Saturday, September 20, 2003

$5 million in 10 days

An ambitious goal to say the least

Bush to UN: You're irrelevent if you don't clean up my mess

Dubya is going back to the UN, personally this time, to beg for help. Of course, in order to save face he is going to act like it is him who is so magnanimously giving the UN another chance to join America in the grand experiment.

Bush, addressing the General Assembly on Tuesday, will argue -- just as he did last year -- that the United Nations needs to meet its global responsibilities or risk being irrelevant.

Oh yeah, that argument worked so well last time. Of course, last time Bush argued that if they didn't join him in Iraq that they would be irrelevant. Which begs the question: if they are irrelevant, why is Bush going back to ask for their help?

Only a general can get away with criticizing Bush?

Rep. Charles Rangel on Wesley Clark:

"This war is going to last after I die, after my son, who was a Marine for four years, dies," said Rangel. "This general is a protection for America, to challenge this president's policies without being called unpatriotic. I feel like I've gone back to get my big brother who's a four-star general."

Excuse me Rep. Rangel, but do we really want to encourage the idea that only someone with a military background is qualified to question the President in times of war? Whatever happened to the idea that civilians are supposed to be the ones in charge?

Am I the only one who finds this whole idea mildly disturbing?

Some good news for Clark

Clark is in the lead in the first major national poll (Newsweek) that includes his name as a declared candidate. Kos is perhaps a bit to dismissive of the implications of this poll while Kevin Drum probably gives it more significance than it deserves.

I think this poll reflects the ambivalence of a lot of Democrats more than any strong support for Clark the candidate. A large chunk of his initial support came from the Undecided category after all (and, strangely enough, from Dick Gephardt). Remember that Lieberman was way out in the lead of several national polls just on name recognition alone. Clark may be benefiting (1) from a well publicized rollout combined with (2) a bit of mesmerization at the sight of a Democrat with four stars on his shoulder.

Regardless of whether it reflects strong support for Clark or not, it is significant because it will influence the fair-weather voters, the ones who will vote for whoever is (perceived to be) on top.

Clark still has to prove that he can be a good campaigner, which is my #1 qualifier for selecting a candidate right now. I do not buy into the belief that a general will automatically trump an AWOL lieutenant. As I have said before, shiny medals are not bulletproof, despite what people may think.

But if Clark can prove to be a better campaigner than Dean and he can persuade the Dean forces that they won't be dismissed as "children" (an attitude I have seen more than once from some Clark partisans) then I will support him enthusiastically.

Until then, I'm a Dean man.

Pride goeth...

Go read the latest Christopher Dickey column ("Pride and Prejudice - How Americans have fooled themselves about the war in Iraq, and why they've had to"). It's web only, unfortunately. I guess Newsweek isn't quite ready to publish something like this in print. I'd excerpt a sample but there's just to much good stuff to do so without reprinting the whole thing.

Friday, September 19, 2003

The battle for the soul of the Democratic party

Joan Walsh does some good work analyzing the General's bad day (Salon Premium content):

I couldn't help thinking that the general is sounding a little like Arnold Schwarzenegger, another political newcomer who's been short on specifics and has asked voters for their patience. Of course, Clark lacks many of Schwarzenegger's negatives -- his notorious past with women, for instance -- and he deserves credit for meeting with the nation's toughest political reporters on his first day on the trail (he gets points for courage, but not for judgment, given how green he seemed). But there's something arrogant and entitled about both of them, who seem to think their star power should make up for their lack of clarity about policy and inexperience with elective office. Voters haven't been charmed by Schwarzenegger; we'll see if they're wowed by Clark.

Again with the Schwarzenegger comparison! Those memes do travel fast in media circles!

Walsh repeats the quote of an angry Democrat that was in The Note (the same one I quoted here) and makes some observations about what's going on within the Democratic party:

And while that angry Democrat isn't a Dean supporter, expect the Deanites to be even more outraged. As's Eli Pariser told Salon's Eric Boehlert this week, there's a civil war brewing between the Democratic base and its loud Dean component, and party elites associated with the Democratic Leadership Council and the consultants clustered around the Clinton-Gore campaigns, who think Dean's too radical to be elected. A couple of more stumbles like Clark's on Thursday, and the Dean folks will be even more furious that their man, who fought to be the frontrunner on the tough field of campaign battle, is being dismissed for a supposedly antiwar general who can't clearly articulate his own stand on the Iraq resolution, which was a defining moment for this generation of Democrats.

