Thursday, May 06, 2004

From OpinionJournal's Best of the Web:

The Buck Stops on My Speechwriter's Desk

In December, The New Republic's Lawrence Kaplan notes, John Kerry gave a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in which he "recommended dispatching Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, or former Secretary of State James Baker to Israel as special envoys--a tone-deaf proposal, given Carter's and Baker's reputations as vituperative critics of Israel." Realizing that this is no way to win Jewish votes, at a February meeting with Jewish leaders, Kerry backpedaled in remarkable fashion:

One of the first things Kerry did at the meeting was to blame his aides for the mention of Carter and Baker as possible envoys in his December speech--a claim that several participants double-checked as soon as they walked out the door. The names, Kerry said, had been inserted by mistake, and he had even asked that they be removed. The problem is, in the speech itself, Kerry said, "There are a number of uniquely qualified Americans among whom I would consider appointing, including President Carter. . . . And, I might add, I have had conversations with both President Clinton and President Carter about their willingness to do this." Kerry spokesperson Stephanie Cutter even confirmed to The Boston Globe in December that he had spoken with Carter. Today, the campaign offers this explanation: The candidate eventually did speak with Carter--but only after noticing that a draft of his speech said that he spoke with Carter.

Kaplan wonders "what sort of approach a candidate who, in Israel's case, genuinely has straddled the fence would enshrine in official policy. The answer may lie with the last person who whispers in his ear."


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