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What that "Awful" LA Times Poll Really Means

The Los Angeles Times poll released Thursday August 26th has created substantial consternation among democrats. Not only the mainstream media, but many pro-democratic writers and commentators have accepted the polls' apparent message that the sleazy attacks on Kerry's wartime record have been successful and have allowed Bush to overtake Kerry in the presidential race.

The bad news is that this perception has been widely accepted. The good news is that it's fundamentally wrong.

Let's start with the Kerry-Bush horse-race numbers. While the LA Times poll found Bush's support among registered voters rising from 46% in July to 49% on August 22-24th (and Kerry's support dropping from 48% to 46% in the same period), three other polls by major polling organizations found entirely different patterns.

An August 23-25th Gallup poll of registered voters found Kerry with 48% to Bush's 47%, At the beginning of August, Gallup showed Kerry and Bush tied at 48%.

An August 23-25th NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found a three point lead for Bush unchanged since July 22.

A Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll found Kerry 46%, Bush 43% on Aug 24-26. Kerry was up 2% from July 20-22 and Bush down 1% during that period.

In short, the four major polls conducted since August 20th do not reveal any consistent or substantial pro-Bush swing such as would be expected from a successful attack on John Kerry's war record and character during the week and a half before. Instead, the only generalization that can be made from looking at a broader group of over 20 polls of registered and likely voters since the beginning of August is of a slight and gradual shrinkage of about 3 or 4% in Kerry's lead.

If August had been a slow news month, this trend would almost certainly have been ascribed to an inevitable "coming back down to earth" following the run of positive news coverage Kerry had enjoyed for several months during the spring (the remarkable fundraising success, the popular choice of Edwards, the united, energized Democratic convention). Instead, because the attacks on Kerry’s medals and military service were intensely dramatic and widely covered, many commentators simply assumed that any changes in the opinion polls had to be due to their influence.

But the data in the LA Times and the other recent polls is actually more consistent with a different interpretation -- that a certain decline in Kerry's support, particularly among veterans, was inevitable as voters began to pay more attention to the campaign. On the other hand, the data show that the swift-boat surrogates attack on Kerry's medals and service has been -- as it richly deserved to be -- an almost unmitigated fiasco.

Since the beginning of Kerry's campaign it has been clear that there were a substantial number of veterans, and Vietnam veterans in particular, whose support he would never be able to attract because of his participation in the movement against the Vietnam War. While men like John McCain and Max Cleland have been able to "put the scars of Vietnam behind them", and relate to opponents of the war without rancor or bitterness, there are still many veterans, their families and friends who cannot. At the emotional core of this group are those who lost a father, husband or other close relative or friend in the Vietnam War and for whom "making peace" with opponents of the war would feel like a betrayal of their loved one - an admission that he and his sacrifice had been forgotten.

As a result, there was never any realistic possibility that Kerry would hold onto the support of many of these voters, even after his quite effective performance at the Democratic convention. All the Bush campaign needed to do was to make sure that these voters were made aware of Kerry's significant role in the anti-war movement of the early 1970's.

This is what the LA Times poll essentially found. In July, 32% agreed that "By protesting the war in Vietnam, John Kerry demonstrated a judgment and belief that is inappropriate in a president". By late August, this had risen to 37%. Similarly, 26% of the sample (and 31% of the men) agreed that Kerry's anti-war protests made them less likely to vote for him. The voters among whom the LA Times survey found Kerry loosing ground in August were married, less educated, self-described conservatives, owning a gun and living in a rural area -- a demographic profile that also describes the cultural environment of many U.S. veterans.

Had the Bush campaign been satisfied with simply harvesting these sympathetic voters, they probably could have done so with even a relatively honest and low-key series of commercials. Instead, however, they hoped that, with the help of their surrogates, they could achieve an even more ambitious goal - to impugn Kerry's valor, honesty and character through attacks on his wartime record of bravery and heroism.

The essence of this strategy was not only to directly damage Kerry's image and reputation, but to trap him into choosing between "taking the high road" and not responding to the attacks (which could then be spun to make him look weak and indecisive) or to provoke him into an ill-tempered, aggressive response (for which he could then be criticized as negative, partisan, bitter and shrill).

But the Bush campaign made a profound miscalculation. In the L.A. Times survey, only 18% of the voters had been convinced that "Kerry misrepresented his war record and does not deserve his war medals" while 58% said Kerry "fought honorably and does deserve" them. Independent voters sided with Kerry 5 to 1. Even men and self-described conservatives - groups that are normally quite pro-Bush - strongly supported Kerry, by 59 to 19 for men and 42 to 29 for conservatives. Other polls, such as the Fox/Opinion Dynamics and Annenberg Center for Public Policy survey found similar attitudes. In the Fox poll, even most veterans held, by 50% to 21% that Kerry deserved his purple hearts.

Moreover, Americans did not buy Bush's transparent attempts to pretend his campaign was not involved with the smear. The Gallup poll showed that more Americans think Bush is responsible for the commercials (50%) then do not (44%) and 56% think he should specifically denounce them while only 32% think he should not. An August 26 Annenberg Center survey found very similar attitudes.

It was this failure to convince the American people of the charges against Kerry that set the stage for the growing backlash against the Bush campaign - the investigative reports and editorial statements in newspapers across the country, the resignations of two Bush officials when their links to the smear campaign were exposed, and then Bush's disingenuous and finally humiliating series of statements and clarifications.

From the Bush campaign's point of view, the magnitude of the swift-boat fiasco becomes clear when it is recognized that a major goal of the August campaign was to put John Kerry on the defensive - to have him stumbling over his words, being pilloried in the press and firing his advisors. Instead (although the issue will now be muted by the theatrics of the Republican convention) it was Bush who was forced onto the defensive by the end of last week while Kerry weathered the attacks with an extraordinarily small decline in the level of his popular support.

Count on it, the Bushies are now very, very nervous. This wasn't the way they had it planned.


Re: WSJ/NBC poll

The poll has Bush ahead 47%-45%, but this stat from the same poll, to my knowledge, has not: 45% of respondents said they voted for Bush in 2000, and 33% said they voted for Gore. 17% said they either did not vote, can't remember, etc. So Bush is in a statistical tie in a sample of voters amazingly skewed toward those who voted for him four years ago.

Pretty damn good news.

http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/poll20040826.pdf; question F2

The phrase "has not been reported" should have come before the colon in the first sentence above.

I heard on CNN this morning that thair poll question "who would make the better leader" George Bush leads by 20 points. What's this?

Black is white and up is down, if I understand you correctly.

Sorry, no sale.

Thanks for the explanation. Hey, it's 8/28, and the vacation header claims that Ruy Texeira will resume posting on 8/30. If Ruy Texeira's back early, great! If not, who wrote the breakdown on polling data above? Credit where credit is due...

Thank heaven you're back.

Do not, I repeat, do not leave us again until after the election.

"Count on it, the Bushies are now very, very nervous. This wasn't the way they had it planned"

I have been posting this thought for quite some time. I am not impressed by the stoic, constipated faces of the repubs. I know that they must be breeding butterflies in their stomachs and are nervous and anxious all in one.

How can they be anything but nervous? Would a person who is confident and is truly outfront and leading deliver the type of adverts which the bush camp have been presenting recently? Would a true frontrunner fail to call off the attack dogs if he was so confident?

Do you really think that its some smart strategy that minutes before the actual elections and the Bush camp aint even give a hint at a program for the future? Do you really think that they can truly come up with some radical plans at the convention which can sail them into a resounding victory, hence they dont need to sweat?

These guys are fresh out of ideas and are hoping that Kerry will give them attack fodder. The repubs are looking to Bush to come up with something inspiring but Bush will not know how to do that. Something like that requires "SMARTS".

Listen to Bod Dole, he rambles about Kerry, saying one thing, meaning another. Whats with him? Just about every statement made by any repub spokes person, when dissected, shows varying degrees of diversion from the truth, doctoring and modify the real events and stories to imply all kinds of oddities. These are desparate tactics and they are also failed tactics.

The repubs are desparate and are sweating at the arm pits but they are not showing it. Unlike Kerry supporters who run helter skelter, crying that the sky is falling.

I guess one group is full of emotion and the other is emotionless... but, beware of "emotionless" people.

