convention theme: Bush Lied

I can sum up the message of the Democratic Convention of 2004 in two words: Bush. Lied.

True, that message was sometimes subliminal, sometimes overt, nonetheless, the carefully scripted message intended to re-introduce John Kerry to America was that Bush lied.

Kerry's own rationale for voting to authorize the war in Iraq is still murky, hidden, and vague. "I only voted to threaten the use of force," or "the authorization required exhaustion of inspections," and, "Bush misled me," are all used invariably to extricate him from an untenable position on this issue and it highlights the hypocrisy about the 'unity' Democrats claim they would like to have in the country.

The challenge of the convention was to contrast Kerry's war position with Bush's. Unfortunately Kerry's own position is contrasted with his own position on the issue.

"I don't regret my vote. I regret we had a president who misled the nation and broke every promise he made to the Congress of the United States."

..."I think every premonition I had about the downside of this war was proved prescient," Kerry also told The Chronicle, "and it comes out of the experience that I personally had when we lost the consent and legitimacy of our nation in the war that I fought in."

And yet Kerry voted for this war. How can a man so savvy and sophisticated -- so prescient, if he does say so himself -- have been misled by that simpleton Bush?

"Proved prescient," yet "misled."

Now that is nuance.

The main problem Kerry has politically, as the Democratic convention shows, is that the nominee must take a position contrary to his party in order to get elected. Thus no Bush bashing, no anti-war statements, no deviation from the convention script, and mucho macho mention of the phrase, "and when I/he was in Vietnam." It was in fact an infomercial for the new and improved, "Real Deal," brand politician named John Kerry!(tm), patent pending.

Public support for the war had much more to do with Kerry's vote than any principle he claims now. In April of 2003 75% of Americans supported the Iraq invasion, and 22% opposed it. Kerry is a politician. And any politician knows to stay on the public's side of an issue. Kerry thought opposing the war would be too risky in the post-911 political atmosphere. Yet, he laid down enough contravening chaff to nuance his position later if need be. In the Democratic primary his hawkish vote and speeches were actually hurting him. Howard Dean was getting all the traction with out-and-out anti-war rhetoric. ...What to do?

Thus we have candidate Kerry, nuance supreme. Pro-war, anti-war. Life begins at conception, yet pro-abortion. For disarming Saddam, then not for disarming Saddam. As an aside, Zogby finds that the issue of whether we ever find WMD's in Iraq doesn't sway most voters.

...When asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for President Bush in the next presidential election if weapons of mass destruction are never found, an overwhelming majority (75%) of respondents said it would make no difference. One in five (20%) said they would be less likely to vote for him, and 5% said they would be more likely to support him. [zogby]

In my opinion Kerry's campaign has so far failed to contrast his position on Iraq and the war on terror with Bush's beyond claiming Bush is failing at both. What has Kerry said he will do differently? "...I will fight a smarter, more effective war on terror ...I will be a Commander-in-Chief who will never mislead us into war. ...As President, I will restore trust and credibility to the White House. ...Our purpose now is to reclaim our democracy itself." Divisive words.

The convention war message was diluted with populist entitlement promises. Every mention of the war in Iraq or the War on Terror was immediately followed by domestic remedies. Giving me the impression that Kerry's method of fighting the war on terror will be to make healthcare a right for all Americans.

We are a nation at war -- a global war on terror against an enemy unlike any we've ever known before. And here at home, wages are falling, health care costs are rising, and our great middle class is shrinking. People are working weekends -- two jobs, three jobs; and they're still not getting ahead.

...And when I am President, we will stop being the only advanced nation in the world which fails to understand that health care is not a privilege for the wealthy and the connected and the elected - it is a right for all Americans. And we will make it so. [John Kerry]

I can hardly believe that elevating any commercial service to the status of a right will make us safer from terrorists or somehow save us money and cut the deficit. In the end the whole message of this convention was based on a lie about a lie. Bush did not lie. The 911-commission report is clear that there was no manipulation of intelligence on the part of the Bush Administration. Democrats have their conspiracy theories of course, which they continue to espouse. Haven't heard much lately about how Bush is responsible for 911, but there are months left in the campaign yet.

What did Bush say was the reason we went into Iraq? And is that reason still valid?

My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger.

...I want Americans and all the world to know that coalition forces will make every effort to spare innocent civilians from harm. A campaign on the harsh terrain of a nation as large as California could be longer and more difficult than some predict. And helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable, and free country will require our sustained commitment.

We come to Iraq with respect for its citizens, for their great civilization, and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people.

...Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly -- yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now, with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.

Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force. And I assure you, this will not be a campaign of half measures, and we will accept no outcome but victory.

My fellow citizens, the dangers to our country and the world will be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the work of peace. We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others and we will prevail.

May God bless our country and all who defend her. -George W. Bush, March 19, 2003

Kerry said in his speech, "after September 11th all our people rallied to President Bush's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats. There were no Republicans. There were only Americans. And how we wish it had stayed that way." How did that change?

Democrats chose to end that unity by calling the President a liar. In a democracy disagreement is necessary and valuable. If democrats disagree with the solution the President comes up with they are entitled to do so. But to blame Bush for ending unity is not fair or true. Bush asked them to stand with him. Not the other way around. Seems that Bush is the one who should be blaming Democrats for dividing America. But he isn't. And that is the difference.

Democrats are welcome to rejoin with Republicans and unite this great nation as we were after 911. There's nothing stopping them, except partisan politics that is.

Posted by Eric Simonson at July 31, 2004 6:02 PM