Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy HalloWeen!

Bushies, don't get spooked by scary Kerry, aka the ghost of Jimmy Carter.

Get even.

Courtesy of Instapundit reader Pamela Barbey.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Hoax Update

The disingenuous pranksters at Yes Bush Can are e-mailing bloggers again to announce they switched their “endorsement” from Bush to Kerry. Guys, you and your role models Al Franken and Michael Moore owe whatever success you achieve to gullibility on the left, not on the right.

Their message reads:
"A week ago, we sent you an email asking for help debunking anti-Bush documents. After receiving hundreds of responses, it become clear that all the documents were actually real: the Bush/Cheney DUIs, the Ken Lay letters, and even the bin Laden memo. For more information visit the documents page: We also received hundreds of emails from concerned bloggers that eloquently expressed the problems with the Bush administration. And as we traveled across America campaigning for Bush, we learned more than we wanted to know about Bush's policies. We came to see that this administration is a catastrophe for most people. As a result, we are abandoning our support of Bush and officially endorsing John Kerry for President. You can read more at the Yes Bush Can web site: We deeply regret our misguided support and apologize for our previous email. This will be the last email we will send directly to bloggers. If you want to join us in supporting Kerry, you can find out more here: Thank you for your understanding, Yes Bush Can"

Oh, I think we all understand.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

First in Her Class

Presidential elections never center on the Vice President or First Lady, but you learn a lot about a candidate from the two most important personal choices he can make: his life mate and his running mate. With self-restraint bordering on the monkish, I have devoted only two posts to the inestimable Mr. Cheney. I did plan to write about Laura Bush closer to the election, but the new quotes from Zsa Zsa, I mean Teresa Heinz Kerry, have inspired me to seize the day.

I luv Laura. Not l-o-v-e, of course, an emotion reserved for people I have actually known, but I feel a warm visceral connection every time I see her. She is such a pretty lady from the inside out, radiating grace, dignity and humility. She strikes me as our most purely all-American First Lady in at least a generation.

To watch her reading to children is to understand the sacrifice she made as a new wife who walked away from her dream career. She seems like a natural-born educator with her even modulation and patient posture, and she did identify her calling early in life. I think some of the most effective teachers, especially those at lower grade levels, are aglow with a benevolence that I call the Good Witch Glinda effect. Laura Bush has it.

I am not moved to defend her just because we are both members of the library sisterhood, although she does us proud. More than a tireless advocate for literacy, she exemplifies a lot of the family values that many women admire. She seems smart, strong, loyal, nurturing, protective, and very loving. She has been a teacher, librarian, mother of twins, wife of an ambitious man, and role model to millions. Most women appreciate her hard work and self-denial for the sake of her family. Most women can relate to her experiences and choices. The fact that Teresa Heinz Kerry feels superior is not news, but for her to demean the woman who holds the position she covets is another ugly precedent in a campaign that is unprecedented for its ugly precedents.

When you are in a healthy, happy relationship yourself, you recognize the same behavior in others. The genuinely affectionate and respectful way George and Laura treat each other in public feels instantly familiar to my husband and me. They serve as a conspicuous contrast to the Kerrys, a complex couple who share a love of their own voices. The last time we had a complex couple of narcissists in the White House, the country was dragged through a sordid drama that forced parents to answer uncomfortable questions about cigars and stained dresses.

The first eight months of the Bush 43 administration are obscured by that infamous day in September. But I recall a collective sense of relief that normality and responsibility had returned to the highest office in the land. Laura Bush reminds me how far we have come and how much we have to lose.

If Teresa Heinz Kerry has forgotten what a really big job looks like, maybe this will nudge her memory.

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Wrong Man at the Wrong Time

Hugh Hewitt asks: Why vote for Bush and what’s wrong with Kerry?

John Kerry is half-right in one sense. This is a single-issue election about getting more of the same. Based on experience, you can reasonably expect that a re-elected Bush will renew the foreign and domestic policy goals he pursued in his first term. His campaign has been a continuation of his record of four years. With Bush, what you see is what you get.

Kerry’s campaign has been a string of unresolved inconsistencies alternately true to and at odds with his twenty-year record of raising taxes while undercutting national defense. Based on experience, you can reasonably expect that a President Kerry will be both liberal and inconsistent, i.e. more of the same. With Kerry, you can believe his election year promises or you can believe your lying eyes.

