Thursday, September 09, 2004

This latest business about Bush and the National Guard is a waste of time, in my opinion. My guess is that everybody pretty much knows that Bush used influence and his family's political power to get into the Texas Air National Guard, and to get special dispensation while serving. Again, no one cares what this guy did 32 yeards ago. It's got a 2-3 day news arc, at best. If the Kerry people are pushing this story on the media, it's a mistake. If it's the media, then you can't stop them anyway.

Interestingly, I have somehow gotten on the email list for the "Bush-Cheney '04 Grassroots Team." Here's their response to the story:

In response to President Bush's Agenda for America's Future and a critique of his policies and Senate record, Senator Kerry's campaign is implementing a strategy of vicious personal attacks against the President and Vice President.

The campaign is bringing in a bevy of former Clinton henchmen, including CNN commentators James Carville and Paul Begala. In August alone, Begala called President Bush a "gutless wonder," said he has a "lack of intelligence," and called Vice President Cheney a "dirt bag." Carville said the President is "ignorant big time" and said "George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are a couple of nobodies."

It's not like Bob Shrum needed encouragement to engage in personal attacks. At a Kerry rally Friday morning in Ohio, campaign surrogate John Glenn compared the Republican Convention to a Nazi rally, and Kerry called the President unfit to lead our nation and once again sought to divide the country by who served and how 35 years ago.

Of course, the President was called a "cheap thug," a "killer" and a "liar" at a Kerry-Edwards campaign event in New York, Mrs. Kerry has called the President's policies "unpatriotic" and "immoral" and DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe falsely accused the President of being AWOL.

Democratic strategist Susan Estrich outlined the strategy last Wednesday in a column warning Republicans to "watch out." "I'm not promising pretty," she wrote before going on to call President Bush and Vice President Cheney alcoholics, then ask "is any alcoholic ever really cured?" ("I can see the ad now.") She deems the President's service as a National Guard fighter pilot "draft dodging," and says, "a forthcoming book by Kitty Kelly raises questions about whether the President has practiced what he preaches on the issue of abortion." (Interestingly, the New York Daily News reported back in February that the Kerry campaign intended to spread such a rumor in pro-life chat rooms late in the campaign.)

So the former Dukakis campaign manager has an advance copy of Democrat donor Kitty Kelly's book, which promises to throw unsubstantiated gossip at President Bush in the same way she falsely maligned the late President Reagan as a date rapist who paid for a girlfriend's abortion and wrongly castigated Nancy Reagan as an adulterer who had an affair with Frank Sinatra. A recent story says Kelly's book alleges President Bush used cocaine at Camp David while his father was President, which is as credible as her story that then Governor and Nancy Reagan smoked marijuana with Jack Benny and George and Gracie Burns.

And tonight on CBS, longtime Democratic operative Ben Barnes-a friend of, major contributor to and Nantucket neighbor of Senator Kerry's and vice chair of the Kerry Campaign--will repudiate his statement under oath that he had no contact with the Bush family concerning the President's National Guard service. (Anyone surprised that Barnes would contradict a statement he made under oath probably doesn't know his long history of political scandal and financial misdealings.)

So brace yourselves. Any mention of John Kerry's votes for higher taxes and against vital weapons programs will be met with the worst kind of personal attacks. Such desperation is unbecoming of American Presidential politics, and Senator Kerry will pay a price for it at the polls as we stay focused on policies to continue growing our economy and winning the War on Terror.
Anybody notice how the Repubs decry the so-called personal attacks, and in the same literary breath, they do the same thing! (see "bevy of Clinton henchmen"] What's happening is that they are muddying the water so throroughly that no one knows what to believe, and in the absence of strong evidence one way or the other, the tendency is to retain the status quo. This tactic, by the way, is commonly practiced by defense lawyers; make it so confusing that the jury has no idea whether the plaintiff's case has merit. In the absence of clear evidence, the jury is inclined to leave things the way they are and not deliver a verdict for the plaintiff.

Kerry is the plaintiff here, and he is losing his case.

UPDATE: The New Republic, in commenting on this story, slams Ed Gillespie for the above "panicky" memo that he wrote, saying, "Ed Gillespie, chairman of the RNC, circulated a panicky memo to supporters on Wednesday claiming that Barnes "will repudiate his statement under oath that he had no contact with the Bush family concerning the President's National Guard service." Gillespie's statement proved to be absolutely false." The article points out that Barnes's interview was completely consistent with his previous story. Ryan Lizza's article goes on to say:

CBS obtained four documents from the personal papers of Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian, Bush's Texas National Guard squadron commander. These memos tell a fascinating story about the struggle of a by-the-book commander caught between a self-important young pilot trying to cut corners and wriggle out of the rest of his Guard commitment, and superiors who seem all too willing to let the privileged son of a Texas VIP bend the rules.

