Thursday, February 19 2004
THE SECRET OF DEAN'S DEMISE REVEALED!:
By the man himself, no less. Yesterday Howard Dean started his farewell-to-the-presidency/it's-a-new-beginning speech by saying:

"And I said when I left the governor's office that if the rest of this country were like Vermont this country would be much better off.

And what we set out to do was make the rest of the country more like Vermont."

Note to Howie: Vermont is 97% white with a socialist Congressman. That's not America, it's Sweden. No thanks.

You're lucky Democrats stopped you when they did. They saved you the even greater embarrassment of being thoroughly rejected by the rest of the country in November.

MAKING SENSE OF MILITARY NUMBERS: From the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll:

Do George W. Bush’s actions while in the National Guard make you more likely or less likely to vote for him--or will they not have much effect on your vote?
More Likely 4%; Less Likely 15%; Not Much Effect 80%

Does John Kerry’s combat experience in the Vietnam War make you more likely or less likely to vote for him--or will it not have much effect on your vote?
More Likely 19%, Less Likely 2%, Not Much Effect 78%

So the Bush AWOL slander has been a slight drag on the President and John Kerry's service record in Vietnam a slight positive. That's exactly what the Democrats wanted.

Overall though, it looks like large majorities of Americans aren't going to be swayed one way or the the other by service records. But we already knew this.

The more interesting question is this one:

Do John Kerry’s antiwar activities after he returned from serving in the Vietnam War make you more likely or less likely to vote for him--or will they not have much effect on your vote?
More Likely 16%, Less Likely 18%, Not Much Effect 65%

Even though the response is a statistical wash for Kerry and a decent majority says it won't have much effect on their vote, the public is much more opinionated on this question than the ones above.

Also, at this point the public has been less exposed to Kerry's antiwar activities than his heroic service in Vietnam. Only 39% of respondents said they "heard or read a great deal" or a "moderate amount" about Kerry's antiwar activism in the Vietnam era while 61% say they have heard or read "not much" or "nothing at all" about it.

In contrast, 49% said have "heard or read a great deal" or a "moderate amount" about Kerry's Vietnam service record while 51% have heard or read "not much" or "nothing at all." (For perspective, the numbers on Bush's National Guard service are 56/43.)

Put all this together and what does it mean? I have no idea, other than it seems Americans still have very strong feelings and remain deeply divided over the war in Vietnam. Maybe we are going to have to fight Vietnam over again after all. - T. Bevan 12:40 pm | Link | Email

Wednesday, February 18 2004
THE CHEESEHEAD SURPRISE: Leave it to the cheeseheads (my wife and in-laws are from Wisconsin so I use this term with true affection) to shake up the Democratic race. At least a little bit.

John Kerry had a chance to close the deal last night and couldn't get it done. So John Edwards gets to hang around and play in the sandbox a little bit longer. That leaves open at least the theoretical possibility Edwards could find a way steal Kerry's pail and shovel (or to pick them up if Kerry drops them) in the next two weeks and end up being the nominee. It's still a long shot, but that's better than no shot at all.

Speaking of no shot at all, Howard Dean has officially - if somewhat vaguely - ended his candidacy for President. There is speculation of an endorsement of Edwards, but at this point no once can say for sure it's going to happen or that it will make much difference even if it did happen.

Despite the dramatic arc and bitterly disappointing end of his candidacy, I don't think we've seen the end of Howard Dean at the national level.

If Kerry goes down in flames this November, the anger and apoplexy that will inevitably rack Democrats throughout Bush's second term will play perfectly into his hands. He already has a tremendous head start in building a grassroots organization and you can bet next time around that Dean and his folks will learn from their mistakes.

But is it realistic for Dean to think thoughts of the Presidency again, especially with Hillary looming as the 800 lb gorilla for the Dems in '08?

This may be loony, but I can't help but think that maybe Dean's best possible path to the Presidency may not be a straight one, but may lie in taking his organization and running as someone's vice president........like Albert Gore, Jr. You want a grudge match for the soul of the party? How 'bout Al vs. Hillary four years from now?

Who knows, maybe they would hire Shrum as their consultant and Lehane as their hit man - I mean press secretary - and go for broke in 2008.

ALTER-NATE REALITY: Time for a chuckle. Here is Eric Alterman in an interview with Liberal Oasis commenting on George W. Bush:

…I’m called a Bush-hater by the Wall Street Journal, but I don’t really have any feelings about Bush personally.

I never met him [but] when I watched that movie “Journeys with George,” I found him quite charming, to tell you truth. I understood the charm of the guy.

But I don’t care if I like him or not. I don’t care if I like Clinton or not. I don’t care if I like Cheney or not.

I care, as a patriot and as an intellectual, what are the results of the policies for the country and the world.

And my view is that they are all uniformly disastrous. I can’t tell you a single good thing the guy has done for the country.

Aahh, those perky, self-styled "intellectuals." Isn't the ability to demonstrate a modicum of objectivity one of the hallmarks of a true intellectual?

And who would have guessed that letting Teddy Kennedy write the No Child Left Behind Act and increasing education spending by 48% would have sent Alterman's undies into such a bunch?

Wait, it gets better:

…Fear has its uses. I am genuinely afraid for my country, for my daughter’s future of the consequences of a second Bush term. I am genuinely afraid of it. And it’s energized me…

…I think there’s a real healthy understanding among all sensible people right now that there is only one hope for the future of this country and that is to get rid of this man, no matter who replaces him. I would be very happy to vote for Bob Dole or George Herbert Walker Bush.

