Saturday, February 21, 2004

Apparently, there is no evidence to support the story that fugitive slaves used quilts to send coded messages on the Underground Railroad. Wow. That's a story I've seen in a lot of textbooks, particularly middle school books.
John Tierney says it's Mr. Likable vs. Mr. Electable.
VOTERS keep calling John Kerry the most electable candidate, the one most likely to defeat President Bush, and are quick to cite his many admirable and heroic qualities. But when they went to the polls in the Wisconsin primary last week, many seemed to have the same reservations about Mr. Kerry that Willy Loman had about his neighbor: he is liked, but not well liked.

In Wisconsin, as in some earlier primaries, John Edwards rose in the polls as more voters saw him in action, and exit polls showed he was the first choice of voters looking for a candidate who "cares about people like me." His sunny disposition and charismatic performances led to an unexpectedly strong finish.

It was not quite enough to win, however, and few expect Mr. Edwards's charm to prevail. Mr. Kerry, after all, has the experience and gravitas, not to mention a string of victories, while Mr. Edwards's affability could easily wear thin as voters take a closer look at him. What seems fresh and polished now could seem naïve and glib later. But for now, he has at least exposed a likability gap that might be a problem for Mr. Kerry even if he wins the nomination.

"Voters find Kerry aloof and distant," said Frank Luntz, a pollster who has conducted focus groups for MSNBC among primary voters in a half-dozen states. "They find Edwards smooth and enticing. Women really find him sexy. Men like his personality."

The NY Times has figured out that Bush will lose in the Fall.
Mark Steyn looks at the contest between "Long Face" and "Pretty Boy."
So, having anointed Kerry as the unDean, a significant chunk of Democrats are now looking around for the unKerry. The only guy available is John Edwards, the pretty-boy trial lawyer from North Carolina. He is 50 but looks about 13, which is kind of refreshing after that strange feeling you get a third of a way into Kerry's stump speech that your body's atrophying and crumbling to dust. In Tuesday's Wisconsin primary, Senator Edwards ran Kerry a strong second and came bouncing out on stage, his fabulous bangs (that's "fringe" in British) dancing in the air like a Charlie's Angels title sequence.

He said that the voters of Wisconsin had sent a message: "Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear." These words are printed on the wing mirrors of every American automobile, and Edwards meant them as a jocular warning to Kerry: you may be in the driver's seat but I'm closing in fast. He was upbeat and breezy and his line, if only by comparison with the President-who'll-start-the-economy gag, was cute.

At that point, over at Kerry HQ, the frontrunner decided it was time to get Pretty Boy off the air, so he walked out and started his victory speech, knowing the networks would cut away from Edwards to him. Not such a smart move. For the television audience, Edwards's solitary minute was entertaining, Kerry's 20 minutes of hollow stump banalities was a sonorous snoozeroo: "The motto of the state of Wisconsin is 'Forward' and I want to thank the state of Wisconsin for moving this cause and this campaign forward tonight here in this great state. Tonight I say to all of America, get ready. A new day is on the way."

It may be a new day, but already a lot of us are finding it hard to stay awake. As The New York Times put it, when Senator Kerry "bumped Mr Edwards's own ebullient speech off the air, it was as if a pep rally had morphed into math class". When you are too dull a Democrat even for The New York Times, you've got a problem.

On the other hand, if Edwards is the unKerry, he is developing a distressing habit of never doing quite well enough. If Edwards were to come a narrow first instead of a close second, the Kerry bubble would burst: he wins because he's seen as likely to win. Alas, coming a close second is pretty much all Edwards does. He was a close second in Iowa, a close second in Oklahoma, a close second in Wisconsin.

The only difference is that coming a close second in an eight-man race in late January is more impressive than coming a close second in a four-man race in late February. Given that on Super Tuesday, March 2, it will be impossible for Senator Edwards to come worse than second, he really has to win something, and he doesn't seem to have the wit or energy to pull those extra few thousands votes that would put him over the top.
Why are newspapers running with stories about how we have Bin Laden "boxed in?" Why are our guys giving out such quotes. It just sounds like boastful bravado until we actually do it. And, if perchance we really are tracking him with satellites, do we want to publicize that fact?
The Washington Post has an informative look at what was going on behind the scenes during Clinton's administration as they tried to decide how much lethal force to use when going after Bin Laden. The CIA was wary of trying to kill Bin Laden if they didn't have a signed document from the President authorizing them to do so. But, too many regarded this as a law enforcement problem and wanted them to try to arrest Osama rather than try to kill him.

Of course, all of this might have been moot since they were unable to find him or get close enough to kill him.
Kathleen Parker thinks that John Edwards would be a real problem for Bush. I just can't get my mind around the idea of John Edwards as a feasible presidential candidate this year sole based on his ability to talk. Are we really at the stage when talk is more important than actions? I guess I shouldn't ask that question after eight years of Clinton. Ugh. Pay attention to North Carolinians, people! We have had him for six years and don't want him anymore. Shouldn't that tell you something?
Lee Harris, the author of the thought-provoking Civilization and Its Enemies, writes in the Wall Street Journal that Democrats have made a mistake basing their opposition to Bush's policies in Iraq on the basis that Bush has not been multilateral enough. harris writes that the democrats could have found other more honest and realistic foundations to base their criticisms on. However, multilateralism is just a mirage.

For more on Harris, you can read this interview with him in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
Hugh Hewitt is not impressed with the Washington Times story about how leading evangelicals are cooling on Bush and threatening to stay home in November.
Nice piece, except it is 100% wrong. Inside-the-Beltway, self-appointed spokesmen for evangelicals may say that evangelicals are upset with President Bush, but out here in the normal world, evangelicals love the President, in huge and very loyal numbers. Reporters following this story should give a call not to small bands of D.C. policy wonks, but to leaders of major churches.
James L. Martin looks at how Gore has marginalized himself.
Robert Novak has a lot of good tidbits in his column. Cheney will stay on the ticket despite rumors in Washington. Edwards won't get his one-on-one debate with Kerry. And Frist is leaning on Hatch to push through more of Bush's judicial nominees so that the Democrats will have to go on record to filibuster the judges.
The New York Daily News names Ralph Nader as the Democrats' "Darth Nader." The Democrats are desperate to keep him from running since they blame him for Gore losing Florida and New Hampshire because his votes in those states in 2000 was larger than the margin Gore lost the states by.
The New York Post slaps John Edwards down for his gross accusation that the GOP plans to exploit 9/11 by holding their convention there.



That's pretty low stuff, even for a trial lawyer.

And it's completely at odds with the facts - which is that Mayor Bloomberg also tried to persuade the Democrats to hold their convention here.

And they declined.

The mayor asked both parties to hold their conventions in the same city for the first time since 1972. At the time, we thought it a great idea - one that would serve as a vote of confidence in New York's future after 9/11.



Indeed, Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe was approached first, with former Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo actively backing the city's efforts.

But McAuliffe wasn't interested - unless the Democrats were given an exclusive and the GOP shut out, that is.

In other words, McAuliffe wanted to make sure that only his party could reap whatever political benefits might accrue from holding a convention here.

But when Bloomberg rightly wouldn't play that game, McAuliffe made a few snide remarks about how the mayor should rejoin the Democratic Party and then shuffled off to Boston - home of the Red Sox (and Teddy Kennedy).

Meanwhile, the Republicans - to their credit - understood the symbolic importance of selecting their candidate in New York. And so Team Bush - which had wanted to hold the convention in Texas - switched gears.

The former Republican counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee who was just forced to resign over the memos flap, says that it is interest group money which fuels judicial nomination battles. Just in time for my AP Government's class's unit on the Judiciary.
David Brooks describes what it is like to be a presidential candidate. It doesn't sound present.
So when somebody asks you a question, your brain begins searching its internal hard drive for the appropriate 450-word speechlet-response, which you have already repeated 200 times before. You don't dare utter an unrehearsed thought; you don't dare veer toward candor. If you are smart, you will train yourself not to think at all, and you will fill every monologue with enough caveats so you can claim consistency no matter what happens later on.

Remember, you are no longer a human being. You are a freak. You must manufacture certitude and omniscience to prove you're a real leader.

You dominate every room you enter, and it is all about you. The rallies are about you. The ads are about you. The strategy sessions are about you. The you-ness of you becomes overwhelming, except that it's not really you. It's the meta-you. The vast complexity of your life is reduced to a handful of endlessly recycled moments and clichés: war hero, man of faith, experienced, leader in a time of crisis.

You begin to notice that as the image of you is magnified, the actual you becomes lost. But there's nothing you can do about it because the hopes of a party, of half the nation, rest on you, so you have to go on with your queen bee life. You have to surrender yourself to your handlers' schemes. You have to boast about your own character in a way that would be repulsive in any other context. Every day you are scheduled to do a series of "events," which are not really events, just speeches. You enter cavernous halls, always to the same music, the same waves of applause, the same introductory jokes, and you pretend it is all happening for the first time.

