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John Kerry – “The Path Forward”

by Pamela Leavey

The following is an advance copy of the full text of John Kerry’s speech today at Georgetown University:

“The Path Forward”
Georgetown University
October 26, 2005

A few weeks ago I departed Iraq from Mosul. Three Senators and staff were gathered in the forward part of a C-130. In the middle of the cavernous cargo hold was a simple, aluminum coffin with a small American flag draped over it. We were bringing another American soldier, just killed, home to his family and final resting place.

The starkness of his coffin in the center of the hold, the silence except for the din of the engines, was a real time cold reminder of the consequences of decisions for which we Senators share responsibility.

As we arrived in Kuwait, a larger flag was transferred to fully cover his coffin and we joined graves registration personnel in giving him an honor guard as he was ceremoniously carried from the plane to a waiting truck. When the doors clunked shut, I wondered why all of America would not be allowed to see him arrive at Dover Air Force Base instead of hiding him from a nation that deserves to mourn together in truth and in the light of day. His lonely journey compels all of us to come to grips with our choices in Iraq.

Now more than 2,000 brave Americans have given their lives, and several hundred thousand more have done everything in their power to wade through the ongoing internal civil strife in Iraq. An Iraq which increasingly is what it was not before the war — a breeding ground for homegrown terrorists and a magnet for foreign terrorists. We are entering a make or break six month period, and I want to talk about the steps we must take if we hope to bring our troops home within a reasonable timeframe from an Iraq that’s not permanently torn by irrepressible conflict.

It is never easy to discuss what has gone wrong while our troops are in constant danger. I know this dilemma first-hand. After serving in war, I returned home to offer my own personal voice of dissent. I did so because I believed strongly that we owed it to those risking their lives to speak truth to power. We still do.

In fact, while some say we can’t ask tough questions because we are at war, I say no – in a time of war we must ask the hardest questions of all. It’s essential if we want to correct our course and do what’s right for our troops instead of repeating the same mistakes over and over again. No matter what the President says, asking tough questions isn’t pessimism, it’s patriotism.

Our troops have served with stunning bravery and resolve. The nobility of their service to country can never be diminished by the mistakes of politicians. American families who have lost, or who fear the loss, of their loved ones deserve to know the truth about what we have asked them to do, what we are doing to complete the mission, and what we are doing to prevent our forces from being trapped in an endless quagmire.

Some people would rather not have that discussion. They’d rather revise and rewrite the story of our involvement in Iraq for the history books. Tragically, that’s become standard fare from an administration that doesn’t acknowledge facts generally, whether they are provided by scientists, whistle-blowers, journalists, military leaders, or the common sense of every citizen. At a time when many worry that we have become a society of moral relativists, too few worry that we have a government of factual relativists.

Let’s be straight about Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not the reason America went to war.

The country and the Congress were misled into war. I regret that we were not given the truth; as I said more than a year ago, knowing what we know now, I would not have gone to war in Iraq. And knowing now the full measure of the Bush Administration’s duplicity and incompetence, I doubt there are many members of Congress who would give them the authority they abused so badly. I know I would not. The truth is, if the Bush Administration had come to the United States Senate and acknowledged there was no “slam dunk case” that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, acknowledged that Iraq was not connected to 9/11, there never would have even been a vote to authorize the use of force — just as there’s no vote today to invade North Korea, Iran, Cuba, or a host of regimes we rightfully despise.

I understand that as much as we might wish it, we can’t rewind the tape of history. There is, as Robert Kennedy once said, ‘enough blame to go around,’ and I accept my share of the responsibility. But the mistakes of the past, no matter who made them, are no justification for marching ahead into a future of miscalculations and misjudgments and the loss of American lives with no end in sight. We each have a responsibility, to our country and our conscience, to be honest about where we should go from here. It is time for those of us who believe in a better course to say so plainly and unequivocally.

We are where we are. The President’s flippant “bring it on” taunt to the insurgents has found a meaning beyond his wildest expectations, a painful reality for troops who went for too long without protective armor. We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure, and the mission the President once declared accomplished remains perilously incomplete.

To set a new course, we must be strong, smart, and honest. As we learned painfully during the Vietnam War, no president can sustain a war without the support of the American people. In the case of Iraq, their patience is frayed and nearly to the breaking point because Americans will not tolerate our troops giving their lives without a clear strategy, and will not tolerate vague platitudes or rosy scenarios when real answers are urgently needed.

It’s time for leaders to be honest that if we do not change course, there is the prospect of indefinite, even endless conflict – a fate untenable for our troops, and a future unacceptable to the American people and the Iraqis who pray for the day when a stable Iraq will belong to Iraqis alone.

The path forward will not be easy. The administration’s incompetence and unwillingness to listen has made the task that much harder, and reduced what we can expect to accomplish. But there is a way forward that gives us the best chance both to salvage a difficult situation in Iraq, and to save American and Iraqi lives. With so much at stake, we must follow it.

We must begin by acknowledging that our options in Iraq today are not what they should be, or could have been.

The reason is simple. This Administration hitched their wagon to ideologues, excluding those who dared to tell the truth, even leaders of their own party and the uniformed military.

When after September 11th, flags flew from porches across America and foreign newspaper headlines proclaimed “We’re all Americans now,” the Administration could have kept the world united, but they chose not to. And they were wrong. Instead, they pushed allies away, isolated America, and lost leverage we desperately need today.

When they could have demanded and relied on accurate instead of manipulated intelligence, they chose not to. They were wrong – and instead they sacrificed our credibility at home and abroad.

