Here’s Bush’s latest, post-debate, line of thinking on Kerry, courtesy of today’s The New York Times:
Last week in our debate, he once again came down firmly on every side of the Iraq war. He stated that Saddam Hussein was a threat and that America had no business removing that threat. Senator Kerry said our soldiers and marines are not fighting for a mistake — but also called the liberation of Iraq a “colossal error.” He said we need to do more to train Iraqis, but he also said we shouldn’t be sending so much money over there. He said he wants to hold a summit meeting, so he can invite other countries to join what he calls “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
To answer, Kerry should be explaining his reasoning and votes, and the consistency behind them, in a way Bush’s red states understand. He should be saying:
I voted to authorize force in Iraq if necessary, not for war. This is similar to, when you think there’s a deadly threat, handing your son a gun so he can defend himself. Anyone who responsibly handles a gun knows that doesn’t mean you go out shooting unless there’s a real threat. Using force responsibly means you use it only if you have to. As we have learned yet again, from a report today from our own arms inspector in Iraq, our sanctions there were working and Saddam Hussein was not a deadly threat — just what Iraqi defectors were telling us, and just what the United Nations weapons inspectors were telling us.
Now that we’re there, we cannot leave, though. We must succeed there for the sake of world peace. And the rest of the world knows that, which is why we can reasonably invite them to join us there, helping us with people and funding. In addition to the profit motive that can draw nations to help in Iraq, this is something peace-loving and freedom-loving nations of the world do all the time, all over the world, because they consider it their responsibility and something they must do for the greater good. With more nations of the world contributing, the training of Iraqis to keep peace should be much faster and less expensive for us, leaving more money for us to spend here at home. Many nations would already be in Iraq, had we not rejected their bids because they did not support us before, when we shot first and asked questions later.