Tuesday, August 17, 2004

 

Is John Kerry Tough Enough?

E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post basically writes that Mr. Kerry needs to better at striking when Mr. Bush makes political mistakes.

A point I agree with.

Mr. Kerry needs to be clearer and more concise with his message.

And he needs to play politics better. The Bush folks are geniuses at political give and take and spin as demonstrated that they are still in the race after a horrible four-year term in office. They seem to be setting the debate at this point. Mr. Kerry needs to make that change as soon as he possibly can.

I don’t know that he needs to be better at their game than they are. That might be expecting too much from Mr. Kerry, what he needs to do rather is to make it clear to the America people how Mr. Bush is spinning and playing games. Mr. Kerry shouldn’t let Mr. Bush get away with anything.

This part made me think of something else though....

It would not be a bad thing if this campaign turned into a referendum on Bush's effort to shift taxes from wealth to work. But to move the debate in that direction, Kerry has to be as tough and strategic as Bush has been, and a lot crisper in explaining what he stands for.

Kerry did seize on the CBO report and also on Bush's comment that a national sales tax was "an interesting idea that we ought to explore seriously." The White House moved quickly to play down the idea that Bush had any plans to impose a consumption tax. Here was Bush's defense of his comment to Larry King on CNN: "This is politics. People put words in your mouth." But unless I'm missing something, Bush is the one and only person who put those words into his own mouth. Bush's people would be jumping all over a comparable gaffe -- another word for an admission of a real but hidden belief by Kerry.

Bush has given Kerry an extraordinary gift with the sales tax comment. But Kerry has still not taken full advantage of it.

The problem as I see it with that is that Mr. Bush makes huge misstatements all the time and no one seems to care. Combine that with the fact that and the expectations of the office seem to been lowered so much for him and Mr. Bush just doesn't seem to be held to account for much of anything he says.

So when he says something like the tax thing, it's left to his assistants to clean up the verbal mess and for him to laugh it off later when he's asked about it.

It's like he not responsible for anything he says.

Mr. Kerry needs to change that.

Mr. Dionne is correct when he writes this....

If Kerry needs an even stronger offense on domestic issues, he also needs a much better defense of that Iraq vote of his. It really isn't so hard. When Bush went to Congress in the fall of 2002 for authorization to go to war in Iraq, he did so after saying he was going to the United Nations to seek international support for a war against Saddam Hussein.

Yes, the congressional resolution empowering Bush to wage war was far broader than it should have been. But when push came to shove, Kerry decided to take the chance in voting "yes" to strengthen Bush's hand in negotiating with the United Nations. That seeking U.N. support was never really a Bush priority and that he botched the postwar planning is the president's problem, not Kerry's. Why can't Kerry keep it that simple?


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