Friday, April 07, 2006

John Kerry's Tactical Blunder
(for The Free Market News Network April 7, 2006)

John Kerry’s op-ed this week in the New York Times with a new plan for Iraq, calls for Iraq to form a new government by May 15 or America will pull out. It is a modified John Murtha plan. Rep. Murtha of Pennsylvania called for an American withdrawal from Iraq months back. But his plan seemed more an outburst; and act of honest frustration from a Democratic veteran who originally gave strong support to the troops and the war on terror. As I understand it, Rep. Murtha modified his position after discussion with Wesley Clark.

General Clark has come to the forefront of Democratic Party in recent days with a more comprehensive plan for the war on terror. He got a nice write up last week in the Boston Globe – Kerry’s hometown paper. It must have sent Kerry, who borrowed Clark’s salute and military manner for this keynote speech at the Democratic Party Convention, a chill, and posting his essay at the Times may have been a panic reaction to Clark’s progress on his home turf and as a figure in the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, the Nantucket liberals, the Beautiful People of the Life-Long Vacation and Kerry’s core constituency in New England, seem to be wringing their hands about Iraq. They are actively imagining “What would JFK do?” These influential opinion makers who find their way to C Span special news events and public television opinion shows, seem to have come to the definitive position through clairvoyance and liaison with the dead that our own John Fitzgerald Kennedy surely would have pulled out of Vietnam had he not been taken for us, thus, his guiding spirit would pull us out of Iraq as well . . . with a fig leaf, and a decent interval before retreat.

Like avatars and idols, JFK is redesigned in death to meet the times. I have always doubted it. This is what we, the course and gnarly common people of the mountains call the Weak Sister point of view, and JFK was not, ever, the Weak Sister.

Tactically, this was a big mistake for Kerry. It will force the other major candidates now to take one of two positions, and there are only two positions available to the Democrats: 1) persist with reason and courage in Iraq in a sea of error and mistaken judgment from the beginning – this is the view of Wes Clark & the Fighting Dems, 2) retreat after a decent interval – John Kerry. All other major candidates will now have to choose one or the other.

Mark Warner, who wants to be President but does not want to speak of Iraq, early responded to the old Murtha position months back. He was then clearly in opposition to pulling out and setting a time table for removal of troops – a position similar to General Clark’s. But Kerry’s reactive tactic, in opposition to Wes Clark growing role in the Democratic Party, will now break the Northeastern Democratic Quarternity (Kennedy, Kerry, Howard and Hillary).

This could be the great moment of opportunity for Senator Clinton; her moment of authentication. Other issues aside, on Iraq, she hears from far better minds than those of the fair Nantucket set. Mainly the Cajun Cartel; her husband (who’s favorite professor at Georgetown was the mysterious and distinguished global Cold-War strategist Carroll Quigley) and James Carville, who see abroad with the eyes of Wesley Clark. Senator Clinton will need now to come public with a clear opinion on Iraq and it will be, my guess, in General Clark’s camp. This we expected in New England. New York will not be dictated to by New England. A fact of life since 1865.

Even party chief Howard Dean seems to be taking Clark's initiative. This week he teamed up with Col. Andrew Horne, an Iraq veteran running for office in Kentucky, and General Clark to help advance the Fighting Dems in upcoming races. Kerry will be left alone on the Magic Mountain.

When Bush won reelection my first thought was that he wouldn’t last the full term in office but would disintegrate in his sixth year. My thought then was that like Nixon in reelection as the war in Vietnam tore at the electorate, the people’s choice was fraught with uncertainty and conflict. The spirit felt patriotic and desired to do the right thing and support the troops and the country in a state of crisis, but the head said there is something fundamentally flawed about the situation.

The spirit always governs at the expense of the head we are finding out again, as the Bush administration descents daily into illegality, hubris and incompetence. My early prognosis now seems a less distant and now somewhat possible scenario.