Friday, May 09, 2003

PNAC: The flaws of missionary zeal

In the latest MoveOn bulletin there is a link to an April 5th article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal that provides an excellent summary of the Project for a New American Century. I note, with interest, the following summary of what PNAC stands for: In essence, the neoconservatives argue that national sovereignty is an outdated concept, given the overwhelming power of America, and the U.S. should do all it can to impose democracy on countries. Some have called this approach democratic imperialism. It echoes the do-gooder impulses of Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic president who formulated the League of Nations as a solution to war, then paradoxically blends it with American military might. Hulsman dubbed it "Wilsonianism on steroids." In a world where nuclear weapons are proliferating, the neoconservatives argue, you can no longer put the genie back in the bottle. "The hard truth is that unless you change some of these regimes, you're going to be hard-pressed to get rid of the threat," Schmidt noted. "Liberal democracies don't go to war with each other." The theory behind this, developed by Michael Doyle, professor of international affairs at Princeton University, is that democratic governments are reluctant to go to war because they must answer to their citizens. And the history of liberal democracies, though comparatively short in the grand scheme of history, tends to buttress his point. PNAC is arguing that America should force other countries into democracy, possibly at the point of a gun, so that they will be less likely to attack their neighbors. Yet they fail to note the irony that this might require America, an alleged "liberal democracy", to attack its neighbors. Does this disprove the PNAC thesis that "liberal democracies don't go to war with each other?" Or does it show that, in order to use the might of the United States to force "liberal democracies" on other nations, it will be necessary to undermine our own "liberal democracy"? But for critics such as Hulsman, democracy arises from the bottom up and is "intimately connected with local culture and tradition. It can almost never be successfully imposed from the top down," he contends. Neoconservatives cite Germany and Japan, but Hulsman noted that Japan is "98 percent ethnically homogenous," unlike Iraq, which is split among three major groups. Yet Japan still required five years of American occupation after World War II before it became an independent democracy. The mission of democratizing the world may have no end, Hulsman says, because "there are always barbarians to convert." But whatever his disagreement with it, Hulsman called the neoconservatives' approach "the first new thought in foreign policy for some time." Is it really that new? Or is it just a repackaging of the old idea of "the white man's burden"? There is a missionary component to the PNAC program, with Democracy being the religion the conquerors will bring to the heathens. The trappings of this philosophy are new but the idea is as old as the idea of nation states. Every dominant power goes through a phase where it thinks it is the standard-bearer of civilization and therefore has an obligation, perhaps even a holy commission, to bring that civilization to the lesser souls around it. Unfortunately, as in all past experiences with imperialistic missionary spirit, that mission is often used as a mask to obscure what really happens: the exploitation of the people and resources of the conquered territories. While the missionaries preach to the heathens the leeches work in the background to suck the country dry. The difficulty in fighting this philosophy is that many of the chief proponents may actually believe what they are saying. Wolfowitz, Pearle, Bush and the others may truly see themselves as liberators. The part of them that knows what is really going on behind the curtain is safely locked away in a little part of their minds, never to be examined. You can accuse them of being perfidious, but they will be able to defend themselves, in all honesty, against the charge because they simply don't see themselves as doing what you are accusing them of doing. And the American people are willing participants in this delusion. They want to feel that they are doing right in the world and the Good News of the PNAC mission is that America is bringing Democracy to the lowly savages and that cannot be anything but a good thing. Right? You're not against Democracy are you?

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Over in the comments section on the DailyKOS one poster, DrFrankLives, had a suggestion for an advertisement the Democrats could use against Bush. It was too good not to pass along. In March 2001, George W. Bush told the Boys & Girls Clubs that he supported them. The NEXT DAY, he slashed their budget. In September 2001, George W. Bush told NY Firefighting heroes that he would make sure to pay them back for their sacrifice. By December, he had cut funding to New York's firefighters and policemen. In May 2003, George W. Bush stopped an aircraft carrier to use the sailors in a photo op. He didn't tell them he had slashed veterans benefits and cut funding to their kids schools while they were away. Now, George W. Bush is telling you he wants you to elect him President. Watch your wallet. Vote Democrat in 2004. Bravo!

Keep 'em on the ropes

I heard an interesting suggestion (can't remember where, sorry) for how the Democrats should handle the photo-op fuckup: if the Republicans continue to insist that it wasn't done for political purposes they should respond, "Ok. then will the President promise not to use any image from the event in the 2004 campaign?"

