Monday :: Feb 2, 2004

DNC To Make Issue Of Bush's Disappearance From Guard Duty

by Steve

Several items and thoughts from the campaign today.

First, it appears that Terry McAuliffe will be earning some of his money this year after all. The DNC chair told the media yesterday that the party would be making a big campaign issue of Bush’s disappearance during his National Guard service in 1972-73. RNC chair Ed Gillespie, a man who had a hand in smearing Vietnam war here Max Cleland as unpatriotic and comparing him to Osama Bin Laden while flacking for chickenhawk Saxby Chambliss, calls any attempt to go after Bush on this as “despicable”, “an affront to all those who serve honorably in the National Guard”, and “slanderous”. That’s just it Ed, you hypocritical cretin, Bush didn’t serve honorably in the Guard. It is Bush who is the affront to all of those who served in the Guard, you lying putz. Taking a page out of the Rove workbook, Kerry or whoever the Democratic frontrunner is needs to leave it to others to make the direct and negative attacks on Bush, while rising above the mud to the extent possible.

Second, and along these lines, check out what Bob Novak of all people is saying.

(E)ver since Kerry won in New Hampshire, Republican concern about President Bush's re-election has grown.

"I can see the pucker factor," said one GOP operative, using the old military slang term for an attack of gut-clenching fear. What he implies is that he and his colleagues are confronting the possibility of another Bush becoming a one-term president. Predictably, Republicans reacted to Sen. Kerry's success by pasting the liberal label on him. Why, then, the pucker factor?

First, because Kerry is an elusive target. Dukakis's old running mate showed in the hours after he was declared the New Hampshire winner that he is no Dukakis. Second, because Bush may be facing the bane of incumbent presidents: lack of credibility.

…Bush is reeling from a double blow to his credibility.

Failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a political accident waiting to happen, became the first punch last week when resigned weapons inspector David Kay testified to Congress. The follow-up blow was the White House revelation that the new Medicare plan will cost one-third more than the president predicted (just as conservatives warned).

These setbacks for Bush followed the most ineffective State of the Union address in recent years by a president whose previous efforts were able to utilize that event. He submitted to the bureaucratic methods that turned the speech into a laundry list. His staff permitted the former baseball team owner to further clutter the speech with an irrelevant discourse about players using steroids. In the two weeks since then, the president has not seemed energized on the campaign trail.

Most worrisome to Republicans is Kerry's war hero image while, in the words of one prominent Bush supporter, "our guy was drinking beer in Alabama" (where actually he was working on a losing Senate Republican campaign in 1972).

This may be a case where the liberal is a sufficiently agile dodger to blur his past, and the Republicans must rely on George W. Bush. On Friday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan bridled at the thought of the president suffering a deficiency in credibility. But that in truth is the biggest problem he faces today.

Lastly, if you read ABC News’ The Note this morning, you will get a sense that Dean’s attacks against Kerry for taking money from lobbyists aren’t getting traction for two reasons: all candidates get money from where the money is, and two, since Dean brought aboard lobbyist Roy Neel to run his campaign, such a line of attack against Kerry loses its credibility. That isn’t to say that there are not legitimate lines of attack against Kerry that his opponents can hit him with now, and for which Kerry needs to be ready with a defense/offense against Rove in the months ahead. The same Note column today lists some of those legitimate lines of attack. But please spare me the lobbyist angle. Governor, that critique went out the window last week.

Steve :: 9:00 AM :: Comments (6) :: Digg It!