December 27, 2002
SELF-DEFENSE: You may remember Glenda Gilmore. She's the
Yale University history professor who made headlines a while back
with the notorious observation of the Bush administration and
the pending war on Iraq that, "We have met the enemy, and it is
Los Angeles Times, Gilmore co-authors
a response to Daniel
Pipes' original charge of the rampant anti-Americanism pervading
academia. Let's just say Gimore's defense is less than convincing.
PRESSURE ON FRIST: USA Today highlights the legislative
shakedown underway against Senate Majority Leader Frist by
civil rights groups:
likely to request a meeting with Frist: Congressional Black
Caucus Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md. He's glad the GOP replaced
Lott, but he wants more. "If there's no change in policy, the
person doesn't matter," he said Thursday.
This is only
the beginning of an attempt to turn any opposition to affirmative
action, minimum wage increase, extension of unemployment benefits
and a whole host of other policies into racially charged issues.
- T. Bevan 10:27 am
December 26, 2002
SECURITY GAMES: In a speech
at the Brookings Institution last week, Senator John Edwards (D-
NC) made news by attacking the Bush administration over the issue
of homeland security. "Washington is not doing enough to
make America safe," Edwards said.
the Washington Post's Bart Gellman bolstered the charge with a
page story detailing America's defenselessness and concluded
that "U.S. exposure to ruinous attack, more than 15 months
into the war with al Qaeda, remains unbounded."
here is Adam Nagourney's lede from today's
contenders for president are beginning to challenge President
Bush's record on terrorism, arguing that Mr. Bush has failed
to do enough to prevent another fatal attack on American soil
and that the nation is barely safer than it was before Sept.
to Nagourney, the Dems plan to make the issue a "central
theme" in the 2004 elections. Is this smart politics?
In some ways,
it is. By focusing on homeland security Democrats get to talk
tough on security issues and terrorism without getting into a
discussion of the wider War on Terror and matters of international
foreign policy where they traditionally lack credibility with
the public. Homeland security can also be seen as a plausible
extension to the portfolio of domestic issues where Democrats
score well with the American public and it also offers an irresistible
upside for Democrats: expansion of the federal government, more
spending, and more civil service jobs. Perhaps most importantly,
harping on America's lack of domestic defenses to terrorism pushes
the public's emotional buttons of fear and vulnerability - very
powerful tools for generating votes and something the Democrats
are well versed in exploiting.
problem with this strategy is that it only gains traction if America
is attacked again. If the US doesn't suffer another attack, if
the Justice Department and the FBI continue to make headlines
by arresting suspected terrorists and investigating/shutting down
Islamic charities that funnel money to terrorists, and if civil
libertarians continue to assert that the government is going too
far in its effort to crack down on terrorists domestically, it's
hard to see how the argument will make even the slightest dent
in President Bush.
But no matter
how cynical the strategy, like most other things politics is often
about playing the odds. And realistically, the odds of another
attack on America in the next 18 months are fairly high - and
they will probably increase as the election nears and terrorist
groups (or other violent radicals who hate the Bush administration)
may come to see another attack as a possible chance to effect
the outcome of the election.
a thing come to pass, Democrats will be ready to take advantage.
I think, however, the opportunity to capitalize on another terrorist
attack may be less than the Dems think and that they may be underestimating
the emotional bond and the trust the public has in this President.
It surely wouldn't be the first time Democrats have underestimated
how America feels about him.
