PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Bush displays intelligence in latest move

It's good to be the incumbent.

It's good to be the incumbent.

Witness how effortlessly George Bush changed the conversation last week. Political debate for August had centered on the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, specifically the creation of a national intelligence director. Bush was carefully staking out his position, clearly not eager to install an intelligence chief in the White House who would answer to Congress, but not wanting to be on the wrong side of the hugely popular panel. In the meantime, John Kerry unhesitatingly endorsed implementation of every recommendation - and quickly passed Bush's poll numbers on matters of national security. Of course, Kerry has about as much authority over the issue as Donald Trump now has over the price of a postcard at Trump Palace. The bold stand was a freebie for Kerry (proving that sometimes it's good to be the challenger, too). Backed into a corner, Bush one-upped the commission - and Kerry - by actually doing something about the intelligence problem, nominating Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL) as the next CIA director. Suddenly, no one was talking about hypothetical positions. Instead they spoke about Goss and what the Democrats were going to do to stop the nomination - something Bush had counted on. Now the Dems are the ones playing politics with national security, a situation that will only intensify once the confirmation process begins, two months before Election Day. At least for this round, Bush proved himself to be the master of intelligence.
  • Douglas Quenqua writes PR Play of the Week. He is PRWeek's Washington, DC, bureau chief. Ratings: 1. Clueless 2. Ill-advised 3. On the right track 4. Savvy 5. Ingenious

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