Though liberals denied the importance of presidential character and honesty throughout Clinton's tenure, they swear by it today. Indeed, their major case against President Bush is that he lied to get us into war against Iraq.
Using the Left's criterion -- that presidential lying concerning such weighty matters as foreign policy and war is the most important issue in the campaign -- how do the candidates fare?
Democrats say that President Bush's main disqualifying sin is that he misled Americans into believing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and coordinated with Al Qaeda on 9-11 so that they would support him in his imperialistic, neoconservative war. Our troops died unnecessarily, says Kerry, as a direct result of Bush's lies.
Sure, Kerry has other complaints, such as that President Bush approached the war unilaterally. But that charge is not only erroneous on its face (the coalition is 32 members strong, and Bush tried to persuade France, Germany and Russia to join us). It is clearly specious when considered in conjunction with Kerry's principal complaint that Bush lied about WMD, because if he did it makes the composition of the coalition moot according to Kerry's other stated positions on the matter.
Specifically, Kerry said that this was the "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time." He would never send troops to die in a war unless "we had to, not because we chose to," which meant that the threat to America had to be "real and imminent."
Well, if President Bush was lying about WMD and Saddam's coordination with Osama, then under the Kerry "real and imminent" test, there could be no justification for sending troops to war even with the joinder of every other nation in the world. So his talk about the sparseness of the coalition, unilateralism, or alienating allies, is all irrelevant chatter, as is his boast that he could do better in building a coalition.
Forget that France and Germany said they couldn't have been persuaded to join the coalition in any event. Forget that we have since learned they were on the take in the "Oil for Food" scandal. Common sense tells us that John Kerry couldn't have convinced them to join a war that he thinks is a mistake and in which our troops unnecessarily died.
Now let's examine Kerry's statement that "even knowing what we do now (about Iraq's supposed lack of WMD), I still would have voted to authorize the Iraq war resolution," in light of his "real and imminent" threat test.