April 30 2004
GOT GAME?: Donald
Lambro reports that the Kerry campaign's ground game
is disorganized and lagging well behind President Bush's
in key battleground states. At first blush this looks like
terrible news for Kerry, but it really may be more of a
sign of concern for the President.
cites Pennsylvania as one example of a critical state where
Kerry is way behind in organizing - he hasn't even hired
anyone to manage his GOTV operation there. Meanwhile, Bush
has visited the state 27 times in the last four years and
recently spent millions on advertising there. Latest
poll: Bush 42%, Kerry 42%.
also highlights Michigan as another example:
Kerry's campaign apparatus is nowhere to be seen in Michigan,
a critical Midwestern prize with 17 electoral votes that
Democrat Al Gore captured in 2000, but is now a neck-and-neck
race where President Bush has the edge in some polls,
Democrats say. "It's dead even here but there is almost
no activity in the state" from Mr. Kerry's campaign organization,
said Michigan Democratic pollster Ed Sarpolus."
poll out of Michigan (of likely voters, no less): Kerry
51%, Bush 41%.
are still won on the ground, no question about it. And there
is a huge difference between winning a person's support
in a telephone poll versus getting them to stand in a voting
booth and punch your ballot.
Lambro's piece struck me as overly pessimistic about Kerry's
situation. Kerry is going to have plenty of money and an
unprecedented level of support and organization from liberal
special interest groups and labor unions. If he can get
his act together as a candidate, Kerry will head into election
day riding a wave of "anybody but Bush" emotion
and with a more unified Democrat party behind him than we've
seen in a long time.
Kerry's ground game will let him down in the end. It's entirely
possible. Then again, maybe the anti-Bush force unifying
and driving the Democratic base means Kerry doesn't have
to have a meticulously structured GOTV effort to be competitive
this year. We won't really know the answer for at least
a few more months.
UPDATE: What should concern Kerry backers far more
than Lambro's article is this
Jodi Wilgoren story from today's NY Times.
IS BACK: Good
news for opinion junkies. Michael Kinsley is a man of
considerable skill and talent, and we'll be watching closely
along with everyone else to see what sort of changes he
be honest, I don't want to be disappointed so I'm keeping
expectations to a minimum. Reforming the calcified,
inside-the-liberal-box thinking at the LA Times op-ed page
is the journalistic equivalent of Rumsfeld trying to reform
the Pentagon. Tough job. Hugh
Hewitt has a few tips for Kinsley on where to start.
NUMBERS - THE OLD AND THE NEW: On Tuesday
I linked to some documents
on the Boston Globe web site showing that John Kerry
set up an off-shore tax shelter in the Cayman Islands in
1983. Blogger RKayn
Knowledge did some investigating and thinks that neither
the numbers nor Kerry's explanation of the matter add up.
links to a recent Boston Globe column and publishes a reader
email suggesting there may be some other funny numbers
in Kerry's 2003 tax returns based on the sale of a $2.7
million painting. Double hmmm.
there might be any other little tidbits of interest tucked
away in the nooks and crannies of the labyrinth that is
Teresa Heinz-Kerry's tax returns? The
Washington Times explains very convincingly this morning
why she should be compelled to release them. - T.
Bevan 8:15 am | Link
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April 29 2004
NUMBERS YOU NEED TO KNOW: Even after oversampling Democrats
(35%) and Independents (36%) and undersampling Republicans
got the following result: Bush up 2 points on Kerry
(43-41) in the three-way race among registered voters.
I'm pretty sure that's not what they expected.
the poll shows - as other recent ones have - that the public
has become much less sanguine about the situation in Iraq,
but it also shows some surprisingly good news for President
approve of the way the President is handling the war on
terror 60-32 (+28). That's a positive 4-point swing since
the last poll at the beginning of April.
asked whether each candidate "says what he believes"
Bush holds a 24-point advantage over Kerry (53-29).
also holds a 9-point lead over Kerry as someone voters
say they would "like personally" (57-48) and
a 10-point lead over Kerry when asked who shares their
"moral values" (68-58).
big news to take away from the CBS News/NYT poll isn't that
support for the war is down but that President Bush got
such strong ratings in a sample that was skewed badly against
him and in favor of John Kerry. (Thanks to reader Deb C.
for the heads up)
OR FLACK?: Alex Beam writes a
devastating critique of Douglas Brinkley in today's
Boston Globe. If you're looking for an example of what Beam
is talking about, I've got good news: Brinkley just served
up a piece of Kerry puffery yesterday
blogging later today. - T. Bevan 8:39 am | Link
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April 28, 2004
SPECTER HANGS ON: By about 15,000
votes, despite the sort of light turnout that everyone
thought would favor Toomey.
