. . . Thursday August 19, 2004

The War That Never Ends

Surprise, surprise. It turns out that one of the books ripping Kerry’s military records is hogwash. According to a W. Post investigation, Larry Thurlow’s (one of the nuts who insists Kerry did nothing to earn any of his medals) own military records contradict some of the main points he makes in his attempt to soil Kerry.

Meanwhile, John Kerry has lashed out at the groups organized to distort his record and blames the President for not denouncing the efforts as John McCain (who knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of one of these smear campaigns) and others have.

From Kerry: “This group isn’t interested in the truth — and they’re not telling the truth. They didn’t even exist until I won the nomination for president. They’re funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas. They’re a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the president won’t denounce what they’re up to tells you everything you need to know — he wants them to do his dirty work.”

On one hand, it is vitally important that John Kerry fights back on this issue and points out the administration’s role in fanning the flames (at the very least). On the other hand, I can’t help but think that this is exactlty where the Bush team wants the campaign. Thanks to an artificial smear campaign, John Kerry is forced to spend an inordinate amount of time defending what was widely considered as one of his strongest electoral attributes.

And the fact that all of this is happening when Kerry is running against folks with military non-records like Bush and Cheney makes it all the more amazing.

During the speech referenced above, Kerry went on to say: “Of course, the president keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that. Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: Bring it on.”

Fine. Good line. But it’s important to realize that Bush team actions and non-actions make it very clear that they do want to have a debate about Kerry’s service in Vietnam. While Kerry is defending his most obvious trait, the Bushies can avoid having a debate about healthcare, tax breaks for the wealthy, the deficit, healthcare, education and post-war Iraq.

Remember, this debate about Kerry’s military record has been going on for months and has been pretty much nonstop since Kerry used the entire Democratic convention to establish his military credentials to officially announce that he was “reporting for duty.”

The people who are susceptible to these smears are already voting for President Bush. Most Americans can plainly see that Kerry’s military experience (even without any medals or testimonials) goes far beyond anything Bush or Cheney did during the Vietnam era.

Kerry cannot get caught in the trap of spending too much time defending what everyone already knows is true (maybe he needs his own “front” of surrogates to do that?). The Bush team wants Kerry to counterpunch. They want him to spend time on his military record.

What John Kerry needs to “bring on” are the issues and debate points that Bush doesn’t want brought.

Concentration is important!