When they could have given the inspectors time to discover whether Saddam Hussein actually had weapons of mass destruction, when they could have paid attention to Ambassador Wilson’s report, they chose not to. And they were wrong. Instead they attacked him, and they attacked his wife to justify attacking Iraq. We don’t know yet whether this will prove to be an indictable offense in a court of law, but for it, and for misleading a nation into war, they will be indicted in the high court of history. History will judge the invasion of Iraq one of the greatest foreign policy misadventures of all time.

But the mistakes were not limited to the decision to invade. They mounted, one upon another.

When they could have listened to General Shinseki and put in enough troops to maintain order, they chose not to. They were wrong. When they could have learned from George Herbert Walker Bush and built a genuine global coalition, they chose not to. They were wrong. When they could have implemented a detailed State Department plan for reconstructing post-Saddam Iraq, they chose not to. And they were wrong again. When they could have protected American forces by guarding Saddam Hussein’s ammo dumps where there were weapons of individual destruction, they exposed our young men and women to the ammo that now maims and kills them because they chose not to act. And they were wrong. When they could have imposed immediate order and structure in Baghdad after the fall of Saddam, Rumsfeld shrugged his shoulders, said Baghdad was safer than Washington, D.C. and chose not to act. He was wrong. When the Administration could have kept an Iraqi army selectively intact, they chose not to. They were wrong. When they could have kept an entire civil structure functioning to deliver basic services to Iraqi citizens, they chose not to. They were wrong. When they could have accepted the offers of the United Nations and individual countries to provide on the ground peacekeepers and reconstruction assistance, they chose not to. They were wrong. When they should have leveled with the American people that the insurgency had grown, they chose not to. Vice President Cheney even absurdly claimed that the “insurgency was in its last throes.” He was wrong.

Now after all these mistakes, the Administration accuses anyone who proposes a better course of wanting to cut and run. But we are in trouble today precisely because of a policy of cut and run. This administration made the wrong choice to cut and run from sound intelligence and good diplomacy; to cut and run from the best military advice; to cut and run from sensible war time planning; to cut and run from their responsibility to properly arm and protect our troops; to cut and run from history’s lessons about the Middle East; to cut and run from common sense.

And still today they cut and run from the truth.

This difficult road traveled demands the unvarnished truth about the road ahead.

To those who suggest we should withdraw all troops immediately – I say No. A precipitous withdrawal would invite civil and regional chaos and endanger our own security. But to those who rely on the overly simplistic phrase “we will stay as long as it takes,” who pretend this is primarily a war against Al Qaeda, and who offer halting, sporadic, diplomatic engagement, I also say – No, that will only lead us into a quagmire.

The way forward in Iraq is not to pull out precipitously or merely promise to stay “as long as it takes.” To undermine the insurgency, we must instead simultaneously pursue both a political settlement and the withdrawal of American combat forces linked to specific, responsible benchmarks. At the first benchmark, the completion of the December elections, we can start the process of reducing our forces by withdrawing 20,000 troops over the course of the holidays.

The Administration must immediately give Congress and the American people a detailed plan for the transfer of military and police responsibilities on a sector by sector basis to Iraqis so the majority of our combat forces can be withdrawn. No more shell games, no more false reports of progress, but specific and measurable goals.

It is true that our soldiers increasingly fight side by side with Iraqis willing to put their lives on the line for a better future. But history shows that guns alone do not end an insurgency. The real struggle in Iraq – Sunni versus Shiia – will only be settled by a political solution, and no political solution can be achieved when the antagonists can rely on the indefinite large scale presence of occupying American combat troops.

In fact, because we failed to take advantage of the momentum of our military victory, because we failed to deliver services and let Iraqis choose their leaders early on, our military presence in vast and visible numbers has become part of the problem, not the solution.

And our generals understand this. General George Casey, our top military commander in Iraq, recently told Congress that our large military presence “feeds the notion of occupation” and “extends the amount of time that it will take for Iraqi security forces to become self-reliant.” And Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, breaking a thirty year silence, writes, ”Our presence is what feeds the insurgency, and our gradual withdrawal would feed the confidence and the ability of average Iraqis to stand up to the insurgency.” No wonder the Sovereignty Committee of the Iraqi Parliament is already asking for a timetable for withdrawal of our troops; without this, Iraqis believe Iraq will never be its own country.

We must move aggressively to reduce popular support for the insurgency fed by the perception of American occupation. An open-ended declaration to stay ‘as long as it takes’ lets Iraqi factions maneuver for their own political advantage by making us stay as long as they want, and it becomes an excuse for billions of American tax dollars to be sent to Iraq and siphoned off into the coffers of cronyism and corruption.

It will be hard for this Administration, but it is essential to acknowledge that the insurgency will not be defeated unless our troop levels are drawn down, starting immediately after successful elections in December. The draw down of troops should be tied not to an arbitrary timetable, but to a specific timetable for transfer of political and security responsibility to Iraqis and realignment of our troop deployment. That timetable must be real and strict. The goal should be to withdraw the bulk of American combat forces by the end of next year. If the Administration does its work correctly, that is achievable.

Our strategy must achieve a political solution that deprives the Sunni-dominated insurgency of support by giving the Sunnis a stake in the future of their country. The Constitution, opposed by more than two thirds of Sunnis, has postponed and even exacerbated the fundamental crisis of Iraq. The Sunnis want a strong secular national government that fairly distributes oil revenues. Shiites want to control their own region and resources in a loosely united Islamic state. And Kurds simply want to be left alone. Until sufficient compromise is hammered out, a Sunni base can not be created that isolates the hard core Baathists and jihaadists and defuses the insurgency.

