June 20 2003
NARAL AD: Oops, sorry, they're NARAL
ProChoice America these days. Anyway, they launched a multimillion
dollar campaign to protect Roe v. Wade back on June 9, complete
with a slick
new :30 television spot.
From a technical
standpoint, the spot is incredibly well done. It has an enormously
high production value, visually appealing effects, and an intriguing
storyline that holds the attention. Cue the glowering, white Supreme
Court Justice, the ominously dark lighting, and the apocalyptic
sound track. Fear has never looked so good. I suspect it has also
never been so effective: this ad will have pro-choice women huddled
under their desks writing checks as fast as they can.
To be honest,
I'm still a little surprised NARAL didn't produce this ad three
years ago. Looking back, an effective piece of abortion propaganda
in the final days of the campaign might very well have scared
up an extra 7,300 votes in New Hampshire or 600 votes in Florida,
in which case today we'd be looking at a multimillion dollar pro-life
campaign by the NRLC.
WMD HYPERBOLE: I try to read Mike
Kinsley's column every week. I usually disagree with just
about everything he says, but I enjoy Kinsley's style and sense
of humor and irony much more than most other liberal pundits.
I was disappointed,
however, to read this bit in his
latest piece on finding WMD's:
settling the argument about WMD as a justification for the war,
that argument is already settled. It's obvious that the Bush
administration had no good evidence to back up its dire warnings.
for a moment, as Kinsley does by failing to mention it in his
column, the fact we recently found two mobile bioweapons labs
in Iraq that exactly match the detailed description given by Secretary
Powell on February 5. Isn't this a textbook definition of good
intelligence and good evidence? Doesn't it also prove Hussein
had an active WMD program in violation of UN sanction and lend
credence to the "dire warnings" of the Bush administration?
Kinsley's statement is still quite remarkable for someone who
was never present at any intelligence briefings over the two years
prior to the war. Kinsley has no idea what intelligence the Bush
administration had or didn't have.
think Mike Kinsley knows for sure, and the standard of proof he
now implies is necessary as justification for the war, is that
the administration didn't have a smoking gun with respect to Iraq's
But the intelligence
business doesn't work that way and Kinsley knows it. Nine times
out of ten the CIA doesn't produce a smoking gun. Instead, it
assembles scraps of intel and analyzes them for veracity and accuracy
to produce the best possible threat assessment.
a threat assessment is buttressed by multiple sources from foreign
governments and agencies, previous administrations, and a historical
track record of pursuing WMD's like Hussein's, it is logical and
prudent to draw the conclusion that he did in fact have weapons
that constituted a significant threat.
it's absolutely illogical and imprudent to stare in the face of
evidence that generated nearly unanimous agreement around the
globe that Hussein possessed WMDs and step forward and declare
the Bush administration had "no good evidence."
not interested in being logical, he's already convinced the whole
thing is a charade:
there weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Sure there are—in
every sense that matters, reality not being one of them.
pretty strong statement, and it's one that's going to hurt badly
if we end up finding WMD's in the future.
RESPONSE: Josh Marshall
emails to tell me:
Tom, I think you might need to actually *read* what I wrote
on the subject before saying I changed the subject. Just a thought.
I did read
Josh's post, but maybe I misunderstood it (see below). I thought
he called the DHS a "get-along-go-along operation,"
"comically passive," and a "see-no-evil-hear-no-evil"
operation he was being critical.
More to his
point, I suggested that by waiting until 11:32 pm to address the
issue of the report and then by stacking another long post on
top of it an hour later on a totally different subject, it gave
off the impression he was trying to minimize the impact of an
item running contrary to his crusade against Tom DeLay. Maybe
it was just a coincidence, but Josh is a smart, savvy guy who
knows the media game, so he should at least understand why some
might draw such a conclusion. - T.
