June 4 2004
MORE JOBS: U.S.
May Payrolls Rise 248,000 It looks like the "jobless
recovery" isn't so jobless:
employers added 248,000 workers to payrolls in May, more
than forecast, helped by the biggest gain in manufacturing
employment in almost six years. The economy has now recouped
all the jobs lost since the recession ended in November
2001. The unemployment rate held at 5.6 percent.
increase follows revised gains of 346,000 jobs in April
and 353,000 in March that were larger than estimated last
month, the Labor Department said in Washington. Manufacturing
employment rose the most since August 1998 and hours worked
at factories were the highest since October 2000. Service
and construction employment rose.
to say this is going to complicate the storyline being spun
by the Kerry campaign and the likes of the NY Times' Paul
Krugman that Bush 's economic policies are an unmitigated
timing of these job numbers are in many ways perfect for
the Bush campaign, and despite all of the efforts in the
press to create an atmosphere of gloom and doom this type
of job growth five months out from the election will eventually
seep into the general public.
Zuckerman writes in US News and World Report:
the economy, stupid. for this presidential election, the
Democrats revived the slogan that deposed the 41st president,
George Herbert Walker Bush, in the expectation that the
43rd, George Walker Bush, would be equally vulnerable,
given all the jobs lost on his watch. But if the economy
and not Iraq becomes the big issue animating voters, George
W. Bush may have the last laugh since the economic news
is as good as the Iraq news is bad.
because the economy is, well, on a tear. New jobs are
being generated in large numbers, income is growing at
twice the rate of last year, and the acceleration is such
that we will probably see 5 percent growth in the gross
domestic product. The jobs reports of the past few months
have changed market sentiment. Sixty-one percent of private
industries surveyed have added workers. That's the highest
in four years. Business confidence has surged to a 20-year
high, and business spending is exploding, with even American
manufacturing joining the party. Companies that once saved
every nickel are laying out more and more money on capital
equipment to meet orders growing at double-digit rates.
Capital spending now constitutes over 20 percent of the
growth in GDP, including spending on inventories, which
are being cranked up after being drawn down to their lowest
levels in years in relation to sales. A significant signal
of tightening conditions is that we have the slowest delivery
times for goods in years. At this rate, capacity utilization
should hit the critical 80 percent mark by summer.
numbers and the upward revisions to the already large job
gains of the prior two months only confirms Zuckerman's
point that the economy is indeed on a tear. Even if the
naysayers are right that this is only a temporary surge
due to the huge stimulus shoved through the system by the
Bush administration and the FED's artificially low interest
rates, any downturn will in all likelihood come to late
to help John Kerry this fall.
said all that I still feel national security and the War
on Terror will be the defining issue of the election. But
the continuing expansion of the economy and more importantly
the follow-through in job production is bad news for those
trying to convince the American people that President Bush's
economic policies are a failure. J. McIntyre 10:08
to a Friend
TENET: It was time. I don't mean that necessarily
as a slap at George Tenet, but rather the timing made sense
for him to step down. The Washington
Post begins their lead story today with:
three hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center
and the Pentagon, killing thousands, no one took the fall
in the Bush administration.
Tenet have been fired after 9/11? I don't know. I wasn't
privy to all the information needed to make a well-informed
judgment on whether Tenet deserved to lose his job.
do know that President Bush couldn't have made any better
choices than Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell for their respective
positions. So based on the President's judgment on who he
chose to be Vice President, Secretary of Defense and Secretary
of State, the continued confidence he expressed in George
Tenet carried a lot of weight.
the CIA's many failures have been well publicized during
Tenet's reign, its successes have gotten much less attention.
agency Tenet is leaving is far different from the one
he took over. At that time, only a few dozen officers
were training to join its clandestine service, which has
the difficult task of recruiting agents in hostile countries.
