Democrats Need "Convincing Message" to Avoid Being "Swift Boated" Again: Prof. Ken Bode
August 18, 2006
August 18, 2006, Greencastle, Ind. - "Following the talking points from Karl Rove, the right-wing commentary is filled with charges that the McGovernite wing of the Democratic Party is now ascendant," asserts Ken Bode in today's Indianapolis Star. The Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism at DePauw, Bode adds, "In turn, the party's leadership promises that, this time, they are not going to allow themselves to be 'Swift boated' on national security, as John Kerry was in 2004." The professor's column, filed from North Canaan, Connecticut, deals with the fallout from the August 8 U.S. Senate Democratic primary in that state.
After defeating incumbent Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont's followers were called by columnists "blame America first Democrats" who represent the party's "Stalinist" wing, among other things. Dr. Bode says the tone is eerily similar to what was written in the wake of allegations during the 2004 presidential election about John Kerry's military service.
"Actually the Swift boating began long before the term entered the political lexicon," Bode writes. "In 1968, remember, Richard Nixon ran on a secret plan to end the Vietnam War, and America bought the promise. Four years later, there was no end in sight. George McGovern's anti-war message, with a promise to end the bombing on Inauguration Day, won him the nomination... McGovern was a bona fide war hero, the pilot of 35 missions over Europe in the Dakota Queen, a B-24 Liberator bomber. With the acquiescence of right wingers in the Democratic Party, Nixon portrayed McGovern as weak on defense, a cringing apostle of appeasement. Only days before the election, Henry Kissinger falsely pronounced that peace was at hand, and the resulting McGovern landslide loss contributed to his name being invoked as a symbol of failure."
For Lamont, who ran a campaign that was critical of the war in Iraq, the past holds important messages, Bode concludes. The former CNN and NBC correspondent states, "there is the problem that Karl Rove and his pro-war followers will say, as Nixon did in 1972 and Bush did in 2004, that 'to cut and run will only dishonor the sacrifice of those who already have given their lives.' For the sake of its 2006 candidates, the Democratic leadership must develop a convincing message that Bush policies have diminished America's safety, fueled Islamic radicalism and failed to shore up security at home. That should be possible because it certainly is true, and the campaign slogan now suggested for the 2006 campaign sounds like a good one: 'Feel safer? Vote for a Change.' A clear message is especially important in this election because otherwise, like McGovern in '72 and Kerry in '04, the Democratic Party's candidates are going to be Swift boated by Rove, the conservative commentariat and by its own right wing."
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