Friday, March 12, 2004

Compare and Contrast

Robert Kuttner has a great article in The American Prospect on Bush’s ill-advised plan to compare his record to John Kerry’s:

The Bush campaign has a problem. Almost any unflattering issue they bring up about John Kerry tends to reflect worse on President Bush. One thinks of the old proverb, “Never mention a rope in the house of a man who was hanged.”

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Indeed, this is not an incumbent who should welcome close comparisons.

Want to talk about Kerry’s military record? Oops.

Want to discuss No Child Left Behind, where Bush’s failure to provide funding combined with impossible bureaucratic requirements has stoked a rebellion of Republican governors? Maybe you don’t.

Want to make fun of Kerry as a rich kid? A group of Bush supporters created an ad ridiculing Kerry’s wealth, taunting him as an improbable advocate for the poor. But again, compared to whom? In America, some rich kids grow up to be adults who genuinely care about the poor-the names Roosevelt and Kennedy come to mind – and others could care less. As Kevin Phillips’ best selling book, “American Dynasty,” recounts, Bush father and son both fall into the latter category.

Bush Junior, by his own admission, was a dissolute who didn’t get serious about his life until he was forty, when he got religion and sobered up. His family connections then allowed him to fall upward. When Kerry, at age 25, was testifying before the Senate, Bush was partying. So maybe family affluence (and influence) isn’t a great topic for Bush either.

Of course, that won’t stop them, but it’s made doing Irony Patrol a lot more fun.