Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Guy in the Stands

After excoriating President Bush in a speech yesterday at NYU Wagner in New York for shortcomings that reside mostly in his own imagination, Senator Kerry, laid out four things the President must do now in Iraq. Presumably these are four steps he would take if he were president and which he offers to the public to help us distinguish how a Kerry presidency would differ from the Bush presidency.

Unfortunately for the Senator it is very difficult to find anything in these four items which is substantively different from what the Bush administration is, and has been, doing. Kerry may differ from Bush in how he would go about accomplishing these measures but the measures themselves have been underway for a long time now.

Here's what Kerry said that Bush needs to do:

First, the president has to get the promised international support so our men and women in uniform don't have to go it alone.

Second, the president must get serious about training Iraqi security forces.

Third, the president must carry out a reconstruction plan that finally brings tangible benefits to the Iraqi people, all of which, may I say, should have been in the plan and immediately launched with such a ferocity that there was no doubt about America's commitment or capacity in the very first moments afterwards. But they didn't plan.

Fourth, the president must take immediate, urgent, essential steps to guarantee that the promised election can be held next year. Credible elections are key to producing an Iraqi government that enjoys the support of the Iraqi people and an assembly that could write a constitution and yields a viable power-sharing agreement.

I challenge Viewpoint readers to find anything in this list that the Bush administration is not, or has not, worked assiduously to accomplish.

This is Kerry's problem. He's like the unpleasant guy who likes to sit in the stands ripping the coach on the sidelines for whatever failures he might have, but when you ask the critic what he would do differently his response is either pretty much indistinguishable from what the coach is actually doing or it displays a complete lack of understanding of the nature of the game on the field.

Kerry's criticisms of Bush vascillate between these two types. He tries to appeal to those who support fighting terrorists in Iraq by saying he would do what Bush is doing but do it in some vague way differently, or he tries to appeal to the left-wing base of the party by saying he would do quite the opposite of what Bush is doing. In one speech he claims he would fight the war, but more effectively, the next speech he'd bring the troops home as close to immediately as is practical. In one speech he would spend any amount of money to depose Saddam Hussein, in the next speech he laments the cost and says, as he did in New York, that deposing Hussein isn't worth it.

The Senator seems to suffer from multiple personality disorder, and it's become something of a parlor game to try to predict which of his personas will manifest itself next.

Colson on the Resurrection

Hugh Hewitt recalls an interview he did with Chuck Colson in which they talked about Colson's argument that the Watergate cover-up is a good example of how men behave when they're trying to defend a lie and that it would be helpful to keep it in mind when considering why the early disciples of Jesus were willing to suffer torture and death rather than recant their belief that Christ had risen from the dead. Here's Hewitt's summary of the interview:

On the subject of cover-ups generally, here's an exchange I had with Chuck Colson from my 1996 series for PBS, Searching For God in America:

HH: A couple of times you've commented in your writings and in your speeches that Watergate and its unraveling convinced you of the factual accuracy of the resurrection of Christ. How so?

CC: Well, it's a great analogy actually. If anybody really looks at what happened in Watergate, they would discover that Nixon did not know the full scope of the Watergate cover-up until march 21. John Dean, his counsel, paraded into his office and said "Mr. President, there's a cancer growing on your presidency." And if you look at the tapes of that day, you'll see that was when he laid out everything that had gone on and Nixon suddenly knew there was a criminal cover-up. Halderman called me a couple of days later. I did not know about that meeting, but he told me some things. And I said, "Bob, you'd better get a lawyer." I think everybody at that point knew that it was serious and that the White House was involved.

"John Dean went off to Camp David to write a report, began to think that he was in trouble. And he wrote in his own memoirs with refreshing candor that on April 4, less than three weeks later, he went to the prosecutors to make a deal, as he put it, to save his own skin. The moment he did that, Jeb Magruder went tot he prosecutors. And a whole string of guys went to the prosecutors. I took a lie detector test. Here we were, the twelve most powerful men in the world. We were surrounding the President of the United States. And we couldn't keep a lie for three weeks."

