Thursday, May 01, 2003

All PAC'ed up and ready to go

At the end of a relatively boring AP piece on fundraising paperwork recently ammended by the Kerry campaign, I found this interesting little note:

Kerry's Citizen Soldier Fund reports also detail the PAC's spending, including about $930,000 it spent in the month before the soft money ban took effect. That included contributions to candidates and party committees in states with early presidential primaries, such as $40,000 to the Iowa Democratic Party, $39,650 to the New Hampshire Democratic Party and $3,000 to the South Carolina Democratic Party.

Gee whiz! Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina? What ever do those states have in common? Oh - that's right - early primaries!

So how about the other candidates with PACs? How did they give to these states during the 2002 election cycle?

Howard Dean:
$4,000 to New Hampshire
$4,000 to Iowa
$1,000 to South Carolina

Joe Lieberman:
$27,274 to New Hampshire
$32,000 to Iowa
$13,500 to South Carolina

Dick Gephardt:
$20,000 to New Hampshire
$37,500 to Iowa
$10,000 to South Carolina

* * *

Interestingly, Al Gore was not nearly as generous as some of the others:
$20,000 to New Hampshire
$8,000 to Iowa
$5,000 to South Carolina

Could this have predicted that Gore would not run? If so, that would make early primary state donations a valuable leading political indicator.

posted by Scott | 5/01/2003 | |

Somehow, Team W will call this a win

House Republicans are pushing a proposal to kill Team W's killing of dividend taxation. The Washington Post says such a move "could prove fatal to the president's embattled proposal."

Evil genius Karl Rove is already hard at work back in his underground laboratory formulating new talking points to counter this latest GOP dissent.

Dear Roger Ailes, There's something I'd like to bring to your attention...

posted by Scott | 5/01/2003 | |

So you want to live in the White House... has a great rundown of how a Democrat ought to go about winning the presidency not from a political standpoint, but in terms of what electoral votes need to be won and where.

Highly recommended if you're thinking about taking on Team W.

posted by Scott | 5/01/2003 | |

Dems in South Carolina? Why bother?

A welcome note from Michael Graham at the Columbia South Carolina Free Times to all of the Democrats in town for Saturday's debate. Yes, it's biting. Yes, it's mean. But doesn't he have a bit of a point?

posted by Scott | 5/01/2003 | |

Howard Dean dominates this morning's Note

(Pardon my cross-posting with the Dean blog. The good doctor is making big waves these days and as such, he is the Democratic primary's news of the day)

Here are the highlights as I see 'em.

1. Chris Lehane's further sniping!
"John Kerry was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for his service to his country. I really don't think that Howard Dean wants to get into a compare and contrast on courage and backbone"
2. A Clinton endorsement?!?
"In all probability, we won't be the premier political and economic power we are now..."
3. Beware the Blair Democrats!
...the Progressive Policy Institute's Will Marshall... claims Howard Dean is toast because of his anti-war stance.
4. Dean lays down the healthcare gauntlet!
(I'm going to keep on this issue until you all start caring!!!)
5. The Doctor sez: You gotta be like Bush to beat Bush!
"'The only way to beat George Bush is to be as very direct and clear as he is."

posted by Scott | 5/01/2003 | |

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Hillary's Running!!!

Boy, how I do wish that I could see all of your stunned faces right now.

No, no, it's not true. But over at Congressional Quarterly, Craig Crawford is envisioning a scenario in which she could run.

The scary part? It sounds like such a good idea...

posted by Scott | 4/30/2003 | |

Note: The Note notes Dean's notables, noticing noteworthy notes from Clinton and Kerry, noticably serving notification that the New Hampshire neighbor's nest will not be notched napping, nor off-notice.

Doctor Dean (don't worry, that's the end of my deliciously dastardly alliteration) has scored big points with campaign watchers today for punching Kamp Kerry right in the nose. Using both their own research as well as that of Slate's William Saletan, The Note has judged that the Dean campaign knocked the Kerry "Dean's not presidential" fastball out of the park.

Judging by the latest back and forth in the race, we are not looking at a friendly game of poker. We're looking at a cage match.

posted by Scott | 4/30/2003 | |

Tuesday, April 29, 2003


It seems that the United States is on course to default on the national debt in late May if Congress does not step in soon. Should this happen, the world will be thrust into economic turmoil.

So how much more does Congress need to authorize the government to borrow in order to stay in good standing? Nearly nine trillion dollars. And still Team W insists on shoving further tax cuts down the throats of the American people.

Congress will of course authorize the new increased debt limit. The important thing here is that Democratic lawmakers - especially those running for president - must make sure that the voters know what is going on and why.

posted by Scott | 4/29/2003 | |

So he is running...

