May 18, 2004


You’ve also got to wonder (as Andrew Sullivan does) why the Bush Administration is doing such a bad job at getting its message out that it has to rely on Australian bloggers to pick up its slack.

UPDATE: Reader Michael McFatter thinks this is all part of the Bush PR plan:

I really think this is the administration letting the press hang themselves. Think about it. How do you feel about the NYT today relative to four years ago? The New Yorker? CNN? Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Ted Koppel? Is your opinion worse or the same? Mine’s worse and I never trusted those sources in the first place. In fact, I didn’t think that my opinion could be worse four years ago.

In addition, this strengthens the party and his political base as they feel they are being attacked ( and they are in ways they never realized they were) and it will inspire them to move to defend themselves. It also gives the enemy ( a hostile press ) an inaccurate sense of the political groundwar. This is about lowering expectations and it is a theme in the Bush presidency. Watch things get worse and worse until just after the Dems convention when suddenly “from out of nowhere” Bush will rise again. There will be publicity victories in the meantime, but they will not outnumber “defeats” until it is politically necessary. You don’t want to use all your best material too early. He has done this a thousand times and the press falls for it every time. And more importantly, so does John Kerry.

If this is the strategy, and it works, then Karl Rove is really, really smart. Is he that smart?

MORE: Reader Douglas McRae thinks Karl Rove is really smart:

Every morning the clock radio wakes me up to Prison Abuse 24/7 (NPR). This morning I realized the major reoccurring theme is that the prisoners were made to wear women’s underwear or go naked. I suspect that the American Public now has the image of Iraqi thugs in pink thongs firmly imbedded in their minds and the rest of the story (if there is any) is unheard. Besides, most Americans say to themselves, if the Iraqis can’t take that, they are really wusses. This will be noted as another Big Media overhype failure. They will be wondering, again, why they can’t get traction against Bush.

We’ll see.

STILL MORE: Reader Herbert Jacobi thinks it’s all part of the plan, too:

I can’t help wonder if Bush, et al., is silent because he knows that the media will bury everything he says in the back pages. There is a large and well organized group in this country that want Iraq and, in general, the War on Terror to fail. And another group that would like it to seem to fail, at least until Kerry is elected (Re your post from The Daily Telegraph’s Toby Harnden on May 12). So why make a lot of speeches now when the press will bury it? If he then makes the same arguments later during the campaign the charge will be: “He’s already said that.” So the media won¹t have to cover it as much, if at all. There is also the boredom factor. If he keeps saying the same (even good) arguments over and over again now people will become bored by November, if not earlier.

Better to wait until the real campaign for the election starts and people take notice. And because of the election the media will have to pay attention. There is also the chance that there will be more good news on the WMD as well as on other fronts.

The counter argument (shades of John Kerry!) is that if he waits to long it will be to late and people will have already made up their minds no matter what he says or how well he says it. But when I look at the press coverage, especially from media outlets such as the NYT it seems to me a worthwhile gamble.

Or they could just be blowing the whole thing. I hope not.

As I say, we’ll see. But Bush-fan John Podhoretz doesn’t think that they’re hitting the right note.

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