April 23 2004
GUT SHOT: Via Drudge, ABC
News is reporting that Pat Tillman has been killed in
action in Afghanistan. His death is tragic, though no more
so than any of our other brave men and women fighting overseas.
the choice Tillman made - to forego a career in the NFL
and the wealth and fame that go with it to go abroad and
battle terrorists - is an extraordinary example of putting
America first. It's a choice very few people would have
had the courage or conviction to make were they in his place.
the reason Pat Tillman was special and why he will be missed.
The example he set, however, will live on forever. -
T. Bevan 11:14 am
TO FLIP THE FLIP-FLOP WILL FLOP: Mickey
Kaus suggests that since John Kerry has already been
tagged with the label of being a flip-flopper, he might
as well embrace it:
more appealing to swing voters--a prevaricating liberal
who sees the other side and who might well come around
to the center, or a doctrinaire liberal who'll never change?
Kerry's stuck with the flip-flop label anyway (because
it fits). He might as well get the good out of it. Maybe
all he really needs to do is give undecided Bush-doubters
some hope. When you've got a lemon ...
Carville said something very similar in the
RS article we posted yesterday, suggesting that Kerry's
"flexibility" on issues is his biggest asset and
the sign of a real leader:
strength is that people in this country want change, and
he's the man to bring it on. Kerry needs to turn his worst
issue into his best issue -- he needs to say, "If I try
this and it doesn't work, I'll try something else." He
needs to stress that flexibility is good, and inflexibility
is part of the problem.
Frank Luntz, a well-respected pollster who's conducted more
than his share of voter focus groups, says the strategy
won't work: "Voters won't go for that. Being flexible
translates into: John Kerry has no principles."
to go with Luntz on this one. Kerry would be better off
figure out an effective way to downplay his flip-flops,
especially the biggies like his votes on the war. Suggestion:
"My vote to authorize force was a vote supporting leadership
role of the the United States in the international community.
My vote on the $87 billion was a vote against President
Bush's policy and did nothing to hurt our troops."
I'm not saying this line will work (or that it's even true),
but my point is that Kerry can certainly do a better job
defending himself from a messaging standpoint than he's
doing right now.
find a theme or issue where he can say he's delivered on
a promise. Not only will this help to diffuse the flip-flop
label, Kerry can also contrast it with the promises he says
George W. Bush has broken. Surely Mr. Kerry can find a promise
he's kept to use in his defense. Or can he?
point number three may be the toughest thing for Kerry to
do. We just keep seeing story
At some point the issue will reach a critical mass and permanently
damage his candidacy. He's not there yet, but he's getting
closer by the minute.
SET ASIDE: Here is a must
read. About six months ago the City of Chicago passed
an ordinance allowing minority "set-asides" for
construction contracts. The Builders Association of Greater
of defending the new quota program in court (which they
really couldn't do) the city appointed a task force to address
the "legal deficiencies" of the program as outlined
by the judge in the case.
result: Asian-Americans have been stripped of the crucial
designation of being a "presumptively socially disadvantaged"
group. Now only African-Americans, Hispanics and women qualify
for the quota program.
and unfair, you say? According to Alderman William Beavers,
kicking Asians-Americans out of the quota club is just a
cost of doing business against racist white people:
is as good as we can get without jeopardizing everything.
You don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater."
did exactly what the judge wanted us to do. We're not
taking any chances. . . . White folks ain't going to give
up. We expect them to come back with another lawsuit.
We want to be prepared and be able to justify this ordinance."
me again who is dividing America by race? - T. Bevan
1:30 pm | Link
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April 22 2004
CAUSE FOR CONCERN, NOT PANIC: Lots of discouraging news
out this morning. Bad news in Basra.
It also looks like costs
in Iraq are rising along with the level of violence.
most disturbing thing I read this morning, however, didn't
come from a news story but a blog. Dan Murphy, a CS Monitor
reporter on assignment in Iraq, wrote
in a post yesterday:
with a group of friends here a few nights ago, I realized
how blasé we'd become about the new conditions. None of
us had eaten out in the evening for at least a month.
