Sneak peek of 'Hardball' in Herald Square
"The park is so lush it looks like it's the set of the new Survivor or something," says MSNBC.com chat producer Will Femia, who was in Midtown Manhattan earlier today. (He also says that it's like a zoo out there now.)
Chris and his panel broadcasts from the location starting Sunday, 7 p.m. ET. Here's a link to MSNBC's RNC coverage plans.
Campaign money (David Shuster)
MoveOn Pac is unleashing $3 million worth of ads to coincide with the GOP convention. The ads feature people who voted for Bush 4 years ago but who are now voting for Kerry.
Unlike previous moveon spots, these ads are not factually controversial or misleading. But they remind all of us of the "math" both campaigns are looking at: Kerry wants to hold on to all of the Gore voters and peel off a couple hundred thousand or more Bush 2000 voters.
The Bush pollsters acknowledge there are no Gore voters out there who are now voting for Bush. So, the Bush campaign is focused on recruiting "new voters" or conservatives who stayed home in 2000.
Tonight, we will take a closer look at where the Bush and Kerry campaigns received their money from. Both are done with private fundraising (since they are now into the federal funds part of the election.) We'll look at which sectors came through for each candidate.
By the way, I'm blogging later about Times Square. A 20-story image of P Diddy keeps staring at me across from my hotel room.
E-mail here to comment on David's post: DShuster@MSNBC.com
From the Hardblogger mailbag:
Hi Joe, I really enjoyed your story about your 14 hour ride with your daughter, it made me smile and feel happy for both of you. I was with my granddaughter today she is 6 years old. She said to me "Grandma, I love my daddy so much and I miss him so much. When he would come home from work, he would play with me everyday but now he is far away. My mom says it will be a longtime before he can play with me again."
Then she asked, "Grandma how far is Iraq?"
My son told me the other day in an e-mail he hopes he can see Chloe (that's my granddaughter's name) grow up, go to college, and someday get married.
Then I said to him "Of course you will." You see Mr. Trippi, my son is in Sadr City in Bagdad with the cavalry out of Fort Hood, Texas. So tonight, when I read your story it really touched me. I pictured my son and my granddaughter on that 14-hour ride. Thank you for sharing that with us and good luck to you and your daughter." -Teri another pound parent
To e-mail Joe Trippi, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From a parent, not a political analyst (Joe Trippi)
I love my country, but I also love my daughter and too often (in terms of my time) I’ve had to make a choice. In retrospect, I guess I made the wrong choice too many times, or at least it feels that way today.
Last year (2003), as many of you know, I spent 13 months up in Burlington, Vermont doing the “I love my country” thing. Doing just about anything I could think of to change a political system that I thought was busted and broken. I spent seven days in my own house in 2003, and got to roll on the ground wrestling with my two sons exactly once the entire year. The day I left the Dean campaign , I was so worried about how my children would take the news —I didn’t want them to hear about it on television, so I called to tell them myself. THEY CHEERED!
This brings me to yesterday and my daughter Christine. She has been a camp counselor all summer and it was time for the usual ritual of getting her from camp and back to school. But yesterday was different. Christine wasn’t going back to high school, she was going to college. So yesterday morning, my first born picked me up at the airport and we drove together for 14 hours. We passed through state after state on our way to her new campus life, and for the first time in a long time I didn’t care if the state was red or blue.
But I started to feel guilty that I was letting MSNBC down. So I tried to call in a report from Ohio of all places. Christine was rolling her eyes and giving me that “Oh dad!” look. But Jeanne (yes, one of my MSNBC bosses) took my call and then admonished me to be with my daughter and to not call in again.She told me Tammy and even Phil didn’t want to me to do anything other than the most important thing in the world— “just be with Christine”.
So I turned off the cell phone. And we drove, and we talked non-stop as we rolled along hills and valleys, and stopped for refills of Diet Pepsi (me) and water (Christine) and of course gas.
Tomorrow, I am moving her into her dorm. She’s so damn independent, and I am so proud of her. But like a lot of parents right now who are doing the same drive, just to a different campus, the regret of time lost is seeping in. I wonder about all those days, when I was constantly on the road. Would I take back the 13 months on the Dean campaign if I could?
So many Americans who work hard had to make the same kind of choices.
But yesterday, today, and tomorrow are a blessing, the last days before Christine starts her college career, and other than filing this blog and maybe writing a new column for tomorrow (all my idea) I’m grateful to not be thinking much about Swift Boats, or National Guard units and instead just enjoying her idealistic eyes, her smile, her smarts and her “Oh dads!”
