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Special Post-Convention Edition - September 10, 2004


September 10, 2004
Special Post-Convention Edition NYT Uses Media-Mangled Cheney Quote to Attack VP
"Mr. Cheney did not repeat the explosive accusation he made on Tuesday in Des Moines that the nation was more likely to 'get hit again' by terrorists if Mr. Kerry was elected president." - White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller, September 10.

"Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that the nation was more likely to 'get hit again' by terrorists if John Kerry was elected was one of the toughest attacks launched in a presidential election in 40 years. But Mr. Cheney's latest assault on Mr. Kerry, which startled Democrats and Republicans alike, raised a central question even in this notably ferocious presidential campaign: Is it possible for a candidate to go too far, and alienate the very voters he is trying to court?.Mr. Cheney's harsh presentation of that argument in Des Moines may well have crossed that line, analysts said, and created potential perils for the White House.The remarks were among the more dire offered in a presidential campaign since 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson broadcast a television advertisement, with a mushroom cloud, warning that the election of Barry Goldwater would lead to nuclear war. It was hard to find anyone in Mr. Kerry's headquarters who thought that Mr. Cheney's remark was not deliberate. 'A sitting vice president does not make a comment like that without knowing the implications of it,' said Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Kerry's communications director." - Adam Nagourney, September 9.

Reality check:
"Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again, that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mindset if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war. I think that would be a terrible mistake." - Dick Cheney, arguing not that a Kerry win would lead to a terror attack, but that Kerry's response to one could represent a "fall back into the pre-9/11 mind set."



"World Ends, Women & Minorities Hardest Hit."

"But along with so much personal loss, the roster of the dead tells a larger story, a portrait of a society and a military in transition, with ever-widening roles and costs for the country's part-time soldiers, women and Hispanics." - Monica Davey, September 9.



Former Theatre Critic Calls Bush a "Sissy"
"Only in an election year ruled by fiction could a sissy who used Daddy's connections to escape Vietnam turn an actual war hero into a girlie-man." - Theatre critic-turned-columnist Frank Rich, September 5.



"Polls on the Move" or "Clear Lead for Bush"?
"With Polls on the Move, Bush and Kerry Take Their Economic Message to Ohio." - September 5 headline to a story from David Halbfinger and Richard Stevenson.

vs.

"A Newsweek poll, conducted on Thursday and Friday, found that Mr. Bush was backed by 52 percent of registered voters, with Mr. Kerry at 41 percent and Ralph Nader at 3 percent. The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points. The poll's results were similar to those of one by Time, which also gave Mr. Bush an 11-point lead." - from the actual September 5 story by Halbfinger and Stevenson.



Still Questioning Kerry's Patriotism

"Since accepting the nomination at the end of July, Mr. Kerry has for the most part avoided harsh political attacks on the president, instead emphasizing his expansive plans and offering gauzy-sounding talk of sunrises and grabbing onto dreams. But he returned to the offensive after his character, voting history and even his patriotism were questioned by Republicans in New York this week, and after Democrats faulted him for a hesitant, halting response last month to televised attacks on his military record." - David Halbfinger, September 4. Halbfinger provides no examples.



Romanticizing Radical Anti-War Protesters
"They have lobbied in the halls of Congress wearing pig costumes and wandered the streets of Manhattan dressed in evening wear and rags. But the three founders of the women's antiwar group Codepink are seasoned advocates who may have pulled off the protest coup of the convention: While thousands of demonstrators chanted on the streets, drawing only glancing attention from the Republicans, their members were inside Madison Square Garden night after night, unfurling banners and baring their slogans, forcing even the president to take notice." - Diane Cardwell lauding the radical anti-war group Codepink, September 4.



Urban Legend Created by the Times Lives On
"Like the helmeted Michael Dukakis peeking out of the tank, or the first George Bush bewildered at the grocery scanner, the photo of Mr. Kerry windsurfing played into the negative stereotype his opponents are trying to play up-in this case, that of the out-of-touch, elitist Massachusetts liberal." - From Kate Zernike's September 5 "Week in Review" piece. Urban legend website snopes.com has long debunked this claim as false.



Gee, Every Single One of Them?
"In his first public appearance after the Republican convention, Vice President Dick Cheney stood by every one of the administration's foreign and economic policies in a speech here on Friday that drew unflattering comparisons with the positions of Senator John Kerry." - Rick Lyman, September 4.



