November 7 2003
"A STRAIGHT, SMOOTH HIGHWAY TO NOWHERE": My favorite
line from a remarkable
speech by the President yesterday that ought to be required
reading for everyone in America:
Middle Eastern governments now understand that military dictatorship
and theocratic rule are a straight, smooth highway to nowhere."
version of Reagan's "dustbin of history" line and it's
just as catchy - not to mention just as accurate.
remarkable thing about the speech is that it demonstrated the
very large space that exists between this President's vision and
the nine people who want to replace him.
only two of them (Dennis Kucinich and Wesley Clark just yesterday)
have articulated any alternate policy with respect to Iraq. Furthermore,
Kucinich and Clark have put plans on the table that focus specifically
on short-term tactics, not long-term vision.
may take time out to give a grudging nod to Bush's speech, but
then they will be right back to convincing voters that Iraq is
a quagmire and that Bush's foreign policy vision is a failure.
Part of this
is politics, of course. But a great deal of it is a fundamental
shortsightedness on the part of these men (and woman) and of the
Democrat party as a whole to produce a foreign policy vision in
a post 9/11 world that boldly reaffirms our commitment to the
defense and spread of freedom and liberty. This is what Bush has
done and is doing.
irony here is modern Democrats have been so crippled and traumatized
by Vietnam they can't recognize and draw on the long, noble history
of their party as a party of war. From FDR to Harry Truman to
John Kennedy, history is littered with examples of Democrats leading
the fight to vigorously defend and promote freedom. Here is just
are provincials no longer. The tragic events of the thirty months
of vital turmoil through which we have just passed have made
us citizens of the world. There can be no turning back. Our
own fortunes as a nation are involved whether we would have
it so or not.
yet we are not the less Americans on that account. We shall
be the more American if we but remain true to the principles
in which we have been bred. They are not the principles of a
province or of a single continent. We have known and boasted
all along that they were the principles of a liberated mankind."
Woodrow Wilson on March 5, 1917. There is no reason we shouldn't
be hearing this sort of thing from Democrats today, but we don't.
I chose the
Wilson quote, however, because it highlights the other major vulnerability
of modern Democrats, one that has a long-standing tradition and
is traceable back through Democrat leaders like Truman and FDR
to Wilson: an unshakable belief in the ability of the "community
of nations" to act in the best interest of peace, stability
and freedom for the people of the world.
We saw it
fail with Wilson's League of Nations. Over the course of the last
few decades we've watched the UN become more and more feckless
and irresponsible, rewarding tyrants and despots with the same
respect as leaders of free nations and becoming incapable of enforcing
its own resolutions with force when necessary.
stark realities of September 11, 2001, every single one of today's
Democrats still want to operate within this failing system and,
by default, place the national security of the United States in
a position of compromise, subject to the whim and will of countries
that decidedly do not share our interests.
mean Dems have to rush out and endorse unilateral U.S. action
- which, of course, is something they would never do. But the
Democrats do have an obligation to recognize the continued failures
of the UN and the international community to address some of the
world's most pressing problems and to propose solutions to make
the institution more effective. Those on the left who criticize
President Bush for "unilateral" action fail to understand
this is exactly what he's been trying to do.
refused to accept the status quo, pushing the UN to face the challenges
of the world today and urging countries to recognize the rights
and freedoms of their peoples. This is heady, visionary stuff
carved out of the best traditions and values of America that the
great leaders of our country, both Democrat and Republican, have
stood for throughout the years.
Democrats have ceded a great portion of this vision to President
Bush with their inability to articulate anything better than a
halfhearted support of the removal of one of the world's worst
tyrants and continued calls for a return to the status quo of
a pre-9/11 foreign policy. As we approach the election next year,
continuing to relinquish a claim to this vision could put the
Dems on their own "straight, smooth highway to nowhere."