The Administration must use all of the leverage in America’s arsenal – our diplomacy, the presence of our troops, and our reconstruction money — to convince Shiites and Kurds to address legitimate Sunni concerns and to make Sunnis accept the reality that they will no longer dominate Iraq. We cannot and should not do this alone.

The Administration must bring to the table the full weight of all of Iraq’s Sunni neighbors. They also have a large stake in a stable Iraq. Instead of just telling us that Iraq is falling apart, as the Saudi foreign minister did recently, they must do their part to put it back together. We’ve proven ourselves to be a strong ally to many nations in the region. Now it’s their turn to do their part.

The administration must immediately call a conference of Iraq’s neighbors, Britain, Turkey and other key NATO allies, and Russia. All of these countries have influence and ties to various parties in Iraq. Together, we must implement a collective strategy to bring the parties in Iraq to a sustainable political compromise. This must include obtaining mutual security guarantees among Iraqis themselves. Shiite and Kurdish leaders need to make a commitment not to perpetrate a bloodbath against Sunnis in the post-election period. In turn, Sunni leaders must end support for the insurgents, including those who are targeting Shiites. And the Kurds must explicitly commit themselves not to declare independence.

To enlist the support of Iraq’s Sunni neighbors, we should commit to a new regional security structure that strengthens the security of the countries in the region and the wider community of nations. This requires a phased process including improved security assistance programs, joint exercises, and participation by countries both outside and within the Middle East.

Ambassador Khalilzad is doing a terrific job trying broker a better deal between the Iraqi parties. But he can’t do it alone. The President should immediately appoint a high level envoy to maximize our diplomacy in Iraq and the region.

Showing Sunnis the benefits that await them if they continue to participate in the process of building Iraq can go a long way toward achieving stability. We should press these countries to set up a reconstruction fund specifically for the majority Sunni areas. It’s time for them to deliver on their commitments to provide funds to Iraq. Even short-term improvements, like providing electricity and supplying diesel fuel – an offer that the Saudis have made but have yet to fulfill – can make a real difference.

We need to jump start our own lagging reconstruction efforts by providing the necessary civilian personnel to do the job, standing up civil-military reconstruction teams throughout the country, streamlining the disbursement of funds to the provinces so they can deliver services, expanding job creation programs, and strengthening the capacity of government ministries.

We must make it clear now that we do not want permanent military bases in Iraq, or a large combat force on Iraqi soil indefinitely. And as we withdraw our combat troops, we should be prepared to keep a substantially reduced level of American forces in Iraq, at the request of the Iraqi government, for the purpose of training their security forces. Some combat ready American troops will still be needed to safeguard the Americans engaged in that training, but they should be there to do that and to provide a back stop to Iraqi efforts, not to do the fighting for Iraqis.

Simultaneously, the President needs to put the training of Iraqi security forces on a six month wartime footing and ensure that the Iraqi government has the budget to deploy them. The Administration must stop using the requirement that troops be trained in-country as an excuse for refusing offers made by Egypt, Jordan, France and Germany to do more.

This week, long standing suspicions of Syrian complicity in destabilizing Lebanon were laid bare by the community of nations. And we know Syria has failed to take the aggressive steps necessary to stop former Baathists and foreign fighters from using its territory as a transit route into Iraq. The Administration must prod the new Iraqi government to ask for a multinational force to help protect Iraq’s borders until a capable national army is formed. Such a force, if sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council, could attract participation by Iraq’s neighbors and countries like India and would be a critical step in stemming the tide of insurgents and money into Iraq.

Finally, and without delay, we must fundamentally alter the deployment of American troops. While Special Operations must continue to pursue specific intelligence leads, the vast majority of our own troops should be in rear guard, garrisoned status for security backup. We do not need to send young Americans on search and destroy missions that invite alienation and deepen the risks they face. Iraqis should police Iraqis. Iraqis should search Iraqi homes. Iraqis should stand up for Iraq.

We will never be as safe as we should be if Iraq continues to distract us from the most important war we must win – the war on Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and the terrorists that are resurfacing even in Afghanistan. These are the make or break months for Iraq. The President must take a new course, and hold Iraqis accountable. If the President still refuses, Congress must insist on a change in policy. If we do take these steps, there is no reason this difficult process can not be completed in 12-15 months. There is no reason Iraq cannot be sufficiently stable, no reason the majority of our combat troops can’t soon be on their way home, and no reason we can’t take on a new role in Iraq, as an ally not an occupier, training Iraqis to defend themselves. Only then will we have provided leadership equal to our soldiers’ sacrifice – and that is what they deserve.

100 Responses to “John Kerry – “The Path Forward””

  1. Nice speech. Call me delusional, but isn’t this speech saying that he is out of the running for 2008? It’s good to hear he is continuing to speak up and call for withdraw.

  2. Sounds so ’08 to me. Bring it on JK! Can I get a side order of Indictment with that please?

  3. John wants 20,000 troops home by Christmas. He will be on ‘Hannity & Colmes’ at 9 p.m. EDT. I hate fox but I might have to just record this.

  4. JK is going on Hannity and Colmes? Seriously? Can I bear to watch? Hannity is a no-nothing wannabe and Colmes is useless. As much as I like JK I think I’ll pass.

    I received JKs speech via email today and it looks great. I just hope the media picks up on it. I’m sure there are those on the left who will continue to take their total misunderstanding of the IWR and use it to further malign JK, but oh well, at this point I figure it’s more about their own egos and ’04 primary disappointments than JK.

