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Public Theology: More Character Assassination: Bush on Drugs
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More Character Assassination: Bush on Drugs
A new book by Kitty Kelly accuses Bush of taking drugs. But it's Karl Rove and Republicans that have put character assassination at the center of politics.

By Ed Knudson

Republicans have for decades been willing to use character assassination as a method to win elections. Remember Watergate; Richard Nixon wanted to find dirt in the Democratic National headquarters to use in his campaign. Republican operative Lee Atwater was the master of dirty tricks. George Bush's main political advisor, Karl Rove, stands in that tradition (see the book Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brains Behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. Bush by Lou Dubose, Jan Reid, and Carl M. Cannon). Rove learned that he can begin false rumors about an opponent's character, win elections, and get away with it.

Republicans engage in character assassination much better than the Democrats. Just listen to any right wing talk shows; they don't discuss issues, they attack persons, and their favorite group to attack is their fictionalized version of "liberals". Michael Savage even calls them the "enemy within". Newt Gingrich announced when he became Speaker of the House that he was waging a new "civil war". Now, when you are fighting a terrible enemy, anything goes. You must "win" and any methods are acceptable. And this from folks that claim that they support moral values.

And notice in the two nominating conventions just past that the Democrats rarely criticized George Bush. However the Republicans made criticism of John Kerry the central theme of their convention. The keynote speaker, Zell Miller, angrily attacked John Kerry in a hysterical manner saying his family would not be safe if Kerry is elected. Kerry was weak, had no backbone. This repeats a theme the Republicans have used for years and years successfully, that anyone who disagrees with their view of when military force should be used is weak and cannot be trusted. This is the biggest lie both Republicans and Democrats have been telling all through the Cold War, the winning of which did not require any real fight at all.

Since Republicans have made "character" a central issue in campaigns, and engaged in dirty tricks to get such issues before the public, they cannot complain when the press focuses on charges against their own candidates. A new book will be released next week by Kitty Kelly charging that George W. Bush used drugs earlier in his life. One of her sources for that claim is his ex-sister-in-law, Sharon Bush. (see article in the Washington Post)

Now, I myself do not think that should make a difference in how a person votes today. The focus should be on policy, what's best for the future of the country. It is ridiculous to see a presidential campaign reduced to the question of which party can raise the most dirty stuff about the other. But this is the very kind of stuff that has made Karl Rove such a successful political consultant.

And I think all of this reflects greatly on the character of the Republican Party. Honest Republicans should long ago have rejected all of these dirty tricks methods. Until that happens Republican leaders cannot be trusted to tell the truth, to lead the country, to promote the policies that will lead to real peace and prosperity for all in the world today.


After writing the above, I ran into this item at The Daily Mislead:


As reported in the August 23, 1988 Los Angeles Times, then Vice President George H.W. Bush's campaign co-chairman John Sununu went on national television to impugn an opponent's dealings with the National Guard during Vietnam. Sununu specifically claimed Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX) had improperly helped get his son into the Texas National Guard during Vietnam. Bentsen's son served in the very same National Guard unit at the very same time as George W. Bush. The Bush campaign's attacks came just days after Bush's allies on Capitol Hill launched a vicious attack on Gov. Michael Dukakis (D-MA) for receiving a draft deferment during the Korean War. At the time of the coordinated attack, George W. Bush was serving as a senior adviser to his father's campaign.



And Ken Layne says the Bush campaign can't run on its record so it must focus on tearing down its opponent:

The Bush campaign is not run by Infallible Superhumans. Yes, these are people with excellent political and media skills, but they still have to work with what they've got, which isn't much at all: the awful collapse of the Iraq Occupation and the slow realization by a majority of voters that they were lied to every step of the way and that the world is a far more dangerous place today than it was on Sept. 12, 2001, when the War on Terror was first announced. You sure couldn't run a re-election campaign based on Iraq. (Or Bin Laden!) So what would it be? Well, whenever Rove -- and his mentor Lee Atwater before him -- has run a weak candidate, there's nothing left to do but make up a simple, savage lie about the opponent and repeat it the way those madrassa kids repeat the Koran. Eventually, that's all the media can hear in their own head. It almost always works! But you've got to be very careful. Claiming John McCain fathered a negro baby is only safe if your candidate is not susceptible to similar race-baiting charges.

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Date Added: 9/8/2004 Date Revised: 9/5/2004 8:10:52 PM

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