Bush Afraid of Kucinich

Feb. 24, 2004

President Bush made a speech yesterday about how badly he is frightened by even the remote possibility of a Democratic nomination for Dennis Kucinich. Here is how David Shribman, Executive Editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reported on the speech today:

“The last Bush re-election effort, having succeeded so well in portraying Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts as a doctrinaire liberal, tried the same tactic on Clinton. It didn’t work because Clinton wasn’t doctrinaire and barely was liberal, which accounted for so many of the misgivings so many Democrats harbored but seldom expressed. The current Republican strategy team may try to portray Kerry as a doctrinaire liberal, but they’re also gearing to portray him as a doctrinaire opportunist.

“That’s why the President’s remarks Monday were so important. Here’s the most relevant passage: ‘The other party’s nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group with diverse opinions: For tax cuts and against them. For NAFTA and against NAFTA. For the Patriot Act and against the Patriot Act. In favor of liberating Iraq and against it. And that’s just one senator from Massachusetts.’

“Good line, as these things go. But its significance is that the GOP believes that Kerry is vulnerable primarily because he is inconsistent. His response is not hard to contemplate: I’ve grown, I’ve considered the issues, seen the nuances and calibrated my views to my own changing perceptions and to changes in circumstances in the nation and the world. That is a classic Kerry response, perfectly suited to the seminar rooms at Yale but perhaps too subtle for a dais or debate.

“The GOP’s Web site already is making consistency an important part of the Kerry attack. The Republican strategists have found a clever name – ‘Kerrymandering’