Friday, October 22, 2004

Out Come The Wolves

Absolutely despicable. I've watched the Bush ad, which I will not dignify by linking, and that's all I can say. Absolutely despicable.

Blaming "John Kerry and the liberals in Congress" for not protecting America is the ultimate act of irresponsibility for this President. Not only is the script of the ad an out and out lie, inferring that Kerry and "the liberals" voted to cut intelligence spending after 9/11, but the whole of the ad itself, saying straight up that electing John Kerry would invite terrorists to attack the United States, is nothing but pure totalitarian bullying.

The fact of the matter is that if George W. Bush and the GOP machine had not stolen the 2000 election and then proceeded to shift American foreign policy towards an absurdist fantasy, President Gore would have followed through on the Clinton administration's plans to kill Osama bin Laden and smash al Qaeda. These are well-documented plans which the Bush foreign policy team rejected out of hand, simply because carrying them out would have meant giving Democrats some measure of credit.

I have absolutely had enough of this administration telling me that I'm safer because George W. Bush is in the White House. On September 11, 2001, I helplessly watched black smoke fill the New Jersey sky as fighter jets tore overhead, valiantly trying to stop further attacks on New York, but too late. Over three thousand dead with George W. Bush in the White House.

More recently, I've watched the news reports coming in from Iraq about roadside bombs and heavily armed insurgents, all gunning for American troops fighting an unnecessary war as part of a Bush family pet project. I'm told, in defense of the Iraq war that it's better for the fighting to be happening in Fallujah rather than Chicago. But I just can't accept the idea that my peers -- kids I went to school with -- are being sent to the Middle East as the bait for human flypaper. Eleven hundred Americans dead with George W. Bush in the White House.

And now a Bush ad uses the imagery of a pack of wolves -- A LITERAL PACK OF WOLVES -- to represent "an increasingly dangerous world," and I'm supposed to go running into his arms? Ridiculous.

George W. Bush is right on one count. The world has become an "increasingly dangerous" place. But instead of working to make it less dangerous, his administration is doing the exact opposite. By thumbing its nose at long-standing alliances, hypocritically cozying up to favored dictators while extolling the virtues of democracy, and pursuing an arrogant 'father knows best' foreign policy, the Bush administration isn't defending us -- they're feeding the wolves.

* * * * *


My wife, who is Yoda-level smart exactly when I most need her to be, reminded me of the last time she'd seen such an over-the-top negative ad and what the ultimate consequences were. In the New York City Mayoral race in 2001, Democrat Mark Green unleashed a barrage of negative ads against Michael Bloomberg in the closing days of the campaign. It completely backfired.

But don't take my word for it. Here's GOP pollster and strategist Susan Reefer writing in the Gotham Gazette in December of that year.

Negative advertising is a strategic choice. It is based on the widely held and often proven assumption that negative ads, even though they may not be liked, are very effective. People may not enjoy being told about a candidate's bad decisions, or bad judgment, or bad behavior, but they process the information and carry it with them into the voting booth. Negative advertising may not be very nice, but it works.

But it is also a strategy, and it can be a risky one: turning voters against your opponent, at the risk of turning voters off altogether, or worse, turning them against you as well. Which is why I was so shocked to see the Green camp taking such a risk. Only a campaign that is seeing their numbers drop, and their opponent's numbers rise, would consider making such a costly political move. The realization that the Green camp was behind, and desperate, and launching their last-ditch effort was astounding.

Campaigning is about making choices. Both candidates in this campaign had choices available to them, and it would be true to say both campaigns engaged in negative advertising. But all negative ads are not created equal, and voters are well able to tell the difference.

Any communication that focuses on your opponent can be defined as negative. A negative ad can draw a contrast, or raise a question, or present information. To be effective, a negative ad has to be true, meticulously well documented, relevant, timely, and it must be seen as fair play. Bloomberg ran several negative ads, one using Mark Green's own ill-considered words against him, and another using the critical words of prominent Democrats. The ads were well done, they were effective, and clearly they hit their mark.

The ads that Mark Green ran in the final days of this campaign were ad hominem attacks against Michael Bloomberg the man, not the candidate. They were unfocused and vague even in the viciousness of the accusations they made. They were completely out of step with a city and a citizenry trying to focus on healing and unity, and their greatest sin, in my opinion, they looked and sounded as though they had been slapped together in a few hours (which they probably had). These particular ads were new to me, but I recognized them at once: they are the political equivalent of a campaign's dying breath.