Specter may say publicly, deep down he knows he owes his
job to President Bush and Senator Santorum. We'll see if
Specter repays that debt by being a bit more loyal to the
President and the GOP Senate leadership in the future.
FOR KERRY TO HIT BOTTOM: If you missed it yesterday,
piece from Jon Keller in Boston Magazine detailing the
Kerry campaign's miraculous recovery during the primary.
Here is a key graf:
one point, the professionals who know John Kerry best
are in agreement: His political career is like the movie
Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray's character keeps
reliving the same day over and over again. "He always
starts as a favorite, falters, has a near-death experience,
then puts on the blinders, focuses, and comes out swinging,"
explains a veteran of past Kerry campaigns. "The difference
is, few people thought it could be done in a presidential
primary." This phenomenon, spun by Kerry apologists as
a sign of when-the-going-gets-tough-the-tough-get-going
machismo, is also subject to a less-flattering interpretation.
"He's a guy who doesn't really start to pay attention
until he thinks he may be in danger of dying," says Payne,
who identifies classic early Kerry campaign symptoms:
"Delays, inattention to details, sloppy staff work, not
having a tight message. He'll allow this to just go on
and on until someone hands him a poll and says, 'You'd
better get it together.'"
it possible that Kerry's floundering over the last few weeks
is due to the fact that he's too
close to President Bush in the polls?
Ridgeway's lament that Kerry "sinks day by day"
and should be replaced before it's too late, maybe what
Kerry really needs is to sink even further. A couple of
weeks trailing President Bush by 10-12 points nationally
could be just what Kerry needs to find rock bottom and turn
his campaign around.
if you tuned in earlier this week and saw Kerry's performance
on Good Morning America, you might think that's exactly
what he's trying to do.
Hewitt finds more evidence that Kerry is indeed executing
an "implosion strategy."
GUARD STORY IS BACK: Funny how this stuff works.
John Kerry gets cornered by Charlie Gibson on Monday morning
over the controversy surrounding his medals/ribbons. Kerry
responds by slamming George W. Bush's service in the National
late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, Salon
posts a big fat piece on the Bush National Guard story
by James C. Moore saying questions remain about Bush's service.
time later - 2:35 am Eastern on Tuesday morning, to be exact
Marshall devotes a long post to the Salon piece. Despite
bookending an extensive quote from Moore's piece with two
somewhat conspicuous caveats saying that he "never
quite understood all the arcana" of the story and that
he doesn't "know the details of all this well enough
any more to make a judgment about these various claims and
accusation," Marshall peddles the story to his readers.
10:31 am Eastern the story has moved to the front page of
the Washington Post web site in the form of this
article by Dan Froomkin. In addition to mainstream news
reports of Kerry's attack, Froomkin cites his own column
as well as (surprise, surprise) both Moore and Marshall
under the subhead "Did Media Dig Enough Last Time?"
know if this is all a case of divine coincidence or fabulous
coordination. Either way, it is fairly obvious that John
Kerry and his supporters on the left are doing their best
to bring the Bush National Guard story back from the dead
to deflect attention from the Senator's own inability to
explain the contradictions in his record. - T. Bevan
8:49 am | Link
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April 27 2004
THE LOGIC OF RIBBONS AND MEDALS - PART
I: Okay, so ABC
News has John Kerry on tape in November 1971 saying
he threw his medals over the fence at the Vietnam war protest
in April of the same year. But for a long time now Kerry
has been saying that "no", he didn't throw his
medals, only the ribbons from the medals. Furthermore, Kerry
says it doesn't make any difference because there is no
distinction between the two. (Thomas
Oliphant delivers some back up on this point in today's
the issue of why Kerry didn't throw his medals. He has
said repeatedly that he didn't have his medals with
him at the time. According to this
AP story, Kerry told the Boston Globe back in 1996 that
"he didn't have time to go home and get them."
its plausible that Kerry, the most visible leader of a protest
whose central and most dramatic moment was the "giving
back" of military decorations from Vietnam, would either
fail to plan or fail to remember to bring his medals with
him to the protest - even though he did manage to produce
the ribbons that
are usually attached to go
along with them. But again, according to Kerry (and
others) the point is moot because there isn't any distinction
between medals and ribbons.
lies the bigger problem. If we accept Kerry's logic that
ribbons and medals are one and the same, then it becomes
much harder to explain comments like this one from the Washington
Post, February 21, 1985:
such a personal thing," he [Kerry] says. "They're my medals.
