January 9 2004
ROCK THE VOTE: It's come to our attention that the Elder at
Libertas is conducting a friendly little poll asking which
of Hugh Hewitt's
regular radio guests "would most be missed if they didn't
make their weekly appearance." As most of you are aware,
RCP's own John McIntyre is one of those weekly guests.
stand right now, John is running comfortably ahead of Howie Kurtz,
Peter Beinart, and Erwin Chemerinsky and just a few votes behind
Claudia Rosett and Professor Bainbridge.
like Mark Steyn is running away with the thing, though I've heard
rumors that 98.99% of his votes are originating from the www.steynonline.com
IP address. It's so typical of those right-wing warmongers to
hijack the democratic process, you know?
you've got an extra second and you're so inclined, you can vote
for John by clicking here.
A SECOND LOOK: Adam
Nagourney and Carl Hulse suggest in today's NY Times that
a number of Iowa Democrats are reevaluting their initial support
of Howard Dean:
in dozens of conversations with voters across central Iowa over
the past three days, it became clear that some Democrats are
taking a second look at the doctor from Vermont whose candidacy
has transformed the Democratic presidential contest.
qualms could benefit Senator John Edwards of North Carolina
and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Both were often mentioned
by voters as strong alternatives to Dr. Dean.
like there might be the tiniest bit of support for this theory
in one of the two
new polls released out of Iowa yesterday. SurveyUSA has Kerry
and Edwards improving a couple of ticks from their previous position
and Dean sliding just a bit, but it's really hard to say.
is in fact a reevaluation of Dean taking place among voters it
will certainly be helped along by two other items in the news
this morning. The first is this
story, which reports that while appearing on a Canadian television
show in 2000 discussing politics, Dean described the Iowa caucuses
as a "waste of time" and "dominated by the special
interests." It will be interesting to see Mr. "I Just
Tell It Like It Is" do damage control on this one, and it
may cause a few more defections to Kerry or Edwards.
story of note is the new AP-Ipsos
poll out this morning with the following head-to-head numbers:
54%, Dean 39%
Bush 54%, Kerry 37%
Bush 56%, Gephardt 35%
Bush 49%, Clark 42%
poll this week showing Dean getting absolutely shellacked
by the President in a head-to-head match up. Clark's strength
against Bush relative to the rest of the field should keep the
"reevaluation process" of Dean in motion around the
But it also
presents a special dilemma for some Iowans. If you're a Clark
supporter in Iowa (the KCCI
poll released yesterday showed 3% support for Clark though
it could be more than that) or if you're a pragmatic undecided
who is concerned first and foremost with beating George W. Bush
in November and it's looking more and more like Clark might be
your party's best bet, who do you cast your vote for on January
the answer is you throw your lot in with Gephardt and try to knock
Dean off in Iowa and hope that leads to a really strong showing
for Clark in New Hampshire eight days later.
FOR KATHERINE: The entire country waits in breathless anticipation
for Katherine Harris to decide if she wants to run for Senate.
Looks like we'll
have to wait a bit more.
TEMPORARY WORKER PROGRAM: I know we said we'd comment on this
today, but we're going to have to punt again until Monday. Sorry.
Instead I'll have to refer you to the Wall
Street Journal, which tackles the issue this morning with
the usual verve. - T. Bevan 8:23 am | Link
January 8 2004
LATE NIGHT BONUS BLOG: I hardly ever blog at night,
but I have a few minutes to spare on a couple of very spare thoughts.
morning I forgot to mention John Rowland's mea culpa maximus
last night. You can read
it/watch it here. The speech was about 7 minutes long, which
ended up being about 4 minutes too many. I'm all for public apologies,
repentence, and displays of contrition but this one struck me
as too much. Long after viewers had gotten the point (he's messed
up, he's sorry, he wants to keep his job) Rowland just kept going
and going: "Is there some good to come from all of this?
