October 3 2003
RECALL MANIA: We felt Gray Davis had a small chance (very
small) to survive the recall if he could get his "No-on-Recall"
numbers up to 45% in our RCP
average prior to election day. However, only one poll has
shown his numbers above 45% during the entire race (LA Times,
9/6-10) and the most recent batch of polls, including the Times',
show Davis's numbers slipping badly. Our RCP average has the recall
currently favored to pass 59-38 and at that level, with less than
five days to go, Davis is all but finished.
only hope was for a post-debate surge by McClintock to siphon
just enough conservative votes away from Arnold to give the him
a shot at winning on Question 2. It's not going to happen. Arnold
leads Bustamante by more than 12 points in our RCP average,
and that's with McClintock polling at 16%. Given that we expect
Arnold's final numbers on election night to be better than our
RCP average, Bustamante should start looking for a new job.
since last week's debate this race has broken Arnold's way. At
the beginning of the week it looked as if Arnold might well outpoll
Davis's recall total and even had a slight chance of reaching
50%. We'll have to wait and see if the recent stink bombs dropped
by the LA
Times and ABC
News do anything to slow his momentum. Even if these late
hits do take a toll on Arnold, odds are this will mean Schwarzenegger
still wins, but in a much closer race. And there's a very real
possibility - especially when you see pieces
like this (and kudos to the LA Times for publishing it) -
that the media's last-minute dumping on Arnold will backfire with
have been many twists and turns these last two months, the reality
is Schwarzenegger became the heavy favorite against Bustamante
as soon as he announced on Jay Leno. Overall, Arnold has run a
darn good campaign and done nothing to diminish his chances. Bustamante,
on the other hand, has run the pathetic campaign we anticipated
from him, and whatever momentum Davis may have had was blown out
of the water by the 9th Circuit's political interference with
the election. Californians should get ready for Governor Schwarzenegger.
- J. McIntyre
& T. Bevan 7:58 am
October 2 2003
THIS WHAT THEY MEAN BY LIBERAL MEDIA BIAS?: Somebody get Eric
Alterman on the phone or pull one of his books out of the
remainder bin. This morning the LA
Times performs the slimiest, most overt political hatchet job
on Arnold Schwarzenegger you can imagine.
We knew the
dirt was coming. What we didn't know is that instead of just publishing
some sleazy tidbit passed along by a Dem operative, the LA Times
would actually go out and dig up the political dirt themselves,
source it anonymously and drop it on the Thursday before the election.
was any doubt left that the LA Times was a liberally biased, ideologically
driven "news organization" it should be gone now. Does
anyone believe the Times would perform the same knee-capping of
a Democrat? In fact, I suspect if the Times had devoted the same
amount of energy to investigating Gray Davis's legitimate ethical
problems in office there wouldn't even be a recall happening today.
It would have happened last November.
good news. I don't think the ploy is going to work. By the time
the polls close and voters have made Arnold Schwarzenegger the
new governor of California, this story, along with the reputation
of the LA Times, will be lining birdcages all across the state
- which is exactly where they both belong.
MEDIA, PART II: You think you're having a bad week? Try being
Rush Limbaugh. First, he's run
out of the ESPN studio for his comments regarding Donovan
I was actually
watching the show last Sunday morning and his comments definitely
caught my attention, not because I thought they were necessarily
racist but because I they struck me as a tremendously shitty analysis
(which I think a lot of conservatives experience from time to
time, including myself) is that he's become so hardwired with
the idea that the media is rife with liberal bias that he assigned
the motive of liberal bias to a situation where there obviously
wasn't one. It made him look bad, insensitive, and in some people's
York Daily News is a different matter altogether. Now, I realize
that the Daily News is more or less a tabloid. They (like the
NY Post) run screaming headlines and big color photos on the front
page of all sorts of gossipy items. But as long as I've been doing
this I don't believe I've ever seen them pick up a front page
story from the National Enquirer.
is about Rush Limbaugh's alleged use and abuse of prescription
cover features a big picture of Rush with a cigar sticking
out of his mouth next to the two-word screamer: DRUG RUSH. The
teaser is even more loaded:
titan Rush Limbaugh is being investigated for allegedly buying
thousands of addictive painkillers from a black-market drug
ring. The moralizing motormouth - who quit his ESPN gig in the
midst of an uproar about his racial comments - was turned in
by his former housekeeper.
the story and you'll see the Daily News has done minimal reporting.
They've basically reprinted and paraphrased the National Enquirer
article with all the lurid details.
