When the torture scandal broke, John Kerry remained quiet. However, by the end of the week he was calling for Rumsfeld’s resignation. “As president, I will not be the last to know what is going on in my command,” he said, adding, “These despicable actions have endangered the lives of our soldiers and they have, frankly, made their mission harder to accomplish.”
Then he played on his own military service, saying, “When I was in the navy, a captain always took responsibility. I will demand accountability for those who serve, and I will take responsibility for their actions. . . . As commander in chief, I will honor your commitment, and I will take responsibility for the bad as well as the good.”
After his speech, according to the Los Angeles Times, Kerry said Rumsfeld should resign because of both his “miscalculation” on the war and the growing abuse scandal. “In this context, it compounds it,” Kerry said. “It was the way it was handled, the lack of information to Congress . . . not dealing with it. . . . But look, this is . . . the frosting. I think Iraq and the miscalculation, and the overextension of the armed forces, and the entire way in which they rushed the nation to war . . . is a huge, historic miscalculation. And I thought he should have resigned then, period.”
If Kerry were to speak out boldly like this, naysayers might well be reassured. And he would deny votes to Ralph Nader and the other third-wave candidates, who, according to the polls, as in 2000, again threaten a Democrat’s chances.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 4, 2004