The snake bites hardest just before it dies

Looks like Robert Byrd has really hit a nerve. Frist: Byrd's KKK Past a Legitimate Issue Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., broke a cardinal rule of modern Washington politics Wednesday afternoon when he dared to point out that Sen. Robert Byrd's 1940s membership in the Ku Klux Klan might be a relevant issue. Asked whether Byrd's night-riding, hood-wearing days were an appropriate target of criticism in light of last year's Trent Lott fiasco, Frist told nationally syndicated radio host Sean Hannity, "It's fair, it's fair." "We always have to be careful in politics to draw too straight a line from the past. But I think the facts are the facts and they say something about the person. And therefore, I think, of course it's fair [to bring it up.]," the Senate's top Republican said. Frist suggested that Byrd's criticism on Tuesday of President Bush's decision to visit the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln last week was tainted by his former membership in the anti-black hate group. This has all the marks of desperation. It is a clear attack-the-messenger-not-the-message attempt to distract attention from something they KNOW will hurt them. This should be taken as a sign by Democrats everywhere to INCREASE the pressure. "Clearly a person is their past combined with the reflection of statements that are being made at any point in time," he told Hannity. Does the same rule apply to Dubya, Dr. Frist? Do you really want to go there, Dr. Frist? (And all those Democrats who think it is a mistake to go after Bush on this can just stuff it as far as I'm concerned). Update: The more I think about this the more I realize that Frist's attack is totally off-base, irrelevent and a clear sign that Byrd and the Democrats have struck gold on this issue. The Republicans are SCARED folks. They know that they be hurt if this story continues to get airplay. So they go around growling at the Democrats expecting them to cower like they usually do (see my previous comments about the cowards in the Democratic party who want to do just that). Let's surprise them shall we?

More Democratic foot shooting

(warning: big time major profanity-laced rant coming) Ship Carrying Bush Delayed Return Carrier That Spent Night off San Diego Could Have Gone Straight to Home Port ... White House press secretary Ari Fleischer called the criticism "a disservice to the men and women of our military" and said the carrier "was not kept at sea for an extra afternoon, evening or a night." A senior White House official said Democrats were making a mistake by trying to draw more attention to an image that Bush's aides see as emblematic of his strength on national security. "This is not an issue that Democrats want to keep alive," the official said. "We're happy to argue with them about defense -- any day." A Republican leadership aide on Capitol Hill said the questions being raised by Democrats were "uncomfortable," but noted that the discussion "at least means they're not talking about Medicare or the economy." Several senior Democrats agreed that the dispute is a loser for them. "It was live on CNN for four hours," a Senate Democratic strategist said. "You can't pay enough for that. Who cares about a few stories later?" One Democrat moaned yesterday as he watched cable news programs replay hours of footage of Bush on the carrier, with audio about Democratic complaints. "I'm watching him get high-fived and buzz the tower again," the Democrat said. "The White House should have thought of this controversy themselves. AAAARRRGGGHHH!!!! Assholes do vex me! Who are these fucking idiots (pardon my freedom) who say things like this? They should be shit-canned immediately! Never NEVER EVER take political advice from the opposition. In fact, pay attention to what they say you shouldn't be doing because that probably means they are afraid what you are doing might actually work. These idiots simply don't understand that the only way to defeat Bush on this matter is to confront him directly on it. You can't win by playing it down BECAUSE BUSH AND ROVE WON'T ALLOW YOU TO PLAY IT DOWN! Stop running away from the fight you fucking cowards! What you have to do is play it up while redefining the rules of the debate. You have to repeat the message that this was a shameless exploitation of our military men and women for political purposes ad nauseum (literally, until people puke). You have to repeat it over and over again so that every time those images play on TV the voters can't help but think, "Nice photo-op, but what have you done for me lately?" Get a clue or get off the boat! We don't need you! We would be better off without you! YOU are the reason the boat is sinking!

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

An interesting suggestion

Someone over on the Bartcop forum suggested that Scott Ritter should jump into the Democratic nomination race. But, wouldn't it be more delicious if he were to run for the Republican nomination? He is a Republican after all.

