Advice to John Kerry:
Look, dude, you became the nominee almost by default. If Edwards had had a house to mortgage for 6 mill, you’d be history. If the press hadn’t gotten so scared of Dean, you’d be toast. And if Gore – oh, let’s just not go there. It’s just so goddamn tragic. So you are the man. And you’re being perceived as hemorrhaging. Now is the critical time. You can’t let people go into the summer thinking certain things about you. It’s time to change the rules. It's time to get ahead of the game. It's time to start fucking with them.
1. Stop nuancing your arguments. No one gives a good goddamn if you voted for the military spending and then voted against it because an amendment was not passed. Take a stand and stick with it. That’s why people admire Bush – that's politics in the post-Rove era: it’s about style, not substance. Say you voted against the $87 billion because the President was being dishonest about the spending on Iraq and he refused to find a way to pay for the war without driving the country deeper into debt. People will understand that.
Remember: don't overestimate the attention span of Americans. It's all about black and white, good vs. evil. Clarity, even less-than-completely-honest clarity, is preferrable to trying to think.
2. It’s time to trot out the “l” word. Not “liberal,” you stupid fuckers. “Liar.” It’s time to start calling things “lies.” People don’t hear when you are saying everything but “lie.” "Mislead,""prevaricate,""misinterpret," whatever - too many syllables. It’s like Condoleeza Rice insisting that she wasn’t given a “plan” for dealing with al-Qaeda, just a “series of actionable suggestions” or whatever the fuck she said.
Start calling Bush a “liar” and demonstrate it in the easiest way possible: use his own words against him. Use hardcore facts, things not open to interpretation, like pledging $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa and then requesting only a couple hundred million from Congress. Force Bush to respond. Don’t fuck with Cheney. Don’t fuck with Rumsfeld. Don’t fuck with any of the surrogates he sends out to attack you. The press has given Bush a free pass on the lies, and they will continue to do so until someone with your stature and recognition and place in the news cycle comes along and starts to say the words “lie,” “lying,” and “liar.” Then maybe, just maybe, the press will be forced to do its job and fact check. It’s very simple: Bush has given you tons of material. Make him have to use nuance to defend himself - that'll only make your allegations stronger.
Don’t say, “Here’s a President who says one thing and does another” or “Here’s a President who takes photo ops with schoolchildren and then doesn’t fund the programs that affect them.” Say, “Here’s a President who lies. Do you want a President who lies and then lies about lying?” Make the ad: “George Bush: Liar.” No one ever started a bar fight over a "prevarication" or an "exaggeration."
Remember: they will do it to you. “Flip-flopper” is just the foundation for an eventual leap to “liar.” It’s what they did to Gore. It’s what they’ll do to you. So jump on that carousel horse before Bush can.
3. Go on the attack about Iraq. Make it black and white clear how you would be different from Bush. Don’t just make it about “internationalizing” the mission. Black and white, bitch, black and white. Under Bush, more American soldiers will be in and stay in Iraq. Under Kerry, American soldiers will return by the tens of thousands. See how simple that is? It poses an almost sublimely easy question: “Do you want your loved ones to be sent to and stay in Iraq or do you want them to come home?” Stop using your Vietnam experience, in-country and back in the U.S., as a reason you are some kind of natural leader of the military. Use your Vietnam experience as a reason why you know when to bring the boys (and girls) back home. (And, by the way, stop running from the anti-war position. You took it. You believed it. Stand there firm and let them run into you and bounce off.)
4. Two words: John Edwards. Repeat it as a mantra. Tom Vilsack looks like a dweeb and has a name as instantly mockable as “Lieberman.” Dick Gephardt would not gain you any votes - the unions are going your way. Bill Richardson might be good because he taps into that growing Hispanic population and that American waistline consciousness, but one risks the reverse in reminding everyone just what fat fucks we’ve become. And all of these are immensely qualified, significantly less-evil-than-Cheney people.
Nope. It’s gotta be Edwards – the exuberance to balance your severe gravitas. In fact, having Edwards out there would allow you the freedom to be yourself: serious, thoughtful, considered. In the last generation, we've learned that a good Prez/VP combo is a yin and yang thing. Clinton was all party guy and Gore was the fused spine. Bush and Cheney are a natural combo. Gore/Lieberman lost because, rightly or wrongly, it was impossible to perceive them as anything other than a couple of stiffs. Bush Sr. was, ironically, the smart, experienced one to the facade of Ronald Reagan. Putting Edwards on the ticket is only a positive. It gives you a chance in a couple of Southern states. It makes everyone look forward to the Edwards presidency. And an Edwards/Cheney debate would just be more joy than one should be allowed in a lifetime. Edwards puts you over the top. Edwards makes people leave Nader behind. Edwards makes you hip. He makes you win the college girl vote by gettin' their panties all wet and sticky. And you win the college guys because they love drinkin' with a redneck. Fuck, just put him on the goddamn ticket and don’t listen to the wonks.
5. Why the fuck didn’t you counter “Mission Accomplished” with “Mission Impossible”? What a great fucking ad that would have made, with the music, a fuse lit, images of Iraq, a voice saying, “this country will explode in five seconds,” whatever. Who the fuck is working for you? If no one on your campaign thought of this, fire them and hire the Rude Pundit. You know where to find him: firstname.lastname@example.org.