Whether there was a time when such tactics would have allowed Mark Green to regain his once "insurmountable" lead, I do not know. But I have a feeling that time is gone, at least for a while. We realize right now, in a way we may not have before, that while cynicism can be healthy, disenchantment can be dangerous. And there is a difference. And that difference is important.
Just something to keep in mind when you see the ugliest of the Bush ads in the coming days. Will "the puppies," as Atrios has taken to calling them, take hold or will they spin around and bite the Bush campaign on the ass like Mark Green's attack ads did in 2001?

The Bush/Cheney re-elect team is running a campaign of fear that is completely unworthy of this great nation. Rather than seeking to empower voters, they seek to frighten us, keeping us either in their camp or keeping us at home, too afraid to even leave the house to vote. As I wrote at the outset, absolutely despicable.

posted by Scott | 10/22/2004 | |

Jesse Ventura Endorses Kerry

Former independent Governors Jesse Ventura of Minnesota and Angus King of Maine held a press conference this afternoon in St. Paul to officially endorse John Kerry for President. The normally talkative Ventura stood silently on the stage while King did all of the talking. It sounds like it was one hell of an odd event as the organizers didn't know whether or not Ventura would show up.

Just a few weeks ago, Ventura claimed to not know which candidate, if any, he'd be voting for. Apparently something has changed, but we won't know what for at least a few days.

Followed out to his car by reporters afterward, Ventura said he would be doing interviews in Los Angeles.
I guess we'll find out soon enough.

posted by Scott | 10/22/2004 | |

Eminem A Voice Of Reason

Eminem gets political in a new interview with Rolling Stone set to street the first week of November. (From Drudge)

RS: You get deep into your feelings about President Bush and Iraq on "Mosh." Do you think the Iraq War was a mistake?

E: He's been painted to be this hero and he's got our troops over there dying for no reason. I haven't heard an explanation yet that I can understand. Explain to us why we have troops over there dying.

RS: There is no good answer.

E: I think he started a mess. America is the best country there is, the best country to live in. But hes f**kin' that up and could run our country into the ground. He jumped the gun, and he f**ked up so bad he doesn't know what to do right now. He's in a tailspin, running around like a dog chasing its tail. And we got young people over there dyin', kids in their teens, early twenties that should have futures ahead of them. And for what? It seems like a Vietnam 2. Bin Laden attacked us and we attacked Saddam. We ain't heard from Saddam for ten years, but we go attack Saddam. Explain why that is. Give us some answers.

RS: Are you voting?

E: This is the first year I've registered to vote. And I'm gonna vote. Bush is definitely not my homie, but Im still undecided. Kerry has been known to say some things that's caught my attention, made a few statements I've liked, but I don't know. Whatever my decision is, I would like to see Bush out of office. I don't wanna see my little brother get drafted. He just turned eighteen. I don't want to see him lose his life. People think their votes don't count, but people need to get out and vote. Every motherf**kin' vote counts.
It's sad when Eminem is a voice of reason, but I can't say I really disagree with his characterization of the situation. I thought it was official with the Red Sox win over the Yankees, but now I'm totally convinced -- the world has been turned upside down.

posted by Scott | 10/22/2004 | |

Catholics, Others Breaking For Kerry

A new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press has found that, despite intense efforts from conservative Catholics, the white Catholic vote is actually breaking in John Kerry's favor. In fact, 50% of white Catholics now support Kerry, up from 33% at the beginning of the month and seven points ahead of the 43% support for George W. Bush. In October alone, Bush, trending downward, has lost 6% of his support from white Catholics.

An ABC News poll conducted on October 14 found similar movement among white Catholics.

Kerry's favorable vs. unfavorable rating among white Catholics before the debates was 36% vs. 50%. After the debate: 50% vs. 41%. Kerry improved across the board, but the shift was more stark for white Catholics than just about any other group the poll measured.
It would seem to me that the problem for Team W here is that they set the bar way too low for Kerry. Using the bully pulpit of the Presidency, Bush had painted Kerry as a godless liberal secularist. But once again, this was really just a caricature -- an impossible image to maintain when Kerry had actual face time with the public in the media.

