February 7 2003
BILL AND LARRY: I only watched a few moments of Bill
Clinton being interviewed by Larry King last night - not because
I had something better to do but because I simply couldn't stomach
the former President's self-congratulatory answers to almost every
example of what I'm talking about:
Should we stay with humans going into space?
I believe so. I gave the approval for the Israeli astronaut
Really? It started then.
And on the day that he went up, former Prime Minister Barak
called and thanked me and reminded me that he and I had done
this deal to allow this remarkable human being to go into space.
other person take such a simple, general question about the US
manned space flight program and turn it into a paean to himself?
let me just say that, you mentioned Rwanda. One of the reasons
there's a picture of me in a clinic in Rwanda with all these
women nursing their newborns is they at least at this clinic
have the medicine to stop mother to child transmission.
the world has been alerted to the fact there is a picture of Bill
Clinton in an AIDS clinic somewhere in Rwanda!
need for validation - especially as he watches his presidency
shrink in comparison to George W. Bush's - is so palpable it's
both amusing and frightening. You can feel Clinton trying to work
the rhetorical eraser on history, smudging what's written just
enough to diffuse culpability for the problems we now face on
Iraq, al-Qaeda, and North Korea.
to say that Clinton and his administration are 100% responsible
for the many dangerous situations America now faces in the world,
only that it's obvious the former President feels his record needs
defending. And it does.
Some quantitative proof of Clinton's egocentricity - if such a
thing is even needed: A reader sends word he sifted through the
Larry King transcript and found that Clinton used the personal
pronoun "I" a whopping 197 times.
made a similar point on Fox News last week contrasting Bush's
speech memorializing the Columbia astronauts (one mention of the
word "I" in the entire speech) with Clinton's speech
in Oklahoma City after the 1995 bombing (eleven mentions of "I"
and three mentions of "Hillary and I").
MOVES THE BALL: We've posted a lot of this commentary to the
front page over the last few days, but here is a nice
summary from the Washington Times on the media's reaction
to Powell's speech.
story from the WT catalogues the Dem presidential crop's reaction.
The net result of the Powell speech is that it solidified the
split within the Democrat caucus on the issue of war with Iraq.
The serious presidential contenders are now in support, while
the more far-left members (and a solid portion of the rank and
file) remain opposed. The Dems realize they will have to live
with this split and, as a result, they're already trying to shift
the debate to focus on the question of "what happens in Iraq
after the war?" and criticizing Bush's "failure"
to deal with the formidable threat posed by North Korea. - T.
Bevan 8:43 am
February 6 2003
FLAG IS BACK: Terry
Neal reports that the South Carolina Confederate flag issue
is back, and now it's the Democratic presidential hopefuls who
are squirming. Gephardt and Dean have already put their foot in
it, and John Edwards has proposed - the way only John Edwards
can - a "symbolic" boycott to pander to the state NAACP.
Just wait 'til Al Sharpton gets to town......
DEMOCRAT: Which Democrat Senator said the following yesterday
about Miguel Estrada?
qualified, I'm going to vote for him and I'm opposed to a filibuster."
The sad part
is that there are only about 2 or 3 Democrats to choose from.
It was John
of the Senate Democrats threw
themselves on the ground and wailed over the Estrada nomination.
I still get the feeling, however, they will have a tough time
getting the 41 votes needed to sustain a filibuster - seen as
the nuclear mushroom cloud of Senate procedure - and will save
it for Pickering or for Bush's first Supreme Court nomination.
problem with this strategy is if Bush's first Supreme Court nominee
turns out to be....Miguel Estrada. Republicans will immediately
point out that Estrada was good enough to be confirmed to a lifetime
appoint on the DC circuit without a filibuster the first time
and chastise the Democrats for playing politics. It's a tough
spot and I think it's driving the Dems (especially Tom Daschle)
crazy that Bush has put them in another box.
POLL: Rick from Minnesota wants to make sure we post this
poll from the LA Times showing President Bush's reelect number
slipping to under 50%."I realize this article doesn't kiss
Bush's ass like you'd hope," he says, "but you should
post it too." Done.
is a liberal. Actually, we get quite a few liberals visiting the
site which is a testament (we think) to the fact we try to present
some of the best, most thoughtful commentary out there every day.
however, Rick didn't send me these two articles which also came
from today's Times poll:
Opposition to Racial Preferences Gets Big Support
Nowhere Near Eliminating Racism, But Race-Based Affirmative
Action Not the Answer
Nor did Rick
mention this little tidbit buried in the story on Bush's reelect
Bush's job approval rating has fallen in recent months, it remains
at 56% in the Times poll. Matthew Dowd, director of polling
at the Republican National Committee, said that that job approval
rating is the best predictor of Bush's 2004 support because
increasing cynicism about elected officials is lowering the
share of voters who tell pollsters they will back any incumbent.