It will be such an exciting time to hear what comes out of the GOP convention. Rest assured that if the bounce from the convention is not significant, that the attack ads will rise in intensity and dirty content. Kerry supporters need to brace themselves and get into a huddle rather than scatter.

The approach of the repubs is still that of a drowning man catching at anything that passes. A desparate bunch that will do anything to win.


The really interesting issue for me is this:

there have been surveys saying that people don't know who Kerry is, that voter awareness isn't very high.

It seems that all the Swift Boat Vets have done is raise public consciousness that John Kerry is a war hero... they have effectively brought to public consciousness the valour that may be percieved by his war record.

Kerry doesn't need to run an add saying "I saved a man's life, I earnt 3 purple hearts".

The Bushies have effectively put this strongly and permanently into the fronts of everyone's minds.. the total miscalculation is that they have been the best publicists for the most substantive evidence that Kerry has to sell the electorate on his good character.

The backlash will continue, as the Swift Vets are scrutinised more, and the word gets out that their attack just totally lacks validity, that it's "Bushes fault" (whether it is or not)... the real shift in polling numbers will occur in a few weeks when people grow more sure of the fact that they know Kerry is a "war hero."

You wish. I don't know any Bushies that are feeling nervous. We think it will be a close election, even one that Bush could lose, but there isn't the sense of panic I see in this site. You guys have gone into complete crisis mode in the last week.

I'm glad that someone is injecting some sanity into the debate over the recent national poll numbers, but I must admit that I am worried by some of the recent trends in the battleground states.

Check out the latest batch of state polls on www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com. Although some Red states from 2000 are still quite competitive (Missouri, Colorado, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Nevada, Florida, etc.) it looks like Bush has put some more distance between himself and Kerry in Ohio and West Virginia. More worrying, he's ahead in the latest Wisconsin poll, and it looks like the comfortable post-convention lead Kerry had developed in states such as Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Washington, etc. has narrowed in close to MOE range.

I get the feeling that all of these battleground states (both red and blue) that seemed to be leaning one or another are now all withdrawing into true toss-up territory, leaving the possibility that they could all break decisively one way or another.

Am I completely off-base or do some of these state numbers point to a new dynamic in the race?

S. Robinson... you are right... Some Kerry troopers here have gone into panic mode.. and I really cant quote decipher why.. but on the other hand, you prob. dont know any repubs, thats why you dont know any that are nervous.

A nervous person doesnt need to tell anyone but his actions will usually scream for him. The approach of the Bush camp is a good inidicator as to how nervous that camp really is. Turst me, they are sweating...

People who dont know Kerry yet, simply need to crawl out from under the rock... buy a radio or a TV or talk to a neighbour.

To be honest, I don't know why some Kerry backers are panicking either. If you had asked them in January where they would want to be heading into Labor Day, the current situation is not too far from ideal.

I still think you're way off in your assessment of the Bush camp, though. Perhaps that's because you're examining it from the other side. I DO know plenty of republicans, and as I stated earlier, none of them are nervous. They are simply expecting a close election.

I will admit my point of view is a bit skewed as well. I live in Ohio, and as the polls and Chirag R. have said, Bush is beginning to put a little daylight between himself and Mr. Kerry. Perhaps my little corner of the world is not a true representation of the entire electorate (as we've been told for the last three months!), but if it is, why shouldn't I feel confident?

I suspect most polls are like this.

I would love it if these "polling" firms would add a little background on the actual people they asked.

Perspective is everything.

It's not enough to call 1,000 registered voters and say: Okay Bush is ahead among registered voters.

That's bullshit.

You can poll 1,000 Republican registered voters and suddenly discover that Bush is winning 92% to 5%.

Who voted for who. That's the question.

Incidently, this is the exact reason the polls were so off in 2000.

I remember that Greenberg poll a couple of weeks ago. Even there Bush had a four percentage point advantage over 2000. In that 49% said they voted for Bush; 45% said they voted for Gore. Yet, even among that sample, Kerry was ahead by 7%.

That's why I say that Bush really has to be ahead in the polls by 7% or so to win this election.

Because our numbers will come out larger than people expect and we'll get the idiots coming out saying "well Bush did this and that in the last days that hurt him."

The truth is, and I have studied this at school and done research on it, that very few people change their minds in any given election. It's all about turn out.

That's why I always break it down like this:

Kerry (Gore vote) 48%
Bush 44%
Nader 2%
Undecided 6%.

That 6% undecided are broken down between: a) 4% who voted for Bush because they thought he was a "uniter not a divider" a "compassionate conservative" etc. Not republicans, but independants. The other 2% are people who voted for Nader/Gore.

Nader will get the die-hards. Those who always vote Green or just want to send a message. Plus, those who voted for Buchanan. That equals a total of 2%. National registration for Greens and Reform is 2%.

Bush will get those 44% of die-hard republicans. The ideologues and dittoheads, as I call them.

Kerry will get the Gore vote of 48% (I mean how many people do you know that voted for Gore and are now voting for Bush? I don't know one person).

That leaves the 6% undecided.

Which means that Kerry can win up to 54% of the vote. If he does he will beat Bush by 10%, since Bush will stay at 44%.

If you look at the polls which ask about direction of the country. Consistently 52% to 54% say its time for a change. That's the 54% above.

Most likely, Bush will get some of that 6%. Historically, the incumbant gets about one-third of the undecided vote. That would bring him up to about 46%. If you look at Bush's average approval rating it's usually at 46%.

That would leave Kerry with 52%.

In fact, that is what I think will happen.

Remember that I predicted this here:

Jeff's final prediction:

Kerry 52%
Bush 46%
Nader 2%

S. Robinson,

I live in Ohio as well. Painesville. I don't know why Republicans are so happy here.

My ex-girlfriends parents are die-hard republicans, and they hate Bush. Mind you they hate Kerry too. But that is what I have noticed around here. Bush supporters are reluctant. Whereas Dems are all gung-ho.

Ohio is a strange place. And I do live in one of the most Democratic areas in the state (Cleveland area). But still.

I remember polls here in Ohio had Bush ahead of Gore by about 10% just before the last election. This was one of the reasons that Gore stopped campaigning here. Yet Gore lost by 3%.

So I wouldn't count too many chickens just yet.

OK.. S. Robinson, lets agree that the repubs are not nervous. If we do that, then we have to ask and explain why cant we get some clean adverts, dealing with issues that benefit the american people, rather than publicity tactics which seek to destroy character.

We have to ask why the repubs have to resort to character assasination... is this purely political strategy and tactic? If so, are you telling me that the repubs think to themselves that they simply cannot win by dealing with the issues?

If they cannot win by dealing the issues, then we must further ask.. why cant they win by working the issues? Does it have anything to do with Bush' handling of the issues over the past four years?

We both agree that the repubs are not nervous. They are as cool and calm as cucumbers. Well then, we both need to sit and determine why they are using the current methods to win the elections.

Once again, too many lefties are demonstrating that they can't seem to take a punch.

Yes, Kerry may have taken some kind of hit from the Swift Liars, though the polls have hardly been conclusive on this point, as Ruy points out. So, we didn't expect that such a slime attack would ever happen in a Rove campaign of desperation?

Let's just assume for argument's sake that Kerry had a couple three points shaved off his head-to-head ratings. Do we have any reason to believe it's going to last, particularly when the credibility of his attackers has gone so totally and visibly to crud? From my point of view, it would be pretty extraoardinary if the attacks didn't backfire on Bush, if not by bringing his numbers down immediately, then by making it even more impossible politically for Bush and friends to launch still more scurrilous attacks on Kerry. The credibility of any such further attack is now mostly shot, and the potential to backfire only greater.

I think that Kerry knows he has Bush by his nether parts on the Swift attacks, and can press his case against the dirty politics Bush has been conducting to great effect as need be.

Some people have been complaining that Kerry wasn't well prepared for these attacks, and stumbled early on. Even if that is true, I think that the more important point is that Kerry seems to be very good at getting things right eventually. That ability is the most crucial ability in a politician, and a strategist. Shit happens, typically in ways not entirely predictable. The first response may not be right -- but the ability to adjust is what makes for excellent execution. As best I can make out, Kerry has not failed so far to make those adjustments -- the Iowa campaign being the most brilliant example of it.

