The Monday Quarterback Candidate

Nobody likes a Monday-morning quarterback, but we’ve all been just that. At some point we have used the magical powers of hindsight to make someone else look stupid, or to make ourselves look smart. I myself am guilty of this offense pretty much every time I turn on the TV. Hopefully it’s funny sometimes, and hopefully this tendency to find humor in others’ stupidity is not a defining part of who I am.

The Monday-morning quarterback syndrome does define John Kerry, to a degree which would be funny if the election weren’t so unreasonably close. In his defense, saying “I would have done this” or “I would not have done that” is an important part of racing an incumbent. Generally, pointing these things out is helpful in that it lets voters see where a candidate’s priorities lie, and which positions the candidate is willing to take a stand on. But if you point to everything the polls indicate is unpopular and march around saying how you’d manage it all a few dozen times better – with a plan, mind you, listed on your website at – you’d better have a history proving you worthy of voters’ trust. If you’ve accomplished little worthwhile your entire life (can you name something great John Kerry has done?)… well then, best to keep the woulda-shoulda-coulda soundbytes coming fast and varied.

John Kerry is willing to take a stand on any issues, and on no issues. When a big story comes out ‘proving’ that Bush did something stupid, Kerry is 1-3 hours behind it (depending on time zones), spitting out the headline followed by the usual “I would/would not have done this.” Assuming the voters forget any of John’s own positions directly contradicted by a new one, his attacks typically last about as long as it takes for the story to be discredited or the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to release a retort. The current example is the missing explosives story, given automatic journalistic integrity by appearing in the New York Times. Although NBC reported in 2003 that the materials in question were already gone when American troops arrived, John is still flogging that horse today, a day after I heard that the story’s reliability had been brought into question. If I knew yesterday, shouldn’t one of John’s advisors have told him by now – “Um, yeah, you might not want to make this the focal point of your stump speeches this afternoon, since we don’t know whether it’s true.”

For John, it doesn’t matter. Less than a week before November 2nd, the attack will ring louder than its withdrawal. Since he’s got little else to talk about (he could mention his cookie-cutter liberal mantra about Universal Healthcare saving a world poisoned by the President’s insidious insistence on drugs meeting FDA regulations), Kerry has got to hope that maybe this ‘example’ of Bush’s failings will push a few more undecideds into his camp. If you vote for the war, vote against its funding, proclaim yourself an anti-war candidate, and then stand by your “YEA” vote, pushing your own ideas is probably not going to hold a lot of weight. Much easier to say how badly the current President is doing… especially with 60 Minutes and the esteemed New York Times feeding you juicy half-truths whenever the going gets tough.

Before this, John Kerry has pulled innumerable stances out of his lucky hat. The fact that “I would have done almost everything differently” is the corner he has chosen for his Iraq war position is very telling. Do I think John Kerry would have done almost everything differently? Absolutely: I think he would have held several more tea parties with all the members of the UN Security Council, and he would have said some more nasty things about Saddam Hussein, and then he would have sat at home on his hands hoping the lunatics would play nice from now on. How else could Bush have fought the war in a more multilateral fashion? The buildup, which followed over a decade of broken UN agreements on Saddam’s part, lasted 14 months. The countries John claims he would have gotten involved have already said that, regardless of who is President, they will not contribute.

In the end, a Monday-morning quarterback is only himself when whining from his La-Z-Boy. I certainly do not want John Kerry taking snaps, because I have the feeling he would cower motionless with the ball (assuming he could catch it) waiting for the UN to blow the whistle. While I’m certainly no political genius, I know two things for sure: John Kerry has way too much faith in the UN, and George W. Bush has a sense of humor. Neither candidate is a flawless leader, but one has led us through some of America’s darkest years while the other has imagined his way into a time machine permanently set for September 10th, 2001. Blame it on my cruel conservative sensibilities, but I’ll take a smiling Churchill over a thin-skinned Chamberlain any given Tuesday.

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