Coolness Under FireYeah, sure. And they seem to be the only ones who find Kerry's views on Iraq comprehensible.
Perhaps what's most frustrating for Kerry's supporters is that his position is not that complicated—and is intellectually defensible.
He voted for the war to strengthen Bush's diplomatic leverage with allies and against the reconstruction money as a vote of no confidence on the handling of the aftermath, and he insists he would have conducted both the diplomacy before the invasion and the cleanup afterward very differently. As he explained it to TIME, "The contrast could not be clearer. They spent a lot of money trying to confuse people, but I have been consistent. I would not have taken the country into war the way he did. I would not have put young Americans in harm's way without a plan to win the peace. I would not have interrupted as abruptly the effort to build alliances with other countries. I would not have turned my back on the international community. And Americans are paying a $200 billion cost today because this President rushed to war."
a top kerry aide predicted that by "turning Iraq into a domestic issue," the nominee would soon turn the race around. But it is far from certain that this latest tack will hold for very long because other advisers believe Kerry must get away from the Iraq tar baby once and for all. All that suggests a deeper problem in the campaign: Kerryland appears to be arranged not for speed but for consultation.
The Kerry campaign at times resembles a floating five-ring circus of longtime Democratic operatives who have all sorts of views, allegiances and ambitions. That worked fine when it was up against Howard Dean's homespun Vermont militia. Against Bush-Cheney '04, a disciplined hierarchy run by Karl Rove and manned by fervent Bush loyalists who take no prisoners, it could be a recipe for a landslide. Second-guessing is taboo under Rove, chiefly because Bush trusts him completely. But it's more like a privilege of membership at Kerry HQ, with the candidate himself often joining the debate.