Article > Rhetoric Watch
Description :: Understanding the presidential candidates by watching their candidacy
This article will be devoted to charting the unfair rhetoric used by President Bush and John Kerry. It will be organized chronologically (as best I can remember the events) instead of topically to prevent the reader from thinking I am more or less biased than I am. I like full disclosure: most of my news comes from Fox News primarily and internet searches to validate the information I glean via Fox. I'm a smart boy, I know how to get to the bottom of this stuff.

It began with a pretty impressive number of books smearing president Bush. I know a little about politics. And if my guess holds true, these books will be like the rest of the smear tactics. They'll simply bias the reader by pointing to a little evidence which helps them and not listing evidence to the contrary in an attempt to shift the burden of proof to the defender. What happens next helps to evidence this.

As you know, the press smelled blood some time ago when it began investigating whether or not Bush was AWOL during his service in the National Guard. What do you know? At least one of the above ...authors...claimed that Bush was AWOL. There were heated press conferences, and finally a few documents were released that showed that Bush had been paid for work. The press counterattacked with questions like "Why can't such and such person remember that Bush was there." Last week, the Bush Administration finally released 300+ pages of documents: everything they had. It also has come out recently (I saw it on Special Report with Brit Hume) that the main person that the press was questioning regarding his memory (or the lack thereof) is in the beginning stages of alzheimers. John Kerry nearly jumped on the bandwagon but has recently distanced himself from the issue. This is a good example of bad information and the badly informed bad information spreaders that spread said bad information. Interestingly enough, Fox News was more interested in talking about the fact that the press was still talking about this crap. Looks like they were fair and balanced this time.

The press also smelled blood regarding a rumor that Kerry had had an affair with a former member of the AP. The woman denies that she had ever had a relationship with Kerry. This one seems dead in the water a day after I heard it. The press will probably be pursuing something fresher.

There was also a very short flurry regarding Kerry's service record. The media didn't dare touch it much because Kerry is a veteran. He has medals and was wounded three times.

Much like the new wars will be wars of terrorism if we are not careful, the new attack propaganda will be done, it seems, by feeding rumors via anonymous sources to the press. If you want a shark to attack a person, just make sure he's bleeding a little.

Update on this: as of early March, Kerry began using this tactic citing friends who said stuff, or unnamed world leaders who want him to be president. Evidently, those friends want to stay anonymous.

I've heard it reported that Moby recently suggested popping into Pro-Life chatrooms and starting a rumor that Bush had not only taken a friend of his to get an abortion but also paid for it. The goal was to demoralize the Right Wing into not voting. Musicians, actors and other mass media entertainers are well known to me for loudly voicing their opinion. They are also well known to me for having strange opinions. :)

John Kerry has been crusading against special interests. He has tons of special interest money.

George Bush recently cited that we had to both get our economy back on track and watch our spending. All of two people got the joke.

Bush or the RNC recently put out an internet ad attacking Kerry for his special interest money. It asserts that John Kerry has more special interest money than any other senator despite his strong stand on the issue. We must cut finely here. Bush has more special interest money than Kerry by a long shot. But Kerry is the one that made a campaign issue out of it. So it appears our choice is a person that doesn't recognize the danger of special interest money, or someone that does and hypocritically uses it anyway. Because this ad was an internet ad, Bush did not have to put his name behind it.

The Kerry camp very recently put out an ad that counter-attacks, citing that Bush has more special interest money than Kerry. True, but that wasn't the point. Also, the ad attacks Bush for saying that outsourcing is good for the economy. This is oversimplification. Attacking Bush for actually understanding economics and speaking the truth about those difficult economic principles is either hypocritical and unfair, or idiotic and unfair. Outsourcing jobs that can be done in other countries for far, far cheaper, makes products cheaper here and must be done to avoid inflation. It also voids "bad" jobs here and will eventually replace them with "good" jobs here. Now, some would argue that outsourcing has also removed "good" jobs like programming and sent them to India. People differ as to how to fix that fairly. Kerry had the guts to approve this ad: make what you want of that.

