Thursday, August 26, 2004

a tired sports metaphor, shall we ?

i realize its considered philistine in many journalistic circles, but being as we here at the LT are neither journalists nor circular, i'm wearing the shoe that fits. besides, sometimes a sports metaphor is just so darn apt. . .

whats happening with the swift boat veterans ad issue is painfully clear. the bush campaign has got ahold of the political football, as it were, and have settled into their offense. this is classic GOP grind it up the middle stuff - straight up the gut for 2, 3 yards at a time. they're not looking to throw the ball downfield (with any new policy proposals) or even get their guy to the outside looking for space (attack kerry on the issues). what they're doing is keeping possession (the public's attention) and running down the clock (proven strategy for the favorite) all while exhausting the defense by keeping them on the field. the only goal is to keep the ball and move the chains (new LATimes
poll suggests the chains may indeed be moving) while making sure the other teams offense stays on the sidelines.

kerry's strategy to this point is based on aggressive defense, and rightly so. his coordinators are content to pack the line (parade of vets and pols denouncing the ads) and try and stop the run, which they've done with varying degrees of success. but one tackle in the backfield (cleland's stunt) doesnt mean anything if your opponent gets the first down with a couple more handoffs.

fortunately for kerry, politics ISN'T football, and he's not locked into playing defense. this campaign HAS to establish an alternative playing field and give themselves the ball. the swift boat issue has run its course - its accomplished its goal for both candidates - kerry established as a war hero by the Democrats, and his credibility in general undermined by the GOP. we're about to enter that window of opportunity where the press and public are ready for a new issue to take the spotlight. it must be kerry's campaign who chooses the issue and sets the terms.

the kerry team could not dream of facing a weaker defense. bush's unit is full of holes and vulnerable all over the field. economy, health care, environment, north korea/iran, you name it. but if kerry continues to let karl rove set the public agenda and dictate the issues, rather than attack bush on his stunningly poor record, this game will end in a 3-0 victory by the home team, and the kerry post-game press conference will begin with "we're so proud our defense held them to a field goal !" while the champagne flows in the other locker room.

end football metaphor.

- LH


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