The single issue for Bush supporters is that we must win the war on terror now. The single issue for Kerry supporters is that we must replace George W. Bush with a Democrat now. There are a slew of other issues of varying degrees of import in the national campaigns and on ballots throughout the land. But they all add up to a hill of ash when a jihadist drops a dirty bomb on your neighborhood.

John Kerry told New York Times Magazine that 9/11 did not change him, his approach to terrorism or his opinion that it is a containable "nuisance," implying that a certain level of terrorism is acceptable. His chief advisors are holdovers from the Clinton administration, which portends that the Kerry years could be 1998-2000 all over again. You may recall that Clinton, in response to terrorist attacks on our interests abroad, authorized missile strikes, got gun shy after a few setbacks and then kicked the can down the road.

There is nothing in Kerry’s record, policies or character that suggests he is prepared to ride out the inevitable setbacks in the war on terror. When President Kerry gets spooked and calls a time-out, we already know the terrorists won’t take their balls and go home. If you don’t think that’s a likely outcome, just ask the anti-war voters why Kerry’s their guy.

Kerry would like to redefine Bush’s gritty resoluteness as inflexible stubbornness and his consistency as a lack of nuance, but those are the two qualities that reassure Americans no terrorist can rest easy on Bush’s watch. When your home and family are under assault, you don’t want the police officer that comes to your door to be a weak-kneed braggart who boasts about his honors at the Academy to compensate for his lack of accomplishment since. You want an experienced cop who will apprehend the bad guys and make sure they never threaten your safety again.

If you want to know which candidate the terrorists fear, just watch what they do in these final days to influence our election like they did in Spain. My hunch is that they gave a free pass to Afghanistan and Australia for a bigger payoff in Iraq or here, if they can pull it off. As valuable as the coalition support has been, John Howard and Tony Blair cannot wage this war successfully without our full commitment and our enemies know it. If we lose this battle and Kerry wins the election, the costs of recovering later will be much greater than 9/11.

Four More Years

When Luis and I married on October 18, 2000, I was an obsessive political junkie and he was fascinated by history, not current events. I pledged to love, honor and share the remote control. That last part was a conditional vow, as he soon learned.

We wed a little more than two weeks before the general election. "I'll stop watching the news every night and all weekend long," I promised with honorable intentions at the time, "after the election is over." How was I to know the election would last until December? By that time, I was delighted to relinquish the TV controller as we were both heartily sick of the Florida controversy.

Four months later Luis went to work in an environment dominated by well-informed GOP activists, further awakening his civic sensibilities. Then came September 11th, which transformed my husband’s worldview to such a degree that he has considered running for elective office someday. This election he is persuading more undecided voters to support Bush than I am. We are a big, happy family of political junkies, but we do have one television per person, just in case.

Aside from the birth of my son, whom Luis has taken on as his own, these have been the very best times. I think we mesh so nicely because we share values, a powerful devotion and an irreverent sense of humor, the antidote for a lot of ailments. Luis has a mime-like gift for graceful physical comedy and makes me laugh when I would rather cry. He is remarkably free of neuroses and helps me focus on all my wonderful blessings. He is a loving family man who wears responsibility and commitment with elan. He is wise and perceptive beyond his years.

He sat beside me during chemotherapy sessions. He bolstered our son and me with his unfailing strength. He comforted us when my sister died unexpectedly. He moved my handicapped brother from Florida back to California and welcomed him into our home. I cannot imagine life without him. He makes my life worth fighting for.

On this, our fourth, anniversary, Luis and I have agreed to give it a try for four more years, God willing. I am the luckiest woman in the world.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Blogger Hoax

Yesterday I received the message below at my blog e-mail address:

"RatherGate proved that bloggers are the best fact checkers. That is why we are writing to a few bloggers asking for help. Yes Bush Can has collected several documents that are clearly suspect. But we need your help to prove they are fake: Let's spring to action before these documents needlessly tarnish the reputation of our Commander and Chief. You know the drill: analyze the handwriting, search for factual errors, and post your discoveries. And keep us posted by sending email to Thanks in advance for your help. YesBushCan"

This smelled fishy to me, so I checked out their web site, which features a campaign to reinstate the draft among other evidence of their real motives. A Google search reveals this as an anti-Bush group clearly inspired by Michael Moore that L.A. Weekly describes as "pranksters."

