I think last week's media explosion over Kerry's botched joke was a good thing for the Democrats.
In case you were on the moon last week, let me go over what happened. Kerry was making a joke about Bush not having studied hard in school and ending up getting us stuck in Iraq, and left out the word "us." Republicans decided to try to trick people into thinking that Kerry - a war hero who had volunteered to serve in combat after graduating from Yale - was "insulting our troops." They sent instructions out to their echo chamber to pretend to be outraged. They cranked up the phony outrage across the internet, got the story onto The Drudge Report, got Rush Limbaugh to "run with it," and then the TV networks started non-stop coverage and commentary. It was an instant, manufactured media frenzy. And then it went away. Just like that.
So here is why I think in the end this was a very good thing for the Democrats.
1) It distracted the Republican machine. Kerry isn't running for anything but the entire conservative outrage machine spent 2 days attacking him instead of talking about anything relevant to the election and to the concerns of voters. Who CARES what John Kerry said? This is not to run down Kerry, but for voters to care it has to be about SOMEONE OR SOMETHING THAT MATTERS TODAY. In this election what John Kerry said just doesn't matter because he isn't running for anything.
But the Republican noise machine IS capable of influencing the public and doing real damage. That was two days in which they could have been causing trouble and instead they were entirely focused on something that just does not matter.
2) Crying 'wolf' too many times reduces the effect of crying "wolf." (That's why they call it "crying wolf.") The Republicans cranked up their machine to absolute full volume over something that wasn't true and just didn't matter, and everybody had to listen to it. So the realization that these people cry "wolf" is sinking in.
John Kerry DIDN'T SAY WHAT THEY SAID HE SAID, and everyone knew it. And it JUST DIDN'T MATTER and everyone knew it. They were crying "wolf" AND EVERYONE KNEW IT!
3) It allowed us a peek behind the curtain. We're becoming more and more aware of how the Republicans do it, how the sound machine works and how the phony outrage and smear machine operates. We're learning about their techniques. So we're watching and learning, and this week was like a lab experiment for studying conservative outrage and smears. We are learning how to react, how to keep from getting sucked into the defensiveness game, and how to fight back. Two years ago the swiftboating of Kerry cost him the election. This year Kerry - and all of us by extension - understood more about what was happening and responded effectively.
So yes, I think last week's media frenzy was, on balance, very good for the Democrats.