Enemies of the States
If you're against Bush, you're against America.
You get the message. Kerry's been spending time with the wrong sort of people. What's good for them must be bad for you. This is the message segregationists delivered to white voters 50 years ago about white politicians who met with blacks. "Foreigners" were the subjects of a different message: McCarthyism. Cheney's speech combines the two: What is Kerry saying to our enemies that makes them so supportive of his candidacy?
"Of the many nations that have joined our coalition [in Iraq]—allies and friends of the United States—Sen. Kerry speaks with open contempt," Cheney went on. What was Cheney's evidence for this charge? "Sen. Kerry calls these countries, quote, 'window dressing,' " said the vice president. "Italy, which recently lost 19 citizens, killed by terrorists in Najaf—was Italy's contribution just window dressing?" Cheney concluded that Kerry "speaks as if only those who openly oppose America's objectives have a chance of earning his respect."
There you go. Kerry points out what everyone knows: The Iraq war was an American operation dressed up as a "coalition of the willing," in which Britain was the only other country to play a major role. Cheney calls this "contempt" for "friends of the United States." Nineteen Italians get killed in a war that Bush and Cheney started against the will of most Italians, but it's Kerry, not Bush, who has shown contempt for Italy and other "friends of the United States." Better yet, the foreign leaders with whom Kerry has consorted don't just oppose Bush's policy in Iraq; they "oppose America's objectives." If Jacques Chirac imagines that what he opposed in Iraq was Bush's method of achieving objectives shared by France, he fails to understand that Bush's policies, by definition, are America's objectives.
Just like it says here in our Constitution, Jacques: L'etat c'est moi.
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.
Photograph of Dick Cheney by Jim Ruymen/Reuters.