Joel Mowbray

Despite the media?s obsession with President Bush?s failures in Iraq and the blame cast on him even for the CIA?s mistakes, John Kerry should be soaring in the polls.  But he?s not.

Iraq is easily the dominant issue?although the jury?s out on how many votes it will sway?yet Kerry?s polling has barely budged.  After all, not being the unpopular guy often counts for a lot in elections.

But this is Kerry?s quandary: he?s not exactly a supporter of the war, though he voted for it, yet he?s not quite anti-war either. 

Fudging positions on intractable issues where clarity can only earn enemies makes sense.  But wartime ambiguity for a would-be commander-in-chief does not inspire the necessary confidence among the electorate.

To understand why Kerry cannot?and likely will not?capitalize on Bush?s Iraq troubles, look at the Democrat?s recent comments to the NAACP.

In a friendly forum where little was needed to elicit a standing ovation, the Massachusetts senator made a startling accusation?or at least it seems he did.

?We?ve got a plan to invest in new technologies and alternative fuels and protect our environment, so that no young American in uniform is ever held hostage to our dependence on oil from the Middle East,? he said near the end of his prepared remarks.

Standing alone, it seems entirely possible he was alluding to the Gulf War or to some hypothetical situation in the future where a Saddam-like tyrant attempts similar hijinks.

The very next words Kerry uttered, however, made clear the intended meaning: ?Values mean building a strong military and leading strong alliances, so no young American is ever put in harm?s way because we needlessly insisted on going it alone.?

Kerry clearly set the context as the Iraq war with that follow-up statement.  Calls to Kerry?s campaign office seeking clarification were not returned, perhaps not unintentionally.

Leveling incredibly serious charges by implication is fast becoming a Kerry trademark.  He did so after the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report?which actually exonerated Bush from charges that his administration had cooked up evidence?and kicked off the Kerry-Edwards campaign that way.

Here is what Kerry told the assembled crowd when he announced John Edwards as his veep pick: ?And I can pledge you this: John Edwards and I would never think about sending young America?s sons and daughters into harm?s way anywhere in the world without telling the American people the truth.?

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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