You are there to say things people in the audience already agree with so they can applaud their own ideas, but there comes a weird moment when their adulation ceases to thrill. It becomes part of the routine. It is bestowed on the person who happens to look like a winner at that moment, and it can be withdrawn in an instant. It's not clear whether people are applauding your many fine qualities or whether they are applauding the meta-you, which they see as the idealized extension of themselves.

No wonder so many politicians have warped personalities. That's why George Bush is such a relief. He just seems like a normal guy, as Peggy Noonan has said.

Friday, February 20, 2004

"Hammock Man" blogs about his visit to the White House to meet the President. (Link via Instapundit0
Mark Steyn approves of Triumph the Insult Dog's ridicule of the Quebecois.
Victor Davis Hanson is devastating in his assessment of the Democrats.
Since the Democrats viciously and clumsily have attacked one of the most courageous (and humane) policies of any administration in the last 30 years, the American people will soon come to ask what they in fact will propose instead ("put up or shut up"). Most of us are cognizant that bombing from 40,000 feet gives an "exit strategy," but, without soldiers on the ground, postpones the problem of tyrannical resurgence — and thus will inevitably leave either another war for another generation or something far worse still on the horizon like September 11.

There were a number of legitimate areas of debate for the fall campaign — deficits, unfunded security measures at home, moral scrutiny over postwar contracts, more help for Afghanistan, greater control of domestic entitlements, unworkable immigration proposals, and the like. But instead of statesmanship from the opposition, we got slander about Mr. Bush's National Guard service, misrepresentations about intelligence failures that had hampered both previous administrations and the present congress, preference for an unsupportable European position over our own, and stupidity about what to do in Iraq.

The Democrats may have seen some short-term gains from all the attention given to their bluster, but theirs still remain untenable issues. And so nemesis will bite them like they will not believe in the autumn — and, of course, just when it matters most.
Colin Powell says that Saddam was more dangerous than the Taliban.
Rich Lowry says that myths about the 2002 campaign against Max Cleland are now joining the myths about the 2000 election.
This is trumped-up mythology based on the idea that Republicans "questioned Cleland's patriotism" in 2002. Kerry captures it best: "To this day I am motivated by — and I will be throughout this campaign — the most craven moment I've ever seen in politics, when the Republican party challenged this man's patriotism in the last campaign." Democrats make it sound as though Cleland's opponent, the four-term Republican congressman Saxby Chambliss, ran an ad something like this: "Sen. Max Cleland," — cue the ominous music — "is he a patriot? Georgia wants to know."

Of course, nothing remotely like this ran. The case for foul play rests on a tough anti-Cleland ad that Chambliss broadcast featuring Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. The ad didn't morph Cleland into either of these figures or say that he supported them. It noted at its beginning that the United States faced threats to its security as the screen was briefly divided into four squares, with bin Laden and Saddam in two of them and the other two filled with images of the American military.

It went on to explain that Cleland had voted 11 times against a homeland-security bill that would have given President Bush the freedom from union strictures that he wanted in order to set up the new department. The bill was co-sponsored by his Georgia colleague Sen. Zell Miller, a fellow Democrat. Bush discussed details of the bill personally with Cleland, and Chambliss wrote him a letter prior to running his ad urging him to support the Bush version. Cleland still opposed it, setting himself up for the charge that he was voting with liberals and the public-employees unions against Bush and Georgia common sense.

If you can't criticize the Senate votes of a senator in a Senate race, what can you criticize? Throughout the race, Cleland tried to hide behind the idea that his patriotism was being questioned. A columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted in June of 2002 that "this 'how-dare-you-attack-my-patriotism' ploy, replete with feigned outrage...is a device to put Cleland's voting records off-limits." It didn't work. Chambliss won the crucial endorsement of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which made its nod on the basis of the two candidates' differing records on national-security and veterans issues. The VFW wouldn't have been complicit in a gutter campaign based on smearing a Vietnam veteran.
Kate O'Beirne points out that, if Edwards were so concerned about the needs of the poor, he sure didn't demonstrate it by his actions as a senator.
Senator Edwards was elected in 1998. By my count, during his first four years in the Senate, Edwards introduced a single bill aimed at alleviating material poverty. Apparently unmoved by the plight of the urban poor, in 2000, and again in 2002, Edwards introduced a bill to promote the development of affordable rental housing in rural areas. That's it. And, the emotional exhortations on behalf the poor that are his standard fare on the campaign trail must represent a wholly new John Edwards to his Senate colleagues. While pet causes are typically the stuff of Senate speeches, Senator Edwards appears to have kept his current obsession to himself.

Because successful trial lawyers don't have to believe the arguments they make, on alternate days they can convincingly make the opposite case. Their job is to convince a given jury to agree with whatever case they're making. Luckily for John Edwards, in his current trial he need not submit evidence to back up his candidacy's case.
Agoraphilia explains why there are more liberals in academia. (Link via my husband's page)
Another possible reason liberals dominate academia was suggested by Robert Nozick: intellectuals are, in general, people who appreciate thinking and planning, and they feel underappreciated. They tend to think society would just work better if all the dumb people would stand aside and let the smart people run things. As a result, they tend to be more hostile to arguments in favor of spontaneous, decentralized orders like the market.

One more thing: When complaining about the ideological balance in academia, conservatives are generally not asking for any special privileges. They aren?t demanding affirmative action for conservatives. Rather, they are drawing attention to the hypocrisy of liberals who champion the need for diversity of every variety (gender, race, economic background, etc.) except the kind of diversity that presumably matters most in an academic setting: diversity of opinion. Perversely, they even justify race- and class-based preferences on grounds of engendering more diversity of viewpoints. I?ve yet to hear a liberal advocate of diversity-based affirmative action advocate the recruitment of more non-liberals.
Howie Carr looks at Kerry's Kennedy envy.
The Blogging Caesar still projects a comfortable Bush win because he analyzes Zogby's numbers to show that Bush is comfortably ahead in the red states, while the Democrats have a narrow lead in some of the blue states.
Cool. I'm now a large mammal.
John Podhoretz notes that Bush has gone all multilateral in Iraq.
Common Good has picked its five most ridiculous lawsuits of the year. Number 1? A family who sued a Chinese restaurant for burns from tea that their own four year old kid spilled by swirling the lazy Susan tray. Number 2? Blair Hornstine suing to be reinstated as school valedictorian. Check out the rest. (Link via Overlawyered.com)
David Ignatius says that it is helpful to know the mind of your enemy and the Zarqawi memo lets us do just that.
Now he tells us. Howard Dean's supporter from AFSME, Gerald W. McEntee, says that Dean is nuts.
Jonah Goldberg has his own idea for an ad that the GOP could run against Kerry.
Scene: Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar and their cronies are in their cave, eating popcorn. The cave is dimly illuminated by the light of a television set.

They're watching a clip from the Wisconsin Democratic debate.

Questioner: Senator Kerry, President Bush . described himself as a war president. He said he's got war on his mind as he considers these policies and decisions he has to make. If you were elected, would you see yourself as a war president?

Kerry: "I'd see myself first of all as a jobs president, as a health care president, as an education president and also an environmental president. . So I would see myself as a very different kind of global leader than George Bush."

Cut to Osama and Mullah Omar high-fiving each other, throwing the popcorn up in the air. One henchman in the background is grinning while waving a "Kerry for President" banner.

Fade to black.

Raise text: Re-Elect George W. Bush. The right man at the right time.

Charles Krauthammer has a laugh at the accusation that the GOP is going negative on Kerry.
Kerry's spokespeople have already sounded the alarm, warning darkly that ``the right-wing smear machine'' is gearing up, and declaring amusingly that ``it's time for George W. Bush to call off his right-wing slime machine.''

When exactly was it called on? No matter. A CNN anchor dutifully picks up the theme, noting ``how ugly this is turning so early on.''

Republicans turning ugly?

You are an average citizen following the election campaign so far. What have you gleaned from the wall-to-wall cable news coverage of the candidates' debates, rallies and victory/concession speeches?

First, that President Bush has ``deceived'' (Al Sharpton), ``misled'' (John Kerry, Howard Dean), indeed, outright ``lied'' (Kucinich) us into a pointless and ruinous war that, as Kerry's chief campaign surrogate, Edward Kennedy, thunders, was ``made up in Texas'' for pure political advantage. Hence, Bush's hands are dripping with the blood of 500 brave soldiers who died for a lying president seeking better poll numbers.

Second, that his own personal military service was dishonorable: AWOL from the Air National Guard, declares Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe; perhaps even a ``deserter,'' the charge that Wesley Clark repeatedly refused to repudiate.

