astounding is that despite all of these answers, a whopping 93%
of DNC members responded that George Bush made "some"
or "a lot" of difference in this year's midterms. What
do these people think Bush was talking about on the stump the
entire time? - T. Bevan
December 20, 2002
HATCH: We've been asked to review Senator Orrin Hatch's
new book, "Square Peg. Confessions of a Citizen Senator."
Last night, while reading the chapter devoted to Hatch's gaffes
and mistakes, I came across this passage. It's lengthy, but well
worth a read:
now and then you make a mistake that cannot be rectified, and
it bothers you for the rest of your career. One of the worst
decisions I have made as a senator was to vote against making
Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday...
myself that there were valid and fair reasons to vote against
the holiday. It would cost taxpayers an estimated $1 billion
each year. Very few of our nation's greatest leaders have commemorative
holidays celebrating their lives. Thomas Jefferson, Alexander
Hamilton, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, Andrew
Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower
all had yet to be singled out for commemoration. The same is
true of other African American leaders, such as Fredrick Douglass,
Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois.
I failed to see was the emotional and spiritual bond that millions
of Americans who have suffered the sting of prejudice and discrimination
felt with Dr. King. The proposed holiday was not simply a testament
to a remarkable man. It honored the courage, conviction and
dedication of all who had sacrificed themselves and even their
lives for racial freedom. I did not appreciate that the holiday
was a tribute not only to Dr. King but to those who stood with
him, who fought intolerance with compassion, hatred with love,
and physical abuse and assault with nonviolence to ensure that
America's promise of freedom and opportunity was not qualified
by race or any other discriminatory factor.
a federal holiday for Martin Luther King was the right thing
to do. My vote against it was the wrong choice. I'm grateful
I was on the losing side.
among us might conclude that Hatch, whose name was tossed around
as a possible Supreme Court nomination a while back, is proactively
going on record repudiating his vote to avoid any trouble it might
cause during a future confirmation hearing. I'm not one of those
do I think Hatch is sincere, I think his explanation underscores
what Trent Lott and some other Republicans are learning today:
when it comes to racial issues in America, it's impossible to
separate the substantive from the symbolic.
action is a classic case. A dispassionate analysis of the policy
on its merits is easy: it's discriminatory, wrong, unconstitutional
and the antithesis to a colorblind society. But the GOP has failed
to address the strong, emotional symbolism African Americans attach
to affirmative action by saying: "Yes, we recognize that
the playing field hasn't always been level, and yes there is still
work to do. Now let's sit down and work together to find ways
of helping African-Americans get ahead without resorting to the
same sort of discrimination we've been fighting against for so
make a determined effort to address the symbolic nature of affirmative
action and try to build an emotional connection with African Americans
it will be a struggle to win them over, no matter how strong the
merits of the case. Meanwhile Democrats, whose relationship with
the African American community is based almost entirely on symbolism
and emotion, will continue to win support with policies that are
actually harmful to African Americans and continue to turn out
votes by ginning up fear and anger in the black community. - T.
December 19, 2002
A LETTER'S DIFFERENCE: What a difference changing a "b"
to an "m" makes - as in changing the amount of the
insane award given to a former smoker by a California jury
from $28 billion to $28 million. That's still an
awful lot of money for doing something of your own free will for
the better part of four decades that is hazardous to your health.
we all know the legal march against fast food companies is underway,
despite the fact that 97% of consumers don't
blame McDonald's for getting them hooked on Big Macs or for
making them fat (81%). That won't stop a whole boat load full
of lawyers from taking 30% of whatever they can shakedown.
question is, "who's next?" I'm considering filing a
lawsuit against The New York Times. I read it everday and it gives
me indigestion, not to mention the way it addles my brain and
keeps me from thinking straight. The editorializing on the front
page, the rigged polls, the spiked columns. I know I should quit,
but I can't. Howell Raines has got me addicted to his product
and it's bad for my health! Anybody think I can find a lawyer
willing to take my case?
LOTT AND THE GOP: America's first black President speaks
out on Lott, Republicans, and race. There are tons of choice
quotes, but none crystallizes the Dem strategy more than this
the way the Republicans have treated Senator Lott is pretty
hypocritical since right now their policy is, in my view, inimical
to everything that this country stands for," Clinton said.
it is: Republican ideology as a whole is racist. Let's take a
quick tour down the slippery we've been on over the last two weeks
that has led us to this point:
Lott says something stupid regarding Strom Thurmond's segregationist
record contains enough votes and associations with questionable
groups in Mississippi for some to make the assumption he is
an out-and-out racist.
branded a racial bigot, Lott is then held up as proof of a systematic
racist GOP strategy in the South; one where every vote cast
for Republican candidates like Sonny Perdue, Mark Sanford or
Jeb Bush is assigned a racist motivation.
