Friday, September 05, 2003

Military Brass v. Team W. Will It Impact 2004?

By now, I’m sure you’ve all read about Anthony Zinni’s hardcore criticism of Team W’s handling of Iraq and his comparison of Iraq and Vietnam. If you haven’t, the best place to read about it is at Talk Left. Now, if you just want the facts, check out the original Washington Post article here.

This isn’t the first time a high-ranking military figure has publicly clashed with the White House. The former Army Chief of Staff, Eric Shinseki, butted heads with Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz on the number of troops needed for post-war peacekeeping in Iraq. Shinseki was shown the door, but has since been vindicated by the facts of the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.

But what’s it all mean for the Democratic primary? In other words, how is this relevant to DemWatch?

Well, months ago, Jed Babbin wrote a piece for the National Review Online that put forth the idea that Shinseki could be planning to run for Senator in Hawaii as a Democrat. He would supposedly run with the blessing of the current office-holder, 79-year-old Democrat Daniel Inouye. So it’s a forgone conclusion that Shinseki is a Democrat.

Some of you—few of you, now that I think about it—might remember that I once quoted intelligence genius (and Democrat) John Loftus as saying that Tommy Franks, the Four-Star Army General who was the head of U.S. Central Command during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is also, in fact, a Democrat. He retired when Bush announced that major combat in Iraq was over and reportedly declined repeated invitations to become the Army Chief of Staff. He would have replaced Shinseki.

The whole thing sounds to me like one big shift of momentum of military support from the Republicans to the Democrats. And it’s all coming to a head right at the same time that another former high-ranking general, Wesley Clark, is considering a run for the Democratic nomination.

It seems like good news for the Draft Clark folks, but Clark wrote in his book Waging Modern War, that Shinseki was a major opponent of his plan to use Apache attack helicopters to target Serbian ground troops in 1999. That all could be water under the bridge nowadays, but Shinseki probably didn’t appreciate the published criticism from Clark.

And don’t forget that while Clark was criticizing the White House’s Iraq war plans, Tommy Franks—through spokespeople—was criticizing ex-military commentators like Clark, calling their views “silly commentary from people who knew nothing at all about the war plan.” Ouch! (Bear in mind, this was via a CentCom spokesman.)

So the question for me is really whether or not the retired high-profile military brass will put their differences aside and step up to bat for Clark should he run. If he does decide to run, I sure hope they do.

posted by Scott | 9/05/2003 | |

While DemWatch Slept...

Okay, I wasn't asleep. I was driving around Portland, OR desperately looking for a place to sleep--and to watch the NM debate. Long story short, I saw all of five minutes and a few highlights after the fact. (And as long as I'm writing, don't always count on discount coupons to be worth the paper they're printed on.)

I did catch the candidates attempting to speak Spanish. Some good, some not so good. My favorite take on the subject comes from Daily Kos. "Familia," Senator Lieberman? Come on!

Everyone I spoke to seemed to think Gephardt won. I can honestly say I didn't see that one coming. It's a much needed bump for Gephardt, but I'm not sure it's going to be enough in the long run. I'm starting to think that Gephardt (and all of those valuable union endorsements) could be lobbying for VP.

I'd say that's what Graham's going for as well, but he was just so boring, I don't think he's running for anything bigger than his own Florida senate seat. Maybe Moseley Braun is also aiming at VP, come to think of it. She handled herself very well, but didn't outshine any of the others. And Kucinich just seems to be attempting to steal some of Howard Dean's liberal thunder. This may be a blessing in disguise for Dean as it's really going to weed out the (extremely small) anti-military wing of his supporters.

Sharpton wasn't there. I'm not a huge fan of the man as candidate, but I sure am missing the next day recap of quips. I cannot wait for his convention speech!

John Edwards is pretty smart. It seems to me that he's seeing Kerry fading, Lieberman failing, and Gephardt hovering and deciding that he's got a good shot at being the most viable non-Dean in the race. Kudos to him for keeping it positive and optimistic rather than adopting Lieberman's new snarling DLC attack dog stance.

Which brings me to my next point. You all know that I've been betting hard on Wesley Clark's entrance into the race. I think Clark and Edwards are now running for the same position. Should Clark enter the race, I think he's got a much better shot at the title, though Edwards had a good showing last night and certainly has the money edge.

