March 10, 2004


The Guardian’s global scorecard for both presidential candidates gives Spain, Italy, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Eritrea, and Uzbekistan to Bush; rates Britain, Russia, Israel, and Iraq as “neutral/unknown”; and delivers the following to John Kerry:

Entire Arab world
Most of Latin America

Anybody who wins the trust of the entire Arab world must be doing something right ... right? Meanwhile, Bush is seeing just how the planet reacts to his brutish unilateralism. Remember these arrogant pre-war remarks?

So clearly the allies may not like it, and I think that's our great concern -- where's the backbone of Russia, where's the backbone of France, where are they in expressing their condemnation of such clearly illegal activity, but in a sense, they're now climbing into a box and they will have enormous difficulty not following up on this if there is not compliance by Iraq.

And, further offending the international community, he told the UN to go to hell:

The administration is making it clear that they don't believe that they even need the U.N. Security Council to sign off on a material breach because the finding of material breach was made by Mr. Butler. So furthermore, I think the United States has always reserved the right and will reserve the right to act in its best interests.

Weird thing is, Bush didn’t say any of this. John Kerry did.

Posted by Tim Blair at March 10, 2004 04:00 PM

I read these quotes earlier today, they are absolutely amazing. John Kerry sure is a politician who can give you any view on any issue.

So far, I've read staggering backflips by Kerry on the following issues:
* Abortion
* Unilateralism
* Israel
* Religion
* Terrorism
* Gay marriages (he tends to waver without committing there)

Posted by: Jono at March 10, 2004 at 04:23 PM

That was then, this is now. Is that clear?

Posted by: Michael Lonie at March 10, 2004 at 04:34 PM

So, Tim, what's your beef? Are you saying you disagree with what Kerry said there?

Or is your position that if a politician takes an opposing point on one question, they must take opposing points on all related questions ... to avoid confusion, perhaps?

Posted by: Mork at March 10, 2004 at 04:43 PM

I think the problem is that Kerry disagrees with what he said there. I mean, at least now.

Posted by: Sortelli at March 10, 2004 at 05:03 PM

Does he, Sortelli? When did he say that?

In fact, I've heard Kerry specifically re-affirm the principle that the United States always reserves the right to act in its interests regardless of the UN within the last couple of weeks.

I think this is just a case of Tim just getting short of things to get upset about. He's outraged when he finds something Kerry says that he disagrees with, and he's outraged when he finds something Kerry said that he agrees with entirely!

Posted by: Mork at March 10, 2004 at 05:13 PM

Mork, could you possibly be more obtuse? The point is that Senator Flippy-Flop is a two-faced liar who probably has great difficulty remembering what he said to whom and when. Wherever he is, he makes sure to remind his audience in great ponderous blather that he is on THEIR side, whatever side that might be. He is a phoney. That is the point.

Posted by: Spiny Norman at March 10, 2004 at 06:01 PM

Spiny, I would have thought that just repeating the latest GOP talking point you heard is a low-margin exercise on a site like this.

They're wasted on me, because I've heard 'em all before, and I'm not buying anyway.

And just about everyone else has probably used them to death already.

Not that any of that stops our host ...

Posted by: Mork at March 10, 2004 at 06:25 PM

Only a dedicated jackass could find "outrage" in that post, Mork. Contrarianism is punk-rock only up to a point, champ.

Go on and find that in a GOP release.

Posted by: Screamapiller at March 10, 2004 at 06:36 PM

"Does he, Sortelli? When did he say that?"

When does Kerry say ANYTHING he can't wiggle out of later? Kerry's campaign is doing its damndest to criticize Bush's "unilateral" foreign policy AND is trying to claim it would basically do the same thing anyway AT THE SAME TIME.

"In fact, I've heard Kerry specifically re-affirm the principle that the United States always reserves the right to act in its interests regardless of the UN within the last couple of weeks."

Gosh! It's . . . it's almost like he doesn't need to out-Dean Dean anymore. Now that he's got the nomination in the bag he can out-Bush Bush!

If any of us could trust that Kerry means what he's saying about foreign policy and isn't trying to say the most politically appealing thing possible again, it wouldn't be a big deal.

I'm sure you checked the sources there, that was Kerry during the Clinton years, when it was still cool to intervene without the UN's permission.