If Kerry keeps failing over a long period of time, THEN we should worry. But that I don't expect to happen.

The past couple of weeks we've seem some of the lowest, most dishonest campaigning in the modern history of presidential elections. It sickens me to think that Bush's Swift Vets ploy has been so effective, and the LA Times poll (along with the domination of this story over more newsworthy topics) has had me in a funk. I dread the thought of (as THK would say) "four more years of hell." I like to think that we can trust the American people ultimately to make the right choice, but I know there is no guarantee that will happen and it too often seems the enemies of democracy are winning.

Well, it's not yet Labor Day and more than two months to go. By November it's possible that this awful story will be remembered as a desperate move by a failed president, and be a net plus for Kerry. I hope the analysis by EDM is accurate. But even if Kerry in fact wins and Bush is thoroughly discredited, I have seen enough of our political leadership and media laziness to make me worry about the fragile foundations of our republic. Somewhere some despot-to-be is taking notes.

One thing I've begun to suspect in listening to the swift boat vets and those who support them is that these are people who still believe we could've won in Vietnam if only the government hadn't "had its hands tied" by anti-war activists and been free to just go in and "win the damn thing."

To keep this fiction alive, they have to trash John Kerry.

Surely this isn't that large a group, though...

I think the nervous Republicans are the party hacks who understand what the polls are really saying, and who had expectations for what the smear campaign would yield, and are not seeing anywhere near the bump they had hoped for. Many mainstreet Republicans are simply in denial about what might really be going on. They watch Fox News and the hourly attacks of the SBVT-supporting hacks, and figure the attack must be working, or else why would it be playing 24/7 for weeks? They also see the same distorted poll coverage that the Dems see, and reach the same conclusions.

I really can't believe that there are still Democrats who believe that these ads by the swiftboat liars have had an effect.

There has been no negative effect against Kerry.

Look the vast majority of people don't believe the ads. The majority of people think that Bush was behind them. The majority think Bush should denounce them. The VAST majority say it will not affect their vote one way or another.

Every poll shows the same thing.

So why do people insist that it has hurt Kerry, when it hasn't.

I accept that his numbers fell by 3% or so. But not because of these attacks. They fell because some of the people who were in Kerry's camp after the convention moved back to the undecided column.

The reason? Because they are waiting to hear what Bush has to say at his convention.

This happens every election.

Expect the same thing to happen just before the debates.

Well figures lie and liars figure. That is a bogus intepretation of the survey and lacking in emperical data to support the claims made. The corealations stated arenot backed up statistically and lacking in sample size....in fact sample size is ignored in the analysis. Hence this is a long rant to prop up a faltering Kerry campaign.


Here's my prediction.

Nader won't get 2%. Thats what he got in 2000,
before he was exposed as a bushwhore.

All the 3rd party candidates together might get
2%. Nader's share of that will be less than 1%.

I respectfully don't agree that the Not-So-Swifties didn't hurt Kerry. The initial SBV ad hurt for two reasons.

First, the ad unfortunately gained traction for a week or so because of the constant repetition of the charges over-and-over again on the news and talk shows. It took awhile for the media (largely the print media, by the way) to debunk the major charges and for Kerry to counterattack. If the accusations weren't hurting Kerry, why would his campaign decide to burn money on several new advertisements to refute the charges? Kerry had originally planned on being "dark" commercialwise in August - he was forced to counterattack when the drumbeat from the talking heads and probably some internal polling data determined that he was being hurt and that he had to respond forcefully.

Second, while I think his counterattack has been largely successful in turning the tide and that this first ad is indeed beginning to backfire on the Retro Crew, this whole episode so dominated the election coverage that it buried other stories unfavorable to Bush (more deaths in Iraq, more revelations on the Abu Gharib scandal, bad numbers on poverty and health insurance, the Administration rollback on overtime pay, etc.) in the general media.

The good news is that Kerry is still doing much better amongst veterans than any Democrat in recent memory. As others have pointed out, the poll was largely taken prior to Kerry's counterattack and the flushing out of definite SBV/Bush connections. In the long-term, I think Kerry definitely gets the better of this exchange, but I think there was short-term damage that (at least in part) is shown in the LA Times poll and in other polls.

What stinks is that the Liar-In-Chief and his minions will now have the focus of the media and the general public for the next week. While I don't expect his bounce to be much at all (maybe 1-2 points), Bush will probably be ahead in most polls by a couple of points 7-8 days from now. I was hoping that Kerry would have a small lead on Labor Day, but it appears that he'll either be tied or even slightly behind. There's no need for panic or to be overly concerned, since I truly believe in Kerry's competence as a candidate and have faith that this election will ultimately be a referendum on the failed record of the incumbent.

One last point: I'm fascinated by Sean's point on the top part of this discussion about how the sample for the WSJ/NBC poll was skewed toward Americans who cast votes for Bush in 2000 by a 45-33 margin. That's a really interesting fact. It definitely calls into question the legitimacy of showing a Bush 2 point lead right now in that poll. Jeff made a similar point concerning underlying numbers from Greenberg's poll of a few weeks ago (i.e., Kerry was up by 7 points within a sample group that actually voted 49-45 for Bush.) Does anyone have similar numbers for the LA Times poll or other polls that have come out recently? If this is a continual bias within these polls, then you've got to have some doubts about methodology, etc. It was my understanding from any statistics/polling classes that I took back in college that pollsters were supposed to scrub/weight the respondents within their sample to make it as representative of the actual voting population as possible. (Am I mistaken on this?) Regardless, setting up a poll's "playing field" using a 45-33 Bush over Gore split (when we all know that Gore actually drew 500,000 more votes) obviously makes for a misleading result. It would be interesting to see the registered voter splits (and compare them to those of the overall electorate) for that poll as well.

What is that s**t?

"I'm fascinated by Sean's point on the top part of this discussion about how the sample for the WSJ/NBC poll was skewed toward Americans who cast votes for Bush in 2000 by a 45-33 margin."

Actually, polls taken after elections usually indicate that a much larger fraction of people claim to have voted for the winner than really did. People like to have voted for the winner.

In this case, people may not even be misstating their votes to produce the bias-- considering how different the sum of those numbers is from 100 percent, a significant fraction of that sample probably did vote in 2000 but didn't mention who they voted for, which is also likely to produce an illusory bias in favor of the winner.

Here are some Bush cliches that you should expect to hear at the convention....

"an ownership society"
"partial privatization of Social Security"
"own a piece of their own retirement"
"emphasize foreign policy"
"transformational power of liberty"
"freedom and democracy are the best weapons against terror"
"No Child Left Behind"
"closing the achievement gap"

These are simply a basket of words strung together, which sound good and effective and impactful but in the hands of a master like George, they dont mean squat.

These are all terms used in previous speeches on various platforms from as long ago as in 2000. If these cliches do present themselves, then we know that his new plan for the US is to simply rehash the old failed plans, spruce them up with a coat of varnish and resell them to the American people. I guess we will get a chance to define the intellect of America. After four years, he still cant bring some substance to each of these cliches and todate, he still cant define any of them, still cant make any of them work, still cant lay them out so that the people of the US can place a grip on what they mean or how they could be of some meaningful benefit.

It would be interesting to be able to read a transcript of his speech after the convention to count the number of padded cliches which he would have used.

It so interesting how that the static mind can be so impressed with well thought out and constructed cliches. In this regard, he might just generate thunderous applause for every cliches he reads because those delegate there wont be there for the sake of analysis but to cheer on their man.

Lets hope however that those who listen, will be mentally dynamic and be able to remove the padded cliches and see the speech for what it really is. I will certainly try to find a transcript of his speech.

Listen out... and look out for these cliches and more.

Discount the LA Polls for now please... just wait another two weeks or so and see what the results bring at that time. Even then, you still cant put much stock in the results because the same respondents would have to be used and asked the same questions. I dont think the polsters will be seeking out the same respondents... and I doubt they willl be asking the same questions. If this is then the case, the results become chalk and cheese comparatively



Here's a comforting perspective but you'd be advised not to cuddle up in it and go to sleep.. you might get a ride awakening if you do!!

