WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department analyzes John
Kerry’s tax proposals and the numbers quickly find their way
to the Republican National Committee.

The Health and Human Services Department spends millions on ads
promoting President Bush’s prescription drug plan. The House
Resources Committee posts a diatribe against Kerry’s
“absurd” energy ideas on its website.

With friends like these — all operating at taxpayer
expense — who needs a re-election campaign?

In the time-honored tradition of presidents past, Bush is
skillfully using the resources of the federal government to promote
his re-election. And some critics say the president is going far
beyond his predecessors in using government means to accomplish
political ends.

“What this administration has done is taken trends from
the past and then projected them into the stratosphere,” said
Allan Lichtman, a presidential scholar at American University.
“We’ve never seen a political operation like this White
House does, and that includes the maximum use of government

Bush is flying Air Force One to battleground states at a clip
that eclipses even that of President Clinton, known as a
particularly political president. His Cabinet secretaries are
covering additional ground to spread good news about the Bush

Even Secretary of State Colin Powell, who insists “I
don’t do politics,” has chimed in to cast Kerry as a
flip-flopper on jobs and to question his claim that some world
leaders quietly prefer the Democratic presidential candidate over

With the House and Senate both in Republican hands, Bush gets
plenty of help from Congress, too. The last president to have that
advantage at re-election time was Jimmy Carter, and he was hardly a
favorite of Democrats in Congress.

This year, congressional committees have posted anti-Kerry
commentary on their websites. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist
(R-Tenn.) was out front in attacking the credibility of Richard
Clarke, the former Bush administration official who criticized the
president’s terrorism policies. And House Speaker Dennis
Hastert (R-Ill.) regularly uses his daily chats with reporters to
critique “John Kerry & Co.”

Some Democrats, predictably, are crying foul.

“This is the most say-anything,
do-anything-to-get-re-elected administration in history,”
said Kerry campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter, adding that the
administration has “crossed the line” and gone beyond
what is acceptable.

Rep. Robert Matsui of California, chairman of the Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee, has complained that House
Republicans abused taxpayer resources to attack Kerry on an
official congressional website.

Other Democrats tried to get the Medicare prescription drug ads
yanked from TV, and asked the General Accounting Office to examine
whether that was proper use of taxpayer dollars.

Doug Sosnik, who was White House political director during
Clinton’s re-election campaign, says any incumbent president
“would be crazy not to take advantage of all opportunities of
incumbency to get re-elected, but these guys have gone off in areas
that are way over the line and I can’t imagine that the
American public will fall for any of it.”

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Rich Bond calls
the whole issue “nonsense,” especially the carping
about the costs to taxpayers for White House travel to politically
important states.

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