Media to Dean: Drop Dead

Media to Dean: Drop Dead

Media to Dean: Drop Dead

A mostly political Weblog.
Feb. 17 2004 12:11 AM

Media to Voters: Drop Dean!

We want a 2-man race and we want it now.

kf cherry-picks the Kerry-kickers: Here's the key paragraph in Dan Balz's latest Bush vs. Kerry analysis:

"I think the Republicans are ready to fit him into a box, and it's not just the box of Massachusetts liberal," said one Democratic strategist. "I think the box they're trying to fit him in is the Washington veteran politician who says one thing and does another. And they'll make Bush a guy making tough decisions who is plainspoken. That's the contrast they're trying to draw. I have concerns." [Emphasis added.]

This non-anti-Dukakis attack would have one particularly devastating aspect: It would be accurate. ... Are Republicans that smart? They give no indication of it (see the quotes in Balz's piece). But they have a while to figure things out. ... 2:14 A.M.


Monday, February 16, 2004 

Media to voters: We want Dean gone tomorrow. Capice? We've been doing our part. Now you do yours. ... P.S.: If you let him beat Edwards for second that will screw it all up. We've already written the story and everything. ... 8:59 P.M.

WaPo's Glenn Frankel: "Lying to Don Imus is not a federal offense." Has Frankel read all the Patriot Act? ... P.S.: Frankel said the Post wouldn't run a Kerry-sex story even if it had photographic proof. He's right. I mean, who cares about philandering? It's not as if, say, we'd had a recent president whose philandering enmeshed him in a web of lies that led to his impeachment and squandered much of the promise of his term in office! ... 12:26 P.M.


I recommend Chris Suellentrop on a) the reappearance of the old, windbag Kerry at last night's debate and b) the danger of Edwards "torching his centrist reputation with his antitrade rhetoric."  Key graf, cherrypicked by obsessively anti-Kerry kf interns:

How bad was Kerry's night? It wasn't disastrous, but it's as bad as I've seen him. He sounded like the meandering, orotund Kerry of last summer. His answers to questions about diversity and gay marriage were muddled incoherence, and he claimed that it wasn't his fault that the Bush administration has abused the Patriot Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the congressional Iraq war resolution. But if you vote for broadly written laws that are abused by the administration in power when you passed them, aren't you at least partly to blame for the consequences? You wouldn't let your 6-year-old drive the family car and then blame him for the accident. And you can be certain that if the Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, and the war were popular with Democratic voters, Kerry would be taking credit for them.

Emphasis added! 8:17 A.M.

Sullivan notes the excellent WaPo editorial on Kerry's meandering views on Iraq. The Post is too civil to point out the obvious (that all Kerry's votes are easily explained by crude political self-interest) but the editors do add in the dizzying complication of his middle (1998) position:

In 1998, when President Clinton was considering military steps against Iraq, he strenuously argued for action, with or without allies.


So Kerry's position was really flip-flop-straddle-flip rather than merely flip-straddle-flip. ... I'm confident Bob Shrum will make sense of it all for us. .... 12:59 A.M.

Sunday, February 15, 2004 

AWOL Skipper--Page A16, Below the Fold: The NYT's David Barstow has a good short summary of the current Bush-AWOL evidence. Doesn't sound as if Barstow thinks there is a whole lot there now that someone--Mr. Calhoun--has finally come forward to say he saw Bush show up (to read "flight manuals and pilot safety magazines") in Alabama. ...

P.S.: I got a lot of critical e-mail (and blog-back!) when I suggested the AWOL issue was being brought to a boil too soon to help Democrats--that it would be better for them to bring it up later. Comes now WaPo's John Harris  reporting that "Kerry aides" complained to DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe when he pushed the AWOL idea because

they were worried that the party chairman had raised the charge too early--preventing Kerry from making more effective use of a potent issue later this year if he is the Democratic nominee.


Ha! ... Now the story is almost tapped out and its only February. By November it will probably have an anti-Bush valence approaching zero. But it has helped boost Kerry over Edwards and Dean right now in the primaries, which may have been McAuliffe's goal.  [Then why did Kerry aides complain?--ed. I don't know. It might be Kabuki--they want to seem to have complained. As was noted in tonight's Wisconsin debate, Kerry himself could have publicly tried to shut down the AWOL frenzy. He did the opposite.] 11:15 P.M.

Forget Fonda. Check out Kerry's original chin. ... Contraindications: Although a rare occurrence, men who have this chin for more than four hours should seek immediate medical attention. ... 10:59 P.M.