These aren't things that Kerry campaigned on now, just like he doesn't agree with the idea that a candidate's service in Vietnam is irrelevant anymore.

Posted by: Sortelli at March 10, 2004 at 06:38 PM

C'mon Sortelli - you want to go back to things that Bush said in his primary campaign in 2000, or look at the shift that took place between that and his Presidential campaign? Try looking on one of the dem-leaning blogs for list of issues where Bush has changed his position while in office.

So what ... if they can get away with it, good politicans tend to say things that allow the widest variety of people to read into it what they want to hear.

But as we get closer to the election, Kerry will have to be more specific about a range of policies that he's prepared to be held accountable to if he's elected. That's the time to start wondering what he really intends to do.

Until then, it's all just posturing.

Posted by: Mork at March 10, 2004 at 07:01 PM


Kerry, at Georgetown University in Jan 2003

After all, what is today's unilateralism but the right's old isolationist impulse in modern guise? At its core is a familiar and beguiling illusion: that America can escape an entangling world...that we can wield our enormous power without incurring obligations to others...and that we can pursue our national interests in arrogant ways that make a mockery of our nation's ideals.

I am here today to reject the narrow vision of those who would build walls to keep the world out, or who would prefer to strike out on our own instead of forging coalitions and step by step creating a new world of law and mutual security.

I believe the Bush Administration's blustering unilateralism is wrong, and even dangerous, for our country. In practice, it has meant alienating our long-time friends and allies, alarming potential foes and spreading anti-Americanism around the world.

Too often they've forgotten that energetic global leadership is a strategic imperative for America, not a favor we do for other countries. Leading the world's most advanced democracies isn't mushy multilateralism -- it amplifies America's voice and extends our reach. Working through global institutions doesn't tie our hands -- it invests US aims with greater legitimacy and dampens the fear and resentment that our preponderant power sometimes inspires in others.

In a world growing more, not less interdependent, unilateralism is a formula for isolation and shrinking influence. As much as some in the White House may desire it, America can't opt out of a networked world.

But I thought Kerry felt that it was important to act in our own interests if neccessary... OH... "if neccessary", of course.

But isn't Kerry against outsourcing? Does he think we can opt out of a networked world?

Wait! There's more. Kerry in December:

I believed a year ago and I believe now that we had to hold Saddam Hussein accountable and that we, the United States, needed to lead in that effort. But this administration did it in the worst possible way: without the United Nations, without our allies, without a legitimate plan to win the peace.

It's almost like all those Republican talking points about Kerry being two-faced are TRUE, and we're not talking pre-Botox versus post-Botox!

It's a good thing you can see through the spin and find the true, nuanced John Kerry beneath, Mork... but wait...


"I don't think war is nuanced at all. I think how you take a nation to war is the most fundamental decision a President makes," Kerry says, "and there's nothing nuanced at all about keeping your promises. There is nothing nuanced about exhausting remedies that give you legitimacy and consent to go to war. And I refuse ever to accept the notion that anything I've suggested with respect to Iraq was nuanced. It was clear. It was precise. . . ."

Posted by: Sortelli at March 10, 2004 at 07:03 PM

Yeah, Bush wasn't very big on nation-building.

Before 9-11.

Don't fall back on "but all politicians do that" as your defense. When it comes to open-to-interpretation fluffy talk, when it comes posturing, John Kerry stands out among politicians.

Posted by: Sortelli at March 10, 2004 at 07:10 PM

Well, Mork, you can read the transcript of Kerry's recent major foreign policy speech to get an idea of how Kerry's views have evolved:

Kerry (2003):"By so quickly and cavalierly dismissing the concerns of the international community in the lead-up to the war in Iraq, the Administration compromised American credibility and leadership, made our job in Iraq harder, and weakened the war on terrorism. For what nation, be it Germany, Russia, France or even Mexico, would quickly cooperate with us after having been publicly castigated and ridiculed for disagreeing with us over Iraq."
Kerry (1997): "Where’s the backbone of Russia, where’s the backbone of France, where are they in expressing their condemnation of such clearly illegal activity?"

Kerry (2003): "Yet his administration consistently runs roughshod over the interests of those nations on a broad range or issues – from climate control to the International Court of Justice to the role of the United Nations to trade to rebuilding Iraq."
Kerry (1997) voted against Kyoto. Don't know much about how he felt about the ICC. The Kerry of 2002 voted in favor of the American Servicemembers Protection Act, which was denounced by Human Rights Watch.

