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August 23, 2004
I'll Call Your Bluff And Raise You

Poor John Kerry - no matter what he does, the President always seems to outfox him, and the press can't help but notice. After calling for days for Bush to denounce the Swiftvet advertisements that have bedeviled Kerry's campaign, Bush finally complied -- and then challenged Kerry to denounce all 527 advertising:

Bush praised Kerry's military service in Vietnam. "I think Senator Kerry served admirably, and he ought to be proud of his record," he said.

But, pressed several times by reporters at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., about whether he would specifically condemn the ad, Bush would only say: "That means that ad and every other ad. I'm denouncing all the stuff." ...

Questioned after Bush's remarks, White House press secretary Scott McClellan repeatedly declined to criticize the content of the Swift boat ads. "Senator Kerry wants to have it both ways," by selectively calling on Bush to condemn one group's ads, McClellan said. "Senator Kerry can help put an end to all of this by joining us in calling for a stop to all of these ads."

John Kerry and John Edwards once again whined that Bush's statement wasn't enough, despite the 527s supporting their ticket outspending the Swiftvets by an order of 200 or more:

In Oshkosh, Wis., Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, blasted Bush for not being more critical of the ad and the claims by the group. "Today, George Bush faced his moment of truth and he failed," said Edwards, who has repeatedly called on the president to denounce the veterans group's ad. "He failed to condemn the specific attacks on John Kerry's military record. We didn't need to hear a politician's answer, but unfortunately that's what we got."

How difficult is this for the Kerry/Edwards team to grasp? Neither the SBVT nor MoveOn, America Coming Together, et al on the left, will stop running ads. Denouncing all of them as a group makes for an easy feel-good moment, while having absolutely no effect on the outcome. It gives the candidates an opportunity to rise above partisanship and act parentally, as James Lileks pointed out on the radio this evening. Bush and his team are smart enough to discern that opportunity, while Kerry and Edwards both look like crybabies for complaining about one group that has spent 1/200th of what their groups have in this cycle.

I don't like to use the word often, but the only word that springs to mind is pussies, and fairly clueless ones at that.

While the Washington Post manages to skate past the financial implications for Kerry in 'denouncing' 527 advertising (due in part to Dana Milbank's influence, no doubt), the AP notes it towards the end of its report on Bush's statement:

While Kerry and Democrats have demanded that Bush condemn the attack on his war record, the president has been targeted by an estimated $60 million in commercials by outside groups since the campaign began.

Kerry has declined to call for an end to those ads, which helped him at a time when he did not have the funds to compete with Bush' campaign advertising budget.

So while George Soros and Peter Lewis-funded 527s poured tens of millions of dollars into commercials calling Bush AWOL and a deserter -- charges later proved false -- and using discredited testimony from former Ambassador Joe Wilson to promote the "Bush Lied" meme, the Kerry campaign has gone into hysterics over a $250,000 ad buy in three states by combat veterans who fought for the right to free speech. The dissonance has become too great for the entire press to refrain from comment, and if the Democrats can't keep from begging George Bush to make it stop, the media will take increasing notice of the whiff of desperation coming from the Kerry campaign.

As William Shatner once told Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek II, I'm laughing at the superior intellect.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 23, 2004 9:33 PM

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