Well, if he was looking for national attention, he's certainly got it. On the eve of Dean's formal declaration of candidacy on June 23rd, his 17 year old son Paul was picked up by the Burlington, Vermont police as an accessory to a robbery. Okay, okay. Close your mouth. It's not really all that shocking. Five high school hockey players were attempting to pilfer some booze from a Burlington Country Club... not exactly a smash and grab at Tiffany's. As Dean said in an interview with the AP, "[c]hildren do stupid things and this is one of them." None the less, he is cancelling some campaign stops and heading home, probably to scream his head off at Paul.
Dean is still scheduled to appear on Meet the Press this Sunday and C-Span is covering his formal declaration of candidacy live on Monday. Just don't be surprised if he sounds a little hoarse.
posted by Scott |
| Thursday, June 19, 2003
Well, D.C. moderates like Martin Frost think Howard Dean is unelectable, but Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen totally disagrees.
He points to the usual pro-Dean points. Dean is a doctor, not a career politician. Dean was a Governor. Dean spends a lot of time on the ground, face-to-face with the voters.
He also compares Dean to Jimmy Carter, who also brought a youthful outsider's energy to the process. Carter had Watergate. It's possible Dean will have Weapongate.
Most importantly, Yepsen picks up on the McGovern-Pat Robertson(???) factor. Both men were extremely popular with voters outside the usual primary regulars. That's something Dean has had incredible success with.
But in trying to prove electability, do you really want to be compared to George McGovern and Pat Robertson? Electability in Iowa, after all, does not always translate into electability nationwide.
posted by Scott |
I linked their editorial cartoon, so why not give a brief rundown of the other pertinent stories today.
1. Aiming for the Senate leadership (or at least holding the line on their just-barely-the-minority status), the Dems are eyeing seats in Illinois and Alaska. As many of you already know, GOP Senator Peter Fitzgerald of Illinois will not be seeking reelection in 2004 and a handful of potential candidates the GOP has approached to run have declined. In Alaska, Lisa Murkowski was appointed to the Senate by her father, who left the seat to become that state's Governor. Not only was she controversially appointed by her father, but her pro-choice, anti-death penalty views have made her a target in the GOP primary.
I'm glad to see my miniscule donation to the DSCC is paying off.
2. Howard Dean is apparently not popular with moderate Washington Democrats who fear that he has no chance against Team W in 2004. Then again, Washington Democrats haven't proven the best judges of who can and cannot win elections in the last few years...
3. Finally!!! Kucinich got his first House endorsement today. Lynn Woolsey of California has officially endorsed Dennis's candidacy. It bears noting that she is the vice-chair of the Progressive Caucus, which Kucinich co-chairs along with Barbara Lee.
posted by Scott |
I can't stand it when conservatives critique the Democratic Party. It's like a white grandmother reviewing hip hop records for Vibe. The conclusion is always going to be the same--negative, with a profound misunderstanding of the issue. To a large extent, this is true of today's George Will column in The Washington Post.
The only good points in the column come when he quotes James Carville, whom he promptly disparages.
Point being, it's really frightening how much of a concerted effort there seems to be on the part of conservative pundits to convince the electorate that the Democratic Party is morally, intellectually, and politically bankrupt. It's based on nothing more than a few hard losses and right-wing opinions.
But let's not get to down on ourselves. The silver lining in all of this seems to be that it should be very hard for Team W to play the low expectations in 2004. They want to appear indestructable? Fine. We'll just fight that much harder and win that much bigger.
posted by Scott |
The supposedly non-partisan and politically disinterested Host Committee for the 2004 GOP convention in New York City has pleged $64 million for varied expenses. Already, they've received $60 million from ultra-rich New Yorkers like almost-but-not-quite-convicted-criminal Sandy Weill and GOP mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The committee claims that there's no quid pro quo or influence buying, but others (myself included) disagree. The Times quoted Democracy 21 president Fred Wertheimer as saying that "[a]nyone who thinks donors putting up huge amounts of money for a convention do not get precisely the kind of influence that the new law is intended to stop are kidding themselves."
This all brings me to post today's editorial cartoon from RJ Matson in Roll Call:
No, no. Not GOTV. This isn't about mobilizing voters. GoTV. Al Gore Television.
