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July 27, 2004

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What impliedly non-accurate picture of Kerry were Republicans trying to portray?

semi-off topic, but sometimes there's a reason we quote Josh Marshall like our lives depended on it. This is dead on:

Among Democrats, the rejection of this president is so total, exists on so many different levels, and is so fused into their understanding of all the major issues facing the country, that it doesn't even need to be explicitly evoked. The headline of Susan Page's piece in USA Today reads: "Speakers offer few barbs, try to stay warm and fuzzy." But the primetime speeches were actually brimming with barbs, and rather jagged ones at that. They were just woven into the fabric of the speeches, fused into rough-sketched discussions of policy, or paeans to Kerry.

Perhaps it's a touchy analogy, but like voters who understood the code-words Republicans once (and often still do) used to flag hot-button racial issues they dared not voice openly, these Democrats could hear the most scathing attacks on President Bush rattling through the speeches they heard tonight.

The only thing I'd quibble with is the "code words" analogy. Not because of the huge moral gap between code words for "Bush sucks!" and code words for "fear the blacks and gays!", which I'm sure he's aware of, but because these phrases didn't have to be encoded beforehand.

Step back for a second, and how innocuous is the phrase "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values"? I mean, it's not exactly a full throated, red meat attack. In another context it would be a vague platitude. And it's not like I've heard a politician phrase it in those terms either.

But Clinton says it, and we all think "oo, harsh! But so very true!", and cheer. And the delegates leap to their feet.

It's not because politicians have used it as a code word though; it's because Democrats have all said the same thing, in harsher terms ("Why do people have to confuse being strong with being stupid?") ("what good is being resolved to win the war on terror when you're totally incompetent at it?") to each other for over a year now.

What good being competent when you have trouble understanding there is a war on terror?

(See primary speeches and interviews before accusing me of attacking a strongman. It wasn't even a year ago.)

First, strawman, not strongman.

Second, I don't know exactly which speeches you're talking about, other than Kucinich's.

Third, I tended to say those things when I was having tsuris about what the experts were saying about our failure to secure highly enriched uranium; the more I learned and thought about the extent of the danger the worse I slept knowing Bush was in the White House.

Fourth, that was mainly an illustration of what was so rhetorically effective about last night's speeches. How you feel about the content is somewhat beside the point.

"First, strawman, not strongman."

Unless they are named Kim Jong-Il. Democratic presidents believe in paying him to pretend to cease nuclear weapons programs while he starves his people to death.

(Edward, now I'm being snarky)

Wisconsin Democratic debate:

"Questioner: Senator Kerry, President Bush described himself as a war president. He said he's got war on his mind as he considers these policies and decisions he has to make. If you were elected, would you see yourself as a war president?

Kerry: "I'd see myself first of all as a jobs president, as a health care president, as an education president and also an environmental president.... So I would see myself as a very different kind of global leader than George Bush."

See also the implication in his Larry King interview just a week or so ago:

KING: Tom Ridge warned today about al Qaeda plans of a large-scale attack on the United States, didn't increase the -- do you see any politics in this? What's your reaction?

KERRY: Well, I haven't been briefed yet, Larry. They have offered to brief me; I just haven't had time. But all Americans are united in our efforts to defeat terrorism.

KING: When do you -- when do you get your briefing?

KERRY: We're arranging it. It's at the end of the week I'll get it.

KING: Should be pretty soon.

KERRY: I think it's tomorrow or the next day.

If he was in a war mentality he either would have gotten briefed, or at least wouldn't have admitted that the briefing was offered and not gotten around to yet.

The war just isn't one of the more important things on his mind apparently.

What good being competent when you have trouble understanding there is a war on terror?

What good is it bloviating about a war on terror (which I'll grant you Bush & Co do well enough) when (a) you're so utterly incompetent and (b) you keep trying to claim irrelevancies like attacking Iraq are part of the "war on terror"?

You're claiming Kerry "has trouble understanding" there is a war on terror: but it seems clear that given that he has a far better understanding of what war is than George AWOL Bush, he's just not about to bloviate that fighting terrorism is the same as war. Which it isn't. Same as fighting the drug problem isn't the same as war, no matter whether you call it a "war on drugs" or not.

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