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View Diary: Oliphant: "Phase 2" of Kerry Counterattack To Begin (190 comments)

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  •  add to the mix Gergen and Kathleen Hall Jamieson (4.00)
    from the News Hour:

    DAVID GERGEN: No. No. I think that there is a very strong danger here for the White House that a lot of voters will conclude -- because, of course, the evidence is coming out in the print press is there's very little... there isn't anything to support these allegations in this first ad. And that the ad looks more like a smear.

    Now the danger for the president is if people conclude this was a below-the-belt tactic that was intended to smear John Kerry and that it plays into a pattern of going after John McCain in 2000 and going after Max Cleland in 2002, that may well backfire on the White House, and that's the danger that they face. Short term they've got a gain. Long term they could pay a price.

    KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: The interesting thing about this is that during the time that the ad was being aired sometimes full screen on cable talk shows without a rebuttal ad from the other side, the Kerry representatives were coming in to try to rebut the charges, the news paired the two together. But ultimately that's a losing proposition for the Kerry campaign because the ad has repetition behind it, repeatedly aired in cable. It's visual, it's evocative; it's got evocative music.

    But now the tables are starting to turn. When the Washington Post did the first investigative piece, found evidence that some of those claims aren't true, the New York Times then came into play, journalism, largely print, has been moving forward fairly aggressively to check these claims against the documentary evidence, and Kerry's case has been built substantially as a result. That helps turn the news agenda to benefit Kerry.

    The night that the Washington Post piece aired the Kerry people pulled their spokespersons off the air and as a result cable was left with swift boat statement from one person representing a swift boat veterans and on the other side a Washington Post reporter. That suggests a danger for the Bush campaign -- credible news information suggesting that there are problems with that ad in an environment which the Kerry counterattack says this is part of a pattern, linked to previous attacks on McCain and distraction from issues we should be talking about.

    The question then becomes does the public say, "yes, we should be talking about those issues, this is a distraction and yes we grant the pattern?" If so, net damage potentially to President Bush.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Tue Aug 24, 2004 at 05:12:22 AM PDT

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