“We are sinking fast. Passengers being put into boats.”

So Kerry is shuffling the deck chairs a bit, adding former Clinton spokesperson Joe Lockhart, among others, to his campaign Dream Team.
Joe Lockhart?
Let’s be serious: can anyone actually imagine Kerry, or his senior advisors, suddenly interrupting a staff meeting to declare: “We’re screwed! Get Joe Lockhart on the horn — he’s the only one who can save our asses!”
I don’t think so. Joe’s a nice guy and all, but a Rove-like Svengali he ain’t. Flacking for Oracle might be heavy on the dukats, but it isn’t exactly the political big leagues.
But forget Joe for a moment (who?). The even worse news for Kerry is that despite the exceptional job his campaign has been doing at executing political hari-kari, the Bush team hasn’t even started to attack him yet. All the damage thus far has been self-inflicted, or at the hands of the Swift Vets (also arguably self-inflicted, allowing that karma sometimes takes a while to come around — but it does come around). And don’t give me any nonsense about how Bush is behind the Swifties; these guys have hated Kerry’s guts for thirty years, and they show every intention of hating him for thirty more.
No, Kerry’s recent Swift-Vet-driven collapse is the political equivalent of a boxer being clocked by a random spectator on his way to the ring. (OK, a not-quite random spectator, more like one who’s been nursing a 30-year grudge). Somewhere, Karl Rove is sitting in quiet misery, gloomily considering the prospect that by the time he’s allowed to open up on Kerry with the big guns, the poor sod may have already self-destructed. Takes all the fun out of it.
So Kerry, fading in the polls, disliked by the electorate, faces the unappealing prospect of not only the traditional post-convention bounce for Bush, but that the true campaign hasn’t even started yet. Who knows what surprises Rove & Co. have in store for the hapless Senator? All we can know for sure is that they’ve got some, and they’re unlikely to be of the pleasant sort.
I think it’s going to be a rough September, Senator…

Kerry on Cuba

At what point is it reasonable to start considering that a candidate may not simply have a tendency to stretch the truth, but may actually be a pathological liar?
How stupid does he think we are; these things can be checked; etc. You know the drill.

Campaign Truth Launches

I’m pleased to announce the public launch of a new project: Campaign Truth 2004!
The intent of Campaign Truth is to provide a portal where bloggers and other interested folk can gather links to information which sheds light on where the candidates stand on issues in the 2004 Presidential Campaign. By harnessing the collaborative power of bloggers that has been proven by sites such as The Command Post and by the influence of the blogosphere itself, Campaign Truth will provide a place where voters can come to get past the story-of-the-moment in the media, and dig deep into candidates’ true positions on the issues that matter to them most.
The site is now live and open to the public, but is extremely light on actual content. That’s where you come in! I’m putting out a call for assistance to any and all interested bloggers and blog-readers who would like to contribute. It’s easy: just post comments on the relevant topic entry for the candidate you’ve found info on, and the information will be periodically rolled up into the body of the page by the editors (well, editor: at the moment, it’s just me.)
For more information, see the FAQ, or just drop me a line.
The site is an evolving work in progress, so suggestions, comments, and feedback are very much welcome.
I hope you’ll all join me in this effort to bring a focus on substance to the 2004 campaign. Because as the banner says: it’s about the issues, stupid!

Kerry Less Trusted By Voters

Holy crap! Rasmussen reports today that Bush now leads Kerry for the first time in weeks. But that’s not the interesting report. Check out their other finding this week:
August 25, 2004–Forty-five percent (45%) of Likely Voters believe that George W. Bush is more honest and trustworthy than John Kerry. A Rasmussen Reports survey conducted in advance of the Republican National Convention found that 39% believe Kerry is the more honest and trustworthy candidate.
Isn’t that, you know, hugely bad for the Kerry campaign?
New Kerry-Edwards slogan: We have not yet begun to crater!

Cheer Up Jeff: We’re Doing OK!