Dowd noted that no president with an approval rating above 50%
on election day has been defeated for a second term. "Even at
a point where ... people are nervous and concerned about the
economy, [Bush] still has a job approval that any president
would love," Dowd said.
line is that it's way, way too early to speculate on President
Bush's reelection prospects. His numbers will go up and down a
dozen more times between now and next September, which is when
it really matters. In the meantime, at least we've made Rick happy.
- T. Bevan 7:51
February 5 2003
THE CASE IS MADE: As expected, Powell's presentation laid
out a pretty comprehensive case against Hussein's regime and
their continued violation of UN resolutions in pursuing biological,
chemical and nuclear weapons. Powell also offered some fairly
compelling evidence of Iraqi links to terrorist organizations,
including top operatives of al-Qaeda, and he topped the whole
thing off by reminding UN members of Saddam's deplorable record
on human rights. All in all it was a masterful job, presented
in a thoughtful and forceful way by one of the most highly respected
diplomats in the world.
I must say,
however, I thought Jack
Straw's statement in response to Powell's presentation was
the coup de grace. It distilled Powell's evidence into the inescapable
moral choice the UN now faces, and presented that choice against
the stark backdrop of history:
United Nations' pre-war predecessor, the League of Nations,
had the same fine ideals as the United Nations, but the league
failed because it could not create actions from its words. It
could not back diplomacy with a credible threat and where necessary,
the use of force.
evils went unchecked. Tyrants became emboldened. Then greater
evils were unleashed.
stage good men said, "Wait, the evil is not big enough to challenge."
Then before their eyes, the evil became too big to challenge.
We slipped slowly down a slope, never noticing how far we had
gone until it was too late.
- T. Bevan 12:53pm
SHOWTIME AT THE UN: Colin Powell is going to lay
down the administration's cards (some of them anyway) before
the UN this morning. All indications are that Powell will construct
a compelling case, built solely with circumstantial evidence,
of Iraqi possession of WMD's and of noncompliance with UN Resolution
1441. As far as we know there will be no smoking gun.
CNN is also
reporting that Powell
will trace the movement of al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq but
won't allege "an alliance." It's probably worth noting
that Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw reiterated
yesterday that both he and PM Tony Blair are convinced of
links between Iraq and al-Qaeda, but the extent of those links
to Powell. According to this
report, UN envoys are demanding "undeniable evidence"
of Iraq's WMD's. They aren't going to get it. But Powell will
provide UN members with a convincing argument against Iraq and
a clear choice: ignore the evidence and trust Saddam (see below),
or acknowledge that Saddam remains in violation of international
law and accept the obligation to disarm him with the use of force.
I don't think I exaggerate when I say that Powell's speech today
is going to be a crucial moment for the UN and its future legitimacy
as an international body.
IN YOUR BUNKER: Read this
transcript from former British Labour Cabinet Minister Tony
with Saddam Hussein that aired on Britain's Channel Four yesterday.
Here's a peek at what Saddam said:
is only one truth and therefore I tell you as I have said on
many occasions before that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction
just north of Baghdad at the al-Taji ammunition depot, probably
about the same time these words were coming out of Saddam's mouth,
across another empty chemical warhead, the 17th such weapon
found in Iraq over the past month.
This is just
another example of Hussein's contradictions, deceptions, and outright
lies to the international community. Unfortunately, it shows the
Iraqi dictator is intent upon continuing this pattern through
to the very end. Those who choose to trust Hussein display a profound
naiveté, one that borders on reckless endangerment.
LEADS: Great article
in the Washington Times today quoting Secretary of Education
Rod Paige on his involvement with the Bush administration's brief
on the U of M case. Paige says:
was pretty clear on what my position was, and so I haven't had
to wobble on it very much, and that is that I think the president
was absolutely correct on his decision with the Michigan situation.
... And I believe that, where it is true that there are still
lots of barriers in front of certain ethnic groups, you can't
fight discrimination with discrimination."
a great spokesman for the administration and should be doing more
of this type of high-visibility PR stuff. I've got a couple more
thoughts on affirmative action, but I'm going to have to save
them for later in the week. - T.
