Thursday, September 16 2004
It's pretty remarkable to watch one of the icons of the news business try to single handedly lower the bar of the journalistic profession to save his own hide. Last night Dan Rather looked America in the eye and told us that "fake but accurate" is good enough - at least for him and his pals at CBS News. It's not. And the manner with which Rather has conducted himself in this and in other incidents makes you wonder just how mobile the bar of professionalism might have been for him throughout the years.

There are two great ironies to be gleaned from Rather's fantastic act of self-immolation this past week. The first is that Rather has now confirmed that the "pajama people" have higher ethical and journalistic standards than he does.

Just days ago Rather was deriding the Internet and the blogosphere as "the professional rumor mill." That statement shows a fundamental misunderstanding of who bloggers are and what they do. The blogosphere is indeed a living, swirling mass of opinion and commentary but, thanks to the wonder of hyperlinking and search technology like Google, it's also a very transparent, self-correcting environment ultimately based on facts. Hoaxes can be spread via the Internet, but they can't exist there for very long in today's environment without being challenged and debunked. The mainstream media is just beginning to understand the velocity and the ferocity with which the blogosphere processes, analyzes and scrutinizes information.

The second irony of this episode is that Dan Rather threw his entire career and reputation away on a story that didn't matter. More than anything else this shows just how out of touch Rather, the Democrats, and the rest of the mainstream media are - especially when it comes to this election.

Rather was so convinced this story was a game-breaker for Bush that he threw journalistic caution to the wind to get it on air. But even had all of the allegations in the story been true (as opposed to a collection of forgeries and hearsay) it wouldn't have made any difference with the public. The National Guard story is old news and no amount of rehashing is going to make it new again.

The bottom line is that Dan Rather and Andrew Heyward should go. Not next year or in 2006 but now. I don't know if it will happen or not - I'm inclined to think they will both stick around - but the longer Rather and Heyward continue on as the controlling forces at CBS News the further the credibility of their organization will sink.

THE OTHER SOROS: Earlier in the week Drudge linked to this story about my alma mater which reported that John Kerry has racked up $40,950 in donations from Princeton University employees while President Bush has only received one single donation of $250.

The lopsidedness of financial support at Princeton and elsewhere is depressing because it reflects the continuing, near-universal death grip of liberal orthodoxy throughout academia, which only a fool would argue doesn't make its way into the classroom every day.

What caught my attention, however, was this blurb at the end of the article about Peter Lewis:

Lewis and close friend George Soros have each pledged $10 million to America Coming Together, a 527 dedicated to defeating Bush through get-out-the-vote efforts in swing states such as Lewis' native Ohio.

Lewis, the former chairman of Progressive, Inc., has already donated more than $11 million to other anti-Bush groups, according to the Center for Public Integrity. His current total is $14.3 million, making him the single largest donor for any election cycle.

Soros has gotten all of the press, but most people don't know that Lewis is just as influential and has actually contributed nearly $2 million more than Soros thus far. He's helping to fund just about every anti-Bush group under the sun, including a $50,000 donation to PunkVoter Inc. which is trying to mobilize the influential punk rock community to vote against Bush with a series of concerts across the country and with high-minded messages like this one on their web site.

Look at this list of the top individual donors to 527's. So far, twenty-five individuals have contributed $58,218,283 to these groups. Of that total, 97% has gone to liberal and/or anti-Bush organizations and Soros and Lewis are responsible for nearly half of that money ($26,830,000) just between the two of them.

Those are astonishing sums of money being spent to try and influence this year's election. Even more astonishing is that the money comes from people like Soros, who from 1997 to 2001 spent $4.7 million bankrolling the effort to enact campaign finance reform to get money out of politics. The word "hypocrisy" doesn't begin do justice here. - T. Bevan 9:55 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Wednesday, September 15 2004
There's been a flood of state polls out over the last forty-eight hours, most of it showing a continuing deterioration in John Kerry's position in the Electoral College.

First, the bright spots. A new Gallup poll shows Kerry maintaining a 6-point lead in Michigan and a Minnesota Star-Tribune poll released today shows him with a conspicuously large 9-point lead over Bush.

The big news, however, is in Wisconsin where three new polls by Gallup, Rasmussen, and Strategic Vision show Bush moving ahead of Kerry by 10, 2 and 8 points, respectively. (Note to future candidates: Wisconsin voters do not think highly of people who think the Packers home stadium is called "Lambert Field.").

Because of the shift in Bush's direction, we've moved Wisconsin in our RCP Electoral Count from "toss up" to "leaning Bush." As a result, Bush now leads Kerry 279-228.

We still have three states listed as toss ups: NV, NM, and PA. In Pennsylvania - a state Kerry must win to have any hope - the race remains a dead tie. In Nevada and New Mexico, the most recent polls out of each of those states that aren't Zogby online polls have Bush ahead, though narrowly.