Here we are just days away from the Republican National Convention. I am supposed to be on my way to New York to add to the MSNBC coverage on the "Convention After Hours Show ." I’ll get up there in time. But thanks to Jeanne, Tammy, and yes even Phil for letting me have this time with Christine.
Please keep your thoughts, ideas and criticism coming. I look forward to opening my inbox when I get to New York and reading your input. My email is email@example.com.
From the Hardblogger mailbag— hot from last night's shows:
On the Max Cleland interview
I just watched your interview with Max Cleland. Though you are normally very even-handed in your questioning and “hit hard” when bold statements are made, I was left wondering why it is that when he (Max Cleland) charged the President’s campaign with collusion in the ads, citing a few people who may have worked in the campaign and for a ‘527’, you did not point out the numerous people in similar situations in the Kerry campaign. -Angela Sample, Phoenix, AZ
On Laura Ingraham's debate with Dee Dee Myers
As usually happens when Chris has Laura Ingraham on his show, I was sickened. I don’t understand why he always lets her take over the show. First she tramples all over Dee Dee Myers, who is more of a real political figure than Laura could ever hope to be, then she sprinkles her “commentary”… Laura, you’re a shill with no soul. End of story. -Holli, Alexandria, VA
On Scarborough's Bob Dole interview
On Scarborough’s show tonight, at the very end of his segment, Senator Dole repeated the same exact ‘idea’ we heard from Laura Ingraham on Hardball; demanding President Bush denounce the ‘swift boat’ ads is the equivalent of denying those anti-Kerry veterans the right to ‘free speech.’ So, apparently, that’s the agreed-upon Republican ‘approach.’ First, get together a bunch of angry, (Republican) veterans who misunderstood and chose to take personal offence at Kerry’s 1971 congressional testimony. Then, lie and ‘twist some facts’ here and there. Then, when Democrats stand up for themselves and strongly object to it, and suggest that this sort of thing is divisive and counter-productive, the Republican response is to clearly imply that the Democrats are ‘unpatriotic’ and against ‘free speech’. We have real trouble in this country when those who vociferously object to being irresponsibly ‘slimed’ are then identified as being ‘against free speech.’ Kinda reminds me of how those who objected to going to Iraq this time around were labeled as ‘unpatriotic’ because they dared voice a different opinion. -Steven Kyriak, New York, New York
Cheney image overhaul? (Priya David, campaign reporter)
We can all picture Dick Cheney at a podium, gravely intoning the dangers of a post-9/11 world. And even though we don’t know where that undisclosed secure location is, we can see him in it. But can you imagine the silent and sometimes dour Vice President cheerfully picking out tomatoes at a farmer’s market? Helping his grandkids feed hay to a bunch of dairy cows? Sitting in a local Mickey D’s picking at a grilled chicken salad? Clapping at a Little League World Series baseball game?
After today in Pennsylvania, you don’t have to imagine: It’s all captured on tape.
Welcome to the new Dick Cheney. It’s a kinder, gentler Dick Cheney. But witnessing the man in this role is like seeing the proverbial square peg being pushed into a round hole. It’s uncomfortable. At the farmer’s market, Lynne had to slow her husband down and help him express interest in the produce. When they returned to the bus after feeding the cows, Cheney made a beeline for the bus, while Lynne hung back to talk about how the Pennsylvania cows seemed different from the Wyoming cows. (“Cows in Wyoming just scatter if people come around.”) Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz pointed out her father’s character during an introduction this morning. She noted that he’d been a politician for years, but that he’s not a “glad-hander or backslapper.”
Yesterday, the Vice President participated in the photo ops, chatted with the local farmers, shook hands with dirty kids in the little league audience, and ate McDonald’s. He did what was needed, but I somehow doubt it’s what he wanted.
John Kerry says on his website that he will propose legislation to ensure “undocumented workers who have lived and worked here for 5 years, who pay taxes, and who are successfully screened for security purposes will have a path to citizenship.”
In other words, Kerry wants an amnesty for people who can demonstrate to the U.S. government that they have violated U.S. immigration laws for at least 5 years. People who have violated U.S. immigration laws for only 4 years apparently don’t merit special treatment in Kerry’s view.
Were Kerry to propose equivalent treatment for people who have violated the income tax laws, he would push for legislation forgiving the tax bills of people who could prove they had evaded taxes for at least 5 years. Those who had evaded taxes for only 4 years would be out of luck. (Unless, of course, the amnesty was ongoing, and the tax evaders could hold out for another year.)
