The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Message of the Day: George Bush will say anything to get elected

Shortly after the primary season ended, the Kerry folks used to respond to attacks from the Bush camp by saying that this was evidence of the Bush truth deficit, or an example of Bush's problem with the truth, or another demonstration that Bush was a liar. Essentially challenging the Bush camp veracity. You don't hear much of that these days. Instead the Kerry folks have been strugglking to craft a defining way of characterizing Bush. It seems they have two favorites these days. 1) Bush is living in a world of fantasy spin and 2) Bush, W stands for Wrong!

I have to admit I don't find these last two compelling. Maybe it's the partisan in me but I would prefer a return to a more full-throated defense that essentially reminds people of how often Bush has lied to and misled them in the last 4 years.

The beauty of the Bush message that Kerry is a flip-flopper is that is serves as the foundation from which all of their critiques hang or on which they all rest. This has been nicely pointed out by commentators on blogs and talk radio. If Kerry flip-flops, then he must be weak. If Kerry flip-flops then he has no core values. If Kerry flip-flops... you get the message. But let's take those examples of supposed flip-flops. Bush's accusations reveal more about himself than they do Kerry. If Bush is running on his character - show how sorely lacking in character he really is.
  • Bush likes to mock Kerry for saying "I actually voted for it before I voted against it" when talking about the $87 billion. Bush also likes to accuse Kerry of not supporting the troops. In fact, $67 billion was for troops and $20 billion for 'reconstruction.' Kerry voted against the President's version of the bill because he was concerned there weren't adequate safeguards on spending the $20 billion. Thus far less than $1 billion has been spent on reconstruction and much of that money was given to Cheney's Halliburton in no bid contracts. Kerry supported a different version of this package in a vote right before the final vote -- a package Bush opposed. So Bush actually opposed the aid before he supported it. & Kerry clearly did vote to support the troops. It was supporting Halliburton that he objected to.
  • Bush says that he watched TV before going into the Florida class room and watched the first plane hit the Tower. In fact, this was only televised much later that day.
  • Bush claims that there are more than 100,000 fully trained and equipped Iraqi soldiers and police. In fact, only 36,000 have had minimal training and evidence now shows that many of them are in cahoots with the forces fighting the US.
  • Bush told Larry King he did not oppose the 9/11 Commission. That's a hoot!
  • Bush claims that Kerry would prefer Saddam were still in power when in fact Kerry only said that we have traded a dictator for chaos in Iraq.
  • Bush claims that Kerry has been for the war, then against it, then for it, then against it. In fact Kerry - if you look at his statements, which no reporter ever bothers to do - has consistently said he was right to give Bush authority to use force but that Bush should have gone and gotten the UN to join the effort before starting a war. The San Francisco Chronicle has this story.
  • Saddam 'had links' to 9/11 - Cheney still claims this!. Nuff Said
  • "I served honorably in the National Guard and was discharged." Nuff said
  • The Bush administration has killed reports that it produced that showed the Bush tax cuts were actually job killers and that global warming is demonstrably due to human factors.
  • More than 4000 scientists and 48 Nobel prize winners have accused the Bush administration of distorting and suppressing science to suit political goals.
  • Bush & Cheney accuse Kerry of opposing major weapons systems, but many of those systems were terminated or opposed by the Pentagon when Cheney ran it.
  • Bush ads accuse Kerry of supporting a gas tax he never voted for or supported.
  • Bush claimed the average American got $1000 back in tax cuts. In fact, the average of the tax cuts may have been $1000 but this was because the amounts at the top were so large. If Bush had paid attention in school he would know that a group of 9 welfare mothers and Bill Gates would have a whopping average income, but the income of the average member in the group would still be below the poverty line.
  • Bush claims that Kerry's promises add up to 1.5 trillion in new spending when analysis of the Bush convention speech shows that his promises there could total $3 trillion.
  • Bush ads have claimed Kerry plans to raise taxes by $900 billion when he has no such plans. The repeal of the tax cuts on those making over $200,000 a year raises only $250 billion.
  • George Bush told a rally in Missouri that the Taliban is no longer in existence. Nuff said.
  • USAID hired a private group to report on the security situation in Iraq, but the Bush administration has sought to squelch the reports after they wrote that security was worsening.
  • Bush's White House told Congress that the prescription drug plan would cost about $400 billion when the true cost was greater than $500 billion plus. Then they threatened to fire the Medicare actuary who knew the truth if he told Congress.
  • WMD!, nuff said
  • Bush has said he has told Congress to be fiscally responsible but the deficit has ballooned to over $400 billion this year under his watch and billions more in total debt since he was elected.
  • Bush said he was giving money to first-time responders such as fire and police but his budget actually cuts funding for fire and police.
  • Bush said in Poland when asked about WMD, that we found them! Those trucks. Nuff said.
  • Bush said the "mission accomplished" banner was put up by the sailors on the aircraft carrier he landed on. Bush later admits it was his advance team.

