51-46, That's His Number: Isn't it almost shocking, after all the good news for Bush (Saddam, Libya, promising jobs outlook) and Dean's ridiculous Saddam's-capture-doesn't-make-us-safer statement, that Bush only defeats Dean in the Time/CNN poll by 51-46? Is the press burying the lede (Bush's beatability) on this story because they don't quite believe it? ... Update: TNR says the poll shows "the country is more polarized than it's been in a long, long time," a common diagnosis. (In the Dukakis-Bush 1988 race, to which many are comparing this year's election, the polls were significantly more volatile, if I remember.) But really the CNN poll only confirms polarization on one side--i.e. that Dean's support can't be dramatically dented even by bad news. We don't know, really, if Bush's support is similarly resilient should he hit a bad patch. And you can't fall too far below 51% and still win. ... Update: Many readers have noted that other polls show a wider Bush lead. But they are also older polls. One possible distinguishing feature of the Time/CNN poll, though, is that it attempted to count only "likely" voters, which can't be very easy to do accurately this far in advance of the actual election. (At this stage, polls more commonly survey all "registered voters" without trying to filter out those who aren't "likely" to vote.) .... John Ellis says look at the state-by-state polls. ... 2:35 A.M.
Saturday, January 3, 2004
Lehane begins to work his magic for Clark! In November, Wesley Clark aide Matt Bennett touted an expected fourth-quarter Clark fundraising total of $12 million. ABC News reported:
As for skeptics, Bennett says, "They're welcome to be skeptical. But the fact is, we wouldn't put this out there if it wasn't true."
In December, Clark communications strategist Chris Lehane actually seemed to up the ante a bit in the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette:
Lehane said the campaign will raise $12 million to $13 million in the fund-raising quarter ending Dec. 31.
In the event, Clark's fourth-quarter fundraising total was $10 million--an impressive showing which, thanks to the characteristic counterproductive overspinning of Lehane & Co., now seems like a disappointment. You can't pay enough for that kind of sophisticated communications strategizing! Ask Al Gore. ...
Thanks to Polipundit, who is all over this story. ...
P.S.: Note that Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi, unlike Lehane, tamped down expectations by giving the Post-Gazette a number of $10 million for the quarter. If Dean had raised $10.5 million, Trippi could have declared victory. It turned out he raised $15 million. 4:46 P.M.
Friday, January 2, 2004
WaPo: "Vietnam Shaped Kerry"Now they tell us! ... P.S.: Kausfiles also hears that the campaign of former Vermont governor Howard Dean has become a vessel for Democratic anger at President Bush. We plan to check into this soon. ... 11:04 P.M.
Lucianne.com says "30,000 dead. Who needs to see Liddy Dole? Bad idea." I agree. In general the self-congratulatory hype around U.S. aid to the Iranian quake victims has been discomfiting. Just send the aid. Why Lehane it? ... Update: Who had the awful idea of inflicting Elizabeth Dole on the Iranaians? If you answered "Elizabeth Dole," you are right, according to "administration officials" quoted in the NYT. Those officials, of course, may be trying to fob off blame for a plan they foolishly embraced. ... 8:06 P.M.
Cathy Seipp's "Dubious Media Moments" roundup is satisfyingly rude and not too LAT-centric. The best award--February's winner--is unfortunately not suitable for a wholesome neoliberal site like this one. [Yet you link to this filthy article-ed. It's called a 'tease,' boss.]... 5:47 P.M.
The Doctor is a doctor: That's the problem, says Marjorie Williams in her acute diagnosis--which she makes seem so obvious you'll kick yourself for not having written it first. [Update: This blogger does not need to kick himself.] ... I'm not sure Williams' explanation isn't more exculpatory than she thinks, though. The poor man can't help it. ... P.S.: Dean's doctorness might also explain his strident opposition to the No Child Left Behind Act, opposition that otherwise seems like 75% pandering to the teachers' unions. The NCLBA saddled local districts with all sorts of federal regulations, which prevented them from doing the right thing just the way HMO's and meddling, bureaucratic insurance companies stop doctors from doing the right thing! ... The problem with the analogy, of course, is that if our unregulated health system was as ineffective as the unregulated school system, it would routinely be killing and crippling hundreds of thousands of patients a year. ... 2:43 P.M.
