The Wall Street Journal reports

The Wall Street Journal reports on the Democrats’ effort to retrospectively spin the Georgia Senate election. The Democrats allege that Saxby Chambliss defeated Max Cleland by raising questions about his patriotism. On a weekend talk show, John Kerry said that: “What they did to Max Cleland…a veteran…who lost three limbs in VietNam…and they challenge his patriotism–that sickens everybody in our country.” Left unexplained is how a tactic that “sickens everybody” could have been successful. The answer, of course, is that Chambliss never questioned Cleland’s patriotism; to do so would have been stupid and suicidal. Rather, Chambliss disagreed with Cleland about various policy issues relating to taxes, missile defense and the homeland security bill. The same Democratic spin is visible elsewhere, too; in Minnesota the Democrats are making a similar claim, that Norm Coleman ran a dirty campaign against Paul Wellstone in which he impugned Wellstone’s patriotism. Wellstone, unlike Cleland, might have been vulnerable on this score, but in any event Coleman never did any such thing, always attributing good motives to Wellstone and emphasizing that his disagreements with Wellstone were disagreements over policy. It seems to me that the current Democratic spin effort is part of their larger strategy of neutralizing the terrorist threat as an issue that favors Republicans. They want to disqualify every effort to point out differences between Republican and Democratic candidates on security policy as an impermissible attack on the Democrat’s patriotism. This ties in with their earlier attack on the Republicans for “politicizing” the war. While the Democrats are relentless spin masters, and have shown the ability to revise history and move public opinion over time–Clarence Thomas is the definitive example–it is hard to see how this strategy can work. The voters are more concerned about security than anything else, and they want to know where candidates stand on security-related issues.

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