There is that. The "anger" that many Democrats feel towards their party leaders is palpable and growing. The fact that they have been caught so off-guard by it is a validation of its legitimacy. The fact that they chose to respond to it by pushing a political neophyte with a bunch of shiny stars on his shoulder is just adding insult to injury.

But let's be clear about something. Neither I nor most of the Dean supporters that I know have any desire to wage a war within the Democratic party. We know as well as anyone how damaging that could be to our long-term prospects for success ('68 anyone?). We just want them to treat us with respect and listen to our concerns.

And if they won't then maybe we will just have to force them to listen.

Clark: What I meant to say was...

Full damage control mode and the campaign is less than 48 hours old.

Democratic candidate seeks to clarify comments on Iraq resolution
MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press Writer
Friday, September 19, 2003
©2003 Associated Press

(09-19) 14:05 PDT IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) --

Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark backtracked from a day-old statement that he probably would have voted for the congressional resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq, saying Friday he "would never have voted for this war."

The retired Army general, an opponent of the conflict, surprised supporters when he indicated in an interview with reporters Thursday that he likely would have supported the resolution. On Friday, Clark sought to clarify his comments in an interview with The Associated Press.

"Let's make one thing real clear, I would never have voted for this war," Clark said before a speech at the University of Iowa. "I've gotten a very consistent record on this. There was no imminent threat. This was not a case of pre-emptive war. I would have voted for the right kind of leverage to get a diplomatic solution, an international solution to the challenge of Saddam Hussein."

Clark's initial remarks left members of his campaign team a bit flummoxed.

"That caught me off guard a little. The general has been very critical of the war," said George Bruno, a New Hampshire activist.

Clark really had no choice but to quickly stomp on this but it is not an auspicious start and is more evidence of the dangers of such a late starting campaign.

Clark said the helter-skelter effort to build his campaign was "like trying to bottle lightning," but he shrugged off the early stumbles.

"It doesn't bother me a bit," he said. "It helps you get the message out across America. When you start late, you need that."

Well, at least he's getting a quick lesson in the art of spin. Making a major gaffe isn't a problem. It actually helps to get the message out even faster! Yeah, that's the ticket!

Bush has already beaten a military hero

Something else to remember regarding "AWOL Bush" vs. "General Clark". Bush has already gone up against a decorated, ex-POW, war veteran and beaten him. And he did so in South Carolina, part of the pro-military South.

Thanks to Alice for reminding me of this.

Google News Democratic Poll for 9/19/2003

  This Week (9/19) Last Week (9/12)
1 Howard Dean 7950 21.1% -0.1 1 6330 21.2%
2 John Kerry 6020 16.0% -0.7 2 4980 16.7%
3 Dick Gephardt 4140 11.0% -0.8 3 3510 11.8%
4 John Edwards 4020 10.7% -0.2 4 3230 10.8%
5 Bob Graham 3480 9.2% +0.4 6 2620 8.8%
6 Joe Lieberman 3330 8.8% -0.3 5 2710 9.1%
7 Wesley Clark 2710 7.2% +3.5 10 1100 3.7%
8 Dennis Kucinich 2590 6.9% -1.1 7 2370 7.9%
9 Al Sharpton 2020 5.4% -0.6 8 1790 6.0%
10 Carol Moseley Braun 1460 3.9% -0.2 9 1210 4.1%

Clark makes his move and makes his move up the charts. I've taken to checking the Google hits every day and there was a period of about three days there where nearly every single campaign related story was bout Clark. That's the kind of rollout that you would like for a new candidate. It just remains to see whether he can sustain that growth or whether he will stall out in the 2nd tier. 

Dean continues to hold his #1 spot solidly. Being the front-runner and Clark being the latest entrant in the nominal Anybody-But-Dean sweepstakes, Dean's name has appeared prominently in pretty much every story reporting on the General's big debut.

The slide of the prominent contenders continues with Kerry and Gephardt both losing share points, most likely, again, to the good General. I think it's safe to say that Kerry's campaign re-launch was a dud.

Same for John Edwards. Clark pretty much sucked up all the political media oxygen this week.

Lieberman continues to demonstrate his irrelevance to this race. I think the political press has all but written him off.

The following is a chart of the Google News Media Share over the last few months.

(Methodology: All numbers are taken from the hit counts when searching on the Google News Service for news stories containing each candidate's name. Click on each name to rerun the search. You will get different results as the numbers are constantly changing. I make absolutely no claim that these numbers have any real meaning.)


