'A formidable reputation as a nasty campaigner'
A good catch on Josh Marshall's part:
From The Financial Times, left-wing rag, December 9th, 2003 ...
The Bush campaign machine, well oiled and already rolling, should not be underestimated. The current president's father gained a formidable reputation as a nasty campaigner, though the presidential fingerprints were carefully wiped off negative blueprints administered by Lee Atwater, the first Mr Bush's ruthless chief strategist.
Karl Rove, a disciple of Mr Atwater, is similarly meticulous about keeping the president publicly above the fray. Yet it is an open secret in Washington that White House-blessed campaign strategists have been working quietly for months to compile potentially damaging background on all the Democratic candidates. In the early going, when it appeared Mr Kerry would emerge as the frontrunner, one senior Republican commented wryly: "By the time the White House finishes with Kerry, no one will know what side of the (Vietnam) war he fought on."
The White House has been planning this all along. BushCo did the same thing to John McCain in 2000, with an outfit called "Republicans for Clean Air" financed by one of Bush's "Pioneer" fundraisers. Independent group, my ass -- this Swift Boat outfit has Karl Rove's fingerprints all over it.