September 21, 2004

Chill, Rick

I know that we rank amatures should always be respectful of professional pundits, but I have a few bones to pick with Rick Brookheiser writing in The Corner today. He has this to say on the election:

REVEILLE [Rick Brookhiser] Yut-dut-dut-dut-da-da! Yut-duh-duh-dut-dut-daaa!

Wake up! Put down your Dan Rather teddy bears! The election is not going to be a smooth coast home, flipping through memos from Burkett to Barnes to Lockhart to Dan. As Rich says, Kerry has engaged the main issue.

The Nader vote, which was showing signs of life, will disappear again. Kerry has a position, finally, and the flip flop meme is about as valuable as mulch. Who cares what he said yesterday, if what he says today seems to make sense? A foolish consistency, etc.

Terrorists can get on board the Kerry campaign, in Iraq and elsewhere. Every death in Iraq can be a black mark against Bush, and every death anywhere else in the world can be a black mark against Bush, because he shouldn't be distracted in Iraq. No, I don't believe Kerry welcomes terror, or that he is anything but a patriot. But the terrorists will see it in their interest to help him by making the big push in October. They were going to do it anyway; once more, with feeling.

Bush will have to explain why Iraq was right, why it is better to have Saddam gone, and how we are going to prevail there; and how we intend to prevail over all. He will have to say it in big speeches, and he will have to say it in sound bites. It won't be Lincoln Douglas or the Federalist Papers, but it will be as close as we come.

A couple points:

1. Who the hell is coasting? After each successive piece of good news, the conservative blogsphere echoes to the rafters with the line, "Great kid, but don't get cocky." And so far as I can tell from my humble station, no one in the Dubya camp is sitting around drinking pina coladas and chomping fat stogies yet.

2. I don't think J. Francois gets a free pass on all he's said in the past now that he's "got a position," not by a longshot. There's just too much there to be ignored.

3. I think for every Nader vote Kerry picks up for equating Iraq with Vietnam, he loses a swing voter who believes he's going to do a bolt as soon as he's sworn in. As I said a while back, those who disapprove of Bush's handling of the war fall into two blocks - those who think we're doing too much and those who think we're not doing enough. Kerry can't woo both of these constituencies at the same time. And being painted as a defeatist lib will be every bit as damaging as being painted as a flip-flopper.

4. Yes, it may well be a bloody fall, either because the bad guys step up the pace or because we do or both. If that is the case, who would you rather have in charge - someone who is steady and constant or someone who tacks all over the place. Furthermore, how are Mr. and Mrs. Mainstream America going to respond if they think the bad guys are trying to scare them into voting Bush out of office?

5. Let's not forget that foreign policy is the Republicans' home turf. (Remember how only a few weeks ago everyone was saying Kerry should concentrate on domestic issues?) I believe Rove and company are confident that in a face to face showdown on the issue, Dubya will blow Kerry away. That's why I can't shake the sneaking suspicion that one of the reasons behind Bush's recent streak of optomistic remarks has been to provoke Kerry into going for the draw.

So really, Rick, I agree with you about what Dubya needs to do, but I think he's going to do it anyway. Less of the warning flags, please. All you're doing is giving Andy Sullivan a woody.

Posted by Robert at September 21, 2004 03:18 PM | TrackBack

Very cogent. Hey, you can be cogent and funny at the same time!

What's with the Sullivan link? Sullivan is homosexula non grata in my book.

Posted by: David at September 21, 2004 03:49 PM

Don't know what's up with these NR guys. Wusses methinks.

The reason Kerry hasn't run strong anti-war from the beginning is b/c the issue is a loser for him.

I saw a poll this week, can't remember where, that had the pro/con among Americans in re the Iraq war at 54% to 39% -- which oddly enough is just about what the Bush/Kerry numbers are in the latest Gallup.

Kerry's hitting rock bottom and trying to energize his base so he will at least take NY and Cali and (M)assholechusetts and not be embarassed completely.

He's basically throwing in the towel with this latest Iraq flip-flop in the hope of salvaging some respect and preventing a down-ticket disaster for the Dems in the House and Senate.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 21, 2004 04:33 PM
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