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John Kerry's Slashing Attack of Bush
NY Times
April 8, 2006

Senator John Kerry made a slashing attack on the Bush administration yesterday, comparing it to the faltering government in Iraq and equating its war strategy with its planning for Hurricane Katrina, while also invoking Jesus as he criticized federal Medicaid policy.

Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and his party's nominee for president in 2004, has been on a political and media blitz as he considers running for the White House again in 2008. In an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on Wednesday, Mr. Kerry proposed telling Iraqi leaders to form a unity government by May 15 or the United States military would withdraw.

He spoke by telephone yesterday to a political conference in New York City that was organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton, his friend from when they both ran for president in 2004.

Mr. Kerry, who voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq, repeated his deadline proposal and spoke of civil war there as a certainty that will be worse with no effective government.

Iraq served as a thematic framework for the speech, which challenged the administration's ability to manage crises on domestic and international fronts.

"The Bush administration is wondering when Iraq will have a functioning government. I want to know when we're going to have a functioning government," Mr. Kerry said, according to a transcript of his remarks.

Mr. Kerry, who was sometimes criticized as stiff and dour during the 2004 campaign, got several laughs, Mr. Sharpton said. At one point, Mr. Kerry, who has had his verbose moments, offered "a little 10-point plan" in response to complaints that neither Democrats nor Republicans have an agenda for the nation.

"Tell the truth. Fire the incompetents. Find Osama bin Laden and secure our ports and our homeland. Bring our troops home from Iraq. Obey the law and protect our civil rights," Mr. Kerry said in ticking off his list, which also included supporting health care, education, lobbying reform and alternatives to oil, as well as reducing the deficit.

A Roman Catholic who has struggled at times to talk about his own faith, Mr. Kerry also told the group that he believed "deeply in my faith" and that the Koran, the Torah, the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles had influenced a social conscience that he exercised in politics.

"I will tell you, nowhere in there, nowhere, not in one page, not in one phrase uttered and reported by the Lord Jesus Christ, can you find anything that suggests that there is a virtue in cutting children from Medicaid and taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich," Mr. Kerry said.

A spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, which skewered Mr. Kerry's speeches relentlessly during 2004, responded with a verbal shrug yesterday.

"John Kerry deserves credit for continuing to take himself so seriously, despite the fact that no one else does," said the spokeswoman, Tracey Schmitt.

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