...In the days since the debate, that clip and its related Bush spin has been replayed so much and so often by the media that it's likely more Americans have heard it than heard the original debate itself.
The CBS/Rather/Bush/Guard affair - regardless of how it ultimately turns out - has brilliantly deflected the issue of George W. Bush having strings pulled to get him into the Guard, and then not fulfilling his service requirements.
In 1988, the Bush campaign planted a lie in the media that Michael Dukakis had suffered from depression after losing an election for governor. According to Susan Estrich, his campaign manager, it cost Dukakis six points in the polls.
There is nothing new about the Swift Boat ads. German filmmaker Fritz Kippler, one of Goebbels' most effective propagandists, once said that two steps were necessary to promote a Big Lie so the majority of the people in a nation would believe it. The first was to reduce an issue to a simple black-and-white choice that "even the most feebleminded could understand." The second was to repeat the oversimplification over and over. If these two steps were followed, people would always come to believe the Big Lie.
The frauds and deceptions of the Bush administration are legion and, sadly, to be expected, based on the Bush family's past (from sweetheart business deals going back to WWII, to smearing John McCain in South Carolina in 2000, to lying to the American people just before the election of 2002 about the threats Iraq posed).
The Republican National Committee has recently removed from their website an advertisement interspersing Hitler's face with those of John Kerry and other prominent Democrats. This little-heralded step has freed former Enron lobbyist and current RNC chairman Ed Gillespie to resume his attacks on Americans who believe some provisions of Bush's PATRIOT Act, his detention of American citizens without charges, his willingness to let corporations write legislation, and the so-called "Free Speech Zones" around his public appearances are all steps on the road to American fascism.
Having lived in Germany and extensively interviewed many (now elderly) former members of Hitler's Nazi Party (and one spy for him) for a book I was writing on the religion of the Nazis, I can say categorically that Hitler had (or at least his people believed he had) a Vision.
Rush Limbaugh has, at various times, claimed credit for the elections of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush - and given how narrow electoral margins have been recently, he may be right. But now, in a free-market fashion that even conservatives have to salute, the tide is turning.