Yesterday the president’s longtime handler and current campaign advisor Karen Hughes was on CNN attacking John Kerry’s military service record and subsequent work as a Vietnam war protester.
But before getting lost in the details of Hughes’ attacks, let’s draw back and see the big picture — something the press would do well to consider and try.
What’s the signature pattern of the president’s life?
When he faces a challenge or a tough scrape, he lets his family and friends bail him out, do his fighting for him. You see it again and again through failed businesses, legal scrapes, the whole matter of ducking service in Vietnam and then getting help cleaning up subsequent unfortunateness while he was serving in the Texas Air National Guard.
It’s even come up again and again on the campaign trail. George W. Bush has faced three opponents (McCain, Gore and Kerry) since he came onto the national political stage — each served in Vietnam, though each under very different circumstances. He’s had his lieutenants attack the service of each one.
So here we have the same pattern again — no different. The president wants to challenge John Kerry’s military service. So he gets Karen to do it for him. You can get tripped in the chutzpah of this because this not only throws light on an earlier period when the president couldn’t fight his own fights, it repeats the pattern.
But here’s some free advice for Kerry.
Don’t get mixed up on the details. Take this directly to the president. Tell him to turn over a new leaf in life and stop being a coward. If the president wants to attack or question your war record or what you did after the war, tell him to do it himself. No special deals, no hidden help from family retainers, no hiding behind Karen Hughes. Tell him, for once, to fight his own fights.