Jeff Jarvis has been one of the few voices criticizing the blogosphere for our participation thus far in the 2004 campaign. Jeff is a stand-up blogger (and person, I assume, although I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him in ‘real’ life), but I think he’s missing the boat slightly when he says he’s “been a bit disheartened in recent days by the incessant gotchaism of some blogs and more commenters in our new medium.”
Jeff doesn’t point to specific examples, so I have no idea whether he includes TTLB in his disappointment, although he’s made clear he takes a dim view of the Swift Vets controversy in general.
I’d argue that we in the blogosphere have two roles: first, to try to bring stories that aren’t getting attention into the public eye, and second, to ensure that the stories that are being widely reported are covered accurately and completely. We try to change the focus of the debate, and we try to improve the quality of the debate.
Focusing on the Swift Vets story (although Jeff specifically did not limit his comments to it), it seems undeniable that the blogosphere played some role in moving the story into the public focus. But to be frank, blogger triumphalism aside, I think that was going to happen anyway. The Swift Vets had a compelling story, and it was only a matter of time before Big Media walls crumbled and they received a great deal of attention. Whether focusing on their story was a good thing or a bad thing is, I think, a matter for every voter to decide for themselves. I think it is relevant, I believe it is safe to say Jeff thinks it is not.
But now, with the Swift Vets story in full public view, we’re in our secondary role: improving the quality of debate. And I have to say, I think our performance has been absolutely stellar. Blogs like Captain’s Quarters, BeldarBlog, and others have been devoting serious effort to the story, and arguably doing more hard-core research than professional journalists seem willing to devote. And of course I would hope my own contributions in researching 527’s, campaign financing, and other topics will be viewed as useful, substantive contributions to the debate.
So, to Jeff, I’d say: cheer up, friend. The new media which you’ve done so much to foster is young, and we’re passionate, and perhaps sometimes a little too eager to go for the quick kill. But overall, I think we’re doing a damned fine job of adding to the public debate — and we’ll get better from here…

Kerry FEC Complaint: Request for Clarification

I remain rather puzzled by the fact that the Kerry campaign has not posted an official announcement of the FEC complaint they allegedly filed last Friday. The fact that it cannot be found on the Kerry-Edwards site has led me to suspect that perhaps it wasn’t actually filed after all.
So, to attempt to clarify matters, I sent the following inquiry to the Kerry-Edwards campaign this morning:
To John Kerry and the Kerry-Edwards Campaign:
I publish the weblog ‘The Truth Laid Bear‘ , and have recently been covering the controversy surrounding the Swift Boat Veteran ads, 527 organizations, and your campaign’s response to these issues.
It has been reported in the media that the Kerry-Edwards campaign filed a complaint with the FEC on Friday, August 20th, alleging coordination between the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth 527 and the Bush-Cheney campaign.
It puzzles me, however, that I can find no official mention of this filing on the Kerry-Edwards campaign website (see here).
In the interest of clarifying the record, I would appreciate the following:
1) A confirmation from the campaign that the FEC complaint was officially submitted to the FEC on Friday, August 20th (or, if it was not, when it is expected to be submitted).
2) A copy of the actual FEC complaint. As I am sure you know, the Bush-Cheney campaign submitted a similar complaint alleging collusion between the Kerry campaign and 527’s; they have put the actual complaint and other documentation online here. I urge you to do the same, and allow voters to review the complaint for themselves, and make up their own minds as to the validity of your claims.
Although I am a simple ‘blogger’, I would appreciate your treating this request with the respect you would accord to those in the professional media. Any response received to this message may be published on my weblog.
Thank you…
-N.Z. Bear
The Truth Laid Bear

I sent the inquiry to press@johnkerry.com, and submitted it as a general comment on the campaign website. If you are similarly curious, I urge you to take a moment and do the same. As always, I would ask that you be courteous and polite (and feel free to cut-and-paste my message); no need to get obnoxious with the folks answering the Inbox. Perhaps if the campaign receives enough inquiries, we’ll actually get to see the mysterious complaint…

All The News That People Send Us

From The Paper of Record:
The Republicans, in an e-mail message to reporters, listed several Democrats who they said showed connections between Democratic 527 groups, Mr. Kerry’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Among them were Zack Exley, the former organizing director for MoveOn.org’s political action committee who now works for Mr. Kerry’s campaign; Jim Jordan, the former campaign manager for Mr. Kerry who now works as a consultant for the liberal groups America Coming Together and the Media Fund; and Joe Sandler, who is a lawyer for both the Democratic National Committee and MoveOn.org.
Emphasis mine: Gotta love that passive reporting! Heaven forbid that the Times might actually do some research and establish whether connections exist or not on their own. Nah, why bother — there’s a staff meeting in twenty minutes and this cruller is tay-stee.
Hello! It’s over here. At least steal some solid information, for crissakes. Look, I’ll turn my back for a minute, go ahead, I’ll pretend not to notice…

FEC To Kerry: Quit Whining

So FEC Chairman Bradley Smith just told John Kerry to sit down and shut up:
Kerry, 60, a four-term Massachusetts senator, alleged last week that the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth illegally coordinated its activities with President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign. Smith, a Republican, said members of the group are exercising their constitutional right to free speech.
“I think it’s great we live in a country where 260 average guys can go out and put their point of view out there before the public and influence a major presidential race,” Smith said in an interview with Bloomberg television. “I am not one who agrees it is illegitimate for citizens to take a stand on these kind of issues and only the politicians should be able to say what they want about the issues they want to talk about.”

“For the Kerry group to be complaining” when Democratic donor-funded groups have raised much more “seems a little bit absurd,” said Smith, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat.

I have no idea what he’s talking about.

