Tags: Democrats | Need | Hush

Democrats Need to Hush

Wednesday, 15 September 2004 12:00 AM

John Kerry is finally focused, and he sounds sharp. The polls, for those who insist on them, show the race tightening. What could distort his message is all this insider whining around the Kerry campaign about whether the campaign fought back when it should and who's really in charge - the kind of stuff that can only hurt you.

I've never seen a public blame game quite like this one, especially in the middle of a campaign, especially when I didn't hear any criticism at the Convention, or at the time the swift boat ads themselves aired.

Indeed, I defended Kerry myself day after day on Fox News on that topic without much attention from anybody - none of today's critics were predicting disaster or organizing responses. Given that it was an outside group doing the attack, it could easily have been an outside group responding. Any of them. Or a new one. It took MoveOn.org until the first cycle of ads was over to put up its own ad. So who failed? The campaign, or its supporters?

Publicly criticizing the campaign for not fighting back makes Kerry look like a weak guy who can't run a campaign. This is just the opposite of what Bush did to take the lead. He showed that he was the head of a team of tough guys who came to town. Toughness counts in difficult times. People around the world are afraid of George Bush. They know he means what he says. He takes responsibility. Americans want people who fight back. Bush is credited for fighting back, even if it was the wrong war. There was a reason Kerry emphasized his status as a war hero, and it's because toughness counts in dangerous times.

It also doesn't help Kerry to be seen as blaming his campaign for his failure to respond. What could be more unmanly, the opposite of tough, than to blame the woman? Candidates are expected to take responsibility, not to try to shift it onto their staff.

In short, these are the seven weeks John Kerry will relive for the rest of his life. It will not be determined, in the end, by who's working where and for whom, how many Clintons and Kennedys and Red Sox fans and Yankee fans. He will get all the choices presented. John Kerry will step up to the plate or he won't. But he deserves the best help he can from his party, which includes their commitment to complain only by phone.

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John Kerry is finally focused, and he sounds sharp. The polls, for those who insist on them, show the race tightening. What could distort his message is all this insider whining around the Kerry campaign about whether the campaign fought back when it should and who's really...
Democrats,Need,Hush
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2004-00-15
Wednesday, 15 September 2004 12:00 AM
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