If the Timesman Iraq hawks love, John Burns, is reporting that there are still big problems in Iraq--quoting an Iraqi who says 'There is no law, we live in the dark without electricity, there are no police to stop the thieves, nobody to control the traffic, no gasoline'--there must still be big problems in Iraq, no? ... 2:25 P.M.
Attention: According to the American Research Group tracking poll, the long-awaited Clark-Kerry intersection in New Hampshire is rapidly approaching, thanks to a brilliant TV ad crafted by Kerry's high-priced all-star team that managed to alienate the women's vote. (Among men, Clark passed Kerry way back in mid-December.) ... [ Polipundit pointed this out first] ... P.S.: I'd put the Kerry Withdrawal Contest on hold because Saddam's capture seemed to give candidates who voted for the war a fresh opening. But maybe it needs to be revived. ... P.P.S.: Of course, if Gephardt beats Dean in Iowa, then emerging as the "Stop Dean" alternative in New Hampshire may not be such a major strategic boost for Clark. Dean may no longer need that much stoppin'! (Your Feiler Faster Thesis at work.) Clark, unlike the rest of the Democratic field, might actually want Dean to win in Iowa, which would eliminate one rival (Gephardt) and enable a Dean vs. Clark scenario to take shape. ... [Doesn't the Feiler Faster Thesis also say that if Dean wins Iowa then he wins New Hampshire and it's all over very quickly?--ed. No. The Feiler Faster Thesis says such "momentum" doesn't last as long as it used to, and the "compressed" schedule isn't as compressed as we might think. There's plenty of time between New Hampshire on January 27th and the next round of primaries on February 3 for an anti-Dean backlash to emerge. That's, like, seven days. In 2000, Bush's South Carolina momentum didn't last three days.] ...Update: On Washington Week, David Broder just said Clark wants Dean to win Iowa, so it's CW. ... 12:14 P.M.
"Dealing with race is about educating white folks." Howard Dean seems to have said this. That'll bring in those Southern pickup guys! They love being singled out for 'education'! ... Yes, Dean was apparently pandering to Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson. But that's hardly an excuse. Try to imagine Bill Clinton uttering the same sentence. It's pretty difficult. For one thing, Clinton was too smart a politician. And one of Clinton's major (and heavily-advertised) virtues was his occasional willingness to speak unpleasant truths to both whites and blacks. Here's Clinton talking at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York a few days after the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles:
Can we live in a country where too many people think that violence has a black face, that is, what is consistent either with their experiences or with they see on the news or the fact that they don't have any friends of other races. And where too many black people know that violence too often has a black face because it is their children who are shot, their schools which are savaged, their new neighborhoods which are war zones and they believe no one will make their streets safe simply because they are black. [Emphasis added.]
I would say Clinton was not merely "educating white folks" in this passage--it's from a speech in which he'd just responded to the King riots by saying "we must break the culture of poverty and dependence" and nobody thought he was talking only or even mainly about a culture of "white folks." Does Dean really believe you can talk honestly about race--including "hiring practices"--without talking about that culture (even though it enmeshes only a minority of African-Americans, and even though, thanks in part to the welfare reform Clinton signed, it's rapidly changing for the better)? I'm sure there are better Clinton examples I don't have handy. Update: There are--the best-known being Clinton's November, 1993 Memphis speech to black church leaders in which he speculated about what Martin Luther King would say if he "were to reappear by my side today and give us a report card on the last 25 years."
"But," he would say, "I did not live and die to see the American family destroyed. I did not live and die to see 13-year-old boys get automatic weapons and gun down 9-year-olds just for the kick of it. I did not live and die to see people destroy their own lives with drugs and build drug fortunes destroying the lives of others. That is not what I came here to do."
"I fought for freedom," he would say, "but not for the freedom of people to kill each other with reckless abandon, not for the freedom of children to impregnate each other with babies and then abandon them, nor for the freedom of adult fathers of children to walk away from the children they created and abandon them, as if they didn't amount to anything."
