Dems Drop the Ball Again
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So the Democrats have chosen Virginia Governor Tim Kaine to deliver the party's response to President Bush's State of the Union speech. Chalk up another one for the What the Hell Are They Thinking? file.
On the same day that Osama Bin Laden's chilling warnings make it Red Alert clear that Bush's obsession with Iraq has not made us safer here at home -- and, indeed, has caused us to take our eye off the real enemy -- the Dems decide that the charge against Bush shouldn't be led by someone who can forcefully articulate why the GOP is not the party that can best keep us safe, but by someone whose only claim to fame is that he carried a red state. Talk about clueless.
The Democrats don't seem to know what the Republicans do know: that the GOP is losing ground on its core issue of national security. That's why Bush is planning to shift his State of the Union focus away from Iraq and onto an attack on rising health care costs. And the re-emergence of the architect of 9/11 -- promising to bring further death and destruction to our door, and touting Iraq's help as an al-Qaeda recruiting tool -- can only further weaken Bush's national security standing.
So why don't the Democrats have the guts to aggressively go after Bush on the issue?
I know I've said this before and before, but the Democrats will never become the majority party until they can prove to the American people that they have a better plan for keeping us safe. And that means having someone like Jack Murtha give the State of the Union response -- someone with the authority to make the point that, on every level, Iraq is the wrong priority. And that the hundreds of billions already spent on Iraq (and the countless billions to come) would be better spent shoring up our ports, roadways, railways, securing our nuclear installations and chemical plants, and properly supporting our first responders.
Don't ask me why, but I actually watched Kaine's inaugural address on C-SPAN, and I was stunned to hear him dare compare the cause of Virginians like Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson to our cause in Iraq: "They stood here at a time, just as today, when Virginians serving freedom's cause sacrificed their lives so that democracy could prevail over tyranny."
Iraq as a war to ensure that democracy can prevail over tyranny is George Bush's talking point. God help us if it's also the talking point of the man the Democrats have chosen to respond to him after the State of the Union.
And during Kaine's run for Governor, he adopted another Bush talking point -- that it would send "a horrible message" to "cut and run" in Iraq. Could that be any further from Murtha's message that Iraq has become a civil war -- a civil war being inflamed by our continuing presence?
Maybe you are thinking -- at least those of you who have a life and missed his inaugural speech on C-SPAN -- that Kaine is a charismatic speaker who will really wow the American people. Well, he ain't. In fact, he scored so low on the scintillating speaker meter, that today's Note suggests Democrats make it a priority to get the Guv a speech tutor before the State of the Union.
I've got a better idea. Why don't the Democrats reconsider their choice and pick someone more able than Kaine to make the national security argument? They don't even have to make a big deal out of the switch. Kaine can simply come down with a really, really bad cold that night. Cough, coughâ€¦ and Murtha is waiting in the wings.
The Friday before the 2004 election, bin Laden re-emerged from another protracted silence and released another tape, dominating the news. But instead of aggressively making the point that his reappearance proved that Bush had failed to make America safer, Democratic strategists flinched and had Kerry focus on the economy instead. And we all remember how well that turned out.
The question is: Do the leaders of the Democratic Party remember?