Tuesday, October 19, 2004

David Brooks is half right

Betsy links to a David Brooks article noting that Kerry's tactics have changed, because he is a fighter and will do what is needed to win. Brooks starts his second paragraph with this:

"So nobody could imagine how incompetent, crude and over-the-top Kerry has been in this final phase of the campaign."

Really? Well, anyone, that is, who hasn't bothered to looked at Kerry's record. And since Brooks has been, that's part of his job after all, I am surprised he didn't put in that caveat. Christmas in Cambodia; throwing/not throwing medals away; smearing the military with accusations by vets who either weren't vets or weren't even in Vietnam; 'searing' speeches; and doubletalk regarding almost every aspect of his record, which is to be expected because there is hardly a record to doubletalk.

So it should have been expected that Kerry has decended into the cesspool for the remaining days of the campaign to fight with not hard, cheap shots, but dirty, cheap shots. And Brooks acknowledges that Kerry should garner little respect for these tactics because of their incompetent nature, not their morality, even though, as he said earlier, no one could have imagined how crude and over-the-top they are.

Brooks' has some conclusions which you ought to read but I suggest they are only half right. The other half of the conclusions is that no president worth his salt should expect to rely solely on the judgment of the voters to substitute for his responses. "Politics ain't beanbag" to quote Brooks. It is Bush vs Kerry in the Big Fight. Kerry is punching hard, Brooks says below the belt now, but this fight won't be stopped because of them.. And the voters are waiting to see and score Bush's counterpunches.

Bush can win and win decisively because Kerry makes it easier with every low blow but Bush has to punch back even harder and faster for each low blow and let the voters know he is hitting extra hard because they were.

Hit him hard for the low blows, George, and hear the crowd roar.

Update: I forgot this article requires registration. Here's Brooks concluding paragraphs:
Bush's key vulnerability is that people fear he is in over his head. By lashing out wildly, Kerry muddles all that. Instead his blunderbuss approach suggests a candidate devoid of perspective, driven by unattractive and naked ambition.

Why is he doing this? First, because in the insular Democratic world, George Bush is presumed to be guilty of everything, so the more vicious you can be about him, the better everybody feels.

But there is a deeper assumption, which has marred Democratic politics for years. Some Democrats have been unable to face the reality that people have been voting for Republicans because they agree with them. So these Democrats have invented the comforting theory that they've been losing because they are too virtuous for the country.

According to this theory, Republicans - or usually some omniscient, omnipotent and malevolent strategists, like Lee Atwater or Karl Rove - have been tricking the American people into voting against their true interests. This year, many Democrats decided, we'll be vicious in return.

The truth, however, is that voters are not idiots. They are capable of independent thought. If you attack your opponent wildly, ruthlessly, they will come to their own conclusions.


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