Thursday, November 20, 2003

Clark On Team W: "All Bully, No Pulpit"

At a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, former NATO commander Wesley Clark called for a new Atlantic Charter to address the changing nature of American-European relations. The new charter would refocus NATO on terrorism and WMD rather than on containing communism -- the original charter's purpose.

Centering its foreign policy on unilateral action and American supremacy, Clark said Bush's foreign policy has harmed the "foundation of moral authority for the United States." Delivering a winning line that should probably become a centerpiece of Clark's campaign rhetoric, he charged that the Bush administration "has been all bully and no pulpit."

Clark's proposed Atlantic Charter would still allow member nations to act preemptively or unilaterally, but consulting allies would always be the first step.

posted by Scott | 11/20/2003 | |

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

What Is The Meaning Of Howard Dean?

Odd question, isn't it? Perhaps the better question would be 'what is the meaning of Howard Dean's success,' but Dean seems to have transcended successful candidate to become something of a force unto himself. Just ask E.J. Dionne and George Will.

Recently, Dionne and Will have written lengthy opinion pieces about Dean. So you don't have to go back and read both articles, I'll summarize. Dionne wrote in last Friday's Washington Post that comparisons between Dean and George McGovern weren't just inaccurate, but flat out wrong. The real comparison should be made between Dean and Barry Goldwater. Dean, in Dionne's reading, is not so much a candidate as a messiah of a movement, the progressive answer to Barry Goldwater.

George Will's writing is sometimes brilliant and sometimes deluded. His most recent piece on Dean for Newsweek falls into the latter category. He highlights the fact that many Democrats are fearful of a Dean nomination, believing he cannot beat Bush in 2004. True enough. And then he goes on to forecast a future in which Dean loses the nomination, but goes on to mount a Ralph Nader-style independent run which would split the Democratic vote, giving Bush a landslide win. It's so absurd, I'm not even going to argue it.

So which is it? Is Dean the spark that's relighting the Democratic fire or the spark that's going to burn down the House of McAuliffe? I simply cannot imagine a scenario in which Dean loses and then runs independent. It seems to me that Nick Confessore at The American Prospect's Tapped weblog is asking the proper question. What happens after 2004? "Do [Dean's] young followers begin running for school boards and statehouses across the country? Or do they go to grad school?"

In other words, is Howard Dean merely a candidate? Or a movement?

posted by Scott | 11/19/2003 | |

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Clark And Dean Tied For National Lead

Doing just fine, thank you. That's how the Clark campaign would probably spin the latest NH numbers in light of the latest national numbers from USA Today/Gallup. The most recent poll, conducted 11/14 - 11/16, finds Clark and Dean tied for the lead at 16%.

This is tremendous news for Clark, whose poll numbers have been hurting in Iowa (duh) and New Hampshire recently. Clark bounded into the race with a national lead at 19% according to Gallup in October. That fell quickly to 15% and then 13% as the General's profile faded a bit. But now he's bounced back a tie for the lead after having fallen to third place just a few days ago behind Dean and Lieberman.

The biggest question I've got is how often Gallup is planning on doing these polls! Apparently a lot changed between 11/10 - 11/12 and 11/14 - 11/16, but I'm not sure I can pinpoint exactly what. Something tells me such questions are not going to phase the Clark campaign one bit.

Meanwhile, over at Brandeis University, facial analyst Leslie Zebrowitz has determined that Clark and Dean have the best "mixture of babyish and mature features to create an impression of moderate levels of warmth, trustworthiness, strength, shrewdness, and dominance."

In other words, their faces are the most electable.

It's not in-depth policy analysis, but I'm sure she's on to something.

posted by Scott | 11/18/2003 | |

Dean Way Up, Clark Way Down In New NH Poll

Howard Dean has opened a wide lead in a new Marist College poll of likely New Hampshire primary voters. He now leads the pack with a (relatively) whopping 39%. John Kerry is holding tight at 23%, a small improvement from the 22% he garnered in September.

The real mystery seems to be Wesley Clark, who lost 7% (11% to 4%) and fell from third place to sixth, behind Edwards, Lieberman, and Gephardt. All this after he dropped out of Iowa to focus on New Hampshire. Lucky for Clark, these poll numbers confirm the necessity of his major media push in NH involving $1.1 millions worth of ad time. One of the first ads was featured on Meet The Press on Sunday and put the spotlight on Clark's military leadership and combat experience.