Will I be a better person? Am I being tested?' Ugh. I don't know
how the people of Connecticut will take Rowland's speech, but
all I could think of at the end was "please, somebody make
see that Robert
Tagorda and Kevin
Drum (excellent bloggers both, by the way) have taken up a
mini discussion of our selection of the LA
Times as Op-Eddy Runner Up for the Most Overrated Editorial/Opinion
Page Award - Large Market. I must confess that they're both right,
we probably did mislabel or mischaracterize the award. I don't
think the LAT editorial/opinion section is generally held in high
esteem, so it's therefore pretty hard to label them "overrated."
the idea for the Op-Eddys started as a quest to rank editorial
page and the commentary/opinion sections of the the top 50 online
newspapers. Though this proved to be too difficult and time consuming,
we still wanted to recognize a few papers (like the SA Express-News,
Seattle Times, etc) that we felt were among the better ones around
and that were, in our opinion, somewhat underrated. This led us
to create the converse category of "overrated" editorial/opinion
pages, which in our minds meant editorial/opinion pages that either
lack the influence they should have by virtue of their size (like
the Detroit Free-Press) or those that possess an influence that's
out of balance with the quality of the content appearing in them
(like the LA Times). We also didn't conceive of the idea of the
Op-Eddys as a vehicle to slam papers and we felt that "best"
and "worst" came off a bit harsh. (You'll
notice we dropped that inhibition when it came to dishing out
awards to columnists, in part because it the underrated/overrated
labels didn't fit as well. Mark Steyn underrated? Impossible!)
All of this
may or may not make any sense. Then again, it doesn't necessarily
have to, now does it? Next year we plan on making the selection
process even more convoluted and mysterious by creating a complex
formula modeled after the BCS to caluclate strength of editorial
schedule, circulation rankings, and God only knows what else.
See you tomorrow. - T. Bevan 11:15pm | Link
THE GRAND OP-EDDYS: Of course we saved the best for last.
Here are our final Op-Eddy
selections for 2003. Congratulations to all the winners.
IN THE WELL: Question
# 15 from the CNN/USAT/Gallup Poll released yesterday:
comes closest to your view of the way George W. Bush won the
2000 presidential election?
Won Fair and Square: 49%
Won on Technicality: 31%
Stole the Election: 18%
No Opinion: 2%
20% of the voting public - and I'll go out on a limb here and
say they're all Democrats - still believe George W. Bush "stole"
the 2000 election. That's a pretty serious number of people who
remain heavily invested in a fantasy - and it's proving to be
quite a destructive one at that.
recap the three core elements constituting the "stolen election"
myth many Dems still cling to. You can get a full refresher course
by reading this
lengthy but thorough piece by Richard Baehr and this
one by John Berlau, but I'll go ahead and recap them anyway:
Gore won Florida
Fact: Under any counting method used - even the most liberal
which included pregnant, dimpled, and hanging chads - Bush NEVER
trailed Gore in Florida. Not once, and not even for a single vote.
Even the exhaustive studies done after the election by media groups
failed to produce any evidence that Gore tallied more votes than
Bush in Florida.
The Supreme Court "Appointed" Bush
Fact: Even the general public has come to accept the idea
that Bush v. Gore was simply a 5-4 decision. Among many Democrats,
the decision is seen as a coup d'etat by the conservative block
of the court. In fact, the Bush v. Gore case contained two decisions,
one of which ruled by a 7-2 margin against the Florida Supreme
Court's ambiguous, extralegal mandate to count undervotes.
African-American Voters in Florida Were Systematically Disenfranchised
Fact: Despite the best efforts of some Democrats, including
Mary Frances Berry's gratuitous grandstanding as head of the US
Civil Rights Commission, not a single shred of evidence has
been produced demonstrating that African-American voters were
harassed, intimidated, or otherwise prevented from voting. Even
the infamous "voter roll purge" that Dems cite as proof
is nonsense: Berlau
reports the mandate for purging felons from Florida's voting
rolls "was passed into law in 1998, sponsored by two Democratic
legislators and signed by Democratic governor Lawton Chiles, Jeb
Bush's predecessor. The law was passed in response to the 1997
Miami mayoral election that was overturned by a court due to widespread
fraud, with votes from disqualified felons and dead people."
any of these facts, the stolen election myth remains at the root
of the Bush-hating psychosis gripping the Dem base. The President's
response to 9/11 and the War in Iraq remain the current, conscious
objects of their apoplexy, of course, but right beneath the surface
is the conviction that "this warmonger isn't even the
legitimate leader of the country."
is that a few of the people most responsible for wiring the Dem
base with this toxic, bloody-shirt mentality over the last three
years, Terry McAuliffe, Dick Gephardt, and Joe Lieberman among
them, now find themselves pushed to the verge of obsolescence
by it. In many ways Howard Dean is a monster of their own making,
and it remains to be seen whether Dean ends up harnessing this
mentality to save the Democratic party, or to kill it.