And these are just Bush's depredations abroad. At home, as John Edwards tells it at every campaign stop, there are little girls from the ``other America'' crying into the night because their dads, now with the blank stare of hopelessness on their faces, have lost their jobs. Why? So that ``Ken Lay and his boys'' (Dean) and other friends of this president could make obscene profits for their outsourcing ``Benedict Arnold companies'' (Kerry). And that's while Bush was at the same time despoiling the water, polluting the air and, by God, trying to kill the Arctic caribou to please his parasitic oil industry pals and to fatten up Halliburton.

Vote him out? Given all that, shouldn't the man be drawn and quartered? Rarely has there been a political assault more concentrated, more unrelenting, more unrebutted -- all occurring not as political advertising but on free media as campaign ``coverage.''

Part of this is serendipity. After Dean and Gephardt destroyed each other with mutually negative ads in Iowa, the other candidates became terrified of saying anything even mildly negative about their opponents. They directed all of their fire not inside the corral, as is usual in a primary battle, but outside -- at the president. As the intra-Democratic campaign turned kid gloves, the main competition among the candidates consisted of who could be more hyperbolic in delineating the crimes of George W. Bush.

Part of this, too, is the candidates' exploitation of media conventions. The cable channels all covered the Tuesday night victory/concession speeches, which the candidates invariably turned into opportunities to deliver their stump speeches to a national cable audience. Dean's Iowa scream is the counterexample that makes the case. The rule is: Forget the crowd, face the camera and denounce the president.

And now, after six weeks of carpet-bombing Bush, the Democrats are shocked -- shocked! -- that the Republicans might answer back with ``negativity.''
Howard Kurtz outlines the Bush ad strategy against Kerry. They should wait until Kerry finishes off Edwards. The funniest thing is that they even prepared ad scripts against Dennis Kucinich.
The Washington Times says that evangelical voters are upset with Bush's record and are thinking of staying home in November. Do they think that Kerry or Edwards would do more to further their goals?
Why Senator Kerry's war record doesn't mean he'd be a good war president.
The real question facing any would-be president in this campaign is, what would you do about Iraq now?

Again, Mr. Kerry is all over. He says he supports the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Iraq, and warns that the Bush administration must not "cut and run" from its post-war responsibilities. "Winning the peace in Iraq is critical to us because it's going to have a profound impact on the war on terrorism," he said last year. Quite so. Then why vote against spending the money to do the job?

He says he wants to end the U.S. occupation. So does the Bush administration. It hopes to hand authority to Iraqis in July. He says he wants the UN to take control in place of the United States. The UN is neither willing nor able to take over, as Mr. Kerry surely knows. He says he wants more troops in Iraq from NATO and other countries "so that we get the targets off the back of our soldiers." Washington has been recruiting allies as hard as it can, bringing in soldiers and police from Italy, Japan, Poland and other countries. NATO has so far resisted all pleas to take part, arguing that it is tied up in Afghanistan.

Mr. Kerry's position on postwar Iraq is as contradictory as it was before the invasion. He wants to be just anti-war enough to appeal to anti-war Democrats but just pro-war enough that he doesn't come across as weak-kneed. War hero or not, he can't have it both ways.
Will Bill Frist run in 2008?
Overlawyered has some interesting observations about how John Edwards has almost maxed out on contributions from lawyers, legal secretaries, and paralegals. (link via Andrew Sullivan)

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Poliblogger has analyzed the delegate numbers and thinks it will be hard for Edwards to catch up.
The National Review editors are not worried about Bush losing.
William Saletan analyzes exit poll data about how independents and crossover Republicans have voted in open primaries.
Max Boot answers the silly "chickenhawk" charge.
But lately, the argument about chicken hawkism has gotten much broader than Vietnam. Its advocates seem to think that leaders (not to mention pundits) have no right to favor the use of force unless they have served in combat themselves. Oddly enough, many of those making this point are "chicken doves" who haven't served either. Have they thought through the implications of this argument?

Consider a close analogy: I favor vigorous policing even of dangerous, high-crime areas where police officers might get shot. Does this make me a hypocrite because I've never worn a badge? Should all decisions about law enforcement be made only by cops? If so, mayors, judges and civil liberties lawyers would be out of business. Put this way, the chicken-hawk line is an absurd proposition, but that's where the logic leads.

Imagine what would happen if this rule were conscientiously applied to defense policy. Fewer than 10% of Americans have served in the military (about 27 million out of a population of 280 million), and an even smaller number have been in combat. If we left all national security decisions in their hands, we would cease to be a democracy.

The antiwar advocates probably would not be too happy with the policy outcomes if we followed their implicit advice. Underlying the chicken-hawk argument seems to be an assumption that war is hell and that anyone who has ever experienced it will never send anyone else off to fight. As if every former bomber pilot were a George McGovern. But remember that Curtis LeMay was a bomber pilot too. If we had left military decisions in his hands during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the likely result would have been World War III.

Today's caricature that all soldiers are pacifists at heart is no more accurate than the older cliché that they're all warmongers. Like the rest of us, soldiers have differing opinions on the use of force.
(Link via Hugh Hewitt)
Here's an uplifting story of a girl scout troop that gathered gifts to send to the troops in Iraq and the reaction from the soldiers.
Apparently, Senator Kerry's constituents are not too impressed with him.
‘‘It's not that he's disliked in this state, but we've always been a little underwhelmed with him,'' said Jeffrey Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University. ‘‘He's sort of like the kid that has never reached his potential. That might change in November.''

Berry adds that Kerry isn't well-known for constituent services, unlike Kennedy and most of the Massachusetts congressional delegation.

‘‘If you run a social services agency or a small business, and you have a problem with government or you need help getting a grant, he's not the guy you see,'' Berry said. ‘‘Cumulatively, over two decades, that has hurt him in that he has not endeared himself to people.''

Kerry says as much in his latest book, ‘‘A Call To Service,'' in which he writes that he sought a seat on the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee instead of a seat on the Appropriations committee, which he disparaged as ‘‘that great horn of plenty for home state projects and re-election politics.''

While some across the country see Kerry's Vietnam War record as a potent weapon against President Bush, Marshfield's Rusty Tramonte never forgave Kerry for his anti-war protests after leaving the military.

‘‘The medals he threw over the fence weren't his,'' said Tramonte, a former national director of the Korean War Veterans of America. ‘‘His are hanging behind his desk. Why did he throw someone else's medals?''

Arline Isaacson of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus acknowledges that Kerry does have a reputation for waffling, on everything from Iraq to gay marriage.

‘‘We clearly would love him to be more supportive, but we're not delusional,'' Isaacson said. ‘‘We understand that the fact that he supports civil unions (for gays) as a presidential candidate is very significant.''

While most of the state's Democrats have publicly lined up to support Kerry's presidential bid, many privately admit to never personally connecting with Kerry's patrician manner.

Kerry has long lived with another reputation: for being a snob. Born into wealth and privilege, Kerry has appeared to many as stiff around regular folks and more at home with the likes of his neighbors in Louisburg Square, the toniest section of Beacon Hill.

Here's no surprise. Couples don't want to get married on September 11. I don't blame them at all.
Democrats in Massachusetts have a plan to call for a special election if Kerry wins the White House so Republican Mitt Romney wouldn't be able to appoint a successor to Kerry's seat in the Senate. Hmmm. Democrats didn't mind when a Democrat, Zell Miller, was appointed to replace a Republican seat when the incumbent, Paul Coverdell, suddenly died. They didn't mind when a Democratic governor appointed Jeanne Carnahan to replace her husband who had been elected after he died. Ah, the whiff of hypocrisy, once again.
Richard Cohen points out how little substance there is to John Edwards.
Edwards has no such record. He is a mere one-term senator whose name is not attached to any significant law. That's par for the course for first-termers -- no fault of Edwards's, maybe -- but it also happens to be the case. On what record is Edwards running for president? On what accomplishment? He says he opposed NAFTA, but he wasn't in the Senate when the vote was taken. He always says his father was a mill hand, but it is his mother who interests me. Somehow she imbued him with a confidence and assurance that is downright remarkable. Mothers do that.

....Edwards, too, has failed to take his campaign to a higher level. Maybe he does not have to. After all, his message is that he cares, he understands -- that he is one of us. When he talks about the two Americas, he is really talking to only the America that has the time, the energy, the education, the interest -- the whatever -- to participate in grass-roots politics. But even that America, while not going to bed hungry, may have trouble going to sleep. Jobs are going overseas. Health benefits are being cut back, and Wal-Mart is taking over the world.

What I don't hear from Edwards is a viable, detailed plan to do something about all this. When Chris Matthews, on the night of the Wisconsin primary, lamented the jobs going to Ireland or India, Edwards just agreed. Yes, Chris, it's awful. But the reason those jobs are in India is because Indians work cheap and speak English. What will Edwards do about that -- repeal the law of supply and demand?

