February 27 2004
DEMOCRATIC DEBATE: Edwards didn't do anything
in the debate
last night to shake up the basic dynamic of the race. To be fair,
there probably is not a lot he could have done, and having Kucinich
and Sharpton to his immediate right masquerading as legitimate
candidates undermined any realistic chance he had to score points
Edwards' passivity makes me think he very much would like to take
the number two slot on the ticket. At this stage you would think
he has to be a very early front-runner.
MISSOURI, & WEST VIRGINIA: If this election is close,
these three states (and Ohio in particular) will probably decide
the election. Gephardt might therefore be a better strategic choice
for Kerry than Edwards, because Gephardt could deliver Missouri
while also helping in the strong union states of Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Michigan and West Virginia.
on the other hand, is a more attractive VP candidate than Gephardt
but I don't think he would help Kerry win one southern state.
If Kerry is going to win it is going to be with a northern electoral
strategy carrying all of Gore's states plus New Hampshire, and
then looking to pick off Bush in either Ohio, Missouri or West
Virginia. Gephardt would be the best bet to help get it done in
Missouri while also helping in Ohio and West Virginia.
GAY MARRIAGE : Al Sharpton from last night's Democratic
this is not an issue any more of just marriage. This is an issue
of human rights. And I think it is dangerous to give states
the right to deal with human rights questions. That's how we
ended up with slavery and segregation going forward a long time.
no circumstances, believe we ought to give states rights to
gay and lesbians' human rights. Whatever my personal feelings
may be about gay and lesbian marriages, unless you are prepared
to say gays and lesbians are not human beings, they should have
the same constitutional right of any other human being.
When I heard
this it occurred to me that for those who believe that gay marriage
is an issue about fundamental fairness and equality of the law,
this is really the only intellectually sound position. If this
issue is truly analogous to the old laws which barred interracial
marriage in many states (a common arguing point for the pro-gay
marriage side) then Sharpton is exactly right that leaving this
to the states would be immoral and wrong.
think for one second that this country today would stand
for the argument that it is OK for Virginia or Alabama to pass
laws barring interracial marriage? Of course not.
So if gay
marriage is fundamentally about basic civil rights for all citizens
in this country, then I don't see how gay marriage proponents
can honestly argue for a "states-rights" system that
would legally discriminate against individuals in some states.
MARRIAGE AMENDMENT: I understand the reticence to alter
the Constitution, and I myself am unsure whether I would support
the FMA. But it is disingenuous for Senator Kerry to say he is
against gay marriage and that the issue should be left up to the
is happening in the real world in Massachusetts and San Francisco,
and given the Supreme Court's decision on sodomy earlier this
year and the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution,
the reality is that if you are truly against gay marriage and
you want the laws of the nation to reflect that opposition, the
only viable option is probably an amendment to the Constitution.
do you stand? If you think this is an issue of basic human equality
then Sharpton is right and a "states-rights" position
is morally wrong. If you are against gay marriage and want the
laws to reflect that position then you are going to have to face
the uncomfortable truth that a Constitutional amendment might
be the only way to make that a reality.
question to someone who is supposedly against gay marriage would
you support an amendment to the Constitution enshrining marriage
as between one man and one woman if that was the ONLY way to
legally preserve the sanctity of marriage. Yes or No?"
If the answer
is "no" then it doesn't seem to me from a public policy
standpoint that that person is against gay marriage.
Like I said in my
post on Wednesday, I'm conflicted on whether to support amending
the Constitution. I don't think altering the foundation of our
democracy is something that should be done lightly or impulsively.
But I understand the President's reasoning and why he came to
this decision. He is taking a lot of cheap and vicious shots from
the left for what is in truth an intellectually sound and very
I don't see the problem with a compromise where marriage is legally
defined as between a man and woman, but states are left to enact
civil unions to provide all the legal equality bestowed by marriage
to committed homosexual couples.