Al Sharpton's made it official, turning in his FEC paperwork yesterday. A quick glance at the who-and-how-much-stats shows Sharpton raising money from well-known African-Americans like Tom Joyner, Sharpe James, and Abner Louima. (It's an interesting mix, but you know they've all got the cash.)

posted by Scott | 4/29/2003 | |

Gephardt fighting uphill in Iowa

According to Sam Dealey on The Hill, Dick Gephardt's campaign has lost Iowa's invisible primary and is in danger of further losses. Gephardt won Iowa in the 1988 primary and the campaign would of course like a repeat performance. However, Gephardt trailed even Kucinich in terms of Iowa fundraising.

Dealey also points out that the support from labor is just not there this time around. While I can't argue with the FEC numbers, I do take issue with this claim. Gephardt has won the early endorsement of the Ironworkers Union despite an AFL-CIO request that member unions withhold individual endorsements in, favoring one union-wide endorsement. So one sees the difficulty in finding a real issue in Gephardt's lack of union endorsements.

Setting aside Dealey's fast and loose handling of the union endorsements question, Gephardt's clearly got his work cut out for him in Iowa.

posted by Scott | 4/29/2003 | |

Bush's War on (just some of the) Terrorism

Team W has decided to allow the Mujahedeen Khalq terrorist group in Iraq to hold onto its arms as part of a cease-fire agreement. Under the agreement, the group is being encouraged to defend Iraq's borders from Iranian infiltration. This is the same group that, in the seventies, attacked and killed American military and civilian personnel working in Iran.

So why's this on DemWatch? What does this have to do with the Democratic primary process? Well, consider it a heads-up to the candidates. Team W's made some really bad decisions in the past that have quickly come back to haunt them. (See also: The $43 million May 2001 donation to the Taliban - American tax dollars at work)

Come November 2004, voters will have been inundated with Bush-as-national-defense-god rhetoric. It's stories like this that we cannot allow them to forget.

posted by Scott | 4/29/2003 | |

Dean versus Kerry versus Dean versus Kerry versus... aw, forget it!

The rest of the campaign watchers out there seem to think this story is big news. I feel like it's been going on for quite some time now. Either way, here's a rundown of the Dean v. Kerry coverage...

Dan Balz, Washington Post: Kerry Campaign Blasts Dean's Credentials

Adam Nagourney, New York Times: Howard Dean's Remark on Military Draws Fire From Kerry

Associated Press: Kerry, Dean campaigns spar over U.S. military

Tom Curry, MSNBC: Kerry, Dean wage foreign policy battle

Greg Pierce, Washington Times: Kerry versus Dean

Deborah Orin, New York Post: 'Hawk' Kerry Gets Mean with Dean

CBS News: Dems In War Of Words Over Military

And an actual campaign commentary...

Joe Trippi, Dean For America: The quasi-official statement

posted by Scott | 4/29/2003 | |

WSJ takes on Graham

Perhaps the sloppiest Team W election '04 hit attempt to date can be found today in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. Brendan Miniter tries to make the case that Bob Graham's criticisms of Team W's Iraq war are at best misguided and at worst deluded.

On ABC's "This Week," the Florida senator and Democratic presidential candidate told interviewer George Stephanopoulos: "I would point out that we have virtually abandoned the war on terrorism; that we have withdrawn military and intelligence capabilities from Afghanistan and, because of that, al Qaeda has been able to regroup. . . . I don't think that's a very impressive national-security record."

Did he miss the Sunday New York Times? "The two-inch-thick manual on killing, discovered in an abandoned bomb laboratory here early this month, offers instructions on Al Qaeda's array of lethal demolition skills," the Times's C.J. Chivers writes in the opening paragraph of his report from Darga Sharkhan, Iraq. Mr. Chivers reports that these manuals are nearly identical to those found in al Qaeda bases in liberated Afghanistan.

Did Miniter miss his own writing? How exactly does finding an Al Qaeda manual in Iraq stop terror? Did we also find the owner of the manual? By writing that "these manuals are nearly identical to those found" already, Miniter admits that the find gives us no new information on Al Qaeda's tactics or planned operations.

One of the most important lessons learned fighting Al Qaeda (even before 9/11) is that borders are porous and that the group is a fluid entity. Both Al Qaeda and the U.S. military are in Iraq. To be sure, it's damning evidence against the antiwar never-the-twain-shall-meet argument. But it's not the same as having suspects in custody. Just ask Osama bin Laden... if you can find him, of course.

America is deep enough into the war on terror that finding a bomb-making manual no longer qualifies as a significant success.

And now onto the even more absurd section of Miniter's piece.

Mr. Graham hopes to cover himself by arguing for a different war. If elected president, Mr. Graham promises to bring the international community into the rebuilding effort in Iraq and concentrate on Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups.

He should know that another Democrat tried a similar approach and got trounced. In 1988 Michael Dukakis opposed President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, but to avoid appearing soft on defense, he urged more spending on conventional weapons like tanks. Tanks were not kind to the Massachusetts governor that year. Democratic naysaying about a successful war doesn't promise to be a winning strategy in 2004, either.

What we're seeing here is a desperate attempt by Team W to win an election the only way they know how (outside of having a few friends on the Supreme Court): by beating Michael Dukakis.