  5. FD and everyone,

    Here this article that made it to the MSM (though I wish this was on TV also. I heard CSPAN was taping it.



  6. I didn’t want to say, but in NY, at the Freddy thing, to a person and typical woman reading in, grooving on the emotional connection, he looked either tired, distracted, or disappointed in those minuites with us. Fine at the speech. Not the JK in NJ. But I say he was also pounding the pavement with Freddy earlier.

    I honestly think he has to go with his gut, ’08 or not. We know no amount of positioning is going to help. Showing us a leader now will reclaim his reputation, and even perhaps give clarity to Iraq. Clarity is a word I often hear him say, and that’s what need-not just what the purist left, or positioners would want.

    This about now, and G-d willing, ’08, because he leads.

  7. Marjorie

    I think preparing for this speech has been huge for JK. A lot weighing on his mind. Awesome speech, the coverage is just starting to come in.

  8. That’s great Pam. :)

  9. Very solid speach from Kerry. If it weren’t so long, I’d send it to my less than educated on war family.

    The only thing I find that is not going to happen is the Kurds not declaring independance. LOL They are so waiting till the country is in a federal form then they’ll break away. Helloooo Kurdistan. :p

  10. BH 142

    There’s excerpts of the speech on JohnKerry.com

  11. John Kerry will never get away with this….too many in the base know he cynically sold out his fellow soldiers left behind in Vietnam in order to look strong by voting for that resolution. He can’t now say that he accepts part of the blame. He stood by and let Bush lead our troops to slaughter. He is as guilty as Bush in this, even more so since he knew what was in store for our soldiers. There are some actions that “sorry” will never fix and this is one of them. Kerry will never get the nomination again in 08. It will be Gore and Feingold.

  12. What are Feingold and Gore’s plans for getting out of Iraq? Just curious.

    Thanks for the Rovian talking points. That will help us in 2006.

  13. I was struck by this line:

    There is, as Robert Kennedy once said, ‘enough blame to go around,’ and I accept my share of the responsibility. But the mistakes of the past, no matter who made them, are no justification for marching ahead into a future of miscalculations and misjudgments and the loss of American lives with no end in sight.

    It’s good to hear him regret his vote on Iraq. I think it helps moving forward. Many people never understood the nuance in his position and saw the vote as a yes or no vote in favor or against War. (Although I’ve always, and still believe it wasn’t that clear cut. The vote authorized the President to make the decision – which seems reasonable – and he did based on his own trumped up evidence. ) This makes it clear Kerry regrets his vote. Bush shouldn’t have been trusted. Congress was lied to.

    Now how do we help stabilize the new Iraq government and bring our troops home ASAP.

  14. Gail Says:
    October 26th, 2005 at 2:05 pm

    Polly wanna cracker?

  15. Gail

    FYI: Read the dislaimer under “Leave a Reply”.

    Take it somewhere else.

  16. Gail,

    Kerry voted to authorize use of force only if we were proven to be threatened by WMD. (He voted yes primarily to give Bush the levarage to get the inspectors back in).

    During the lead up to the war, Kerry argued many times that Bush never provided the evidence we were threatened by WMD, and opposed Bush going to war.

    The war is Bush’s fault–not Kerry’s. Bush misused the authority.

  17. um, Gore’s not even running…

  18. Gore’s not running and Feingold is unlieky to get the nomination. (With an added comment that statements that someone isn’t running may not be certain, and any predictions this far ahead are of doubtful meaning.)

  19. Gail, and others… this should clear things up:

    “But I felt my decision was absolutely consistent with the counter-proliferation efforts I have been making as a Senator for my entire career. I felt proliferation was a critical issue. I thought a President ought to get inspectors back into Iraq. I thought a President ought to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. But I knew how to do it right, and my regret is that this President proved he not only didn’t know how to do it right, but was prepared to go back on his promises, be deceptive, and mislead the nation. I regret that he did that, and I regret that I put any trust in him at all. I shouldn’t have, obviously.”
    ~John Kerry

    And he’s not just saying “sorry.” He’s offering a solution. Let’s not be like bush & co. and suggest that someone is either “with us or against us” and ignore any effort to change course and get it right. That would be mistake as great as Kerry’s mistake in trusting bush, or bush’s mistakes in the war.

  20. There is talk of Gore running. I’m not sure how well he’ll do.

    Kerry running again might not get it to work. He had his chance and didn’t rise to the occasion. Edwards doesn’t have a solid chance imo, but talk is he’s going to run and if so, that probably means Kerry is out for sure.

    I really hope we get someone to step up though. Our options are limited and as much as the dem’s love Hillary, she doesn’t have a prayer in middle class america.

    Bill Richardson looks pretty solid to me honestly but if McCain runs, there isn’t anyone that is going to stop him.

    Thanks for the link Pamela.

  21. Hey, who is this guy? He sounds like he thinks he’s the president. I guess his handlers checked the polls and gave him the green light for “anti-war message.” Notice the exaggerated qualifications. “To those who think… I say, ‘No.’ To those who think… I also say, ‘No.’ That’s because I’m the barriton Boston patriarch with sage advice, the level-headed-guy-in-the-middle, if you will. I just say, ‘No,’ for mugs.”

    Where were you in October Kerry?

  22. Kerry has been giving the same message since well before the war started.

  23. Trolls in mass in this thread. I guess Kerry’s speech was really good. It is generally when he has something important to say that they appear.

  24. Yep, can’t let someting good happen. They have to come out in force to parrot the same old rhetoric. LOL I ask again, Polly wanna cracker?