I heard it reported yesterday that the recent campaign finance "reforms" have a massive loophole. Corporations can give to non-profits..non-profits who have only one issue they represent. These non-profits can then give money to the candidate. John McCain has been very vocal in his attempts to seal this hole. I look forward to seeing similar attacks from Kerry.

That's all I can think of for now. I'll try to keep an eye on the dirt and on who's flinging it. I'm sure Unordained will keep an eye out for what I've missed. We'll see which candidate comes out the cleanest.

The Bush campaign finally released some ads. They were pretty much "positive" but showed images from 9/11. Critics immediately attacked these ads for "exploiting" the victims. The irony here is thick. Think...think.....ohhhhhhhh. :) The very defense is as bad or worse than the thing it defends against. Watch for more counter-attack style defenses from the left: they are the source that taught me deflection.

3/9/04: Today I heard it debated that the recent campaign reforms have created a weakness. Groups like (there's apparently another group similar on the right who's name I do not recall) are running attack campaigns on their opponents and this is apparently illegal. Sadly, investigating and prosecuting this kind of thing takes far longer than it takes to actually do it (results may not be out till May) and I don't believe the government will be able to punish groups like this enough to make them actually stop. Yay for Fox for reporting on this. The reason this is important is that there are many super rich people who are willing to pour tons of money into a campaign but don't want to be limited by the individual contribution laws. So they do the equivalent of hiring a political hitman.

3/10/04: The media doesn't necessarily "campaign" for one candidate or another, but I hear more liberal rhetoric than conservative by far. Oh, and it increases in voracity and frequency as the election draws nearer. Conspiracy theories such as one which claimed that "they" already had UBL and they'd parade him around when they needed to adjust the poll numbers. Last night was the killer. Someone on Jon Stewart's "fake news show" decided to rant that religion was the most evil force on earth citing that it taught people that the body was evil. This is just a drop in the ocean of anti right wing rhetoric. The point of this was to attack the "boobygate" reaction, as if those of us who are shocked by this are just trying to reign in our base.

3/11/04: The media is jumping all over a minor slip by Kerry...followed by serious errors defending it (this is what we now call "Pulling a Martha Stewart"). Kerry, not meaning to be heard by The Media said "these guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen, it's scary." It was not clear when you hear the full quote (which I have trouble finding) whether he meant the Bush administration in specific (which would be a pretty slimy campaign tactic) or republicans in general. At one point, when asked what he meant, he said "ask me later." He claims he was talking about the republican attack dogs, however, this doesn't make sense in context since he was talking about how they would keep up the fight (to unseat Bush). He finally came forward with what the media thought would be an apology (the Bush administration asked for one, I find that kind of thing childish yet typical of any campaign...) but which turned out to be a counter-attack on the way the right wing runs its campaigns. I found this to be ironic and hypocritical as well as typical: deflection is something the left wing has mastered. (remember memogate? They were busy ranting about how those horrid memos were "stolen" when in fact they were pretty much left lying around). Watch the deflection reader...and see whether you agree with me or not. Kerry claims that tonight, the right will release attack ads. I will be watching to see whether or not they are unfair. I also predict that whether or not they are, a deflection tactic will be used to defend against them.

Unordained has declined to help me with this project so you'll just have to trust me now. He's far more worried about terrorism right now. I wonder why?

