If John Kerry ends up loosing the election, Democrats can mark this day on their calendar as the beginning of the end. Kerry’s speech today marks the point where he acknowledges that he has lost the carefully cultivated control of his Vietnam story.
BOSTON (AP) – John Kerry fought back Thursday against campaign allegations that he exaggerated his combat record in Vietnam, accusing President Bush of using a Republican front group “to do his dirty work” and challenging Bush to debate their wartime service records.
“Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: Bring it on,” said the Democratic presidential candidate, reviving an old war and campaign slogan amid strong urging from party leaders for him to respond to two-week-old GOP assertions.
As Kerry denounced the criticism as “lies about my record,” aides privately acknowledged that they and their boss had been slow to recognize the damage being done to his political standing.I’m on record as believing that the Vietnam questions are just a warm-up to revelations about the Kerry’s much more damning post-war activities.
Judicial Watch takes up that tact in filing a request (cached version) with the U.S. Navy and the Defense Department for an investigation into the awards granted to Sen. John Kerry during his service with the U.S. Navy in Vietnam; and Kerry’s anti-war activities, including his meeting with North Vietnamese and Viet Cong delegations in Paris, while a member of the Naval Reserve. BeldarBlog has a more detailed analysis of their charges.
In effect the Kerry camp is admitting that these questions will not go away and the only way to avoid getting trampled in the stampede is to go on the offensive, hence the already tired “Bring It On” theme. The problem is other than Kerry’s awards and 4 1/2 months of combat, there’s not much more there to build a case with. Lying about Cambodia, calling Vietnam veterans war criminals, hooking up with Jane Fonda, attending a VVAW meeting where assassination of Senators was discussed, a fake medal toss… These are not issues that engender a strong fact based offensive.
Today’s Kerry supported attack ad from MoveOn.org (remember which candidate is not on record as opposing ALL 527 organizations, hint – It’s not the President) is the sum total of the ammunition they’ve got. The problem is that the Bush Air National Guard territory was already covered to death earlier this year.
Here’s the kicker from the AP article:
Kerry aides said they will maintain the offensive through surrogates, if not Kerry himself. Democrats welcomed the response.
“Out of desperation, the Bush campaign has picked the wrong fight with the wrong veteran,” said Jim Jordan, former Kerry campaign manager who now runs an outside group airing ads against Bush. “Today’s the start of the mother of all backlashes.”Read between the lines on those two paragraphs. They might better be read as follows:
“The Kerry campaign will use our massive 527 money advantage and lawyers to fight the Senators fight, while he pretends not to be involved and casually condemns ads (knowing that such statements have no practical effect) which go a little over the top.“
As for “the mother of all backlashes,” I’d advise Kerry to watch his own back. These things have a tendency not to have the desired effect…