That's the question I kept asking myself, as Kerry's Democratic colleague in the Senate heaped obloquy upon the standard-bearer.
It was only two days since John McCain urged civility befitting "an argument among friends," but there was Miller frothing with venom.
Wearing an unrelieved scowl, Miller denounced Kerry as being "warped," "wrong," "weak," and "wobbly."
He rattled off a list of weapons that Kerry has opposed, and then said, "This is the man who wants to be the commander in chief of our U.S. Armed Forces? U.S armed forces armed with what? Spit balls?"
(David Letterman has nothing to fear from Miller.)
Interestingly, Miller's distaste for Kerry is rather new. In a 2001 speech, he called Kerry "one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders-and a good friend." In that same speech, he said, "John has worked to strengthen our military." And, according to the American Progress Action Fund, "Kerry has cast the exact same votes on intelligence funding as Miller."
Another odd thing about Miller is why he's taken so long to go public with his apostasy.
Miller denounced "Carter's pacifism."
He trashed the Democrats for opposing Reagan's defense buildup.
And he dumped all over Ted Kennedy.
The last Democrat he praised was Harry Truman!
He slandered Kerry and other Democratic leaders by saying they "see America as an occupier, not a liberator." Even President Bush has admitted that the United States is an occupier in Iraq, and that no people likes to be occupied.
So where was Miller getting off?
Then, echoing rhetoric that could easily have stumbled out of the mouth of Francisco Franco or Augusto Pinochet, Miller recited a little ode to the military:
"It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press.
"It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
"It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest.
"It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom he abuses to burn that flag."
This is nothing but martial disgust for those who exercise our most precious freedoms.
The shriller Miller became, the more it became clear that he was doing damage not to Kerry but to Bush himself.
Miller provided ugly echoes of Pat Buchanan and Barry Goldwater.
Such rhetoric will end up turning off more voters than it attracts.
To give you an idea of how rightwing Miller actually is, he served as executive secretary to Lester Maddox, the crude segregationist governor of Georgia. Miller himself was a segregationist. "As a Congressional candidate in 1964, Miller not only pledged to vote against the Civil Rights Act, he attacked those who were pushing it," according to the American Progress Action Fund. "He said President Lyndon Johnson 'is a Southerner who has sold his birthright for a mess of dark porridge.' "
If the Republicans like Miller so much, they can have him.
Copyright 2004 The Progressive