This week, Senator Kerry launched a $25-million advertising campaign in which his boat mates commend him for his physical courage in battle 30 years ago. There is nothing wrong with that. Politicians with good war records usually trumpet such heroism. Indeed during his campaigns, President G.H.W. Bush showed pictures of him being pulled out of the ocean after being shot down during WWII. But John Kerry could advance both his electoral interest and the national interest if he would show some political courage now in 2004.
This is the first presidential campaign being run in the Age of Terror. We have not yet had a genuine national debate on what strategies and tactics to follow to try to prevail in this struggle that will almost certainly last as least as long as the Cold War did. President Bush, in the immediate aftermath of the first strike on September 11, boldly moved forward with the actions and strategies with which we are all familiar. There was little debate as the nation rallied round the flag -- some literally in the ashes of Manhattan.
Many of us believe President Bush has taken us down a useful line: acting promptly against bin Laden's terrorist bands, while also targeting rogue states with ties to terrorism and the potential for developing WMDs. To that end the president endorsed and carried out preventive wars.
Inevitably, over these last two and a half years, many Americans have expressed displeasure with President Bush's approach. Yet so far, Mr. Kerry, the opposition candidate for president, has failed to dispute and engage the president's policies in any substantial manner. Oh, he has quibbled over the precise role of the United Nations. He has claimed he would work closer and to better effect with our traditional allies.
But he has expressed no fundamental dispute with the president about the war on terrorism in general, Iraq in particular, nor the homeland security efforts (other than to point out that chemical plants need more attention -- which President Bush himself had already requested from Congress).
Even as a strong supporter of the president, I hardly think his design and execution of policy has been flawless. For example, the bureaucratic conditions in Iraq are dysfunctional. Defense, State, Commerce, CIA, AID, other government agencies, the Coalition Provisional Authority, contract employees and NGOs all overlap one another in the country, while the chains of command back to Washington provide confusing guidance. Sen. Kerry might usefully bring together experts to help him formulate an alternative management model -- not just for Iraq, but for other countries we may find ourselves in as time goes by.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.