. . . Thursday August 12, 2004

Sensitivity Training

The war of words between Cheney and Kerry continues. The latest battle is over the use of the word “sensitive” by Kerry during a talk with a group of minority journalists. Here is what he said:

“I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history.”

Let’s get the basics out of the way. Kerry is right. And what he’s right about (that we need to use our allies, that we need to pave the way for less recruits not more recruits to terror groups, that we need to differentiate between our efforts to protect ourselves and a willingness to drop our values or give up legal protections for some of our citizens, that we need a broader strategy that goes beyond today’s military efforts and begins to consider the longterm plan, etc) is at the absolute core of this campaign.

But campaigns aren’t always about being right. They are often about delivering the right message and with things this tight, every word counts.

So Kerry should expect his words to be taken out of context and disingeniously twisted like a pretzel that could gag almost anyone. And so it was. For the last couple of days, Cheney has been blasting Kerry. For what? For the use of the word sensitive.

“America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive. A sensitive war will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans. … The men who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Paul Johnson will not be impressed by our sensitivity.”

From any thinking person who reads all the quotes fully (and what the heck, let’s include the one in which President Bush suggested that America could be more “sensitive about expressing our power and influence”), the response to this hogwash would be a resounding: Boooo.

One would think to oneself that Cheney really has no shame. He is actually suggesting that Kerry (a guy who fought for his country and saved lives) would be soft on those who beheaded Americans. This line of reasoning and the use of victims like Daniel Pearl to make a totally false and absurd point is truly disgusting.

But that’s how these guys play the game. Every word counts. The Bush team has their words (often purposely garbled, mispronounced and testosteronated) down pat.

So should the Kerry camp, knowing that this is the name of the game, be more careful in the language they use knowing full well that anything they say can and will be used against them?

You be the judge. Kerry is clearly the guy who is right on this issue and has the high ground on the exchange. But maybe it’s worth being right and careful. A stray word here or there (even one that is on the mark and makes sense to a thinking person) can often come back to soundbite you in the ass.

Concentration is important!