Skip to comments.US campaign begins to get dirty (WP says that if we had photos we wouldn't run them)
Posted on 02/16/2004 12:01:17 PM PST by Diddle E. Squat
The 2004 American presidential election is shaping up to be a rough one by recent standards with questions already rife about President Bush's National Guard service and Senator John Kerry's private life.
But in historical terms, this is quite mild stuff and there is a moderating influence these days in that the heavyweight US media are reluctant to get involved in what they see as private issues.
Both the New York Times and the Washington Post, for example, have written about whether President Bush actually carried out his duties as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard in 1973.
That has public importance given that trust and national security issues are major campaign themes. John Kerry's record as Senator and the support he has or has not received from lobby groups are also obviously fair game.
But neither paper has covered the John Kerry story which has engaged the attention of websites, radio and TV talk shows, some of the tabloid papers and elements of the foreign press.
The Kerry story
The story is about whether Senator Kerry had a recent affair with a young woman intern. (Interns are young people, often students, who take short-term, unpaid jobs in political and other offices in order to get experience. Monica Lewinsky, of course, was one.)
The question, it appears, was first raised by aides in the campaign of retired General Wesley Clark, who himself was quoted as saying that Kerry's campaign might "implode". It has not so far and Clark has even endorsed Kerry himself.
Senator Kerry himself said initially: "There is nothing to report" and then when that was challenged as a Clinton style non-denial, he stated clearly enough: "I just deny it categorically. It's untrue."
His supporters hope that this is an end to it. His opponents perhaps hope that he will be caught out. Lying in these cases is usually far worse than the original offence.
Mainstream media defence
The Washington Post London correspondent Glenn Frankel, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former editor of the Post's Sunday magazine, defended his newspaper's editorial judgment.
"We've been down this road many, many times before. We are extremely reluctant to follow this kind of thing up unless there is a really, really compelling public interest. We don't feel there is any reason to until it reaches a threshold.
"All we have at the moment is that the woman's parents, who are republicans, don't like Senator Kerry.
"In any case, nobody would be too shocked if Kerry lied about an affair. Even if someone came to us with photographs we still wouldn't run it. Lying to Don Imus [the radio host to whom Kerry gave his initial denial] is not a federal offence."
The early jousting holds the promise of a campaign with few holds barred. It is a delicate game because it can backfire and allegations are often floated through the undergrowth of the internet to see how far they get. Both campaigns muster big teams to counter whatever might emerge.
A long tradition
Dirty tricks, though, are part of American political life.
Indeed, it used to be far worse.
Richard Nixon was a master of the art in large ways and small. In 1968, when Nixon was running against Vice President Hubert Humphrey, the Republicans are believed to have persuaded the South Vietnamese to withdraw from a peace conference being organised by President Lyndon Johnson. The subsequent diplomat fiasco is felt to have damaged Humphrey's chances.
1968 appears to have a vintage dirty tricks year. Former Senator George Mitchell once remembered campaigning with Senator Edmund Muskie in the primary races: "We encountered what then seemed inexplicable, crazy events. Everywhere I went on the road, there would be a bill for $2000 in the restaurant and bar signed with my name. One day, 15 limousines showed up signed in my name. At four o'clock in the morning, 500 pizzas were delivered, ordered in my name."
Nixon carried on with his tricks on the 1972 campaign when the Democrats' headquarters in the Watergate building were broken into. The discovery did not stop him from winning the election that year but it did have somewhat serious consequences subsequently, showing that to be dirty is not necessarily to be smart.
Losing an election
There was one infamous dirty trick in the nineteenth century, told by Richard Shenkmann in his book Presidential Ambition, which might have cost one candidate the presidency.
The candidate was Democrat Grover Cleveland and two weeks before the election in 1888, he seemed to be in the lead.
Then the Republicans released a letter from the British ambassador to one Charles F Murchison, an Englishman living in California.
The letter supported Cleveland's candidature and naturally this upset Irish Americans voters in New York who promptly deserted the Democrat.
He lost the election.
It turned out that "Charles F Murchison" was no Englishman but George Osgoodby, a Republican who had managed to get the ambassador's opinion by stealth.
The election of 1828
One of the most vitriolic elections was in 1828.
John Quincy Adams was nicknamed "The Pimp" by the campaign of his opponent General Andrew Jackson, based on a rumour that he had once coerced a young woman into an affair with a Russian nobleman when he had been American ambassador to Russia.
Adams' supporters hit back with a pamphlet which claimed: "General Jackson's mother was a common prostitute brought to this country by British solders! She afterwards married a mulatto man with whom she had several children of which number General Jackson is one!!" Jackson won anyway.