Here's a duh! headline in the Washington Post.

N.C. Senator Needs Money to Remain Competitive

What is even more troubling for Edwards supporters is that he is focusing his campaign for Super Tuesday only on New York, Ohio, and Georgia. That leaves out California as well as Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Vermont. The cherry picking accusation seems apt. Even if Edwards were to win all three, that would still give him only four wins vs. over twenty for Kerry.
John Samples outlines three lessons we have learned from Dr. Dean's campaign.
The Washington Post explains how Kerry's and Edwards' economic proposals wouldn't do much to stop outsourcing of jobs, either. however, it is not important politically if their plans are feasible, just that they have something that sounds good on the campaign trail. If one of them got elected and instituted their proposals and outsourcing continued, the GOP candidate in 2008 would slam them just the same.
We are learning more and more economics as the political race goes on. Here, George Will clarifies the outsourcing debate.
Robert Novak looks at the Jane Fonda-John Kerry connection.
John J. Miller says that the Democrats will have a much stronger field in 2008.
The AP has an interview with Laura Bush. Surprise, she defends her husband.
The Washington Post has a troubling and depressing stories about suicides in the military forces in Iraq.
Donald Lambro explains why both Kerry and Edwards have dopey ideas for the economy.
Well, if the pivotal political issue in this year's presidential campaign boils down to the mantra "it's the economy, stupid," as I think it will, then the freshman North Carolina senator's offering must rank as one of the dopiest ideas to come down the pike.

Mr. Edwards' plan didn't get much attention this week because he tossed out the idea with little fanfare, but he essentially wants taxpayers to cough up $3 billion "to fund new businesses and expand existing ones," to create jobs, according to one source. The money would ostensibly be used to leverage other investment funds from the private sector.

In short, his big idea would result in having the feds pick the winners and losers in the economy rather than letting the competitive, free market, along with millions of individual investors, decide such things.

Mr. Edwards' brand of politics has been termed "populism" by the traveling campaign press corps, a term that indicates a distrust of businesspeople, especially rich big businesses — the people he was fond of suing in court (resulting in himself becoming a very wealthy man).

Having the government use tax dollars to invest billions in the private sector, rather than encouraging businesses and investors to invest in new enterprises by letting them — in President Bush's words — "keep more of their own money," is not a new idea. Nor is it one with much of a success rate. Would you trust the government to invest your money?

If Mr. Edwards' pitch strikes you as a silly, not to mention anemic, proposal that would have little or no job-creating impact in a massive $11 trillion economy, consider Sen. John Kerry's equally confused idea to repeal the Bush tax cuts for people making more than $200,000 a year.

Mr. Kerry's repeal proposal, a core idea in the Democrats' economic plan, would in effect raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. There are people in this country who respond positively, even viscerally to the Democrats' class-warfare appeals, but how can raising taxes on people who invest the most help the economy grow stronger?

After all, if Mr. Edwards is right that we need to encourage more capital investment in existing and in new start-up businesses — and we certainly do, because that is the wellspring of most new jobs — taxing the source of such capital will reduce its availability for job creation. Besides, the people in the top income tax bracket are in mostly small, unincorporated businesses that create a wealth of the jobs in this country. Mr. Kerry would raise taxes on the central job-creating sector of our economy.
Lambro is correct, of course, on the economics. But he is underestimating the power of the demagogic appeal of these messages. I'm afraid that it would take a more powerful speaker than Bush to enunciate for the American people why "taxing the rich" is a failed idea or government interference in business financing is a goofy idea,
The Washington Post looks at those insiders in Washington who endorsed Dean and are now slinking back to the party establishment. It's rather funny.
Here in Washington, Dean supporters say they endorsed him because he was antiwar, or because they traveled to Burlington and were romanced, transported back to their own political awakenings. If they were alienating their establishment friends in the party, so what? Such excitement! Such youth! Such technological wizardry!

Now they are in the same position as the lawyer who signed on to the dot-com boom only to have the start-up go bust and was forced to come slinking back to the firm, the accountant who joined the rock band that fizzled, anyone on the morning after a one-night stand.

Publicly, the party was one step closer to closing ranks. But for those who had defected to the outsider, there were still some wrinkles: party leaders who had to explain themselves, consultants who have to grovel to the winning team, lobbyists who might see their business drop off, think-tankers who might not be invited to participate in the next Democratic Party roundtable, especially if the subject happens to be the centrist legacy of Bill Clinton.

Gee, the Iranians seem to be further along than anyone knew in their quest for a nuclear bomb. Just some more evidence about how weak our intelligence is. We would like to think that there was a possible infallible omniscience that our intelligence is capable of reaching. But, that is just not possible and we have to work in a world of imperfect intelligence.
Lloyd Grove says that Naomi Wolf is publishing a book about sexual harrassment at Yale and is accusing Shakespeare scholar, Harold Bloom, of once harrassing her 20 years ago. Camille Paglia has jumped in to defend Bloom with some intriguing insults aimed at Wolf. Hmmm. Bloom and Paglia v. Wolf? Not a choice in my mind whom to believe.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Here's Scrappleface's take on the Wisconsin results.
Kerry 'Wins Ugly', Edwards Pretty Close
(2004-02-18) -- Wisconsin voters, challenged to decide which face to put on their Democrat presidential hopes, chose John Forbes Kerry over John Edwards last night by a surprisingly small six-point margin.

"We won ugly," said Mr. Kerry, who had led by as much as 35 points in recent polling. "But we won. Edwards was pretty close, but close only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades and I know something about throwing the latter."

Exit polling showed that Mr. Edwards won the support of most independents and Republicans, demonstrating the crossover strength that the party nominee will need to defeat George W. Bush. The North Carolina Senator also captured 95 percent of the votes of people who had seen Mr. Kerry speaking on TV.

Mr. Kerry won big among former Al Gore supporters who believe that "talking slowly without moving one's face" is the key to defeating Mr. Bush.

"When you look at the two top vote getters -- Kerry and Edwards -- the question becomes 'who would you rather look at for the next eight months, or eight years?'" said an unnamed Democrat strategist. "On the issues, the candidates are mirror images of each other. But the more voters take a good look at John Kerry, the better John Edwards appears."

The Kerry campaign announced today that its advertising in the so-called 'Super Tuesday' states would not include the face or voice of the candidate, and all public appearances have been cancelled.

"People vote for Kerry because they admire his service in a war he later condemned," said the strategist. "This is not a beauty contest."
The Onion has a funny take on a Kerry campaign swing through key states.

Democratic frontrunner Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) began a seven-day, eight-state whistle-stop tour Monday, addressing a group of Frigidaire factory workers from the all-teak deck of his 60-foot luxury motor cruiser.
Uh-oh. More on a Kerry special interest connection.
Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry sent 28 letters on behalf of a San Diego defense contractor who pleaded guilty last week to illegally funneling campaign contributions to the Massachusetts senator and four other congressmen.

Members of Congress often write letters supporting constituent businesses and favored projects. But as the Democratic presidential front-runner, Kerry has promoted himself as a candidate who has never been beholden to campaign contributors and special interests.

From 1996 through 1998, the senator participated in a letter-writing campaign to free up federal funds for a missile system that defense contractor Parthasarathi "Bob" Majumder was trying to build for U.S. warplanes.

Kerry's letters were sent to fellow members of Congress - and to the Pentagon - while Majumder and his employees at Science and Applied Technology Inc. were donating money to the senator, court records show.

During the three-year period, Kerry received about $25,000 from Majumder and his employees, according to Dwight L. Morris and Associates, which tracks campaign donations.

The contractor told his employees they needed to make political contributions in order for him to gain influence with members of Congress. He then reimbursed them with proceeds from government contracts.
I think the honeymoon is over for Kerry. Or approaching an end. I'll give John Edwards about a week and then he'll soon be facing the same scrutiny. That's where being inexperienced in politics will serve to his advantage. He's had less time to vote on things in the Senate or to do favors for sleazes.
This sounds like a very cool mental disorder.
Both WO (as he is anonymously referred to in a recent study) and his mother had a condition known as synesthesia (rhymes with anesthesia), that causes some people to hear colors, feel sounds and taste shapes. Scientists have known about synesthesia for at least 300 years, but it wasn't taken all that seriously until recently. People who claimed to hear colors were dismissed as hallucinatory, or worse.