Friends Like These

WaPo editorial, this morning:
Mr. Kerry’s conflicting statements about where and when he was in Cambodia remain troubling. He has backed away from repeated claims that he spent Christmas Eve 1968 in Cambodia, a memory that, he said in a 1986 Senate speech, is “seared — seared — in me.” This does not undermine Mr. Kerry’s military bravery, but it does raise an issue of candor. It’s fair to ask whether this is an episode of foggy memory, routine political embroidery or something more. Indeed, the Kerry campaign ought to arrange for the full release of all relevant records from the time. Mr. Kerry granted historian Douglas Brinkley exclusive use of his wartime journals and other writings; the campaign should seek to be freed from that agreement and to make all the material public. Though the ads are being underwritten by longtime Bush partisans, the Kerry campaign’s claim of illegal coordination between the Swift boat group and the Bush campaign is unconvincing.
With defenders like this, who needs enemies?
By the way, is this a good time to remind y’all of how I got started on this whole issue over two weeks ago? I think it is!
The Truth Laid Bear, Kerry’s Swift Demise, 8/8/04:
I’m going to go on record and predict that the Swift Boat Veterans kerfuffle won’t just be a major negative for Kerry: it will be a campaign-killer. ..Unless Kerry’s campaign manages to completely discredit the Swifties — which seems increasingly unlikely — the campaign is over; Kerry is done. And after Election Day has passed, I expect that anyone looking backwards will wonder why in the world the Democrats ever thought making Kerry’s Vietnam service a centerpiece was a good idea in the first place.
That wondering seems to be beginning sooner rather than later.

Senator Kerry, Post That Complaint!

There’s been a growing call for Kerry to authorize release of his military records by signing a “form 180”, without which the DoD is prohibited from providing them to the public (even in response to a FOIA request, is my understanding).
I’ve got another, simpler request for the Kerry campaign: post the actual FEC complaint which was filed (or maybe, wasn’t — keep reading) against Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Bush-Cheney campaign last Friday.
I tried to find it over the weekend, with no luck, and as of today, it still doesn’t seem to appear anywhere on the Kerry-Edwards site. Oddly, I can find no official statement referring to it, either.
As I mentioned yesterday, the GOP filed an extensive, 67-page complaint (PDF) against the Kerry campaign alleging collusion with Democratic 527’s, and provided a bunch of supporting documentation. It’s a pretty impressive pile of work (at least from this legal amateur’s view), and it sure would be interesting to compare the GOP complaint to Kerry’s. But as of now, we can’t. The FEC doesn’t post matters still under review on their site (or provide status on them, to my knowledge) so it’s unclear what the status of that investigation is.
But there may actually be a simple explanation for why the complaint hasn’t been posted: maybe it doesn’t actually exist yet. Some of the news stories from Friday state that the campaign “will file” a complaint. But then there are others that say clearly that the complaint was filed Friday.
So which is the truth? If the complaint wasn’t filed Friday, why not?
And if it was filed, can we see it, please? All together now: “Senator Kerry, Post That Complaint!”
Update: The more I think about this, the more I suspect that the complaint really hasn’t been filed yet. The scenario goes like this: Kerry’s campaign is still finishing the complaint — not a trivial task, if they want to match the GOP’s in level of detail and thoroughness. Knowing this, the campaign spokesperson carefully said “will file” on Friday (if anyone has a link to a story which directly quotes the spokesperson otherwise, please, speak up). But since then the media has misunderstood and misstated that into “has filed”.
So now what does Kerry do? Issue a statement saying “Er, no, we’re still working on it?”. They’d look like idiots. (Again). But if the complaint was really filed, why isn’t there even a press release mentioning it at Kerry’s web site?
By the way: Did you know that this is not the first FEC complaint filed against Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? Democracy21 filed one back on August 10th — and you can actually read theirs (Word .DOC).

Bush Denounces 527’s

This was a very smart move by Bush:
Bush Denounces Ads by Outside Groups
And Kerry, by his very dumb move of making 527’s an issue, has walked right into it. Kerry’s falling into the swamp on Vietnam, so let’s see, what’s an even worse issue where his party is in an even more indefensible position? Soft money by 527‘s! So bring it on, says Kerry.
Idiot.
More thoughts, not necessarily in agreement with mine, at:
Powerline
Vodkapundit
One Hand Clapping
Instapundit
Another thought from the Dept. of Conspiracies: Ok, now we’ve all discussed in the past how Bush is extremely good at luring his opponents out onto a limb and then sawing it off. Consider that it is entirely possible that Bush might be able to use this moment to shame the existing 527’s into withdrawing, or at least curtailing, their participation in the remainder of the campaign.
Putting on my tinfoil hat for a moment, could neutralizing 527’s have been Bush’s plan all along? With SBVT out in front showing what an impact a 527 can have on the campaign, that gave Bush the excuse to come out against all of them — which he has just done. He and the RNC are now perfectly positioned to keep the pressure on the Democratic 527’s to shut the hell up.
Is this the Mother-Of-All-Rope-A-Dopes?