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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Opinion Data on the Effect of Anti-Kerry ads Not as Clear As Press Commentary Suggests

Recent press commentary has combined data from polls by CBS and The Annenberg Center on Public Policy to paint a dismaying picture of the effect of the ads by the Bush surrogate group “Swift Boat Vets for Truth”, particularly among veterans.
The two most widely quoted statistics are The Annenberg Center for Public Policy’s finding that more then half the country knows about the ads, and that, of that group, close to half – 46% – found the ads “very or somewhat believable”. This finding, along with CBS data that show Kerry’s support among vets precipitously falling from a 46%-46% tie with Bush immediately after the Democratic convention to a 37%-55% deficit on August 15-18, has been combined in several analyses to draw the conclusion that the anti-Kerry ads have been very effective and deeply destructive to the Kerry campaign.
Caution is in order, however, in interpreting these findings. The published report of the Annenberg survey does not present separate results for those who found the ads “very” believable versus those who found them only “somewhat” believable. Given the extensive and extremely right-slanted character of the press coverage (FOX/Murdoch providing sympathetic coverage; the other networks neutrally reporting “The Growing Controversy”) a survey response that the charges are “somewhat” believable may represent an cautious “I don’t know, but, heck, there may be something” reservation of judgment, and not a firm belief.
This possibility is bolstered by the fact that, when asked if they believed the major accusation against Kerry – that he did not legitimately earn all his medals – only 21% of the Annenberg respondents agreed. The strong majority — 59% — supported Kerry on this issue, with an additional 20% withholding judgment. Thus, while the data clearly show that the anti-Kerry ads have become widely known, their actual effectiveness is not yet clear.
The CBS data showing a dramatic decline in Kerry’s support among veterans since the convention must also be handled with care. A Rasmussen Reports poll taken shortly after the Democratic convention (Aug 4th) showed Kerry with only 35% support among veterans, compared with 58% for Bush – a result not very different then the CBS data for August 15-18 after the ads had appeared. It therefore remains unclear how much influence the anti-Kerry swift boat ads have actually had.
As the Bush surrogate groups now switch their attack to Kerry’s anti-Vietnam war positions in the early 1970’s, the issues will shift, but it will become increasingly important to consider the extent to which these attacks simply reinforce the views of voters who were already planning to vote for George W. Bush or if they begin to successfully undermine support for Kerry among voters not yet committed. At this point, it’s still too early to tell.

50 comments on “Opinion Data on the Effect of Anti-Kerry ads Not as Clear As Press Commentary Suggests

  1. Burgette on

    1) “Kerry’s lie means he is unfit to be commander in chief.” If what a person remembers does not jibe with actual events, is that person a liar? Memory is notoriously unreliable. If a person refers to a “searing event”, even if that person is wrong about the location of the event, (after all, I don’t know about this personally, but my feeling is that there were no border signs marking the Cambodian border. Anyone who lives on a river, as I do and likes to fish, its very difficult to know exactly where one states authorization ends and another authorization begins) does that mean that the searing event didn’t happen? Are you saying that atrocities didn’t happen in Vietnam? Are you saying that we didn’t have a policy of “burning the village to save it”? Are you denying that the things he spoke about happened? You miss the whole point of the speech young Kerry made. Which was that we as Americans are sending young men to do things that are every bit as bad as the things the people we are fighting do. It’s the duplication thing, the longer and more intensly you fight an enemy, the more you become like them. You tend to justify the things you resort to by saying “Well, they did it first.” In fact, you can see it in this campaign. More and more Dems are saying that Kerry has to “fight back” with the same kind of tactics they are using. Senator Kerry is saying now what he tried to say then…”Then how can we claim to be any different?” 2) This is such a patently absurd argument I don’t feel it needs a rebutal. 3) And how would you have ended that war? I’m an old woman (68) and an Air Force brat. I started out thinking that there wasn’t a square inch of Vietnam soil worth a single drop of American blood. Then, when the anti-war movement began to demonstrate and people were burning their draft cards, I began to feel that these guys were shirking their duty. That they should shoulder their responsibilities, the way my father’s generation and the one that fought in Korea had done. I was still thinking that, after all, I’m just a single person, without all the facts that the President has, I felt that the rightness of the decision to go to war was probably beyond my grasp. I still trusted my government would never send American boys to die for anything less than a “us or them” situation. And, I kept thinking, “If we pull out now, all those boys who have already died will have died for nothing.” I couldn’t bear that thought. But, as I became more politically astute, I began to see that not only were we not going to win, we were damaging the lives of our boys as well as the boys of both Vietnamese on our side and their side as well. I also did my homework. This was indeed a civil war. One that was supported by a majority of Vietnamese, both south and north. And I began to feel a sense of shame that we, the American public, seemed ready to condone any act, no matter how atrocious, if done by our side. When the Mei Li, I may have it spelled wrong, scandal hit the news, many people I knew, Christian folks that I attended church with, said it was wrong to prosecute Calley. They said that the attrocious tactics (beheadings, use of booby-trapped children, executions of people who cooperated with the Americans) justified the murder of those villagers. They didn’t feel that the fact that they were not really combatants was relevant. The proudest I have ever been of my husband of now 51 years was when he spoke up at a party where these matters were being discussed with these selfsame Christians. (He was not a church goer, by the way) He said “I don’t give a damn what you say, no son-of-a-bitch is going to tell me to kill a bunch of women, kids, and old people and me do it! And neither should anybody else do it!) I was so proud I nearly “bust my buttons”. And I wondered how it was that that it could even happen. Were those guys who were there morally inferior? Or had they been put in an impossible possition? And I began to really oppose that war, with all my heart! Because I knew they weren’t morally inferior, they were just people who had been put in an impossible situation, one in which you literally couldn’t tell friend from foe. Sound familiar? About political correctness….the politically correct thing would have been to continue to support the war, like my Christian friends did. Kerry did the the politically incorrect thing…the right thing…he told the truth, not the the politically correct thing. And, I have the gut feeling that he still does the right thing, not the politically correct thing. He is no knee-jerk liberal, though he is liberal. And so far as “Sadam deserved to be fought against.” Please, don’t even go there! We set him up, we sold him those WMD, we made it possible for him to “gas his own people”. When I say we, I mean American in general and those folks around Bush in specific. He was our monster until he invaded Kuwait, which by the way, we gave him the go-a-head to do, we just thought he would stop south of those Kuwaiti oil fields. When he didn’t, and we did the math, we knew we couldn’t count on him “towing the line” any more. We are far too politically naive to be meddling in the affairs of other countries. And anyone who would argue that they can tolerate the “killing of some innocents” has absolutely no moral high ground. None!

