Originally Published: October 7, 2004 7 a.m.
WASHINGTON – John Kerry has finally said what he has long believed but, until now, refused to admit: that regardless how much of a threat Saddam Hussein posed in the Middle East, it was not sufficient reason to topple his terrorist regime.
In yet another address to further explain and change his positions on Iraq, the Massachusetts liberal continues his tortuous, publicly confusing odyssey over the war – from pre-primary supporter and defender of the war to critic of the war to partial critic/partial supporter, and now, it seems, to all-out antiwar protester. Kerry has come full circle.
He stated his newest explanation of his position on the war in four brief, unambiguous sentences: "Saddam was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell," he said. "But that was not – that was not – in itself a reason to go to war. The satisfaction that we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure."
This from a man who not too many weeks ago said that, knowing what he knows now about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, he still would have voted for the war resolution against the Iraqi dictator.
President Bush, in response to Kerry's remarks, put it perfectly: "He's saying he prefers the stability of a dictatorship to the hope and security of a democracy. I couldn't disagree more and not so long ago so did my opponent."
Then Bush pulled out a remark that Kerry made at Drake University in Iowa this past December when he was running far behind antiwar candidate Howard Dean, who doubted the United States was any safer with Hussein gone. Kerry said: "Those who believe we are not safer with (Hussein's) capture don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president."
"I couldn't have said it better myself," Bush added to a roar of approval at a campaign rally in Derry, N.H.
Meanwhile, the former Vietnam protester who accused U.S. soldiers of unspeakable atrocities, now seems to believe that he can win this election by playing the old antiwar card again. Indeed, there are faint echoes in his latest speeches of George McGovern's "come home America," and he now recites Howard Dean's antiwar rallying cry word for word: "The wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time."
But Americans know we are in a war against terrorism that we won't win by setting dates for troop pullouts; that the overthrow of the Taliban and Hussein's regimes dealt a major blow to the terrorists; that offensive pre-emption is better than waiting for the next attack; and that this was in fact the right war in the right place at the right time.