Nixon Kerry. Now More Than Ever.

|

Michael Young has scoped out below the oddness of John Kerry's latest declamation on U.S. troop presence in Iraq. Jeez, it seems like only a couple of months back, the Bay State Blowhard was talking about sending more troops to Iraq.

And here's something else to consider: On yesterday's edition of This Week, Kerry pledged to cut troops in Iraq over the next four years, adding that he had some sort of super-bargaining chip up his sleeve. When asked if he wasn't channeling Nixon, the banter went something like this:

Reminded that he sounded like Richard M. Nixon, who campaigned in 1968 by saying he had a secret plan to end the war in Vietnam, Kerry responded: "I don't care what it sounds like. The fact is that I'm not going to negotiate in public today without the presidency, without the power."

Whole story here. Kerry's plan doubtless involves the unnamed leaders of foreign countries that are pulling for him to win.

I'm no fan of Bush, but Kerry is kreeping me out more and more with every passing day. Even more than Nixon, he's becoming a bit too reminiscent of another presidential ghost of '68, George "Do You Want a Rinse and a Set with that Brainwash?" Romney.

NEXT: Noted Without Comment

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “First, he’s paranoid. Now he has a secret plan. If he has a dog named Checkers I will start screaming.”

    His wife might have an old “republican coat”. Does that count? 🙂

  2. Democrats are “pro-choice, pro-stem cell research, and not agressive in pornography prosecutions. They also tend to support medical use of marijuana and civil unions, if not marriage, for gay couples, and the freedom to buy prescription drugs from other countries.”

    Um, that’s a great case for voting for the Dems. You get 7 issues popular with college students, especially the LUGs (Libertarian Until Graduation).

    Um, what about issues that are a little less single-issue, and a little more over-arching – like regulatory rollback? Criticize Ashcroft all you want for marijuana prosecutions (ongoing policy from the Clinton administration, in spite of a C-in-C who smoked) but this administration torpedoed the ergonomic standard, is opening at least some of our forests to logging (important if you?ve bought a $9 2×4 lately), has imposed some common-sense reforms under the Clean Air Act and is looking at cost-benefits analysis for other OSHA and EPA regulations. These are changes that result in savings of hundreds of millions, if not billions, across the economy.

    So you really think that Kerry is proposing a regulatory rollback?

    Go ahead – vote Dem. I’ll think of you as I’m buying $5 gas for my Prius. Ahh, but the important point, is I’ll be able to comiserate with friends about the crushing burden of state regulation and taxes while we’re watching porn and smoking dope together…

  3. The rest of world wants to see the U.S. twist in the wind.

    I don’t think that’s true.

    We expected more from you.

    We expected respect for fundamental human rights. (We’ve been expecting that for decades.) We expected honesty. We expected principle.

    And what did we see? Continued executions – even of the mentally ill and of people who were minors when they committed their crimes. The PATRIOT Act. Guantanamo. A half-finished bout of “nation-building” in Afghanistan, with a state now on the verge of total collapse. And a badly prepared war in Iraq, based on American disdain for truth, alliances, and the Iraqi people.

    It is obvious to many of us that the government of the United States has one true moral principle; and that that principle is: The end justifies the means.

    Here is the country founded on the principles of the Declaration of Independence. It has betrayed those principles. It has failed itself.

    I think many people are saddened by the hypocrisy of the US. I think we are disappointed with you.

    It is said that people usually get the governments they deserve. Americans. Nice people, but without substance. They haven’t got a clue.

  4. Matthew Cromer,

    What is liberatarian about efforts to ban it (which I am sure many staffers in his administration would perfer to do)?

    The notion that Republicans favor “limited government” or are “more liberatarian” than Democrats is absolute hogwash; it really depends on the issue to be frank, and neither party has a better record than the other.

  5. Stephen Fetchet,

    What about the Federalization of “education” undertaken by Bush? BTW, why is the freedom to buy overseas prescriptions a LUG issue?

