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April 15, 2004

That's Our Kennedy

Perhaps the single greatest frustration of living in this area is that it happens to be the Congressional district that Ted Kennedy bequeathed to his son Patrick. I've let this sit all day to allow my blood pressure to lower, and in fairness even to Rep. Kennedy, I've adjusted my reaction to account for the fact that his worst statement is largely conveyed through clipped quotes and paraphrases. Still, the $100-a-plate baloney doesn't settle very well:

Charging that President Bush "has created an absolute nightmare for our country and for our troops" in Iraq, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy said yesterday that the United States should consider scrapping its June 30 deadline for transferring sovereignty to Iraqis.

"If we get out of there on June 30, we'll have a fundamentalist cleric in charge of Iraq in no time," said Kennedy, a Democrat. As for how the U.S. occupation should proceed if the deadline is dissolved, "I'm not going to bail the president out," Kennedy said. "There are better minds than mine to try to decipher what our policy should be."

The problem is the president's, Kennedy said. Mr. Bush "is between a rock and a hard place" in Iraq because of "his Texas, my-way-or-the-highway" approach to the attack on Saddam Hussein's regime last year.

No, Pat, the problem is our troops', and it is ours, which means that it is yours. Beyond this idea of bailing out the President — which manages to skirt the line between indecipherable, inept, and offensive — his comments are mostly boilerplate gibberish about how Bush alienated what Projo writer John Mulligan phrases as "potential allies." I suppose that includes those nations that strove to keep their sweet deals through the U.N.'s Oil for Pillage program. Representative Jim Langevin, in a related fashion, proposes that we hand off sovereignty not to the Iraqis, but to the United Nations. Honestly, I'm astonished that U.S. Congressmen still have such an sanguine view of that organization.

Nonetheless, even if Kennedy lets fly comments with bizarre and potentially disturbing subtexts — such as that handing sovereignty to the Arabs in Iraq in June "doesn't sound too kosher" — that's not the worst part of the reality of my federal representation. No, the worst part is that the state seems to have the leaders it wants — that it deserves. I believe Kennedy when he says the following:

Kennedy said constituents who talk to him about Iraq are overwhelmingly opposed to continuing the U.S. occupation. "Eighty percent of people -- maybe 90 percent of people -- say, 'We've got to get out of there. Just get out of there.' I hear these words several times a day. 'Let them kill themselves. Why are we letting them kill us?' " Kennedy said. "How can you blame people" for those sentiments, he said.

How can you blame them? Well, the evident ignorance about the state of the world and the implied racism would seem reasonable places to begin an accusation. But assigning blame and seeking to spark reflection among people who would say such things is a fruitless pursuit. Better to focus on the substance of the issues... and to go back to lamenting that these folks take their heads out of the sand long enough to vote.

Posted by Justin Katz at April 15, 2004 7:24 PM

As if George Bush ever seriously worked for anything he achieved. Whether in the oil business or the baseball business, Bush is very "gifted" indeed.

Politically speaking, the problem IS the president's. Morally speaking, Iraq is everyone's problem.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at April 15, 2004 7:45 PM

Kennedy's remarks are inane,but just check out what Sen. Durbin blurbs up and you won't feel so distressed.

Posted by: tonymixan at April 16, 2004 12:36 PM