is one good thing about President Bush's new advertisement
showing John Kerry windsurfing: Kerry does enjoy
alone puts the ad on a higher plane of truthfulness
than many of the statements the president regularly
makes on the campaign trail. A press corps that
relentlessly nitpicked Al Gore in 2000 in search
of "little lies" and exaggerations has given Bush
wide latitude to make things up. I guess the incumbent
benefits from the soft bigotry of low expectations.
the top of my personal hit parade of Bush Distortions
is a statement the president has made over and
over, notably during his speech at the Republican
National Convention. "If you say the heart and
soul of America is found in Hollywood," Bush said
to loud cheers, "I'm afraid you are not the candidate
of conservative values."
has repeated variations of that sentiment so often
that I bet you didn't know that Kerry never said
that the heart and soul of America is found in
Kerry actually said, after a fundraiser in which
a group of stars performed on his behalf (and,
yes, during which some of them said distasteful
things about Bush), was this: "Every performer
tonight, in their own way, either verbally or
through their music, through their lyrics, have
conveyed to you the heart and soul of our country."
by the way, Kerry didn't even make those comments
in Hollywood. The fundraiser was held in New York.
you don't care about Hollywood, how about Iraq?
Kerry gave a tough speech attacking Bush's policies
there. Bush fired back, as he had every right
to do, and denounced what Kerry said.
Bush said of his opponent, "he now believes our
national security would be stronger with Saddam
Hussein in power, not in prison." Then Bush quoted
Kerry. "Today he said, and I quote, 'We have traded
a dictator for a chaos that has left America less
secure.' He's saying he prefers the stability
of a dictatorship to the hope and security of
to have a Democratic nominee preferring dictatorship
to democracy would be big news indeed. But here
is a full rendition of the passage from Kerry's
speech that Bush partially quoted: "Saddam Hussein
was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special
place in hell. But that was not, that was not
in and of itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction
that we take in his downfall does not hide this
fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that
has left America less secure."
the full Kerry quote again. Does that sound like
someone who "prefers the stability of a dictatorship
to the hope and security of democracy"? After
all, in that same speech Kerry said he "would
have tightened the noose and continued to pressure
and isolate Saddam Hussein."
is a real argument to be had over whether this
war has made us safer. But it is not surprising
that Bush finds it easier to cast his opponent
as a friend of dictatorship than to address whether
his policies have worked. Kerry probably shouldn't
feel too bad. Bush also dismissed a bleak report
from his own CIA on the Iraq situation by saying
the analysts were "just guessing." Don't pay attention
to what's behind the curtain.
of curtains, Bush deserves a curtain call and
perhaps an award from Hollywood for how he manages
to translate Kerry's promise that he would increase
taxes only on Americans who earn more than $200,000
a year into a tax increase on everybody. "He says
he's going to tax the rich," Bush said on Wednesday
in King of Prussia, Pa. "Rich hire lawyers and
accountants for a reason -- to stick you with
the bill. We're not going to let him tax you,
because we're going to win in November."
a president who signed all kinds of provisions
to help wealthy taxpayers turns around, blames
the lawyers and -- presto! -- Kerry, by implication
and association, becomes a friend of the wealthy
who want to raise your taxes. Clever? Manipulative?
could go on. For example, Bush describes Kerry's
health insurance plan, which even critics say
is designed to strengthen the existing employer-based
system, as an effort to put "Washington bureaucrats
in control." But you get the drift.
very intelligent political reporter I know said
the other night that Republicans simply run better
campaigns than Democrats. If I were given a free
pass to stretch the truth to the breaking point,
I could run a pretty good campaign, too.
Posted: September 29, 2004