We took the day off yesterday, but here's a nice
Christmas Day column by Austin Bay that's worth a retroactive
post. - T. Bevan 10:00
December 24, 2002
FRIST'S MISSED OPPORTUNITY: Watching Bill Frist's news
conference yesterday I couldn't help but think of what a great
opportunity he was missing. Instead of coming out and tackling
the issue of race head on, Frist made a couple of vague references
"healing" and to the "trying times" of the
last two weeks but then basically said "let's all go home
and enjoy the holidays." He didn't offer to elaborate on
why the last weeks were "trying" and he didn't take
Why go through
the very public, painful effort of forcing one of your own leaders
to step down for racial insensitivity and then not take the time
to reaffirm the party's position regarding race in unambiguous
last few weeks have taught us that America's past, particularly
with respect to race, still represents a difficult and emotional
chapter in our nation's history. And while we can and should
both acknowledge the scars of the past and continue to learn
from them, we should also not forget to celebrate how far America
has come and continue to focus our energies on moving even further
forward into the future.
remains the greatest country on earth, and we learn anew each
day that her greatest strength is diversity, tolerance, and
a belief in the freedom and equality of all of her citizens.
As Republicans, we are steadfastly committed to equal rights
for all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion.
We are committed to equal opportunity for every American, including
access to a quality education, affordable health care and to
promoting a strong economy that will provide jobs to every willing
and able citizen.
minutes ago on the phone my colleagues and I unanimously reaffirmed
our commitment to these Republican ideals and to our heritage
as the party of Abraham Lincoln. Our coming agenda will reflect
a set of ambitious, innovative ideas to achieve these goals.
I'm not a speech writer -but you get the point. It's seems like
a case study for Politics 101: Define yourself before somebody
else defines you.
across as smart, sincere and ready to work hard to lead the GOP
forward. However, I think the moment called for something more:
it was a chance for the GOP to speak openly and directly about
race, to take a step to disassociate itself from some of the ugly
racial politics of the past and to reaffirm a commitment to equality
and opportunity for all citizens. The bad news is that Frist missed
that chance yesterday. The good news is that he'll get plenty
more. - T. Bevan 8:15am
December 23, 2002
AND THE DEMS' OVERSTEP: I'm sure Trent Lott is devastated
and angry. It has to be hard to watch your career crumble - not
to mention being held up as the GOP's racist poster boy by those
on the left. But it's still hard to square his
claim of falling into a "trap" set by his political
enemies when it was really conservatives who gave the story life
and kept the pressure on by demanding that Lott step down.
said, I think Bill Kristol was right when he said this weekend
that Democrats are on the verge of "wildly overplaying their
hand" with respect to the Lott affair. Hillary Clinton's
statement offered the implied accusation that Lindsey Graham
and Saxby Chambliss were elected by virtue of running racist campaigns.
Senator Clinton followed with this wholesale indictment of the
anyone thinks that one person stepping down from a leadership
position cleanses the Republican Party of their constant exploitation
of race, then I think you're naive."
screed today (The
Other Trent Lotts) is similarly hysterical and libelous:
thrown Trent Lott overboard, Republican leaders seem to think
they are now absolved of any further responsibility for the
racism and ethnic insensitivity that have tainted their party.
The problem is now supposed to go away.
problem isn't going away because Republican leaders haven't
rid themselves of the habit of playing to the closet racists
and the Confederate flag-waving yahoos who mean so much to the
G.O.P. For 40 years the party has gone out of its way to court
the enemies of black people. It's an offense for which it should
be begging forgiveness.
have made tremendous progress on matters of racial and ethnic
tolerance over the past three or four decades. But those gains
were made in spite of the ugly, backward, divisive and destructive
behavior of many, many politicians in the Republican Party,
including those at the very top."
to see how such ugly rhetoric won't have consequences for the
Dems. This effort to sell the "big lie" to the public
that all Republicans (or even a majority of Republicans) are racists
will collapse under the weight of its own untruthfulness. The
American people, and particularly the constituents of Senators
like Lincoln Chafee, Olympia Snowe, Gordon Smith, John McCain,
or Peter Fitzgerald are not going to be convinced their Republican
representatives are either overt or covert racists.
most Southerners (both Republicans and Democrats) aren't racists
and won't take too kindly to the flood of righteous indignation
by Northern liberals branding them all as such or trying to draw
on the scarred racial history of the South to score political
points with the national liberal base. It's an incredibly divisive
move and one that will make it that much harder for them to be
competitive in the future. - T.
Bevan 9:26 am