •  Oh yes (none)
        I should have said so, I totally agree that Kerry may be patiently waiting to rip Bush from asshole to mouth, and I think he is fully capable of doing so.  

        It's just that it seems like so many Kossacks are convinced we'll win and that Kerry will effortlessly coast to victory.  That is totally untrue and the danger is that we dismiss Bush as a has-been.  Gore dismissed Bush and thought he could handily win the debates, and look what happened.  As much as it pains us, we've got to respect Bush's debating ability if we are to beat him.

        "In an abstract love for humanity one almost always loves only oneself." --Fyodor Dostoevsky, "Notes From The Underground"

        by Subterranean on Wed Aug 18, 2004 at 05:25:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, but... (none)
      also remember that Kerry has never lost a debate either.  And Kerry will benefit from Gore's failure in the debates.  And Kerry should be able to lower expectations pretty well given that Bush won the last debates and everyone is always talking about how great he is with connecting with the people.  And, finally, this race is gonna be about competence and not likeability.  I hope!
      •  I hope so, too (none)
        I really thought Bush came off like an ass when he debated Gore, but instead the punditocracy declared him a "barbeque buddy" and the rubes ate it up.  We've got to face it the media already have their debate coverage written, all they need to do is fill in the blanks with specifics, and their coverage will at best say "they both did well".  Even if Kerry totally hammers Bush, the media will spin it as an even outcome so Kerry doesn't take too much of a lead.

        "In an abstract love for humanity one almost always loves only oneself." --Fyodor Dostoevsky, "Notes From The Underground"

        by Subterranean on Wed Aug 18, 2004 at 05:28:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Due to the Wolf Blitzer thread today ... (none)
          ... I've decided, in all my questionable wisdom, that the best response to the BBQ question is: "Who'd you rather have a beer with? Oh, wait. George Bush -doesn't drink beer-!  John Kerry drinks beer. George Bush drinks Juicy-Juice."

           The man's a cowboy who doesn't drink beer? This guy hadn't popped a cool one for decades! He's supposed to be my BBQ buddy? He doesn't drink beer! For the love of all that's macho, how can any manly man vote for a New England-born Ivy League silver-spoon cheerleading cross-dresser who DOESN'T DRINK BEER?

          (Yes, I'm aware how unfair this is: taking Bush's single accomplishment, if it's actually true, and using it against him. But sometimes you gotta go slimy and Republican.)

          This is bigger than Plame, bigger than WMD, bigger than all the lies and stupidity: Brewgate. George W. Bush refuses to share a brewski with the average American working man.

          •  Perfect (none)
            "but he doesn't drink beer"

            Draws attention to him not being "one of us," and reminds people that Bush is a drunk and not to be trusted.  Just ask them, "would you trust your alcoholic uncle with ANYTHING more involved than manning the lazy boy?

            "In an abstract love for humanity one almost always loves only oneself." --Fyodor Dostoevsky, "Notes From The Underground"

            by Subterranean on Wed Aug 18, 2004 at 11:47:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I agree (none)
      The author of this post is way too optimistic that such a charge by Kerry will knock Bush off balance. Bush has a practiced response which he will give, it will include a note on how the world is better without Saddam, how Kerry has flipped flopped again since he answered Bush's with a yes (a mischaracterization of Kerry's answer on the resolution vote with the resolution representing yes to invasion rather than yes to leveraging Saddam into compliance with invasion as a last resort).

      Kerry has to be very carefully because these guys are great at mischaracterization and any knockout blow that he tries deliver in the debates on Iraq that differs markedly from what he has been saying will be spun in the lazy press as another flip flop (remember the Gore keeps reinventing himself for each debate tripe).

      I think if Kerry is to have a knockout moment, it has to be on something that Bush isn't so practiced on.  Unlike Kerry, Bush cannot think on his feet when he is caught totally off guard like when McCain confronted him in a debate about the sleazy "Manchurian Candidate" charge because Bush stood on a stage with the prick who made that up.  

      This totally screwed Bush up cause he was practiced in denying his surrogates are his surrogates (Swift Boaties for example) and then he would give his stock platitude on the politics of personal destruction and how when he gets to D.C. it will change.  Bush was smart enough to know he couldn't say that after it was noted that the guy shared a stage with him, but he wasn't quick enough on his feet to change the subject without it looking like an obvious retreat. So you have to really catch him off guard in a way that his stock platitude, if given, will sound outrageously stupid and then the guy flouders.    

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