- At the
national level Republican policies including tax cuts, welfare
reform, school choice, charitable choice (and presumably other
items like a strong national defense and energy policy) become
policies driven by a racial hatred that is "inimical to
everything that this country stands for."
have it: racism in the Republican party is a fait accompli.
Over the last two weeks conservatives have demanded, prodded,
asked and even begged for Trent Lott to step aside and spare the
party and its principles the indignity of being branded racist.
Not only has Lott refused, his futile efforts at rehabilitation
have made matters worse and seriously undermined the credibility
of his entire caucus with respect to reaching out to African-Americans.
in one of the greatest egocentricities of all time, Lott
going to find a way for myself, my family, my friends, you the
people of Mississippi and America to benefit from this experience."
Is that so?
Thanks, Trent, but I think the rest of the country can do without
you forcing us to try and find some benefit in your stupidity,
racial insensitivity or your selfish drive to hold on to power.
single-handedly ceded all moral and political ground to Democrats
on a host of issues, and they are standing by, ready and willing
to drop the racial
guillotine wherever they can:
have to prove, not only to us, of course, but to the American
people that they are as sensitive to this question of racism,
this question of civil rights, this question of equal opportunity,
as they say they are," Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle
told CNN. "But whether or not they truly are depends on who
they nominate, what actions they take, how they vote."
see the argument that it's not just Trent Lott who has to prove
something, its all Republicans. And the only way Republicans can
prove they are "sensitive to the question of racism"
is to vote the way Democrats want on judges, taxes, etc.
have established the canard that even if Lott steps aside as leader,
racism in the GOP remains. Now any future vote by Republican members
will be susceptible to the charge that it's racially motivated.
- T. Bevan
December 18, 2002
THE SAGA CONTINUES: It looks like Lott
is out, even though he vows
to fight on. John
Lewis provides support, as does Rick
Santorum, but rumors abound that the White
House is working to show Lott the door. Mississippians are
divided over the issue, and GOP leaders ponder just how
much damage Lott has done to the party. And Maureen
Dowd uses the occasion to make more of a fool of herself.
I mentioned a while ago that I couldn't believe a vulnerable GOP
Senator from a state like Illinois wouldn't come out quickly and
denounce Lott's remarks. A reader emailed to add that Fitzgerald's
status as the highest elected Republican representative from the
Land of Lincoln would also add some important symbolism to a public
repudiation of segregationist policies.
two weeks later this
is what we get. The Senator admits "he needs to attract
independent and Democratic voters to win a second term,"
but he 1) didn't think there should be new leadership elections
2) still has not called for Lott to step down and 3) won't say
if he'll vote to retain Lott as leader.
Fitzgerald not wanting to publicly rebuke the leader of his party,
especially if he truly likes Trent Lott as a person and doesn't
believe he's a racist. But there is a way to unequivocally denounce
Lott's remarks without attacking him personally. Again, this isn't
just good politics, it's the right thing to do.
The release of this UN
report coincided with the arrest of suspected terrorists in
France and London
yesterday. It should be yet another wake up call to the world
that terrorism is an insidious cancer, one we haven't even come
close to eradicating yet. The fact that America hasn't been attacked
again also leads me to believe this
guy is doing a pretty good job. - T.
December 17, 2002
THE LOTT SWITCHEROO: I didn't see it, but it sounds like
on BET last night was another sorry chapter in the saga. Now
he's for affirmative action, would have voted for Martin Luther
King Jr. Day, etc. No need to point out that by doing this Lott
surrenders the argument that you can be against these things and
not be a racist. Lott went on to say that, "As majority leader,
I can move an agenda that would have things that would be helpful
to African-Americans and minorities of all kinds and all Americans."
cynical thought: now that Lott has capitulated and effectively
signaled to the CBC that he'll be at their legislative beck and
call, will they now move to save his job and claim that because
Lott is now "committed" to African-American issues any
attempt to remove him is another example of the racist GOP trying
to stymie African-American progress? I know it's a long shot,
but stranger things have happened.
POLL: Here's the headline from this morning's write up on
the LA Times' new poll on Iraq: "Most
Unconvinced on Iraq War." Sounds pretty ominous - until
you read the article:
- 58% say
they support a ground attack on Iraq
of Americans approve of the way George W. Bush is handling the
threat of terrorism in the country.