How to tackle Bush on foreign policy

There's an interesting article over on Salon by Eric Boehlert about the GOP's "luck" in latching on to the war on terror. Today, in Rove's the hands, the permanent war on terrorism is like a political gold mine. "Everything, including a war, is a potential campaign event for Karl," says James Moore, coauthor with Wayne Slater of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential." "He has great a skill at keeping messages simple and accessible. And the message today is the war and economy are wrapped up in security, that there's unfinished business with the war on terrorism and why would you change commander in chief in the middle of war? It's a helluva salable message." It's a depressingly true fact of life that the Bushies have a political goldmine in the war on terror. Anytime the heat starts to turn up on any other matter all they have to do is go "Boo!" and enough of the electorate will reflexively pull Bush's lever to easily guarantee him another four years. It's going to be difficult if not impossible for any Democrat to overcome that advantage. Even John Kerry won't have it easy. Some Democratic strategists are saying that only someone with Kerry's military background stands a chance of challenging Bush on his "protecting America from the bad men" position. But I say that even the most decorated of soldiers would not be enough to overcome Bush's advantage on this point. The Democrats cannot challenge Bush directly on his foreign policy because, as long as it continues to work, the people will support it. Attacking the policy when it is a success will just make those who support him think that they are being attacked themselves. That will make the defensively tighten their support. No, what is needed to address this problem is an entirely different approach. What the Democrats need to do is make an issue of the very thing that this article is talking about: the politicization of fear. They need to make the heart of the campaign be Bush's attempts to exploit the fear generated by 9/11 for political purposes. They need to put one thought and one thought alone into people's heads: Bush is more interested in scaring us into voting for him than he is in actually protecting us. The recent tut-tuts about the carrier photo-op are a good example of how this can be done. Rove was really blatant in his political exploitation of this event and even Bush supporters have had to acknowledge this. The Democrats started to whisper about it whenever they could and then, when it started to look bad for Bush in the media, brought out Robert Byrd to positively HAMMER Bush for the exploitation of America's fighting men and women . Note to any of the campaigns watching: there is the germ of a winning strategy here. You first need to attack the high-esteem which Bush has in the eyes of so many Americans. If you can repeatedly demonstrate that this administration is willing to use the military as a backdrop for its perpetual campaign then you can increase the disgust level people will have in reaction to this. Eventually it will reach a point where people will begin to question the foreign policies themselves. It is at that moment when you sweep in with a "there is another way" campaign. We need to make people squirm at the idea of voting for Bush again.

A Byrd in the Senate is worth far more than any Bush

I'm coming late to this party, but Byrd's speech condemning Bush's carrier photo-op is to important not to be repeated as often as possible. I understand from online reports that this story is starting to get some traction in the establishment press (I don't watch much TV because I consider most of it to be worse then useless). Apparently ABC gave a scathing report about it tonight on their evening news broadcast. This can be nothing but a good thing. Rove was hoping to use this footage for campaign commercials next year. But if enough people express enough disapproval over the whole incident then he can do so only at the risk of bringing the whole matter up again. That sound you hear is Bush's million dollar photo-op fizzling into the sunset.

Tenacity, thy name is Dean

For the 2nd time I find myself in the surprising position of linking favorably to a Howard Fineman column. In this column, Howard is essentially telling his colleagues NOT to write off Howard Dean just because he was an anti-war candidate and he, apparently, came down on the losing side of that debate. Howard identifies two of Dean's strengths: 1) Organization. His is one of the leanest and most efficient out there and it is backed up by the 20,000+ meetup attendees. So far, Dean’s outfit is the most adept at using the Internet, which is to the 2004 campaign what cable TV was to 1992 and direct-mail to 1980 — the new Best Practice for reaching and motivating voters. This week, the Dean campaign’s grass-roots enthusiasts will put themselves on display, gathering in about 250 “Meetups” generated through the Web site of the same name. These events turn traditional organizing on its head: The campaign people go to the meeting, they don’t put it together. 2) Tenacity. He doesn't back down from a position just because the news of the day breaks against him. Then there’s the candidate himself. Howard Dean, at least as a candidate, is a shark in Land’s End clothing. He is always moving forward and always on the attack. Most of his rivals genuinely loathe him at this point, but Dean doesn’t seem to care. He’s looking to inspire voters, and thinks his combative style is what they want. He thinks that Democrats want some anger in their candidate to confront Bush’s Red State triumphalism. Dean appears to draw inspiration from the cutthroat side of the Kennedy legacy, Bobby and Jack in particular. Their rhetoric soared and their ideals were noble, but their tactics were tough. When they wanted to dismiss someone as a nonentity, they called him a “nice man.” I have this feeling that Dean's tenacity and gruffness could serve him well in the future when it comes to answering the charge that he is weak on defense. People may initially say, "He was against the war, so how can he be a strong leader?" But, if they see him tenaciously DEFEND his opposition to the war then people may come to respect him for it and change their opinion about his apparent "weakness" on this matter. I've said it before: Dean has the right message. He may need to hone its delivery, but he should NOT change it. Doing so would be far more damaging than any heat he may take for any particular part of that message.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Dean, health care and incrementalism