  25. Vermont,

    He is our president for many reasons, proven and not.

    How would you have worked an electoral win in the middle of the states, without media, when the blue coasters were having hissy fits over what they heard or didn’t hear and wouldn’t vote.

    If you listened and read the articles and authorization, you’d know, but something tells me know.

    Were you for your Governor, thinking him erroneously more anti-war, and maybe resistent to truth-telling?

  26. Hey Vermont Blue, where were YOU in October? I was working for Kerry. I could have worked harder. Can you take responsiblity and say the same thing?

    Bill Richardson also said he’s not running anymore. If McCain runs, I will travel the country and single handedly stop him if I have to. It’s not even 2006 yet. What is this attitude with “no one is going to stop him”?!?! That’s terrible. Besides… it’s all about ’06!

    Anyway, I wanted to let people know that Karen from the DCP went to see JK and has a great report of her experience:

  27. BH_142

    Reasonable, and welcome.

    Kerry did step up, but the media and election conditions difficult. The results were better than people realize, but most would rather see the extreme loss, which is not such a certain.

    How to get an electoral win in the middle of the country 55% for the war?

    We will have Hillary theater, distracting, counter-productive, like it or not.

    We need to dispell McCain as straight-talking, after just three weeks in 2000. Against torture abuse more than 1 year after the opportunity. Has Bush’s media guy.

  28. Sorry, dispel.

  29. BH 142

    Richardson was quoted in the Almanac of American Politics (I think it was 2004 edition) as saying he would never run for pres. because among other things his wife would divorce him if he did. I agree there are things to like about Richardson, but I just don’t think he’ll do it.

    I don’t see how Edwards running will keep Kerry out. Edmund Muskie was Hubert Humphrey’s running mate in 1968- and they both ran for the nomination in 1972. As for Kerry running and losing, several people have lost presidential nomination and or general elections are later become president.
    Nixon lost to Kennedy in 1960 and was elected in 1968. Grover Cleveland lost to Harrison in 1888 but beat him in 1892. Ronald Reagan very narrowly lost to Ford in 1976, but came back to win in 1980. FDR was on a losing ticket in 1920, but came back to win 4 terms.

    McCain and Hillary: I totally agree that Hillary has no chance of winning a general election. I have asked the question far and wide “what state would Hillary win that Kerry did not?” So far no one has given me an answer. Frankly, I’m not sure she could win some of the Democratic leaning swing states like NH, Michigan, or Wisconsin.
    I know McCain has a lot of stature with independents (which I think is undeserved, but that’s just me) so I can see where you might think McCain would be unstoppable. Honestly, as strange and politically counterintuitive as this may sound, I don’t think McCain has a prayer of getting the GOP nomination.
    McCain is a conservative-with some maverick tendencies. Bevcause of that it’s hard for me to see conservatives trusting McCain.
    What’s more is that for the better part of four decades, the GOP has basically been southernized. Prior to Jimmy Carter the view was a southerner couldn’t be elected (LBJ only happened because JFK was shot). And Carter, like LBJ in 1964, did his damndest to make sure he was NOT thought off as a southern conservative (remember the Playboy interview)?
    But after the pandering to upper-middle class “soccer moms” by Clinton, and Bush’s right-wing base courting in his victory, the notion that a southern CONSERVATIVE can’t win is no longer valid.
    Ergo, says the GOP, we’ve won with southern conservatives before (or won with folks who ran on southern conservative platforms a la Reagan) we can run another southern conservative and win.
    McCain may be conservative, but he’s not southern-nor is he as conservative as the South (the GOP’s base) is. You and I might call that “a strong candidate.” In today’s rapidly southernizing GOP, they call that “an also-ran in the primary.”
    I know its sounds counterintuitive to not nominate someone with credibility among independents, but never underestimate the GOP’s ability to sell a real right-wing nut job as a “moderate.” Compassionate conservatism anyone?

  30. great analysis, Nick!

  31. Thank you Native Texan.

  32. Nick,

    While there is precidence in the US for a losing candidate to later be elected, Europe provides a better model. In Europe it is far more likely for an opposition leader to develop support, even through losing elections, until he is able to beat the incumbent.

    As I’m sure you’d agree, Kerry’s loss by such a small margin to a sitting President during wartime hardly rules him out for another run.

  33. McCain looks difficult to beat now, but things may be different if he is actually a Presidential candidate.

    The problem with being known as a straight talker is that you have to live up to it, or those who gave you that label are likely to turn on you. McCain might not be able to withstand the scrutiny of a Presidential race. He might also need to make some compromises to keep the religious right voting Republican, and doing so might undermine his straight talking image.

  34. NT4K

    Maybe you can do us the favor of linking to the speech text on DCP… Much obliged if you would, folks there might like to read the entire speech.

  35. of course I will

  36. NT4K

    Thanks! It’s great Karen was able to go today.

  37. I’m sure Kerry will run in ’08. And win.

    The main thing to look at is his fundamental character. He was raised to believe in noblesse oblige and service. He is certain that his destiny is to serve his country and he has always wanted to be President. Everything in his life has contributed to this end. And the timing is perfect. He will do a fantastic job and be loved by his people.

    I am convinced that his greatest dream right now is to get these folks out of Iraq. He is laying the groundwork and no one has the diplomatic and political skill that he does, which is exactly what will be needed in Iraq. I think a solution is forthcoming. I think the Iraqis want it, and so do the Americans. And this will mean so much to Kerry. A completion of a cycle. To end this war as President would be a culmination of his efforts to influence the war machine as a young man. I want this for him. And for all of us. He is one of the few who truly understands.

