On September 15, CNN host Judy Woodruff and pundit David Gergen both suggested that, while President George W. Bush appears to lack a clear plan for Iraq, the Iraq situation is more of a problem for Senator John Kerry than it is for Bush.
Gergen is a U.S. News & World Report editor-at-large and a former adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.
Woodruff and Gergen -- appearing on separate CNN programs -- stipulated that Bush has no clear plan for Iraq, but then both made a curious leap of logic. Apparently ignoring Bush's responsibility for the U.S. war in Iraq -- and his attendant responsibility for creating a climate in which terrorism can thrive, where civil war is a possibility, and where conditions for Iraqis and coalition troops alike are generally disastrous -- they chose to emphasize instead what they consider Kerry's "weakness" on Iraq.
On CNN's Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics, Woodruff reported that only 17 percent of persuadable voters think Bush has a "clear plan" for Iraq. She then added, "And the numbers are no better for John Kerry. But that's more of a worry for Kerry, isn't it?"
Appearing as a guest on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Gergen extensively criticized Kerry's position on Iraq, saying: "[H]is rhetoric and his votes on Iraq have struck many, many voters as being incoherent, and they don't understand what he thinks about Iraq or what he thinks ought to happen in the future, and I think the absence of a framework for a -- the war on terrorism and what to do about Iraq is coming back to plague this campaign. ... He needs a strategy for the war on terrorism, and it has to include Iraq."
When Dobbs asked if Gergen had a "clear understanding of the Bush administration's strategy on Iraq," Gergen admitted: "No. And you've got a good point there." But Gergen then claimed that Bush is "clearer about his overall strategy" and is "at least clear about what he wants to create at least as a stable Iraq and, hopefully, a Democratic Iraq." As though Kerry doesn't want a "stable Iraq" -- and as though Bush's hope counts as an "overall strategy."