Let the smears begin

Published July 6, 2004 2:41PM (EDT)

Before John Kerry finished speaking in Pittsburgh this morning, the Republican National Committee was pumping out e-mails directing reporters to its smear-Edwards site, www.kerrypicksedwards.com. The GOP's early line: Edwards is a "disingenuous, unaccomplished liberal and a friend to personal injury trial lawyers."

The site features everything you'd expect, leading off, of course, with Kerry's primary-era suggestion that Edwards was still in diapers when Kerry came back from Vietnam. There's no mention that Kerry immediately apologized for the remark, nor any mention of what George W. Bush was doing in 1969, either.

That's not to say that there's nothing about the Bush administration on the site. To the contrary, in the course of bashing Edwards for his lack of foreign policy experience, the GOP reminds us that candidate Bush flunked a reporter's pop quiz on foreign affairs. And in order to attack Edwards on the war on terror, the GOP quotes John Ashcroft's claim that the president has inherent authority to deem citizens "enemy combatants" and hold them in prison indefinitely -- a legal position that eight Supreme Court justices, including Republican stalwarts William Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia, have now declared unconstitutional.

We may never know what the Republicans would have trotted out this morning if Kerry had selected any of the other candidates on his short list. But we do know this: they were ready. In addition to www.kerrypicksedwards.com, the Republican National Committee had also locked up www.kerrypicksvilsack.com, www.kerrypicksgephardt.com, www.kerrypicksclark.com and www.kerrypicksbayh.com.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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