I'll do what I want with them. And there shouldn't be
any expectations about them. It shouldn't be a measurement
of anything. People say, 'You didn't throw your medals
away.' Who said I had to? And why should I? It's my business.
I did not want to throw my medals away."
so fast. If ribbons and medals are indeed the same, and
you use the former as symbols and political props for a
very public protest but keep the latter locked in your desk
drawer, then it should be within the public's right to question
why you have created a distinction between ribbons and medals
(in so far as you use them) even though you've clearly and
consistently maintained there isn't one.
also more than acceptable to ask Kerry to square what he
told Peter Jennings last December ("I'm proud of
my medals. I always was proud of them") with the
reason he gave for throwing his ribbons over the fence in
a real sense, this administration forced us to return
our medals because beyond the perversion of the war, these
leaders themselves denied us the integrity those symbols
supposedly gave our lives."
one of these quotes could be true, but not both. They are
mutually exclusive to everyone except John Kerry. I'll get
into why I think that is in a little bit more detail later.
WHO?: While I was sifting around for links for the above
post, I ran into this
document. The Boston Globe describes it as "an
offshore tax shelter" and says:
obtained by the Globe detail John Kerry's 1983 investment
of between $25,000 and $30,000 in offshore companies registered
in the Cayman Islands. The document below, signed by Kerry,
shows his pledge to purchase 2,470 shares of Peabody Commodities
Trading Corp. through Sytel Traders, registered in the
isn't some blind "my mutual fund invested in an offshore
company" thing, this is John F. Kerry using his lawyer
and signing his name to a document specifically setting
up a trading company registered in the Cayman Islands.
just never know when the past is going to come into conflict
with Bob Shrum's scorched-earth, populist rhetoric.
AT ITS BEST: Ketchup
for $5.99 a bottle. For the freedom fries, of course.
Only in America. - T. Bevan 11:49 am | Link
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April 26 2004
FOREIGN POLICY MERGE: Interesting
article by Farah Stockman in the Boston Globe this morning
discussing the the Kerry camp's foreign policy message.
Beers, the man leading Kerry's team of foreign policy advisors,
says the goal is "to show that we can protect America
better than George Bush."
a tall order given the historical deficiency of the Democratic
party on national security matters since Vietnam, coupled
with Kerry's own personal baggage on the issue which includes
his own post-Vietnam actions and his 20-year voting record
in the Senate.
since dispatching his fellow primary competitors in early
March, Kerry has been moving rightward on Iraq. During the
same period, George W. Bush has been softening his position
on UN involvement in Iraq - whether by necessity or design
- further muddying the policy waters separating the two.
Russell Mead suggests the movement toward a foreign policy
merge hurts Kerry:
nightmare for Kerry is that all of his criticisms become
moot, except the woulda-shoulda-coulda criticism about
the war," said Walter Russell Mead, a fellow at the Council
on Foreign Relations. ''In this sense, voters are going
to say to themselves: 'What's the difference? If I vote
for Kerry, I will get a war in Iraq and someone who doesn't
believe in the war but is going to have to fight it anyway.
If I vote for Bush, I get a war in Iraq, fought by somebody
who believes in the war....'
think they are moving toward a merge," Mead said. ''Most
of the people I talk to don't think there's going to be
that much difference between them, in substance, because
the options are so limited. I think in a second term,
the Bush administration would try to get more foreign
support, and a Kerry administration would sometimes have
to go it alone." That view will be expressed in next month's
issue of Foreign Policy magazine in an article titled
''Meet George W. Kerry."
other obvious place where a foreign policy merge hurts Kerry
is protecting his left from Ralph Nader. If Mead is right
that by the time the candidates stand up and debate in October
there is going to be little discernable difference between
the two on Iraq, the fervent antiwar activists in the base
may find themselves with nowhere to go but Nader.
assumes, of course, that in the end the activists' hatred
for the war in Iraq trumps their hatred of George W. Bush.
I don't think there is any way of predicting whether this
one thing you can predict, however, is that John Kerry will
do his best to keep the base behind him. The result will
most likely be one of the great political kabuki dances
of modern political history, with Kerry moving to the middle
in an effort to prove his strength and national security
bona fides to the broader electorate, yet all the while
winking and nodding to the base and lacing his rhetoric
with the comfortable code words of the antiwar left.
- T. Bevan 10:30 am | Link
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