More recently, here's hip-hopper Missy Elliott, trying to do what Dr. Dean says is unnecessary, in the song "Wake Up" on her most recent album:
If you dont gotta gun (its alright)
If yah makin legal money, (its alright)
If you gotta keep yah clothes on, (its alright)
You aint gotta [a cellular] phone, (its alright)
And yah wheels dont spin, (its alright)
And you gotta wear them jeans again, (its alright)
Yeah if you tried oh well, (its alright)
Now why would Elliott feel a need to say this--say that "makin legal money" is allright!--if "dealing with race" entirely involved educating white folks? (I know most rap fans are white. But the people glorified in hip-hop for not"makin legal money" are mainly black. Elliott pretty clearly isn't worried here about suburban white hip-hop fans. One subtle clue: The phrase "Black wake up" turns up in the second verse. )
Is there really nothingin "dealing with race" that involves changing African-American attitudes along with white attitudes? Dean's comment would be more depressing if weren't also the sort of cluelessly pre-Clinton utterance that virtually guarantees he will never be president. [Thanks to reader D.M. for the Memphis cite.] 2:32 A.M.
Thursday, January 1, 2004
Rick Berke is Amazed: When a year-ending pundit marvels at the unpredictable universe that produced some who-would-have-imagined event in the preceding year, there is often an alternative explanation that other talking heads are too tactful to point out. Here, for example, here is the NYT's Washington Editor Rick Berke on Washington Week in Review:
It's really amazing. I looked back before this show to look back at some of the stories we wrote in The Times earlier this year, and it's kind of--not embarrassing, but when you look at the--we had a story in February that said, `Democrats agree--the leading Democrats agree that Kerry is the front-runner. He has a commanding lead this early, which is sort of unprecedented.' And there was a nod to Dean in that story that said, `Dean--Dean is popular among some Democrats, but he's going to have a hard time running a low-budget operation with a compressed primary schedule.' Now we have a situation where he has outraised everyone. He's raised $25 million. The--the compressed pri--primary schedule right now looks like it's to his advantage. And Kerry's campaign has totally collapsed, at least right now.
Berke's explanation(from later in the show): "[W]hen you think about this, we could never have imagined Howard Dean in this position"!
Alternative explanation:Rick Berke could never have imagined Howard Dean in this position because Rick Berke is a fool! He's an especially pathetic prisoner of Washington CW.
You, the reader, make the call! ...
P.S.: The NYT's Adam Nagourney, who wrote that embarrassing NYT February story, has now amassed an impressive record of record of falling for Democratic spin and getting it wrong. He famously missed the story of the 2002 election, discounting and burying the news of a late pro-GOP surge. Here are some of his other acute February observations:
But appreciating the political dynamics of this year, Mr. Kerry and his aides have moved to overcome these concerns, thrusting his candidacy ahead with a combination of bluster and a calculated burst of early spending on a big staff, including some of the more respected names in Democratic politics. ...
Finally, Mr. Kerry's campaign has shown an ability to drive -- his opponents suggest a better word might be "manipulate" -- the news coverage that is so influential on the dynamics of the primaries. He has been the beneficiary of a number of favorable articles and news columns, and more are in the works.
As Nagourney knew or should have known at the time, Kerry's "ability to drive ... news coverage" was limited because much of the press loathes him. Joshua Micah Marshall, for one, noted this factor way back in December, 2002. [And you predicted everything?-ed Yes! ... Well, at least you can't accuse me of declaring Kerry the front-runner.] ...
P.P.S.: My favorite moment in Nagourney's February story, which doesn't reflect badly on Nagourney, comes when he reports that Kerry's backers were "calling key Democrats to tell them that 'the train is leaving the station ... ' " ... 7:51 P.M.
Fighting fire with ephedra: Is it an accident the Bush administration held a press conference announcing a ban on ephedra on the same day the Justice Department announced Attorney General Ashcroft's recusal in the Plame case--so that the coverage the former heavily diluted coverage of the latter? I think not! ... I deny I'm being paranoid here, or if I am it's what General Motors' marketers might call "acceptable paranoia." After all, the administration apparently controlled the timing of both press conferences--they'd be sort of crazy not to think about countering a vote-losing story (Plame) with a story that makes them look good, no? I think the Clintonites did the same thing--every time President Clinton was due for a bad headline, it seemed, Hazel O'Leary would reveal another decades-old radiation experiment horror story from Department of Energy archives. ... 1:50 A.M.
