Debra J. Saunders

 Kerry missed these important signposts -- and he wants to lead America?

 Yes, Kerry looked presidential and spoke with some fluency on foreign-policy issues, especially North Korea. To his credit, Kerry went out on a limb when he said that if necessary he was willing to send U.S. troops to Darfur, Sudan, to prevent another Rwanda.

 But when Kerry attacked Bush on Iraq, he unwittingly crafted a grand argument against himself. Either Kerry voted for a war that, by his own lights, he should have seen as wrong, or he knew it was wrong but voted for it anyway.

 The more Kerry argues that Bush should have known better than to go to Iraq, the more the latter scenario seems the more likely case.

 Bush critics have a point when they note the president seemed tired and repetitive. There are times when Dubya coasts; the latter part of Thursday's debate clearly was one of those times. And it's irritating because so much is at stake.

 My beef, however, is that Bush was so busy pointing out what he calls Kerry flip-flops that he failed to highlight Kerry's real shortcoming: that he voted for a war and then failed to support it. Bush can joke about how Kerry said he voted for $87 billion in troop funding before he voted against it. Worse, however, is the chilling fact that Kerry withheld his support for the spending bill after he told "Face the Nation" it would be reckless and "irresponsible" to vote against it.

 At the debate, Kerry said he made a mistake about how he "talk(s) about the war," but "the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?"

 This might be even worse: thinking the war was a mistake but voting for it anyway.

Debra J. Saunders

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