[Mb-civic] ROBERT SCHEER If Only Kerry Were From the Bronx

Michael Butler michael at michaelbutler.com
Tue Sep 14 11:29:19 PDT 2004



If Only Kerry Were From the Bronx

With some street smarts, he might call those Republican bums out.
 Robert Scheer

 September 14, 2004

 How I wish that John Kerry had grown up in my old neighborhood in the
Bronx. It drives me crazy that he doesn't have the street smarts to call
those GOP bums out.

 He's got to be outraged. Not only have his combat-shy opponents stood idly
by as their surrogates trashed his Vietnam War record, Vice President Dick
Cheney, stooping to a despicable low, said a vote for Kerry was tantamount
to a vote for Osama bin Laden and terrorism.

 Yes, Kerry is rightly pointing out in his stump speech that the war in Iraq
is a deadly distraction from the very real fight to prevent Al Qaeda and
like-minded groups from committing more atrocities. But it seems the veteran
senator is too much of a gentleman to point out the elephant in the room,
the obvious flaw in the Republican Party's claim that it is the only party
that knows how to keep us safe: After all, it was Cheney and George W. Bush
who were on watch when 19 poorly trained hijackers were easily able to
breach the nation's security apparatus and commit mass murder despite
frantic, prescient warnings from the CIA. Yet, not only has this
administration not held anybody accountable for this mind-boggling
dereliction of duty, it shamelessly milks the tragedy for political gain.

 "It is absolutely essential Š on Nov. 2, we make the right choice," Cheney
said this past week. "Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger
is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be
devastating from the standpoint of the United States."

 Kerry should just say, "What a load, you're the guys who blew it before
9/11!" Kerry needs to point out that it is Cheney and Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld and our nominal president who have screwed up Afghanistan,
Iraq, the economy and the war on terror. That they are the ones who gave us
Abu Ghraib but not Bin Laden; 1,000 American dead but no peace in Iraq;
fiery speeches at the Republican convention in New York but no on-the-record
testimony to the 9/11 commission.

 And yet we should trust them to make us safer? Granted, it was great PR
when Rudy Giuliani told us at the GOP convention that cheerleader Bush used
his bullhorn skills with the cleanup crew at ground zero. But wasn't it more
important that we be reminded that Bush continued his 30-day vacation in
August 2001 after receiving an intelligence report titled "Bin Laden
Determined to Strike in the U.S."? As the bipartisan 9/11 commission report
makes painfully obvious, Bush & Co. made zero preparations to thwart the
predicted attacks that intelligence agencies repeatedly said could be
imminent. Then, when the attack did come, confusion reigned supreme ‹ and
not just in the initial minutes, but for hours, days and years.

 First, on Sept. 11, 2001, when Cheney hid in a bunker, a dazed Bush was not
kept in the loop, key agencies did not coordinate, antimissile defenses were
not activated, crucial decisions were left unmade and the public was left in
the dark, wondering where the president was.

 Kerry needs to remind voters that, within hours, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Paul
Wolfowitz and other neoconservatives embedded in the Bush administration
began a whining chorus of demands that this tragedy be exploited as an
excuse to whack Iraq.

 Once the flimsy rationale for invading Iraq was articulated by a pliant
president, world support for the United States vaporized ‹ at a time when a
unified stand against Al Qaeda was imperative to successfully destroy a
global network of money, arms and murderers that can be stopped only with
diplomacy and detective work, not just by tanks or bombers.

 Now the Bush administration's shortsighted policies have been shown to be
worse than impotent, exposing the U.S. to more and better-financed hatred in
the Muslim world and beyond. Afghanistan temporarily is free of Taliban
rule, but Washington's unwillingness to engage in "nation-building" there
means the shell state is run by the same patchwork of warlords and opium
gangsters that initially fostered the Taliban's rise. Iraq, meanwhile, is
fast becoming another center of Islamic fanaticism, its moderates now
painted as helpless stooges of an occupying U.S. military.

 Cheney said that if a Democrat was elected to the White House, we would run
the risk of lapsing into "a pre-9/11 mind-set." He's exactly wrong. It was
his administration's "what, me worry" pre-9/11 mind-set that got us into
this horrible mess. Kerry can get us out.

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