Al Gore's planning a comeback, alright, but not into politics. His first job was as a reporter and he's looking to break his way back into the media. According to Time, former President-elect Al Gore has teamed up with legal services tycoon Joel Hyatt to explore the possibility of a new liberal television network.
The whole thing seems to very very hush-hush and on the QT at the moment, but there have been a few leaks. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that, rather than talking about a straightforward counter to Fox News, the nework would be, according to one source, "something totally different in concept and format." Another source said that there's been discussion of "putting video cameras in the hands of kids."
It's very intriguing to me. Gore certainly broke out of his shell last fall hosting Saturday Night Live, showing what a funny, good-natured, and creative character he truly is. If he's able to bring that same spirit into a new media venture, it could be a winner.
posted by Scott |
Shocked? I didn't think so. But the evidence uncovered by The New York Times is extensive. EPA head Whitman commissioned the report two years ago to determine the state of the nation's environment, the problems facing it, and how to combat them. But the Bush administration took exception to certain sections of the report, namely the one in which "scientific consensus on climate change" (an EPA staffer's words) on "the likely human contribution to warming" (the Times' words) were replaced with information from "a new study, partly financed by the American Petroleum Institute" (the Times again).
A climate policy expert from the National Wildlife Federation compared the action to "the White House directing the secretary of labor to alter unemployment data to paint a rosy economic picture."
I couldn't agree more.
posted by Scott |
They are obsessed. It's impossible to avoid it. Cable news, talk radio, conservative magazines, right-wing think tanks. They are all convinced that Hillary Clinton is going to run for President. The only debate left seems to be 2004 vs. 2008. Other than that, it's a forgone conclusion. Or is it?
The most common charge is that the right sees Hillary as a cash cow. Their major donors hate her, so the more power they think she has or wants, the more money they're going to give right-wing causes to fight her. This is pretty well borne out by conservative "news" site NewsMax.com. In the Hillary Clinton news section (yes, she gets her own section), the headline article reads, "Top Democratic Strategist Declares: 'Hillary is running in 2004' ." The "article" starts off heavy: "New audiotape and report reveals embarrassing secrets that could derail her ambition to recapture the White House..." Hell, at this point, I wanted to know what they knew and who this "Top Democratic Strategist" was. They're pretty coy about what they know. It's all innuendo and suggestion. And then, bingo. "NewsMax has a no-risk offer you can't refuse. You can get the special report and the "Hillary Up Close" audiotape FREE -- that's a value of $40 -- with a subscription to NewsMax Magazine."
Hillary Clinton may decide to run for President one of these days. She's proven herself a star in the Senate and she's certainly got the power to energize both the base and the swing voters who long for the days of the first Clinton administration. But for pete's sake, why is are writers like Michael Barone and media outlets like The Wall Street Journal debasing themselves in the pursuit of such tabloid politics?
Oh yeah. Bush needs money. Here's a nugget from USA Today.
"By the end of the primary election season next year, the Bush camp is aiming to take in as much as $170 million — nearly twice the record $100 million he collected during the 2000 primary season, said campaign spokeswoman Nicolle Devenish. Some Republicans have predicted the campaign would raise more than $200 million."
And they're going to haul in a decent chunk of that $200 million by beating the Hillary Clinton pinata.
posted by Scott |
As I mentioned a little while back, I've been a little (okay, a lot) sick lately. I'm also getting married in a month. Exactly a month, actually. July 19th. As such, things have been incredibly hectic for me and I've let a few pieces slip through the cracks. I feel kind of bad about that, so here is my one big shock and awe attempt to get one day ahead, rather than one day behind, as I have been. Here goes nuthin'.
See my piece below on the media coverage of the House Dems. Grover's gotten so cocky that he's lost all sense of self-censorship. He brags about GOP gerrymandering and aggressive redistricting in such a way that it's a little disturbing he's not in jail.
And why not? It's not like anyone's held them accountable on anything else to date. Even if weapons are found, the Democrats should keep up the questions. Forget "who knew what when?" Try "what have you got to hide?"
Of course. Cover the Democratic primary, but only cover it enough to point out what the Dems are doing wrong. Great.
