2. ABCNews.com Blasts Bush Distortions; On Air Corrects Kerry Too
3. Moore: Iraq War Part of Effort to Keep Poor in Their Place
4. Matthews: U.S. Stuck in Iraq Like British Mired in Colonies?
In the campaign, "the attacks from both sides are getting sharper," CBS's John Roberts complained on Tuesday's CBS Evening News, asserting that "the first casualty appears to be the truth." Roberts rebuked John Kerry for falsely claiming that Bush would "privatize" Social Security and bring back the draft. His examples of President Bush's claims, however, were not of similar distortions, but of a supposed lack of context for how Republicans have done the same as Kerry or how Kerry "also" does something else. Roberts, for instance, chided Bush: "When the President hammers John Kerry's votes to cut intelligence budgets in the early '90s, he doesn't mention that Republicans were doing the same thing." Roberts also noted how "Bush mocks Kerry for showing weakness in the war on terror," but then, with a straight face, Roberts insisted that Bush "ignores the fact Kerry also talks tough."
Roberts lifted one of his rebukes of Bush direct from a news story in Tuesday's New York Times, but Roberts skipped how, in an op-ed in the same New York Times, retired General Tommy Franks corrected the frequent Kerry claim that the U.S. missed a chance to catch Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora because Bush "outsourced" the mission to Afghan warlords.
Roberts began his October 19 story, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "With 14 days to go, President Bush made his 14th appearance in Florida this year, declaring John Kerry is, quote, 'neither prepared nor equipped to be President.'"
Roberts lifted his examples of Bush's misdeeds direct from a Tuesday New York Times article by David Sanger and Jodi Wilgoren, "Bush Adds Teeth to His Attacks on Kerry." An excerpt:
....Mr. Bush attacked what he called "irresponsible" legislation proposed by Mr. Kerry in 1994 to reduce the nation's intelligence budget by $6 billion, and said he then tried to cut the intelligence budget again in 1995.
Mr. Kerry did propose the reductions Mr. Bush cited. But in the mid-1990's, members of both parties were seeking cuts in the intelligence budget. Porter J. Goss, then a Republican member of Congress from Florida and recently appointed director of central intelligence by Mr. Bush, co-sponsored legislation in 1995 that would have reduced intelligence spending by more than the cuts sought by Mr. Kerry.
Similarly, in citing Mr. Kerry's support for cuts in weapons programs, Mr. Bush ignored the bipartisan effort in the 1990's to scale back or end production of many planes, ships, missiles and other military hardware. The Kerry campaign on Monday detailed how Vice President Dick Cheney has spearheaded some of those moves....
END of Excerpt
For the New York Times story in full: www.nytimes.com
....On more than one occasion, Senator Kerry has referred to the fight at Tora Bora in Afghanistan during late 2001 as a missed opportunity for America. He claims that our forces had Osama bin Laden cornered and allowed him to escape. How did it happen? According to Mr. Kerry, we "outsourced" the job to Afghan warlords. As commander of the allied forces in the Middle East, I was responsible for the operation at Tora Bora, and I can tell you that the senator's understanding of events doesn't square with reality.
First, take Mr. Kerry's contention that we "had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden" and that "we had him surrounded." We don't know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001. Some intelligence sources said he was; others indicated he was in Pakistan at the time; still others suggested he was in Kashmir. Tora Bora was teeming with Taliban and Qaeda operatives, many of whom were killed or captured, but Mr. bin Laden was never within our grasp.
Second, we did not "outsource" military action. We did rely heavily on Afghans because they knew Tora Bora, a mountainous, geographically difficult region on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is where Afghan mujahedeen holed up for years, keeping alive their resistance to the Soviet Union. Killing and capturing Taliban and Qaeda fighters was best done by the Afghan fighters who already knew the caves and tunnels.
Third, the Afghans weren't left to do the job alone. Special forces from the United States and several other countries were there, providing tactical leadership and calling in air strikes. Pakistani troops also provided significant help - as many as 100,000 sealed the border and rounded up hundreds of Qaeda and Taliban fighters.
