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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Bush's tactics: tired and old

"In President Bush's worldview, everything is "post-9/11" except his campaign tactics. When it comes to the tired, shopworn ways in which he's attacking John Kerry, the president is, as Dick Cheney likes to say, in a 'pre-9/11 mindset."'

The debates altered the campaign in Kerry's favor because Bush could no longer run and hide from his own record and cast Kerry as a cardboard character. The debates showcased Kerry as presidentially consistent. Bush kept changing his act. He scowled in the first debate. He practically shouted in the second. He pasted a strange smile over the scowl in the third.

And Bush's new message is so old that it is as if he ran across a tattered catalogue for Republican political consultants from the 1980s or early '90s and ordered up a pre-owned campaign plan. You could imagine the text: "Falling behind your Democrat opponent? Don't know what to say? Just call him liberal, liberal, liberal...

Kerry is trying to expand choice by allowing people to buy into the health plan that covers federal employees. He'd offer subsidies to low-income working people who now have no insurance -- and thus no choice at all. And he would make it easier for employers to provide coverage by having the federal government cover a large share of catastrophic costs, thus cutting the price of private insurance.

But Bush showed that he cared far more about caricaturing Kerry's plan than solving the problems of the uninsured. "

-Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr., writing about the third presidential debate


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