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 V.13 No.23 | June 3 - 9, 2004 

Thin Line

Bush Iraq plan makes for inane headlines. Following the president's speech to share his "five-point plan" for Iraq, USA Today, on Tuesday, May 25, ran this headline: "'Occupation will end' soon; troops remain indefinitely." The ensuing article, of course, did not attempt to analyze the myriad problems in Iraq, but the headline implied enough.

Duh. A article, "What Bush Should Have Said: His Iraq speech was only a year late," was one of the few decent pieces of analysis to follow the speech. In it, Fred Kaplan highlights a few of the obvious "uncertainties" that Bush failed to mention. For example, Kaplan writes: "No one yet knows who will (and won't) be in the transitional government; whether the country's true power brokers will find the new regime acceptable; or what will happen on June 30 if they don't. ... Bush has not remotely spelled out any incentives that might lure would-be allies to join the cause. In his speech, Bush said, ’The coalition is strong.' No, it is not. The home fronts in nearly every coalition country are opposed to extending their involvement. Not so much as a Band-Aid has been applied to this hemorrhage."

Hardballing ... John Kerry's campaign issued a press release last week entitled: "Backed into a corner by Chris Matthews today, Bush spokesperson Terry Holt crossed the line by questioning John Kerry's record of military service." The release provides a partial transcript from a May 25 episode of MSNBC's “Hardball,” hosted by Matthews, an avowed conservative.

Matthews: John Kerry went to Vietnam. He volunteered. Why didn't the president volunteer to go to Vietnam? He's for the war.

Holt: Well, the president flew as an air fighter pilot.

Matthews: Well, why didn't he go to Vietnam? Shouldn't people that support wars go and fight them?

Holt: In fact, he was one ... he served in the National Guard honorably for this country.

Matthews: Why didn't he go and fight in the war if he believes in it?

Holt: Well everybody made a decision about how best they served. He served as a fighter pilot in the Texas air guard.

Matthews: But if you believe in a war, shouldn't you fight it rather than someone who doesn't believe it, a draftee who gets drafted?

Holt: But in John Kerry's case, he went to Vietnam. He took his own photo camera, by the way, so he could get some good pictures.

I'm no political consultant, but the Bush-Cheney campaign should stick to calling Kerry a tax-increasing, flip-flopping, ultraliberal Frenchman. Mocking his combat service when Bush and Cheney ducked the war just makes them look ridiculous.

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