A Tale of Two Convention Speeches
"For a nation divided over his stewardship, distressed about the economy and dubious about the war with Iraq, President Bush had one overriding message last night: He's still the one. But he offered few critical details of the second-term domestic agenda he outlined. His big policy ideas-restraining government spending, simplifying the tax code, offering tax credits for health savings accounts, allowing personal investment accounts for Social Security-were vague. And the specific proposals he cited-increasing money for community colleges, opening rural health centers-were mostly small.But Mr. Bush's promise then to 'extend the promise of prosperity to every forgotten corner of this country' remains unmet, slow job growth makes his assertion last night that 'we have seen a shaken economy rise to its feet' debatable, and the war is enmeshed in what even he recently acknowledged as a 'miscalculation of what the conditions would be.' " - Todd Purdum after Bush's acceptance speech, September 3.

vs.

"For months, John Kerry and his supporters have told voters that he is strong enough to keep the nation safe and caring enough to make it comfortable with him as president. On Thursday night his goal was to show the biggest audience of his life that both claims were true, and he gave it his best shot. In an emphatic speech that used some variation of the word 'strength' 17 times, Mr. Kerry portrayed himself not only as a plausible, but also as a vastly preferable commander in chief to President Bush, one whose own combat service left him with a special understanding of the twin American traditions of force and restraint.Mr. Kerry may well have turned a corner on the path toward inspiring his party, and inviting swing voters to put him in the White House. He perspired visibly in the overcrowded hall, but his delivery was fluid, relaxed and assured, and he smiled often." - Todd Purdum after Kerry's acceptance speech, July 30.



"Fed Up" Kerry Strikes Back Against Bush's "Relentless Assault"
"Apparently fed up with the relentless assault, Mr. Kerry was starting to fight back. At a rally in Ohio shortly after Mr. Bush's speech, Mr. Kerry was aiming take on the Bush ticket over its own military records." - Reporter Carl Hulse, from a September 2 entry on the Times online blog-type feature "Political Points."



Republicans "Hate America"
"But the vitriol also reflects the fact that many of the people at that convention, for all their flag-waving, hate America. They want a controlled, monolithic society; they fear and loathe our nation's freedom, diversity and complexity.Mr. Bush, it's now clear, intends to run a campaign based on fear. And for me, at least, it's working: thinking about what these people will do if they solidify their grip on power makes me very, very afraid." - Paul Krugman, September 3.



"Brutal" Cheney, Zell
"Mr. Cheney's remarks were part of a vigorous assault that he and his party mounted on Mr. Kerry's domestic and foreign policy credentials, coupled with a spirited defense of President Bush's economic stewardship, as the Republicans gathered for the third night of their nominating convention in New York.If Mr. Miller was fiery and provocative, Mr. Cheney delivered equally brutal lines in an understated fashion." - Adam Nagourney and Robin Toner, September 2.



Cheney "Reverts" to Simpleminded Declarations
"Vice President Dick Cheney reverted last night to the simple, bold declarations of how America should exercise its power that were often heard in the first year after the Sept. 11 attacks.Mr. Cheney jettisoned the complications of the past year, honing the central argument of the Republican campaign: that the country could not trust Senator John Kerry to strike decisively in the defense of American interests.The reversion to such simple precepts and harsh language may be in part a response to polls that show growing doubts about how Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney have conducted the country's national security policy. While they consistently say Mr. Bush is doing a good job of handling terrorism, Americans are less certain about his handling of foreign policy in general, and Iraq in particular." - David Sanger, September 2.



Cheney: More Like a Rock Than a Rock Star
"There cannot be many people in the world who would confuse Dick Cheney with Elvis Presley, but all of them seemed to be in Madison Square Garden last night. 'Cheney Rocks,' read a hand-lettered sign waved from the crowd. Mr. Cheney tried his hardest to prove that they were right but still needed a lot of help from a supportive crowd. Critics say Mr. Cheney, on the stump, tends to resemble a rock more than a rock star." - Rick Lyman, September 2.



"Polarizing" Bush's "Black and White View of the World"

"If Mr. Bush has left the nation more polarized, on domestic policy as much as on his approach to national security, he expresses few regrets. And though he appears a little less cocky, he is no more prone now than he was four years ago to self-doubt.To his opponents, Mr. Bush's record is equally clear: he has been a divider, not a uniter; a politician who pressed ahead with a radical agenda that delivered tax breaks to the rich and produced huge budget deficits; a man who exploited the disaster of Sept. 11 to make the nation forget the dubious legitimacy of his election and led nearly 1,000 Americans to die in Iraq in a war based on a false premise. In the view of his critics, Mr. Bush's political skills are nothing more than brilliant salesmanship combined with all the advantages of being profoundly unreflective. They say that the same qualities that make Mr. Bush an effective politician-his risk-taking, his decisiveness, his certitude-have also fed what they call his arrogance and ignorance. In the critics' formulation, a president who always knows what he thinks never has to ponder the details; dogmatism saves time, and everything becomes strategy.In Islamic terrorists, Mr. Bush found himself facing an enemy well suited to his black and white view of the world." - Elisabeth Bumiller and Richard Stevenson, September 2.