The fact that so many really bright and creative people have this disorder may show an intriguing connection between perceptions of the world and innate creativity.(Link via The Corner and Ramesh Ponnuru's brother-in-law)
Crankshaw quotes from a Dave Barry column on John Kerry's DYKWIA behavior. The guy is such an arrogant blankety-blank.
Here's a very interesting and informative look at the history of preemptive warfare in light of the Bush Doctrine.
Here's a funny look at what it takes to pass the new SAT writing test. Using writers like Emerson, Hemingway, Stein, and Shakespeare, three Princeton Review officials score how these famous authors would do on the SAT. Not well, I'm afraid. Here's what you need to do.
To receive a high score a student should write a long essay of three or more paragraphs, with each paragraph containing topic and concluding sentences and at least one sentence that includes the words "for example." Whenever possible the student should use polysyllabic words where shorter, clearer words would suffice. The SAT essay will not be a place to take rhetorical chances. Flair will win no points; the highest-scoring essays will be earnest, long-winded, and predictable.
Joe Hagan in the New York Observer looks at how the media love to turn their delicate noses up at Drudge, but still believe the stuff he peddles. That's because his leaks come for the media themselves.
Zogby has found (surprise, surprise) that Bush leads Kerry in red states and Kerry leads Bush in blue states. If that trend kept up Bush would win since the blue states have gained electoral votes since 2000. Of course, such a finding is not very useful. A state by state poll would be more helpful.

And, as everyone knows, these polls today have no predicative value for November. It would be surprising if the Democrats didn't get a boost from spending week after week getting positive media coverage from the primaries, debates, and Bush-bashing.
There are some Vietnam Vets who haven't forgotten John Kerry's anti-war activities.
Conan O'Brien has apologized to the Quebecois.
With the help of a translator, O'Brien addressed the controversy caused after Triumph the Insult Comic Dog pooped all over residents of Quebec, Canada's French province.


The self-deprecating apology, issued after his monologue Tuesday night, began:

O'Brien: "People of Quebec, I'm sorry."

Translator (in French with subtitles): "People of Quebec, I'm an albino jackass."


O'Brien: "We meant no harm with our comedy piece the other night."


Translator: (in French) "The other night, I wet the bed like a little girl."

Byron York has an absolutely fabulous defense of the President's National Guard service. You must read it all so that you can answer any of your friends who have fallen for this bogus story. Here are some excerpts.
The controversy over Bush's service centers on what his critics call "the period in question," that is, the time from May 1972 until May 1973. What is not mentioned as often is that that period was in fact Bush's fifth year in the Guard, one that followed four years of often intense service.

Bush joined in May 1968. He went through six weeks of basic training — a full-time job — at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Tex. Then he underwent 53 weeks of flight training — again, full time — at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga. Then he underwent 21 weeks of fighter interceptor training — full time — at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston. Counting other, shorter, postings in between, by the end of his training period Bush had served two years on active duty.

Certified to fly the F-102 fighter plane, Bush then began a period of frequent — usually weekly — flying. The F-102 was designed to shoot down other fighter planes, and the missions Bush flew were training flights, mostly over the Gulf of Mexico and often at night, in which pilots took turns being the predator and the prey."If you're going to practice how to shoot down another airplane, then you have to have another airplane up there to work on," recalls retired Col. William Campenni, who flew with Bush in 1970 and 1971. "He'd be the target for the first half of the mission, and then we'd switch."

During that period Bush's superiors gave him consistently high ratings as a pilot. "Lt. Bush is an exceptional fighter interceptor pilot and officer," wrote one in a 1972 evaluation. Another evaluation, in 1971, called Bush "an exceptionally fine young officer and pilot" who "continually flies intercept missions with the unit to increase his proficiency even further." And a third rating, in 1970, said Bush "clearly stands out as a top notch fighter interceptor pilot" and was also "a natural leader whom his contemporaries look to for leadership."

....All in all, the documents show that Bush served intensively for four years and then let up in his fifth and sixth years, although he still did enough to meet Guard requirements. The records also suggest that Bush's superiors were not only happy with his performance from 1968 to 1972, but also happy with his decision to go to Alabama. Indeed, Bush's evaluating officer wrote in May 1972 that "Lt. Bush is very active in civic affairs in the community and manifests a deep interest in the operation of our government. He has recently accepted the position as campaign manager for a candidate for United States Senate. He is a good representative of the military and Air National Guard in the business world."

Beyond their apparent hope that Bush would be a good ambassador for the Guard, Bush's superiors might have been happy with his decision to go into politics for another reason: They simply had more people than they needed. "In 1972, there was an enormous glut of pilots," says Campenni. "The Vietnam War was winding down, and the Air Force was putting pilots in desk jobs. In '72 or '73, if you were a pilot, active or Guard, and you had an obligation and wanted to get out, no problem. In fact, you were helping them solve their problem."


THE UNENDING ATTACK

Despite the evidence, Democrats have continued to accuse the president of shirking his duty during his Guard career. "He went to Alabama for one year," Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe said on ABC on February 1. "He didn't show up. Call it whatever you want, AWOL, it doesn't matter." After Bush made his Guard records public, McAuliffe released a statement saying the documents "create more questions than answers." Other Democrats, as well as an energetic team of liberal columnists and bloggers, echoed McAuliffe's comments.

Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment of Bush's detractors is that they managed to sell the idea — mostly unchallenged in the press — that Bush's Air National Guard service consisted of one year during which he didn't show up for duty. Far fewer people asked the question: Just how did Bush become a fighter pilot in the first place? Didn't that involve, say, years of work? Bush's four years of service prior to May 1972 were simply airbrushed out of the picture because many reporters did not believe they were part of the story.

It also seems likely that some of Bush's adversaries used the Guard issue as a way to get at other questions about the president. The Guard record was said to have a bearing on Bush's credibility, on the war in Iraq, on his fitness to lead. In addition, some journalists were nearly obsessed with forcing the president to release medical records from his time in the Guard because they hoped those records might reveal some evidence of drug use. The White House did not release the full set of medical records but did allow reporters to view them; the documents were entirely unexcep tional and contained nothing about drug use.

While all that was going on, both the White House and the Bush reelection campaign seemed consistently to underestimate the ferocity and resolve of the president's adversaries. For weeks, as the controversy grew, the president did nothing to defend himself. Those who wanted to speak up in his defense, like William Campenni and Bob Harmon, were not contacted by the White House; instead, they decided to go public on their own. Even when John Calhoun, the man who remembers Bush in Alabama, sent the White House an e-mail saying he had useful information, he received a stock response, without any indication the White House was interested in what he had to say.

Now the evidence is public; anyone who is interested in learning about Bush's service can do so. In the end, the president had the facts on his side. But he also had the good fortune to have the allegiance of men who feel so intensely about the Guard and their service that they wanted to speak out even if the White House didn't seem to care. Men like Campenni and Harmon were deeply offended when Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry equated Guard service during the Vietnam War with fleeing the country or going to jail. That was simply too much. "I'm not a Bushie," says Harmon. "The thing that got a few of us crawling out from under a rock, at no instigation from the White House, was that Guard service was being portrayed as being like a draft dodger."

Michael Graham doesn't think Edwards will be able to do much to estend his win in Wisconsin. Graham says that Wisconsin was the perfect place for Edwards' populist message. He even evokes William Jennings Bryan and Robert LaFollette. I hope my history students, who are just finishing up the Populists and Progressives are paying attention.
Christopher Hitchens shows why the anaolgies between Vietnam and Iraq are ghastly.
A war fought with weapons of indiscriminate slaughter, and accompanied by racist rhetoric, with a conscript Army deployed against a highly evolved revolutionary movement is as different as could possibly be from a campaign of precision-guided munitions, with an all-volunteer Army, directed at the overthrow of a hideous and dangerous tyranny, and then taking the form of a drive for free elections and a constitution. If people say that it's "reminiscent" of Vietnam, it means they don't remember Vietnam.

....But now, those like Terence McAuliffe who defended every piece of Clintonian mendacity have decided to pin the label of "deserter" on George Bush Jr. This is sordid from at least three points of view. First, in respect of the facts it was self-evidently untrue even before the release of the president's records (and before some of his original accusers began to change their minds, or, in one case, to admit that he was losing same because of early onset Alzheimer's disease). Bush evidently did the gentlemanly minimum, which was itself a good deal more than the average for his college generation. The term "AWOL" is a studied insult and a conscious lie. Second, it's been admitted by the president well before now that the pattern of his youth was not entirely creditable. We've already covered all that, from the boozing to the driving. We don't have to take his word for it that he was "saved," but it's plain enough that he has reformed, thanks largely to his wife, and so it's mean and despicable to revisit that period in such a Pharisaic manner. Third, some Democrats really seem to want to act hawkier than thou. Are they so sure that this is a bright idea?

