I returned to work in downtown Washington, D.C. today to find the town buzzing about the Swiftvet controversy. Actually, since we’re talking of Washington, what the town was really doing was whining about the controversy. For months, Democrats here have thought that, by nominating a war hero instead of Howard Dean, they had put themselves in the driver’s seat for November. Now, the old doubts are returning. At lunch today, a woman at a nearby table was nearly in tears. She complained to her male companion, in a voice that could be heard throughout the restaurant, that Kerry was blowing it by failing to show that the (first) ad is false, and instead merely complaining that Bush is behind it. The companion countered that Kerry couldn’t get into that debate, and that people will see the ad as a lie anyway, once it becomes clear that Bush is the source. But then he began to despair that Kerry nonetheless has lost his momentum and is now forced to play defense.
An old trial lawyer once told me that if your case has three “yes buts” in it, you better not take it to trial. President Bush has a huge “yes but” when it comes to Iraq (yes we found no WMD, but I was told we would and anyway we’re better off with Saddam gone). However, Kerry has his own on Iraq (yes I voted to authorize the war, but I didn’t mean we should fight it). It looks like, with the Swiftvet controversy, he has himself “yes but” number two, with several candidates for number three lurking.
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