Thursday, August 14 2003
FIRING UP THE BASE: Shouldn't we all have known that the Dems would use the recall in California to revive the "We Wuz Robbed!" war cry from Florida in 2000?

As I mentioned on Tuesday, earlier this week before a partisan crowd in Philadelphia Dick Gephardt used the recall as a segue to this gross fabrication:

"This is an attack on the institutions of our government. That's what Republicans do."

I believe Howard Dean said almost exactly the same thing yesterday.

Finally, there is uber-hack Joe Conason writing in this morning's New York Observer:

Bizarre as it surely is, the California recall is just the latest in a series of episodes that demonstrate the Republican Party’s unquenchable urge to seize power by whatever means are available—even when that means vandalizing American political norms and traditions.

First, don't let Conason fool you: if the current governor of California was a Republican and that governor lied to voters about the size and scope of the state's budget problems, Conason would be at the front of the line encouraging a recall and hailing it as a "Progressive-era good-government innovation" and a virtuous exercise in representative government.

Before I get to my second point, let's go back to Conason for some more holier-than-thou sermonizing:

Of course, Democrats and liberals should never mimic the thuggish tactics of the worst Republicans. They should always stick to the rules and maintain a high-minded respect for their fellow Americans.

I've got two words for you Joe: New Jersey. And here are a few more: Missouri, Wisconsin, and South Dakota. Nice high-minded respect for your fellow Americans.

Whether you liked the final outcome in Florida 2000, New Jersey 2002 and now with the California recall, unless I'm missing something it's been Republicans who have consistently wanted and fought for nothing more than to follow the laws that were on the books. In each instance Democrats have been the ones who have gone to the court systems - with a great deal of success, I might add - to bend, circumvent, or overturn laws passed by the state legislatures.

The larger point is that for every Democrat who believes 2000 election was "stolen" or that Republicans are trying to "seize power by whatever means are available" there is a Republican out there who believes the exact same thing about Democrats - and with good reason.

Having a slew of Presidential candidates crisscrossing the country for the next year accusing Republicans of underhanded tactics, hijacking elections and assaulting the "institutions of our government" will definitely energize the base all right - the base of the Republican party. - T. Bevan 8:59 am

Wednesday, August 13 2003
THE FIGHT OF JOHN EDWARDS' LIFE: The way things are shaping up, John Edwards could really be screwed. Despite raising tons of trial lawyer money he's been unable to make any headway in the polls over the last few months. In national surveys he's averaging about 5%, and running fifth out of the nine candidates in the field.

In key primary states Edwards is fairing even worse, running a distant fourth in Iowa (5%) and almost off the radar screen in New Hampshire (2%).

The only bit of good news Edwards has gotten recently came from an ARG poll of South Carolina released this week showing him moving into second place at 10%, even though Zogby's last SC poll in late July had him generating a paltry 5% support and running behind Lieberman, Gephardt, and Sharpton.

Meanwhile, back in North Carolina things aren't any better. State Democrats have become increasingly nervous and frustrated by Edwards' unwillingness to commit to either running for reelection to the Senate (by pulling the plug on his Presidential run or running concurrent campaigns) or to stepping aside and clearing the way for somebody else.

They have good reason to be nervous. Edwards poll numbers in his home state are atrocious: he's sporting a 32% reelect, a 41% unfavorable, and a majority of voters (51%) disapprove of his running for president. Oh, and by the way, in a hypothetical matchup Edwards loses his home state to Bush by 18 points.

Perhaps even more disconcerting to North Carolina Democrats - and I'm sure to the DLC as well - is this report from yesterday's Wilmington Journal:

So bad is the Democratic political condition, that here in North Carolina, there is a growing movement for African-American voters to register as independents so that their votes can no longer be taken for granted.

An inability to hold on to a vast majority of the African-American vote in North Carolina spells certain doom for Democrats. It doesn't help matters that the party's lone Senator is off campaigning around the country instead of mending fences at home.

On the other side, the GOP smells blood in the water. Republican Congressman Richard Burr already has $3 million in the bank and trails Edwards by only 11 points in the latest polls.

Edwards knows he's in dire straits. This past week he launched ads in both Iowa and New Hampshire to try and boost his sagging numbers. But if he can't turn around his campaign for president, or if he hangs on too long trying and does irreparable harm to his Senate reelection bid, the best Edwards can hope for is that a Northeastern liberal like Dean or Kerry wins the nomination and picks up the phone to round out the ticket. John Edwards is in the fight of his life: either he will become the next Vice-President of the United States or his political career will be over. - T. Bevan 9:49 am

Tuesday, August 12 2003
KRUGMAN & HACKWORTH: Strange bedfellows indeed. Both write this morning (Hackworth, Krugman) on how our troops in Iraq are suffering from poor leadership and logistics.

As usual, Krugman takes what would otherwise be a reasonable critique and stretches it too far with his inimitable partisan schlock to try score points against the Bush administration. To wit, the final line of the piece:

"In short, the logistical mess in Iraq isn't an isolated case of poor planning and mismanagement: it's telling us what's wrong with our current philosophy of government."

