The Hit Parade

John KerryOkay, the Kerry campaign had a terrible August, but let’s be clear: the recent Time and Newsweek polls were inaccurate in declaring a double-digit lead for President Bush. Doing a little bit of the kind of vetting that, disturbingly, few news outlets are willing to engage in, Rasmussen finds that the President’s bounce was a nontrivial but still manageable 4 to 5 percent. There’s still 57 days left, enough time to turn this around.

The consensus is that the Kerry-Edwards campaign has let Bush-Cheney define the debate over the past few weeks, and allowed Kerry’s fitness to lead to become the question. They hit first, which sucks, but it gives Kerry an opening to fight back and with great ferocity. I say, call Bush’s own competence into question by saying what everyone already knows loud and clear — Bush is an intellectual lightweight, who can barely grasp the enormity of what’s going on around him, and it’s this unsuitability for handling the weighty issues at hand that have led us so far astray.

Mush Mouth Strikes Again

We saw this in evidence most strikingly earlier in the year, when Bush gave a dismal state of the union address and a poor interview on Meet the Press; the man cannot think on his feet, and it’s only within the artificially safe and meticulously orchestrated context of the Republican National Convention that he’s able to appear clear-headed. His recent assertion that the war on terror can’t be won, a rare attempt to broach nuance, is a good example of his inability to draw a mental map of the challenges that lay before us.

And, for comic relief, the Kerry campaign should make the most of every one of Bush’s abundant verbal gaffes, including yesterday’s gut-buster: “Too many OB-GYNS aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.” (See it in QuickTime.) I mean, really, we shouldn’t have to settle for this kind of oratorical pedestrianism when it comes to the highest office in the land, should we?

What I’m talking about is engaging the Bush-Cheney campaign with something closer to the tactics they use so wantonly: the willingness to paint the opponent in a reductive, grossly oversimplified light. Kerry is often accused of being a slave to nuance, but he’d better disabuse himself of that habit immediately. This is a fight, a real fight — the most important one of his career and one of the most important of my lifetime — and it’s nasty but only going to get nastier. I expect John Kerry to rise to the challenge and hit back hard and with great precision, and I know I’m not the only one. It had just better happen soon.



  1. That clip is one of the most astonishing things I’ve ever seen. I can’t actually quite believe it. I hope he won’t be practicing his love across the country for another four years…

  2. Agreed….Bush does not possess tremendous speaking ability. That much is certain. Bush himself spoke of this criticism in his speech at the RNC (rather clever). And yet there is no denying Bush’s popularity, as this week’s polls suggest.

    So if Kerry is going to mount an offensive, he ought not take your advice, and that of others, by mocking Bush’s verbal deficiencies. What Kerry ought to do is tackle the main point of criticism leveled against him by the Bush/Cheney camp — Kerry has no discernible position on “The War on Terror” and how he intends to protect America against another terrorist attack (A more sensitive approach ain’t gonna cut it). This indecisiveness is, in my view, Kerry’s biggest problem.

    But hey, if Kerry wants to take the low road…by all means.

  3. I thought I’d heard everything, but really: that clip is too, too, too bizarre.

    What is that famous quote — something like, “A society gets the government it deserves”? First we allow a president to lead without actually being elected, and then, when he turns out to be even worse than we feared, we vote him in for another four years? I suppose the founding fathers imagined that some lowest common denominator of intelligence would kick in to prevent this sort of thing from happening, but obviously, they overestimated. I am positively disgusted with America right now. We latch onto one graspable quality — decisiveness — and proceed to ignore the fact that our “decisive” leader has INVENTED a war to make himself look like a hero. If we are really that dumb, then I guess another four years of W is just what we deserve.

  4. Unreal. But I agree, Kerry needs to make the most of the enormous opportunity…and I dont think he has yet. Bush has a talent for making everything seem black and white. Good vs evil, Right vs Left, War vs. Inaction. Kerry needs to do the same – nuance will not win any votes.

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