Rich Choices in November
By Terry M. Neal
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Friday, June 4, 2004; 7:00 AM
The Bush-Cheney campaign this week stepped up its assault on Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) for being a rich guy. No, make that for being a really, really rich guy.
"Most Americans can't afford yachts, private planes, thousand dollar haircuts or homes in Nantucket," Republican National Committee spokesman Jim Dyke said in a news release announcing a new video game on the RNC Web site. The game is called Kerryopoly. It's similar to Monopoly, but the properties belong to the Kerry family.
It's a curious line of attack. The logic of Dyke's statement would seem to suggest that most Americans can afford mansions on hundreds of acres in Texas and are fortunate enough to receive retirement or severance packages worth tens of millions of dollars, as Vice President Cheney and some members of the Bush cabinet did when they left private industry to join the government.
So why is a free enterprise, capitalistic, big business-dominated party that often accuses Democrats of dividing people on class busting a guy's chops for having a lot of dough?
"We are speaking to the inherent contradiction in the life story of John Kerry," said Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt on Wednesday. "He is someone who purports to campaign as a man of the people, but who resides in a whole series of wealthy million dollar chateaus and mansions. It's just one more contradiction and example of him being out of the mainstream with America."
In other words, Holt explains, Republicans are pointing out the hypocrisy of Democrats who play class warfare, but they're not playing it themselves. The issue, Holt and other Republican officials said, is not so much that Kerry is rich, but that he's a phony.
"John Kerry is dividing Americans on class and income," Holt said. "Republicans don't do that. Republicans, for example, fight for tax relief that is fair for everyone." Kerry, on the other hand, "supports repealing tax cuts for people who make over $200,000."
Kerry campaign spokesman David Wade responded: "Boneheaded attacks from this bunch are as insulting as they are ironic. It's downright hypocritical coming from the campaign of a president whose connections got him into a 'Champagne Unit' of the National Guard during Vietnam and whose path was paved with privilege from Andover to Arbusto oil to the Texas Rangers…This guy who was born on third base and thought he hit a triple is going to engage in a sad game of class warfare? . . . I don't think a lot of Americans remember Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy because of where they came from, they remember them for what they did to make America stronger. Good luck finding Americans who think that way about George Bush."
It's Not All Fun and Games
Here's how the RNC news release described the Kerryopoly game: "With a roll of the electronic dice, players can land on properties like Nantucket, worth $9.18 million, Beacon Hill, worth $6.9 million, or Idaho, worth $4.9 million. Players may also land on squares for John Kerry's thousand-dollar haircut or his $5,000 bicycle.
"Each player starts the game with $40,000 in Kerryopoly money, the average national household income. The goal is to make it around the board with as little debt as possible, meaning players must try to avoid landing on pricey properties like Kerry's Georgetown home, worth $4.7 million, or the space for the Scaramouche, Kerry's $700,000 yacht."
Asked what the point of this game was, RNC spokeswoman Christine Iverson said this was just the latest of four or five Web games the RNC has put on its Web site poking fun at Kerry. The most popular one so far was called Kerry vs. Kerry, which highlights the candidate's purported flip-flops on various issues over the years.
"Kerryopoly is yet another way to familiarize voters with John Kerry," she said. "It's interactive and a little more light-hearted."
But if most voters can't identify with Kerry's wealth, can they identify with Bush and Cheney's?
"I'm happy with what I just told you," she said.
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