Ashcroft’s smear

Immediately below, Dave comments on Ashcroft’s new terror alert, which implicitly claims that al Qaeda wants to see Kerry elected.

Obviously any terror attack between now and the election will be given a Republican spin by the administration. Ashcroft’s announcement sets that up, while also trying to immunize the administration against any negative interpretations, should a new terrorist attack occur during Bush’s watch.

In other words, the next terrorist attack hasn’t even happened yet, and it has already been politicized. Kerry’s campaign team needs to start preparing the ground for their own response to the next attack, when and if it occurs. Pre-emptively pointing out loudly and often that Bush has so far done nothing much to protect the US against terrorism (and in particular, that the Iraq War hasn’t helped) would be a great place to start.

Beyond that, they should have a response ready for immediate release as soon as an attack take place. (You can be sure that the Republicans have one.) The various possible scenarios should all be prepared for, with a string of followups in the can ready to go. If the Kerry people sit around strategizing for a day when and if something happens, Bush will have won the election by the time Kerry says a word.

The Republicans have framed it this way: if al Qaeda attacks, it’s because they want Kerry to win; if al Qaeda doesn’t attack, it’s because Bush has been effective. The Kerry team has to break that frame, and the time to start is now. Bush has not been effective.