What the Republicans really think:  From Sunday's NYT--

And [former National Republican Congressional Committee chair] Representative Tom Davis of Virginia said the White House should sit back and wait until Mr. Kerry had the nomination wrapped up, and not risk helping Senator John Edwards of North Carolina snatch it away from him, since Mr. Bush should be better off running against Mr. Kerry.


On the other hand, I'm beginning to think my candidate, Edwards--while clearly a bigger threat to Bush than Kerry--does not have perfect pitch. The NYT's non-lib, John Tierney, effectively mocks Edwards' imaginary example of a 10-year old girl who prays "tomorrow will not be as cold as today, because she doesn't have the coat to keep her warm." (Second-hand coats "typically sell for about $5 in thrift shops," Tierney notes.) Like "surveys" of hunger and malnutrition, stories of children without coats appeal to sentimental paleolibs, even though--as Edwards surely knows--the problem of U.S. poverty is not, by and large, a problem of this sort of abject material want. Poor housing, yes. Poor schools, yes. Bad neighborhoods with bad services, yes. Never-formed families, yes. Restricted contacts, horizons and opportunities, yes. No coats, no. ...

And am I the only one who finds Edwards' award-winning spiel--about unemployed workers with "that vacant look, 'What do I do now?'" because "this is what they have done their entire lives and they know nothing else"--a bit condescending? Are these people or sheep? I mean, most Americans these days know there is a risk of unemployment and recession as the economy stumbles forward and that they need to be prepared to switch jobs. This isn't 1955. Shouldn't Edwards be "optimistic" enough to convince voters that these difficulties can be surmounted even as he pledges to help if he's president? ... Does Edwards, as a former plaintiff's lawyer, spend too much time finding victims? (Don't blame him. It's what he's done his entire life and he knows nothing else!) ... 10:50 P.M.

Saturday, February 14, 2004 

The Perfect Hack:

The always provocative Spy takes the plunge - some might say right into the sewer of sleaze and unnamed sources.

The cover story of its July/August issue discusses George Bush's supposed infidelities and publishes the name of longtime aide Jennifer A. Fitzgerald, around whom rumors have long circulated. The piece by Joe Conason also details other supposed liaisons, including a 1980 relationship with ''Ms. X,'' then a 30-ish news agency employee.

--"Slinging Sex on Bush's Campaign," U.S.A. Today, June 17, 1992

Is American politics suddenly returning to the bad old days, when Washington journalism became frenzied with sheet sniffing and keyhole peeping? ...

Once again, Drudge has raised questions -- but they may not be the ones he seeks to raise. The first is about journalistic standards. The second is the identity of his anonymous sources. Journalists must ask themselves why the rumor of a private peccadillo deserves their attention and resources in the 2004 campaign.

--Joe Conason, Salon, Feb. 13, 2004

8:20 P.M.

All eyes on Time ... Update: OK, doesn't look like there's anything there. ... All eyes on ABC News, then! ... Reading The Note could be like reading Pravda ...  7:32 P.M.

"That Bush and his Ideals. They Are Too Strong for Us!" Isn't NYT columnist David Brooks courting major embarrassment by swallowing the purported Zarqawi memo hook, line, and sinker? I certainly hope the memo--which recounts in detail how a brilliant U.S. strategy is suffocating radical Islamic terrorists--is legit. But, as with earlier, now-discredited finds, the language seems more than a bit too convenient--especially the passages lamenting American steadfastness and warning about Zarqawi's inability to terrrorize once a new Iraqi government takes over:

"The Americans will continue to control from their bases, but the sons of this land will be the authority ... This is the democracy. We will have no pretexts." [Emphasis added.]

Do you think a real Zarqawi would credit the invasion with establishing anything like "democracy"? I'd expect something more along the lines of "the infidels and their blasphemous puppets." ....P.S.: You knew William Safire would promote the Zarqawi document--Safire famously has the soul of a New York P.R. man. From Brooks you expect more. ... P.P.S.: On the other hand, as someone who has not only courted but actually achieved  major embarrassment recently, I can assure Brooks it's not so bad. ... Update: Here's the full text. You make the call! [Link via Sullivan, who covers himself but treats it as authentic.] 5:06 P.M.

Let's Go There! Answer to John Ellis' hypothetical: Well, it would depend if she had proof, no? ... And the example of Powell is at least partly inapposite: As an executive-branch leader he's a known commodity. Kerry is a pig in a poke to most Democrats and has held no national executive branch office. His most effective sales pitch is 'I'm electable.' Any bit of information that might suggest his future behavior in office or diminish his "electability" is significant. ... P.S.: Democrats more or less had to turn themselves into pretzels defending President Clinton in 1998. But Democrats are not stuck with Kerry. They have time to switch horses before the convention. Defeat and Move On!  ... Suggested further change in Ellis' hypothetical to eliminate another variable: Suppose Powell were white. ... 12:26 A.M.