By the way, in case anyone thinks that, just because I am a Dean supporter, that I am happy that Clark is having a rough patch on his first full day, you are wrong. I want Clark to be a good candidate because the Democrats need the kind of prestige he would bring to the race. Furthermore, Dean needs a credible military voice standing with him in saying that the war was a bad idea.

By fumbling his first real test and waffling on the Iraq war Clark is not helping anyone out (except maybe Bush).

Dean Contract Issued by IEM

The Iowa Electronic Market has finally bowed to the obvious and created a Dean contract (DEAN_NOM). Previously he was just mashed in with the ROF_NOM contract (ROF = Rest Of Field) which has been trouncing the other stocks for the last two months.

Here are the current values:

Symbol Bid Ask Last Low High Average
CLIN_NOM 0.126 0.133 0.132 0.125 0.133 0.126
DEAN_NOM 0.332 0.359 0.359 0.350 0.599 0.439
GEPH_NOM 0.075 0.089 0.075 0.075 0.092 0.082
KERR_NOM 0.100 0.135 0.135 0.130 0.159 0.142
LIEB_NOM 0.025 0.030 0.025 0.025 0.038 0.032
ROF_NOM 0.241 0.271 0.250 0.000 0.556 0.243

Clark's handlers are inept

The Note has a write-up on Clark's performance yesterday. Apparently his handlers let the sharks (the national political press) grill Clark for nearly 90 minutes on the plane to Florida and his political inexperience was evident to all.

Writes one Democrat with national political experience:

"I have read the accounts of the Clark interviews and my reaction is despair and anger. Why did my party's best operatives think it would be a good idea to subject their neophyte candidate to the country's savviest reporters for over an hour? Why have my party's elders rallied around a candidate who is so shockingly uninformed about core issues and his own positions? I am not a Dean supporter — but I am angry that our party's leaders have anointed an alternative to him who seems even more ignorant and unprepared — and that this supposed 'anti-war' candidate turns out to have been in favor of both the war resolution and Richard Nixon!! And let's not even talk about the Clintons. Today I am embarrassed to be a Democrat."

Someone on Table Talk suggested that Clark is the establishment Democrats' Arnold Schwarzenegger. I'm beginning to think they are right.

Shiny metals are not bulletproof

Mary Schumacher, a poster on Salon's Table Talk, puts it in words I could only hope to emulate:

About that anger; I've been thinking FDR style liberalism died in the 1970s, and that fact has been hard for Democrats to accept. Especially those of us in the oldest cohort of the Baby Boom and older, who were raised, nutured and got our start in life in and from its principles and institutions. (If you are younger than 50, you only experienced it at its degraded and confused end, younger than 30, you never experienced it at all.)

First went the labor movement strength that helped move so many people into the middle class. Then went the populist energy and commitment to community and the general welfare that helped provide middle class security and opportunity through "big government" programs such as Social Security, VA benefits, expanded public higher education, investments in research and technology, etc. The only thing left is internationalism and the technocratic faith in experts, policy debates and credentials -- and those are much more disdained by the population in general than some Democrats would like to believe.

In the 20 years since this death Democrats have been going through the stages of grief. First, in the 1980s, Denial. Then, in the 90s, Bargaining (yes, we concede "the era of big government is over." Will you love us now?)

To me, it seems that Clark represents one more effort at Bargaining, with the only tool that kind of liberalism's got left; the technocratic expert. People say they "want to see" Clark take on Bush in a debate on foreign and military policy. But, Bush isn't going to debate Clark on the basis of expertise, experience and details. He's going to make an emotional and moral argument for his war -- and for everything else that falls out from that.

The only answer to that is an emotional and moral argument against the war -- and for everything else that falls out from that. (emphasis added - Chris)

That's why I think I'm going with the next stage of grief: Anger. Holy, righteous anger. That sweeps away the past and brings you to that point of acceptance where you can start plotting new beginnings.

I think Mary puts her finger right on the fallacy that is the Clark candidacy. The strategist think to themselves, "Clark is a General. Bush was AWOL. Dubya has no chance." But they forget that Bush does not make arguments based on rational calculation. He makes arguments based on emotion. You cannot fight emotional arguments with rational arguments. The emotions will always win out. Have you ever tried to talk down someone who is in emotional turmoil? Not only will you fail but you will probably end up pissing them off in the process.

