Jewish World Review Oct. 29, 2004 / 14 Mar-Cheshvan, 5765
Kerry camp's final fumble
Once again, John Kerry shows his instinct to go for the capillaries, rather than the jugular.
Kerry has embraced the dubious New York Times/CBS accusations about U.S. bungling permitting the theft of explosives from an ammunition dump in Iraq. The senator has chosen to predicate the entire final week of his campaign on the unsolvable mystery of what happened to the bomb-making material in the chaos surrounding the invasion of Iraq.
By stepping up to bat and running an ad in which he speaks directly into the camera in an effort to win votes over the issue, Kerry has made the dubious journalistic accusations his own and bet his credibility and his candidacy on the outcome.
How will we ever know when the explosives were removed from Al-Qaqaa and by whom? How can we tell if they were taken away by Saddam's minions before or after he fell from power, before or after the United States troops had passed by the dump? We can't, any more than we can tell who did what in the jungles of Vietnam 30 years ago.
Because we can't know the final truth of Al-Qaqaa, it was a ridiculous decision by the Kerry campaign to jump with all four feet onto the issue. When Kerry should be scoring aggressive points, he will find himself debating the fine questions of who did what in Iraq in the frenzied days of late March and early April of 2003.
Beyond our inability to determine the truth of the Times story lies the sense of dirty tricks that comes from a last-minute journalistic accusation made even more heinous by the CBS News' now-exposed plan to break the story 48 hours before the polls opened on "60 Minutes." Voters will easily recall how the same show fell for forged anti-Bush documents and tried to palm them off on us just last month.
Kerry's mistake runs deeper. Right now he should be talking about domestic-policy issues the ones where he has a lead. To batter futilely at Bush's bastion of strength foreign policy and the war is to throw good money after bad in one last failed attempt to replace a sitting commander-in-chief as America's choice to run the war.
On Bush's worst days, voters have consistently told pollsters they trust him more than Kerry to run the war, usually by double-digit margins. What makes Kerry think he can win the point now? He's failed at it all year; now he squanders his final week on one last effort.
In undertaking such a gamble, Kerry ratifies Iraq, the war, terrorism and foreign policy as the key issues in the race at just the moment when he should be downplaying them.
By jumping on the explosive issue as a target of opportunity, Kerry has shown that he has no real campaign strategy, only a series of tactics. He may have a plan for America, but he has none for winning this election.
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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, most recently, "Rewriting History", a rebuttal of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) memoir, Living History. (ClickHERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) Comment by clicking here.
© 2004, Dick Morris