- T. Bevan
November 6 2003
THE DEAN JUGGERNAUT ROLLS ON: As you've probably seen
by now, Howard Dean touched
down in Tallahassee on Tuesday to tell Southern Democrats
they need to "stop having our elections in the South based
on race, guns, God and gays and start having them on jobs and
health insurance and foreign policy.''
in Dean's speech were diatribes against Florida Governor Jeb Bush
for signing a bill preserving Terri Schiavo's right to live and
for reaffirming the state's ban on gay adoption. Correct me if
I'm wrong, but aren't those issues concerning God and gays? -
THE BATTLE IN THE BAYOU: There is a host
of new polls out today on the Louisiana Governor's contest,
all of them showing the race extremely close. Jindal's lead over
Blanco is averaging 2.3% with anywhere from 10-25% of the electorate
still undecided. As with every election, in the end this one's
going to come down to turnout - especially among African-American
It's an all
too common (and increasingly dire) predicament for Democrats.
To be competitive across the South and in swing states with urban
centers Democrats have to keep squeezing more and more out of
the black voting population to be competitive. If turnout drops
off even slightly, or there is a countervailing surge of the white
vote a la 1994 and 2002, the results are disastrous.
why a Bobby Jindal victory in Louisiana would be devastating to
the Democrats, much more so than this week's losses in Kentucky
the Democrats' nightmare candidate: a young, culturally conservative
minority who can siphon off critical support from the African-American
community. He's already won
the endorsement of Ray Nagin, the African-American Mayor of
New Orleans who bucked his own party to support Jindal. Yesterday
at Grambling University Jindal received the
endorsement of Louisiana's North-Central Black Caucus whose
is time for our state to break with the politics of the past
and elect someone like Bobby Jindal who has everyone’s interest
This is devastating
stuff. The internals from the University
of New Orleans' Survey Research Center poll also show disturbing
signs for Dems:
black voters, 17% prefer Jindal. This is an unusually high level
of support for a Republican candidate among African American
voters, and it may well not materialize in the election.
A closer look indicates that support for Jindal among blacks
is higher in the under-45 age group. This makes sense since
it is the younger black voters who have less of a history of
voting Democratic. However, younger voters are also less
likely to vote. When we make the adjustment for likely voters,
the percent of blacks supporting Jindal drops to 12%. (Emphasis
ability to appeal to even 15% of African-American voters in Louisiana
puts Blanco in a box.
The new Pew
Research Survey released yesterday helps put this dynamic
in a national context. The survey, which showed significant gains
in Republican voter ID around the country - including +6 points
in Louisiana, by the way - also showed Democrats losing 6 points
nationally among white voters and 8 points among Hispanics while
keeping a solid hold among African-American voters (+1 point nationally).
One other point of note: the report found that from a geographical
perspective, "the Northeast is the only region where the
Democratic party has held its own."
impossible for Democrats to remain competitive nationwide when
the party increasingly has to rely on a coalition of white Northeastern
liberals and massive turnout among the nation's African-American
population. To the extent that Republicans can continue to produce
candidates that chip away at the traditional Democrat base, like
Arnold Schwarzenegger in California and Bobby Jindal in Louisiana,
the Dems are in for a long, hard slog in American politics.
The fallout continues from the Senate Intelligence Committee memo.
Dana Priest sums
up in today's WaPo. Meanwhile, the GOP's favorite Democrat,
Zell Miller, puts
the boot in, calling the memo "highly partisan and perhaps
back in Kansas the Wichita
Eagle reported yesterday that Pat Roberts feels like he's
been "slapped in the face." The Senator is apparently
taking a good amount of heat from conservatives for trying to
be bipartisan but ending up a "dupe" of the Democrats
As to Senator
Rockefeller's charge that the "was likely taken from a waste
basket or through unauthorized computer access," Brian Wilson
reported last night on Fox News that his source, as well as Sean
Hannity's original source for the story both confirmed that the
memo was obtained legally and not from a trash can.
TAKING BANNED: When
I saw the headline I thought, "it's the city of Chicago
so anything is possible." But read the story and you'll find
the aldermen are trying to deal with a serious issue and one technology
will continue to make more and more difficult.
