January 25th, 2008
09:30 AM ET
13 years ago

Raw Politics: Tearing the other side down carries a price

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/25/art.bush.ap.jpg caption=" A group plans to spend $8.5 million in hopes of making sure the president's approval rating does not rise before he leaves the White House."]

From CNN's Tom Foreman

(CNN)- Lily Tomlin had a great line. Actually, she had several, but the one I'm thinking of went something like this: "No matter how cynical you get, you just can't keep up."

I hear her saying it in my head every few days as I work here in Washington. I also hear voices telling me to make a baseball diamond in a cornfield, and occasionally I hear old radio shows through my fillings, but that's a different matter.

Anyway, Tomlin's words came to me again when I ran into this little item of Raw Politics. A liberal group is launching an $8.5 million campaign against President Bush. Mind you, he's not running for anything, but they are running against them anyway; trying to keep his approval rating from rising before his term in office ends.

The group is Americans United for Change, and their reasoning goes like this: Presidents often become more popular when they are closer to leaving office, and then they can influence congressional elections in favor of their party, and raise more money to fight the opposition, and yadda yadda. So this group wants to prevent that, by taking out ads saying the president has been a failure in pretty much all of his policies.

I understand the strategy. I know politics is a dirty business.

But wow. Is this what we've come to? Are we a nation where tearing the other side down, is so much more important than building your side up? Think of what could be accomplished with $8.5 million: in your neighborhood, at your kids' school, at a local clinic, shelter, or library. I'm not trying to be a sap about this. I know not every dollar can or will go to great ends, but the idea that so much would be raised just to make sure any president's legacy is doomed. And by the way, this president's legacy is in pretty rough shape as it is.

Lily was right. I'm trying to keep up. But it's hard.

What do you think: Should Americans United for Change go ahead with this plan?

CNN's Tom Foreman delivers the latest political news with a wry sense of a humor and no spin every weekday in his "Raw Politics" segment on "Anderson Cooper 360."

Filed under: Raw Politics
soundoff (345 Responses)
  1. larkeeta josun

    If they ran a candidate off of outrangutan island, they would get my vote over bush. At least they couldn't do any more harm than that liar from hell.

    January 26, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  2. Robert New York City & Miami, Florida



    January 26, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  3. Jackie

    I only wish this ad campaign would have started sooner. If anything, it is "too little, too late" as a response to the illegal and arrogant attack of George Bush's presidency on our nation and Constitution......

    January 26, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  4. J. Dean, Juno Beach, FLORIDA


    January 26, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  5. Bill Hamlin

    I don't think George W. Bush is an evil man, but he is just not very bright. He got through Yale with help from his prep school pals. He got to be governor of Texas with help from his father. When men like john Kerry and john McCain were fighting in Viet Nam George was working on a political campaign in Alabama. He was helped in his presidency from the beginning by retreads like Cheyney and Rumsfeld fro his fathers staff. He attacked Iraq because he hated Saddam for planning to kill George H. W. Bush. He has used the office of President to push his own religious views contrary to the Constitution .His term have put America into a monstrous debt and a terrible loss of life and limbs of young soldiers. If George W. Bush had not been a draft dodger during Viet Nam , he might have died a hero and America and the world would hve been better off

    January 26, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  6. reba

    Shouldn't be necessary. He does not need the help. In fact, he should be in prison. I am hoping they lock him up the day he leaves office.

    January 26, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  7. David S.

    To Charlotte:

    I know it sounds crazy that even though Bush's approval rating is the lowest of almost any President in history, that it is still hard to imagine 30% of people approve of him. However if you look at the breakdown in the polls you will see why that is, they use 3 categories (strongly approve, approve, disapprove, strongly disapprove) – his breakdown in most polls averages around only 10% strongly approve, and 15-20% approve. So as you can see there are in fact very few people that strongly support him.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with this campaign to focus on Bush. After all it is a private organization doing it. You have right-wing organizations dedicated to taking down private citizens like Michael Moore. How ridiculous is that?? Afterall Bush is still President, and the vast majority of the country thinks he's the biggest idiot ever to take office. Its not a bad idea to remind people not to make a similar mistake again.

    January 26, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. Emily

    That is pathetic, and United for Change should be ashamed of what they're doing. Whether they like President Bush or not, any halfway logical person can think of much more positive "changes" to spend 8.5 million dollars on.

    January 26, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  9. Jake

    Bush-deraingement syndrome! You liberals are obsessed!! Get over it, Bush won you lost.

    January 26, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  10. Milton

    Even 8.5 million dollars won't buy this man a prison sentence. How unfortunate. Let's take a quiz. Which is worth impeaching a president for?

    A. Cheating on your wife

    B. Racking up a trillion dollars in debt starting a war under false pretenses, sending 3000 soldiers to die in said war, stripping Americans of their privacy and civil liberties, running roughshod over separation of church and state, overstepping your constitutional job description by claiming you can interpret laws anyway you like and ignore them based on that interpretation (i.e. making signing statements), and lying to Americans under the guise of "executive priviledge.