Math Games

GWB's campaign released an ad accusing Kerry of planning to raise taxes 900 billion and being weak on defense because he wants to weaken the patriot act. Much should be said. The Right wing alleges that Kerry wants to expand government health insurance roughly to the tune of 900 billion and hasn't told anyone how this will be paid for. Cutting 900 billion out of the budget is not so easy. Over all I found the ad to be slightly unfair since it doesn't attempt a dialog at jumps to the conclusion it wants...but at least it talks about issues. The democratic response that I've heard repeated all day is that far from wanting to raise taxes, Kerry wants to lower taxes for the middle class. Do you see how this is a non-answer? From (nice article on the subject) "Kerry has never explicitly called for a $900 billion tax hike, but the Bush campaign says there is no way Kerry can implement his health care plan and not increase the deficit without boosting taxes by that amount. Kerry campaign officials say they will flesh out his economic plans soon." The truth appears to be that the Kerry campaign is fleshing out their economic plans which are, as of yet, incomplete, but will involve a very large health care plan, probably paid for by the rich. An important Republican rebuttal to Kerry's plans points out that 75% of small businesses are taxed at the individual "super rich" rate (this heard via Fox News).

4/12/04: (info via Fox News). For some time, the so called "misery index" has been used to assess the economy. This is the inflation rate + the unemployment rate. For more information see:

At any rate, John Kerry the master economist doesn't like the misery rate. Apparently, this was a tool invented by democrats in the 70's to judge the economy under Ford. The tool now makes Bush look John Kerry has added 7 other factors. Suddenly, this economy is the worst ever since Carter. Its magic! Economics has nothing to do with how good the economy's perception...whoa. The Kerry Misery Index includes factors like college tuition (which was rocketing before Bush got into office), rising cost of healthcare (which I'm guessing will look similar), and rising cost of gas. It looks like Kerry is forgetting that the US is not a command economy. The president does not raise and lower tuition, does not "send jobs overseas", does not control gas prices, does not control health care costs...and indeed, does not directly control the economy. Look forward to silly math games on both sides of the aisle. So far (from my point of view) this one takes the cake by far. In related news, I created a new dishonesty index. Everyone who disagress with me is now dishonest. Beware of measuring tools which are created by the enemies of the person being measured.

Sometimes, it is what isn't said... 4/26/04

Something to report on both sides. Fox News lets me know today that there is some sort of contraversy about Kerry's medals/ribbons. He has said different things at different times regarding these things and is saying now that the word "ribbon" and "medal" are interchangeable. Fine, that's reasonable. This is something to watch for a couple reasons: first, you can see the quotes, watch the video...of the things he himself said..and I don't think they match up even with the acknowledgement we've already made regarding ribbon and medal. Edit: yes, there are inconsistencies in what he's said, sometimes in court, regarding these medals/ribbons. Secondly, Kerry looked desperate to me when he called this something that the right wing dug up..but from all accounts, this was just something the press dug up. They are a bunch of sharks anyway and will go wherever there is blood to bring that blood to you: the viewer who needs to be entertained. :) As to me, I'm going to watch and see whether I need to adjust my view of Kerry's honesty.

On the other side, I saw a new Bush ad that was very fascinating to me. On one side, they quote numerous newspapers which attack Kerry. This has the advantage that the quotes are obviously true to what was said. But the dishonesty problem is not so clear. Obviously, newspapers have said things that were positive about Kerry or negative about Bush that were not reported. Heck, these quotes could be from the reader editorial section! All in all this says something I was already pretty sure about: the Bush campaign is willing to bend the truth to win. I don't like that. On the other hand, this method of campaigning has already lead to a rush-to-the-bottom that must be confronted...if Bush didn't do these things, he'd be slaughtered. It is my opinion that the mass media is too powerful to allow it to be bought and sold to propagandists and politicians who have no obligation to be "fair and balanced" but only desire to win. If we want honest politicians, we should not reward dishonesty. Hopefully we can determine which candidate is...less dishonest....

Desperate Times call for Desperate Measures?

Kerry did something I didn't like a couple days ago and I remembered to post it here. You'll remember that I posted above that Kerry was distancing himself from the issue of GWB's military service record. It was a losing fight. The press made a big deal of it, citing the lack of data. Many dems made a big deal of it citing the lack of data and demanding that data be produced. The data was finally produced. I watched as they released his entire record (with things like his SSN blanked out, duh). It was like the press had this universal abashed "Oh." The issue died. Well, John Kerry revived the issue on national television in light of the medals/ribbons issue (which is really not all that important either). He's also brought back the ghost of a dead horse to beat: the 2000 election, claiming again that Bush "stole" it. In fact, he's already hiring lawyers to challenge anything that looks imperfect. This is going to be a mess..... Do you see Bush jumping on the medals issue? Me neither. Did you see Bush jump on the silliness regarding an affair with a journalist (see above, it was a farse)? Me neither. This means something to me.

