. . . Monday April 26, 2004

Throw the Book at Them

Something tells me the Clinton book (expected to be released between now and election day) will not include a chapter or two listing the several reasons why you and yours should vote for John Kerry.

The general vibe on the political street is that Clinton’s book on the shelves means bad news for the Kerry campaign. I’ve got another take.

It doesn’t matter. Partially that’s because, as I mentioned last week, pretty much nothing matters when it comes to the deadlocked poll numbers.

But that’s not why the Clinton book doesn’t, really can’t, matter. The real reason is because John Kerry will never win this race unless he can rise above the din of the Clinton book hubbub. He needs to do even more than that. Kerry needs to rise above the noise being poured on by the Bush campaign team.

Kerry faces another key test in that battle to rise above the noise this week. The Bush team has decided to make an issue of the validity of Kerry’s medals and his behavior upon returning from Vietnam (whether he threw his medals or not, etc). This is the equivalent of Ozzy Osbourne giving a lecture on child rearing.

The Bush team has to be supremely confident to open up a discussion in which their war-avoider who likes to talk tough and play military dress-up is put next to a guy who went to Vietnam and served with valor. I mean they’ve got to be taunting him, right?

Kerry has fought back on this issue saying: “The Republicans have spent $60 million in the last few weeks trying to attack me. And this comes from a president and a Republican Party that can’t even answer whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard. I’m not going to stand for it.”

But these strong comments are often surrounded by long, wordy, and sometimes unclear explanations that make headline writers want to offer such ledes as: Kerry on Defensive over Vietnam medals, and Videotape Contradicts John Kerry’s Own Statements Over Vietnam Medals.

Listen up, folks. John Kerry must crush Bush on this issue. Not complain about the right wing attack machine. Not defend his positions. Crush. Period. Remember, John Kerry got the nomination largely because of his military experience. If it becomes, a liability (even for a short time), we’ve got problems.

The President’s Vietnam era bio is a complete joke when compared to John Kerry’s. His team needs to be made sorry that they dipped their toes into this mess. Karen Hughes lecturing people about John Kerry’s service? If Kerry can’t crush Bush on this, then you’ve really got to wonder how he’s going to lead his party to an upset win over an incumbent come November.

Concentration is important!