    BTW, no more logging is being done (its hung up in the courts), and the Clean Skies initiative remains dead letter at is too waits for litigation. It would have been much better in both cases to create a negotiated rule than to do what they did do – if something is merely a suit magnet, nothing gets done.

  6. Shannon Love —

    Didn’t see This Week, but on Fox News Sunday (which I did watch) Kerry said almost the same thing. And yes, it was just as “kreepy” when Chris Wallace asked him for his specific plans for getting “world leaders” to join the U.S. in our foreign adventures. Kerry said he wasn’t going to “play his cards in public,” but he would definitely get them on board. Just believe him — he’ll do it.

    Kerry even alluded to having spoken with members of Congress (he’s now learned better than to say he’s “met with foreign leaders”) who have assured him that these foreign leaders are lined up and ready to help him. (No challenge of this by Wallace, incidentally.)

  7. raymond_m,

    Sorry we are not as fun to party with as we used to be but we grew up and got responsibilities.

    Other peoples of the world always have the option of striking a bold moral pose in the face of a crises because they know, always, in the back of their minds, that if they make a mistake or otherwise fail, America will be there to bail them out.

    This is a luxury Americans do not have. If we do not take the lead in dealing with a problem it doesn’t get dealt with.

  8. raymond m:

    Oh, the shame of completely un self interested castigation from our noble brothers across the sea! How they strive for world peace through the UN! Tireless bureaucrats sign condemnations roundly ignored by tyrants the world over, but never fear, they will sign more!

    Basic are Human Rights to our neighbors, like the right of self defense! Terrible is Guantanamo! What our more noble European allies do with those captured in war time is much more civilized! Let us not forget the mighty contributions of the Homo Sapiens Europanus to fighting the Taliban and securing the peace!

    Give me a break.

  9. Democrats were pro-choice, pro-stem cell research, and not agressive in pornography prosecutions. They also tend to support medical use of marijuana and civil unions, if not marriage, for gay couples, and the freedom to buy prescription drugs from other countries. I may be mistaken, but I thought those were libertarian views as well.

    You’re largely mistaken.

    Libertarianism is not “pro-choice”. The are libertarians who are both for and against legal abortion (it largely depends on what rights they feel a fetus has).

    George Bush’s position on stem cell research (“the government shouldn’t fund it”) is closer to libertarianism than Kerry’s (“the government should pay for it”).

    Furthermore, libertarianism is not so much concerned about whether or not someone is “agressive in pornography prosecutions”, per se. We’re concerned with whether or not someone is aggressive in *censoring speech*. The Democrats are as bad as the Republicans in this regard; they differ only in what they censor.

    Government-recognized marriages and civil unions amount to a government subsidy, with special rights, for a subset of the population. The libertarian position on marriage and civil unions is that the government should take no notice of them. From a libertarian perspective, “gay marriage” means expanding an entitlement program.

    As for the freedom to buy drugs from other countries — in theory, as a libertarian free-trader, I approve of this. However, the fact of the matter is that other countries use government-mandated monopolies to force drug companies to sell drugs, in those markets, at very low profit margins, and have threatened to simply void the patents and nationalize the drugs if the patent-owning corporations sqawk about it. So the reality of the matter is that people “buying drugs from other countries” are helping extortionists turn a profit on their ill-gotten gains; as a libertarian, I’m against that.

    On the other hand, Kerry is — at least in his speeches — friendly to the idea of legalizing medical marijuana. So there’s that, at least. But I think you’re wrong to say that Democrats “tend to favor it” — Clinton, for example, was vehemently against it, and tasked the federal government with preventing California from legalizing it.

  10. It is said that people usually get the governments they deserve. Americans. Nice people, but without substance. They haven’t got a clue

    Thanks for one of the (inadvertantly) funniest posts I’ve read here in a while.