In the final debate, Kerry showed himself to be a Catholic much like many American Catholics. He's a believer in the church, but he certainly has limits to how much he'll let his faith dictate his professional life. The GOP and conservative pundits would love to say this proves Kerry to be a hypocrite. However, since states with the highest number of Catholics, like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, tend to be socially liberal, this betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the way Catholicism is understood in America. Catholics tend not to be fundamentalists. And Catholics tend to value social justice over 'culture war' issues like abortion and gay marriage. The wedge issues that the Christian Coalition used to split working class Christian voters away from the Democratic Party in the South simply won't work with Catholics.

Without getting too in depth on the results of the poll, it's interesting to see the numbers trending in Kerry's direction. Regionally, while Bush remained stagnant in the South and West, he dropped 5% in the Midwest and 4% in the East. Kerry gained in all regions, anywhere from 1% in the South to 6% in the West and 7% in the East.

Bush's biggest loss among any income bracket came from voters at the very bottom. A whopping 14% drop for Bush correlated almost perfectly to a 15% spike for Kerry. There was a similar drop for Bush among women over 50 by 6%, while support among voters in the same category jumped 7% for Kerry.

Not even two weeks out and nearly all of the numbers in nearly all of the polls are trending towards Kerry. Someone might want to remind Karl Rove that the window for an October surprise is rapidly closing. And even then, there will come a certain point when it doesn't even matter. In fact, I wonder if that point isn't already here.

posted by Scott | 10/22/2004 | |

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

No Blogging Tonight, Yankees Getting Creamed

My team got their ass handed to them in the last three games and tonight is no different. It's the top of the ninth and the score is 9 10 to 3, Boston. I'm not really confident, so I'm calling it now.

Unlike many Yankees fans, I don't hate the Red Sox. I think I love baseball history more than I love the Yankees, so it's hard for me to hate such a storied team as the Red Sox. That's not to say that I don't like watching the Yankees pound them into the ground, but I certainly don't hate them.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that they deserve this. They've worked hard for it and they've earned it. I'm not ready to say that the curse has been reversed, but being the first team to come from behind a 3-0 deficit in an LCS is damn impressive.

It's been hard hearing John Kerry rooting against my team, but understandable. So if a Boston win is good for Kerry, then I'm willing to suck it up and take one for the team... especially if Boston winds up facing Houston. I know I'll be dreading the endless World Series/Presidential Election metaphors, but then I'll be rooting for the Sox even more.

Can you imagine? The Bush administration is so bad, this die-hard Yankee fan will be rooting for the Red Sox. The world has truly been turned upside down.

Now please excuse me while I go cry myself to sleep.

posted by Scott | 10/20/2004 | |

Bush Before Iraq War: Casualties? Nah...

Crackpot televangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson admits one of the dirtiest little secrets of the Bush administration's planning for the Iraq War.

Pat Robertson, an ardent Bush supporter, said he had that conversation with the president in Nashville, Tennessee, before the March 2003 invasion. He described Bush in the meeting as "the most self-assured man I've ever met in my life."

...

"And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had better prepare the American people for casualties.' "

Robertson said the president then told him, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."

Robertson, the televangelist who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, said he wishes Bush would admit to mistakes made.

"I mean, the Lord told me it was going to be A, a disaster, and B, messy," Robertson said. "I warned him about casualties."
First of all, who knew God was so redundant. I mean, aren't most disasters messy by nature? Maybe God has to say everything twice for Robertson since he has a habit of misunderstanding and misstating so much of what he's told.

All joking aside, this admission, more than anything else, serves as proof that George W. Bush is not fit to hold the office of the President. I have trouble believing that Bush actually thought this, in fact. Even a complete moron knows that casualties include soldiers wounded on the battlefield. Bush could not have believed that not even one soldier would have been injured in the Iraq invasion. So being generous, I'll say that Bush actually told Robertson there would not be high numbers of casualties.

However, that Bush blew off the very idea of high numbers of casualties is still evidence of his incompetence as Commander-in-Chief. The ignorant bravado that would lead a man about to send men and women into battle to brag that there would be few casualties is dangerous. It's dangerous for the soldiers and it's dangerous for the country. And unfortunately, it's that same ignorant bravado that's proven to be Bush's guiding principle over the last four years.

