Friday, December 13, 2002

The following cartoon from "Alas, A Blog" puts it all in context for me...

The Wiley Ways Of That Wascally Dubya George W. Bush to Barbara Walters (courtesy of Drudge):
BARBARA WALTERS “Well, if you were certain that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, would you go ahead with the war on Iraq without the support of the United Nations?” PRESIDENT BUSH “You’re doing a find job of trying to pin me down on the hypothetical... and I will deal with those issues if they come. But let me talk about war in general if you don’t mind. War is my last option, not my first option. See, it’s easy in this town for people to commit troops, the US troops, to combat, through opinion and the noise you hear in Washington. But there’s only one person who is responsible for making that decision, and that’s me. And there’s only one person who hugs the mothers and the widows, the wives and the kids on the death of their loved ones. Others hug, but having committed the troops, I’ve got an additional responsibility to hug, and that’s me, and I know what it’s like. It’s hard to know that you’ve sent a loved one into battle and the loved one doesn’t return. Obviously, therefore, you know, when people talk about war here in Washington, you got to know I think awfully hard about the commitment of troops. And obviously if troops are committed to Iraq, I will have made the decision that we will save more lives by military action than otherwise. In other words the commitment of troops will be to not only enforce doctrine, but more importantly will be to enforce peace so that peace lasts.”
This gets back to something I have said before: Bush is very good at making the right kind of noises to make people think he actually cares. But his actions almost invariable run counter to his words. So, Bush says that war is the last resort with respect to Iraq. But his actions tell us that war has been and always will be the primary motivating factor of his foreign policy. He just happens to be clever enough, or deluded enough (I'm not sure which is scarier), to make it look like his inevitable march to war is inevitable ONLY because of what everyone else does. In other words, Bush defines the rules of the game in such a way that the other side cannot help but trigger U.S. retaliation (witness the double-bind the Iraqis are in with respect to declaring their WMD). And then, when that trigger is inevitably pulled, Bush can disclaim all responsibily by saying that he was forced by the actions of others to do what was necessary "for the peace and security of the American people". Isn't that lovely? The beauty of an approach like this is that the inevitable response may look reasonable only if one doesn't look into the steps that lead up to it. Unfortunately for us, the establishment media has an even shorter memory then the viewing public and simply can't (or won't) hold Bush responsible for his actions that lead up to catastrophe. It is hard to beat down a situation like this without getting bogged down in details which are boring and meaningless to most people. As long as Bush and his minions keep pushing forward and refusing to talk about the past this is...well...inevitable.

Well, it looks like the Lott mess may finally be forcing the "liberal media" to hold the GOP to account for their coddling of racists. The establishment press can no longer avoid the issue and has to provide context to the mess so that people will understand it. That context, of necessity, includes the GOP's long-standing southern strategy. Could it be that, after 140 years, we may finally be seeing the purging of the abominable political extremism of the confederate south from mainstream politics? Wait and see.

