Bush Campaign Lies

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #61: The Washington Post Made 10 Misstatements in Criticizing Bush 

Yesterday, I cited a Washington Post article which slammed the Bush campaign for 'making history with often-misleading attacks.' This article contained some criticisms of the Kerry campaign as well. Of course the Bush campaign has responded, insisting that the Post has it all wrong, and has listed in sickening detail what it says are 10 misstatements in the Post article.

Most of the Post statements have been corroborated here. So I'm going to list all of the passages from the Post article which the Bush folks say are wrong, and provide links to my own corroboration of those statements where appropriate. One of the rebuttals (number 5) will be addressed in a future post.

  1. On March 11, the Bush team released a spot saying that in his first 100 days in office Kerry would 'raise taxes by at least $900 billion.' Kerry has said no such thing; the number was developed by the Bush campaign's calculations of Kerry's proposals.

    The Post is dead right here. See lie #6.

  2. On Tuesday, the Bush campaign held a conference call to discuss its new ad, which charged that Kerry was 'pressured by fellow liberals' to oppose wiretaps, subpoena powers and surveillance in the USA Patriot Act. 'Kerry would now repeal the Patriot Act's use of these tools against terrorists,' the ad said. Kerry has proposed modifying those provisions by mandating tougher judicial controls over wiretaps and subpoenas, but not repealing them. In the conference call, Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman was prodded to offer evidence that Kerry was pressured by liberals or that Kerry opposed wiretaps. He offered no direct evidence, saying only that Kerry objected to the Patriot Act after liberals did, and that 'a common-sense reading indicates he intends to repeal those important tools.'

    Again, the Post is dead-on, and FactCheck.org agrees. See lie #57.

  3. Kerry...has not endorsed a 50-cent gasoline tax increase in 10 years... On Tuesday and Wednesday, as Kerry talked about rising gasoline prices, the Bush campaign recycled its charge that Kerry supports raising the gasoline tax by 50 cents per gallon. This was done in a memo to reporters and through Bush surrogates such as Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash.). The Bush-Cheney Web site also features a 'Kerry Gas Tax Calculator," allowing users to learn "How much more would he cost you?'

    In their 'correction' to this statement, the Bush camp confirm that Kerry has not endorsed such a tax in 10 years. See lie #51.

  4. On Wednesday and Thursday, as Kerry campaigned in Seattle, he was greeted by another Bush ad alleging that Kerry now opposes education changes that he supported in 2001.... Kerry...continues to support the education changes [NCLB], albeit with modifications.

    See lies #18 and #52.

  5. One constant theme of the Bush campaign is that Kerry is 'playing politics' with Iraq, terrorism and national security. Earlier this month, Bush-Cheney Chairman Marc Racicot told reporters in a conference call that Kerry suggested in a speech that 150,000 U.S. troops are 'universally responsible' for the misdeeds of a few soldiers at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison -- a statement the candidate never made. In that one call, Racicot made at least three variations of this claim and the campaign cut off a reporter who challenged him on it.

    The Bush folks never deny that Racicot lied in this instance, so it's fair to conclude that he really did. More about this in a future post.

  6. In early March, Bush charged that Kerry had proposed a $1.5 billion cut in the intelligence budget that would 'gut the intelligence services.' Kerry did propose such a cut in 1995, but it amounted to about 1 percent of the overall intelligence budget and was smaller than the $3.8 billion cut the Republican-led Congress approved for the same program Kerry was targeting.

    The Bush 'correction' does not dispute the key point here, that a Republican controlled Congress eventually cut more than Kerry had proposed, which makes their attack on Kerry moot. Those wishing to learn more about Kerry's proposal should read edwardpig.

  7. Other Bush claims, though misleading, are rooted in facts. For example, Cheney's claim in almost every speech that Kerry 'has voted some 350 times for higher taxes' includes any vote in which Kerry voted to leave taxes unchanged or supported a smaller tax cut than some favored.

    Again, the Bush 'correction' actually confirms what the Post has written. For additional info about why the number 350 is wrong or misleading, see lie #11.

  8. The strategy was in full operation last week, beginning Monday in Arkansas. 'Senator Kerry,' Cheney said, 'has questioned whether the war on terror is really a war at all. He said, quote, "I don't want to use that terminology." In his view, opposing terrorism is far less of a military operation and more of a law enforcement operation.' But Kerry did not say what Cheney attributes to him. The quote Cheney used came from a March interview with the New York Times, in which Kerry used the phrase 'war on terror.' When he said 'I don't want to use that terminology,' he was discussing the 'economic transformation' of the Middle East -- not the war on terrorism.

    Cheney did say this, he knowingly distorted what Kerry said, and the Bush rebuttal cites the very same New York Times article the Post did. Then they throw in some more attacks on Kerry. See lies #9 and #45.

  9. On Wednesday, a Bush memo charged that Kerry 'led the fight against creating the Department of Homeland Security.' While Kerry did vote against the Bush version multiple times, it is not true that he led the fight, but rather was one of several Democrats who held out for different labor agreements as part of its creation. Left unsaid is that, in the final vote, Kerry supported the department -- which Bush initially opposed.

    The Republicans do not deny that Bush originally opposed DHS, and their only rebuttal is to cite a list of Kerry's votes --- the same votes the Post mentions.

  10. Three-quarters of the ads aired by Bush's campaign have been attacks on Kerry. Bush so far has aired 49,050 negative ads in the top 100 markets, or 75 percent of his advertising. Kerry has run 13,336 negative ads -- or 27 percent of his total. The figures were compiled by The Washington Post using data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group of the top 100 U.S. markets. Both campaigns said the figures are accurate.

    See below.
Now, let's be clear about something. The Washington Post has clearly and prominently stated that the Bush campaign has made a number of 'wrong' or 'highly misleading' attacks on Kerry. So it's reasonable to assume that when the Bush folks roll out their rebuttal, they're going to come out with both guns blazing. In other words, these rebuttals are the strongest case the Bush campaign can make to dispute the charge that they've lied about these things. But for at least six of the ten items cited (items 3, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10), they either confirm the Post's charge or ignore it, instead offering additional attacks on Kerry.

What does that tell you?

Item (10) is a perfect example of this non-denial denial. Although the Bush site doesn't provide enough context to make this clear, the Post was restricting its discussion of negative campaign ads to 'this spring'. In the Bush rebuttal, they claim 'Since March 4th, Kerry has spent $61.1 million on media buys and during that time 26% ($15.9 million) of those ad dollars have attacked the President.' So they actually claim that the Post is overreporting the percentage of Kerry ads this spring which have attacked Bush. However, the Bush folks also claim that 80% of Kerry's ads during the primary season were attack ads, so that for the campaign overall, 41% of Kerry's ads have been negative.

Of course, the Post reported that 75% of the Bush ads this spring were negative. They further report that the Bush camp agreed that figure was accurate, and the Bush folks aren't disputing that statistic now --- so we may conclude that it's accurate (remember, the Bush camp is doing its best to exonerate itself here).

Bush is 75% negative, while Kerry --- even by the Bush campaign's calculations --- is only 41% negative. Does Bush expect to score any points with a rebuttal like this one?

11:08 PM