Exaggerations, distortions and good old-fashioned lies

Click to follow
The Independent US

When the headline in the Boston Herald screams "Vote Kerry, Get Nuked, Veep warns," you know one thing for sure, the US presidential campaign has entered the final stretch, when any scare will do.

When the headline in the Boston Herald screams "Vote Kerry, Get Nuked, Veep warns," you know one thing for sure, the US presidential campaign has entered the final stretch, when any scare will do.

The Vice-President, Dick Cheney, didn't put it quite so starkly during a speech in Charleston, West Virginia, on Tuesday. But he came close. If a terrorist nuclear device exploded in a US city, hundreds of thousands might die. Could a wimpish Democrat like John Kerry, he implied, be capable of stopping that happening?

With 12 days to go to the vote, everything sensible that could be said has already been said a thousand times. All that remain are Halloween-season exaggerations, distortions and plain old lies, to terrify your less committed supporters into voting for you on the day.

Listen to John Kerry, and you get the impression that George Bush is bent on destroying the social security system, wrecking pensions and forcing everyone to work till 80. For younger voters, Mr Kerry warns that if Mr Bush is re-elected, he will bring in a Vietnam-style draft and send them off to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The President can more than hold his own when it comes to scaremongering. On Iraq, he accuses Mr Kerry of defeatism and worse. He wheels out the old Republican line about "Massachusetts liberals" bent on spending the nation to ruin (conveniently forgetting he has run up the greatest deficits in the country's history). Inevitably, the great flu vaccine shortage, largely caused by the failure of a firm in Britain to deliver millions of doses, has been dragged into the electoral mix. If Mr Bush can't even provide flu vaccine, Mr Kerry asks, how on earth can he be trusted to protect the country from an anthrax attack by terrorists? No wonder that for many people, 2 November can't come soon enough.

Comments