Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The consequences of being vague...

I should say right from the start that this post will look at a strategy employed by both Senator Kerry and Saddam Hussein and is no attempt to equate their political philosophies. Both men attempted to achieve an end by being vague about some central question: Hussein wanted the USA and other groups to think he had WMD. He wanted at the same time to give no irrefutable evidence of it. The idea would be that without hard evidence, we would be prevented from attacking him. At the same time, the feeling that he had these weapons would be a deterrent to an attack. Instead, what happened is that we figured that if he was acting like he was hiding something then he probably was hiding something. After 9/11 we were in no mood to play 'footsie' with one of the only world leaders to applaud the terrorist attack on us. I have little doubt that if Hussein's regime had cooperated fully with inspectors, he would be hanging out in one of his palaces right now. In the case of John Kerry, I don't know if he would have done any better with clarity: Senator Kerry wanted moderate and conservative swing voters to think that he would continue the effort in Iraq--just do things in a smarter and better way. At the same time, he wanted the hard-core 'bushitler' crowd to think that he would pull a Zapatero. He really had to do things this way. If he went hard left, he would unify them and go down to McGovern-like defeat. If he openly proposed the 'stay the course, only smarter' path (to the point where everybody believed him) then the hard left would go heavy for Nader and again, McGovernville. In any case, it was a fairly close election--it came down to a little more than 100,000 votes in a fairly large state. Before the advent of blogs, Kerry probably could have carried it off. The major networks and newspapers no longer have a monopoly on what people hear about. Without blogs, the SwiftVets would have never been heard of. By the same token, the Texas ANG documents would not (until safely after the election) have been revealed as the obvious fakes they were. There are no earth-shattering lessons here: Just that when you want one set of people to believe A and another to believe B, it might not work out as planned. dbp

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