Bevan 8:13 am
February 4 2003
BACK WITH A VENGEANCE: Okay, maybe not with a vengeance,
but at least we're back. It was a very long week last week....but
the good news is that the case of bloggus interruptus we've
been experiencing is over and we're back to daily posting.
morning I had the privilege of interviewing Senator
Orrin Hatch over the phone for about 30 minutes. I'm going
to finish transcribing my notes later today and we should have
something posted tomorrow or the day after.
news, we've been getting a lot of sign ups for email alerts lately
and for those of you eagerly awaiting an RCP alert, we should
have our email program reconfigured in the next seven to ten days,
so please continue to bear with us.
THE TABLES ON THE UN: How much longer can the antiwar crowd
cling to the idea of U.S. (or, if you prefer, Bush) unilateralism?
Eight countries publicly came on board last week (Czech Republic,
Britain, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain),
Today reports up to ten more countries are getting ready to
issue a statement of support this week (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia and Macedonia).
the antiwar folks will say, "with the exception of British
(and maybe the Italians and the Spanish) most of these countries
are insignificant on the world stage. Who cares whether Estonia
supports Bush's war? Besides, they owe the President a favor for
his promoting their recent entry into NATO. The French, Russians,
Chinese (and to a lesser extent the Germans) are the important
players here and it's their opinions, or in this case their opposition
to war, that matters."
group of people, the internationalist crowd who constantly demand
the United States conduct its world affairs through a system where
Ghana's vote stands on equal footing with its own, will now want
to say that some country's opinions do, in fact, matter more than
but this is what is known as an ironic twist. Bush's coalition
may end up containing the British, Italians, Spanish and a bunch
of other countries with names ending in "stan" or "nia"
but its a multilateral coalition nonetheless.
that after tomorrow this stuff is all going to be academic anyway.
presentation before the UN, even though it won't contain a
"smoking gun" on Iraq, should be compelling enough to
convince a number of other countries, possibly even one of the
Obstinate Four, to come along.
Baker says the argument for war is already academic and that
Powell and the US are "going the extra mile" at the
We've gotten some email from people asking us to comment on the
Columbia tragedy. I'm with
Sullivan on this, not to mention ours is primarily a political
blog and I just don't see much political effect there.
I will offer
this: I agree with Charles Krauthammer in today's
Washington Post (here's a similar, longer version we posted
yesterday from the Weekly
Standard) about needing to recalibrate the risks and aspirations
of our manned space flight program. I was less than four months
old when we landed
on the moon and I had just turned twelve years old when the
first shuttle - which was also Columbia, by the way - launched.
lifetime we've dramatically lowered our sights in terms of space
exploration but still continue to engage in an expensive, high-risk
manned space program. I have a tremendous amount of respect for
the people and for the work done at NASA, but if there is a singular
good that can come from the tragic death of those seven heroic
astronauts, it may just be to make the folks in Houston start
dreaming really big dreams again.
OF BIG DREAMS: I get a kick out of watching Bush leave the
media slackjawed. He's done it again with his 2004 budget, which
has prompted the typical "analysis" pieces in both the
Times and the Washington
Post. Let's compare ledes:
When all the proposals are tallied in the budget President Bush
submitted today, they amount to the most ambitious changes in
government operations that any president has put forward in
With his budget blueprint for 2004, President Bush appears
to have stepped back from his "compassionate conservatism" agenda
and picked up the fallen standard of the Reagan Revolution.
are replete with all sorts of loaded words and phrases: Bush is
going to "push" people into managed health care systems,
Bush is driving up deficits by pursuing "disputable"
programs like a national missile defense, etc. You know the drill.
David Rosenblum writes that the President:
wants to change Medicaid so that many poor people, including
some in nursing homes, will no longer be guaranteed benefits."
Now, I haven't
had a chance to read the budget in detail, so you'll excuse me
if I'm a little skeptical of the Times' claim that Bush's budget
actually advocates stripping people in nursing homes of their
Medicaid benefits. This sounds eerily familiar to the rhetoric
employed against Reagan throughout the 1980's and Gingrich in
I'd be willing
to speculate there is some sort of provision in Bush's budget
that alters the Medicaid structure so that people who were once
"guaranteed" Medicaid may now have to offer up a small
co-pay and the Times has spun it to the hilt. This is just a guess
on my part, of course. I'll have to go find out.
It's a little
ironic that we used to rely on newspapers like the New York Times
to present the unvarnished facts every day. But now, in order
to get at the truth we have to march over to Google or Lexis-Nexis
or various other sources of information to try and strip the spin
off the Times' news stories. - T.
Bevan 8:02 am