Friday, February 13, 2004 

Kerry announces wrong Middle East envoys by mistake: Senator Kerry has apparently backed down from his announcement in December that he might appoint Jimmy Carter or James Baker as Middle East envoy. According to the Forward,

New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Kerry told him that he never intended to name the men in the speech, and that Kerry had blamed the insertion of the names on a staff mistake. ...

In a conference call with reporters last Friday, Silver said, "I spoke to him about that very issue, saying that was not something that was going to be very popular in the Jewish community. John Kerry assured me that neither Jimmy Carter nor Baker would be his choice.

11:26 A.M.

Thursday, February 12, 2004 

Save That Page! O.K., write your own snide, cynical link  then....  11:02 P.M.

People don't like him because he's a leader! That's it! Wonkette has somehow become Kerrysex Central while maintaining a suitable ironic distance. ...She also makes fun of David Welna of NPR's sycophantic "born leader" explanation for Kerry's wasted Senate years:

This is a John Kerry I'd never known before: affable, funny, relaxed. Most striking of all, he is not so self-absorbed. Presidential candidate Kerry is, as Tom Wolfe might put it, a man in full -- rather than full of himself, as he seemed in the halls of Congress. ...

So what gives with this transformation? ... [H]ere's my theory: Kerry has, for better or worse, the natural temperament of a leader, a loner in charge. That's his manner whether he's in charge of a gunboat, a movement of anti-war veterans, or, if things keep going his way, of the nation that brought you the Electoral College....

It's not, I admit, a completely implausible theory--although it's competing with the more powerful "good in a crisis, bad the rest of the time" explanation for Kerry's erratic leadership performance. Kerry could have become a leader in the U.S. Senate, after all. Nobody was stopping him, and he was there for 19 years. ... P.S.: There's an even simpler explanation for Kerry's new "affable, funny" demeanor: serotonin. It's evolution's way of trying to equip us all to be leaders (and, not coincidentally, to take advantage of the reproductive possibilities high-status positions offered in the millenia before Drudge--which explains the other Kerry items on Wonkette). ... Everyone is a "born leader," in this serotonin sense--whether we are good at leading or not. I'd be "affable" too if I'd just won a string of primaries. ... 9:25 P.M.

I tend to favor Rationales #6 and #8. ... Kerry's running as a "character" and "electability" candidate. Democratic primary voters are entitled to know virtually everything about him (if true), whether or not it affects his "issue" positions, and whether or not Democratic primary voters even think it's relevant--as long as some substantial group of voters might think it relevant, thereby affecting his alleged ability to beat Bush. ... Live by electability, die by electability. ... Absent a compelling policy distinction, which Kerry does not offer, why would Democrats want to risk going through a Clinton-like ordeal again?  Democrats suppressed widely-believed intimations of trouble in 1992, and wound up with a president who wasted half his second term on a sex scandal. ... P.S.: I haven't dared look at Sullivan's site yet--he isn't going on about Kerry's right to privacy is he? [ A bit. Mainly he's rediscovered the Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce-ed And come up with Rationale #12: "It's an outrageous invasion of privacy. Why, look at what they're saying about Senator Kerry now!" Why not #11?-ed  Wonkette has #11.] ... 8:49 P.M.

Kerry advisor: "Everything is on the table. Everything." Heh. All kf has to add to the current intensified speculation as to Kerry's electability is the following excerpt (from NEXIS) of a suggestive-but-not-even-close-to-definitive item from the 1998 Boston Herald, to which I was steered a few weeks ago by a skeptical and unaligned feminist Democrat. Note that the period in question is after Sen. Kerry's marriage to Teresa but before Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrated just how much personal piggishness you can now get away with if voters really want to elect you:

September 2, 1998 Wednesday FIRST EDITION


LENGTH: 811 words

HEADLINE: Inside Track; Job seeker is model constituent


Question of the day: Who was the statuesque blonde strutting out of Sen. John Kerry's palatial Louisburg Square manse late Monday night when Kerry's wife, heiress Teresa Heinz, was on Nantucket?

We are told she is [name omitted] a 22-year-old Harvard student and former model who, Kerry's people claim, was dropping off a resume.

Our spies on the Square say the stunning Southern gal, dressed in oh-so-chic black, arrived at Kerry's townhouse around 11:15 p.m. and left just before the clock struck 12.


Which leads us to ask: In the age of Monica Lewinsky, is it smart for a senator with presidential aspirations to be entertaining attractive women when the wife is away?

"He was very kind to me. He offered to pass my resume along," [the student] told the Track.

