Choice Snippets From the Democratic Debate

Did you see the Democratic presidential debate in Detroit Sunday evening (October 26, 2003)? How about some choice gems from a few of the nine who would be President?

Bush’s policy on Iraq seems to be their favorite subject. As a conservative my fervent hope is that the televised event enjoyed astronomical ratings. Voters need to see what these people are saying.

Indeed, I think the Republican National Committee ought to consider underwriting a few more of these Bush-bashing, truth-challenged spectacles on prime time, sandwiched in between the highest-rated reality shows they can find. The only chance they have of unseating Bush is if insufficient numbers of people observe their puerile sniping.

Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.), in attempting yet again to spin out of the damning reality that he voted for the Iraq War resolution, had the audacity to insist that his current condemnation of the war is “absolutely consistent” with his vote on the resolution.

“What I voted for was to hold Saddam Hussein accountable but to do it right. . . . He has a fraudulent coalition. He promised he would go through the United Nations and honor the inspection process. He did not.”

Sen. Kerry, the fact is that you did not condition your resolution on any kind of an international coalition. If you think it was irresponsible of President Bush to go to war without the precise coalition of nations you say-after the fact-you prefer, then it was irresponsible of you to cast your vote authorizing him to go without that coalition. You can’t have it both ways.

But the truth is, senator, you didn’t impose that condition, because at the time, your political compass told you had no other choice but to support the resolution. You and your colleagues devised this line of criticism only after you saw no other holes in the brilliantly conceived and consummately performed military strategy to remove Saddam from power.

Now that terrorists are trying to unsettle things in the post-war environment and weaken our resolve, you and your opportunistic chums are ratcheting up the bogus criticism.

The truth is that if any of you gentlemen remotely approached presidential timber, you’d be denouncing the foreign nations who didn’t have the moral character and courage to join us in taking out this man who ceaselessly snubbed his nose at the international community. But your version of exhibiting leadership is to change your position retrospectively based on political considerations.

True leadership requires making the hard decisions without benefit of hindsight. And statesmanship demands that you put aside your personal political ambitions in favor of doing the right thing now, which is to support our efforts in establishing democracy and stability in post-war Iraq.

Instead, you and your running buddies are essentially advocating that we reward the behavior of those who are massacring Red Cross workers. When you undermine our military effort in that volatile environment you are playing into the terrorists’ hands. Have you no conscience?

And how about you, Gen. Wesley Clark? Is the following quote truly your only explanation for your embarrassing turnaround on Iraq?

“Right after 9/11, this administration determined to do bait and switch on the American public. President Bush said he was going to get Osama bin Laden, dead or alive. Instead, he went after Saddam Hussein. He doesn’t have either one of them today. . . . But the failure of this administration was not to put the troops in to finish the job against Osama bin Laden. And you know why they didn’t do it? They didn’t do it because, all along, their plan was to save those troops to go after Saddam Hussein.”

Gen. Clark-I know you think you have to be cute to compete with the other eight candidates occupying that stage-but do you really want people to hear you making a statement so utterly disingenuous and absurd on its face? Do you expect even a small fraction of the people to believe that Bush wouldn’t have done everything in his power to capture or kill bin Laden? We didn’t send our troops into Iraq for a year and a half after we routed the Taliban. Just how far are you willing to go to advance your political career? Perhaps we should ask Gen. Shelton.

The other candidates uttered similar canards, unworthy of anyone seeking the highest office in the land. I just hope they keep on getting their message out often and to as many people as possible.

Quotes from the Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate in Detroit, Mich., October 26.

Howard Dean:

    You opposed the war and now the $87 billion to fund its reconstruction and the stabilization of the region. What do you say to service members and their families who view your position as something short of supporting the troops?

    HOWARD DEAN: I don’t think servicemen and women do view my position as short of supporting the troops. I’ve made it very clear that we need to support our troops, unlike President Bush, who tried to cut their combat pay after they had been over there and he doubled their tour of duty; unlike President Bush, who tried to cut-successfully cut 164,000 veterans off their health care benefits. I’d say all of us up here support our troops a great deal more than the president of the United States does. (Cheers, applause.)

    It is time to take our country back. . . . We have the power to take back the Democratic Party and make it stand up for what we believe again. We have the power to take back the United States of America so our flag is not owned by John Ashcroft and Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Falwell anymore. It belongs to all of us.

Al Sharpton:

    Reverend Sharpton, thousands rallied yesterday in Washington against the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. You spoke to that crowd saying that it was time to bring the U.S. troops home right now. Would that not be an admission of defeat and would it not throw Iraq and the entire region into chaos?

    AL SHARPTON: First of all, my mother’s from the South. One of the things I learned is you can’t plant a watermelon seed and grow oranges. (Laughter.) You cannot get right out of wrong. Bush was wrong to go in in the first place. (Applause.) To delay coming out is not going to make it right. We cannot continue to play Bush roulette. There used to be Russian roulette. Now it’s Bush roulette. . .

    [I]n the Middle East, it’s not a question of terrorists. Who defines “terrorist?” Today’s terrorist is tomorrow’s friend. (Applause.) We were the ones that worked with Saddam Hussein. (Applause.) [The] United States worked with bin Laden. (Bell rings.)

Dennis Kucinich:

    [Rep.] Kucinich, you have proposed changing the name of the Department of Defense to the Department of Peace. But in a world in which our enemies are willing to kill themselves to kill us, is it not better that we stand and fight? And is it not better that we wage that battle on foreign shores and not here in America?

    REP. KUCINICH: Well, first of all, my proposal was to create a separate Cabinet-level position, a Department of Peace, which would work domestically to make non-violence an organizing principle in our society.

    I visited with a Detroit community group that is talking about the problems of violence in urban areas. For example, over 300 people perished on the streets of Detroit in September. We have a problem with violence in our society that needs to be addressed.

    And I think we can take up on the work of Dr. King and others who have worked to make non-violence an organizing principle through making sure that we address the problems of violence in the homes, domestic violence, spouse abuse, child abuse, violence in the community, gangs, violence in our schools.