July 16 2004
TERROR IN THE SKIES, AGAIN?: Fascinating
and scary read. (Hat tip to Hugh
Hewitt) J. McIntyre 7:33 am
STOP THE CHENEY INSANITY: The quickest way for
President Bush to move from being the favorite to win reelection
to the underdog in this race would be to dump Vice President
Cheney. Charlie Cook seems to have restoked the Cheney rumor
in his column earlier this week:
I still expect Vice President Dick Cheney to remain on
the Republican ticket, I am beginning to have some doubts
about this for the first time this cycle. The dynamics
of this race do not look good for President Bush. The
political mortality rate for well-known, well-defined
incumbents tied at 45 percent is extremely high, even
if there are 3 percentage points or so that are likely
to go to independent and third party candidates. The mortality
rate for incumbents with 48 percent job approval ratings
is not much better. While this is almost certainly going
to be a very, very close race, I'd rather be John Kerry
today than George W. Bush....the president badly needs
something to shake this race up, and I can think of just
one thing. Cheney may need to watch his back.
yesterday the New
York Times ran a front page story "Hear the Rumor on
Cheney? Capital Buzzes, Denials Aside. In the article
Elizabeth Bumiler quotes an unnamed Republican House member
who says "watch Cheney" and then another unnamed
GOP member of Congress who says Cheney is "increasingly
viewed as a political liability." Apparently just acknowledging
in the first sentence that the whole story is a "conspiracy
theory" and "far-fetched" is all that is
necessary to then get front page treatment.
things first: it's summer time in Washington, Kerry's already
picked his VP and a lot of this "buzz" is simply
a bored press corps killing time until the Democrat's convention
later in July.
the other hand, much of the dump Cheney buzz does have the
intended effect of sowing seeds of doubt among Republicans
about the strength of the Bush/Cheney ticket.
problem is that he has more or less given the press and
his political opponents (which in most cases are one and
the same) a free ride in painting a caricature of a dark
and secret man who, besides being a warmonger, has as his
only goal in life to funnel money to Haliburton and other
"big oil" companies.
the White House is sensitive (and rightly so) to the other
press caricature that Cheney really runs the whole show,
they aren't in a position to put him out front and center
to defend himself. So all of the noise about Cheney's unfavorable
ratings has to be put into context of this unanswered assault
on his character week after week for years.
the Cheney unfavorable ratings are a fact, their impact
on the Presidential race will be negligible. In some ways
these unfavorables will create an expectation game that
will work well for the Bush/Cheney team in the Vice Presidential
debate where the beautiful, eloquent trial lawyer is supposed
to talk circles around the mean, balding Vice President.
Don't be surprised if Cheney wins that debate.
the VP debate isn't going to decide this election. Contrary
to the scuttlebutt that Bush needs to shake up the dynamic
of the race, Kerry is the guy who was worried about where
the election was heading - which is why he went for the
charisma pop with Edwards as opposed to Gephardt or Graham
who might have actually helped him win a state that would
there is still time for the Democrats to build up their
bounce from the Edwards pick and the convention, the first
round of polling showing the race
tied to a 5 point lead for Kerry has got to be a little
disappointing to the the Kerry campaign.
my question to all those people who think George W. Bush
is in such big trouble: if that is really true, how come
all of the betting sites, where real money is changing hands,
have the President as the favorite? J. McIntyre
7:17 am Link
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July 15 2004
A PLAN FOR THE JOHNS: I get accused all the time
of being a full-blown Bush apologist with nary a bad word
for the President. If it isn't already apparent to those
of you who read this space regularly, I admit that since
9/11 I've become darn near a single issue voter (okay, dual
issue) on national security and the War on Terror. I also
admit that I tend to favor the President's approach to these
issues more than his opponents.
the Bush administration has made mistakes - a number of
them, in fact. The problem with John Kerry and John Edwards
is that instead of making reasonable arguments against the
way Bush has waged the War on Terror they are trying, at
the behest of a feverish base of antiwar Bush-haters led
by a fat, filmmaking demagogue, to sell the public a version
of events that turns reality on its head.
