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Posted on 04/27/2004 1:44:08 PM PDT by areafiftyone
Kerry: Up in Smoke?
A look at the second-day coverage of John Kerry's "Good Morning America" interview about his shifting Vietnam medal stories bolsters our view that the Kerry campaign is in very deep trouble. "Kerry Questions Bush Attendance in Guard in 70's" reads a front-page headline in today's New York Times. The Times gives top billing to Kerry's attempt to change the subject:
In a day of piercing and personal exchanges, John Kerry questioned on Monday whether President Bush skipped National Guard duty 30 years ago, while Vice President Dick Cheney disparaged Mr. Kerry as an opportunist unfit to lead the nation in wartime.
Mr. Kerry had previously declined to join other Democrats in raising questions about Mr. Bush's National Guard attendance record. But during a contentious interview on national television on Monday, when pressed on whether he threw away his Vietnam war medals in a protest in 1971, he defended himself and attacked the president.
"This is a controversy that the Republicans are pushing," Mr. Kerry said on "Good Morning America" on ABC. "The Republicans have spent $60 million in the last few weeks trying to attack me, and this comes from a president and a Republican Party that can't even answer whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard. I'm not going to stand for it."
Now, some would argue that the New York Times is showing its own bias by emphasizing the National Guard business. But in fact, Kerry's mentioning of it is highly newsworthy. The man wants to be president of the United States, and he is in such a weak position that he feels it necessary to attack his opponent personally over an ancient issue that is as trivial as anything we can imagine.
Normally, presidential candidates are at great pains to appear above the fray, or "presidential." They leave most of the attacks to their surrogates--even attacks that are substantive, such as Cheney's speech yesterday. Thus Bush aide Karen Hughes has commented on Kerry's contradictory statements about his medals, but the president himself has remained mum and will likely continue to do so.
Why did Kerry feel that he himself had to bring up the National Guard? For one thing, because he is extremely vulnerable on the medal question. He has built his entire candidacy around the image of himself as a war hero, but when voters learn that he threw his decorations away, and then that he can't even tell a straight story about which decorations they were, the war-hero story becomes at the very least complicated.
Hence the need for a diversionary defense. Letting his surrogates belabor the National Guard would not have been effective, because they've already done so, leading a few weeks back to a kerfuffle that blew over when the White House released Bush's service records. By raising the issue himself, Kerry elevates it--but he diminishes himself in the process. (The Boston Globe notes another Kerry statement that suggests his degree of desperation: "God, they're doing the bidding of the Republican National Committee," he said of ABC News immediately after the "Good Morning America" interview ended--and after he thought the microphone had gone off.)
Not that Kerry's surrogates haven't been sounding related themes. The Washington Times notes that "a Democrat-leaning group" has suggested "that Mr. Cheney's wife became pregnant to help her husband avoid serving in Vietnam." It seems an outfit called the Thunder Road Group is unhappy that the Cheneys were making love, not war.
Aren't Bush's National Guard record and Cheney's lack of military service fair game for the Kerry campaign and its allies? Well sure, if voters deem them important. We're guessing that they won't, although President Dole may disagree.
On the other hand, Kerry's antiwar activity seems highly relevant today. When he threw his medals, ribbons or whatever over the fence at the Capitol, he was already a politician, forming a worldview about America, its military and its role in the world. How that worldview was shaped and what form it takes today is of the utmost importance to voters choosing a candidate in November. Yet Kerry can't even seem to get his facts straight about those formative events.
Blogger Michael Totten suggests a way for Kerry to extricate himself from this quagmire:
Most people don't really care if John Kerry did and said dumb things in '71. I certainly don't. I was only one year old at the time. I do expect him to act like an adult and be honest about it, however. He is, after all, auditioning for president of the United States.
I don't care for John Kerry, but I'll throw him a rope all the same. Here you go, senator. Say this on the TV: "Today's more strident anti-war activists remind me of my own immature self back in 1971." It will kill two proverbial birds with a single figurative stone. It will play well among people who matter. And you'll feel a lot better.
(Excerpt) Read more at opinionjournal.com ...
Heh heh! That's two of us in one day. An idea who's time has come.
I am dumbfounded that a supposedly experienced pol is getting expensive hairdos and presuming microphones are off. There can be no other explanation but that he is not up to the task of campaigning. But they're stuck with him. A switch would be a catastrophic free-for-all.
You know what? I do care. I knew many young men who died in that war that Kerry sided with the enemy on. I am amazed to hear anyone say they just don't care when someone gives aide and comfort to our enemies.