He's had his chance to prove me wrong. It's time to fire this jerk.

posted by Scott | 10/20/2004 | |

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Iran Endorses Bush

From Vladimir Putin to the Iranian Ayatollahs, the world's most oppressive leaders agree: Bush is our guy.

Bush Receives Endorsement From Iran
Tue Oct 19, 6:33 PM ET
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran - The head of Iran's security council said Tuesday that the re-election of President Bush was in Tehran's best interests, despite the administration's axis of evil label, accusations that Iran harbors al-Qaida terrorists and threats of sanctions over the country's nuclear ambitions.

Historically, Democrats have harmed Iran more than Republicans, said Hasan Rowhani, head of the Supreme National Security Council, Iran's top security decision-making body.

"We haven't seen anything good from Democrats," Rowhani told state-run television in remarks that, for the first time in recent decades, saw Iran openly supporting one U.S. presidential candidate over another.

Though Iran generally does not publicly wade into U.S. presidential politics, it has a history of preferring Republicans over Democrats, who tend to press human rights issues.

"We do not desire to see Democrats take over," Rowhani said when asked if Iran was supporting Democratic Sen. John Kerry against Bush.
So much for the conventional wisdom from the media and the GOP telling us that the Islamofascists of the world want Kerry to win. Not only is that plainly absurd on the merits... they openly want Bush to win a second term.

Let's see what kind of media attention this gets tomorrow morning.

posted by Scott | 10/19/2004 | |

Pat Buchanan: Homosexuality Okay In Moderation

Okay, okay. Pat didn't say that. But it was damn close.

(found via Atrios)

To some of us, homosexuality is an affliction, like alcoholism, and hellishly difficult to control. Why some folks can take or leave alcohol -- while others can enjoy it in moderation, and others cannot stop drinking without help and must swear off it for life or it will kill them -- remains a mystery of nature.

Homosexuality seems to be like that.
This column is (unsurprisingly) about Kerry's Mary Cheney reference in the third Presidential debate. I've made my opinion perfectly clear on the issue. Or the non-issue, really. It's nonsense.

But this column is a perfect example of how stupid the whole thing is. Buchanan, at his misguidedly bigoted worst, seems to be saying that homosexuality is genetic, but in the same way that certain diseases are genetic. But he also seems to be saying of homosexual sex that it's okay to "enjoy it in moderation". This clearly isn't Buchanan's point, but his point is so obscure, so stupid that this is the only point a reader is left with.

Buchanan writes of "Kerry's outing of Cheney's daughter," but that's patently ridiculous. It's common knowledge that Mary Cheney is a lesbian. Cheney made a point of mentioning it in the 2000 VP debate with Joe Lieberman, viewed by millions. Having a gay daughter made the Bush/Cheney ticket more palatable to moderate voters who saw the two candidates as too beholden to the social conservatives on the Christian fundamentalist right.

Now suddenly the Cheney's are outraged at someone mentioning their adult daughter's sexuality? Please...

But what if she just enjoyed it in moderation?

posted by Scott | 10/19/2004 | |

Sinclair Caves... But Not Really

The shareholder activism has clearly taken its toll on the GOP-friendly Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

BALTIMORE (October 19, 2004) - Sinclair Broadcast Group (Nasdaq: SBGI) announced today that on Friday, October 22, 2004 at 8:00 p.m. (7:00 p.m. central time) certain television stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. will air a special one-hour news program, entitled A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media. In order to minimize the interruption of normally scheduled programming in those markets where Sinclair owns and/or programs more than one television station, the news special will be broadcast on only one of those stations. A complete list of stations which will be airing the program and the times of such broadcasts is attached.

The news special will focus in part on the use of documentaries and other media to influence voting, which emerged during the 2004 political campaigns, as well as on the content of certain of these documentaries. The program will also examine the role of the media in filtering the information contained in these documentaries, allegations of media bias by media organizations that ignore or filter legitimate news and the attempts by candidates and other organizations to influence media coverage.

Contrary to numerous inaccurate political and press accounts, the Sinclair stations will not be airing the documentary "Stolen Honor" in its entirety.

...

While the news special will discuss the allegations surrounding Senator John Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activities in the early 1970s raised by a number of former POWs in "Stolen Honor," it will do so in the context of the broader discussion outlined above.
While it's good to hear Sinclair say that they will not be airing a blatant propaganda piece just days before the election, there's no reason to actually believe them. After all, catch this huge contradiction:

...certain television stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. will air a special one-hour news program, entitled A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media.
The news special will focus in part on the use of documentaries and other media to influence voting, which emerged during the 2004 political campaigns, as well as on the content of certain of these documentaries.
Now ask yourself... why on Earth would a news program "focus[ed] in part on the use of documentaries and other media to influence voting" be titled "A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media"?

