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Monday, October 25, 2004

It's Official...

We now know what all the fuss was about... Security Council members deny meeting Kerry.

U.N. ambassadors from several nations are disputing assertions by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he met for hours with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq. An investigation by The Washington Times reveals that while the candidate did talk for an unspecified period to at least a few members of the panel, no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred.
So, was it worth all the hype? A visitor to E*D wrote:
Here it is... at first I was all "ho-hum" but when I read more of it, I realized that it's better than I thought. I hope conservatives POUNCE on Kerry for this.
I think that is a more than fair assessment. Essentially this article is just debate-debunking. Kerry made a false claim in the debate. It just so happens that he has continually made this false claim; and so John Kerry has been caught in another pathological lie.

John Kerry was caught in a similar lie about Cambodia. Both lies he told repeatedly in order to justify his political stance; both lies Kerry told in his official capacity as a Senator (On the floor of the Senate talking about the memory of spending Christmas in Cambodia, a memory he claimed was seared into his brain, and this new lie speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York in December 2003 and in the second presidential debate). The one main difference: Kerry's lie about meeting with the UN security council is a lie that is directly pertinent to this election. John Kerry lied to the American people during this election concerning a matter of Foreign policy at a time in which American Foreign policy is the major concern in the election - at a time when credibility on matters relating to foreign policy is essential.

So just what did Senator Kerry say? According to the Joel Mowbray article,
Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York in December 2003, Mr. Kerry explained that he understood the "real readiness" of the United Nations to "take this seriously" because he met "with the entire Security Council, and we spent a couple of hours talking about what they saw as the path to a united front in order to be able to deal with Saddam Hussein."
In the Second Presidential debate, Senator Kerry said
KERRY: Nikki, that's a question that's been raised by a lot of people around the country.

Let me address it but also talk about the weapons the president just talked about, because every part of the president's answer just now promises you more of the same over the next four years.

The president stood right here in this hall four years ago, and he was asked a question by somebody just like you, "Under what circumstances would you send people to war?"

And his answer was, "With a viable exit strategy and only with enough forces to get the job done."

He didn't do that. He broke that promise. We didn't have enough forces.

General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, told him he was going to need several hundred thousand. And guess what? They retired General Shinseki for telling him that.

This president hasn't listened.

I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable.

I came away convinced that, if we worked at it, if we were ready to work and letting Hans Blix do his job and thoroughly go through the inspections, that if push came to shove, they'd be there with us.

But the president just arbitrarily brought the hammer down and said, "Nope. Sorry, time for diplomacy is over. We're going."

He rushed to war without a plan to win the peace.

Ladies and gentleman, he gave you a speech and told you he'd plan carefully, take every precaution, take our allies with us. He didn't. He broke his word.
The article goes on to explain that the Washington Times were able to reach five ambassadors on the Security Council in 2002. Four said they had never met Kerry nor had anyone who worked for their countries. The Washington Times DID confirm that Kerry had met with representatives of France, Singapore and Cameroon. The times claims an official with the Kerry campaign reaffirmed Kerry's claims to have met with the entire Security Council as of a week ago; however Kerry camp has since issued a new statement upon learning of the Washington Times investigation which claims that Kerry's alleged meeting with all members of the UN Security Council was a "closed meeting and a private discussion" - it is still unclear which, if any, Security Council member nations were present.

A particularly damning passage from the Wash Times piece comes rather late in the piece and reads
"We were as surprised as anyone when Kerry started talking about a meeting with the Security Council." Jean-David Levitte, then France's chief U.N. representative and now his country's ambassador to the United States, said through a spokeswoman that Mr. Kerry did not have a single group meeting as the senator has described, but rather several one-on-one or small-group encounters. He added that Mr. Kerry did not meet with every member of the Security Council, only "some" of them.
In my opinion, it is at this point in the article when things become interesting.. too bad it is towards the middle/bottom.

So what does it all mean? Is this worthy of being called an October surprise? Is this going to damage Kerry with little more than a week to go before election day? My gut tells me no. Right now, as of tomorrow, hundreds of bloggers will have addressed this story. We can expect that tomorrow morning, this will be on the radio air waves. Maybe, MAYBE Fox News will pick it up. Basically this will be the Swift Vets all over again... New Media vs Old Media. The new Media will pound this story into the ground. The old media will either dismiss or ignore the story for as long as is possible. I am looking forward to seeing how long CBS and ABC can ignore this... somehow I just don't see Dan Rather talking about this story. With so little time left in the election, and most Americans having made up their mind already, I don't see this story getting enough attention quickly enough to have any meaningful impact.