Allow me to put this to rest right now. The votes were counted and recounted. Even after the Supreme Court shot down Gore (i'll talk about that more in a second) the recount continued and eventually increased Bush's lead over Gore (this was determined after the issue was fairly dead). Many democrats are very angry that this was determined by the Supreme Court. silly of Bush and company to desire to have a matter of voting law clarified by the courts. I mean..what does the Supreme Court have to do with deciding matters of contention between two parties when it comes to the law? Good point dems...we're sorry.

Why do you think that Gore and company were suddenly so concerned with the definition of a vote? Why do you think they wanted every dimple to count for them? Don't you find the timing to be a little suspect? Has anyone loudly crusaded to fix the voting system since then? Maybe John McCain (he's awesome dude) but I haven't heard a major social discussion as to how to fix this. Anyway, the Supreme Court was well within its rights to rule on this issue. So please people. Shut up about it. Okay, my rant about past dirty politics is done. Back to watching current dirty politics.

Maybe I'll talk some time about how during Condi Rice's testimony before the 9-11 commission, the questioners said more words than Rice did (Fox counted. Fox is funny). Nah, wouldn't mean much to anyone.

Aug 22

Yeah, I wanted to post a couple notes to get something off of my chest. But first the old news. It was notable in the democratic convention the more reasonable tone. They did try to keep away from the silly claims and personal attacks and that was nice. Awww... Then again, I didn't watch much of it. What I did see was more reasonable. :)

That didn't last long. Swift boat veterans for truth (I'm lazy, i'm going to call them the SBVfT) released some ads. The Kerry camp got tactically indignant and suddenly righteous in a new campaign against soft money attack ads. How good of them. This from the party that has a horde of groups outside of their campaign who have been doing far worse for a long time. Remember that ad that called Bush a "Mis-Leader" from Remember Fahreinheit 9-11? This has been a quietly fought battle (see above) but when an ad published against Kerry from the "527" groups comes out, Kerry gets religion? Come on.

More directly regarding the SBVfT ads, Bush has called a few times for all these groups to stop the ads. That'd be logically sufficient to satisfy Kerry's demands that Bush call for a stop to the SBVfT ads since they fall squarely into this category. Apparently Kerry won't be satisfied until Bush says the name "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" in his calls for compliance with the campaign finance laws. This strikes me as unfair. Either Kerry should already be satisfied, or he shouldn't be satisfied until all the soft money ads and groups are stopped. The whole thing is getting really lame...


I no longer have cable so I don't watch much news anymore. That's a bit of why you haven't seen a lot of posts by me recently. I wanted to make a comment about the bit of the VP debate last night. My first comment is in regards to Cheney having met Edwards for the first time that night. Go read the news, that's been proven false. But that isn't my point, and frankly, it wasn't Cheney's. Cheney was putting this into the context of Edwards senate attendance. The dems point out that Edwards met with Cheney at a prayer breakfast, they shook hands on a news show and met at Elizabeth Dole's swearing in (Cheney swore her in and Edwards accompanied her). None of this has anything to do with Edwards senate record so I believe Cheney's point still stands. Whether an attendance record is of importance is another matter.

