In last night’s debate, while talking about John Kerry’s efforts to run away from his record, President Bush said, “He can run, but he can’t hide.” I was delighted to hear it, and said on today’s radio show that I hope this famous line becomes a frequent refrain over the next 24 days. There are signs that it may; at a breakfast meeting in St. Louis, Bush repeated it:
“He can’t have it both ways. To pay for the big spending program he’s outlined during his campaign he will have to raise your taxes. He can run but he cannot hide,” Bush said.
At one time, everyone would have known the source of that line; today I’m sure most people do, but probably not all. (We were surprised at how many people found our references to John (pocketa-pocketa-pocketa) Kerry as “Walter Mitty” obscure. For those who may have forgotten, Joe Louis was preparing for a title bout against Billy Conn, and a reporter asked Louis how he planned to deal with Conn’s speed. (Conn was, in fact, a terrific boxer.) Louis replied, unforgettably: “He can run, but he can’t hide.”
This is, I think, the perfect way to sum up John Kerry’s flight from his liberal, but otherwise undistinguished, career in the Senate. I hope we hear Bush quote Louis over and over between now and November 2. The quote is accurate, it depicts Bush on the offensive, and it can’t hurt for the President to associate himself with the Bomber:
The poster below advertises film footage from Louis’s memorable fight with Conn (click to enlarge):
UPDATE: Who says only youngsters get their news on the web? Several readers have emailed us their memories of the Louis-Conn bout. This one comes from Doyle Elkins:
June, 1941. My Dad was working on a sheep shearing crew, shearing a ranch in western Montana. We had a 1939 Ford and listened to the fight over the car radio, standing around the car in a pouring rain. Really a great fight. Conn had Louis beat going into the 13th round when he was KO’d.
AN UPDATE from Chanhassen–Jan Carpenter reports:
You’re right, Bush is using the “run but not hide” line — sounds like an ongoing part of the campaign. He used it several times in today’s speech at the HUGE gathering in Chanhassen. It was a great and terrifically responsive crowd, and Bush seemed energized, and his message getting clearer.