  11. Come on, Michael Moore; we know you’re just toying with us as “raymond_m.”

  12. Dan,

    “Libertarianism is not “pro-choice”. The are libertarians who are both for and against legal abortion (it largely depends on what rights they feel a fetus has).”

    According to you maybe; others see “pro-choice” as the only true or proper Libertarian position, and I happen to agree.

    “George Bush’s position on stem cell research (“the government shouldn’t fund it”) is closer to libertarianism than Kerry’s (“the government should pay for it”).”

    Actually, that’s not even Bush’s position; his position is that research is ok to fund so long as they use those older cell lines.

    “Furthermore, libertarianism is not so much concerned about whether or not someone is “agressive in pornography prosecutions”, per se. We’re concerned with whether or not someone is aggressive in *censoring speech*. The Democrats are as bad as the Republicans in this regard; they differ only in what they censor.”

    Libertarianism is as interested in censoring certain aspects of speech as it is all speech; and if your fall back position is that the Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans, then you are simply agreeing with us.

    “Government-recognized marriages and civil unions amount to a government subsidy, with special rights, for a subset of the population.”

    How exactly is a right which is exactly that which heterosexuals get a “special” right?

    “The libertarian position on marriage and civil unions is that the government should take no notice of them. From a libertarian perspective, “gay marriage” means expanding an entitlement program.”

    And as we know, the Republicans oppose gay marraige because they’re really just opposed to all state recognition of marraige. Again, your fallback position makes the Republicans look just as bad as the Democrats; indeed, worse, because at least the Democrats aren’t motivated by bigotry.

    “As for the freedom to buy drugs from other countries — in theory, as a libertarian free-trader, I approve of this. However, the fact of the matter is that other countries use government-mandated monopolies to force drug companies to sell drugs, in those markets, at very low profit margins, and have threatened to simply void the patents and nationalize the drugs if the patent-owning corporations sqawk about it.”

    So? Either one should be able to do this or not; what, are you some sort of rule utilitarian – some sort of communitarian?

  13. Shannon Love,

    Devolving into ad hominem attacks is not very helpful, especially when they are so silly, reductionist and based on unsubstantiated notions.

  14. I must respectfully disagree, Raymond. The animus for America goes well beyond disappointment. It extends to resentment, anger, fear and even hatred… and this is from America’s “allies.”

    The essence of your criticism and the heart of European disappointment (if we can use so generous a term) can be distilled into one pithy point. America is not Europe (nor any other foreign nation). The American sin is, for lack of better description, acting American.

    The simple reality is that nations founded on lofty ideals will always fall short of the mark. This is a realization not unlike discovering one’s parents are really quite flawed. Maturity allows one see one’s parents clearly… accepting the bad and celebrating the good. It is truly a shame that the nationalistic inferiority complex suffered by countries like France prevent this sort of mature assessment of other nations.

  15. Raymond & Jose Ortega y Gasset,

    I think you’re both trading in silly stereotypes and the sort of reductionism that eviscerates a meaningful conversation. Anti-Europeanism and anti-Americanism are both equally loathesome.

  16. Gary Gunnels,

    You need to look up the definition of ad hominem.

  17. Let us not forget the mighty contributions of the Homo Sapiens Europanus to fighting the Taliban and securing the peace!

    1. Let us not forget.

    2. Let us not forget.

    3. Let us not forget.

    Insofar as “securing the peace” is concerned…

    ISAF currently numbers 6,500 troops from 35 NATO and non-NATO nations. Individual contributions by each country change on a regular basis due to the rotation of troops. NATO in Afghanistan, July, 2004.

    Unfortunately, “The Medecins sans Frontieres aid group is to pull out of Afghanistan after more than 20 years due to security concerns and the lack of progress in an investigation into the killing of five staff, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.” Reuters

    Securing the peace.

  18. According to you maybe; others see “pro-choice” as the only true or proper Libertarian position, and I happen to agree.