Krugman hits several targets in his latest column. 1. Trent Lott, of course. But this is almost perfunctory at this point and really doesn't need much further going into 2. The GOP, and George W. Bush, and their two-faced strategy of speaking about tolerance and diversity the the majority of Americans who believe in those things while, at the same time, feeding the cockroaches in their midst on the more substantial meat of leadership positions and judicial nominations. 3. And, finally, the media, for letting them get away with it. Of course, Krugman doesn't go so far as to outright accuse the media of shirking its duty. But he does slyly suggest it:
Still, pulling off a two-faced political strategy is tricky. What prevents reporters from explaining to the majority the coded messages that are being sent to the minority? Good question; I wish I knew the answer. But what's remarkable in the Lott affair is how much he has gotten away with over the years. How many readers ever heard about the flap, several years ago, over Mr. Lott's association with the racist Council of Conservative Citizens? The scandal was actually worse than his remarks last week — but it just got buried. And without the indefatigable efforts of Mr. Marshall and a few other Internet writers, Mr. Lott's recent celebration of segregation would probably have been buried as well. My guess is that the White House believes it has now done enough. Mr. Lott has received his slap on the wrist; now we can go back to business as usual. Bear in mind that while Mr. Bush has finally denounced Mr. Lott's remarks, he and his party benefit from the strategy that allows the likes of Mr. Lott to hold so much power. Let's not forget, in particular, the blatant attempts to discourage minority voting in South Dakota, Louisiana, Maryland and elsewhere. It's about time for those of us in the press to pay attention, and let this great, tolerant nation know what's really going on.
Of course, Howie and Tweety and the rest will simply respond with protestations of innocence at the subtle accusation in Krugman's column. It is questionable whether these whores actually have any semblance of shame left in their bodies. We shall see.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Uncle Tom If there was any doubt that Daschle's initial position on Lott was a mistake it was cleared away for me tonight when I saw a GOP mouthpiece on Kudlow & Kramer using Daschle's initial excusing of Lott's behavior as an example of Democrats being LESS in tune with racial issues then Republicans are. Yep. That's right. Because Republicans were some of the first to come out harshly against Lott (which, unfortunately, they were), and because Daschle didn't make a big deal about it, that proves that Republicans actually care more about civil rights then Democrats do. This is a dangerous bit of spin folks not the least bit so because it takes a small true fact, that Republicans, at least in the blogosphere, DID come out quicker on this issue then Democrats, to obscure an even larger true fact, that the GOP is the home of and caters to the feelings of the worst bigots in this country. Thank you Tom.

Sound like someone we know?

Hope for the future?
Generation excellent Lahser senior, historian agree that teenagers get a bum rap in the media Sixteen-year-old Joanna Farnum believes every generation must face down an enemy. For her and others born in the past two decades, she believes the enemies are the media and the big corporations that control them. ...
Now that's the kind of healthy skepticism I like to see in our young people (ugh, am I really old enough to start talking like that?).

Trent Lott, Useful Idiot? Some have suggested that the Republicans are taking the opportunity of Lott's gaffe (a word that is really to mild to describe what he did) to get rid of him and install a leader they think will have a better chance of getting the Bush economic plans passed (Don Nickles for example). I know a few on the left who are actually saying it might be better to back off on Lott and keep him in place just so the Republicans would be hobbled. I say f*ck that. There comes a time when you have to stand on principle even if expediency might give you some temporary benefit. By NOT rejecting Lott the Democrats would be betraying one of their most loyal constituencies and demonstrating that, like the Republicans, they are more interested in political advantage then in doing what is right. I'm all for compromise, but this is going to far.

GEORGE W. BUSH, WARLORD By Ted Rall A Presidential Impostor Turns Political Assassin NEW YORK--First he appointed himself President. Now George W. Bush has declared himself God. As Americans begin their third year of Supreme Court-ordered political occupation, Bush has just signed an impressive new executive order. You may be surprised to learn that it grants him the right to order your execution. No judge, jury or lawyer. No chance to prove your innocence. One stroke of Bush's pen, and bang--you're dead.
Ted Rall is about the only one out there who doesn't mince words when talking about what Bush is doing to this country. Even some of Dubya's harshest critics still give him the benefit of the doubt on a lot of things. Why I couldn't say for certain, but it is probably because they are just unwilling to admit that he could be as bad as their worse fears suggest. Rall is willing to let his fears run rampant. We need that. If nothing more then to make it more acceptable to criticize Bush in ways that are not so volatile. I wonder how large a file Ashcroft has on Rall.

