A thought about the

A thought about the follow-up on the Swift Boat ads.

Today at a rally, John Edwards said, among other things, “This is a moment of truth for George W. Bush. We’re going to see what kind of man he is and what kind of leader he is. … We want to hear three words: Stop these ads.”

Okay for today. But no more of this.

We already know what kind of a man he is. He’s got a track record.

I’m tempted to say, if we didn’t, why run against him? But of course political differences between good men are more than adequate justifications for a presidential contest — consider Clinton v. Dole in 1996.

But that’s not the case here. So, to be frank, this line has some element of disingenuousness.

Far more important, it’s whining. Begging. At a minimum, it can come off or be characterized that way. And it sounds weak. This is about hitting back, not flaunting high-mindedness.

If the president’s behavior is really as bad as the Kerry-Edwards team is saying it is, then it’s really past the point of asking him to do the right thing and redeem himself.

The excellent ad the Kerry campaign put out today — the one with McCain confronting Bush — ends with the line “America can do better.”

It doesn’t say, “George W. Bush, please stop” or “George W. Bush should do the right thing.” It says “America can do better” or, in other words, he’s shown us what kind of person he is and he shouldn’t be president.

No need to be nasty. “America can do better” says all that needs be said. Drive that point home and move the debate back to the president’s failed record at home and abroad.

Try “George W. Bush is back to his old tricks because he doesn’t want to talk about X (his bad record on jobs), Y (his failed policies in Iraq), Z (you get the idea.)