Ambassador Joseph Wilson on the Bush re-election campaign:
In these perilous times the president should be held accountable for his stewardship. He should run on his record. But what do we see from him and his campaign? First, a political ad that desecrates the memories of our dead at the World Trade Center, using flag-draped bodies as political props. Now we see an ad that racially profiles olive-skinned men as terrorists while mendaciously suggesting that the Democratic candidate and war hero John Kerry is soft on terrorism. Some have rightly made the connection between that ad and the infamous Willie Horton ad of the Bush/Dukakis campaign of 1988, an ad that exploited racial fear, but a better comparison might be with the negative ad run against triple amputee and Vietnam veteran, Max Cleland. In that one Cleland was made to appear as part of a trio whose other members were Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. When not running nasty ads, Bush’s attack dogs are busy launching vicious attacks on the characters of those who would dare to point out where this administration has failed the American people. Who will soon forget Ann Coulter’s two articles defaming Max Cleland? It’s worth noting that not a single supporter of Bush had the decency to defend Cleland and criticize that smear. Instead Coulter’s libel was widely circulated by conservatives. And just the other day, Max Boot, a neoconservative publicist who coined the “jodhpur and pith helmet” term to promote his imperialistic view of America’s future, decided to smear former Air Force officer Karen Kwiatkowski, as well as retired CIA officer Ray McGovern and myself. These smears must be understood as part of the Bush campaign strategy of “slime and defend.”
Those who parade like schoolyard bullies operate in the tradition of the founder of the breed: Donald Segretti, the political trickster of the Nixon administration, who called his cadres “ratfuckers.” The current “ratfuckers,” like those in Watergate before them, have loyalty to ideology before country and believe in the politics of personal destruction instead of democratic debate. But like schoolyard bullies everywhere, they must be confronted.
We Americans need a sound debate on the actions of our government over that past three and a half years, on our national security posture and on the future direction of our country. The president has said repeatedly that he welcomes the opportunity to defend his record. He should tell his minions to run just such an aggressive defense of his record and his vision of the future, but not a series of vicious attacks characterized by lies and disinformation as he is doing now. But his campaign of lies is consistent with his administration. Should he continue to march down that low road, he should know that this time the band of brothers and sisters will be the first responders. [Salon.com]
Spoken like someone who knows whereof he speaks. Just ask his wife, Valerie Plame.