Contrary to Senator Kerry, President Bush never "took his eye off the ball" when it came to Osama bin Laden. The war on terrorism has a global focus. It cannot be divided into separate and unrelated wars, one in Afghanistan and another in Iraq. Both are part of the same effort to capture and kill terrorists....
END of Excerpt
For the October 19 Franks op-ed in full: www.nytimes.com
Ten days after ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin declared that "the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done" and so ABC would scrutinize Bush claims more than the ones from Kerry, "The Note" on the ABCNews.com Web site on Monday conceded that "the Bush people have a good case to call" Kerry's charges against Bush, on the draft, flu vaccine and Social Security, "lies and scare tactics." The ABC News political unit, however, which writes The Note, again blasted Bush. "The President's campaign continues to try to win by distorting," they asserted, though they acknowledged that "Kerry's campaign is now doing many of the same things." The Note promised that "both campaigns should expect equally aggressive reporting on misrepresentations" and on Tuesday reporter Jake Tapper delivered with a World News Tonight "fact check" which corrected two claims each from Bush and Kerry.
The Note authors defended their battle for truth despite how it will generate, from "partisan observers," claims of media bias: "The press has the responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest. That's why unbiased vigilance is required every day, the rest of the way, for both sides. Further, the press cannot be afraid to point out when one campaign is more aggressively misrepresenting the facts than the other, even when charges of 'unbalanced press coverage' come flying in from partisan observers."
On Tuesday's World News Tonight, Jake Tapper did his best to avoid bias charges by delivering a "fact check" story which corrected both candidates an equal number of times.
Tapper began his October 19 piece: "Here's a new charge from President Bush about a leader of the Iraqi insurgency, Abu al-Zarqawi."
An excerpt from the October 18 edition of The Note by Mark Halperin, Lisa Todorovich, Mary Hood, David Chalian, Anne Chiappetta, Marc Ambinder, Karen Travers, Brooke Brower, Mercedes M. Tio, Nicholas Schifrin, Alexandra Avnet, and Teddy Davis with Ben Stadler:
....Kerry's over-the-top efforts -- on the stump and reinforced with paid media -- include over-the-line allegations regarding the draft, the supply of flu vaccine, and Social Security.
As with the more extreme Bush lines attacking Kerry, there is some truth underlying the charges, but the Bush people have a good case to call them lies and scare tactics.
The military is currently overextended; any incumbent administration bears some responsibility for things such as the vaccine supply; and President Bush has never acknowledged that the very purpose of the type of Social Security reform he supports is to lower the guaranteed minimum benefit paid to future beneficiaries in order to take pressure off of the trust fund, and that in the transition period there would be an enormous shortfall that would have to come from general revenue or some changes in benefits.
But the president has said repeatedly that he has no intention of reinstating the draft (and Congress wouldn't go along with it, even if he did); the roots of vaccine shortage are not unambiguous; and the Social Security scare tactics that are de rigueur for Democratic campaigns -- and are just starting to be trotted out -- are, as the Bush campaign rightly points out, based on the thinnest of "sourcing" from a journalist whose record of going after the Bush Administration is well established -- and the president has ruled out any cuts in benefits or private accounts for current retirees or those close to retirement.
Of course, the mirror image of all this continues to be the Bush campaign's attacks on Senator Kerry on health care, taxes, and the right to use unilateral force.
All three Bush charges are under girded by some reality -- Senator Kerry's proposals on health care would indeed be enormously expensive, and there are real questions about how parts of it would be effectively administered; Senator Kerry's overall philosophy -- despite occasional flirtations with fiscal restraint -- has been to increase taxes to pay for bigger government; and the Bay Stater's frequent "votes and quotes" before and after he entered the presidential race put him clearly on the opposite of a divide from President Bush regarding the balance between unilateralism and multilateralism.
But the hyped-up rhetorical charges ("government takeover" of health care; Kerry will have no choice but to raise taxes on the middle class; and "global test") go well beyond the evidence and remain central to the president's closing message.
The president's campaign continues to try to win by distorting, taking things out of context, and making purposeful misstatements about Kerry's record and statements. Kerry's campaign is now doing many of the same things. Both campaigns should expect equally aggressive reporting on misrepresentations.
