Friday, November 21, 2003
Rove says to IA and NH, serve me up your weakest candidate!
Right now, I can only think of two ways to interpret this new Bush ad campaign.
1) Helps Dean /Hurts Gep-Kerry: The White House is watching Dean’s numbers slide in Iowa to their dismay. By refocusing the mainly anti-war Democratic voter base on the resolution and doctrine of preemption, Dean stands to stabilize and increase his numbers. This ad will make the party base go CRAZY with anger at Bush’s presumptiveness/arrogance and drive them back into Dean’s arms. This argument is supported by the fact that the majority of Americans support preemptive strikes, in contrast to the majority of Democratic primary voters that do not support preemptive strikes.
Gephardt and Kerry who both supported preemptive action (if sanctioned through an international body or imminent threat) have been trying relentlessly to change the subject to “who is best to lead the country now.” Rove’s brilliance is Exhibit A here. If Rove has his way, any Democratic candidate who wants to get elected in Iowa will have to adhere to an anti-preemption “under any circumstances” doctrine. This allows Bush to run his campaign on a forceful American foreign policy platform endorsing a doctrine that most Americans instinctively believe to be correct.
2) Hurts Dean /Hurts Gep-Kerry: Bush’s smiling face in the commercials is going to convince Democratic voters (who hate him) that Bush was right on the war. Democrats are especially going to come to their senses after hearing, “Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists” and immediately warm to Bush’s position. Therefore, they will line up to support Dick Gephardt given his tough stance against the “War on Rogue Nations.”
If you're tough on President Bush, you're soft on terrorism. Denounce the Iraq war, and you're retreating from terrorists.
That's the message the White House and its political allies want Americans to get from a new ad airing in early voting states, the Republican Party's first television commercial of the 2004 campaign. The spot sets the tone for what is certain to be a bitter, divisive debate over the war on terror.
The commercial shows Bush during the last State of the Union address warning of continued threats. ``Our war against terror is a contest of will in which perseverance is power,'' Bush said after the screen flashes the words, ``Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists.''
Michael Dimmock, research director for the Pew Research Center, said Bush is playing to his strength with an ad about preemptive attacks. Even as doubts rise about Iraq, nearly two-thirds of voters express support for using military force against countries that pose a threat but don't attack.
The Republican National Committee is airing ads in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire that says, "some call for us to retreat, putting our national security in the hands of others.'' The ad highlights a division within the Democratic Party between those who opposed the war, led by front-runner Howard Dean, and those who are struggling to explain their support to a skeptical, largely anti-war base.
Republican Party chairman Ed Gillespie said the retreating charge is aimed partly at Dean, who once suggested that U.S. troops need to be pulled out of Iraq. Dean's campaign, while critical of Bush, said the ad may actually help his campaign, which is fueled by anti-war, anti-establishment sentiments.
Update: Anti-war movement takes the Bait
Just got an action alert from MoveOn.org. They have taken the bait, looks like they are going to raise money to take Bush on over the doctrine of pre-emptive self-defense. Rove is licking his chops right now. Unfortunately, this is not where Bush is vulnerable. He is vulnerable for the following: inadequate planning for long-term success in Iraq, declaring victory early in dramatic fashion, overextending the military and not getting international support for his “Crusading” endeavor. I’ll say it again, the American people will not vote Bush out over the “principle” of preemption. Most Americans believe force is necessary sometimes before “they” attack us (whoever they is at the moment).
From MoveOn.org Action Alert:
“The Democratic candidates are attacking Bush's Iraq policy precisely because it has nothing to do with the war on terror. It's now clear that Iraq posed little threat to the United States, and the situation there today is giving us good reason to question the policy of "pre-emptive self defense." But unless we can answer Bush's ads with ads that get out the truth, these messages may not get across to swing-state voters.”