- 64% of
respondents, including 49% of Democrats, believe the United
States should reserve the right to launch a preemptive attack
against regimes that threaten the country.
- 90% of
those surveyed believe Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction
and 92% have no confidence that Iraq's 12,000 weapons declaration
And in a
article, Susan Pinkus, the Times' poll director, offers this:
than half of the American public believe George W. Bush is not
getting a balanced view of whether to go to war or not from
his advisors, but rather a more hawkish view favoring military
action in Iraq, according to a new Los Angeles Times poll. They
also believe Bush and his administration are dealing with the
war on terrorism as a reaction to events, rather than from a
clear, formulated policy...
almost three-quarters of Americans approve of the way George
W. Bush is handling the threat of terrorism in the country,
and nearly three out of five also approve of his handling the
country’s foreign affairs.
quite a Howell Raines poll hatchet job, but it looks like the
Los Angeles Times is working pretty hard to put an anti-war spin
on its results.
GOD: Speaking of Howell, this NY Times editorial captures
the glee, relief and thanks felt by Democrats everywhere over
Gore's decision not to run. I wonder if Raines wrote it himself.......-
T. Bevan 8:47am
December 16, 2002
Gore out and Hillary likely to stay on the sidelines my favorite
for the Democratic nomination is Senator John Kerry. Kerry is
sufficiently liberal for the party's nominating base, projects
an image of seriousness and gravitas, and seems poised to inherent
critical black support. Ryan
Lizza reports that "Harold Ford of Tennessee has said
he would back Kerry if his good friend Gore drops out. And NAACP
president Kweisi Mfume recently said, 'I think the Democratic
Party is going to embrace John Kerry.'"
Governor Howard Dean and Gen. Wesley Clark could possibly emerge
as serious darkhorse candidates to win the nomination, but they
certainly would have to be considered longshots at this point.
And I just don't see Edwards, Daschle, Lieberman or Gephardt beating
Kerry. So my early call is a Kerry/Edwards ticket. John
M. 4:49 pm
is not going to run for president in 2004, because he'll only
have one more chance to run for president, and his choice is going
to be to run in 2008. What he's doing is consolidating liberal
interest groups, those that have a strong influence in the primary
process, reinforcing his credentials. He's against extending the
tax cuts, making them permanent. He's trying to oppose the president
and his initiatives in Iraq. He's, you know, taking positions
for nationalized health care. So he's consolidating that base.
He'll make a decision that he's not going to run. But at the same
time, in consolidating the base, remain a player in the run-up
to 2008, and even remain a player in the selection of the nominee
Senator-elect John Sununu, Nov. 23 on CNN's Capital Gang.
When I heard
this several weeks ago I thought this was a rather persuasive
argument for why Gore would not run. I think with this decision
Gore has made a calculated gamble that his best bet to become
President is to run in 2008. First, I think Gore correctly observed
there is a large constituency in the Democratic Party that does
not want him to run. And he said as much in his 60
Minutes interview last night:
I have the energy and drive to go out there and do it again,
I think that there are a lot of people within the Democratic
Party who felt exhausted by that. Who felt like, OK, I don't
want to go through that again. And I'm frankly sensitive to
With a prospective
war with Iraq on the horizon and the specter of 9/11 still fresh
in the voters minds Gore may be politically savvy enough to realize
a rematch against President Bush in 2004 doesn't offer him very
good odds to win the Presidency. A loss in '04 would unquestionably
end Gore's political career. However, if Gore sits out this election
and the Democratic nominee gets trounced, suddenly Gore's loss
in 2000 doesn't look that bad.
sit on the sidelines in '04 enthusiastically bashing Bush, supporting
the Democrats all the while solidifying his credentials with the
liberal base of the Democratic Party. If the economy continues
to muddle along, which is very likely, or continues to get worse
(which certainly can not be ruled out) Gore suddenly is in a decent
position to become President in 2008.
Sure it will
be harder for him to win the nomination in 2008 than it would
have been in 2004, but if he were to get the nomination he has
a much better chance of actually becoming President in 2008 than
he does in 2004.
So, I agree
with Senator-elect Sununu and suspect this whole PR campaign was
orchestrated to maximize publicity and improve his standing in
the party and with the base and they made that decision sometime
shortly after the November election. It will be Hillary vs. Al
for the 2008 Democratic nomination, and in '04 they will let Kerry,
Edwards, Daschle and Gephardt run into the Bush/Rove 18-wheeler.
John M. 10:53 am