May 7 2004
BUSH VS KERRY: In describing the results from the
latest round of polls I heard a pundit say yesterday: "They
(the American people) don't think the country is heading
in the right direction, but they don't think Kerry can do
a better job than President Bush." In many ways that
sums up the disparate poll information and the direction
of this election.
is the lead in USA
Today on their most recent poll:
are more dissatisfied with the nation's direction than
at any time in more than eight years and President Bush's
job approval rating has sunk into a tie for his worst-ever
showing, according to a new Gallup Poll.
would think that with more people dissatisfied with the
direction of the country than at any time in the last eight
years and the President's job approval tied for a personal
low, Democrats would be giddy in anticipation of a blowout
the exact same poll shows Kerry with a 1point lead head-to-head,
and tied with Bush in a three way race with Nader. Five
other polls - including two released last night - show
Bush ahead between 3-6 points.
is the dilemma for the Democrats: The Anybody But Bush mindset
is only going to get Kerry so far. Like most elections with
an incumbent President, this one will be a referendum on
George Bush and if he can keep his job approval around 50%
or higher, he will win.
to the conventional political wisdom, however, Bush can
still win with right/wrong direction numbers in the tank
and a sliding job approval. The reason is people may not
like the direction of the country but they don't think or
trust Kerry to do a better job.
Kerry has two choices if he wants to win. He can sit back
and continue to run a listless campaign and hope the country
utterly falls apart in the next six months. In this unlikely
scenario he will win by default.
doesn't have to worry about the scenario where President
Bush's job approval stabilizes and improves, because if
that happens he will lose no matter what he does.
if Kerry hopes to win in the environment we find ourselves
in today where people are very concerned about the direction
of the country and aren't overly enthused with the President's
job performance, Kerry is going to have to provide some
problem for Democrats is there is very little in Kerry's
25 years of public service to suggest he's capable or willing
to provide that kind of leadership.
is why the current trend in the polls is setting the Democrats
up for a very bitter election night. The 2002 midterms showed
that in a post 9/11 world many of the historical precedents
and polling tools that aid in forecasting elections no longer
work as well as they used to.
wisdom and past elections may suggest that a President facing
right/wrong direction polls 2-1 the wrong way and a job
approval below 50% is a sure fire loser.
unless Kerry can provide the American people with some leadership
and a compelling, believable program for the War on Terror
there is going to be a lot of frustrated Democrats Nov.
3 staring at four more years of George W. Bush. -J.
McIntyre 7:25 am | Link
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May 6 2004
ABU GHRAIB AND BUSH'S JA: Two new polls out yesterday
(Gallup and NBC/WSJ) peg Bush's job approval at 49% and
47%, respectively. Our RCP average shows him at 48.3%, which
is still pretty decent shape considering the bad news out
of Iraq but also portends a close election in November.
scandal over the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib
obviously hurts America's standing around the world and
makes success in Iraq that much more difficult. But will
Bush's response to Abu Ghraib help him at home?
only reason I ask is because there are two headlines dominating
the front page of almost every newspaper in America this
condemning the mistreatment at Abu Ghraib in interviews
with Arab media and Bush
scolding his Secretary of Defense for not informing
him of the seriousness of the matter and treating it with
a higher degree of urgency.
of the President are trying to paint the episode at
Abu Ghraib as another example of a leader who is inept and
out of touch, too willing to delegate and too stubborn to
admit mistakes or handle bad news. But the
flood of coverage today seems to impart just the opposite
LOGIC OF RIBBONS AND MEDALS - PART II: Be warned, this
is an extremely long post. But it's time to finish off the
thought I started last Tuesday: why did John Kerry throw
his ribbons in protest in 1971 but not his medals?
answer to this question - at least since 1984 - is that
he didn't have time to go home and get them. That answer
strikes me as two things: impossible to disprove and less
know that from 1971 to 1984 Kerry clearly wanted people
to believe he'd thrown his own medals. We also know that
Kerry agrees with the widely held belief that there is no
distinction between ribbons (which are representations of
the medals) and the medals themselves.
back to the $64,000 question: why ribbons and not medals?
clue comes from an email I received last week:
a retired Navy Captain with several medals and ribbons
awarded to me as well as experience on a 4 star Admiral's
Awards Board, etc., so I know a thing or two about military
medals and ribbons...
you are an authorized patron or with an authorized patron
(active or retired service member, their dependents, and
certain others), you can walk into any Uniform Shop on
any base and buy all the ribbons of any pattern (representing
any award) that you care to.