  2. Bel on

    I dont agree with you on Hillary Ed…. Hillary can hold her own quite easily… I am certain about that. Dont let decorum and poise and protocol mislead you about Hillary. She reminds me of a Margaret Thatcher lite. Not in policy but in ability to take a mic and say something to defend herself.. like it or lump it.

  3. Ed on

    As much as I like Hillary I am glad she is not on the ticket this time. If you think the Bush slime machine is nasty with Kerry they would really do a number on her. Although I think she could do the job and Bill would be there to help her. I don’t think this country is ready yet for a woman president.

  4. Lawrence on

    Fellow poll addicts, check out a quote from an article posted on Zogby:
    “You might recall from the last election the Electoral College determines the president.
    And this number, when projected from polls done within each state, shows a race very different from numbers in national samples.
    Two Web sites, one pro-Kerry, one pro-Bush, are tracking state polls, then assigning corresponding electoral votes and showing results on color-coded maps.
    Both show Kerry way ahead. ”

  5. Bel on

    It seems that the truth about Bush’s future is now reaching his supporters. As the link above reports, Bush does not have an agenda for the future governance of the country.
    This is the reason why its going to be an important thing to hear his program at the convention. There is really nothing new that Bush can promise. Its obvious that he gave out all of his promises in 2000, was able to keep or maintain any of them is therefore running on empty right now.
    I suspect that the convention will show a rehashing of old promises with more promises to make the country turn the corner and to stay on course.
    I can understand his disappearance over the past week in the name of writing his convention speech. I would think that he would need more like a year to come up with something that someone, beside himself and wife, can believe. Its even more obvious that his allies dont seem to believe he has a plan either.
    I still think Kerry/Edwards are doing a fine job and will being home something to scream about. There is a need for more agression but it still seems to be working.

  6. Lawrence on

    Don’t get all het up about the troll. It’s laughable to hear a Bush supporter talk about genocide – we all know how compassionate the republican party has been historically!!! He can’t seem to remember how he opposed the Clinton initiatives that stopped genocide in the Balkans in the 90’s. He seems to have forgotten how the republican party sneered at Clinton military initiatives because they said they were “nation building” and “had no exit strategy”.
    The polls show Kerry winning, for the meantime. And the polls are more important than the trolls.

  7. bt on

    E.J. Dionne, Jr. offers the obvious, sensible suggestion that McCain should cease campaigning for Bush until Bush repudiates the Swift boat ad campaign and has it stopped.

  8. Mara on

    Sometimes it’s better not to feed the trolls (aka Liberty Dad). If someone puts forth reasoned argument and intelligent comments, by all means engage them, but this is just not the case with Liberty Dad. Anyone who, in all seriousness writes Kerry LIED, 2 million DIED.
    I mean why bother answering?

  9. Ed on

    Hi you moron Liberty Dad or or what ever stupid name you call yourself. Here is what your bible “Fox News” says about the swifties.
    One of Kerry’s accusers acknowledged he had no documentary proof for his allegation that Kerry fabricated reports in an incident for which the Massachusetts senator received a Bronze Star. The reports say Kerry was under enemy fire when he rescued a fellow crewman.
    “I do not have a single document,” Van Odell said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I have the fact that I wasn’t wounded in that 5,000 meters of fire that he wrote about. … There was no enemy fire from either bank.” He said he had seven eyewitnesses backing up his version of events. Other witnesses say there was enemy fire at the time Kerry made the rescue
    Maybe if you got your news from some place else besides Rush Limbaugh and Fox. You would be a little more informed..

