In his debate, John Kerry baffled us all when he explained his thinking about pre-emptive war - the US had the right to act alone, as long as it was able to pass the "global test". Now the blogosphere is alive with savants trying to figure out just what that might mean.
And move over Scrappleface! A brilliant new comedic talent has emerged, as Juan Cole mocks Kerry's supporters with a parody of an attempt to parse Kerry's words and find true meaning. I hate to step on his punchline, but the bit where we learn that "global" means "domestic" is priceless.
Mr. Cole is also witty enough to present a slightly longer debate excerpt. Let's look at this:
KERRY: ...Here we have our own secretary of state who has had to apologize to the world for the presentation he made to the United Nations.
I mean, we can remember when President Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis sent his secretary of state to Paris to meet with DeGaulle. And in the middle of the discussion, to tell them about the missiles in Cuba, he said, "Here, let me show you the photos." And DeGaulle waved them off and said, "No, no, no, no. The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me."
I can remember when the word of a Presidential candidate was good enough for me, too. But are we really going to take the word of a Kennedy-lover on a story like this? Trust, but verify!
Kerry's fun litle Kennedy-boosting, Bush-bashing story is apochryphal now, according to the fellow who was there:
As a source of information, overhead photography has always won high marks," concluded the late Sherman Kent, a senior CIA officer who accompanied former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to France during the crisis to brief French President Charles de Gaulle on the U.S. evidence.
Kennedy administration officials voiced concern that allies might balk at the "credibility of photographic evidence," Kent recalled. "It was the only solid evidence there was."
But government leaders in Britain, France, Germany and Canada uniformly accepted the proof, including de Gaulle, a legendary skeptic.
"Not once in the course of my briefing was there any hint of incredulity on the part of the general," Kent later wrote. "If he was not perfectly satisfied that the pictures were scenes from Cuba and the weapons those which I asserted them to be, he gave me no inkling of doubt."
And torn from the pages of Moscow's answer to the NY Times, we find a similar account:
Sherman Kent recorded in detail how the U-2 photographs were brought to some American allies, and what their reactions were...
...General de Gaulle accepted President Kennedy's word initially on faith, though later he inspected the photographs in great detail, and was impressed with the quality of them.
And what was De Gaulle going to say, anyway - "We have no spy planes or relevant expertise in our government, but we doubt you regardless?" Just wondering.
We applaud Mr. Cole for introducing this story into the discussion, since we note that President Kennedy was seeking allied support prior to taking US action. This confounds the attempt by some to explain that Kerry simply intends to take the Global Test after he graduates, or gets his driver's license, or whatever it is the darn test applies to.
We only have a few days until the Kerry Clarification, in which Kerry "re-explains" the "Global Test", and we start hooting that he was for the Global Test until he was against it, so I want to get this other cheap shot in while there is still time.
Wesley Clark was (as those with long memories can attest) a one-time candidate for President and is currently touted by the WaPo as a candidate for Secretary of Defense in a Kerry Administration. Consequently, his thoughts on pre-emption might be valuable in guessing what this "Global Test" might look like.
Fortunately, he wrote a long Washington Monthly article outlining the process he would have recommended in going after Afghanistan following 9/11. A more bellicose Andrew Sullivan was unimpressed; a younger "MinuteMan" was equally skeptical and less kind (the unkindness consisted of excerpting the General).
So, as an example of how a leader preps for the Global Test, the General may provide a helpful guide into the thinking of a Kerry Administration. Run, you fools!
UPDATE: Hmm, I might be wrong about Juan Cole. Not the "comedic" bit, though...
UPDATE 2: The quips keep coming! Various lefties have hit upon the theme that, if you simply strike "prove" and "test" from his statement, Kerry is echoing the Declaration of Independence! Bravo! And if I strike Bush's six months of diplomacy, starting with his September UN speech and ending with his appearance in the Azores, then I can conclude that he made no attempt to inform the world of his motives and intentions.
Sorry, gents, Juan Cole was funnier.
We all agree that seeking domestic and international support is sensible. Still unanswered from the Kerry side - what does a president do if he thinks his presentation will fail the global test?
Also unanswered - is it wise to have a President who is this opaque on a critical topic, or will his confusing rhetoric prompt miscalculation by our enemies?
End the mixed messages.
MORE: (We are also opposed to mexed missages. Our position on Mexican missilage is under review).
UPDATE 3: When the intellectual well runs dry, throw some of the mud on the bottom - Jesse Taylor informs me that this post is stupid.
Tough to rebut a well-crafted argument like that. I'll keep "Yeah, well when Bush starts up the draft, your momma's gonna be wearing Army boots" in my backpocket, and go with a more easily understood "Is Not!".
And why the mental exhaustion at Pandagon? Jesse has been knocking himself out with breakthrough coverage of the "Did Kerry cheat at the debate" story. Let's see, one, two, three, four posts, each making the point that anyone who follows the cheating story seriously is silly and easily distracted. I would say by the fourth post, he is arguing by example.