Saturday, September 04, 2004

Kerry could get mauled here...

Post-convention numbers from Time and Newsweek have Bush leading Kerry 54% to 43% among likely voters. November's a long way off but the conventions are done now and these poll numbers can't be dismissed.

What's happened? One thing is that the Swift Boat Veteran ads, attacking Kerry's war record, have worked. Kerry didn't respond quickly enough and he counted on the fact that the Swifties were lying to make the whole thing blow over. Now, he's responded but, too late and it's keeping him off-message. The message should be that Bush is the most inept President in American History, bar none.

Bush has horrible record. Kerry must attack it. Kerry's the challenger, here. The challenger has to be on the offensive. It's amazing that it's come to this. Bush is the most vulnerable sitting President to stand for reelection since... well, since his father stood for reelection. Kerry really shouldn't be this far behind.

The Democrats need to ignore focus groups who say they don't like "negative" campaigns -- people actuallly do like negative campaigns, they just don't want to sound crass when they're answering questions from pollsters. Attack, get dirty. I want to hear about how Bush and Cheney have more DWI citations than Kerry has purple hearts. Kerry's 527 pals should be buing ads calling Dick Cheney an unreformed alcoholic. They should be buying ads about how Bush ued his family's political connections to get him into the National Guard and to keep him out of Viet Nam.

And, certainly, Kerry's campaign needs to respond quickly to every lie uttered by the Republicans. If they attack his war record, the charges must be answered within an hour. If they say, as Zell Miller did, that Kerry voted against the F-14 fighter and the M-1 tank, then the Kerry campaign needs to point out that it was Dick Cheney, as Bush 41's Secretary of Defense, who asked for those programs to be voted down.

Remember Dukakis. Bush's father accused Dukakis of being clinically depressed, of being soft on crime and of being married to a woman who burned an American flag at a demonstration. All lies. But they all stuck.

Kerry needs to take every charge and barb, no matter how ridiculous, seriously. And he needs to tar Bush and Cheney too.


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