The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Kerry explains the war resolution vote to Imus - kinda
Scarcely breaking news - coming across the transcript of Kerry's segment on Tuesday's Don Imus show, I naturally look to see how he does.
Now, it's an artefact of transcribed speech - and of text written for speaking aloud - that it is harder to follow read off the page than listened to . But Kerry is appallingly hard going.
And Imus, who I'd thought was a Kerry supporter, is not cheerleading . Little wonder, with the extraordinary pantechnicon answers that the big man inflicts on his listeners .
Eventually, we get onto Kerry's vote on the resolution H JRes 114 authorising the use of force against Iraq, and his infamous Grand Canyon explanation :
IMUS: You said, Senator Kerry, a while back, not that long ago -- and I assume you meant all of the things you're talking about now, but you said knowing what you know now, which would include just what you've been talking about, you would have still voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq, which doesn't make any sense to me.
That's 313 words in that last answer. Which fail to obscure - in print, at least - that it is not an answer at all.
Imus has a fair question: on the hypothesis that you know in advance that Saddam has no WMD, why vote to allow the use of force against him? It's obviously counterfactual in two ways, one weak, the other stronger : first, Kerry did not happen to know at the time of the vote that Saddam had no WMD; and second, there was never any possibility that Kerry could know. No one outside Saddam and a few henchmen knew this.
But, as a Yale man and nuanced kind of guy, this kind of counterfactual is well within the grasp of his reasoning. He surely knows exactly what Imus is driving at.
And proceeds to answer a different question (or, perhaps, several).
I've yet to see Imus' question answered anywhere - let alone by Kerry or one of his surrogates. Perhaps, after the election, someone from the campaign could satisfy our curiosity on the point.
(The next part of the interview deals with Kerry's plan for Iraq. There's good reason why Kerry should not be tied down to specifics; but he should surely be able to explain himself more convincingly than this.)
The debates promise to be purgatorial.
MORE (September 20)
I dredged from my subconscious having read something about Hillary Clinton's - infinitely superior - answer to the H J Res 114 question. Not bookmarked, natch, and because of the complete and utter fuckitude of Mr Google when presented with gist searches, a good hour, on and off, wasted with tracking down the wretched thing.
The exchange I was thinking of was, it seems, part of Clinton's August 29 appearance on Meet the Press:
MR. RUSSERT:...Jay Rockefeller, the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was on this program a few weeks ago and this is what he said: "...we in Congress would not have authorized [the Iraq] war--we would not have authorized that war--with 75 votes if we knew what we know now."
An answer, finally, that actually makes sense! (And a plug for the candidate, natch.)
Speaking of which, Russert makes the obvious compare and contrast:
MR. RUSSERT: But John Kerry said he would vote again today for authorization, even knowing what he knows now. You don't agree with that.
So convoluted and confusing was Kerry's answer that she has to qualify her answer with an I think! Deciphering meaning in Kerry's answer needs a few document examiners or something...
(Was this the start of Hill's 2008 campaign? Certainly seems to be plenty of buyer's remorse in the Dem camp - the cries of About time! over Kerry's New York University speech today on Iraq, for instance.)
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