Then there's this gem in the 2003 speech:
"As President, I will be prepared early-on to explore areas of mutual interest with Iran, just as I was prepared to normalize relations with Vietnam a decade ago."

Make your own jokes.

Posted by: scott h. at March 10, 2004 at 07:14 PM

Scott, is it true that Kerry served in Vietnam? I think I heard that somewhere.

Posted by: Sortelli at March 10, 2004 at 07:18 PM

I was just thinking about that Jane Fonda picture. He served in Vietnam? Really?

Posted by: scott h. at March 10, 2004 at 07:28 PM

Sortelli - I see no contradictions in anything you posted there. There is no inconsistency at all between saying that America's influence is enhanced by taking into account the view of other nations, but that America will never give the UN veto power over actions necessary to protect its interests. In fact, I would have thought that both propositions were self-evident.

As for his position on Iraq, well, I understand it, because I share it ... as I suspect do a great many other people. At the time of the invasion, I thought it was unambiguously a good thing, but since, my support has been eroded by the Administration's ineptitude in handling the post-war reconstruction, the consequences of its arrogance and unilateralism, and its refusal to square with the public about how it came to make its pre-war statements on WMD and the significance of their absence.

I would be concerned (in fact, it would be an out-an-out deal breaker for me) if he then went on to say that America should get out of Iraq any time before the job is finished. But as a critique of how we got here from there, what he says rings very true with me.

Scott: I don't know the context of your quotes, any maybe in full they reveal contradictions. But in isolation they don't, unless your contention is that "consistency" requires black and white, baby-with-the-bathwater positions on every issue. For example, why couldn't you make the point that the Administration's high-handed dealing with allies over the ICC and Kyoto has weakened its reputation and influence, while still concluding that neither should have been adopted as is?

C'mon guys, please do better! I've been pretty negative about Kerry, and he wasn't my first, second or third choice for Dem nominee. But all you're posting is stuff that I find pretty thoughtful and intelligent. I might even end up liking the guy!

Posted by: Mork at March 10, 2004 at 07:36 PM

Spiny Norman

"Mork, could you possibly be more obtuse"

Yes he can look above.

Posted by: Gary at March 10, 2004 at 07:49 PM

Iraq doesn't count as part of "Entire Arab World"?

Posted by: Andjam at March 10, 2004 at 08:06 PM

andjam: maybe it's like when you piss off a family member, and the entire family disowns you. heh.

Posted by: samkit at March 10, 2004 at 08:11 PM

Mork, I really couldn't care less about your opinion of Kerry given that you're so willfully blind about his opportunistic pandering.

To spell it out for you, a candidate cannot talk highly about the importance of cooperating in a world that is ever more interdependant and connected, he cannot cry foul over attacks against a person's "patriotism" and jingoistic policies AND THEN suddenly be against free trade and compare companies that outsource to American traitor Benedict Arnold.

He cannot defend his party's candidate for being a draft dodger and then turn that into a wedge issue against the opposing party. Kerry is the quintisential Anyone But Bush candidate merely because he is, and yet is not, George W Bush, and he only got the nomination because he's made less of an ass of himself than the others so far.

If you feel like a sucker over the war in Iraq, well, sure, then Kerry is your candidate because he feels like a sucker about that too. Unless he's pandering again, because he sure didn't ask about the relevance of Kosovo's threat to us.

If I'm going to chose between Bush, who needs to rebuild Iraq and bring democracy to the Middle East as well as agressively pursue terrorists as a matter of war while still managing to deal with our allies even when they oppose us and support free trade VS Kerry who says he wants to rebuild Iraq since we never should have been there in the first place and we can just arrest those terrorists later while "making up" with the allies and outright enemies who opposed us even though he'll stand up to them when they "really" start opposing us (I suppose that means on issues like, say, when they want us to open up trade a little more), my choice is clear.

Posted by: Sortelli at March 10, 2004 at 08:30 PM

But to bring this back to the point Mork originally wanted to make, what's wrong with the statements Tim quoted if we all agree with them? If Kerry still believes in them, nothing. . .

. . .because then all the tin-foil hat peaceniks will be voting for Nader instead another frothing Republicrat neocon-in-disguse. Thanks, Ralph!

