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LET THEM EAT TURKEY! Kerry’s vote on that $87 billion is the turkey the press corps won’t slay:

LET THEM EAT TURKEY: Bush’s “war room” swung into action. Kerry had said the most obvious thing in the world, and the warriors wanted to make it a scandal. Jim Rutenberg does the play-by-play on page one of this morning’s New York Times:
RUTENBERG: After sitting impatiently through what seemed to be a typical stump speech, they found [an opening for attack]: Mr. Kerry said he was “proud” of votes by him and his running mate, Senator John Edwards, last fall against the president’s requested $87 billion appropriation for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a vote that Republicans have used to make a case that Mr. Kerry has been failing to support the troops after voting to authorize the war.

Within an hour or so, Mr. Bush’s team...had sent a release via e-mail to hundreds of journalists, supporters and campaign surrogates. The e-mail message included the new quote and one from September, when Mr. Kerry implied it would be “irresponsible” to vote against such spending. The quotation, along with the idea that Mr. Kerry’s position on the money had evolved, found its way onto Fox News and into articles in The Washington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Associated Press.

What a shock! Kerry was proud of a vote he had cast! But the pseudo-story was e-mailed around, and was soon being bruited by news orgs.

The dumbness of the modern “news” process is all there to see in this morning’s report. Yes, the mainstream press is still wasting time on that meaningless vote on the $87 billion. And, since no dumb story escapes Scarborough Country, the topic was flogged on that program last night. Luckily, one of Joe’s guests—Rep. Adam Smith (D, WA)—knew how foolish this topic is. Here was his first remark on the troubling vote which Kerry disturbingly cast:

SMITH: It is absolutely wrong to say that John Kerry wants the troops to not have funds.

He voted against a version of the funding for the troops. He made it clear that there were other versions that he supported. The president himself said that if the funding package was different—if, for instance, it included loans; if, for instance, it included some additional funding for our National Guardsmen in terms of benefits—the president said he would veto it.

So there were versions of the funding for troops that the president himself would oppose...It’s dead wrong, it’s dead wrong to say that John Kerry doesn’t support funding the troops.

Duh! Smith noted the obvious. Kerry supported certain versions of the spending bill, and opposed certain others. But this was true of Bush as well! Indeed, Bush had said he would veto the bill if it wasn’t configured the way he wanted. Why, then, should it be a scandal that Kerry opposed certain forms of the bill? After Rep. Duncan Hunter (R, CA) spread some confusion, Smith spoke to these points once again:
SMITH: Just one final comment on Duncan's comment. If we had voted down the $87 billion package, the idea that voting down that package would have meant that we would not have funded the troops, that’s what is ridiculous. What it would have meant was, We’ve got to fund the troops, now let's do it right. And we would have done it, no matter what. And I think that’s the big point here. John Kerry, John Edwards, myself, we all support funding the troops. We want to do it the right way.
Duh! There was no chance that the troops would have gone unfunded. If Bush had vetoed the form of the bill he opposed, negotiations would have continued. And of course, the same thing would have happened had Congress defeated the form which Kerry opposed. This “issue” has been absurd from the start. And the nonsense continued when Bush’s War Room sent out those silly e-mails last week.

For the record, Smith did an excellent job last night, exploring the foolishness of this non-issue. But your Washington “press corps” thrives on absurdity. Last week, John Kerry did an unthinkable thing—he said he was proud of a vote he had cast! The Bush War Room swung into action—and soon, news orgs were bruiting their claims. Read Rutenberg’s piece to see the way your “press corps” thrives on such inane non-events. The press should have dropped this turkey long ago. But they’re simply too silly to let it go. Result? As Rutenberg describes today, that War Room keeps serving them turkey.

THAT POODLE WON’T HUNT: In today’s Salon, Geraldine Sealey notes a significant point. Despite the best efforts of the RNC—and despite some accommodating national profiles—voters don’t seem to view John Kerry as the rich, perfumed poodle of Bush War Room dreams. In a recent poll, in fact, more voters said Bush was a “wealthy elitist.” Here’s Sealey’s concluding paragraph:

SEALEY: Despite labels tossed around in the media and the efforts of the RNC, though, the elitist rap hasn’t stuck to Kerry so far in voters’ minds. For Rove, this may be the most enduring mystery of all.
Wisely citing THE DAILY HOWLER, Sealey recalls some New York Times pieces promoting the image of RichWealthyKerry. But readers, why hasn’t this label stuck? Let’s compare the coverage of Kerry to the coverage of Candidate Gore.

