August 20 2004
KERRY CAMPAIGN'S FIRST SERIOUS MISTAKE: Yesterday
afternoon I received a form email from John Kerry campaign
manager, Mary Beth Cahill. It began:
Today marks the end of the dishonest and disgusting smear
campaign against John Kerry and his crewmates from Vietnam.
This morning on the front page of the Washington Post,
one of the central figures in the effort to distort John
Kerry's military service was completely discredited.
Kerry campaign must have thought that yesterday's
front page Washington Post story attempting to discredit
one of Kerry's critics, coupled with Kerry's
public engagement of the issue in his speech to a Boston
firefighters union was going to be enough to put the story
to rest. But by forcefully attacking the Swift Boat Veterans
for Truth as ''a front for the Bush campaign" that
is doing the President's ''dirty work," Kerry has forced
the mainstream press to finally confront this issue which
up until yesterday they had been, more or less, ignoring.
the Internet best seller Unfit
for Command and the
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth had in many ways cornered
the Kerry campaign and not left them with many attractive
options. On one hand they could continue to ignore the issue,
and hope the press refused to cover it in any meaningful
way, and get through next week where the impending GOP convention
would then act to change the subject. Or they could confront
the issue and try to put the story to rest, which of course
opens up the possibility of drawing more attention to a
story they don't want covered in the first place.
the Kerry campaign thinks this issue is playing well for
them, or they think they can turn the issue around and create
a backlash against President Bush, I don't understand yesterday's
tactics. Because of Kerry's counterattack yesterday, they
have provided a further opening for Kerry's opponents on
multiple fronts. First as much as the liberal media wants
the anti-Kerry veterans to be a bunch of ragtag, right -wing
nuts, they don't necessarily come across that way. The more
exposure and coverage they get, the more it will make it
increasingly harder to discredit them. Mickey Kaus writes
big-time journalist friends who met with the anti-Kerry
vets recently found them a lot more credible than expected.
O'Neill graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was first
in his law school class at the University of Texas. He's
very well spoken and makes a powerful case against Senator
Kerry's Vietnam record. Another vet, Larry Thurlow, did
more than hold his own on MSNBC's
Hardball against a very combative and hostile Chris Mathews.
is really problematic for the Kerry campaign is this will
eventually segue into Kerry's antiwar conduct when he came
home from Vietnam. And it is his post-Vietnam antiwar record,
more than anything, that has the potential to do real damage
to his candidacy.
four-month stint in Vietnam is not only meant to provide
foreign policy and national security cover for his dovish
record in the US Senate, but it is also meant to provide
cover for his antiwar crusade when he returned from Vietnam.
effectively used his Vietnam record to assist in getting
the Democratic nomination, and he wisely played up his service
at the Democratic convention a month ago. But from the Democrats'
perspective, that is where they wanted and needed the story
to end. That probably won't happen now that Kerry has publicly
attacked the swift boat vets as a bunch of liars and a front
for the Bush campaign.
the Kerry camp is counting on its friends in the press to
spin their side (as the NY
Times does on the front page this morning) in a
way that limits the damage or even precipitates a backlash
against President Bush. Nevertheless, by engaging on the
issue they've provided a big opening for more coverage of
Kerry's antiwar past and thus have given up, at least to
some degree, control over the narrative of the central rationale
for their candidate's bid for the White House. The risk-reward
analysis doesn't seem to justify their decision.
McIntyre 10:43 am Link
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