Alright, I'm being a sensitive partisan. I admit it. It's just that it's so early in the process for the Democratic candidates to be coming up with one wide-ranging and comprehensive policy for the 2004 general election. First of all, if they all agreed, why would there be a primary? (Oh yeah, the media pretty much chalks these things up to likability, don't they?) Secondly, what if the stock market jumps? What if things get--on the surface, at least--a little bit better? That leaves a huge opening for the GOP to step up--as Reagan did in '84--and blast the Dems as negative chicken little fear mongers. (I never did understand why the Dems didn't do this to Team W, whose Dick Cheney practically talked the nation into a recession during the campaign.)
Bruce Reed of the Democratic Leadership Council closes the piece with some surprisingly thoughtful comments on how the Dems need to sell their economic packages, if not on their substance. "It's about corporate responsibility, it's about empowering citizens with the tools to get ahead, and as long as we let Bush define the terms of the debate, we'll never show the country we have a better way."
Hmmm... What can I say? Just read it. A nice counterpoint to Balz' piece.
Here's some of my favorite candidate quotes:
"I believe that this president can receive a bus ticket on January the 20th, 2005, back to Crawford, Texas, if we Democrats overcome this sense of the inevitable and conduct a campaign that will excite and enlighten the American people as to our view of where this nation should be going."
- Bob Graham
"What the president is doing in raising money is a reflection of his entire life, where he comes from, how he views the world, the policies he pursues as president... He values wealth more than work."
- John Edwards
"George W. Bush is an indifferent kind of Republican."
- Joe Lieberman
The New Democrats have issued these six points which they see as putting the Dems back on the political map over the next 10 to 45 years (yikes!).
1. Expand Prosperity and Opportunity
2. Assert Responsible Global Leadership
3. Protect the Homeland
4. Strengthen Families and Communities
5. Modernize Our Health Care System
6. Leave Behind an Even More Beautiful America
The general idea behind the agenda is something that has been discussed quite fervently across the spectrum of the Democratic Party. The Democrats need a to start a Goldwater-esque revolution if they want to seriously reinvigorate the party over the next few decades. The only thing that remains to be seen is whether that revolution will be fomented in the center by the New Democrats or on the left by the Campaign for America's Future.
Wow. That wasn't so bad. And I'm all caught up. So there.
posted by Scott |
| Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Crowley wrote a fantastic piece (I almost want to call it an expose) on the state of Democrats in the U.S. House which DemWatch covered a few days back. One of his biggest points was that the media was nowhere to be found on the story. He quoted one very angry Democratic staffer who commented on the media's culpability in the GOP's iron-fisted control of the House. "The press is pretty goddamn lazy. In order to write about the Rules Committee would mean that you actually have to learn something about rules and procedures. And the press just doesn't do that."
The Washington Post, obviously not happy with the contention that they are "pretty goddamn lazy," answered back with three pieces in two days. First up was a story by Jim VandeHei titled, "Using the Rules Committee to Block Democrats." Taking a significant cue from Crowley, VandeHei starts of strong, calling GOP Rep. David Dreier on his hypocrisy. (In 1994, Dreier complained of not getting "fair treatment" from the Democratic House leadership.) He ends so weakly, though, quoting Dreier saying that back in '94, he "was bellyaching." He then gives the GOP leadership some odd credit for "throw[ing] the minority a procedural bone: the ability to offer a motion to recommit." My, how generous.
Next up to the plate: E.J. Dionne. Predictably, Dionne hits much harder. And he doesn't just crib Crowley's notes. He actually writes about (gasp!) an example not included in the original piece. He writes of a brilliant experiment Rep. David Obey set out to perform in the House.
In the latest budget, Team W gutted $1.5 billion that had been ear-marked for housing of military families. So the Democrat proposed to the subcommittee on military construction an amendment restoring two-thirds of that amount. It would be paid for by reducing the tax cut for people making over $1 million a year. Obey was shot down. Next, he went to the subcommittee on homeland security with a proposal to increase the budget for port and border security by $1 billion. Again, it would be paid for by reducing those same tax cuts. No dice.
Neither of these proposals made the headlines. It proves Crowley's point: the media's asleep at the wheel and the GOP knows it. "Democracies work," Dionne writes, "because they use open debate to bring home to citizens the costs and benefits of what government does." Clearly, by this standard, this Democracy is pretty close to broken.
