Nuanced Positions

Dale Franks argues that the Democrats in general and John Kerry in particular have been incredibly inconsistent on both Iraq and the broader war on terrorism.

Case in point: former GA Senator Max Cleland, who, last week, declared that President Bush invaded Iraq because “he basically concluded his daddy was a failed president” and he “wanted to be Mr. Macho Man” so he “flat-out lied.” This would, by the way, be the same Max Cleland who voted in favor of the Iraq War, and who ran campaign adds in 2002 that declared, “Max Cleland is a respected leader on national security who supports the president on Iraq.”

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But, somehow, there is no indictable past when it comes to Democrats. Kerry voted for the war, too? No, no, you misunderstand, Kerry voted to authorize the war as a bargaining chip, to show how serious we were, not to actually, you know, go to war. There was a whole nuance thing there that you’re, like, totally missing. Kerry has voted consistently to defund the military to one extent or another for his entire career? What a scurrilous attack on the patriotism of a man who volunteered to serve in Vietnam, and who came home with three purple hearts!

The broader problem, as someone I was reading this morning (I can’t remember who) argued, was that the assembled delegates at the Democratic National Convention are almost uniformly opposed to the Iraq War and have been since the beginning. Howard Dean was indeed the natural choice to lead them. Both John Kerry and John Edwards voted to authorize the war–presumably owing to some combination of believing it the correct policy and thinking it would prove the wiser political course in time–and have had a tough time balancing that position with the reality that their base is closer to Ralph Nader than to them on the issue.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004, Iraq War, Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Steven says:

    There was a NYT piece that I quoted in the Toast-O-Meter that noted that 9 of 10 convetion delegates oppose the war.

  2. Joseph Marshall says:

    In one sense this is completely beside the point. The Iraq war is a fait accompli and the real question is how to clean the mess made by it up. The first step is to acknowledge that a mess has been made. Most of my party has done so.

    I would point out that Howard Dean, from the very first, insisted that we must stay in Iraq until the mess is cleaned up (I agree with him, by the way). I strongly suspect that a majority of Democrats agree with him also.

    On the other hand there is one fact about the decision to invade Iraq which should remain evergreen in the mind of anyone who claims to hold moral views:

    The reason given for invading Iraq was false. Just plain false.

    We made war on a pretence which was false, no matter why it was false, and no matter who did what because they believed it to be true, that means we made an unjust war. Period.

    NO collateral benefit–whether Iraqi democracy or the toppling of Saddam–obliterates the stain of that moral unjustness, no matter how much the collateral benefits are worth celebrating. And, of course, they are.

    I am perfectly aware that many in the Republican Party believe, or a least claim, that a moral point of view is an exclusively “conservative” piece of intellectual property.

    I take the liberty of doubting it.

  3. McGehee says:

    The reason given for invading Iraq was false. Just plain false.

    Joseph, I want to thank you for thus absolving all those of us who disagree with you from any obligation to engage you on that topic.

  4. John "Akatsukami" Braue says:

    We made war on a pretence which was false, no matter why it was false, and no matter who did what because they believed it to be true, that means we made an unjust war. Period.

    If it is truly the leftist opinion that to be factually wrong is to be morally wrong, that may go far toward explaining why the Left stubbornly clings to indefensible positions.