I've always been skeptical about the utility of camera phones,
especially since the best "value proposition" they seem
to be able to offer consumers is the ability to take and transmit
pictures of random, almost inane things (watch a few of the Catherine
Zeta-Jones commercials and you'll know what I mean.) It will be
interesting to watch this new aspect of the technology vs. privacy
debate develop. - T.
Bevan 9:47 am
November 5 2003
"HEADS SHOULD ROLL":
So says Senator
Zell Miller about the leak of a Democrat
memo plotting the best way to use info from the Senate Intelligence
Committee to damage President Bush's reelection next year. We'll
see if anyone is held accountable for this gross act of partisanship,
but I won't be holding my breath.
The war has been and will continue to be a political
issue. The debate over the President's foreign policy and our
efforts in Iraq will unquestionably be the defining issue of next
year's election. But it seems to me this memo lays bare the fact
we've reached the point of all out political war in Washington.
The authors of the memo wrote that their game
plan is to:
Pull the majority along as far as we can
on issues that may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper
or questionable conduct by administration officials. We are
having some success in that regard. For example, in addition
to the president's State of the Union speech, the chairman has
agreed to look at the activities of the Office of the Secretary
of Defense as well as Secretary Bolton's office at the State
Department. The fact that the chairman supports our investigations
into these offices and co-signs our requests for information
is helpful and potentially crucial. We don't know what we will
find but our prospects for getting the access we seek is far
greater when we have the backing of the majority. (Note: we
can verbally mention some of the intriguing leads we are pursuing.)
I don't think the Democrats should be expecting
any more help from Chairman Roberts.
BAN: The President delivered some powerful remarks today upon
signing the ban on partial birth abortion. Take a read.
ROCKS THE FLAG: As expected, Dean took
a beating last night at the debate over his remarks about
the Confederate flag. He didn't back down in the debate, but today
capitulated and apologized, saying "I regret the pain
that I may have caused either to African-Americans or Southern
white voters in the beginning of this discussion."
is absolutely radioactive among the Democrat base. I'll be surprised
if this is the last we hear of it.
AFTER: Wouldn't you know it: the morning after election 2003
we wake up to find we have some technical issues. We'll be doing
our best to update the site throughout the day and recap last
night's events, so keep checking in. - T.
Bevan 8:34 am
November 4 2003
ELECTION DAY 2003: Kentucky, Mississippi and
Philadelphia are the three big races today. In Kentucky, Rep.
Ernie Fletcher has established a comfortable
8-9 point lead, as state Attorney General Ben Chandler appears
to have topped out in the polls at 44%-45% about ten days ago.
Fletcher would become the first Republican Governor in Kentucky
since 1971. A Flecther win 55% - 45% is our final
will be considerably closer, as Musgrove has run a decent campaign
and has made some headway with his characterization of Haley Barbour
as a slick Washington lobbyist. The latest
polls show a tight race with a 2-3 point lead for Barbour.
The problem for Musgrove is he can't get over 45% in the polls,
which is very bad news for an incumbent and almost always leads
to a loss. Mississippi is a very conservative state and while
Musgrove is running as a conservative and has totally eschewed
the national Democratic Party, it won't be enough. President Bush
remains extremely popular in Mississippi and was in the state
this past weekend campaigning for Barbour. Musgrove will need
a massive vote from the African-American community, which he will
get, but he will need to do better than he did in 1999 with the
state's white voters, which we suspect he will not do. Barbour
52% - Musgrove 48%.
the rematch of the very close 1999 race between John Street and
Sam Katz plays out today. But what was expected to be a close
race will probably not be that close after all, as the FBI's bugging
of Mayor Street's office essentially killed any chance Katz had
of pulling off the upset in this heavily Democratic city. Mayor
Street should win easily, 58% - 42%.
should be careful not to make too much of their likely pickups
in Kentucky and Mississippi. In 2001 the Democrats picked up statehouses
in New Jersey and Virginia and, as we saw in 2002, those contests
were of little predictive value. However, a Barbour win in Mississippi
would be bad news for the Democrats in 2004 as it would reconfirm
the trend of 2002 that even decent Democratic candidates can't
win statewide in the South. (Kentucky is less reliable as a predictive
race, because of the sex-scandal with the current Democratic governor.)