Bush Denounces Lott's Remarks PHILADELPHIA - President Bush, in rare criticism of a fellow Republican, said Thursday it was offensive and wrong for Senate Republican leader Trent Lott to have said a segregationist candidate for president should have won in 1948. "Any suggestion that a segregated past was acceptable or positive is offensive and it is wrong," Bush said to loud and long applause in a speech about his faith-based agenda. "Recent comments by Sen. Lott do not reflect the spirit of our country," Bush said. Lott said Wednesday he made "a mistake of the head, not the heart" by saying last week the nation would have been better off if 1948 segregationist candidate Strom Thurmond had been elected president. He admitted the comment, made during a 100th birthday tribute to the South Carolina Republican senator, could be seen as offensive and asked for forgiveness. "He (Lott) has apologized and rightly so. Every day our nation was segregated was a day that America was unfaithful to our founding ideals," Bush said. "And the founding ideals of our nation and in fact the founding ideals of the political party I represent was and remains today the equal dignity and equal rights of every American."
You know, I hate it when Bush makes a statement that is both strong and in line with what I believe. He showed Trent how he SHOULD have responded to this situation with his strong condemnation of the evils of segregation. I am not one of those who think that Bush is a closet racist. I'm sure that there are plenty of Republicans who are totally egalitarian. However, there are also plenty of Republicans who are willing to "play the race card" in order to stay in the good graces and get the votes of those who are racist bigots. Bush is one of them. I always remember how Bush responded to the Buchanan situation in 2000. When Pat was thinking of leaving the party I commented that Bush could turn this into his "Sister Souljah moment" by telling Buchanan that he could leave and that he wouldn't be missed. But, instead, Bush's only comment was to say that he "needed the votes" Buchanan represented (yes, he really did say that). Bush, or at least Karl Rove, is smart enough to seen that Lott's situation is a no-brainer and that Dubya needed to get out ahead of it now before people started turning on him as well. I just wish he would stick to these convictions even when it wasn't politically necessary for him to do so.

Bob Somerby delivers:
LOTT SAYS LITTLE: We try not to evaluate pols, but Josh Marshall’s question cries out for an answer. Over the weekend, Marshall composed an apology for Lott to read, then wondered why Trent wasn’t buying:
MARSHALL: The mystery is why he hasn’t even said something like that. He doesn’t even think it’s a big enough deal that he has to address it publicly.
Marshall isn’t alone on this. Last night on Special Report, the entire panel said that Lott has to toughen his apology. All the pundits, including Hume and Barnes, said that Lott’s current stance isn’t enough. To Josh, Lott’s reticence is a “mystery.” But we can solve this puzzle quite easily. Why hasn’t Lott offered a stronger retraction/apology/clarification/restatement? Almost surely, it’s because he has powerful constituent groups he just doesn’t want to offend. Marshall wanted Lott to say, “Everyone should know that I believe segregation was wrong. And I’m very proud of the progress our nation has made in guaranteeing civil rights and voting rights of all Americans, regardless of race, creed or color.” Why hasn’t Lott said something like that? Almost surely, he doesn’t want to offend key supporters. You may be surprised to think that Lott has supporters who would find that offensive. But if the sky is still blue and the grass is still green, that is almost surely why he has stayed away from such a statement. And why didn’t this obvious explanation occur to Josh? Perhaps it’s because we so rarely see frank discussions of race and GOP party politics. What ever happened to liberal bias when the groups to whom Lott wants to appeal are so rarely discussed in the press.
Read the whole thing. Especially the latter part that deals with the flap during the 2000 election over the salary Gore was paying to his advisor Naomi Wolf. And know that Bob Somerby is a national treasure.

It's not just myself and Debbie Stabenow who think that demand side tax cuts are a good idea. So do many on Wall Street:
All tax cuts are not created equal Oddly, it's the tax cuts that Democrats favor that many Wall Streeters want to see most just now. ... What Wall Street would like, ideally, is for the economy to be growing at a steady clip while Washington simultaneously chips away at the deficit. Wall Street would also like a pony. Since Wall Street can't get all those things, it will settle for action that will get the economy going. There are, broadly speaking, two ways the government could try to do that: kick up spending, or cut taxes, the latter being preferred by both the dominant Republicans and by Wall Street. Breaking it down further, there are two kinds of tax cuts. Some are meant to streamline the tax code, making sure it doesn't, for instance, take away people's incentive to work harder and earn more. Other tax cuts have shorter scopes, and are aimed chiefly kick-starting the economy. It's that second kind of cut that Wall Streeters think is especially needed now. And if you want to see a tax-cut dollar put into the economy, the thinking goes, you don't give it to somebody like Bill Gates, who isn't likely to up his spending (he's already got everything he needs). Give it instead to middle- or lower-income households, the argument goes -- ironically, exactly the kind of cuts most likely to be championed by Democrats.
As I have said before, demand side economic policy is not anti-business since most in the business class understand that it is demand that ultimately drives the economy. The Democrats need to get behind the Stabenow message. They need to change the argument from one about whether there should or should not be tax cuts and put the emphasis on who should get them.