I know some people are confused by Dean's health care plan. Both Max Sawicky and Mathew Yglesias are characterizing it as a non-plan apparently because it doesn't provide a comprehensive proposal for solving the health care problems in America. I think that this a deliberate decision on the part of the Dean campaign. Dean is trying to separate the question of coverage from reform. He admits that the health care system as a whole in this country is screwed up. But reforming it is a major battle that should be separate from the question of who gets coverage (this is why he no longer supports what Clinton tried to do in 1993). It is just embarrassing that one of the richest nations in the world leaves so many millions of its citizens completely exposed to medical disaster. The essence of Dean's plan is to first get everyone on some kind of plan and then try to make those plans better. I like this approach. It gets to the biggest problem in health care today (the fact that so many people have no coverage), forces the opposition to discuss the issue on the matter of coverage alone instead of getting bogged down in the details of any particular reform proposal, and lays the groundwork for more comprehensive reform in the future. After all, once everyone has a stake in the health care system, everyone will have an interest in making it better. I think this demonstrates that Dean is has inherited the incrementalist approach of Bill Clinton. I happen to agree with this approach, but I know many on the left who hate it. They think it provides to many opportunities to compromise important principles for illusory results. They are not entirely wrong. It takes courage to carry through on incrementalism and few politicians have the courage to do it. But if it is the only approach that actually gets us on the road to where we really want to be then I am all for it. It is also a steal from the Dubya/Rove playbook. Remember how Bush dealt with the abortion question during the 2000 campaign? He essentially said that while he personally supported banning abortion he didn't feel the political climate was such that the proposal could ever get passed (I agree with that). It was an acknowledgement that it is more important to devote your energies for what could be done rather than waste time on leaps towards the ultimate goal right away that were pretty much guaranteed to fail. Of course he said this in different ways depending on the audience he was talking to. If he was talking to mainstream audiences then he would emphasis the "I'm not going to push for a ban on abortion" message while, if he was talking to the red meat crowd, he would emphasize the "we must not forget the ultimate goal of banning abortion" part of the message. I think Dean could take the same approach to discussing health care. When talking with more left-wing audiences, emphasis the fact that he does support a more simplified universal health care system. But when talking to more mainstream audiences talk about how he supports covering those who are currently uninsured. It is possible to sell yourself to both constituencies without pissing either off (just so long as the the left version of the red meat crowd understands that they won't always hear what they want to hear in the more public dialog on the issues).

Krugman shows how it is done

Paul Krugman hits all the relevant points in his analysis of Bush's little photo-op. (1) American President's don't go running around in military garb for a very specific reason, because they are supposed to be the civilian head of state (Eisenhower never put on the uniform or flashed a medal while he was running or was in office). (2) It was a lie that the tailhook landing was necessary because the ship was so far out to sea (it was actually within thirty miles of shore). (3) The establishment American press provided little but gushing coverage of this event (Krugman quotes British journalists who say that Blair would have been laughed off the stage if he had tried a stunt like this.) (4) Bush failed to show up for duty while in the National Guard. (5) Bush still hasn't found bin Laden. (6) It was primarily U.S. soldiers who brought the statue of Saddam down and not the hordes of Iraqis (all one hundred of them) as reported by the press. (7) It really is important that no WMD have been found yet in Iraq (world opinion? who cares about that?). (8) The GOP's plans to hold their nominating convention in early September, in NYC, in order to use the bodies of the 3000 killed at the WTC for political purposes. (9) The foot-dragging of this administration on putting together and funding the independent commission to study intelligence failures prior to 9/11. Now, why is it that Democrats can't hit bullet points like this over and over and over and over again? Dean is the only one who even comes close and even he has fallen short of the mark at times. Listen up guys: you will never defeat this yahoo unless you are willing to absolutely hammer him on every single one of these points non-stop from here until next November. Don't let them distract you with irrelevancies. Demand answers to these questions.