The Georgetown grad said she was not at Kerry's home at midnight - more like 10:45 p.m. - and that she would have dropped off the resume earlier except that it was locked in her brother's apartment.

Both [the student] and Kerry's people insist the encounter was completely innocent. They said the senator met [the student] on Nantucket earlier this summer, then again last weekend. ...

11:23 A.M.

Do voters know that Kerry opposed the Vietnam War in 1966 before he went to fight there?  Here are two grafs from Samuel Z. Goldhaber's 1970 Harvard Crimson article:

At Yale, Kerry was chairman of the Political Union and later, as Commencement speaker, urged the United States to withdraw from Vietnam and to scale down foreign military operations. And this was way back in 1966.

When he approached his draft board for permission to study for a year in Paris, the draft board refused and Kerry decided to enlist in the Navy.

Ann Coulter might say "No wonder we lost."  I can't make up my mind if Kerry's prior view makes his service more noble--he opposed the war but did his duty anyway--or hypocritical and self-preserving--he went and killed people in a cause he didn't think justified the killing. If Kerry opposed the war maybe he should have resisted it. It would also have taken some guts, after all, to go to jail.

Novelist Roger L. Simon made the latter argument on his blog in late  January, citing the following comment from "Catherine," a reader of his:

"Don't give a speech condemning the war, as John Kerry did, and *then* go off to Vietnam to shoot people. If you think it's wrong to go off to Vietnam & shoot people, then that's your position. Stick with it.

*And* if you do decide to go off to Vietnam and shoot people, don't then come back to call your fellow soldiers war criminals."

The Simon argument has the virtue of yielding a Unified Kerry Theory, in which Kerry's Vietnam Service is of a piece, in terms of self-contradictory opportunism, with his Iraq War positioning. I'm not ready to embrace it--I give Kerry points for serving, even if he didn't think he was doing anyone any good, on "if I don't serve who will go in my place" grounds. And even  hypocritically commanding a boat in the Mekong Delta can reveal genuine courage and leadership qualities.

The Kerry problem is more that these qualities haven't been much displayed in the decades since, when he has been a distinctly non-courageous, positioning, play-it-safe  politician. Did he take so many risks in Vietnam he that was determined never to take another risk again? ...  1:40 A.M.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004 

Obvious CW-ish point: John Edwards now has to decide if he will beat up on John Kerry in advance of the big March 2 primary. It's hard to see how he can possibly win the nomination otherwise. Given the breakdown in the Feiler Faster principle, it doesn't look as if the media is going to do the job on Kerry in time.  Edwards would probably like Howard Dean to do the Kerry-bashing for him while he reaps the beneftis, and some of that may happen. But Dean isn't getting much of a hearing these days. In effect, Edwards must choose whether he wants to be president or vice-president. ... 12:06 P.M.

Shrum v. Ickes: Their rivalry has now become a big deal. ... One of them decides what Kerry's deepest beliefs are! The other will control $100 million in independent anti-Bush advertising and is resisting Shrum's cookie-cutter Gore-rerun populism. ... Ickes has become a powerful interest that stands in Shrum's way! ... John Ellis is all over the story, and correctly asks if the NYT will report it or suppress it. ... P.S.: The job of negotiating an Ickes-Shrum truce is obviously Bill Clinton's, although it could be tricky if Clinton, as mediator, gets accused of "coordinating" Ickes' allegedly "independent" ad campaign with Shrum's official campaign. But presumably Clinton can,without violating campaign finance laws, at least tell Ickes to shut up.(Clinton may well already have done that.) ...P.P.S.: The New York Observer's Ben Smith started this. ... P.P.P.S.: I claim to have foreseen the Ickes vs. campaign tension--but I thought it would be between Ickes and the Dean campaign. ... The pro-McCain-Feingold implication stands, however--Kerry may not "owe" contributors to Ickes' fund the way he "owes" contributors to his own campaign. (Indeed, he may resent Ickes' backers if Ickes keeps sniping at his "populist" strategy.) So even if big contributors have found a way around McCain-Feingold's soft-money restrictions, the corrupting consequences are not the same. ... 11:31 A.M.

The Curse of Overspin:  Alert reader K.M. notes the Occam's Razor-like principle that explains the entire 2004 campaign:

Kerry + Lehane = Kerry in trouble!

Clark + no Lehane = Frontrunner!

Kerry - Lehane = The nominee!

Clark + Lehane = Loser who drops out.

