Bush Takes Aim at His Democratic ChallengersMr. Bush, however, hopes to come up with some before election day.
By Edwin Chen and Maura Reynolds
Times Staff Writers
February 24, 2004
WASHINGTON — Moving to seize the political offensive, President Bush on Monday delivered a direct attack on the Democrats trying to unseat him, saying they had offered no policies that would win the war on terrorism or expand the economy.
"So far all we hear is a lot of old bitterness and partisan anger," Bush said. "Anger is not an agenda for the future of America."But fear, bullying and making phoneyed-up military aggresssion with a $500 billion deficit sure is.
In one of the most partisan speeches of his presidency, Bush burnished the two pillars of his reelection bid so far: that he is a decisive "wartime president" who will not relent in the war against terrorism, and that he remains deeply engaged in the task of creating new jobs. But for the first time, Bush also criticized what he said were the failings of the Democrats competing for the nomination to challenge him in the November election.Hopefully, it'll occur to voters that both of those pillars were created by President Fenderhead himself.
Voters, Bush said, would have "a very clear choice" between his vision of "an America that leads the world with strength and confidence or an America that is uncertain in the face of danger."Hey! That's the Democrats' slogan, too!
Contrasting his tax cuts with proposals from the Democratic candidates, Bush warned: "Listen closely, because there's a theme. Every promise will increase the power of politicians and bureaucrats over your income, over your retirement, over your healthcare and over your life. It's the same old Washington mind-set: They'll give the orders, and you'll pay the bills."He threw that in as a joke, right? I don't have a 401k anymore, and that's his idea of ironic humor, correct?
The address, to a receptive audience of Republican governors and donors at a Washington convention center, marked a decision by Bush and his reelection team to move onto an aggressive campaign footing even before Democrats had chosen their nominee.And everything else he's done for the last three years has been bi-partisan? Right.
Next week, the Bush campaign will air its first television advertisements, another signal that Bush is willing to show himself as a partisan candidate as well as a president.
This animal is in the corner and he's wounded. But still, I can't help feel some deep-down hope because the junk they're feeding Drudge, NewsMax and whoever else has a track record of smear-and-slime is just not sticking. And that's probably because the American public has wised up and adopted "Won't Get Fooled Again" as our new national anthem.
It's going to get much uglier than this, guaranteed. I like to think we're ready for it.