Kerry’s votes for and against the war and his shifting campaign rhetoric raise grave doubts about what, exactly, a President Kerry would do in Iraq. He emphasizes persuading countries like France and Germany to join the war effort, but they have said no and never. He promises to prosecute the war better than Bush, but he has not gone beyond pointing out every setback in the conflict.
Most seriously, Candidate Kerry’s clearest position on the war undercuts the cause a President Kerry would be obligated to fight. As Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland put it: “Kerry’s repeated denunciations of Iraq as the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time weaken the moral and perhaps even the legal base for ordering Americans to continue to fight there if he becomes President.” World leaders — those Kerry intends to rally and those already committed — could not responsibly risk their citizens in a misbegotten fight.
At this critical juncture, America cannot afford such a lack of clarity — or even a hint that a President would revert to playing defense rather than staying on the offensive. Nor would it be wise to change commanders midbattle in Iraq and around the globe, replacing a tested leader with a man who would have to learn on the job under the most difficult circumstances. With so much at stake, that’s a transition not to be wished for.
Returning Bush to office is the wise course, The News believes, despite our sharp disagreement with his domestic policies. Those pale in comparison with the overarching challenge of securing the nation and preserving New York’s vital way of life. Of the two candidates, Bush has the clearer vision for accomplishing the goal, as well as the greater experience. He gets our endorsement.