In keeping with Kerry’s class-war theme, of course, a Kerry tax-evasion amnesty might need to exclude anyone making over $200,000 per year. His amnesty would be only for middle-class tax evaders: Those who work hard, and don’t play by the rules.
The New York Times reports that the draft Republican National Platform being deliberated by GOP platform committee members meeting now in New York “supports Mr. Bush’s call for a new temporary worker program.”
Bush insists he opposes an “amnesty” for illegal aliens. His “temporary worker” program would convert illegal aliens into legal workers for only three years. After that, presumably, the “temporary workers” would revert to illegal aliens— unless they went home to their native countries and got in the back of the line for legal U.S. visas at the local U.S. consulate.
As Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, chairman of the Republican platform committee, admonished the Times: “There is a lot of misrepresentation of the President’s policy, that people can take shortcuts to citizenship.”
No, sir. No shortcuts. Illegal aliens can become “temporary workers” for three years, but after that they have to abide by the laws like everybody else.
Were Bush to propose equivalent treatment for people who have violated the income tax laws, he would need to push for a law that would allow people who are currently evading taxes to become legal “temporary tax evaders.” To be sure, however, there would be “no shortcuts” to permanent income-tax evasion. After three years, income-tax evaders would have to pay their taxes like everybody else or risk prosecution.
Of course, the U.S. actually enforces the income tax laws— with the full support of leading politicians in both parties. Both parties, for some reason, are dead serious about taking some of our money from us each year. But as Kerry’s website and the draft 2004 Republican platform demonstrate, neither party is serious about enforcing the immigration laws.
I'm covering the big protests in NY on sunday and I can't wait. After all, how often does one get to see a bunch of kids pulling a dragon through the streets of Manhattan? Not just any dragon... but a 30-foot long, ten foot high dragon representing the DC statehood/green party. I'm not entirely sure what a dragon has to do with DC statehood... but hey, it's already gotten the attention of yours truly.
Seriously though, there's been a lot of discussion among those of us in the media about pepper spray, gas masks, and possible confrontations between the demonstrators and police. And I'm sure there will be at least one clown will seek to get some attention by destroying something in front of a tvcamera.
But I'm willing to bet that 99 percent of the people who will be demonstrating in NY will not engage in property destruction of any kind. Most of these "demonstrators" are college kids from normal families who simply want to be part of something larger than their own self interest. If you talk with them, as we have, you may find a lot more in common with these kids than you might think. Most of them care deeply about their country, about politics, and about the values that america should or should not stand for. Their perspective and passion may be different from you and me (or not)... but their commitment to educating their fellow citizens and celebrating democracy is just as strong.
Naturally, I don't want to be trampled, gassed, or see my camera crew attacked because we are part of something that is often called "the corporate media." But I'm certain none of that is going to happen. In fact, when it comes to personal safety, maybe we should all be a little more concerned about the bleacher creatures at Yankee stadium.
Joe Trippi has encouraged me to invite your e-mails. So, if you have questions or comments e-mail them to David.Shuster@msnbc.com. I look forward to hearing from you. (And if I can't help you, Joe will.)
Dole tells Scarborough that Senator Kerry called Senator Dole after his statements on Sunday to tell him he was “disappointed.” Dole also says that he thinks Kerry should stop talking about what a “great veteran” he was, that he thinks the American people admire the “quiet heroes” and it pays to “not talk about yourself so much.” Click here for an interview excerpt.
Cheney on Gay Marriage (Priya David, campaign reporter)
At this point you’ve probably heard Dick Cheney’s words on his gay daughter and his thoughts on gay marriage , spoken during a Q&A session in Davenport, Iowa on Tuesday. While apparently shaken, two members of the campaign turned the situation to their advantage and said, “Now do you believe we don’t set up the questions?”
As the campaign scrambled to answer our questions, we first heard that Dick Cheney had never said anything like this about his daughter before... and then heard that he’d made similar comments in smaller settings.
I spoke with the woman who asked the question after the event and she expressed that she wished Cheney was strongly against gay marriage. Regardless, she’s a Bush-Cheney supporter and will be voting Republican in the fall.
Mary Cheney was also on this trip, staying behind the scenes as usual.
If you haven’t seen the comments— read on:
Question: We have a battle here on this land, as well. And I would like to know, sir, from your heart -- I don't want to know what your advisors say, or even what your top advisor thinks -- but I need to know what do you think about homosexual marriages.