Howard Kurtz, basically covering the Crowley and VandeHei pieces, summarizes the two better than I did. But then, if he didn't, he'd probably be writing DemWatch and I'd be doing Media Notes. Hmmm....
Point being, as it relates to the race for the White House, there is no way the GOP can keep getting away with what they're doing. The Democratic presidential candidates must champion the cause of the House Dems, if for no other reason than making public the true GOP agenda. Behind closed doors, they are proving that the agenda is cutting taxes for the rich at any cost, even if it means gutting national security and housing for military familes.
posted by Scott |
John Edwards seems to think so. By countering Bush's tax cuts with cuts of his own, Edwards will make it much harder for Rove & Co. to portray him as a "tax and spend liberal."
Courtesy of the Raleigh, North Carolina-based News and Observer, here's a the low down on Edwards' tax plan:
His plan calls for canceling the income, dividend and estate-tax breaks passed by Congress in 2001 and 2003 that benefit only taxpayers in the highest two income brackets -- those earning roughly $240,000 or more.
Using a portion of that money, Edwards said he would instead:
* Offer a tax credit of up to $5,000 to help first-time homebuyers with down payments. The credit would be available to families with incomes as high as $75,000 buying modestly priced homes. Aides estimated the move would enable 2 million Americans to buy homes they could not otherwise afford.
* Cut taxes on capital gains and dividend earnings for families with incomes of roughly $130,000 or less. In a move to spur investment by "teachers, nurses and police officers who can't afford to save right now," the first $1,000 in capital gains and first $500 in dividend income would not be taxed, and rates would be cut in half on gains held for at least three years.
* Create government-funded "matching savings accounts" available to individuals with incomes up to $50,000 to supplement their traditional pensions, 401(k)s and Individual Retirement Accounts. For each $1 in private savings, the government would offer a $1 refundable tax credit for savings, up to a limit of $1,000 per couple.
Aides said Edwards' three initiatives would cost roughly $150 billion over 10 years. His proposals to roll back Bush's tax cuts benefiting the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans would pay for those plans several times over, they said.
While pitching tax cuts may not be the most surefire way to win votes in the Democratic primary, the Edwards plan sounds like a potential general election vote-getter.
Many will wonder if this will only add to Edwards' image as a "Bush-lite" candidate. It's possible, but it's also important to keep in mind that Team W's tax cuts are quickly losing their luster. Of course, there is the child tax credit debacle, which is bad enough. But both Fortune and Business Week--hardly lefty rags--have called the Bush tax cuts a sham.
Here's Fortune's argument:
For millions of Americans, Uncle Sam is doing a head fake: Washington fully intends to take back a large chunk of that tax cut. No, we're not talking about the much-discussed "sunset" provisions whereby Congress met its budget targets by passing cuts that phase out in a few years. We're talking about something sneakier and much nastier: the Alternative Minimum Tax, or AMT.
This year the AMT will catch only 2.4 million families and individual taxpayers. By 2005 that will leap to 12.7 million, and it keeps soaring. Indeed, by 2010, 33 million taxpayers, one-third of the total, will pay the AMT if the rules aren't changed.
Some tax cut, huh? But wait, there's one last bitter irony. One of the things that will do the most to push you into the AMT, believe it or not, is the tax cut you thought you just got.
What is the Alternative Minimum Tax? Well, I don't want this piece to be any longer than it already is, so go read the Fortune article. What's the short version? Well, all you really need to know is that wealthy people think it's really bad and Bush is tricking more people into it.
And what does Business Week have to say about the Bush tax cuts? Under the headline "The Heavy Long-Term Toll of the Bush Tax Cuts: Whatever the short-term merits, big deficits will lift rates and curb growth," the writers point out the flawed logic of Bush's trickle down theory:
Economists at UBS Warburg estimate that a family of four earning $40,000 per year will save $1,050 in taxes annually over the life of the tax plan; at an income of $70,000, the saving doubles to $2,025; and at $300,000, the tax reductions jump to $7,000. But wealthy families spend a smaller portion of any increase in their incomes than lower-income households do. So the impact on total consumer spending will be less than it would have been had the package been geared toward lower- and middle-income taxpayers.
Why such a long piece on this from DemWatch?
