The NY Times runs a story on an interview conducted with John Kerry. There are two notable things about it: First, he wants to tame the anti-Bush sentiment of the Demos attending the convention. He rightly prefers the convention to highlight himself and what he stands for. That is the way it should be. Everyone will be listening just for that. If he doesn’t succeed in this, the convention will not be to his advantage. Two, he thinks that the 9/11 Commission Report allows him to challenge Bush on his greatest strength, fighting terror. I, however, think the Report puts Kerry at a disadvantage for one large reason: the war on terror (or rather on Islamist terrorism and its ideology--see pp. 361-363 of the Report--as David Brooks, following the Commissions’ usage of the term, prefers to call it) is brought front and center by the Report. And that means that Bush’s greatest strength is enhanced. He is a war president, and he has to be addressed in those terms. The terms of the discussion have shifted in Bush’s favor with the publication of the Report. And it is not sufficient (although necessary) for Kerry to say that he would act quickly to carry out that Commission’s recommendations. So will Bush, details aside for now. The issue that the Report has placed in front of citizens (in case there was any doubt) is that there is a war, a long war that will be fought both here and abroad. This confirms Bush’s position and rhetoric. And this view will now certainly dominate the election, and who is most trusted to fight that war will be elected president. Furthermore, because Congress will act quickly (with Bush’s leadership), there is a good chance that by late October Bush and Kerry will be discussing details of the legislation that will be claiming to put the Report’s recommendations into practice. Advantage to the executive, the one who has been deeply involved in the war, and the legislative actions demanded by the Report and supported by public opinion. Kerry, albeit a U.S. Senator, will be in an awkward position of addressing these issues as if he were an outsider to the process (unless he wants to sit in on committee hearings instead of campaigning, which he won’t).
Kerry: "I can fight a more effective war on terror. I can make America safer. I will bring allies back to our side." If he can persuade the people of this, he has a chance of being elected; but not if all he talks about is bringing allies back to our side. There has to be more. He is more disadvantaged on this issue now than he was two weeks ago and Michael Moore, Richard Clarke, and Joseph Wilson are now cold anchors around his neck rather than the encouragers of the heated passion of the Left, which function they have been serving until now, and which have served Kerry’s interests, until now.
That Kerry has a long way to go in this matter is revealed in the following quote from the New York Times piece on the character of the upcoming Demo convention: "Youre going to see more veterans, more patriotism, more talk about protecting our country, said one senior Democrat who insisted on anonymity in discussing the details of the convention. Youre going to think youre looking a Republican convention."