This of course
would offend many on both the left and the right. But it seems
to make a lot of common sense as a compromise, as marriage would
remain between a man and a woman, yet committed homosexual partners
would be able to receive the same legal rights as everyone else
BY FIAT: Charles Krauthammer has an excellent
article in today's Washington Post on who really started
this Culture War.
had no desire to get involved in this issue. If not for the
activism in Boston and San Francisco, it would not be an election
issue at all. Boston and San Francisco have made the question
very stark: We are going to have national gay marriage or we
are not. "States' rights" is a phony -- and ironic -- alternative
that will not withstand constitutional muster.
the debate on the constitutional amendment because it will shift
the locus of this issue from unelected judges to where it belongs:
the House and the Senate and the 50 state legislatures. In the
end, however, I would probably vote against the amendment because
for me the sanctity of the Constitution trumps everything, even
marriage. Moreover, I would be loath to see some future democratic
consensus in favor of gay marriage (were that to come to pass)
blocked by such an amendment.
that does not render the abusive, ad hominem charges made by
the marriage revolutionaries -- that it is their opponents who
are divisive and partisan -- any less hypocritical. Gay activists
and their judges have every right to revolution. They have every
right to make their case. But they deserve to be excoriated
when, having thrown their cultural Molotov cocktail and finding
that the majority of Americans have the temerity to resist,
they cry: Culture war!
agree more. - J. McIntyre 7:12am | Link
February 26 2004
ONLY A MATTER OF THE TIMES: The expected endorsement
of John F. Kerry by the NY Times editorial page arrived
today. The most striking sentence in the editorial, however,
isn't about Kerry but about George W. Bush:
Mr. Bush himself was not well served by
the thinness of his résumé when Sept. 11 occurred.
Come again? I'd love to have Gail Collins explain
to the rest of us peasants just exactly how she thinks President
Bush's response to 9/11 was deficient.
In fact, that sentence is just a straw man set
up to contrast what the NY Times obviously feels is John Kerry's
biggest asset: his foreign policy experience. The Times says:
Mr. Kerry, one of the Senate's experts in
foreign affairs, exudes maturity and depth. He can discuss virtually
any issue of security or international affairs with authority.
What his critics see as an inability to take strong,
clear positions seems to us to reflect his appreciation that
life is not simple. He understands the nuances and
shades of gray in both foreign and domestic policy.
Everyone got that? Inability to take strong, clear
positions = intellectual depth.
It's not surprising that the Times fawns over
Kerry's tendency to be both long-winded and wonkish (can't you
feel the nostalgia for Clinton?) but their effort to dress up
his lack of conviction and history as a master equivocator as
a desirable quality to be leader of the free world fails miserably.
The only thing more laughable is this sentence:
His [Kerry's] positions come from mainstream
American thought, centrism of the old school.
I suppose this sentence rings true if you're reading
it in Manhattan, San Francisco, or Hollywood, but just about everywhere
else in the country it seems absurd in the extreme.
PLUS WHAT?: Zogby is out with a new poll this morning
confirming that Edwards
is closing on Kerry in Georgia. Edwards is still behind by
an average of about 12 points, but there is plenty of time and
two debates between now and next Tuesday.
But Edwards is going to have to do much better
than just a win in Georgia on Super Tuesday if he wants to stay
alive. Ohio looks like it might be doable, but beyond that the
pickings are pretty slim.
Who knows where Edwards would be if he had taken
CHENEY REPLACEMENT GAME: Rumors continue to swirl about
whether Dick Cheney will develop "health problems" sometime
this summer and take himself off the ticket. A Republican quoted
Reuters article says it ain't gonna happen:
"There is a better likelihood that
I will be abducted by aliens than that Cheney will get dumped
from the ticket," said one Republican official.
the little green men.... - T. Bevan 7:52 am | Link
February 25 2004
MARRIAGE: The issue of gay marriage boils down to the question
of whether homosexuality should be on an equal moral and legal
footing with heterosexuality. The core of the gay rights agenda
is to enshrine in law, as sanctioned by the state, the full and
total equality of homosexuality in comparison to heterosexuality.
Gay and lesbian activists want government policy from nursery
schools to nursing homes to force homosexuality to be treated
as totally equal to heterosexuality in everything.
with this is the vast majority of Americans don't see homosexuality
on par with heterosexuality. And guess what? That doesn't make
them bigots or homophobes.
is that even though most Americans are perfectly tolerant of gays
and lesbians, that doesn't mean they want their third or fourth
graders being taught that there is absolutely no difference between
homosexuality and heterosexuality. It's not surprising that many
people are uncomfortable at seeing homosexuality actively promoted
in schools, glorified by the media, and now sanctioned by the
most Americans want the government out of the business of casting
moral judgments and would be fine with the government remaining
agnostic on the issue of homosexuality. That means the state should
not punish or discriminate against gays and lesbians, nor should
the government cede special rights to them.