PLAN: We've received a few emails asking for our thoughts
temporary worker program, but we've run out of time this morning.
Here's the President's
address from yesterday. We'll have some comments on the matter
- T. Bevan 8:08 am | Link
January 7 2004
KRISTOF'S ERROR: From
his column today:
Howard Dean is grasping for faith in a way that is just as tasteless
as Mr. Cheney's Christmas card. Dr. Dean bragged to reporters
that he knows much about the Bible — and proceeded to say that
his favorite New Testament book is Job. Anyone who cites Job
as a New Testament book should be scolded not just for religious
phoniness but also for appalling ignorance of Western civilization
— on a par with Mr. Bush's calling Greeks "Grecians."
I guess word
hasn't filtered up to the People's Republic of Manhattan that
"Grecians" is, in fact, a perfectly
proper term and synonym for "Greek." Bush may or
may not have known this at the time and the fact he didn't use
the most common word available to describe people who live in
Greece may or may not demonstrate an "appalling ignorance
of Western civilization."
obviously drawn this conclusion, but in this instance he's done
it for the wrong reason. Even if Bush got it right by accident,
that's not quite the same as getting something demonstrably an
unequivocally wrong like putting Job in the New Testament. Note
to Kristof: fact checking before slamming people for being stupid
is usually a good policy. - T. Bevan 1:15pm | Link
CLARK BOOMLET: Looks like Wes Clark has got himself some mojo.
The latest ARG
tracking poll out of New Hampshire showed Clark pulling into
a dead-on tie with 3-point lead over John Kerry, and this
morning we see he's pulled to within 4 points of Dean in the latest
CNN/USA Today/Gallup national poll.
Clark bandwagon gets too loaded down, let's remember a few facts
about Clark: 1) he isn't competing in Iowa, 2) he is still probably
going to lose to Dean in New Hampshire on the order of at least
10 points or more and 3) national polls mean nothing.
all those caveats out of the way, let's do some serious Clark
building. He's the only guy with enough resources ($10 million
last quarter) to come close to competing with Dean right now.
That could change quickly, of course, but at this point it seems
ahead at the state polls, Clark is well within striking distance
of Dean in some critical post-New Hampshire states with plenty
of voters still undecided:
|State - Primary Date
|South Carolina - February 3
|Arizona - February 3
|Oklahoma - February 3
"drop-out factor" will be working in Clark's favor and
against Dean. If any of the other major candidates - with the
possible exception of John Kerry - decide to call it quits anytime
before February 3, their support will most likely migrate disproportionately
which isn't completely far fetched, is that Dick Gephardt stumbles
to a third place finish in Iowa, his money and enthusiasm evaporate
and he decides to pull the plug. This would give Clark an additional
boost (though perhaps not a decisive one) in the states listed
can ride a strong second place showing out of New Hampshire to
victories in SC, AZ, and OK on February 3, we're going to have
ourselves one heck of a race.