At best this is a lame promotional hoax, but at worst it is a dirty trick to collect documents to harm the Bush-Cheney campaign (you know, those damaging secret memos all the bloggers are hiding under their mattress). Please pass this warning along to your friends in the blogosphere.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

There's Something about Kerry: Hugh Hewitt Symposium #3

The predatory treatment of Mary Cheney by John Kerry, John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards and Mary Beth Cahill reveals the path they have chosen and it’s not the high road. Two men in need of a heart and a soul took a wrong turn off the yellow brick road and mired themselves in a slough of despond. That can happen when your moral compass gets rusty.

Because our society attaches special value to family, we observe certain invisible boundaries in our private lives and public institutions. We all know someone who complains about their spouse or their children but, even if we agree, we are too respectful to join the criticism. When parents let their children become disruptive nuisances, we might be tempted to meddle but we bite our tongues instead. You could say we cherish families more than free speech. In breaching the privacy of the Vice President's daughter in the most public way, John Kerry crossed a line most of us take great care to avoid crossing.

Dick and Lynne Cheney have the right of family to invoke their daughters in public if they so choose. Michael and Ron Reagan have the right of family to invoke their father in support of their contrary positions on embryonic stem cell research. John Kerry’s unauthorized appropriation of the private life of Mary Cheney, whom he knows barely if at all, was as unseemly and out-of-bounds as his political exploitation of the personal tragedy suffered by Ronald Reagan, about whom Kerry had few kind words when he was alive.

The targeting of Mary Cheney by the upper echelons of the Kerry campaign appears to be a political calculation based on questionable premises. First and foremost, Mary Cheney serves as her father’s campaign manager, not as his gay outreach liaison. If she has opinions on same-sex marriage, she has not announced them nor designated a spokesperson in the Kerry campaign.

The Democrats must presume that their gay supporters will not object if Kerry and Edwards treat Mary Cheney like human bait while essentially echoing Bush’s stand on same-sex marriage. Undoubtedly there are those who delight in outing their own to make a point, especially if he or she is politically conservative as I noted earlier. Some of his supporters in the gay community, as in the anti-war crowd, might well believe that Kerry is paying lip service to moderate positions now and will make liberal policy to their liking later.

Kerry’s cynical strategy assumes that those who honestly share Bush’s opposition to same-sex marriage are right-wing Christian fundamentalist homophobes who would balk at a lesbian connection to the bottom half of their preferred ticket. A February 2004 poll taken in Massachusetts, the most liberal state, found that a majority there opposed same-sex marriage and an April follow-up indicated that a majority supported Governor Romney's efforts to stay the court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. If Kerry is a shoo-in to win his home state and a majority of its inhabitants are against same-sex marriage, what does that say about the contempt he feels for his own constituents?

In my world, the Cheneys’ pride in both their daughters is the rule and not the exception. With parents as loving and supportive as they seem to be, all God’s children can grow up unafraid of being themselves, safe from the kind of stigma John Kerry was seeking to manipulate with the crassest of intentions.

There’s something about Kerry that seems artificial, venal, heartless, soulless, bloodless. That was the lasting image of Kerry captured by the camera during the final presidential debate. No amount of money can help him take that snapshot out of circulation.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Sexual McCarthyism Regurgitated

I was disgusted but not surprised that cynical opportunist John Kerry would find an excuse to invoke Mary Cheney in a highly public forum. Maybe it’s just me, but I detected a similar sniff of self-satisfied righteousness in his tone on at least two occasions, during the first and last debates, when he alluded to the colorful Bush twins. No doubt many Kerry supporters who consider themselves humane and open-minded are congratulating their side for exposing the so-called hypocrisy of the so-called family values ticket while scaring away some of those so-called extremist homophobic right-wing religious zealots that form Bush’s so-called voting base. Ironically, Andrew Sullivan is now one of them.

Sullivan is a founding father of the blogosphere, a prodigiously gifted writer and editor, and an often forceful advocate of a humanistic libertarianism that appeals to some conservatives, including me. If weblogs are the most personal form of modern public writing, Sullivan is in large part responsible for breaking down barriers between writer and reader. To read his blog, as I used to do daily, was to gain an almost unfiltered glimpse into the workings of a grand intellect and a conflicted soul. More often than not, Andrew would successfully balance reason with emotion without sacrificing clarity or descending into propaganda.