NYT Executive Editor Beats Up on Fox News, Swift Boat Vets
"Fox is an interesting question. There is a kind of unspoken non-aggression pact among media that they don't beat up on each other. Fox tends to be the exception in our business. You know, John Carroll, who is the executive editor, basically holds my job at the Los Angeles Times, gave a speech in the spring, and most of which was devoted to Fox News. And in there he argued that what they do isn't really journalism, it's pseudo-journalism, and he defined a number of characteristics that meet his standard of what is journalism, including making a real effort to correct your mistakes when you are confronted with them. And he said that Fox doesn't meet that test. I have to say that, as somebody who watches Fox from time to time, I agree with him. I think there's a lot more heat than light generated by Fox News and it's obviously, it's a free country, you know, they can put what they want on the air, but it feels like it's my business, because I think there's a general cheapening of the discourse, the political discourse in this country and I think Fox is a contributor to that." - Times Executive Editor Bill Keller on the C-Span program "Washington Journal," September 1.

"The Swift Boat controversy is, is it's a tricky story, it kind of gives you goosebumps when stories like this come along and Swift Boat is not the first, when one party in a campaign is slinging charges, unsubstantiated or at least very dubious charges at another party in the campaign, and here you are as a newspaper this is happening, the two sides are shouting at each other, you need to cover it because its news, you can't suppress it or pretend it isn't happening. But just by the act of reporting it, you are to some extent serving the people who are producing the fallacious charges because you're so in doubt, you know [Keller in mocking voice] 'Maybe John Kerry, you know, wasn't really in Vietnam at all, who knows?' And you know, you just have to try to write as carefully as you can, and in this case we devoted quite a bit of effort to first of all, examining whether the charges were true; second of all, trying to find out who the people were who were promoting the charges and why; and third, reporting on what the president had to say including his remarks about 527s and about this particular ad." - Times Executive Editor Bill Keller on the C-Span program "Washington Journal," September 1.



"Ruthless" Rudy Attacks Kerry
"With Rudolph W. Giuliani's pummeling of John Kerry on Monday and last night's softer tribute to President Bush by Laura Bush, the Bush campaign has laid out for the convention what White House aides said was the two-sided template of its election strategy. The first part is to batter Mr. Kerry, as Mr. Giuliani did with almost ruthless abandon to open the convention, mocking Mr. Kerry as devoid of convictions, weak on national defense and politically unprincipled. It was a hammer that will be picked up tonight when Vice President Dick Cheney gives his acceptance speech, Mr. Bush's aides said yesterday." - Adam Nagourney, September 1.



"Controversial" Puppet-Master Cheney

"Four years ago, Dick Cheney was the consummate Washington insider, offering reassurance to voters and gravitas to a Republican ticket headed by an untested governor from Texas. But the vice president who takes the stage at Madison Square Garden tonight is now not only a conservative icon, but also a campaign flashpoint, perhaps the most controversial running mate since Dan Quayle.Kerry campaign officials say that simply by mentioning the vice president or Halliburton, the military contractor he once headed, they can reinforce an image of a Republican administration that has favored the interests of the rich and the powerful.Democratic critics view Mr. Cheney as an important proponent of the very policies that most enrage them: Iraq and a tax-cut plan that they believe favors the wealthiest Americans. 'Today, he's nothing but a liability,' a spokeswoman for Mr. Kerry, Stephanie Cutter, said. 'Because he symbolizes everything that's gone wrong over the last four years. He's the father of many of the divisive policies, the hand behind the special interests and a key motivator behind the invasion of Iraq.'. the image persists of Mr. Cheney as the backstage manipulator, the guy who is pulling the president's strings and effectively running the government. - Rick Lyman, September 1.



Karl Rove's Shadowy Swift Boat Vets
"[Bush advisor Karl] Rove brought up the subject of the unproven accusations about Mr. Kerry's war medals from a group of Vietnam veterans with ties to the Bush campaign. Democrats have described the attacks as an example of the kind of shadowy tactics that have been associated with Rove campaigns over the years." - Adam Nagourney, August 29.



