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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

As Dan Sails Over the Edge, Kerry Leans Forward and Tightens Grip on Rope
posted by Bathus

The day before yesterday the Kerry campaign issued this quasi-denial (i.e., a "non-denial" denial):
A Kerry campaign official said the campaign could find no record of any contacts with Burkett.
But then yesterday (surprise, surprise) Joe Lockhart, a senior Kerry campaign advisor and former Clinton press secretary, abandoned that quasi-denial and admitted he had indeed spoken with Burkett:
At the behest of CBS, an adviser to John Kerry said he talked to a central figure in the controversy over President Bush's National Guard service shortly before disputed documents were released.

Joe Lockhart denied any connection between the presidential campaign and the papers. Lockhart, the second Kerry ally to confirm contact with retired Texas National Guard officer Bill Burkett, said he made the call at the suggestion of CBS producer Mary Mapes.
. . . .
Lockhart said he does not recall talking to Burkett about Bush's Guard records. "It's baseless to say the Kerry campaign had anything to do with this," he said.
Which part of Lockhart's statement do you believe?

Lockhart's highly original claim that he "does not recall" talking with Burkett about the memos is obviously yet another quasi-denial in an impending string of quasi-denials.

Lucky thing for Lockhart, for this quasi-denial he has a witness of indisputable credibility to confirm his version of the conversation:
Burkett said his interest in contacting the campaign was to offer advice in responding to Republican criticisms about Kerry's Vietnam service. It had nothing to do with the documents, he said.
You have to give Lockhart and Burkett credit for having the forethought to get their story straight ahead of time: "And, oh, by the way, if anybody should ever ask, we never talked about these memos, right?"

In an earlier post, I had generously speculated that the Kerry campaign had played no role in manufacturing the forged memos and had not itself provided the documents to CBS, but had instead acted as an intermediary between CBS and Burkett. Perhaps I am too generous, but I continue to believe that was probably the case, notwithstanding Lockhart's transparent quasi-denial.

I also observed in my earlier post that, if the Kerry campaign's role was limited to playing middleman between Burkett and CBS, then that sin was "miniscule" judged by "contemporary campaign standards of no-holds-barred opposition research." I further speculated that, unfortunately for Kerry, the embarrassment he would suffer would be disproportionate to that minor sin.

As to my last bit of propheteering, the Kerry camp's bumbling is making me sound like a voice straight from the Old Testament. So since the Kerry folks were so ready to receive Bill Burkett's timely advice, maybe they'll listen to mine, which I offer in the spirit of compassionate conservatism:
In these last twelve days, have you Kerry folks learned nothing from watching Dan Rather's slow-motion slide down the face of the cliff? Did you not wince when he bashed his brains on every rock along the way? Do you not understand that the same fate awaits you if you insist on clinging to his tether? You must do everything you can to cleanly cut the rope that ties you to Dan Rather. You must cut the rope before he drags every one of you over the edge right behind him.

You can't save Dan, so save yourselves. Cut the cord now, and then toss the rope down after him.

Are you so naive to believe that CBS will finish out this story in a way that spares you Democrats? More likely the opposite. Sure, CBS loves you liberals, but CBS loves CBS even more. So CBS will do everything possible to spread the blame around, and that means putting as much blame on you as it can.

Every quasi-denial you offer now makes it that much easier for CBS to make you look worse later. Every quasi-denial you offer now strings out the inevitable revelation of the ugly truth and costs your candidate time and credibility he can't afford to waste.

So get it all out as fast as you can.

Beat CBS to the punch before CBS punches you out. Make a very big deal of firing Joe Lockhart and whoever else among your team had the slightest contact with Burkett, Rather, or CBS.

But don't ditch Max Cleland. There's no upside to ditching a triple-amputee. Instead, roll Max out on stage one last time to tearfully explain how his devotion to a brother-in-arms led him to do something for which he is now sorely ashamed. America loves a theatrical confession, and nothing could top a speech like this from Cleland: "Thirty years ago, I paid a great price when I threw myself upon a grenade to save my beloved comrades from certain harm. Thirty years ago I fell upon a grenade that wasn't mine. But today the grenade I fall upon is my own. I pray that this act will spare the brothers and sisters who share my cause."

There won't be a dry eye in the house.

To wrap your little morality play, Kerry himself could personally apologize to Bush for the misdeeds of his underlings. An apology might make your John seem halfway honest; it might even make him seem human.

And then your guy could get back to talking about prescription drugs and teacher salaries or whatever it is he thinks this election is about. It's all a long shot, but what have you got to lose?

One last thing: If you do manage to pull this off, from here on out I'd steer clear of that band-of-brothers crap.
[Note: Unlike Bill Burkett, I wouldn't offer my advice to the Kerry campaign if I thought there was a fool's chance in hell they would take it.--Adeimantus]

posted by Bathus | 9/21/2004 01:15:00 AM
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're much to kind, re offering advice. Like "The Perfect Storm" I think it'd be fitting if all hands were lost.

MaDr

12:10 PM, September 21, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cleland did NOT fall on a grenade 30 years ago. On his way to an early morning beer as a helicopter was taking off, Max merely picked up a live one from the ground that had probably caught on something and fell off someone's web gear.

Boom.

War over for Max.

11:33 PM, September 22, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan Rather is a small man on a small ice floe labeled "Forged Documents, Selected Sources, and Collusive Phone calls. He Stood on this ice floe and said "come to my continent Mr. President and answer my questions."

The Kerry campaign jumped onto the same ice floe with their "Fortunate Son" campaign.

Open Source Journalists test, extend, and enhance the news.

Thanks for being there.

6:30 AM, September 27, 2004  

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