With Kucinich chipping away at Dean from the left, Lieberman from the right, and everyone else from both sides, is it possible that the rise respective rises of Clark and Edwards could actually be the future of the Dem primary? If so, it's good news for Dems who are afraid of liberal New Englanders being their party's public face in 2004.

posted by Scott | 9/05/2003 | |

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Lieberman Floats a New Health Plan

DLC favorite Joe Lieberman has put forth a $53 billion/year health care plan that would, according to some, help cover over 30 million currently uninsured Americas. To pay for the plan, Joe is pledging to roll back some of Bush's tax cuts and cut expenditures elsewhere.

The plan revolves around three new programs: MediKids, MediChoice, and KeepCare. MediKids would be offered to those 25 and under. MediChoice would help small businesses and the self-employed. KeepCare would offer tax credits and subsidies to laid-off workers. The first two programs would be progressive in that premiums would be tied to income.

Here's the big question. Can Joe's plan survive the possible demise of his campaign? The plan is somewhat similar to Dean's and Kerry's in scope, though it's the most inexpensive, costing roughly as much as John Edwards' limited program.

As much as I hate to say it, Lieberman's plan seems to be the most realistic and, more importantly, easiest to sell to the American electorate.

posted by Scott | 9/03/2003 | |

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

All the Way with JFK

It's official! John F. Kerry is running for President.

This news isn't targeted at politinerds like us, but really at the mainstream media. Kerry needs mainstream buzz and this should carry him for some time now.

So why am I posting it? I have a question. Was Kerry's appearance in front of an aircraft carrier a good choice?

While some will say, yes, it highlights his military record, I'm not so sure. Couldn't it wind up making Kerry look like a bit of an also-ran, borrowing a page from the Karl Rove-planned aircraft carrier landing Bush made to announce the "end" of major combat in Iraq?

I don't really know the answer, but I thought it should be out there for debate.

So go ahead and debate already!

posted by Scott | 9/02/2003 | |

Clark, Clark, Clark, Clark, Clark

Wesley Clark is all over the news. It's exactly what the Draft Clark movement needs--a lot of hype leading up to the alleged September 19th deadline. So here's what people are saying about the General.

We'll start with Fortune magazine, which is perhaps the least political of all publications covering Clark. (That says something in and of itself.) The Bill Powell-penned article offers up a decent bio of Clark and a few choice interview quotes before going a bit negative. The big question is 'why was Kosovo good and Iraq bad?' Clark's answer, which the writer seems to either ignore or deem illogical, has to do with international support and a distinction between a a warcrime in progress and one perpetrated years earlier (i.e., we deal with China despite Tiananmen Square). Whether or not you think Bill Powell is a little rough on Clark, it's a good question whose answer Clark really ought to sharpen up.

Next up is Howard Fineman, who writes about "The General on the Edge" in the 9/8 issue of Newsweek. Framing a bio/'will he-won't he' piece with a telling story from Clark's past, Fineman finds Clark to be a liberal dark horse still sizing up the primary race at the last moment. No answers here, but a great portrait of the man.

In this morning's Washington Post, E.J. Dionne sees a number of parallels between Clark and Howard Dean. Both are anti-war, both are liberals, both are Washington outsiders, and both have tremendous appeal to grass roots Democrats. The biggest differences seem to be Dean's campaign funds and Clark's foreign policy experience. Both are pretty weighty traits. Dionne seems to be left with the impression that Dean and Clark will be the Democrats' last men standing.

Meanwhile, back at The New Republic, Franklin Foer sings the praises of the General as candidate while Noam Scheiber dismisses him. Read it for yourselves. I believe you'll find Foer's piece more compelling than Scheiber's. Scheiber draws comparisons between Clark and Graham and asks why Clark is necessary with Graham in the race. Anyone who's seen the two men in public forum can answer that question. It's all about personality.

AND FINALLY... Draft Clark 2004 issued a press release this morning highlighting Clark's strong second place finish in "a Texas Labor Day straw poll sponsored by the Dallas County Democratic Party." Dean came in first (of course?), but Clark's second place is notable for the fact that he had more than twice the number of votes of third place finisher John Kerry.

posted by Scott | 9/02/2003 | |
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