Jonah Goldberg
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Even more recently Kerry said that Bush did everything wrong. He said he wants major troop reductions in Iraq within six months. Then he said he wants to add troops. Now he says that he'll get America out of Iraq during his first term. When the 1,000th American died in Iraq, Kerry said they died fighting the "war on terror," even though he insisted that same week that Iraq was not part of the War on Terror.

He told Time earlier this year that the war was a failure, but also that it might end up being a success. Presumably, if the war turns against the United States, Kerry will claim he was right to oppose it; if it succeeds, he will be right to have supported it. See how nuanced he is?

This is all familiar territory for anybody who's been paying attention for the last year, and I don't want to rehash any more of it than is necessary. Indeed, I'd rather take John Kerry at his word. He endlessly reiterates that he's been "perfectly consistent" about the war. Perhaps he is. Perhaps Kerry is being Kerry.

Perhaps, unlike most of us, he doesn't see a yes/no vote as an on/off switch so much as a huge wall of dials, knobs, levers and switches that he can endlessly fine tune. Maybe he has a capacity to grasp complexity most of us do not, and he's being entirely sincere when he takes positions that seem contradictory to conventional Earth Logic.

And that's what I find so fascinating in the ongoing search by Kerry's handlers for a single coherent position their man can take against George W. Bush. Everybody in Washington agrees that it was this quest that produced Kerry's latest broadside against "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." Never mind that when Howard Dean made almost exactly the same charge during the primaries, Kerry disagreed. Again, we cannot unfairly hold this man to the standards of Earth Logic. The problem is that, at this point, any coherent position on Kerry's part would be a contradiction and, hence, a lie.

Perhaps it's expecting too much of the liberal establishment that it should feel moral qualms for exhorting Kerry to take a position he doesn't believe on the war, just to win the election. Maybe they should worry, however, that if elected, President Kerry would be Kerry.

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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