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Waving the Bloody Shirt

By Russ Smith | Posted 2/25/2004

Not that it matters much, given the short shrift John Kerry and John Edwards have given to campaigning in Maryland ahead of the state's March 2 primary, but it's likely The Sun will endorse Massachusetts' junior senator. Perhaps the editorial board will enlist the services of "Perspective" chief G. Jefferson Price III, as a reward for the hate-filled columns he writes each Sunday, to plump the virtues of Kerry the Internationalist.

Price, a one-time Middle East correspondent and foreign editor for The Sun, wrote on Feb. 22 that, after meeting two Israeli women who'd lost children to Palestinian suicide bombings, he was astonished that anyone believes there's a "media bias against Israel" in the United States. He continues: "Forget the Israeli security fence, which is encroaching upon even more Palestinian territory. Set aside, if it is possible, that many, many more Palestinians than Israelis have died in the past three years of extraordinary violence between the two sides. . . . Ask this: Why can't these people make peace?"

This sounds like a slightly more hysterical version of a Kerry position on the issue. Kerry is one of many Democratic presidential candidates, past and present, who believes that diplomacy with other nations, hostile or otherwise, is the only solution to global crises. Price claims that Ariel Sharon isn't interested in speaking to a Palestinian peace delegation: Whom, one might ask, would Sharon negotiate with? Israel, a sliver of democracy in an anti-Semitic and hostile region, has been willing to forge a peaceful agreement for more than 50 years. The plain truth is that while a million Arabs live safely in Israel, Jews couldn't expect the same luxury in a Palestinian state once the Israeli army pulled out.

Yet Price reduces the violence to that naive plea: "Why can't these people make peace?" Yes, and wouldn't it have been more constructive if an endless round of summits convinced the Taliban to be less nasty in Afghanistan instead of President Bush waging war there? In the event of a Kerry presidency--a possibility that ought to give Americans concerned about their safety nightmares--is there any doubt that Bill Clinton would be called upon, in between speaking engagements, to be an envoy to the Middle East? Clinton could then renew his rich friendship with terrorist Yasser Arafat.

Independent voters who've yet to focus on the November presidential election might consider the words of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld--who ranks behind Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in the Democrats' list of villains--when asked recently at a conference in Munich, Germany, why the United States hasn't denounced Israel's nuclear weapons. Jay Nordlinger, writing for the National Review's Web site on Feb. 17, recorded Rumsfeld's explanation. He said: "You know the answer by yourself, and the whole world knows the answer. Israel is a small country with a small population. It is a democracy, but exists among neighbors who want to see her in the sea. Israel has made it clear that she does not want to be in the sea, and as a result, over several decades, has organized in such a manner as not to be thrown into the sea."

G. Jefferson Price III is not, one assumes, on the payroll of the Democratic National Committee. Nonetheless, Price has dutifully repeated Democratic talking points in his "Perspective" columns. For example, on Feb. 1, he insisted that Bush owes his fellow citizens an apology for liberating Iraq. Keying on the testimony of inspector David Kay, who said, "It turns out we were all wrong," about Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction, Price claims that the families of enlisted military men and women who've died or been wounded in Iraq must feel that "blood is on [the] hands" of the administration.

Price, like most mainstream journalists, neglects to add that Kay also said, in numerous interviews (including one with NBC's Tom Brokaw in late January), that "Baghdad was actually becoming more dangerous in the last two years than even we realized."

Price goes on to assert that Saddam, admittedly a "bad guy," was targeted a long time ago. Without evidence, Price writes: "This administration was hellbent on taking out Saddam Hussein when it came to power, even before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against the United States. Those attacks provided a specious cover for the invasion of Iraq."

Maybe that's true. Of course, Price doesn't include Clinton's views about Saddam and the menace he posed to the world. He omits the fact that both Kerry and Edwards voted to give Bush authorization for war in the fall of 2002. There's a reason Clinton, who doesn't miss a chance to blast his successor on the economy, environment, or education, doesn't criticize Bush about Osama bin Laden or Saddam. Obviously, that's because in addition to his failure to apprehend bin Laden in the 1990s, in 1998, backed up by countless Democrats, he proposed regime change in Iraq as U.S. foreign policy.

On Feb. 17, 1998, Clinton said: "If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."

I wonder if Clinton had gone to war in Iraq, and the military suffered casualties, if Price would've seen blood on the Democratic president's hands.

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