Well, here's an odd outgrowth of an eight month general election. Or, an odd outgrowth of John Kerry's campaign. John Kerry says he is in touch with foreign leaders who cannot say it publicly but who want him to defeat President Bush in November. Nice strategy: they can't say it out loud, so Kerry can't identify them, so we have no way of knowing who, exactly, felt it appropriate to weigh in on our national election.
But I am stunned by how utterly inappropriate this is. How is the Bush administration supposed to answer this -- how are we to evaluate this? Perhaps these are leaders with legitimate grips who wish to work more closely, in a more mulitlateral way with us. That's certainly the planned implication. And maybe they are leaders who have taken positions that flat contradict our own, suddenly found themselves dealing with a President who couldn't be rolled, and are now trying to flatter this guy. If Kerry loses, they're no worse off. If Kerry wins, they're in a much better negotiating position. They've flattered him, and left him with the impression that his ability to paint himself as the preferred candidate of our negotiating partners may even have helped get him elected.
Except how the hell do we even know we're talking about leaders we want a president getting along with, or getting along better with . . . or feeling even slightly beholden to? When did it become even slightly appropriate for foreign leaders to express an opinion on an American election? Why should we believe they aren't evaluating the outcome from within the perspective of their interests -- and without knowing who they are we of course have no way of determining how well their and our interests intersect.
And at what point did it become appropriate for a candidate for office to have contact with foreign leaders? Doesn't Kerry realize the damage that can do? If he leads any foreign leader to believe that he'd be more sympathetic to their arguments and interests -- which clearly he's done -- how isn't that a signal to those countries to hold off any dealings with this administration in the hopes it will soon be sent packing and they'll be able to do better? And if that's the case, then why isn't Kerry now interfering with American foreign policy in a way that could potentially benefit him (by reducing the level of success this administration can chalk up between now and the elections since at least some leaders will be stonewalling hoping for a better deal)? No doubt some of that kind of stonewalling is likely with other governments during any election season -- should Kerry be explicitly encouraging it?
Shouldn't he be roundly denounced for this by everyone, no matter who they're supporting in the election? Wouldn't Democrats want to pull him up short on the grounds that this could be made to make him look so bad that it could backfire?
How is this approriate behavior?