Dubya's MAD The Bush administration has released a new policy which explicitly lays out the principle that the United States may respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction with ultimate force (i.e., the bomb). But, unlike others, I am not totally against such a policy. It was, after all, the essence of the Mutually Assured Destruction policy in place during the cold war. It was and is a cornerstone of deterence to say "don't hit me unless you are prepared to suffer even worse in response". It is a scary policy, but it is not necessarily a bad one. The problem, in this case, is not the message but the messenger. If this policy were put forward by a leader who would be reluctant to respond with ultimate force, even if justly provoked, then I could feel safer knowing that they wouldn't go looking for an excuse to escalate. But, if this policy is promoted by someone who seems to relish the idea of brandishing a pistol in someone's face just to see them shake in their boots, then I have to worry that that person might "accidently" step over the line and end up provoking the very situation he is warning against. It's all a matter of trust and, to put it mildly, I do not trust George W. Bush. There's also the problem that, at least during the cold war, American leaders knew there was another opponent out there that could destroy us as easily as we could destroy them (that was the Mutual part of the MAD policy). George W. Bush, however, may be under the mistaken impression that he could drop a nuke on Sadaam and not suffer any serious consequences from said act (as long as he has the justification, real or otherwise, to do so). That makes the policy even more frigtening. When you drop the Mutual from the policy, it becomes simply Assured Destruction.

William Rivers Pitt hilights a prime example of the arrogance and stupidity of the Bush administration:
The Pure Essence of Stupid ... George W. Bush holds incontrovertible proof that Iraq is in possession, and is furthermore busily developing, weapons of mass destruction. But. You are not allowed see that proof. Neither can the international community see that proof. Neither can the press. Neither can the weapons inspectors, whose job it is to locate and destroy these items, if they exist, in the first place. One would think such data would best be served by placing it into the hands of the individuals tasked to ferret these weapons out. No sale. The UN cannot see this blockbuster evidence. Nor can the media. Nor can the inspectors. Nor can you. This is fine, you see. We trust George W. Bush to such an amazing degree that we are willing and able to be led into war without ever knowing the reason why, because we love him so very much. You don't believe me? Ask Jed Babbin, former Undersecretary of Defense in the first Bush administration. He usually appears on Fox News to speak the Bush administration party line, but December 9th found him speaking the aforementioned party line on the Chris Mathews MSNBC talk show, 'Hardball.' Feast: MATTHEWS: Shouldn't he have to show evidence? You're acting like it's a question mark. Isn't it necessary morally and politically and historically for this president to show his own people and the world he has evidence of weapons of mass destruction before going in? BABBIN: He has no obligations like that, Chris. This is not a trial. This is not a legal proceeding. This is a matter of national survival and national security. MATTHEWS: Well, how do the American people know that there's weapons of mass destruction in that country if the president can't show them there are? BABBIN: Because they trust their president. When he gets up, as he will soon, I believe, and tells them that they do have all the evidence that they need to proceed on Saddam's weapons. MATTHEWS: OK, so it's on his say-so. We're going to war on the president's say-so. BABBIN: That's the way it always is.
Perhaps Mr. Babbin needs to read up on his history a little. For example, did he hear about the little incident called the Revolutionary War in which the colonists in the Americas rose up and expelled the British because the latter were essentially telling them to do what they were told based solely on the say-so of the king? The Bushies want to return us to a mythical time in which the President's authority is unquestioned and unassailable. All hail king George!

