John Kerry, "Patriot With a Different View" - June 4, 2004 -

Times Watch for June 4, 2004

John Kerry, "Patriot With a Different View"

Robin Toner's Friday political memo, "Kerry Presents Himself as a Patriot With a Different View," swallows whole Kerry's latest campaign theme and allows his spokesmen to accuse Republicans (without evidence) of questioning the candidate's patriotism.

Toner writes: "Often, Mr. Kerry's strongest applause lines are when he talks about reclaiming patriotism from the Republican Party. 'I'm tired of listening to the armchair patriots in Washington who want to tell us that asking questions about the direction of our country is somehow unpatriotic,' he said in Kansas City on Wednesday night, in remarks delivered beneath a huge American flag."

(Apparently Democrats can indulge in flag-waving campaigning without being criticized.)

"He is, in short, presenting himself as a patriot with a different view, and a different biography. Mr. Bush served stateside in the Texas Air National Guard during Vietnam. At Thursday's event in Independence, Mo., Gen. Johnnie Wilson, one of only four black four-star generals, got a standing ovation when he introduced Mr. Kerry this way: 'It seems to me unpatriotic that those who were absent would question Kerry's commitment, dedication and patriotism to our great nation.'"

For the rest of Toner on Kerry, click here.

" Campaign 2004 | Sen. John Kerry | Patriotism | Robin Toner

Sanger's Thesaurus

David Sanger's Friday analysis of the surprise resignation of C.I.A. director George Tenet begins with a summary of Sanger's favorite anti-war talking points: "George J. Tenet's surprise departure as director of central intelligence removes from President Bush's inner circle one of the lightning rods for the criticism that America went to war based on faulty intelligence. But it also keeps Mr. Bush exposed to the election-year charge that his White House politicized the work of the intelligence agencies, stretching the data to justify its decision to topple Saddam Hussein and perhaps paying insufficient attention to other threats."

Sanger continues: "But even though the president may be spared the spectacle of more contentious hearings, Thursday's resignation is unlikely to remove the issue from the campaign, or from voters' assessments of whether the administration twisted and squeezed imperfect intelligence to sell the war in Iraq as a immediate necessity."

"Immediate necessity?" That's an interesting choice of phrase, given that Sanger (as well as many other Times reporters and editorial writers) has in the past characterized the administration as claiming Hussein posed an "imminent threat to the world"-a charge Bush was careful not to make. Now Sanger repackages his description as an "immediate necessity," a less hackneyed but similarly dire formulation.

Having reached for his thesaurus, Sanger then overreaches to bash Bush for slighting the threats of North Korea and Iran in his rush to invade Iraq.

Sanger's hobby-horse theory is that the U.S. has ignored North Korea and Iran in its obsession with Hussein and Iraq: "At the core of the criticism of Mr. Tenet-and by extension Mr. Bush-are two central arguments. One is that Mr. Tenet failed to exercise the proper skepticism about what capabilities Saddam Hussein had in hand. But the second, perhaps more damaging one, is that he acquiesced to a White House that wanted a certain type of evidence about Iraq and was surprisingly less concerned about evidence that North Korea and Iran were making far more progress toward nuclear weapons than Mr. Hussein was. On the first issue, there is little question that at times, Mr. Tenet was a restraining influence on a White House that often seemed inclined to turn tips into facts, and theories into evidence".But there is also evidence that while American eyes were trained on Iraq, both North Korea and Iran made significant progress in developing nuclear weapons."

But were the situations in North Korea and Iraq really that similar? After all, North Korea's program was more advanced, making it a far more difficult target. Times Watch fails to see the double standard Sanger is straining so hard to construct.

For the rest of Sanger's piece on Tenet's resignation, click here.

" George W. Bush | CIA | Iraq War | North Korea | David Sanger | George Tenet

"Ludicrous Visions" of US Troops Showered With Flowers?

The lead editorial on Friday of course involves the resignation of C.I.A. Director George Tenet. The Times isn't displeased, and uses the opportunity to recycle talking points about (you guessed it) Abu Ghraib.

The editorial also slams one of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's "ludicrous visions:": "On Mr. Tenet's watch, the American intelligence community failed to comprehend the domestic threat from Al Qaeda before Sept. 11, 2001. It either bungled or hyped its analysis of Iraq to spin fanciful threats from chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, threats that President Bush used to justify the invasion. The C.I.A. itself apparently did not sign on to the more ludicrous visions offered by Mr. Rumsfeld's team, like the one of grateful Iraqis showering American soldiers with flowers. But it utterly missed the dismal state Iraq was in and the strength of the insurgency that Americans would face after the fall of Baghdad."

"Ludicrous visions?" Not according to the paper's own reporting, which shows the vision to be totally accurate. On April 6 reporter Christine Hauser noted: "Almost a year ago, the Shiites of Sadr City were throwing flowers at American tanks that rumbled into Baghdad ending the rule of their longtime oppressor, Saddam Hussein."

For the rest of the editorial on CIA Director Tenet's resignation, click here.

" Abu Ghraib | CIA | Editorial | Gaffes | Iraq War | Prisoners | George Tenet