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Kerry Finally Goes Negative,
Bush Double-Negative

After months or urging from Democrats and the anti-Bush crowd, Kerry is finally fighting back against the Bush-Cheney campaign which has had him pinned down on the defensive ever since the Democratic National Convention.

Sadly, the strongest weapon Kerry has pulled out of his stockpile is job outsourcing. Kerry has said repeatedly that he will end a tax code which gives tax incentives to companies that ship jobs overseas. What he never says is that the tax code he refers to is not a Bush creation. According to an article from (, "Bush isn't to blame for it -- it's been there for decades." That same article states that eliminating the code would not decrease the amount of outsourcing because companies are doing it more for the cheap labor and to be closer to foreign buyers. also describes outsourcing as "a relatively minor problem." As a result, I am now relatively unimpressed by Kerry's persistence in making an issue out of this.

Kerry has also cited that Bush is the first President since Hoover to have a net job loss. I think this is a pretty good argument, but the Republicans have done a thorough job of acting like the first two and half or three years of Bush's reign never happened. Instead they will scream that Bush has created thousands of jobs (and then whisper, "since a few months ago").

Along the same line, Kerry has brought up the fact that several million more Americans have fallen under the poverty line in the last four years. The Bush campaign responded that Kerry was only looking at the most "pessimistic" of estimates. This is by no means the first time they have tried to label John Kerry as being a pessimist. Forgive my sarcasm, but why on Earth would Kerry, running against Bush, be pessimistic about his job performance? Is the Bush-Cheney campaign so egotistical that it believes Kerry should come out saying, "You know, this administration is doing a knock-out job. But vote for me anyway!" Of course not. They just think they can get away stating the obvious as a negative against Kerry.

Another statistic that Kerry has been harping on is the deficit. It's insanely huge, but it's also a very difficult figure to argue with because the Bush camp has a very simple strategy: Estimate high. Very high. All they have to do is predict that the deficit will grow by much more than they ever really expect it to. Then, when the real numbers come in, lower than they're inflated prediction, they can claim that it's not as bad as they thought it would be. According to them, that means they're making great progress, when in fact, the budget deficit is still growing at a higher rate than it should be.

Kerry also has to be careful about factual mistakes. For some reason, Bush gets away with all sorts of misstatements, but the media works overtime to call out everything Kerry says. He has been caught making one incorrect statement about a member of the Bush campaign being fired (the guy actually quit for personal reasons…well, maybe), and shot down Kerry's recent ad, which claims that the war in Iraq has cost the United States $200 Billion (It hasn't. At least not yet). These misstatements are being turned against Kerry and taking away from the power of his legitimate attacks on Bush. He definitely has to have his facts straight by the time of the debates.

But look at me being the pessimist. I do think Kerry is very weak on economic issues, but that doesn't mean he has no chance. He just needs to take a page out of the Bush-Cheney strategy handbook. This is what his key statement would be if I were his speech writer:

"This Administration said that we could not wait for proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq because that proof might come in the shape of a mushroom cloud. But now there are mushroom clouds over North Korea, and that same administration says that it is 'inconclusive.' This is a President who is taking the path of least resistance. He bombed Iraq, a nation that posed no threat to the United States, but he stands by as North Korea, a member of the Axis of Evil, develops a nuclear arsenal. He stands by as that same country cooperates with Iran, the other member of the Axis, in developing a missile delivery system for nuclear payloads. Mr. President, how long are you going to continue turning a blind eye to the real threats to America?"

It's tough, simple, and appeals to peoples' fears. That's what it is going to take to win this election.

I'm not going to complain about negative campaigning anymore. That's where this election is at, and acting like it could be replaced with a positive, issues-based campaign seems ignorant. Kerry will have to step up his mudslinging with stronger, but factually sound attacks. The Bush-Cheney camp will certainly maintain its own pace of negativity. In this election, may he who out-negates his opponent win.

Read other articles written by Scott Zuke