The doctrine of pre-emption will hit Americans where it hurts tonight when President Bush serves up a primetime news conference that will pre-empt the latest installment of American Idol. Among those least happy with the scenario could be the President himself. He’s not a big fan of primetime Q and As. He was essentially dragged into this (only the third one of his presidency) by sagging poll numbers, increased coverage of the turn for the worse in Iraq and new questions about his handling of the war on terror. With topics like these, acceptable answers will not be easy to come by.
John Kerry has the same problem. Unlike Bush, Kerry didn’t march us into Iraq. Nor did he drive a wedge between us and some potentially key allies in the war on terror. But this is one of those times in a campaign when the incumbent is getting kicked around and the challenger needs to step up with bold new ideas to convince Americans that there is a better way.
The problem that Kerry faces (if you assume he’s got the right stuff to come up with and deliver such a message) is that there might not be a right answer to these problems. If there is some expert out there who has a fool-proof solution to the troubles we’re likely to face for years in Iraq, let him or her speak now. If there is someone out there who can make us feel better about the intelligence failures that pre-dated 9-11, please share.
Americans have diagnosed the problems (and some of their root causes) associated with the current state of affairs. That doesn’t mean we can find a quick cure.