A while back, I observed that one of John Kerry’s early general-election strategies is to try and preemptively stop GOP criticism by loudly decrying “negative attacks!” at every opportunity.
Turns out, I didn’t know the half of it. Check out the sheer vitriol in Kerry’s words today at a Chicago rally:
“Let me tell you, we’ve just begun to fight,” Kerry said. “We’re going to keep pounding. These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I’ve ever seen. It’s scary.”
Kerry’s spokesman, David Wade, then turned around and accused Kerry’s opponents of being over the top:
“The Republicans have launched the most personal, crooked, deceitful attacks over the last four years,” Wade said. “He’s a Democrat who fights back.”
Now, far be it from me to be overly-critical of pointed language in politics, but this is some seriously harsh and ad hominem stuff.
That kind of rhetoric has been par for the course in the Democratic primaries this year, but can you imagine the media outcry if Bob Dole had said the same thing about the Clinton Administration? Katie Couric would lead every half-hour of the Today show for the next six months with ritual denunciations of “mean-spirited” and “nasty” Republican “smear” campaigns. At the very least, the GOP candidate would be browbeaten into a humiliating public apology. I see no signs thus far of any such reaction to Kerry.
When I first posted about Kerry’s tactics, I surmised that in today’s more open media climate (where, unlike in 1996, Fox News, Drudge, and the Blogosphere are on the watch), Kerry wouldn’t be able to get away with making these extreme attacks without media criticism. Nearly a month later, I have to wonder.
Just what will it take before a major, non-conservative media figure and/or outlet describes Kerry’s charges as “mean” or “nasty”, without the ritual reference to “both sides,” particularly when the Bush side’s rhetoric doesn’t even register on the vitriol scale compared to Kerry’s?
If not this, then what? Is there anything that Kerry could say that’s worthy of media criticism, or even scrutiny?