The overly long academic answer is that this whole situation has become incredibly meta, with the Sinclair broadcast becoming part of the story covered by the Sinclair broadcast.

The simple answer -- and I'm going with Ockham's Razor on this one -- is that their explanation is nonsense. Sinclair is trying to stop the bleeding by padding this prime time anti-Kerry screed with some fluffy faux media criticism. And if that faux media criticism allows them to blast Michael Moore and Dan Rather in the process, all the better for their cause.

The fact of the matter is that nothing has changed. Sinclair will still be broadcasting a piece on anti-Kerry propaganda in prime time, days before the election, on television stations in Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Missouri, Nevada, Minnesota, Florida, and a number of other states -- swing and otherwise. Disgusting.

posted by Scott | 10/19/2004 | |

More Cheney Fearmongering: Vote Kerry, Get Nuked

This is a new low, even for Dick Cheney.

CARROLL, Ohio -- Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday evoked the possibility of terrorists bombing U.S. cities with nuclear weapons and questioned whether Sen. John Kerry could combat such a threat, which the vice president called a concept "you've got to get your mind around."
...
Cheney, speaking to an invitation-only crowd as he began a bus tour through Republican strongholds in Ohio, said Kerry is trying to convince voters he would be the same type of "tough, aggressive" leader as Bush in the fight against terrorism.

"I don't believe it," the vice president said. "I don't think there's any evidence to support the proposition that he would, in fact, do it."
Do what, exactly? The inference is obvious. Cheney is claiming that Kerry would not only be unable to defend the United States, but that he would be unwilling to do so.

This begs the question of what it is that Bush is in fact doing to defend the United States from terrorist enemies. He was asleep at the wheel for one terrorist attack and since then he's done nothing but stir up bad blood against America, alienate our allies, and short-change vital programs like border security, port security, and community policing.

If these are the type of things Kerry is unwilling or unable to do, then thank goodness. I know my vote is going to the right guy.

posted by Scott | 10/19/2004 | |

Nirvana's Grohl, Novoselic To Campaign For Kerry

There have been a handful of times this election season that I've caught myself wondering what Kurt Cobain would be up to were he still alive. I'll spare you my counterfactual history narrative, but long story short, I'm sure he'd be doing something to help get John Kerry elected President.

This announcement goes a long way in backing that up.

DAVE GROHL AND KRIST NOVOSELIC TO MAKE RARE PUBLIC APPEARANCE IN SUPPORT OF JOHN KERRY.

Fresh off the release of "Of Grunge And Government" (described by the New York Times as "lucid, unpretentious, and 'thrillingly sane'"), author/activist Krist Novoselic will join his ex-bandmate and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl at a rally for Senator Kerry this Tuesday night in Las Vegas.

Tuesday's rally will mark Grohl and Novoselic's first formal public appearance together in over a decade. Though the two have remained close friends over the years, the Kerry rally is the first occasion to warrant their pre-announced joint appearance.

They will join Alex Kerry, John Kerry's daughter, Chris Heinz, John Kerry's stepson, Tom DeLonge from Blink 182, and Melissa Fitzgerald of the West Wing to kick off a national bus tour to rally Kerry-Edwards supporters across the country.

Dave Grohl is expected to perform at the Las Vegas event. Chris Heinz will travel on the bus for 10 days along the campaign tour, joined by celebrities and performing artists along the way. From Las Vegas, the bus will travel to Colorado for a series of events across the state.
I harbor no illusions that the surviving members of Nirvana will tip the election in Kerry's favor, but there's definitely something incredibly exciting about this to my inner 13 year old.

posted by Scott | 10/19/2004 | |

Republicans For Kerry

Wow...

The truth is that President George W. Bush does not speak for me or for many other moderate Republicans on a very broad cross section of issues.

Sen. John Kerry, on the other hand, has put forth a coherent, responsible platform of progressive initiatives that I believe would serve this country well. He wants to balance the budget, step up environmental protection efforts, rebuild our international relationships, support stem-cell research, protect choice and pursue a number of other progressive initiatives that moderates from both parties can support.