Sooner or later, Sen. John Kerry is going to have to say which he thought was the noble cause: the war or the antiwar movement. In the later movement, he clearly was not numbered among the "moderates." I remember those "Winter Soldier" hearings very well, and as far as I'm aware the charges made against the U.S. Army in Vietnam were substantially true, even if some of them were laid by shady and suspect characters. However, if the average in the field was tolerance for rape, torture, mass killing, and a depraved indifference to human life, what becomes of the "band of brothers"?

It would be easier for Kerry to find his voice on this, perhaps, if he could remove the cluster of frogs that lurk in his throat whenever he is questioned about his position on Iraq. On Sunday night in Milwaukee, asked whether his vote on the war resolution made him feel responsible for American casualties, he didn't even rise to the level of waffle. Sen. John Edwards, I thought, distinguished himself again by saying that Kerry's was "the longest answer I have ever heard to a yes-or-no question." Edwards went on to volunteer that he did accept responsibility. That's a bit more like it. Did Kerry think that he wasn't ever going to be asked? Does he think he isn't going to be challenged about Vietnam as well? He's had plenty of time to think about it, so the evasiveness and butt-covering is double-trouble, and multiplying.

There's something creepy about the Democratic decision to hail the heroes of Vietnam, from Kerry to Clark, and to denigrate the extraordinary effort being made to salvage Iraq and to pursue and kill people who really are, unlike the Viet Cong, the common enemies of humanity. It's trying too hard, and it's inauthentic and hypocritical as well as point-missing. It would be as if the Republicans suddenly started talking, as that great veteran Robert Dole once did, about all the conflicts in American history as "Democrat wars." That didn't fly, if you recall, though it would have been a fair description of Vietnam.



Wonkette wraps up the Wisconsin Primary.

• The big news of the night is, of course, Kerry beginning his victory speech about a minute after Edwards launched into what might be "one of the great speeches of his life." Very presidential. "Bigfooting" say pundits. "Something Gore would do." (Ack!)

• And the speech Kerry gave? As exciting as it was lucid. He won't outsource jobs, he "will outsource George Bush's unaffordable tax cut to the wealthiest Americans." Huh? Chinese laborers will pay our taxes? A stable of colonial auditors? Uh, yeah. And, of course, the compelling denouement: "GO. . . TO. . . JOHN. . . KERRY. . . DOT. . . COM."

• Edwards: Still grinning, we're sure. Will this stunning surge break the dread "electability" meme that's propped up the lifeless corpse that is John Kerry? Let's hope. Also the best line of the night: "The voters of Wisconsin sent a clear message -- Objects in your mirror may be closer than they appear."

• Did Dean bow out? We're not sure because his speech was so schizo: "I want to thank the painters for sticking with us right through the end. . . ." He's out! "But we will not stop." Huh. Guess not. "A year ago, Democrats were falling all over themselves to vote for the war in Iraq. . . they don't talk like that anymore." That sounds like a graceful exit! "We are not done." Oh. Let us know when he's done.

• And Chris Matthews puts it all in perspective: "ALL PANTS ARE FROM CHINA NOW!"

John Ellis says that Kerry will need to go negative on Edwards real fast.
It's important to remember that Senator Kerry is viewed from within his campaign pretty much the same way he is viewed by Mickey Kaus and Ellisblog. They think he's a stiff! They were surprised that he won Iowa (they thought the Edwards surge would catch them there) and they were amazed that he won New Hampshire more or less without a fight. And they've been stunned that the others have basically let him keep on winning. What they dread most of all is negative momentum, because (let's face it) the candidate has no strong base of support within the party. They're only for him because he's winning. Once he starts losing, he's a loser.

So the Kerry campaign has to kill this Edwards thing now. That's why they stepped on Edwards's speech last night. That's why Ellisblog thinks they will go negative on Edwards quickly. Because no one in the Democratic Party harbors any deep affection for Senator Kerry, negative momentum can kill his candidacy. Given that reality, the way for Kerry to win (for sure) is to get ugly, fast.
I think that will be very hard for Kerry to do. THe one soft spot for Edwards is his inexperience. So, look for Kerry to intone portentously about his own experience fighting the hard battles against the Viet Cong, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, and George Bush.
Kaus continues on his mission to derail John Kerry.
Pundits who were yawning over the thought that Kerry had wrapped up the nomination are now all aglow at the thought of a two-man race between Edwards and Kerry. It shows the power of the media to shape perceptions.
Scott Lehigh analyzes Kerry's debate performance in Wisconsin. It's not good for Kerry. It's why the Bush people must be crossing their collective fingers that Kerry will put Edwards away.
Walter Williams explains what economics has to say about outsourcing of jobs.
Michelle Malkin often finds stories that no one else has heard of and exposes something horrifying. Read her column today about a rapist-supporting Congresswoman.
Tony Blankley looks at Kerry's announced opposition to preemptive warfare and his desire to work with our allies, even if our allies don't want us to act. Blankley poses the following hypothetical.
Consider the following hypothetical situation. In September 2005, the president is informed by his CIA director that they have concluded there is a one in two chance that North Korea will transfer five nuclear bombs to bin Laden within the next month, and that after the transfer, despite our best efforts, the CIA judges that it is more likely than not bin Laden will succeed in detonating at least one of them in a major American city, resulting in one to three million deaths. Should the president consider taking pre-emptive military action? And let's assume that the president is named John Kerry.

The thought of Kerry being president in such a situation is terrifying.
Andrew Sullivan links to this sculpture of an American soldier mourning his fallen comrade, done by an Iraqi sculptor.
Deborah Orin succintly points out why Edwards could be a danger, especially if Dean bows out and endorses Edwards.
Kerry aides argued that close only counts in horseshoes, but Edwards' showing last night will force Kerry to spend big bucks on Super Tuesday - money he'd rather save to use against President Bush.

As a distant third, Dean was under mounting pressure to exit the Democratic race. But he could now play kingmaker.

There is intense speculation on whether Dean will drop out and possibly endorse Edwards - since Dean has said Edwards would be stronger against Bush.

"There's a chance Howard will endorse Edwards, a chance that he stays in, which would help Kerry, and a chance that he gets out and lets the chips fall where they may - and those three chances are about even," said a Dean source.

Edwards benefited by the fact that Wisconsin holds an "open" primary in which independents and Republicans, as well as Democrats, can vote. He won among independents and Republicans, while Kerry won big among Democrats.

In New York and California, Edwards won't have that chance - only Democrats can vote for him. There are four Super Tuesday states that allow crossover votes: Georgia, Ohio, Vermont and Minnesota.
Dick Morris says that Bush must start advertising against Kerry now.
If Bush delays his ad blitz, the Democrat will wrap up the delegates he needs by early March and replenish his coffers. Presumably learning from Dukakis' failure and Clinton's success, Kerry will see the need to answer all negatives within hours of their launch.

Right now, Kerry can't answer in paid advertising, no matter how much he wants to. His resources are fully engaged with the primaries. But he'll soon be free for the combat.

Bush must strike now, while Kerry's planes are still on the ground or otherwise occupied.

Bush had two opportunities to avert a nail-biting finish in 2004, one in which he might not be as fortunate as he was in 2000. The first was to build up a level of job approval which would have made him unbeatable. Inaccurate predictions about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the ongoing drip-drip of American casualties have ruined that chance. But he can still win with a commanding margin if he turns Kerry into a Dukakis (instead of letting him become a Clinton). We'll know by spring if he has succeeded.

If Bush fails in this effort, we'll be in for a see-saw battle and another photo finish.

Andrew Sullivan is all excited about John Edwards' showing in Wisconsin.
What a refreshing turn of events. The exit polls were wrong again this time - but mainly because they understated Edwards' surge. Kerry's deep weaknesses as a candidate, his terrible performance in the debate, and (possibly) worries about the potential for future scandals all dragged him down. Dean should now get out - and endorse Edwards. So should Kucinich and Sharpton (fat chance - no pun intended). Again, the most interesting dynamic is that Edwards scored better among men than women, and he won many more Republicans and Independents than Kerry did. That's in line with previous results as well. And that's why the whole Kerry electability thing is a bit of a crock. The data suggest that Edwards is more electable among those the Democrats need to appeal to: men, Southerners, Republicans and Independents. Yes, he seems a little jejune. Yes, his protectionism is worrying. But he is so obviously a better speaker and a better candidate than the current front-runner. I think Kerry can still be stopped. He was the default choice after Dean flamed out. The Dems now have a real choice - between Kerry and Edwards. I'd go for Edwards in a heartbeat.
I still think that Edwards doesn't have the money or the time to beat Kerry. Remember these contests award delegates proportionally. Kerry has a big lead and will be racking up delegates in each contest. Edwards is such a phony, as is Kerry.
Sean Hackbarth at The American Mind analyzes how badly Dean did do in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Read Peggy Noonan's online chat on the Washington Post.
Oops.
William Safire is fast. He already has his column up for tomorrow about Edwards' surprising showing in Wisconsin and the role that Dean can now play.
As yesterday's stunning Wisconsin results show, it is in Kerry's interest for Dean to stay in the race even beyond Super Tuesday, March 2.

