September 6, 2004
POLITICS: "When am I gonna make it back to Haiti?"
In the pantheon of bad ideas: someone in the Kerry campaign deciding to call John McCain, one of the few Republicans who's had some nice things to say about Kerry, a liar. Powerline has the details and notes that cooler heads have (for now) prevailed.
If Bush's campaign did this to McCain, even for part of a day, the president would be hounded about it to his grave.
UPDATE: The relentless Captain Ed saved a cached copy of the page from Kerry's site. McCain's listed at #10-13:
10. Senator John McCain: “My friends in the Democratic Party and I'm fortunate to call many of them my friends assure us they share the conviction that winning the war against terrorism is our government's most important obligation. I don't doubt their sincerity. They emphasize that military action alone won't protect us, that this war has many fronts: in courts, financial institutions, in the shadowy world of intelligence, and in diplomacy. They stress that America needs the help of her friends to combat an evil that threatens us all, that our alliances are as important to victory as are our armies. We agree. And, as we've been a good friend to other countries in moments of shared perils, so we have good reason to expect their solidarity with us in this struggle. That is what the President believes. And, thanks to his efforts we have received valuable assistance from many good friends around the globe, even if we have, at times, been disappointed with the reactions of some.”
11. Senator John McCain: “Our President will work with all nations willing to help us defeat this scourge that afflicts us all.”
12. Senator John McCain: “However just the cause, we should shed a tear for all that is lost when war claims its wages from us. But there is no avoiding this war. We tried that, and our reluctance cost us dearly. And while this war has many components, we can't make victory on the battlefield harder to achieve so that our diplomacy is easier to conduct.”
13. Senator John McCain: “After years of failed diplomacy and limited military pressure to restrain Saddam Hussein, President Bush made the difficult decision to liberate Iraq. Those who criticize that decision would have us believe that the choice was between a status quo that was well enough left alone and war. But there was no status quo to be left alone."
Don't hold your breath waiting for the Kerry camp to explain how any of these statements are "lies".
"The 2004 GOP Convention: Four Days Filled With Lies, Mischaracterizations, Distortions, And Half-Truths."
Sounds about right to me.
My respect for McCain has diminished greatly over the last several weeks. I appreciate his candor in criticizing the bogus Swift Boat ads, and he was right to call for Bush to denounce them. McCain knows all about it, as he said, "this is the same stuff they pulled on me."
But Bush never renounced the ads, called for them to cease or anything of the sort. What did McCain do about it? Went down to Florida with Bush for one of the most gratuitous love-ins (hugs and actual use of the word "love") with Bush and actively stumped for him right up through the Convention.
I understand he's a loyal Republican and all, but Bush needs McCain, and McCain should have demanded a price for his participation -- and end to the Swift Boat ads. In defense of Kerry, in retribution for his own treatment at the hands of the Bush machine and as part of the campaign reform he strongly worked for. Nothing. He makes his speech about how wrong the ads are and how disturbed he is, and goes right on as if it never happened.
You assume that Bush could stop the Swift Boat ads if he wanted to. Whatever you think about the degree of coordination (in the absence of evidence thereof), there's little doubt in my mind that the swifties are far too committed to their campaign against Kerry to listen to the Bush team (O'Neill, if you'll recall, is a plaintiffs' lawyer who was prepared to support Edwards; while a number of these guys are Republicans, their chief loyalty seems to be to knocking down Kerry).
"If Bush's campaign did this to McCain, even for part of a day, the president would be hounded about it to his grave."
Do you mean like a shadow campaign implying McCain lost a few screws in the prison camps? Or maybe he's got a black child out of wedlock? The Bush campaign has done a lot worse than call McCain a liar (something I doubt Kerry's campaign actualy did), and the President has sailed by scot-free. He deserves plenty of "hounding to his grave" for plenty of stuff, I can only hope one day he gets some of it.
As for Kerry/McCain... after McCain's bogus "stand" against the ads, Kerry certainly doesn't owe him any free shots at himself. If McCain stands up at the oposing Convention and slams Kerry, he's allowed to hity back. And he should.
The connections between the Swifties and the Bush campaign are pretty suspicious, but I am sure all parties are quite careful about issues of coordination. Is Rove buying the airtime and placing the ads? Of course not. But we all know a phone call from the President might have made an impact.
By doing nothing Bush has, in effect, endorsed the ads and has bent over backwards not to denounce the ads. He goes out of his way to criticize "all soft-money ads" and 527s, while implicitly supporting and encouraging the most effective and successful example thusfar.
Last time I checked it was Bush's signature on the bottom of the McCain/Feingold Act, he should have read it before he signed it. He's now trying to try to claim "I thought we outlawed this kind of thing," when he knows damn well this was one of the major concessions when this Bill was being negotiated.
How can you dismiss the SwiftVets ads as "bogus" when there is actual evidence to support their claims (much of it is tenuous at best, but evidence nonetheless), yet accuse the Bush campaign of coordinating with a 527 when there is little or no evidence of such a connection?
At the very least we should be able to agree that if the Bush campaign is somehow coordinating (through silence?) with the SwiftVets, than the Kerry campaign is guilty of the same exact crime with regards to MoveOn.org, the Media Fund, and America Coming Together- among others. So where’s the outrage?