Americans, most gays and lesbians are good and decent people.
They are entitled to enjoy all the rights, freedoms and privileges
granted to every individual in this county. But they aren't entitled
to have the government proactively endorse their lifestyle as
on an equal footing with heterosexuality - unless a majority of
the public's elected representatives in Congress decide it's the
correct thing to do. And that's the rub.
intolerant in this debate are not the mean and evil "religious
right," but rather the activist left that demands the rest
of the country accept their view. Contrary to what some may say,
the President didn't seek this out as an issue, activists judges
in Massachusetts and leftist politicians in San Francisco thrust
their minority views in the country's face.
I'm conflicted about altering the Constitution and I wonder whether
there are less draconian ways to maintain the sanctity of marriage.
However, the activist courts and the full faith and credit clause
of the Constitution, maybe the FMA is the only way that will effectively
My gut tells
me that the majority of Americans would like to see marriage remain
between a man and a woman, but are open to having the states deal
with the issue of civil unions on a state by state basis. This
seems to me to be an amiable compromise that protects the ancient
tradition of marriage while also allowing individual states to
pass civil union laws that provide legal equality to homosexual
In many ways
this is exactly what President Bush has done by
calling for a constitutional amendment protecting marriage.
is a free society, which limits the role of government in the
lives of our citizens. This commitment of freedom, however,
does not require the redefinition of one of our most basic social
institutions. Our government should respect every person, and
protect the institution of marriage. There is no contradiction
between these responsibilities. We should also conduct this
difficult debate in a manner worthy of our country, without
bitterness or anger.
this with the reaction by Andrew
Sullivan, a leading proponent for gay marriage:
president launched a war today against the civil rights of gay
citizens and their families. And just as importantly, he launched
a war to defile the most sacred document in the land....
president wants our families denied civil protection and civil
acknowledgment. He wants us stigmatized not just by a law, not
just by his inability even to call us by name, not by his minions
on the religious right. He wants us stigmatized in the very
founding document of America. There can be no more profound
attack on a minority in the United States - or on the promise
of freedom that America represents....
president has now made the Republican party an emblem of exclusion
and division and intolerance...This struggle is hard but it
is also easy. The president has made it easy. He's a simple
man and he divides the world into friends and foes. He has now
made a whole group of Americans - and their families and their
friends - his enemy. We have no alternative but to defend ourselves
and our families from this attack. And we will.
If you read
the the President's
statement and then spend a few minutes reading Andrew
Sullivan's blog it becomes rather clear which side is the
- J. McIntyre 6:41am | Link
February 24 2004
THE NUMBERS: I spent a good deal of time yesterday gathering
up all the latest polling data. In case you missed them, here
are links to the new pages: Super
Tuesday Polls | More
California Polls | More
Ohio Polls | Illinois
page we created yesterday shows the Bush
v. Kerry and Bush v. Edwards matchups on a state-by-state basis.
What's especially cool about this page is that we've laid in the
final vote totals from 2000 to give a real tangible sense of how
the candidates are faring. I've reproduced a truncated version
of the chart below to show you what I mean:
As you can
see, we currently have data on 11 states; 6 won by Bush in 2000,
5 won by Gore.
President Bush is faring the same or slightly better in only two
of the states he won in 2000 (AZ + 2 points, KY even or +1), a
little bit worse in one state (NV -3 points), and considerably
worse in three states (IN -10 points, KS -13 points, NH -16 points)
On the other
side, of the 5 states Gore won in 2000, John Kerry is doing as
well or better in every single state (CA +2 points, IL even or
+2, MI even, PA even, WA +7 points).
worth noting that none of this changes anything from an electoral
college perspective. In fact, due to reapportionment, even if
the election were held today and Bush lost New Hampshire to Kerry
he would still end up with a net gain of 1 vote in the Electoral
College because of reapportionment in these eleven states.
very little comfort for a White House that has to be concerned
watching Bush's numbers deteriorating around the country. -
T. Bevan 1:15 pm | Link
QUESTION: Yesterday the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published
excerpts from an interview with John Kerry. Today on their
political weblog they
published the full interview, including this final question:
question:What's going to be this country's biggest foreign policy
challenge 10 or 15 years from now?
