A GOP bigwig says something rather striking to Mark Shields:
On the eve of the Republican National Convention, one of the party's foremost leaders from the South was asked about George W. Bush's chances in November. He replied, in a moment of rare candor: "If this campaign is about Kerry, Bush will win the election. If this campaign is about Bush, he will win my state." That is, the GOP must make sure the focus is on Sen. John Kerry to avoid being reduced to the solid Republican South -- and a lost election.
How do you interpret that? Here's how I interpret it: "The voters don't like our guy. But it's OK, because we can destroy the other guy."
Fortunately for the GOP bigwig, he said this to Mark Shields, who reacts the way a liberal Beltway journalist is supposed to -- by attacking his own side, making excuses for Republican failures, and reprinting GOP spin as gospel truth:
That is no insult to President Bush, who this year has faced and weathered one political mishap after another, along with a Democratic opposition fiercely determined to remove him from office....
That's right -- the Iraq quagmire? Abu Ghraib? A million and a half lost jobs? They're not Bush's fault! They're all "mishaps"! Plus, Bush, poor bastard, isn't even running unopposed! He has an opponent who's actually trying to win! Is there no ordeal the good Lord won't ask him to endure?
...Rather, the Southern leader's formulation signifies the realization in Republican ranks that they have dodged a bullet. Kerry had the opportunity to open a formidable lead against an incumbent president, and he failed.
The undecided pool was vanishingly small, the convention got hardly any network coverage, yet Kerry, you see, was supposed to blow the race wide open.
Tom Rath, the New Hampshire Republican leader who is one of the nation's shrewdest political observers, told me: "I don't think any candidate has ever experienced a worse month of August since (Michael) Dukakis (in 1988)" -- when that earlier Massachusetts Democratic nominee dissipated a double-digit lead.
Kerry slipped in the polls by what -- 5 or so points, tops, depending on the poll? Yeah, 5 points is pretty close to 17, which is the lead Dukakis squandered.
I won't bore you with the rest, except for the part where Shields -- remember, this guy plays "the liberal" on political chat shows -- says this:
By stressing his professions of military valor in Vietnam, Kerry opened the door to an examination of his questionable performance both during and after his four months of combat.
Excuse me, Mark -- you can criticize his anti-war activities all you want, you pissant pseudo-liberal, but did you actually have the gall to refer to "his questionable performance ... during ... his four months of combat"?
The check from Bob Perry is in the mail.