Bevan 8:26 am
June 18 2003
BUBBLE BOY: Dick "My Daddy Was a Milk Truck Driver"
image suffered a set back yesterday when he tried to climb
into the pocket of Silicon Valley executives by joining their
fight to avoid counting stock options as expenses.
who spent a good deal of time over the last two years on a soapbox
sermonizing about how Bush's corporate cronies were cooking the
books at the expense of the little guy's pension plan (remember
the 40 House seats Enron was going to produce in the midterms?),
it's an odd move for Gephardt to cosponsor legislation that would
block new accounting rules designed to put corporate expenses
fully above board.
Here is how
Dick rationalized it for the group:
had some problems with a few of our corporations, some of which
may have involved stock options. The Enrons, the WorldComs have
been real disappointments. But I don't think we should just
look at that and extrapolate all those problems to every other
line of the AP report: "Gephardt's comments won an enthusiastic
response." No duh.
problem is Gephardt doesn't believe a word of this. And guess
what? He'll be crucifying this same group of greedy corporate
executives next week at a townhall meeting in Iowa, while simultaneously
pledging his full support for federal ethanol subsidies.
the hypocrisy of the presidential election season.
We've gotten a few emails asking what to make of the string of
urging President Bush to confer with them before selecting a Supreme
to me like this strategy, even though ridiculous and without any
chance of success, offers the Dems a number of political advantages.
It's a proactive move that shows their base they are on the ball,
and serves as a shot across the bow to President Bush about the
coming fight. Most importantly, however, the Dems hope these multiple
pleas will give them cover with the American public when the hand-to-hand
combat begins over a Supreme Court nominee. The publicity generated
by such a fight will no doubt highlight the filibusters of Estrada
and Owens and could generate some serious public backlash.
Fox News pulls
no punches with the title of this story speculating on a Condi-Hillary
slugfest in 2008. I suppose it could happen, though it seems like
quite a stretch. Imagine the chaos of that race.....
MARSHALL: What do you do when you've spent so much time, so
many pixels of copy, and so much outrage trying to nab that "wascally
wabbit" Tom DeLay over the Texas Dem/Homeland Security brouhaha
and then a
report is published declaring no laws were broken?
all day writing
up a rebuttal attacking the report's credibility. And then
you bury the whole thing with another lengthy post that changes
the subject. Way to go, Josh. - T.
Bevan 8:20 am
June 17 2003
RCP FUND DRIVE: It's over. Thanks to all for your tremendous
support this past week, the fund drive was an important step in
the long-term success of RealClearPolitics. We'll be posting a
full wrap up on the event later in the week. And if there is anyone
who missed the event or still wants to contribute, we've created
a place where you can do just that.
REFORM : I confess to haven't pored over the details of the
proposed prescription drug program that appears to be steamrolling
into law. However, my ten-second appraisal is that it looks to
be fantastic politics and average to bad public policy.
On the political
front this legislation will be a devastating blow to the Democrats
in '04. Republicans will have a very powerful campaign message
when they can go to voters and say that after eight years of Clinton
and a lot of talk about prescription drug reform, President Bush
promised reform in 2000 and actually delivered. This is a government
program that people understand, people want, and Bush and the
GOP will score points with the public if it passes on their watch.
On the policy
front, my antennae go up when the NY
Times and Al
Hunt are calling this a good first step and the Wall
Street Journal thinks it is a disaster. I think David
Brooks hits the policy nail on the head:
Bush's idea was we'll give you the prescription drug benefit,
we're going to tie it to some reform by giving people an incentive
to get into these private plans. He basically caved in on that.
So now you have got not much real reform but you get the benefit
with everybody sort of signing on except for on the left and
the right......It's a pseudo poisonous victory though. To me
the only fact you need to know about domestic policy is that
in 1960, 70 percent of the discretionary income of - 70 percent
of federal spending went to discretionary programs: schools,
welfare, the FBI, all that stuff. Now 70 percent goes to entitlements:
Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. And what that does
is that means these entitlement programs are squeezing out every
other part of the budget. There is no money left over. And that's
the big story Because this is a new and extremely expensive
In the end,
I think the political benefits trump the policy negatives of the
bill - though it's a close call. Today's Washington
Times editorial frames the debate well and makes a lot of
EAST: I received several emails from my post last week on
a new Middle East road
map from people who mistakenly thought I was calling for either
peacekeepers or U.S. troops in the region.