As a result, despite my long record of active involvement in the Republican Party, and my intention still to stay in the Republican Party, when I cast my ballot November 2, I will be voting for John Kerry for President.
-- William G. Milliken, Republican Governor of Michigan, 1969 - 1982

George W. Bush has come to embody a politics that is antithetical to almost any kind of thoughtful conservatism. His international policies have been based on the hopelessly nave belief that foreign peoples are eager to be liberated by American armies -- a notion more grounded in Leon Trotsky's concept of global revolution than any sort of conservative statecraft. His immigration policies -- temporarily put on hold while he runs for re-election -- are just as extreme. A re-elected President Bush would be committed to bringing in millions of low-wage immigrants to do jobs Americans "won?t do." This election is all about George W. Bush, and those issues are enough to render him unworthy of any conservative support.
-- from "Kerry's The One," Scott McConnell, The American Conservative, 11/8/04

To be fair, The American Conservative gave a handful of its writers and editors the space to endorse not only Kerry, but also Bush, Badnarik, Nader, and Peroutka. Still, the conservative argument for Kerry exists, even if that argument is mainly based on the fact that Bush's administration's been a train wreck.

As I wrote the other day (or rather, Ron Suskind wrote and I seconded), Bush is bad for the GOP. For all of Grover Norquist's blather about Republican dominance and the death of the Democratic Party, it seems that it's really the GOP living in the house of cards.

The Bush/Cheney GOP is a party that usurped power too fast and abused it too easily. The long-standing cushion of political allegiance and personal attachment that sustained the Democratic Party through the Twentieth Century is simply not there for the GOP. And the strain between moderate Republicans -- especially in the Northeast -- and the Tom DeLay school of 'by any means necessary' Southern Republicanism has just about reached its breaking point.

The Bush administration was a moment, not a movement. Bush got lucky in Florida in 2000 and then proceeded to govern like he knew it was all going to end soon, belligerently ramming his agenda down the government's throat. It was so offensive that one Republican Senator, Jim Jeffords of Vermont, became an independent, caucusing with the Democrats to wrest control of the Senate away from the Bush GOP. September 11 saw the nation rally behind the flag and, by proxy, the President. Bush conducted himself with a humanity in those early days that he had never before displayed.

But then, as if realizing that his asterisk Presidency could parlay that goodwill into power, Bush reverted back to belligerence and his GOP lashed out at any and all critics. But the American people never came around to Bush's way of thinking or agreed with his policies any more than they did before the terrorist attacks. More than anything else, I think it's this general attitude of 'my way or the highway' that makes Americans -- even Americans who are willing to vote for him -- uneasy and unsure about the President. We were willing to give 'his way' the benefit of the doubt, but we never really putting any stock in it.

Try telling that to Bush, however. As Molly Ivins has said, he was born on third, thinking he'd hit a triple. What the Bush wing of the GOP doesn't seem to realize is that real political dominance in America is something you earn... not something you win over night.

So I wish the Republican Party good luck finding itself. There's a great party in there, dying to break free of the Texas tyrants, Bush, DeLay, and Rove. But first, as many Republicans seem to be willing to do, they've got to work to change the status quo. And that starts with voting for John Kerry on November 2.

posted by Scott | 10/19/2004 | |

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Win Or Lose In November, GOP Is In Trouble

Veteran Republican adviser Bruce Bartlett, in an article by "Price of Loyalty" author Ron Suskind in the latest New York Times Magazine, claims that a Bush win in November will be disastrous for the Republican Party.

"[I]f Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3." The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.

"Just in the past few months," Bartlett said, "I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do." Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: "This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them....
Forget the argument about Bush being wrapped up in apocalyptic religious fantasy. What's important here is the fact that the single-mindedness of the Bush administration threatens to split the Republican Party in half.

But it's not just one person who says so. In fact, even one former Bush administration official, who resigned, some say, due to her trouble with Bush's hard-right lean, spoke out on the topic at the Republican National Convention.

