Saturday, May 14, 2005

How I Feel About Kos's Attacks

Kos attacked Kerry for the third time on Thursday but once again failed to raise a meaningful argument against him. (Also see my recent related comments on Kos and in defense of Kerry here, here, here, and here).

As he has done so often since the beginning of the primary race, Kos has chosen to invent straw men to attack rather than offering any real criticism of Kerry's record or statements. As he did earlier in the week, Kos invented a quote Kerry never said, falsely claiming Kerry is calling himself an outsider, and then mocks Kerry for this. Kos uses the same tactics as we have seen from Rove and company, repeating the same lie until it is accepted as fact. The Boston Globe wrote a story about Kerry speaking out against Congress under the control of DeLay and Frist. It was the Boston Globe, not Kerry, who used this criticism of the Republican controlled Congress, which I would think Kos should applaud, to use the term outsider.

Kos's claim that Kerry's message was limited to electability is no more true than the outsider quotes invented by Kos. In his comparison to the other candidates, Kos confuses slogans for true message. We were choosing a President, not a winner on American Idol. The people of Iowa and New Hampshire had the opportunity to take a very close look at the candidates, and at the end of the day the people of both states chose John Kerry. This was based upon what Kerry had to say on the issues, and on his credentials, not based merely upon claims of being electable.

We are facing difficult problems, and of the candidates only John Kerry had the experience on both domestic and foreign policy to take on a sitting President. No matter how good the slogan, and no matter what other favorable attributes each candidate processed, none of the other candidates could match Kerry in experience or knowledge of the issues.

John Kerry could balance opposing an unjust war with strong credentials on defense, including having warned about the dangers of terrorism years before the 9/11 attacks. John Kerry could offer solutions for the health care crisis favorable to small business without resorting to the over-regimented big government program of Hillary Clinton which cost the Democrats their control of Congress. John Kerry balanced an underlying understanding of the benefits of free trade with the willingness to reevaluate treaties to reduce the problems of lost jobs. None of the candidates could match John Kerry's experience in these matters and others, both on foreign and domestic policy.

While Kos is wrong that nobody loved John Kerry, Kerry did win a different type of support than the other candidates based upon a respect for his actual credentials and record. While many newcomers (as well as too many in the establishment to take Dean seriously as a true outsider) supported the new guys on the block, many understood that John Kerry alone had the grasp of the issues to make him our strongest choice. Supporters of other candidates often projected their views upon their candidate without even realizing that their candidate's positions were less liberal than Kerry's. For example, many supporters of Howard Dean were in denial over Dean's positions on Medicare, or worse, developed arguments justifying Medicare cuts to defend Dean. More recently Dean has come under attack from those who finally have realized that he is not the far left anti-war candidate they believed him to be. After the election, it has been John Kerry who has insisted that we stick to our principles and not try to imitate the right to attract voters on the so-called morals issues.

Kos attacked Kerry for losing, claiming it was his race to lose. That is hardly true when running against an incumbent, especially during war. This race was always George Bush's to win or lose. Bush squeaked by based upon a combination of the inherent advantages of incumbency, fooling voters into believing he was keeping them safe from terrorism, bringing out enough new religious conservative voters to balance out the Democratic get out the vote effort, voter suppression, and the use of the Republican noise machine to distort Kerry's positions and record--in a way remarkably similar to what Kos had done during the primaries and post-election.

Sure, Kerry made mistakes, but every campaign has multiple decisions to make and it is impossible to be correct every time. Every campaign makes what appear to be mistakes in retrospect, although there is no guarantee that if Kerry had done anything different the result would have changed. I am far more concerned with the undermining of Kerry's candidacy by the multiple falsehoods spread by people like Kos, as the attacks of the primaries provided ample ammunition for Karl Rove in the general election campaign. The negativity and hatred seen at his site also provide ammunition for conservatives. We are in a battle to win over the hearts and minds of people who are not yet totally committed to either party. While the ranting at Kos appeals to his regular readers, links to Kos on conservative sites actually provide reasons for others to mistrust liberal thought. It is possible to take a principled stand against an unjust war, crony capitalism, violations of separation of church and state, government corruption, and infringements upon civil liberties without resorting to posts which far too often are composed of insults and show a lack of serious thought or logic.

Kos relies on the fact that we have no way to compare how the other candidates would have done if they had won the nomination, although their failure to beat Kerry in the primaries suggests they would not have done as well. Howard Dean, who had Kos on his payroll during the primary battles when Kos first began his smears against Kerry, had all of Kerry's electoral negatives and more. Dean's transformation from a centrist Governor to a candidate from "the Democratic wing of the Democratic party," followed by his likely move to the center in a general election campaign would have made the perennial Republican charges of flip flopping even easier. If Bush managed to win on comparisons of military records compared to Kerry, they would have had an even easier time against someone who did not serve. There would have been no need for the Swift Boat Liars, unless they decided to launch Aspen Skiers for Truth to tarnish Dean's skiing ability. They would have had an even easier time demonizing the more secular Dean, who even had signed the civil unions law, as compared to the far more religious John Kerry.

Kos claims that Kerry was unloved, but this is contradicted by the degree of support seen by Kerry in response. In addition to the responses to Kos's posts, there is the rebuttal from William Pitt, diaries such as this one at Kos,and blogs such as Patriot Diaries, Tough Enough, Independents for Kerry, and Upper Left.


Blogger BobsAdvice said...


Thank you for your excellent contribution to this discussion.


8:46 PM  

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