He is the most dangerous man ever to occupy the American presidency in the past 100 years.

This is delusional in the extreme. "Sensible" people have "only one hope"? Liberals bemoan the fact that Bush has used fear to divide the country since 9/11, yet here they are now trying to motivate voters with talk of the Apocalypse. Alterman & Co. are just a tiny hop, skip and a jump from proclaiming George W. Bush the Antichrist. You can just feel it.

Fortunately for Alterman (and his daughter) there are serious people running the government, people devoted to keeping the country safe. John Kerry may be less offensive to Alterman's sensibilities and less "dangerous" - whatever that means - but there is no question in my mind that with Kerry as President America will also be less aggressive in her own defense and therefore ultimately less safe. But, hey, at least the French will like us again.

A STATISTIC YOU WON'T HEAR: Over the last few months, Democrats haven't missed a chance to point out that corporate profits are way up. It's their way of insinuating that big businesses are in bed with the Bush administration and together they are robbing the country blind and sticking it to little guys like me and you.

Well here's something you probably won't hear reported in the media and you certainly won't hear from Democrats (there you go being redundant again! - ed.): the U.S. Treasury reports that corporate tax revenues were up 30% in the first quarter of FY 2004.

Gee, you mean when corporations make more money they actually pay more taxes to the government too? That's a good thing for an economy trying to work its way out of a recession, right? - T. Bevan 11:59 am | Link | Email

Tuesday, February 17 2004
DING-DONG, DEAN IS DEAD:
Barring a miracle, Howard Dean is going to lose his 17th straight primary/caucus today. The National Chairman of his campaign is gone, and people will be leaving his Burlington headquarters tomorrow in droves.

Amid the wreckage of the biggest, most dramatic flameout in U.S. political history, Dean is left with nothing but questions. At the top of most people's list, of course, is "How on Earth did you spend $41 million and still fail so miserably?"

John Kerry couldn't care less why Dean failed. All he wants to know is just how much sucking up he'll have to do to get his grubby little mitts on Dean's email list. The answer is "more than he's ever done before."

But there is no question that Dean has left a stamp on this race. Last night I heard Joe Klein describe Dean as the "speed horse" in the field, which sounds just about right - especially on the war issue.

Dean forced the other candidates (the legitimate ones, anyway) to go way further to the left on the issue than they otherwise would have gone by themselves, and to alter their images and modify their behaviors in tangible, lasting ways.

In particular, I"m talking about the vote to fund the troops. Without Howard Dean, there is simply no way John Kerry or John Edwards would have voted against funding the troops in Iraq. None.

It's a vote that may end up being a very pivotal one in November.

Switching gears, it's also D-Day in Kentucky today, where Alice Forgy Kerr and Ben Chandler look to capture Ernie Fletcher's old seat in the 6th District. Smart money is on Chandler.

SurveyUSA released a poll last night showing Chandler widening his lead to 8 points over Kerr, and he's led in every poll taken in the race.

I've already shot down a preemptive effort to spin the results of this race, but you can be sure that some will try suggest that if, in fact, Chandler does go on to win today this will signify a rejection of President Bush and "his candidate" by Kentucky voters and a sign of his impending doom in November. Don't believe the hype.

THE GUARD STORY, PART 4,678: On Friday morning I wrote about the trap that had been set for President Bush on the release of his military records. By Friday evening, the White House had taken the bait and dumped something like 400 pages of records from Bush's time in the Guard.

So did this end the matter? Of course not. On Saturday morning almost every headline across the country read "Bush Releases Files, But Questions Remain."

On Sunday, Charlie Rangel firmly refused to take his foot off the slander pedal on Meet the Press:

MR. RUSSERT: So the president has not satisfied you on this issue yet?

REP. RANGEL: It's the American people. And the records have not indicated as to whether or not after all of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that it took to train this man, then why was his pilot's ability to fly suspended? Why was he able to get involved in the campaign? These are really issues especially when he says on your program that he's the war president and that he is willing to have a whole lot of Americans, over 530 lives lost, 2,000 people maimed, for a war that we didn't have to fight according to some of the experts. And now we're challenging whether or not he's properly served this country. I think these are legitimate issues.

Does that sound like someone who is interested in debating facts? Does it surprise you to learn that, despite John Kerry's feeble "protestations", the DNC says it will not stop attacking the President's service record?

The White House could produce a certified video tape of George Bush standing on the Alabama National Guard base in 1972 and it wouldn't stop the Dems from continuing to use this issue to attack the president.

Lest you still have any doubts about what's going on here, let me clue you in. Here's how liberal blogger DKos referred to the matter on Saturday night:

This story might be in its final legs, though that part about "Bush's home base in Texas declining to provide details of his activities between May 1972 to April 1973" might help keep it going a while longer.

But the damage is done. AWOL has taken a hit to his credibility. And we've got plenty more material for the press to work with. (emphasis added)

Politics can be a dirty business when it has to be. When you're desperate to beat a strong war President and the best candidate your party can produce is a liberal "internationalist" so clearly inferior to his opponent on matters of national security, then it's time to head straight for the mud pit.

Liberals have already been there for weeks and - thanks in part to the White House - they've succeeded in getting the President a bit dirty. - T. Bevan 8:00 am | Link | Email

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