Garfield's Political AdReview: Bush ad built on technicality

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"There is some slim chance the nasty stuff won't begin till after the Republican convention, but the smart money says that the politics of optimism go out the window in about five minutes, to be replaced by pictures of John Kerry looking like a dangerous `60s radical and voting to tax unborn children."

Boy, were we ever wrong. It took 10 whole days for the politics of optimism to go out the window. And what replaced it was a different smear altogether. In the first broadcast attack ad from the Bush-Cheney campaign comes the charge that John Kerry endangered our troops in Iraq.

NARRATOR: "Few votes in Congress are as important as funding our troops at war. Though John Kerry voted in October, 2002 for military action in Iraq, he later voted against funding our soldiers...."

SENATE CLERK: "Mr. Kerry:"

ANNOUNCER V/O: "No."

NARRATOR: "Body armor for troops in combat."

SENATE CLERK: "Mr. Kerry:"

ANNOUNCER V/O: "No."

NARRATOR: "Higher combat pay."

SENATE CLERK: "Mr. Kerry:"

ANNOUNCER V/O: "No."

NARRATOR: "And, better health care for reservists and their families..."

SENATE CLERK: "Mr. Kerry:"

ANNOUNCER V/O: "No."

This is the sort of tactic we're accustomed to seeing in congressional races, but seldom in presidential politics: the fundamental lie nominally supported by a single fact. That fact was Kerry's Oct. 17 vote against S. 1879, appropriating $87 billion for the war in Iraq. Notwithstanding the senator's incoherent remarks on the subject, his vote was explicitly against funding a war he had come to oppose, not against "funding our soldiers" fighting in it. And to make the mischaracterization worse, the ad suggests Kerry voted serially and callously against these three patriotic-sounding provisions-which, of course, he never did.

By the Bush campaign's logic, a vote against any sweeping piece of legislation is a vote against everything the bill contains. If that's fair, then every Republican in Congress has a lot to answer for. For that matter, by that formulation, the ad could have said that President Bush deprived our troops in harm's way the use of an attack jet, so he could stage a carrier-landing photo op. Another whopper, of course, yet just as technically true.

The fact that this message begins with the president approving its contents bodes poorly for the next seven-and-a-half months. It smears. It undermines the dignity of the presidency. And it speaks tragic volumes about the state of political discourse in America. Get used to those 0 stars. This is going to be very ugly.

George W. Bush

Maverick Media, Alexandria, Va.

Ad Review Rating: Zero stars

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