SCREWS UP: Howard Dean has been the Democratic front-runner
for some time now, but his mouth finally got him in trouble last
week with his comment:
want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in
their pickup trucks.
Now, I know
he has said this before, and I know he has said this before in
front of an African-American audience, and I know what
he means by this line and that it's not a racist comment. But
he's in the big leagues now, and as a candidate running for the
Democratic nomination this was a mistake. A very big mistake.
Expect Gephardt post-Iowa and New Hampshire, and Kerry
if he is still alive, to use this comment very effectively in
South Carolina and beyond where the black vote is extremely important.
November 3 2003
RIPPING AT THE SEAMS: We've watched the battle over the soul
of the Democrat party rage for almost three years. Now Zell Miller
has blown the debate wide open by going national (book,
the Press) with searing criticisms of his party and its current
candidates for president.
notes, the Dems' move to the left has been - with very few exceptions
- a slow, steady march that started in the late sixties. But the
debate really began again in earnest during the 2000 election
when Al Gore, desperate to climb out of Clinton's ethical and
political shadow, abandoned the mantle of "new Democrat"
and ran a populist, class warfare campaign that was in many ways
an indictment of the policies of his own administration.
in the popular vote and the disaffection among the base caused
by the chaos in Florida convinced many in the party that Gore
had hit upon the right message and a winning strategy.
September 11, 2001. In the months that followed, at the same time
the nation was still absorbing the shock of being attacked by
terrorists and coming to grips with the vision of a dangerous
new world, Democrats continued to move the party to the left by
a far-left liberal as its leader in the House.
2002 confirmed that America's attitudes and priorities changed
as a result of 9/11. We're not a 50-50 nation anymore. Yet instead
of recognizing and analyzing the implications of an historical
defeat at the polls, the Dems responded by embracing the loudest,
angriest, and most liberal voice in their party. In the subsequent
months the base of the party has virtually shut out candidates
with moderate messages and sent everyone scrambling to get further
to the left.
DEAN JUMPS THE SHARK: There's a pop culture term called "Jumping
the Shark" which refers to the point in time where something
that is cool or popular becomes a parody of itself and heads into
decline. The name comes from the episode of Happy
Days where "The Fonz" - the ultimate personification
of cool and hip on television - donned a hilariously short bathing
suit and a pair of water-skis to take on the challenge of a California
tough-guy and jump over a shark swimming in a fishing net.
week Howard Dean may have "jumped the shark" by pronouncing
himself a "metrosexual"
and the candidate for confederate
flag-waving good 'ol boys of the South all within 72 hours.
Needless to say, he's been taking some well deserved lumps.
silliness illustrates, however, is not only the irony of the primary
cycle but that the current rush to placate the far left base of
the party is in many ways a total sham. It looks like something
akin to a required kamikaze mission: you have to do it to win
the nomination but completing the mission almost guarantees defeat
in the general election.
process also smacks of opportunism the likes of which we haven't
seen in a long time. Here's fellow
Democrat Adam Smith describing Howard Dean:
to his [Dean's] decision to run for president, Smith said, Dean
was "Mr. DLC," supporting such moderate positions as a balanced
budget. But Smith said Dean saw an opportunity to jump-start
his presidential campaign by playing to party activists.
wanted someone to stand up to Bush and punch him in the eyes,"
Smith said. "He saw an opportunity and jumped. He's a totally
we have a retired general trying to turn himself inside out and
execute a bizarre Stalinesque end run around his own record so
he can have a chance to become president.
All in all
it's not a pretty sight, especially set in the context of a defining
moment in history where conviction and perseverance in spite of
political pressure are the two most important commodities our
leaders must have.
You can always count on the New York Times to keep its eye
on the ball. Just witness the 910-word
effort by Elisabeth Bumiller in today's edition which probes
the burning question on the mind of every American: who was behind
the idea for the "Mission Accomplished" banner?
more than a little desperate about attempts
to make this a big issue, and if this is the best the left
can do in ginning up new scandals and "gates" for the
Bush administration I suspect they're in for a long election season.
- T. Bevan