We agreed that the two-hour drive south to Najaf had become
too dangerous to attempt. The journalists among us agreed
that our work increasingly relied on phone calls to Iraqis
on the scene, rather than real reportage of what we could
see and touch. And everyone nodded knowingly when two
NGO workers said they'd be leaving the country because
it has become too dangerous to conduct their reconstruction
In essence, I feel we've become boiled frogs. Toss the
frog into boiling water, and he jumps right out again,
or at least tries. But put him in lukewarm water and slowly
turns up the heat and he barely notices until he's cooked.
Rather than overestimate the problems (a common journalistic
temptation), I've begun to wonder if we're not understating
them, notwithstanding the letters from readers who accuse
our paper, and many others, of being Chicken Littles.
be sure, in a wartime environment like Iraq's there is
rarely a constant arc of progress, or descent into chaos.
Violence ebbs and flows, incidents flare and then almost
inexplicably, vanish. This froggy is leaving on a reporting
trip outside Baghdad today - the first trip out of the
city in more than a week. It feels safer again. Or it
did, until a few hours ago, when news arrived of three
coordinated car-bombings in the southern city of Basra
that killed more than 60. More worrying, British troops
were stoned by local citizens as they moved to secure
the past few months, it's become common for average Iraqis
to turn on foreigners whenever an attack has occurred
- blaming the foreign presence for the lack of security,
seemingly more than they do the people carrying out the
attacks. Everyone hopes those attacks will be the last,
but no one believes it; while coalition spokesmen insist
from the podium in Baghdad's Green Zone, an area that
most coalition officials rarely leave (and never without
heavily armed escorts), that things are better than they
of the things that bothers me about many who oppose the
war is that they refuse to acknowledge the significant progress
we've made in Iraq over the last year. We've exerted a tremendous
amount of positive effort and influence there through physical
reconstruction and establishing the building blocks of a
legitimate, functioning civic society.
of us who support the war shouldn't make the same mistake
by ignoring the facts and claiming that all is going along
swimmingly in Iraq. It isn't.
situation is extremely tenuous and difficult. It is requiring
more troops, more money, and it will certainly cost the
lives of more U.S. soldiers over time.
the biggest disappointment of the campaign to date is the
hesitance of the Iraqi people to step forward in a larger,
more substantial way to denounce the violence and terrorism
being perpetrated against them and to help the Coalition
round up the Baathists and jihadists. It is happening, but
the pace is too slow and the effort is much too feeble.
of this should cause concern. What it should not cause is
panic. My response to the situation in Iraq is similar to
Sullivan's: we must maintain our focus and our resolve
against the thugs and terrorists trying to prevent the emergence
a free and democratic Iraq. We've got to continue to fight
- and fight to win. - T. Bevan 8:30 am | Link
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April 21 2004
FLORIDA IS STILL FLORIDA: This is going to be
a photo of President George W. Bush taped to the back
of his t-shirt, David Gorge stood out in the crowd at
a rally for John Kerry Monday at Palm Beach Community
College in Lake Worth.
he didn’t make any effort to be inconspicuous.
Bush,” the PBCC student yelled at a passerby. An older
woman in an orange and white top walked over and shouted,
“Shut your mouth.”
Gorge’s efforts, another anti-Kerry person took the award
for most outrageous. A man dressed in a dolphin suit walked
through the crowd carrying a sign that said, “I’m a flipper,
too,” a reference to Kerry’s alleged flip-flopping on
some political issues.
call me Flipper,” the man in the dolphin outfit said when
asked for his name.
T. Bevan 5:31 pm | Link
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BUMP IN THE POLLS: A series of new polls have come
out in the past few days and three out of four of them show
4-6 point leads for the President. In a three way race with
Nader, Gallup has Bush ahead by 6 pts, ABC News/Washington
Post has Bush up 5 pts, and TIPP/IBD has Bush up 4 pts.
