September 09, 2004


W=Wrong Week

This was supposed to be the week that the Bush Campaign went into cruise control, not spin control. After months of lies, character assassination and over 500,000 utterances of the words “terror”, “terrorists” and “terrorism”, Bush and his minions were primed for a slam-dunk convention. And, as expected, the media went gaga over the RNC festival of love and hate (“We love ourselves; we hate Democrats, Terrorists and Mary Cheney): Arnold! Guiliani! Ron Silver! Zell! Pataki (Pataki???)! The talking heads lapped it all up like the good little poodles they are.

Never mind that all of these men, even Pataki, would make a better president than W. Never mind that, not only is Osama bin Laden missing, his name was missing from the convention (it was mentioned once). Never mind that 9/11 happened on W’s watch – it’s Kerry, not W who is “unfit for command.” As we were told in the stirring tribute to George II, it was 9/11 that defined W and his presidency (or was it a “bullhorn” and a “baseball”?). So, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11 it was…all week long. Thank god the Republicans didn’t exploit our national tragedy.

Feeling confident and cocky, Bush and his fellow Republicans swaggered out of our beloved city and waited for their expected bounce. And what a bounce they got! Thanks to the well-thought out answers of 962 dedicated Americans, a Time poll released at the end of the week showed W with an 11-point lead over Kerry. But then, almost overnight, Karl Roves dreams of world dominance began to crumble.

Let’s summarize what’s happened since the “bounce”, shall we?

01) The media becomes obsessed with Hurricane Frances and the Russian school siege. The Bush Bounce is no longer a top story.

02) Bill Clinton has heart surgery.

03) Snippets of Kitty Kelly’s book on the Bush Dynasty are released: A former student is quoted as saying, “Poor Georgie. He couldn’t relate to women unless he was loaded.” Former sister-in-law Sharon Bush claims “Bush did coke at Camp David when his father was
President, and not just once either.” Laura tried pot in her “youth”.

04) The “Texans for Truth” releases a new ad which asks why no one saw Bush in his National Guard unit in Alabama.

05) The Boston Globe publishes a lengthy synopsis of the Bush-AWOL controversy: “He broke his contract with the U.S. government, without any adverse consequences. And the Texas Air National Guard was complicit.”

06) Ben Barnes, former Texas House speaker and Lt. Governor, appears on 60 Minutes II; regrets his decision to help Bush and other privileged children get into the National Guard.

Barnes: “I would describe it as preferential treatment. There were hundreds of names on the list of people wanting to get into the Air National Guard. I think that would have been a preference to anybody that didn’t want to go to Vietnam or didn’t want to leave.”

The 60 Minutes piece also revealed that Bush disobeyed a direct order to get a physical. As a result of the story, the White House has released two previously unreleased military memos after claiming to have released all known documents earlier this year. For all of you Watergate fans out there: It's not the crime, it's the cover-up...

07) The U.S. federal deficit swells to a record $422 billion.

08) It is announced that Medicare premiums are expected to rise by 17% next year.

09) Healthcare costs are already up 11.2%.

10) The Government Accountability Office declares that the Bush administration illegally withheld data from Congress on the cost of the new Medicare law.

11) There are currently 5 million fewer jobs providing health insurance than in 2001.

12) Bush backs out of the middle (Town Hall-style) presidential debate. A presidential adviser said that Bush campaign officials were concerned that partisans could pose as undecided voters.

13) An obviously desperate Dick Cheney (James Wolcott describes him as a looking like a "broken-down sidekick") tells a group of partisans at a Des Moines’ Town Hall meeting, “It’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we’ll get hit again and we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States.”

John Edwards, campaigning in West Virginia responded, "This statement by the vice president of the United States was intended to divide us. It was calculated to divide us on an issue of safety and security for the American people. It's wrong and it's un-American."

Looking forward to their debate.

14) Log Cabin Republicans vote NOT to endorse Bush (okay, maybe this one helps shore up Bush’s fundamentalist base).

Oh, and did I mention the mission we accomplished in Iraq a year ago? This week, we surpassed 1,000 casualties. 148 since the transfer of sovereignty.

So, let’s take a look at that 11-point lead: According to the (heavily favored by Republicans) Rasmussen Report, the 11-point lead has dwindled to 2 points. And, according to Zogby, “It’s almost as if there were no conventions at all. The latest numbers in the Zogby Interactive Presidential Battleground Poll shows the race almost exactly where it was in late July.” The Zogby story goes on to say, “This latest collection of polls shows that Mr. Kerry would win the White House by a margin of 264 electoral votes, to 231 for Mr. Bush.”

I’m guessing that somewhere on the campaign trail, a certain swagger and a certain smirk have morphed into a stagger and a scowl.

A personal note: Over the weekend, I talked to a lot of concerned Democratic friends and relatives. At this point in the game, pessimism is our worst enemy. Every one of us who wants to see W take a long, extended vacation has to remain positive. So, spread the word. Stay focused. All of your concerns on Saturday now appear to be Karl Rove’s concerns. Let him worry and be pessimistic. I’m positive and confident that sanity will reign on November 2nd.

For a more lucid version of these thoughts, check out this entry from Michael Moore's USA Today coverage of the RNC.

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