OTHER SIDE: For what it's worth (which isn't much this far
from election day) Bush's
numbers in the aforementioned USA Today poll look good: 60%
approval rating and he thumps Dean 59-37 in a head-to-head match
up. The story about the Bush campaign you don't want to miss is
one from Wayne Slater in today's Dallas Morning News (reg
Click here to see our
selections for the best and worst large market editorial/opinion
pages of 2003. Tomorrow we'll unveil the coveted Op-Eddys for
Editorial/Opinion page of the year and the best and worst columnists
IS TOAST: Yesterday Republican Governor of Connecticut John
Rowland was hit
with a federal subpoena for all records related to the growing
scandal over gifts he apparently received (improvements at his
summer cottage, etc) and then lied about. This happened just hours
after Rowland met with a group of state legislators and told them
he isn't going to resign.
the voters beg to differ. A new
Q Poll out this morning shows 56% of Connecticut voters say
the Governor should step down. Sixty-two percent now disapprove
of the way he's handling his job and an astonishing 8 out of 10
voters say he's not "honest and trustworthy." The numbers
can't get much worse than that.
news for Rowland is that he may not have to resign, since there's
a move inside the statehouse to impeach him. The bad news, of
course, is that he may be going to jail. Rowland has asked for
five minutes of television time this evening to plead his case
to the public, but don't be surprised if he changes his mind and
uses the opportunity to step down. - T. Bevan 8:51 am | Link
January 6 2004
THE 1st ANNUAL RCP OP-EDDY AWARDS: I would say that you've
been breathlessly awaiting the announcement of the RCP Op-Eddys,
but since you didn't know they were coming that can't really be
the case, can it? Nevertheless, here they are. Over the next few
days we'll roll out our choices for the most underrated and overrated
editorial/opinion pages in the country, as well as awards for
the best and worst columnists of 2003.
some ground rules. For the op-ed page awards we limited ourselves
to the Top 50 newspapers in the country as ranked by circulation
(You can view a list by clicking
here). Then to make things a bit more fair we divided the
awards into large market (those ranked in top 25) and small market
(those ranked in the bottom 25). Second, papers were judged on
the overall quality of both their editorial writing and the op-ed
columns appearing in the paper, which in most cases includes in-house
columnists, guest opinion pieces, and syndicated columnists. We
made our selections based solely upon the content we see online
(in some cases op-ed pages look different in print), and the way
in which that content is assembled in an easily digestable format.
thing. This was not nearly as easy as we thought it would be.
Every paper has its pluses and minuses, and we've used stuff from
all of them at one point or another. We don't mean to unfairly
slam anyone in these awards, only to present our opinions as people
who've been visiting the web sites of these papers with a critical
eye every single day for almost four years now. So without further
ado, let's get to this year's Op-Eddy winners for Small Market
UNDERRATED EDITORIAL/OPINION PAGE - SMALL MARKET (Ranked 26-50
by Circulation): San Antonio Express-News
I'm constantly surprised by the SA Express-News. Decent editorials
combined with headliner Austin Bay and solid supporting cast including
columnists Jonathan Gurwitz, J. Francis Gardner and Jan Jarboe
Russell make the page one of our must visits every day. They recently
redesigned their site as well which makes the page even easier
Up: Seattle Times
James Vesely and his team run a very solid page. The
ST delivers strong editorials with a nice mix of syndicated, guest
and in-house opinion pieces that usually produces something worth
note for a national audience a few times a week.
Honorable Mention: Orlando Sentinel
We probably would have given the OS the Op-Eddy if they hadn't
closed the site down via subscription earlier this year. Big,
big mistake, guys. The Sentinel has a strong line-up of columnists
led by Kathleen Parker (who you can read on Townhall) and Peter
Brown (who you can't read anywhere else at the moment) with Myriam
Marquez, John Bersia and Mark Silva providing support and Jonah
Goldberg and Ben Shapiro running in frequent syndication.
EDITORIAL/OPINION PAGE - SMALL MARKET (Ranked 26-50 by Circulation):
They improved the look of their online page recently but the content
still sucks. We posted a decent column on redistricting by Al
Knight a while back, but I can't remember the last time we found
something truly interesting there. Perhaps we just have unreasonably
high expectations for the largest paper in the state of Colorado,
or maybe the Post just suffers in comparison to its cross-town
rival The Rocky Mountain News. Either way, they could use a real
solid revamp on the content side soon.
Runner Up: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Again, maybe our expectations are too high or maybe it's just
the version that appears online, but the St. Louis PD is just
a nightmare. The guest columnist secion is almost always empty,
their syndicated columnist archives are frequently out of date
and their staff columnists offer little to get excited about.