But, the only way to get the actual medal is to have it
awarded by the appropriate senior commander (usually a
you lose it, you must request a replacement from the appropriate
military service headquarters giving ample and convincing
justification for a replacement. This usually is hard
to do successfully.
other words, it turns out there is a striking
difference between ribbons and medals: Ribbons are easily
replaceable, medals are not.
probably fair to assume the military would not find throwing
your medals away in protest as "ample and convincing
justification for a replacement."
number two comes in the form of Kerry's own behavior.
is well documented that by the time John Kerry left Yale
and shipped off to Vietnam, he was carrying with him not
only the initials of John F. Kennedy but the political aspirations
that time Kerry had also expressed grave doubts about the
war in Vietnam, most notably on June 12, 1966 when he said
in an oration to his fellow students, "We have not
really lost the desire to serve. We question the very roots
of what we are serving."
even though Kerry didn't believe in the political reasons
for the war and was an outspoken critic of the tactics used
to fight it, during his 4 1/2 month tour of duty Kerry was
known for being an extremely aggressive commander - even
to the point of being reckless.
telling was Kerry's desire to document his exploits. Kerry
was so interested in doing this he bought a movie camera
that he even used during battle. In a profile of Kerry in
The Boston Globe, October 6, 1996, reporter Charles M. Sennott
That Kerry took the trouble to film his war experience
strikes many veterans, including some of his closest friends,
as extraordinary -- even strange.
says he shot his war footage on a Super 8 camera he bought
at the PX in Cam Ranh Bay. Asked how he filmed in the
heat of battle, he demonstrated, gripping an imaginary
ship's helm and thrusting his camera hand out to the side.
"I'd steer, or direct, or fire my gun, and hold onto it
when I could," Kerry says.
after Kerry's swift boat was attacked on February 28, 1969
- an event in which Kerry's action led to his being awarded
the Silver Star - Kerry returned to the scene of the incident
the next day with his movie camera to re-enact exactly what
had transpired - for the record.
described the footage of Kerry as a "young man so unconscious
of risk in the heat of battle, yet so focused on his future
ambitions that he would reenact the moment for film. It
is as if he had cast himself in the sequel to the experience
of his hero, John F. Kennedy, on the PT-109."
captured one other moment worth mentioning. Hours after
his victory over William Weld in November, 1996, Kerry gathered
a bunch of his fellow swift boat veterans together at his
home where they watched his movies and reminisced fondly
about Vietnam well into the morning. Sennott wrote:
Vietnam veteran Thomas] Vallely teased Kerry about the
films, which some have felt revealed that even as a young
lieutenant, Kerry was so intent on his future political
ambitions that he made sure he had his heroics captured
on film. Kerry looked at Vallely over his bifocals and
articles in the Boston
Globe and elsewhere have detailed how persistent Kerry
was in pursuing a citation for his first Purple Heart, despite
questions about the severity of his injury and whether or
not his boat actually took hostile fire on December 2, 1968.
is no doubt Kerry served his country in Vietnam. But the
record also indicates he had an intense focus on serving
himself. Even among his fellow soldiers and shipmates Kerry
was explicit about his ambition to become "the
next JFK from Massachusetts," and he seemed conspicuously
anxious about achieving (and documenting) personal recognition
for his exploits in Vietnam.
necessarily begrudge Kerry any of this, by the way. Vainglory
doesn't disqualify a person from being President of the
United States. But all of this does provide some additional
background that makes the ribbons/medals controversy that
much more troubling.
when Kerry returned home from Vietnam, first accused huge
numbers of his fellow soldiers of committing war crimes
in Vietnam on a daily basis and then used his ribbons as
a public display against the war, he specifically told America
- but especially his fellow soldiers - that the "perversion"
of Vietnam "denied us the integrity those symbols [military
medals and ribbons] supposedly gave our lives."
keeping his medals after making such a statement John Kerry
created a contradiction that remains irreconcilable to this
very day. He publicly denounced the value and integrity
of the ribbons, medals and service of all Vietnam veterans
in 1971, but he continued to hold onto his medals and to
use his service in Vietnam in future years as a reference
point for his own personal integrity and a central tool
for advancing his political career.
the end, Kerry didn't throw his medals in 1971 for two reasons.
The first is because he was proud of them - not because
they symbolized the pride he had in his country at that
time but for the pride he had in himself for winning them.
