The Kerry Mystery Challenge.

The Kerry Mystery Challenge.

The Kerry Mystery Challenge.

A mostly political Weblog.
Dec. 2 2002 1:25 AM

Kerry Mystery Contest

Plus: Raines Remains Silent, Day 6!

(Continued from Page 4)

The Note gets some actual  news  that nobody else has: Al Gore has flip-flopped and now supports a single-payer national health care system like Canada's. ... Not only does the Note get the news, it astutely analyzes it. It's the first-day and second-day stories rolled into one. Talk about Faster Journalism! There's nothing left for the Washington Post and NYT to write. ... Actually, there is. Here's a ramification The Note missed: Gore's endorsement of single-payer opens up a huge opportunity for Hillary Clinton to stake out a position on the centrist (i.e. right) side of the Democratic spectrum by opposing the single-payer solution. Presumably, Hillary! -- who can get much of the left vote just because she's Hillary! -- is looking for such opportunities. She rejected single-payer when she was in charge of her husband's health proposals, of course, a long time ago in a galaxy far away (1993). ...

More Faster Journalism: Howie Kurtz is already naming and mocking the just-emerged rebaked CW about the Democratic presidential candidates being "seven dwarves." ... This means that any journalist who doesn't want to look like a CW hack will now have to come up with something different, which means a new CW will emerge all the more rapidly. ...We could be ready for the 2004 election by Thanksgiving! ...11:01 A.M.

I've finally read Eric Black's justly-celebrated "tick-tock" account of the Coleman-Mondale campaign. No throat clearing, no billboard paragraphs. Just the key details.. ...  It's also a textbook study of the Feiler Faster Thesisin action (as alert reader T.M. points out). The 13 days from Wellstone's death to the election packed in most of the ups and downs of a full-length old-style campaign. Black offers some clues as to why things nowadays have speeded up:

1) Cell phones: People hear the awful news of Wellstone's crash immediately. Instantly, GOP strategist Vin Weber tracks down old Ashcroft aides to find out how they handled the similar Missouri situation;

2) Feedback: Ashcroft had longer to recover after his opponent's death produced a wave of sympathy -- but Ashcroft never recovered completely. Coleman is able to quickly learn the lesson of Ashcroft's campaign -- Don't Drop Out of Sight -- and mount an effective comeback.

3) NEXIS: Mondale meets with aides for the first time to consider entering the race, but "National Republicans have already generated a book of 'opposition research'" on him.

4) E-mail: Weber is able to stoke outrage after the Wellstone memorial service by "sending an e-mail to a Star Tribune political reporter. The subject line says: "I've never been angrier in my whole political life . . ." Weber's quote gets used. ... Why wait for them to phone you?

Bonus -- Black also points out one delicious perversity of campaign finance laws: It was illegal for Coleman to "coordinate" the National Republican Senatorial Committee's ads with his campaign. But this only meant he couldn't privately tell them what to do, according to Black. Coleman's solution? He publicly told them what to do - urging them, and everyone else, not to go negative (in their case, by running an anti-Mondale ad they'd already shipped to TV stations). ...  Faster Journalism for Faster Politics: Q: What to call this sort of rapidly-produced "tick tock"account? ... A: Quick-tock! 12:45 A.M.

The Smith-Free Group is not Smith-free at all. ... And Nancy Pelosi's Democratic lobbyist friends just happen to get a subtly-timed item in the Washington Post advertising their friendship ... More evidence for Timothy Noah's point that Washington's culture isn't the delicate, nuanced birdsong that Ward Just depicts in his novels. It's a crude grabbing for power and money. ... 12:44 A.M.

Calling John Lee Malvo a "child" seems a bit much. ...12:43 A.M.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

In an NYT op-ed, Alex Kotlowitz says, "There's a shift in the winds in our inner cities. On the heels of a fatherhood movement ... more and more young couples are considering marriage." Kotlowitz thus confirms a positive trend predictedand reportedhere and  by Blaine Harden  in the Times itself.  Academic experts will probably wake up and acknowledge this trend any decade now! (Kotlowitz notes the resistance in academia to the good news.) ... But Kotlowitz's piece then takes a bizarre turn, despairing of the ability of government to do anything to promote marriage, not even considering the obvious possibility, beaten to death in this space, that the government is already doing something that successfully promotes marriage, namely requiring welfare recipients to work under the 1996 welfare reform. (When single mothers have to work instead of collecting automatic checks, the advantages of having a reliable second earner in the family become clearer -- having a working husband then means a mother can work less and mother more.) Why didn't Kotlowitz's NYT editors (Shipley? Newman? Hello?) force him to confront this obvious possibility? Instead, they let him get away with a tired quote from the should-be-discredited Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who despairs of the ability of government to do anything that affects the family. It's as if Moynihan were cited as a great military authority, denying the ability of the government to win World War II four months after the Battle of Midway. ... P.S.: Like Kotlowitz, I'm not optimistic about the Bush administration's proposed PR-like "marriage promotion" initiative. My point is that the government already has a much more powerful marriage-promotion initiative, namely the concrete economic imperatives created by work requirements. ... Not so fast: But don't put too much stock in  last weekend's A.P. story (which the NYT used and I linked) describing a mini-boom in teenage marriages. Kf hears the Census says A.P.'s story was based on comparing two different surveys, and the increase over time "may reflect Census procedural changes" rather than a real marriage increase. Then again, it may not! OTWT.[?-ed. "Only time ..."]  Update: For example, the second survey may simply have captured more young immigrants, who tend more to be married. ...2:45 A.M.

Kf imitates National Journal: Legislation to "reauthorize" the 1996 welfare reform law will now almost certainly not get enacted in the current lame duck session of Congress.  Before the election, the two parties had been working on a stripped-down three-year reauthorization bill. Republicans now think they can do better trying to pass a full five-year bill in the new Congress next year. ... But can they keep moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe from creating new loopholes in the work requirement (by allowing states to substitute often-useless education and "training" for actual work)? The GOP majority is slim enough to make Lott and Bush want to keep potential defectors like Snowe happy -- one reason the upcoming Louisiana runoff, which could let Lott pad his Senate margin, matters. ...1:47 A.M.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

It's come to this for the Democrats. ...12:29 P.M.