The prevailing logic is that Bush can be beaten on domestic and economic policy, though the GOP will make repealing the tax cuts very difficult. They're already calling the Democrats' plans "tax hikes." As the Edwards campaign might tell you, this is one way to counter that. As DemWatch might tell you, it's a pretty smart strategy.
posted by Scott |
I think it's a good sign when candidates get covered on The Washington Post Style page rather than in the Washington section. Suddenly, as if by magic, politicians become humans.
This certainly seems to be the case with an article in today's Post about Dick Gephardt. For years, the running joke has been that Gephardt "was born in Congress." Lucky for him, he's in on the joke; that quote was his.
But '04 candidate Gephardt is working to change the image people still have of Congressman Gephardt and '88 candidate Gephardt. Echoing the thoughts of Danny Goldberg, Gephardt says "you can't just throw policy at people and expect them to understand." So he's couching his policies in personal terms.
Most of you probably already know this, as he's named his universal healthcare proposal "Matt's Plan" after his son who battled (and beat) childhood cancer. What you may not have known is how this was playing for him on the campaign trail. So far avoiding accusations of using his family's personal pain for political gain, the new open strategy seems to be working well. where Al Gore's speeches on family suffering left one with "a sense that someone was turning a key in his back," Gephardt is impressing people with his candor.
Carter Eskew seems to deride the urge Democrats feel to "connect" with voters on a personal level. (I say "seems" because the article really doesn't give a good sense as to his personal feelings on the topic.) He points out that Republicans are "more comfortable running on their agenda." He wonders, "[w]hen you burn out all your heavy stories, what do you have left?"
But going back to Danny Goldberg for a moment, Eskew's comments epitomize the problems of Democrats who think they can win on sheer policy. The GOP hasn't run "on their agenda" as Eskew claims, in years. Since Gingrich, they've been running on anger and resentment. Think of the vitriole dripping from Rush Limbaugh's voicing of the word "poor" whenever he damns Democrats for defending the less fortunate. Think of Bill O'Reilly repeatedly barking "shut up!" at liberal guests. To the extreme, think of Michael Savage referring to feminists as "sluts" and "whores" and antiwar protesters as "junkies."
The GOP isn't winning because of its agenda. Its' winning because it's mobilizing a certain segment of the electorate who votes on emotion.
So what's wrong with Gephardt appealing to voters emotionally? Nothing. He's got a story to tell and he should tell it. Gore's problem was not that he got personal. His problem was that when he got personal, people didn't really buy it. With Gephardt, people are buying it.
posted by Scott |
| Tuesday, June 17, 2003
John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, and Danny Goldberg. The three men could not be more different. Two Senators running for President and one wealthy media mogul and progressive activist.
Oddly, for the purposes of DemWatch, I'd have to say that the Goldberg piece is the most important to the Democratic primary. The Lieberman and Kerry profiles in The Washington Post and The Boston Globe are great bios and speak volumes about the candidates. But Goldberg... sheesh! Someone make this man the head of the DNC!
Goldberg takes on Lieberman (and the party in general) on the knee-jerk paternalistic moralism which seems to have become dominant in the Democratic Party even while Bush is partying with Ozzy Osbourne and Bono. The party, Goldberg complains, has abandoned pop culture and youth culture in such as to alienate young voters. As proof, he points to the statistic that while Clinton beat Bush I by 12 points and Dole by 19 point among voters aged 18 to 24. Team W effectively erased that Democratic advantage, tying with Gore among the group in 2000.
Kerry and Lieberman? Kerry continues to impress me more every day. That may bother some of my more liberal friends, but the guy seems like the real deal. And the story of Joe Lieberman's Senate win in 1988 kind of sums up my problem with his candidacy. In order to beat the popular liberal GOP Senator Lowell Weicker, Lieberman ran to his right, attacking Weicker as a liberal.
posted by Scott |
A few of you are going to read the above and ask when the campaign wasn't in trouble. Play nice.
Carol Moseley Braun is expected to announce by Labor Day whether or not she intends to remain in the Democratic primary. In the meantime, her "bare bones" campaign (her words) is moving to Chicago, her press secretary is leaving, and the head of her D.C. campaign will step down to possibly serve as a consultant in the future.