Richard, I'll get back to you tomorrow on this. Too late to start a research project...
Well, while you're doing your research be sure to look up the names Robert Bauer and Jim Jordan...
I don’t think any political ads should be pulled or banned. Voters need more information, not less.
The Swift Boat guys appear to have some (but not all) of their facts wrong. The answer to that should be rebuttal (i.e. more speech, more debate) rather than censorship.
If anyone goes after McCain it should be for his full-barreled assault on the First Amendment and political speech, not the self-evident veracity of his statements regarding Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Richard & Co,
I don't want to clog up the Crank's thread with a long piece, so I'll direct you over to my blog. After our exchange last night, I posted a draft I worked up a week or two ago on the Swift boat guys. Mostly a cut and paste from the NY Times and MSNBC, but it addresses some of the points I was making.
It seems clear to me that this is a personal vendetta with these guys, and Bush and the facts have little to do with its genesis. Guys like O'Neill have been after Kerry ever since his Senate testimony, and are unlikely to ever let up. It's probably true Bush cannot stop them, they will do whatever they want, but he lends credence to their ads by letting them go by without comment.
As for Mad Hibernian's comment, false or misleading information (from either side) is not condusive to a well-reasoned debate and serves no genuine purpose other than mud-slinging, distraction or worse.
The public airwaves cannot be a free-for-all of throwing whatever crap out there and see what sticks/takes off. There needs to be an accountability for political advertising. Regular ads are held to a scrutiny for false claims, and for political ads this needs to happen before they air, since the window or timeframe for debate is often short, and court of public opinion's verdict is often final.
Call it censorship or restriction of the First Amendment if you want, but a libel victory in court for John Kerry (or anyone else) eighteen months from now does them no good whatsoever.
On the "update":
Kerry's campaign nver said the list was "all lies." Even on Captain Ed's site, he retained the title "The 2004 GOP Convention: Four Days Filled With Lies, Mischaracterizations, Distortions, And Half-Truths."
I'm not sure why 10 and 11 are on the list. I disagree with McCain on the finer points (as I am sure the Kerry campaign does), but I think they are debatable points and guess Kerry would argue he'd be better, but they don't deserve to be on a list like this.
12. "...But there is no avoiding this war. We tried that, and our reluctance cost us dearly. And while this war has many components, we can't make victory on the battlefield harder to achieve so that our diplomacy is easier to conduct.” Are you talking about the so-called 'War on Terrorism' or the invasion of Iraq? While they are both fruit, they are apples and oranges. And the diplomacy line? I think Kerry's (and other critics) whole point has long been that better diplomacy would have made the battle/victory easier to achieve and more successful , not vice versa.
13. McCain has always been a hawk on Iraq. So this is not surprising. But he offers (or relays) a false choice here. Kerry, and even Dean, never said to "leave Saddam alone, he's not bothering anyone." This is crap, and he knows it. and that's why it fits the list.
10 and 11 never should have made it, 12 and 13 fit the bill and I have no problem with including them on a list like this. I have a bigger problem with Kerry's site putting it up and taking it down. I have a problem with it personally and as a strategy.
My own update:
I just realized Ed's page was the actual Kerry/Edwards page, so obviosly it showed the complete title. What I want to now is; why they would prepare that list without rebuttal for any of it?
It might just as well serve as a talking points list for the Right.
What the hell are those guys doing?
Now we are endorsing prior restraint? Personally, I’m highly uncomfortable with the notion that political speech should be subject to vetting by bureaucratic truth squads.
For example, should Michael Moore’s latest propaganda film be banned until we determine what is and what is not libelous in it? Or does such censorship only go one way in your ideal world?
Let people air their views and their opinions. The free market of ideas and debate will determine which are true, which are false, which are garbage and which have merit. The law should not preemptively intervene.
I'm not comfortable with it either. I'm torn as to how to handle all of this, and I don't pretend to have an answer, but here's a quick thought...
Campaigns need a complete overhaul not reform. They should be publicly financed and the ad airtime should be made available to each candidate back to back on an alternating basis. The ads should be clearly labeled (a good part of McCain/Feingold is the "I approved this message" deal) and affiliated to a campaign.
Yeah, prior restraint has a bad ring to it. (Perhaps I should exercise some on occasion when I write...) I don't know what to do about the fact that the political discourse in this country is completely f--ked up.
Let's see how everyone feels if there's a "Bush did coke at Camp David" ad during your local news next week and he can't shake the charges and the press just goes nuts with it.
On a lighter note, I also had a baseball post today (even if it contains a little Bush dig...).
Public financing has too many problems to recount here. (1) It entrenches a two-party system; two parties are good, but sometimes they splinter (see the replacement of the Whigs with the Republicans) and at least the threat of that is good (2) Someone in power has to make decisions about dispensing public funds; do you trust your political opponents to play fair with these decisions? (3) Public funding creates other corruption problems (See the German experience) and a black market.
I don't approve of calling the president a coke addict, but I'd rather we have a debate about lies than bury the truth.
The only real prior restraint I'd approve is requiring pre-election disclosure of the financing of all ads.
"It might just as well serve as a talking points list for the Right.
What the hell are those guys doing?"
That's mostly what I take out of it- this is just the latest example of something coming out of the Kerry campaign that has to make you ask "is anyone home?"