Sunday, September 19, 2004

Kerry can rally courage in America 

The new RNC talking point is that Al Quaida wants Kerry as president. "If you don't vote for Bush, the terrorists will git you!"
Cheney is saying it, so is Hastert. On the talk shows I watched today the republican senators mumbled that they didn't support it, but they weren't exactly ringing in their condemnation of the new line. And the DNC was sputtering about how outrageous an attack this is.
Gee, how unexpected! How out-of-character it is that the Bush campaign would use an outrageous smear against Kerry!
The example which keeps being used is Spain -- its now an established American meme that Al Quaida wanted the Spanish government defeated and the Spanish people were so scared by terrorism that they caved in.
This is, of course, stupid. It was the LYING that doomed the Anzar government. First this government joined the "coalition of the willing" though 90 per cent of Spaniards opposed to the war. The Spanish people never wanted their sons in harms way in Iraq. But the government lied that the troops and everyone else would be safe. Then came the suicide attacks -- and the government LIED AGAIN, saying that it was not its Iraq policy that was to blame, instead immediately trying to blame the Basque separatists . This fiction fell apart within a few days. The Spanish people were so angry that they turned out to vote in record numbers and threw the liars out in disgust.
That said, this "terrorists will win if you vote for Kerry" argument could be powerful in a nation which as frightened and demoralized as the United States is today. Four out of ten are still convinced that Iraq was behind 9/11. And some duct-taped their houses as the beginning of the Iraq War, so convinced were they that an attack by Saddam or Al Quaeda or someone was imminent.
Kerry has to turn his boat into this attack head-on -- just complaining about how unfair this is won't be enough.
He can continue what he is already saying -- that he will be more ferocious and more effective than Bush has been in tracking down Al Quaida directly.
He could add that he won't outsource the war on terror to Pakistan and Indonesia while American soldiers are tied down as the palace guard in Iraq. The likely debacle of the Afganistan elections in October will help, by demonstrating to the American people that the war against the Taliban is still going on. And if Howard loses in Australia, this will dispute the Spain myth. And he could remind people that while Bush was avoiding his flight physical, Kerry was leaping out of his Swiftboat and tracking down the Vietcong who was shooting at his buddies.
He can also rally the courage of the American people. For three years, "be afraid, be very afraid" has been the motto of the Bush administration, because they believe that fearful Americans would not oppose them. Kerry can inspire America to courage, the same way as he rallied his "band of brothers" in Vietnam.

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