The foreign-language expertise of many of its employees
lay mostly in languages pivotal to the Cold War, rather
than the developing or failed states that now give rise
to most modern conflicts. A scandal involving the agency's
links to thugs in Guatemala had forced the ouster of some
Tenet built up the CIA's clandestine service, sharpened
its scientific capabilities, changed its schools and training
programs, paid some of its Cold War veterans to retire,
and sent hundreds of new operatives overseas without the
benefit of traditional diplomatic cover. "People are no
longer operating just out of embassies, but out of all
the back alleys in the world where we need to operate,"
said former CIA general counsel Jeffrey H. Smith.
most important thing he did was restore morale and bring
in a whole new generation of officers" whose skills more
closely matched the agency's new priorities, Smith said.
"He was universally admired" inside the building.
are not inconsequential changes, and Tenet deserves more
praise than he has received in helping change the culture
of an agency that stagnated in the mid-90's after the fall
of the Soviet Union.
with the Senate Intelligence Committee poised
to release a 400-page report blasting the agency's performance
on Iraqi WMD and the additional background noise of the
9/11 Commission and the Plame investigation, Tenet might
have thought that this was as good of time as any to transition
back to being a normal dad.
a political standpoint, Tenet's resignation should help
the Bush Administration. When the aforementioned reports
are officially released later this summer, the White House
will be able to focus on the future of how best to run our
nation's intelligence apparatus rather than getting bogged
down in who was to blame for the intelligence community's
has had one of the hardest and most thankless jobs in all
of America and seven years is a long time to deal with that
kind of stress day after day. I have no doubt that burn
out and a desire to spend more time with his family was
central to his ultimate resignation.
easy to criticize in today's America and there is certainly
plenty to criticize at Tenet's CIA. I suspect Tenet isn't
as big a failure as his critics insist and at the same time
is more culpable for many of the intelligence breakdowns
than his defenders might want to admit.
leaving on July 11 will in many ways put all that in the
past. And while there is no question we need to learn from
past mistakes, the White House and Congress need to focus
on what to do - going forward - to fix and improve our nation's
intelligence capabilities instead of fighting over who is
to blame for its past failures. J. McIntyre 9:17
to a Friend
June 3 2004
WHAT'S IN A SLOGAN?: A couple of weeks back I
ripped John Kerry for using the phrase "let America
be America again" in his speech celebrating the 50th
Anniversary of Brown v. Board. David
Halbfinger reported this weekend the Kerry camp has
settled on the phrase, cribbed from a 1938 poem by Langston
Hughes, as their theme for the upcoming campaign.
Noah points out a number of reasons this is a terrible
campaign slogan: 1) it sounds "pompous and snotty"
2) it was written
by a communist sympathizer and 3) it means exactly the
opposite of what the Kerry camp suggests. The phrase isn't
a fond rememberance or a longing to return to days gone
by, it's really an ironic indictment of America, a claim
that the "good 'ol days" never existed at all.
add one final criticism. In addition to focusing on the
past rather than the future - a risk the Kerry camp acknowledged
in the Times article - the passive construction of the phrase
makes Kerry look terribly weak.
America be America again" doesn't impart any sense
of action or leadership on Kerry's part, only the suggestion
that if he does become President the world will naturally
return to a state of equilibrium that's been upset by the
would be much better served to adapt the Hughes phrase into
a slogan more befitting a presidential race. You know, a
string of words that actually suggests he's going to do
something: "John Kerry: Leading America back to greatness"
or "John Kerry: Bringing the American dream alive again."
aren't going to decide the race for president. But they
do represent a mission statement for the candidates and
they should be constructed to resonate with as much of the
national electorate as possible. "Let America be America
again" may play well to the blue-state base, but for
all the reasons we've just discussed, I don't think it's
going to play that well in middle America. - T.
Bevan 9:17 am Link
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June 2 2004
SOUTH DAKOTA NOTES: So Herseth
won in a squeaker. She'll have to give it another go
in November, of course, but does her victory yesterday change
the landscape in any significant way and will it have any
future political ramifications?
quote, attributed to political guru Larry Sabato and posted
over at Jason
Van Beek's site, suggests there could be one biggie:
also say that if Herseth wins, it's actually bad news
for Daschle. South Dakotans don't want to be represented
by three Democrats in DC. One is going to have to go---either
Herseth in November or Daschle. That's my guess, anyway."