Cheney's answer: Well, the question has come up obviously in the past with respect to the question of gay marriage. Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue that our family is very familiar with. We have two daughters, and we have enormous pride in both of them. They're both fine young women. They do a superb job, frankly, of supporting us. And we are blessed with both our daughters.
With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be able to free -- ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to. The question that comes up with respect to the issue of marriage is what kind of official sanction, or approval is going to be granted by government, if you will, to particular relationships. Historically, that's been a relationship that has been handled by the states. The states have made that basic fundamental decision in terms of defining what constitutes a marriage. I made clear four years ago when I ran and this question came up in the debate I had with Joe Lieberman that my view was that that's appropriately a matter for the states to decide, that that's how it ought to best be handled.
The President has, as result of the decisions that have been made in Massachusetts this year by judges, felt that he wanted to support the constitutional amendment to define -- at the federal level to define what constitutes marriage, that I think his perception was that the courts, in effect, were beginning to change -- without allowing the people to be involved, without their being part of the political process -- that the courts, in that particular case, the state court in Massachusetts, were making the judgment or the decision for the entire country. And he disagreed with that.
So where we're at, at this point is he has come out in support of a federal constitutional amendment. And I don't think -- well, so far it hasn't had the votes to pass. Most states have addressed this. There is on the books the federal statute Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996. And to date it has not been successfully challenged in the courts, and that may be sufficient to resolve the issue. But at this point, say, my own preference is as I've stated. But the President makes basic policy for the administration. And he's made it clear that he does, in fact, support a constitutional amendment on this issue.
A sidebar note for kicks: 23 years ago, Lynne Cheney wrote a gay romance novel called “ Sisters,” set in the Wild West during the turn of the century. The novel’s out of print, but an Internet site displaying photos this month inspired by the book point particularly to the following passage from her book:
“The women who embraced in the wagon were Adam and Eve crossing a dark cathedral stage— no, Eve and Eve, loving one another as they would not be able to once they ate of the fruit and knew themselves as they truly were.”
In April, New American Library, the original publisher of the book and an affiliate of the Penguin Group, scrapped plans to reissue the out-of-print edition after Cheney’s lawyer told NAL that she didn’t think it represented her best work.
Gearing up for the RNC (Joe Trippi)
I just got the word that Phil is going to risk it all and send me to NY to cover my first Republican convention. I am taking a crash course from Joe Scarborough on Scarborough Country etiquette, but am having a really tough time with the "It's not a geographic place, its a state of mind" thing. Other than the fact that it seems like a peaceful place, I am never sure I am there.
I wrote a "Trippi's Take" on 527 committees yesterday, and I hope you will check it out.
I also wanted to thank everyone who has taken the time to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas, criticism, and comments. As we get the blog up and running for the Republican National Convention, I am going to try to get your thoughts and ideas on Hardblogger, and try to write a "Trippi’s Take" or two about what you think.
So please keep sending me your thoughts.
Joe.email@example.com good or bad, left or right, I really want to hear what you are thinking and get your input not just on the blog but on the air.
Denying the charges is helping Kerry (Joe Scarborough)
In politics, as in life, timing is everything.
In the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush lost up to four percentage points during the campaign's final weekend after a Gore supporter leaked a 20 year-old drunk driving charge against the Republican candidate. The timing of the attack cost Bush the popular vote and almost cost him the White House.
Eight years earlier, "independent" prosecutor Lawrence Walsh filed indictments against Iran-Contra figures in hopes of swaying Bush Sr.'s election against Bill Clinton. At the time of the politically-charged indictments, Bush had pulled within one point of Clinton. Walsh's political hit job finished Bush for good.
But sometimes an attack can backfire when it drags on too long. Bush the Elder's decision in 1988 to paint Michael Dukakis as enemy no. 1 against the Pledge of Allegiance was one example of political excess, as viewers were forced to watch the GOP candidate visit every flag factory between New England and San Diego.
Sixteen years later, I am sensing that sometime soon that Americans will grow tired of John Kerry's Swift Boat controversy. I know, I know. The media stayed on Bush's National Guard story much longer and gave it wider coverage. But you and I both know that the mainstream media is shamelessly in Kerry's corner on this and every other campaign issue. Again, if you don't believe me, ask Newsweek's Evan Thomas who said as much earlier this month.
You can expect a spate of negative stories and hit pieces attacking the Swift Vets in the coming weeks, even as other public figures like Bob Dole speak their mind on this very controversial issue.