"Frankly, if the president wins walking away with this, maybe the country is in a different place than where the moderate Republicans are," said Christie Whitman, the former New Jersey governor and Bush administration official who is writing a book titled "It's My Party Too." "If he loses, it is an absolute validation of the fact that you cannot be a national party if you are excluding people."
And despite her support, both as a booster and a fundraiser, for the Bush/Cheney ticket, she's admitting here that the modern Republican Party is "excluding people." But aside from Whitman, there are a number of other moderate Republicans making noise these days about the rightward tilt of their party. Lincoln Chafee, the GOP Senator from Rhode Island has made it public that he will not be voting for Bush in November. A number of GOP moderates in the House, like Amo Haughton and Jim Greenwood, decided this year not to run for re-election, putting their GOP seats in moderate districts well within striking distance for progressive Democrats.

All evidence indicates that a Bush win in a few weeks would only throw more gasoline on this fire, pushing the GOP further to the right. Such a shift would make life very uncomfortable to socially liberal, fiscally conservative, and humbly secular GOP moderates and could cause more Jim Jeffords-style rejection of the Republican label. At least here in the Northeast, an official third party made up of moderate Republican refugees would do quite well for itself almost over night. But a Bush loss might have similar consequences, igniting a power struggle between the moderate and conservative wings of the party. This would leading to divisive primaries that will provide much ammunition to the Democrats in the general election season.

So it seems that no matter what happens on November 2, it's bad news all around for the future of the GOP. And that should put a smile on every Democrat's face. After all, an implosion within the GOP is one hell of a consolation prize.

posted by Scott | 10/17/2004 | |

New York Times Endorses Kerry

Not the biggest shocker, but important. For all of the griping conservatives do about the supposed slant of the New York Times, few papers were more crucial in supporting Bush's march to war. The Times, at least, later apologized for being asleep at the wheel and not adequately questioning both Bush's war plans and the evidence he provided of Iraq's urgent threat to the United States. In a way, you could say this is part two of that apology.

Like the tax cuts, Mr. Bush's obsession with Saddam Hussein seemed closer to zealotry than mere policy. He sold the war to the American people, and to Congress, as an antiterrorist campaign even though Iraq had no known working relationship with Al Qaeda. His most frightening allegation was that Saddam Hussein was close to getting nuclear weapons. It was based on two pieces of evidence. One was a story about attempts to purchase critical materials from Niger, and it was the product of rumor and forgery. The other evidence, the purchase of aluminum tubes that the administration said were meant for a nuclear centrifuge, was concocted by one low-level analyst and had been thoroughly debunked by administration investigators and international vetting. Top members of the administration knew this, but the selling went on anyway. None of the president's chief advisers have ever been held accountable for their misrepresentations to the American people or for their mismanagement of the war that followed.

The international outrage over the American invasion is now joined by a sense of disdain for the incompetence of the effort. Moderate Arab leaders who have attempted to introduce a modicum of democracy are tainted by their connection to an administration that is now radioactive in the Muslim world. Heads of rogue states, including Iran and North Korea, have been taught decisively that the best protection against a pre-emptive American strike is to acquire nuclear weapons themselves.
Forgetting the fact that it was The Times' own Judith Miller who did more than any other single journalist to enable Bush's case for war, this is a harder-hitting criticism of the Iraq war than any other I've seen come out of the mainstream media.

But aside from just a criticism of Bush, this editorial truly is a Kerry endorsement.

Senator John Kerry goes toward the election with a base that is built more on opposition to George W. Bush than loyalty to his own candidacy. But over the last year we have come to know Mr. Kerry as more than just an alternative to the status quo. We like what we've seen. He has qualities that could be the basis for a great chief executive, not just a modest improvement on the incumbent.

We have been impressed with Mr. Kerry's wide knowledge and clear thinking - something that became more apparent once he was reined in by that two-minute debate light. He is blessedly willing to re-evaluate decisions when conditions change. And while Mr. Kerry's service in Vietnam was first over-promoted and then over-pilloried, his entire life has been devoted to public service, from the war to a series of elected offices. He strikes us, above all, as a man with a strong moral core.
Will this endorsement make a difference in the swing states? Probably not. If anything, the GOP will hammer it home to rural voters in those states that the evil New York Times loves John Kerry.

But the contrasts between Bush and Kerry that endorsement points out are crucial. Where Bush will pursue more tax cuts at the expense of fiscal responsibility, a radical right-wing court, less bipartisan cooperation and a further erosion of civil liberties, John Kerry will not. It may be a simple argument, but it's certainly a compelling one... no matter who's making it.

posted by Scott | 10/17/2004 | |
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