Thursday, September 09, 2004

Getting Nasty 

A lot of people think the Kerry campaign waited too long to get down and dirty. Maybe. But even now, they're using the wrong stuff. The National Guard issue is nice, mainly because it's true, but I don't think it's going to sway anyone. Terrorism and homeland security is the place to get nasty, as Cheney did yesterday. In response to Cheney's "Vote for Kerry and die" comments, David Neiwert has some solid facts:
Cheney has created an opening for Democrats, really, to say what needs to be said: When it comes to terrorism, Bush was asleep at the wheel on Sept. 11. And he has driven us deeper into the ditch in the years since.

Just remember:

-- It wasn't Democrats who dragged the presidency through the mud with a political witch hunt culminating in a bogus impeachment trial, diverting the national interest from serious issues -- like the mounting threat of terrorism -- at a time when the threat was first manifesting itself.

-- It wasn't Democrats who minimized the seriousness of the Al Qaeda threat by dismissing President Clinton's missile strikes on their camps as mere "wagging the dog."

-- It wasn't Democrats who dismissed the warnings of the outgoing Clinton team regarding the need to take Al Qaeda and the larger threat of terrorism seriously, simply because they came from Clinton's team.

-- It wasn't a Democrat who went on vacation for month after receiving initial intelligence warnings about an imminent terrorist threat, and who failed to act on that intelligence in any discernible fashion.

-- It wasn't a Democratic administration that first focused its attentions on Iraq after the 9/11 attacks, only changing to Afghanistan after it became irrevocably clear that Osama bin Laden, and not Saddam Hussein, was responsible.

-- It wasn't a Democratic leadership that then withheld manpower from Afghanistan (almost certainly in anticipation of an Iraq invasion), depending to a large extent on help from local forces, which created an opening for the majority of the Al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan -- including Osama bin Laden -- to escape over the Pakistani border.

-- It wasn't a Democratic president who then proceeded to (perhaps intentionally) misread intelligence and mislead the public about the nature of the threat posed by Saddam, successfully portraying him as an essential component of the "war on terror," when the reality both before and after the subsequent invasion was that Hussein played no role whatsoever in the events of 9/11, and had only a secondary and relatively minor role in terrorist activity. (It's worth remembering that a substantial number of the horrifying victims of his brutal regime were radical Islamists.)

-- It wasn't a Democratic administration that so poorly prepared for the post-invasion reality of the forced occupation of Iraq that it created a violent quagmire in which the death toll for American soldiers (not to even mention the thousands of civilians) has now passed 1,000. This quagmire is gaining all the earmarks of an insoluble mess, regardless of who inherits it, and competence and measured judgement -- none of which Bush has displayed -- will be required to deal with it.

-- Nor was it a Democratic president who, by creating the opening for an armed insurgency, has actually fanned the flames of terrorism by creating a massive cauldron for anti-American hatred and an environment rich for swelling the ranks of Islamic radicals.

-- It wasn't, in other words, a Democratic administration that foolishly, through its own arrogance and incompetence, handed Al Qaeda leadership nearly everything it hoped for at nearly every step of the drama: a lax mindset regarding security, an escape through Pakistan, a gift invasion of Iraq that diverted precious resources from the serious work fighting terrorism, a mishandled occupation that provided a groundswell of recruitment.
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