Tuesday, July 08, 2003

John Edwards Gets Angry

And why not? With less than stellar Q2 fundraising, declining poll numbers, and an annoyed home state electorate wishing he'd commit to either them or the White House, John Edwards has almost nothing to lose.

Perhaps taking a cue from the perpetually pissed current insurgent Howard Dean, John Edwards is breathing a little fire of his own. In pitching his plan for corporate reform, he's taken to calling Bush "a complete phony" in bed with "crony capitalists" and "insiders." It's a bold move for Edwards, but one that fits him well. After all, if he's going to be painted with the broad "trial lawyer" brush by Team W and the media, shouldn't he embrace it? It's much smarter for Edwards to align himself with Erin Brockovich and Matlock than to let Karl Rove align him with hordes of ambulance chasers and Johnnie Cochran wannabes.

William Saletan at Slate is also taking another look at John Edwards. He points out that, like Dean, Edwards is throwing out red meat in his speeches and appearances. Unlike Dean, who throws out the red meat to please and pacify the base, Edwards is tossing out the stuff that's stirring up the beasts. They're picking it up, tearing it apart, fighting over it, and going home just a little bit hungry. Saletan points to Edwards' answers to medical marijuana, Israel, and the Patriot Act as proof. He won't give them exactly what they want on all fronts, but he is giving them straight answers and solid leadership.

posted by Scott | 7/08/2003 | |

Wes Clark gets "The Last Word"

In the July 14th issue of Newsweek International, readers are treated to a brief Q&A with possible presidential contender Wesley Clark. In it, he waxes nostalgic for cooperative interationalism and takes a solid wack at Dubya's flyboy get-up.

Go get 'em, Wes!

The world expects something more of an American president than to prance around on a flight deck dressed up like [a] pilot. He’s expected to be a leader. That’s my fundamental issue with it. It doesn’t reflect the gravitas of the office. Furthermore, it’s a little phony.

posted by Scott | 7/08/2003 | |

Run, Al, Run?

William O'Rourke at the Chicago Sun-Times is calling for Al Gore to step back up to the presidential plate. The thinking goes that the field is currently too wide to produce a viable general election candidate after Bush gets to sail through the primary season. Even if he loses, Gore could "make it clear how the Democratic Party is different from the Republican Party, how he is different from Bush, which would help the party in 2008."

It's an interesting proposition based on solid logic. Unfortunately, I think Gore probably wants to be the 2008 nominee (see also: Richard Nixon 1960 and 1968) and not just a step-stool for that eventual nominee. A 2004 loss precludes that possiblity. After all, no one wants a two-time loser as the Democratic candidate. After a 2004 run, the only way Gore will get a crack at the 2008 nomination is if he's running from the White House.

posted by Scott | 7/08/2003 | |

New Granite State Poll Results

The headlines look boring--Kerry beats Dean beats Lieberman--but the big picture is much more interesting. Kerry came in first with 18%, Dean's got 16%, and Lieberman has 11%. This means that Lieberman's fundraising and grassroots support troubles are good news for Kerry. If the Lieberman campaign falters much more, the majority of that 11% is not going to Dean, but rather is more likely to shift the liberal-to-moderate front-runner Kerry. Some of it will trickle down to moderates like Edwards and Graham, but at 2% and 1% respectively, that's not going to make a huge impact.

Much more interesting than the regular babble about Kerry and Dean is the fact that Wesley Clark pulls down 3% of the vote. That ties him for fourth place with Dick Gephardt as an undeclared non-candidate. Hillary Clinton, another non-candidate, beats Lieberman for third-place with 14%. No mention is made of one-time President-elect Al Gore.

For all of the chatter about Howard Dean's abrasive style and poor performance on the politalk circuit, he still garners a net favorability rating of 47%, second only to Kerry. The demographic breakdown is also interesting. Howard Dean has the most support among registered and self-identified Democrats with 20% and 17%. Kerry follows in both categories with 19% and 16%. For all of his union endorsements, Dick Gephardt only carries 2% of the union households, trailing far behind Joe Lieberman's 23%. This tells us something we already knew, of course, that union rank and file are much more conservative than their leadership.

Ah, poll results. I could go on all day, but I won't. Check them out for yourselves. And for Pete's sake, don't just stop with the headlines. There's a lot of juicy information buried deep for those with patience.

posted by Scott | 7/08/2003 | |

Monday, July 07, 2003

Drudge's weirdest lie yet

I saw this earlier and thought about posting something on it, but I just thought it was too stupid to even dignify with my time. But then I read Josh Marshall's take on it and I changed my mind.