  10. Tom Grey - Liberty Dad on

    When Howard says “The fact that Kerry is confused about the exact dates of his time in Cambodia doesn’t logically disprove his valor in battle.”
    He forgets to mention the full quote (see Glenn at Instapundit), ON the Senate floor, in 1986, claiming that the incident was “seared, seared into his memory.”
    Kerry claims it as a defining moment. He is confused about the facts about his own defining moment!
    The medals were not as important as the blood, and the days spent in the hospital (0, zero isn’t it?). JKR makes sure Harry Potter is injured enough to go to the hospital. What days did Kerry spend in the hospital?
    Didn’t Kerry promise to release his records? Why hasn’t he signed Form 180?
    Kerry from 71 on argued for Peace, denying evil commie history that it meant a bloodbath; he supported, and got, Peace AND Genocide.
    In 94 Clinton kept the peace, AND genocide, on Rwanda — Americans didn’t die there.
    Oh, that’s right — the elites think it makes their arguments stronger when they call anybody who disagrees a moron.
    If you read my blog more, you’d see I AM concerned about the deficit. And about the democratic desire to spend Other People’s Money. But the deficit is not bad, per se — it’s bad when it means higher inflation and higher interest rates, which reduce employment and reduce the wealth created. Haven’t seen either much in the last two years; can’t therefore show Bush’s stimulus is worse than optimal.
    Only morons think that repeating something false, that you believe is true, is a lie. Bill and Hillary told Bush, as of 1998, that Saddam had WMDs. Bush believed them, and repeated it. And there were no spies on the ground in Iraq after that to know better.
    But the Vietnam wound is now open, see http://adeimantus.blogspot.com/2004/08/let-it-alone.html
    Perhaps you could answer which is morally superior:
    War (fighting, killing, dying, killing some innocents) or
    Peace (& Genocide)?
    As long as you support Peace (& Genocide), rather than fighting evil, we’ll disagree.
    Kerry LIED, 2 million DIED.
    Get used to the truth, it doesn’t go away, even if the Leftist press tries to censor it.

  11. Bel on

    Republicans know no shame whatsoever. They have the guts to challenge a genuine record, ignore Bush’ dismal failures, lie down and play dead while listening to his fuzzy brand of truth.
    Anything to win..

  12. Alan Snipes on

    Tom Grey-Liberty Dad;
    You are a moron. Why is it NOT important to you that the defecit is going through the roof, Bush LIED about weapons of mass destruction, and doesn’t know what he’s talking about half the time (neither do you). Why do you smear people with allegations that have been Factually Proven to have been false with certainty. People like you Supported the Vietnam War-Proven to be the worst foreign policy decision until the War in Iraq.
    I would advise you not to post here anymore without facts because the stupidest Liberal is smarter than the most intellegent Conservative. (I know, an oxymoron)

  13. Ed on

    Mayabe Wolfe Blitzer instead of Interviewing Bob Dole two days in a roe and being a shill for bush should play the tired old Nixon tapes where Nixon is on the record in his own words getting that lier Paul O’neil to slime John Kerry. O yah, I beleive the dime store cowboy who likes to play dress-up on aircraft carriers. These Republicans want 4 more years of Hell.

  14. Charlie Thompson on

    Regarding Christmas in Cambodia: from what I’ve heard, Kerry looks to have mixed up some dates. John Hurley (spokesman for Veterans-For-Kerry)said yesterday on FOX News Sunday that Kerry’s crewmates on PCF-94 (the second boat commanded by Kerry) have verified that they crossed into the Cambodian border several times as part of some later missions.
    Whatever. Kerry’s seemingly inaccurate recollection doesn’t impact my vote. What’s important is that Kerry volunteered to fight for this country and is a war hero. He has the medals. If the Not-So-Swifties wanted to dispute what he did in the war, they had ample opportunity to do so when Kerry was involved in the anti-war movement. He was a very well-known figure in 1971/1972. All of his former swiftie colleagues had to be aware of his testifying before Congress and his demonstrating against the war. His involvement against the war wasn’t hidden. The press repeatedly mentioned his awards/medals then when covering his activities.
    Let’s not forget that Kerry was on Nixon’s enemies list: if there was something wrong with what Kerry did, it would/should have come to light then. There wasn’t a peep from anyone saying that he was a poor commander or a coward. Despite their digging, Nixon and his plumbers couldn’t find anything at that time in Kerry’s service record that cast doubt on his awards. John O’Neill never once questioned Kerry’s bona fides in combat during the several debates that they had. As Nixon’s boy, O’Neill would have been given any credible ammo with which to hit Kerry about his war record at the time if there was something fishy in the official record. There wasn’t and isn’t.
    The fact that Kerry is confused about the exact dates of his time in Cambodia doesn’t logically disprove his valor in battle. (“If he lied on this, how can we trust him on anything else?”) The GOP is basically asking us to throw away his whole record in Vietnam based upon his mix-up of some dates.
    If others are so concerned about him “lying” about Cambodia, then let’s compare Kerry’s record at the time to Bush’s. Bush still hasn’t explained either his whereabouts in Alabama back in ’72 or his missed flight physical. Why doesn’t Bush’s conduct back then offend such people as much as Kerry’s clouded recollection about one event many years later? Does George W. Bush really want to explain what he was doing back in the late 1960’s when Kerry was over in Vietnam?
    One last thing – how credible are Larry Thurlow and Van O’Dell? When it was proven that his bronze star specifically referenced him showing courage under repeated automatic and small arms fire (thereby directly contradicting his sworn affidavit that there was no incoming fire during the March 13th incident), Thurlow claims never to have read the write-up that accompanied his bronze star. Give me a break – you receive an award for valor from your government and you don’t ever read the reasons behind why you received it? That makes no sense to any sane human being. Thurlow is lying, because he read the report that the time (and undoubtedly several times afterwards) and knows that the boats took incoming fire.
    And O’Dell claimed yesterday that he never knew that Kerry had received a Bronze Star until a couple of months ago. Where was O’Dell back in the early 1970’s when Kerry was all over the news – on Mars? Saying that he was unaware of Kerry’s medals until this year isn’t credible, not from someone who now has such a “clear memory” (35 years later) of a fellow vet and the battles that they fought.
    Let’s face it: this is an cynical attempt to destroy Kerry’s character. His accusers are still pissed about his testimony before Congress back in 1971 and have made up stories about his actual service record in a vain attempt to discredit his war hero status. They don’t like his politics and don’t want Kerry as President. In the end, I predict it won’t work.