Two weeks aint up yet but you can see from this link that the public's perspective on the swift boat ads is rapidly changing.. this is why I have requested that no real stock be taken in the LA Times poll.. and that no real stats can be counted until we see the impact of Kerry's response.. follow the link


Well, I remain quietly confident. I believe the next week will really tell the tale. This is W's best chance by far to make some hay, and if he doesn't come out of his convention with a real bounce (and I hope the Kerry campaign keeps pointing out that elected incumbents have averaged a 16% lead after their renominating conventions, or whatever the stat is), when will he?

As long as Kerry (and his surrogates, and I for one would sure as hell like to see someone besides Howard Dean sticking up for Kerry on the cable shows...where the hell are Gephardt, Gore, Biden, John Edwards etc., for crying out loud??) keeps fighting back and answering W's slime, what chance does W have? He cannot win on the issues, so his ONLY chance is to slime Kerry, and that will backfire in the end.

After the conventions, and I realize that leaves us with 2 months to go, unless there is some major October surprise, the only big events that are likely to move a lot of voters are the debates. And to my mind there are two big differences between this year and '04:
1. THIS time Bush has a record to (try to) defend. And what issue can Jim Lehrer, a panel of reporters, or a town hall full of average citizens ask both men about that Kerry will not have the advantage? In fact, the likely style of debates will give Kerry perfect opportunities to succinctly nail Bush. You can bet the house, for example, that Kerry will be asked to explain his votes on Iraq and his differences with W, and he will finally have the chance to, point 1, point 2, point 3, in 2 minutes or less, with the whole country watching, hearing it from HIS mouth, not W's lies and distortions.

2. Kerry and his people I think will be much better at managing and playing the "expectation game"..in fact, he has already started when he told Jon Stewart that W has never lost a debate...PLUS I don't think we'll see three different Kerrys in three debates.

Sorry for the lengthy post but it is therapeutic. Bottom line for me is this: We have an unelected minority president with a terrible record on just about every issue that matters to this country; we have a solid war hero candidate AND a party that is united, pissed off and working like hell far more than four years ago...so, if we cannot win this election, when in the world can we?

I live in Madison, Wisconsin, so I don't see many Bush/Cheney bumper stickers, but when I do see 'em, I want the person to explain to me just what it is that they've seen that I've missed (or vice versa) that would lead someone to even consider the option of giving this administration another four years. Haven't they failed at just about everything they've tried?
I just can't bring myself to believe that the majority of Americans think this bunch deserves another chance.

A lot of whistling past the grave yard here. 58% thinking Kerry served honorably and deserved his medals is a good result?

I think the poll actually had a plus 6% figure on democrates over republicans, but putting that to one side, how can anyone honestly see this poll as good news for Kerry.

It was a mistake for Kerry to focus so heavily on Vietnam both on tactics and on relevance to 2004. He is now indeligibly diminished on the Vietnam issue, and it may get worse. Anyone who does not recognize that is kidding themselves.

The possibilities now are either: (1) the race is over; or (2) Kerry will recover/Bush will stumble/events will help Kerry and it will wind up a close race that could be won by either side.

I haven't avoided you...I had to be somewhere at 4:00 and I didn't get back till late.

I'll take a shot at answering for the GOP and address your questions...

"why the repubs have to resort to character assasination" The Swift ads are not coming from the GOP; they are coming from a 527. I haven't seen any direct links to Bush. Besides, are you really upset about $65K in anti-Kerry 527 ads? I haven't sensed too much outrage over the $10M in MoveOn.org ads on this site. In fact, several posters have encouraged them to keep it up. Seems to me the left is, as frankly0 put it, "demonstating they can't take a punch".

The Bush ads running in central Ohio (note I said BUSH ads, not RNC or 527) are contrasting the Kerry acceptance speech with his Senate voting record, specifically on taxes and govt intelligence (I'll let others insert their own jokes here). I will admit these ads have a negative tone, but Kerry is trying to become the leader of the country. His Senate voting record should be in play.

So, to answer your question, the Bush ads ARE dealing with the issues. It's the 527 ads that are dealing with, as readers of this site believe, slime. But 527 slime ads seem to be fine with the posters on this site, as long as they attack Bush.

I haven't seen any recent central Ohio polls, but this area is really strange. Columbus has a Dem mayor and the city council is all Dem, but the GOP has a 2-1 edge in county commissioners and the suburbs are almost all GOP. The Congressional districts have been gerrymandered for a GOP advantage as well, but to be honest, it's probably a 50-50 split in the area. I'm not counting any chickens; I still feel it's way too early to celebrate (or panic). Maybe I'll change my mind after the convention!

Thanks to both of you for treating an opposing view with courtesy.

As a follow up, I just saw that the Fox poll (which still shows Kerry up 1) found that 36% thought Kerry was being honest about his Vietnam. Ouch.

Oh, one more thing...

I don't know where Gore and Biden have been, but Edwards was in Columbus Thursday. Why is it that politicians have to get to the airport at 5:00? They all do it; every freeway to the airport remains CLOSED until their motorcade goes by. In the meantime, the regular joes get caught in traffic and curse the politician and their party! Anyway, his visit didn't get too much play on the news or in the paper, which surprised me a little because Bush visited a couple weeks ago and it made a bigger splash. So you don't have to worry about Edwards, he's out and about...

Well, the difference, of course, in the 527's is that the Move On ads ARE TRUE and the SBV ads ARE LIES, first of all, and secondly that John Kerry has had the character to specifically denounce anti-Bush ads, and GW of course has not...

Folks, keep in mind that the race probably won't really reveal a trend until late September. It's been a remarkably stable race (unfortunately for Bush), and what the SBV initial impact seems to be is to have curbed what was a growing trend towards a Kerry landslide. We haven't yet seen two things yet: 1) Kerry's return fire and media scrutiny/criticism of the SBV ads showing up in the polls and 2) topics have a shelf life in the media....as this issue gets "boring" for the media to report we return to our regularly scheduled programming of an economy that's souring and an unpopular war.

Bush has denounced anti-Kerry 527 ads (though not specifically the SBV ads). See http://www.kezi.com/content/contentID/8731

I don't recall Kerry denouncing MoveOn.org for the Hitler ad, or for any of their questionable slurs. Please provide a source.

Also, true/lies thing is in the eye of the beholder. I'm not sure if the Swift ad is a lie, but 200 people are lying and six are telling the truth? Doesn't add up. I can't remember any specific MoveOn.org ads, but I remember watching them and thinking, what a load of crap.

Dear S Robinson,

1) The Hitler add was never aired on TV, .
2) Why were some of these same people supportive of Kerry before?

Finally, please remember that MoveOn is a PAC not a 527.

Rolling Eyes because I have to work at 5am,

Thanks for the interpretative work -- I agree that the backlash will slowly hurt Bush. When two people on your campaign staff have to quit because their doing double duty as staff plus 527 members -- eventually it sinks in that Bush misrepresented -- cheated on the obscure rules. Leads to a question of trust.

Now -- lets look ahead. Please look up two articles in the current Washington Monthly, on line. One deals with the answer to what Kerry did in the Senate, and the answer in part is investigate and take down BCCI. Very interesting because the article directly ties GWBush to BCCI loans. If you don't remember BCCI -- then the article will help you refresh your memory -- but in sum it was a Pakistani and Arab owned bank that was something of a model for al-Qaeda funding. It also financed the Pakistani Nuclear Industry, arms trade, drug trade, human traffic trade -- lots of good stuff. It is all linked up with Iran/Contra -- and it bought several major American Banks on the sly. Lots of peop0le in the Bush circle are involved. Kerry had to fight the leadership in the Dem party to push to fruitician the investigations. So if this does become one of his next themes (and I understand it will) the matters of crime and corruption at the highest levels will be in play -- and we'll see Kerry as dogged crime fighter in the Senate.

A second theme. Ever since last winter, Kerry has been demanding that Rumsfeld resign or be fired. Well now we have a spy controversy right in Rumsfeld's little nest in DOD, so Kerry can ask why, if the White House has known about this investigation for at least a year, the President hasn't exercised leadership and fired Rumsfeld and the suspect people around him. He doesn't have to get into the evidence in any detailed way -- it becomes a question of "security" -- why would you have someone of questionable character reading the Pentagon's classified materials for a year or more? Since it looks like most of those under suspicion were actors in Iran Contra -- why did you hare all those re-treds? Josh Marshall has his Washington Monthly story up on this one as of late Saturday Night -- so read that one too, realizing that this is a breaking story, and much more will be coming out in the next week or so.

