Hugh Hewitt - Principal Contributor
Hewitt is senior member of the CaliforniaRepublic.org editorial
board. [go to Hewitt index]
Old media lurches to save Kerry...
[Hugh Hewitt] 9/9/04
there is any lesson about this election, conducted in a
supercharged atmosphere created by 24-hour news cycles
and the chaotic power
of the Internet, it is that dynamics and public opinion change
fast. Who in December would have predicted that Mr. Kerry
would defeat Howard Dean for the Democratic presidential
or that he would have gone on to raise almost as much money
as Mr. Bush?"
So writes Adam Nagourney
in Tuesday's New York Times' booster shot for the Kerry campaign.
Read the whole thing, and understand
that it is a "chins up!" memo to the left. Nagourney
gives the Dems a blueprint for Kerry's recovery:
In the next few weeks, the nation is likely to mark the thousandth
death of an American soldier in Iraq, a moment that will probably
bring a reappraisal of the war that Mr. Bush advocated. He also
faces either two or three debates with Mr. Kerry. Although he
proved himself to be an engaging and personal debater against
Al Gore in 2000, this time he will be defending a record that
even Republicans say is ripe for attack.
Republicans and Democrats say the biggest problem for Mr. Bush
is the sense among Americans that the country is headed in the
A couple of points: Who said that fatality number 1,000 was more
important that any that went before? This isn't a Hall of Fame
homerun watch, and I am amazed that the Times is using military
casualties to build a potential toehold for the Kerry campaign.
Next, the president
hasn't agreed to any debates – and
he doesn't have to – notwithstanding the self-appointed
commission, the networks and the desperation on Kerry's side.
Kerry is clearly the favorite in any debate, so I don't understand
why the president has to accept the challenge, certainly not
unless he gets a set of concessions to assure no ridiculous theater-in-the-round
stuff, and Brit Hume as moderator.
Finally, the "wrong direction" canard
doesn't tell you a thing. That's like saying Florida was headed
in the wrong
direction last week. We live in a terrible age, as the Russian
massacre demonstrated last week. Of course it feels ominous,
and that feeling is exactly what will be propelling many 9-11
Democrats to Bush's side on Nov. 2.
the "chaotic power" of the Internet.
Are there no editors on duty during long weekends? What does
that mean, except perhaps the annoying presence of cyber fact-checkers
Look. This campaign is about the war, period. Sen. Kerry flip-flopped
again on Monday, and President Bush remained resolved. As I wrote
Monday at HughHewitt.com, it is a debate between resolve and
John Kerry and President Bush clashed repeatedly over Iraq
on Monday, with
Mr. Kerry branding it "the wrong war in
the wrong place at the wrong time" and saying he wanted
all American troops home within four years, while Mr. Bush defended
the war as "right for America then and it's right for America
Memo to Fallujah terrorists: If Kerry wins, all you have to
do is endure at most four years, then you can have another Afghanistan.
If Bush wins, you will die in Fallujah or give up your war.
Could Kerry have done anything more stupid than to telegraph
to terrorists everywhere that there is a party of retreat in
the United States? I don't think so. But he brought on board
a bunch of new campaign staffers yesterday, for whom nothing
matters more than improvement in the polls, and they must think
the Americans are weary already of a conflict that won't go away.
Which brings us to Russia. The massacre in Beslan should be
leading every newscast in the United States. It is not another
Chechen insurgency story, as Israel's response
The goal is sophisticated: to create regional instability into
which jihadists can plunge. From Tuesday morning's Washington
"It appears to be a deliberate provocation to reignite
the conflict between Ingushetia and North Ossetia, to extend
the range of the chaos," said Fiona Hill, a scholar at the
Brookings Institution in Washington. "It's very easy
to stir up the region if you want to, and somebody wants
is a wake-up call. The whole of the Caucasus is going to
go up at this rate."
raised the specter of the region breaking apart from Moscow
during a meeting with
Hill and other visiting Westerners late
Monday. "There's a Yugoslavia variant here," he said,
according to notes taken by Eileen O'Connor, a participant. "It
would be difficult to imagine the consequences for the rest of
the world. Bear in mind Russia is a nuclear power."
"A Yugoslavia variant." That's a phrase that sticks, and
one which ought to shake up even more voters considering their
choice in November. Do you want Sandy "Socks" Berger
and Madeline Albright back at the wheel under these circumstances?
The storm gathered for eight years under their idle watch, and
their response was to clink glasses with North Korea's nutcase.
Now Kerry-Edwards want a pullback from the front lines, and to
sell nuclear fuel to the mullahs of Iran in exchange for paper
promises. What is there to debate, after all. CAFE standards
really don't matter much under these circumstances.
Brendan Miniter gives
a half-dozen reasons to believe in a sizeable
Bush win in November, and they are all spot on. But the real
reason is that most Americans really do understand the scope
of the war and the nature of the enemy. They will be unwilling
to risk seriousness of purpose and have a fling at appeasement
because the New York Times thinks it worth a try.
There are still holdouts among old media elites who believe
Bush is in serious trouble with the public on the war. E.J. Dionne
plays his always useful role of summarizing the most other-worldly
thinking from the left with yesterday's column on how Kerry could
fight back. Nowhere does Dionne suggest that Kerry has a big
problem on the war, or even that the war needs fighting. Instead:
So Kerry has three battles to wage. He has to fight Bush and
his attacks. After all that was said about him at the Republican
convention, you would think that Kerry has all the incentives
he needs. He has to show voters what he is fighting for. And
he has to reassure an anxious party that he has a plan to be
back in the thick of things by the beginning of October.
All tactics, in other
words, no substance. Which is why Dionne is increasingly dismissed
as a columnist – much less as
a campaign strategist. Kerry will lose in November because a
majority of voters believe he will cut and run in the war on
terror, and they believe it because Kerry has said he would in
fact cut and run.
Over at ElectionProjection, the Blogging Caesar has Bush with
288 electoral votes this week, and he's making a daily briefing
available for only $40, which I will be signing up for once I
get a moment. He's a very good watcher of the state polling,
and keeps his board with scrupulous accuracy. I recommend you
take up his offer. Combine that with RealClearPolitics and you
will be on top of the facts, incapable of being spun.
At the risk of exhausting your reading patience, I think we
also have to start thinking about the effect of Kerry's campaign
on the Senate races. Kerry combines with Michael Moore to alert
the national electorate to the fact that the Democrats are not
serious about national security. Three names immediately leap
out as ideological clones of Kerry: Daschle in South Dakota,
Murray in Washington state, and Boxer in California.
Now, the states of Washington and California are center-left
states to be sure, but they are even more vulnerable states with
long coastlines, borders and harbors. It is only a matter of
time until the war hits the West Coast.
Murray famously announced
that Osama was beloved because he built roads and schools,
and Boxer called the Madrid bombings
a "rail accident." Boxer's misstatement was just her
famous denseness showing through again, but both of these lightweights
need retiring if the war is going to get serious oversight in
And Daschle needs
to go as a message that obstructionism will not work in this
era. In short, the next 60 days should be a
debate about the war – and little else – in every
Senate and House race and certainly in the contest for the presidency.
Fourth Rail gets it. The
Belmont Club gets it. Silly
editorial writers with tenure don't get it. I am betting the American electorate
does get it. Big-time, as the vice president likes to say.CRO
Principal Contributor Hugh Hewitt is an author, television
and syndicated talk-show host of the Salem Radio Network's Hugh
Hewitt Show, heard in over 40 markets around the country.
He blogs regularly at HughHewitt.com and he frequently contributes opinion pieces to the Weekly
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