Saturday, September 18, 2004

Secret War Plans

Presidential candidate John F. Kerry says that President Bush has secret plans to call up National Guard and reserve troops after the election:
"He won't tell us what congressional leaders are now saying, that this administration is planning yet another substantial call-up of reservists and Guard units immediately after the election," Kerry said. "Hide it from people through the election, then make the move."

Several thoughts come to mind on this issue. First, is Kerry making an assumption at this point that Bush is going to win the election? If so, this could be a last ditch effort to swing some voters with the concept of a "backdoor draft." Second, if Kerry is not assuming a Bush victory, then he believes that Bush would be planning to take this action as a lame-duck president. In that case, what would Kerry's response be? He has said a number of times that he intends to bring troops back home, althrough the timetables have varied from six months to a year to "soon." If Kerry was confident in his campaign, I would have expected him to take this tack with the news of a post-election callup.

My third thought, is whether this is an effective charge for Kerry to make in the immediate wake of the CBS Rathergate brouhaha. "Bush has secret plans! We know he does! Take my word for it!" It seems to me that one side-effect of Rathergate is to increase public skepticism across the board for wild and shocking claims made by any source. If Kerry has any documentation on these secret plans, you'd think at this point that there are people in back rooms poring over those documents making sure they are real. And if he doesn't have documents, then it's just so much more hot air that voters are going to blow off.

I think that this unintended consequence (increased public skepticism) is a Very Good Thing. And it cuts both ways too, although by nature of his role as victim in TANG story, Bush has come out a winner. EVERYONE will have to be much more careful in the future about the accuracy of their claims. Whether this will result in more truthful, sane reporting, or more elaborate forgeries, time alone will tell.