November 16, 2002
SUNDAY RCP: Just a heads up to
let you know that tomorrow's edition of RCP may be delayed until
the late afternoon. If you're a regular reader you know we are
one of the only political sites on the Internet that posts fresh
material on weekends. You probably also know that we've only missed
one day in our two and a half years of coverage and while the
rest of the political world is enjoying a post-election vacation
we're still here toiling away on behalf of political junkies around
the world. Our motto: "Politics Never Sleeps. Vacations Are
WATCH: It's all Al Gore all the time these days. As you can
see from the rest of the site (stories here,
Gore's mini-comeback is getting a lot of ink. I couldn't force
myself to stay up and watch him on Letterman last night, but I
did see the nerf-ball exchange between Gore and Barbara Walters
on ABC. There really wasn't any big news. The guy is running for
Gore seemed very likeable last night. He's always been good in
personal sit-downs like these, exchanging quips and talking about
his family, etc. Gore's problem is when he gets up before a crowd
and starts talking politics in that droning, condescending manner
that makes most people's stomach churn. His other big problem,
aside from style, is the actual substance of his policies. As
I've said before, unless the economy is in the tank it's hard
to imagine any Democrat beating Bush, let alone a newly invented,
hard-charging lefty Al Gore. It seems implausible that in a post
9/11 world Gore will be able to run an effective "let's go
back to the good times" campaign, but it's also just as implausible
that Gore can somehow mold himself into a leader for the future
and convince the country he has a better vision and is more well
equipped to lead America forward than Bush.
is Gore's if he wants it. I think he does. But I don't think he'll
make it a true rematch of 2000 by choosing Lieberman as his running
mate. I predict he'll find a woman or an African-American to boost
his "progressive" credentials and close out any challenge
from the left. I also predict he'll lose. But the election is
a full two years away and a lot can happen between now and then.
- TB 9:25 am
November 15, 2002
COLD HEARTED: I'm usually not one for framing policy in
personal terms - a tactic Democrats have honed well over the years
- but this
article in the Washington Times detailing how five liberal
Senators killed the CARE bill this year is, I think, fully deserving
of the label "cold hearted." This is a piece of legislation
with 10 Democrat cosponsors (as well as 18 Republicans) that expands
on, but doesn't alter in any significant way, a bipartisan law
passed in 1996. You would think a bill with these credentials
that offers $10.4 billion in incentives for charitable giving
over 10 years and $1.3 billion in block grants to states for social
services would be a no brainer, right? Not so. It seems Dick Durbin,
Carl Levin, Hillary Clinton, Jack Reed, and Paul Sarbanes are
concerned that religious groups will abuse the law and "discriminate,
proselytize, defy local regulatory laws or keep sloppy books."
are two things here that bother me. This first is that we have
a very mainstream, bipartisan piece of legislation that is being
held captive a few hard-left Senators who -despite all of their
bleating about "social justice" and "helping those
in need" - when it comes time for the rubber to hit the road
choose the concerns of Barry Lynn and special interest groups
over the needs of those they claim to champion. The second issue,
of course, is how this episode would play out in the press if
the situation were reversed and a small cadre of right-wing Senators
were objecting to a similar type bill. I think we all know the
answer to that one. -
TB 10:12 am
FISK: Mr. Fisk is out with a new
column in the London Telegraph, one brimming with giddy excitement
over the "fact" that bin Laden is alive. I'm not convinced.
I don't have Mr. Fisk's "impeccable sources" and I don't
"know bin Laden," but it seems to me that it would be
extremely easy for bin Laden to present incontrovertible evidence
that he's alive - if he wanted to.
And why wouldn't
he? Bin Laden is megalomaniacal holy warrior, the self-annointed
leader of jihad against the West. Why leave any doubt in the minds
of your followers or your enemies that you have survived and that
you fight on in the name of Islam? Issuing written statements,
leaking undatable video tape, and recording scratchy phone calls
don't offer the kind of certainty that will inspire jihadis or
instill fear in the Great Satan, know what I mean?
I don't buy
the argument that he's too sick to appear on video tape either.
When the stakes are this high you get some make up, unplug the
dialysis machine for 90 seconds and make a statement. You think
bin Laden's peers (Hitler, Stalin, Mao, et al) would let some
pesky disease get in the way of their plans for world domination?
Forget about it.
wrong. In the end it really doesn't matter whether bin Laden is
dead or alive - the die is already cast regarding al Qaeda's long-term
survival. Yet Fisk seems literally to be under bin Laden's spell:
his column is a bizarre mix of hero worship and outright fear
over bin Laden's "threats." That's fine, it's his choice.
The rest of us will go on not being afraid of bin Laden or his
gang of thugs and we'll rejoice, not over signs that he's alive
but when we have concrete proof that he's dead. -
TB 10:30 am
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Check out this
op-ed by Bob Kuttner, one of the foremost Bush haters on the
planet. Kuttner is still convinced Bush is a cynical warmonger,
of course, but just less of an idiot than Kuttner originally thought..
