By Tim McGivern
Punked. Immediately following last week's presidential debate, Ken Mehlman, George W. Bush's campaign manager, convened a teleconference with GOP "team leaders" around the country to discuss strategy. An unknown fact to Mehlman, however, was that an Internet blogger named Atrios had circulated the event's phone number and password on his website. And who reads blogs more than other bloggers, right? After Mehlman talked about Kerry's "credibility gap," he offered to take three questions. According to Jack Pine Savage, one of the bloggers who listened in, the first question came from a "young Republican in Washington." The woman announced she thought Kerry won the debate and was now going to vote for him. The second caller, another woman, said Kerry would make a worthy Commander in Chief and the third call criticized Bush for playing-down al Qaeda. "Mehlman apologized to the Bush supporters listening and acknowledged that the call had obviously attracted some Democrats," wrote Savage on his blog.
Fox News is Nuts! George W. Bush's debate performance last week was awesome, Dude! Just ask Fox News host Sean Hannity. "I've never seen him more passionate, more on message, more articulate," Hannity proclaimed after the debate, making him, one would assume, an instant laughingstock, even among his fellow Republicans.
The morning after the debate, Fox News went from incredible to whacky, linking a story to their homepage that contained false quotes attributed to Kerry. The story states:
Rallying supporters in Tampa Friday, Kerry played up his performance in Thursday night's debate, in which many observers agreed the Massachusetts senator outperformed the president. "Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" Kerry said Friday.
With the foreign-policy debate in the history books, Kerry hopes to keep the pressure on and the sense of traction going. Aides say he will step up attacks on the president in the next few days, and pivot somewhat to the domestic agenda, with a focus on women and abortion rights. "It's about the Supreme Court. Women should like me! I do manicures," Kerry said.
The quotes, discovered by blogger Josh Marshall (www.talkingpointsmemo.com), were fabricated and the story disappeared from Fox News' website by Friday afternoon. True, you gotta be deluded to think Fox News is fair and balanced, but that's getting into Wow! territory.
Tough Love. If you wanted to know what real conservatives thought about Bush's first debate performance, Jay Nordlinger, managing editor of the right-wing bible National Review, posted his analysis online immediately following the debate: "Listen: If I were just a normal guy—not Joe Political Junkie—I would vote for Kerry. On the basis of that debate, I would. If I were just a normal, fairly conservative, war-supporting guy: I would vote for Kerry."
Nordlinger continues: "Bush, throughout the evening, as Kerry spoke, had that pursed and annoyed look. I think it must have driven many people crazy. ... Bush said, 'We're makin' progress' a hundred times—that seemed a little desperate. He also said 'mixed messages' a hundred times—I was wishing that he would mix his message. He said, 'It's hard work,' or, 'It's tough,' a hundred times. ... Staying on message is one thing; robotic repetition—when there are oceans of material available—is another ... I hate to say it, but often Bush gave the appearance of being what his critics charge he is: callow, jejune, unserious. And remember—talk about repetition!—I concede this as someone who loves the man."
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