Message of the Day: George Bush the Flim Flam Man

Howard Dean was on the O'Franken Factor yesterday and he called George Bush the "flimflam man." He said if Republicans call Kerry a flip-flopper, we should call Bush the Flimflam Man.

From Merriam-Webster's Dictionary:

Main Entry: 1flimĀ·flam Pronunciation: 'flim-"flamFunction: nounEtymology: probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse flim mockery1 : DECEPTION, FRAUD 2 : deceptive nonsense.

That seems about right.

He pointed out:

  1. George Bush opposed the Department of Homeland Security, then he supported it.
  2. George Bush opposed the 9/11 Commission, then he supported it.
  3. George Bush opposed testifying before the commission, then he agreed to.
  4. George Bush said the war on terror was unwinnable, then he said it was winnable.
  5. George Bush opposed Campaign finance reform, then he supported it and signed it into law.
  6. George Bush opposed a panel to investigate WMD intelligence failures, now he supports it.
  7. George Bush opposed nation building and using the army for this purpose in 2000, now he supports it
  8. George Bush said he would stop at nothing to capture Osama Bin forgotten, now he says he doesn't care where Bin Laden is.
  9. George Bush said he supported a ban on assault weapons, but he did nothing to stop the ban from expiring.
  10. George Bush said he opposes using stem cells for scientific research because it destroys embryos, but he says nothing about in-vitro fertilization which destroys unused fertilized embryos all the time.
  11. George Bush laughed at Al Gore's call for hybrid autos, now he supports more funding for research on the subject.
  12. George Bush opposed the Road Map for peace in the Mideast, now he supports it.
  13. George Bush said states ought to decide issues of gay marriage, but now he supports a federal constitutional amendment to limit state options on this matter.
  14. George Bush supported caps on CO2 emissions, but now he opposes them.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Kerry Health Care Ad I Want to See

Political ads can be so boring sometimes. Heck, I guess most times. Most political consultants get into media from campaigns. It's not like they have a background in creative work. So you get lots of head shots, staid camera angles. The kind of stuff that makes a channel surfer say -- "ahhh political ad, click!" I have to say, though, that lately they are getting quite good.

What do I know about the subject? Less actually. But if I wanted to make a domestic issues ad for Kerry (which I do by the way), this is how I would do it.

I would start with a wrinkled dollar bill on the ground. Then I would show a gust of wind pick it up. The wind would blow the dollar bill around in a dance, much like the plastic bag shot in American Beauty that everyone ooh'd and ahh'd over. This would happen over a concrete driveway in front of a wide door two car garage. While this was happening I would have a narrarator (maybe a woman's voice since this is a family budget issue) say:

"One dollar. Less than one dollar a week. This is how much a family of four would save if President Bush's health care plan passed. President Bush wants you to believe that our health care crisis is all due to frivolous lawsuits. But the Congressional Budget Office estimated that lawsuits and malpractice insurance only account for 4% of health care costs. Bush's proposal they said, would reduce this by less than one half of one percent. That's about a dollar a week. A dollar a week. John Kerry has a plan to save families about $1,000 a year from their health care costs. Isn't it time for a President who will do something for honest Americans? Vote John Kerry for President.

"Or hope for a dollar..."

And the commercial closes with the dollar bill being blown against a rusty chain linked fence with a close-up.

Whaddya think?

