|Man Without Qualities|
Saturday, July 24, 2004
Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XLVIII: Misquoting And Not Paying Attention At The Washington Post
The Washington Post reports that President Bush's embrace of the September 11 Commission Report recommendations is so complete that the administration may move for Congressional action to enact those recommendations before the election. That's all well and good. However, the Post then reports:
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, on Thursday urged rapid action on the Sept. 11 commission's recommendations. Kerry said that if reforms are not enacted and he is elected president, he would immediately convene a security summit to push for changes.
Really? As noted here previously, John Kerry actually said:
This report carries a very simple message for all of America about the security of all Americans: We can do better. ... We must do better, and there's an urgency to our doing better. We have to act now. ... If I am elected president and there still has not been sufficient progress rapidly in these next months on these issues, then I will lead. .... Unfortunately, this administration has had an ongoing war between the State Department, the Defense Department, the White House. ... People have been at odds, everybody knows it, they'll deny it, but everybody does know. And the fact is that it has created a struggle that has delayed our ability to move forward.
Does "if I am elected president and there still has not been sufficient progress rapidly in these next months on these issues, then I will lead" mean the same thing as "if reforms are not enacted and he is elected president, he would immediately convene a security summit to push for changes?" I don't think so. But in either event, neither construction of the Senator's highly nuanced (O that word again! - one might say with more accuracy "deliberately confusing") position is that he definitely has not said that the "reforms" he will insist see "sufficient progress" are the "reforms" included in the Report.
So here's a question for the media to ask Nuancy Boy:
Senator Kerry, do you favor Congressional enactment of the main recommendations of the September 11 Commission Report, including the integration of the intelligence services under a cabinet level intelligence tsar as the Report suggests?
The problem is not just that the Senator's statement doesn't track the wording of the Post article. The Report and the Senator's stated position are, in fact, irreconcilable. The Report rejects the conclusion that the intelligence problems are attributable to the peculiarities of any particular administration. Instead, the Report stresses the need for specified legislated structural reform. But Senator Kerry says the problems addressed by the Report are attributable to an ongoing war between the State Department, the Defense Department, the White House that he will fix once he is elected. That means there is no urgent need for substantial legislative reform within the Senator's approach.
In his typical fashion the Senator grossly dilutes the Report's conclusions and specifically avoids endorsing any of its detailed recommendations: This report carries a very simple message for all of America about the security of all Americans: We can do better. ... We must do better, and there's an urgency to our doing better. But the Report has a lot more to say than that "very simple message" - and a lot of its recommendations, especially the recommendations for legislation integrating the various "walled off" intelligence services - are wholly inconsistent with the approach of liberal Democrats, including Senators Church and Kerry, for decades. The Report does not view all efforts to "do better" as equivalent as long as they possess "urgency." The Report says there are certain specified things that we must do to "do better." But the Senator doesn't say he endorses those things, and those things are certainly not consistent with his past approach or that of his liberal wing of the Democratic Party, most notably the Church Committee and its descendants.
And, just for the record, my guess is that senior White House operatives have detected the deep problems that the Report's specific legislative recommendations pose for Senator Kerry and the Democrats, and (unlike the Post) have paid attention to the Senator's evasive, nuancy non-response. And, remember, the New York Times noted that compared to the Senator, Mr. Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards, was more circumspect in his response to the report ... . I further speculate that the fast-tightening White House bear hug of the Report and its specific recommendations is largely a consequence of the administration's growing understanding that those recommendations pose a much bigger problem for Senator Kerry and liberal Democrats generally than they do for the White House and Republicans. That should all come to the surface pretty fast if Congress is asked to act before the election - which is exactly what the Post reports the administration (and probably Republicans in Congress) would like to see happen.
"Urgency?" Nothing in the Capitol air excites a sense of "urgency" in Congress like a heady perfume with an animal base note of election year partisan advantage concealed by a woody top note of general national need recommended by a sainted independent commisssion!
Ah! Breath it in!
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