Bush Fudges Facts on Trail - October 8, 2004

October 8, 2004
Bush Fudges Facts on Trail
"But the scathing indictment that Mr. Bush offered of Mr. Kerry over the past two days - on the eve of the second presidential debate and with polls showing the race tightening - took these attacks to a blistering new level. In the process, several analysts say, Mr. Bush pushed the limits of subjective interpretation and offered exaggerated or what some Democrats said were distorted accounts of Mr. Kerry's positions on health care, tax cuts, the Iraq war and foreign policy. But other analysts, including some Republicans, said Mr. Bush was repeatedly taking phrases and sentences out of context, or cherry-picking votes, to provide an unfavorable case against Mr. Kerry.This muscular new speech was in many ways in keeping with what has been the tone of a campaign that has been unusually negative for an incumbent from the start and, some analysts said, reminiscent of the one Mr. Bush's father ran in 1988 against Michael S. Dukakis. The chief strategist in that campaign, the late Lee Atwater, worked over the years with key figures in this campaign, including Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's chief strategist, and Ralph Reed, a campaign adviser." - Adam Nagourney and Richard Stevenson, October 8.

A "Saintly" Abortionist

"[Actress Imelda] Staunton's physical performance keeps this saintly figure grounded and expands the character, which is helpful as Mr. Leigh's resistance to psychological explanation means we really never get inside Vera's head. In the end, Vera performs abortions simply because, as she repeatedly says, she wants to help other women. With another director, such simplicity might seem like mere calculation or condescension, but here it comes as proof of Mr. Leigh's deep feeling for this character, who, after all, does not owe anyone (including us) a reason for why she does what she does." - Film critic Manohla Dargis in a review of "Vera Drake," about an abortionist in '50s London, October 8.

Bushonomics: Ambitious, Divisive, or a "Hoax"?
"Mr. Bush, though, has expressed no doubts that his is the right course. Should he win in November, he has laid the groundwork for a second-term agenda that is far more ambitious - and, his critics say, divisive - than his election-year packaging as, in his words, a 'pro-growth, pro-entrepreneur, pro-farmer, pro-small business' candidate might suggest. It includes his proposal to remake Social Security by creating personal investment accounts and the first steps toward overhauling the tax system in a way sure to ignite another debate about fairness." - Richard Stevenson, October 8.

Cheney the Slasher
"Cheney is a slasher. Cheney also seemed better prepared, in some ways, than Edwards, at least in terms of bringing up the other side's records, votes and quotes, even if not always accurately. While he certainly had command of the issues on the domestic front, he had virtually no passion. Edwards was the more engaging debater and personality.Cheney again does the most direct personal attack. He is so intent on tearing down Edwards that he postpones his answer to a question about Israel by trashing Edwards, by saying, 'You have a record that is not very distinguished.'" - Reporter Katharine Seelye, blogging the Cheney-Edwards vice-presidential debate for the Times online, October 5.

"No Resemblance to the Truth"

"It adds new weight to what is already a widely accepted view that the most fundamental prewar assertions made by American intelligence agencies about Iraq - that it possessed chemical and biological weapons, and was reconstituting its nuclear program - bore no resemblance to the truth." - Douglas Jehl, October 6 online version of a story on the "Duelfer Report" out of Iraq.

Out of Touch Bush?
"The result, many around Mr. Bush concede, is that the president is taking a considerable risk in the next 27 days that he will appear out of touch with the realities on the ground in Iraq - and indeed Mr. Kerry's campaign quickly sought to exploit that vulnerability on Wednesday." - Douglas Jehl and Richard Stevenson, October 7.

"Growling, Arid" Cheney
"Gravel-voiced, practically growling, Mr. Cheney leaned heavily on his elbows on the desk before him as he recalled his long service in Congress and the White House.With Mr. Cheney in one corner and Mr. Edwards in the other, viewers could pick their own frame of reference and apply their preferred images to each set of points, corporate leader versus trial lawyer, executive versus legislator, astringency versus empathy, the arid sensibility and granite consonants of Big Sky country versus the honeyed humor and swampy vowels of the Carolinas." - James Bennet, October 6.

John Ashcroft, Scary and Incompetent
"Why has the pursuit of terrorists been so unsuccessful? It has been obvious for years that John Ashcroft isn't just scary; he's also scarily incompetent." - Paul Krugman, October 8.