Anatomy of a whisper campaign

There's apparently been something of a whispering campaign going on behind the scenes with respect to Howard Dean. It goes something like this: Dean got a medical deferment during Vietnam (classified 1-Y) because of an unfused vertebrae. He then went off and skied for 80 days in Aspen. Implication: Dean used his money to buy a medical deferment and then went off and partied for three months while other bright young American boys died in the mud of Vietnam. There's been some talk about this on the Dean Coffeehouse mailing list (a mailing list set up by the Dean campaign for Dean supporters to share thoughts on the campaign). Here's what people have been able to determine so far: 1) Dean did get a 1-Y deferment. This kind of deferment means that the individual is draftable only in times of declared war. Vietnam was not a declared war. 2) Dean's condition was apparently caused by a back injury as a youth and has caused him chronic, though not necessarily severe, back problems for years. It may explain why he sometimes seems a little stiff when he walks around. 3) This medical deferment does not mean that Dean was infirm at the time he got it. It only meant that he was at increased risk for infirmity if he were put through the physical exertion of humping it through the delta. The army generally didn't want to take people like this unless it was necessary because they didn't want to be saddled with the medical expense if he did become infirm. 4) Since Dean was not infirm, there was no physical reason why he couldn't engage in activities like skiing. Admittedly, with his condition, it may not have been the wisest thing to do (one bad fall and he could have been seriously crippled for life). But then college age men are not always known for having an abundance of wisdom. Conclusion: For now I am satisfied that there is no evidence that Dean got any special treatment. That does not, of course, mean that his political opponents won't try to use this against him. In fact, one of the mailing list posters commented that the same kind of whisper campaign was spread around against William Weld during his run for U.S. Senate. Guess who was opponent at the time? John Kerry. In other words, just because it is a whisper campaign don't assume that it is coming exclusively from the Republicans. We need to watch out for this one folks. It will pop up again repeatedly if Dean becomes a serious contender. Fortunately, the Bush camp would have a hard time making an up front attack on grounds like this because that would open up the whole question of Bush and Cheney's actions during that time. However, that won't prevent them from using it to smear Dean behind the scenes. Example push-poll question: Q - Would you vote for Dean if you found out that he got a medical deferment from the Vietnam draft because he allegedly had a bad back but that he went on a three month skiing vacation in Aspen soon afterward? Update: This topic has come up over on the unofficial dean2004 blog. Someone in the comments area said that an unfused vertebrae could be a liability when it comes to hauling around heavy loads (like the packs soldiers carry) but that it does not limit mobility and that exercise, like skiiing, might actually strengthen the muscles and reduce the risk of injury. I have no medical background so I can't confirm this one way or the other. But I might have been wrong about my previous assessment that skiiing was an unwise thing for Dean to do.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Do Republicans have a coherent foreign policy?

Matthew Yglesias weighs in on this much blogged about column by Todd Gitlin about the Democrats not having a "coherent foreign policy". Several others have done so as well here, here, here and here. Mathew brings an overlooked point: On the third hand, it's not as though the GOP really has a coherent foreign policy. Rather, congressional Republicans seem happy to follow wherever Bush will lead them and Bush picks and chooses amidst the conflicting advice he gets from within his administration seemingly through a method of capriciousness mixed with political expediency. Aren't the Democrats buying into yet another Republican spin point on this matter? Is the Bush administration's foreign policy really all that coherent? Just consider the conflicting ways in which it has handled Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Israel/Palestine, India/Pakistan, etc., etc., etc. I defy anyone to describe the Bush foreign policy in a way that is both coherent and consistent with what they have actually done in each of these foreign policy hot spots. There was a period in which the "your with us or against us" Bush Doctrine was touted as this administrations "coherent" foreign policy. But even his supporters don't try to make that case anymore. Indeed, Bush's foreign policy seems to be driven more by a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants approach while simply asserting that it is all consistent and coherent. The only thing coherent about Bush's foreign policy, indeed ALL of his policies, is that it is based on the fundamental assertion that whatever Bush says is right and that just that. Is that really a "coherent foreign policy"? Or isn't it just the mark of a spoiled brat who happens to be swinging an awfully big stick?

