My first reaction when I read this was that the Obama campaign was way overreacting. If you look at what Bush actually said, it’s really not that bad, in my opinion. He was basically saying that he strongly disagreed with a viewpoint similar to Obama’s without mentioning Obama directly. Big deal, it’s an election year.

But then I thought about it and realized how smart it was to speak out against this so strongly and so publicly. Pretty much the only way the Obama campaign can mess up this election is if they let the Republicans Swiftboat Obama  out of the running. Al Gore was a similar candidate to Obama in a way–they’re both very smart, sincere, and passionate men. But Al Gore was also kind of a pushover.

John Kerry, of course, was completely unresponsive to unfair criticism against him for most of the campaign, and that’s almost certainly why he lost.

Both candidates let little comments like this slide throughout the campaign. But that’s exactly how Karl Rove and the Republicans operate–they make dozens of little comments for months to subtly change how a candidate is viewed. Throw in a few completely unfair attacks from people who aren’t directly involved with the Republican party, and all of a sudden the majority of Americans consider a Vietnam veteran to be more of a coward than a draft dodger.

So I’m thrilled that Obama is speaking out strongly–even if a little too strongly–against this little comment the very first time the Republican party tried.

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