Of course, it's up to the president and Senator Kerry to defend themselves. But with all of these allegations flying on both sides of the fence, it goes without saying that the stakes are very high for the country and the campaigns -- and the media's responsibilities are quite grave for these last two weeks.
The press has the responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest. That's why unbiased vigilance is required every day, the rest of the way, for both sides. Further, the press cannot be afraid to point out when one campaign is more aggressively misrepresenting the facts than the other, even when charges of "unbalanced press coverage" come flying in from partisan observers....
END of Excerpt
For the rest of The Note from October 18: abcnews.go.com
The October 18 remarks are a follow-up to Halperin's October 8 internal memo. As the October 9 CyberAlert reported: In an internal memo which was given to the Drudge Report, ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin declared that "the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done." Halperin told his colleagues: "We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides 'equally' accountable when the facts don't warrant that." He also bemoaned the "stepped up Bush efforts to complain about our coverage," claiming it "is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible." For more, see: www.mediaresearch.org
The most bizarre part of Michael Moore's anti-Bush and anti-Iraq war "documentary" Fahrenheit 9/11 came at the very end when he launched into a grand conspiracy theory, seemingly inspired by Karl Marx-like bourgeoisie versus the proletariat rhetoric, about the real motivation for the Iraq war -- that those at the top of society wage war in order to keep those at the bottom, who do all the dying, patriotically committed to a social-economic structure which does not benefit them. Moore ranted about how "war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous" since a "hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance." He argued that "the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects. And its object is not a victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact."
I heard the remarkable diatribe in July when I first saw Fahrenheit 9/11 in a theater. In early October, the DVD of the polemic was released and I picked up a copy so we could transcribe Moore's concluding remarks, as the MRC's Brad Wilmouth did this week.
Moore, just after the scene with him standing on Capitol Hill asking Congressmen to volunteer their sons or daughters for service in Iraq, launched into this conclusion for the movie:
By the way, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth tracked down the Rice quote Moore used -- "There is a tie between Iraq and what happened on 9/11" -- and found this is what she said in full on the November 28, 2003 Early Show: "Oh, indeed there is a tie between Iraq and what happened on 9/11. It's not that Saddam Hussein was somehow himself and his regime involved in 9/11, but, if you think about what caused 9/11, it is the rise of ideologies of hatred that lead people to drive airplanes into buildings in New York. This is a great terrorist, international terrorist network that is determined to defeat freedom. It has perverted Islam to, from a peaceful religion into one in which they call on it for violence. And they're all linked. And Iraq is a central front because, if and when, and we will, we change the nature of Iraq to a place that is peaceful and democratic and prosperous in the heart of the Middle East, you will begin to change the Middle East. And the Middle East is, after all, a place that is increasingly without hope and without prosperity, where these ideologies of hatred are being born."
George W. Bush as misguided as King George since both "misled" their people into an "unnecessary war"? On Monday night, MSNBC's Chris Matthews painted the Iraqi insurgents as modern Minute Men when he asked Jimmy Carter, author of a new novel set during the Revolutionary War, whether he sees "any parallels between the, the fighting that we did on our side and the fighting that is going on in Iraq today?" Carter saw a "parallel" in how "the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war. Had the British Parliament been a little more sensitive to the colonial's really legitimate complaints and requests the war could have been avoided completely." Trying to compare Iraq of today with Britain and the colonies of the 1770s, Carter maintained that "in many ways the British were very misled in going to war against America and in trying to enforce their will on people who were quite different from them at the time."
The MRC's Geoff Dickens caught the exchange on the October 18 Hardball on which Carter appeared via satellite.
Chris Matthews: "Let me ask you the question about, this is gonna to cause some trouble with some people, but as an historian now and studying the Revolutionary War as it was fought out in the South in those last years of the War, insurgency against a powerful British force, do you see any parallels between the, the fighting that we did on our side and the fighting that is going on in Iraq today?"
The Amazon.com page for Carter's novel, The Hornet's Nest: A Novel of the Revolutionary War: www.amazon.com
-- Brent Baker