Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Astroturf, local edition

Kos discovered another astroturf operation from the Bush campaign.

Sure enough, the Naperville Sun (Correction: the letters ran in a sister publication, Fox Valley Villages) ran two of the form letters as letters to the editor last month (here and here.)

In a nutshell, the Bush campaign: you can come hear us speak only if you already agree with us (and sign an oath of loyalty). We’ll tell you what to say to others (but let you pretend you said it on your own). And we’ll distort what others say if it helps our cause.

Think that’s what the framers had in mind when they drafted the First Amendment?


  1. Ummm
    A) It's not reall a big secret, I can get the requstests e-mailed to you if you want
    B) It's not like the democrats are not doing the same thing (there are examples and I will go looking for them)

  2. You mean like this:


  3. You bet, Jason. Don't like the DNC doing it anymore than I like GWB. Of course, I would love to see any examples of loyalty-oath signing required for attendance at Kerry events. (And, to be clear, I'd denounce them just like denouncing GWB.)

    Any thoughts on the Hardball smackdown of Dowd?

  4. And while you're asking yourself what the Framers had in mind, ask yourself what they would've thought about this:

    The Democratic National Convention:
    "Demonstrators...stand in a designated protest zone, July 28, 2004 in Boston. A stone's throw away from the site of the Democratic National Convention lies a controversial fenced-in 'free speech zone' reserved for protesters, a cage that a judge recently compared to an internment camp"

    The Republican National Convention:
    Mayor Michael Bloomberg ... offered protesters ... cheap tickets to a Broadway show. "There is no reason we shouldn't welcome them in the same way we are welcoming the delegates and the press," Bloomberg said Tuesday. "The right to protest is a basic American right ... and New York City is a place where you can come and get your message out."

  5. Jason - the free speech zone pissed me off. What I don't know was whether that was mandated by the DNC or the Secret Service? (In other words, was it a partisan thing, or a security-related restriction?)

  6. Well, let me answer that for you. The President of the United States will be at the RNC Convention, and there's not a cage. If it were a SS issue, don't you think they'd demand equal, if not MORE, security for the President?

    Also, with respect to the "Dowd smackdown", I don't see it. They're basically arguing a Kerry nuance. Kerry did say he was one of the anti-war candidates, then added the qualification which amounted to a nuance...intended wiggle room that he could later argue. Face it, his objective (which Dowd correctly identified) was to position himself as equally opposed to the war as Dean and the others because they were, at the time, his competition. Once he emerged as the candidate, he had to right his ship so as not to seem "weak on defense" as an anti-war (especially given his history in VVAW).

    This is what happens when politicians speak with nuances. They always leave themselves an opening to switch positions when the audience requires. You have to admit, agree or disagree with his stances, Bush is pretty straightforward in his simple speech and let's you know exactly where he stands and what he intends to do.

  7. I haven't looked into the RNC security, but I'm not sure it's an equivalent issue: it has just as much to do with the surrounding area and the security concerns inherent in the location. That said, I'm by no means supporting the cage. Just wasn't sure who takes responsibility for its existence. Don't like it one bit, whether it's the SS or the DNC (or some combination).

    As for Kerry's statement, to ignore the nuance is to miss the point he was making. Was he against the war? Yes, in the manner in which Bush prosecuted it. Towards the end of his statement, he makes it clear that the war should have been prosecuted differently. He specifically didn't say it shouldn't have been waged at all (a view I'd ascribe to Howard Dean, and other "anti-war" candidates), or that war is wrong. He said it should have been done differently. That's a huge difference, and one that I think the Bush campaign willfully ignores.

    Trust me, I'm no Kerry apologist. And my position on the war is not John Kerry's. But for GWB to declare that JFK proclaimed himself the antiwar candidate is wrong and deliberately misleading. For the Bush campaign to claim that the few words they took from that statement is representative of Kerry's comments is laughable.

    As an aside, since when is nuance *bad*?

    Yes, I'll grant you that Bush speaks simply and plainly. But the gulf between what he says he'll do and what he does is quite wide. So yes, you can listen to what he says, or you can look at his record. I don't think the two are in sync, and I prefer to look at the record as evidence of what a second Bush administration would mean for us.

  8. Looks like I'm late to the discussion, and it looks like Rick is willing to condemn "astroturf" campaigns by both parties (but only, apparently, in comments as opposed to in the post itself :o)).

    Nevertheless, I will point out that, in addition to the DNC, John Kerry's campaign does the exact same thing at www.volunteer.johnkerry.com. You have to have a "volunteer account" in order to use the astroturf (i.e. you have to get a "ticket" to get in), but once you have an account, you can send as much astroturf as you want.

  9. "Nuance" is bad when it's used to willfully deceive. It's the ability to say one thing, mean another and give the impression that "neither" comments reflect the actual position. That way a politician can say two opposing things to two different groups and theoretically claim he's not lying to either. Clinton was a master at this. Gore tried it and wasn't as smooth. It goes with the nature of the "entitlement party". When you're catering to the desires of many factions wanting entitlements and you've carved the country (and your base) into so many special groups, you're bound to run into conflicts between the groups. When this happens, nuance is used to make both sides happy while promising nothing of substance to either.