LIED!!!! is a little phrase full of outrage that fits nicely
on the protest signs (right over the photoshopped picture
of Bush with the Hitler mustache in the SS uniform). But
most rational people understand at a gut level the charge
isn't true, and in practice it feels more like Kerry &
Edwards are two used car salesman trying to convince people
that the VW Beetle they're selling is really a Porsche.
Kerry & Edwards need is to make an effective critique
of the war that rings absolutely true with voters, especially
those in the middle.
"Bush should have built a broader coalition" doesn't
do it. Most voters recognize we already have a number of
countries with us in Iraq anyway. Even worse, this argument
always makes John Kerry look like he's pandering to Kofi
Annan and Jacques Chirac.
"Bush team mismanaged the occupation" doesn't
get the job done either. People intuitively understand war
is a messy, chaotic business, and that by any historical
measure we've made a good amount of progress in Iraq over
the last year and a half.
what argument can effectively be made against Bush?
I were advising Kerry & Edwards this is what I'd say:
Bush is most vulnerable to a charge of negligent leadership,
not for deciding to invade Iraq or for managing the occupation
since, but for failing to take swift and aggressive measures
to hold people accountable for the fact our intelligence
on Iraq was faulty.
what is in Bob Woodward's book Plan
of Attack is true, I'd make the exchange between President
Bush and George Tenet on Iraq's WMD's the centerpiece of
how confident are you?" the president asked Tenet.
worry, it's a slam-dunk," Tenet said.
fact that George Bush chose not to fire Tenet, instead letting
him stay on as DCI for more than two more years and then
him in June of this year as having "done a superb job
on behalf of the American people" is, to my mind,
a rather devastating argument.
don't care how nice of a guy Tenet is and I don't care how
much the President liked him or valued his loyalty. Given
what the public has learned about the quality of the intelligence
information coming out of the CIA it's almost indefensible
to have left Tenet in charge.
patently obvious that Bush isn't responsible for the CIA
producing information that turned out to be sketchy in some
cases and bogus in others. What he is responsible for, however,
is kicking ass, taking names, and making sure it doesn't
happen again. Americans understand that that's how it works.
Even more importantly, it's what they want and what they
expect in a leader.
guru Jim Cramer made a similar point earlier this week explaining
why he has decided to vote for Kerry over Bush:
[Bush] had terrible intelligence and bad homework, stuff
I fire people for regularly and always have.
fact that not a single person has lost their job in the
aftermath of both the worst terrorist attack and the worst
intelligence failure in our country's history is where John
Kerry and John Edwards could really hurt Bush. And they
could do it by sounding like they wanted to be tougher and
more competent in protecting the country from future attacks.
that's what I would do if I were advising the Kerry campaign.
I'd have signs made up that said "Slam-Dunk Bush in
'04" and I'd have John Edwards saying at every possible
opportunity that Bush is lucky Edwards wasn't still a practicing
attorney because he'd take him to court and sue him for
negligence for not firing Tenet - and he'd win.
know if this strategy would lead to a Kerry victory or not,
but it would certainly ring a lot more true with those in
the middle and it would probably be a lot easier and more
productive than what Kerry and Edwards are currently doing:
trying to convince voters that night is day and black is
OUT: Democrats rejoice
over the news. I don't know anything about Ditka's positions
or his ability to articulate them, so it's hard to say whether
would have made the race close or just made a total buffoon
of himself. It sure would have been fun to watch, though.
like the Illinois GOP is back to square one. - T.
Bevan 7:30 am Link
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July 13 2004
WHAT IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO: You don’t often
find an entire election summarized in one or two sentences,
and you’re even less likely to find it on a Sunday
morning political talk show. But here it is, from Meet
Russert: Do you see Bush being re-elected?
