Thursday, November 27 2003
GIVING THANKS....TO OUR READERS:
It's hard to believe we've been at this for more than three years. Doesn't really seem that long. Back in the spring of 2000 when we launched the site - to a combined readership of about 5 people the first week - we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

Since then, America has endured one of the more remarkable 40-month periods in her history, including an historic election in 2000 and the worst terrorist attack ever on her soil.

All the while our readership continued to grow. Today, on an average weekday more than 30,000 different people check in with RCP. Many of you have been loyal visitors since the very early days, and we're honored and grateful to all who choose our site as a resource for political commentary.

Maintaining the site every day is difficult work, sometimes exhausting and nearly always overwhelming. But every now and then, seemingly out of the blue, we'll get an email from a reader that just blows us away. It's hard to imagine that a few words from someone you've never met could make it all worthwhile but trust me, it does. Like this email we received last year:

I wish to express my utmost gratitude to you. I work long hours, I have a wife and three children whom I adore, and I have an overwhelming desire to be engaged and informed regarding the issues of the day. Until I found your site (via a link from HughHewitt.com), I did not have the time to research, critically review and internally substantiate information about these issues. The first thing I do in the morning is pull up your site and read for an hour or so. Somehow you guys bring content together that is direct, encompassing, and insightful. I'm a better father, citizen, and a much more educated human being because of the information that is presented on your site. I appreciate your efforts. Thank You.

We've gotten emails from high school teachers and housemoms, newspaper editors and Navy pilots telling us how much they appreciate RCP and how it's helped, influenced, or changed them:

I must inform you of the profound impact RCP has had on us. My husband found out about it from a friend. He began reading it and would print out articles for me. Then I started going on line everyday as well. Now it is the first thing I do each morning (after pouring a cup of coffee).

As a result of reading this web site for months, we now subscribe to The Weekly Standard, NRO, townhall.com and the very fabulous WSJ. We have contributed to RCP, The Heritage Foundation and Bush-Cheney '04 and RNCC.

All of this prompted from reading RCP's very excellent compilation of articles and your daily blog. If you have affected one household this way, I imagine you've done this to many, many more. I expect you're making quite a contribution to changing things and keeping people informed.

We recommend RCP to everyone and email articles to our family and friends regularly. Thanks again for the response and, more importantly, thanks for producing our most favorite and useful tool for staying informed.

Some of our most gratifying email, believe it or not, comes from liberals who tell us that even though they don't agree with our personal opinions they still find RCP to be a valuable resource and one of their favorite places on the Internet.

It is an awe-inspiring thought that RCP is contributing, even if only a little bit, to people becoming more active in the political process and more informed about the issues we all face in these extremely turbulent and historic times.

The truth is that at the end of the day RCP is made possible by you, the reader; by your willingness to continue visiting the site, to keep spreading the word to friends and family about who we are and what we do, and for the generous financial support that keeps us up and running. For all of these things we are and will remain eternally grateful. Happy Thanksgiving. - T. Bevan & J. McIntyre 11:30 am

Wednesday, November 26 2003
LOVE HIM OR HATE HIM:
Time Magazine's cover story this week is a classic mainstream media hit job on a popular Republican president. The basic thesis of the article by John Dickerson and Karen Tumulty can be summed up by this quote: "If Ronald Reagan was the Great Communicator, Bush is proving to be the Great Polarizer."

My first thought after reading the rather long piece was that I don't remember the press running a story on President Clinton as the "Great Polarizer," even though Clinton aroused just as much anger and passion on the right as Bush does on the left. Of course, this is because in the ideological world of the vast majority at Time, Newsweek, ABC, CBS, NBC, Washington Post, NY Times, LA Times, etc... Bush is pursuing divisive, wrong and in many ways evil policies whereas Clinton was pursuing (at least in their minds) solid, middle-of-the-road policies.

Which leads me to the second and more important thought I drew from that article. What really drives the left crazy is the success this President is having at moving the country ahead with a principally conservative agenda. This attempt to brand the president as a 'polarizer' is going to have little effect in slowing down the Bush political train.

People forget their history, but FDR was far from liked by most Republicans. His New Deal agenda was hated by a solid 30%-35% of the nation in the 1930's. That hatred on the right did the Republicans little good because 60% of the country liked President Roosevelt's New Deal just fine and reelected him and his Democrats to office with large majorities.