The second reason is because Kerry knew there would come
a day when he would not only want his medals but need them
to fulfill his dream of becoming "the next JFK from
Massachusetts." - T. Bevan 8:30 am | Link
to a Friend
May 5 2004
From a political standpoint, Kerry has two basic approaches
for selecting a Vice-President. One option is to pick a
candidate who he thinks will help deliver a key state in
the electoral college - preferably a state that Bush carried
in 2000. Or Kerry can take a more national approach and
place someone on the ticket who will give a boost to the
the polarization in the American electorate and the red
state/blue state divide, Kerry's best bet is to try and
hold all of Al Gore's states and try and flip one or two
of the Bush states in 2000.
Hampshire is a prime candidate for a switch because of its
geography, and if the rest of the states hold to the 2000
results, that would leave the electoral vote Bush 274 -
New Hampshire, Kerry's best states to try and flip are Ohio,
Missouri, West Virginia, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and to
a lesser degree Louisiana, and Arkansas.
Virginia and Nevada have only 5 electoral votes, so even
though they might wind up being important in the final electoral
tally, they are probably not big enough to justify a VP
selection. That leaves Ohio, Missouri, Arizona and Florida
for Vice President consideration.
John Glenn were twenty years younger he would be a slam
dunk pick, but unfortunately for Kerry the Democratic bench
in Ohio is rather thin.
Dick Gephardt and Missouri's 11 electoral votes is an obvious
choice and I suspect he is the front-runner.
Bill Richardson of New Mexico has three things working in
his favor: 1) he would appeal to a core Democratic constituency,
the Hispanic community, 2) he'd solidify New Mexico for
Kerry and 3) he would put Arizona very much into play.
Janet Napolitano of Arizona (10 electoral votes) would have
some cache as the second woman on a national ticket and,
more importantly she would probably be able to deliver Arizona.
The drawback with Napolitano is that she might be considered
somewhat of a lightweight.
Florida (27 electoral votes), Kerry has the option of the
two Democratic Senators: Bob Graham and Bill Nelson. Longer
shots would be Senator Breaux from Louisiana or Wesley Clark
would be wise to stay away from the South and adopt a northern
electoral strategy which would argue against selecting Graham,
Nelson, Breaux, Clark, and John Edwards for that matter.
leaves Gephardt, Richardson and Napolitano as the remaining
choices if Kerry was looking to steal a state from Bush's
2000 column. I
suspect Kerry will view Napolitano as too much of a risk
and is leaning towards either Gephardt or Richardson.
out all of the electoral math, the wild card choice that
would truly turn the election into a red state vs blue state
cage match is Sen. Hillary Clinton. Despite all of her public
protestations to the contrary, I suspect the Clintons might
be very open to the idea of Hillary being VP.
would help Kerry in all of the blue states and would allow
Bill Clinton to campaign furiously and publicly for the
ticket which would help Kerry in the African-American community.
How much it helps in winning Missouri, Ohio, Arizona or
otherwise getting John Kerry to an electoral majority is
another story. -
J. McIntyre 9:02 am | Link
to a Friend
May 4 2004
REMEMBERING WHO THE GOOD GUYS ARE: Temporarily lost
in all the shock, embarrassment, shame and outrage that
rightly poured forth over of mistreatment of prisoners at
Abu Ghraib is the fact we are still engaged in the most
humanitarian-focused military action in history. Victor
Davis Hanson does some helpful reminding.
everyone else is doing
to make sure the matter is dealt with properly. We can't
change what happened, only condemn it and strive to ensure
it never happens again.
FLASHBACKS: John Kerry must feel like he's the target
in one of those "free-fire zones" he complained
about back in 1968. John
O'Neill delivers a devastating critique of his fitness
to be Commander-in-Chief in today's Wall Street Journal.
today O'Neill will be part of a press conference unveiling
from some 200 veterans - including every
commanding officer Kerry had during his time in Vietnam
- delivering the same message.
far as politically damaging attacks go, this should rank
right up there among the most potent ones imaginable. It
would certainly be a political disaster of thermonuclear
proportions if all of George W. Bush's former commanding
officers in the National Guard condemned his fitness to
I suspect this story won't get very much play (except in
the blogosphere) and whatever attention it does generate
in the mainstream press that might potentially influence
swing voters in battleground states will be seriously diluted
by Kerry's massive
$25 million ad buy that began yesterday touting his
service in Vietnam.
other words, the Veterans' press conference and letter may
not have much of a short-term impact on Kerry's numbers.
it will be a different story after Labor Day when the Bush
camp puts clips from the letter and footage from the press
conference into an ad of their own and spends enough money
in those same battleground states to make it hurt.
will Kerry be able to effectively rebut this letter when
the time comes? Very good question.