Kerry: It's the challenge of terror, but the challenge of terror
is more than just terror. It's the challenge of how America meets
its overall responsibilities in the world, which have an impact
on people's choice about terror. How we deal with the Middle East
peace process. How we deal with economic development in Saudi
Arabia and Egypt, where 60 of the population is under the age
of 30 and 50 percent under age of 18 -- and they're uneducated
and unemployable -- is pretty critical. If all they do is go into
madrasas [schools] and learn how to hate people, we're in trouble
for a long time to come. I don't think this administration
has made America safer in these last years, and I think that this
rhetoric about the war on terrorism is mostly that, and some
very bad decisions about how we have engaged with the world. I
think we need to reintroduce ourselves to the world, personally,
and that's how we'll meet the challenges of 20 of 30 years from
now. (Emphasis added)
challenge of terror is more than terror." "The war on
terror is mostly rhetoric." "We need to reintroduce
ourselves to the world." Hmm. I don't know about you, but
to me this response is just dripping with the sort of "root
cause", world-village Cumbaya stuff that scares me to death.
he's tough on national defense. But he has a 20-year voting record
in the U.S. Senate with plenty
of examples that say otherwise. Just last month he
stated the threat of terrorism was "exaggerated"
and that the War on Terror should be "primarily an intelligence
and law enforcement operation." Now he says the War on Terrorism
is "mostly" rhetoric.
us he'll be as tough as President Bush on terrorism, yet every
piece of evidence we have at our disposal to make a judgment about
him suggests exactly the opposite. Unless I see or hear something
different there's only one conclusion to reach: when it comes
to national security, John Kerry is a sheep in wolf's clothing.
Politics is weird. You just never know where a race is headed
or what you might end up talking about next. For example, in the
Illinois Senate race right now, everyone is fixated on Brenda
Sexton's shin. I kid you not.
Blair Hull, gazillionaire trader and current
leader of the Democratic primary field, revealed (or, more
accurately, was forced to reveal) that during his divorce back
in 1998 he had a fight with his now ex-wife. The police were called,
a report was filed, and the following day the woman filed for
an order of protection against Hull.
records remain sealed (alert to Kevin
Drum!!!!), but Hull's statement on Friday contained the following
sentence that has the press corps scratching their collective
head: "The police report from that night says that I hit
columnist Eric Zorn explores
Shingate in more detail in his blog.
THE LEDE: Dana Milbank's piece in today's Washington Post
is quite a piece of work - and I don't mean that in a good way.
First let me unbury the lede, which starts about six grafs into
the the story:
agree that economic forecasts are often unreliable, but they say
there is at least one plausible explanation for the discrepancies
of recent years: The Bush administration, like the Clinton administration
before it and like most private economists, assumed that tax revenue
and jobs would rise or fall with the gross domestic product in
the same proportions as they had in previous recoveries.
because of structural changes in the economy such as soaring gains
in productivity, the historical patterns have not held. Job growth
and tax receipts were badly underestimated in the boom of the
late 1990s, and overestimated since 2000, even as the economy
has begun to improve.
D. Reischauer, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office,
said that the administration has been "a little exuberant" in
its forecasts but that the problem is more a statistical one.
"The patterns that prevailed before don't seem to be holding in
this current recovery," Reischauer said.
released by the White House show that its overestimate of job
creation in 2003 was the largest forecast error made in at least
15 years, and its 2002 underestimate of the deficit was the largest
in at least 21 years. But the statistics show that forecast errors
began to increase considerably around 1997, under the Clinton
the Bush administration's GDP forecasts have been relatively accurate,
indicating job growth and tax receipts have shed their historical
correlation to GDP growth.
theories on predicting revenue proved themselves wildly wrong
in the late 1990s and early 2000s," said White House spokesman
Trent Duffy. "Nobody saw this happening -- not Wall Street, not
Vegas, not Poor Richard, not Nostradamus."
these six paragraphs any objective person would expect a headline
that read something like, "Changes in Economy Defy Traditional
Forecasts" or even "White House Struggles to Predict
New Economic Patterns."
