The latest attacks on John Kerry appear to be as lacking in substance as all the previous attacks. The buzz in the blogosphere this week comes from a report in the New York Daily News on an upcoming movie on the campaign. The Daily News claims the film “could end up being the silver bullet that kills Kerry’s presidential chances for 2008.” From what I’ve seen so far, I doubt this film will have any meaningful impact. Here’s among the worst that the Daily News reports from the movie:
It features, among other not-ready-for-prime-time moments, Clinton scowling and rolling her eyes over an apparent Kerry gaffe during a presidential debate; Kerry pretending to interview himself and babbling in Italian while waiting for a real interview to begin; Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) cursing at reporters during a campaign stop, and Kerry message guru Robert Shrum confidently declaring a few days before the 2004 election: “Zogby [a prominent pollster] just announced who’s gonna win. Us!”
None of this sounds very meaningful. The Kerry bashers in the Democratic blogosphere were just as confident that the polls predicted a Kerry victory (and if the momentum wasn’t stopped by Bin Laden’s pre-election statement they might have been correct). A candidate playing around before the start of an interview is hardly even worth mentioning. Perhaps the claim which appears most significant is that Hillary Clinton scowled in response to a “Kerry gaffe” in a debate. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to review this portion of the film I’ve found that there was no gaffe.
The Hillary scowl occurred as Kerry was noting that, “The president got $84 from a timber company that owns, and he’s counted as a small business. Dick Cheney’s counted as a small business. That’s how they do things. That’s just not right.” Bush denied any knowledge of owning a timber company, but Factcheck.org demonstrated that John Kerry was right, reporting that “according to his 2003 financial disclosure form, Bush does own part interest in ‘LSTF, LLC’, a limited-liability company organized ‘for the purpose of the production of trees for commercial sales.’
So we have Hillary scowling following a true statement made by Kerry during the debates , hardly a gaffe, and several other trivial events. Hillary’s scowl very well may have been in response to Bush’s tree response rather than to Kerry’s true accusation. Give me a video camera and access to a campaign, and I bet I could find hours of material which would make the same campaign appear either brilliant or incompetent, depending upon how the material was presented. Of course we could never do this with the Bush campaign as they would never dare allow such access by the media.
This is not to say I believe the Kerry campaign was perfect. There are things I would have done different, but there is also no guarantee they would have done any better if they did what I would have preferred. It also must be remembered that Kerry came far closer than most Democratic candidates in recent years, despite facing an incumbent during a war, and despite facing an unprecedented smear campaign. In considering the competence of the political campaigns, we cannot deny the considerable expertise of the Bush campaign in distorting the facts. It is a shame that such competence is not seen when they attempt to govern.