Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Play it smart John

I'm going to side with Atrios and Jeffrey Dubner against Digby on how the Kerry campaign should respond to the latest Swift Boat Liar ad (but not really, since I don't think they are really in that much disagreement).

The question is not whether the Kerry campaign should make some noise. Their lack of response to the first round of these ads proves the failure of that strategy. But they need to be a little more clever about it. Simply calling on Bush to repudiate the ad is pointless since everyone knows that he won't. Kerry should just respond as if Bush supports them (which he does, but he won't admit it). He should make Bush sweat for not repudiating these ads by running with the assumption that Bush likes them (which he does, but he admit it).

Kerry shouldn't react with outrage or indignation. He should express sadness that Bush continues to drag the campaign into the gutter. The unspoken accusation in such a statement is that the ads are the work of the Bush campaign (which they are, but they won't admit it). If Bush or one of his surrogates hits back by saying that it is outrageous for Kerry to suggest that Bush is responsible for them then Kerry should just shrug his shoulders and say, "Well, it's hard to know where the President stands since he won't repudiate them."

Kerry should stop asking for Bush to "play nice" and just talk as if it is already proven that Bush wants to play dirty (which he does, but he won't admit it).


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