BuzzFlash's Message to John Kerry in 2004 Was to Define Bush or Be Defined by the Republicans. He Didn't Listen. Nothing Has Changed Much in 2019.
The Democratic leadership hasn’t changed much since BuzzFlash was founded in May of 2000. They are still, in general, letting the Republicans control the narrative and define the Democrats. John Kerry didn’t listen in the 2004 race and he was painted somehow as being tarnished by Vietnam, even though he served in the military there. Meanwhile, his opponent for the presidency, George W. Bush, was a chickenhawk through and through. The Dems in Congress are still on the defensive, although some Democratic contenders for president appear to be getting a bit more aggressive.
Originally Posted in March, 2004
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
At a moment like this, we are tempted -- like a husband or wife who is awaiting a divorce from a serial philanderer -- to bitterly try and list all the perfidies, duplicitous comments and betrayals of the Bush administration. But that would be an all-consuming, a self-immolating task that would divert us from the task of helping return America to majority rule.
Just remember -- as Bush and Cheney personally attack John Kerry on the issue of credibility -- that this is the essence of the Bush Administration political strategy: "If you tell a lie five times, it becomes the truth."
Political analysts, the ones who really know what they are talking about, not the multi-millionaire Bush suck-up celebrity shills on television, say that now is the time that offers a window of golden opportunity for Bush and company to define Kerry in the mind of the swing voter. Since the "perception" of Kerry's character is still largely unformed in the minds of many Americans, the goal of the Bush campaign, at this time, is to -- and we have to gulp hard just to write this -- portray Kerry as "untrustworthy."
Yes, this is the administration that has made brazen lying banal [LINK]. And how will they sway voters? By trying to implant the image in their heads that Kerry is, well, a liar. It would be a ludicrous farce, if this dishonest GOP technique weren't so deadly to Democrats who haven't known how to fight back.
As much as Bush values lying as a prerequisite for service in his administration (it's telling the truth that gets people in trouble when they serve under a Bush), he is also predictable. Character assassination has always been the trademark of a Bush campaign. George W. Bush rode shotgun with the infamous Lee "Willie Horton" Atwater during his father's 1988 campaign, and Karl Rove has specialized in sliming opponents since his days as a young Republican.
If anyone thinks this is a new strategy born of desperation, just ask Al Gore, who ended up being caricatured as a liar by the media because of Rove/Bush attacks about the pettiest of comments. Gore didn't fight back against the image, and he didn't challenge Bush's credibility. As a result, we had an election that was the equivalent of Ken Lay pointing and yelling "thief" at a Boy Scout who accidentally paid one cent less for a candy bar. And in this analogy, the Boy Scout didn't attack back.
So don't dismiss as absurd the seeming ludicrousness of the last few days, in which Bush, Cheney and Powell have "demanded" that Kerry reveal the names of "foreign leaders" who support him. First of all, it turns out that the Boston Globe reporter who originally wrote that Kerry claimed to have the backing of "foreign leaders" admitted that he incorrectly transcribed the quotation, and Kerry actually said, "I've met more leaders" in general [LINK]. So the Bush administration is now challenging Kerry on some frivolous word that was never even said -- and they continue to do so, despite the reporter's retraction. And, in any case, one can only assume that Kerry is the preferred candidate of many European leaders who can't stomach Bush, including the heads of France, Germany and now Spain.
Meanwhile, we can't get the truth out of the Bush Administration about 9/11, Cheney's energy task force, WMDs and other pre-Iraq war claims, the environment, the cost of the Medicare Bill, the size of the deficit, the number of jobs lost, the role of the Saudis and Pakistan in terrorism, Halliburton contracts, Ken Lay, actions taken under the Patriot Act, the Florida 2000 recount, collusion between the executive and judicial branches, failure to support our Veterans and fully equip our military, the White Houe outing of a CIA agent, and, well, you name it. You can't get the truth out of the Bush administration about virtually anything.
This is an administration built upon secrecy and deceit. But they have the money and majorities on the FEC and FCC to control the airwaves, so they figure that they can use their tired old formula of picking some trivial issue, whether true or not, and using it to portray their opponent as "untrustworthy."
We share the frustration of our readers. The ability of the Republican party, which is built upon deception, division and greed, to paint honorable opponents as liars is as mind boggling as it is shameless. They stop at nothing. They have no scruples. They are fundamentally immoral.
Yet, they portray themselves -- as Rove has done so successfully with Bush -- as the people with "values" and "morality."
It's one of the greatest con jobs in history.
But, here's the bottom line.
Now is the defining moment for John Kerry.
This is the time where either he defines Bush as a liar who has betrayed the nation -- or he will end up being defined as a liar.
There is no middle ground with the Bush dynasty. They can't run on their records or their accomplishments, because their record is one of ruin and their accomplishments don't exist.
So they use character assassination to stay in power.
Since BuzzFlash began in May of 2000, our mantra for Democrats and other progressives has been "define or be defined." Al Gore didn't listen to our advice.
We hope that John Kerry does.
For a month, Kerry had Bush on the ropes. It was a heartening sign that business as usual (rolling over for the Republicans) had ended.
But this is, indeed, the golden hour of opportunity.
Show your stuff John. You have no choice. Either successfully undercut Bush's credibility now, or you'll end up looking like Pinocchio. Just ask John McCain and Al Gore.
The Republicans have refined Samurai character attacks to a fine art. Besides lining their own pockets with money, it is what they do best.
The barbarians are no longer at the gates.
They are in the White House.
John Kerry, you must pull Excalibur out of the stone and vanquish the dynasty of deception and deceit, before they destroy you and your good name.
The future of democracy depends upon your success.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL