But Have You Ever Killed a Man, Mr. President?
I've mightily enjoyed John Kerry's bathetic tough-guy antics on the campaign trail–e.g. riding a Harley on the set of The Tonight Show, piloting a helicopter, etc.–and predict that if the Wisconsin primary gets tight enough, the candidate will strip off his shirt and attempt to bend iron bars, explode hot water bottles with his lung power, bench-press bikini-clad girls, the whole circus strongman shtick.
In an entertaining (if divorced from reality) column, the New York Daily News' Zev Chafets says that Kerry is running partly on the fact that he's a killer and that such macho, macho man stylings are counterproductive:
Kerry seems happy with the role of muscleman. Lately, he hardly utters a sentence without the word "fight" in it. He's going to "stand toe to toe" with Bush, and show him what combat is like "for real." Look out, Howard Dean. Jump back, Bill and Hillary. A man's man is now on the party premises.
Kerry's special appeal, to put it plainly, is that he is a killer. Thirty-five years ago, under fire, he turned his boat toward enemy soldiers, chased them down and shot them dead. Bush, for all his Texas swagger, can't match that. Hell, he doesn't have a single notch on his belt.
The Killer Qualification is a whole new thing in modern presidential politics.
He should cut it out. Kerry has had a distinguished career in public life, including nearly 20 years in the Senate. He is a thoughtful, intelligent man and a strong campaigner. There are good reasons to take his candidacy seriously. Having bagged some Viet Cong is not one of them.
I've yet to hear Kerry or any of his supporters play the killer-in-chief card, but here's hoping for an exchange about it during one of the presidential debates.