Thus far, President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign has spent around $70 million on advertising. The campaign has run some pretty ads, most of which tried to paint John Kerry into a corner as a tergiversant.
The result? When you Google the word “waffle,” John Kerry’s name comes up. Yipee. Pop a cork. Meanwhile, according to whichever polls can be believed, President Bush is 3 to 16 points behind arguably the most liberal Senator in America. The “flip-flop” labeling of John Kerry was a $70 million (and counting) rabbit hole that jeopardizes the re-election prospects of President George W. Bush.
Don’t get me wrong. Calling out Kerry’s flip-floppery did provide great blogging fun and it made for hours of entertaining talk radio, care of the Sean Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs. But it has barely scratched public perceptions of Kerry’s qualification for public office.
It’s important to note many voters consider it a plus that a potential president can alter his positions to adjust to political fluctuations. You know who flip-flopped a lot? Ronald Reagan. He was tough on the Commies, then he would back off and negotiate, be tough, then negotiate some more. It caused the third greatest president in U.S. history (tip of the hat to the original GW and Honest Abe) to contradict himself too often for many conservatives.
The re-election campaign has missed a tremendous opportunity to define John Kerry’s policy on the war in Iraq. The Kerry war plan accepts as its premise that the Iraqi people are ungovernable savages and American forces will have to be in Iraq for an indeterminable (read: very long) amount of time.
Kerry goes so far as to call the June 30th transfer of power a “fiction.” He also foolishly contends our fictional “allies” will carry a considerable amount of the burden for us — which will never happen and isn’t desirable.
In short, Kerry promises a longer conflict in Iraq with more U.S. dead. Yet, you wouldn’t know that from casually following the news. Even the astute fellows at the estimable Weekly Standard have erroneously opined that Kerry is prepared to leave Iraq in short order. Not true.
The message hasn’t burned through because Republicans have been too busy pouring that $70 million down the flip-flop rabbit hole and not holding Kerry accountable for his unworkable, unrealistic, deadly plans for Iraq should he even get near the Oval Office.
If the Bush people alter their attacks against Kerry in the manner suggested here, it would have another key effect on the race, aside from disqualifying him among some undecided voters: it would help Ralph Nader.
Currently, Kerry is the beneficiary of the anti-war Left’s hatred for Bush. And yet, Kerry is not anti-war. He voted for the war. He wants to send more troops. And under a Kerry presidency, American troops would actually be in Iraq longer than they would under the current White House tenant.
The problem is, the Bush people haven’t forced Kerry into a situation in which he must either offend lefty anti-American sensibilities or the pro-American sensibilities of normal voters. But if the Bush folks make hay over Kerry’s war plans, a small (and all we need is a small) portion of the Bush-hating, anti-war vote may grow dispirited and vote for Nader.
There is no need to panic. There is more time to change the debate. Next week, Kerry will get specific in three speeches about how he would stop terrorism. If after every speech, the RNC and the re-elect campaign issues a bunch of flip-flop talking points, you’ll know they haven’t learned their lesson. But if after every speech they tell Americans precisely why the Kerry plan, such as it is, will result in more U.S. deaths and a less-secure America, then maybe the good guys can begin to regain some ground.
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