Josh Marshal has pointed out that a key tactic for John Kerry is convincing voters that he has a plan for Iraq. So far, his arguments have been for internationalizing the conflict. While I think that this is a useful and realistic approach to Iraq, I also think it’s a loser with the electorate: it smacks of passing the buck, and it plays into the Republican attack on Kerry as vaguely un-American and in thrall to foreign powers.
After reading Peter W. Galbraith’s scathing critique of the reconstruction in Iraq in the New York Review of Books, I found that a different approach suggested itself. Kerry should argue that the occupation and reconstruction are a disaster because they’ve been run by Bush’s cronies and political supporters — the same people who gave you Enron, the blackouts in California, and today’s stellar economy. Kerry should offer an alternative: hiring the best people for the job — people with the right experience, regardless of their political affiliations.
This approach is valuable on several fronts. It reinforces one of the more widely held negative views of Republicans in general and the Bush Administration in particular, which is that they are greedy and susceptible to cronyism. It is actually a sensible approach to Iraq. And it’s not hard to boil down to pithy slogans.
“We need the best people supporting our soldiers in Iraq. We need people with experience and integrity. Doers, not donors.”
I don’t think any of that’s political gold exactly — those are just off the top of my head — but it does manage to wrap a plan and a critique into one, and also to avoid the trap of sounding like you’re waiting for France to rescue us.