Matt Drudge would like the world to believe that the Dean campaign is planning on ousting Terry McAuliffe from his position as the head of the DNC should he win the New Hampshire primary. Whereas I just sort of shrugged my shoulders and rolled my eyes at this blatant falsehood, Josh sees a bigger issue at play. Why is it a blatant falsehood, you might be asking? No candidate--not even the one who wins the NH primary--can fire the chair of the DNC. Pretty simple. Even the quotes Drudge uses sound like they were just made up. It's all so stupid...

...Or so I thought. Talking Points Memo sees a larger game being played here. We all know by now that Karl Rove is leading an orchestrated effort to get the Dems to hate Howard Dean. Is Drudge taking his orders directly from Rove on this one? That's what Josh thinks. And I'm inclined to agree.

posted by Scott | 7/07/2003 | |

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Waiting for the other shoe to drop for Biden and Clark

At this point, many people expect them to announce. I've gone on record that I think both Biden and Clark would make good candidates. The only question now seems to be when. Both men said their decisions would come in September, but don't be surprised if either (or both) come out earlier to get a jump on fundraising.

Paul Bedard of US News' 'Washington Whispers' is hearing that the chance of a Biden run is very high (50%? 70%? 80%?) and that some Clark aides are quietly getting ready to take up campaign staffer positions. Get ready for an even longer primary season kiddies...

posted by Scott | 7/06/2003 | |

Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean!!!

Damnit, would someone please write something about someone other than Howard Dean?!?! Seriously, people, it's getting ridiculous. All Dean all day makes DemWatch a dull blog.

Full disclosure, many of you know that I used to write for Dean Nation. I say "used to" for two reasons. One, Aziz and Company have been doing very well without me (see also: Salon.com's recent story). Two, I can no longer in good faith call myself a Howard Dean supporter. If he's the Democratic Party nominee, I'll be more than happy to cast my ballot for Dean. Until then... let's just say I'm keeping my options opened.

Howard Dean has been the biggest newsmaker out of all of the Democratic contenders lately, so it seems like too many DemWatch postings have been Dean-centric. Well, here's another one.

Let me start with The Washington Post. It's Sunday, and you know what that means. No, not a new episode of The Simpsons. No, not even 60 Minutes. Rather, it means another installment of The Contenders.

This week's Dean profile takes a small step back from the current hype and focuses--as is the series standard--on Dean's general bio and background. Of course, it's impossible to ignore Dean's momentum nowadays, so the piece is bookended with Dean's recent appearance before the California Teachers Association. Howard Dean uses anger, the writer informs, to great effect. No kidding? But here's something you probably didn't know. Dean got his start in politics lobbying locally in Vermont for a bike path along Lake Champlain. He got it. Then he got a seat in the Vermont legislature. And then it was the lieutenant-governorship. That led to the governorship. And now he's a leading candidate for President of the United States. Not bad for a guy campaigning for a bike path. Also reported, in response to his warning that he was about to finish his California speech, the audience responded with a disappointed "awwww." This is the magic of Howard Dean. The man gets the base moving and pumping like no other.

Which makes the subject of the previous day's Post article sooo juicy. At a Fourth of July parade, none other than Karl Rove was seen pointing out a group of Dean supporters marching in the parade, chuckling and remarking, "[y]eah, that's the one we want." He then shouted, "Come on, everybody! Go, Howard Dean!"

Now, depending on your preferred level of conspiracy-mongering, this can be read a few different ways. The simple explanation is that Rove sees Dean as the perfect antiwar, pro-gay marriage liberal foil to make Bush look like a moderate. Or perhaps Rove, knowing how all-powerful liberals believe him to be, was trying to scare us into thinking that Dean doesn't really have "the magic," but rather he's got a White House dirty-tricks squad behind him. Under this premise, Dean is really a serious threat to Team W. This one may sound a bit far fetched, but it may not be. After all, there is a serious campaign underway at two separate websites--Real Clear Politics and PoliPundit--to donate money to the (in their eyes) unelectable Dean in order to destroy the Democrats chances at winning in 2004. Pretty gross...

As far as Dean's last-minute, big-money second quarter, everyone's still trying to figure out what it all means. At The New York Times, the jury's still out. Sure, Dean raised a boatload of money through the Internet, but does it really make a difference? They talk to Bob Bauer, a finance consultant to the Kerry, Gephardt, and Lieberman campaigns. Bauer points out the similarities between Dean's web fundraising and Pat Robertson's 1988 direct mail fundraising. The point here seems to be that Robertson lost. But that misses a much bigger point. Robertson lost, but direct mail became a cash cow and an election year staple for the GOP which to this day gives them the clear edge in political fundraising. Dean might not win the White House with the Internet, but it's possible that the Democratic Party may have discovered a path to fundraising parity with the Republicans.

posted by Scott | 7/06/2003 | |
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