As Surely As Night Follows Day – Smears Follow Bush Criticisms

Co-written with James Boyce
The other day in the New York Times, Bush “campaign strategist” Matthew Dowd was quoted saying he had “lost faith” in Bush. From the article, Bush campaign strategist Matthew Dowd says he has “lost faith in Bush.”

“Looking back, Mr. Dowd now says his faith in Mr. Bush was misplaced.
In a wide-ranging interview here, Mr. Dowd called for a withdrawal from Iraq and expressed his disappointment in Mr. Bush’s leadership.
He criticized the president as failing to call the nation to a shared sense of sacrifice at a time of war, failing to reach across the political divide to build consensus and ignoring the will of the people on Iraq. He said he believed the president had not moved aggressively enough to hold anyone accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and that Mr. Bush still approached governing with a “my way or the highway” mentality reinforced by a shrinking circle of trusted aides.”

As surely as night follows day the right began the smear campaign. Mr. Dowd, you see, is “emotional” and has “personal problems.”
Through Think Progress, White House Claims Dowd Is Too Emotional, Turned On Bush Because Of ‘Personal Turmoil’ and The Huffington Post has the following video in White House Blames Matthew Dowd’s Criticism Of Bush On “Personal Problems”:

Picking up on the White House’s cue, conservative weblog Captains Quarter’s, in Dowd Bails On Bush, writes,

The man whom I believed so rational turns out to have run on emotion…
… As much as I like Dowd, and he is a very likable man in person … boo hoo. I can’t believe this Dowd is a grown-up.
… So Bush didn’t act as a uniter. Neither did the Democrats, who spent most of the first term calling Bush the “Commander-in-Thief”, constantly undermining his authority. …
… Dowd engages in one long, petulant rant, consumed by his disappointment at Bush’s failure to change when Dowd changed. I’m sorry for Dowd’s disappointment, but this says much more about Dowd’s emotionalism than it does about the Bush administration.

Others chimed in:
Are the Only Republicans in the New York Times‘ Rolodex Liberal Republicans?,

One of the reasons the Left-Wing Media pulled so hard for Democrats to win back Congress in 2006 is surely that they were sick of going to meetings that didn’t matter. Hard to impress Hill interns with your access when all you know are disgruntled Democrats.

And others:
The author of “Flip-Flop” flips
April Fool (but no joke)
And finally President Bush himself, always one to pursue a carefully-crafted talking point, said Dowd is “emotional.

…noting that Mr. Dowd has a son in the Army who is awaiting deployment, Mr. Bush added, “I understand his anguish over war; I understand this is an emotional issue for Matthew, as it is for a lot of other people in our country.”

Of course no one in President Bush’s family – or few other conservative leaders’ families, for that matter – is at risk of being sent to Iraq. The logic apparently being that not having to personally face the consequences of their decisions qualifies them to be deciding issues of war and peace.
Update – From a New York Times editorial today,

“President Bush and his advisers have made a lot of ridiculous charges about critics of the war in Iraq: they’re unpatriotic, they want the terrorists to win, they don’t support the troops, to cite just a few. But none of these seem quite as absurd as President Bush’s latest suggestion, that critics of the war whose children are at risk are too “emotional” to see things clearly.
The direct target was Matthew Dowd, one of the chief strategists of Mr. Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign, who has grown disillusioned with the president and the war, which he made clear in an interview with Jim Rutenberg published in The Times last Sunday. But by extension, Mr. Bush’s comments were insulting to the hundreds of thousands of Americans whose sons, daughters, sisters, brothers and spouses have served or will serve in Iraq. “

Dave Johnson and James Boyce have spent over a year researching, exposing and trying to stop the Right Wing dual strategy of $ell and $mear. You can read more at