Josh Marshall is on point as always today in a post about the meta-debate over Kerry's toughness: On one level, of course, the aim behind these attacks is to cast suspicion upon Kerry's military service record and label him a liar. But that's only part of what's going on. … One way -- perhaps the best way -- to demonstrate someone's lack or toughness or strength is to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves -- thus the rough slang I used above. And that I think is a big part of what is happening here. Someone who can't or won't defend themselves certainly isn't someone you can depend upon to defend you. … Hitting someone and not having them hit back hurts the morale of that person's supporters, buoys the confidence of your own backers (particularly if many tend toward an authoritarian mindset) and tends to make the person who's receiving the hits into an object of contempt (even if also possibly also one of sympathy) in the eyes of the uncommitted.
Christopher Hayes is the host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes. He is an editor at large at the Nation and a former senior editor of In These Times.