These too stories will get us out of the Vietnam War, and into contemporary territory.

With respect to the coming debates, its success for Kerry will be decided by his ability to put over what he needs to say in a clear, decisive manner. I am pretty sure that people are willing to accept his voting record, if he can declare is rationale for his patterns. If he mutters and stumbles and stammers like Bush does, then there will be cooked goose around the table for lots of people.

Seemingly, this should be an easy debate for Kerry because there is so much fuel with which to drown Bush. Even if the questions are not ideal, there is hardly anything that can be asked that he cant nail Bush on. In terms of a debate, Bush' record is so laughable that its hard how anyone can lose a debate to him at this junction.

The way its look right now, Kerry should come out on top, if he gathers himself and speak with authority and conviction. If this is done, Bush will just be the other person out there.

If people are still believing the majority of Bush' rhetoric and cliches, then they are a sorry bunch and the world needs to start feeling sorry for them.


S. Robinson

Thanks for your response but you are splitting hairs here when you outline that Bush is not responsible for these ads. To accept your response, I would have to believe that the repubs are going thru some kinda re-birth. It highly unusual to find repubs with varying messages, not singing from the same hymn sheet and not repeating the same lines to every story in unison.

If polls mean anything and if investigation means anything, dont you think that there are too many stats which show an alignment in ad contents to the Bush camp?

I surely agree that the Bush camp is not out there with pen in hand writing the scripts but you know, just as well as I do, that the camp circulates the agenda and diretly influences what its supporters will say.

Therefore it does not matter if the ad says "endorsed by bush" or otherwise. They are mostly influenced by his agenda and as such, endorsed by him.

However, lets gang up again and declare that Bush is running his ad campaign on the issues. What are the issues that he is talking about? You mentioned Kerry's voting record on taxes and intelligence but surely there are more issues whirling around this elections. Surely the american public is worthy of hearing Bush' take on matters which will do something positive for this country. Surely the ads need to show that bush has a plan to save his own job, even if he loses those of the public at large. There must be other issues that Bush can talk about.

I will be patient and believe that Bush ads on the issues will pour onto the media as soon as the convention is over.

With respect to expenditure, I am not one to be concerned by who spends the most or least. I am concerned with content and effectiveness. If one party can buy up all of the airtime, then why not? I think the parties need to compete and hence whatever medium they can use to compete, then let them do so. However, they cant expect to do mud slinging and character assasination at the expense of the electorate.

Its a poor person who uses the public's lower emotions to slide into public office and then do very little to show gratitude for that support. This is what Bush has done to the electorate over the past four years. Treated his electorate to the lowest form or representation and in the process waltz around telling them that he is giving them whats best for them. Thats downright pathetic.

I still cant think of any reason why the GOP wants to win by character assasination.


BUsh admits that Kerry is a hero.. hmm.

"US President George W Bush has said his rival in the presidential race, John Kerry, was the "more heroic" for having put himself "in harm's way" in Vietnam.
President Bush passed his military service as a fighter pilot in Texas.

Asked by US TV network NBC if he felt Mr Kerry and he "served on the same level of heroism", Mr Bush replied, "No, I don't." "


All these polls are basically within the Margin of Error. So there may or may not be a shift Bush's way even with the Swift Boat attacks. That being said, they don't take in to account the full effect of Kerry's counter attacks since they had really just started when these polls were taken.

Also, Kerry's been a notoriously bad campaigner with a lead and a very effective closer. I'd rather see Kerry (if he's not going to be ahead by a mile) slightly behind with two months to go, than slightly ahead.

Can someone explain to me how Bush can go into economically distressed swing states and talk about how increasing taxes on the rich is pointless because they will avoid them anyway? How does this resonate with the laid-off steelworker? Stupid, yes, but I wonder if we are not seeing another example of his sadism.

And isn't having Zell Miller Keynote speaker in NY
also sadistic?

We are talking about a president who is basically insane.

Two points:
Polls are important, I think, for what the media say about them -- as the election approaches, its important for Kerry to be able to project the "he's winning" image, rather than allowing the media to continue with their "too close to call" script. So the Kerry campaign should start stressing the tens of thousands who have come out to see their campaign events -- virtually unreported in the major media.
The campaign also has to start focusing on "Kerry's plan" -- short, simple sentences that describe what Kerry wants to do --supporters need these kind of talking points to counter the "he's a liar" talking points from the republicans.
That said, no doubt the Bush campaign will continue to demonstrate its incompetence -- the "Rove is brilliant" script is crumbling.

Our response to the Zell Miller thing is simple.

We should approach it the way the Illinois Dems approached what's his name running for the Senate from Maryland.

In Illinois, they ridiculed the state GOP for being unable to find a single Republican from the state.

We should ridicule the Republicans for being unable to find a single Republican to deliver their keynote address.

Two new Ohio polls have Bush dropping which I find interesting.

A poll taken from some Columbus firm shows it 46% to 46%. One month ago this poll had Bush ahead 49% to 45%.

Rassmussen also had Bush ahead 47% to 46% and now has Kerry ahead - 48% to 46%.

It should be noted that both these polls are "republican based," and have a larger sample than most polls. Rassmussen has a sample of 13,000. The other one (I can't remember its name) has a sample of more than 3,000. Yet both have seen Bush drop by 3 to 4% in the past two weeks.


We' heard for weeks about how a convention bounce lasts a month or so and then fades, so i can't see why anyone is surprised by a slight drop in Kerry's overall numbers.

And if the Swift Boat nonsense did have any effect it's worth noting that the LA Times poll was mostly done just before the major papers ran their investigative articles and the talking heads began chattering about a backlash.

[fantasyland]could that backlash lead to a gain for Kerry next week? Will we then be hearing about hw the Dems got a bounce from the Republican convention?[/fantsyland]

My clear perception is that loyal Democrats AND swing voters are waiting for the Kerry counterattack and are very disappointed with the weak and ineffective response so far. If and when there is a strong response, of course the Fourth Reich will say that it is shrill and unfair. Who cares?

The portion of the voting public who have avoided the kool-aid are looking for strong leadership and a viable alternative. When are they going to see it? Hopefully, not before it's too late.

I agree with the above statement that if we don't win this one, we don't deserve to win again.


"In terms of a debate, Bush' record is so laughable that its hard how anyone can lose a debate to him at this junction."

I'm sorry, but this is exactly the attitude that broke the neck of the Gore candidacy. I really think Gore lost the election on October 3rd in that first debate when everybody thought Gore would wipe the floor with that inexperienced dumb governor - and instead came across as a smart aleck.

I agree with Brad on this: It is absolutely necessary to pile up a stock of dire expectations of Kerry's debating skills. Because it is true, what Kerry himself said: Bush hasn't lost a single debate in his career. The reason? Nobody expects one coherent phrase from him (and they're absolutely right to do so). So, when he said his name correctly, everyone was happy.

Imagine this scenario: The press laughs in advance about Kerrys boring demeanor, about his "Kerryisms", as Slate put it. And everybody is expecting this tough, macho "they will hear from all of us soon" president. And then Kerry will show that cool, restraint and gripping self he so often presented in debates...

Wow. But don't tell anybody.

Thanks French Fries... I can go with your cautious optimism approach on the debates. I did say tho, that the success of the debates is really up to Kerry's ability to deliver.

I really have no doubts that he will deliver. His demeanor is one that shows he can handle issues in a pretty cool manner and hence should not be ruffled by Bush' rants during the debate.

I support the cautious optimism.


I thought that the LA Times poll was indeed oversold as good news for Bush but I wouldn't go so far as to be as optimistic as you. What the numbers in your article tell me is that the race is and has been for quite a while within the margin of error. I don't think it going to change very much unless:

a) there is a terrorist attack on US soil.
b) Bin Laden is captured
c) something happens in the debates

Barring any of these three, it is going to be a very close election (particularly if Nader stays in).

I thought that the LA Times poll was indeed oversold as good news for Bush but I wouldn't go so far as to be as optimistic as you. What the numbers in your article tell me is that the race is and has been for quite a while within the margin of error. I don't think it going to change very much unless:

a) there is a terrorist attack on US soil.
b) Bin Laden is captured
c) something happens in the debates

Barring any of these three, it is going to be a very close election (particularly if Nader stays in).