For the record,
I don't support either. Peacekeepers are worthless until the terror
practitioners are wiped out. I don't want peacekeepers. I want
non-U.S, non-Isreali special forces who will go in and exterminate
the terrorists. Once this is done, somekind of UN or NATO force
(w/o US troops) could then work as peacekeepers.
the prospect of French or Russian or Egyptian forces fighting
to get rid of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc. in the West Bank and
Gaza is, well how should I put this, not very likely. But I'll
come back to my central point last week: the Palestinian terrorists
have to be crushed, and they can't be crushed by Israel or the
June 16 2003
THE BEERS PROFILE: You may want to read this
front page profile of Rand Beers in today's Washington Post.
Beers is a former White House counterterrorism aide who resigned
recently and then joined John Kerry's campaign to unseat President
Bush. The circumstances of the storyline are just too tantalizing
for the Post, but upon close inspection even Laura Blumenfeld's
best effort at spinning the drama falls seriously flat.
Here is the
key quote from Beers which will no doubt generate the requisite
shudders among many impressionable voters:
administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the
war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure,"
said Beers, who until now has remained largely silent about
leaving his National Security Council job as special assistant
to the president for combating terrorism. "As an insider, I
saw the things that weren't being done. And the longer I sat
and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and
caught my attention because it not only accuses the Bush administration
of inaction ("things that weren't being done") but also
of acting counterproductively ("making us less secure, not
rest of the piece carefully, however, and you learn a few important
facts like: Beers is a registered Democrat who thinks the Bush
administration 1) is not spending enough money on homeland security
2) should have built a broader coalition for the war in Iraq 3)
hasn't addressed the "root causes" of terrorism and
"could be" breeding a new generation of al-Qaeda recruits.
I may disagree with him, I don't begrudge Beers's opinion on point
number one. After all, this is a man who sat around all day looking
at the scariest scraps of terrorist intelligence in the country
- of course he's going to think we need more money spent here
at home. But points number two and three are purely ideological
and just aren't supported by any facts whatsoever.
treatment of Beers makes it seem like he's more than just a liberal-leaning
bureaucrat who had ideological differences with the direction
of the war on terror.
THE LAND OF LINCOLN: The Chicago Tribune headlined
a poll on Sunday showing that despite Bush's respectable approval
rating in Illinois (57%) he still hasn't convinced voters in this
Democrat-trending state he deserves reelection (42%).
the article, however, is this little nugget of good news for Bush
received strong reelection support among white suburban women,
swing voters who had been wary of his conservatism as a candidate
and who had helped hold down his numbers in the traditionally
Republican collar counties.
really began dominating in Illinois in 1992 when Clinton tapped
into the white, suburban, socially liberal female vote. This domination
continued through 2000 when Gore beat Bush by a sizable 12 points
here. And in 2002, while the GOP was picking up local, state and
federal seats across the country, Republicans in Illinois were
getting trounced, losing the state legislature and every statewide
elective office except one.
to regain ground in the suburbs is absolutely critical if he wants
to be competitive here and his strong reelect numbers among suburban
white women in this poll indicate that 2004 could be different.
Why? National security.
voters are also feeling the economic pinch, it's surely not as
bad as in rural or urban areas. This is happening in suburbs across
the country, especially
among women and especially in major metros where the threat
of terrorism continues to loom.
numbers are obviously being held down by the troubled economy
and if it shows even the slightest bit of improvement over the
next 9-12 months then there is a decent chance we might see Illinois
in the red again in 2004. - T.
Bevan 8:27 am