F. Buckley: I don't think that Bush has done anything
disqualifying him. He had a lousy intelligence system,
manifestly, but nobody thinks that he acted capriciously.
I think if we all had been told exactly what he
was told, it's pretty logical that we would have proceeded
to do what he did.
Brownstein: Look, I think that the Senate Intelligence
Committee report does frame what I believe is the central
issue in this campaign. And I differ a little with Bill
Buckley because I don't think that all Americans
agree that any president would have made this decision
based on this information. I think that goes
to the crux of the choice that they face.
is exactly right, and contrary to what he and other liberals
in the press might think, it’s the single biggest
weakness in John Kerry’s candidacy.
Brownstein is saying, and what is obvious to anyone who
has been paying attention to politics over the last year
is that no Democrat – with only one or two exceptions
in the entire elected party – would have looked at
the exact same intelligence Bush looked at with respect
to Iraq after 9/11 and done much of anything - even though
they agreed with Bush at the time that Hussein was a serious
isn’t some wild hypothetical, it’s a historical
fact. Ten days after Saddam Hussein issued an edict in October
29, 1997 kicking U.S. weapons inspectors out of Iraq, John
Kerry stood on the floor of the United States Senate and
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."
went on to argue that the threat Saddam posed was so serious
that it justified unilateral military action, 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."
days before, President Clinton had “drawn
a line in the sand” with Iraq over the expulsion
of U.S. inspectors, saying the U.S and the U.N. had to “be
very firm” with Iraq.
rest, of course, is history – and not a very pretty
one at that. Read through this
timeline of events and you’ll see that while there
were lots of meetings, discussions, debates, and negotiations
that offered the illusion progress was being made, problems
were being solved, and threats were being dealt with, nothing
of any substance really took place.
the end, after all of the sharp rhetoric, threats and negotiation,
the "line in the sand" was washed away with no
consequence for Hussein. Saddam played cat-and-mouse with
the U.S. and the U.N. for nearly a year before finally booting
UNSCOM out of Iraq altogether in August 1998.
response? On September 9, 1998 the UN
Security Council passed yet another resolution “condemning”
Iraq’s lack of cooperation with inspectors. Three
weeks after that the United States Congress passed (and
President Clinton eventually signed) The
Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, making regime change in
Iraq the official policy of the United States government.
on December 16, 1998 the U.S. launched Operation
Desert Fox, a four-day bombing campaign against military
targets in Iraq. Two days after Desert Fox concluded, Fred
Kaplan (no rabid right-winger, mind you) wrote:
question has emerged in the aftermath of President Clinton's
four-day bombing campaign against Iraq: What was that
his aim was to put a dent in Saddam Hussein's ability
to produce chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons,
the dent was not a large one.
as some of the air war's targets suggested, Clinton was
trying to destabilize Hussein's regime, he did not hit
its foundations hard enough.
of the Pentagon's estimates of damage, John Pike, a specialist
with the Federation of American Scientists, said Saturday
night, ''It doesn't look like they did anything on what
they said they were going to do, and not enough on what
they were actually doing.''
to the Pentagon's most recent figures, the attacks hit
a total of 97 targets over the four days. The strikes
damaged beyond repair only a few of the targets - the
weapons sites, military headquarters, and industrial facilities
that Pentagon planners thought had to be hit to accomplish
mystified why they stopped the campaign just as they had
amassed sufficient force to complete the job,'' Pike added.
forces, including another aircraft-carrier battle-group
and more than 70 additional combat planes, had just arrived
don't deploy 70 aircraft halfway around the world just
so they can fly one combat sortie,'' Pike said.
nuclear and chemical materials were not attacked...
any event, yesterday morning, Hussein, who lived through
it all once again, claimed victory - which, from his point
of view, might outweigh Clinton's claim that the Iraqi
leader stands ''degraded'' and ''diminished.''