Zogby has the race tied. As
I said earlier, these polls are going to bump around
a lot and it would be a mistake to read too much into a
4 or 5 point lead for either side until after Labor Day.
this series of polls is interesting because they contradict
much of the conventional political wisdom of the last few
weeks. Democrats had hoped that the 9/11 Commission hearings,
Richard Clarke's revelations, the chaos and death in Iraq,
and what they perceived as a poor performance by President
Bush at his prime time press conference would translate
into bad poll numbers for the President. It hasn't turned
out that way.
partisan Democrats and political observers in the media
still don't quite understand is that the more the political
conversation is about Iraq, al Qaeda, bin Laden, terrorism,
9/11, etc....the more it helps President Bush and the Republicans.
the Richard Clarke/ September 11 Commission news cycle failed
to take down the President's numbers, the press turned their
attention to the chaos in Iraq and suggested that that was
where the President was really vulnerable. So after
all the recent bad news from Iraq it is shocking for them
to see fresh new polls that actually show the President
pattern that is beginning to emerge is the press is simply
incapable of accurately handicapping this race because they
have an inherent, ideological opposition to President Bush
and his approach to the War on Terror that is completely
out of whack with the majority of the American people.
see Iraq as a debacle and a quagmire and just assume it
has to hurt President Bush. They watch the President's news
conference and become more convinced the President is an
idiot, while the average American watches the same press
conference and sees a resolute and determined leader.
a while back that what the Democrats should really be hoping
for success in Iraq and the overall War on Terror because
success breeds complacency, and complacency would allow
the American people to focus on a whole myriad of issues
that would work more to the advantage of Senator Kerry and
it comes to the overall War on Terror, the American people
are with the President. The bad news from Iraq keeps the
public focused on the serious times in which we live and
that works to the political advantage of President Bush.
This may over a longer period of time change, but barring
an utter and complete meltdown in Iraq (far worse than anything
we've seen these last few weeks) it is an advantage that
President Bush will keep all the way through election day.
J. McIntyre 7:11 am | Link
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April 20 2004
THE INFLUENCE OF AMBITION: Today we'll start with a
must recognize that there is no indication that Saddam
Hussein has any intention of relenting. So we have an
obligation of enormous consequence, an obligation to guarantee
that Saddam Hussein cannot ignore the United Nations.
He cannot be permitted to go unobserved and unimpeded
toward his horrific objective of amassing a stockpile
of weapons of mass destruction. This is not a matter about
which there should be any debate whatsoever in the Security
Council, or, certainly, in this Nation."
isn't Tony Blair or George Bush in 2002. It is Senator John
Kerry on the floor of the United States Senate in late 1997
delivering a powerful and convincing speech titled "Why
We Must Be Firm With Saddam Hussein."
of you may have seen some or all of the speech before but
I expect there are many who haven't. It's long, but very
much worth reading so I've copied
the entire speech from the Congressional Record into an
RCP page so you can not only read the full text but
also have the ability to forward it to others)
today, the case Kerry made in 1997 for dealing with Saddam
is impressive not only for its boldness and firmness but
also for its prescience.
relevant to the current political discussion, however, Kerry's
speech also stands like a virtual roadmap for how President
Bush approached the issue in 2002:
Analysis: Saddam was a formidable threat to peace,
stability and security because of his relentless pursuit
of weapons of mass destruction, because of his past action
of invading Kuwait, and because he had "set himself
outside international law" by ignoring the will of
the United Nations for more than a decade.