Posted by: Sortelli at March 10, 2004 at 08:43 PM

It seems to me one must make a choice when voting for Kerry: is one voting for the unprincipled baby-killer wasting little brown people in Nam, or is one voting for the principled anti-war protestor who threw (someonone else's) medals over the White House fence and provided oratorical ammunition to Ho Chi Minh but against his own country?

Tough choice.

Posted by: Theodopoulos Pherecydes at March 10, 2004 at 10:45 PM

Aw, c'mon guys. I though we had all agreed that it all depends on what the meaning of "is" is. John Kerry has an un-nuanced position on every question. For example:

Mr. Kerry, are you for or against the unilateral use of force by the US?

Kerry: yes.

Mr. Kerry, are you for or against outsourcing of American jobs?

Kerry: yes.

Mr. Kerry, are you for or against having starving widows and orphans fed to rabid wolverines?

Kerry: yes.


Posted by: JorgXMcKie at March 10, 2004 at 11:08 PM

Since I agree with Kerry 50% of the time, should I give him only half a vote in the election?

Posted by: Dave T. at March 11, 2004 at 12:38 AM

North Korea! Don't forget that Kerry picked up the all-important North Korean endorsement!

BTW, Mork and Sortelli - lovely exchange. I especially liked the quote where Kerry contradicted himself in the same sentence:

"After all, what is today's unilateralism but the right's old isolationist impulse in modern guise?"

Isolationism and interventionism in one handy package.

Posted by: Ken Summers at March 11, 2004 at 12:59 AM

Kerry's just a placeholder for the Wicked Witch of the West Wing - Hilly's got his ass tapped from here to next week. Terry McAuliffe is running the DNC, Ralphie Nader's hangin' in the wings, and Johnny-boy's got no clue he's being set up for a fall. He's a moron, plain and simple.

Posted by: mojo at March 11, 2004 at 02:31 AM

Mork, Kerry constantly rails against Bush's unilateralism and treatment of the UN, but he engaged in the exact same behavior in 1997. I put those links in there for a reason, you can look at the context.

Let's take a look at the Kerry of 2004. He reserves the right to act unilaterally if necessary. Well, duh. Color me unimpressed. Hell, Bush makes statements about how our allies are important. What's important to me is the policy that gets implemented. Kerry's main "policy", if you can call it that, is rather vague. He'd be nicer to our allies. At best, he would continue to be against Kyoto and the ICC, he'd just whisper sweet words into the Europeans' ears while fucking them up the ass. Same exact policies as Bush, but he would do them better. Meanwhile there are all of Kerry's other policies. Notably, thawing relations with Iran, and putting the UN in charge of Iraq. Cutting and running before the job is finished. That alone is enough for him to lose my vote. America has invested prestige in making sure Iraq succeeds, the UN does not, and I would not trust the UN to stay the course. Putting the UN in charge of Iraq is a little more important than his ability to talk dirty to the French.

Posted by: scott h. at March 11, 2004 at 03:30 AM

I can't believe the obtuseness of the likes of Sortelli, scott h., etc.

Mork's point is obvious, and your inability to see it is stunning.

Kerry has shown absolutely no two-facedness, nor even a contradiction between the earlier quotes and the subsequent ones.

After all, the early ones were when a Democrat was President, and the current criticisms are leveled when a Republican is in office. Change the conditions, and the situation changes---that's obvious.

So, I hope we can all see how Mork's comments are perfectly sensible and consistent (just like Kerry's).

Posted by: Dean at March 11, 2004 at 04:35 AM

I can take Kerry's pre-9/11 votes to cut funding on intelligence and defense in stride, because things were different then.

When he comes out and says he'll spend more on intelligence and defense and law enforcement now, I can hope that he means it. But it really isn't something that I would expect a Democrat to do, especially when he merely says things like that in the context of "I'll do it better than Bush". Which Kerry are we going to get if he wins? The one who tilted left in the primaries or the one who's trying to be somewhat sensible now?

I don't care how big of a defense Kerry puts up, I'm not happy with his attitude of "I'll send special envoys to talk to people and bring them together and make committees to discuss terrorism and how to stop it without pre-emption and blah blah blah".

I can imagine how seriously our new friends in Iran will take a Special Envoy when they stop worrying about the Coalition forces next door.

Posted by: Sortelli at March 11, 2004 at 07:03 AM