OF THE DAY: "The race is close and will remain close
due to the divided and polarized nature of the country.
You will get 45-46 percent of the vote no matter what you
are for or against. This is not like the Reagan years when
you had 20 percent of the vote you could move. Today, there
is about 8 percent you can move. Our range is very small.
We have two goals: Motivate our base and get a share of
the swing vote." - Matthew
Dowd, President Bush's pollster.
Q&A: A few people have emailed asking why we've
"dropped" Rasmussen polls from our National
Presidential Race Page. The answer is, we haven't. We
have two running tallies for the Presidential Race: one
showing a head-to-head match up, and one that includes Ralph
Nader. Since Rasmussen has never polled for Nader, it didn't
make sense to keep him listed in the three way tally.
for the confusion. We've tried to make things more clear
by breaking the polls out into two different pages. Here
is the new head-to-head
page, and here are the numbers for the three
way race. -
T. Bevan 8:30 am | Link
to a Friend
May 3 2004
Sharon's disengagement plan goes
down hard in a vote among Likud members. It's a blow
to Sharon and also a blow to President Bush, whose support
of the plan was designed to help get the Israeli Prime Minister
over the hump. Now instead of strengthening his position,
the vote has put Sharon in limbo:
was unclear whether Sharon and his government could survive
the defeat. Sharon last week had characterized the referendum
as a vote of confidence in his government, and in a television
interview Friday he said that new elections were likely
if voters rejected his plan.
Israeli political analyst, Hanan Crystal, said Sharon
had two options -- calling for new elections or calling
for a nationwide referendum on his disengagement plan,
which polls indicate about 60 percent of the general public
has said that he would continue to push for implementation
of the plan -- including seeking approval from his cabinet
and parliament -- despite his earlier promise to abide
by the decision of his party in the referendum. But Crystal
and Likud Party stalwarts said the vote has weakened Sharon
and that it was not clear that he had the political clout
to push the plan forward without changing it substantially.
you think about the disengagement plan, you've got to give
Sharon (and Bush) credit for taking a political risk neither
of them really needed to take to try and move the process
it's back to square one - at least for now. I wouldn't be
too surprised if Sharon managed not only to survive, but
to eventually find a way to get the plan through.
the moment, however, instead of leading to a possible change
in the dynamic of the conflict, the vote goes down as just
another example of the endless intractability of the Palestinian-Israeli
Kerry discusses his economic views with
the Wall Street Journal (via Instapundit).
He also brings famed investor Warren
Buffett on board as an advisor.
OF THE SMEAR MACHINES: Fred Barnes writes that Mort
Kondracke asked the DNC for the goods on the
vaunted the Bush smear machine. They didn't deliver.
Both the Beltway
Boys came away unimpressed.
the other hand, John Berlau recently took an in-depth look
Fenton and the smear machine on the left.
both pieces and decide for yourself who is doing the better
job of smearing.
THE RECORD: By the way, one of the "smears"
cited by the DNC against Kerry is the claim, made by RNC
Chairman Ed Gillespie in this
address to CPAC on January 23, that during the 1971
protest against the Vietnam war Kerry slept in a posh Georgetown
apartment rather than down on the mall with his fellow protesters.
recently touched on the subject, including a link to this
scorching January 24 press release from the Kerry campaign
titled " Bush Official Uses Nixon Tactics to Smear
John Kerry; RNCís Gillespie Uses Exact Same False Charge
As Nixon White House Did in 1971."
doing some research to finish a follow up to my
post from last Tuesday (it's almost complete and will
be up later this week, in case you're interested), I ran
into this graf in a fairly exhaustive, 4,757- word profile
of Kerry by Charles M. Sennott that appeared in The
Boston Globe on October 6, 1996 (link in pay archive):
was a leader among this angry band (of war protesters),
but also not quite part of the group. Most were more outwardly
rebellious, with longer hair and much more willingness
to confront the powers that be. While they stayed in tents,
Kerry spent most nights at a Georgetown townhouse owned
by the family of George Butler, an old college friend
and fellow veteran. There, Kerry was able to work the
phones and lay his plan.
Sennott got it wrong. Maybe there is a correction floating
around out there, but I can't find it.
the issue of where Kerry slept and where he said he slept
33 years ago may or may not matter to you. It doesn't to
does pointing out a discrepancy in the record between what
Kerry said and what has been reported by his hometown paper
and the Associated Press constitute a smear?
does discussing Kerry's sleeping habits in 1971 constitute
an attack on Kerry's military service or his patriotism?
- T. Bevan 11:30 am | Link
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