Release Kerry's Military Records?
Plus--How could the Bush campaign have already spent $39 million?
Bubble Boy: At this point in the 1992 campaign, Democratic voters had known for a month about Bill Clinton's most glaring character defect--his philandering. They may have denied it or rationalized it, but they knew about the charge, and they voted for Clinton anyway. This year, I'm constantly struck by the number of otherwise informed Democrats who are totally unaware of basic Kerry vulnerabilites--who are surprised, for example, to learn that he threw someone else's medals over a wall in his famous anti-Vietnam protest. ... When Clinton's early Gennifer Flowers troubles didn't stop him, he was inoculated on the womanizing issue for the remainder of the campaign. Kerry is so not inoculated. The antiseptic primary has left the Democrats not knowing whether their likely nominee has a healthy immune system or none at all. ... [Wouldn't the Feiler Faster Thesis have predicted that voters would be informed about Kerry and process that info in a shorter period of time?-ed. Yes. It's not working this year. Why? I'm not sure. The lack of negative campaigning after Iowa has obviously been a factor. Maybe the political information machine runs on conflict and fear. Without them, voters have little incentive to keep learning.] ...11:34 P.M.
The Torch Did It! Or was it ....: Remember when Democratic campaign ads were actually nasty? Those were great old days, weren't they? The list of people who funded the nostalgically negative anti-Dean ads a few weeks ago--the one's featuring Osama's picture--has apparently been released. The shocker: disgraced former N.J. senator Bob Torricelli gave $50,000 to that Stop Dean effort. ... Needless to say, the legality of Torricelli's contribution is "fuzzy," according to a Federal Election Commission spokesperson. ... Most of the ad's backers were Gephardt supporters. But Torricelli is now raising money for, yes, John Kerry. Yet another inducement for the Deaniacs to slog on (though that probably perversely helps Kerry by splitting the ABK vote). ... Update: BushOut.TV notes that another Kerry connection to the ads--through the Skadden Arps law firm. ... 11:08 P.M.
Monday, February 9, 2004
Jake Tapper has another pay-and-play Kerry special interest story in which there is absolutely no quid pro quo. ... Alas, it took this particular special interest more than a year after Kerry did it a favor to organize a fundraiser for him, rendering the scandal potential limited. ... But Tapper also has a very clear explanation, at the end of his piece, of why Kerry's ostentatious refusal to take PAC money is another phony bit of posturing. (Kerry accepts "bundled" contributions from CEOs, a much more lucrative policy. There's no dollar limit to bundling--in this case, a high-tech CEO funneled Kerry more than $100,000 by gathering smaller individual donations. PAC donations, in contrast, are limited to $5,000. Who needs them?) ... 11:32 P.M.
Media to Voters: We're trying to eliminate General Clark tomorrow, OK? Please cooperate this time. .... 10:50 P.M.
More dirty Kerry tricks at the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club of Washington, D.C.!. ... 10:48 P.M.
The AWOL Mystery: Why are Democrats bringing up the Bush/National Guard/AWOL issue now? Sure, the press is playing along and it's having an impact--but by November, when the Dems need it, it will seem like very old news. If you want to win the election, the time to start a media AWOL frenzy is in August or September, no? Yet commentators continue to look for the anti-Bush logic in the Democratic strategy. Tim Russert was just on Hardball saying the AWOL issue is a "warning shot" from the Kerry camp telling Bush he shouldn't accuse Kerry of being weak on defense.
Huh? Maybe I don't understand the Bonesman's Code in which Kerry communicates with Bush--and there have been other ominous Kerry camp warnings about putting "everything ... on the table", etc.--but is there any chance Bush won't accuse Kerry of being weak on defense? No. And how would Bush be dissuaded by a "warning" that Kerry might raise the AWOL issue when Kerry's already raising the AWOL issue--and by doing so is diminishing, not enhancing its November effectiveness? It doesn't make sense ...
That is, it doesn't make sense unless you view the AWOL issue as a primary election strategy, not a general election strategy. Its purpose is not to boost the Democrats (in November), but to boost Kerry (now). By getting the press talking about the chest-full-of-medals vs. slothful Guardsman issue, Kerry has helped convince Democratic primary voters that Bush is beatable--reinforcing the blindered Democratic focus on winning--and conferred on himself the Aura of Electability that is his only real selling point. Equally important, he's taking up valuable media time that might otherwise be spent scrutinizing him and inducing buyer's remorse--and which his rivals, especially Edwards, might otherwise use to get their messages out.
It's quite brilliant, really--until you realize that it sacrifices Democratic interests in the fall for Kerry's interests today. ... P.S.: Sure there are plenty of Democrats not necessarily affiliated with Kerry who are eager to raise questions about Bush's National Guard service. But Kerry has clearly been stoking the story. ... P.P.S.: Clark, who also has a chest full of medals, would benefit from the same strategy were he the frontrunner. But he's not. ... 6:30 P.M.
Photograph of Howard Dean on the Slate home page by Jim Bourg/Reuters.