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Four-letter missile explodes on Bush
- Anger over Iraq bursts through America’s veneer of political politeness

Washington, Dec. 8: Did George W. Bush “f**k up” Iraq' It is a thought that has been on the minds of most Americans for a couple of months with US military deaths climbing to double digits week after week.

But in this country where political correctness puts a lid on such impolite thoughts and politicians are extremely civil to one another to the point of whitewashing the truth, it is a question that was never publicly asked.

Until yesterday, when Senator John Kerry, who hopes to challenge the President in the 2004 election, used the unprintable words about Bush in an interview which Americans are not only searching out and reading word for word, but also discussing in hushed tones.

“Did I expect George Bush to f**k it up as badly as he did'” Kerry asked in a combative interview to Rolling Stone magazine during the weekend while discussing the war. And he replied: “I don’t think anybody did.”

The White House went into contortions immediately and Andrew Card, the President’s chief of staff, appeared on Sunday television to pull up the Massachusetts senator.

“I have known John Kerry for a long time and I am very disappointed that he would use that kind of language,” Card said on CNN. “That is beneath John Kerry... I am hoping that he is apologising, at least to himself, because that is not the John Kerry that I know.”

Stephanie Cutter, a spokeswoman for Kerry, however said the Democratic presidential hopeful had no regrets. “I could think of a lot of words to add to the one John Kerry used that would be equally appropriate,” she said.

“I think the American people would rather Card and the rest of the White House staff spend more time on fixing Bush’s flawed policy in Iraq than on Senator Kerry’s language.”

The four-letter word was not the only profanity that Kerry used in the interview. As one of the senators who had voted in support of the President’s authority to go to war in Iraq, Kerry was asked if he regretted that vote on Capitol Hill.

“I voted to protect the security of our country, based on the notion that the only way to get (UN) inspectors back in (to Iraq) was to have a legitimate threat of force and the potential of using it,” Kerry argued.

“They took that legitimacy and bastardised it. If I were President, we would not be in Iraq today — we would not be at war. This President abused the process.”

Politicians in the US seldom call a spade a spade — especially when it comes to individuals or the character of their rivals. But in the weekend interview, Kerry called Bush “worse than incompetent”.

The President’s policies, Kerry said, were “clouded by ideological excess, a misinterpretation of history, a wilful denial of facts”.

He said as legislators, who gave Bush the authority to act on Iraq according to his discretion, “we had a right to expect the President of the US to live up to his word. It was disgraceful, one of the most egregious, fundamentally flawed moments of foreign policy that I can think of in my lifetime”.

The interview also saw rising criticism from the President’s opponents not only on the war in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan.

In a reference to the incident in which the US allowed Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda fighters to save their lives, Kerry said: “They had Osama bin Laden and a thousand al Qaida fighters cornered in the Tora Bora mountains and allowed them to escape.”

Until recently, Kerry was the frontrunner for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination, but has been overtaken by former Vermont governor Howard Dean, an uncompromising opponent of everything that the Bush White House stands for.

Political pundits said the tone of Kerry’s interview was carefully calibrated to endear him to young voters, who make up the majority of readers of Rolling Stone magazine.

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