In other potentially ominous news for the Kerry camp, the polling out of New Jersey shows that it's getting awfully close to becoming a "toss up" state as well. And two new polls out of New York today also show significant movement in Bush's direction, though the bottom would have to fall out of the Kerry campaign for him to lose the state.

Ironically for the Democrats, the bad news in the polls for their presidential nominee is juxtaposed with some pretty good news for their hopes in the Senate. In Florida, a new poll shows Betty Castor narrowly leading Mel Martinez and in Oklahoma Brad Carson has inched ahead of Tom Coburn. (Incidentally, we've put together a new page rounding up all the latest polls in the competitive Senate races this year.) There's a lot of race left, of course, but holding Florida and stealing Oklahoma would be huge for the Democrats. - T. Bevan 11:42 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Monday, September 13 2004
On Friday last week John Kerry was in Missouri thanking "his good friend" Dick Gephardt in glowing language. Unfortunately, I don't have a transcript of his remarks, but it went something like: "this is a man I've known for over twenty years who is the most decent, most honorable.... a man who fights for the average guy, a man who cares deeply about the country..........." The emotion from Kerry seemed genuine and heartfelt, and I got the feeling he really believed it. I also got the feeling Kerry wished he had chosen Dick Gephardt as his running mate.

This made me think about Kerry's actual running mate, John Edwards. At the time of Edwards announcement I wrote:

While this pick may play well in the next three weeks I don't know how well it is going to work after Labor Day when the real contest begins....The Edwards pick is a poll-driven mistake...This is a very serious election, and the Bush-Cheney campaign will make that abundantly clear. Kerry would have been better off with the safe, solid choice of Dick Gephardt who at least would have helped potentially win Missouri.

Senator Edwards did give Kerry a little bounce, which can be seen in a our historical chart of the RCP Poll Average. A week before Kerry's VP announcement Bush was up about two points and a week after Edwards was chosen the Kerry/Edwards ticket had moved to roughly a three point lead. So Edwards delivered about a five point bounce that subsequently faded during the rest of July as Kerry headed into his convention in Boston.

But now we are in the middle of September, and you have to wonder just what John Edwards is bringing to the table. The contrast with Dick Cheney that all the pundits were atwitter about in early July suddenly doesn't look so great from the Kerry perspective.

Yesterday the Washington Post ran a front page story from Dan Balz on how 'Kerry's battlefield is shrinking':

As the number of truly competitive states has shrunk, Kerry is faced with the reality that he must pick off one of two big battlegrounds Bush won four years ago -- Florida or Ohio -- or capture virtually every other state still available.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone with a calculator and a 2004 electoral map, especially the professional operatives in the Kerry campaign. Balz continues:

The Massachusetts senator spent much of the summer trying to expand the number of battleground states with television advertising and campaign trips to places such as Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana and Virginia.

Arizona, Colorado Louisiana and Virginia? It's not complicated to figure out that if these states are close Bush is finished. So what was their strategy in spending time and money in states that they were only going to carry if they didn't need them to win the election? Maybe they bought in to the conventional wisdom over the summer that Bush was in big, big trouble. Whatever the strategic rationale, it was a major mistake and a misallocation of resources.

With the wasted money and time in states they don't have a prayer of carrying and a VP nominee that can't make a difference in any state that will matter, the Kerry folks have boxed themselves into an electoral corner. So now they are not only staring at how they get this race back to even in the national polls but also how they are going to piece together the necessary 270 Electoral Votes.

Because of the unwise choice of Edwards as a running mate, even if Kerry pulls back to even in the national polls his route to 270 electoral votes is a big problem - and almost impossible if he can't win either Florida or Ohio. Had he chosen Gephardt and put Missouri into play, the Kerry campaign's electoral math would look considerably kinder. Flipping Missouri alone would get Kerry over 270 EV's, and flipping Missouri and New Hampshire would allow for the loss of New Mexico. Wining Missouri, New Hampshire and Nevada would have allowed Kerry to lose Wisconsin and still win the election.

Of course, it is not a sure thing that Gephardt would have been able to deliver Missouri. Given Gallup's latest poll showing Bush ahead by fourteen, maybe even Dick Gephardt wouldn't have been able to deliver his home state. But unlike North Carolina, Missouri is a much more competitive state for Democrats, and in a close election where Kerry had a chance to win, one would think Missouri with Dick Gephardt on the ticket would have been very much in play.

This electoral logic also applied to either Senators Nelson and Graham in Florida. And with 27 Electoral Votes compared to Missouri's 11, the damage to the Bush reelection hopes of flipping Florida would have been decisive.

Instead, Kerry is stuck with a running mate who brings nothing except a pretty smile. The Kerry campaign had run a pretty darn good campaign through June, but starting with the Edwards choice, a wasted convention, an insane comment at the Grand Canyon and no answer to his Vietnam and antiwar past, Kerry has dug himself what may be an insurmountable hole. - J. McIntyre 9:15 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

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