A less kind, less gentle John KerryBUZZZZ. We're sorry, but we have some lovely parting gifts for you. Now GET OUT OF THE WAY.
Sen. John Kerry is condemning President Bush with sharper language and more pointed attacks as the campaign heads into its final six weeks, hoping to turn the 2004 election back into a referendum on the incumbent.
After a summer of muddled messages and sagging poll numbers, the focus of Kerry campaigners has shifted from introducing their candidate to the nation to drawing distinctions with the president, a more combative posture that aides said will characterize their tone through election day.
In the past six days, Kerry has charged Bush with caving in to the gun lobby, favoring Halliburton at the expense of American taxpayers, glossing over glum news from Iraq while "living in a fantasy world of spin," and presiding over an economic recovery that has generated "more excuses than jobs."
"I am absolutely taking the gloves off," Kerry told radio host Don Imus this past week. "I'm prepared to take (Bush) on."
The confrontational tone, cheered by party loyalists, nevertheless carries a risk for the Democratic challenger. Kerry won his party's nomination in part because he was seen as more steady and careful -- and therefore more electable -- than former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, his chief rival in the early primaries. If Kerry's attacks are viewed as too strident, it may leave some voters wondering what he stands for besides "not-Bush," and turn off other voters who are reluctant to change presidents during a war.
We've been saying it for a year, and we're not changing our tune: This is a streetfight. We knew it was going to be a streetfight, and the Bush-Cheney campaign has lived right down to that expectation. On steroids. Not so surprisingly, there's an accompanying poll asking about Kerry's approach and a whopping 69% say he's got to go even further against these crackheads (6% say he's using the right tone, 25% say to tone it down).
Okay, so you're a glutton for punishment. Here's more...
This week's more strident tone is a calculated risk. While it may serve to fire up his base and help define his differences with Bush, it could also turn off voters who are hesitant to remove a wartime president. Some of Kerry's words were reminiscent of Dean, who soared to the top of Democratic polls last year because of his confrontational style and anti-war stance. Democrats ultimately rejected Dean in favor of Kerry, in part because Kerry seemed like a safer, and more electable, alternative.BUZZZZ. Sorry again. (Jeezus, the press really does erase its memory banks nightly, doesn't it?) There was a LOT more than just "going for the safe guy" at play with Dean. Karl Rove, Fox News and all their little talkradio monkeys successfully painted Dean as a lunatic. This meme was copycatted into the mainstream media because, let's face it - they're stinking lazy. And secondly, Kerry is no Howard Dean. Let's not kid ourselves.
Look, the bottom line is that moderation and politeness are strategies that have been pulled off the table. That's today's insanity we call politics. The GOP muscled their way into the White House in 2000. They bullied their way into the House and Senate in 2002. They strongarmed their way into the California governor's seat in 2003. Now you can bet the house that they want to terrify America into making them stay in 2004 (Code orange is on the way - did you forget already?).
They will do ANYTHING to win. They lie. They cheat. They'll make murder accusations as they did with Clinton before it's all over. And you're bitching about Kerry's tone?
What Kerry has done this week has nothing to do with stridency. The bombshells that Kerry dropped each and every day this week have something about them that should make anyone nervous - especially the emperor himself. It's the one thing the White House is seriously and ham-handedly trying to avoid.
Yes, Kerry is doing what no high-profile GOP politician has dared to do in recent years - and God knows the American public is unsuccessfully demanding it from our president.
John Kerry is telling the truth.
And he better not stop.