Though it will drive the elite media even more crazy, it's possible this is the same dynamic we are seeing with President Bush today. And it is about one thing: LEADERSHIP. Above and beyond any affection for FDR's policy agenda, what the public liked about the man was his leadership. In the depths of the depression in 1933 when President Roosevelt came into office, leadership was what the county was craving and FDR provided it.

September 11th 2001 has provided a similar catalyst for President Bush. In the searing horror of that day and the new world that followed, what the country sought, more than anything else, was leadership. And that is exactly what President Bush has been providing every day since.

Like it or dislike it, the New Deal was a bold and new direction for the country in response to a major crisis. It was polarizing and divisive. President Bush's policy of preemption is a bold and new foreign policy direction for the country. And yes, it is polarizing.

We were a 50-50 nation in 2000 and for most of the 1990's, but President Bush is moving us away from that split. Polls are nice, and Time had a bunch of them to buttress their point that the nation is split right down the middle. But I'm afraid that is more than a little wishful thinking on the part of the left.

Elections set the course of political history in this country, not polls. In 2002, against the typical headwind of a midterm election Republicans won the popular vote for the House 51%-46%. A small, but significant shift from the 49%-48% results in the three previous elections.

A year out from 2004, the early signs don't look good for the Democrats. An improving economy, signed and sealed prescription drug relief for seniors, and the cultural issue du jour of gay marriage is not a winning mix. All of this coupled with the likely prospect of nominating an individual who will be viewed as weak on the number one policy issue of the day, national security, is a blueprint for electoral disaster in 2004.

Yeah, President Bush might very well be extremely polarizing to the 30%-35% on the left, but that isn't going to help Democrats win elections or govern. Just ask the Republicans of the 1930's.  J. McIntyre 7:11 am

Tuesday, November 25 2003
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DEBATE:
It was tough, but I forced myself to watch the whole thing. I don't think any new ground was broken; Dean again defended himself (successfully, I think) against attacks from John Kerry and Dick Gephardt, Al Sharpton told a few more one liners and refused to apologize for his involvement in the Tawana Brawley case, and Dennis Kucinich took his pacifist platform to a new level of appeasement by saying he would meet directly with North Korea's tyrant to negotiate.

I kept waiting for someone to put the shiv in Dean for his "re-regulation" comments from last week. Nothing. Dean exposed the soft underbelly of an anti-business candidate that wants to shackle the US economy with reams of new regulations and control it from Washington DC. Even though his rivals criticized Dean last week, there wasn't a peep in the debate. I guess it was just too difficult for any of the candidates to take a break from bashing HMOs, drug companies, oil companies, meat-packing companies, and Halliburton to say a good word about corporations, competition, and the necessity of striking an appropriate balance of regulation without crippling our free-market economy. You can bet George W. Bush won't miss this target if Dean's the nominee.

Finally, my award for the worst line of the debate goes to Wes Clark who said, "We want to be ahead of the software revolution. Let them do the software in India; we'll do other things in this country. We can do that. All it takes is leadership." I could hear Bill Gates' cup of Starbucks hitting the floor all the way out in Bellevue. If Wes Clark's idea of leadership is to let the US software industry go in the tank, everyone would probably be a lot better off if he just sticks to soldiering.

THE WRONG SIDE OF BRIGHTNESS: If you're a regular reader of RCP you'll know that Austin Bay is one of our favorite columnists. So when he asked if I'd be willing to review his new book, I was more than happy to oblige. So here it is, albeit brief and a bit delayed.

Stephen King once described the writing as the art of telepathy: transferring an image from the head of the writer to the head of the reader via words written on a page. The best writers have a knack for it, and the best books depend on it to capture the reader's imagination and engulf them in the story.

Austin Bay's book does all of this and more. From the banks of the Euphrates to the piers of Aruba to a penthouse in Paris to the rain-soaked forests on the outskirts of Prague, Bay moves you through the settings of his murder mystery with force, speed, and precision.

The mental intricacies of the plot are no less fierce. Protagonist Peter Ford works frantically, calling on his experience as a soldier and his contacts in the murky worlds of diplomacy and intelligence to unravel the death of a friend and to bring to justice the perpetrator of a war crime.

Bay wastes no time -and very few words - in weaving this riveting tale of a man haunted by a vision of death and driven to the ends of the earth (literally) in pursuit of redemption, revenge, and justice. It's a journey told with telepathic clarity, and one that is definitely worth taking. - T. Bevan 8:24 am

Monday, November 24 2003
BUSH'S BALLOT WOES:
As we discussed last week, President Bush is having some trouble getting on the ballot in Illinois. On Friday Republicans rejected a deal to get Bush's name on the ballot in exchange for waiving nearly $1 million in election fines and for allowing "hanging" chads to be counted in the upcoming election. The final vote was 23-27.

