Andrew Sullivan thinks MoveOn’s new ad attacking Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is “not entirely fair, since “Rumsfeld never said that the threat from Iraq was imminent, or immediate.” But Andrew suggests that the ad is “a strong one, because it taps into general public skepticism about the honesty of their governments.” On the side, he advises Sen. John Kerry to respond to the “devastating” Bush ads exposing Kerry’s tendency to say everything at once with a few sharply-focused ads on Bush’s history of inaccuracies.

One man’s “devastating” is another man’s “surreal shamelessness.” That’s how Josh Marshall describes those same Bush ads, which use “a very strained argument to allege that Kerry opposed an increase in military combat pay when in fact the White House was … trying to cut combat pay for troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Though some might speculate that the White House is attacking Kerry as a way of inoculating itself on the issue, Josh thinks “the reality is more banal. They just don’t care.” Now it’s his turn to offer advice: “The Kerry campaign … should be focusing their fire on the shamelessness, the disrespect for the intelligence of the public and the press.”

Noam Scheiber, writing on his New Republic blog, argues with Mickey Kaus’s theory that the Madrid bombings have already helped Bush, by elevating terrorism as an issue over the economy. Scheiber thinks that, since an attack was bound to occur somewhere in the world before November, it’s better for Kerry that it happened now, since it gives him enough time to “make sure he’s got a credible anti-terror message.” Although, “[t]hat still might not be enough time.”

As for Kaus himself, he’s quickly moved on to the next line of attack on Kerry, highlighting the senator’s comment that, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” Kerry claims he intended to finance the $87 billion by repealing some of Bush’s tax cuts, and that he cosponsored an amendment to do that. But Kaus argues that once that amendment failed, Kerry should have voted in favor of the $87 billion — and would have, had he not been campaign for the Democratic nomination in “anti-war Iowa.”

And Billmon calls Vice President Dick Cheney “cheeky” for this line from his speech yesterday: “Yet of the many nations that have joined our coalition — allies and friends of the United States — Senator Kerry speaks with open contempt.” Billmon argues that it’s been Cheney “and his neocon wrecking crew [that] have virtually destroyed the most successful coalition in human history — NATO.” The White House’s goal, Billmon thinks, is “to confuse and obfuscate the audience.

He concludes, “[m]ost voters, hearing virtually identical charges and countercharges bouncing back and forth, will quickly conclude there’s no way to figure it out, and who the hell knows anyway?”

Zachary Roth

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Zachary Roth is a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly. He also has written for The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets.