September 3, 2004


Mad as Hell (Susan Estrich, SEPTEMBER 1, 2004)

[M]ost of all, activists Democrats are angry. As one who lived through an August like this, 16 years ago -- replete with rumors that were lies, which the Bush campaign claimed they had nothing to do with and later admitted they had planted -- I'm angry, too. I've been to this movie. I know how it works. Lies move numbers.

Remember the one about Dukakis suffering from depression after he lost the governorship? (Dukakis not crazy, more at 11.) We lost six points over that lie, planted by George W.'s close friend and colleague in the 1988 campaign, Lee Atwater. Or how about the one about Kitty Dukakis burning a flag at an antiwar demonstration, another out-and-out lie, which the Bush campaign denied having anything to do with, except that it turned out to have come from a United States senator via the Republican National Committee? Lee Atwater later apologized to me for that, too, on his deathbed. Did I mention that Lee's wife is connected to the woman running the Swift Boat campaign?

Never again, we said then.

Not again, Democrats are saying now.

What do you do, Democrats keep asking each other.

The answer is not pretty, but everyone knows what it is.

In 1988, in the days before the so-called independent groups, the candidate called the shots. To Michael Dukakis' credit, depending on how you look at it, he absolutely refused to get into the gutter, even to answer the charges. His theory, like that of some on the Kerry staff, was that answering such charges would only elevate them, give them more attention than they deserved. He thought the American people wanted to hear about issues, not watch a mud-wrestling match. In theory, he was right. In practice, the sad truth is that smears work -- that if you throw enough mud, some of it is bound to stick.

You can't just answer the charges. You can't just say it ain't so.

You have to fight fire with fire, mud with mud, dirt with dirt.

The trouble with Democrats, traditionally, is that we're not mean enough. Dukakis wasn't. I wasn't. I don't particularly like destroying people. I got into politics because of issues, not anger. But too much is at stake to play by Dukakis rules, and lose again.

No human trait is less becoming than self-pity.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 3, 2004 2:02 PM

The Dems have become unbelievably self-delusional. They've been ripping into Bush for over 4 years while Bush (usually) takes the high road and the Dems aren't mean enough? Please.

Posted by: AWW at September 3, 2004 2:05 PM

I'm sure she's going to love the VVAW and the negotiations-with-the-N-Vietnamese-in-Paris stories.

Or are those "smears" too?

Posted by: Brian (MN) at September 3, 2004 2:08 PM

The nice thing is that the Dems are apparently not clever enough just to let 527's and the media do their dirty work for them. So if any of the nonsense that Estrich suggests actually comes to fruition, it will be coming straight from the the Johns themselves, giving Bush yet another chance to be above the fray.

The irony is that she has to reach back to Dukakis to find something like this. It's not like this didn't happen to Clinton, too. Clinton was smeared more than Dukakis and Kerry combined, and he knew how to deal with it. Ms. Estrich's strategy is not what he used.

Posted by: Timothy at September 3, 2004 2:19 PM

Yea, except for that Iran-Contra "Bush knew" stuff and the report about GHWB, the SR-71 and the "October Surprise" secret trip to meet with the Iranians on a deal to keep the hostages until Carter was out of office, the Democrats were pure as the driven snow during the 1988 election.

Posted by: John at September 3, 2004 2:27 PM

Are they waving the white flag so soon?

Posted by: RoboDruid at September 3, 2004 2:28 PM

Wouldn't you be depressed if you loss a governship and your wife is in the bathroom popping pills and drinking all of your Old Spice cologne. I know I would be.

Posted by: h-man at September 3, 2004 2:35 PM

OJ, you didn't print the rest of it. She mentioned using a Larry Flynt tactic of paying women $1 million bucks to loosen their lips. Here it is:

Or could it be George Bush's Former Female Friends for Truth. A forthcoming book by Kitty Kelly raises questions about whether the president has practiced what he preaches on the issue of abortion. As Larry Flynt discovered, a million dollars loosens lips. Are there others to be loosened?

Posted by: pchuck at September 3, 2004 2:35 PM

The members of the Mass. statehouse would be
surprise to know that meanness is not a Democrat

Posted by: J.H. at September 3, 2004 2:36 PM

I apologize. I should never, ever use the words "Larry Flynt" and "loose lips" in the same sentence.

