Kerry Fights Back, But Is It Enough?

In a post called “Is the Kerry Campaign On Vacation, Or What?”, I questioned their failure to take advantage of Junior’s voluminous troubles during the whole month of April. While Bush was squirming over Fallujah, the 9/11 Commission hearings, and Bob Woodward’s book, among other body-blows, Kerry and his staff were sitting it out, giving Karl time to regroup. I thought that was a BAD tactical mistake. ThatColoredFellasweblog took issue with that (our discussion in Comments is here), and while he made some good points, I think he’s underestimating the danger of letting opportunities like this slip by. Assuming that Karl Rove and Dan Bartlett are going to go on making mistakes for the rest of the campaign, or that voters are seeing through the pervasive lies and constant deception of the Bushies at long last, is a high-risk gamble at best, the kind of laissez-faire strategy that blows up in your face more often than not.

So it was with some relief that I noted he is at least re-active if not pro-active, though it’s worrying that it took a nasty personal assault on his military service to get him to move off the dime.

CANONSBURG, Pa. — Senator John F. Kerry moved yesterday to shield his own war hero image from new doubts about whether he threw his Vietnam War medals away at a 1971 antiwar protest, while sharply questioning President Bush’s National Guard record in the 1970s.Kerry angrily accused ABC News and the Republican National Committee of creating ”a phony controversy” by portraying him as both unpatriotic for throwing away US medals and inconsistent because his details of the event have changed over time.

The senator has long said that he threw away his war ribbons — but kept his medals — at the rally on April 23, 1971.

In response to this typical RNC slime job, he hit back by finally raising the issue of the questions surrounding Bush’s “military service”–or lack of it.

Then Kerry turned the issue against the president, saying for the first time that Bush was far more vulnerable on matters of Vietnam-era choices because of questions about whether he completed his service in the Texas Air National Guard. ”He owes America an explanation about whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard. Prove it,” Kerry told NBC.

‘This comes from a president and a Republican Party that can’t even answer whether or not [Bush] showed up for duty in the National Guard,” Kerry said on ABC’s ”Good Morning America,” the first of three assaults on Bush directly. ”I’m not going to stand for it.”

Better late than never, I suppose. But as glad as I am to see he’s still at least semi-awake, it continues to bother me that he made no attempt to capitalize on Junior’s April floundering. I’ve said before–and it bears repeating–that the Bushies are bullies and bullies only respect opponents who attack as fiercely and unrelentingly as they do. Bert at TCF responded by saying that there was no reason for the Democrats to sink to the RNC level of “lies and deceptions”. But there’s no need to do that. What Kerry needs to do is tell the truth, pound away at the lies and deceptions of BushCo unceasingly until it’s part of the air we breathe.

I live in Central Mass (Kerry’s state, mind you), miles and miles from the liberal Hub, and I can say without reservation that most people have no idea how much or how often the BA lies. About as far as they’ve got is the understanding that Bush lied about the WMD’s in Iraq, and it troubles them. But they’re just about willing to let him get away with blaming “intelligence” (meaning the CIA) and give him a pass. Between now and November, Kerry has got to make it clear to the average voter that BushCo lies about everything, that they can’t be trusted on taxes, the economy, the war, the occupation, the environment, or even science. He had a golden opportunity this month to make major gains in that effort–Junior was handing him material on a platter–and he blew it.

It’s not like it would have been hard. All Kerry had to say about the uprising, for example, was something like this: “When you lie about everything as often as this Administration does, you’re bound to provoke a reaction. The President promised the Iraqis a free press for the first time in decades–and then shut down an Arab newspaper. He promised them a democratic govt in which they could control their own country–and then refused to agree to any compromise that would allow any future Iraqi govt to make meaningful decisions about its own destiny. The Iraqi people have been betrayed by this Administration over and over again, one broken promise after another, one lie following another in a long line. The first thing we need to do to calm this situation is to stop lying to the Iraqi people and honor our promises. America’s word used to be her bond. Under this President, it means nothing. That has to change.”

That was easy, wasn’t it?

As I said at TCF: This is not encouraging. Not encouraging at all.

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