It's also quite interesting that John Edwards somehow managed to climb from fifth place to third, passing Clark and Lieberman. When it seems like all his chips are down, Edwards keeps pulling off these little miracles that make me scratch my head and wonder if somehow, he's actually going to win the whole thing.

posted by Scott | 11/18/2003 | |

Ex-NOWer Ireland To Head Braun Campaign

Patricia Ireland, the eloquent and politically impressive ex-president of the National Organization for Women, has been hired to run the struggling campaign of Carol Moseley Braun. The campaign has been leaking staff for quite some time now, with three major departures in just the last few days. In fact, it seems as if Ireland's hiring has been timed to put an exclamation point on comments from the campaign Braun is not contemplating an exit from the race.

One interesting note about the AP report of the Ireland hire... The closing paragraph gives a brief summary of Ireland's career, highlighting her leadership on "opposition to Clarence Thomas' Supreme Court nomination" and her "efforts to preserve abortion rights."

Don't those seem like odd bullet points for a resume when, in fact, Clarence Thomas is a now a sitting Supreme Court justice and the GOP just achieved a tremendous victory in enacting a ban on so-called partial birth abortions?

posted by Scott | 11/18/2003 | |

The Pop Primary

A great deal has been written in the past few years about the importance of pop culture in politics. From Clinton blowing sax on Arsenio to Bush, Gore, and Nader all appearing on SNL in 2000, the impact is undeniable. Record numbers of Americans tune into SNL, The Daily Show, and Leno, Letterman, and O'Brien for news. It's silly, but it's true. Most importantly, it's now unavoidable for candidates.

But should it be? Did Howard Dean's appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno help him out? His poll numbers have gone up, but there is no evidence to say that Leno was part of that. After all, John Kerry's appearance on the same show last week certainly couldn't save his free-falling week from hell. And though Wesley Clark's mention of OutKast at the end his Rock The Vote! spot caused some to charge that it was a phony attempt at reaching out to young voters, Clark was already tied for the lead (with Al Sharpton) in support from voters under 30.

Well, y'all gotta answer that one for yourselves. And in the meantime, check out Wes Clark Thursday night on The Late Show with David Letterman and Al Sharpton December 6, when he hosts Saturday Night Live.

posted by Scott | 11/18/2003 | |

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Florida Dems Can Straw Poll For DNC

The Florida Democratic Party has decided to call off its Presidential straw poll at the request of the DNC and the Democratic candidates. Because of Florida's late primary, the state party typically holds a straw poll in order to give the state a larger roll in selecting the eventual nominee. (Cases in point, both Carter and Clinton greatly benefited from winning Florida's straw poll.)

In exchange for the cancellation, all nine Democratic candidates promised to attend the state party's December convention at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World. (Perhaps they wouldn't have agreed to attend were the convention being held at Bubba Grimes' Gator World and Convention Center?)

State party insiders have expressed concern at the mere idea of defying the national party at a time when the Florida Dems are falling behind the GOP. The announcement of Bob Graham that he will not be seeking reelection to his Senate seat was seen as a major blow to a party which cannot weather too many major blows. Committee member Michael Moskowitz summed up this position, saying that "now is the time to build and rebuild our party."

posted by Scott | 11/16/2003 | |

Clinton Fever Will Not Die

No matter what she says, what she does, what the other candidates say, what party leaders say, or even what her husband says, many people are still convinced that Hillary Clinton is going to wind up the Democratic nominee for President in 2004. But there are some people -- like Newsweek's Howard Fineman -- who should seemingly know better.

Fineman claims in a new article that it's "loyal Clintonistas" who are hoping for a Hillary run in 2004. In reality, most of the people who want to believe Clinton will mount a run are Republicans. I gather she makes great campaign-fundraising fodder for the Clinton haters on the right.

One "hard-boiled insider" Fineman taps for the juiciest bits of the article paints a picture where no single candidate wins a majority of delegates on the first ballot at the convention. The superdelegates then shift their votes to Hillary Clinton, the Democrats do the dance of joy, Clinton wins the nomination, and all is right with the world.

In the closing paragraph, "another Clinton insider" is quoted as saying the GOP wants Dean to win, beltway Dems want Gephardt, Kerry, or Clark, and the media wants Hillary. Let me repeat that. The media wants Hillary. It's apparently lost on Fineman that he is a member of the media. The whole article comes off like a weird exercise in willing wishful thinking to become reality.

Should Hillary somehow magically become the nominee, I don't think Democrats (or even Republicans, for that matter) will be terribly disappointed. But until that happens, I can't say it's something we're all sitting around salivating over.

posted by Scott | 11/16/2003 | |
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