From 2001 until 2003, Andrew Sullivan built a comprehensive case for pre-emptive action in the war on terror, an amicus brief in defense of the Bush doctrine. His support was neither blind nor uncritical but consistently pro-Bush. Suddenly last winter, when same-sex marriage first seemed like an imminent possibility, Sullivan started holding a fire sale on his well-documented principles and positions. He seems determined to lash out at many of his patient friends in the blogosphere, except for Christopher Hitchens with whom he recently appeared on Tim Russert’s weekend show on CNBC (the transcript is fascinating). Andrew’s blog has grown so incoherent and colicky that it depresses me to read it more than once a week.

Perhaps I have no right, but I expect Andrew to remember that there are malicious ways to expose someone who has already come out to an audience of his or her choosing and that to do so is a breach of privacy he termed sexual McCarthyism. When it happened to him, Sullivan recognized it immediately as payback for the audacity of an openly gay person to be politically conservative and an attempt to shake his supporters on the right. Both assaults, first on Andrew Sullivan and presently on Mary Cheney, came from the secular left.

The new Andrew Sullivan sees homophobic Christians under every bed. I miss the old Andrew Sullivan who used to know who Bush really is and lives now only in internet archives.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Enter Stage Left

Don’t let the headlines fool you. Tony Blair is truly an unapologetic liberal in every sense. His domestic agenda is to the left of the 2004 Democrat platform, but his foreign policy was as transformed by September 11th as if the attack had been on his soil. Like President Bush, he has been challenged by opponents to admit misrepresenting the evidence that Saddam Hussein harbored WMDs. Perhaps buoyed by John Howard’s resounding victory, today he is credited with this timely quote: "What I do not in any way accept is that there was any deception by anyone. I will not apologise [sic] for removing Saddam Hussein. I will not apologise for the conflict. It was right then, is right now and is essential for the wider security of the region and the world."

The principles of modern American liberalism were crystallized during Vietnam, tested in the failed policies of Jimmy Carter, proven historically irrelevant by Ronald Reagan, and cast out of the people’s House in 1994. The movement has not evolved much in thirty-five years, unless you consider Howard Dean an improvement over Ramsey Clark. Theirs remains the lexicon of the 1960s and 1970s: "quagmire," "exit strategy," "think globally, act locally," and "conflict" instead of war.

After America was attacked on December 7, 1941, movement liberals largely abandoned the isolationist pacifism of "America First." After September 11th, movement liberals largely embraced the global pacifism of "Blame America First." Nowadays we must look abroad to find liberal leaders with unabashed confidence in democracy and an unshakable commitment to the defense of freedom.

Candidate Kerry has straddled absurdly inconsistent positions to the right and left of George W. Bush, but the record proves Senator Kerry is consistently liberal and has been certified as such by the National Journal. This year he wants to convince us that he can wave the two-fingered salute signifying V-for-victory-in-Iraq, but we all know it’s really a peace sign.

Much has been rightly made of Kerry’s admission in the New York Times Magazine that he misses the days when terrorism was viewed as a nuisance, like gambling and prostitution, and his goal is to restore that mindset and policy. This opinion, expressed confidently and clearly, is obviously genuinely his own.

I find this excerpt from his interview with Matt Bai equally revealing.

"A row of Evian water bottles had been thoughtfully placed on a nearby table. Kerry frowned.

‘Can we get any of my water?’ he asked Stephanie Cutter, his communications director, who dutifully scurried from the room. I asked Kerry, out of sheer curiosity, what he didn’t like about Evian.

‘I hate that stuff,’ Kerry explained to me. ‘They pack it full of minerals.’

‘What kind of water of you drink?’ I asked, trying to make conversation.

‘Plain old American water,’ he said.

‘You mean tap water?’

‘No,’ Kerry replied deliberately. He seemed now to sense some kind of trap. I was left to imagine what was going through his head. If I admit that I drink bottled water, then he might say I’m out of touch with ordinary voters. But doesn’t demanding my own brand of water seem even more aristocratic? Then again, Evian is French - - important to stay away from anything even remotely French.

‘There are all kinds of waters,’ he said finally. Pause. ‘Saratoga Spring.’ This seemed to have exhausted his list. ‘Sometimes I drink tap water,’ he added."

