Bush avoids the question

By Geraldine Sealey
Published October 1, 2004 5:00AM (EDT)

When Dick Cheney warned recently that if America voted the wrong way in November we'd "get hit again" by terrorists, there was such an outcry that the Bush campaign backtracked a bit, saying Cheney must have chosen the wrong words. And yet, Bush surrogates ever since have made similarly appalling insinuations -- and some have even suggested that al-Qaida wants nothing more than to see Kerry elected.

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times editorial pages have noted that this tactic marks a new low in American politics, calling it despicable, polarizing, and even "un-American." The LA Times said Bush was a coward for letting his surrogates climb into the gutter on his behalf and "refus[ing] to take responsibility for it or to call point-blank for it to stop."

Thursday night, Bush had a chance to show America he doesn't believe choosing John Kerry in November will make them more likely to "get hit again." He deflected the question. "Do you believe the election of Senator Kerry on November the 2nd would increase the chances of the U.S. being hit by another 9/11-type terrorist attack?" Jim Lehrer asked.

"No, I don't believe it's going to happen," Bush said -- very clearly referring to a Kerry win in November. "I believe I'm going to win, because the American people know I know how to lead."

What Bush showed the American people with that non-answer is that he's not willing to end the scare tactics.

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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