MO on Kerry

John Kerry seems to be on the verge of taking off like a rocket. He could put considerable distance between himself and the other Democratic contenders, and recent polls have him challenging or even beating Bush head to head.

So I’ll take this opportunity to discuss a couple of things that are on my mind about John Kerry.

First of all, it seems a little surreal to watch Democrat contestants trying to outdo each other in the military-service department. Wesley Clark’s dismissal of Kerry’s leadership capability as a junior officer and his choice to exit the military when he did ended up far worse for Clark than for the recipient of the slap.

Clark and Kerry (and Lieberman, but I don’t think many folks remember that he’s running) are falling all over themselves to describe what they would do when fighting the War on Terror.

Kerry, who served in Vietnam in case you hadn’t heard, wants to return to fighting it the same way we fight the War on Drugs. I don’t think he meant “poorly,” but he may as well have. He said on Saturday that he will fight terror with law enforcement and intelligence gathering:

Speaking before a group of Oklahoma City firefighters, Kerry complained that the Bush administration “doesn’t understand the war on terror.”

Under a Kerry administration, he said, the fight against terrorism “will involve the military now and then,” but it will be “primarily an intelligence-gathering, law enforcement operation.”

“It’s a great big manhunt,” Kerry explained. “[The Bush] administration has translated that legitimate threat into a completely wrongheaded kind of full-fledged military response.”

Now, I’ll certainly agree that we need more law enforcement and intelligence gathering in this struggle. And, indeed, there will times and occasions when that approach is the best. But there will also certainly be times when military action is the best approach. John Kerry appears to want to pursue a more defense-minded strategy. Guarding the borders, providing security at airports, and inspecting shipments? Get law enforcement involved. Overthrowing the Taliban, changing Saddam’s regime, or scaring Libya into giving up its WMD programs? I say use the Marines, or at least threaten to use the Marines. John Kerry indicates that he won’t, and he revealed that plan to the enemy. It didn’t work from 1980 to 2001. (via Enter Stage Right)

Apparently, Kerry is also still going on about Bush’s “fraudulent coalition.” MO readers will know that I have some strong feelings about that claim. To his credit, I don’t think I’ve heard Kerry use the word “unilateral.” Mark Steyn wrote in yesterday’s Chicago Sun-Times

The G-7 comprises the world’s major industrial democracies. Aside from America, there are six other countries. Three — the United Kingdom, Italy and Japan — have troops in Iraq. Three — France, Germany and Canada — do not. So a majority of G-7 nations are members of this ”fraudulent coalition.” Eleven of the 19 NATO members have contributed troops to the ”fraudulent coalition.” Thirteen of the 25 members of the newly enlarged European Union have forces serving in the ”fraudulent coalition.”

So, when John Kerry pledges to rebuild America’s international relationships, what he means is that he disagrees with the majority of G-7 governments, NATO governments, European governments and key regional players in Asia and the Pacific, as well as the people of Iraq.

What if we suddenly had the support of all those nations who oppose us, but lost the support of the nations who are currently with us? Would that be better? Apparently Kerry thinks it might be. I do not. At all. I would like more international support, of course. But not enough to give up much of anything.

Bill Hobbs notes that DNC Chairman Terry McAulliffe plans to make the “Bush was AWOL” claim a major issue in the campaign if Kerry wins the Democratic nomination. Good. I don’t think that there’s a whole lot to the charges, and I expect that Bush will come out ahead on that one. But we will find out, in any event. If it’s important enough to voters, they’ll take it into consideration when making a decision.

To be honest, despite what my survey says, I’m no big fan of Bush. I fully support what we’re doing in the Middle East, and I support the tax cuts. Beyond that, I’m ambivalent at best about his policies. His team, which I thought was incredibly strong when appointed after he won in 2000, has not performed as well as I expected. If Democrats ever had a chance to snare a middle-of-the-road Conservative, this is it with a couple of military guys and Joe Lieberman running. It isn’t going to happen.