Terry McAuliffe is probably thinking, "There goes the Sparkletts vote."

To summarize, a sympathetic interviewer was left to imagine a complex inner calculation to explain why the man who would be the leader of the free world could not handle a no-brainer question about bottled water.

When you are true to your convictions, life is less complicated because you don’t need to keep your stories straight and you can simply be yourself. If you are uncomfortable with your real self and your convictions, even the easiest questions will trip you up. Keep this in mind when you watch the final presidential debate tonight.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Character Tells

My son asked me recently why so many on the left are rabidly irrational about President Bush and my answer was a history lesson, as he probably expected. The evolution of the core values that define the modern Democrat and Republican parties can be traced to two concurrent developments in the middle of the twentieth century. During a decades-long lock on both houses of Congress, the left drifted into a sense of entitlement to political power and expanded their constituency by redistributing the spoils of power. As the beltway minority, the right gradually became the party of ideas as propounded by William F. Buckley, introduced into national politics by Barry Goldwater, and cemented as mainstream opinion by Ronald Reagan.

Bill Clinton presided over the decade in which the Democrats lost their monopoly on the federal government. His response typically was to create not an ideology of the left but a strategy to discredit the right by distortion and deception. I think that is why we see today healthy discussion among conservatives of every prefix about policy and ideology and an unhealthy obsession on the left to support almost anyone who can remove the Republicans from power.

One worthy heir to Buckley’s mantle is Hugh Hewitt, the prolific and influential voice of the center right blogosphere who is hosting a virtual think tank with a series of symposia on the 2004 presidential election. Hugh poses this question: "What do Kerry's answers to today's press inquiries tell us about Kerry's worldview and character?"

At his meeting on October 7, 2004 with a few reporters, Kerry tried to score a quick and dirty hit by analogizing Bush’s war on terror in Iraq to Lebanon of the early 1980s. Kerry did not present an argument to support his analogy, which falls apart upon examination of the facts. The circumstances in Lebanon and Iraq were, are fundamentally different.

In an era of Cold War and Middle East tensions three years after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and one year after President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt was assassinated for making peace with Israel, a multinational coalition including France and the United States deployed troops to stabilize the government of Lebanon, where Palestinians used refugee camps as their base of operations to attack Israel. Syria, a Soviet client state at the time, sent forces to destabilize the Lebanese government while Israeli fighters chased Palestinian insurgents back into Lebanon. The terrorist attacks on our embassy and troops there may have been the first strike in the jihadist war against America, but what is clearer in hindsight certainly was not evident in 1982 and 1983.

Anyway, Kerry just wants another unquestioned talking point, not an honest discussion that might reveal how America under Bush is finally responding to more than two decades of terrorist attacks, including those in Lebanon. Like Clinton, Kerry is a "pragmatist," which means polls are more important than convictions. Kerry is all about talking and not much about doing. And some of his talking may be doing actual harm to our troops.

President Bush has said repeatedly, “Committing troops into harm's way is the most difficult decision a President can make.” John Kerry is only running for president, but some contend that he put troops in harm’s way at least once since he returned from combat in Vietnam. The Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth claim that Kerry’s Winter Soldier activities while they were prisoners of war and accusations of U. S. atrocities, of which many have been proven false, led to physical and mental torture by their sadistic captors. This is an argument they have a right to make. If true, Kerry did not learn or does not care that words have consequences.

In the years since Kerry appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to allege war crimes of which he had no personal knowledge, the substance of his rhetoric has changed but not the highly inflammatory style. Then he testified that U.S. soldiers "with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command" behaved "in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan." Now he declares that “a coalition of the bribed and coerced” is waging “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time,” which could turn out to be another Lebanon.

At a minimum Kerry’s choice of language undermines our foreign policy now as it did in 1971. At worst his words could be exploited to endanger troops and civilians in harm’s way. The American right to free speech is indisputable, but a leader whose every word is scrutinized “in the globe or elsewhere” has unique responsibilities. One is to protect and defend the national interest to the detriment of his personal agenda if necessary, which John Kerry has never demonstrated he is capable of doing. This is an argument we have a right to make. Kerry’s words have consequences.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

You Ain't Nothin' But a Blueblood Hound

When John Kerry looked deeply, blinkingly into the camera's eye during Friday's debate, this is what I saw.

