Monday, April 26, 2004

Kerry medal flap - taking back the initiative

Political Animal writer Kevin Drum discusses the failure of Kerry to get traction on foreign policy. He notes that " think that's exactly right. If the war goes poorly, a lot of people are likely to rally around Bush, not toss him out of office. And that means that if John Kerry wants to win, he has to figure out some genuinely bold and popular foreign policy initiative to identify himself with. But what?"

Well this is something that the oldman has been pushing for a while now, that it won't be enough for Kerry to just show up. Democratic sentiments that Kerry just has to show up and it will be Iraq and the economy that will defeat Bush are sadly proving fairy tales liberals tell their kids.

Meanwhile Kerry is on the defensive about his medals (MSNBC) and he's getting tarred by the media (Talking Points Memo). Instead of whining and calling foul, what Kerry needs to do is to seize the initiative and hit back - hard.

How can he do this?

The problem isn't that Bush is stealing Kerry's ideas, it's that Kerry has no ideas. Clinton had more ideas than Kerry, way more. Even Gore had more ideas. People laughed at them, but they were ideas - like the "lockbox" idea for one.

What about one idea for Kerry? How about criticizing Bush for appointing Negroponte - not because of his past misdeeds - but about his lack of expertise. The Bush Admin is appointing someone with no post-war reconstruction or pacification experience. That immediately creates an opportunity for Kerry.

He can say he's serious about Iraq because he'll appoint somebody with experience. It could be anybody with experience - Anthony Zinni or Wesley Clark - that has the kind of know-how and background to get this job done. That'll then put Bush in a bind, he'll either have to stick with Negroponte who clearly has no experience, or he'll have to find a pretext to dump him.

Either way the initiative will be Kerry's, and he won't be on the defensive like this stupid medals flap. Would that GWB have earned a silver star and a bronze star in the first place to throw them away.

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