Never in my lifetime has a presidential campaign tried to get a candidate elected by insulting America's best allies, even as they are putting their sons' lives on the line. That's exactly what Sen. John Kerry has been doing for months now. And, as he has slid in the polls, Kerry's band of spinners has ratcheted up its ally bashing.
Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi came to Washington last week to assure Congress that progress in Iraq is real and that elections will occur as scheduled. So the reaction of Joe Lockhart, a Kerry-campaign honcho? "The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand beneath the shirt today moving the lips," said Lockhart.
Cute. Allawi is Iraq's No. 1 terrorist target. He may not be a Boy Scout, but he is risking his life in order to bring democracy to his country. And Joe Lockhart chooses not only to insult Allawi but to do so in a way that, if anything, makes Allawi's job harder by undermining his credibility.
Maybe Lockhart is too nuanced for me, but it seems odd to call a man a "puppet" for pushing for an outcome that is in his interest.
U.S. Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who is training Iraqi forces, wrote in the Washington Post recently that "more than 700 Iraqi force members have been killed, and hundreds of Iraqis seeking to volunteer for the police and the military have been killed as well." I'm curious. Are those 700-plus Iraqis puppets, too?
Earlier this month, Kerry's sister, Diana Kerry, who is head of Americans Overseas for Kerry, told the Weekend Australian that Australia's support for the United States in Iraq is "endangering the Australians now by this wanton disregard for international law and multinational channels." Apparently, Camp Kerry thinks it can win new allies by bashing a government that has helped America in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Listen to Kerry himself. The senator has said that, unlike Bush, he would build "a legitimate international coalition," implying that the U.S.-led coalition is illegitimate. Kerry also has dismissed the coalition as "unilateral" _ despite the fact that 31 other countries have sent troops to Iraq.
While critics dismiss the allies as window dressing, the Sunday Times of London reports that in August, British troops used up to 100,000 rounds of ammunition. Unilateral? Tell that to the 66 British troops who gave their lives or the three Polish soldiers killed in Hilla on Sept. 12.
"I understand how to bring those countries back to our side," Kerry has said of the countries that did not join the coalition. Dismiss the British, Aussies, Poles and Italians _ for gun-shy France and Germany? Au contraire, all Kerry has done is shown that he is a foreign-policy swell who hardly notices the blood spilled by America's true friends.
The New York Times reported Monday that, according to the sage Lockhart, Camp Kerry will introduce a new theme before the debate: Bush is "using the war on terror as a political tool and a political weapon" in seeking to silence dissent.
Silencing dissent? Democrats have called Bush a liar, a killer and an idiot, and their surrogate brethren have likened Bush to Hitler. What other names could the Dems have called Bush? In fact, what Kerry's band of blatherers calls silencing dissent is criticism, because when people criticize Camp Kerry, Camp Kerry finally silences itself.
Asked whether it was appropriate for Kerry/Edwards to undermine Allawi, Sen. Ted Kennedy told CBS's Face the Nation that it was more than appropriate: "I think absolutely. I mean, it was Thomas Jefferson who said that dissent is the essential aspect of patriotism."
They could say they think the war was wrong, and leave it at that. But Kerry voted to authorize the war in Iraq. So his aides invent distinctions that make war harder for America's real allies, they make excuses for America's fair-weather friends, and they advocate cutting and running from a war that has already cost more than 1,000 American lives, even though they are so smart they must be aware that a precipitous exit would make America less secure.
They make it harder for Iraqis, Americans and U.S. allies to win the war. Then, they call themselves patriots.
Debra J. Saunders is a Creators Syndicate columnist. E-mail her at dsaunderssfchronicle.com.