Campaign Crawlers

Bush Spotlights Extremists

Democrats are starting to pay for calling him a Nazi.

By 6.29.04

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Last Friday in my email box I received the first bit of encouragement from the Bush Campaign in a while. Thus far, the campaign has not been all that effective in attacking John Kerry. Yes, they have run a lot of attack ads that have had some success in driving up Kerry's negatives. But so far they've been using a bow and arrow when a rifle is nearby.

Now, however, it seems that the guns are about to be blazing. The email provided me with a link to a new Bush video, and it is outstanding. Titled "Kerry's Coalition of the Wild-Eyed," it links Kerry with the extremism currently rampant in certain sectors of the Democratic Party. It shows Al Gore howling, "How dare they drag the good name of the United States through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison!" and Howard Dean screeching, "I want my country back!" It also has a clip of Michael Moore's Oscar acceptance speech and the two ads from MoveOn.org comparing Bush to Hitler. Upon seeing it, all I could think was, "It is about time!"

The Democrats have been engaged in courtship of left-wing extremism for some months now, and no one has held them accountable. William Kristol recently noted how inept the Bush Campaign has been at using such extremism as a weapon against Kerry:

Kennedy last month hyperventilated about Abu Ghraib: "We now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management: U.S. management." Kerry, asked about that statement the next day, said, "He's my friend and I respect him, but I don't agree with the framing of that." The framing? But that was that -- no follow-up from the Bush campaign to wrap that comment by his buddy Ted around Kerry's neck and to cause him days of discomfort.

The new Bush video suggests that is about to change.

It would be nice if the media could be counted on to ask Kerry to dissociate himself from such zealotry. They certainly had no problem asking Barry Goldwater if he would denounce the John Birch Society. In an August 1964 article titled "Sick, Sick, Sick" journalist Kenneth Crawford panned Goldwater as "disingenuous" when Goldwater said he wouldn't denounce the Birchers because he "knew that some members didn't agree with [Birch Society President Robert] Welch." Crawford went on to describe the extremism of the Birchers, which, interestingly enough, included a comparison of John F. Kennedy to Hitler.

Yet the media on its own will not raise the issue of the Kerry Campaign's closeness to extremism, so the Bush Campaign must. It could start by pointing out that Teresa Heinz-Kerry visited a Kerry/MoveOn house party in San Francisco last December. At the party she handed out an "Asses of Evil" pin that contained the pictures of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft. Later she "took a call" from her Senator husband, who proceeded to speak to the assembled group. On the way out, she took some "Condoleezza Rice Crispies Bars" with her. (Does the NAACP know about this? And would it even care?)

Here are some questions that the Bush Campaign should encourage the press to direct at Kerry. "Does your wife support MoveOn.org?" "Will you or Teresa attend any more MoveOn.org events?" "Do you denounce the MoveOn.org ads comparing President Bush to Hitler?" "Do you agree with MoveOn.org that President Bush 'deliberately misled' America about Iraq?" And if they are in a really mischievous mood, the Bush Campaign could suggest asking, "Did your wife give you any of the Condoleezza Rice Crispies Bars"?

Here are some other questions that the Bush Campaign should propose: "Back in November, George Soros said 'When I hear Bush say, "You're either with us or against us," it reminds me of the Germans.' Do you think that is appropriate, Senator Kerry?" "Al Gore recently compared Bush's staff to 'Brown Shirts.' Should Gore apologize for that remark?" "After seeing Michael Moore's movie Fahrenheit 9/11, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe recently said that he believed Moore's premise that Bush invaded Afghanistan not to avenge the terrorist attacks but to ensure that a natural gas pipeline could be built there. Do you agree with Terry McAuliffe?"

Kerry and the Democrats have not distanced themselves from left-wing extremism; at times, they have even embraced it. The Bush Campaign needs to start raising the extremism issue, encouraging the media to ask Kerry if he will denounce it. To get the ball rolling, the Bush Campaign should make an ad buy with the new video. It can't come too soon.

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David Hogberg is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.  Follow David Hogberg on Twitter.