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How to Bush Whack

Talking points for the DNC

By Peter Bellone

THIS IS an open letter to the Democratic National Committee. More like a plea. OK, I'm begging. In your hands, you hold the key to victory in November: Bush's service in the National Guard. Now, everyone knows you have this key and will use it, but please resist the Perry Mason side of your soul, the one that wants to look good and stay cool, the one that wants to walk away from the defendant, turn slowly and deliver the blow with a raised finger: "Ah, but Mr. President, can you prove you were in Alabama in 1972?"

No. No. No. That approach is a waste of time. No one's ever vouched for him before, and nobody cared enough to stop him. He served two terms as governor and has $200 million that says he will serve two terms as president. Furthermore, the Republicans will counter with: Can we now talk about the issues please?

That's why you have to frame this as the issue.

Bush prides himself on his tough-guy image: I decide, I lead. Thinking and self-doubt are for losers who have no clear sense of right and wrong. So why, you must ask, would a man of this outlook not go to Vietnam? It is because he wasn't a John Wayne type then, and more importantly, he isn't one now. In order to make this the issue, though, you must say without insinuation, "George W. Bush is a coward." And you must swing this club ceaselessly. Destroy what he cherishes the most. I mean, what else does he care about? Policy? A deeper understanding of the world?

Here's another one: Why did he tell Saddam Hussein to "bring it on" and not Ho Chi Minh?

Because, you explain, Saddam was safer--for him. And whenever he swaggers around in that leather flight jacket again, you muse: Does anyone remember the second presidential debate in 2000? Bush, shaky as usual, was making an even shakier point about free trade, when Al Gore stood up and faced him. This is man on man, something the manly live for, so how do you think he reacted? My fellow Americans, you say, he flinched like a girl! Naturally, this is the same man who skipped out on Vietnam.

And keep the momentum going with the Tim Russert interview. And speaking of unmanly behavior, did anyone see the president on Meet the Press? Someone needs to remind this fellow the days of hopping onto the chariot and leading the troops into battle are long over. Ha! While our men and women face serious harm over there in Iraq, Bush can't even face an unarmed reporter in his own home. Christ Almighty, he looked more nervous and pale than the soldiers on television; he doesn't even possess the nerve to fake it. No way, you stress, is he the man he wants us to believe he is.

These are just some of the potential talking points. Once you've ditched all notions of civility, the ads have glorious potential. Flash a picture of his wife on the screen while the voice-over says, "A sexy woman is like the Silver Star; they both require guts to win one." Every time the Republicans play the aircraft carrier­landing footage, you play the flinch and add the quote from Barbara Bush, "I thought he was going to hit him." Voice-over: "He didn't defend his country; he lets his mother defend him. Does that mean his mom, given the chance, would have gone to Vietnam? Paid for by Friends of Kerry and the Flinch."

And please, whatever happens, ignore the charges of slander and cruelty. We're talking about the House of Bush here. Grandpa Prescott sold war materials to the Nazis; Papa Bush used the hostages in Iran to get Reagan elected; and Dubya insinuated that Sen. McCain fathered a mulatto child out of wedlock to win the South Carolina primary. These people have shown a willingness to use whatever's at hand to win. You must do the same. I speak of nothing less than psychological assassination.

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From the February 25-March 3, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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