As for John Kerry, the Democratic candidate seems to have regained his footing. Kerry has gone on the attack publicly, and more importantly is calling swift boat vets privately to challenge their accounts. That is the sort of in-your-face approach required when a candidate's honor is called into question.
A good rule to remember in political mudslinging is this: "He who doesn't deny, admits."
John Kerry is finally out in front denying these charges. That is good news for a campaign that has seen better days.
Vietnam drives up the base (Dee Dee Myers
Vietnam drives up the base (Dee Dee Myers
Well, the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush beat on, making claims that have by now been largely discredited by the official records and by the recollections of the men who actually served with Kerry. And while the president seems uncomfortable with the whole thing—watch him squirm whenever he’s asked about it—he can’t and won’t denounce it. Sure, he makes the lame argument that he thinks all the independently financed ads should be pulled off the air. What a load! The truth is he needs those ads—and he knows it.
Strategists from both parties agree that Bush is deeply unpopular with the sliver of voters who are still undecided; his favorables are in the 20s. What’s more, late-deciders have historically voted for the challenger.
So if Bush is going to win, he has to drive up turnout in the base. Vietnam helps. Conservatives hate the fact that Kerry fought—and then came home and protested the war. But after 30 years would that be enough? Apparently, GOP strategists don’t think so. So they’re raising questions about whether Kerry served honorably. Yeah, it’s low. Really low. But it has heat. Look how fired up Republicans have become about this issue. They just couldn’t believe that a guy who was decorated for valor could be—dare I say it?—a Democrat.
And now they don’t have to believe it. What’s more, if they can take Kerry’s valor away from him, they’ve undermined the central pillar of his campaign: That his combat experience (I would argue, coupled with his years of foreign policy experience in the Senate) makes him qualified to be Commander-In-Chief.
So the bottom line is: Bush needs the Swift Boat Vets. If he called on them to stop running the ads, they would. So bet your boots he’ll never do it.
In the meantime, you gotta wonder if there isn’t at least one flaw in the president’s strategy here. Sure, he’s riling up his base. But for every Bush supporter who’ll be motivated to get off the couch and to the polls by this issue, won’t there be at least one more voter motivated to out and vote against him?
• August 23, 2004 | 5:30 p.m. ET
Break out the popcorn (Dominic Bellone, Hardball producer and newsletter editor)
If you thought Thursday's show was hot, we've got the follow-up tonight so break out the popcorn folks... Even Drudge said last night on the radio he was gonna break out the popcorn for this one! We lead with legendary broadcaster Dick Cavett who hosted the first debates between Kerry and anti-Kerry swift boat guy John O'Neill back in '71 (co-author of "Unfit for Command")... We'll also talk to Buchanan (or as Ali G says "my main man Pat Boo-Cannon") about the Nixon White House's reaction to Kerry's anti-war demonstrations back in the day
While you chilled freestyle this weekend at the pool or the beach, a spate of hot new political ads on the swift boats hit the airwaves...Shuster's got the lowdown.
In the back half we talk to historians Douglas Brinkley, John Kerry's official biographer and author of "Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War" and Stanley Karnow, author of "Vietnam: A History."
We wrap things up with Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on President Bush's big new agenda that he will unveil next week at the RNC convention.
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words (Joe Trippi)
So here are a few courtesy of the world wide web over at http://www.dailykos.com/
Kerry’s ribbons and awards for service:
Silver Star (Verified via DD214)
Bronze Star (Should have Bronze Combat "V" Device, Verified via DD214)
Purple Heart (Should have two Gold Star devices for subsequent awards, Verified via DD214)
Combat Action Ribbon (Verified via DD214)
Presidential Unit Citation (Verified via DD215, worn above left pocket per Navy regs)
Navy Unit Commendation (Verified via DD215)
National Defense Service Medal (Verified via DD214)
Vietnam Service Medal(Verified via DD214, w/four bronze star devices verified via DD215)
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation (Verified via DD215)
Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation (Verified via DD215)
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (Verified via DD215
George W. Bush’s ribbons and awards for service:
There appears to be no official document yet released for the two ribbons worn by George Bush in this picture circulating on the web. They are the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship ribbon. Missing is the Texas State Guard Service Medal awarded to just about anyone who just showed up for three years straight.
And the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are challenging John Kerry’s war record?
What’s interesting to me about both men is that John Kerry said “send me” and then came back from Vietnam and spoke out strongly against the war he had fought in.
