Sunday, September 26, 2004

Cheney vs. Kennedy

Lots of people made a fuss over this recent remark from Cheney:
If we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again -- that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and then we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mindset, if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts and that we're not really at war. I think that would be a terrible mistake for us.
Cheney himself later clarified that this statement was really aimed at the response to any future terrorist attack, i.e., Cheney was merely saying that if another terrorist attack happens, Kerry/Edwards might not have the right response. Even so, the damage was done, because it was too easy to quote him while leaving out the last two phrases altogether, as many newspapers and columnists did. The reactions were overwhelmingly negative.

In today's news, Ted Kennedy said much the same thing as Cheney was accused of having said:
The Bush administration's failure to shut down al-Qaida and rebuild Iraq have fueled the insurgency and made the United States more vulnerable to a nuclear attack by terrorists, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said Sunday.

In a speech prepared for delivery at George Washington University on Monday, Kennedy said that by shifting attention from Osama bin Laden to Iraq, Bush has increased the danger of a "nuclear 9/11."

"The war in Iraq has made the mushroom cloud more likely, not less likely," he said in the remarks released late Sunday.
Now this sort of debate strikes as exactly what we should be talking about. Not who did what 32 years ago, but whose policies will actually make America safer. And whenever either side says, "Our policies will make America safer," they are necessarily implying another sentence: "The other guy's policies won't make America safer."

Why on earth should that be objectionable? A comment like that might happen to be false, but why should the entire subject be ruled out of bounds? If one side's policies actually DO make us more likely to suffer a nuclear attack, I'd sure as heck like to know that fact, as opposed to having the whole debate shushed and ignored, as if we were all a bunch of Victorians too tender-hearted to handle a real policy debate.

But for those who say that such a debate is "un-American" -- as John Edwards said in response to Cheney -- then Ted Kennedy should come in for the exact same criticism. More so, because Kennedy's statement wasn't even arguably directed at how the other side might respond to a future terrorist attack. We'll see whether such criticisms emerge.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stuart - your reasoning is absolutely correct.

Do not, however, hold your breath waiting for the media to apply the same standards to Ted Kennedy as they did to Dick Cheney!!

(I don't know how to give mouth to mouth!!)

Peg K

11:44 PM  

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