It's not Krugman's fault, he just can't help himself.

BIDEN OUT, GEPHARDT OUT TO LUNCH: Joe Biden knew he couldn't win the nomination and didn't want to spend the better part of the next year as the tenth member of the traveling circus that is the Democrat presidential primary field. Good move.

Dick Gephardt, on the other hand, is still a viable candidate. But his desperation over trying to excite the base and get to Dean's left is starting to show, and he's looking increasingly more hysterical and less like himself.

Yesterday, for example, in reiterating his position as one of the few Dem candidates for president wanting to repeal all of the Bush tax cuts, Gephardt called the tax cuts "a joke" and likened them to "handing out candy bars" and "buying votes."

Gephardt also used the issue of the California recall to drop this ridiculous comment: "This is an attack on the institutions of our government. That's what Republicans do."

Gephardt may possibly succeed in saving his candidacy by beating Dean in Iowa, but in the process he may make such a caricature of himself that he'll be less likely to win primaries in other more moderate states - not to mention the damage he may do to himself in the general election.

A SUIT FOR BIN LADEN: Anybody been wondering how Larry Klayman has been spending his time recently? Nope, me neither. Now if we can just find Osama so we can serve him the subpoena...

MORE INSANITY: If you have a few minutes to kill, read these remarks delivered by William Rivers Pitt at the Veterans for Peace National Convention in San Francisco on Sunday. Now remember, this is just one hard-left pacifist speaking to a room full of hard-left pacifists and not a mainstream political figure - like Al Gore, for example - stepping out in public and calling our entire foreign policy since 9/11 a pack of lies.

Still, I am astonished by the cocoon these people have built for themselves regarding the war in Iraq. It's a place completely insulated from facts, driven by personal animosity, and absolutely devoid of any historical memory.

Trying to explain to this crowd that there was a consensus among our intelligence agencies (not to mention the rest of the world's most prominent intelligence agencies) dating back at least three administrations that Saddam possessed WMD and was trying desperately to develop a nuclear weapons program doesn't even register a glint of recognition in their angry, bloodshot eyes.

Instead, you get stuff like this:

The men and women within this current administration are murdering the idea that is America with their Patriot Acts, their destruction of civil liberties, their lies, their daily undermining of even the most basic tenets of decency and freedom and justice that we have tried to live up to for 227 years...

Until then we are at the barricades, and on the streets, and in the faces of all those who would spend the precious blood of our men and women on lies and profit and greed.

Good luck manning the barricades and selling your "Bush Lied and Our Soldiers Died" bumper stickers and post cards. The rest of us will keep going about our lives, confident that our leaders in government are doing their level best to protect the American dream, not dismantle it so their buddies at the Carlyle Group or Halliburton can pocket a few extra shillings. - T. Bevan 7:55 am

Monday, August 11 2003
ARNIE'S RACE TO LOSE: The new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll out this morning shows that Davis is toast (64% say they will vote to recall him) and that the race is Arnie's to lose.

If you watched any of the political shows this weekend you noticed that certain left-leaning pundits - Lawrence O'Donnell and Margaret Carlson in particular - were absolutely beside themselves at the idea that Schwarzenegger may ride his fame to victory without fully articulating positions on a whole range of issues. They think it's bad for the body politic.

Maybe they're right, or maybe they are vastly overrating the importance the public attaches to the "policy wonkishness" of a candidate. As long as Arnold can lay out a platform of three or four things that he is clearly for or against - even in the most general terms - it will be enough. He's just too well known and too well liked by the voting public.

In fact, Arnold's charisma and lack of political experience are perfectly juxtaposed with the experienced and deeply unlikable Gray Davis. The question is whether Arnold's personal charm can withstand the scorched earth campaign coming his way over the next 60 days.

BOTTOM FEEDER: At the other end of the spectrum is Arianna Huffington. I didn't much care for her when she was a conservative, and I don't like her any more now that she's a liberal/progressive/populist.

Every time I see her I can hear Ed Rollins' description of her ringing in my ears. Here is how Rollins, who managed Michael Huffington's 1994 California Senate run, described Arianna and her husband in his book "Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms":

Since early July, I'd been working for two of the most unprincipled political creatures I'd ever encountered. One was such a complete cipher he gave empty suits a bad name. But his wife was even worse - a domineering Greek Rasputin determined to ride her husband's wealth to political glory at any cost....

Arianna Huffington had charmed me out of my socks to get me to manage her husband's campaign. But in a few short months, I'd come to realize that she was the most ruthless, unscrupulous, and ambitious person I'd met in thirty years in national politics - not to mention that she sometimes seemed truly pathological.

She's changed ideologies, but has she changed personalities as well? Don't count on it.

BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE: I'm not sure why this Washington Post story is on the front page because it really isn't big news. Not only are Democrats facing an almost impossible task in taking back the House next year, if the elections were held today they'd probably lose anywhere from 2-4 Senate seats and the Presidential election as well. - T. Bevan 7:58 am

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