Flip-Flops and the Lincoln Bedroom

Fact-checking is all of a sudden in fashion these days, and we at Campaign Desk couldn’t be prouder. This morning, the blogosphere lets loose a fusillade from several directions, piling on the Bush campaign for distorting Sen. John Kerry’s voting record.

Slate’s Fred Kaplan takes the president to task for accusing Kerry of flip-flopping on national security issues, citing a bill the Massachusetts senator introduced in 1995 that would have cut $1.5 billion from the intelligence budget. In reality, says Kaplan, the proposed cut amounted to about a one percent reduction in funding, and would not have eliminated a single program.

The same day Kerry introduced his bill, Kaplan says, two other senators, Republican Arlen Specter and Democrat Bob Kerrey, proposed legislation to cut the budget of the National Reconnaissance Office, which controls spy satellites and which was sitting on $1.5 billion in unspent funds. While the Kerry bill died in committee, the Specter-Kerrey measure was approved, and led to major investigations of the secretive NRO.

Kaplan then raps the Kerry camp sharply across the bridge of the nose for not forcefully setting the record straight itself, and even scripts a response for them: “Sen. Kerry was merely trying to return unspent money to the taxpayers. Shame on President Bush for twisting a simple bookkeeping adjustment to make it look like an act of treachery.”

Salon weighs in with its own bit of intelligence on the Bush accusation, compliments of Jeffrey Smith, former general counsel of both the CIA and the Senate Armed Services Committee.

And, while the big accuracy broom is cleaning up, Ryan Lizza’s “Campaign Journal” at the New Republic Online catches another presidential misallocution (Campaign Desk reserves the rights to that word for the remainder of the election season).

Speaking of flip-flops (should the plastic sandal become the symbol of the 2004 campaign?), here’s one more Bush knuckle-rapper. We learn that after taking the Clinton administration to task during the 2000 campaign for its practice of inviting big political donors for sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom, George and Laura Bush have also been turning down the sheets for their friends.

“Better a night in the White House than another gigantic tax cut,” shrugs Nick Confessore.

Susan Q. Stranahan

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.