    There isn’t really a “libertarian” position on abortion, since (a) libertarians are divided on it, and (b) they divide pretty much on the same arguments as the general population. In other words, a pro-life libertarian is likely so for the same reasons as a pro-life conservative, just as a pro-choice libertarian has the same reasons as a pro-choice liberal.

    So? Either one should be able to do this or not; what, are you some sort of rule utilitarian – some sort of communitarian?

    True, banning drug importation to minimize the effects of other countries’ extortionist practices is not a pure libertarian position. Invading such countries, who essentially are stealing from us, would however be justifiable. Which solution do you prefer?

  19. In the US, are people executed for crimes committed when they were minors?

    Are mentally ill and retarded people executed?

    Are foreign nationals who have not been allowed contact with their consuls in contravention of treaties been condemned to death?

    Does the Declaration of Independence state that the right to life is “unalienable”?

    Is killing a defenseless human being a violation of the unalienable right to life?

    Which libertarian can defend the PATRIOT Act? If there are any here who can, please do so.

    Did the administration violate the Geneva Conventions and the US Constitution by keeping prisoners in Guantanamo our of the jurisdiction of the courts?

    Did the government use torture in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and did the US government hand prisoners over to “less squeamish” governments for vigorous interrogation?

    Did the United States do its utmost to establish security and a system of law in all of Afghanistan?

    Does the United States support corrupt and tyrannical regimes so long as those regimes are useful?

    While the US and coalition forces were fighting in Afghanistan, did George Bush already know that the US would be attacking Iraq?

    On September 11, was there a great outpouring of love and sympathy for the United States on the part of most Europeans? How is it that all that good will has disappeared?

    In what way was the attack on Iraq an act of self defense?

    “Anti-Americanism”?

    You want to know what I think is anti-American?

    ? Betraying the ideals of the Declaration of Independence.

    ? Trying to find legal loopholes in order to justify the use of torture.

    ? Using the state to kill defenseless human beings.

    ? Attempting to adulterate the Constitution in order to gain votes.

  20. Whoa, raymond! Cool down a little. You’re sounding more and more like a Howard Dean speech.

  21. According to you maybe; others see “pro-choice” as the only true or proper Libertarian position, and I happen to agree

    I claimed that libertarians disagree on this issue, with is factually true. Your counterargument is that you think you’re right and they’re wrong. This is (a) completely uninteresting to me and (b) not a counter to my original claim.

    So you think it’s the only “true and proper” libertarian position. Fine. But consider for a minute that many libertarians (though not myself) believe that human life begins at the point of conception. What is the “only true and proper” libertarian argument for killing and dismembering a living human being without his or her consent?

    Libertarianism is as interested in censoring certain aspects of speech as it is all speech; and

    Like I said, libertarianism is concerned with people who want to censor speech; libertarians are not specifically concerned with censorship of porn. The original poster had incorrectly held up Democratic non-censorship of porn as an example of why Democrats were more libertarian than Republicans.

    if your fall back position is that the Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans, then you are simply agreeing with us

    Democrats are as bad as Republicans on censorship issues. I have no idea who “us” is, and I don’t care, since my observation is correct regardless of your opinion of it.

    How exactly is a right which is exactly that which heterosexuals get a “special” right?

    Homosexuals already have the right to marry. They just don’t have the “right” to receive the special government benefits that heterosexual married people receive.

    Imagine if the government gave tax breaks and special entitlements to white Christians, but not to black Christians. Would it be “libertarian” to argue that black Christians should get the tax breaks and entitlements too? Fuck no. But that’s exactly the kind of “libertarian” argument that gay marriage proponents make.

    Now, I favor gay marriage. But that’s because I am not purely libertarian, and favor the special treatment of married couples.

    And as we know, the Republicans oppose gay marraige because they’re really just opposed to all state recognition of marraige

    Again, the previous poster had presented a list of ways in which Democrats were supposedly more libertarian than Republicans. Your sarcastic observation that the Republican position is also unlibertarian is irrelevant to this discussion.

    So? Either one should be able to do this or not; what, are you some sort of rule utilitarian – some sort of communitarian?

    You live in a fantasy world where property rights are actually respected by governments, I guess.

    In an ideal world, a foreign country which violated American property rights by voiding a patent would be punished with asset seizure and/or military action. In the real world, that isn’t going to happen. In the real world, drug importation lets the greedy and selfish (i.e, you) profit from the victimization of property owners (i.e., the drug companies).

    I imagine that a person such as yourself, who can argue with a straight face that atheists can worship gods, could offer up an argument as to why “libertarians” should support buying drugs at prices artificially lowered by government coercion. But I’m uninterested in hearing what it is.

  22. i’ve little doubt kerry is potentially a deceiver and obfuscator equal to the small head in the white house now. and i sincerely doubt he has a truly moral bone in his body. in many ways, he will be a total disappointment to anyone who invests hope in him.

    that such a man represents a probable improvement on the current situation says much about the decline of government in the united states.

  23. The primary difference between Bush and Kerry, other than Bush?s aggressiveness in foreign & security policy, is that in a Kerry administration, none of the 3,000 or so appointees who run the executive branch, and none of the judges he appoints, will have anything resembling libertarian thoughts or inclinations. The Bush administration may have a mixed record in this area, but it?s better than a uniformly bad record, which is what a Kerry administration will develop.

  24. Ah, that’s it. My Nixon campaign button is going on my lapel.

    The larger issue, electing Kerry won’t get the French or Germans or any other country into Iraq. The action would be expensive, financially and politically. The rest of world wants to see the U.S. twist in the wind.

  25. Jose:

    No, no. You don’t get it. Besides having a magic wand that creates jobs, and only good ones at that, the famous Kerry charm is a potent weapon in diplomacy. Some people suffer under the delusion that diplomacy is about power politics, but we all know that when Democrat Kerry says, ‘Pretty please with sugar on top,’ no ally can resist.

    Vote for Kerry, because he is so damn charming.

  26. He’s kreeping me out too.

    First, he’s paranoid. Now he has a secret plan. If he has a dog named Checkers I will start screaming.

  27. Kerry’s comment is just fascinating. Is he saying that he is negotiating with foreign leaders in private right now, but won’t negotiate with them in public until after the election?

    Is he actually planning to negotiate with foreign nations via press interviews/”in public” after he wins?

    Or were the words “negotiate in public today” totally meaningless?

    Is there any interpretation of that sentence that doesn’t make him sound like a total doofus?

  28. At the end of the day is it really important that we have the approval of the French and the Germans? Obviously they have a different agenda than we do…..and have had it for some time. I heartily agree with Stephen fetchet’s comment about none of the 3,000 executive appointees/ judges in a Kerry admistration will have libertarian inclinations. At least with Bush it’s a mixed bag.

  29. Kreeping with a “K”? What’s up with that? Anyone?

  30. Stephen Fetchet: Last time I looked, Democrats were pro-choice, pro-stem cell research, and not agressive in pornography prosecutions. They also tend to support medical use of marijuana and civil unions, if not marriage, for gay couples, and the freedom to buy prescription drugs from other countries. I may be mistaken, but I thought those were libertarian views as well. How would a Kerry administration be any less of a “mixed bag” than the Bush administration, other than the fact that there are different “goodies” in the bag? Finally, if you are correct that Dems have nothing to offer libertarians, why aren’t all libertarians Republicans?

  31. In defense of Kerry I would like to see a transcript of the interview before pouncing. There doesn’t seem to be one out yet.

    Did anyone see the show? Are quotes reported in the media actually in context?

  32. Ah, Democratic presidential candidates and their always provocative “magic wands.”

    I think the prevailing philosophy is not that Kerry will bring more or less folks with libertarian leanings. It’s more that Kerry will divide the federal government and the resulting gridlock can only benefit libertarians.