First, contested primaries keep Kerry in the news, waving victoriously, gaining TV "debate" time to blaze away at President Bush. Dean is now a useful sparring partner, jabbing lightly, the perennial loser who helps define the consistent winner.

The other service Dean now performs for Kerry is to split the not-Kerry Democratic vote. This is not yet an anti-Kerry vote, because the Massachusetts senator has stolen Dean's antiwar resentment and adopted Edwards's cheerful soak-the-rich pitch. But many Democrats could turn anti-Kerry if John Edwards continues to play the feisty Avis to Kerry's establishment Hertz.

There's a new phase a-coming. Kerry has had his comeback honeymoon. He has offered only a high-carb diet of populist platitudes in stump speeches. For a serious man running for a serious job, Kerry has not made a policy speech since December, when he was nobody.

The Washington Post editorialist just noted "his fuzziness on issues ranging from Iraq to gay marriage. . . . He voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement yet now talks in protectionist terms. . . . He must explain how he would manage the real and dangerous challenges the U.S. now faces in Iraq — without the fuzzing."

The Post's Fred Hiatt is not yet Meg Greenfield, but his influential wake-up call is sure to be echoed — especially in light of Wisconsin's results.

Kerry's momentum is now checked. The surprise was John Edwards's powerful showing, especially among independents, followed lamely by Dean. If Dean had taken the Grossman gas pipe and announced he would quit, I believe his anti-establishment vote would have split 2 to 1 for the Southerner Edwards, putting him way over the top — and in Wisconsin, by yimminy, where voters can hardly understand a word he's saying.

Now Trent Lott is getting into the battle over 527's. It's funny to read the hypocrisy as Democrats try to argue hat having billionaires fund anonymous ads is some how part of their reform approach to campaign finance. And Republicans try to argue that they are in favor of restrictions on ads when previously they'd been spluttering their indignation over any limits on the free speech of campaign ads.
Jonah Goldberg commits instant punditry about the Wisconsin results.
I still think Kerry will be the nominee, but I do think the fact that Edwards A) Kicked Howard Dean's but B) seems to have statistically tied Kerry C) did better among indepedents than Kerry D) did just as well as Kerry among veterans and E) had such a strong late surge shows:

A) The mantra that Kerry is the most electable -- or a particularly electable -- Democrat is hogwash
B) Howard Dean will go down as one of the most interesting footnotes in presidential history
C) The Vietnam vet angle is far less useful than the punditocracy claims. After all if Kerry can't sweep vets who vote in Democratic primaries, what makes us think he can sweep politically conservative vets in a general election?

I've been working hard to adjust all my lesson planning for today's totally unnecessary snow day and so haven't been paying much attention to the news. If Edwards is matching Kerry among veterans, then Kerry really is appearing rather hollow.

I'm beginning to think that E.J. Dionne is wrong. Having the race go on longer with everyone speculating on why Kerry doesn't wear well among voters can't be good for Kerry.
Ah, just in time for my AP Government's unit on the Judiciary, two bone-headed Congressmen are trying to limit federal jurisdiction over the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.
USA Today has a rundown on the planned attacks that the Bush people have in mind for Kerry.
Who would think that the erudite William F. Buckley would have a column titled "Screw and Be Screwed"?
The pundits are popping their buttons over John Edwards' showing in Wisconsin. It seems the late-deciding voters broke en masse for Edwards instead of Kerry. The pundits are blaming Kerry's showing in the debate over the weekend. It seems that the more people see of Kerry the less they like him. And Edwards is such a pretty boy who cares so much about the two Americas. He's like a snake oil salesman.

Looking at the results, it looks like if you put together Dean's and Edwards' votes, Kerry would be quite embarrassed. Could it be that we're getting the race that everyone wishes that we were having earlier on? E. J. Dionne should be happy. Now, Kerry has an opportunity to prove his chops and the Democrats get more headlines and TV time. And they can cheerfully bash Bush all the while.
Here's a great story. The French intelligentsia are complaining that the French government is waging a "war on intelligence" because the government is cutting some subsidies to them.
MSNBC looks into the John Kerry - Johnny Chung connections.
If you needed any more evidence of media bias.
The networks followed McAuliffe’s agenda. From Feb. 1-16, ABC, CBS and NBC aired 63 National Guard stories or interview segments on their morning and evening news programs. That’s far more coverage than Bill Clinton’s draft-dodging scandal received in 1992. Back then, the three evening newscasts offered 10 stories on Clinton’s complete evasion of service; this year, those same broadcasts pumped out 25 stories on whether Bush’s acknowledged service was fully documented.

Despite the fact that no Democrat had substantiated their AWOL claims, the networks put the burden on Bush to prove his innocence. After the White House released documents on February 10 showing Bush had satisfied the Guard’s requirements and received an honorable discharge, reporters wanted more evidence (see box). The records showed Bush was never “AWOL,” exposing the baselessness of the Democrats’ original charge, yet none of the networks framed their stories around questionable Democratic tactics. Instead, they kept the onus on Bush: “The issue is not going to go away,” ABC’s Terry Moran promised.
I think this is going to backfire. I believe that a lot of people who'd been irritated with Bush for various reasons are now angry on his behalf about the Democratic-media tag team hysteria about his National Guard service. I had one friend write me about how angry she was that she drove over to the GOP headquarters to volunteer.
I doubt if you'd get a straight answer, but it would be interesting to ask John McCain what he thinks about Kerry's testimony about the Vietnam War.
McCain biographer Paul Alexander chronicled the Arizona Republican's anger toward Kerry during their early careers in the Senate together.

"For many years McCain held Kerry's actions against him because, while McCain was a POW in the Hanoi Hilton, Kerry was organizing veterans back home in the U.S. to protest the war."

In his 2002 book, "Man of the People: The Life of John McCain," Alexander says that the two Vietnam vets finally reconciled in the early 1990s after having "a long - and at times emotional - conversation about Vietnam" during a mutual trip to Kuwait.
David Brooks says that the Democrats have to choose if they want to be war Democrats like Truman and Kennedy or if they prefer to have a Carter-esque foreign policy.
But most Democrats — and John Kerry was very much a part of this group — saw Vietnam as a refutation of the cold war mentality. These liberals saw the bungling and the lies as symptoms of a deep sickness in the military-industrial complex. So we got movies like "Dr. Strangelove" and "M*A*S*H," which treated military life as insane.

These Democrats saw Vietnam as an indictment of a Manichaean good vs. evil worldview, of an overweening arrogance that led hawks into parts of the world they didn't understand. Most of all, they saw it as an indictment of American nationalism, the belief that America was culturally superior and should venture around the globe defeating tyranny.

Hence Democratic foreign policy in the 1970's was isolationist at worst, modest at best. Democrats eschewed flag-waving and moralistic language about the Soviets. Jimmy Carter talked about root causes like hunger and poverty. For many liberals, as Charles Krauthammer recently said, "cold warrior" was an epithet.

These liberals were horrified when a group of former Democrats, led by Ronald Reagan and Jeane Kirkpatrick, led a hawk resurgence. The Reaganites believed in American exceptionalism, saw themselves as the heirs to Truman and Kennedy, and sought to confront and defeat the evil empire. The Democratic establishment — again, with Kerry playing a crucial role — recoiled from such language, and opposed the Reagan arms buildup.

MSNBC reports that Kerry won't quit the Senate because that would give Governor Romney, a Republican, the chance to appoint a Republican replacement. Or, maybe he just worries about not winning in November.....
Here's a story the Bush people will be grasping onto happily.
Economy May Work in Bush's Favor

Housing Boom, Tax Cuts Buoy Many Voters, Despite Job Losses

Well, here's a totally predictable story.
Retardation claims from death row jam Texas courts
Instead of looking at this as criminals trying to avoid capital punishment by claiming to be retarded, capital punishment opponents say it is evidence of how many people ineligible for the death penalty have already been sentenced. Yeah, and it's just a coincidence that they discovered how retarded they were after the Supreme Court banned executing the retarded.
Well, my school just got cancelled for the day due to some snow. As I watched the news this morning, I was really struck by the juxtaposition of analysts trying to figure out the weather based on their various meterological models and political analysts trying to figure out if Wisconsin will opt for a maverick (Dean) in place of the guy that all the polls say are going to win. There's a metaphor in there somewhere.
Dan Balz of the Washington Post has a news flash. The presidential campaign will be fought out in those states that were close in 2000. And the big question is whether Kerry will appeal to those voters. Kerry supporters are hoping that dissatisfaction with the Bush economy will be enough to propel Kerry to victory. The Bush people, obviously, are going to work to tie Kerry to what he has actually voted for and against.
Bush also will have to fight hard to win some of his red states that have suffered economically. "Bush has got to thread the needle," said a GOP strategist in one of the battleground states. "He won several states by a very small margin. Look at Ohio, Florida, Missouri, West Virginia, New Hampshire. I just think it's a tough sled."