Did Republicans Step Over the Line on 9/11?
"Less than four miles from the site of the attack that horrified a city, unified a nation and transformed George W. Bush's presidency, speaker after speaker at the Republican National Convention yesterday summoned the still-raw memories of Sept. 11 in service of a single, overriding theme: the nation will be safer if Mr. Bush wins four more years. There is only the finest of lines between invoking a disaster in which all New Yorkers, and all Americans, regardless of party, felt such a devastating stake, and exploiting it for partisan advantage. From morning to night, the Republicans strode proudly, even defiantly, right up to that line-if not over it-and the delegates responded with roaring approval." - Todd Purdum, August 31.



Uchitelle Calls for Minimum Wage, Universal Health Care
"Losing ground is a disheartening experience. On a broader plane, it contributes to the wage stagnation and income inequality that have characterized the last 30 years. Both are reappearing after a hiatus that started in the mid-1990's and lasted more or less until 2002. Yet Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry fail to spotlight this alarming downward trend, from which they could segue into a debate over how to ameliorate the income deterioration. A higher minimum wage would probably help. So would an expanded government role in providing health insurance, relieving employers of some of the rising cost. Perhaps some or all of the money saved would go to wage increases. Mr. Kerry embraces these positions much more than Mr. Bush, who prefers to let the marketplace solve wage and employment problems, allowing a minimum of government intervention, except tax cuts." - Louis Uchitelle, August 29.



Amplifying Protester Numbers
"A roaring two-mile river of demonstrators surged through the canyons of Manhattan yesterday in the city's largest political protest in decades, a raucous but peaceful spectacle that pilloried George W. Bush and demanded regime change in Washington.The protest organizer, United for Peace and Justice, estimated the crowd at 500,000, rivaling a 1982 antinuclear rally in Central Park, and double the number it had predicted. It was, at best, a rough estimate. The Police Department, as is customary, offered no official estimate, but one officer in touch with the police command center at Madison Square Garden agreed that the crowd appeared to be close to a half-million." - Robert McFadden, August 30. The Washington Post pinned the crowd figure at "more than 200,000," while the Los Angeles Times only claimed "more than 100,000."



Questioning Kerry's Honor
"But the old culture wars followed him into the 21st century, and he now finds himself bombarded by veterans who question not only his patriotism but his honor-in a sometimes distorted discussion that has nevertheless played into public doubts about the Democrats' strength abroad and values at home and that has hurt Mr. Kerry's standing in the polls." - Todd Purdum on accusations made against Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, August 29.



No Left Left in America?
"Do we really have an unhinged and growing left, a new generation of Soixante-Huitards, to match the unhinged right? I say not. First of all, Bush hatred is much less predictive of an ideological position than Clinton hatred used to be: very few of the people I know who loathe the president considered themselves Dennis Kucinich supporters, as Michael Moore did.Even the idea that there is a significant 'left,' at least outside of elite universities, seems faintly laughable. After all, Howard Dean held himself out quite plausibly as a fiscal conservative.the central fact about contemporary extremism, the fact that the convention will be designed to obscure, is that it is conservative culture, the culture permeating the Bush administration, that is shot through with Sixties moralism and self-righteousness, the calls to ideological purity, the insistence that the other is not merely wrong but illegitimate. Newt Gingrich fought a war inside the Republican Party to purge it of the old Rotarian spirit in favor of militant commitment. Gingrich is gone, but his spirit flourishes in a Bush White House that seems to deal only in unarguable certitudes. It's hard to think of any administration that has been as brutally dismissive of opposing points of view as this one has been, whether the issue is tax cuts or international treaties or planning for postwar Iraq." - Contributing writer James Traub, from the August 29 New York Times Magazine.



Ignoring Kerry's "Christmas in Cambodia"
"[Kerry] wrote of watching a South Vietnamese soldier die of multiple wounds, and of shooting up a sampan, unwittingly killing a child on board. He also described cruising along the Cambodian border on Christmas Eve." - David Halbfinger, August 29. The story doesn't mention Kerry's discredited "Christmas in Cambodia" story.



Protesters Doused Bush's Message Before Convention Even Started
"In a few dozen blocks of the same slender island, two worlds collided yesterday: the Republican convention's calculated claims to patriotism and the presidency met elaborately planned and heavily Democratic street protests that turned those same arguments back at President Bush-in ways that might help, or hurt, both sides. The demonstrations were New York City's biggest in decades, and the most emphatic at any national political convention since Democrats and demonstrators turned against each other in fury over Vietnam in Chicago in 1968. But the first day was overwhelmingly peaceful, and the demonstrators doused a good bit of Mr. Bush's intended message with television images of dissent." - Todd Purdum, August 30.