Kerry Fiddles While He Could Be Burning Bush

Time to go after Bush/Cheney ground zero: National security


Iraq. The administration dummied up intelligence reports about weapons of mass destruction that Saddam no longer possessed and sought to mislead the public about a fictitious bin Laden/Saddam connection--all to justify an invasion that has cost hundreds of American lives and will cost hundreds of billions of dollars before it's through. And they did so with no plan for administering postwar Iraq or returning it to native control. The continued fighting has rallied thousands of young volunteers from throughout the region to the cause of jihad against the American presence. How exactly does all this improve U.S. national security for the long haul? Highlight the war profiteering by Dick Cheney's old company, Halliburton.

The Plame/Novak affair. The recurring theme in each of the previous cases is that politics always trump serious questions of national security in this White House. The outing of Valerie Plame makes the point manifest in a way that's eminently digestible on television. Plame's troubles started last summer when her husband, a diplomat named Joseph Wilson, revealed in a New York times op-ed column that the White House knew Saddam was not buying uranium from Niger well before Bush claimed he was in the 2003 State of the Union. Top administration staffers later leaked to several reporters that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent. GOP flack Bob Novak published it. But Plame was an undercover operative, and it happens to be a felony to blow the cover of a spy. Though the matter has barely registered in the news lately, a grand jury is investigating the matter. A few days ago, it subpoenaed telephone records from Air Force One. This could turn into a major legal prosecution, but meanwhile it's astonishing that the Democrats are not selling it more forcefully as political scandal.

Once again, Kerry seems content to play it cautious and hope that others will do his heavy lifting for him. Not bloody likely. If the candidate and the party don't start lighting into Bush soon--not only by public pronouncement, but by spoon-feeding provocative stories to the media as avidly as the Republicans do--Kerry's chance to define Bush before he is defined by Bush may dry up for good.

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