"Whatever the case..."
This Terry Neal article in the Washington Post is chock full of nutty arguments. It uses the obnoxious horserace reporting style without commenting on the substance of the issues, it uncritically repeats RNC talking points, and it independently distorts Kerry's position on the War Authorization.
Bush asked Kerry for a yes or no answer to this question: "Knowing what we know now [would Kerry] have supported going into Iraq?" Kerry "said that he 'would have voted for' the resolution that permitted the possibility of going to war in Iraq even given what we know now. But he added that as president, he would have 'used that authority to do things very differently.'"
Neal calls this a "finesse," and goes on to act as though Kerry responded "yes" to Bush's question. But he didn't, and it's abundantly clear that he didn't. Bush asked it Kerry would have supported going to war, Kerry responded that he supported giving authority to go to war. Neal should be explaining the distinction between these two positions, not pretending there isn't one.
Neal argues that because the main assumptions underlying the resolution were proven false in the aftermath of the war, the only reason Kerry would still support it is because of those minor rationales that haven't yet been disproved. But those obviously aren't the only reasons. The authority was a powerful bargaining tool in getting inspectors back in Iraq. Even knowing what we know now, that Iraq didn't have WMD, it doesn't follow that it couldn't have restarted a program in the future. Having inspectors in Iraq would deter that action, as well as reducing future uncertainty surrounding Hussein's capabilities. We needed to get inspectors back in the country, and the authority was an important tool for accomplishing that. It's just too bad that Bush doesn't give a shit about weapons inspectors – why listen to Hans Blix when God is whispering in your ear?
Neal then repeats Ed Gillespie's threat:
"After months of attacking President Bush's motives and credibility during the Democrat presidential primary, going so far as to declare himself the anti-war candidate, John Kerry now says knowing what he knows now he would still have voted for the Iraq war," said Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie at a news conference this week. "Senator Kerry's ever changing positions on Iraq are not the kind of steady leadership we need in these times of challenge and change. And we're going to continue to make that point between now and November 2."Let me count the errors here. 1. Kerry didn't declare himself the anti-war candidate, as Chris Matthews has made clear. 2. John Kerry didn't vote for the Iraq war, he voted for authority for war. The decision to invade was Bush's, and he should have used it wisely. 3. Kerry's stating that he wouldn't change his position is characterized as "Kerry's ever changing positions." 4. Gillespie claims we need "steady leadership," when our current leadership has taken us off a cliff (ok, maybe not an error, but still an idiotic statement). Then he drops the threat: JK, we are going to keep lying about you. Neal doesn't challenge any of this, despite the fact that they are misrepresentations, deceptions, misleading, distortions, lies, whatever you want to call them.
Neal simply declares "whatever the case, Kerry's position on Iraq is similar enough to Bush's to make the most important issue for most voters a non-issue." Kerry's position on Iraq appears similar because Neal is a fuckwit and can't be bothered to recognize or explain the differences. Whatever the case isn't good enough for the Washington Post. The horserace is a horserace because Neal insists on calling Kerry's race car a horse.