"The truth of the Gospel depends upon the fact that Jesus Christ was bodily raised from the dead. How do we know that? We have the eyewitness testimony of five hundred people, according to the Apostle Paul. We have eleven apostles who were with Him and who saw Him raised from the dead. There was Thomas, who put his finger in the wound because he doubted Jesus. And all of the apostles were with Jesus after he was bodily resurrected from the tomb. Now, if He was bodily resurrected, that is the most convincing evidence of the divinity of Jesus Christ. And there's the testimony of the apostles for forty years. And they had no power like we did in Watergate. They were persecuted. They were crucified upside down. All but one died a martyr's death. They were stoned, beaten, and not once did they deny that they had seen Christ risen from the dead."

"I believe that men will give their lives for something they believe to be true. They will never give their lives for something they know to be false. If Christ hadn't risen, the Apostle Peter would have been just like John Dean. He would have gone and turned state's evidence to save his own skin. Not one of them denied the resurrection of Christ, which to me means that they had seen the risen Christ, God in the flesh. Otherwise they would have saved their own skins, just like we did in Watergate."

Good point, but as Jesus said, even if someone rises from the dead those who don't want to believe, won't. Belief is not a matter of the reason, it's a matter of the will and of the heart.

With Friends Like These

Matt Drudge links us to a memo from Michael Moore who tries to buck up the Democratic troops' sagging morale with a message that must make the Kerry camp cringe. Here are some salient excerpts:

Yes, they caught Kerry asleep on the Swift Boat thing. Yes, they found the frequency in Dan Rather and ran with it. Suddenly it's like, "THE END IS NEAR! THE SKY IS FALLING!" No, it is not. If I hear one more person tell me how lousy a candidate Kerry is and how he can't win ... Dammit, of COURSE he's a lousy candidate - he's a Democrat, for heavens sake! That party is so pathetic, they even lose the elections they win!

Yes, OF COURSE any of us would have run a better, smarter, kick-ass campaign. Of course we would have smacked each and every one of those phony swifty boaty bastards down. But WE are not running for president - Kerry is. So quit complaining and work with what we have.

The Bush people need you to believe that it is over. They need you to slump back into your easy chair and feel that sick pain in your gut as you contemplate another four years of George W. Bush. They need you to wish we had a candidate who didn't windsurf and who was just as smart as we were when WE knew Bush was lying about WMD and Saddam planning 9/11.

The country is almost back in our hands. Not another negative word until Nov. 3rd! Then you can bitch all you want about how you wish Kerry was still that long-haired kid who once had the courage to stand up for something.

This last is an especially interesting admission. What the Democrats should be voting for, according to Moore, is a candidate whose defining moment came when he slandered his fellow veterans with false, unsubstantiated testimony, who committed an act of treason by giving aid and comfort to the enemy, who admitted to committing war crimes, and who consorted with the enemy in Paris while still an officer in the armed forces. This is the Democrat ideal? The guards at Abu Ghraib are going to prison for doing far less than what Kerry did when he was their age and this and this a man Americans should elect as President?

Moore's message is essentially this: Kerry is terrible but Bush is worse, and it's still possible to beat him. Why is Bush worse? Because Iraq is going badly. How would Kerry make it better? He'd pull our troops out and insert Kofi Annan, Jacques Chirac, and the Germans, the very people whose corrupt abuse of sanctions and the oil-for-food program propped Saddam up and made him a threat to his people and to his neighbors. The duplicity and greed of the French, Germans, and Russians and the U.N. was what ultimately made Operation Iraqi Freedom necessary in the first place and Kerry wants to give them access to Iraqi oil wealth. The blood of American troops and Iraqi civilians is on their hands and Kerry wants to reward them with contracts. Moore's message is every bit as inspiring as Kerry's plan is dumb.