My second point is a strange one and if there are *well reasoned* disagreements with it I'd love to hear in my email at I'll adjust this post if you've got a good argument. In general, Bush/Cheney have more popularity on matters of defense and Kerry/Edwards on matters of domestic issues. I believe that this is because of a misunderstanding on the part of the American people as to how economics work and complete ignorance regarding military/defense. Edwards claimed that Bush is the first president who didn't create jobs. That is a misrepresentation of the way economics work. As a matter of fact presidents don't create jobs unless they hire people. The economy creates jobs (remember? We're not communists. Oh yeahhhh!) So the question is really "did Bush cause the recession." Given that the recession began 6 months into his presidency, I don't believe this is possible even if Bush was *trying* to wreck the economy. Our economy is cyclical; it goes up and down. And it had been up for a good long time. Overall, in terms of the economy I give Bush an A for effort. You've heard me say it before right? There are of course other domestic issues as well. In terms of healthcare, I'm going to leave the answer up to you, reader. Do you believe our government has a responsibility to provide healthcare for people (remember that it doesn't even provide most of us food and shelter because, again, we're not communists........................yet).

The more general and easy to understand point is this: people believe that Bush/Cheney are good-ish on defense because things are going okay for the most part. Democrats point to problems in cities in Iraq, but I'm pretty sure that most people don't understand the military situation in Iraq; they're not military strategists. They've never occupied a country before. Many people give Bush/Cheney the benefit of the doubt. Until they have a reason to believe they aren't safe, they'll believe they are. The same applies to economics. Things seem bad. Its on Bush's watch. Therefore its Bush's problem.

Therefore it seems odd to me that Bush/Cheney lead on security and Kerry/Edwards on domestic issues. Seems to be a little backwards....

Well, enough editorializing. We're so close to the end now. I wonder if I'm even going to vote. :) Its been a pretty dirty campaign. Hey, Fahreinheit 9/11 was released today on DVD............................

Do they call that Celsius 11/9 in other countries? Hmm....

Its the Command Economy Stupid

Kerry either thinks that the vaccine shortage is Bush's problem (thanks AIM news...) or he's lying about it for political gain. I'm not too happy about that. Here's a quiz for you. Which do you think happened? A) Bush's Vaccine Czar underestimated the number of vaccines required by our comrades. B) The Brits closed down one of the two factories that supply the US for safety reasons. If you chose A, you're probably voting for Kerry. Or Nader. Or whoever is running with the socialst party. :) Someone needs to inform Kerry that we don't have a command economy in this country ...yet... Hearing this guy talk about deception, a truth deficit ..etc makes me want to beat my head against a wall. But hey. Whatever it takes to get stupid people to vote for you I guess.

Seperation of Kerry and Church?

According to the Catholic World News Kerry has been excommunicated by the Catholic church. That means that Kerry cannot receive the sacraments. I think this is fairly important and deserves careful thought. On one hand, it seems unfair to do this so close to the election. I mean, some Catholics have already voted and they can't vote for Bush now! No, I'm kidding. It just seems like this may have been timed for political reasons (though from the article, it seems that doing such may have been difficult). Combine that with the fact that the Catholic Church has historically used things like the interdict to sway global politics and public opinion against rules and it seems fishy (that's okay. I think the Catholic Church absolved itself for that. It must be awesome being a priest).

However, this is well within the Church's rights. They get to make their own rules and operate within them as long as it doesn't break international law. And besides, people break international law all the time and nobody does anything about it. Just look at Saddam Hussein! Maybe Kerry should have picked a Church where members aren't required to believe the official doctrine. One where saying the right words gets you forgiven of sin....

To sum up, as a Republican, I'm pleased to see Kerry's hypocrisy exposed. But as an American, I don't like the Vatican playing with our election system. *begin sarcasm* If the vatican wants to help us, why don't they declare another Crusade. Eight just wasn't enough and its been centuries hasn't it? Maybe that'll get Western Europe to help a bit more. :) All those Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire and in France..... Oh, oh, and this time, why don't you get your own stpuid navy and not dump the Crusaders off to sack Byzantium "on their way" okay? *end sarcasm* Stupid crusaders....we could really use the Byzantines right now....but noooo. They're gone now!


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Owned by Ensis Involucrus - Created on 02/16/2004 - Last edited on 10/21/2004