Saturday, October 30, 2004

A Bobo Fuming at the Mouth

David Brooks’ column today has to prove something. Either this election is polarizing people more as we get closer to November 2 or Brooks is feeling the pressure to circle the wagons and defend against John Kerry. Or maybe his response proves that Bin Laden just handed the election to Bush.

Brooks obviously has a fixed idea about John Kerry. And he won’t let any damn context get in the way. That must be why he implies that Kerry only thinks Bin Laden is a nuisance. Kerry’s comments that, in the future, he wanted to reduce terrorism to a nuisance are warped to mean that Kerry today doesn’t see all these threats of our “streets running with blood” as a serious problem. Kerry’s remarks are reasonable considering anyone with a truck full of fertilizer can become a terrorist today. Brooks then praises Bush’s statement on the Bin Laden tape ignoring that Kerry made virtually the same statement shortly before Bush. Bush was trying to remove this event from “crass politics.” Brooks instead cannily chooses to focuses on statements made later by Kerry in an interview.

He claims that Kerry is all about politics and opportunism. Bush of course is above that. Bush would never uses Bin Laden’s image to sway voters, or claim that Bin Laden wanted Kerry to win, or explain that it was unpatriotic for Kerry to criticize him during this open-ended war. Brooks says that Kerry is “nakedly ambitious” to exploit “this shocking moment, this echo of Sept. 11.” If that’s ambitious, then what was holding the Republican convention in New York City in September? No one was exploiting an echo there.

National security is an election issue, and should be. Kerry has been tarred for exploiting just about everything in this election—soldiers dying in Iraq, terrorism around the world, a slumping economy, global distrust of the United States. Bush has been accused of exploiting fear of more attacks, homophobia, the terror alert system, September 11th, his status as a “war president.” All this “crass politics.” Next thing you know, they’ll be asking us to vote.

In the meantime, Mr. Brooks should take a cold shower.


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