"Absolutely. Yes. Right into the camera. Yes. I am not going to raise taxes. "

Here he was personalizing stem cell research.

"I was at the Louvre with Mona Lisa the other day in Paris, who's suffering from Bell's Palsy, and she wants us to do stem cell, embryonic stem cell."

Of all the mirth we could make from the comedy material provided by John Kerry, this is admittedly lowbrow and tacky, kind of like Kerry surveying an audience of strangers in St. Louis and concluding none was capable of earning $200,000 per year.

Friday, October 08, 2004

The Missouri Compromise

If like me you thought the President's debate performance was masterful and convincing, hold that thought. Hold it tightly. The mainstream media are going to try their darnedest to shake it loose.

In St. Louis tonight, Chris Matthews said something honest and instructive, which may never happen again so I guess I’m lucky that I witnessed it. I avoid Matthews as if he were a mosquito carrying the West Nile virus, but his post-debate panels are a useful indicator of how well John Kerry fulfilled the expectations of the left. Matthews asked the crowd framing the MSNBC outdoor set, most waving Kerry-Edwards signs, if they thought John Kerry won the debate (loud cheers) or whether it was a draw (a show of few hands). He asked one of the “drawers” how he arrived at his conclusion. When the young man responded weakly, Matthews cut him short and said, “Oh, you’re like me. When your guy doesn’t do well, you call it a draw.”

This strategy is a harbinger of spin to come, which apparently will spotlight the moment when President Bush brushed off Charlie Gibson. We will hear about Bush’s rudeness and swagger and temper. The liberal media refuse to credit Bush with a victory, so look for the herd mentality to coalesce in time for the Sunday news programs and to declare it a draw by consensus.

If you want to know where the Kerry war room is located, check the press box. Just prior to the debate Matt Drudge posted a memo allegedly written by Mark Halperin, essentially a permission slip for ABC News staff to be unfair and unbalanced in their coverage of Bush in the final weeks of the campaign.

Bush's performance was marked by humor and confidence, the absence of which cost him a victory last week and probably more. This time he kept Kerry on the defensive about his record and inconsistencies for approximately 75 of 90 minutes. Like Bill Clinton in many regrettable ways, Kerry is thin-skinned when his reputation and credibility are challenged. He seemed rattled by some tough questions from the audience and Bush's relentless aggressiveness.

Watching the debate, I was struck by how Bush won over the room. He owned it. The camera captured it and we saw it. Now the liberal media are going to deny it, the same media that let John Kerry lie with impunity.

What happened tonight in Missouri revealed more cracks in the pillars of the Old Media. We expect the party of Clinton and McAuliffe to try to steal the presidential election. We do not expect and must not allow the press to lay down their responsibility and ethics to join them.

Bush vs. the Bogey Man

Political debates are often likened to tennis matches, but Tammy Bruce says they are more akin to golf. The objective is to advance your own game, not to outperform your opponent. Tonight in St. Louis President Bush will be playing on a different course with its own unique hazards but, as any dedicated golfer can tell you, a new day brings the opportunity for a do-over.

To succeed in the debate, President Bush must be himself and John Kerry must be who he wants us to think he is. Bush is a practitioner of the Golden Rule, which means that he could share the stage with a lying sociopath but we won’t hear that from his lips. The trademark Bush compassion is probably an advantage in the town hall format. My impression of Kerry is of a vain man with a hollow biography, a legend in his own mind with a compulsion to spread his robust self-opinion. If that legend is challenged, I expect that Senator Do-You-Know-Who-I-Am will be tempted to rebut every single charge.

Meanwhile Bush has a task that is simple though far from easy, one perfected by Ronald Reagan but well within Bush’s grasp. With humor, confidence and good will, he has to define the Bush doctrine in clear contrast to the Kerry plan while calling Kerry to account for his record of always being on the wrong side of history. Bush needs to block out distractions like bias and spin, which can never completely obscure undeniable truths. Yesterday’s horrifying attacks in Baghdad, Egypt and France are timely reminders that the war on terror is more than a campaign issue to be manipulated by the cynical.