What you need to defeat Bush is exactly what Mary describes, someone who can make "an emotional and moral argument against the war" to counter the emotional and moral argument that Bush will make. The strategists in the Democratic establishment still haven't figured this out and its why they keep on losing the argument.

A strong civilian will defeat a weak general every time. Shiny medals are not bulletproof.

Bush is an honorable man. So are they all honorable men.

George W. Bush is not a liar.

by Brian Wimer

Please, let's be reasonable. We can't say Bush lied. No we simply mustn't. For the sake of the nation, and the nation's children, and the nation's children's children, it shouldn't be said.

He did not lie when he told the nation in October of 2002 that Saddam Hussein had a "massive stockpile of biological weapons" and "thousands of tons of chemical agents."

No, he prevaricated. George W. is a benevolent prevaricator, yes, a global prevaricator, even a hegemonic prevaricator, perhaps. But not a liar. Never. A fibber. Not a liar.


Time for a Democratic Scare-O-Matic?

Tom, over at Thinking It Through, warns Democrats not to get to excited about the prospect of "creaming" George Bush next year:

Hold on folks. If the average American used their common sense and/or just voted his or her pocket book and/or wouldn't allow themselves to be frightened into voting a certain way, I'd agree. However, W and the boys use fear very effectively -- and they haven't really even warmed up the 2004 election year model of the "Scare-O-Matic" yet.

Perhaps it is time for the Democrats to roll out their own "Scare-O-Matic"?

First point out all the multitude of things that have gone wrong in this country and the world in the last three years.

And then ask the American people a simple question, "Can you afford to give George W. Bush another chance?"

Hidden Assumptions

Digby comments on a post by Tristero and makes an important point:

[...] This is true of a lot of good writers who are trying to sort out just what in the hell is going on with this administration. They are rational people so they begin with the idea that Junior and the Retreads are pursuing some sort of logical ends. In order to try and organize what they see, I think they end up having to attach meaning to words and actions that simply aren't there in order to keep themselves from going crazy. I know that it is one of the constant pitfalls in my own thinking.

I often find that a hidden, faulty assumption is the greatest source of confusion. For example, I used to massively confused by the scandals that swirled around the Clinton administration. I saw all this noise and fury but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what everyone was so upset about. The basic arguments just didn't seem to add up. It was when I read Gene Lyon's Fools For Scandal that I came to a revelation: the vast majority of the Clinton scandals evaporated as long as you didn't assume that they must have done something wrong.

Similarly, the actions of the Bush administration make much more sense once you realize that they aren't acting on a rational plan. You can begin to understand how we have gotten into this mess once you realize that these guys aren't as smart as their PR suggests. George W. Bush becomes almost understandable once you realize that Bush isn't a moderate. All of these assumptions have existed to one degree or another in the reporting on Bush's actions. The last being the most galling (Frank Bruni probably still thinks Bush does the things he does just to appease his right-wing base).

If you find yourself more confused after consuming any bit of reportage I suggest you check it again, but this time look for the hidden assumption. If you can figure out what it is then the pieces really start to fall into place.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

So much for the other anti-war candidate

Clark 'Probably' Would Have Backed War
On First Campaign Stop, Democrat Lacks Specifics but Rallies Crowd

By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 19, 2003; Page A05

HOLLYWOOD, Fla., Sept. 18 -- Retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark said today that he "probably" would have voted for the congressional resolution last fall authorizing war, as he charged out into the presidential campaign field with vague plans to fix the economy and the situation in Iraq.

Clark said his views on the war resemble those of Democratic Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and John F. Kerry (Mass.), both of whom voted for the war but now question President Bush's stewardship of the Iraqi occupation. "That having been said, I was against the war as it emerged because there was no reason to start it when we did. We could have waited," Clark said during a 75-minute session with four reporters.

Just what we need. Another Democratic candidate who waffles all over the place about the most vitally important issue of the last two years.

And get this...

En route to his first campaign stop as a candidate, a high-energy rally at a local restaurant, Clark said he has few specific policy ideas to offer voters right now and offered a few thoughts that might surprise Democrats flocking to his campaign. As recently as Sunday night, he was unsure if he should run for president, so Clark said voters need to give him time to think things through.

Give him time? What, we're just supposed to sit around and twiddle our thumbs while you make up your mind Wes? It took you nearly a year to decide whether to run and your still not sure about what you want to do?

This is leadership?

