Another Perspective

With a Whimper?

Wouldn't it be nicer if J.F. Kerry went out with a bang?

By 9.30.04

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"This is how the (Kerry) world ends; not with a bang, but with a whimper."

Doesn't have to be that way, Senator. How about going out with a bang? How about establishing a dime's worth of difference. In the "debates" as we are mistakenly wont to call them, or in a major policy speech?

Stop temporizing on the "war," again a misnomer for what is going on in Iraq. It has little relation to what was going on in Vietnam, where there was an organized enemy army firmly supplied by a larger enemy, and covertly supported by a considerable indigenous population.

With apologies to Dean, come out on the Iraq war. Make the charge that it was initiated by a few in high Pentagon places. And go ahead, make the charge that Bush feared, and fears, a repeat of the Shamir-Bush One squabble that reduced a steady 27 percent Jewish-American vote for Republican Presidential candidates to something like 10 percent. And lost Dad the election (with an assist from Perot). Go ahead. You'll be noticed.

Make the pledge. Within one month of the Iraqi "elections" all American (stop calling them "coalition") troops will be withdrawn from Iraq. What political process remains in Iraq will sink or swim but without U.S. waterwings. Let the Iraqi "Army" concern itself with places like Fallujah.

There was a smart fellow who had the wit at the outset of his testimony to the 9/11 Commission to turn and apologize to the assembled audience of 9/11 survivors for government's failure to anticipate the debacle. Whatever else he said and wrote, this introductory act was genius.

You do the same. Apologize to the survivors of the Iraq expedition's dead. And promise the surviving wounded they will not be forgotten. Borrow, but carefully, from your testimony of the '70s to the Senate.

Fear to resurrect the Vietnam conflict? Don't. Explain that a President of that era had a romantic idea. We would initiate Green Berets. We would meet the enemy on their terms, their ground. If they fought in trees, we would fight in trees. If they had automatic weapons, we would have them also. In short: we would allow the enemy to set the terms and the scale. And if some bellicose Admiral suggested we could do better with something bigger, put him in a back room and close the door.

Senator. Open that door. Say out loud that if President you would enunciate a new policy of the United States. Explain to the world that we are out of the trees. We are a technological nation. Mano a mano is not our oeuvre, not anymore. We will employ the technological means which we have taxed our people to support, and we shall continue to advance techniques now barely envisioned.

Include an olive branch in the quiver. Offer a new world pledge of allegiance to peace and mutual respect and invite friend and foe to sign. If not friends, we would be neutral fellow travelers.

Senator, you could include a pledge to reduce the deficit and create jobs, and then you could laugh, not smile, but laugh, and say, "But Presidents do not do that. They advise a Congress of what they think is required. And the vicissitudes of the world's economy have more to do with these matters than any group in Washington."

You could do all of the above. Frame it in starkly simple language. And lose the election. But lose with a bang, not the impending whimper. And be remembered.

P.S. Do not run this by your battalion of advisers. They have done enough.

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About the Author

Reid Collins is a former CBS and CNN news correspondent.