Category Archives: Political Commentary

Is Kerry Troughing Too Soon?

It’s almost become a cliche in politics about a candidate peaking too soon, but the opposite seems to be happening to Kerry, at least from the standpoint of the Republicans. If it were really true that this were part of the Republican Attack Machine™ they wouldn’t be instigating the medal meltdown now–they’d wait until after the convention, when it’s too late.

There’s a serious danger that the Dems may abandon Kerry if he’s tanking too much in late spring, and replace him with a serious candidate (e.g., Lieberman or Biden). In fact, I wonder if the current medal feeding frenzy means that the press has decided that Kerry doesn’t have a chance, and they’re turning on him now in the hopes that they can make it happen.

On the other hand, given the internecine state of the party, it’s not clear that they can really come up with a better one at this point. Hillary might be eyeing it, but I think that her negatives remain too high to win. People may have forgotten her shady past by 2008, but not yet.

[Update]

Here’s an example of Donkey enthusiasm for their candidate (warning: language).

Too Compassionate

Glenn wonders why Bush hasn’t fired Tenet. Me, too. Of course, if I’d been president, I’d have replaced him before 911, along with a lot of other Clinton holdovers.

I think that it’s one of his weaknesses–he barely seems capable of firing anybody. The only ones that I can think of that he has are Paul O’Neill, and Jay Garner.

Anyway, if Woodward is correct on this, and Tenet really did convince Bush that Iraqi WMD was a “slam dunk,” what does that do to the credibility of the “Bush lied, people died” crowd, or those who bellow about him “betraying the country”? Not that they ever had much to begin with, of course.

Anniversary

The Branch Davidians were incinerated eleven years ago today, and nine years ago, the Murrah Federal Building was bombed in Oklahoma City. We still don’t know everyone who was involved. In light of that this should stir things up a little.

[Update on Tuesday morning]

Clayton Cramer has more disturbing details from the trial.

How much else did the prosecution suppress in their effort to keep this case neat and tidy?

Good question.

[Another update, a little later]

As Jon Goff points out, there are some things to celebrate on this date as well–the beginning of the first American revolution.

A reminder of an event that makes Michael Moore all the more odious.

Oil For Palaces And East Side Condos

The UN scandal over the Iraqi “Oil for Food” program isn’t going away any time soon.

In a scathing letter sent to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on March 3, which he made available to Insight, Hankes-Drielsma called the U.N. program “one of the world’s most disgraceful scams,” and said that “based on the facts as I know them at the present time, the U.N. failed in its responsibility to the Iraqi people and the international community at large.”

In an earlier letter to Annan, to which he received no reply, Hankes-Drielsma noted that allocations of “very significant supplies of crude oil [were] made to … individuals with political influence in many countries, including France and Jordan,” both of which supported Saddam and his regime to the bitter end.

Under the U.N. program, the Dutch company Saybolt International BV was paid hefty fees to inspect oil tankers loading Iraqi crude in Basra, to make sure no cheating took place. “Now it turns out that the inspecting company was paid off,” one investigator said, “while on the ground, individual inspectors were getting cash bribes.” Saybolt denies it received an oil allocation, although the Iraqi documents show it was down for 3 million barrels.

And Richard Gwyn, in a Canadian paper, shock of shocks, says that the UN is in no position to lecture us, or anyone:

While the Americans have been trying to get Iraq turned around in the right direction for only a year, the U.N. and Atlantic alliance have been at work in the much smaller society of Kosovo for almost five years now.

Kosovo’s economy, though, is probably weaker than Iraq’s despite the ongoing insurgency in the Middle Eastern country. Kosovo’s only successful “industries” (not counting those working for one or other of the many international agencies there) are prostitution, drug smuggling, money-laundering, illegal immigrant smuggling and car theft.

Ouch.

If this kind of story continues to get serious traction, what does it do for John Kerry’s vague “let’s bring in the UN and have a ‘real’ (as though Britain, Australia, Poland, Italy, etc., aren’t legitimate states) international coalition” policy? How will it look to the American people come early November? Or even late August?

“A Fingernail Scratch”

This story has been around for a while, but now it’s appearing in major newspapers. It will be interesting to see if it develops any legs. If so, it could take a lot of the wind out of Kerry’s “wounded in Vietnam” persona.

During the Vietnam War, Purple Hearts were often granted for minor wounds. “There were an awful lot of Purple Hearts–from shrapnel, some of those might have been M-40 grenades,” said George Elliott, who served as a commanding officer to Kerry during another point in his five-month combat tour in Vietnam. (Kerry earlier served a noncombat tour.) “The Purple Hearts were coming down in boxes.” Under Navy regulations, an enlistee or officer wounded three times was permitted to leave Vietnam early, as Kerry did. He received all three purple hearts for relatively minor injuries — two did not cost him a day of service and one took him out for a day or two…

…Back at the base, Kerry told Hibbard he qualified for a Purple Heart, according to Hibbard. Thirty-six years later, Hibbard, reached at his retirement home in Florida, said he can still recall Kerry’s wound, and that it resembled a scrape from a fingernail. “I’ve had thorns from a rose that were worse,” said Hibbard, a registered Republican who said he was undecided on the 2004 presidential race.

It has an appearance (at least to me) of a deliberate attempt to get a “million-dollar wound” that would get him home early, while burnishing his presidential credentials in a Navy gunboat, a la the original JFK. It’s certainly a better way of “maintaining his political viability” than Clinton, but it doesn’t look great, particularly considering that Max Cleland, who lost three limbs, didn’t get a Purple Heart at all (though apparently his injury wasn’t a direct result of combat).

“A Fingernail Scratch”

This story has been around for a while, but now it’s appearing in major newspapers. It will be interesting to see if it develops any legs. If so, it could take a lot of the wind out of Kerry’s “wounded in Vietnam” persona.

During the Vietnam War, Purple Hearts were often granted for minor wounds. “There were an awful lot of Purple Hearts–from shrapnel, some of those might have been M-40 grenades,” said George Elliott, who served as a commanding officer to Kerry during another point in his five-month combat tour in Vietnam. (Kerry earlier served a noncombat tour.) “The Purple Hearts were coming down in boxes.” Under Navy regulations, an enlistee or officer wounded three times was permitted to leave Vietnam early, as Kerry did. He received all three purple hearts for relatively minor injuries — two did not cost him a day of service and one took him out for a day or two…

…Back at the base, Kerry told Hibbard he qualified for a Purple Heart, according to Hibbard. Thirty-six years later, Hibbard, reached at his retirement home in Florida, said he can still recall Kerry’s wound, and that it resembled a scrape from a fingernail. “I’ve had thorns from a rose that were worse,” said Hibbard, a registered Republican who said he was undecided on the 2004 presidential race.

It has an appearance (at least to me) of a deliberate attempt to get a “million-dollar wound” that would get him home early, while burnishing his presidential credentials in a Navy gunboat, a la the original JFK. It’s certainly a better way of “maintaining his political viability” than Clinton, but it doesn’t look great, particularly considering that Max Cleland, who lost three limbs, didn’t get a Purple Heart at all (though apparently his injury wasn’t a direct result of combat).