There is no discordant data! Results this clean are rarely achieved even in a laboratory setting. ....This man Lehane is a genius. ... 12:06 A.M.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004 

Bubble Boy: At this point in the 1992 campaign, Democratic voters  had known for a month about Bill Clinton's most glaring character defect--his philandering. They may have denied it or rationalized it, but they knew about the charge, and they voted for Clinton anyway. This year, I'm constantly struck by the number of otherwise informed Democrats who are totally unaware of basic Kerry vulnerabilites--who are surprised, for example, to learn that he threw someone else's medals over a wall in his famous anti-Vietnam protest. ... When Clinton's early Gennifer Flowers troubles didn't stop him, he was inoculated on the womanizing issue for the remainder of the campaign. Kerry is so not inoculated. The antiseptic primary has left the Democrats not knowing whether their likely nominee has a healthy immune system or none at all. ... [Wouldn't the Feiler Faster Thesis have predicted that voters would be informed about Kerry and process that info in a shorter period of time?-ed. Yes. It's not working this year. Why? I'm not sure. The lack of negative campaigning after Iowa has obviously been a factor. Maybe the political information machine runs on conflict and fear. Without them, voters have little incentive to keep learning.] ...11:34 P.M.

The Torch Did It! Or was it ....: Remember when Democratic campaign ads were actually nasty? Those were great old days, weren't they? The list of people who funded the nostalgically negative anti-Dean ads a few weeks ago--the one's featuring Osama's picture--has apparently been released. The shocker: disgraced former N.J. senator Bob Torricelli gave $50,000 to that Stop Dean effort. ... Needless to say, the legality of Torricelli's contribution is "fuzzy," according to a Federal Election Commission spokesperson. ... Most of the ad's backers were Gephardt supporters. But Torricelli is now raising money for, yes, John Kerry.  Yet another inducement for the Deaniacs to slog on (though that probably perversely helps Kerry by splitting the ABK vote).  ... Update: BushOut.TV notes that another Kerry connection to the ads--through the Skadden Arps law firm. ... 11:08 P.M.

Monday, February 9, 2004 

Jake Tapper has another pay-and-play Kerry special interest story in which there is absolutely no quid pro quo. ... Alas, it took this particular special interest more than a year after Kerry did it a favor to organize a fundraiser for him, rendering the scandal potential limited. ... But Tapper also has a very clear explanation, at the end of his piece, of why Kerry's ostentatious refusal to take PAC money is another phony bit of posturing. (Kerry accepts "bundled" contributions from CEOs, a much more lucrative policy. There's no dollar limit to bundling--in this case, a high-tech CEO funneled Kerry more than $100,000 by gathering smaller individual donations. PAC donations, in contrast, are limited to $5,000. Who needs them?) ... 11:32 P.M.

Media to Voters: We're trying to eliminate General Clark tomorrow, OK? Please cooperate this time. .... 10:50 P.M.

More dirty Kerry tricks at the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club of Washington, D.C.!. ... 10:48 P.M.

The AWOL Mystery: Why are Democrats bringing up the Bush/National Guard/AWOL issue now? Sure, the press is playing along and it's having an impact--but by November, when the Dems need it, it will seem like very old news. If you want to win the election, the time to start a media AWOL frenzy is in August or September, no?  Yet commentators continue to look for the anti-Bush logic in the Democratic strategy. Tim Russert was just on Hardball saying the AWOL issue is a "warning shot" from the Kerry camp telling Bush he shouldn't accuse Kerry of being weak on defense.

Huh? Maybe I don't understand the Bonesman's Code in which Kerry communicates with Bush--and there have been other ominous Kerry camp warnings about putting  "everything ... on the table", etc.--but is there any chance Bush won't accuse Kerry of being weak on defense? No. And how would Bush be dissuaded by a "warning" that Kerry might raise the AWOL issue when Kerry's already raising the AWOL issue--and by doing so is diminishing, not enhancing its November effectiveness? It doesn't make sense ...

That is, it doesn't make sense unless you view the AWOL issue as a primary election strategy, not a general election strategy. Its purpose is not to boost the Democrats (in November), but to boost Kerry (now). By getting the press talking about the chest-full-of-medals vs. slothful Guardsman issue, Kerry has helped convince Democratic primary voters that Bush is beatable--reinforcing the  blindered Democratic focus on winning--and conferred on himself the  Aura of Electability that is his only real selling point. Equally important, he's taking up valuable media time that might otherwise be spent scrutinizing him and inducing buyer's remorse--and which his rivals, especially Edwards, might otherwise use to get their messages out.

It's quite brilliant, really--until you realize that it sacrifices Democratic interests in the fall for Kerry's interests today. ... P.S.:  Sure there are plenty of Democrats not necessarily affiliated with Kerry who are eager to raise questions about Bush's National Guard service. But Kerry has clearly been  stoking the story. ...  P.P.S.: Clark, who also has a chest full of medals, would benefit from the same strategy were he the frontrunner. But he's not. ... 6:30 P.M.

