Right Message - Wrong Messenger!
In the recent bust of the London plot against civil aviation, Bush-Cheney have an opportunity to rediscover and co-opt the position which John Kerry inadvertently stumbled upon in 2004, and to claim it was theirs all along.
What did Kerry say?
In a candidates' debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be
occasionally military. . . primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world.In an interview with Matt Bai published in October, responding to a question about what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, Kerry said
We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance. As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.
Thus, Kerry displayed a much less apocalyptic world view than Bush-Cheney.
One of the reasons why this interview is important intellectual turf is that it is the source of Senator Kerry’s stated use of the word nuisance in discussing world terrorism. This statement spawned a whole genre of Republican attacks alleging an emasculated or minimalist approach to the GWOT on Kerry’s part. This was dismissed by the Bush league as "the swatting of flies".
It has been persuasively argued that Bush-Cheney avoided swatting one of the mothers of-all-flies, Abu Musab Zarqawi, three times because they didn't want to upset the marketing of the un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI).
In pursuing the UULUIUOI, Bush and Cheney usurped the established and successful American policy of deterring Saddam Hussein and instituted the most catastrophic blunder in American foreign and military history.
Any objective assessment of the terrorist threat, after completion of the destruction of the Taliban and th capture of Osama bin Laden "dead or alive", would have indicated it would be best addressed by intelligent international police work.
I am basically saying that progressives have, in this Kerry formulation, a defensible alternative approach to combating terrorism, qualitatively different from the Bush-Cheney model. All they had to do was to articulate it and repeat it, and attack Bush-Cheney's model of endless, seamless militarism. It was one of Kerry's and Liberalism's flaws that he failed to do this.
We need Progressive candidates who will hammer this point home.