Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Fallout on the Spin Cycle

A thought on how the Abu Ghraib scandal might effect the campaign spin wars:

The Bush side has tried to smear Kerry with Kerry's Vietnam-era testimony on Vietnam, in which he talked about claims by US soldiers that they had been involved in or witnessed gruesome acts of torture and other abuses against Vietnamese civilians. The right thought Kerry would appear radical and hysterical, I suppose, if people heard him going on and on about abuses by U.S. soldiers.

Of course, this only works if you find it implausible that U.S. soldiers would commit abuses of that kind. I think in the light of Abu Ghraib, people are more likely to hear Kerry's testimony and ask, well, what were the facts? Were there really abuses? If there were -- and I think it's pretty well-established that there were, no? -- Kerry begins to look more like a Taguba than a Chomsky.

So I'll make a tentative prediction: we're not likely to hear much more from the right about Kerry's testimony. But who knows -- second-guessing the spin cycle is like trying to play roulette in zero gravity: tough to know where things will come out.