Kerry Says Bush's Handling Of Iraq Is "Incompetent"
Sen. Kerry yesterday continued to focus on the issue of Iraq, which he now views as his best chance to cut into President Bush's lead and regain the momentum he appears to have lost since the GOP convention last month. In a speech in New York City that received ample coverage from network and local TV, the Democratic nominee charged Bush's with "colossal failures of judgment" on Iraq, arguing that more such failures should be expected if the President is reelected. The media generally portrayed Kerry's speech as an effort to quiet critics within his party who urged him to clarify his stance on Iraq and to "take the gloves off" in attacking the Administration. Kerry was described as speaking "forcefully" as he "came out swinging" against Bush's Iraq policy. WNBC-TV of New York City, for example, said last night Kerry "launched a blistering attack" on the President, adding that "major Democratic leaders. . .have been urging Kerry for weeks to take the gloves off. Today, he did." WBBH-TV of Ft. Myers, Florida, added that "the Democratic presidential candidate outlined a four-point plan for peace in Iraq. Highlights include getting help from other nations, and providing better training for Iraqi security forces."
ABC World News Tonight thought the speech was Kerry's "most outspoken attack. . .on the President's leadership" so far. Kerry "said his plan is to bring more nations into Iraq to share the burden. He would expedite the training of Iraqi security forces. Step up Iraq's reconstruction. And make sure it's safe enough to hold elections as scheduled next year. Such a plan, said Kerry, would make it possible to begin withdrawing US forces starting next summer." USA Today called the remarks "Kerry's most extensive attempt to define his differences with Bush on Iraq," while the Los Angeles Times thought the senator offered "his most sweeping and detailed attack on Bush's handling of Iraq."
The Washington Post, meanwhile, analyzed Kerry's plan, noting "US experts on Iraq generally laud the goals, applaud the idea of a national debate on Iraq and endorse the principles outlined in Kerry's long-awaited plan." But "they also question whether some of his proposals are realistic or even all that new. The Bush administration has already tried several of the Kerry suggestions but failed to pull them off." Analysts "questioned whether any American leader will be able to mobilize greater international participation, given the current dangers in Iraq and domestic political considerations in countries that have resisted earlier US requests to play a role." The New York Times' editorial page liked the speech. Under the headline "Talking Sense, at Last, on Iraq," the paper said Kerry "laid out a well-grounded, intellectually straightforward and powerful critique of the Bush administration's past mistakes in Iraq."