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Why is it that the press likes to report some misstatements by politicians but not others?
John Kerry gave a highly covered, nationally televised speech last week at Temple University.
The substance of the speech was front-page news across the country. Sound bites from it led all the major newscasts. It was analyzed by talking heads. It was rewritten into wire service reports.
But no one – not one news agency, not one analyst, not one commentator – mentioned Kerry’s slip of the tongue.
It was an embarrassing one for the presidential candidate. After he made it and corrected himself, his entire cadence was off-kilter. He seemed never to fully regain his composure and self-assurance. It was as if he knew he had just lost the election through an admission that his opponent had indeed succeeded at something.
This was the speech in which Kerry assured the American people, once again, that he had a real plan for fighting the war on terror.
And what’s the plan?
“As president, I will fight a tougher, smarter, more effective war on terror,” he said. “My priority will be to find and capture or kill the terrorists before they get us. And I will never take my eye of the ball.”
Not exactly inspirational. Not exactly ingenious. Once again, Kerry shows that he thinks he can beat George Bush by simply citing his weaknesses, his inability to capture or kill Osama bin Laden.
Of course, it still leaves the populace wondering how Kerry would fight this war tougher, smarter and more effectively.
Does Kerry even believe it?
Maybe. Maybe not. But Kerry launched into a long list of the sins of the Bush administration without mentioning one specific thing he would do differently as president. He would just be … smarter, I guess.
Kerry promised to see the Iraq war to its conclusion – to win it.
And then came John Kerry’s faux pas – the one the press ignored, the one the pundits ignored, the one even the Republicans ignored.
Every week, too many American families grieve for loved ones killed in Iraq by terrorists forces that weren’t even there before the invasion – many of which got their weapons from the very ammo dumps that George Bush didn’t guard after we won the war …
Yes, that’s what John Kerry said is his speech – that we had already won the war, which, of course, we have.
The Iraq war is over. Saddam Hussein was soundly and quickly defeated in one of the most stunning and one-sided military campaigns in the history of the world.
But John Kerry cannot acknowledge that the president or his generals did anything right. So, he quickly corrected himself.
“… after we won the military part of the war.”
However, the damage was done. Kerry never completely recovered his composure after ceding that we had already won the war in Iraq – without his help. In fact, the United States won it in spite of Kerry – in spite of the things John Kerry always does during U.S. military campaigns.
What has John Kerry always done? Talk out of both sides of his mouth.
He may begin as a loyal American with a single-minded focus on victory, but always – sometimes within days, sometimes within weeks, sometimes within months – he tries to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
That’s what he did in Vietnam – when he first came to the attention of the American people as a partisan of the North Vietnamese Communist enemy. That’s what he did throughout the Cold War when he preached appeasement of the Soviet Union. That’s what he did in Grenada when we invaded and chased out the Cubans. And that’s what he is doing with Iraq.
But for one brief moment last week, either through a Freudian slip of the tongue or because even a broken clock is right twice a day, Kerry had it right. He said it. We won the war in Iraq. What’s left is messy. What’s left is hard. But it is no longer about overturning a regime. That business is completed. It was finished a long time ago.
No thanks to him.