Posted by: pchuck at September 3, 2004 2:37 PM

Wasn't he pro-choice in his first House campaign?

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2004 2:47 PM

Imagine--if you pay someone a million bucks, they'll say whatever you want. Go figure.

Posted by: Timothy at September 3, 2004 2:56 PM

The issue of one of W's former steadies aborting a child has long been mooted about. No one has anything concrete. And hey, according to the left, wouldnt it be an individual matter for that woman and her body--why would W have known?

BTW, word has it the Kelley book is more damaging to 41 than 43.

Posted by: cornetofhorse at September 3, 2004 2:58 PM

Susan Estrich, manager of the brilliantly run campaign of President Dukakis, giving advice again.

A campaign runs a certain course. First, the challenger benefits by being the recipient of anti-incumbency feeling. The Anybody But Bush vote. However, then the challenger faces reality when his record and character start to be examined. That is where we have been since the DNC. Many erstwhile Kerry supporters are saying,' Well, when I meant anyone but Bush, I didn't mean this goober.' As Kerry's faults become manifest, he becomes less popular as an alternative.

After Labor Day, we enter into the 'What are you going to do in the next 4 years?' phase.

The factors used by voters to make a decision are going to be based upon the statements made by both men in debates and by an examination of the political records of both men to see if they can actually do stuff. Does the candidate have a clear vision of what he wants to do? Is that vision at least reasonably in accord with mine? Does he have the ability and the character to actually achieve anything?

Can Kerry possibly match up to Bush on this test?

Posted by: Bart at September 3, 2004 3:01 PM

"Clinton was smeared more than Dukakis and Kerry combined..."

And through proxies like Carville, Begala, his wife and the rest, had nothing but nice words for his opponents, critics and accusers.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 3, 2004 3:06 PM

A featured performer at a National Organization for Women rally accused President Bush of having "savagely raped " women "over and over" by allegedly stealing the 2000 presidential election.

. . . and then Ms. Estrich says:

The trouble with Democrats, traditionally, is that we're not mean enough.

I'd hate to see what "mean enough" looks like.

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 3, 2004 3:06 PM

Other than suggesting that the President might be a moronic, fascist, deserting, psychiatrically disturbed, "dry drunk" with foreknowledge of 9/11 who, paid off by the Saudis, personally decided to allow people complicit in the attacks to leave the country before anyone else could fly and also lied the American people into war in order to get his friends an oil pipeline in Afghanistan -- negotiated in Texas while he was governor -- and war-profiteering contracts in Iraq, the Democrats have been sweethearts.

But now we get the payoff for the White House not running around trying to respond to Michael Moore, et al. By comparison, the Dems look like whining brats.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 3, 2004 3:21 PM


You racist--you conveniently forgot he dragged James Byrd to death.

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2004 3:29 PM

And personaly added arsenic to wells in the south west.

Posted by: Uncle Bill at September 3, 2004 3:45 PM

And you forget that GWB manufactured all those tapes and transcripts of Treebeard testifying before the Senate in 1971 and using his time machine and secret powers of mass hypnosis. . .

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at September 3, 2004 5:16 PM

Timothy, he did?

Not how I read 1992-2000

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 3, 2004 6:58 PM


Two Republican speakers resigned--Clinton didn't.

& the most despicable act of any recent president was Clinton blaming the GOP for OK City. Jerry Falwell was read out of decent society for saying something not dissimilar about 9-11.

Posted by: oj at September 3, 2004 7:47 PM

Wow, this article is one pathetic attempt to justify bad behavior. The author has accepted that "her side" is dishonest. Yes, she is going to lie. Yes, she is going to sling mud. Thats all fine and dandy because in her mind "they" did it first. Anyone ever seen a more blatant example of playground logic in action? The author shoudl be ashamed. She should read this article and think about what she is saying. I think everyone should read this article and think about what it means, what it says about the warped mentality of the left. Yes, they are going to lie to you, they are doing it now, and they dont care.

Posted by: Jake at October 26, 2004 2:31 PM