Kerry’s Record on Iraq

The press may finally be catching on to the fact that the Bush campaign’s characterization of Kerry’s position on Iraq is untrue. The Bush campaign says “John Kerry has taken at least eight positions on the Iraq War, and there are still seven weeks left in the campaign.”

But in the last couple of days, multiple independent analyses by newspapers have concluded that this charge has no merit. From a Knight-Ridder piece today:

Despite accusations, Kerry’s position on Iraq has been consistent

“I have one position on Iraq,” Kerry insisted this week during a rare news conference. “One position.”

In fact, he’s right, his image as a “flip-flopper” notwithstanding.

Kerry voted in October 2002 for the congressional resolution that authorized President Bush to go to war in Iraq. He now says that the invasion was not justified and has made the United States less secure.

These positions are not contradictory, but his attempts to explain the distinction between them are often complicated, and they have given President Bush an opening to caricature Kerry as a flip-flopper. However, beneath the torrent of campaign verbiage, Kerry’s position on Iraq for the past two years has been consistent and defensible – just difficult to sell in a sound-bite world.

And from a piece in the SF Chronicle yesterday:

Flip-flopping charge unsupported by facts;

Kerry always pushed global cooperation, war as last resort

President Bush, seated beside Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said Tuesday: “My opponent has taken so many different positions on Iraq that his statements are hardly credible at all.”

The allegation is the basis of a new Bush campaign TV ad that shows the Democratic senator from Massachusetts windsurfing to the strains of a Strauss waltz as a narrator intones: “Kerry voted for the Iraq war, opposed it, supported it and now opposes it again.”

Yet an examination of Kerry’s words in more than 200 speeches and statements, comments during candidate forums and answers to reporters’ questions does not support the accusation.

I think that Kerry’s most important task in next week’s debate is to clearly and succinctly refute the Bush campaign’s assertions about Kerry’s position on Iraq. Not an easy task, though: how do you condense the conclusions of a 1000-word newspaper piece into a single memorable sentence?