Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The AntiCheney 

Juan Cole elaborates on a point we heard Paul Begala making this morning on CNN:
One thing that hadn't been clear to me before was Edwards' antipathy to Halliburton and his critique of "unbid contracts." Edwards as a trial lawyer who helped consumers get their due from rich corporations that had harmed them would be ideally placed to take on the whole issue of Halliburton and the ways in which the Bush administration has mishandled Iraq by funneling huge amounts of money into expensive contracts that did not even employ many Iraqis. That is to say, Edwards may be the Anti-Cheney in ways that could be important to the campaign. Cheney's use of foul language on the Senate floor and increasing testiness suggest that he feels vulnerable on the Halliburton issue. One of the scandals that has been reported but hasn't really broken yet is the way in which Halliburton gained contracts to provide services to US troops in an emergency but has been unable actually to provide those services. The summer of 2003 was hell on the troops because they had no quonset huts or air conditioning. Their shaving cream cans were exploding in the desert. Why didn't the army just build them quonset huts? Because that task had been contracted out to civilians. And why didn't civilians do the job? Because civilians cannot be ordered into a war zon, and Halliburton and KBR often simply could not put enough civilian personnel into the field to do the jobs contracted for in a timely manner. Who suffered? The US troops. Why? Because the Bush administration gave a soldier's job to wealthy civilian corporations unequipped to handle it. Edwards is well placed to make hay with this sort of thing if he is canny about it.
Cole also has a good selection of Edwards quotes on Iraq, culled from On the Issues.

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