So Kerry wants to make an issue out of Bush’s guard duty. Fine, that’s fair game I suppose. But Kerry can’t have it his way. If Bush’s service is open to question, then Kerry’s is too. And not just what he did in Vietnam but what he did when he got back (as has been chronicled on NRO at some length). That’s a tough problem for the Bushies strategically. It means having to call attention to Kerry’s good record in order to go after his bad. But I think it has to be done. Letting Kerry define himself as an unadulterated war hero and use that unchallenged record to credibly talk about foreign policy is a non-starter. First of all, Kerry’s record on foeign policy stinks (if you get a chance read Michael Crowley’s take-down of Kerry’s 1997 book about terrorism. Kerry touts it as pophetic when pathetic is far closer to the mark [requires subscription]). But if Kerry starts every sentence with the equivalent of “Mr. Bush I really know something about aircraft carriers…” Bush is going to have to come back with something.
Dean’s fond of saying that lack of foreign policy experience didn’t keep him from being “right” on the war. Well, Bush — or his surrogates — must come up with some language which says “Just because Kerry was ‘right’ in Vietnam doesn’t mean he was right after Vietnam” and then dig into the ribbon-burning, America-bashing rhetoric of the 1970s).