For weeks Democrats have worried what the "evil genius," Karl Rove, had up his sleeve for an October surprise.
They hardly suspected the critical blow in the final days of the 2006 campaign would come from their own side.
With the economy doing well, the stock market back in gear, and gas prices back from the stratosphere, Iraq and the war of terror had claimed their spot as the top issues facing many voters.
During the campaigns, Republicans have largely stuck to their principles, believing that Iraq is critical and that Americans can trust them not to get weak-kneed in the war on terror.
On the other side, Democrats are hoping to capitalize on the public discontent with progress in Iraq and hope voters will reward them with control of Congress.
If Democrats were going to successfully make that case, then they were going to have to convince Americans that they had the kind of loyalty to our troops that the rest of main-street America shares.
They were worried that an "October surprise" from Rove would do them in, but in the end it was their 2004 standard bearer who dropped the hand grenade in his own foxhole.
Sen. John Kerry, speaking at Pasadena City College about education, said:
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
National security has been the top issue for most Americans since Sept. 11, 2001, so if Democrats are going to persuade Americans to give them the reins of government, they have to convince Americans they can be trusted with our troops.
The Democratic Party's history with war is certainly tumultuous and contributes to the feeling that anti-war candidates shouldn't be given control of the machines of war.
Would we have put the no-nukes crowd in charge of the Cold War? Of course not.
Democrats live in their own utopian dream world where no one wants to hurts us or destroy our way of life.
In the Democrats' mind, there is not an Axis of Evil, North Korea isn't a threat, and Osama bin Laden is just a bully who'll stop attacking us if we leave his end of the playground.Immediately after 9/11, they understood the threat and supported the war on terror. But it wasn't long before their true contempt for the military showed through.
When the stakes are high, Democrats simply can't hide their disdain for the Armed Forces.
Problems on the ground in Iraq had given the Democrats a chance. Even Americans, who support the war effort, have concerns about our progress, and Democrats have exploited that war fatigue.
If only they could show they could be trusted, maybe the voters would give them back the keys to the tanks.
Kerry seems determined to not let that happen.
Rush Limbaugh spent his Tuesday show discussing Kerry's remark, and White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said that:
"[Kerry] not only owes an apology to those who are serving, but also to the families of those who've given their lives in this. This is an absolute insult."
Kerry could have tried to play off his comments as a tasteless joke gone bad, but he didn't. Kerry responded:
"I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed-suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium or doughy [talk-show host] Rush Limbaugh."
"It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country, lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have."
Except that not everyone upset by his remarks is a "mouthpiece" or "doughy" or has "never worn the uniform."
Sen. John McCain, a decorated Vietnam veteran, former POW and probable contender in 2008, quickly responded:
"[Kerry] owes an apology to the many thousands of Americans serving in Iraq, who answered their country's call because they are patriots and not because of any deficiencies in their education."
Kerry's "botched joke" fits a pattern that Kerry and many Democrats follow and reveals their disdain for our troops.
Don't forget that it was Kerry who came back from Vietnam and decided, rather than focusing his attacks on the government and those planning the war, he would impugn the character of those servicemen who had laid down their lives in the fields and jungles of Vietnam by claiming:
They "raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam."
It was also Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin who compared guards at Guantanamo to Nazis and the Soviet gulag.
And it was Democrat, Sen. Ted Kennedy who stated that "Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management: U.S. management."
These are attacks on more than an administration. These are attacks aimed directly at the front lines in the war on terror and directly at America's finest soldiers serving our nation.
Democrats everywhere have envisioned Rove in his secret lair, concocting an elaborate plan to stuff ballot boxes in Missouri or steal them in Pennsylvania.
It turns out the October surprise playbook consisted of four words.
"Let Democrats be Democrats."
Now that Americans are seeing the Democrats' true colors yet again, will they still want to buy what Democrats are selling.
I don't think they will.