February 12, 2004

Covering for Kerry or Just Lookin' for Lies in All Kinds of Places?

I continue to wonder as to whether Kerry and his surrogates really ought to try to fight this campaign based on the 1970s. It seems that between Kerry’s anti-war stances and his somewhat bizarre views (at least for a congressional candidate) on the UN, that he has more to lose by a lengthy return to the 1970s than does Bush over his Guard duty.

Of course it may well be, as Robert Tagorda notes, that the goal isn’t so much to tar Bush as it is to give Kerry cover—although I am beginning to wonder if the cover in question is to advance the debate to the point that there will be an attempt to declare any discussion of the 1970s off-limits. Such a truce, while seemingly helpful to Bush right now, would actually be more to Kerry’s benefit because at this point the Democrats have done such a good job of painting Kerry as a war hero they have almost totally erased his post-service (and, as Kaus notes, pre-service) opposition to the war in Viet Nam.

Really, it seems that aside from creating a patina of national security prowess, as I noted yesterday, the main way that all this AWOL brouhaha could hurt Bush is if the opposition could catch him in a provable lie. Indeed, I expect that the "truth issue" is going to be the biggest (in terms of abstract issues) area of attack by the Democrats in this campaign. The Democrats are going to pull out the stops trying to prove that Bush is a liar. The problem to date is that on issues such as Iraq there is a reasonable alternative to the idea that he is a liar, i.e., that his positions were the result of interpretation of intelligence. If they could catch him in an honest-to-goodness lie they would be able to construct a campaign on that foundation, attacking everything from what he knew about 911 to the planning for Iraq and so forth.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum of CalPundit concurs: that that issue is, and will be, a question of honesty.

My guess is, however, that barring undeniable evidence, that the Guard issue will be yet another issue where the pro-Bush types see the world differently than the anti-Bush types, and never shall the twain meet.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This is my entry in today's Beltway Traffic Jam

Posted by Steven Taylor at February 12, 2004 01:16 PM | TrackBack
Comments

If I was a democratic strategist, I don't think that I would push to catch Bush in with a pre-war lie, but I would emphasize emphatically that his judgement on using intelligence data to justify a preemptive war should be questioned. And the inability to see the possibility that that intelligence could have been wrong, once the initial decision was made.

That general approach to problem solving in that office is just downright reckless if it involves heavy use of the military. Which in this case it did.

I would also question the value of touting Iran & Libya as proliferation deterents examples. Some of that same intelligence now shows that Iran may not be coming very clean after all. iran,nk nukes

Posted by: Eric at February 12, 2004 01:31 PM

Since when exactly did the Democratic party become a protector of Presidential honesty?

It is as if Clinton lying to a judge while under oath and lying to the whole freaking country never happened.

It is freaking amazing they get away with it.

(semi bad language alert)

I'll say one thing, the Democrats have balls the size of watermelons.

Posted by: Paul at February 12, 2004 11:19 PM

Right - honesty, not consistency. The parallels are obvious - a war that a significant portion of the citizenry questions, a leader who seems to polarize the nation. As a voter-who-is-not-a-pundit, my take? Couldn't care less about the Bush/NG story. Couldn't care less about the Kerry/"woman-fleeing-to-Africa" story. Couldn't care *more* about whether the intelligence presented to Congress was the unvarnished version or was manipulated to present a less-than-completely-honest take on the nature of whatever threat was there, at the time, or about where the jobs went, why, and how somebody - anybody! - plans to get them back. Making this about the past? Bad move, on all parts.

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Posted by: Cialis at March 10, 2004 10:00 AM
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