September 2, 2004

Me angry?

For a sign of how successful the Republicans have been at setting the terms of the debate for the media, look at this article on Dick Cheney in today's NY Times. David E. Sanger writes that Bush's emphasis on military response to terrorism "is intended to contrast sharply with Mr. Kerry's line about waging a 'more sensitive war on terror,' and that is exactly where Mr. Cheney was attacking Mr. Kerry last night. Mr. Kerry, he said, talked 'as though Al Qaeda will be impressed with our softer side.'"

Why, yes, that IS exactly where Cheney attacked, but it is NOT exactly what Kerry said. His actual line, as you know, was, "I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side." You can ask for a correction from the Times if you like, but they won't run one because Sanger's partial use of the quote is technically correct no matter how misleading (cf. "not a problem anymore").

More importantly (which is why I've buried here), it's a sign of how desperate the Bush campaign is right now that they've gone back to this gotcha. (An easy game to play: Dick Cheney says he's worried about "impressing" Al Qaeda, as though this war can be won with a firm handshake and a nice tie. Sorry, Mr. Cheney, but I'd rather capture or kill Osama bin Laden than impress him.) When Cheney first pulled it on TV talk show, it was dumb and snarky, but to now give it such a high profile airing indicates a severe lack of actual argument in favor of his administration's own policies.

The Times' analysis of words used in the convention speeches (speakers said "Kerry" 86 times in three days, compared with 19 mentions of "Bush" at the Dem's convention) confirms my impression at how astonishingly negative this convention has been -- attack Kerry more than making a case for Bush. [Udate: FA's numbers show who the real enemy is.] (I don't think this is a partisan reaction either. My impression of the Democratic convention was perhaps even worse, that it was defensive, chiefly about responding to Republican attacks rather than trying to se tthe terms of the debate, which, come to think of it, is probably why it's been so easy for the media to follow along).

Speaking of crazed attacks, great stuff on the Zell Miller afterparty from Eric Zorn (via Romenesko).

Miller to Chris Matthews: "Get out of my face! If you're going to ask me a question, step back and let me answer. I wish we lived in the day when you could challenge a person to a duel. Now that would be pretty good."

And to Wolf Blitzer: "Me angry?... No, no. I'm sorry if I gave that appearance."

Posted by Daniel Radosh


as though this war can be won with a firm handshake and a nice tie.

Well parodied. When I heard about the "flip-flop" choreography, I couldn't help picturing Sideshow Bob doing his campaign routine in front of Springfield Elementary. Wonder how long before the Republicans start dragging out "Councilman Les Wynan."

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