A decorated Vietnam War veteran, Clark said that if he were in Congress, he would vote against Bush's request for $87 billion for operations and reconstruction in Iraq unless the president details a specific strategy to eventually withdraw U.S. troops. Clark said he wants more troops in Iraq, but was unsure who best can provide them -- the United States, Iraqis or other countries. . He would consider cutting defense spending if elected, he said.

Howard Dean is excoriated for not having specifics. But General Clark, the guy who is supposed to be the savior of the Democratic party, just isn't quite sure what to do. But he assures us if he just gives us time he'll figure it out.

Paint me underwhelmed.

More arguments for Clark helping Dean

Hesiod weighs in on the impact that Clark will have on Dean and his points compliment my own. Hesiod also points out that Clark's anti-war position will shore up Dean's position since Dean can say, "NATO Commander Wesley Clark agrees with me."

Hesiod also suggests Max Cleland for Veep. Do I sense the beginning of a movement?


Kos suggests Max Cleland for Veep. If the Senator continues to say things like this then he may be right:

The president has declared "major combat over" and sent a message to every terrorist, "Bring them on." As a result, he has lost more people in his war than his father did in his and there is no end in sight [...]

Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President. Sorry you didn't go when you had the chance.

Bush vs. Bush

I've been giving some thought to my qualms about the "let's nominate a general" strategy for dealing with the perception that Democrats are soft on defense. I stand by my previous concern that this is a band aid approach to a serious problem that can only be solved by correcting the misapprehension that Democrats cannot defend America on the foreign stage.

And let there be no doubts that this is a misapprehension. Democrats have lead this country through some of its toughest times. We faced two world wars with Democrats at the helm (Wilson and Roosevelt). We faced down the threat of communism in Korea under a Democratic President (Truman). We stood toe-to-toe with the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis, lead by a Democratic President who did not blink in the face of the worst danger this country has ever faced. (Not to minimize the concerns about terrorism, but the threat we face today is considerably less than what we faced 40 years ago.)

So Democrats have proven themselves more than capable of being strong leaders.

Now, if Howard Dean were to make this argument, the Republicans would probably reply, with delight, that Dean is no Jack Kennedy.

To which Howard Dean should reply that George W. Bush is no George Herbert Walker Bush.

This is the key: the foreign policy of George W. Bush is not the foreign policy of George Herbert Walker Bush. It is, in fact, a radical departure from the multilateralism that Bush 41 strongly pursued while he was in office. That multilateral policy, a policy that all Presidents since Roosevelt have followed, helped lead us to victory in the greatest conflicts this country has ever been involved in: the Second World War and the Cold War. That multilateral policy was the foundation for the coalition that George Herbert Walker Bush lead to victory in the first Gulf War.

Yet, unlike the second Gulf War that the son has given us, the father's victory was won without leaving a chaotic power vacuum in the Middle East. Unlike the father, the son has created a world that takes a certain delight in our many troubles.

George W. Bush has pursued a radical policy of unilateral pre-emption. He has asserted the supremacy of American will in all matters. As a result he has produced a world far more dangerous than the one he inherited. He has damaged a world that was built, ironically, on the multilateral policies his father helped create.

The Democrats have been looking for a foreign policy to adopt that might counter the belligerent bravado expounded by the Bush team. Perhaps they should take up the mantle of the father's policy? A policy that the son so casually tossed aside.

Let's make the election not one of Bush vs. the Democrats but of Bush vs. Bush.

And then let's see Dubya squirm as he tries to defend himself while not attacking his father.

Dealing with Democratic weakness

I've been trying for the last few days to put my finger on what bothers me about the Clark phenomena. It's not just that I'm a Dean supporter (though I'm sure that clouds my judgement) and it's not that I don't think the guy is qualified to be President or that he can't beat Bush. It really has more to do with the motives of those who are pushing Clark more than Clark himself and what his candidacy says about the Democratic party in general.

It is a fact that the Democrats have a perception problem when it comes to foreign policy. Rightly or wrongly, a majority of the electorate thinks Republicans are better suited to handle this very important issue.

A candidate with a strong military background, like Clark, might deflect some of those criticisms, but I can't help but feel that it is a band aid approach to the problem. What we need is to alter at its core the impression that Democrats are weak on defense. By pushing a general as our candidate it almost feels like the Democrats are conceding this point rather than countering it.

After all, if the Democrats were strong on defense they wouldn't need to nominate a general.

