Saturday, April 03, 2004

McCain: "My Party Has Gone Astray"

This is some seriously damning criticism from no less than Bush's Arizona campaign co-chair. We all knew that John McCain and George W. Bush shared a shaky relationship at best, but this is perhaps the toughest McCain has been on his (former) party rival since the 2000 GOP primaries.

While I can't honestly say that McCain's attacks on Team W are really that out-of-line with things he's said in the past, I will point out that the level of intensity of the attacks is quite a bit higher than usual.

You can't fly in on an aircraft carrier and declare victory and have the deaths continue. You can't do that.

Many people in this room question, legitimately, whether we should have gone in [to Iraq] or not.

And what's up with McCain's comments on the Democratic Party?

I think the Democratic Party is a fine party, and I have no problems with it, in their views and their philosophy.

So to recap: GOP = "gone astray"; Democrats = "a fine party".

McCain still insists he's not interested in being John Kerry's running mate. I believe him. He claims he wants to reshape the Republican Party. I believe that, too. What I refuse to believe is the idea that McCain is actively supporting George W. Bush's re-election campaign.

If he's not going to switch parties, is there any way we could get him to at least switch caucuses? Is that even possible? Boy, I hope it is...

posted by Scott | 4/03/2004 | |

First Chomsky, Now Zinn (Reluctantly) Backs Kerry

One small step for John Kerry, one giant kick in the teeth for Ralph Nader.

A week ago, I reported that Noam Chomsky had thrown his support to the anyone but Bush movement of progressives actively working to get John Kerry elected President in November. Well, add another high-profile lefty academic to that camp.

Howard Zinn, an active supporter and campaigner of Nader's in 2000, told Jeff Guntzel in the current issue of Punk Planet that he will not be supporting Nader this November. Instead, he is urging that his fellow lefties, "swallow your pride" and vote for Kerry.

Zinn, surprisingly, is harder on Kerry than Chomsky was, demanding that a mass movement of the left fight Kerry almost as hard as they would have Bush. And he doesn't close the door to third party politics, suggesting that only third party Presidential candidates sit out this round.

Again, I don't really know that someone like Howard Zinn brings a lot to the table in terms of a massive base of support, but this sort of 'endorsement' (if you can call it that) of Kerry makes it increasingly hard for Ralph Nader to make the case that there is any reason for his candidacy.

posted by Scott | 4/03/2004 | |

Friday, April 02, 2004

UPDATE: Kerry Fundraising

So I was a little off (with a little help from The Post, thank you very much).

It turns out that Kerry didn't raise "Forty. Three. Million. Dollars." In fact, he raised substantially more. Let's try that again.

Say it with me... Over. Fifty. Million. Dollars.

Not only did he beat Dean and Clinton's old records, but he also dwarfed George W. Bush's record take in 1999 of $29 million in one quarter for a nonincumbent candidate for the Presidency.

Kerry's total also beats Al Gore's 2000 total primary fundraising of just over $49 million. This comparison is a little bit apples & oranges, however, seeing as how the primary is now down to one candidate (with apologies to Dennis Kucinich) very early in the race.

Anyway, whether it was $43 million or $50 million, John Kerry is in very good shape heading into the convention. The campaign has set their pre-convention fundraising target at $80 million. Something tells me that won't be a problem.

posted by Scott | 4/02/2004 | |

Kerry Sets New Dem Fundraising Record

Say it with me... Forty. Three. Million. Dollars.

It's not GOP-sized money, but it's incredible for a Democrat. The previous single-quarter record holder was Howard Dean with $16 million in Q4 '03. Dean had actually won the title in Q3 '03 with $15 million, beating Bill Clinton's 1995 record of just over $10 million. While Bush is still way out ahead of Kerry in terms of total dollars raised and cash on hand, it's impressive to note that Kerry's $43 million comes a bit too close to Bush's Q1 '04 take of $50 million for Team W's taste.

The Washington Post points out that Kerry's fundraising isn't hurting other Democrats in the money hunt, but The Hill reports that just the opposite is true of Bush and the GOP. The Democratic Party raised a record $27 million in Q1, while the Dem House and Senate efforts netted $11 million each.

Meanwhile, over on the GOP side, Republicans like Rick Santorum are openly complaining that their usual big donors are hitting their donations cap of $57,500 giving just to Bush-Cheney and the RNC. Long story short, there isn't as much money to go around down-ticket.

