Monday, August 23, 2004

Get Down!

You've really got to hand it to the Republican slim machine and its numerous appendages. In the span of only four weeks they've managed to shape the new cycle to theirs and the President's benefit. Only two days after the Democratic convention, with Democrats feeling unified by the self-congratulatory gathering, the media digesting the overarching message presented by the Democrats, a funny thing happened: Terror alerts were issued.

The focus directly, and rightly, shifted to the urgency and credibility of these alerts, and away from John Kerry and the recent Democratic convention. Concerned about possible attacks to the homeland, New York and Washington specifically, the Bush administration moved quickly to notify not only first responders, law enforcement officers and public officials, but also the general public. Asked for further evidence of the imminence of the attacks and the veracity of the evidence that led to the Terror alerts, the administration at first balked.

Just days later it was confirmed that the evidence for the suspected attacks predated 9/11, and that a former Al-Qaeda operative, captured in June, and who was providing actionable intelligence for the fight against international terrorism may have been inadvertently outed by Administration officials.

With the media unable to make heads or tails of the muddled circumstances, coverage began to be overwhelmingly dominated by news of important Al-Qaeda captures on all corners of the globe-- and without relent. It became a consecutive crescendo of rising momentum for Bush's re-elect. Contemporaneously, and not all too coincidentally, a shadowy group of scorned Vietnam veterans began a public relations campaign to discredit Kerry's Vietnam record. It didn't matter that these veterans never actually served with John Kerry, or that most of them didn't even contest his Senatorial Campaign in Massachusetts, or that some even endorsed John Kerry in the same Senatorial Campaign, or that their stories contradicted their own sworn testimony; all of this didn't matter.

The media, in the initial days, virtually accepted without reservation the allegations of these veterans, leaving Kerry on the defensive; where he's been for nearly the whole month of August. A visitor from another world would surely think something was wrong with this John Kerry character. With Kerry's negatives rising among veterans, these attack ads by the Swift Boat Vets for Truth have proven to be extremely effective for the Bush Campaign, despite claiming to have no links to the group and at the same time refusing to disavow the ads-- this isn't a disavowal.

Bush is poised to accept his party's nomination on the heels of a relatively empty month. The Republican National Convention seems have to been preceded with the type of news cycle fitting for the Bush presidency: Flaky on the outside, nothing in the middle: Nothing substantial on the obstinacy of the Defense Department, the CIA and the White House with regard to the proposals of the 9/11 commission, nothing substantial on the political dynamic of the fight for Najaf and its possible undermining of Ayad Allawi's power, nothing substantial on the crisis in Dafur, the instability in Afghanistan, the growing number of complicit actors in the prisoner abuse scandal, on the economy, and on the Bush presidency and his record in general.

It makes sense why the Bush administration would have us mired in the intimate details of how superficial Kerry's Vietnam injuries were, and that he only served four months. It makes sense because anything that really matters to the American people and that is crucially relevant to the campaign hurts Bush: The economy, the War on Terror, and the War in Iraq. Bush loses on every front.

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