Sunday, February 8, 2004 

Crude Wishful Thinking Reality Check: If you a) take the number of delegates Kerry has won so far and b) add the number of superdelegates he already has according to the N.Y. Times (101) and c) assume he wins the remaining elected delegates at the same rate he's been winning them (approx. 52%) and d) assume, generously, he gets all the currently uncommitted superdelegates (about 500)--and Kerry still doesn't mathematically wrap up the nomination on March 2, the date of the huge 10 state superprimary, or even by the end of the March 9 four-state southern primary,  according to my admittedly insomniac algebra. .... He'll be close to 200 delegates short of the magic 2,161 number.. ... After March 9, almost 1,000 delegates will still remain to be chosen in primaries and caucuses. ... Am I missing something, or doesn't the nomination race usually come down to this sort of counting? And if it does, don't Democrats still have at least a month to get cold feet? ... Update: [You are missing something: Michigan. I told you to stay off the Sudafed-ed. Michigan. Right. 128 delegates. And I mislaid some people in Missouri. Also, CNN's numbers seem more up-to-date-ed. Going by CNN, Kerry now has 409. More important, he's won about 60% of the elected delegates so far. If he maintains that pace, by my calculation he'll still need all of the uncommitted superdelegates, plus a couple of dozen more, to go over the line on March 9. Maybe he can get the necessary extra dozens by converting unpledged delegates previously committed to Dean. That seems do-able, but not easy by any means. Still plenty of time for feet to cool! ... [Thanks to alert reader C.S.] ...  P.S.: I'm not saying the other candidates won't run out of money or willpower. I'm just saying that if they don't, they're not crazy to hold out the hope that Kerry can be beaten. I also agree with the CW  that if Kerry is going to be beaten, it's important that two of his rivals (Clark and Dean, I hope) drop out  to set up a national one-on-one Kerry vs. not-Kerry match that could hold down Kerry's delegate haul on March 2 and March 9. ... P.P.S.: Does this mean Kerry will try to somehow prop up Clark in Tennessee? ... 5:05 A.M.

WaPo's Dewar and Balz do a good job of highlighting the contradictions  in Kerry's rationalizations for his 1991 vote against authorizing war versus Iraq and his 2002 vote in favor of authorizing war. Sample:

Kerry argued in 1991 that there was no need to pass the resolution to send a message threatening force against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, although that was his justification for supporting the 2002 resolution.

Before and after last year's war on Iraq, Kerry criticized the president for failing to assemble the kind of coalition Bush's father put together in 1991. But in his 1991 floor statement, Kerry was dismissive of the elder Bush's coalition. [Emphasis added.]

The point isn't to tangle Kerry up in the minutiae of his speeches. The point is that there is a much simpler rubric that completely--without contradiction or complication--explains both Kerry votes, namely that he did what he thought was the politically safest thing to do. Voting for Gulf I, as Al Gore did, took some foresight and guts for a Democratic presidential contender. Kerry lacked one or the other or both. ... P.S.: Unlike many Congressional votes that will be held against Kerry or cited in his favor, these were not show votes, but real votes with (as Dean points out) real consequences. ... P.P.S.: Why didn't Gore endorse Kerry, anyway? Having been his senate colleague, maybe the former VP has a few observations about him. Some enterprising reporter should ask Gore before he regains his balance and falls into line. ...  1:59 A.M.

Err of Inevitability: Poor Howard Dean is now being actively hurt by his bigshot endorsements, as his endorsers pressure him to get out of the race (so they can jump on another candidate's train). What did AFSCME do for Dean, exactly? ... And take a look at this unusually excellent New York Times graphic. Kerry has a long way to go, delegate-wise, before he mathematically crosses the finish line and clinches the nomination. Why should Dean (or Edwards, or Clark) drop out when the broader public is only just now finding out about Kerry's potential liabilities--especially if (as polls suggest) by staying in Kerry's rivals haven't been hurting the party. ... P.S.: Even if they go negative on Kerry, do Democrats (as Noam Scheiber has asked) really want to wait until the general election campaign to find out if Kerry can take a punch? .... 1:07 A.M.

Tomorrow's Dick Morris Column Today: With Bush now clearly vulnerable, how long before Hillary makes "I'm available" noises? ... 12:59 A.M. 

Saturday, February 7, 2004 

Kerry Brow Tragedy: Officials had plenty of warning. 4:20 P.M.

Friday, February 6, 2004 

Michael Kinsley seems to  share kausfiles' enthusiasm  for Sen. Kerry. ... 3:28 PM

The CW now holds that the extended, multicandidate primary tussle is helping the Democrats in general and Kerry in particular. (See, e.g., today's The Note.) Does this mean that Terry McAuliffe will now be demanding that Dean, Clark and Edwards stay in the race? ... 11:50 A.M.

Thursday, February 5, 2004 

Hula! Hula! Hula! Due to possibly offensive choreography accompanying a blog reference to "credulous puffers," kausfiles has been replaced with Hawaiian-themed entertainment. Back shortly. ... 11:18 P.M.

City of Lakes blogger Greg Abbott has totaled up the popular votes received by each Democratic candidate so far. (He omits Iowa, where the raw "pre-viability" vote isn't readily available). Kerry's ahead, obviously (with 39%). The surprise is how well Edwards is doing (24%) compared with Clark (15%) ...[You're not giving up, are you?-ed. Not when Kerry has a grand total of 11 percent of the delegates he needs to win, no.]  11:07 P.M.

ABK404: Here's a larval but highly promising Anybody But Kerry blog, and here's a skeptical "We're not really going to end up with Kerry are we?" blog. .. 12:14 P.M.

Will Saletan argues that when it comes to going negative on the Democratic frontrunner, "Edwards is being way too subtle hurt Kerry." I agree. But that was also true of the oh-so-subtle anti-Kerry messages Saletan discerned in Edwards' debate performance a week ago. ... I can't help but thinking that Bill Clinton would have carved Kerry up and smiled while he was doing it. That may be one way that Edwards ain't Clinton. ... (This point was made by, yes, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough a week ago. It may also be made in Michelle Cottle's TNR comparison of Edwards and Clinton--I don't know because Cottle's piece is locked behind a subscriber firewall, reducing its impact by a factor of ... what? 50X? 100X?  [You don't subscribe to TNR Digital?--ed It's another damn "username" and password to remember.]) ... P.S.: If Edwards is going easy on Kerry so as not to blow his chances of being Kerry's running mate, isn't this a vain hope? Kerry, if he wins, is unlikely to pick Edwards because a) Kerry's a vain man and won't want a running mate the press will continually say is a better speaker and campaigner than he is; and b) like virtually all candidates, Kerry will want a #2 who can go negative on the opposing party while he remains above the fray. But that's exactly what Edwards has shown he can't or won't do, for fear of blemishing his goody-goody image. (See Lieberman, Joe, 2000 general election.) ... Update: also c)kf hears semi-reliably that Kerry's polling shows that Edwards on the ticket doesn't win any states for Kerry, even in the South--while Evan Bayh does win Indiana (which is hard to believe, Indiana being a pretty Republican state). ... Might as well go after him, John! ...10:56 A.M.

kf schmoozes for you! I recently talked with an old friend who is employed by the federal government at one of the important agencies. I asked how things were going at work. My friend said:

"I've never seen an administration spend money like this since the days of CETA. The money's flying out the door. I can barely keep up with it. ... They give money away on telephone calls! No documents. No budget. It's the worst I've ever seen it."

According to my friend, all this spending is designed to build political support. ... I've instinctively doubted that Bush is as guilty of excessive spending as the administration's critics (right and left) claim. Mainly, I figured, it was a matter of failing to restrain a congenitally spendthrift Congress. If what my friend says is true, I was wrong. We really are in a Nixonian situation--a president spending irreesponsibly in large part to buy support for a war. (Remember that the silliest excesses of big government, including the double indexation of Social Security benefits, occurred not under a Democratic president but under Nixon.) ... 9:38 A.M.

We have three. It' s a Trend: Dirty hockey player. His campaign breaks into opponent's HQ. Robo-calls his opponents' "1"s. I sense a pattern emerging! ...[of?-ed of someone who thinks he's entitled to break the rules because he's, well, him.] ... Update--Now we're talking! See also Howie Carr's satisfyingly vicious column, which portrays Kerry as a social-inegalitarian ("Do you know who I am?") cutting in line at the DMV. [You didn't hold similar rank-pulling behavior against Schwarzenegger--ed. Yes I did. But Schwarzenegger has compensating leadership qualities (and a record of achieving the difficult things he's set out to do) that I haven't seen in Kerry.] ... I don't begrudge Kerry the Ducati, though. Caveat: During the 2000 New Hampshire primary I heard Carr's radio show and, if I remember right, I thought it was the rare case of a broadcast so vile it should be taken off the air. What people accuse Imus and Limbaugh of, Carr was guilty of. When I listened during the 2004 primary, however, Carr's show wasn't vile anymore. ... 9:12 A.M. link

Goth? I thought it was more of a Pottery Barn look. ... 8:57 A.M.

