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The Pretender-in-Chief

If Kerry had been president, Saddam would not have been gone; if Kerry becomes president we won't fight to win in Iraq.

11:00 AM, Oct 29, 2004 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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"It's absolutely impossible and irresponsible to suggest that if I were President, [Saddam] wouldn't necessarily be gone. He might be gone."

--John Kerry

SOME PEOPLE WORRY that John Kerry doesn't know what he will do once in power. But that's not the half of it. Kerry doesn't even know what he would have done had he already been in power.

Last night, Tom Brokaw gently pushed Kerry into yet another remarkable instance of utter incoherence. Brokaw, to his great credit, managed to make the key point about the "missing munitions" story that almost everyone else seems to have missed: If John Kerry had been president, no munitions would be missing in Iraq. They'd all be under the control of Saddam Hussein!

Kerry's handlers unfortunately had not prepared him for so basic a point, and the result is a new Kerryism that ranks up with there with his famous, "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

Here is a segment of Brokaw's interview with Kerry on NBC News last night:

TOM BROKAW: The fact is, Senator, we still don't know what happened to those explosives. How many for sure that were there. Who might have gotten away with them. Is it unfair to the president, just as you believe he's been unfair to you, to blame him for that?

JOHN KERRY: No. It's not unfair. Because what we do know, from the commanders on the ground, is that they went there, as they marched to Baghdad. We even read stories today that they broke locks off of the doors, took photographs of materials in there. There were materials. And they left.

TOM BROKAW: The flip side of that is that if you had been President, Saddam Hussein would still be in power. Because you--

JOHN KERRY: Not necessarily at all.

TOM BROKAW: But you have said you wouldn't go to war against him?

JOHN KERRY: That's not true. Because under the inspection process, Saddam Hussein was required to destroy those kinds of materials and weapons.

TOM BROKAW: But he wasn't destroying them.

JOHN KERRY: And we would--but that's what you--have inspectors for. And that's why I voted for the threat of force. Because he only does things when you have a legitimate threat of force. It's absolutely impossible and irresponsible to suggest that if I were President, he wouldn't necessarily be gone. He might be gone. Because if he hadn't complied, we might have had to go to war. And we might have gone to war. But if we did, I'll tell you this, Tom. We'd have gone to war with allies in a way that the American people weren't carrying the burden and the entire world understood why we were doing it. [emphasis added]



The fact of the matter is that if John Kerry had been president Saddam Hussein would not have been gone, and would have been doing as he pleased not just with the 380 tons of explosives Kerry now seems to be so concerned about, but also with the 400,000 of tons of munitions U.S. forces have already destroyed in Iraq.



Furthermore, if Kerry becomes president one cannot have confidence that he will stay the course in Iraq. Yesterday, Kerry compared Iraq to the Bay of Pigs, and praised President Kennedy for acknowledging "the mistakes he made" in trying to remove Castro. So Kerry believes that the Iraq war is a "mistake." It's very hard to believe, then, that he would be willing to fight it through to victory.



William Kristol is editor of The Weekly Standard.



Previous Campaign Memos:



The Mother Of All Flip-Flops, Today John Kerry says that Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror. What did he think about Iraq in 2001? October 26, 2004

Kerry Will "Put More Pressure on Israel, Another difference between the president and his Democratic challenger. October 25, 2004

Kerry on Zarqawi: Wrong, The Democratic nominee is ignoring the evidence on Zarqawi's activities in Iraq. October 21, 2004

Dying for the United Nations, Why is John Kerry no Clinton-Lieberman Democrat? His obeisance to the U.N. October 20, 2004

John Kerry: Germany's Candidate, The German defense minister says that maybe there's a possibility that they might, someday, perhaps, depending on future "developments," send troops to Iraq. October 13, 2004

Not a Diversion, Was Iraq a diversion from the war on terror? Bush and McCain remind us that the answer is: No. October 6, 2004

The No-Nukes Party, The Mondale Democrats are alive and well in the U.S. Senate--does John Kerry still believe in their worldview? October 4, 2004

When Was He For It (Before He Was Against It)?, John Kerry gives a disingenuous defense of why he said he voted for the $87 billion before he voted against it. September 29, 2004

The Kerry-Kennedy Line, It's a good thing that John Kerry and Ted Kennedy lost the last time they took a stand on Saddam Hussein. September 28, 2004

Kerry's Phony Foreign Forces, Would President Kerry be able to get France and Germany to help share the burden in Iraq? Chirac says, "Non!" September 22, 2004

Nothing To Do With the Truth, John Kerry continues to insist that Saddam Hussein had "nothing to do with al Qaeda." And he continues to be wrong. September 22, 2004

Lugar's Other Comments, The media played up Richard Lugar's recent remarks about President Bush; will they do the same with his assessment of Senator Kerry? September 21, 2004

For Kerry, It's Always Vietnam, The subtext of John Kerry's Monday morning Iraq speech. September 20, 2004

Kerry's Flip-Flopping on Russia, The senator has two views on promoting democracy in Russia, too. September 16, 2004

Wrong Choices, A look at John Kerry's record. September 15, 2004

Another New Kerry Position on Iraq . . . and the same one on Vietnam. September 15, 2004

Kerry and the "Direct Link," The Kerry campaign is distorting Dick Cheney's words. September 13, 2004

Kerry's North Korea Non-policy, John Kerry calls the New York Times with complaints, but no plan. September 13, 2004

If John Kerry Were President, . . . Saddam would still be in power. September 8, 2004

Kerry vs. Kerry, What does "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" mean? September 7, 2004

The Kerry Record, What John Kerry about foreign policy and defense in 1984 and 1985. September 3, 2004

It Was This Big . . ., Does John Kerry still believe that the terror threat is an "exaggeration"? September 1, 2004

John Edwards: Disrespecting Our Allies, America isn't acting alone. September 1, 2004

No Bargain, The "grand bargain" John Kerry and John Edwards are prepared to offer Iran deserves serious scrutiny. September 1, 2004