Telling It Like It Ain't
Every now and then, even the most inveterate political junkie just has to take a break, and that's what I did this weekend. Instead of obsessively surfing the internet to make sure I didn't miss a single assessment of the Mood of Ohio. I spent Saturday in a redneck bar watching college football. And the only partisan conflict I encountered was a brief but tense discussion with a bartender who threatened to switch all nine televisions to a NASCAR race (thank God I wasn't trying to watch a French soccer game). Properly refreshed, I returned to Washington this morning and made the mistake of reading the Wall Street Journal, which featured an op-ed by Zell Miller. It was like an electric cattle-prod plunged into my morning bathwater. The guy gets more unbelievable every day. He delivers the most over-the-top convention speech in decades, for the opposition party. He becomes the Maximum Hero of the Republican Right. He's spent the last week strutting around the country with George W. Bush. Yet he now feels compelled to publish a whiny, defensive op-ed in America's most renowned right-wing editorial page complaining about "my critics in the national media" and responding to their criticims of his smear-job on John Kerry's national security record. I can't link to this screed because I won't pay WSJ for access to their online edition, and neither will you. But suffice it to say that Miller does as much violence to the Laws of Logic as he does to John Kerry's record. Citing his "critics'" accurate observance that Dick Cheney opposed many of the same weapons systems that Miller scored Kerry for opposing (or more accurately, for scaling back), he claims Kerry opposed them "at the height of the Cold War" while Cheney "waited until after we won the Cold War." Wrong-o, Zell. Read that oppo research memo more carefully. They opposed them at exactly the same time, in 1990 and 1991 (there's one other Kerry vote to scale back certain types of weapons in 1995, but if I'm not mistaken, the Cold War was over then, too). Moreover, Miller's argument in New York was that Kerry was trying to zap the very weapons systems that proved useful in Iraq. So who cares whether Cheney tried to scrap them before or after the collapse of the Soviet Union? But Miller's most egregious rebuttal is this one:
If that's the case, then what's the relevance of John Kerry's votes on weapons systems in the early to mid-90s? Has Miller cited a single example of any weapons system votes by Kerry after 9/11, which "changed everything"? There are three or four other howlers in Zell's brief op-ed, but you get the idea. The WSJ entitled the piece "Telling It Like It Is." A better title would have been "The Man Who Can't Smear Straight."
My critics love to point out that I had nice things to say about John Kerry when I introduced him to a Georgia Democratic dinner in 2001. That's true and I meant it. But again, timing is everything. I made that introduction in March 2001--six months before terrorists attacked this country on Sept. 11. As I have said time and time again, 9/11 changed everything.