probably won't surprise you to learn that on the very same
day Kaplan's article appeared in the Boston Globe, the NY
Times reported this:
in Paris, President Jacques Chirac of France called for
a prompt lifting of the oil embargo. His country's major
oil companies have for years been eager to return to work
in Iraq, although record low oil prices make this less
fact, three of the five permanent members of the UN Security
Council (France, Russia, & China) responded to the limited
use of military force against Saddam for his continued violation
of UNSC resolutions by calling to lift the economic sanctions
against Iraq and disband UNSCOM completely. And that was
basically the end of the whole affair.
seen the same pattern from most Democrats this time around.
First, we saw near universal acceptance of US intelligence
estimates (which we've since come to learn were badly flawed),
followed by grandiose speeches in late 2002 full of sharp
rhetoric and talk of consequences for Hussein, followed
by.......absolute and utter outrage at the President of
the United States for actually taking action.
think there is any question that neither John Kerry, nor
John Edwards, nor any other Democratic candidate who ran
for President (except Lieberman, of course) would have aggressively
pushed to take out Saddam Hussein. I also don't get the
impression that any of them would have had the political
will or courage to take such a course of action over the
objections of their party or certain allies (you know who
I'm talking about) even if they felt it was the right
thing to do.
far more damning than Bush acting on evidence almost everyone
in the world believed to be true is to look at a hypothetical
in reverse: What if all of the WMD intelligence on Iraq
had been spot on and John Kerry were President at the time
and chose not to act because of pressure from his party
or the objections of allies? I think most Americans would
find that prospect deeply disturbing.
Podhoretz ably points out this morning, Kerry let the
cat out of the bag on '60
Minutes' Sunday night that the hypothetical I've just
described might not be so hypothetical after all. Kerry
believed Saddam had weapons, said so, voted in favor of
taking action against him, and now thinks the whole thing
was a big fat mistake.
know how terribly weak this makes their party and their
candidate look, which is why they must now convince voters
that the action Bush took in invading Iraq wasn't based
on good faith and a desire to protect the country but on
lies and deceit. Simply put, it's the only way Democrats
can get the public to swallow the idea that after September
11, 2001 doing nothing with respect to Iraq (and thus leaving
Saddam in power despite of our belief that he had WMD, supported
terrorists, etc.) was the right thing to do.
so the full court press is on to use the Senate Intelligence
Committee report to paint Bush as a liar (here,
rather than a victim of bad intelligence. The media certainly
seem to be doing
their part, chipping in for
the cause. Whether the public buys it or not is another
getting back to the original point, Ron Brownstein is absolutely
on the mark: the basic question of this election is whether
a majority of voters want to reelect a President who, based
on the best information he had at the time, saw a threat
and was willing to take action to deal with it, or not.
Everything else is just noise. - T. Bevan 1:36
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July 12 2004
EDWARDS BOUNCE SLIGHTLY BETTER THAN A DEAD CAT:
You've probably heard the
saying, "Even a dead cat will bounce if dropped
from high enough." Well, John Edwards is giving the
Kerry campaign a bounce, but it sure isn't that big. I suspect
both the Dems and the GOP were expecting something a bit
polls taken since Kerry announced his VP choice on Tuesday,
Kerry/Edwards has moved ahead of Bush/Cheney by 5.4% in
the head-to-head race. Compared to the average of the last
6 polls conducted prior to Kerry's announcement, that represents
a net gain of 4.3%.
about the same in the three
way race. In the five surveys last week that included
Nader/Camejo in the mix, Kerry/Edwards is averaging a 2.2%
lead over Bush/Cheney. Compare this to the last five polls
leading up to Kerry's announcement and you see a net gain
of only 3.6%.
Dowd made news last week by predicting that John Kerry
could possibly have a fifteen-point lead by the end of the
month, after basking in the glow of positive press coverage
of his VP choice and the Democratic National Convention.
