If Bush Wins, Whose Fault Is It?
If Bush wins, should we blame him and his puppetstring-pullers for their sleazy campaign strategy, or the Democrats for their lame counter-strategy? By now we’re all familiar with John Kerry’s speeches which have all the personality and passion of R2D2. It’s too bad that someone with a pulse (e.g. Howard Dean) didn’t get the nomination. Dean may have alienated a lot of people with his bluntness and abrasive manner, but he would have mopped up the floor with Little Boy Blueblood. But since we’re stuck trying to make the best lemonade we can…….
No matter what sleazy, totally illogical accusation the Bush campaign comes up with, Kerry goes on the defensive and tries to come up with a logical, analytical answer to prove that no, he’s not a an alien from Jupiter who plans to suck the blood of every American child and spit it on the Bible. No, uh, actually, ahem, now let me explain the 27 reasons why the foregoing accusation is not true. And I promise not to move my arms or change the pitch of my voice during my upcoming longwinded answer.
The most blatantly twisted, wacko accusation from the George Orwell, er, I mean Bush, campaign (and there are many to choose from) is that Kerry is “flip-flopping” because he initially voted to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq if all other measures failed. We had weapons inspectors; we had international sanctions which could have been tightened further. If there was a global consensus that Iraq was an immediate threat, we could have built an international coalition the way we did in the 1991 Iraqi war. When Bush was granted this authority, most of Congress assumed that Bush would not just go off half-cocked and march into Iraq with no plan or forethought whatsoever.
Now, if the DMV issues you a driver’s license and then revokes it because you drove 100 m.p.h. on a one-way street the wrong way, and you were drunk at the time, most people will be bright enough not to accuse the DMV of flip-flopping on whether you should have a driver’s license. If a prisoner is granted parole and then goes out and kills 37 people and gets thrown back in jail, people whose IQs are higher than the temperature in Fairbanks in January will understand that the Parole Board didn’t “flip-flop.”
Likewise, the Senators and Congresspersons who voted to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq did not flip-flop. They are guilty of projecting their own integrity and decency onto the president. And they got suckered: Bush doesn’t have either of those traits.
So why has Kerry been fumbling and spluttering for the past year trying to convince voters that he didn’t “flipflop” on Iraq? As we all know, Kerry has several medals for heroism during the Viet Nam war. And Bush was simultaneously (and Republicans can actually keep a straight face while denying this) using his family connections to get out of Viet Nam duty. (When Boy George first applied to get into the Texas Air Guard, there was a three year waiting list to get in, and suddenly, presto, why, look here, we seem to have an opening for little Georgie to get in – Come on, people. As the song by Ministry goes, “Connect the Goddamn dots!”)
So again, why does Kerry answer these flipflopping charges with “well, uh, ahem, my record will show that….”? Why isn’t he grabbing Bush by the collar (metaphorically of course) and yelling “What’d you call me?!!! What’d you say?!!!” Kerry’s wooden manner isn’t the crux of the problem. After a point we have to ask who’s running things for him. Who does he have handling his campaign, a college sophomore who wants to major in journalism and thinks the 2004 presidential election would be a neat project?
Bush, whatever anyone thinks of his intelligence, has had the world’s shrewdest, most brilliant, most unprincipled, groinkickingest spin doctors working for him during his entire presidency. And their Orwellian accusations and name calling are being answered by someone looking through his Journalism 101 textbook to find the proper response. The Bush campaign is defining the issues – and defining Kerry – and the Kerry campaign is reduced to defending and responding with “no, I didn’t” or “now let me clarify….”
The Kerry camp has 9 days to start countering Bush’s dirty-fighting techniques with a hard kick to the ribs (again, figuratively) and bring the issues into focus. Can they do it?