Saturday, February 14, 2004

It's Time to "Bring it on"

John Kerry is trying to use his military service as a means of inoculating himself against the charge that he is soft on national security. If the GOP wants to make an issue of his patriotism, "bring it on," says the senator from Massachusetts with the spotty voting record on defense. Republicans, consequently, are running scared, but they shouldn't. Fred Barnes, for example, points out that Kerry is a target-rich environment -- even and especially on national security -- and Republicans should start exploiting things like Kerry's remark that the terrorist threat to the country is an "exaggeration." Republicans should take up Kerry's challenge to "bring it on" instead of running scared.

Barnes correctly points out that Republicans are unnecessarily panicking now. After the Democratic candidate naturally has a surge during the primary season and Bush has a flat month, many operatives are ready to throw in the towel. It is amazing how short-sighted people with political experience can be.

The best part of Bush's interview with Tim Russert last week was his response to the question of what he would do if he lost. He simply repeated that he won't lose. One wonders if his handlers have that kind of confidence. If they don't start to find some, Bush just might lose. If they do and start to exploit Kerry's weaknesses, he should win comfortably.

The best thing that could happen to Republican operatives is to realize that Kerry is indeed like Michael Dukakis, despite his war record and his protests to the contrary, and exploit that accordingly. The reason the Democrats are making so much of Bush's service record in the National Guard (an issue that was raised but not scrutinized to this degree in 2000) is because they (justifiably) feel vulnerable on this issue. After 9/11, the Democrats can't avoid national security; and they think that if they confine the discussion to each candidate's personal military service, then they will avoid questions about each candidates political record regarding national security. So far, this strategy is working splendidly.

One last thing. "It's the economy, stupid" is unnecessarily continuing to be the battle cry of the Democrats. It's about time the GOP took credit for the staggering growth underway currently.

Bush shouldn't lose this election. But if the Republicans continue to let the Democrats eat their lunch, he will.


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