Friday, September 17, 2004

HEALTH CARE - Bush Leads with his Chin!

Today's New York Times carries an article that the campaigns clashed on health care Thursday.

Bush Says Kerry Is Pushing Nationalized Health Care

I think that the Bush Campaign has made a huge tactical mistake attacking Kerry's health care plan. I really don't think Republicans understand how this issue works politically. I remember this from when I worked in Pennsylvania in 1991 for Harris Wofford, a little known man who was elected entirely on the health care issue. Pennsylvania. HELLO. Can you say 'crucial battleground state?' Republican candidate Dick Thornburgh kept attacking Wofford, saying "he wants to create a huge government bureaucracy and raise your taxes."

And the voters kept moving to Wofford. Wofford was 40 points down in July and won by about 6 or 8 percentage points. Against Dick Thornburgh? Popular former governor and sitting Attorney General?

The thing is, any time the discussion moves to health care, any time we are talking about health care instead of Iraq and Vietnam, Democrats win. We set the agenda. We dominate the debate. People trust us. Certainly more than them.

I see this as a golden opportunity. Bush is leading with his chin. I think they got ahead of themselves this week and are looking for a landslide so they are moving into Kerry-leaning states and moving to issues aimed at attracting moderates. Again, I think this is a major mistake. Nationalized Health Care only scares people in Washington. People out here are desperate for someone to do something. Last year my premiums went up 50%. And my employer contribution stayed flat. This year they went up 15%. And this was considered a victory because they came in under the state average. Who knows what is in store for next year. But I will bet money they aren't coming down. Kerry doesn't even have to support nationalized health care.

All he has to do is say:

"This has been a problem for 20 years. And Republicans have done nothing about it except stonewall and obstruct every major reform that has been proposed. They even spent the last 8 years opposing the Patient's Bill of Rights! A simple law to protect honest Americans from predatory HMO's that would deny you care when you need it. Now they would have you think that they plan to do something about the problems honest Americans experience everyday with the health care system.

"Finding out that your health care costs are going up more than your paycheck. Finding out that your health insurance won't cover that medication your doctor just prescribed. Finding out that the health insurance company won't approve that surgery you need, won't let you go see the specialist you need, won't reimburse you for the bills you paid out of pocket, won't cover that problem you have.

"George Bush wants you to think that frivolous law suits are the cause of all our problems. That fixing this will fix everything. But the Congressional Budget Office, a research office staffed and headed by Republican appointees, has estimated that malpractice claims represent less than 2% of what we spend on health care. Even if Bush's reforms passed and they worked, it would knock off less than a half of one percent from what we spend over all. A Harvard study showed that malpractice claims don't even affect the practice of medicine. They don't make it more expensive. And besides, how would you like to be a patient in a system where a doctor says - why run the test? It's not like she can sue me if we kill her right?

"It's long past time that this nation got serious about fixing what's wrong with our health care system and protecting what's right. And who do you trust to do that? The Republicans? Or do you want to elect the Party that has been pushing for something to be done since the Second World War?"

WOW. I have myself so fired up, we could even win back the House with this issue. Let the fight be joined.

I hope the Kerry folks don't miss this opportunity. Bush's convention speech mentioned making health care part of his vision of an ownership society. Of breaking the link between employment and health care. If Kerry draws him out on that it's only gonna be good. What does Bush mean? People can't depend on their employer for health care anymore. Health insurance for a family of four costs an average of $10,000 a year. We have to pay that out of our own pocket now? EXCUSE ME? Can you say DEMOCRATIC LANDSLIDE?

Thursday, September 16, 2004

If I Was the Campaign Manager for Kerry Pt II

This is the ad I would run

9/11 Widow Kristin Breitweiser, on why she is supporting Kerry: "I've been very involved in the last three years, since my husband's death, with trying to get attention paid to the failures that occurred on 9/11. We fought to get the creation of the 9/11 Commission, a commission that the White House opposed. Once that commission was created, we fought to get proper funding, access to documents and individuals. We were fought by the White House on that. We fought to get an extension, and, again, we went up against the White House. It was a course of three years of battling with the same individuals that I voted in 2000 to put in office to lead my country" ("Capital Report," Sept. 14)

