Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Bush sleeper cells

Eleanor Clift on the origins of the Swift Boat smear:

The strategy “came straight from the West Wing,” says the GOP staffer. “Nobody should be confused.” Asked to explain, this Republican says Rove is smart enough to keep technical distance. But all it takes is a well-placed wink to activate a web of Bush family hit men, confidantes and deep-pocket donors. “They know what to do—it’s like sleeper cells that get activated,” he says, likening the players to “political terrorists.”

They sprang into action in 2000 when Bush was running in the primaries against John McCain. After getting beat in New Hampshire by McCain, Bush’s first event was at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Standing next to Bush on the stage was a veteran who went right at McCain, questioning his Vietnam service while Bush remained silent. A whisper campaign told voters that McCain had a black child. (The McCains have an adopted daughter from Bangladesh.) McCain lost the primary; the veteran became a Bush administration appointee....

My Republican mole on Capitol Hill says the green light has gone out to Republicans to do whatever it takes to get Bush elected. “This is the way we hold onto power,” he says with disgust. Pollster John Zogby’s survey of battleground states taken last week as the Swift Boat controversy raged shows no fundamental change in the race. “It’s running its course, and it may boomerang,” he says of the attack on Kerry’s heroism. The fact that the sleeper network has gone nuclear is evidence of Bush’s weakness, not his strength, says Zogby. “If [the Bush team] weren’t seeing serious damage, they wouldn’t be hitting so hard so early. The president is on the ropes; there’s no other way of looking at it.”

Obviously we can expect more slime from Rove and his sleeper cells -- and when it comes, we need to pin it on them. Make damn sure everyone knows where this stuff originates.


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