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November 1, 2004
CQ Flashback: Kerry -- Bush/Cheney "Most Crooked ... Lying Group" (3/10/04)

Senator John Kerry revealed an ugly and poorly controlled side of himself when he thought he was off-mike this afternoon while speaking with AFL-CIO union workers in Chicago:

Sen. John Kerry, all but officially the Democratic presidential nominee, called Republicans he is battling "crooked" Wednesday. ... "Keep smiling," one man said to him.

Kerry responded, "Oh yeah, don't worry man. We're going to keep pounding, let me tell you -- we're just beginning to fight here. These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group of people I've ever seen."

Simply appalling. In the picture above, you can see a Kerry aide hurriedly trying to disconnect the microphone, to no avail, which leads me to wonder what else John Kerry says when he thinks the mikes are off. Does he speculate on Roswell? Discussing alien abductions?

Kerry's campaign immediately retreated into damage control, saying that Kerry was referring to the Republican "attack machine", but that's absolute hogwash. The Democrats have spent the last nine months throwing all sorts of personal ad hominem attacks against George Bush and Dick Cheney, including allegations that Bush was AWOL during his National Guard duty, that Cheney was getting rich off of Halliburton contracts in Iraq, and most notoriously until now, that George Bush had been told by the Saudis ahead of time about the 9/11 attacks and did nothing about them. They're not discussing issues -- they're slinging mud, and that should tell you something about their intellectual bankruptcy in this election cycle.

John Kerry needs to put up or abjectly apologize. If Kerry has evidence of corruption or lying, then put it out for all to see. Then we can all be enlightened and investigate it, and determine if Kerry is right or a full-fledged member of the Tinfoil Hat brigade. If he refuses to do so, then he is a coward and a sneak, a mumbler who won't take responsibility for his rumormongering.

Die-hard Democrats will probably cheer Kerry for his character assassination, but independents should take note: this man is not temperamentally or morally suited for the job of an executive. The Democrats should be ashamed of this behavior instead of trotting out weak justifications about "attack machines". Grow up and take responsibility, or go home.

UPDATE: Here's the AP article that broke this story. Money graf:

Earlier Wednesday in Chicago, Kerry toughened his comments about his GOP critics after a supporter urged him to take on Bush [emph. mine]. "Let me tell you, we've just begun to fight," Kerry said. "We're going to keep pounding. These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen. It's scary."

That's the context; it wasn't about talk radio, it wasn't about people with Photoshop and too much time on their hands, and it wasn't about Captain's Quarters. Kerry meant George Bush and Dick Cheney, and by association, their entire administration.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 1, 2004 12:00 PM

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