August 16, 2004

He'll have plenty of time for it after January

Jeff Jarvis's pet peeve is bloggers who play gotcha with presidential candidates -- harping on minor issues or slips of the tongue when there's So Much At Stake. Doesn't bother me much -- that's what makes blogs fun. But when Dick Cheney does it, as he did when belittling John Kerry for using the word "sensitive" in the context of fighting terrorism (while brushing aside Kerry's other adjectives: effective, thoughtful, strategic, proactive), it just makes me want to say, Dude, don't you have a country to run, or a small child to frighten?

Cheney's remarks were so juvenile, simplistic, and obnoxious it almost made me think he should, well, be a blogger.

But the Bush administration has the public so bamboozled into thinking Bush=strength, whether you agree with him or not, that Cheney's comment plays, even with folks who should know better, like... Jeff Jarvis. It's not a remotely serious critique of Kerry's foreign policy plans (of which there is plenty to critique, though not if your own policy is even worse, I guess); it's just a gotcha. But it worked for him.

Fortunately, bloggers have ignored Jeff's call to end the gotchaism, which is why we now have an effective counter-gotcha to render Cheney's impotent, in the form of The Progress Report's compendium of the Bush administration's own calls for sensitivity in war.

As Jon Stewart put it, "I think the Vice President just called you a pussy."

Reminder: Now the fifth time I've linked this article since 9/11, but still worth reading. What a sensitive -- in the non-New Age sense of the word -- war on terrorism would look like, and why we need one, by Robert Wright

Posted by Daniel Radosh


And don't forget the denoument: Kerry is forced to "clarify" his comment, stating that he doesn't actually want to be "sensitive" to terrorists per se, just to the concept of terrorism and to our allies who need us...

...to which the Bushies cry, "FLIP-FLOPPER!! He changed his position again! Did you hear that?"

It's quite brilliant, really: Put Kerry on the defensive. Force him to "explain" things, and he'll have less time to point out that Bush has a record he should be afraid to run on.

Me thinks, that this tends to happen when their are few candidate differences. One would have to ask "what are the major issues" and "where do the candidates differ".

If you had a Cuomo / Kemp race for example, you'd have a more civil and respectful dialogue, but a dialogue about important issues.

As a Bush supporter, I didn't feel Kerry said anything wrong. He needed to clarify a reasonable point; that terrorism is bred by outside issues such as military presence, Israel relations, and American pressures on Islamic culture. Being sensitive or aware of such issues makes better policies ultimately. Kerry just needed to explain himself better, but with the the media only reporting small sound bytes, it's hard to have a solid debate of ideas that need to ultimately be specific and more than 17 seconds.

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