The Democrats need to persuade the electorate that any Democrat, not just Democrats with military background, would be more trustworthy as Commander in Chief. Until they do that then we will continue to run defensive campaigns for the foreseeable future. Defensive campaigns appear weak to the electorate and the last thing the Democrats need right now is to appear weak.

What about a Northern Strategy? What about a Western Strategy?

Donkey Rising comments on a WSJ column that argues that the Democrats should forget about the South. DR agrees, sort of:

The South? Who Needs ‘Em!

That’s kind of the flavor of John Harwood’s piece in the Wall Street Journal, where he argues "Democrats’ Woes in Dixie Hurt Case for Edwards, Clark". Actually, Harwood has it wrong about the effect on the case for Clark, which mostly hinges on his ability to attract swing voters outside the south, rather than his ability to carry Arkansas or similar southern states.

But he is right about the electoral math. With the exception of Florida, Democrats need a northern, not a southern, strategy that will build on the 260 electoral votes they have captured in three successive presidential elections and extend their majority to lower midwestern, southwestern and other contested states outside the south. Of course, it’s good to be competitive in some southern states to tie up Republican resources and pick up the odd victory, but the Democrats don’t need those states. Their needs lie elsewhere and Harwood is correct to highlight this.

I think it is long past time for the Democratic party to get over its obsession with the South. We shouldn't surrender it. But we should, as DR suggests, develop a "northern strategy" (as well as a western strategy) as well.

Clark's tough road

There are now three Presidential campaigns.

In your typical Presidential election year there are two campaigns. First their is the campaign for the party nominations. Then there is the campaign for the general election. But this year, because of Howard Dean's early and surprising success, there is a third campaign: the Anybody-But-Dean primary.

This will be the real first challenge for Wesley Clark. He will eventually have to defeat Dean. But he first has to persuade the Anybody-But-Dean forces that he is the most qualified to take on Dean. He has the advantage of being a fresh face and will therefore appeal to those in the ABD camp who are disappointed with the lackluster performance of the other ABD candidates. Therefore, he will probably quickly assume the mantle of front-runner in the ABD campaign. But the remaining ABD candidates will not let him win without a fight and the Clark forces would be foolish to presume that their guy will become the ABD campaign by acclimation.

Bush has a relatively easy path in front of him. He only has to be concerned with the general election.

Dean's path is more difficult. He has to win the Anybody-But-Bush primary before he can have the privilege of taking on Bush in the general.

But Clark's path is even more difficult. He first has to win the Anybody-But-Dean primary. Then he has to beat Dean. Then he has to beat Bush.

That's a pretty tough challenge for a man who has never run for political office before. It will be interesting to see if he can do it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Cool Dean Techno Flash

When you unleash the power of people's imaginations this is the kind of thing you get.

Dean's gender gap

Kos points out the latest national Q-poll on the Democrats (it doesn't include Clark):

Undecided 21 (16)
Dean 14 (9)
Lieberman 14 (26)
Kerry 13 (15)
Gephardt 13 (14)
Braun 7 (6)
Edwards 7 (6)
Graham 4 (3)
Sharpton 4 (2)
Kucinich 2 (3)

While this poll confirms Lieberman's rapid decline at the national level, Kos rightly points out the interesting fact that Dean has a gender gap (20% male, 10% female). This is notable since Democrats, generally speaking, have had a real problem appealing to male voters over female voters. Part of this is almost certainly Dean's more muscular approach to campaigning. It is also a good sign for the future.

But what I find most interesting about this is that it doesn't match with my own experience with local Dean organizers. Easily half of the people on our local organizing committee are women. This makes me wonder if Portland, OR is just an odd town or whether Dean's gender gap exists only among the casual supporters.

Update: If you look farther down in these polling results you'll see the following numbers for Dean vs. Bush.

Tot Rep Dem Ind Men Wom
Dean 38% 5% 69% 36% 35% 40%
Bush 53% 92% 20% 51% 55% 50%
SMONE ELSE(VOL) 1 - 2 2 2 1
WLDN'T VOTE(VOL) 2 - 1 3 2 2
DK/NA 7 2 8 8 6 7

What is interesting is that Dean's preference amongst Democratic males disappears in the general election. Which I take to mean that his muscular approach, while appealing to men in the primary, doesn't hurt him in the general.

Taking Names

The DNC is kicking ass.

Welcome to the blogosphere guys. Let's just hope that you really understand what it means to be bloggers.

Jimmy Carter is anti-Israel again!

