Thursday Grab Bag
There are many things to touch on today, so rather than multiple posts, I’ll give you a scatter-shot tour and let you weigh in on the item of your choice.
First, Bryan Keefer at Spinsanity tackles the issue of George W. Bush’s habit of misstatements. Although Keefer doesn’t go so far as I would in saying that Bush flat-out lies, it is a good summary of what Bush gets away with.
Bush has become a master of making statements that are factually true but misleading, while escaping criticism for doing so from the press corps. This is partly a result of the deference generally granted to the president. Bush's reputation for imprecise speech may also make reporters reluctant to criticize his words so closely. And because his claims are often phrased in complicated and confusing ways, they are difficult for the press to directly refute. Nonetheless, the implications of the President's strategically ambiguous statements must be addressed.
Second, and along these same lines, Ron Fournier of the Associated Press makes the point that Democrats find themselves unwilling or unable at this point to mount a sustained assault on Bush’s lack of integrity, because they are basically afraid to try.
President Bush, elected after casting Al Gore as a serial exaggerator and borderline liar, is now being accused of stretching the truth about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. It is an irony that Democratic rivals would like to convert to a campaign issue - a broad attack on Bush's credibility.
But many party leaders fear the president may be immune to accusations that his rhetoric falls short of the facts, and not just on Iraq, but on education, tax cuts, trade, the environment, homeland security and other policies. As a popular president with a Reaganesque reputation for delegating responsibility, Bush will get the benefit of the doubt from voters unless Democrats unite behind a sustained campaign to undermine his integrity, according to party strategists around the country and aides to Democratic presidential candidates.
Even if they make all the right political moves, Democrats concede that character attacks may not work as well on Bush as they did against Gore in 2000.
"I think it's going to be a pretty hard sell right now," said Tricia Enright, communications director for presidential candidate Howard Dean. "I don't see the case being made by a broad range of Democrats, and that's what it will take to gain steam."
Although Fournier writes a relatively lightly-sourced piece and expands the concept into a thin story, his point is still valid: the Dems collectively as candidates or together as a national party aren’t making the case about Bush’s lies, either out of fear or incompetence.
As another point to prove this, my faxed letter to the DNC from three weeks ago about the “Truth Squad” idea has gone unanswered to this day.
Third, the Bush Administration is going to place inspectors at seaports in Muslim nations to prevent the movement of WMDs. Too bad they haven’t done that yet here in this country.
Fourth, as some of you savvy people suspected, Democrats on the Hill are claiming that the House GOP intentionally deleted the child exemption credit for the working poor as a ploy to allow for larger tax cuts to be introduced when the deletion was fixed. The House Democrats are looking for a dozen GOP votes to push through the Blanche Lincoln/Olympia Snowe Senate version of the fix, in a direct challenge to Tom DeLay, who has even rebuffed Bush on the issue.
Fifth, in a curious move, the CIA stepped out in front and took a bullet for allegedly not telling the President that the Niger uranium story was determined by the agency to be false before the President and Powell used the data. This could be a case of Tenet dealing with a problem ahead of the hearings. But Henry Waxman is going after Condi Rice over her assertions on the Sunday chatfests last weekend.
Sixth, Bill Safire today supports Martha Stewart because,
I hope she beats the rap because I don't like the idea of a prosecutor — eager to deter others from doing wrong — twisting the law to make an example out of a celebrity. In doing justice, righteous ends don't justify unscrupulous means.
Mr. Safire, allow me to introduce Ken Starr to you.
Seventh, John Kerry’s hometown paper the Boston Globe and his own terrier reporter Glen Johnson does another hatchet job on Kerry, this time for alleged misstatements about Kerry’s claim that he was the first Senator to be elected three times without PAC money. It’s good to see that the Globe is well into their “Smear Kerry as we did Gore” routine. Mr. Johnson, would it be too much to ask you to apply the same scrutiny and standards to George W. Bush’s claims?
Eighth, a new NBC Poll shows that Bush has a chance to secure more women voters in 2004 over their concerns about terrorism and security. Rove knows this very well and has designed it from the start. These women will be courted and asked to vote for Bush while he plots to take away their right to choose. And it will work unless the Democrats do a better job of reacquiring credibility on national security and terrorism, and hammering Bush for his other agendas.
That should give us enough to chew on for today.