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7/08/2004

Civil Discourse/Optimism

The best thing thus far about the Edwards selection is how crisply it has flipped the "optimism" meme. Milbank first hinted at this, counterposing Bush's civil welcome to Edwards with the egregious RNC talking points. Bush's civility didn't last long, though. He tartly accused Edwards of being unfit for the presidency. Kerry-Edwards responded with a nice press release and some aggressive remarks from the stump.

Bush also attacked Kerry-Edwards on judicial nominations. The KE campaign responded well. Meanwhile, the positive Johns keep on chugging, and Grieve of Salon likes the contrast between Edwards and Cheney.

Even Maureen Dowd was distracted from her fashion commentary to notice:

It's hilarious that the Republicans are trying to paint their ticket as the more optimistic one.

Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush radiate negativity, even as Mr. Edwards and his photogenic blond kids glow for the cameras. Dick Cheney glowers for the camera, a Dr. No with a dark vision that has resulted in a gigantic global mess. (When he was stopped by applause at a campaign stop in Altoona, Pa., on Sunday, he asked, "You guys want to hear this speech or not?")

Unfortunately for this White House, it is Mr. Edwards's great talent to talk about the class warfare of "two Americas" in a sunny way. The Breck Girl is already getting under the Boy King's thin skin.

President Bush should have easily knocked a question about Mr. Edwards — nicknamed the Breck Girl by Bush officials — out of the park. But he whiffed. Steve Holland of Reuters noted that Senator Edwards was being described "as charming, engaging, a nimble campaigner, a populist and even sexy. How does he stack up against Dick Cheney?"

W. should have given a sly smile and drawled, "You mean you don't find Vice sexy?" Instead, he looked irritated and spit out his answer: "Dick Cheney can be president." Indeed, he already is.
Also notable is this exchange from the 7/6 gaggle:
Q Scott, on that point, the President has talked about changing the tone in Washington, to making the debate more civil. But the Republican National Committee put out this statement on Edwards, calling him "disingenuous and unaccomplished." The Bush-Cheney campaign put out talking points saying that Senator Edwards "delivers his pessimism with a southern drawl and a smile." Is that helpful?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I mean, is there something in there you're disputing? (Laughter.) I think it's perfectly reasonable to talk about the differences on the issues and to talk about the record. And I think that's what you're seeing being discussed here by the campaign and by the RNC. The President believes that we should focus on the policy differences and focus on the leadership styles, and that's what he will continue to do as we move forward on this campaign.

Q So you're agreeing with those statements then, that he is disingenuous and unaccomplished?

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, it's perfectly legitimate to talk about the issues and the differences on those issues, as well as to discuss the record. There are individuals in this race who have records, and those records are a reflection of how they would lead in office.

Q You don't seen this as personal attacks, you see this as policy --

MR. McCLELLAN: Suzanne, there are clear choices in this election, and the President wants the discussion to focus on the issues and the differences on those issues. There are clear choices and there are clear philosophical differences for the voters, come November. And the President will keep this focused on the issues and talking about his positive vision for the way forward for our country.

Q So you don't have a problem with the language and the tone?

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, it's perfectly legitimate to talk about the issues and the differences and to talk about the record.

Q Can I follow in that vein? Has the President ever had a word with the Vice President about his use of profanity in the United States Senate?

MR. McCLELLAN: Ed, I've previously discussed this issue. This issue came up while we were, I believe, in Ireland, and I addressed it at that point. And that's where it stands.

Q So the answer is, no, the President has not --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President has regular conversations with the Vice President.

Q But about that issue?

Q Scott, why is the President going to Edwards' home state tomorrow?

MR. McCLELLAN: He is going there to -- two things. One, he will be going there to meet with some of his judicial nominees in North Carolina. And then he will go to Michigan later in the day to meet with some of his judicial nominees whose confirmation hearings and votes have been blocked by a small number of Democrats in the United States Senate.
UPDATE: I found this Salon article after I wrote all this. I might as well have cut and pasted.

 

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