  38. Teresa Says:
    October 26th, 2005 at 5:09 pm

    {{Teresa}} missed you!! You said a mouth full :)

  39. That’s cute, but just five months ago Kerry was calling for increased troop levels.

    Me, I’m getting Kerry induced spastic whiplash again.

  40. Two points:

    1/ This Reuters release is from 2004.

    2/ If I remember correctly, Kerry was talking about 40,000 new US troops, not troops in Iraq. Seemed that Reuters got it wrong.

  41. Wow. Kerry must have rocked today cause the trolls are out in droves.

  42. George

    Actually its not cute, it’s just responding to changing circumstances.

    Circumstances change between May 28, 2004! and October 26, 2005! Yeah, a lot can happen 1 year and (nearly) six months.

  43. That’s what the generals were saying they needed at the time…

  44. Oops

    Should have been “a lot can happen IN one year and (nearly) six months. Well, at least I’m correcting the record, unlike the many trolls here.

  45. Mass is correct. The increased troops Kerry called for were not for Iraq.

  46. From Kerry’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention:

    “And I will build a stronger military. We will add 40,000 active duty troops — not in Iraq, but to strengthen American forces that are now overstretched, overextended, and under pressure.”

  47. How about Kerry’s position stated in mid-February, 2005?

    USA Today article.

    Senate Democrats will push President Bush to add up to $8 billion a year to the White House’s war-spending bill to pay for more troops than Bush wants and more generous support for families and businesses affected by the war, former presidential contender Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said Tuesday.

  48. George Turner – October 26th, 2005 at 7:02 pm

    So you think that the troops who are serving in W’s illgotten war don’t deserve proper equipment and benefits, and that their families don’t deserve support, and vet’s don’t deserve benefits, because that’s what that February 2005 piece is about.

    What a guy… screw the troops is your attitude… wow!

  49. {{{John Kerry}}}

  50. Take it up with General Casey, George.

  51. By the way, I watched Faux for JK. (now THAT’S devotion…) He was great.

  52. Native, I’m going to Tivo it. Doesn’t come on for another hour and gotta get some sleep.

    Outta words, but d@mn, but it’s grand to hear/read the man again.

    John Kerry.. STILL the Real Deal. :-)

  53. George Turner,
    Same thing. Nobody is talking about Iraq here.

  54. George

    Here are some excerpts of Kerry’s proposals:
    Kerry also proposes:

    • Extending military health insurance to all members of the National Guard and Reserve, whether mobilized or not. The so-called part-time troops of the Guard and Reserve get full military health coverage only while they’re on active duty or if they’re willing to pay the cost themselves.

    • Expanding post-traumatic stress disorder help to all veterans who need it, not only to those just back from combat.

    • Allowing troops to make penalty-free withdrawals from IRA accounts for expenses associated with deployments.

    • Creating a tax credit for small businesses that make up the difference in lost wages for reservists.

    • Letting families of troops killed in combat remain in military housing for up to a year, instead of six months.

    • Creating a line on federal tax forms to allow contributions to help wounded vets.

    Kerry said Congress could pay for the proposals by slowing deployment of an anti-missile defense system and by ending programs to develop battlefield and “bunker buster” nuclear weapons.

    Another option would be trimming tax cuts for individuals earning $300,000 or more or couples earning $600,000 or more, he said.

    Kerry and Bush are in general agreement on a larger death benefit for servicemembers. Last month, the Bush administration proposed an increase in the tax-free “death gratuity” for servicemembers who die in combat zones, to $100,000 from $12,420.

    The government would also increase the amount of life insurance available to all servicemembers to $400,000 from $250,000. For troops in combat zones, the government would pay the premiums on the extra $150,000 of insurance.

    Kerry would extend the benefits to all servicemembers, not just those in combat zones.

    Now which of these proposals constitute being called a bad idea? Frankly, aren’t these proposals long overdue? Giving rich CEOs toom much pay or compensation is one thing worth fighting against – but increased pay and benefits for folks in the military? What’s wrong with that?

  55. I don’t understand why some Democrats presist in taking Kerry’s statements out of context in order to try to make it appear he supports different positions than he actually has.

    It is particularly foolish to do so here–we know where Kerry has stood all along.

  56. Ron, I think it might have something to do with the surfing nature of the internet, which can fracture an attention span. Click here, there, scan a bit, post a drivel soundbite, don’t go back and see if anyone responds because, hey, who cares, there are a million and one other places to go.

    Click, click, click. The sound of a brain that doesn’t want to actually have to do anything as low-tech, or old-fashioned, as reading, comprehending, and then thinking.

  57. ps. Thanks for the breakdown, Nick.

  58. What with Kerry making strong speeches and getting coverage and this troll encounter… it feels like old times. 😉

  59. regarding McCain.

    He’s not invincible for two reasons.

    1. He’s not all that attractive to the Right Wing Nutters who’s support he needs to win in the Republican Primary.

    2. If he does win the nomination, you can paint him as another Bush yes man, and run all the footage from 2004 when McCain was sucking up and hugging Bush at every campaign stop. Instead he could have been on a bi-partisan ticket with Kerry. He chose Bush over independence and bi-partisanship.

    You can also frame McCain as Democrat-Lite to the conservatives and a Bush-crony-kiss-up to the Independents.

    What kind of a guy takes the personal beating that McCain did at the hands of BushCo. in the 2000 primaries, where they smeared his honor, and then turns around and stumps for the same guy. Talk about a sell out, promoting the party line.