But if Republicans have concerns about Bush's strategy, Democrats worry about how well Kerry will match up against the president.

"I think the Republicans are ready to fit him into a box, and it's not just the box of Massachusetts liberal," said one Democratic strategist. "I think the box they're trying to fit him in is the Washington veteran politician who says one thing and does another. And they'll make Bush a guy making tough decisions who is plainspoken. That's the contrast they're trying to draw. I have concerns."

Mehlman made clear that is precisely what the GOP will try to do. "There is a big stylistic difference going forward," he said, "between a president who is a straight shooter, who when he says something you can put it in the bank, and an opponent who has consistently shown through this campaign that he says one thing and does something else."

A Bush strategist said of Kerry: "If you looked at all his ads, you'd think he was an outsider. This guy rails against special interests and look at what he's done over the last 20 years. He says he's going to come and fix Washington and he's been part of the problem for the last 20 years. We're going to make Kerry be who he is."

Other Democrats said they questioned whether Kerry will be able to generate real passion in voters, particularly those who are weakly tied to either party. "Can he get the new folks?" asked one strategist who has worked for one of the other Democratic candidates. "Can he make it bigger than just himself? That's an open question."
Nordlinger also links to this New York Times story that finds some remarkable conclusions about the death penalty in America. Conclusions that contradict widely-held assumptions.
exas, generally considered the leading death penalty state, actually sentences a smaller percentage of people convicted of murder to death than the national average, according to a new study. It found that the conventional view failed to take into account the large number of murders in Texas.

As a percentage of murders, Nevada and Oklahoma impose the most death sentences, at 6 and 5.1 percent. In Texas, the percentage is 2 percent. The rate in Virginia, another state noted for its commitment to capital punishment, is 1.3 percent. The national average is 2.5 percent; the median is 2 percent.

"Texas's reputation as a death-prone state should rest on its many murders and on its willingness to execute death-sentenced inmates," wrote the authors of the study, published in a new publication, the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. "It should not rest on the false belief that Texas has a high rate of sentencing convicted murderers to death."

Using the same analysis, the study concluded that blacks are actually underrepresented on the nation's death row. Blacks commit 51.5 percent of all murders nationally but constitute about 42 percent of death row inmates, the study found.

Texas had about 38,000 murders from 1976 to 1998 in which people older than 16 were arrested, according to the study, which relied on F.B.I. data. Only California had more, about 50,000. The number of murders in Texas, more than anything else, explains the 776 death sentences that were issued during roughly the same period, the study concluded.

Jay Nordlinger notes a hilarious metaphorical gaffe by George "The Hair" Stephanapolous.
I give you, now, George Stephanopoulos, not to be confused with Mel Allen. He said on Nightline — February 10 — "If you want to put this in sports terms, the Kerry team right now is pitching a no-hitter. They've gone through eight and two-thirds innings and they've got a 12 to 2 lead. It's almost impossible at this point that John Kerry will not get this nomination."

A no-hitter and a 12-2 lead? Well, that's a lot of passed balls, wild pitches, and errors!

John Tierney ridicules Edwards' moaning about the coatless girl.
In his stump speech about the "two Americas," he has repeatedly deplored the plight of the 35 million Americans below the poverty line by imagining a 10-year-old girl "somewhere in America" who goes to bed "praying that tomorrow will not be as cold as today, because she doesn't have the coat to keep her warm."

Last week, after Mr. Edwards introduced an imagined scenario of a worker whose factory was shutting down the very night of the speech, reporters on his plane jokingly asked if this new character was the father of the girl. Mr. Edwards laughed and replied, "You guys are bad."

To some critics of Mr. Edwards, a more serious question is whether the coatless girl is any more representative of America's poor than Mr. Reagan's Cadillac-driving welfare recipient. After all, clothing has become so cheap and plentiful (partly because of textile imports, which Mr. Edwards has proposed to limit) that there is a glut of second-hand clothing, and consequently most clothing donated to charity is shipped abroad. The second-hand children's coats that remain in America typically sell for about $5 in thrift shops.

"Edwards would do better to say there's a girl somewhere in America who's cold because her family can't afford to fix the furnace," said Robert E. Rector of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group, who has analyzed data from the Census Bureau and other agencies on the living standards of the poor. Since the typical American family below the poverty line has a car, air-conditioning, a microwave oven, a stereo and two color televisions with cable or satellite service, Mr. Rector said, it was implausible to assume the family could not afford coats.

Edwards' spokesperson says that the coatless girl is just a metaphor. That's what I want is a president who will work fearlessly against dangerous metaphors.
Scrappleface wrote this satire before Kerry pontificated about NASCAR photo ops.
Kerry Accuses Bush of 'Playing Race Card' at Daytona

(2004-02-16) -- George W. Bush became the first presidential candidate in 2004 to "play the race card" by appearing at the Daytona Speedway Sunday, according to John Forbes Kerry, the presumed Democrat nominee.

"Mr. Bush has again divided this country," said Mr. Kerry. "By appearing at the Daytona 500 he has condoned an economic activity in which the elite win, and everyone else loses."

The junior Senator from Massachusetts called NASCAR racing "another sweet oil deal for the Bush-Cheney-Halliburton cabal. It's more than coincidence that Mr. Bush would make a surprise visit to oil-rich Iraq, and then do the same thing at Daytona."

As president, Mr. Kerry said he would issue an executive order mandating that all NASCAR drivers use hydrogen-powered cars. The Kerry plan calls for the Daytona 500 to be held in Kyoto, Japan, under the supervision of the United Nations, with all drivers wearing baby-blue helmets.

Hugh Hewitt exposes how the media wants to ignore John Kerry's radical anti-war stance after he came back from Vietnam.
Kerry criticizes Bush for doing a photo op at NASCAR.

Kerry, who has a commanding lead in the race to oppose Bush this fall, chided the president for taking time out Sunday to attend the Daytona 500, saying the country was bleeding jobs while he posed for a "photo opportunity." Bush had donned a racing jacket to officially open NASCAR most prestigious event in front of some 180,000 fans.


"We don't need a president who just says, `Gentlemen start your engines,'" Kerry said. "We need a president who says, `America, let's start our economy and put people back to work.'"

Oh, geez. As if Democrats never had a phot op at a sports event. What was that hockey game about, Senator Kerry? Get real.
Lileks' Gnat wrote her first word. That brings back great memories of my girls being so excited to think that they were doing real work by writing words in their little notebooks when they were Gnat's age. They would do this every day and they had lots of little workbooks that they loved filling in. They were both reading nicely before they entered Kindergarten. That's the type of activity that so many kids miss out on doing because their parents don't spend the time doing with them when the kids are little. You never get that time back.
Lawrence Kudlow says that Bush is trying to recruit Phil Gramm to write to spending control laws. That's a good idea.
More on the impact of new Internet ads the campaigns are e-mailing around to their supporters. I suspect that the media is getting excited about this and overestimating its appeal. The Bush ad is being e-mailed to Bush supporters and, presumably, will make its way to friends of those supporters. Maybe this motivates the base, but I don't think it does anything to convert undecided voters. Those voters are barely paying attention now and stories have to have a real punch and be repeated over and over to break through to those voters. That's why TV ads are so important because people see them over and over.
E. J. Dionne also argues that it would hurt Kerry to have the primaries end now. So, Edwards could be doing Kerry a great favor by staying in.
Thomas Sowell talks about the myth of equal performance. Cultures are different and we should recognize that.
The Prowler says that Bill Clinton now is pushing Hillary as Kerry's Veep candidate. They're starting to fear that Kerry would win and that he could have a Veep candidate that would be a viable candidate in eight years. Hillary doesn't want to wait that long. Hmmm. If the Republican base is not motivated now, wouldn't this be the best way to rev them up?
Bush and Kerry are 16th cousins.
There's more evidence that Saddam was funding campaigns against sanctions among British politicians.
Andrew Sullivan maintains that states can deny other states' marriages. If this is true, then to me, the issue goes away. I would much rather let states decide it for themselves than to have an amendment. Of course, in Massachusetts it was not the elected legislature that changed the law, but a slim majority on the state Supreme Court. The elected legislators can't even decide on an amendment. They must reflect the muddle that the people are on this subject. All I know for sure, is that I don't want the federal government speaking out on marriages.
More having his cake and eating it too. Kerry can make a pretense of asking other Democrats to stop talking about Bush's record and they can go on doing it. Of course, a real leader could get his supporters to stop if he really wanted to do it.