Fear factor

By Geraldine Sealey
Published October 22, 2004 10:17PM (UTC)
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The Bush-Cheney campaign has officially gone to the wolves. The latest Republican ad features an ominous-looking bunch of wolves lying around in the woods apparently waiting to pounce on, well, us, in the event John Kerry is elected. The wolves are supposed to represent the terrorists, you see, and the terrorists can smell weakness. Here's what the ad says: "In an increasingly dangerous world ... Even after the first terrorist attack on America ... John Kerry and the liberals in Congress voted to slash America's intelligence operations. By $6 billion. Cuts so deep they would have weakened America's defenses. And weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm."

Campaigning in Boynton Beach, Fla., John Edwards pounced on the ad today, saying: "They have stooped so low now that they are using a pack of wolves running around a forest trying to scare you and trying to scare the American people. The president is continuing to try to scare America in his speeches and ads in a despicable and contemptible way. The American people are smarter than they think. They are going to see through all this."


Well, we are smarter than they think -- because we know that there's not just a pack of wolves in this ad, there's a pack of distortions, too. OK, just one big distortion. Like many of the misleading factoids that are daily fare for Bush-Cheney '04, the whopper included in the "Wolves" ad was recycled from a previous attack. As Tim Grieve pointed out while fact-checking the Republican Convention, Bush's choice for CIA chief, Porter Goss, proposed a much larger cut in intelligence funding before Kerry made his proposal. And that same year, when Congress cut $1 billion from the intelligence budget, it wasn't the brainchild of "liberals in Congress," it was a Republican proposal.

But the information contained in the ad isn't really the point so much as the symbolism of the wolves and the suggestion that we are all dead meat if the Democrats win. If Bush's poll numbers get any worse, we're afraid of what's next in the Bush ad arsenal -- wolves eating babies, perhaps?

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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