Friday, October 01, 2004

My Debate Notebook: Part 2

I should say though that "notebook" is a bit of an overstatement. It was a scrap of newspaper and a pull out page from the TV Guide - I'll be more prepared next time, but I forgot that there would be no commercials.
Also, here's a transcript of the debate (thanks to Jonah Goldberg at the Corner).

The Infamous 90%

Senator Kerry keeps saying that we have 90% of the casualties and 90% of the bill. Well, when I heard those claims, I remembered something I read in this morning's Wall Street Journal. The editorial staff there was kind enough to warn him against just those statistics:
Mr. Kerry will also want to avoid his frequent claim that the U.S. has "borne nearly 90% of the casualties" and is providing 90% of the troops. On the first point, the U.S. has suffered 800 killed in action since the Iraq war began, 1,053 including non-combat deaths. Our uniformed Iraqi allies, however, have already suffered at least 750 combat deaths. And that doesn't include the recruits who've been killed by car bombs as they've waited to enlist in the police or new Iraq army. Even using, er, liberal math, this would put U.S. killed-in-action at about 50% of the total.

As for the total number of troops, Lieutenant General David Petraeus recently wrote in the Washington Post that some 100,000 Iraqi police and soldiers have been trained and equipped, in addition to the 74,000 Iraqis who are guarding oil pipelines and the like as part of the country's new facilities protection service. With some 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and another 25,000 foreign coalition troops, that puts the U.S. share at closer to 50%, and falling fast as General Petraeus trains ever more Iraqis, who continue to volunteer by the thousands for duty.
Finally, Mr. Kerry will want to be careful in asserting that the war has cost us "$200 billion," which is "nearly 90% of the bill in Iraq." It's true that $200 billion is the amount Congress has approved in supplemental war spending bills, but only $120 billion is for war-fighting in Iraq. The rest is for Afghanistan--a war Mr. Kerry claims to like and wants to spend more on--and economic or reconstruction aid.
Other nations in the Iraq coalition have pledged something like $13 billion. And that doesn't count the contribution that the world has made in promising to forgive upward of $80 billion in Iraqi debt. Even before the Kerry victory it covets, France has said it will write off some 50% of its Iraq debt. Add up all of those numbers (the U.S. has minimal Iraqi debt) and the U.S. share of overall Iraqi costs also looks a lot less "unilateral."

Did no one on Kerry's staff read this??

Training of Iraqi police
Kerry claims he will be able to do "Better training, faster"
How? The Army is the Army. Is he going to massively fire the people on the ground and replace them with new ones? It will be the same people and to imply now that those that are working in Iraq aren't doing their best to train the Iraqi police force is reprehensible.

Additionally, Kerry complained about the war in Afghanistan being "out-sourced" to Afghan fighters. So, I guess native troops bad then? So why are you so concerned about training more Iraqi police and "outsourcing" this war?

Would Saddam be stronger?
The President claims Saddam would be stronger if we had left him there. I happen to agree. Do we know for sure? No, of course not. And yet Kerry said that it would be "Factually incorrect" to say that Saddam would be stronger. We'd been containing him for years and he wasn't getting any weaker, why would it suddenly start working now?

Pre-emptive strikes and the Cold War
Senator Kerry said that the ability to strike pre-emptively was an "important component" in the Cold War. That is, in fact, factually incorrect. The Cold War was the exact opposite. The Cold War was about not striking pre-emptively, about building military and not actually fighting.
I know this and I wasn't even alive to see most of the Cold War, let alone fight in Vietnam.
Incidentally, most of the military buildup that allowed the US to win the Cold War without striking pre-emptively received "Nay" votes by Senator Kerry.

Money and the War
When the President called out Kerry for voting against the 87 billion he said that he made a mistake in how he "talks about the war" but as Fred Barnes pointed out, how he talks about the war is not as important as the vote itself.

Additionally, Joe Lockhart tried to hit the President after the he wondered how Kerry would pay for various improvements to subways and ports pertaining to Homeland Security. Joe said something like "the President seems to care more about giving tax cuts to the richest 2% then protect the homeland." Well, that's a nice bit from spin alley and truthfully, I wish Bush would have said that the tax cut was for everyone, but there's a bigger issue. When Kerry claims previously that he voted against the 87 billion dollar supplemental he did so because he wanted to pay for it by repealing said tax cuts. Well, a woman on the radio said the other day "So, John Kerry was more concerned about repealing the tax cut than giving money to protect the troops. I wish Bush had mentioned that.

In the end, Kerry played fast and loose with some "factual information," but the President didn't call him on enough of those. I know that the President had to focus on presenting his points and making sure the people knew where he stood, but I wish he would have answered those false claims. As Bill Kristol just said "Bush has better arguments for his policies than he gave tonight."

The good side of that? The President has room to grow and improve and rise to the occasion as the strong, competent and experienced leader that he is. Also, I think it's safe to say that John Kerry doesn't have better arguments for his policies than he gave tonight.

Rich Lowry's comment on John Kerry's position on Iraq:
The nice way to say it is it's very complicated. The less nice way to say it is it makes no sense.

I think that's about right.