Taking the High (Tax) Road to Energy Efficiency
"The United States, land of gas-guzzling S.U.V.'s and air-conditioned McMansions, might do well to turn to the country some Americans love to hate for lessons on how to curb its reliance on imported oil: France.The contrast between French resolve and American abandon in recent years is sharp. The United States, too, took the high road in the 1970's and early 80's, when the combined impact of the 1973 oil embargo, the growing power of OPEC and the Iranian revolution of 1979 created long gas lines and raised the prospect of an oil producers' stranglehold over the American economy.One obvious step, which politicians are loath to even mention, would be to increase taxes on gasoline. Here again, the divergence between the United States and Europe is instructive." - Jad Mouwad, October 5.

"Standing Ovations" for Kerry on Stem Cells
"Scientists say that embryonic stem cells hold great hope for medical treatments. But many conservatives and opponents of abortion criticize such research because it involves the destruction of human embryos. To balance the two views, in August 2001 Mr. Bush allowed federal financing for such research but only on colonies of stem cells already in existence when the policy was announced. Polls show that strong majorities of the public favor an expansion of stem-cell research, and Mr. Kerry is routinely asked about it - and wins standing ovations for his answers.Mr. Kerry cited estimates from research advocacy groups that 100 million Americans have diseases, including heart ailments and cancer, that could someday be helped by stem-cell research. Democrats are also using the issue as a symbol of what they call Mr. Bush's rigidity and right-wing roots." - Jodi Wilgoren, October 5.

Poor Palestinians on Anniversary of Intifada
"In the four years since this intifada, or uprising, began, after the collapse of peace talks led by President Bill Clinton, Palestinian hopes for statehood, democracy and prosperity have deteriorated. The lives of ordinary Palestinians have suffered.Israelis have put security before any other virtue, building walls to cut Israel off from suicide bombers and ordinary Palestinians, dividing up the West Bank, into supposedly temporary zones of security and more permanent zones of settlement, and acting unilaterally.Among the more than 3,000 dead, more than three Palestinians die for every Israeli, and among the Palestinian dead, though figures are hard to come by, easily more than half are civilians." - Steven Erlanger, October 3.

Sharpton's Party For the People
"There was no cover, minimum donation or official status necessary for a ticket to the fund-raiser at the Apollo Theater yesterday. Sure, there were a few dignitaries, celebrities and high-powered corporate types, but this was the Rev. Al Sharpton's 50th birthday party. In his words, this was for the people.Mr. Rodriguez was among dozens of people who gathered before the party outside the headquarters of the National Action Network, the civil rights group Mr. Sharpton created.Just as he does many weeks during his Saturday morning speeches, Mr. Sharpton yesterday played the parts of preacher, politician and comedian, sometimes all at once." - Reporter Jennifer Medina on a fundraiser for the racially inflammatory Al Sharpton, October 4.

Kerry Fans Energized After the Debate
"Mr. Kerry's wildly cheering audiences on Friday in Tampa and Kissimmee, and in Orlando on Saturday, suggested that core Democratic voters, too, were energized by the debate." - David Halbfinger, October 3.

Swing Voters "Liking What They See" In Kerry
"If Ms. Curtis and a few other previously undecided Ohioans who came to Mr. Kerry's town-hall meeting here and some new polls are any indication, swing voters are giving Mr. Kerry a second look after his strong showing in the first presidential debate. And they are liking what they see.Since the debate, Mr. Kerry's aides have regained the spring in their step that they - those who were on the campaign then, at least - suddenly found back in early January, as he surged in the polls in Iowa." - David Halbfinger, October 4.

"Painful Journey of Political Conscience" for a Liberal Republican
"One day after the Supreme Court sealed the 2000 election for George W. Bush, his running mate, Dick Cheney, went to the Capitol for a private lunch with five moderate Republican senators. The agenda he laid out that day in December 2000 stunned Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, sending Mr. Chafee on a painful journey of political conscience that, he said in an interview last week, has culminated with his decision not to vote for Mr. Bush in November.On Capitol Hill, some regard Mr. Chafee, a soft-spoken, gentle man who once shoed horses for a living, as the Republican counterpart to Senator Zell Miller, the fiery Georgia Democrat who is campaigning for Mr. Bush. But the truth is more complex.Mr. Chafee, who was appointed to the Senate after his father's death in 1999 and then won handily in an election the following year, is a curious figure in Washington. Pensive and intellectual, he hardly appears suited for the bare-knuckle world of politics and seems to exist on the periphery of things, ambling about the Capitol like an absent-minded professor making a study of its power-hungry inhabitants." - Sheryl Gay Stolberg, October 4.

Kerry Doesn't Flip-Flop; He Just "Changes His Emphasis"
"Concerning Iraq, a review of Mr. Kerry's public statements found that his position had been quite consistent. But as the politics changed, Mr. Kerry repeatedly changed his emphasis. News accounts reflected what he was emphasizing at the time. And Mr. Kerry was often unclear in expressing his views." - David Rosenbaum, October 2.