Many Democrats are apparently afraid to do battle with the highly regarded President Bush in 1992, guided as they are by the old political maxim: "Only kick a man while he's down."

While it is true that Bush is all but invulnerable, it would be nice to have someone challenge him, if only to suggest that America can still hold a semi-contested presidential election.An appropriate candidate doesn't come to mind, and such a person may not exist. But here's a winning platform - too gutsy for Democrats, but perhaps you may decide to run. Your guiding principle is another political maxim: "When all else fails, try the truth."

- Taxes and spending: Bush wimped out during last year's "historic" budget negotiations, approving tax hikes on gasoline, alcohol and other staples in return for "ironclad" spending limits. Prescient citizens (roughly 87 percent of the population) knew the plan was a load of bull as soon as it hit the meadow floor, a belief that was recently confirmed by the budget-busting vote to increase veterans' benefits without offsetting cuts elsewhere. Your duty is to rouse the voters to new levels of indignation.

- The war: No matter what your position on the gulf conflict, you probably have some quarrel with the president's policy. For one thing, Bush urged the Iraqis to revolt; they have, and now he stands by as Saddam Hussein slaughters the revolters. Iraq also continues to possess a huge army, thanks to Bush's decision to stop the war before his generals could whittle Saddam down to a toothpick. Your mission: to make Bush look less like Alexander the Great and more like a guy who let the cockroach get away.

Here are three lines of attack:

- Cabinet: Sooner or later, someone's going to have to come out and say it: James Baker is a disaster. Blame him (and, by inference, Bush) for sending weak signals to Saddam about Kuwait, the suggestion being that war could have been avoided had the State Department been on the ball. Also point out that following a conversation between Loose-Lips Baker and Syria's Hafez Assad, Western anti-terrorism agents were rooted out and murdered, probably because of information supplied by the knot-headed secretary. Unlike Bush, Baker can be mercilessly vilified. Go for it, and pray for collateral damage.

- Political assassination: While almost everyone is glad Iraq is out of Kuwait, Americans did die in the effort, and few people are happy to learn that 100,000 Iraqis may have died as well, many of them hapless conscripts who were buried alive in their bunkers. What trouble could have been saved if Saddam had taken a Washington-financed slug in the back of his head (necessitated by State's fateful blunder).

- Other war stuff: Bush and his associates were quick to ridicule the anti-war crowd, of which the president himself was a one-time member. Get the tape and play back, preferably over a laugh track, his Aug. 2 comment about how he was "not contemplating" a military response to the Kuwait invasion.

A few other issues:

- Racial quotas: Abolish them. They do more harm than good and should be illegal anyway.

- Education: First off, promise to destroy the Department of Education, which you may not be able to do, but it sounds good and wouldn't hurt education a bit.

Anything else? Oh, yes. Quayle. Kick him until the boots fall from your feet. After all, no one ever said politics shouldn't be fun.