Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Nevermind: I was in Michigan on Monday. Nice thing about leaving the Beltway and visiting a swing state is that you finally get a chance to see what's going on in the presidential campaign.

Remember all that talk about how the "I approved this message" requirement could lead to a decrease in outright negative campaign ads. It's not working. Bush's commercials follow the law and begin with his approval of the message -- then the message goes on to trash Kerry for wanting to raise taxes by $900-billion within his first 100 days as president: "And that's just the first 100 days," the ad says. No more pictures of Bush are included.

It reminds me of when I was living in Texas and Bush first ran for governor, against incumbent Ann Richards. Ann, as she was wont to do, ran a nasty, dirty campaign, trashing Bush. But Bush ran a mostly positive campaign, with his ads laying out specific policy proposals on how he would like to help the state.

When asked about Ann's nasty -- and at times deceitful -- attacks, Bush responded that the incumbent must not have anything positive to say about her own term as governor if she could only run ads targeting the upstart challenger. It was a brilliant maneuver, and he easily won that election as a result.

Now Bush is the incumbent president. He's not laying out any specific policy proposals for the next term. And he's attacking his challenger instead of highlighting the (many, I believe) positives that have come out of his four years as president.

Not a smart move. The burden of proof is on Bush, the incumbent, to show that he is not just the lesser of two evils, but to prove that he has done good things as president and to tell us what good things he wants to do with his next term.


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