  15. Ed on

    Kerry is a smart, tough, compassionate, loyal, and worthy leader and I will be proud to have him as President. Bush is nothing but a weak Puppet and a dry drunk……………

  16. Ed on

    Kerry was 8 miles from the border of Cambodia in christmkas of 1968 for for all intence and purpose he was in Cambodia. You right wing wackos have a guy with nothing but negative results showing for his 4 years so you have to make up some slime crap about 35 tears ago…………

  17. Bel on

    I notice that Al Sharpton will be a comments person on a few outlets during the GOP convention. Will this be a good idea? Wii they be able to get him to stay close to the script? Will his comments benefit the DEMs or send them scrambling to pull the plugs and look for cover?
    I have found Sharpton to be pretty cohesive in recent times, even tho he might not follow the script. Maybe he will be a good thing for the DEMs. I wait to see..

  18. Natasha on

    Alan Bartlett, I don’t get it. You mean that Soros is personally connected to Kerry’s campain?
    I am not disingenuous. Disingenuous are people like you who refuse to see the difference between the grassroots campain and orchestrated smear campain.
    I’ve seen a lot of your type in the former Soviet Union, people rallying behind their government, no matter how ugly its behavior is.

  19. howard on

    Alan, yes George Soros has given money to moveon. If he were the only source of money to moveon, and if he had long-stnding connections to the kerry campaign, and if all moveon was doing was running ads on bush’s national guard service, and if those ads said that bush snorted coke rather than serve in the national guard, then you’d have something meaningful to say. Otherwise, yes, small donors like me and bel and others are powering moveon.
    Tom Grey: give it up. Your claims are pathetic, particularly in light of the dishonest man we currently have in the white house. As for vietnam, podesta said it best over the weekend: kerry came back with shrapnel in his leg; bush came back with fillings in his teeth….

  20. warp resident on

    It’s quite a pathetic sight. With everything that the Bushies have wrought over the last four years, with a solid majority of americans convinced the country is on the WRONG TRACK, these creeps want you to believe the most important thing is whether Kerry was in Cambodia in 1968 or 1969. Do you people even for a second stop to think how absurd and degenerate your party has become. Bush is on the WRONG TRACK – PERIOD…end of story, stick a fork in him, he’s done.

  21. Bel on

    Its interesting that the Iraqi coach wants to dissociate from Bush’s claims of a free Iraq. I am not sure why GWB continues to imply that both Iraq and Afghanistan are free, even tho war rages on in these places minute by minute.
    Its makes me wonder who determines when a person or country is free. In the case of Iraq and Afganistan, the people of these countries dont seem to have any say in the matter. They may complain that the occupation is bringing loads of hardship and suffering but if the liberator dictates that they are free, then they should understand and know that they are free.
    I suppose freedom means that the liberated are only free to act and behave in the mode that the liberators deems they should act and behave, no matter what their real condition is.
    For people like Bush and Ron Thompson, freedom should only be exercised in the manner and format that they created and dictated. Unfortunately, the Iraqi coach is right, there is no freedom in Iraq and hence the country is not liberated, its occupied.
    Bush and company should not be piggy backing on the success of the soccer team to make any type of political benefit. Its in poor taste and highly undesirable.
    Freedom should not be dictated. If we do not like the way people do things, or the way they live their lives, it does not give any of us license to waltz into their world and impose our brand of freedom.
    If we dont like how people live their lives, then turn and walk away. Its a viable option.

  22. Lawrence on

    National Guard Beer Party Veterans For Truth
    We want the world to know that George Bush lied about how much beer he drank while in the National Guard!!! The truth is that he was too much of a coke-head to tolerate more than a keg at one sitting. His claim to hold the world record for flying drunk by imbibing more than two kegs before climbing into the cockpit is pure rubbish! He NEVER earned that record!!!
    And another thing – his claim to have won the get-out-of-serving-by-lying contest is just another one of his sorry-ass attempts at lying – he is the POOREST liar we have ever met! I mean, “My daddy is making me work for a political campaign of a friend of his” – ??? According to the rules, you have to use an excuse that ANYBODY could use, not some fancy excuse only available to descendants of senators and congressmen. Geez!
    George Bush continues to be the WORST liar we have every seen. America deserves a president that can lie with credibility!

