Friday, March 19, 2004

The Democrat's problem

I argued several months back that the Democrats should let Bush have his $87 billion supplemental Iraq bill with no strings attached because, by doing so, they would make whatever happened next entirely the property of Bush and Bush alone. By trying to tie the appropriation to a change in Bush's tax cut or some other changes in Bushie programs the Democrats effectively gave the Republicans the ammo they needed to paint the Democrats as holding up money for our troops for political reasons.

Which is precisely what is happening now with the attacks on John Kerry over his vote on this bill.

Josh Marshall highlights some of the problems Kerry has faced with his vote, including a new ABC story that essentially propagates Republican spin on his vote.

Now, we can rail, ala Bob Somerby, against the mendacity of the media in becoming a willing tool of GOP propaganda. But complaining about this kind of thing in today's present political atmosphere is like a man in a firestorm complaining about the heat. Yes, it is bad, but complaining won't put out the fire.

Kerry, unfortunately, has given the Bushies a lot of ammo to use in painting him as a wishy-washy, finger-in-the-wind politician (it's one of the reasons I didn't support him in the primary). I am not sure he can really defend himself effectively against these kinds of charges without coming off even worse (his "I voted for it before I voted against it" comment is an example of how not to respond.) Perhaps the only hope for him is if the entire Democratic establishment comes out and launches a coordinated attack against Bush in order to put him on the defensive. But, as I said in my last post, the leadership has been woefully lacking in its public defense of Kerry.

The Republicans are masters at distraction. The Democrats have to learn how to do a little distracting themselves.


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