Wednesday, November 10, 2004


How Kerry made the biggest gaffe of his campaign

Where did those words ("I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it") come from? What's the context? How did these 13 words become the most famous sentance of the campaign?

The answer is buried in a long article in this week's Newsweek, that has much to say about the duplicity of the GOP and their media people. (Money quote below)

I wish I could understand why this sort of dirty trick doesn't disgust Zman Biur and the values crowd. So many GOP campaign tactics exploit ignorance, or are plain dishonest. Where is the outrage, or even the sense of disapointment from truth-loving Jews?

Here's the article's money quote:

That noon, when Kerry addressed a veterans group in West Virginia, a heckler kept demanding to know why he had voted against more funding for the troops. In his considered but long-winded fashion, Kerry tried to explain that he had wanted to vote for the funding, but only if the Senate passed an amendment that would whittle down President Bush's earlier tax cut for the rich. Kerry voted for the amendment, but when it failed, he voted against the funding. The heckler pressed, and Kerry, losing patience, fell into senatorial procedural shorthand. "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it," he said.

At Bush-Cheney headquarters, Joe Kildae, a 25-year-old campaign intern who monitored the war room (and never seemed to sleep), was watching. In his cubicle he kept three televisions and a battery of TiVos and VCRs. As soon as he saw Kerry make his remark on Fox News, he stood up in his cubicle and caught the eye of his boss, Steve Schmidt. Schmidt had seen the clip, too. The two men nodded at each other. Kildae thought to himself: "We're going to be seeing this a lot." He immediately hit pause on his digital recorder, wound the clip back and copied it to tape. Using a program called TVEyes, he pulled up an instant rough transcript. He e-mailed the transcript of Kerry's "flip-flopping" to an "alert list" of top aides, who could then click on a link to see the video.

"You gotta see this," Kildae told campaign communications adviser Terry Holt. "Oh, my God," Holt replied. "You have to send that to me on my BlackBerry." The video of Kerry's shooting himself in the foot flew around Bush-Cheney headquarters and, very soon, into the hungry ether beyond.

McKinnon and his ad team wasted no time. "The second we saw it, we knew we had a new ad," McKinnon later recalled. "The greatest gifts in politics are the gifts the other side gives you." It was so simple. All they had to do was drop the footage of Kerry saying "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it" into the ad that was already running, chastising Kerry for cutting funding. McKinnon called the new ad "Troops-Fog." Much of its airing was free: right wing radio stations played it endlessly and cable news shows picked up the clip of the "flip-flop" and plastered it on screens like wallpaper."


Anonymous said...

What an appropriate post for parshas Toldos. We see here how the corrupt son used words to ensnare the heart of the voters. Truly, the author of this ad and this assualt on the charecter of John Kerry was another example of "tzayid b'fiv."

I do not expect and of your conservative readers will have the guts to answer this, but perhaps your wise, liberal readers will say a few more words about this.

DovBear said...


Please don't disparage my readers. That's my job.


PS - Any conservative reader with an example of the Dems being tzayid b'fiv is welcome to share. If it outrages me, I'll acknowledge it and prove my disgust with snarky comments.

Jack Steiner said...

So many GOP campaign tactics exploit ignorance, or are plain dishonest.Both sides engage in this sort of one sided story telling.

DovBear said...

Jack: I agree.

Let's have some examples and onto the blog they will go.

(I still think truth-loving Jews should be objecting, instead of cuddling up to Bush. But that's for later. Let's do some equal opportunity Dem-basing first)

Anonymous said...

What dirty trick? Kerry said this. Americans understood the context in which he said it, too. It was typical and *In context* telling. Do you have a similar quote from, say, John McCain? Lieberman? Do you think that's an accident? Give me a break, dirty tricks, this is exactly what people despised about Kerry. Yes, we know that he might have voted differently if he thought the bill wouldn't pass -- but that's just it, taking a stand provided he won't be called to account for it,and it has no real ramifications, very typical.

Anonymous said...

They GOP crooks used this quote to "prove" that Kerry was a flip-flopper, when the quote shows nothing of the sort.

But, then, the GOP is not interested in honest debate. After all, we saw how bad their man looked when he had to talk about real issues intellligently.

Anonymous said...

If you believe that the vote was a principled protest against Bush, it was a weasely way to register that protest, and it proves he's a jerk. There are many more effective ways to register objections to war strategy (mind you, these are all objections Kerry hadn't registered until Howard Dean's numbers went up). I also have a bridge to sell you cheap.

If you believe that the vote was a way to back down from his support for the war because the political winds had shifted, and Howard Dean was doing well on an antiwar platform, it is one more item in the kerry flipflop list.