October 23, 2004

DANCES WITH WOLVES (David Hill, The Bronx):

In Ad Battle, GOP Unleashes Wolves, Democrats Use Ostrich (Howard Kurtz, October 23, 2004, Washington Post)

By the time the dust settled, Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, had called the ad "despicable and contemptible," and the Democratic National Committee had rushed out an ad likening Bush to an ostrich.

Bush strategists tested the wolves ad with voters five months ago and, after receiving one of the most powerful reactions drawn by any of their commercials, decided to hold it until the campaign's final days. [...]

"Like the ostrich featured in our new ad," DNC Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe said, "George W. Bush has got his head buried in the sand."

As David wonders, who at the Kerry campaign thinks that George Bush is understating the terror threat?

When Is a Cut Not a Cut?: When it's a con. Bush's deceptive new ad. (Fred Kaplan, Oct. 22, 2004, Slate)

Have you seen George W. Bush's latest campaign ad—the one with the wolves? A shaky hand-held camera moves through a forest at twilight. Suddenly a wolf darts across the screen, then another, until finally we see a whole pack of wolves, rising from their slumber to come get us. Over a soundtrack of rustling leaves and spooky music, the narrator—a breathy woman—says:

In an increasingly dangerous world, even after the first terrorist attack on America, John Kerry and the liberals in Congress voted to slash America's intelligence operations. By $6 billion. Cuts so deep, they would have weakened America's defenses. And weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm.

The key phrase here is "after the first terrorist attack on America." At first viewing, I took this as a reference to the aftermath of 9/11. (Millions of other viewers probably did, too; no doubt the scriptwriters meant us to make the connection.) This puzzled me, because nobody proposed cutting intelligence after 9/11. On second viewing, though, I realized that the phrase was a veiled reference to the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.

Once this is clarified, the rest becomes plain. The Bush campaign appears to be repeating a falsehood that the Republican National Committee first propagated last March. We've been through this before, but now, with the "Wolves" ad, it's worth reciting again.

In 1995, several legislators, among them Sen. Kerry, did introduce amendments to cut the intelligence budget by $1 billion to $1.5 billion, which, spread out over several years, could have added up to $6 billion.

But these were not cuts in the sense that the term is usually understood.

Well, that's joyfully disingenuous. The Senator was right in policy terms to advocate intelligence cuts--even closing the CIA would have made sense--it just happens not to be politically defensible after 9-11.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 23, 2004 1:20 PM

First off, I don't think the ostrich ad is going to have the effect they think. Bush can, and should, tear into it by way of Kerry's "nuisance" comment.

Second, that Kaplan thinks somehow that 9-11 was the "first terrorist attack on America" demonstrates why his advice on terrorism should be ignored, and his pick for president be defeated. Regular Americans have a better grasp on history than that.

Posted by: Timothy at October 23, 2004 1:53 PM

Ah, clear as mud.

So a cut is not a cut? Fred Kaplan is smoking too much dope. Sounds like a nuanced version of "I voted for it before I voted against it".

Posted by: pchuck at October 23, 2004 5:12 PM

The Senator was right in policy terms to advocate intelligence cuts--even closing the CIA would have made sense--it just happens not to be politically defensible after 9-11.

Too bad Kerry's not nuianced enough to make that argument. Maybe he can use those mighty regenerative powers John Edwards was talking about to rise Daniel Patrick Moynihan from the grave and allow him to make it all over again.

Posted by: John at October 23, 2004 7:48 PM

Fred Kaplan is right about the cuts not being "cuts"; political and Congressional budget language is such that English words are assigned different meanings.

However, it's a kind of rough justice, payback for the Dem's equally spurious claims that Bush "squandered" a vaporous five trillion dollar "surplus".

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 24, 2004 2:58 AM

Someone on one of the Sunday shows -- and I can't remember who -- said when he saw the eagle soaring and the ostrich with its head in the sand, he automatically associated Bush with the eagle.

Posted by: J Baustian at October 25, 2004 2:10 AM