Kerry 2XXX?

Checking around the blogosphere for others commenting on Kerry leaving the door open for another run without resorting to repeating the usual BS memes, I found that Shaun has the right attitude:

Brings to mind an anecdote from the reception preceding his recent Seattle Town Hall appearance. I was sporting a ‘Veterans for Kerry’ lapel pin for the occasion and pointed out to the Senator that there was no year on it. He grinned and said “That’s right, and I don’t want a year on it.”

Conservatives Blame Clinton Administration for Bush’s Failure to Respond to Pre-9/11 Warnings

With Harry Truman, the buck stopped with him. For Republicans, the buck stopped with Bill Clinton. Here’s a fascinating look into the right wing blogosphere’s ability to spin anything to both exonerating Bush for his incompetence in handling al Qaeda as well to blame Clinton for everything. It starts with this AP report:

Nine months before al-Qaida slammed airliners into the World Trade Center, French intelligence suspected the terror network was plotting a hijacking — possibly involving a U.S. airline — and warned the CIA, former French intelligence officials said Monday.

But the French warning hinted at a plot in Europe, not the United States, and there was no suggestion of suicide attacks or multiple planes. One former official said al-Qaida may have leaked misinformation to divert intelligence agencies from the bigger, deadlier plot to come on Sept. 11, 2001.

The warning was another example of how intelligence agents sensed al-Qaida was hard at work in the months leading up to Sept. 11 but were unable to piece together fragmented warnings into a coherent plot…

CIA spokesman George Little said Le Monde’s article “merely repeats what the U.S. government knew and reported before Sept. 11 — that al-Qaida was interested in airliner plots, especially hijackings.”

“The article does not suggest that U.S. or foreign officials had advance knowledge of the details surrounding the Sept. 11 plot,” he said. “Had the details been known, the U.S. government would have acted on them.”

The Sept. 11 Commission and a joint congressional inquiry into the attacks have described vague warnings of potential threats in the months before Sept. 11, 2001.

The 9/11 commission said that, as the year began, the CIA started receiving “frequent but fragmentary” threat reports. Among other warnings, the intelligence community sent out a March 2001 terror threat advisory about a heightened threat of Sunni extremist attacks against U.S. facilities, personnel and other interests.

During that investigation George Tenet, CIA director at the time, told the commission that “the system was blinking red.”

In response to this, Memeorandum shows that several conservative blogs are developing conspiracy theories such as that Sandy Berger destroyed evidence of such warnings to avoid charges that the Clinton administration failed to act on these warnings.

There are just so many holes in this. Conservatives regularly ignore Clinton’s actions against terrrorism, even though it was the Republican Congress which acted to block Clinton’s efforts against al Qaeda. The Clinton administration passed on the warnings about al Qaeda, with recommendations for fighting them, but the Bush administration ignored them, and Rice was even was caught lying about receiving them. It makes little sense for Sandy Berger to destroy evidence of such a threat from al Qaeda when he had also warned of the threat on several occasions. Bush not only ignored these warnings, but also ignored the August 4, 2001 daily intelligence brief which warned of “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.”

George Bush was President at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and it was George Bush who ignored multiple warnings, including warnings from Sandy Berger and others in the Clinton administration. Trying to blame the Clinton administration doesn’t change this fact.

The Non-News on John Kerry

This is hardly surprising but when asked, Kerry kept the door open to run again:

Afterwards, while answering a question from a viewer on the program YOUR SHOW about why he chose not to run, Kerry said he had decided it wasn’t the right time.

“Could that change?” Kerry said. “It might. It may change over years. It may change over months. I can’t tell you, but I’ve said very clearly I don’t consider myself out of it forever.”

Kerry is quoted further later in the article:

When asked whether he expected that decision to change in time for the 2008 race, Kerry said, “If suddenly the field changed or the dynamics of the nation shifted, who knows? You might look at it differently, but I don’t see that. I don’t foresee that. That’s not where I am today and that’s not what I’m doing.”

This is hardly news, and is the same answer I would have expected if Kerry was asked this when he dropped out of the race. It was clear that Kerry was dropping out because he had little chance to win with Hillary Clinton appearing to be a strong front runner and Barack Obama capitalizing on the anti-Hillary sentiment. He realized that he would have a much better chance of fighting against the war and for environmental issues if he was not a candidate. It was also clear that Kerry remained interested in being President and was interested in running again in the future if he thought he could win.

Since then Hillary has weakened, Obama has yet to answer questions as to what he would do as President, and Edwards has failed to demonstrate that he is remotely qualified to be President. It is still doubtful that conditions could change by this fall to the point where Kerry would have a reasonable chance. Kerry is just being honest in speculating that their are hypothetical possibilities he could run again if conditions changed enough, even though he realizes this is unlikley this year.

Kerry’s answer was reported far more than such non-news deserves to be, and received the expected responses in the blogosphere, both right and left. Some liberal bloggers repeated the anti-Kerry sentiments which have been debunked in the past, and which I’d address in far more detail if I thought there was any chance Kerry was going to reenter the race in the near future. Perhaps the most absurd is the claim that Kerry really won in 2004 but allowed the election to be stolen. As there has been no evidence of a stolen election to date, over two years following the election, there was certainly no chance that Kerry could have proved that the election was stolen in the narrow window after the election. Kerry has spoken out about the real problems of voter suppression, but these arguments cannot be used to change the results of an election after the fact.

In comparing Kerry to the current candidates, one thing is very clear. He would make a far better President than any of the current candidates. What isn’t clear is who would make the better candidate. Who ever runs in 2008 will have a much easier task than in 2004 in not having to run against an incumbent during time of war. They will also have the advantage of far more people identifying themselves as Democrats and backing a generic Democrat over a generic Republican by a wide margin.

As long as the Democratic nominee wins, they will be considered to have been a strong candidate, as Bill Clinton was despite his many failings. The conventional wisdom is that Kerry was a poor candidate, and that people like Hillary Clinton or Obama would be stronger campaigners. As is often the case, the conventional wisdom only looks at part of the story. Who ever runs in 2008 will face the full force of the right wing noise machine, and if history repeats itself even liberal bloggers and journalists will pick up their memes. Following their losses, Dukakis and Gore were also considered weak candidates, and the same could happen to the next candidate if the right wing noise machine can still get out their message to a more skeptical public.

None of this will probably matter for 2008. As was the case with Gore, it will take longer for Kerry to take control of his public reputation and reverse all the negative stories spread about him. Kerry will continue to take the lead on issues such as getting out of Iraq and the enviornment. If he is successful, his achievements in the next few years could over shadow all the negative claims and leave him in a position more comparable to Gore’s current position. It will take both a considerable improvement in Kerry’s reputation and a total collapse of the Democratic front runners for that to be a possibility in time for the 2008 nomination.