September 2, 2004
Revving Up the Slime Machine
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Rove figures their surrogate dirty-tricks groups can slime Kerry big-time, thus reducing the Democratic candidate's momentum. Take the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, for example -- which should be renamed Swift Boat Veterans Who-Never-Served-With-Kerry for Bush -- who are bought and paid for by Republican bigwigs, to question Kerry's war heroism. (For a sharp rebuttal, see Republican Jim Rassman's story, "Shame on the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush" in the Wall Street Journal.)
Rove is a great believer in the Big Lie Technique: doesn't matter how outrageous it is, just keep telling it, just keep pounding it, and after awhile, the citizenry begin to believe it -- or at least hear it so often that they begin to wonder about the reality of the other candidate's honesty and motives.
Even Bush-supporting Senator John McCain, the Republican war-hero who spent half a dozen years in Hanoi prison during the Vietnam War, couldn't stomach those lying attacks by the Swift Boat vets, and said so in no uncertain terms. He urged Bush to disavow such tactics, but (surprise!) Bush declined. McCain said those slimy tactics were used on him by the Bush campaign in 2000, when he was moving up in the polls. So now -- you guessed it -- the slime machine is going after McCain, questioning his patriotism, his war-record, and even his years as a POW.
This GOP sliming is par for the course. They have no scruples, and no shame. They did it to Georgia Senator Max Cleland in the 2002 race (the Vietnam war vet, who left three limbs in that country, lost after shameful GOP advertising questioned his patriotism), they did it to Senator McCain in the 2000 campaign (and now again in 2004), and they're attempting to do it with the Smear Boat Veterans for Bush in the current race.
Another plus for Rove: These slime attacks on Kerry, and Teresa Heinz Kerry, force the Democrats to waste precious time, money and staff on combating the smear, when those resources could be used in going after Bush's sorry record domestically and overseas.
The negative for the GOP is that it reminds voters of Bush's AWOL status -- see Paul Lukasiak's voluminously-researched "Deserter" article -- during his Texas Air National Guard days. Which may lie at the heart of the major slime attack on Kerry, hoping that by tarnishing the Dem candidate's war record, the issue of military service will be a wash for both candidates.
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