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Just who is responsible for vetting nominees over at Dubya's house?
Bush's Candidate for SEC Job Accused of Misleading Investors AP Business Writer NEW YORK (AP) - President Bush's nominee to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission is targeted in a class-action lawsuit by investors accusing him of fraud for failing to disclose financial problems at Aetna Inc. when he was its top executive. William H. Donaldson, chosen by Bush Tuesday to become the nation's top corporate regulator after more than a year of scandals at numerous companies, was named in the lawsuit filed last year in federal court in New York. ...
You know, maybe it wasn't entirely Harvey Pitt's fault that he chose William Webster to head the new accounting oversight board.

America Experiencing Technical Difficulties, Please Stand By

U.S. warns potential enemies: Retaliation could include nukes WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration is issuing a reminder of its policy that warns any nation using weapons of mass destruction against the United States or its allies that it will face massive retaliation, perhaps with nuclear weapons. That policy is not new, but senior administration officials say they are laying it out for the first time formally in a strategy document on combating weapons of mass destruction. ...
"Seniore administration officials" are right, this is not a new policy. Most of the world has understood that this has been the unofficial policy for decades. Why else do you think Sadaam didn't put chemical weapons on scuds during Gulf War I? These kind of diplomatic wink-winks are necessary because committing to the policy explicitly actually ties our hands and makes it easier for an external force to manipulate us. But Bush has never been one for the subtle nuances of international diplomacy. Thus we have seen him make unofficial policy official (or at least explicit) on multiple occaisions. He did it with respect to Taiwan. Now he is doing it with respect to nuclear response. I guess this is all part of his "straight-talking man" routine.

Some jokes just write themselves Cabinet-Level Intelligence Czar Proposed

A Democratic Message William Saletan has an excellent piece in Slate that highlights just how Daschle's leadership failed the Democrats in 2002. He contrasts his comments with those of Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. Here's Daschle, when asked about the Dems getting behind one economic plan:
It's always been the case that there is diversity within our caucus. And I view that as always a strength, not a weakness. I think diversity gives us even more opportunity to consider options. … Our expectation is that we're going to be very much together on a plan.
Well... Gee... Who couldn't get behind that... I guess. You know a political leader is in trouble when the only positive thing he can say about his party is that they are diverse. I'm all for diversity, but it doesn't grab people as a message for the future. "Vote for us. You are many. We are many. We have so much in common." People want specifics. The kind of wishy-washy platform presented by Daschle leaves people scratching their heads and asking, "it all sounds wonderful, but what does it mean?" Contrast this with Stabenow:
During the tax debate last year it was the Democrats, the Democrats in the Senate that brought forward the $300 that ended up directly in people's pockets, which may be for most people the only tax cut that they get over the next 10 years under this plan. We have a philosophy and a plan that's consistent, and that is that you have to have a demand side to economics and that by putting money directly in working people's pockets, family farmers, small businesses, that you drive the economy. … I'm proud to represent the automakers. The automakers know that this is about having people who can afford to buy their cars. That's who we are standing up for.
She doesn't mince words or hem and haw about how wonderful the Dems are because they are diverse. She gets right down to the meat and makes it clear that it is the Republicans, not the Democrats, who have failed to present a concise economic plan that will actually benefit the people. The Democrats have one and Stabenow labels it clearly: "demand side economics". This is the principle that it is the consumers, not the producers, that are the engine of a healthy economy. Stabenow also avoids the anti-business theme that could be read into Gore's "people vs. the powerful" message by pointing out that business (in her case, the auto makers of Michigan) understand that they can't make money if people don't have the money to buy their products. The Democrats need to stop being "Republican-Lite", but they also have to avoid the past mistake of being associated with an anti-business agenda. Stabenow leads the way here by pointing out that demand side policies are not antithetical to capitalism. Indeed, they encourage the full potential of capitalism by giving it the fuel that it needs to grow: namely, the capital in the consumer's pocket. Saletan closes with this:
Stabenow's answer gives her party credit for the only tax rebates voters have received lately. It warns them that Bush may give them no more. It draws an understandable connection between government spending and economic growth. It makes the liberal conception of fairness look essential rather than hostile to free enterprise. It does commit Democrats to tax cuts, presumably at the price of bigger deficits. But that's the price of politics. To campaign, as to govern, is to choose.
Amen brother.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Trent Lott on Strom Thurmond:
"You know, if we had elected this man 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today."
What? Haven't we already discussed this. Well. No. You see this quote was not the famous one from a few days back. It was, instead, uttered back in 1980:
Lott's Praise for Thurmond Echoed His Words of 1980 WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 — Trent Lott, the Republican Senate leader who faces mounting criticism for his comment last week that the nation would have been better off had Strom Thurmond been elected president in 1948, expressed a nearly identical sentiment two decades ago. After a fiery speech by Mr. Thurmond at a campaign rally in Mississippi for Ronald Reagan in November 1980, Mr. Lott, then a congressman, told a crowd in Jackson, "You know, if we had elected this man 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today." ...
But I guess that was back when Lott was young and irresponsible.