Give them credit for being one of the papers to publish James
Lileks' syndicated column - but that only gets you so far.
Honorable Mention: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel,
Two papers that should be worth going to but aren't. The Milwaukee
JS site is like crawling through barbed wire, usually with no
payoff at the end. The Louisville CJ is much more user friendly,
but that doesn't make up for the lack of interesting content.
Op-Eddys for the most underrated and overrated large market papers.
Normally we like Ralph Peters' columns and his perspective on
the war. But we took a pass on this
one from yesterday's NY Post where he seemed to come completely
unhinged, likening Dean supporters to an "Internet Gestapo"
and comparing the former Governor of Vermont to both Goebbels
let's leave this kind of nasty stuff to the folks at MoveOn.org,
FOR HARKIN: The "big news" that leaked out yesterday
is that Bill Bradley will
endorse Howard Dean today in Des Moines. My response to this
news was an emphatic "so what?"
I suppose getting Bradley's endorsement is better than not getting
it, but as a practical matter it doesn't mean squat. It's not
like there's a whole herd of former Bradley supporters out there
in Iowa and New Hampshire just waiting for his signal on who to
vote for. Bradley's endorsement may help Dean win New Jersey,
but the nomination is going to be locked down long before the
Garden State's June 8 primary.
endorsement story is this
one. Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack said yesterday he will not
endorse any of the Dem candidates for president. This leaves Senator
Tom Harkin as the Big Kahuna of endorsements, and he's been hemming
and hawing over the past few weeks on what to do.
endorsement of either Dean, Gephardt or Kerry could shape the
outcome of the caucuses in a meaningful way. Right now, it looks
as if Harkin is leaning toward supporting Dean, which could very
well seal Gephardt's fate. Harkin's press secretary says the Senator
is "thinking about it" and that "he'll make a decision
soon." - T. Bevan 7:34 am | Link
January 5 2004
LET THE GAMES BEGIN: Some quick thoughts on
the Democrat primary race. Dean continues to remain the favorite
to win the nomination, and yesterday's debate
in Iowa did little to spoil Dean's status as the field's front-runner.
In my mind
the biggest development these last three weeks is the reemergence
of Wesley Clark as a serious contender for the nomination. Though
Clark was not in the Iowa debate, he made an appearance on Meet
the Press and (from a Democratic voter's standpoint) gave
a solid performance. Clark raised an impressive 10 million dollars
in the fourth quarter and is definitely in the lead to become
the main anti-Dean candidate.
who I had always thought was positioned the best to become the
#1 anti-Dean candidate, continues to run a campaign that is its
own "miserable failure." Gephardt's problem is that
he refuses to treat his pro-war vote as a positive. If he were
attacking Dean from the right on national security the way Lieberman
is going after the Vermont Governor he would be in considerably
better shape. Instead, it appears as if he's just going though
the motions. He has to have a win in Iowa and a second
place finish in South Carolina or he's finished.
all people actually appears to have a bit of momentum, after falling
from front-runner status last year to essentially dead two months
ago. Ironically, expectations are now so low he may be the leading
candidate to get tagged with the all important "better than
expected" mantle. If he can manage a strong third or even
an upset second in Iowa, and then follow that up with a "better
than expected" showing in New Hampshire. He may just be able
to spin the press that he's the guy with the Big Mo. Don't get
me wrong, he's a long shot now and this is probably just a dead-cat
bounce, but at least he's got a pulse back and finally appears
to have a plan.
In many ways
Edwards is poised to emerge from behind the pack with respectable
showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, and then a breakout performance
in South Carolina. However, I just can't get around my gut feeling
that irrespective of how well he may do in this or that state,
there is little chance he will win the nomination. He's running
for VP, and I think he is going to be disappointed there as well.
has always had little better than no chance of winning the nomination,
and if he were somehow to become the nominee there would be a
third-party candidate on the left who would get over 10% in the
odds for most likely Democratic ticket:
As you can
see I think there is a 90% likelihood that the Democrat nominee
will be either Dean or Clark. This of course assumes that Hillary
stays out of the race, which is a good bet as long as the Dow
stays above 9,000.
J. McIntyre 7:05 am | Link