Dec 1st, 2003, 10:30 AM
Republican National Comitee digitally enhances W for sale
I don't think this is an issue, but I do think it's funny.
Technological Dub Erases a Bush Flub for a Republican Ad
By JIM RUTENBERG
Published: November 25, 2003
DES MOINES, Nov. 24 — It may be called the Case of the Disappearing Pause.
When President Bush laid out the potential threat that unconventional weapons posed in Saddam Hussein's hands last year in his State of the Union address last year, he became tongue-tied at an inopportune moment.
The line read, "It would take one vial, one canister, one crate, slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known." But Mr. Bush stumbled between the words "one" and "vial." And when at the word vial, he pronounced the "v" as if it were a "w."
Yet in a new Republican commercial that borrows excerpts from that speech, Mr. Bush delivers that line as smoothly as any other in the address, without a pause between "one" and "vial," and the v in "vial" sounds strong and sure.
Republican officials acknowledged yesterday that the change was a product of technology. The line, they said, was digitally enhanced in editing "to ensure the best clarity."
The difference between the speech and excerpt was noticed by strategists for former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont. They saw it as they put together their own advertisement attacking the spot, which presents the Democratic candidates as undermining the fight against terrorism. Word trickled back to Democratic officials, who retrieved the tape and confirmed that there was, indeed, a difference.
The Democrats asked whether the Republican National Committee had gone to the White House with sound equipment to have Mr. Bush recite the line anew for what was the first Republican commercial of the campaign season here. That might have meant that the party was not being truthful when it said it had not coordinated with Mr. Bush when it made the advertisement, a possible violation of law.
The Republicans said there were no such doings. "The audio that you hear is from the State of the Union address, the video that you see is from the State of the Union address," a spokeswoman for the national committee, Christine Iverson, said.
Party officials said the line in question was "cut and pasted." Still, Democrats were ecstatic over the perceived chink in an advertisement that they have criticized for days as unfair.
"Audio cutting and pasting is `Bush speak' for them having doctored their own ad," Jim Mulhall of the Democratic National Committee said.
Ms. Iverson said the Democrats were not exactly aboveboard when they made an advertisement this year that featured an excerpt from the State of the Union address in which Mr. Bush said, "Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," a statement that was reported to have been based on questionable intelligence.
She noted that the Democratic advertisement had left out the beginning of the sentence, "The British government has learned that. . . . "
A Republican strategist said it was not uncommon for specialists to rework candidate's speeches to sound better in spots, just as newspapers do not tend to include "umms" and "uhs" in quotations.
Douglas E. Schoen, a Democratic pollster who worked for President Bill Clinton, said that making an alteration in the State of the Union address was different.
"The distinction I would make," Mr. Schoen said, "is what the president says at the State of the Union is an essential part of the historical record."
Martin Kaplan, associate dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, was less concerned.
"Changing the sense of something is a serious issue, this isn't that," Mr. Kaplan said. "But it does change the sound of leadership. It's relevant for a president whose narrative is that he's inarticulate."