    As someone who contributed to McCain in 2000, I’ll never again support him and will work hard to make sure he is never President.

  60. Interesting… so McCain wont please both sides… he’ll piss off both sides!

  61. I’ve heard a few Republicans say no way to McCain, it remains me of the Hill factor actually. Funny the pundits are so hot on both of them. Of course they are trying to take the focus off of you know who…

  62. ifk editor Says:
    October 26th, 2005 at 8:06 pm

    Yeah buddy!! As Pamela can attest, I have spoken out against McCain even before my switch. I don’t know of any Republican down here that likes him.

  63. ((((Donnie))))

    You’re still a Democratic daily treasure.

  64. Teresa

    Hey you! Yes he is!

  65. Oh, you ladies are going to make me blush again.

  66. Donnie, man!

    You’re sounding like a sensitive liberal(?) guy.

  67. LOL

  68. Hey Pam, my gal!

  69. Chuck in Houston for All:
    Chuck in Houston for Pamela et al:

    Thanks for posting the speech. I am glad people like Senator Kerry are trying to focus the country’s attention on the urgent issue of “what to do now” in Iraq. There are only two parts of the Senator’s speech I’d quibble with, for what it’s worth. First:

    “As we learned painfully during the Vietnam War, no president can sustain a war without the support of the American people.”

    Me, liking as I do to de-personalize things, I would turn the idea around a little: Presidents must learn that the American people won’t sustain their support for a wrong-headed war indefinitely.

    Second, the idea of training Iraqi security seems naive — to my mind the issue is local politics in Iraq, and how those politics relate to the politics of Iraq’s neighbors, including Syria and Iran.

    Technical issues like training seem like they ought to take a back-seat to helping facilitate an acceptable local political compromise (I know “acceptable” is a loaded term but I’ll leave it at that for the sake of creative ambiguity). And I can’t see an acceptable local political compromise taking place without a larger, regional one, because the regional powers-that-be are in a position to either spoil or solve the situation in ways we are not well-positioned to effect.

    In that respect, I can’t see how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (and it’s implications for Lebanon, Syria and Jordan in particular) or the approach we take to Iran and Syria can be left out of the equation. And again, given the energy equation, which makes the stakes very high for all, the whole thing will require coordination with the EU, Russia, China and India as well(especially since regional “spoilers” could find support from the outside). I know that may seem difficult and long-term but honestly I don’t see any other way to disengage from Iraq militarily without leaving behind a real mess. I’ll have to think a bit more on what an “acceptable” compromise would look like, but I do beleive to work it has to be acceptable at all three levels: local, regional and “Great Power” (for lack of a better term.

    Chuck in Houston

  70. Chuck in Houston

    Thanks for stopping by and weighing in. There’s so many variables on this. It’s a start – whether Bushco does anything remains to be seen.

  71. Chuck in Houston for Pamela:

    No, thanks go to you guys to keeping the spirit going! And there are too many variables, and too many players around the world are being backed deeper into corners, it seems to me, making the situation ever more volatile and confusing, and hence more dangerous and intractable. I hope Senator Kerry and others press ahead and continue leading an alternative and realistic discussion in this nation about what are options really are, and based on that, what our objectives ought to be, and based on that, forge an alternative set of policies.

    Oh well. Can’t sleep tonight.

    Chuck in Houston

  72. Chuck

    Regardless of some like to say – Kerry is not one to back down. I suppose I am not either, thus, I still have his back. He’s got more to offer than most and he’s doing his job everyday and making news. He does that – I do this.

    Stop by more often, I always enjoy your conversation!

  73. I’m with ya.

  74. Katrina blew–Bush sucks!!
    Katrinacrats for Kerry!!

    Kerry Said more truth in that speech, than Bush has in his whole life.

  75. “When they could have listened to General Shinseki and put in enough troops to maintain order, they chose not to. They were wrong.”

    “And our generals understand this. General George Casey, our top military commander in Iraq, recently told Congress that our large military presence ‘feeds the notion of occupation’ and ‘extends the amount of time that it will take for Iraqi security forces to become self-reliant.'”

    He’s trying to lose the 2008 election too?

  76. Anthony Says: October 27th, 2005 at 9:55 am

    And your point is what?

  77. Anthony Says: October 27th, 2005 at 9:55 am

    Dude, get a clue!!!

  78. Do we need more troops in Iraq, or less troops?

  79. Anthony

    One comment was in the more distant past – the other in the recent past. You are taking the two comments out of context. They were NOT made one right after the other, as you seem to be implying. The speech points out what has been done wrong and the constantly changing circumstances in Iraq.

    Sorry you don’t get that – it’s not rocket science.

  80. Anthony, Your talking points and misleading comments, don’t hold water.

  81. Anthony,

    If you take statements out of context it is possible to argue that Kerry (or anyone else) hold positions different than they actually hold. That is a common tactic used by the Bush Administration in the 2004 campaign.

    If we are going to discuss Kerry’s views it makes far more sense to discuss the viiews he actually holds. There is no pont in attributing other views to him.

  82. Oh well, not to pile on or anything, but Anthony, for example, on June 6 1944 we needed a lot of troops in Normandy. On December 25 1945 we needed them in Bastogne, not Normandy. Today we don’t need any troops in France or Belgium. Or, if you wear a raincoat on a rainy day but not on a sunny day, is that intelligent or inconsistent? Why am I writing this?