Remember the entry a few days back about Viggo (Aragorn) Mortenson's anti-war discussion on Chalie Rose? Well, Lying Media Bastard has found a source for the video clip. You can find more details in the blog entry or you can go right to the clip (warning 13.5Mb file, link may not last).

You know Lott's in trouble when even the Wall Street Journal editorial page goes after him:
A Poor Choice of Words ... [Lott's comment at Thurmond's birthday party] is not a vague statement that can be made palatable with a few word changes. It is, indeed, the very model of clarity. The only way to take it as anything other than an expression of nostalgia for segregation is to assume that Lott was ignorant of what Strom Thurmond (and Lott's state, or rather its white citizens) stood for in 1948. That's just not plausible. ... The point is not that Lott is to blame for any of these things, only that he cannot reasonably plead ignorance. If he didn't mean what he said last week, a clearer statement of his views surely is in order. If he believes in civil rights and equality for all Americans, let him say so. He could also, as a Wall Street Journal editorial (link for subscribers) notes, take the opportunity to pay tribute to Thurmond--not for his 1948 views but for having the moral sense to abandon them. ...

I just had another thought on the Lott matter. Let's recall what he said:
I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.
Now, first of all, Lott was only seven years old when Thurmond ran for President (source WSJ). Therefore, it is a bit of an exageration for Lott to include himself in the "we" when he talks about those in his state who voted for him(*). But, what's more, Lott appears to be claiming that Missippians of today are proud that their state voted for Thurmond. I wonder what his fellow Missippians think about that? (* Hey, they went after Gore for things like this. All's fair...)

Richard Cohen does Maureen Dowd channeling Bill Clinton:
Republicans can lie, Dems can't. Why? ... "I don't get it. I lied about sex, which, of course, wasn't really sex anyway, and I got impeached for it. All these Republicans were jumping up and down, saying my case wasn't really about sex, but about the rule of law. No man can be above the law. Yeah, right! But no man tells the truth about sex, either. ... "Bush ran on this platform of moral purity. Then he turns around as President and chooses liars for high government positions, and no one says a peep. I'm waitin' on those hyperventilating hypocrites on talk TV to say something. The country's about to go to war on little more than the President's word. Maybe he won't lie. But he's hired people who have. "I should have been born a Republican. It's even better than being in love. You never, ever, have to say you're sorry."

Amazing enough, Howard Kurtz has one of the harshest takes on the Lott flap:
Why So Late on Lott? ... Here's Lott trying to extricate himself, according to the New York Times: "Saying that he had used 'a poor choice of words,' Trent Lott, the Senate Republican leader, apologized tonight for his speech at the 100th birthday party of Senator Strom Thurmond, which critics had said was an implicit endorsement of segregation." Poor choice of words? In the sense that "Ah did not have sex with that woman" was a poor choice of words?
That one made me laugh out loud. Of course, Howie, like the rest of the media, was also late in coming to this story. But he only has implied criticizism for others.