And just to show that this kind of thing goes right back to the start of American campaigning, we have the election of 1800 in which Thomas Jefferson was accused of favouring the teaching of "murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest". Jefferson won.
George Bush and John Kerry have got off quite lightly.
But they just endorsed Kerry. Methinks this W. Post staff apologist is a liar.
OK. Washington Post is leaking to the BBC. Who's leaking to the Telegraph? Time Mag?
Parents are "republicans?" Even if dems I thought their pro-Kerry statement odd.
Is it me, or is that a "huge feather" pillow being placed squarely under Kerry's rump, to protect him from a fall?
They're trying to create a threshhold via other means - namely Drudge and the English press.
Neither is the Bush AWOL B.S., but as moma said: two wrongs don't make a right.
One would think that looking straight into a camera lens, wagging fnger and saying he did not have sex with that woman was a pretty categorical denial, too.
"We're going to handle it the same way we did with clinton's felony pardon by carter, clinton's cocaine use, algore's dropping out of 2 colleges, hillary's flunking the bar exam twice and taking money from terrorists." /sarcasm
To: c-b 1
Keep your eyes glued to a female staffer of Kerry's to the senate finance committee, instead of Alex Polier.
108 posted on 02/14/2004 12:44:13 AM CST by Julliardsux
If I had to make a guess, I would say the daughter and the parents are scared and have backed off. They are dealing with the thugs of the Rat party, and that can be pretty scary.
I don't see any point in continuing this avenue unless something else comes up. I still want to ask Kerry how often he has contacts with his old buddy Ramsey Clark.
Peter Maroney, Kerry finance director. Maroney honed his skills under fundraising whiz and Democratic Party boss Terry McAuliffe. His resume includes stints with House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and Rep. Joe Kennedy.
Sound familier? "I don't care if you have pictures of Clinton killing someone, you still won't get 67 votes."
F-in sleazebag CLYMER Liberals never F-in change. A POX ON ALL OF THE LYING SCUMBAGS!
We need to rediscover the importance of privacy; the difference between men's public acts and beliefs on questions of state, and the private lives, to which even public servants are entitled. Our perceptions on this point have been blurred because of the outrageous exhibitionism of those in the "Entertainment" industry; but it is not acceptable to treat anyone else in that light--and frankly, if I had a newspaper, there would be no room for the attention seeking exhibitionism of the former.
William Flax Return Of The Gods Web Site
Pathetic example of modern "journalism".
"... But now if you get anything on Bush, please call us!"
They could be Republicans. They could have had their reasons for saying what they said.
Whatever the rule is, we have to insist that there be one rule. Right now, we have one rule for Democrats ("Let someone else prove it, then maybe, maybe, maybe maybe we'll run it") and one for Republicans ("If there's an allegation, it's a story").
It does look like a sucker play. At any rate, the "Hanoi John" angle has more national security implications. I hear Katie Couric is big on national security these days.
Though, now that I think about it, calling this collection of presstitutes wolves is being way too complimentary.
What you suggest is only fair. But, unfortunately, the media has not been fair within the memory of man. We need to find ways to deal with the bias--since the bias is clearly for the Left--but in that, the field of spreading gossip is the least of our worries. Properly handled, the spreading of gossip will backfire on those who spread it.
If Bush had been better advised in 2000, the last minute DUI smear--what else was it, a minor over the line infraction 24 years earlier, when he was only apprehended because he had taken precautions not to endanger anyone--could have been a tremendous opportunity to garner a couple of million extra votes.
The way you play such a smear is to let it build an audience, then go on TV to answer. People who do not like you, tune in to watch you squirm. But you do not squirm. You admit (in the case of the DUI) that you were not perfect at 24. That takes 20 seconds. Then you deliver a stirring 28 1/2 minute speech on your vision for America. You can only gain from the approach. (Nixon's 1952 "Little Dog" speech would be a well known example of the technique, althoug there he had to spend several minutes on the actual charges. Bush had a better opportunity to really use the smear to advantage.)
William Flax Return Of The Gods Web Site
I think you have to watch baiting and switching. I personally get tired of people who see every open mike as an opportunity to zing in the next sequential talking point, never mind how that open mike came to be there. People should already know your vision for America before election eve or you're in trouble anyway. Especially if you're an incumbent.
The point is, that you let the smear build your audience. Then you can seize the moment, whether as an incumbent or candidate for new election.
William Flax Return Of The Gods Web Site
Can't use it. Everyone knows Nixon despised young Kerry.
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