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Salon: You can't teach an old attack dog new tricks (David Bossie)

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kskiska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 10:15 PM
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Salon: You can't teach an old attack dog new tricks (David Bossie)
Partisan hack David Bossie raised political sliming to an art form against Bill Clinton. Now he's out to smear John Kerry and Michael Moore. Why does anyone in the media still take him seriously?

For David Bossie, professional Clinton-era agitator and renowned Republican dirty trickster, these must seem like the good old days. During the 1990s Bossie, as a grass-roots activist and congressional staffer, was often at the epicenter of churning out stories about President Clinton, deftly feeding the press and Capitol Hill investigators outlandish -- and usually unsubstantiated -- assertions about White House wrongdoing. Once Clinton left the national stage, Bossie, a political hit man by trade, seemed adrift professionally.

But with the emergence of a new political campaign and a new Democratic presidential candidate, Bossie has returned to his partisan groove. This week sees the publication of his quickie attack biography, "The Many Faces of John Kerry," which is sure to garner him cable-TV face time during and after next week's Democratic Convention, as bookers seek out Kerry critics to liven up their coverage. This product comes on the heels of Bossie's May release, "Intelligence Failure: How Clinton's National Security Policy Set the Stage for 9/11," in which Bossie reinvents himself as a national security expert and blames Clinton (of course) for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In June, Bossie hit a publicity -- and presumably fundraising -- geyser when the archconservative Citizens United group, of which he is president, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, insisting that TV ads for Michael Moore's anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11," if aired after July 31, would violate new campaign finance laws because they double as political advertising. The FEC has not ruled on the matter, but the complaint itself once again thrust Bossie into the media limelight.


Bossie's style during the investigation was to lob scattershot allegations toward an appreciative press corps that rarely seemed upset when the charges he gave them to amplify -- that Whitewater was a criminal enterprise, for instance -- failed to pan out as factual. As Democratic strategist James Carville once put it, "He made collective fools out of about 80 percent of the national press corps." But none of this appears to have marred Bossie's reputation with reporters, even when then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- no stranger to hardball partisan politics -- reportedly ordered Bossie fired from his congressional staff position in May 1998. Bossie had overseen the bungled release of supposedly incriminating recordings of Whitewater figure Webster Hubbell's jailhouse phone conversations with Hillary Rodham Clinton -- recordings that had been edited, deleting obvious exculpatory remarks.

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