Graham's promise to expand the war on terror is not the same thing as Dukakis's promise to refocus military appropriations on conventional weaponry. It's just so stupid to compare them that I am having trouble debunking this meme! If in '88 Dukakis had advocated an increased focus on China and the Middle East in addition to the Soviet bloc, Miniter's comparison would contain some semblance of logic. Alas, it does not.

So my advice to Graham? Fight this one tooth and nail. You'll win on the merits. But if you let it snowball, jokers like Limbaugh and O'Reilly will have a field day.

posted by Scott | 4/29/2003 | |

Monday, April 28, 2003

Everyone's favorite Mickey Mouse political operation just got favoriter

Credit the good folks over at ABC for accomplishing the unimaginable: they've improved The Note.

I know what you're thinking. How is it even possible? Well, it's possible. Borrowing Hotline's 1988 format, The Note extended a direct invite to each of the candidates to scoop their daily poop (200 words or less, please). Whatever the campaigns want to say, they get to say. It's informative and hilarious on so many levels. Highly recommended. Tell 'em DemWatch sent you.

posted by Scott | 4/28/2003 | |

Howard Dean takes Bush to task on leadership and equality

Perhaps the most irritatingly Orwellian meme Team W loves to promote is the idea that Bush is "a uniter, not a divider." As Howard Dean writes in an Op-Ed for, "nothing could be further from the truth." The thrust of Dean's charge is that Bush, by claiming that Sen. Rick Santorum is "an inclusive man" and by promoting the idea that the University of Michigan admissions policy is a quota system, is playing to the worst prejudices and most outlandish fears of the American electorate.

Hidden within this piece is a very smart attack on Team W's self-perceived strengths. In other words, Dean is hitting them where it's bound to hurt.

Bush continually claims that he is not driven by polls or focus groups. Clearly that's at least partly true. For example, most Americans, even many of those in his own party, do not seek further tax cuts. This doesn't seem to bother Team W. Their answer is to dispatch Air Force One to Ohio to strong-arm the unsupportive Republican Senator George Voinovich. Alternately, their affiliated billionaire-financed anti-government hit squads step in and run television spots slandering anti-tax cut Republicans as "French," Team W newspeak for disloyal and conniving.

Dean puts forward an effective counter. Want to talk bucking the polls? In signing Vermont's civil unions law, Gov. Dean ignored the 60% opposition - and won.

Bush also wants to be seen as a fearless leader, ready to go into battle when the cause is righteous. The war in Iraq is the most potent example of this.

But Dean attacks Bush's leadership, stating, "equality requires moral leadership" and "sometimes requires standing against your party's base." Bush's support of Santorum "is not moral leadership."

More than the debate over guns vs. butter, Howard Dean clearly wants the campaign to be about character. It's an unfamiliar, but welcome stance from a Democrat. One tends to associate character campaigns with the moral finger wagging of socially conservative Republicans. But Dean reminds Americans that there is a vital, liberal vision of character and morality.

The issue is whether we, as Americans, will continue to allow ourselves to be led down a path by this Administration to a country that is divided against itself by race, income, gender, sexual orientation and religion.

posted by Scott | 4/28/2003 | |

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Calling the race...part III

So is Bush indestructible? David Broder seems to think so. But Irwin M. Stelzer at the Weekly Standard does not. However, on NBC's Chris Matthews Show this morning, David Brooks of the same magazine was claiming that Bush is unbeatable in '04.

So what's the answer?

Again, I say it's way to early to call, but let me rank the above. Broder? Pure analysis. At the moment, he's right. Stelzer? Doing the president's bidding by managing expectations. Brooks? Pure hero worship, GOP-style. Cue incredulous reaction: "What do you mean you're not going to vote for Bush? He's perfect in every way!"

posted by Scott | 4/27/2003 | |

Wait, but why isn't she giving me money?

Connecticut senator, vice-president-elect, and presidential hopeful Joe Lieberman is attempting to give Republicans a taste of their own medicine. He is seeking a federal probe into the Chinese fundraising scandal. No, not that Chinese fundraising scandal, but an entirely new scandal involving Chinese female double-agent Katrina Leung, her affairs with male FBI agents, and her donations to Republican lawmakers. (A lot sexier than the last time, huh?)

No word on a possible Lieberman-sponsored probe of John Edwards's fundraising.

posted by Scott | 4/27/2003 | |

See? Diplomacy can work!!!

War has narrowly been averted and we all have the institution of diplomacy to thank. So where should we send our letters of gratitude? The State Department? Colin Powell? The EU? Tony Blair?

And where was this war going to take place anyway? Syria? North Korea? Iran?

Try the United States. New Hampshire and Michigan to be exact. And you can send your thank yous to Terry McAuliffe.

Michigan Democrats have agreed to put off their caucus until February 7, which will not beat out New Hampshire's "first in the nation" status with their January 27 primary. In exchange, Terry is appointing a blue ribbon panel to examine the primary calendar and decide on ways to make it more fair.

posted by Scott | 4/27/2003 | |
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