"Bush operatives constantly whine about the media, but Bush is benefiting from the mock sophistication of journalists who, striking a world-weary stance, say of his campaign dishonesty, 'It was ever thus in American politics.' Even if that were true, it would be no excuse, and it isn't true. This is extraordinary ... serious people flinch from being associated with the intellectual slum that is the Bush campaign, with its riffraff of liars and aspiring ayatollahs."
Those are the words, it may surprise you to learn, of George Will, writing on August 26th, 1992, writing of course about the campaign of the president's father.
The whole column merits reading in full -- and not simply because of the irony that Will was saying of that Bush campaign what many Democrats are now saying about his son's campaign. It's more than that. You have the same tactics, the same people, even the same criticisms in many cases -- ones which the campaign makes no effort to defend as being accurate but nonetheless insists it will keep repeating.
Read this passage from Will's piece and then stop by the Bush Jr. website and see that that's the message of the day in late August this year too ...
Soon Bill Clinton will have to say to Bush what Dole publicly said to Bush in 1988: "Stop lying about my record." Bush says Clinton has raised taxes 128 times. Bush says this even though columnist Michael Kinsley has demonstrated that the list of "tax increases" is a tissue of falsehoods. (Some taxes are counted several times; components of a tax are counted as separate taxes; minor fees, such as the $ 1 court cost imposed on convicted criminals, are counted as taxes.) By the tendentious criteria used by the Bush campaign, Bush has raised taxes more often in four years than Clinton has in 12.
So, what does Teeter say of the 128 number? "We're not going to quit saying it about Mr. Clinton."
Here's the new version, for Senator Kerry.
John Kerry promises not to raise taxes, but the reality is that he has cast 98 votes for tax increases, including voting ten times to raise gas taxes on the middle class. Kerry points to the largest tax increase in American history as the blueprint for his economic plan, which advisor Bob Rubin says Kerry won't reveal until elected. Kerry's credibility problem is only expanding as more and more Americans see the gap between what Kerry says and what Kerry does.
Same stuff. Same indifference to saying things that are even remotely true. And at least till now, the same playing most of the press for chumps.
Of course, twelve years ago it took till August 26th for George Will to lower the boom. But perhaps the tide is starting to turn. Here, from Dana Milbank in yesterday's Washington Post, is a list of half a dozen quotes from Kerry and how either President Bush or Vice President Cheney have distorted them out of all recognition on the campaign trail recently.
Here's a sample ...
"Every performer tonight in their own way, either verbally or through their music, through their lyrics, have conveyed to you the heart and soul of our country." -- Kerry, July 8
"The other day, my opponent said he thought you could find the heart and soul of America in Hollywood." -- Bush, Aug. 18
And of course, there are several more examples for your reading pleasure ...