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I was listening to John Kerry, the Massachusetts senator and Democratic candidate for president, giving a speech today.

Now... you can't hold a presidential candidate to every single speech he gives, because there are so many times they get up there and blather about what they think about this or what they think about that.

But something caught my attention in Kerry's speech, because we've heard it a lot and I think we're going to hear it much more from a variety of democratic candidates.

Kerry was talking about the surplus that existed when President Bush took office — $5 trillion, more or less — and how the deficit is back, measured in $1 or $2 trillion. That's a $6 or $7 trillion swing from surplus to deficit, and the Democrats are anxious to exploit this glaring difference in the country's finances.

But laying this case out, the Democrats make an omission that is huge. They never mention it, and anybody listening can hear it's missing.

What’s missing is Sept. 11.

Sept. 11. led to huge expenses that this country had to take on — a war in Afghanistan, homeland security, bailing out airlines, replacing every airport screener in the country, then a war and reconstruction in Iraq.

Now you can say all of those things were bad things to do, if you want. Fine, we'll debate it, point by point.

But to say Bush squandered a huge surplus and has gone into debt without saying why is misleading the public, mesmerizing with economic hocus pocus without saying, “Gees. He did have to deal with a huge attack on America, and a declared war by a worldwide terrorist organization that hates America.”

I think it's an important part of the debate, and the Dems should face it first, not last.

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