Friday, September 24, 2004

Dastardly

That’s the only word that came to mind when I read this article by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post this morning.

President Bush and leading Republicans are increasingly charging that Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry and others in his party are giving comfort to terrorists and undermining the war in Iraq — a line of attack that tests the conventional bounds of political rhetoric.

Appearing in the Rose Garden yesterday with Iraq’s interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, Bush said Kerry’s statements about Iraq “can embolden an enemy.” After Kerry criticized Allawi’s speech to Congress, Vice President Cheney tore into the Democratic nominee, calling him “destructive” to the effort in Iraq and the struggle against terrorism.

The chorus of harpies is joining right in.

• On Tuesday, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said terrorists “are going to throw everything they can between now and the election to try and elect Kerry.” On Fox News, Hatch said Democrats are “consistently saying things that I think undermine our young men and women who are serving over there.”

• On Sunday, GOP Senate candidate John Thune of South Dakota said of his opponent, Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle: “His words embolden the enemy.” Thune, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” declined to disavow a statement by the Republican Party chairman in his state saying Daschle had brought “comfort to America’s enemies.”

• On Saturday, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.) said at a GOP fundraiser: “I don’t have data or intelligence to tell me one thing or another, [but] I would think they would be more apt to go [for] somebody who would file a lawsuit with the World Court or something rather than respond with troops.” Asked whether he believed al Qaeda would be more successful under a Kerry presidency, Hastert said: “That’s my opinion, yes.”

• The previous day in Warsaw, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage said terrorists in Iraq “are trying to influence the election against President Bush.”

And if that’s what people in power are saying, you can imagine what the pundits are doing with it.

On Fox News, conservative commentator Ann Coulter said, “It’s unquestionable that Republicans are more likely to prevent the next attack.” Kerry, she said, “will improve the economy in the emergency services and body bag industry.”

Whatever the merits, the charges that terrorists prefer Democrats have been echoed by independent commentators and journalists. CNN analyst Bill Schneider, asked about Hastert’s remarks, agreed that al Qaeda “would very much like to defeat President Bush.”

There’s nothing to be done for Coulter except perhaps upping her meds, but Schneider, ever the clever analyst, says he was just responding to Hastert’s remarks and putting it in historical context (vis. the 1980 election with Iran holding American hostages). Media Matters is taking no chances, and is asking readers to drop him a note.

Either the right wing is getting desperate, or they have no shame. Or both.