One of the things that Bush has done brilliantly has been to work at minimizing his opponent's strengths. This, of course, is all the work of Karl Rove. Both the book and documentary Bush's Brain make the case that Rove has a trademark of brashly going after his opponents' strong points. He did this with innuendoes about Ann Richards' sexual orientation and with the smear campaign against John McCain in South Carolina in 2000. And his hand is evident in the Swift Boat ads which work at neutralizing Kerry's advantage in his war biography. Those ads do not have to convince anyone that Kerry was a coward. They only have to confuse people about Kerry's presentation of his war biography. This takes his advantage on the issue away from him. He even becomes loathe to bring the matter up since to do so immediately invites reminders of those ads, allows reporters to remind voters about those ads in any story they do covering Kerry. This same strategy of Bush's is evident in recent ads on the health care issue in which he actually attacks Kerry. I think the word for this is Chutzpah.

What I love about the idea of an ad with 9/11 survivors is that it goes right to the heart of Bush's political strength and his main electoral advantage over Kerry. Democrats don't have to win this debate. But imagine if they could neutralize the Republican advantage by reminding people of the facts. The recent 9/11 report practically reads like a Kerry advertisement. Imagine an ad with a 9/11 survivor or widow reading excerpts from the report. Excerpts that expose how the administration stonewalled the 9/11 Commission. How Condoleeza Rice barred the main terrorism and Al Qaeda expert from National Security Council Briefings. How the administration essentially lied to the commission and pretended they were never told to watch out for hijacking plots from Al Qaeda -- when their own terrorism advisors wrote memos telling them this the summer before 9/11. How the administration wouldn't even share copies of those memos with the 9/11 Commission. Then of course there is the fact that the invasion of Iraq has made the nation less safe by radicalizing the Arab world further, bogging down our resources and attention in an unimportant part of the world while real problems in Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan go unattended. But why beat someone over the head with the facts?

Just my humble opinion.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

At last - TRUE REASON!

A must read for anyone with an interest in the election outcome.

Taxes for an Ownership Society

I long to hear Edwards (and Kerry) revert to the argument that the Bush agenda (and catch phrases) actually represent an insidious effort to shift the burden of taxation from income to wages, from capital onto labor -- that the Bush plans would inevitably shift the burden of supporting government onto working people. Not only would this be unfair, it would cripple our economy and economic prospects by creating disincentives for work. It would transform us and speed our transformation from a producing society into one that merely provides capital investment. Instead of making things, America will become a country that provides the investment capital. Fine you say? OK. But what happens to the 95% of people who get their living from work? Do they all get service jobs? Is that the future we want?

If I was the Campaign Manager for Kerry

This is the Ad that I would run in the print mediaPosted by Hello

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Is John Kerry a Girlie Man? - Comments on the NYTimes Article by Frank Rich

See How Kerry Became a Girlie Man

The article by Rich was a fabulous piece. As the election moves forward, the Republican strategy is clear and it seems that they have been watching too much COURT TV. Their objective is to muddy the waters on any point of attack against them, then hammer home their own points of attack. The case of the Bush National Guard papers is a clear case in-point. Faced with such a challenge they respond that the documents are a forgery and their minions in the press, in particular their legion of Op-Ed columnists such as Safire or Brooks, run the refrain that the documents are forgeries. These ideas are then echoed in the mainstream press. (Nightline's Friday edition essentially concluded that the documents are likely forged) The result, is general public confusion about what has or has not been established by the story. Worse still, this muddies the overall charges of derliction of duty on the part of Lt. Bush. The point of the Swift Boat attacks was similar. It does not matter whether you prove the point about Kerry's service. All that matters is that there is general confusion in the public's eye about the facts, thus neutralizing any advantage Kerry has in the area of wartime experience. For the Bush campaign, however, there can be and is no confusion about whether Kerry voted against funding for Post War Iraq, whether his explanation of the vote is mockable, whether he said that the war on terror needed to be sensitive. the truth of these matters is irrelevant. Like a good prosecutor they hammer these arguments home again and again until they become accepted as fact and slowly blend into the overall dialogue about the campign, echoed by journalists and pundits alike.