The Iceman Cometh

MoDowd's piece today is priceless. If there is one thing she knows how to do it is how to use popular culture to skewer a political figure. MAVERICK: I feel the need . . . GOOSE: The need for speed! ICEMAN: You're really a cowboy. MAVERICK: What's your problem? ICEMAN: Your ego's writing checks your body can't cash. You didn't need to take all that water survival training in the White House swimming pool. The Abraham Lincoln was practically docked, only 30 miles off shore, after 10 months at sea. They had to steer it away from land for you. If you'd waited a few hours, you could've just walked aboard. You and Rove are making a gorgeous campaign video on the Pacific to cast you as the warrior president for 2004, but back on shore, things are ugly. The California economy's bleeding, even worse than other states'. When you took office, the unemployment rate in San Jose was 1.7 percent; by February of this year, it had risen to 8.5 percent. Your motorcade didn't bother to stop in the depressed high-tech corridor in Silicon Valley. Every time you cut taxes and raise deficits while you're roaring ahead with a pre-emptive military policy, you're unsafe. National unemployment goes up to 6 percent and you just hammer Congress to pass your tax cut. The only guys sure about their jobs these days are defense contractors connected to Republicans and the Carlyle Group, which owns half of the defense plant you visited here. You're dangerous. It almost makes me willing to forgive her for harassing Gore. At least in Bush's case it doesn't look like she is beating up on the wrong man.

A good result does not justify the means by which the result is achieved

At the beginning of the debate on Saturday, Dean went out of his way to re-iterate that he was "delighted to see Saddam gone". He obviously did this to knock down his critics who think that he was "objectively pro-Saddam". But he then went on to repeat his concerns about the invasion and its consequences, including the increased possibility of a fundamentalist Shi'a regime replacing Hussein. This is what he meant by his comments that Iraq may not be better off, in the long run, without Saddam. Some have asked why Dean could say he is delighted that Saddam is gone yet still think it was a bad idea to take him out in the first place. Let's put it this way. I would be delighted to see Bush out of the Presidency. But that does not mean I would support someone assassinating him. Does that clear things up?

An inside look at the operations of a modern political campaign

There's an interesting discussion about campaign tactics going on right now on the unofficial Dean2004 blog. It started with the posting of one of the intra-debate press releases from the Dean campaign. This press release was headlined, "DICK GEPHARDT KNOWS THAT WHEN YOU FIND A WINNING MESSAGE, STEAL IT!". It pointed out that Dick Gephardt's use of the term "Bush-lite" was a tacit bow to the Dean campaign since Howard Dean was the first to start using that term. Some Dean supporters criticized the harsh tone of the press release and started asking why Dean was being so brash in his criticism of other candidates. The real treat of the discussion, though, was when Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager, came into the conversation and tried to explain what was going on: Uh...I am not sure folks have a true understanding of how these things work -- so let me explain. During the debate each campaign has a team that literally anwsers any exchange in the debate within moments of the exchange occuring. The SC Democratic Party assigns runners between the campaign and the press to each campaign -- so the press is getting almost instant response and has the facts to shape the story of what is happening in the debate. There had to be dozens of releases last night from serveral of the campaigns each. No reporter is going to use any of those releases -- but if they had not thought of the "Bush lite" line being Howard Dean's for instance-- at least they are all aware of it. Experience teaches that if you even want them to look at it you have to say something in the "release" headline that makes them take a second look at what you are saying. We actually got a release out within seconds for instance of Joe Lieberman saying he wanted to strangle George S. saying "The Dean campaign conceded only one point in the debate tonight -- that the best line was delivered by Joe Lieberman...." Alot of the flurry included health care stats during John Kerry's question of the Governor's record -- which many in the press concluded was unfounded on Kerry's part. All of this is unseen by the public -- and as I have said -- not one of those releases from any campaign will make it into a news story. Lieberman actually put one out in the middle of the debate that said something like "Howard Dean tonight stood firm in his opposition to the war" Seriously it was a one line release -- and we are still scratching our heads over that one. Aside from building the strongest grassroots organization of any Presidential campaign in history -- one of the other things I hope occurs in this open discourse -- is from time to time -- help explain how things really work -- and why they happen -- so there is a better more open understanding of the process. If you read ABC's notepad tomorrow -- we have a tongue in cheek parody which includes the Joe Lieberman press release exchange noted above in this post. I hope this explains this. Joe Trippi Campaign Manager Dean for America This reminds me of the what Joe Stracynzki, the creator of Babylon 5, tried to do while his show was on the air: he spent an hour or two every day online discussing the behind-the-scenes details of making a regular television show because he wanted the fans to have a better appreciation of the difficulties and compromises that go into making a great show work. Joe Trippi appears to be adopting the same approach. Instead of remaining stand-offish with the campaign supporters he is giving us an inside look so that we can better understand the thinking behind their tactics and, hopefully, come to appreciate why they do things a certain way. That doesn't mean they always do things the right way, but it does give me to understand why they chose to do things they way they do. Here's hoping Joe can keep this up as the campaign moves into higher gears. Just wait till we get into the heart of campaign season. We'll see then if he has the perseverance to confront online critics with "behind the scenes" reports.