  23. AS on

    Couple Thoughts: First, remember that this “campaign” began and has run in its entirety in the month of August. August, as Andy Card has memorably noted, is not the time to roll out product (or garbage, as in this case). Fact is, few voters are really paying attention. Given that, and given the very low dollar amounts being spent to run the ads, I think Kerry played it about right. He didn’t need to make it a big earned media issue if it wasn’t going to be anyway. He could have jumped on it maybe a day or two earlier, but that’s a quibble.
    Second, EDM is right but misses the main reason why the two polls in question are being misread. I don’t care how many veterans believe the ads, or how many will vote for Bush. I care WHERE and WHO believes that ad and whether they would have voted for Bush anyway. The Annenberg survey reports that the overwhelming majority of those who find the ads credible were going to vote for Bush anyway. So who cares. And as far as the CBS findings on veterans go, there’s no context. It doesn’t matter what Kerry’s got, it matters what he NEEDS. How many voted for Gore, for instance? Where are these veterans supporting Bush? They don’t matter if they’re in Texas. They do if they’re in Ohio and they would otherwise have voted for Kerry. We don’t know how many there are of these. It is well known, for instance, that populations of veterans trend heavily toward Southern and conservative states, especially as the wars in which not everyone had to fight (Vietnam, Gulf War) begin to dominate the ranks.
    Finally, we need to be VERY careful of these deep crosstabs. There are 26 million veterans in the country. That’s about 12 percent of the eligible over 18 population. So unless some rather heavy oversampling was done, we’re talking about 120 or so respondents in the CBS poll. The MoE on that has got to be HUGE.

  24. Aunt Deb on

    It seems to me that this smear campaign was conceived and planned as some sort of counterweight to what is happening in Iraq. The subtext is supposed to be that Kerry isn’t supporting our troops. This will work with those people who already refuse to think beyond their personal fears and hatreds. These are the people who already think that Abu Ghraib was no big deal and besides it’s us or them — the Black Spot Over Mogadishu types, the people who are convinced they are underdogs no matter what and that Democrats are elitist snobs always trying to badmouth the poor grunts.
    This audience didn’t need winning over; it was won. Which is why I think this smear campaign isn’t going to work. It will inflame the already rabid to new heights and that is going to be too repugnant for those folks who actually are interested in being decent and open-minded. Initially, these people may respond to the interjection of possible doubt. But when they realize the degree of manipulation they are being subjected to, even if only in an intuitive gut-level way, they will become resistant.
    I really wonder about this campaign. It seems to me to be such an obvious blunder. Suppose you were a decent sort of person who wanted very much to believe that invading Iraq was the way to liberate and democratize the country. So things are not going so great, but Bush keeps telling you to hang on, it’ll get better. But then, the Bush gang starts this smear stuff about how Kerry is trashing the Viet Nam vets. Now maybe you will think yeah, he shouldn’t have said that stuff. But you will also think about the past that elicited that testimony. And no one can believe that Viet Nam was a success, either militarily or politically. Maybe you are supposed to stand by your man to the bitter end, but if doing that means the senseless end of your own boy, just to serve the obscure ends of that man you’re standing by, I think lots of people will begin to feel betrayed.
    I just think that Karl Rove et al have no ability to understand the very deep and dark brew they are stirring up from the bottom of this particular pot. They just thought they were engaging in some surefire attack ad stuff, calling Kerry a liar and a coward and a user.
    It’s true that so far, the smear effort has been abetted by the media’s supineness. David Brancaccio, on NPR’s new NOW, did a segment on the Swift Boat Partisan’s ads and the Kerry counterads, which he prefaced by saying something along the lines of it wasn’t possible to figure out the truth of something that was really just a matter of individuals’ recollections of long-ago events. He made no effort to identify the people in the ads nor did he talk about the existing documentation of the events being questioned by the smearers. He made their claims appear legitimate and then he and Kathleen Hall Jamieson segued into a discussion of the larger claims that Kerry was dishonoring the Vietnam vets as a group with his testimony before Congress. It was irresponsible and lazy, but Brancaccio isn’t capable of much more, it seems.

  25. S Robinson on

    “…you retard republicans…”
    Feel better after the personal attack, Jeff? You can’t make many points in a debate when you make attacks like that. I ignored the rest of your rant.
    I may not agree with people like Bel or Marcus, but they keep their commentary civil. It makes for better reading.

  26. Tom Grey - Liberty Dad on

    Well, Kerry LIED. About Christmas in Cambodia, on the floor of the US Senate, in 1986, Congressional Record.
    No matter how much you hate Bush, it was Kerry, not Bush, who lied about his Vietnam experience. And it has been Kerry, not Bush, who has brought up Vietnam, over and over for over a year.
    Kerry LIED, in 1986, about Vietnam. The press failed to point this out in 1986; they FAILED, like 8 other Dems FAILED, to point this out in 2003. Why? Blinded by the (Bush-) hate.
    Undecided folk are going to wonder, rightly, why the NYT and the LAT don’t have headlines:
    Kerry LIED!
    And is Kerry ever going to sign the Form 180 to release his records, like he promised?

