Monday, August 30, 2004

"Iceberg Right Ahead"

Such must be the words of the DNC chairman about the campaign boat captained by John Kerry.  The pundits have long said about Kerry's candidacy that the election is his to lose and he appears at this time to be proving them right.  Two weeks ago I actually felt a kind of stupefying relief that Kerry's approval numbers were good, that Dubya was doomed.  Now it appears that the incompetence of the incompetent president's incompetent advisors does not extend to his relection committee. 

The swift boat debacle over the past week has been a brilliant blitzkrieg of negative campaigning: coming from a GOP activist who had the ear of President Nixon: John O'Neill, author of Unfit for Command.  No matter the reasoned refutation of O'Neill's assertions point by point in the press, online or otherwise, O'Neill isn't appealing to the rational.  His strategy is simply harassment.  Throw the Kerry camp into disarray and confusion, without a clear message and cover the entire Vietnam issue with a thick layer of tarnish.  Use Kerry's service record against him, in any way possible, and above all, keep President Bush out of it.  That way, the president can float above the fray and act presidential.  America is still in denial about the 60's, so much so that even veterans who served honorably cannot count it in their favor.  Such is the cynical irony of Vietnam: those who wisely avoided going there through connections or string-pulling are now seen as having better judgment than those who actually served.

The swift boat strategy seems to be working like gangbusters.  Bush's approval ratings have topped 50% for the first time in months, and this on the eve of the GOP national convention.  Unless the undecideds wake up to the dire reality of four more years of Bush, the worst of which will be a reconstituted Supreme Court so far to the right that it will take a generation to moderate it, then I'm afraid that Bush's chant of four more years will turn out to be prophesy.

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