Saturday, 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 For Sissies."

AL GORE WATCH: It's all Al Gore all the time these days. As you can see from the rest of the site (stories here, here, here, and 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 President.

I thought 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.

The nomination 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

Friday, 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."

There 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

November 14, 2002
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.

Maybe I'm 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

November 13, 2002
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:

George 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.

Political 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.

Sure, the 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

THE ELECTION (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.

THE 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

November 12, 2002
GALLUP POLL: Lots of great stuff up today, including a post-mortem election poll by 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:

Do you 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 %

That's a 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.

This should 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.

Second, and 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.

Lastly, Democrats 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

Monday, November 11, 2002
BILL MOYERS: This from Bill Moyers on the PBS website, read for yourself, here is just part:

"Way 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.

That 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.

That mandate includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to give up control over their own lives.

It 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.

And 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."

Wow, what 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 5:25pm

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