Kerry Needs To Pounce Now
Several items from the major papers today point out a new opportunity for Kerry, if his media team can only seize it and run with it now. First, as Buffalo Soldier brought to our attention in the Open Thread section, Tom Friedman is jumping off of the Rummy bandwagon now. And Maureen Dowd lights into the Bush Administration with both barrels for their lack of concern and inability to manage.
The Post, in its lead editorial today, seems to place all the blame on Rummy’s head. And Richard Cohen lashes out at the smugness and incompetence of Bush’s team, but spares Bush from any blame himself.
Perhaps just as significantly, John Kerry has crossed the Rubicon of respect with the NYT editorial board for his comments recently about what to do in Iraq. It appears that the ongoing occupation debacle is forcing the NYT and most assuredly other papers and media commentators to take another serious look at Kerry as an alternate foreign policy leader right about now, and that will only help Kerry in the long run.
But in another interesting item within an NYT account of Bush’s displeasure at Rummy, Richard Stevenson and the always White House-friendly Lis Bumiller get this inserted into their story this morning:
Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, has told one Bush adviser that he believes that it will take a generation for the United States to live this scandal down in the Arab world, and that one of the dangers of basing a campaign on national security and foreign policy is that events can be beyond the president's control.
Again, given Bumiller’s access to and friendliness with the White House, this reference is notable, not just for its inclusion, but also within the context of the Rummy trashing going on. For Bumiller and Stevenson to get this into their story, the “Bush adviser” would have had to been given permission by Rove to plant this in the story. And the alleged comment by Rove to a “Bush adviser” paints Rove in an interesting and detached light, as if Rove is being brutally candid with the president that the scandal is not only bad for our relationships in the Arab world (no rocket science work there, Karl), but is also seriously undercutting the main reelection justification that Bush and Rove are running on.
And that points to the opportunity for Kerry. As the NYT has already done, as a result of the cascading problems in Iraq and Bush’s repeated defenses of “I didn’t know” and “it’s not my fault” continue to come out of Scott McClellan’s mouth, other papers will now give Kerry a serious look on the issues of Iraq and foreign policy. These were to be Bush’s signature issues for reelection, yet with every day and every example of incompetence, lack of accountability, and lack of attention demonstrated by this regime, there is a screaming argument to be made that Bush is inept and unfit.
If I were running the Kerry media operation right now, I would interrupt the $25 million ad buy touting Kerry’s biography, and quickly cobble together a commercial with footage of several of the sound bites from Bush and McClellan where the “I didn’t know” or “it wasn’t brought to my attention” defense is used. Several of these tied to 9/11, WMDs, and now the prisoner abuse scandal can be run with sound, and then a voice over can tell voters that its time to restore competence, accountability, and respect to our foreign policy. The commercial will end with Kerry looking into the camera, saying “unlike George W. Bush, I will restore accountability, responsibility, and respect once again to our foreign affairs. It’s time to put the adults back in charge. The world is too dangerous for a detached and disinterested chief executive, served by a group of cabinet officials acting like dysfunctional children. Mr. President, as Harry Truman said, the buck does stop with you. I’m John Kerry, and I proudly approved of this ad.”
Game, set, and match.