Fear and loathing

RatherBiased.com reports that Dan Rather is back at the CBS anchor desk and weighing in on the Swiftvet ads. With Rather back, CBS seems to be taking position that at least some of the allegations against Kerry are false but may well be effective because they appeal to people’s beliefs and fears (whatever that means in this context).
What caught my eye, though, was CBS correspondetnt Bill Plante’s comparison of these ads to the Willie Horton ad used in the 1988 campaign. I blogged about that comparison here and included a link to a longer piece I did about the Horton ad.
Plante’s treatment of the Horton story further demonstrates the incoherence of the MSM position on the old ad. Plante described the ad as “factually accurate” but claimed that it “played the race card.” But the race card charge makes sense only if the Bush supporters who ran the ad would have refrained from using it (or would not used the picture of the scruffy and dangerous looking killer) if the murderer released for the weekend by Massachusetts had been white. Not a likely scenario.
CBS then trotted out Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who claimed that Dukakis never rebutted the ad because he thought it was “too ludicrous to be believed.” Yet Plante had already stipulated, correctly, that the ad was factually true. And Plante then added that the Horton ad was believed, not because it was true or never rebutted, but because it “appealed to people’s beliefs and fears.” In a way, Plante is correct. People believe that convicted murderers should not be let out of jail for the weekend, and they fear politicians obtuse enough to keep in place a program that allows for this. Similarly, people believe that candidates for office should not lie materially about their past, and they may be relunctant to elect a candidate who has done so. But I’m still trying to figure out where fear factors in. Isn’t it more a matter of loathing?
UPDATE: Reader Mara Schiffren writes to say that people “fear a candidate like John Kerry will become Commander and Chief during this war, which he doesn’t recognize is a war, and then treat it like Vietnam.” Well put; that’s certainly my fear.


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