October 23, 2004


Backward (Ryan Lizza, 10/22/04, New Republic)

The final component of the strategy is unprecedented. One reason BC'04 risks using Bush to deliver its toughest attacks is that, at this point in the campaign, the volume of information bombarding voters is so overwhelming that it takes the power of words straight from the president's mouth to break through the clutter. But the White House has always relied on the press to convey Bush's message to readers and viewers in a relatively unmediated fashion. That has proved more difficult this year due to a surge in coverage that fact-checks what the candidates are saying. This development has hurt Bush more than Kerry because the president's strategy is to destroy his opponent's credibility, a tactic that, ironically enough, has relied disproportionately on false statements. The Bushies have become so frustrated by the fact-checking of the president's statements that a spokesman told The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, "The Bush campaign should be able to make an argument without having it reflexively dismissed as distorted or inaccurate by the biggest papers in the country."

In response to the media's new obsession with truth-squading the candidates, the Republican National Committee's opposition research department has started to do something remarkable: going negative on the press. "RNC Research Briefings," e-mailed to hundreds of reporters, now regularly target members of the media. On October 6, the RNC put "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, a former staffer for House Speaker Tip O'Neill, in its sights. "democrat chris matthews' selective 'analysis,'" read the headline on a three-page press release that accused Matthews of erroneously claiming Cheney had contradicted himself during the debate when he denied tying September 11 to Saddam Hussein. Accompanying the release, the RNC posted a video online attacking Matthews. A few days later, Republicans took issue with The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller's accurate statement that, despite Bush's claims, Kerry "essentially voted for one large tax increase, the Clinton tax bill of 1993." "the new york times shades the truth," read the headline of a press release the RNC quickly put out. Next up was Ron Suskind, who wrote a critical piece in The New York Times Magazine. "liberal democrat suskind has creativity but not facts," the RNC noted. A few days later Paul Krugman became the RNC's target. In Suskind's and Krugman's cases, the oppo was unusually personal and included unflattering pictures of the men, the kind that candidates dig up of their opponents, not of journalists.

The fact that the RNC is now devoting a good deal of its time to attacking reporters speaks volumes about how much Bush is relying on negative, unchecked distortions to secure a second term. And that means that, in its own way, the Ashley Faulkner ad--with its warm and fuzzy image of Bush--ultimately leaves voters with as false an impression as the Willie Horton ad did in 1988.

Here's a pretty fair indicator of the source of Democratic Derangement Syndrome--note how in Mr. Lizza's little world when the quite openly pro-Kerry press attacks George Bush they're just doing their jobs but when the GOP fact-checks the media it's "going negative." Imagine how massive your sense of entitlement has to be for you to think your partisanship is beyond reproach while that of your opponents is damning?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 23, 2004 10:55 AM

>Imagine how massive your sense of entitlement
>has to be for you to think your partisanship is
>beyond reproach while that of your opponents is

Gods are by definition beyond reproach. (And a lot of them are monotheistic, if you catch my drift...)

Posted by: Ken at October 25, 2004 7:17 PM