  27. Jeff on

    S. Robinson,
    I’m so glad you brought up Dole.
    Can you imagine if this were 1996 and Clinton and company decided to attack Dole’s war record?
    The problem is that you are running a draft dodger and we are running a decorated hero. The only way to justify the superiority you retard republicans feel regarding defense and foreign policy issues is to attack whether he is really a hero at all.
    I just looked through the Annenberg poll and to be honest I feel better than yesterday. I mean 49% of people don’t believe it at all. That was before the Democratic offensive.
    57% (including 57% of independents) think he deserved the medals.
    Even more republicans think he deserved them than not. 39% to 38%.
    I think Bush made a huge, possibly election losing, mistake. Now everything Bush says about Kerry on anything can be spun like this:
    “There Bush goes again. Telling lies about John Kerry the way he did about his war record. The truth is that he doesn’t want you to know how bad the economy is, how many people have lost their health care, how much debt he has added, how he got America involved in this endless war.
    Americans deserve better.
    George W. Bush – HE DOESN’T TELL THE TRUTH.”

  28. theCoach on

    I was formerly a fan of Bob Doles. Not enought to vote for him for President, but I like and respected him. Now, he disgusts me, and I have no respect for him at all.
    Perhaps he does not care what Americans think of him, but he should know that there are probably many out there like me who used to admire his service, but now hold him in contempt.

  29. S Robinson on

    “The Republicans are a bunch of jerk offs who WILL vote for a pansy draft dodger over a war hero.”
    Get a clue. Substitute Democrats for Republicans and you just described Clinton vs. Dole.

  30. Jeff on

    I too am glad that Kerry is fighting back.
    However, he doesn’t seem to be on top of this story. He seems to be reacting rather than acting.
    He shouldn’t bring up Bush’s 1970 record at all.
    He should play this smart. He should talk up the “lie” angle and how Bush is trying to distract the country from the real issues.
    He should use this as an excuse to pound Bush’s ass into the ground regarding the economy, the corruption in Congress, health care. (I would say the War in Iraq, but I think Kerry has screwed himself royally on that question and now it’s too late).
    When I say pound, I MEAN POUND. I don’t mean some cute little juxtapositions. I mean mean dark commercials talking about how the rich are getting richer and the middle class is losing out. How the Bush Administration puts their own interests and those of its friends ahead of the national interest.
    OIL. Giving oil companies all these breaks. Bring up that gross Energy Bill filled with “sweeteners” and explain how it will have no effect on Americans. The Saudi monopoly on price fixing. All these people with ties to the Bush Administration. Explain how Americans have had to pay for more at the pumps, to heat their homes. How they are poorer because Bush is helping these people to get richer.
    Etc. Etc. All the way down.
    I told you all it was a mistake to focus so much on his war record and making Kerry Bush-lite on foreign affairs.
    It’s ALWAYS the economy, stupid.
    The Republicans are a bunch of jerk offs who WILL vote for a pansy draft dodger over a war hero. We could be running Audy Murphy and they would be saying that he didn’t deserve his “Congressional Medal of Honor.” FOX News would be running stories about the “dispute” regarding Murphy’s heroics. That’s the way they are. The dittoheads will always believe them.

  31. Marcus Lindroos on

    The anti-Kerry smear campaign currently going on even in (relatively-) moderate conservative mags such as THE WEEKLY STANDARD is disgusting. They are basically writing only about Kerry’s Cambodia Christmas and other stuff right now.
    If Kerry does win, I wonder if it’s just the beginning. Will we see a return to “the politics of personal destruction” as Bill Clinton put it? Remember: the WingNuts were hounding him right from the start.

  32. Alan Snipes on

    I wonder why Republicans ALWAYS have to smear people and why are there people out there who believe them?
    I know someone at work who believes the Clintons murdered people because supposedly they knew many of the people who diedand this makes it so. I pointed out to her that Ken Starr spent 72 million dollars of the taxpayers’ money and couldn’t even indict President or Senator Clinton.

  33. Nate on

    just to pick up on Don’s comments regarding Bob Dole…
    I make the prediction that at least _two_ veteran editorial cartoonists while note the return of “Evil Dole”, and at least one will represent Dole as Dracula rising from a coffin

  34. Don on

    One small correction here:
    Bob Dole has a very long and sordid history as a mean and below-the-belt campaigner.
    Don’t let those cute Viagra commercials and Larry King appearances fool you — he’s always fought dirty.

  35. accommodatingly on

    Kerry filed the FEC complaint not because he thought the FEC would rule on it, but because it would make headlines and show that his campaign was fighting back. Worked, too– CNN’s Netscape browser had Kerry’s filing in top position for much of the weekend.
    They started slow but the Kerry campaign now has three separate response ads, two for TV (“Rasmann” and “Issues”) and one Internet-only (“Old Tricks”). Watch ’em. I like “Old Tricks.”
    If the controversy continues Kerry will need not just a strong defense but a counterattack, probably via surrogates, bringing up exactly the 1970s stuff about Bush which we’ve stayed off. Try this script: “John Kerry served his country in Vietnam. [beat] Groups tied to Bush say that John Kerry didn’t do enough. They say he didn’t earn his three combat medals. [beat] The men who were there support John Kerry’s account. Jim Rassman: ‘John Kerry saved my life.’ [beat] Where was George Bush in those years? We can do better.”

