Here are a few outtakes from John Kerry’s appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday (which was yet another appearance totally overshadowed by Bush stories – this time Woodward’s book). Kerry was better on his criticisms than he was on defining himself. In addition, his “plan” for Iraq didn’t leave one feeling all that optimistic. Maybe that was the Bush strategy. Create a situaton so chaotic and complex that your opponent can’t possibly come up with a soundbite-sized way to fix it.
Russert: Do you believe the war in Iraq was a mistake?
Kerry: I think the way the president went to war is a mistake.
“You cannot have America run the occupation, make all the reconstruction decisions, make the decisions of the kind of government that will emerge, and pretend to bring other nations to the table.
Now, here’s what I’ll do. If I’m president, I will not only personally go to the U.N., I will go to other capitals and I will have my secretary of state legitimately empowered to be able to be a full secretary of state, speaking for the administration, which we now know from Bob Woodward’s book is not the case. The war within this administration over who’s in charge of what and whose voice is being listened to is unlike anything I’ve seen in modern days.
Russert: So if Iraq is not secure, how can you possibly say the U.N. and NATO are going to come to our rescue when they don’t have the troops or the interest of going in there?
Kerry: Tim, that is the dilemma. That is exactly the quandary that President Bush and this administration have put the United States of America in.
If the Defense Department issues a memorandum and it says “Any country that wasn’t with us, don’t bother applying for any reconstruction in Iraq,” now there’s a heck of a way to invite countries to the table, Tim. Our diplomacy has been about as arrogant and ineffective as anything that I have ever seen, and I think if you ask people all around the world, that’s exactly what they’ll tell you.
I think that I can fight a far more effective war on terror. I will build alliances and ooperation. I will make America safer. But I will use our military when necessary, but it is not primarily a military operation. It’s an intelligence gathering, law enforcement, public diplomacy effort, and we’re putting far more money into the war on the battlefield than we are into the war of ideas. We need to get it straight.
Never has the United States of America been held in as low a regard internationally — and polls have shown this — as we are today. We’re not trusted and this administration is not liked.”