Anyway, the money is nice, but--as Howard Dean has taught us all--it doesn't always turn into votes. Fortunately for us Dems, we also have a habit of focusing just as much on winning votes as we do on raising money. Let's do what we can to make sure John Kerry has no trouble with either.

posted by Scott | 4/02/2004 | |

Monday, March 29, 2004

Kerry Never Mentions Antiwar Activities? Really, John Fund?

John Fund's latest screed at the Wall Street Journal's criticizes John Kerry for not being more forthcoming about his antiwar activities after he returned from Vietnam. This is really just a rewrite of a number of other stories being written about some very specific questions about Kerry's attendance or non-attendance at a few key meetings of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War in 1971. By the end of the piece, even Fund admits that "one shouldn't make too much of Mr. Kerry's inability to recall in detail events of 33 years ago."

The crux of the case being made by Kerry's detractors is that his antiwar record is much more radical than he lets on. But really, none of the "shocking allegations" being made in reference to Kerry's antiwar activities have anything to do with Kerry's actual antiwar activities. Rather, it's all about comments or ideas that Kerry may or may not have been audience to. And in 1971, Kerry renounced these ideas anyway in the pages of the National Review, calling some of VVAW's activities "horrible" and even "criminal."

Seeing as how Kerry actually served in Vietnam before protesting it and then left VVAW as its agenda became more and more radical, one has to wonder why GOPers like Fund would bring this topic up for discussion. All it does is reinforce for moderates that Kerry fought in Vietnam and reinforce for liberals and libertarians alike that Kerry stood up to the war machine. One could even make the argument that Kerry's rejection of VVAW's extremist tendencies show that he is a centrist at heart. The type of voters this kind of smear campaign would sway have already been swayed. There's no way that crowd is voting for Kerry anyway.

As if I needed to deflate this Rovian nonsense any more than I already have, I've included below a collection of quotes from Kerry himself about his experience as an antiwar protester. This should close the book on Fund's claim that Kerry "seldom if ever mentions his postwar activities" in the early seventies.

From the official candidate bio at

"By the time Senator Kerry returned home from Vietnam, he felt compelled to question decisions he believed were being made to protect those in positions of authority in Washington at the expense of the soldiers carrying on the fighting in Vietnam. Kerry was a co-founder of the Vietnam Veterans of America and became a spokesperson for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War... In April 1971, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he asked the question of his fellow citizens, 'How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?' "

During the New Hampshire debate on January 22, Kerry had this to say about his post-Vietnam activities:

"I could not be more proud of the fact that when I came back from that war, having learned what I learned, that I led thousands of veterans to Washington. We camped on the Mall, underneath the Congress, underneath Richard Nixon's visibility. He tried to take us to the Supreme Court of the United States. He did. He tried to kick us off. And we stood our ground and said to him, 'Mr. President, you sent us 8,000 miles away to fight, die and sleep in the jungles of Vietnam. We've earned the right to sleep on this Mall and talk to our senators and congressmen.' "

From a Boston Herald article posted at John

"Kerry has long worn his place on the Nixon enemies list as a badge of honor. As a returning decorated Navy lieutenant, Kerry leaped onto the national stage with an April 1971 speech to Congress decrying the war as a lost cause."

posted by Scott | 3/29/2004 | |

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Nader To Meet With Kerry Next Month

If this blog has seemed a bit Nader-centered of late, please forgive me. The Nader/Kerry race is as close as it comes (my apologies to Dennis Kucinich) to a continuation of the Democratic primaries.

That said, let me launch headlong into another Nader piece...

Nader indicated today that he will be meeting with John Kerry next month to discuss the November election. Calling his campaign a "second front against Bush," I've got to think that Nader's looking for an out.

He's actively running, he'll tell you, but I have reason to doubt that he really even wants to be in the race at this point. First of all, everyone from The Nation to Noam Chomsky has come out against a Nader candidacy in 2004. Now, Ralph's not the type of guy to sway in the wind, but he's also not stupid.

If he's perceived as the spoiler again in 2004, he'll be finished. Not only that, but in the aftermath of the 2000 election, a number of Nader-backed or founded organizations reported decreased fundraising. Formerly reliable donors turned their backs on groups with strong ties to a man who they felt had turned his back on them.

I don't expect an endorsement to come from the Nader/Kerry meeting next month. But the pow-wow should serve as a wink-and-a-nudge to undecided progressives, telling them Ralph says it's okay if you vote Kerry. And I don't think an October-ish drop-and-endorse is out of the question for Nader.

This much is clear. Ralph Nader is stubborn as a mule. He will demand that he be able to put his ideas on the table. But he's not as stupid as a mule. He's going to want to make sure that those ideas still have an audience come December.

posted by Scott | 3/28/2004 | |
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