> A lot of whistling past the grave yard here. 58%
> thinking Kerry served honorably and deserved
> his medals is a good result?
> Posted by brian at August 29, 2004 02:02 AM

I'm curious about something, Brian. Are Republicans proud to have publicly smeared a war hero?

I'm just wondering why there weren't 3000 fake flag draped coffins symbolizing victims of 9/11 today during the march. I gotta hand it to the protestors. I guess dissent is alive and well in NYC and you can't blame John Ashcroft for not getting your say. The GOP let all those people walk right past our convention venue. That did not happen in Boston if I recall. Someone correct the record if i'm wrong. You see, we want all the protestors to shout, march, bitch and have their say. We're not afraid of a little competition of ideas. I was wishing that things would spin out of control there today. I give the protestors props for keeping it peaceful. I did hear of some arrests, but on the whole I think it was peaceful from what i've heard.


I think President Bush speaks for most Americans when he says that he admires and respects Senator Kerry's service in Vietnam.

My posts were about the effect of the SBVT advertising and Kerry's tactics in emphasizing Vietnam, so I don't understand the attack on me. I also don't agree with your characterization that Republicans have smeared a war hero.

Once Kerry made his four months in Vietnam such a big issue, it is natural that there would be great scrutiny of his record. I think that scrutiny will produce a conclusion among most people that Kerry exaggerated his record. Presumably, it also will cause Kerry to lessen his annoyng tendany to always talk about his service in Vietnam.

Where Kerry will be hurt most is on the war crime allegations he made after his return home -- I don't see how he does not take a big hit from the fact that his words being played/read to American prisoners of war. Using your terminology, that is hardly the conduct of an American "war hero."

American politics are odd and ambition/ circumstances can produce weird results, but it would be awfully strange for a guy who gave such ammunition to the enemy (I think stupidly rather than intentionally) to subsequently be elected president in a time of war. We'll see.

Allan, well, the week has just begun.. But I agree with you. So far I'm positively surprised. Two thumbs up to the protesters and the organisation. I'm really proud of them. A shame I can't be there myself.

But I can't spare you of this one: You as a party are not interested at all in "a little competition of ideas", as the last four years have proved. And why should you: There's a president who's been blessed by divine inspiration when he turned 40. No need for discussion. ("My biggest mistake? Ahm, I wish you'd have handed me this question beforehand...")

You yourself are only the exception of the rule, Allan.


we're in accordance, actually. I'm cautiously optimistic as well about the debates. But I'm also not that disappointed about reports that Kerry is a little stiff, and has problems to appear witty. That's exactly one thing he's proved wrong at debates. He'll surprise some people in October.

The media was smitten by his agility and tempo during his acceptance speech, even Fox and their cronies. Because it was unexpected. That's the effect I'm hoping for at the debates. In 2000 it was the other way round. And I'm just awfully scared that might happen again.

I keep hearing folks saying that Kerry made his vietnam experience a big issue but I am not absolutely certain that this is a correct statement. I am trying hard to reflect on the democratic primaries and if I am not mistaken, the GOPs at that time were stating that Bush was more capable of leading the country during war; the US being at war at this time.

I am thinking that its the GOPs challenge on Kerry's ability to lead during a period of war that made Kerry dust off his vietnam experience and present it to the public. I remember quite well that the polls were stating that Bush was more of a leader for a country at war than Kerry. As such, Kerry needed to prove to the nation that he has the experience of war and functioned in a leadership capacity quite ably during actual combat. I think they are having problems finding Bush' records during that same period.

If I am not mistaken, the polls no longer show Kerry in the distance when it comes to security matters and war anymore. As far as I can see it, there is a need to correct the mis-information thats floating around which blames Kerry for hyping his record. From what I can remember, the GOPs and maybe the press, demanded that Kerry show his mettle on the subject.

Add to this also, that there is no way that the GOPs would have allowed Kerry to campaign without challenging his ability to lead the country and the relevance of his war experience. To think of it, Kerry's approach to the subject and his placing of the Vietnam experience squarely on the table may have caused the GOP to stumble a bit.

Its also important to remember too, that Bush kept stating that anyone who challenged the Iraq war was not being patriotic. At least, this is what my memory is telling me. If this is the case, it was therefore essential for Kerry to show that he could challenge Bush' take on the Iraq war and still be very patriotic. I dont think I hear Bush singing those silly off chord tunes anymore. So Kerry has essentially put paid to his crap about not being patriotic for challenging his approach to Iraq.

I dont blame Kerry one bit. It gave him a chance to sell his experience and show that he is a true, red blooded, brave and bold son of the soil, full of patriotism. I just cant say the same for Bush... no matter how hard I try.

Its time to let the nation know that it was never Kerry fault that his vietnam record took over the spotlight, it was planned way in advance by the repubs.


The reality is that we still have people in the South with an adherence to Civil War mentality...

There was a quote in the Financial Times well over six months ago by a Republican operative saying something to the effect that by the time this campaign is over people won't know what side of the war Kerry fought on. The smear campaign was coming regardless. Kerry didn't invite it with his focus on Vietnam. His focus on this at the Democratic convention was to my mind (and I saw this posted at Digby also) more like a pre-emptive strike, an innoculation, trying to define his service before Rove's definition could sink in.

It seems that, the more jittery Kerry backers do their homework, the less anxious I've now become.

Most revealing, is that I needed to be pointed in this direction by Digs to learn the poll questioned Bush's complicity.

What didn't I hear that come out of the monotone mouthpiece, Wolf Blitzer?

but why does allan wish that the protestors were a bit rowdy and got themselves arrested? Is this the only way that the GOP intends to win this elections? Are they going to keep appealing to people's basic emotions and shy away from the issues that enable people to find a job, get some insurance and put a few slices of bread on the table?

Do they really intend to spend the next few weeks using ornery tactics to win?

And why Allan want to see 3000 caskets to the 9/11 victims? The march was not about such; to have those caskets there would have meant that the protestors were shifting the subject. The basic theme which ran thru the entire march, was "a change is required in the white house". Anything dedicated to 9/11 would have been off message.

Not only that, unlike the GOP, I dont think Kerry supporters would use 9/11 as a tool to gain votes and a shot at the white house. Its disrespectful but Bush wont have noticed.


Anyone who listened to Kerry speak or answer questions prior to the SBVT commercials would know that Kerry repeatedly brought up Vietnam. He did it so often it became a joke. See jibjob parody on This is My Land.

Just thought I'd mention that at Dkos, a diary from someone in Ohio mentions a new poll released by the Columbia Dispatch that shows a 46-46 dead heat between Bush and Kerry (previous July poll was 47-44 Bush)

The link to the Columbus paper is in the diary.

It has a very large Sample (3000+ Voters, MOE 2).. and it ended Aug 26, so for Kerry people.. thats good news... perhaps the SBVT stuff is starting its predicted rebound against Bush.

I'm getting sick and tired of people using the fact that Kerry talked about his Vietnam record so that means it's OK for people to LIE about his record?

Talk about moral equivalency!

"GOP will showcase Bush's leadership"


Its amazing how some of us have the courage to remove the meaning of words so easily. Can anyone imagine a headline like the one above?

What exactly do they mean by the word "leadership'? If the word means the same as it has always mean, wont it be a very dangerous thing for them to do? Wont it mean that they are trying to lose the elections?
No republican or anyone living in the universe can showcase Bush' leadership as being a success, so what exactly do they mean by this word?

I'm from northern Ohio, so allow me to weigh in with a few observations.

Last May, the ballet class mothers I hang with during my kids' recitals (yeah, I'm a single custodial dad of two, thank you) are mostly from the rich bitch suburb of Hudson. Solid Republican country!

Imagine my surprise when, to a woman, they told me that Bush had to go and they were voting Kerry.

My job allows me contact with presidents and CEOs. In January, (long before Kerry became the standard bearer), I was having a heart-to-heart with a major bank's CEO.

When the talk turned to the economy, he got up and closed his door. Then he revealed that "Bush has got to go...he's ruining the economy." He indicated that this would be his first vote for a Democrat - whomever he was!

Norther Ohio is still battered economically. It would be a miracle if Bush could hold off a landslide for Kerry in the northern part of our state.

