October 19, 2004


Bush Changes Context for War: He has accused Kerry of 'mixed messages' on Iraq, but the president's rationale has shifted too. (Ronald Brownstein and Kathleen Hennessey, October 19, 2004, LA TIMES)

In the campaign debate over Iraq, one constant has been the divide between the presidential candidates on the issue of inconsistency.

President Bush has stressed his resolve while accusing Sen. John F. Kerry of sending "mixed messages" on the war in Iraq. He pounded that point on Monday in his latest sharp attack on Kerry, saying, "For three years, depending on the headlines, the poll numbers and political calculation, he has taken almost every conceivable position on Iraq."

Yet an analysis of Bush's statements on Iraq show that he also has sent differing, if not necessarily conflicting, signals on a key war-related question.

Bush's shifts have come not on the decision to overthrow former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, but why that action was justified.

Both before and after the invasion, Bush built his case for war on basically the same set of elements. But the prominence placed on each element has clearly shifted.

Before the war, the major chord was security and terrorism.

That last bit is, of course, wrong. In his major speech on the reason for the war Mr. Bush quite explicitly justified the removal of Saddam on the basis of his refusal to abide by the UN resolutions he'd agreed to in order to win a ceasefire in 1991. However, there were obviously many other reasons to remove him, as even the Kerry people demonstrated with their list of 24. The difference between the President and Mr. Kerry is that Mr. Bush thinks every one of the 24 is sufficient while Senator Kerry now says none are.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 19, 2004 8:36 AM

The LA Times is the DNC Talking points West coast edition. I find it hard to believe that 2 weeks before the election people haven't figured out their position on Iraq and Bush since it has been the dominent element of the campaign for over a year.

Posted by: AWW at October 19, 2004 8:53 AM

Invading Iraq is the gift that keeps on giving. There is no bad reason for invading; no good reason not to invade.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 19, 2004 9:30 AM


If we're perceived as winning they support it, if losing they oppose. Unfortunately for the Democrats even the media has had to acknowledge extraordinary recent progress across the Islamic world.

Posted by: oj at October 19, 2004 9:41 AM