Thursday, September 16, 2004


SEPT 16 -- A couple of updates here regarding BushWatch #s 6 and 7

1. For those of you still hearing in the mainstream media that Bush got a “convention bounce” or has a lead in the polls, here are the 5 most recent polls:

Harris Poll: Kerry 48 Bush 47
Investor’s Business Daily: Kerry 47 Bush 47
Pew Poll: Bush 47 Kerry 46
Rasmussen: Bush 47 Kerry 46.5
Democracy Corps: Bush 49 Kerry 48

The first 3 are from non-partisan outlets. The second 2 are by a republican and a democrat pollster respectively. They all show the exact same thing, a dead heat.

I had said in my post on The Polls that I didn’t think talk of a big Bush “bounce” actually helped Bush, that it might even hurt him by rousing the Democrats to go out and vote in larger numbers. But yesterday I heard media expert Kathleen Hall Jameson make a good point: that when the media insists that you’re behind, you have a very hard time getting your message out. For instance, if you release a proposal on healthcare, the media doesn’t ask, “Is this a good proposal?” Instead they ask, “How is this proposal going to save candidate X’s sinking ship?” This happened to Bob Dole in 1996. The Autumn polls showed him down by 15 points and made everything he said look shrill. (And in fact it made Dole himself shrill because he believed the polls.) But the truth was we was only down about 6 points, and might have gotten a lot closer if the media hadn’t made him the defacto loser. Something to think about.

2. One more update: as you’ve probably noticed the debate rages on regarding the memos relating to Bush’s National Guard service. My original point on this dust-up stands: the “proof” offered up that these memos are forgeries is not proof at all. The most obvious example is this nonsense about old typewriters not being able to type a superscripted “th”. I had the pleasure this week of watching an old professor and colleague of mine type a superscripted “th” on an IBM Selectric Composer he’d owned since 1969. Sheesh!

Now the documents may indeed turn out to be *not original* memos. But yesterday “the secretary for Bush’s squadron commander in the Texas Guard told The New York Times that, although she did not think these documents were the actual original memos, the information in the disputed memos is correct. As The Times reported today:

"It looks like someone may have read the originals and put that together,'' said a lucid 86-year-old Marian Carr Knox.

Her boss, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, wrote a "cover-your-back file,'' a "personal journal'' to keep a record about the politically connected Bush in his charge. She said the contents of that mirrored the CBS documents, but she said those documents were not on the right forms and contained Army terms rather than Air National Guard argot. She confirmed that young Bush had disobeyed a direct order from Colonel Killian to take a physical.

"It was a big no-no to not follow orders,'' she said, adding that the Bush scion's above-the-rules attitude caused some snickers and resentment among fellow officers.

So, the basic contours of this story are completely clear. Bush got preferential treatment, skipping a long waiting list to get into the Texas Air National Guard in 1968. Around 1971 his performance lapsed. In 1972 he disobeyed a direct order and skipped a required physical. In 1973 he missed 6 months of Guard duty and did not have permission to do so (because by law and Guard regulations no one was allowed to give him such permission.) These latter two offenses should have (again by law and regulations) resulted in his being sent to Vietnam. Instead he was sent to Harvard Business School –– which, though vicious in its own way, is not a place where one is likely to be shot and killed.

The latest news organization to report these undisputable facts is the very middle-of-the-road US News and World Report, which has done its own investigative reporting and does *not* rely on the controversial memos.

3. Lastly, I would highly recommend that you read this NY Times article from today, which reports that “A classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for President Bush in late July spells out a dark assessment of prospects for Iraq, government officials said Wednesday. The estimate outlines three possibilities for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst case being developments that could lead to civil war, the officials said. The most favorable outcome described is an Iraq whose stability would remain tenuous in political, economic and security terms.” Bush’s own National Security team is telling him Iraq is unwinnable. And he’s not telling you.


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