Kerry in '08? Forget It
Jude Wanniski
January 30, 2005


Memo To: Sen. John F. Kerry
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Check with Teddy

You may know that I voted for you in November, as I posted my endorsement here as a memo on the margin. I hadn't voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since 1964, when I went for LBJ over Barry Goldwater, but I went for you because I thought you might be able to get us out of Iraq sooner than a re-elected President Bush. Even though you never really stood still on Iraq during the campaign -- maybe this, maybe that -- I had at least figured you would work with the United Nations and our NATO allies to come up with an exit strategy.

Three months have come and gone since Election Day, Senator, and I'd hoped you would at least sound some Iraqi exit themes, but you have not. I tuned in your appearance this morning on Meet The Press and, to tell you the truth, I was not only disappointed, but astonished that you have become more supportive of the war and its rationales, not less. You clearly seem to think you lost because you were not tough enough, not macho!

It's also obvious you now have concluded you ran a wonderful, winning campaign but that Bush won because we were in the middle of a war. You practically told Tim Russert that the voters preferred you, but did not want to change horses in midstream. Pardon me, Senator, but you are full of baloney. The voters went for the President because you were mushy on the war and mushy on domestic policy, and yet I still voted for you! I don't regret it, because I wanted to have my vote for you count against the war, but I will not do it again.

The breaking point came when Tim Russert ran an excerpt of a speech Teddy Kennedy gave on Thursday on why we have to pull out of Iraq. He says we should start by announcing soon after today's elections that we are yanking 12,000 home of the 157,000 troops who are there. Tim asked if you agreed and you said flat out, "No, No." You said you agreed with Teddy conceptually, but disagreed with him pragmatically!!! It's the same old, same old: "I voted for it, before I voted against it?"

Here is the core of Kennedy's speech, which I'm sure you read in its entirety before you went on Meet the Press -- especially given the fact that he was your biggest booster last year in the race to the presidency:

The reality is that the Bush Administration is continuing to pull the strings in Iraq, and the Iraqi people know it. We picked the date for the transfer of sovereignty. We supported former CIA operative Iyad Allawi to lead the Interim Government. We wrote the administrative law and the interim constitution that now governs Iraq. We set the date for the election, and President Bush insisted that it take place, even when many Iraqis sought delay.

It is time to recognize that there is only one choice. America must give Iraq back to the Iraqi people. We need to let the Iraqi people make their own decisions, reach their own consensus, and govern their own country. We need to rethink the Pottery Barn rule. America cannot forever be the potter that sculpts Iraq’s future. President Bush broke Iraq, but if we want Iraq to be fixed, the Iraqis must feel that they, not we, own it.

Gosh, how I wish you had said that. There's a lot of blather today from our press corps about how wonderful, how ecstatic, the people of Iraq are today just because they voted in Sunday's elections. And we all hope the event will lead to better days ahead in Iraq and the Middle East. But you are still doing what you did last year in the campaign -- mushing up your own position so that you can have it both ways. I'm afraid that's the way you are and you will never change. So do me a favor, and forget about running in 2008.