I've had some time to think about Lott's apology and I have to say that it went a lot further then I expected. Usually at this stage the Republicans would still be blustering about how it wasn't all that big a deal or the Dems were just playing the race card (Novak used that excuse yesteday). But the wording in this apology definitely leans more towards the "my bad" then "your bad for misunderstanding me" (thanks Maia). I guess someone read Lott the riot act that if he didn't stop this now he WOULD suffer for it. This just demonstrates that the GOP can be held responsible for its actions if only Dems are willing to actually turn up the heat. If it had been up to Daschle and the "liberal media", Lott would have been able to slide and the standards for decent conduct would have been even more eroded. All in all I think this was a win for the good guys.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Josh Marshal points out Snow's qualification for running Treasury:
Wait a second. I thought John Snow was just another bland non-entity the White House was installing across the street at Treasury. Turns out Snow's company, CSX, also has some pretty good tax attorneys. In three of the last four years, according to this press release from Citizens for Tax Justice, CSX paid no federal taxes even though it showed a profit in each of those four years.

Isn't it about time for Democrats to point out the obvious?
Mark Shields: Let's look at the record ... In 2002, Rep.-elect Michael Michaud, D-Maine, was a genuine exception among Democratic House candidates: a blue-collar, dues-paying union member who had worked in the paper mill for 28 years, who is pro-life and who, in a district previously represented by moderate Republicans -- former U.S. Sen. Bill Cohen and current U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe -- defeated Snowe's longtime chief of staff. All this, mind you, after Michaud publicly embraced the Man Republicans Love to Hate, former president Bill Clinton. Here, according to the estimable columnist E.J. Dionne, is what candidate Michaud had to say to Clinton in October before 2,500 Maine citizens in Augusta: "The country's economy was in the ditch, and you made the hard decisions and turned things around. But the Republicans in Washington could never give you any credit. Oh no. They said it was not Bill Clinton who brought prosperity, it was the House Republicans and Alan Greenspan. Guess what? We still have the House Republicans. We still have Alan Greenspan. And where's the economy? Back in the ditch." This Michaud fellow is clearly on to something. For the past decade, it has been a conservative crusade to: a) deny Bill Clinton's policies any credit for the historic prosperity the nation enjoyed during his presidency, or b) deny that those good old Clinton days were really that good at all. ... Let's be blunt. Bill Clinton gave his political opponents a pistol loaded with his own reckless and unacceptable self-indulgence, and then re-loaded it on the way out the door with his pardon of the loathsome Marc Rich. But Mike Michaud was right. Bill Gates is still there. Alan Greenspan is still there. The House Republicans are still there. Ronald Reagan's tax and budget policies are still honored in the White House. The only two things missing are a good economy and Bill Clinton.

Finally, a Democrat with spine!
Lott under fire for Thurmond comment WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Republican leader Trent Lott said Monday he meant no harm by a recent statement that the country would have avoided "all these problems" if voters had, in 1948, elected Strom Thurmond president -- who at that time favored segregation. "This was a lighthearted celebration of the 100th birthday of legendary Sen. Strom Thurmond. My comments were not an endorsement of his positions of over 50 years ago, but of the man and his life," Lott said in a statement. But some Democrats were angry. Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson called for Lott to resign, and former Vice President Al Gore told CNN that the comment was "racist." Issuing one of the harshest rebukes Lott has received to date, even from Democrats, Gore said Monday in an interview on CNN's "Inside Politics with Judy Woodruff" that Lott should apologize for his comments or face censure by the Senate. ... Gore offered no criticism of Thurmond, saying the retiring senator has since "repudiated" those views. But he said Lott's remarks are "divisive" and fit the "definition of a racist comment." "To say that the problems that we have in America today, some of them, stem from not electing a segregationist candidate for president ... is fundamentally racist," Gore said. Asked if he believes Lott is a racist, Gore said, "Trent Lott made a statement that I think is a racist statement, yes. That's why I think he should withdraw those comments or I think the United States Senate should undertake a censure of those comments. "It is not a small thing, Judy, for one of the half dozen most prominent political leaders in America to say that our problems are caused by integration and that we should have had a segregationist candidate. That is divisive and it is divisive along racial lines. That's the definition of a racist comment," Gore said.
And what was Daschle's response to this growing brouhaha?
Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, said Monday that he believes Lott did not intend for his comments to be interpreted as racist. "There are a lot of times when he and I go to the mike and would like to say things we meant to say differently, and I'm sure this is one of those cases for him as well," Daschle said.
Tom. Resign. Please. You are a greater threat to the future of the Democratic Party then George W. Bush.

