View Full Version : So what does Kerry's SecDef potentials say about him?

05-15-2004, 11:22 AM
At the least, the four names do nothing to mar Mr. Kerry's reputation as an agile politician. His four choices cover the gamut of security opinion in both major parties--from Mr. McCain on the hawkish end of the GOP, to the more moderate Armed Services Committee Chairman Mr. Warner, to the moderately liberal Mr. Perry, to the leftish Mr. Levin. You could call it an over-the-rainbow coalition.

What we can't figure out from these four names, however, is the kind of national security policy Mr. Kerry would actually pursue. Take the Iraq War, which he has now declared a failure that demands a "change in policy." Mr. McCain has supported the war from the start, and if anything seems to think Mr. Bush hasn't fought it vigorously enough, either with adequate troop strength or military determination. The Arizonan would be a voice for staying in Iraq and doing what it takes to win.

On the other hand, Mr. Levin has been among the loudest war critics all along, arguing that Mr. Bush shouldn't have deposed Saddam Hussein without U.N. permission and now needs to bring in Kofi Annan's cavalry to save the day. He'd be a voice for passing the buck in Iraq as soon as possible to anyone else. The difference between Mr. McCain and Mr. Levin on Iraq makes Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld look like the Olsen twins.

For that matter, Mr. Levin has been on the opposite side from Mr. McCain on most major security issues of the past 20 years. Mr. McCain favors missile defense, while Mr. Levin has tried to kill it with underfunding and policy restraints. The Arizona Republican has long favored spending more on Defense, while the Michigan Democrat helped to midwife the steep spending cuts of the 1990s.

Mr. McCain has been one of the leading hawks on North Korea and opposed the 1994 Agreed Framework that collapsed two years ago. Mr. Levin supported that deal and now wants to negotiate another one, as by the way does Mr. Perry, who was one of the architects of the failed 1994 pact. Their differences would be even more dramatic if we went back to Cold War days, when Mr. Levin was part of the detente and arms-control school, while Mr. McCain favored Reaganite peace through strength.

Our point in describing all this is that, far from clarifying Mr. Kerry's intentions as President, his four Pentagon names merely raise more doubts about what he really believes. Mr. Kerry is tossing out these names amid a war in which U.S. lives and credibility are at stake and which he is denouncing as "disgraceful." The least he could do is give voters a consistent idea of what he'd do differently and better. Senators can afford to indulge in this kind of political massage therapy, but would-be Presidents have to get serious.

My take on this (other than the obvious Kerry trying to play every side and not having core values that he's willing to speak to) is that all of these choices except potentially Perry is that I'm not sure a senator would make a decent secdef. It seems much more of a role for someone who has been in the administration or at least has run a business. The defense department is nothing if it's not an organization.

Also why senators (read kerry) in general make poor presidents.

05-16-2004, 09:02 AM
When I saw the post, I thought you were going to give these mentioned individuals' comments on Kerry. What I find is the opposite, a piece on why kerry shows a negative as these individuals are varied in their philosphies. Guess the common thread, experience/knowledge with the military doesn't count.