Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The Presidential race starts hotting up

By now we all know about Bill Cinton's hospital bed advice to Kerry to focus on the economy. He's paid attention: "$200 billion for Iraq, but they tell us we can't afford health care for our veterans. $200 billion for Iraq, but they tell us we can't afford to keep the 100,000 new police we put on the streets during the 1990s. Well, we are here today to tell them, they are wrong and it is time to lead American in a new direction."

Kerry has also given a great speech in Cincinnati: " You know, the President said one thing in his convention speech that’s true. He said we all need to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. But you know, it’s George W. Bush who has set low expectations -- and met them. He doesn’t believe that America can be strong in the world while we also make progress here at home. He believes we have to choose one or the other. That’s a false choice – and I reject it. I believe we can lead in the world and lead our own land to greater progress and prosperity than we’ve ever known before.”

Kerry's also trying to highlight that "Yesterday, George Bush said the economy was great, and today George Bush is celebrating a record budget deficit".

This as Alan Greenspan voices serious concerns about the deficit, even if the economy finally seems to be recovering: "Re-establishing an effective procedural framework for budgetary decision making should be a high priority. But it is only a start... As we prepare for the retirement of the baby-boom generation and confront the implications of soaring expenditures for medical care, a major effort by policymakers to set priorities for tax and spending programs and to start making tradeoffs is long overdue."

This is all as Dick Cheney announces: "It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, that we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we will get hit again, and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States. And then we will fall back into the pre 9-11 mindset, if you will."

The White House has been suitably evasive when asked to clarify what Cheney meant; the Kerry campaign has been suitably outraged, John Edwards pointing out "Dick Cheney's scare tactics today crossed the line. What he said to the American people was, if you go to the polls in November and elect anyone other than us, then another terrorist attack occurs, it's your fault. This is un-American."

The response of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was particularly good: "The Vice President receives the same intelligence briefings that I do, and he knows full well that if the United States is attacked by terrorists before the next President is inaugurated, it will be because this President was so focused on Iraq that he was distracted from getting the job done in dealing with the clear and present danger that al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden pose to our country."

After the anti-Kerry Swift Boat veterans' questioning of the Democratic hopeful's Vietnam record come some hints about Bush's supposed absence without leave from the National Guard: "'The record clearly and convincingly proves he did not fulfill the obligations he incurred when he enlisted in the Air National Guard,' writes Gerald Lechliter, a retired Army colonel who has made the most meticulous examination I've seen of Mr. Bush's records (I've posted the full 32-page analysis here). Mr. Lechliter adds that Mr. Bush received unauthorized or fraudulent payments that breached National Guard rules, according to the documents that the White House itself released."

Plus questions continue to be asked about the findings of the 9/11 Commission: "The White House, in a preemptive move, told the commission that Bush would not testify under oath, and insisted that he appear along with Vice President Cheney. The main partisan division within the commission, I was told, was over how hard to press the White House for information that it was holding back. In its effort to achieve a unanimous, bipartisan report, the commission decided not to assign "individual blame" and avoided overt criticism of the President himself. Still, the report is a powerful indictment of the Bush administration for its behavior before and after the attacks of September 11."

And in the meantime, the commentators on both sides start getting all tetchy:

Anti-Bush: "I really had to take a deep breath after Bush declared that he wants to "get government on your side." Where has he been for the last four years? Almost every program he mentioned, saying he wanted to build them up, he has already cut, including job training. And I am truly dazzled by "the noive of him" in claiming that No Child Left Behind, which is massively underfunded, has somehow mysteriously become a great success."

Pro-Bush: "The majority of liberals are nothing but whining hypocrites. If you can't take the heat and answer without crying-- then get out of the kitchen. The American people have had enough of your double tongued, two faced radical tantrums."

Oh, and apparently realising that Kerry's verbal dexterity is somewhat superior to his own, Bush looks to be trying to back out of taking part in too many debates with his opponent.

(Blogger was on the blink all day, hence the crammed post - much of which is thanks to Manic at Bloggerheads - there was a bunch of other stuff I wanted to put up, but I've foolishly lost the links. Must get more organised at this blogging business...)

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