The reasoning? "I don't have money to burn." This is a sad but understandable reality of the invi$ible primary process.
Whatever you think of Moseley Braun as a candidate, you've got to admit that there's a certain grassroots charm in the fact that her new headquarters will be located in an urban Chicago community center.
posted by Scott |
Biden, Clark, Clinton, Gore. These are the names that some Democrats would like to see added to the nine current Democratic candidates for the White House.
Biden and Clark are interested. Clinton and Gore are not. The Baltimore Sun wants to know if any of them stands a chance? The experts are divided.
New Hampshire Democratic Party chairwoman Kathleen Sullivan doesn't think Joe Biden should jump in now. "[B]uilding an organization and raising money becomes difficult at this point." She also points to the fact that there are many other D.C. insiders already in the race.
She doesn't think it's too late for Wesley Clark, though, because "he's so different" and comes to the table with an outsider's perspective.
Stu Rothenberg thinks only Clinton or Gore would be able to get into the game so late. He has harsh words for candidates considering entering the race now. Why so late, he wonders? "[I]t has to be ego."
Sullivan's Iowa equivalent thinks the field is still "wide open," though, pointing out that "there's no front-runner at all."
posted by Scott |
| Monday, June 16, 2003
Howard Dean news
What can I say? The man gets his own mini section today.
First up, the television ads. Howard Dean is putting $300,000 into television ads targeted at Iowa. He's early and he knows it. "We're right around the halfway point, and this is a good way of throwing down a marker for everybody who hasn't yet met me."
AP Political Notebook: Dean takes a "dig" at Graham. Holly Ramer is making a big deal about Dean referring to Graham as "not one of the top-tier candidates" in the race. However, if you read a little further, you find Dean backtracking a bit. "That's not to say he couldn't get to be one."
It's pretty lame, but the Graham camp swung back with surprisingly sharp critique of their own. "With all due respect, Bob Graham created twice as many jobs when he was governor of Florida than there are people in the state of Vermont."
And what makes him such an authority on what kind of job the Bush administration is doing behind the scenes?
In early March 2003, Rand Beers was the special assistant to the president for combating terrorism at the National Security Council. Today, he's John Kerry's national security adviser. "The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure."
I sent the first few paragraphs of this story to my father, a liberal Republican. (Don't laugh. Here in the northeast, he's not a rare breed.) His response? "That's a little bit scary!" Now, he's an understated fellow, my father. As much as it bothers me--a partisan Democrat--it also bothers him. And that speaks volumes to me about the potential strength of a Kerry candidacy down the road.
Personally, I've waivered back and forth between candidates. Dean, Kerry, Dean, Edwards, Kerry, Clark, Gephardt, Dean, etc. When I read this article, however, it was almost enough to make me reflexively support Kerry from here on in, no questions asked.
Of course, my mind cleared pretty fast and the field recrowded itself, but it's incredibly promising that credible national security and defense figures like Rand Beers, Wesley Clark, John Loftus, and (according to Loftus) General Tommy Franks are making their political affiliation known--proud Democrats every one.
Here's hoping that a Democratic victory in 2004 does not come at the cost of a catastrophic failure on the part of the Bush administration to keep America secure.
posted by Scott |
Howard Dean was the big (and I do mean BIG) winner of the straw poll held at this weekend's Wisconsin Democratic Party state convention. It's by no means official, but as The Hotline's Vaughn Ververs noted, "the results were representative of the feeling among the delegates. Had all the attendees voted, the overall results likely would not have been different."
Dean, Kerry, and Kucinich were the only candidates in attendence, which really tells you something about face time with the voters and the value of pressing the flesh.
Also very telling was the fact that Lieberman got his clock cleaned and that there were 14 votes for "various write-ins." This is pure speculation, but if half of those votes went to someone like Wes Clark, Al Gore, or Joe Biden, then that means that any of those non-candidates would still have a shot if they jumped in now.
posted by Scott |
| Sunday, June 15, 2003
Tim Russert asked the big question (as we knew he would) and got a big answer, if not the completely definitive one. When confronted with a question about the rapidly growing Draft Clark movement and if Clark is considering a White House run in 2004.
"I am going to have to consider it."
Score one for the Draft movement. And even though it's not an official declaration, I think we can call Clark candidate #10.
posted by Scott |