It’s all so dishonest, so calculatingly deceptive – like the way they smeared John McCain and Al Gore in 2000. (McCain didn’t father a black baby out of wedlock, he adopted a Bangladeshi child. Al Gore never said he invented the Internet – although he did crucial work to help launch it.)

Zell Miller last night: ‘For more than twenty years, on every one of the great issues of freedom and security, John Kerry has been more wrong, more weak and more wobbly than any other national figure.’

Zell Miller in 2001: ‘In his sixteen years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington. Early in his Senate career in 1986, John signed on to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Bill, and he fought for balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for Democrats to do so. [Hey, wait – I thought you guys have said – endlessly – that he’s the #1 liberal in the Senate!] John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment.’ [Remarks to the Democratic Party of Georgia Jefferson Jackson Dinner 2001]

Miller last night: ‘Listing all the weapon systems that Senator Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security.’ He then listed a whole lot of weapons systems John Kerry voted against.

  • He did not mention that Dick Cheney opposed almost all the same programs.
  • He did not quote Cheney, then Secretary of Defense, on ABC’s This Week: ‘I’ve closed or terminated 81 programs. We’re shutting down 300 military bases worldwide. It’s a massive reduction already underway.’
  • He did not mention that John Kerry voted for every single one of the Defense Authorization and Appropriation bills signed by Ronald Reagan.

So it’s all a deception.

Here’s John Kerry on defense: ‘I defended this country as a young man, and I will defend it as president. Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and a certain response. I will never give any nation or any institution a veto over our national security. And I will build a stronger military. We will add 40,000 active duty troops, not in Iraq, but to strengthen American forces that are now overstretched, overextended and under pressure.’

Here’s Pat Buchanan on Iraq: ‘We invaded a country that did not threaten us, did not attack us, and did not want war with us, to disarm it of weapons we have since discovered it did not have. We may have ignited a war of civilizations it was in our vital interests to avoid. Never has America been more resented and reviled in an Islamic world of a billion people.’

We probably need to change his name to ‘I can’t believe I am quoting Pat Buchanan, because I find so many of his opinions loathsome,’ but still – that’s a pretty powerful quote: ‘We invaded a country that did not threaten us, did not attack us, and did not want war with us, to disarm it of weapons we have since discovered it did not have. We may have ignited a war of civilizations it was in our vital interests to avoid. Never has America been more resented and reviled in an Islamic world of a billion people.’

Do we really want to rehire the man whose judgment it was to rush into war without a plan to win the peace?

Who pledged he would get Bin Laden dead or alive before he could plan another attack on us . . . but who quickly diverted key resources from that effort to war preparations in Iraq?

Who pledged to go to war in Iraq ‘only as a last resort’ but then broke that pledge?

We could have done this – if in the end it had to be done, a few months later – so much better! And with so much more world support!

Back to the Convention in a minute, but a couple of you took exception to this item from yesterday – whose numbers, I argued, suggested a pattern:

Change* in real median household income

(2003 adjusted dollars):

Bush II: – $1,535
Clinton: + $5,489
Bush I: – $1,314

Change* in number of Americans living in poverty:

Bush II: + 4,280,000
Clinton: – 6,433,000
Bush I: + 6,269,000

*As gleaned by the Daily Kos from this month’s Census report

Aaron Long: ‘While I hate Bush as much as the next guy, don’t you think that the Internet boom (bubble) that occurred during the Clinton years would have happened under any president? If you can somehow factor that effect out (good luck) and still provide a damning comparison it would be more compelling.’

☞ Yes it would. But while the Internet bubble made for a lot of stock market wealth, skewing the numbers among the best off, can it account for as much of the reduction in poverty as, say, raising the minimum wage? Or raising the Earned Income Tax Credit? Or hiking taxes for the top few in order to assure the world financial markets that we were headed for fiscal responsibility – thus touching off a virtuous economic cycle?

Those broad policies – affecting many millions of people – were supported by the Democrats and opposed by the Republicans. Policies matter.