Response: Kerry called for the United Nations to pass
a Security Council resolution that mandated a "strong
U.N. military response that will materially damage, if
not totally destroy, as much as possible of the suspected
infrastructure for developing and manufacturing weapons
of mass destruction, as well as key military command and
control nodes" and that the military action "should
not be a strike consisting only of a handful of cruise
missiles hitting isolated targets primarily of presumed
finished by saying that while multilateral action was preferable,
the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was great enough to require
unilateral action by the United States if necessary:
we should always seek to take significant international
actions on a multilateral rather than a unilateral basis
whenever that is possible, if in the final analysis we
face what we truly believe to be a grave threat to the
well-being of our Nation or the entire world and it cannot
be removed peacefully, we must have the courage to do
what we believe is right and wise."
simply boggles the mind that John Kerry could feel so strongly
about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in 1997 that he
would advocate unilateral US military action but would then
oppose taking action against the threat posed by Hussein
(with the unique twist of also being on record of voting
in FAVOR of giving the President the authority to take action)
after the events of September 11 and with the support of
allies like Britain, Australia, Poland and Spain.
here's the question: what's the essential difference between
the man who stood willingly on the floor of the Senate in
1997 arguing we should deal a terrible blow to Saddam and
the man we see today whose policies, if followed, would
have left the threatening, brutal despot in power? The answer,
unfortunately, is that one was a Senator and the other is
a candidate for President of the United States.
is a necessary thing for someone who wants to be President.
And the ambition that drives someone to seek the highest
office in the land invariably leads to some conflict between
the positions the candidate has held in the past and some
of the ideological requirements of the candidate's base.
This is the way the game is played in politics: positions
have to be "tweaked" to appeal to party activists
on both the left and the right.
there is a line with this sort of thing and I think John
Kerry crossed it sometime ago. After all, we're not talking
about fudging on the issue of abortion or mealy-mouthing
an answer about the Confederate flag flying over the state
house in South Carolina, we're talking about war, peace,
and the national security of the United States of America.
There isn't any issue more important, nor is there any place
where a candidate's position and consistency matter more.
what is so disturbing about Kerry. Whatever convictions
he may have about US national security seem to have been
overridden by his ambition to become President. He supported
the war until the going got tough during the primary and
he was on the verge of heading into a Joe Lieberman-type
of oblivion. No problem:
switch positions, start attacking the President and vote
against funding the war - and the troops.
thing with the quote posted below. Kerry made a pledge not
to criticize the President during the fighting phase of
the war as a show of support for the troops. He broke it.
Kerry simply could not stand letting Howard Dean have the
antiwar, Bush-bashing stage all to himself. The fighting
in Iraq only lasted three weeks. But Kerry's ambition to
be President prevented him from being able to hold his tongue
longer than two. - T. Bevan 8:45 am | Link
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April 19 2004
MEET THE PRESS LIE: I
didn't think I heard it right, but I did. Here is John
Kerry yesterday on Meet the Press:
RUSSERT: You've been, obviously, extremely critical of
President Bush's handling of foreign policy and his role
as commander in chief. A year ago in March you made a
commitment, and this is what you said. You "voted to authorize
military action but has accused President Bush of rushing
into war, [but he] said he will cease his complaints once
the shooting starts. `It's what you owe the troops,' said
a statement from Kerry. `I remember being one of those
guys and reading news reports from home. If America is
at war, I won't speak a word without measuring how it
will sound to the guys doing the fighting when they're
listening to their radios in the desert.'" Are you concerned
that you're sending the wrong message to the troops by
not showing solidarity in terms of the war in Iraq? And
have you broken your pledge?
KERRY: No, I haven't. Because, number one, I did adhere
strictly to that through the period of the success of
the war, when we finally had taken control of the country.
right. This must
be a different John Kerry than the one who said on April
3, 2003 that ""what we need now is not just a regime
change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime
change in the United States."
News even described the remark by saying, "Kerry's
lapse from a pledge to refrain from criticism may have been
a crowd pleaser intended to fight off the narrowing gap
that former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is eager to close."
to get the
timeline nailed down, the invasion of Iraq began on
March 20, the statue of Saddam fell on April 9, and Tikrit
fell on April 15 which was when the Coalition effectively
declared the war over. - T. Bevan 4:15 pm Link
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GOOD DAY FOR AMERICA:
My phone rang early Saturday evening. John had just returned
from dinner, flipped on the news, and learned that Israel
had taken out Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi.
do you think about it?" he asked.
him that while I didn't feel any anguish over the death
of Rantisi, I was a bit edgy about the timing of the assassination
and the international reaction it provoked, especially among
important allies like Britain.
