Going on Offense on Defense

The Democratic Party hasn’t traditionally been known for its message discipline, but if the major left-leaning blogs are any guide this morning, that could be changing:

Josh Marshall, brings the ball up from the back court, asserting that President Bush “cannot win this election on the economy … but he can win on national security. And that’s the reason Kerry should engage him on this issue now.”

Atrios takes over and breaks down the defense, arguing that Sen. Kerry needs to “overturn conventional wisdom by re-framing the debate” on national security. Atrios challenges the idea that the president showed “great leadership” after 9/11, taking Bush to task for allowing thousands of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters to escape from Afghanistan, diverting resources from the hunt for Bin Laden in order to invade Iraq, bungling the aftermath of the Iraq War, and doing little to improve port security at home. In sum, “the Bush foreign policy is a miserable failure.”

And Kos takes the pass from Atrios and dunks, laying out a 12-step guide to what he sees as Bush’s national security failures — e.g.: “They botched the occupation of Iraq, and close to 700 allied and countless Iraqis have paid the ultimate price, and more continue to do so.” Kos demands, “no more talk about Bush’s strong leadership post-9/11. There was none.”

Meanwhile, Instapundit highlights claims made by one of Kerry’s former Vietnam crew-mates that the future senator was a coward who made strategic mistakes on the battlefield. It’s a valid issue, according to Instapundit, since Kerry has “spent so much time telling us how relevant his Vietnam experience is to his likely behavior as president.”

And Mickey Kaus, writing on Slate, challenges the conventional wisdom as only Kaus can. Why, he asks, was the punditocracy impressed last week when Kerry skillfully scuppered the appointment of Anthony Raimondo as the Bush administration’s “manufacturing czar”? (Raimondo sank without a trace after the Kerry campaign pointed out that Raimondo himself had laid off U.S. workers and outsourced jobs to China.) Kaus argues that Kerry’s campaign could have got more mileage out of the issue had it been a bit more Machiavellian, lying low in the tall grass until Raimondo was appointed, and then pouncing with the damaging information.

Somebody hire this guy!

Zachary Roth

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Zachary Roth is a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly. He also has written for The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets.