Bloggers discuss Mike Huckabee's lead over Giuliani in a few polls and how the NIE on Iran measures up to the International Atomic Energy Agency's take. Also, Green Hanukkah is all wet.
Huckabee surges: The latest Rasmussen poll has Mike Huckabee leading Rudy Giuliani among likely GOP primary voters nationwide, 20 percent to 17 percent. Other polls still have Rudy in the lead, although Huckabee is gaining.
Steven Stark at the Presidential Tote Board 2008 writes: "What's caused this is that Rudy Giuliani has dropped a full ten points in the last six days—no doubt in reaction to the 'scandal' stories that emerged last week about Giuliani and the NYPD providing security and transportation for his then-mistress, Judith Nathan. It's unclear whether GOP voters care about the funds … but they do care about his personal life. And this simply reminded them."
Brainwave at lefty Daily Kos posts a few thoughts: "It's somewhat comforting to see that people are picking up on Sex on the City despite the media's efforts to ignore it and distract from it. Is it too early to think America's Playa is toast? "
Huckabee booster Kevin Tracy counts the reasons to be doubtful: "For starters, while other polls are registering a Huckabee surge, none have him anywhere near Rudy Giuliani. In fact, the Real Clear Politics (RCP) Average, which today has Huckabee ahead of Romney nationally for the first time ever today, shows Governor Huckabee at 12.8% and Giuliani at 26.2%—a spread of 15.6%. Granted, the Rasmussen poll was the most recent one added, but nothing that significant happened in the last 48 hours to give Huckabee that kind of sudden momentum or given Giuliani that hard of a blow."
"What Mike Huckabee is doing is validating the dream of Thompson's supporters," Scott Rasmussen himself tells Jim Geraghty at the National Review's Campaign Spot. "[T]here was a vacuum or void in the race, but Thompson didn't grab it for whatever reason. It's not a one day blip. Each individual night in our tracking poll he was ahead of others in the race for second place. He's been steady since the debate and the initial reaction to that. My expectation is that other campaigns are going to aggressively highlight different aspects of his record. He will show us if he can stand up to it or not. If he does, this race is more wide open than anybody can imagine."
Bill Kristol, editor in chief of the Weekly Standard, aired the following at the Campaign Standard blog Tuesday, before Rasmussen tipped to Huckabee: "One question is, which one (or possible two) of the other candidates can reverse his downward trend, create his own surge, and pick up some momentum? The other question is, can any of them afford to go negative against Huckabee? On the one hand, going negative usually has at least a short-term negative effect on the negative-goer. On the other hand, if Huckabee wins December as he did November, he'll probably win the nomination."
IAEA, Oh!: Bloggers are still analyzing the latest NIE on Iran. An anonymous source from the IAEA tells the New York Times despite Mohamed ElBaradei's official statement that the NIE is "consistent" with IAEA findings, that, actually, "We are more skeptical. We don't buy the American analysis 100 percent. We are not that generous with Iran."
Michael Cohen at the foreign policy-oriented Democracy Arsenal cites ElBaradei's response and says: "El Baradei doesn't say that Iran has no nuclear program ... he says there is 'no concrete evidence' of an ongoing program. The point here is that level-headed individuals, even members of the Very Serious Foreign Policy Community could have genuine concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions ... without sounding the drumbeats of war. In fact, that view defines almost the entire foreign policy community."
Barron YoungSmith at the New Republic's Plank scratches his head over Iran's posturing: "If circumstances become more favorable in the future, then a decision to reconstitute one's WMD programs can always be made at that time. Meanwhile, by continuing to act defiant and remaining ambiguous about the status of your nuclear program, you can continue to deter and continue to convince your neighbors that you're the biggest badass on the block."
John C. Wohlstetter at Letter from the Capitol boils NIE skepticism down to this: "Our intel has never successfully predicted development of a nuclear weapon capability by non-allied nations. It missed the massive petrodollar funding of hatred of America and the West, funded by the Saudis. ... It missed the Iranian revolution that brought the mullahs to power in 1979. It was surprised by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. And it was twice wrong on the WMD intel in Iraq."
Hanxing adds: "ElBaradei's latest report said that the IAEA's confidence about the current state of the work had fallen. It is hard to see why he can be so sanguine about the view that in the very recent past Iran had hopes of nuclear weapons. Or, come to that, about the deduction that the fear of military attack was what persuaded Iran to stop. In the past four years, Iran has become more confident, and its Government more hardline."
Festival of ecoconsciousness: Environmentalist Jews have started a "Green Hanukkah" campaign, premised on the claim that every candle that burns all the way down produces 15 grams of carbon dioxide. That's a big collective "footprint" for the world's chosen. One way to combat such waste, say the Greens, is to light fewer candles.
At Spare Change, Neidra Weinreich isn't buying it: "What effect will this campaign have beyond alienating those who are already wary of the anti-religious slant of many on the left, or pushing those who are on the fence religiously further away from their heritage?" She suggests that observing the Sabbath—sans driving and electricity—would probably do more good.
Bang on, says Jonathon Morgan at Green Daily. "[W]hile it's true that the candles damage the environment, so does the millions of pounds of discarded wrapping paper that end up in landfills every Christmas, or the energy used by all the extra TVs that are turned on during the Super Bowl—the list is endless. In theory, the best way to cut back on these events' environmental impact is simply not to have them in the first place. But if we went that route, we'd lose a vital part of our culture."