Monday, August 23, 2004


You’ve heard of “Limbaugh Echo Syndrome”? Well, I appear to have a version of it as well.

Last night I sat down in the quiet of my living room after the rest of the family had gone to bed and contemplated what I would advise John Kerry to do if I were suddenly in Mary Beth Cahill’s skirt. And the options are meager.

For all intents and purposes, there is nothing Kerry can do about the Swiftboat Vets for Truth. His making his exaggerated Vietnam combat tour the foundation of his candidacy brought them out, and his failure to anticipate and plan for that, and consequent overreaction to their charges by allowing himself to be personally provoked by them, has, depending upon your point of view, either raised them to his level of lowered him to theirs. They’ve publicly reiterated just today that they’re in this for the duration, and have several more ads in the pipeline, and they’ve already proven that they will not be intimidated by legal bullying or media smear jobs. The attempts to suppress their TV spots and the book Unfit for Command puts Kerry about two steps above Nazi book-burning.

And the attempt to hang their challenge to Kerry’s naked power ambitions on the Bushies by filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission that is frivolous on its face is simply laughable in its whiny chutzpah and breathtaking hypocrisy.

Even some libs are candidly admitting as much.

ABC News' "The Note":

If John Kerry can't build a campaign organization that can de-fang 250 guys spending a million bucks, how good a president could he possibly be?

This blind quote in the New York Times from a Democrat "close" to the Kerry campaign:

When you're basically running on your biography and there are ongoing attacks that are undermining the credibility of your biography, you have a really big problem.

And this, from Kerryite blogger Josh Marshall:

[Edwards’ comments are] whining. Begging. At a minimum, it can come off or be characterized that way. And it sounds weak. This is about hitting back, not flaunting high-mindedness.

If the President's behavior is really as bad as the Kerry-Edwards team is saying it is, then it's really past the point of asking him to do the right thing and redeem himself.

Marshall calls that right – simply about the wrong candidate. It is Kerry’s conduct that has become so bad that he’s far past the point of being able to redeem himself. It’s beyond obvious that if he released the remainder of his military records, they would bolster the Swifties’ case, or else he’d have done so a long time ago to avert just the sort of mess he finds himself in now. He could, I suppose, admit defeat, call a press conference, and come clean about it all, and apologize to the American people, as Senator Dole suggested yesterday. In our therapeutic culture, that just might still work for him, as well as removing any nagging fetters on him fully morphing into Howard Dean. Heck, he’s already effectively conceded that he made up the Christmas in Cambodia story, just not in so public a fashion. But his ego will never allow him to resort to such a mea culpa – those martial embellishments are embedded in his core identity. It would be an intolerable humiliation for him to admit that his entire political career is based on little more than serial falsehoods.

So that leaves one other possibility, which also happens to be what he should have done in the first place: drop the topic. Change the subject. Do something, anything, to get public attention on something else.

And that appears – at least today – to be what they had decided to do with their “High Noon challenge” to the President on the question of “why he's misleading America into thinking that he is good for working families when the reality is that he has made life harder for them.” Yes, they’re really serious. Next question will be, “When did you stop dressing up in Laura’s foundation garments? We demand to see the pictures!”

I say “for today” because when you step back from the Swiftboat Vet falderal, you remember that the Kerry campaign to this day does not have a clear, consistent, understandable, issue-oriented message with which it is widely identified. Kerry’s presidential bid has always been and remains an “any port in a storm” ad-lib fest, jumping from one subject to the next, pretty much grasping at anything that happens to show up in the latest news cycle like they were bobbing for french fries. Remember Friday’s challenge from Kerry to Bush to “debate” their ‘Nam-era military service, replete with another “BRING…IT…ON”?

This is part of why he opted for the “I served in Vietnam” gimmick in the first place - the rest being his abysmally hard-left senate record, dissemination of which they also deathly fear.

As I’ve been saying, a Kerry meltdown of this sort has always been more or less inevitable. The only reason he has been competitive to this point is because of the over $60 million in Bushophobic 527 smear ads and the fact that he could indulge in a low profile back in the spring and early summer. But as soon as he had to come out of hiding, take center stage at his convention, and “introduce himself” to the voters, it all started falling apart. Or as Hugh Hewitt put it the other day, “All of [Bob] Shrum’s horses and all of Shrum’s men won’t put John Kerry together again.”

Personally I picture Kerry as a great, big onion that the Swiftboat Vets, and the Bushies, have started to peel, one layer at a time. And unless the Dems can ratchet up the irritating fumes to impede their foes’ vision, by the time November 2nd arrives, there won’t be anything left, and the man who would be President will be officially sautéed.