Finally, a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer said that "I don't believe there are any undecided voters in Ohio." His theory was that people are playing possum with the pollsters. I also happen to believe there's more than a liottle biased when crunching the poll numbers. You'll note that the Ohio Poll out of Cincy has always been "skewed Republican".

Sorry for the long post. Hope you're all still awake after this.

"Bush Says Kerry Uses 'Upside-Down' Logic "

Its hard to believe Bush actually said the above.. but its here



No one has said that because Kerry talked (incessantly) about his service in Vietnam, it is okay for others to lie about it. The point is that it is okay to scrutinize the record and try to determine who is telling the truth.

Since you take offense based on your perception that others have lied about Kerry's record, will you also take offense if it turns out Kerry lied about his record? It seems like you should take greater offense if the candidate himself lied.

It appears Kerry may have lied about being in Cambodia and, from today's news, he also may have lied about being awarded the V for valor with his medals.

The point is Kerry has made his Vietnam record fair game. Fair minded people now will wait for all the information to come out and then try to decide the truth. I also think that in view of Kerry's service in combat, fair minded people also will give him the benefit of the doubt on what he did or did not do in Vietnam.

I don' think the benefit of the doubt principle applies to what he did when he returned home. For example, his anti war statements that were read to American prisoners of war are a subject that voters should view as either good or bad conduct/ judgment by Kerry.

Kerry's 1971 Vietnam testimony and young voters.

I really hope the SVBT folks air ads of JFK speaking out against the war. While those ads might influence a few of the miliary folks who can't get over our having lost in vietnam, I think they might REALLY influence the 18-28 year old cohort.

Seeing Kerry speaking truth to power might really motivate a large number of kids to register and vote - and that means they register and vote DEM. This group already doesn't like bush, and seeing that Kerry used to be just like them might bring to us in droves, and for years.

We can just hope they run those ads.

Allan writes: "I'm just wondering why there weren't 3000 fake flag draped coffins symbolizing victims of 9/11 today during the march. I gotta hand it to the protestors. I guess dissent is alive and well in NYC and you can't blame John Ashcroft for not getting your say. The GOP let all those people walk right past our convention venue. That did not happen in Boston if I recall."

First of all, there WAS a ceremony last night at the WTC in which at least 2749 bells were rung to commemorate the 2749 WTC victims. Sorry you missed it. Apparently, Bush and the other Republicans think they owns the symbolic right to those victims. Too bad they're not willing to own up to the cuts in counterterrorism funding and poor leadership of FBI, CIA, etc. that allowed the terrorists to carry out their plan in the first place.

As for free speech, it's not a gift to be bestowed by John Ashcroft, and plenty of Dems were angered by the limitations on free speech outside the DNC. On the other hand, they're used to these infringements, seeing that Bush and Ashcroft have been using "free speech zones" for years now to keep anti-Bush protesters out of view of Bush. They've done it in Miami, Atlanta, St. Louis -- but I guess they couldn't come up with a zone large enough to hold 100,000+ people.


It is hard to imagine that those SBVT ads with former American prisoners of war stating their pain over the prison guards taunting/torturing them with Kerry's statements will help him with voters of any age.

I just don't think you are being realistic. It is a big problem for Kerry.

I know a Democratic Convention Planner who got involved with the negotiations with groups that wanted to demonstrate in Boston. He tells me that they never had any requests from Bush Supporters to march at the Boston event. Nor did the city of Boston have such a request.

If you want to complain about the absence of something, perhaps there should have been some sort of organizational effort to have an event, and request the proper permits, accomodations, etc. I suppose the ultimate question is, Do Republicans know how to organize a demo?

Apparently there were a few freelance demonstrators in Boston, but very few, and the police asked them to locate in a visable place where they could be protected. Reports are that the NYCity police did the same thing today -- counterdemonstators were accomodated on the sidewalks behind police lines as they had not bothered with getting a permit.

I lost my father in the Vietnam War. I can truly say that I harbor no bitterness toward those Americans who protested the war, because they acted out of patriotism themselves.

In 1996, I had a confrontation with Orson Swindle, a Hawaii GOP congressional candidate who was a POW in Hanoi for six years. During the campaign, he repeatedly ridiculed the incumbent, Neil Abercrombie, for being a prominent anti-war activist in the 1960s and 1970s. I asked him if he ever considered the possibility that he might never have come home had it not been for the actions of Mr. Abercrombie and millions of activists.

He had no reply.

I told him that the Vietnam War has been over for almost thirty years. Despite our own losses, I moved on, as had my mother and the rest of our family. I then suggested that he try to do the same.

My advice still holds today for those who hold bitterness in their hearts for John Kerry's role in the anti-war movement -- get over it.

I have to disagree with Ruy's post, as much as I'd like it to be true.

Have you read Josh Marshall's article about the "Bitch Slap" theory? There's an undercurrent to this attack on Kerry. The point they are making is, "If Kerry can't defend himself against this, how can he ever be an effective president?" It is meant to send a message of ineffectiveness on Kerry's part.

To a certain extent, to this point, the attack has been a huge success. I swear, I can't watch TV news anymore, it is so depressing. I want to strangle the Democratic pundits for being so goddam ignorant of the facts and unable to use this to Kerry's advantage. Vainly hoping that voters will realize on their own that Bush is a creep for doing this won't get us very far at all. I wonder how many people actually ADMIRE Bush and Co. more for being able to pull this off so effectively, as slimy and unethical as it is?

Where are Kerry's defenders? Why don't they attack Bush back for doing this, rather than getting into all the details of who shot what first. The Republicans wouldn't try to defend Bush against a similar charge. They would just spew venom back, saying, "Those Democrats, they're so desperate, never has anybody sunk so low..." etc. There's a lack of discipline in all of this, a lack of organization, a lack of preparation, and it has to hurt Kerry, because it reflects badly on him, even though it's probably that assh*le Shrum's fault.

There was a reason Dean was doing so well in the polls prior to the Iowa caucus. People wanted somebody that would FIGHT back against the Republicans. I'm going to vote for Kerry even if it means crawling over broken glass, but I know there must be some people so demoralized by all this that it is hurting the cause of popping the chimp-pimple.

What keeps me from totally tuning out is that I know that there is still time for a lot of stuff to happen, for people to get their act together, and for the momentum to change. We won't really have any idea what's going to happen with the polls until, I believe, the third week of September. That will give Bush a chance to get a run-up in the polls from the convention and begin to slide back downhill. If Kerry can build up momentum starting in the third week of September... that is what I want to see.

Kerry is going to have to go on the attack at some point. You can't run against a "war president" [*cough*] without showing some cojones, and that means he's going to have to fire some mean shots broadside. Low and mean doesn't help your reputation, but nobody at this piont would say Bush doesn't deserve it, and it would actually IMPROVE the appearance of Kerry's character if he did so in an effective manner that left Bush scrambling to explain things.

By the way, here's what Kerry supporters should have said whenever somebody like Blitzer asked them to respond to the Swift Boat ads.

"This is the same kind of stuff that the Bush's do in every election. It's not going to work this time, because too many people are on to them and their ways. They did this to McCain in 2000 [Go into details at leisure here] they did it to Dukakis in 1988, they tried to do it to Clinton in 1998. Look at these Swift Boat people! The author of the Swift Boat book is John O'Neill, a Nixon surrogate who was hired by Nixon and his other dirty-trick people back in '71 for the express purpose of attacking John Kerry. Bush [address this to BUSH and not the swift-boaters] is so desperate that he's using Nixon retreads."

When Blitzer comes back with, "How do you know that Bush is involved?" the correct answer is to roll your eyes and go, "Oh, Puh-leeeze." That's how the Bushies would handle it. Getting into the details of drawing connections is only interesting to us junkies. You can point indirectly to it by just mentioning the NY Times article and chart "which clearly demonstrates the many links between Bush and the Swift Boaters." And before they can come back with more questions about the reliability of this, you come back with more attacks on Bush for doing this so many times before to McCain.

That's how it's done. That's how Bush's attack dogs would have handled it. And why Kerry didn't have a team of people scrambling to all the cable news outlets to say all the same things, ad infinitum, drowning out the critics, is beyond me.