I talked about this yesterday, but this morning Jimmy Carter gave an interview on NPR in memory of the 25th anniversary of the Camp David Peace Accords. In this interview Bob Edwards asked Carter about Howard Dean's recent comments about the need for the United States to be "even handed" in brokering a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Jimmy Carter, former President, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, noted foreign policy expert (especially on the Middle East), said that Howard Dean was "absolutely right".

You can listen here

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Welcome to the party General!

How should Dean supporters react to the entry of Wesley Clark into the Presidential race? We should welcome him with open arms.

His entry has many positive benefits for Dean in particular and Democrats in general:

  • Having a 4-star general as a prominent Democrat will help dispel the notion that Democrats are nothing but granola-munching, America hating hippies.
  • Having a 4-star general who was against the war will help dispel the notion that being anti-war is the same as being soft on defense. This can be nothing but a good thing for Dean.
  • Having yet another "Anybody-But-Dean" candidate will split the ABD vote at the precise moment when it needs to coalesce around a single candidate. Unless, of course, it happens to coalesce around Clark. But I happen to think that Clark supporters are being a tad bit optimistic about that happening anytime soon.
  • Finally, if Clark proves himself to be an equal or better campaigner than Dean then we should welcome this because we really do need the strongest candidate possible to remove Bush from power

We shouldn't be so focused on getting our particular candidate elected, whoever he or she may be, that we forget that the ultimate goal is the removal of Bush.

Jimmy Carter is anti-Israel

Carter on Mideast: U.S. must be evenhanded, push harder

BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer

(09-15) 14:33 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --

The Bush administration must push harder -- and be evenhanded -- to revive sagging peace hopes in the Middle East, former President Carter said Monday.

No doubt Joseph Lieberman will soon be issuing a statement condemning Carter for going against 50 years of U.S. policy towards Israel and John Kerry will call Mr. Carter's foreign policy experience into question for making such comments.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Misleader in Chief

MoveOn takes the bull by the horn yet again. I'd recommend everyone sign up for this service. It's just the kind of antidote we need to the daily poison of misinformation produced by this administration.

Dear MoveOn member,

The President says things that are misleading or just plain wrong every day, but most of these statements are never challenged. That's why we're launching, a new website and free daily email service for journalists and the general public to track George Bush's false statements.

The daily dispatches will take a "Just the Facts, Ma'am" approach -- no rhetoric, just a couple of paragraphs we'll email each morning on what the President said and why it was misleading or untrue. It's our hope that by doing some of the research for the press corps, we can ensure better coverage of President Bush's lies. If you know someone who could use this kind of information, please point him or her to the site.

To launch the site, we've taken out a full page ad in the New York Times titled "Mis-State of the Union." The ad reveals how the President mislead the nation in his State of the Union speech -- not just on Iraq, but on the economy, the environment, and other important issues. You can check the ad out at:

Here are a few juicy tidbits from our New York Times ad:

George Bush: "The tax relief is for everyone who pays income taxes...Americans will keep, this year, an average of almost $1,000 more of their own money."
The Truth: Nearly half of all taxpayers get less than $100. And 31% of all taxpayers get nothing at all.

George Bush: "Our first goal economy that grows fast enough to employ every man and woman who seeks a job."
The Truth: Bush is the first President since Hoover to preside over an economy that has lost jobs, not created them - more than 2.9 million since 2001.

George Bush: "[My] Clear Skies legislation...mandates a 70% cut in air pollution from power plants over the next 15 years."
The Truth: The Bush plan will allow more than 100,000 additional premature deaths by 2020 than alternative legislation developed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The plan does not regulate carbon emissions and allows far more sulfur and mercury emissions.

George Bush: "[W]e achieved historic education reform - which must now be carried out in every school and in every classroom."
The Truth: Bush cut $8 billion from the promised funds for education.

When Bush was running for President, he said, "I believe everyone should be held responsible for their own personal behavior." We agree. The President has repeatedly mislead the country. Now it's time for Americans and the press to hold him responsible.

--Carrie, Eli, Joan, Noah, Peter, Wes, and Zack
  The MoveOn Team
  September 15th, 2003


Michael Cudahy has a new column up ("Just Say No"):

President Dwight Eisenhower once said, "I would rather try to persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone."

It is clear that President Bush and his chief political advisor Karl Rove either paid no attention to, or have no respect for, one of the great Republican presidents of the last century. Worse they seem to lack any comprehension of the legacy their cynical political policies of fear and division will have on our country.