During Campaign 2000, the RNC played Gore as a LIAR. What made that slander campaign so effective? Easy. Because Gore was always the presumed nominee, the War Against Gore began twenty months before Election Day, in March 1999. Gore made his first campaign appearance on March 9, 1999—and within a week, the slander campaign was running full blast. Just that fast, the press began bruiting three major tales that helped us see that Gore was a LIAR—invented the Internet, inspired Love Story, and, of course, the disturbing farm chores. The “farm chores” theme was such a hoax that even the press corps was soon forced to dropped it. (It was replaced with discovered Love Canal, and an endless stream of such confections.) But this slander campaign ran twenty months straight. Kerry’s emergence as eventual nominee came much later in the race. If the press even wanted to treat him like Gore, the time frame has been hugely different.

But in truth, there is no indication that the press corps wants to “Gore” Kerry. During Campaign 2000, the entire press establishment went after Gore, punishing him for the sins of Bill Clinton. Indeed, the most appalling Gore coverage was that conducted by the New York Times and the Washington Post, two pillars of the “liberal” press. The Post even trashed the Gores’ Christmas card; on December 24, 1999, the paper’s Al Kamen let the world know that the troubling candidate’s disturbing card showed him to be a Big Phony! (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/24/99. No, we’re not making this up.) The War Against Gore ran for twenty straight months, with the entire mainstream press taking part.

With Kerry, there is no such unanimity. Yes, the Times has sometimes continued the oddball coverage it seems to dish to Dem White House hopefuls. But nothing like the system-wide trashing of Gore has been aimed at Kerry. During Campaign 2000, voters heard AL GORE, LIAR for twenty straight months—and they heard it from all major news orgs. Nothing like that has happened this time. The press corps’ system-wide War Against Gore has not been retooled for John Kerry.

Indeed, we began to get a distinct impression as the situation in Iraq fell apart last year. We got the distinct impression that some Press Honchos had decided that Bush Has To Go. For example, consider Sally Quinn, who chatted with CNN’s Aaron Brown on last Thursday’s NewsNight. Quinn—as inside an insider as Washington offers—had been dragooned to discuss Kerry’s wife. Just like that, Quinn began gushing:

QUINN: She really is an original. You know what she is? She is a real person. She’s not a political person. And she said that earlier, on Larry King, that she was married to a Republican and now a Democrat, but she’s not ideological at all. She’s not political.

She’s like you and me. I think if I had to use one word to describe Teresa, it would be cozy. When you meet Teresa and sit down and talk to her five minutes, you suddenly become her best friend, because you really do think that you're talking to another human being. She is just not programmed. You know, you couldn't make her into a political person or a politician if you tried. She's just not that person.

Maybe she thought she'd been asked about Mother Teresa! At any rate, Quinn was gushing—big-time! And just like that, it all started again:
BROWN: Do you think the country—I mean, she’s a complicated character. Do you think the country will be, as this campaign unfolds, grow comfortable with her or not?

QUINN: Well, as I said, she’s a really cozy person. And she’s very personable. She comes across as familiar. I went to a lunch for her a couple of months ago with about 25 women from Washington. It was a very small, intimate lunch. And she got up and started talking. And she didn't give the usual campaign spiel.

It was just—it was very off the top of her head. But every woman in the room felt as though Teresa was talking to her personally. She has that ability. I mean, she’s very good in small groups. But she has that ability to connect with people. Obviously, it’s more difficult when you have a huge crowd of 3000. But I just think that we’ve come beyond—certainly, after Hillary Clinton, who was very controversial, I just don't think that Teresa is a controversial person, particularly what she does.

She has this huge foundation. Her whole life has been geared to sort of doing good.

Our translation? “Bush has to go!” (And note well: Teresa’s no Hillary!) But many press honchos are thinking such thoughts as Bush keeps scaring them in Iraq (and beyond). No, there won’t be a system-wide War Against Kerry. There was such a twenty-month War Against Gore. That war was driven by Sally Quinn’s paper—and by that intimate lunch bunch.

Why don’t the voters think Kerry’s too rich? In part, it’s because the Washington press, despite its ongoing faults, has not been at war with this year’s Dem hopeful. Four years ago, the corps marched to war. This year, draft-dodging is back.