Kerry and the Press Corps

In the Weekly Standard, William Kristol says what needed to be said about John Kerry’s performance this week:

Kerry and his advisers have behaved disgracefully this past week. That behavior is sufficient grounds for concern about his fitness to be president.
Kerry’s rudeness paled beside the comment of his senior adviser, Joe Lockhart, to the Los Angeles Times: “The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips.”
Is Kerry proud that his senior adviser’s derisive comment about the leader of free Iraq will now be quoted by terrorists and by enemies of the United States, in Iraq and throughout the Middle East? Is the concept of a loyalty to American interests that transcends partisan politics now beyond the imagination of the Kerry campaign?
John Kerry has decided to pursue a scorched-earth strategy in this campaign. He is prepared to insult allies, hearten enemies, and denigrate efforts to succeed in Iraq. His behavior is deeply irresponsible–and not even in his own best interest.
There is some chance, after all, that John Kerry will be president in four months. If so, what kind of situation will he have created for himself? France will smile on him, but provide no troops. Those allies that have provided troops, from Britain and Poland and Australia and Japan and elsewhere, will likely recall how Kerry sneered at them, calling them “the coerced and the bribed.” The leader of the government in Iraq, upon whom the success of John Kerry’s Iraq policy will depend, will have been weakened before his enemies and ours–and will also remember the insult. Is this really how Kerry wants to go down in history: Willing to say anything to try to get elected, no matter what the damage to the people of Iraq, to American interests, and even to himself?

Mark Steyn, meanwhile, provides his usual incisive but humorous Kerry’s week. But what really struck me in Steyn’s piece are the questions that the news media directed toward Kerry and toward President Bush during Prime Minister Allawi’s visit. One reporter asked Kerry, speaking of Prime Minister Allawi:

‘Prime Minister Allawi told Congress today that democracy was taking hold in Iraq and that the terrorists there were on the defensive. Is he living in the same fantasyland as the president?

Meanwhile, as Kerry was trying to fend off that tough interrogation, President Bush appeared in the Rose Garden with Allawi. The White House press corps had no interest in learning first-hand what is happening in Iraq, and asked no questions of Allawi. Here are some of the questions they had for President Bush:

“Mr. President, John Kerry is accusing you of colossal failures of judgment in Iraq . . .”
NBC guy: ”A central theme of your campaign is that America is safer because of the invasion of Iraq. Can you understand why Americans may not believe you?”
CNN: ”Sir, I’d like you to answer Senator Kerry and other critics who accuse you of hypocrisy or opportunism . . .”

I can’t improve on Steyn’s conclusion:

They’re six feet from Iraq’s head of government and they’ve got not a question for him. They’ve got no interest in Iraq except insofar as they can use the issue to depress sufficient numbers of swing voters in Florida and Ohio.

Except to add that Dan Rather was only the tip of the iceberg.

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