Bush on the other hand seems to have supported the war strongly, but never volunteered to go to Southeast Asia to fight.
More on the Swift Boat saga tonight on 'Hardball.'
There really is a bunch of interesting stuff on the blogs about all this— check them out and remember they are written by people with a point of view— but most of them wear that point of view on their sleeve so you know where they are coming from. Thanks to the blogosphere for the pictures that put this all in perspective.
BTW thanks for all your suggestions and comments on ideas to blog about! Keep them coming by emailing me a firstname.lastname@example.org!
By the numbers... (David Shuster)
This morning, I was comparing campaign anecdotes with my friend Joe Trippi. And while I'll never acknowledge, post-Butter cow, that Joe has given me anything useful... Joe's experiences are similar to mine: Neither of us, in all of our travels in recent weeks, have found any Al Gore voters from 2000 who say they are planning to vote for George W. Bush this time around. On the other hand, it has not been that difficult to find Bush voters from 2000 who will be voting this time for John Kerry.
I've checked with several respected Republican pollsters... and they tell me, privately, they are finding the same thing. It's one of the reasons that in the battleground states in particular, there is an incredibly intense focus on the GOP side at registering new voters or getting Republicans and evangelicals who stayed home 4 years ago to promise they won't stay home this time.
Bush political advisor Karl Rove thinks a few million Evangelicals stayed home in 2000 because of the old Bush drunk driving arrest that came out the weekend before the election. If Rove is wrong, and a large number of Evangelicals did not stay home... the Bush campaign this fall is facing some serious trouble.
The math on this is pretty simple: Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000 by 500,000 votes. And he did this despite Ralph Nader receiving 2.8 million votes. (Pat Buchanan, who took votes from the GOP side... received 448,000 votes.)
If, as the pollsters indicate, there are few Gore voters who are switching to the Republicans this time, and if there are a larger number of Bush voters who are switching over to support Kerry, the math doesn't work for the Bush-Cheney campaign. Add in a portion of the Nader 2000 voters who, seeing how close things were 4 years ago, will support Kerry, and the numbers for Bush-Cheney get even more challenging.
But keep an eye on "new voters." And, ask your friends and family who did vote 4 years ago... who did they vote for in 2000 and what are they planning this time around?
(In the run-up to coverage of the Republican National Convention, MSNBC airs, "Battleground America: Winning the White House," a special report by Chris Jansing on the electoral college and the crucial states. Airs Sunday, August 29, 10 p.m. ET.)
• August 22, 2004 |
A media double standard (Joe Scarborough)
First, the Kerry campaign has obviously adopted a strategy of defending John Kerry's war record by attacking George W. Bush's. Kerry spokesman Tad Devine attacked the President's lack of service while Russert pointed out that the campaign had sent out Wes Clark and Stansfield Turner to bash the President's Vietnam record.
Here are the problems with this strategy:
1. Americans know George Bush has no war record. Therefore, the attacks don't dent his credibility but rather make the Kerry camp look small and mean spirited. And because the Swift Boat ads are 3rd party attacks, you now have a campaign where Bush is calling Kerry's service "noble" while Kerry is calling Bush a draft-dodger. So Bush stays on the high road while Kerry goes on attack and bleeds support because of these ads. The Kerry camp must change this political dynamic quickly.
2. John Kerry has a Vietnam record that his campaign suggests was the defining point of his life. Telling people what they already know about GWB won't get the debate off of the Swift Boat ads. The only way to do that is for John Kerry to continue confronting these attacks as sleazy hit pieces. He needs to let Americans (preferably in swing states) know how these ads break his heart. "Not only are their attacks hurtful to me and my family. They are also slandering those band of brothers who risked their lives alongside of me in Vietnam. And to me, that is unforgiveable."
3. The Bush camp correctly pointed out this morning that $65 million has been spent in anti-Bush ads over the past year by 3rd party groups with close ties to John Kerry. Democratic front groups like moveon.org, ACT, and the Media Fund are all dedicated to electing John Kerry in the fall and have much closer ties to John Kerry than the Texas Republican who spent half a million dollars on this one ad. The Media Fund is run by John Kerry's former campaign manager and the head of ACT, Harold Ickes, spent his week in Boston holed up in the Four Seasons with John Kerry's top money men. Was their coordination between the two? Of course.
There is a media double standard of titanic proportions in this story. News outlets like the New York Times look silly deconstructing the political connections of this one ad while turning a blind eye to the $65 million in hit pieces run by Kerry supporters over the past year.