The idea that Democrats have been selling is that a factual airing of their default presidential candidate's record is dirty politics.
Following Sen. Zel Miller's convention speech, the cable shows were flooded with handwringing liberals beside themselves over the "meanness" of Miller's remarks. The newspapers followed with "news" stories and editorials registering the same complaint.
The Associated Press reported, "Republicans are satisfying their convention delegates with an angry vision of the presidential race and attacks on Democratic nominee John Kerry, but it won't play well with voters in the closing weeks of the campaign, Democrats said Thursday."
Sen. Edwards told "Today" show anchor Matt Lauer, "What we heard from the Republicans in that hall last night was an enormous amount of anger." Edwards called the GOP criticisms of John Kerry "completely over the top" and said they made him mad. Watch that anger there, Senator.
I don't deny that Zel Miller delivered his remarks with a healthy flavor of righteous indignation at a party that has left him and other conservative Democrats, a party whose presidential candidate is the most liberal senator in America with an abominable record on defense.
Senator Miller has a right to be upset. We're in the middle of a war, and his party has selected a man who has made a career of emasculating our intelligence services and our military readiness. We are not playing games here.
That's why I was incredulous when Chris Matthews asked Miller last night how his speech was going to further the goal of promoting harmony among the parties and the people (my crude paraphrase). These conventions are not about promoting national harmony, but the business of selecting candidates who can lead the nation in these exceedingly dangerous times.
But Chris Matthews' question reveals the liberal mindset. They act more interested in advancing the Rodney King credo: "Why can't we all just get along?" than in adopting proactive policies to safeguard our national security. That explains why John Kerry is always so preoccupied with currying the favor of French and German leaders.
But the dirty little secret is that Democrats just pay empty lip service to promoting harmony. They've been sniping at President Bush for four years now, and it has been petty, nasty, mean-spirited and, yes, angry.
Their real gambit was to keep the public's eye off John Kerry's Senate record. Their bizarre premise has been that Kerry's allegedly distinguished combat record alone qualifies him to be commander in chief -- no matter what he has done since.
Putting aside damning questions about Kerry's Vietnam service and his anti-war crusade thereafter, it is simply ridiculous to say that one's ostensible heroism of 35 years ago justifies a gag order on his record ever since.
Yet that's what Chris Matthews implied when he said, "The idea that (Kerry) is going to shoot spitballs in defense of a country that he risked his life to defend some years ago is a personal attack on the guy." Then he asked Sen. Miller: "Do you believe ? Senator, truthfully, that John Kerry wants to defend the country with spitballs? Do you believe that?"
Of course he believes that, Chris, which is why he said it. And he cited Kerry's Senate record to prove it. And it is not a personal attack, unless you consider the accurate depiction of Kerry's anti-defense record a personal attack.
What are personal attacks are when Sen. Kerry, during his convention speech, said he will not mislead the nation into war and will restore trust to the office. And it's a personal attack for Matthews to suggest that Sen. Miller is lying -- saying something he doesn't believe to pander to the GOP audience. But he does believe it, Chris, or he wouldn't even be speaking at the GOP convention.
People should be very suspicious that Kerry put all his presidential eggs in his Vietnam basket, especially since that basket is so full of holes. We have a right to know what Sen. Kerry is hiding? I'm talking about his Senate career here. Why is he trying to cover it up?
Nothing could be more preposterous than for Democrats to cry foul when the Republicans are merely trying to publicize the truth about Sen. Kerry's voting record. If that's dirty politics, then Democrats must think Kerry's Senate record is shameful. And they're right.