So now what? Well, there is always the option of a write-in campaign. But this doesn't seem very realistic. The expense and confusion of a write-in campaign would cripple any chance of Bush being competitive in Illinois - and he's already facing an uphill battle here to begin with.

The Sun-Times reports that an aide to Governor Blagojevich said the Governor 'will "naturally support the Democratic candidate" for president but wants to see Bush on the Illinois ballot and will sign a bill putting him there if it gets on his desk.'

That's great news, except the Democrats in Illinois control both the House and the Senate so he won't be seeing a bill on his desk unless they decide to put one there.

In the end, the legislature will most likely take the issue up again in January. Maybe then Republicans, perhaps with some urging from Rove and Mehlman, will hold their noses and save the President's hide.

LIES, DAMN LIES: Over at the way-left, Bush-hating site BuzzFlash, they've posted an interview with the father-son team of Robert Scheer and Christopher Scheer who have written a book (commissioned by fellow Bush-hating site Alternet) called The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq.

You've got to read the whole thing to get a true feel for the way these men think; their utter fixation with Vietnam and with the idea that America is an arrogant, imperialist power out to do harm to the rest of the world. Still, I've taken a little time to pull some excerpts from the interview, which are posted below along with my responses:

Christopher Scheer: And what’s astonishing in reviewing the book was to find out just how little they [the Bush administration] really had. They really took a few little pieces and milked them to the extent that it was clear they didn’t have much evidence at all. I mean, with a $27 billion intelligence budget, you think we could have come up with some more convincing evidence, even if it was manufactured.
RCP: That's actually a very good question. If this adminstration is so deceitful, so utterly corrupt and dishonest and was so intent on going to war, why wouldn't they manufacture better supporting evidence for their case instead of making such momentous decisions knowing they didn't have squat? Isn't a more logical conclusion that the Bush administration looked at the preponderance of evidence dating back more than a decade and, even allowing for ambiguities or deficiencies, decided that letting Saddam remain in power was a risk not worth taking?

Christopher Scheer: What I see that happened is they kept throwing out new bones. Those bones would get destroyed, and they’d throw out some more. They’d keep pressing forward. They’d say the truth over here, and then say a lie over there. They’d use Dick Cheney as a way to get out ideas. They wouldn’t say all the time that al-Qaeda was connected to Hussein, but they would just use Hussein and al-Qaeda in sentences together, over and over and over again. They would speculate irresponsibly about what could happen -- if this, and then that, then hey, there might be nukes, and they might be in New York being blown up by terrorists. They used all those tricks.
RCP: I'm confused as to why someone might think it irresponsible, especially after September 11, to speculate about what could happen if terrorists get their hands on a nuclear weapon and to take whatever steps might be necessary to prevent such a thing from occuring. As I've said before, the same people who now criticize President Bush for being unduly alarmist with respect to intelligence reports are the same people who want to blame him for not being alarmist enough in the months leading up to Septebmer 11. You can't have it both ways.

Christopher Scheer: If you look at what they’ve done since taking over [Iraq], it’s more akin to the cultural revolution in China than to our old habits of knocking off the top man and putting in a new sort of pro-capitalist tyrant who will let us operate there. We’ve knocked out their military to the extent that we just dispersed it. We’ve purged their bureaucracy. And what people are [experiencing] within Iraq now is chaos, basically: physical insecurity, a huge amount of violence, no process to redress their grievances. People can be invaded in the middle of the night by soldiers who don’t speak their language. And they take people off in blindfolds, and people don’t know where to go to find them.
RCP: Are we talking Mao? This is the worst sort of up-is-down, morally bankrupt analogy I've seen used in a while. Saddam Hussein is the one who "purged" people from his bureaucracy and took "people off in blindfolds" never to be seen again. We've established, in very short order, a working court system in the country so Iraqis truly can redress their grievances in an orderly way. We're carting off the bad guys, for sure, but the military and police actions we're taking in Iraq do not resemble, in any way, shape or form, the atrocities of the Cultural Revolution - and it's absolutely perverse and despicable to suggest they do.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I find many people, including some who don't support him [Howard Dean], who very much like his manner, his forcefulness. The rolled-up sleeves, the passion, the attack. Black people, they want somebody who can trash Bush." - Julian Bond, Chairman of the N.A.A.C.P. in today's New York Times. Let's hope all Americans want a little more than that. - T. Bevan 7:32 am

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