Joe Conason rightly slaps the Democrats for being MIA on the Lott issue:
A national disgrace ... But Lott's conduct is a moral offense as well as a political issue. Which Democrat believes in the party's professed principles of equality? Which Democrat has an iota of the courage demonstrated by Harry Truman and Hubert Humphrey in 1948? Which Democrat will be the first to demand an apology from Trent Lott on the floor of the Senate -- and if he declines, as he will, which Democrat will dare to propose a resolution of censure? That's the Democrat who should be running for president. The others should hide their faces because they're cowards.

Josh Marshal soundly spanks David Broder (dean of the Washington press corps) for his milquetoast tsk-tsking of Lott's endorsement of segregationist Strom Thurmond for president. He links to the infamous Sally Quinn Peyton-Place-On-The-Potomac article from 1998 in which Broder, commenting on Clinton, says, "He came in here and he trashed the place. And it's not his place.". (*) I guess it is one thing to wag your finger and deny having an affair and another thing to run for President on a party that opposed integration and anti-lynching laws. Both may be bad, but one is obviously worse then the other. Depending on your definition of "obvious" of course. (* - I've always wondered who appointed Mr. Broder to be the gatekeeper for the White House. Here I thought it was the people's house. But I guess you have to first pass muster with the Dean before you can move in.)

Andrew Sullivan on Trent Lott:
TRENT LOTT MUST GO: After his disgusting remarks at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party, it seems to me that the Republican Party has a simple choice. Either they get rid of Lott as majority leader; or they should come out formally as a party that regrets desegregation and civil rights for African-Americans. Why are the Republican commentators so silent about this? And the liberals? (Josh Marshall, to his credit, states the obvious. And Bill Kristol, to his great credit, expressed disbelief.) And where's the New York Times? Howell Raines is so intent on finding Bull Connor in a tony golf club that when Bull Connor emerges as the soul of the Republican Senate Majority Leader, he doesn't notice it. And where's the president? It seems to me an explicit repudiation of Lott's bigotry is a no-brainer for a "compassionate conservative." Or simply a decent person, for that matter. This isn't the first piece of evidence that Lott is an unreconstructed racist. He has spoken before gussied-up white supremacist groups before. So here's a simple test for Republicans and conservative pundits. Will they call Lott on this excrescence? Or are they exactly what some on the Left accuse them of?
Sullivan reminds me of someone who wallows in the mud and then suddenly notices that one of his fellow mud-wallowers happens to have a little bit of dirt on his cheek. He then gets upset that his fellow mud-wallowers aren't equally upset at the dirt on said cheek. He does, unfortunately, have a point about the Democrats in this matter. They have been so cowed by the label of "politically incorrect" that they are unwilling to speak out against an offense that is so deserving of public condemnation. I guess Andy's fellow mud-wallowers have done their job to well. To bad it took him so long to notice the nature of the company he keeps.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Back, But Not By Popular Demand ... The attempt to rehabilitate the party's scandal-scarred lions must be seen in the context of this governing strategy. If you try something controversial and get away with it, it makes you stronger. The recent appointments -- and the refusal to even acknowledge the legitimate outcry they have occasioned -- are a deliberate demonstration of power, a flaunting of contempt for opposition and dissent, in the expectation that such a show will likely deter, not spur, critics. Why has Bush appointed Kissinger, Poindexter and Abrams? It's like the old riddle: because he can.
This brings back a point that I have been trying to make since Bush started packing his administration with right-wingers and ex-felons: by not complaining LOUDLY about this, the Democrats have only embolden the Bushies to ever greater heights of outrage. They have allowed Dubya to "restore honor and dignity" to people whose names should go down in history as reprobates and traitors. There are many factors that explain Bush's success. But perhaps one of the biggest, even bigger then 9/11, has to be the willingness of the Democrats to squelch any complaint against him.