Wednesday, September 8 2004
Old Media and the Left, enraged by President Bush's surge in the polls and what they view as an illegitimate examination of Kerry's record, has decided that today is the day they will counterattack hard in an attempt to reopen the Bush National Guard story as an issue in the campaign.

The Boston Globe unloads an above the fold, front-page story: "Bush Fell Short on Duty at Guard: Records Show Pledges Unmet." The Globe's parent corporation, The New York Times Company, gets into the action with Nicholas Kristof 's "Missing in Action." Then of course there is the headliner with CBS's Dan Rather interviewing former Democratic Texas House Speaker and Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes on 60 Minutes II later tonight.

Kristof writes wistfully:

I've steered clear until now of how Mr. Bush evaded service in Vietnam because I thought other issues were more important. But if Bush supporters attack John Kerry for his conduct after he volunteered for dangerous duty in Vietnam, it's only fair to scrutinize Mr. Bush's behavior.

I love it when post-hippie 1970 liberals indignantly throw around words like "evaded service in Vietnam." Of course for eight years while Bill Clinton was Commander in Chief this was a non-issue, but suddenly they are enraged that somebody might have "evaded service in Vietnam" by serving in the National Guard. Now liberals will say the issue is not that Bush served in the National Guard, but rather how he got into the National Guard. But Kristof's own words accuse the President very directly of "evading service in Vietnam."

The hypocrisy here is so stunning and the gall of baby boomer, anti-war lefties getting all self-righteous about "evading service" is a joke. The fact the Left has decided to go back to the trough on this issue just shows how few attractive avenues of attack they have left against the President. This is a sign of weakness, not strength.

The Kerry campaign, The New York Times, the Boston Globe and CBS are all excited that they are going to "swift-boat" George W. Bush and turn these next two weeks into the equivalent of John Kerry's August for the President. But after the heat of the 2000 Presidential campaign and then the attempt several months ago to reignite the National Guard issue, the likelihood that there is going to be something substantive in all of this noise is extremely unlikely.

Now the Kerry folks and the liberal glitterati in the press will say that there was nothing substantive in the swift-boat story yet it caused tremendous damage to John Kerry. It is this logic that has probably deluded them into thinking that this old National Guard issue can be used effectively against President Bush.

But they are missing two key points to why this re-attack on President Bush's National Guard service will not have nearly the effectiveness of the swift boat attacks on Senator Kerry. First, and this is not a small point, George Bush has not made his stint in the National Guard one of the primary reasons to vote for him as President. Bush is more than happy to run on his 6-year record as Governor of the second largest state in country and his four years as President of the United States. It is Senator Kerry who decided to make his four-month service in Vietnam the prime qualification to lead this nation in war as opposed to his twenty-year public record in the United States Senate.

Second, and it is this point that infuriates the elites in the media, there happens to be quite a lot of substance in the swift-boat attacks. The Kerry campaign and their friends in the press like to pretend that this is all just a pack of lies conjured up by the right-wing slime machine, but the facts seem to suggest a different story. The reason the swift-boat controversy continues to resonate is there is significant evidence supporting the charges.

The media did their best to cherry pick one story here and another story there in an attempt to discredit the swift-boat veterans, but when you have over 90% of the people Kerry served with corroborating the story, at some point it becomes difficult to suggest the whole thing is all a pack of lies. As Bob Dole said very devastatingly just a couple of weeks ago:

Not every one of these people can be Republican liars. There's got to be some truth to the charges.

If Kerry is truly the victim of a right-wing slime attack and all of these scurrilous charges are really just a pack of lies, then why hasn't he put this story to bed by walking out in front of the press and the American people, stared in to the camera, and explained how his honor has been trashed? Why hasn't he been willing to talk open and fully about his Vietnam service and dispel once and for all these vicious attacks on his character? More than anything else it is Kerry's reluctance, or inability, to answer these questions personally that is the most damning piece of evidence for the American public.

We'll see where this George Bush National Guard service story goes on the umpteenth go around on this issue, but because of those two key points it is going to be difficult for this story to really hurt the President the same way the swift-boat story has hurt John Kerry. None of this is going to stop the Bush-haters in the press from trying to make it an issue, but it is going to be really hard unless there is something legitimately new, and substantive - and right now that doesn't seem to be the case.

The tag-team follow up to the National Guard foray is the unrolling of the Kitty Kelly personal attack on the Bush family that is scheduled for next week when Kelly is lined up to appear on The Today Show for three consecutive days. This should be of more concern to the Democrats than Republicans for this story has every bit as good a chance to hurt Kerry as it does Bush, because of the very real possibility of a backlash over the personal and tabloid nature of the attack.

Given the intensity of this campaign over the last few months and the vitriol (if not almost pathological hatred for Bush on the Left) it is not surprising that this campaign will continue to get uglier and uglier. The Democrats and the media began banging on Bush as far back as last fall when the Democratic primary campaign began in earnest. In August when Bush and Kerry's opponents struck back the Democrats howled at all the negative campaigning. This is going to be an intense two months and it is going to get considerably uglier between now and election day. J. McIntyre 7:58 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend


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