Friday, September 03, 2004

More on Vietnam

Apparently the guys at Powerline are with us on the Vietnam speech last night:

"ONE MORE THING: John Kerry released a statement last night that said: "The vice president even called me unfit for office," Kerry railed in remarks released by his campaign last night shortly before President Bush's address to the GOP convention.
"I guess I'll leave it up to the voters whether five [draft] deferments makes someone more qualified to defend this nation than two tours of duty."

Cheney, of course, said no such thing. The text of his speech is here. For what it's worth, here is what Cheney said about Kerry's Vietnam service: "The President's opponent is an experienced senator. He speaks often of his service in Vietnam, and we honor him for it."

But what on earth is Kerry thinking? I doubt whether there is a single voter who cares whether Cheney served in Vietnam. (This would be the case even if John Edwards were a veteran, but he isn't.) After a month of getting hammered by the Swifties, Kerry desperately needs to talk about something other than Vietnam. To suggest, explicitly, that his Vietnam service is a prime qualification for office--the prime qualification, apparently--puts him right back where the Swifties want him. And it leaves Kerry mired in a quagmire of petty mud-throwing while President Bush is talking in soaring terms about extending the reach of freedom throughout the world. This seems unbelievably dumb to me.

Posted by Hindrocket at 02:26 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (1)


BO: Indeed. Kerry's in a very tight spot here, between the proverbial rock and hard place. If he continues to talk about Vietnam, the Swifties (with their influx of contributions in the last month) will continue to hammer him on it. I haven't heard any plans of them backing off their ads in the next month, and really, as long as Kerry wants to keep putting Vietnam on the front burner, I see no reason why they should. The winner in that battle is certainly not John Kerry, as the pre-convention drop in his poll numbers showed; he got beat up in August pretty bad.

On the other hand, if Kerry wants to combat their charges directly, he's going to have to do more than stump from the podium at rallies; he'll have to start talking to reporters again, most likely by making an appearance on Russert or another morning show (one that doesn't feature softball questions from John Stewart). Obviously, if he does that, he'll have to answer some tough questioning, and will have to come clean about Christmas in Cambodia, which would be a big blow. Do the Kerry advisors choose to face the music on "Meet the Press," and hope that the benefits gained by such an appearance (reinforcing his Vietnam experience in a positive light) will outweigh the negatives (Christmas in Cambodia)? Or do they choose to move his focus away from Vietnam altogether? It's a tough choice, but one that Kerry put himself in.

Personally, I'd start talking about other stuff. The Vietnam references are so ubiquitous in every single Kerry campaign speech that the WSJ's Best of the Web's joke (about "John Kerry, who by the way served in Vietnam") has really ceased to be a parody, since it doesn't push the envelope far enough any more; ie, everyone at this point knows/feels that Kerry talks too much about his service record. I think it's a losing situation. Voters already know about his 4 months and 3 Purple Hearts, and want to hear about other things, domestic agenda policies and so forth. Of course, Kerry doesn't HAVE policy specifics about domestic stuff, other than raising taxes on the upper-class. Feel free to enlighten me here, but can anyone name any of his health-care initiatives? See, he already defined himself with his service, and it might be too late in the ballgame to start a whole new line of attack.

The next few weeks will be interesting. Kerry has to make a move, and has to make it soon, particularly given the big new lead that Drudge just reported. Otherwise, the ship will really start to sink, and even his friends at the NYTimes and in the network newsrooms won't be able to pull him out.

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