Hill newspaper provides even more grist for the mill with
a front page story today, "Dems
Look Beyond Daschle:"
polls and an intense GOP drive to reclaim a prized South
Dakota seat have presented Senate Democrats with a dilemma
— they may have to find themselves a new leader
no Democrat is predicting that Senate Minority Leader
Tom Daschle will lose his re-election battle, the fault
lines of a potential leadership struggle within the Democratic
Caucus are already visible. A Daschle loss would set off
a scramble to succeed him as leader, as well as contests
for other leadership posts.
Democrats say they believe Daschle will prevail in November
and brushed aside one recent poll that showed the race
in a virtual dead heat.
“It is totally inconsistent with any of the polls
that have been out,” said Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.).
independent poll, by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and
KELO-TV, showed Daschle with a mere two-point lead over
former Rep. John Thune (R-S.D.), despite spending more
than $5 million on the race. However, a more recent Zogby
poll had Daschle up 13 percentage points, as did a Daschle
poll earlier in May. (emphasis added)
to Dems: you may want to take another
hard look at that KELO-TV poll conducted by Mason-Dixon.
poll in the South Dakota House race, conducted among
625 likely voters between May 10-12, had Herseth's lead
over Diedrich narrowing to nine points (49-40) - along with
this important qualifier:
the 455 poll respondents who say they will "definitely"
vote on June 1, Herseth's lead shrinks to three points,
47 to 44 percent.
final poll, on the other hand, conducted nine days
later using a sample of 503 likely voters, showed Herseth's
lead decreasing from 16 points six weeks earlier to 12 points,
with only seven percent remaining undecided.
other words - and to put it kindly - Zogby missed this one
by a bit. The fact that his independent polls in the SD
Senate race are tracking with Daschle's internal ones should
be viewed as more of a red flag to people than a confirmation
that Daschle is really running that far ahead of Thune.
- T. Bevan 8:05am Link
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June 1 2004
WHO HAS THE BIGGER BASE PROBLEM?: Two stories of
note today in The Washington Times. The first is this
one by Donald Lambro suggesting that John Kerry's base
has "yet to unify" behind him.
points to a number of factors, including the continued presence
of Ralph Nader (see Matthew
Continetti's piece for more on this) and the fact that
polls show about 12% of Democrats leaning in favor of Bush,
indicating that Kerry isn't enjoying the level of party
unity - at least at this point in the race - that many Dems
have been crowing about.
second piece worth reading is Bill
Sammon's dispatch titled, "Bush to Wage Ideological
Campaign." Sammon reports the Bush campaign is
billing this year's race as a "stark choice between
liberalism and conservatism" and more or less a repeat
Mehlman, Chairman of Bush-Cheney '04, is quoted as promising
that, "if you're a conservative Republican this campaign
is doing what you wanted."
strikes me as a conspicuously overt reassurance to Bush's
base and an indication the Bush campaign is concerned there's
an element of truth to the plethora of stories suggesting
an "erosion" of the President's support among
hardcore conservatives (see here,
pollster Stan Greenberg suggested (link via Political
Wire) that Bush is losing support across all slices
of the loyal Republican electorate and is currently running
about 4% behind where he was in 2000.
the other hand, according to Greenberg Kerry is equaling
or outperforming Gore's 2000 vote totals among all core
Democratic constituencies except one: African-Americans.
Greenberg's own polls, Kerry has been unable to open
up a significant lead of any kind. Over the course of the
four Democracy Corps surveys conducted this year, Kerry
and Bush are tied at 48.25%. As we
mentioned previously, other recent polls have shown
Bush's support to be consistently solid.
who is having a worse time with their base, Bush or Kerry?
As long as Ralph Nader stays in the race, it's hard to argue
Kerry doesn't have the tougher job keeping his base together.
Kerry's move to the right on Iraq, including his
call last week for 40,000 more US troops in Iraq, is
giving the antiwar wing of the party heartburn and testing
the limits of their commitment to support "Anybody
no doubt conservatives of all stripes have their complaints
with President Bush, but at this point it's hard to imagine
enough of them will sit on their hands or defect to somewhere
else to cost him reelection. It's certainly possible,
but things would have to deteriorate rather dramatically
between now and November. - T. Bevan 1:31 pm Link
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