Thursday, September 16, 2004

Incompetent and Unaccountable

9/11 drove a lot of people a little bit crazy, understandably. And, sadly, a lot of those people felt it necessary to suspend their distrust of the Bush administration. They needed to believe that, whatever else these people might screw up, that they wouldn't screw up on anti-terrorism. When Iraq unfathomably became part of "anti-terrorism," some (though not all) of those same people again felt the need to believe that, okay, how could they screw that one up? I think even some people who were opposed to the war, but figured it was inevitable, thought that well, at least they couldn't possibly screw this one up.

But, they have. It's quite possible that there was no way to not screw it up, that it was such a colossally bad idea which couldn't possibly have a good outcome. But, they've managed to screw it up with a degree of incompetence that even shocked me. And, still, no one thinks it necessary to hold them accountable.

Right now the press is constantly asking "what is John Kerry's plan for Iraq?" But, for 18 months now they've failed to ask the question "what is George Bush's plan for Iraq?" Finally, Lou Dobbs actually stepped up:

GERGEN: I think it's totally inadequate, given where he is. If you were 10 points ahead, perhaps he could get away with the old Nixon formulation about Vietnam, you know, I've got a secret plan to win in Vietnam, but he's not 10 points ahead.

He has to -- what has been, I think, the single biggest weakness of the Kerry campaign has become -- that he's -- his rhetoric and his votes on Iraq have struck many, many voters as being incoherent, and they don't understand what he thinks about Iraq or what he thinks ought to happen in the future, and I think the absence of a framework for a -- the war on terrorism and what to do about Iraq is coming back to plague this campaign.

You cannot -- as the Democratic challenger, when deaths are accumulating in Iraq, you know, when the place seems to be closer and closer to the edge of real chaos itself, you can't as a Democratic candidate say, well, you know, let's talk about the economy. We've got to -- he's got to talk about both. He needs a strategy for the war on terrorism, and it has to include Iraq.

DOBBS: Do you have a clear understanding of the Bush Administration's strategy on Iraq?

GERGEN: No. And you've got a good point there. I don't know exactly -- I mean, I know they want to have elections, and I have a sense of what they're going to do after the elections in January, if we hold them, but at least I do think this: I think the president is clearer about his overall strategy on the war on terror and where Iraq fits into that. He's at least clear about what he wants to create at least as a stable Iraq and, hopefully, a Democratic Iraq.

Gergen's answer is, of course, nonsense, unless one believes that "Words Speak Louder Than Actions."