    It's nice to know Americans have their priorities straight.

    January 26, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  11. Kristy Sanborn, Buckhorn, Mo.

    So Tom hears voices huh??........

    January 26, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  12. Giantsfan

    The unfortunate truth is that negative advertising works, in spite of what everyone keeps saying that they want positive campaigns. Karl Rove personally took negative campaigning to new heights with "Swift Boating" and the job the GOP did on Max Cleland – painting a Vietnam vet as a traitor. The left is about 10 years behind the right on this game, but they realize that the GOP has done so well with it that they now have to do just as dirty.

    I don't mean to imply it STARTED 10 years ago – heck, both parties have been doing it for centuries (read the history). It's just a fact that the GOP took it to new levels recently, and the left figures, if you can't beat them, join them.

    January 26, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  13. Jeff, Nevada

    Considering the actions of the present administration; from swiftboating, to leading the nation into a war based on lies, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, ranking money and oil over human life and health -and all the time boasting that they are religious morality, their supporters should consider this:

    "There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, LOVERS OF MONEY, BOASTFUL, PROUD, ABUSIVE, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, UNHOLY, WITHOUT LOVE, unforgiving, SLANDEROUS, without self control, BRUTAL, NOT LOVERS OF THE GOOD,...HAVING A FORM OF GODLINESS BUT DENYING ITS POWER.


    "They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over the weak-willed, who are loaded down with sins and swayed by all kinds of evil desires."


    Sound like anyone we know???

    January 26, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  14. Tracedog

    Confessions from a former liberal democrat:
    Radical liberals and Bush bashers can't get anywhere because they're hopelessly narrow minded and short-sighted. If their ideas are so great (what ideas?) then why can't they seem to sell them to the enitre counties marketplace of elections? Because like extremists everywhere, (including religious and other extemists) they're so inbred to their own cause they can't see how small and unintelligent their ideas are. The free thinking world wants nothing to do with them. Frustrated at their failures they lash out. Sounds like the terrorists we fight, and the biggots of the past. Bush has tried to overcome both. May he always stand tall.

    Yes, he and his administation have made mistakes. But Americans everywhere need to wake up and realize that we don't and never will elect magicians and perfect gods. We elect leaders. Bush has led, and continues to lead in the face of incredible hatred and challange. All I can say is God bless Bush. And to all you short sighted hate-filled judgementors: Just ask yourself in all honesty: Have you ever, just once, considered putting yourself in his place on Sept 11, 2001? I mean, think about it...how would you have liked to be in HIS shoes on that dreadful morning. I was once a liberal, and still am in many areas. I voted for Carter and Clinton. I still like Clinton. I campaigned for George McGovern. I saved seals, whales and wolves. I cheered when Nixon resigned. But when I grew up, I came to know other things. It works that way.

    January 26, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. ralph davis

    RE: Keep the heat on W?
    Yes, absolutely! A permanent truth library should be established to counter the wrongs, lies, and damage that W and his crowd have inflicted on the American public.I'm a 62 yr old middle of the roader, and I'm still spittin mad.

    Ralph Davis
    Cernobbio, Italy

    January 26, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  16. Mark, Wilkes Barre PA

    still awaiting moderation since 5:06 pm jan 25, and still awaiting moderation since 5:00 am this morning,,,, the moderator must not like what Ihave to say,, I'll just have to take that as I must have a valid point ! because we all know valid points are not welcome only haters

    January 26, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  17. Michael

    It is a sad commentary on American life that everyone (at least on this post) looks to tear others down. This president and all other presidents have done things wrong just like the rest of us, we somehow want a president to be perfect yet we ourselves fall far short of that.

    January 26, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. john

    hey red – cedar rapids – I don't know what the problem is at CNN regarding blogs and their failure to get diverse messages out. Though my message was on target with most as I absolutely hate the GOP and Bush, I used no foul language, and presented several examples of my thoughts on Bush. I've watched CNN off and on for many years. I don't think their prejudice, I thinks it's just plane old lazzyness and poor leadership at the office. Whatever the answer is it realy doesn't matter as there are many other popular blogs with much more information and better moderation.

    January 26, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  19. Mark, Wilkes Barre PA

    I wonder if the monitor is monitered ? sure hope so or else soon they will have to call this the communist ticker

    January 26, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  20. James

    What's wrong CNN? Scared of putting anything up that has the nickname "DUMBYA" in it? You're always there to put up "Dubya".

    LET THE PEOPLE SPEAK ON YOUR "PUBLIC" BLOGS! It's not a curse word, just THE TRUTH you worthless wimps. Is this CNN or FOX?

    You allow people to be labeled as "liberal" or "conservative". Afraid to allow someone to say to the world just how unintelligent our current "world leader" is?

    As for the "keeping the terrorists busy in other parts of the world" mentioned earlier... the Bush Administration started using that line AFTER JAY LENO MADE A JOKE ABOUT IT FIRST!!!

    DUH!!! on BOTH of you.

    Now moderate THAT!

    January 26, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
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