Saturday, August 23, 2008


Kinsley's Backhanded Compliment

In an interesting article, Michael Kinsley describes why the Republicans could pull off a win at the top of the ballot in November. They jujitsu the opponents strengths into weakness, says Kinsley. Perhaps we do.

Notice that Kinsley repeats two talking points that are not in fact true.

The [Republicans] conjured up the Swift boat campaign and managed to turn Kerry's military service into a negative. As is usually the case, the media helped.
They didn't intend to. But journalistic convention makes it hard for reporters to deal with a big, complicated lie.

The only proven lie regarding the Swiftboat veterans campaign against John Kerry is that, as Kerry finally admitted, he was not in Cambodia on Christmas Eve, even though on the Senate floor in 1986 he said the moment was seared, seared into his memory. The Democrats just claim the statements of the anti-Kerry veterans are untrue; they've never actually gotten around to showing they are untrue. That's like hard.

Most amazing among the principles of the Republican Way of War is: Don't waste much time and energy probing the enemy's weaknesses. Go directly to his biggest strength. Four years ago, it was easy to imagine any number of ways the GOP might go after John Kerry. You would not have guessed -- or at least I would not have guessed -- that they could successfully attack his service in Vietnam.
Especially when the Republican candidate, George W. Bush, not only had avoided Vietnam by joining the National Guard but had avoided much of the National Guard by skipping the meetings and then had grown up to start an unpopular war that even four years ago seemed to have been going on forever.

Where to start? Both Kerry and Bush joined the reserves during the Viet Nam War, not the regular Navy and Air Force, respectively. Kerry was called up, Bush wasn't. George Bush completed all the hours that were required of him. Both Kerry and Bush requested early discharge to work on campaigns for office and both were discharged from the reserve units they ended up in, although we don't know the full circumstances of Kerry's discharge as he has never released his full military record to the public, as he repeatedly promised. Bush didn't start a war, he ended, properly, Gulf War I.

It's just not that hard to get it right, Michael.

I do think that his point is well stated.

The Republicans just play the game of presidential politics so much better. They play it with genius, courage, creativity and utter ruthlessness.

Go team! Kinsley thinks you're great.

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"They play it with genius, courage, creativity and utter ruthlessness."

Would that it were so, though McCain seems to have a better grasp on real campaigning than any Republican presidential candidate since Reagan.
He's doing better than I thought he could. Muted hope for November is growing in my breast.

Think it possible that the swing voters are weary of political ruthlessness as the last time they were subjected to such, utter incompetence followed.

Meanwhile, McCain has chosen to go negative early and often. I, for one, believed that a sitting senator would ever be elected president b/c once one has a record, too much can be distorted, taken out of context, or even stated truthfully, and this lends itself to negative ads and swiftboating.

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." McCain, out of desperation, has chosen to throw the first stone, but can he w/stand the rocky fusillade that will follow in response? We will see. But I point out that two and a half months is a long time for an old guy, w/ old ideas, and w/ a long record to attack.

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