And listen: Internet or no, under most presidents throughout our nation’s history, median income has gone up. Why not under the Bushes? Could it be that the plight of ordinary Americans just does not much interest them?

I think we try so hard to be fair (as we should), that we sometimes go too far and wind up being unfair to ourselves. It’s okay to think Clinton/Gore did a way better job on economic policy than Bush 41 or Bush 43 (or Herbert Hoover). Because they did. And Kerry/Edwards will, too.

BUSH TO ALTER ECONOMIC STATS AGAIN

Not that the Bush team won’t do its best to persuade us otherwise. According to The Daily Mislead (click to see the full version, with sourcing):

Last week, the Census Bureau released statistics showing that for the first time in years, poverty had increased for three straight years, while the number of Americans without health care increased to a record level. But instead of changing its economic and health care policies, the Bush administration today is announcing plans to change the way the statistics are compiled. The move is just the latest in a series of actions by the White House to doctor or eliminate longstanding and nonpartisan economic data collection methods.

In a Bush administration press release yesterday, the Census Bureau said next week it ‘will announce a new economic indicator” as “an additional tool to better understand” the economy. The change in statistics is being directed by Bush political appointees and comes just 60 days from the election. It will be the first modification of Census data in 40 years.

This is not the first time the White House has tried to doctor or manipulate economic data that exposed President Bush’s failed policies. In the face of serious job losses last year, the Associated Press reported “the Bush administration has dropped the government’s monthly report on mass layoffs, which also had been eliminated when President Bush’s father was in office.” Similarly, Business Week reported that the White House this year “unilaterally changed the start date of the last recession to benefit Bush’s reelection bid.” For almost 75 years, the start and end dates of recessions have been set by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a private nonpartisan research group. But the Bush administration decided to toss aside the NBER, and simply declare that the recession started under President Clinton.

It is a scary time. I think in the end it will work out. John Kerry will be elected and we will get the country back on track.

But most people know so little about what’s going on and – for all our innate skepticism – still have a natural tendency to believe much of what they hear, especially if they hear it often enough. That’s why people assume Al Gore said he invented the Internet. That’s why more than half the country thinks Iraq was involved in the September 11 attack. That’s why a lot of people are being aggressively misled by the Republican Convention. (How else to get them, in so many cases, to vote against their own self-interest?)

It is an upside down world. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist tells the Convention that under George W. Bush health care has become more affordable and available. (It has?) Education Secretary Rod Paige – whose own Texas miracle turns out to have been a documented fraud – tells us what a triumph the Bush education policy has been. Arnold Schwarzenegger calls those who worry about the economy ‘economic girlie men.’

(Why didn’t we think of that line when the Republicans, for years, were demanding a balanced budget amendment? But if Arnold says things are good, then never mind the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover; never mind massive budget and trade deficits and consumers stretched as never before; never mind lower median household income and increased poverty – you are a girlie man to be concerned about our economy [huge laugh line, applause, cut to next scene].)

President Bush says Kerry’s military service was heroic . . . but his father wonders on national radio whether all 150 of the Swift Boat veterans could be lying, and Bob Dole dismisses Kerry’s medals, and the Bush team hands out mocking Purple Heart Band Aids for the assembled delegates. And everyone talks about ‘four months,’ not mentioning, first, that Kerry served his full four years in the Navy . . . and that even four months is a long time to be going up and down a narrow river with people shooting at you from behind thick foliage from both sides. Kerry could easily have been killed. Others were.

It is an upside down world when one guy can be given special consideration to avoid Vietnam – Bush lied about this in 1994, as documented Monday – and can then fail to show up for a required physical (what was he afraid it would reveal?) . . . and can then fail to show up for several months’ service . . . and yet, with all that, manage to smear the record of a man who volunteered for four years’ service, and volunteered to be stationed in Vietnam, and volunteered for truly dangerous duty . . . who attacked the enemy aggressively, who saved American lives, who was wounded – all this backed up and attested to by all the military records and by all the surviving members of his crew.

Hand it to the Bush character assassins. They are good at what they do. But good enough to win your vote?

 

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