I don’t know about other people, but now that I’ve seen the Republicans do their worst, I feel I know my enemy and how to combat him. It’s simple: Tell the truth.
The Democratic Party has never been better poised to take on an incumbent president. Listen to the Republican Party’s complaints about us and you will know where our greatest strengths lie.
They object to our use of ACT (America Coming Together), MoveOn, and the “527” organizations that have amassed money and manpower and have flooded the streets and the Internet with a get-out-the-vote-and-defeat-Bush campaign.
Arnold Schwarzenfuhrer calls us “girlie men.” Aha! Another clue to their secret fears — that we might be more fit than they to lead the nation in war (or in the prevention of war). The Republicans run down Sen. Kerry’s war record. Why? Because of the abysmal record of their own leaders — Bush, who sat out the Vietnam War, not showing up for duty in the Air National Guard, and Cheney, Wolfowitz and all the other warhawks who avoided the draft through a series of deferments.
What do they brag about?
The economy, which has never been in a more perilous state — 144,000 new jobs in the last month is not even enough to keep up with the growing size of the work force, much less recover from a recession.
What do they turn to?
Religion: I’d like to challenge our morally and mentally deficient president to a “Christian religion bee.” On the subject of any other religion I’d beat the pants off him, because I’m sure he’s never taken the trouble to learn anything about any other religion, but I very much doubt he really knows anything about Christianity either. As Jonathan Swift wrote, “We have just religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” (I’ll bet Bush doesn’t know who Jonathan Swift is either.)
Patriotism: I challenge the patriotism of Bush and his whole toadying entourage. Bush talks a good game while he does everything in his power to undermine the basic liberties on which the country was founded and over which so much blood has been spilled. He has incarcerated hundreds of people without trial and without access to legal counsel at Guantanamo (as well as in the U.S.), under the flimsy pretext that Guantanamo is “not American soil.” He wants to trample on religious freedom by funding religious schools to conduct private education. He withholds money for medical research that challenges his misguided religious beliefs. As James Boswell wrote in his “Life of Johnson,” “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” (And I’ll bet the only Johnson Bush ever heard of is Lyndon B.)
So, by their own admission, with their very shrillness, what are their weaknesses?
(1) Their war records. Their only records are of avoidance of duty and personal risk.
(2) The economy, which is the worst since the Great Depression.
(3) Patriotism. How many books, how many blanked out Air National Guard reports does it take to show us the kind of patriot George Bush is?
Military leadership, stewardship of the economy, and patriotism are all good debating points. Yes, the Republicans have given us their playbook, and armed with that, we should be able to hammer them again and again until we defeat them at the polls in November.
Wright Salisbury is a member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. His son-in-law was in the first plane that hit the World Trade Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.