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March 8, 2004

Karl Rove's Last Laugh?

Daniel Radosh

I admit I didn't quite get what Gersh was trying to say in response to my Bush ads post. Now he's written it up for Newsweek and it makes some kind of sense:

In one ad, the president says we are "safer" and "stronger." We may be, we may not be. But we're not even discussing that issue; instead, we're wasting valuable brain cells debating whether a split-second clip of a destroyed building--one not even recognizable as the World Trade Center--is too political.

And that's why this opening salvo of the campaign has been such a victory for the forces of cynicism that run the president's campaign. They didn't create ads hoping to open a debate on the president's performance. They created ads hoping that a 1.5-second clip of a wrecked building would open a debate about the ads. That allows the president to appear above this substance-free fray. "How this administration handled that day, as well as the war on terror, is worthy of discussion,'' Bush said on Saturday. "And I look forward to the debate about who best to lead this country in the war on terror." He may indeed look forward to that debate, but it is precisely that debate that we will never have.

In the end, those 1.5 seconds may end up saving the president hours of time that he might otherwise be forced to spend actually defending the administration for the failures that led up to Sept. 11--yes, lest we forget, President Bush was President Bush on 9/11--and for its policies afterwards.

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