Tuesday, February 3, 2004 

The Big Sleazy: Rep. Billy Tauzin's decision to resign his congressional chairmanship to accept a highly lucrative position as lobbyist for the big drug companies--this just after he helped write the Medicare prescription drug bill--stinks so badly I think he just might be shamed into giving up the job. ... As WaPo notes, the prescription drug bill "included several provisions expected to vastly expand the market for prescription drugs among the elderly." ... P.S.: Remember back in 1986 when Reagan's ex-aide Michael Deaver was picturedon the cover of TIME magazine making a phone call from his car? Deaver hadn't done anything unusual in the influence-peddling world--he'd just done it a bit more conspicuously. As a result, he became the focus of public outrage over the status quo and wound up in a mess of trouble. It seems to me that the same thing could easily happen to Tauzin. He provides a Washington scandal that virtually everyone in the press can feel righteous about playing up, Meanwhile, what pol is going to risk his or her neck to defend a once-powerful Congressman who has given up his power. At some point, Big Pharma will conclude that Tauzin's become a liability rather than an asset. ... 10:38 P.M.

At this point, Dean's staying in the race helps mainly Kerry, no? It prevents the clean head-to-head face off that Edwards needs. But then I may be part of the pro-Edwards media conspiracydescribed quite accurately by John Ellis--except I don't agree with Ellis that the views of the pro-Edwards camp can accurately be summarized as "liberal." Neolibs like Edwards too. ... Update: See also Kurtz on media Edwards-boosting. Poor Wesley Clark, winner in Oklahoma, isn't going to get the same lift, because so many reporters are creeped out by him. ... 10:09 P.M.

Dirty Kerry Tricks in Iowa and New Hampshire? I'm not sure this story is going to go away, especially if reporters are left with little else to write about.  ... Here's a Tapper report from Iowa two weeks ago. .... And a Daily Kos entry. ... and another from a slightly bitter Deaniac ("we didn't robocall other candidates supporters at 4am, we didn't push poll anyone, we played fair and square"). ....  It's hard to suppress this sort of scandal these days. Even if the mainstream press initially ignores it it will keep bubbling in the blogs until someone in the mainstream picks it up.  ... Update: Here's another one of those overzealous Kerry volunteers who act entirely on their own without any direction from the Kerry campaign! ... 9:07 A.M.

Monday, February 2, 2004 

How can WaPo's Lisa de Moraes  be so sure that, despite the phony protestations by MTV and Justin Timberlake, last night's self-conscious controversy-starting incident wasn't really viewed by MTV as a regrettable accident? She's got proof!

But while CBS was protesting its ignorance and innocence, MTV -- both are owned by Viacom, remember -- was still bragging about it as of midnight.

"Janet Gets Nasty!" MTV crowed on its Web site.

"Janet Jackson got nasty at the MTV-produced Super Bowl Halftime Show," the cable network boasted.

"Jaws across the country hit the carpet at exactly the same time. You know what we're talking about . . . Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake and a kinky finale that rocked the Super Bowl to its core," the network enthused.

Neither the tiny $27,500 fines being considered by the FCC  nor the 10X larger fines proposed in new legislation are close to sufficient to hold Viacom and MTV accountable. To achieve any sort of prospective deterrent effect, either some stations need to lose their licenses, or (preferably) high MTV or Viacom executives need to lose their jobs. ... Apologies are the opposite of a deterrent--they're just more publicity. ...  P.S.: It was a terrible message to send out to America's youth and to Ted Kennedy. ... [Several links via Drudge] ... P.P.S.: The issue isn't nudity but the implicit endorsement of acting out male fantasies of violent and invasive non-consensual sexual behavior. ... Never mind the message it sends to international audiences--say young, angry Muslims, to pick a random example, who may have been wondering whether America really is immoral. ... P.P.S.: "[T]his year's game was telecast to 229 countries and territories, including China for the first time."--WaPo. ... Update: De Moraes recycles her excellent reporting  Tuesday with more appropriate (A1 instead of C7) placement. ...4:51 P.M.

Psst: When people noticed that Bush only got 85% or 86% in the GOP primary in New Hampshire--the pro-Bush response was to note that this was nothing new, because Ronald Reagan got only 86% in 1984. The only trouble with this argument is that the final count seems to show that Bush actually got only 79 percent, as calculated by Joe Loy from the official Secretary of State results. Maybe New Hampshire actually is yet another sign, if we needed one, that Bush is surprisingly weak at the moment. ... 3:30 P.M.



Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--Escapee from American Prospect. Salon--Better click fast! Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Calmer Times--Registration required.  NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare!  Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog.  Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko's MediaNews--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central.. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. horror stories. Eugene Volokh--Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna--A hybrid vehicle. populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog.  B-Log--Blog of spirituality!  Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk.]