Monday, July 05, 2004

The need for fighters

I agree with Athenae :

Kos has a Gephardt thread up discussing his VP chances, and he makes a point I think a lot of people will make if the choice should be Gephardt after all: that here is a man who gives the Republicans no ammunition.

My only problem with looking at that as a significant advantage for any candidate is this: since when have the Republicans needed ammunition to go after somebody? I know, let's ask Max Cleland, who clearly gave Saxby Chambliss ammunition to question his patriotism by losing three limbs in a war. Let's ask the Republican strategists exactly how concerned they are about giving Dems ammunition to paint their candidates as compassionless warmongers.

In Republicans' eyes, Democrats are going to be the party of evil no matter what. I want to win as much as the next girl, and I'm not advocating for or against any Veep choice. I just don't want to see us, in the next four months, get too wrapped up in avoiding the slings and arrows of outrageous Republicans. Let's spend our time thinking about how to hit back, hard.

I made this same argument during the primaries when people suggested that Dean was more vulnerable to attack than other contenders, such as Kerry. Republicans don't need an excuse to attack. They will attack regardless of who we put forward. What matters is that we have a candidate who knows how to respond to those attacks and can hit back as well.

The $100+ million campaign of smears against Kerry is a perfect example of this. I will admit that Kerry has weathered the storm better than I thought he would. He has proven himself to be pretty adroit at handling the attacks (better than Gore was in 2000). Specifically, Kerry has not allowed the attacks to get him off message.

Would Gephardt be as successful at handling the inevitable attacks? I don't know. But arguing for Gephardt on the basis of him being less vulnerable to attacks is a non-started as far as I'm concerned.

The primary attribute of any candidate today is their fighting ability. I've never gotten the impression that Gephardt was much of a fighter.

But then I wasn't impressed by Kerry's fighting skills during much of the pre-primary season. So what do I know?

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