  36. Joe Zainea on

    Nate….only one problem with filing an FEC complaint. By the time the FEC gets around to finding that Bush has violated the law, his second inaugaration will be several months past.
    Markalan is right. This is war. When somebody like Bush and his people poke you in the eye, you have to kick them in the balls. You only stop kicking them in the balls when they stop poking you in the eye.
    Notice how the Repubs close ranks. Bob Dole, an otherwise amiable fellow cut loose on Kerry something fierce today. Kerry or one of his surrogates has to point out that Bob Dole is really nothing more than a dutiful Republican hack who was wrong on the facts.
    Every day Democrats in Congress have to let loose on Bush for any number of flip flops, lies and other transgressions against the American people. Every day, Move-on, Act and Dean’s DFA have to raise the decible level with legitimate charges of all kinds until the Bush people either call a truce or until the media become so overburdened that coverage of the warfare stops and both sides can return to other issues. This is war.

  37. Allan Bartlett on

    I appreciate your comments Natasha, but you are being very disengenuous.
    >”these ads are financed by ordinary people like me, not some millioneirs with ties to Kerry personally”
    This one is so easy Natasha. George Soros is a billionaire. Did you know that? He has given over $20 million of his wealth to Move-On and ACT. Steven Bing is a multi-millionaire too and he has donated hugely to these 527s. Please don’t insult our intelligence. Meanwhile the swiftboat vets have spent around one million so far and that’s just wrong? If you live by the sword, you can die by it also. I myself think campaign finance reform was bulls%$t. It’s always the law of unintended consequences at work here.

  38. Bel on

    Keep trucking Natasha… it will be worth it…. lets hope some more will join you.
    By the way… has anyone noticed that even the “decent” republicans are joining the Kerry attack? I think I noticed that Dole is also condemning Kerry. I think he too is questioning his medals and whether or not Kerry deserved them.
    This is the same Dole who got scraped and… got his medal for it too.. hmm.
    I wonder if this will mobilise the party to get busy and start to push Bush and his rank and filers on the defensive?
    Has anyone noticed that Bush is not saying a squeak but his rank and filers are all over the place squawking like a chorus of parrots?
    Republicans remind me of animals which hunt in packs, while DEMS remind me of the lone wolf which canters across the prarie with its head down, stopping occassionally to howl at the moon.

  39. Natasha on

    Alan Bartlett, you missed another important point. Moveon is pounding mostly Bush’s record as a president. There is only one ad attacking him personally for his unclear National Guard record. And these ads are financed by ordinary people like me, not some millioneirs with ties to Kerry personally. Moveon is important tool for people, who feel that their opinion is not expressed by the mainstream media, to vent their frustration. It is a grassroots organisation that raises funds at the loca bake and garage sales.

  40. Bel on

    I am really sorry markalan but these wishes that you have for the dems just wont happen. The party is not organised to function this way. The dems are too dispersed a group to formulate and be effective with the type of campaigning that you are suggesting.
    Lets face it. If they got down right dirty and challenged bush the way you are thinking, who will stand up and respond when the republicans started challenging and when the media started asking questions?
    Unlike the GOP, the dems are so dispersed that none of them sing from the same song sheet. So ask two dems the same question and you get radically diverse answers each time. Ask the republicans the same question and you get a chorus for an answer. Each person reciting the same line, in the same tone, with the same voice.
    Dirty ads can work for republicans but it would wreak havoc in a dems program. So while I agree with you that the dems really need to step up the ante and really set bush on the defensive, I dont think you will get if from the party.
    My thinking has always been to let the party muck about on their agenda issues. Tell the people what the new future looks like but I expect that the 527s and the rank and file dems will get up off their royal butts and do the dirty work. I expect that groups will formulate and will present themselves to the media and pressure the republicans to breaking point.. I expect that 527s which now have millions of dollars at their disposal and are independent, will issue adverts that reach to the jugular of George Bush… I expect that rank and file Kerry supporters will wear out a few soles spreading the Kerry message and converting fence sitters and moderate republicans…
    The kerry supporters are leaving too much of this campaign to the candidates and it just cannot be won this way. Surely they have noticed by now that the GOP have not dealt with issues in the past four weeks. Instead they have gone below the belt, gone dirty. They are creating a diversion, they are smearing, they are creating escape routes… the republicans intend to win at all costs and they wont quit. They will never say die and they will catch at every passing straw.
    The kerry supporters dont seem to notice these things, so instead they badger and bang on Kerry for not responding when in truth and in fact, they ought to laying the foundation for his response and in many instances, creating the response.
    Alas, the kerry supporters are too cool, too laid back, too dispersed, too concerned and frozen in place by anxiety and fear. Its time they all start making a move and rescue this country from the radical, mad right.

