. . . Thursday April 15, 2004

Off the Hook

John Kerry should absolve George W Bush of anything and everything done or not done before September 11. Kerry should give a major address in which he says enough is enough. Yes, the 9-11 Commission is vitally important. But there is plenty of blame to go around. Kerry should explain that the only people who need to apologize for 9-11 are the ones who planned and supported the attack. Yes, we desperately need the recommendations of the 9-11 panel and yes, the person in the Oval Office should be judged closely on how efficiently the much-needed reforms are implemented.

But we need to let W off the hook.

John Kerry needs to send this loud and clear message of absolution because every minute spent debating the memos and the clues and the hints and the mistakes and the vacations, along with every moment the press spends asking the President if he thinks he should apologize for 9-11, is ultimately a good moment for the Bush campaign.

George W Bush will not lose this election because Sept 11 happened under his watch. But he may very well lose this election because of what he’s done since.

And every moment that the public and the press are not focused on this period (during which we’ve seen false bravado, a march to an optional war, questionable strategies and leadership related to that war, a wedge driven between us and some of our closest allies, a clinging to secrecy, repeated attacks on those who even hint at criticism or disagreement, the mistake of tax cuts during a time of war, an unwillingness to admit mistakes or take advice, an unwillingness to level with the American people, a totally unclear strategy for the future, etc) is a lost moment for the Kerry campaign.

And there’s not a moment to lose.

Concentration is important!