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
'Melt in a Minute': Isn't Lieberman supposed to say "he's going to get opened up like a soft peanut"? The old 'electability' pitch works, doesn't it? ... Doesn't it? ... How about "They'll crush him like a clove of garlic!" ... They'll reduce him like a remoulade! ... They'll unwrap him like an MRE! ... They'll pound him into paste like pesto! ...They'll shred him like arugula! [Now you're targeting the angry core of his constituency-ed I thought that was, "They'll make him froth like a Frappucino!"] 12:23 A.M.
Monday, December 29, 2003
Two very useful reports on the Iraq timetable (in WaPo, and the Los Angeles Times) suggest that while we may or may not be moving too quickly to hand over sovereignty, the "artificial timeline" derided by Hillary Clinton has some obvious virtues. The June 30 deadline focuses the minds of the Americans on what they can and can't expect to accomplish before they've outstayed their welcome-- do we really need to "cash out" Iraq's food rationing program in accordance with Milton Friedman's theories before we leave?--and it focuses the mind of Iraqis on what they need to do as well, including what compromises they may need to make. From the LAT:
To persuade the Governing Council and other Iraqi groups to work together to establish a new government, the administration has employed a variety of arguments, including warning that the U.S.-led occupation authority will not be around to protect them if they don't.
Bremer's strategy, one U.S. official said, is to "just keep telling people, 'We're going to be gone by June 30 and although you are enthused about that idea, just think about what you're going to do on July 1.' [Emphasis added.]
If the "timeline" needs to be pushed back, it can be pushed back. Even if that needs to be done, it's not at all clear that we will be in worse shape than if we'd never set a deadline at all. "We'll transfer sovereignty one of these days when we're ready"--the Hillary position--isn't exactly an incentive for the various factions to drop their less essential demands and close a deal. That's why I thought her criticism was Washington posturing. ... P.S.: It is pretty clear, though, that we're not moving too slowly (the Howard Dean position). ... P.P.S.: Remember, we're not (in theory) leaving after June 30. The Pentagon is talking about a large negotiated presence for "one or two years, in terms of the troops' staying there," according to Deputy Secretary of State Armitage. And there will be ongoing reconstruction programs. ... To be sure ... It might still be a giant debacle. But not because of the artificiality of the timeline. ... 7:22 P.M.
Sunday, December 28, 2003
I'm not up on my Michael Jacksonalia, but isn't this exchange from the just-aired "60 Minutes" interview potentially key:
ED BRADLEY: Would you allow your children to sleep in the bed with a grown man, who was not a relative, or to sleep in the bedroom?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Sure, if I know that person, trust them, and love them. That's happened many times with me when I was little. [Emphasis added]
Hmmmm. .... Update: Freeper "Shermy" had the same reaction, word for word! [It's a one word reaction-ed Word! He had one more "m"-ed There you go. Overwriting.] 7:39 P.M.
They Hate Us Because of Our ... Intellectual Rigor! That's It! The L.A. Times' Tim Rutten, in a rambling criticism of something he calls "the assault on the ethic of impartiality," says:
[E]xperience has demonstrated that intellectual rigor and emotional self-discipline enable journalists to gather and report facts with an impartiality that — though sometimes imperfect — is good enough to serve the public's interest in the generality of cases. [Emphasis added]
Top 4 dismissive responses--Pick Your Favorite! (drum roll):
1) At least he's not arrogant about it!
2) I better check--did Gray Davis win that election? ... My recollection is that opinionated journalists (like L.A. Weekly's Bill Bradley) got the big California recall story right while the intellectually rigrorous and emotionally self-disciplined journalists of the L.A. Times consistently and embarrassingly got it wrong. ... [Maybe that "served the public's interest"--ed. Yeah, in living in a dream world!]
3) Lucky we L.A. Times skeptics won't remember that winning phrase--"intellectual rigor and emotional self-discipline"--and throw it back in the Times' face when they blow it again. Heh.
4) "Rutten seems to have missed that whole Reformation thing; the notion that truth might not have to be derived from a priesthood." -- Armed Liberal
Update: Prof. Bainbridge notes Rutten's distinct lack of rigor when it comes to knowing when the Civil War started. Standards! ... 2:27 A.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. Lucianne.com--Stirs 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. Overlawyered.com--Daily 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. TomPaine.com--Web-lib 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.]