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Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Uh oh. Daschle is no longer "concerned". He has moved all the way to "chagrined". Sorry, make that very chagrined.

From CNN:

"I must say that I was very chagrined that the vice president would go to a congressional district yesterday and make the assertion that somebody ought to vote for this particular Republican candidate because he was a war supporter and that he was bringing more support to the president than his opponent," Daschle said Tuesday. "If that doesn't politicize this war, I don't know what does."

Well, let's bear that statement in mind: If Cheney's statements don't politicize the war, Daschle doesn't know what does.

Let's see what Cheney said. A little googling music, please.

Well, Google has failed to locate a transcript of the speech. So we'll just have to go with the news reports for now.

From the Topeka Capital Journal:

Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday repeated the Bush administration's commitment to stopping Iraq's alleged stockpiling of chemical and biological weapons and winning the war on terrorism.

Is restating the Bush administration's commitment to stopping Iraq's alleged stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction and winning the war on terrorism "politicizing" the war? I don't think that stating some of the goals of the war is politicizing it, but if Daschle disagrees, he can simply refuse to bring a war resolution to the floor of the Senate for a vote. And by the way, wouldn't this new definition of "politicizing the war" make every statement that Daschle has ever uttered on the subject "politicizing the war" also?Back to the Capital Journal:

During a ... fund-raising luncheon for 3rd District congressional candidate Adam Taff, Cheney said the administration doubts Saddam Hussein's claim that he isn't stockpiling chemical and nuclear weapons...

The letter "was another attempt by Hussein to avoid weapons inspections," Cheney said. "We have seen this tactic before. It is beyond dispute that Saddam has large quantities of these weapons."

How about that one? Politicizing the war? Does Daschle believe Saddam's claim? Is the determination of whether or not one believes Saddam's claim a matter of one's political persuasion? No? Then we have to go back to the Capital Journal.

Cheney said the administration's efforts would be helped by sending Taff to Congress. Taff is a Navy veteran running against two-term incumbent Democrat Dennis Moore, and Cheney said Taff's military experience would be an asset.

Since it came up, let's look at the military experience of both candidates. From Moore's official biography:

Moore was born ... in 1945. In 1967, he graduated from the University of Kansas, and received his law degree from Washburn University School of Law in 1970. After service in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve, Moore started his legal career as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Kansas. He entered private legal practice in Johnson County in 1973.

Graduated from college 1967 at age 21 or 22. Three years later, graduated from law school (law school takes three years, so there was no military service in between). Served in the Army and the reserve for an undisclosed period of time performing undisclosed services. Then worked as an AAG for an undisclosed period of time. And three years after graduation from law school, having squeezed in service in both the Army and the reserve and working as an AAG, he started in the private practice of law. So with his time in the Army and the reserve combined, there was less than three years of service. That's not a whole lot of time to develop experience.

And Taff's experience? From his campaign website:

Fourteen years experience as a Naval officer and aviator. Maintains a Top Secret Clearance and continues to fly the F/A-18 as an instructor in the Naval Reserve.

Is this it? Is Daschle so mad because Cheney thinks that having someone with more (and probably more appropriate) military experience in a position of leadership during a military operation might be helpful? What is the military experience of each of the candidates? Well, no, Daschle couldn't possibly be complaining that a legislator with three years experience between the Army, the reserve and the Attorney General's office would be in a better position to evaluate matters pertaining to the war which come before Congress than a person with fourteen years experience in precisely the type of military operations that are going to play a large part in the war. Could he? So that can't be it. Back again to the Capital Journal:

Cheney said Taff would be an "effective voice for Kansas and a fine addition to your state delegation, which is already one of the best in the country."

Maybe that's what set Daschle off: One politician endorsing another. Right. That must be it. The Capital Journal again:

Cheney said the administration has "kept first things first. The most important responsibility we have is to protect the American people against future attacks and win the war that began on Sept. 11, 2001." ... Cheney said the United States wants to work with the United Nations to enforce resolutions against Saddam, but if the U.N. doesn't strongly enforce those resolutions, the United States "must -- and will -- take whatever action is necessary to secure our freedoms."

Nothing "politicizing" there that wasn't in Bush's UN speech, which Daschle cautiously praised.

Somehow, I don't think that anything Cheney said set Daschle off. Instead, I think Daschle saw this poll:

Nearly half of those polled, 46 percent, said they viewed Saddam as a greater threat to the United States now than Osama bin Laden.

51 percent of Americans said U.S. President George W. Bush had clearly explained the U.S. position on Iraq. That was up from 35 percent two weeks ago, before Bush addressed the issue in a speech to the United Nations.

In other words, there has been a large and rapid increase in the number of people who reject Daschle's position that he doesn't "think that the case for preemptive attack has been made conclusively yet." Put another way, Daschle is losing the PR campaign on the war and needs to mount an offensive in order to keep his majority in the Senate and try for a majority in the House.

Exactly who did you say was politicizing the war, Mr. Majority Leader? You might want to spend some time listening to your own rank and file:

Several Democrats pointedly suggested that Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) and Gephardt (D-Mo.) are putting politics over policy by rushing to back a unilateral strike against Iraq."

Remember Daschle's statement that if Cheney's statements don't politicize the war, Daschle doesn't know what does? Maybe Daschle doesn't know what does.

And as an unrelated aside, Congressman Moore is reported by the Capital Journal to have responded to Cheney's remarks by saying (among other things), "I have 20-plus years of service." Twenty plus years of service doing what? His own biography says that he spent less than three years in the Army, the reserve and his position as Assistant Attorney General position. And he has four years in Congress. Where are the other thirteen plus years, Mr. Moore?
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