“If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen” — this quote has often been attributed to Harry Truman. Perhaps Democrats should be saying the same to Dennis Hasert. To make a long story short, Kerry turned the heat up on Hasert and Hasert didn’t like it.
I don’t know about Hasert personally, but I’ve seen enough of Rove, Bush, Cheney, Chambliss, Lott and Co. to finally say it: These Republicans aren’t conservatives, they’re bullies. To paraphrase Richard Nixon, they’re not conservatives, the same thugs that have always terrorized the good people.” This is not the conservatism of Robert Taft, Ronald Reagan, or even Barry Goldwater. These are the bullies of the Joe McCarthy era updated for the 21st century. As the NY Times describes:
“Representative J. Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, is taking issue with a political appeal sent out by Senator John Kerry, saying the senator falsely accused him of labeling Representative John P. Murtha a coward.
“Senator Kerry’s comments used for campaign fund-raising purposes are simply over the top, extremely inappropriate and factually incorrect,” said Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for Mr. Hastert, referring to a Nov. 18 e-mail message sent out to supporters of Mr. Kerry by his political committee.
But an adviser to Mr. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said he was comfortable with his characterization of the speaker’s reaction to a call by Mr. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The adviser, Jenny Backus, said Republicans were trying to regroup after early criticism of Mr. Murtha, a decorated Marine veteran, backfired.
“There is no question that the Republicans mounted an attack on John Murtha,” said Ms. Backus, a consultant who works with Mr. Kerry on his Web site. “They are trying to rewrite history.”
The back-and-forth illustrates the continuing political turmoil sparked by Mr. Murtha’s proposal and how it has evolved into a proxy for dueling party positions on Iraq. It also shows that Mr. Kerry absorbed some lessons from his 2004 presidential campaign, when he was criticized as not responding quickly enough to attacks on his own service in Vietnam by a group called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
In the e-mail message to supporters the day after Mr. Murtha’s announcement and a subsequent barrage of hostile Republican reaction, Mr. Kerry referred to his own experience. “You and I have to make it absolutely clear that we won’t stand for Republican ‘Swift Boat’ style attacks on Jack Murtha,” he said.
“Dennis Hastert – the speaker of the House who never served – accused Jack Murtha of being a coward,” Mr. Kerry said as he listed Republican attacks on Mr. Murtha.
Ms. Backus said that comment was based on news reports and the general tone of an initial statement released by the office of Mr. Hastert, Republican of Illinois. It said that America “must not cower” in fighting the war on terror and that Mr. Murtha and other Democrats “want us to wave the white flag of surrender.” (emphasis added)
I guess bullies don’t like it when they go up against someone their own size.