Then I asked John what he thought.
day a terrorist dies is a good day for America and for the
world" he said.
occurred to me John's response is not only simple and true,
but it's probably exactly how the President of the United
States would have responded had I been speaking with him
comment also brought to mind a truism worth considering:
we do not live in a static world. Every day we are either
gaining ground or we are losing ground in the War on Terror.
you strip away all of the speculation and mumbo-jumbo about
this policy nuance or that programmatic detail there is
a very real truth lying at the core: the actions our government
takes and the actions other governments around the world
take either make things easier for terrorists to operate
or they makes things more difficult.
is an obvious partisan divide over what constitutes progress.
Generally speaking, those on the left think that aggressive
actions, but especially aggressive military actions (with
the almost universally recognized exception of Afghanistan
) make the world "less safe."
primary rationale of the "less safe" argument
is that aggressive action "creates more terrorists."
This claim is not only speculative but, even if true, impossible
to quantify in any meaningful way.
in the Arab world have been churning out radical Islamists
for decades and there is simply no way to determine how
many more would-be terrorists there are today as a result
of actions taken in the War on Terror. Thus
the "creates more terrorists" argument is more
rhetorical than substantive, and probably isn't the best
way of thinking about things.
let's go back to Rantisi for a moment. Did Rasisi's death
make life for the rest of his fellow terrorists easier or
more difficult? Again, the response from many on left is
the theoretical assertion that Rantisi's assassination is
counterproductive because it serves to inflame Arabs and
"create more terrorists."
not theoretical, however, is the observation that as the
leader of a militant terrorist organization, Rantisi's death
makes it more difficult for Hamas to operate and decreases
their ability to inflict terror. In both practical and symbolic
terms, Rantisi's death is ground gained in the War on Terror.
MAN OF ACTION: The left's new line of attack against
the President is that he's a crazed missionary who thinks
God has told him to bring peace and freedom to the world
- and to lie, cheat and steal in the process. Contrary to
this silliness that's been concocted from Bush's public
rhetoric, I think the answer is much, much simpler: President
Bush is not a crazed missionary, he's a man of action
previously mentioned, I don't think there is any question
President Bush views the War on Terror in terms of daily
gains and losses. At his press
conference last Tuesday, one answer in particular struck
me as the best evidence of this:
lessons of 9/11 that I -- one lesson was, we must deal
with gathering threats. And that's part of the reason
I dealt with Iraq the way I did.
other lesson is, is that this country must go on the offense
and stay on the offense.
all know President Bush sees the War on Terror as a long-term
engagement and a battle for the soul of civilization. He's
flat out told us as much.
he also knows - but hasn't told us - is that we are sometimes
a complacent, forgetful, and too forgiving people. What
he knows is that without the constant focus and determination
the War on Terror demands of us, we'd quickly be back to
the sort of self-centric navel-gazing that makes us extremely
vulnerable to terrorists and eventually costs the lives
of innocent Americans.
think one of President Bush's biggest fears was that the
focus and support for aggressive action against terrorism
in Congress and the public would wane quickly and that America
would miss the window of opportunity to implement a policy
that would achieve real and lasting progress against terrorists
and their patrons. Toppling the Taliban was a response,
not a policy. In Bush's mind, it was not enough.
Iraq, however, the President not only saw a body of historical
evidence that demonstrated it was a gathering threat (an
analysis, by the way, that all his critics agreed with at
the time but now cynically deny ever existed), he also saw
the opportunity to take action that did not exist with any
of the other threats in the world like North Korea or Iran.
other words, we did Iraq because Iraq was doable. And by
doing Iraq, President Bush has not only made progress in
the overall War on Terror, he's made sure as a matter of
policy that battling terrorists and the regimes that harbor
them will remain a central focus of the United States government
for years to come.
- T. Bevan 10:55 am Link
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