    Chuck in Houston

  83. Oops — Dec 25 1945 should be Dec 25 1944 in above. My bad. Sorry.

    Chuck in Houston

  84. Chuck in Houston to Pamela:

    Also, in my prior post above, I wanted to mention to you that I watched the video clip interview and listened to the NPR interview thanks to this site and I came away with the notion that Senator Kerry does understand that the local politics at this point are much more critical than military training. Just thought I’d throw that in for the sake of completeness.

    Thanks again,

    Chuck in Houston

    PS: I bet Gen. Scowcroft would agree as well.

  85. Also, to Anthony and others, why in the heck do so many negative comments on the Kerry speech on this and more seriously on other blogs (some are just disgusting) frame this as an issue of the 2008 POTUS election???? Not everything in life is a rah-rah-sis-boom-bah college football game. Some issues, like the ones Senator Kerry addressed in this Georgetown speech, TRANSCEND individual politicians. If you extrapolate several extrapolations and make multiple tiers of assumptions, I guess this can be looked at a “horse race.” Nonetheless, why do so many bloggers insist on framing this a race positioning moment rather than the articulation of a sound policy alternative for US foreign policy in the Middle East? For the record, I didn’t vote in the primaries last go round as a registered Oregon voter as I was out of the country but I would have voted for Kerry. If Edwards, Clark or Dean had won they would have gotten the same wholehearted support I gave to Senator Kerry.

    Chuck, a bit exasperated, in Houston

    PS: For DiAnne’s sake, I would have even gotten enthusiastic about a quixotic Kucinich candidacy

    PPS: Think 2006!!

  86. I remember talk about JK trying to make up his mind about the vote, the politics, sincere wish to hold Saddam accountable, weapons proliferation, etc, but he did wonder if Junior had been captured by the pod people, whether still independent of the neo-cons.

    Scowcroft supposedly indicated a safe vote on that score. Too many people had faith in his dad, and misunderstood GW. Also Powell.

  87. Hey Marjorie:

    To me, it was always simple. IWR gave POTUS the leverage needed to kick-start the inspections. Maybe that was not the best priority at the time, but it is a POTUS call. To everyone’s surprise, the inspections were going great guns. Then, for no reason, we attack. The IWR vote is defensible. Ending the inspections to occupy Iraq on the pretext of a WMD thread and in the face of serious international opposition was not. Not understanding the Pottery Barn rule is also unacceptable. IMHO.

    Chuck in Houston

  88. As a caveat, Marjorie, I agree with Senator Byrd that the Congress has been AWOL on the power to declare war. But I find it rediculous to lay that at any one Senator’s door — I think the only times we properly declared war in the last 100 years was WWI and WWII. Leaves a lot of blame to go around, as Bobby Kennedy might have said…

    Chuck in Houston

    PS: Go get ’em Brooklyn!

  89. Chuck

    LOL! Poor Anthony… it does seem he missed the point. Or more to the point, Anthony was just dropping by with some right-wing talking points.

  90. Pamela:

    I hope you are right and that little Anthony wasn’t dropping by with left-wing talking points. What I have seen on other blogs — especially Huffington — has really renewed my disgust for narcissistic lefties.

    Chuck, get old and grouchy, in Houston

    PS: And Marjorie, go get ’em, Detroit!

  91. Chuck

    That old pottery barn rule is simply not understood by so many. Sadly. The blame goes to the POTUS, not anyone Senator. We’re there, sadly we need to do some clean up before leave. We broke it — damn it sure doesn’t look like we can totally fix it, but atleast we could sweep it up a bit and put what we can back on the shelf.

  92. Chuck Says: October 27th, 2005 at 7:20 pm

    The NPR interview was good. Melissa Block seemed to want to trip JK up a bit, but he was not buying it. Colmes – well that surprised me. I enjoyed the exchange at the end about Voter’s Remorse.

  93. Chuck Says:October 27th, 2005 at 7:58 pm

    I think that the left recycles the right-wing talking points very deftly sometimes. Yes, it’s very ugly out there in the blogosphere sometimes. We’re a bit of novelty here — we hope people will catch on to the idea of being supportive of leaders who are doing good things.

  94. Marjorie G

    Junior was perhaps captured by something more sinister than the pod people. I don’t know… each generation gets worse…

  95. Pamela:

    Yep, it’s tough to watch someone else’s back and your own back at the same time. Here’s to hoping for rational discourse.

    Chuck in Houston

    PS: I miss Mark in Iowa on that. He was a bit caustic at times, but I liked the way he cut to the chase.

  96. Chuck

    Mark from Iowa was a gem in the rough… he is missed. We’ve been lucky here so far, people who happen upon us seem genuinely pleased to find a different atmosphere.

  97. Pamela:

    Just FYI, I’ve, against my better judgement, been posting on a thread just now that is extremely negative on Senator Kerry:


    (last page for all my comments — too little too late).

    That thread is an example of what I am talking about.

    Chuck in Houston

    PS: Keep the Faith and Victory in 2006!

  98. …and with mention of Mark from Iowa (although no post from him)… this thread is a keeper.
    {{{Everyone}}} (even the trolls) :-)

    Agree with so much that has been said, and said so well above. Many of us, John Kerry included, are living in the present. It’s 2005, 2006 is right around the bend. While black/white good/bad duality (always qualify “for whatever reason(s)”) seemed to win the day nearly a year ago, that simplistic thinking hasn’t propelled this nation forward to date and won’t in the future.

    *raising a ‘mug’ to the thinkers above* 😉

  99. Embrace it, love it!


  100. […] tical system.” Did O’Reilly miss the memo? Kerry has long since said that his IWR vote was a mistake and he’s been leading the charge on withdrawal from Iraq ever since. O […]