What do we
get instead? "White
House Forecasts Often Miss The Mark" with the subhead,
"The administration has repeatedly overstated fiscal health,
however, is that before Milbank gets to the rational, nonpartisan
explanation for why the White House is having such trouble with
economic forecasting, he lays down what could literally be talking
points from Terry McAuliffe's desk, including a mention of WMD
and a nice plug for John Kerry:
are not isolated cases. Over three years, the administration has
repeatedly and significantly overstated the government's fiscal
health and the number of jobs the economy would create, but economists
and politicians disagree about why.
has sought to portray the economic forecasts as evidence of Bush's
dishonesty, similar to the claims of weapons of mass destruction
in Iraq that have not materialized. "Every day, this administration's
credibility gap grows wider," Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the
leading prospect to challenge Bush in November, said Friday. "They
didn't tell Americans the truth about Iraq. They didn't tell Americans
the truth about the economy. And now they're trying to manufacture
the 2.6 million manufacturing jobs they've destroyed."
the DNC advertisement in the middle of my Washington Post story,
Dana. Next time just the facts will do.
CORRECTION: In the above post I mistakenly referred to
Dana Milbank as a female. I got him confused him with Dana Priest.
MISTAKE: I like Education Secretary Rod Paige a lot and I
think the NEA as an organization does more harm than good to help
educate kids in the country, but you just
can't cross the rhetorical line that Paige crossed yesterday.
- T. Bevan 8:00am | Link
February 23 2004
PATRIOT GAMES: Don't be surprised if John Kerry fires
off a whiny letter to Joshua Muravchik for his
op-ed in this morning's Washington Post critiquing Kerry's
voting record on defense: "You wanna to debate Vietnam with
me, neocon think tank pretty boy?"
infusion of machismo is as disturbing as it is pathetic. Votes
in the United States Senate have consequences. Kerry's job as
a candidate for president is to defend his voting record, to explain
his decision making process to the American people, and to try
to provide us with the context in which those decisions were made.
It's not an easy thing to do, especially when many of his votes
now look especially troubling in a post September 11 world.
decision to stick his chest out and walk around like a lanky,
French-looking version of Robert Conrad with an Eveready Battery
on his shoulder, daring anyone to come over and knock it off.
He's decided to use his service in Vietnam as both a bludgeon
and a shield.
excited that Kerry is "being tough", "fighting
back" and "showing some spine," but we'll have
to wait and see whether the public approves of Kerry's act or
In the meantime,
the downside to Kerry's strategy is that it will invariably lead
some on the right (though not anyone associated with President
Bush's campaign I hope) to the conclusion that if they're going
to be charged with "attacking Kerry's patriotism" whether
they actually do it or not, then they might as well go ahead and
do it. I suspect this is going to be a long, ugly campaign season.
The upside to Kerry's macho man routine is that it leaves John
Edwards looking quite small and lonely at a very critical point
in the race. Edwards only has eight days left to find a way to
win somewhere and Kerry sucked up much of the media oxygen this
past weekend with his public tête à tête with Bush.
letter to the President challenging him to a debate over NAFTA
isn't quite as sexy. And that, in a nutshell, is Edwards' problem:
he's built his campaign around an issue that just doesn't have
enough horsepower to capture the nomination. To finish a close
second in a few places, yes, but not to win.
ALOOF, I'M FOCUSED: Can't resist this clip from Todd
Gillman's nice feature on John Kerry in today's Dallas Morning
the midst of a tough race, he blocks out everything but the task
at hand and is entirely capable of walking past a relative or
aide without noticing.
with politicians, people might take that as someone being aloof
or dismissive ... but that ability to focus is what makes him
such a relentless, ferocious campaigner," she [former Kerry staffer
Mary Anne Marsh] said.
be as shocked as I am at this revelation: people who are ignored
by John Kerry actually see him as "aloof" and "dismissive."
this great line from Tufts University professor Jeffrey Berry
describing Kerry's haughty manner: "He doesn't feel your pain,
but he's thinking about it."
WOE$: The Boston Globe reports that despite raising a mind-blowing
$50.3 million, Howard
Dean will end up more than half a million dollars in debt.
the FEC says that Al
Sharpton is just a few bucks shy of that same figure himself
but shows no signs of quitting the campaign - or paying off all
of his debts:
owes $38,000 to Kevin Gray, who ran his South Carolina campaign.
current manager, Charles Halloran, said, "I have no current plans
to pay Kevin Gray. . . . I can't see any value for what he was
allegedly doing over there in South Carolina..."
running in the red, Halloran said, "it's a campaign built on faith
and trust and commitment."
What else would one expect from a scam artist like Sharpton, who
has used and abused the Democratic party's most important forum
to promote himself, stay at $1,000 a night hotel rooms, eat caviar
and drink champagne? - T. Bevan 8:34am | Link