I happen to think that Bush telling the Today show he didn't think the US could win the war on terror was a HUGE mistake. It's the sort of slip that had Kerry made it, the GOP surrogates would have already fanned out across the airwaves with derisive talking points. I think this quote should be hammered by Kerry and Edwards at every opportunity. It should be in ads and integrated into his stump speech. Here's what I would write if I were the Kerry speechwriter: I don’t know if you saw this, but the other day the president said in an interview that he didn’t think we could win the war on terror. I heard that and I thought to myself, that’s strange. Because on September 12, 2001, when the entire country was grieving and wounded he said “This battle will take time and resolve. But make no mistake about it: we will win.” And in April of this year at a press conference he seemed confident we would win, too, saying “One of the interesting things people ask me, now that we are asking questions, is, 'Can you ever win the war on terror?' Of course you can." So what’s changed between then and now? I”ll tell you what: we let Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts escape from the caves in Tora Bora, we’ve abandoned the new government in Afghanistan paving the way for the return of the Taliban who just last week killed seven people, two Americans in a bombing in Kabul. We’ve failed to adequately fund first-responders and port security. We’ve diverted precious resources from the battle against Al-Qaeda to fight a war in Iraq that has no connection to the terrorists who attacked us and are plotting to attack us again. Last year, by the State Department’s own estimate the number of terrorist attacks across the world rose, and a consensus has emerged among independent terrorism analysts that a new generation of Al-Qaeda is spawning faster than the old generation is being captured or killed. Donald Rumsfield asked in a memo last year about the war on terror “Are we in a situation where the harder we work the behinder we get?” Well, Mr Rumsfield, the president has an answer for you. We are. Three years after the bloody attacks of September 11th, George Bush looks at his record in the war on terror and what does he see? He sees a resurgent, active Al-Qaeda; he sees a world with more animus towards the US than at any other time in the nation’s history; he sees accelerated nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran; he sees a military that is functioning at full capacity, bogged down for the foreseeable future in a brutal, chaotic and unstable situation in Iraq, and from all this he’s concluded. “Well, I guess we can’t win the war on terror after all.” But with all due respect Mr. President, I disagree. Just because you can’t win the war on terror, doesn’t mean we can’t win the war on terror. And when you send John Edwards and me to the White House, I promise you this: We will win the war on terror. Liberal Oasis has more.
Christopher Hayes is the host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes. He is an editor at large at the Nation and a former senior editor of In These Times.