If Bush focuses on his game while drawing Kerry into sand traps of his own making, he may take a mulligan that changes the course of this election.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

That's My Special Boy

It was obvious to me that Dick Cheney would and did win the V. P. debate. I missed his beguiling wit, but his solemn demeanor reinforced the gravitas gap between the Republican and Democrat tickets. Cheney understands better than anyone "not just in the globe, but elsewhere," as John Kerry might say, how serious are the times in which we live – as serious as a ... well, I won't go there.

John Edwards appeared nervous, dry-mouthed and tentative during the foreign policy half of the debate with a few flashes of confidence when asked about domestic issues. His task was to promote John Kerry, cement the impression of leadership Kerry tried to convey during the first presidential debate, and perpetuate any momentum their campaign might have gained. Edwards, I think, seemed a loyal but lightweight running mate.

For the most part, Cheney eviscerated the Kerry charges left unanswered by President Bush while hanging Kerry’s record like a millstone around Edwards’ neck, an effective offensive that Kerry will ignore at his own peril. Cheney provided a feast of talking points that I hope and expect Bush will use in his speech this morning and during Friday’s second presidential debate. Of these, the most memorable may be that Kerry could not stand up to Dean, so how can he stand up to Al Qaeda.

Cheney made news when he drew a direct correlation between the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime, which used to pay the families of suicide bombers for their individual acts of terror, and the subsequent reduction of such attacks in Israel. Cheney also explained the connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq as I hoped, although without much detail about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and no mention of Abu Nidal, Ramzi Yousef or Abdul Rahman Yasin.

Conservatives are so conscious of media bias that we tend to be overly grateful moderator Gwen Ifill was not as one-sided as Jim Lehrer when she deserves criticism for injecting unwarranted conclusions into some of her questions.

In 2000 the media buzz on Cheney was that he brought gravitas to the GOP ticket and they repeated it throughout that campaign ad nauseam. After the debate many of the same pundits seemed surprised by Cheney’s gravitas, which they acknowledged with grudging respect. They have become so irrelevant that even they don’t pay attention to what they write and remark themselves.

The initial spin focused on Cheney’s avowal, which is accurate, that he never linked Iraq to September 11. Ironically, the journalists who appreciate Kerry’s nuanced explanation for voting for the $87 billion military appropriations bill before voting against it fail to comprehend the clear distinction between an Iraq-Al Qaeda connection and an Iraq-September 11th connection.

The Fox News post-debate panel was cautious but unanimous in its praise of Cheney, mindful that the audience was not as large for the Veep showdown and the more critical Kerry-Bush rematch will take place this Friday.

The entire MSNBC panel pronounced Cheney the winner. Joe Scarborough seemed euphoric. Tom Brokaw shocked me by listing a litany of Cheney lines for which Kerry-Edwards will have to answer.

I wanted to watch more of CNN, but Larry King was hosting a panel including David Gergen and Ann Richards. Adios!

On CSPAN2 Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan debated the debate. Traditionally, CSPAN features analysts from both sides of the political spectrum. Which was supposed to represent the right? Both Kaus and Sullivan will be voting for Kerry, but CSPAN's confusion about Andrew can be excused.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Professor and Mary Ann

Tonight's Veep-Wannabe debate might fall short of the statesmanlike lesson in civics and civility that we remember from 2000, but it promises to be my favorite matchup of the four this election year.

Dick Cheney may be the smartest, most commanding politician since Daniel Patrick Moynihan. John Edwards has a full head of hair, a boyish grin and a smooth Southern drawl. Cheney is a human encyclopedia. Edwards is Mr. Congeniality, eclipsed in the primaries by Howard Dean and Al Sharpton.

The Vice President is likely to be on the offensive and prepared for personal questions about Halliburton, Pat Leahy, his health and his gay daughter. I hope he explains the connection between Iraq and Al-Qaeda, which would be a real public service. If Cheney performs as well as I expect, the Democrat and mainstream media spinmeisters (pardon the redundancy) will use his success to ridicule the President’s intelligence. No doubt Edwards and Kerry will escape the Cheney comparisons.

Cheney has a disarming sense of humor, an air of quiet authority and mastery of even the most complex issues. He seems comfortable in his own skin and is extremely bright without being showy. These are but a few reasons that many women find him enormously appealing, myself included.

Humor Advantage: Cheney
Gravitas Advantage: Cheney
Sex Appeal Advantage: Cheney

UPDATE: See? I told you so! (Courtesy of Hindrocket)