CALL HIS BLUFF
Bush won't denounce the Swift Boat liars' ads. Denouncing them would be a simple act of common decency, but he has no sense of decency -- no Bush does during a campaign, and this one rarely does at other times. Instead, he change the subject and declares that it would be best if all ads by independent groups (527s) were off the air.
OK, fine -- Kerry should call his bluff. It doesn't matter how much his campaign is relying on ads from MoveOn and other groups -- Kerry should announce that he would greatly appreciate it if every independent group running ads against Bush would take them off the air. He could say something like this:
"I can win this election without independent ads. George Bush can't. For certain kinds of attacks, George Bush doesn't like to get his hands dirty; that's why he relies on so-called independent groups, which engage in gutter politics while he stays above the fray."
If Bush doesn't follow suit, the pro-Kerry indies should, of course, return to the air within a matter of days. In the meantime, the shoe would shift to the other foot -- the focus, and the onus, would be on Bush and his surrogates.
I think Bush would claim to be helpless and the ads would stay on. Bush might even argue that a call by Kerry for an indie-ad moratorium that was answered by the pro-Kerry indies was proof of collusion between Kerry and the indies. Still, I think it's a risk worth taking. It could really upset Bush's gutter game plan.