March 12, 2004
He put it so plainly and accurately. No, I don't believe that he was unaware that he was still miked for broadcast. I'll wager it was nothing planned or prearranged. It just happened and I think fortuitously. Sen. John Kerry, the man with sufficient support to be officially the support to be officially the Democratic Party's contender speaking to a factory worker said of his Republican critics that they are "the most crooked ...lying group" he had ever seen. The Republicans immediately demanded an apology which he refused to proffer. He added, "There is a Republican attack squad that specializes in trying to destroy people and be negative." He's right, just watch the ads. I only hope that the Kerry team will be able to match ...or even partially match ...the enormous war chest of funds that the Bush people have managed to raise. I only wish the president was as astute a chief executive as he is a fund-raiser for his campaign. Of course attack ads are frequent and to be expected in politics, but the new Bush ad against Kerry made history: it was the first time that an incumbent president was required to include a personal statement of approval in a commercial used to criticize an opponent.
The first ad on television unleashed a message that claimed Kerry was wrong on taxes, wrong on defense.It also accuses Kerry of advocating a policy that would require the United States to seek permission from the United Nations before taking action to defend itself. Of course, Kerry never said that. The ad also claims that if the Democrat was elected, he would take steps to weaken anti-terrorism laws. That is such nonsense and they know it.
We are going to face 8 months of such campaigning. This was just the opening salvo of a really rough and ugly campaign. The Bush people are worried; worried about their failings and lack of achievement and concerned by the polls that seem to show the incumbent falling and the challenger rising. Somehow Kerry must get to the issues and must impel the president to speak about healthcare, education, the economy and terrorism. He must be made to speak too about the reasons and logic behind the war in Iraq. As Kerry said in a newsconference yesterday, "They can't talk about those things, because George Bush doesn't have a record to run on; he has a record to run away from."
When I mentioned that the administration was beginning to show concern about the Democrats, let me add that there have been a few statements and actions by White House insiders that have caused a few headaches of late.
To mention but two of them. The White House had to be embarrassed when the Education Secretary, Rod Paige, called the National Education Association" a "terrorist organization." Really? Wouldn't the President's people wail if the Kerry folk chose to put that cabinet comment in a commercial!
And, Mr. President, your top economic advisor, N. Gregory Mankiw, recently extolled the virtues of shipping jobs abroad. Now that, if it reflects the President's thinking, puts him even more out of touch with public sentiment than his father was just before he was defeated in his campaign for re-election. That too would make the basis for a fine commercial.
On the other side, without sarcasm, I would imagine that the pressures of being the man in the Oval Office and also having to run a campaign must be truly tough. But, I guess the rewards make it all worthwhile.