I like your alternative strategy suggestion. Getting into the details of "he said / he said" does ultimately prove counterproductive, because no matter how many times you disprove different allegations, these guys just move on to the next one because a compliant (especially TV related) media continues to allow it. The right-wing is hanging onto the "Christmas In Cambodia" thing like a dog with a bone. Somehow, because it's their one charge (was Kerry actually in Cambodia on XMAS eve?) that Kerry objectively has trouble refuting, it's become the underpinning for the defense within the "respectable" conservative press of the entire Not-So-Swifties attack . (Actually, in the grand scheme of things, who really cares about this, especially considering that Bush can't explain his whereabouts for months at a time back then. With all that's wrong with our government's policies today on so many fronts, is this is an issue worthy of consideration? C'mon!)

I heard George Pataki (a party hack who apparently is yet another GOP draft deferment guy) specifically mention the Cambodia angle again yesterday on one of the talk shows. Plus the Prince of Darkness himself, Robert Novak, is now trotting out some admiral (Schacte) who thirty-five years later claims to be a eyewitness to Kerry not deserving his first Purple Heart, even though the other two guys (besides Kerry) in the boat have repeatedly said that Schacte wasn't there on the boat with them. Black is white, day is night. Yet another bogus charge has been made and will get a few days of play in the media.

You're never going to satisfy the right-wing. They've made the politics of personal destruction an art form since the Willie Horton ads of 1988. They can't win on the issues, so they've decided that destroying Kerry on a personal basis provides their roadmap to victory. Perhaps ridicule, outrage, and repeated staying on message might be the best ways for the Democrats to deal with this crap. The Democrats should also continue to repeatedly push the Bush campaign's connections to this group and play up the "politics of personal destruction" angle.

> I think President Bush speaks for most
> Americans when he says that he admires and
> respects Senator Kerry's service in Vietnam.
> Posted by brian at August 29, 2004 07:14 PM

Translation: Neither I nor President Bush have the balls to stand behind the vicious, shameful attacks that the President has levelled against Kerry.

The convention -- and whatever "next big thing" it brings -- will likely sweep the swift boat slime out of the national consciousness. Bush gets his lead and gets to head to the locker room without suffering a backlash.

Most importantly for Bush, he is now probably inoculated from suffering any harm from his own Vietnam era "service". The Vietnam phase of the battle has probably run its course. Bush dodged a bullet and Kerry survived a punch.

What I don't understand is how all you folks blame President Bush for the SBVT ads when, to a fair minded objective observer, there is virtually no evidence of him or his campaign being behind it.

The stuff about one Bush supporter in Texas contributing money, one Bush volunteer being in the ad, and one Bush lawyer also advising the SBVT falls far below the type of evidence necessary for a fair minded person to contend or believe Bush is behind the ads. You folks are speaking emotionally, not rationally, which probably demonstrates how much damage you think the ads are doing.

O'Neil claims he was an Edwards supporter and apparently has made some derogatory statements about President Bush.

It could all be a clever behind the scenes play by the Bush campaign, but there certainly is not evidence of that at this point. I accept the proposition that the Bush campaign likes the ads, and is playing the issue by seeking a ban of all 527 ads, but that is just clever campaign tactics in response to the ads. The Democrats would do the same thing if the roles were reversed.

Finally, while there is a legitimate argument that Kerry's service in Vietnam should not be criticized without very strong evidence and that he should be given the benefit of the doubt, I don't see any reason apply the same standard to his anti-war comments and allegations of atrocities. John McCain apparently agrees the anti-war conduct is fair game.

Brian, I agree with you that Kerry's anti-war activities and 1971 testimony before Congress, etc. is fair game for political discussion. Being part of the public record, folks can legitimately disagree with what Kerry said/did if they wish. I happen to believe that what Kerry did after his military service ended was morally courageous and that his position on the war was basically the correct one, but others obviously feel differently and can reach an opposite conclusion.

However, the attacks on his medals and awards through innuendo, flimsy "evidence", tainted testimony, and changed testimony constitutes a smear. Everything in the public record backs Kerry: the medals, the citations for the medals written contemporaneously, the Navy reports for his group (also written contemporaneously), and the testimony not only of his shipmates, but of others as well (Bill Rood, Pat Runyan, Wayne Langhofer, Jim Russell and Robert Lambert) with no axe to grind who came forward after the smears became public.

That said, the fact that the Not-So-Swifties tried (as Maureen Dowd put it) to destroy his heroism (and honor) first before trying to destroy his patriotism looks to have been a bad move. Since they've been so discredited on the major charges in both O'Neill's book and the first ad, the effect of the second commercial won't hurt Kerry as much as it might have if it been put out as an ad by itself. They thought that the first ad would greatly soften Kerry up for Round 2. But instead the backlash appears to have instead muted the effect of the second ad.

In terms of Bush involvement, we know the track record of both Daddy's guru Lee Atwater and his student Karl Rove. We know that this stuff completely fits within their MO. Several articles have appeared in the past few weeks that review similar such episodes that involved the Bushes in the past. If anyone thinks that the Bush team wasn't at least indirectly involved, I hear that the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale.

Finally, from Josh Marshall's TalkingPointsMemo today, perhaps we see the sign of a guilty mind?


A nice find by Andrew Sullivan on President Bush's Freudian slip about the Swift Boat Ads ...

I loved Bush's comment yesterday about the smear-ad: "I can understand why Senator Kerry is upset with us. I wasn't so pleased with the ads that were run about me. And my call is get rid of them all, now." "Us"?? I thought Bush had nothing to do with it.

Nice catch...

-- Josh Marshall

It was an interesting tactical decision for the SBVT to first attack his war record. In terms of their objective of beating Kerry, I'm not sure which would have been more effective. The second ad on the testimony is much stronger and less a personal attack on him. On the other hand, the pesonal attacks on his military record in the first ad did generate an awful lot of publicity, while perhaps the anti war testimony ad would not have drawn much interest if it went first.

In any event, I anticipate the plan is now to focus mostly to the anti war testimony/statements, except for those aspects of Kerry's record (Cambodia, V for Valor, first purple heart, etc.) still provide fodder to question his credibility. The records at this point mostly help Kerry, but there may be more record issues to come and there is some perception that the records of course would support the medals and not necessarily reflect the complete truth.

I still think the whole thing will prove very damaging to Kerry. His supports who claim there is some "pushback" or that the ads help him truly are engaging in wishful thinking. The seed is firmy planted that Kerry at least exagerrated his war record, which is a not very attractive stigma for a candidate who already has likeability problems.

> You folks are speaking emotionally, not
> rationally, which probably demonstrates how
> much damage you think the ads are doing.
> Posted by brian at August 30, 2004 02:01 PM

They are doing a lot of damage -- not primarily to the Kerry campaign, but to political discourse in this country and thus to the country itself. It is you who are not only speaking irrationally, but lying.

It is clear there are no limits to what Republicans will do to gain power. Smearing veterans, smearing the military, lying, outing spies, breaking the law, invading countries, putting national security at risk, allowing terrorist attacks -- it's all the same to them.

It is all deliberate. Divide the populace against itself with an anti-gay amendment. Not that they care about gays, or the constitution, but because there might be more on their side. Lower the voting turnout by creating the most negative campaign possible. Demonize moderate Republicans to move the discourse to the right.

It is clear the Republicans hate Democrats more than they care about the United States, and that makes me fear for the future of the country. To them, there is nothing more important than gaining political power. Or, to be more precise, to keep Democrats from being elected.

Republicans are quickly becoming the party of Timothy McVeigh. In the long run, their extremism will be their undoing. The question is how much damage they will succeed in doing to the country and to the world until then.

As Niall Fergusen said, "Bush's defeat would be good for the GOP."


your reasoning is absolutely true and hence it provides an opp. for dems to re-organise, restructure, regroup and offer a better life for america and the world. the gops are on the wrong path.. and its dangerous.. very.. very dangerous...

wow, the haters are reallly here. to complain about what the SBVT are doing to political discourse, and then embark on that rant is amazing.

no haters here.. just pushing some debate based on facts in most cases.

It is strange that Bush would questions Bush's valor in Vietnam when Bush himself had none at all. The president's lack of war service seems to be oblivious to many voters. The public is becoming more aware of Bush's ineptness and inconsistent responses to the anti-Kerry ads.