That's the real story here, if we're interested in character as an issue. Kerry didn't duck Vietnam service; he volunteered for it. Bush not only ducked Vietnam, he couldn't be bothered to do his duty, even though it was [relatively] cushy state-side pilot training and physicals.

I still say, though, that the Kerry poeple need to ignore the issue and just let the media run with it, if they want.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Don't send a machine to do a man's [or woman's] work. Off the top of my head, it strikes me that of the unmanned devices we have sent out into space in the last few years, there is something like a 50% failure rate. Let's find some cowboys, strap some boosters on, and just GO.
Some months ago, I predicted that the Bush camp had something on Kerry, and would spring it, probably after the conventions. I was half right. This Swift Boat Veterans for Truth nonsense, which surfaced after the Democratic Convention, is what they were waiting to jump Kerry with. Is that the worst they've got? A show of hands please: who really believes that the Bush Administration and the Republican establishment don't control these "527" groups? I don't.

In my copious spare time [i.e., none], I have perused some of the blogs [i.e., Instapundit], and have seen the joyous lambasting of candidate Kerry, and I get depressed. Not because they are right [I don't know that they are], but because the Kerry campaign is running such a lousy campaign.

I have said all along that Kerry has got to dispel the notion of "Northeastern Liberal." He really has not done that. He had to dispel the notion that he is a flip-flopper. He has not done that. He had to craft and convey a "message": a vision of the U.S. that he wanted to bring to the table. He has not done that.

Instead, his campaign has allowed itself to get sucked into the minutiae of who did what, when and where 35 years ago in Vietnam. Who cares? The campaign is REacting, not PROacting. The campaign is not on message, because it seems to have no message at all.

If I were running the show, this is what I would be pushing:

1. The economy: deficit spending tends to depress the economy. Bush has gone from surplus to record deficits in four years. That kind of incompetence takes some doing. And Bush is the first president in history to seek tax cuts in wartime. What's that about? People are most concerned about how they are going to live and thrive. There are many, many people who are not doing as well now as they were four years ago. Tap into this dissatisfaction. Refute the propaganda that Bush had a recession when he entered office in 2001. Evoke memories of how good things were when Clinton was president. It's not all about 9/11. The Bush Administration is letting jobs slip away from us, trade deficits are at an all-time high, and the economy is at best sluggish. It's the economy, stupid. Don't forget healthcare.

2. National Security: Kerry voted for war in Iraq based on misleading information, if not out and out lies from the Administration. While it's generally a good thing for Saddam to be out of power, Americans don't like to be misled -- or lied to. At best, the Bush Administration myopically went to war where the need did not exist. At worst, the Bush Administration went to war based on a vendetta to oust Saddam, no matter what the cost. Whichever is true, it is undeniable that the Administration is giving us now a different rationale for war than it did before we went in [see credibility, below]. However, now that we're committed, we must finish the job, with a coherent plan to win the peace, as well as the war. I don't know what Bush's plan is; Kerry needs to formulate one and articulate it.

3. Credibility: Kerry must refute, simply, the accusations that he cannot be consistent on a position. Seems to me they said the same thing about Clinton in 1992 and 1996. The problem is that Kerry seems to keep shifting, and is not fighting back against those charges. At the same time, Kerry needs to go after Bush and the Republican establishment he controls for their lack of credibility on life and death issues, on civil rights, on the envoronment, on cronyism, and a host of other issues.

4. Distance Kerry from any aspect of the 1988 Dukakis campaign. The Bush people are crowing about John Sasso's possible involvement in the campaign. Comparisons between Kerry and Dukakis are starting to happen. Take steps to stop the references; Kerry must establish himself as his own man, and stay the hell away from Dukakis

There are a lot of people, including Republicans, who are mad as hell at the Bush Administration right now. The Kerry people have got to give them a reason to vote for their man. It's not too late for the Kerry campaign to turn this around, but it's go to get its collective head out of its collective ass and move. Where's James Carville when you need him?
My cousin, Fred "Rico" Hurvich, sent my mother this opinion piece, who sent it to me. I'm not usually one to cite to Garrison Keillor, but he certainly says it loud and proud. An excerpt:
Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of tragedy—the single greatest failure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the president’s personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.

Also: "It’s a beautiful world, rain or shine, and there is more to life than winning." I guess Keillor thinks Kerry is going to lose?