Even assuming that this story is picked up and treated fairly by the American media, is this story damning enough to change voters minds? I don't know. I am leaning towards no. Any American who is paying attention firmly believes that "the other side" is nothing more than a pack of liars. The left will either refuse to believe the story or go on the attack and claim that Bush lied about "Fill-in-the-blank-with-leftist-lunacy." The right will be saying, "what else is new? Kerry (ghasp) LIED about something!?! (sarcastic)"

The biggest factor for this story, as far as I am concerned, is the spin. If the right is able to make this story the focus of attention (and that is a major hurdle, IMO) in the media in the coming days, then the spin will need to be layed on pretty thick. This has to be about a presidential candidate abusing the American people's trust. This has to be about repeated, pathological lying on the part of a candidate who will do and say anything to get elected. But this cannot just be about a lie; if it is, the left will say Bush lied about X, Y, and Z. The spin has to be that Kerry knowingly and purposefully lied during the election process about issues important to the election. The focus needs to be on the fact that Kerry claimed his meeting with the entire UN Security Council influenced his vote for War in Iraq.

I am looking forward to the takes on this story. The spin doctors have their work cut out for them; even with a slam-dunk case that Kerry has lied and is lying about important campaign issues, I reiterate, 'so what else is new?'

I guess my lack of enthusiasm for this story revolves around the fact that I was hoping for an October surprise. This may surprise some but, personally, I am not all that surprised that Kerry has been caught in another lie. I think the left will get more attention out of their new focus on stolen explosives in Iraq (which apparently we've known about for months, but are just now hearing about in the NYTs). But I will do my part; I AM doing my part by writing this post.

I am interested in YOUR feedback on this... what did you think about the story? Leave a comment.

IR does a good job getting some of Kerry's statements about metting with the Security Council into better context:
John Kerry Dec. 3 2003: Thanks to some friends in New York, I was invited to come up and meet with the Security Council in the week prior to the vote, and I wanted to do that, because I valued my vote. And I wanted to know what the real readiness and willingness of our partners was to take this seriously.

So I sat with the French and British, Germans, with the entire Security Council, and we spent a couple of hours talking about what they saw as the path to a united front in order to be able to deal with Saddam Hussein.

Now at the time, they were pushing for a second vote. But there was a way through that path, in my judgment, with patience and maturity and a readiness and a willingness to be serious. I don't think it took a lot of skill or analysis to understand that the politics of their populations at that time were not ready to move. And any president ought to understand the politics of other people's electorates, as you try to define how you get from here to there, which is the art of diplomacy.

Now I think patience could have said to the French or the Germans, "Okay, what do you need? What proof do you want? How long do we have to inspect? All right. Let's do that openly for the next month. We'll come back to the Security Council, and at that point, would you be ready?"
John Kerry @ Unity Conference: And I believe we need a commander in chief who understands the test before you send young people to war. You got to be able to look parents in the eyes if they lose their son or daughter and say to them, "I tried to do everything in my power to avoid this, but we had no choice as a nation, as a people, because of the challenge to our country, to our fundamental values from a threat that was real and imminent."

I believe in my heart of hearts and in my gut that this president fails that test in Iraq. And I know this because I, personally, and others were deeply involved in the effort with other countries to bring them to the table. I met with the Security Council of the United Nations in the week preceding the vote in the Senate.

I voted to hold Saddam Hussein accountable, because, had I been president, I would have wanted that authority, because that was the way to enforce the U.N. resolutions and be tough with the prospect of his development of weapons of mass destruction. But the president said he would go to war as a last resort. The president said he would exhaust the remedies of the U.N. The president said he would build a legitimate international coalition.
Thank to IR for providing more depth to what Kerry said.

I was checking out the comments over on blogs for bush about this story. I think B4B's readers comments are pretty telling... not too many people are particularly worked up; then again not everyone stays up all night blogging and those who do are looking for something really big. I'm yawning now because I am tired, but is that the only reason?

This post is a work in progress... more as it develops

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