Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Gloves Come Off

Unable to wait another minute, President Bush has begun the campaign for reelection. Last night, at a meeting of governors of both parties at the White House, Bush unveiled his stump speech, and began his campaign in earnest, with almost eight months to go before election day.

Bush made it clear that this campaign will be about Kerry's record.
"The other party's nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group with diverse opinions," Bush said. "They're for tax cuts and against them. They're for NAFTA and against NAFTA. They're for the Patriot Act and against the Patriot Act. They're in favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts."
And, there is even a hopeful sign that Kerry is willing to go along. In a statement issued in response to the Bush speech, Kerry averred:
But the American people haven't forgotten this president's failed record, because they have to live with it every day. George Bush's credibility is running out with the American people. They want change in America, and I'm running because I am determined to bring that change and put America back on track.
But no Zero Base Thinker is fooled by this rhetoric. Kerry knows that he has no chance running the antiwar campaign he could have run if he had been in the fray in 1972. The war against Jihadistan is no Vietnam conflict. The people know that in this war, we all live on the front lines. The only reason that Kerry has such a deeply antiwar stance, is that he had to run against Dr. Dean the Scream, who pulled his party so far to the left that they can shake hands with Pat Buchanan and the big "L" libertarians. But even as slimy a creature as John Forbes Kerry will have a very hard time sliding back over to a stance that is in favor of a strong defense. He is still saying things about making the war into a law enforcement operation, and he is still insisting that France and Germany hold veto power over any American use of force. And, he has opposed every significant weapon system that made our vistory so breathtakingly one-sided. These positions are unacceptable to a majority of Americans. Any analysis of Kerry's political career will show that JFK will do everything in his power to appear to be more like his opponent between now and election day, insofar as these mainstream ideas like survival of our culture are concerned. That is why Bush is, indeed he must, make J.F.Kerry's record the central thrust of the campaign. That is also why Kerry is trying to make peripheral issues the centerpiece of his campaign. He wants a debate on what Bush and he were doing during the Viet Nam war, and Bush wants to talk about what the two men have done the last four years, and the next four. Logic says that the Bush strategy will prevail, but logic does not always rule in politics.

There is still a wild card in the woodpile though. Hillary. There is great danger to what Bush is doing vis a vis Hillary Clinton. If Bush succeeds in convincing most Americans that Kerry is a worthless pile of leftist trash too soon, even the democrat leadership may get the idea that they will need a candidate who can pretend that National Security is a priority for them, too. And those who have been paying attention have surely noticed that Hillary has been pretending to be that very thing for several months now. There is danger here that Bush began his campaign too soon. Hillary would make a much more serious opponent. She has many more voters fooled than the rest of them do.

I know that many pundits say that it is too late for a Clinton candidacy now, that it is too late for her to appear on the ballot. Yet, I have this nagging nightmare, in which the convention is deadlocked, and the solons of the left bring out their secret Hillary weapon. I can only hope that Bush and Co. are as smart as they think they are. Hope, and pray.