  41. Nate on

    Allan Bartlett–
    You miss a very important point.
    The point of the FEC complaint is that there is rather strong evidence that the Bush-Cheney campaign has been coordinating with the SBVfT, which is in contradiction with the McCain-Feingold law that Bush signed. In particular, one Kent Cordier who was a member of the BC04 campaign staff appeared in one of the swift boat ads. He belatedly resigned his position the day the advertisement began airing. Also, local Bush-Cheney campaign chapters have coordinating events with the SBVfT. If this doesn’t warrant an investigation for “coordination” then the law is meaningless. There are a lot of problems with McCain-Feingold, but George W Bush signed it into law. It clealry disallows coordination between campaigns and 527s.
    The issue here is whether or not George W Bush obeys the laws he signs.
    Frankly, after a few years I didn’t really expect much. But I am glad that Kerry is pushing back.

  42. Allan Bartlett on

    I agree with you marlalan and I am a republican. Kerry has dropped the ball on this issue. He should have fought back the moment the ads started running. Instead what does he do, he runs off and files a complaint with the FEC and asks Bush that the ads be taken down. He ends up looking weak. Where was Sen Kerry for the last year when Move-On.org and other 527s were free spending over $60 million dollars pounding on Bush? Kerry voted for the McCain Feingold monstrosity. Now he must live with the consequences. It’s obvious the you can drive a truck through the 527 loophole. Should Bush unilaterally disarm? I don’t think so. As the old saying goes, “be carefull what you wish for, it might come true”.

  43. markalan on

    I’m really mad that the Kerry camp has been so inept. Two weeks after the initial smear, they finally respond with another puffy positive commercial about Kerry’s heroics. This is now the second time the Kerry camp just sits around and plays nice with Rove and Co. The first being the flip flop charge leveled months ago. And yes, if you look at any poll those smears have stuck to Kerry, and this from W. who is the king of flip flops (nation building, steel tariffs, 9-11 commission, etc.)
    When are the Kerry guys going to get it? Have they not learned from 2000, and 1998, the Republicans play dirty and win. And yes negative ads do work! So, we need to take matters in our own hands. Unfortunately, even Moveons response has been soft and sweet.
    Doesn’t anybody on the left know how wimpy it looks for Edwards and Kerry to plead with Bush to remove the commercials! ?
    First, let’s demand that Shrum, the idiot from the Gore 2000 campaign be fired immediately. He is a loser!
    Second, Hire Carville immediately. He is a successful warrior who knows how to beat the Republicans.
    Third, We need to develop and fund a private group to let the smears begin against Bush. (Moore would be great at directing this)
    Some examples:
    Bush getting out of Vietnam (coward) by help of daddy.
    Bush going awol
    Bush’s alleged drug use.
    Bush’s drunk driving arrest.
    Bush and Cheney use of vulgular language vs. their “christian traditional family values.”
    Bush’s failed businesses
    Bush’s record number of vacation days
    Bush doing nothing to stop 9-11
    Bush’s countless flip flops.
    It is time to get angry! This is war and we need to fight like warriors and not pathetic wimps. It will only get worse, if we just respond with puffy, poitive, nice ads.

  44. Bel on

    Personally, I wont hold on to those results from the media poll. It should be obvious that a poll conducted this early cannot give a fair perspective on the issue as the Kerry camp has only responded this weekend.
    These stats will make more sense in two weeks time. I think they should be discounted because the polling could have only given a one sided perspective as respondents would not have heard the kerry side of the issue.
    Add this to the fact that the media does not seem to favour Kerry so one can never really know their approach and agenda in gathering this information

  45. Bel on

    Frankly…. thats my exact question on McCain. I am quietly waiting to see what kinda man he really is….
    I know Bush has no class but was thinking that McCain might have had some…. so maybe I will get a re-assurance now.. or a big let down.

  46. frankly0 on

    Simply the perception that the Swift Liars’ campaign may be working is all that is needed for the Bush campaign to stick to its guns in using it. Pretty clearly, nothing else has been working for Bush, and so until this effort starts to backfire quite obviously, they’re going to stay with it.
    But the campaign will present defining moments for a lot of people. Kerry of course must show his mettle in defending against him — and my confidence is very high that he will do so (I think what he has said about it so far, demanding that Bush renounce the ads, mostly constitutes a shot across the bow).
    But the response of other parties will also define them as well. The media has been given something that is an absolutely clear case of whether it’s fundamental interest is in the Truth or in some specious and cowardly “balance”. It will demonstrate whether the media even has the capacity to resist a plain-as-day disinformation campaign.
    And it will test the integrity and honor of Republicans and conservatives, who must choose country and honor on the one hand, or party on the other — it’s as simple as that.
    Senator McCain in particular, will be tested as a man. He himself, when under similar attacks by Bush in the 2000 primaries, received the assistance of five other veteran Senators, both Democrats and Republicans, including John Kerry, who wrote a letter asking Bush to apologize for his attacks on Senator McCain’s record and service. McCain expressed his gratitude to those Senators, remarking that his friendship with them meant far more than any impact the attacks against him might ever have.
    Yet now, Kerry has been subjected to smears more public, more vicious,more sustained, and vastly more pervasive than anything McCain had had to endure.
    Can McCain now fail to come to Kerry’s aid, and, returning the favor, likewise ask for an apology from Bush? How is it possible that McCain can continue to campaign alongside George Bush, sending the clear message that these attacks, whatever they may be, are hardly what anyone should call a big deal?
    McCain must decide what kind of man he is; soon we will all know the answer to that question.


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