I have grown tired of my family and friends being scared by the exploitive and calculated rhetoric being employed by the current Republican administration in Washington. It is embarrassing to traditional Republicans who honor and respect the wisdom of their party's visionary leaders like Presidents Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt, and it is inflicting great pain on the people of the United States.

Cudahy goes on to urge Republicans to do what Dean is urging Democrats to do: take their party back. We should support these Republican insurgents in their efforts. This country needs a balanced political system with healthy parties on both sides of the debate. Both of the parties are sick right now and are in desperate need of some healing.

Drone Drone Drone Drone

Christiane Amanpour lays it out:
As criticism of the war and its aftermath intensifies, Amanpour joins a chorus of journalists and pundits who charge that the media largely toed the Bush administration line in covering the war and, by doing so, failed to aggressively question the motives behind the invasion.

On last week's Topic A With Tina Brown on CNBC, Brown, the former Talk magazine editor, asked comedian Al Franken, former Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke and Amanpour if "we in the media, as much as in the administration, drank the Kool-Aid when it came to the war."

Said Amanpour: "I think the press was muzzled, and I think the press self-muzzled. I'm sorry to say, but certainly television and, perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did."

Brown then asked Amanpour if there was any story during the war that she couldn't report.

"It's not a question of couldn't do it, it's a question of tone," Amanpour said. "It's a question of being rigorous. It's really a question of really asking the questions. All of the entire body politic in my view, whether it's the administration, the intelligence, the journalists, whoever, did not ask enough questions, for instance, about weapons of mass destruction. I mean, it looks like this was disinformation at the highest levels."

Fox responds:

Fox News spokeswoman Irena Briganti said of Amanpour's comments: "Given the choice, it's better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than a spokeswoman for al-Qaeda."

That about says it all doesn't it? We are dealing with people who live in a black and white world (or, at least, want us to live in such a world). These are people who quite literally believe that the only choices available are to be a supporter of Bush or a supporter of al-Qaeda (and notice how Amanpour was talking about Iraq but the Fox spokes-drone automatically translates the topic to al-Qaeda).

Let's all be good drones now. Let's all follow the example of Britney Spears and not question authority. They know better than us. Let's just go out and buy our CDs, sip our Diet Cokes, go watch the latest garbage at the cineplex and not worry our pretty little heads about the big issues of the day. Daddy Bush will take care of it for us.

Being a vegetable is so much more relaxing isn't it?

Update: The more I think about this the more outrageous I realize this is. The spokesdrone for FOX has essentially admitted two things: her network is a propaganda organ for Bush and anyone who doesn't fall in line should be considered enemies of the state. Furthermore, this statement is so blatant that it indicates that they no longer feel the need to hide their true feelings on this matter behind some veneer of respectable journalism.

The Worst of America

Billmon notes a disturbing fact from recent polls: the American people think the war in Iraq was necessary but they don't want to have to pay the bill for it (in both money and lives).

George W. Bush really does bring out the worst in Americans. This attitude of give me what I want but don't ask me to pay for it is the worst stereotype of the ugly American, but it is a stereotype that is proven when you look at the kind of numbers that Billmon highlights. We really are a selfish, spoiled nation.

Maybe that's why so many people like Bush? After all, he also wants everything but he doesn't want to have to pay the price for it. He is the poster boy for the ugliest side of America. By elevating him the American people are essentially trying to make the worst part of us seem like it is our best.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Kevin Drum identifies the latest trend: it is becoming acceptable to use the 'L' word when talking about the Bushies. He lists a few recent examples, all but one of which are liberals. But one of them is this absolutely devastating assessment from Tucker Carlson:

"I've obviously been lied to a lot by campaign operatives, but the striking thing about the way [Karen Hughes] lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness."

The amazing thing is that anyone who watches Tucker Carlson with any frequency knows that Tucker is himself a great practitioner of lying when you know the people you are lying to know that you are lying.

Action Figures at war

Frank Rich:

Only in America could a guy who struts in an action-hero's Hollywood costume and barks macho lines from a script pass for a plausible political leader. But if George W. Bush can get away with it, why should Arnold Schwarzenegger be pilloried for the same antics?


You know what's so frustrating about the increasing attacks on Dean? It's not whether they are legitimate or not (some are, some are not). It's the knowledge that if these same Democrats who are attacking Dean now were to have shown half as much fire in attacking Bush then he probably wouldn't even be President today.

Why is it that Democrats feel so much more comfortable attacking their own?