Dowd was highballing for the sake of the expectation game,
and Kerry strategist Tad Devine did
his best yesterday to try and curb any excessive expectations
and put as happy a face as possible on the numbers.
now the numbers suggest John Edwards is a mediocre pick.
One argument in his favor is that the lack of bounce from
Edwards is less of a reflection on him or the Dem ticket
than it is another reminder of just how polarized the electorate
is this year between those who support Bush no matter what,
those who support Kerry no matter what, and those who don't
know and still aren't paying attention. In other words,
there just isn't the traditional amount of room in the electorate
to generate the sort of bounce we're used to seeing.
Kerry's recent flirtation with McCain - and the polling
we saw as a result - puts the lie to that argument. Kerry
did have an opportunity to do more for himself with his
VP pick, though he certainly could have done worse. Just
as a point of reference, not only for the Edwards pick but
for how far left the Democrats have moved as a whole in
the last four years: Joe Lieberman gave Gore more of a bounce
in 2000 than Edwards did this year.
question of the moment is whether the meager lift Edwards
has given the Kerry campaign will hold through the Democratic
has an article this morning that takes a look at historical
convention bounces and determines that they're basically
equal. It's interesting reading for political junkies but
really meaningless when viewed in isolation of the polls.
So what if Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale and Barry Goldwater
got bigger convention bounces than their opponents?
matters is who is ahead in the polls after Labor Day. History
says that the candidate who is leading the race after Labor
Day almost always goes on to win in November. There have
only been three exceptions to this rule since 1936: in 1948,
when Truman trailed Dewey in September, in 1960, when Nixon
was still ahead of Kennedy after Labor Day, and most notably
in 2000, when Al Gore carried a small lead out of the Democratic
National Convention into September only to surrender the
lead to Bush during the final weeks of the campaign after
a series of disastrous debates.
with so many other things this year, however, conventional
wisdom could be terribly wrong. The debates could once again
prove decisive. Events such as a terrorist attack either
at home and abroad could dramatically shift the dynamic
of the race in the final weeks or even days. One of the
ironies of having such a closely divided electorate is that
the race is just as likely to be an electoral wipe out as
it is to being a cliffhanger - a shift of just a couple
of points toward either candidate at the close of the race
could swing a majority of the battleground states their
PLAN: This must be some scoop. About a month ago
Marshall proudly announced:
and several colleagues have been working on a story that,
if and when it comes to fruition --- and I’m confident
it shall --- should shuffle the tectonic plates under
that capital city where I normally hang my hat. So that’s
something to look forward to in the not too distant future.
I could be wrong, but it's becoming more and more clear
that Josh's big story is about the Niger uranium brouhaha.
I must say it's been a bit of comedy watching him try to
put his fingers in the dyke and protect his big scoop, lashing
out at anything or anyone who might lessen the impact of
the impending "tectonic" shuffle.
there was The
Financial Times article from June 28 that reported
some rather eye-popping news:
FT has now learnt that three European intelligence services
were aware of possible illicit trade in uranium from Niger
between 1999 and 2001. Human intelligence gathered in
Italy and Africa more than three years before the Iraq
war had shown Niger officials referring to possible illicit
uranium deals with at least five countries, including
immediately jumped to discredit the article, suggesting
as a "hypothetical" that the story was a plant
from the Bush administration and that the FT - a well-respected
paper that generally opposes Bush's invasion of Iraq - published
the story out of incompetence, naivete, or worse.
the other day Josh
attacked Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post for writing
article raising questions about Joe Wilson's credibility
based on information contained in the recently released
Senate Intelligence Committee's report. Josh derisively
compared Schmidt to "Mikey", the boy in the Life
cereal commercials, and suggested that she's nothing more
than a shill for beltway Republicans.
be warned. If you're planning to write or report anything
on Niger that gets in the way of Marhsall's big story, prepare
to be attacked. As I said, it must be some big scoop.
- T. Bevan 12:01 am Link
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