Here's the money:
W. Bush has just had the best week of his presidency. Not only
did the Republicans take back the Senate and pick up seats in
the House. As a statesman Bush wins in two seemingly incompatible
ways: He gets credit both for being tough with Saddam Hussein
and for working through the United Nations. Not bad.
moderates in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East
who agreed that Saddam is an outlaw but who pressed Bush to
use multilateralism and UN inspections are now almost as cornered
as the Iraqi dictator. It's heads I win, tails you lose. If
by some miracle Saddam genuinely cooperates with the UN, Bush
emerges both tough and statesmanlike. If Saddam refuses or is
proven a liar, the world community, however uneasily, will be
compelled to support Bush's war.
column is a backhanded compliment to Bush intended to inspire
lefty Dems into vigorous opposition. But it's a compliment nonetheless,
one Kuttner delivers with the slightest hint of grudging respect.
- TB 10:37 am
(PART I): Steve Sailer, National Correspondent for United
Press Internatonal, dissects
this year's election by the numbers. In a nutshell, the analysis
confirms what most people have been saying over the past week:
white voters came out and voted Republican, Hispanic and Black
turnout was down slightly (in the eleven states for which there
is exit poll data) and the overall ratio of votes among minorities
remained essentially unchanged versus the 2000 election.
(PART II): Assuming the numbers are accurate, the question
then becomes, "what compelled the white electorate to get
out and vote GOP?" We've gotten a lot of response from an
email we posted
earlier speculating that the cumulative effect of Dem efforts
to bend election laws - beginning in Florida in 2000 and reappearing
this year in New Jersey, Minnesota, etc. - were a major component
in motivating this year's turnout.
We also were
sent a fascinating firsthand
account from a GOP foot soldier detailing how the now famous
"72 Hour Plan" worked in South Carolina. It's well worth
reading. - TB 9:57am
GALLUP POLL: Lots of great stuff up today, including a post-mortem
Gallup. If you scan quickly down the list the numbers look generally
favorable for Bush and the Republicans - as one would expect. But
one number absolutely jumped off the page:
think the Republican Party/the Democratic Party does -- or does
not -- have a clear plan for solving the country’s problems?
Republicans = Yes 50%, No 42%
Democrats = Yes 30%, No 60 %
monstrous 38-point spread (GOP +8, Dems -30) between the two parties
on the basic issue of vision. The irony is that prior to election
day not a single Democrat recognized this gap existed at all.
Even though the Dems had become somewhat pessimistic in the final
two weeks over their prospects of winning back the House, they
still believed (as did many pundits) that they would win a seat
or two in the Senate and there was not even the slightest hint
they were concerned about lacking vision.
be frightening for Democrats on a number of levels. First, it's
becoming more and more clear that in a post 9/11 world people
view national security as an overriding issue.
perhaps more importantly, the issue of Homeland Security is inextricably
linked to national security but is also now seen through the eyes
of the electorate in a very local - and therefore politically
powerful - way. People recognize that the War on Terror is being
fought here at home, they see evidence of it every day: sleeper
cells in Buffalo and Portland, snipers terrorizing Maryland, anthrax
in New Jersey and DC, terrorist supporters in Chicago, and the
list goes on. The reason the issue of Homeland Security almost
single-handedly defeated Max Cleland and was such an effective
weapon for Republicans all around the country is that protection
from terrorism is now a local issue as well as a global one.
approached this election cycle just like any other: wait until
the final weeks of the campaign, send in operatives to gin up
the African-American vote, and load up on ads in key races hammering
GOP candidates on Social Security and prescription drugs. The
DNC spent more money this year than ever before but it simply
didn't work. Not only did this strategy not produce results, as
the numbers in the Gallup poll seem to indicate, voters rejected
the idea that scaring people over Social Security represents a
vision for the future of the country. This should have Democrat
strategists gnashing their teeth and wondering exactly how they
can ever hope to recapture control of Congress. -
TB 8:41 am
November 11, 2002
BILL MOYERS: This from Bill
Moyers on the PBS website, read for yourself, here is just
back in the 1950's when I first tasted politics and journalism,
Republicans briefly controlled the White House and Congress.
With the exception of Joseph McCarthy and his vicious ilk, they
were a reasonable lot, presided over by that giant war hero,
Dwight Eisenhower, who was conservative by temperament and moderate
in the use of power.
brand of Republican is gone. And for the first time in the memory
of anyone alive, the entire federal government — the Congress,
the Executive, the Judiciary — is united behind a right-wing
agenda for which George W. Bush believes he now has a mandate.
mandate includes the power of the state to force pregnant women
to give up control over their own lives.
includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working
people to the rich. It includes giving corporations a free hand
to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies
meant to hold them accountable.
it includes secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine. Above all,
it means judges with a political agenda appointed for life.
If you liked the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the
White House, you will swoon over what's coming."
to say. Surprising, no, not in the least. Bill Moyers is an angry
bitter man. He is also a socialist and a hater. But don't think
for a second that this is an opinion that is outside of the mainstream
among the media elite in this country. It is not. JM