    Furthermore, I find little reason to celebrate the accidental confluence of some Democratic positions with some libertarian notions. In the parlance of rural America, even a blind squirrel finds a nut on occasion.

  33. Something else to consider: just as only Nixon could go to China, and it took Clinton to sign the welfare reform bill, Kerry could conceivably be the one to roll back regulation and cut taxes for real, for the simple reason that as a Democrat he can get away with it. One could argue that it could work the other way, e.g. he could clamp down hard on alleged indency, but really – could he do worse in this regard than the guy already in there?

  34. Jim, what color is the sky in your world?

    Ron, what is *LIBERTARIAN* about the federal government *PAYING* for stem cell research?

  35. ” Some people suffer under the delusion that diplomacy is about power politics”

    Diplomacy is the art of getting more out of others than you give up. Sure, power helps with leverage, but unless you’re powerful enough to force everyone to do whatever you want, you need other means as well.

    I think the best board game ever invented was actually called Diplomacy. It was setup such that you couldn’t win without entering into an alliance with at least one other player, but NEITHER could you win without eventually breaking every alliance you entered. I think real life is a lot like that.

  36. Michael Young seems capable of simultaneously wanting the Middle East to be swept into a new age of freedom and democracy and wanting it to be invaded and occupied by a million or so heavily-armed Western troops. So why can’t Kerry simultaneously want an overall expansion of military personnel and a reduction in the number of said personnel on the ground in Iraq?

    Just because you’re adding 40,000 troops, that doesn’t mean they get added to the forces in Iraq. I know why Karl Rove and Ann Coulter like to pretend not to understand this, but what’s your motive, Gillespie? Is it that you want to aboilish the military or that you want it staffed entirely by temps paid on a 1099, or are you angling to make the jump to the National Review so you can put that addition on the house? At least when Mr. Young complains about Kerry’s military stances, he wants something, even if it’s something weird. This sputtering rage thing of yours is kind of tiring. I still think a Democrat hurt you as a child. You’re not going to be able to heal yourself until you find the source of your pain.

  37. If you are going to have an opinion about “now,” you might find it useful to know a little something about “then.”

    Perhaps I do know a little something about “then”. And perhaps I do not. There is no way of knowing from this exchange.

    But clarify your thought, please. Are you saying that because of the Trail of Tears one should not condemn Abu Ghraib? Does the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts somehow excuse the PATRIOT Act?

    Should the author of the Declaration of Independence have written:

    The history of the present King of Great Britain is the cumulative history of a nation trying and often failing to live up to its principles. So we’ve decided to cancel the Revolution.

    Do you think the US is the shining city on the hill?

    I don’t. I don’t think any country which executes people should expect to be taken seriously as an example of a government instituted to secure fundamental rights.

  38. Kreeping with a “K”? What’s up with that? Anyone?

    Words starting with a “K” are just funnier?

    Kevin
    (Kvelling & kvetching)

  39. The same could be said, Mr. Gunnels, for racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, etc. I think as mature participants in a discussion, we understand that comments about anti-Americanism are painting with a broad brush. If you doubt the pheonomena, however, I suggest you travel in France for a few weeks wearing a red, white and blue “I Love Bush” shirt.

    And Raymond, for all of the actions you rail against, I can give you similar examples from American history. This is not the first time America has been involved in ill-fated foreign adventures, denied the rights citizens and foreign nationals, etc. Is America what you read in the Declaration of Independence or is the cumulative history of a nation trying and often failing to live up to those principles?

  40. …similar examples from American history. …America has been involved in ill-fated foreign adventures, denied the rights citizens and foreign nationals…

    I don’t live then. I live now.

  41. If you are going to have an opinion about “now,” you might find it useful to know a little something about “then.”

    America has never really achieved the lofty goals of its inception and I rather doubt the pragmatic founding fathers would be terribly surprised. Democracy (or a Republic if you prefer) is always a work in progress. What is quintessentially American is not the grasping, but the reaching.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.