Sunday, February 15, 2004

A question posed to Senator Kerry during tonight's Democratic debate in Wisconsin

Craig Gilbert (from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal) asked Senator Kerry if he felt he had "any degree of responsibility for the war and its costs and casualties" since he voted for the Iraq resolution.
I did not feel entirely settled with Sen. Kerry's reply, which included:
"... the great burden of the commander in chief is to be able to look into the eyes of any parent or loved one and say to them, 'I did everything in my power to prevent the loss of your son and daughter, but we had to do what we had to do because of the imminency of the threat and the nature of our security.' I don't think the president passes that test."
(Only the President?) (*Congress had no responsibility to verify 'Imminency'?*)
Mr. Gilbert asked the same question I was thinking of at that moment:
"But what about you? I mean, let me repeat the question. Do you have any degree of responsibility having voted to give him the authority to go to war? "
Sen. Kerry's answer included:
"The president had the authority to do what he was going to do without the vote of the United States Congress...That's why we have a War Powers Act. What we did was vote with one voice of the United States Congress for a process..The process was to build a legitimate international coalition, go through the inspections process and go to war as a last resort...."
Sen. Kerry stopped short of accepting any responsibility for the costs and casualties stemming from the Iraq war. I wondered how Sen. Kerry could expect someone like me to believe he was only voting for what would be process back in October, 2002. The rest of the world seemed to know exactly where the fervent drums of war were leading us and that, as far as the Bush administration was concerned, it would have little to do with U.N. involvement or process.

Let's backtrack a couple months.
Political writer William Rivers Pitt wrote an article about a rather exclusive session with Sen. Kerry in early December, 2003. It was a time when Kerry's campaign was ailing, much to the surprise of many. Pitt, in his analysis of the reasons why, stated:
How did this happen? Kerry has all the components of a flat-out frontrunner. When did the wheels come off? Ask virtually anyone who accounts themselves a member of that liberal Democratic base, and they?ll answer in a heartbeat. The wheels came off on October 11, 2002, the day John Kerry voted "Yes" on George W. Bush's Iraq War Resolution. The occupation of Iraq, the mounting American casualties, the skyrocketing cost of the conflict, and the still-missing weapons of mass destruction have become a significant liability to Bush. Amazingly enough, however, the Iraq situation has been far more damaging to Kerry than to Bush.
When asked that December night about his vote for the Resolution, in retrospect, Kerry is quoted to have said:
"Did I think Bush was going to charge unilaterally into war? No. Did I think he would make such an incredible mess of the situation? No. Am I angry about it? You?re G-d d-mned right I am. I chose to believe the President of the United States. That was a terrible mistake."
First--how on earth could Sen. Kerry or any of the Democrats NOT have known Bush was going to charge unilaterally into war? I wondered then..and I still wonder.. how someone as intuitive as I'd thought Sen. John Kerry was could have made such a terrible mistake. Is it sometimes more intelligently patriotic to choose not to believe? I think so.

Toward the end of the session that night with Sen. Kerry in early December, author Pitt continues:
"....The most revealing moment of the entire event came as it was breaking up. Kerry was slowly working towards the door when he was collared by Art Spiegelman. Though Kerry towered over him, Spiegelman appeared to grow with the intensity of his passion. "Senator," he said, "the best thing you could do is to is to just come out and say that you were wrong to trust Bush. Say that you though he would keep his promises, but that you gave him more credit than he deserved. Say that you're sorry, and then turn the debate towards what is best for the country in 2004."
Kerry nodded, bowed his head, and said, "You"re right. I was wrong to trust him. I'm sorry I did." And then he was gone."
We've all made mistakes. Senator Kerry is doing well now and perhaps he believes he no longer needs to regain the trust of so many out there who initially turned away from him (and turned to other Democratic candidates instead). I'd say he'd best be careful. His candidacy got off to a very bad start early in the primary season because of a perceived lack of intuition on his part.. due to his unbelievable misplaced trust in the light of such shaky evidence used by the Bush administration to justify preventive war. If he wants many of the liberal Democratic base (especially the Dean and Clark supporters) to throw their support to him at any time, I think he's going to have to accept responsibility and say, out loud, that he's sorry for having trusted the Bush administration.
N.C. Senator John Edwards has received the endorsement of Madison, Wisconsin mayor Dave Cieslewicz and The Capital Times of Madison. The Capital Times called him "the candidate who offers the best combination of electability and vision." These are two very important endorsements for Senator Edwards. The Wisconsin primary election takes place this Tuesday, February 17th. A Democratic candidates' debate will take place tonight at 6:30 pm (EST) in Milwaukee and will be broadcast on MSNBC. There is controversy surrounding the debate, according to the Madison Capital Times. The debate has been organized by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee NBC affiliate WTMJ and MSNBC, and will not be aired in most parts of the state. NBC affiliates in various Wisconsin cities were not offered the right to air the debate live. Wisconsin Public Television (which wanted to broadcast the debate statewide) is being denied an opportunity to do so.