I'm not saying
there isn't a story here. The National Enquirer has been known
to be right from time to time. And the Daily News did independently
confirm there is an investigation going on. But it is fairly obvious
that the Daily News was hot to run this story, so hot in fact
that they ran it on the same day the Enquirer did.
not to conclude that the main reason they made the choice to piggyback
the Enquirer is because the target was Rush Limbaugh. Would they
have done things the same way if the subject were a liberal icon
like, say, Hillary Clinton? No. That, I'm afraid, is a
case of liberal bias. - T.
October 1 2003
A GRANT OR A LOAN?: That's the question the Senate will
debate today regarding the $20 billion for Iraqi reconstruction
contained in President Bush's overall $87 billion supplemental
spending request that passed
out of the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday.
Democrats, and a small but seemingly growing number of Republicans
that any money we give to Iraq be paid back in full using
future oil revenues. This certainly sounds reasonable to most
Americans and therefore is attractive to these Senators politically.
The problem is that it's also really bad policy.
the fact that we've
got to set aside a certain percentage of money to cover the loan
in the event that a country defaults on its obligation. The
percentage of money we have to set aside is calculated based on
the credit rating of the country we're loaning the money to. Guess
what the commercial credit rating of Iraq is? Exactly. So we'll
have to set aside close to $20 billion anyway - nullifying any
savings or short-term benefits associated with a loan.
added another $20 billion of crushing debt to the Iraqi people
and their economy - on top of the massive debts they are already
carrying from the Saddam era - we can send out the bill collectors
to hassle Iraq about repayment and watch the interest fees pile
up. In a few years Bono will show up at the White House in a dashiki
and ask us to write it all off anyway - which is exactly what
we'll end up doing.
important than the fact that a loan makes little practical sense,
it will present a terrible image of the United States abroad and
call into question our motives and morals regarding the war. There's
going to be an international donor conference later this month
where we are going to ask countries from around the world to chip
in money to help rebuild Iraq. Are we really going to show up
with a fresh $20 billion Iraqi IOU in our hands and then ask the
Russians and the French to forgive their debts to Iraq?
good question: the anti-war left in this country and a number
of irresponsible Democrats in the Senate went on record not so
long ago saying the entire war was about George W. Bush getting
his hands on Iraq's oil revenues. So why is President Bush now
the one insisting we give Iraq this reconstruction money
with no strings attached let them use their vast oil wealth to
better their own lives and it's now the Democrats who are insisting
that we force the Iraqis to pump their crude to pay us back every
penny? Pretty ironic, huh?
is lost on Robert Byrd, who would rather demagogue the issue:
president squandered the good will of our allies after Sept.
11, and now he is asking Congress to shovel money into the hole
he has dug for himself in the international community."
we put more money into Iraq, we take it out of our schools,
our hospitals and our Social Security trust fund."
you thought of the merits of the war, undercutting America's effort
to build a stable, prosperous democracy in Iraq to try and score
a few cheap political points is a few notches below shortsighted
partisanship. I'm sure George
Marshall is turning in his grave watching these people.
Anyone else out there that couldn't wait until Arianna
was gone? I wish it had happened about 38 days ago. - T.
Bevan 8:22 am
September 30 2003
ONE THING FOR CERTAIN: Watching a scandal bloom in Washington
is like watching a tornado touch down. There are almost always
signs, precursors, scraps of info floating around in the atmosphere
that don't seem too important at the time or get passed over that
suddenly coalesce and come crashing down with a force, a fury,
and a frenzy that's simply amazing to behold.
This is certainly
the feeling you get with the Wilson/Plame affair currently gripping
the nation's press corps and causing spasms for every Democrat
within shouting distance of a microphone.
I don't think we know enough about what's going on yet to declare
this a true scandal. And I'm too tired to play the Washington
parlor games or recite all the specifics of the case which have
already been thoroughly dissected,
But I do
think this is a serious matter that requires urgent attention
from the White House. If the charges are true then the guillotine
needs to come out quickly - even if the head that eventually rolls
out the front door of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is an indispensable
asset to the administration like Karl Rove.
is certain: the Bush administration is involved in the most serious
and important work this country has faced in the last half-century
and it absolutely cannot be compromised or distracted by a lengthy
investigation over anything - let alone a scandal created by a
damn press leak.
So my advice
to the administration is this: get to the bottom of it quickly
and get on with business. If the charges are true, take your medicine
and put an end to the matter as a political issue. There's a political
silver lining in taking swift action.
If the charges
are false, take whatever steps are necessary to produce proof
of innocence, accept vindication with humility and move on.
And if the
truth lies somewhere in between - which is usually the case and
I suspect it's probably the case here too - err on the side of
caution. I'm not suggesting the administration toss someone overboard
just to placate the bloodthirsty
circling the waters. But Bush & Co. simply cannot allow themselves
to be trapped in a hopeless gray area, spending all of their time
and energy trying to parse and defend someone's actions - even
if those actions constituted just a serious case of bad judgment
and not a violation of law. It will be death by a thousand cuts.
- T. Bevan
September 29 2003
TED'S DREAD: Well, we've had a pretty good run as a species
but I guess it's just about over. At the AP Managing Editors seminar
last night Ted
Turner predicted the end of humanity - sort of:
I had to predict, the way things are going, I'd say the chances
are about 50-50 that humanity will be extinct or nearly extinct
within 50 years. Weapons of mass destruction, disease, I mean
this global warming is scaring the living daylights out of me."
you take Ted's bet and blow little Johnny's future tuition money
on a new
car, you may want to consider one of Ted's other predictions:
20 years ago newspapers wouldn't be around in 10 years, and
I was wrong."
OR CONSTERNATION?: There are two strikingly dissimilar portraits
of the Bush '04 campaign in the press this morning. In the NY
Stevenson and Adam Nagourney write that the Bush team is in
good shape: guarded but confident, raising tons of money, and
developing an unparalleled grass-roots reelection effort. Here
are three money grafs:
of the president's political team said they were not overly
worried about signs of deterioration in his standing. Mr. Bush
is still in a stronger position now in the polls, they said,
than either Ronald Reagan or Mr. Clinton was at this point in
his first term."
uncertain about how events might shape the race over the next
year, and always remembering the fall from political grace experienced
by Mr. Bush's father, campaign officials said they were taking
nothing for granted."
a large extent, though, this is a confident campaign, and its
assuredness reflects its assessment that the Democrats have
produced a weak field."
On the other
hand, in the Chicago Sun-Times this morning Bob
Novak says the President's recent performance on Iraq and
his dipping poll numbers are causing serious concern among GOP
faithful and starting to effect Bush's fundraising efforts:
deterioration in the outlook over the last two weeks is reflected
in the experience by a Republican businessman in Milwaukee trying
to sell $2,000 tickets for Bush's only appearance this year
in Wisconsin on Oct. 3. In contrast to money flowing easily
into the Bush war chest everywhere until now, he encountered
stiff resistance. Well-heeled conservative businessmen offered
to write a check for $100 or $200, but not $2,000. They gave
one reason: Iraq.
is it, confidence or consternation? I suspect it's a little of
both. The war has created a volatility in the electorate that
we haven't seen for a long, long time. Round-the-clock reporting
keeps the situation absolutely fluid, and to the extent we continue
to receive conflicting reports about progress in Iraq (or lack
thereof), the public remains confused and concerned about what's
going on and where we're headed.
all change in an instant, of course. We could wake up tomorrow
and find that U.S. forces have captured Saddam Hussein. Bush's
approval ratings would shoot up a dozen points and the same businessmen
Novak quotes in his article would be writing out $2,000 checks
like a traffic cop writes out parking tickets.
with the situation as it stands, however, is that it's extremely
difficult for small victories in Iraq to outweigh the impact of
small defeats. The death of a U.S. soldier will always get page
one treatment but the opening of new hospitals, schools, forming
of governing institutions, etc. will hardly ever generate the
same attention in the press.
we could reach a tipping point where progress in Iraq is undeniable
and the coverage turns positive, but I doubt it. The press's addiction
to the "quagmire" story line is too strong, as is the
immutable truth that chaos and death sell papers and generate
ratings. Next year will be no different, and any positive news
on Iraq will almost certainly be overwhelmed by stories about
casualty counts, etc.
us back to the President's reelection. Leaving aside the economy,
what's most difficult about Bush's political situation is that
there are only a handful of things that can provide the sort of
blockbuster news coverage and tangible proof of success in the
War on Terror that will move the public opinion needle for him
in a serious way. The administration needs to either: 1) find
and/or kill Saddam Hussein, 2) find and/or kill Osama bin Laden
or 3) find WMD's.
If any of
the three happen Bush's reelection is almost guaranteed. And isn't
it ironic that 95% of the Democrat party, including virtually
every single candidate for President of the United States, is
hoping desperately that America doesn't accomplish any one of
these three things in the next year.
If Bush &
Company aren't able to accomplish at least one of these things
by next November, the President's approval rating will most likely
continue to bump along and it will be a very close election. The
President will have to convince the American people that all of
the small victories in Iraq have added up to significant progress
and that they've been well worth the lives and treasure we've
spent - and will continue to spend - to achieve them. - T.
Bevan 9:22 am