Monday, May 31, 2004


The LA Times has a comprehensive article that debunks many of the misleading claims in campaign ads made by both sides. Unsuprisingly, Bush wins the Strawman Award convincingly:

Scholars and political strategists say the ferocious Bush assault on Kerry this spring has been extraordinary, both for the volume of attacks and for the liberties the president and his campaign have taken with the facts. Though stretching the truth is hardly new in a political campaign, they say the volume of negative charges is unprecedented -- both in speeches and in advertising.

Three-quarters of the ads aired by Bush's campaign have been attacks on Kerry. Bush so far has aired 49,050 negative ads in the top 100 markets, or 75 percent of his advertising. Kerry has run 13,336 negative ads -- or 27 percent of his total. The figures were compiled by The Washington Post using data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group of the top 100 U.S. markets. Both campaigns said the figures are accurate.

The assault on Kerry is multi-tiered: It involves television ads, news releases, Web sites and e-mail, and statements by Bush spokesmen and surrogates -- all coordinated to drive home the message that Kerry has equivocated and "flip-flopped" on Iraq (news - web sites), support for the military, taxes, education and other matters.


But Bush has outdone Kerry in the number of untruths, in part because Bush has leveled so many specific charges (and Kerry has such a lengthy voting record), but also because Kerry has learned from the troubles caused by Al Gore (news - web sites)'s misstatements in 2000. "The balance of misleading claims tips to Bush," Jamieson said, "in part because the Kerry team has been more careful."


Scott Reed, who ran Robert J. Dole's presidential campaign that year, said the Bush campaign has little choice but to deliver a constant stream of such negative charges. With low poll numbers and a volatile situation in Iraq, Bush has more hope of tarnishing Kerry's image than promoting his own.

"The Bush campaign is faced with the hard, true fact that they have to keep their boot on his neck and define him on their terms," Reed said. That might risk alienating some moderate voters or depressing turnout, "but they don't have a choice," he said.