Friday, January 30, 2004

Clark Pumps up the Volume in Santa Fe

I don't know much about the New Mexico caucus, but perhaps the state is in reach.

Clark Wins Over SF Crowd With Help From Actor

       SANTA FE   —   Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark told a tired but energized crowd Friday night that the race for the White House will be tough, but he has what it takes to win.
    "We're a nation at war," the retired four-star general told about 700 people who were stuffed into a ballroom at one of Santa Fe's downtown hotels. "We need a candidate, a nominee who has the kind of experience and record to go toe-to-toe with George W. Bush on national security."
    Pointing his finger and engaging the crowd, he continued: "We need a nominee from the heartland of America who can reach out and touch all four corners and every interest group all across this country and pull everybody together and help us move forward. And I am that person."
    Clark, who was last to enter the race for Democratic presidential nomination, again tried to make a distinction between himself and his challengers. He pointed to his humble beginnings with his mother in Arkansas, his accomplished military background and lack of political experience.
    "I'm not a professional politician," he said, getting shouts of "Good!" from the crowd. "If you like what's going on today in Washington . . . you should vote for someone who is a Washington insider. I'm not."
    Friday marked Clark's second stop in New Mexico this week. He plans to hit other parts of the state before Tuesday's caucus along with the rest of the Democratic presidential field.
    Clark, who was delayed about an hour because he had to switch to a smaller plane before heading to Santa Fe, was saved Friday by mariachis, a team of New Mexico politicos and actor Ted Danson.
    Danson finally got the stage and warmed up the crowd with his thoughts on Clark, whom he called a "quiet hero."
    "You want to wake up and look at your president every morning and go, ©ˆI see that he cares about me.' That's not something you can put on. It's not like kissing a baby. It's not like campaigning," Danson said. "This is something you either naturally and truly have   —   a sense of caring for everybody   —   or you don't. This man has a true sense of caring."
    Santa Fe Mayor Larry Delgado, former Gov. Jerry Apodaca, former Lt. Gov. Roberto Mondragon, former Albuquerque Mayor Jim Baca and state Sen. Mary Jane Garcia of Dona Ana were also on hand Friday night.
    They stood behind Clark as he pitched his plans for helping more Americans get jobs, raising the minimum wage to $7 and undertaking the most significant income tax reform in 30 years.
    He also touched on the environment   —   something dear to many New Mexico voters. He proposed a $2.2 billion plan that would use oil and gas royalties for a trust fund to protect historic places and public lands.

Get your snake oil right here

John Kerry is one phony bastard. Granted, he's our phony bastard and if he gets the nomination I'll support him over the phony bastard the Repugs are peddling, but still, anyone who has watched this campaign knows that Kerry has watched the other candidates and stolen what has worked for them. Of course, there is a degree of that in any campaign, but Kerry has taken it to a disgusting level. When I hear him decry the economics of the "privileged" I almost lose it every time. Most recently, after 20 years in the Senate, Kerry has decided to bash "special interests" as if he's Paul Wellstone. He's not.

Between the media annointment, bandwagon effect and truncated primary schedule, Dem voters could easily be sold a bill of goods long before most of them can vote and well before a media focused on the "horse race" can sort through the facts. Here is a beginning, though.

CHARLESTON, S.C., Jan. 30 — The Democratic presidential hopefuls have been crossing the country this week promising to drive "special interests" and "influence peddlers" out of the White House.

But campaign finance reports show some contenders benefit significantly from the lobbyists and special interests that they attack.

While Senator John Kerry regularly promises to stand up to "big corporations," his campaign has taken money from executives on Wall Street and those representing the telecommunications industry, which is under his purview in Congress. Mr. Kerry denounces President Bush for catering to the rich, but he has depended more heavily on affluent donors than the other leading Democrats except for another populist, Senator John Edwards. Mr. Kerry's spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter, said the contributions had no effect on his votes.

Clark's Ads Need to Close the Deal!

As I talked to undecided voters in New Hampshire it quickly became clear that their indecision was not because they viewed themselves as choosing between the lesser of a few evils. Rather, they tended to like 3 or 4 of the candidates, generally including Wesley Clark. They were looking to beat Bush, and therefore considering electability-- an argument Clark's feel-good ads didn't really make. In the waning days of the campaign Clark simply didn't close the deal. Edwards did. Kerry did. Clark didn't, even though electability was the rational for many of us supporting his campaign.

Now the campaign is at a crossroads. A surprise showing on February 3rd could set this nomination process on its head. But a surprise in a "likeable" field requires bolder action than Clark's cautious stategists have shown so far. He needs to make the case for his electability over the other candidates. And he needs to do it 30 seconds. And repeat it over and over until it sinks in to the electorate. His current speech at least partially makes the case:

Let me finish up by saying this: I respect my opponents in this race. But I think that there is one issue above all others in this primary. And that is: Who is best equipped to beat George Bush. In a closely divided country, I think we need someone from the heartland to win. In a country at war, I think we need someone with the experience and understanding to lead. Someone who's been on the frontlines of battle and international diplomacy. In the face of a ruthlessly political President, I think we need someone who knows what he stands for -- who has put his career on the line for what he believes -- to stand up for Americans.

He needs an ad NOW that drives it home. It could go something like this:

Narrator: "Wes Clark is not a lawyer or a smooth-talking politician. Wes Clark is a man of action who gets things done. A man of humble roots who grew up in Arkansas, went to college by earning an appointment to West Point and served his country for 34 years. Three bullets in Viet Nam couldn't stop him. A ruthless dictator in the Balkans could not deter his resolve. He ended genocide and brought peace without the loss of single American soldier. And he did it by working with our allies, not against them. He is also a successful businessman who is dedicated to working tirelessly every day to help make average Americans' lives better. Better jobs, better health care, better education and a better environment. Wes Clark is the man who can beat George Bush in November in every region of the country and is not beholden to special interests."

Clark: "I'm Wes Clark and I approve this message, because our country's future is at stake. I recently became a Grandfather and I'm committed to making sure that America continues to provide the best opportunities for all of our children. I'm asking for your vote so that together we can beat George Bush in November and keep the American Dream strong for everyone."

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Why isn't Kerry taken to task for his introductions?

Try googling this story and then google Michael Moore's introduction.

Or perhaps the candidate who receives the worst introduction speech of the campaign wins. At that Friday event in Manchester, Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-S.C., introduced Kerry with a long, rambling speech that included the word "Chinaman." As Hollings was explaining that "50 percent of the furniture in this country comes from China," a shockingly loud pop crackled through the speakers and startled most people in the room. "Some Chinaman got mad at that," Hollings said to laughter. (Later, when more noises popped through the speakers, Kerry politically corrected the joke to, "This Chinese guy is still around.") Hollings also declared that Dick Cheney "is the Jesse Jackson of the Republican Party. He wants it all, his time has come!" A few people applauded when Hollings said he was about to finish.

It's the cover up that kills you

The John Kerry Botox issue-- Should it be an issue? Does vanity matter? How about judgement?-- by this I mean Kerry apparently received "classic bad Botox." Shouldn't we expect more from the leader of the Free World?

Nope. It's the lying about it. Reagan claimed he never died his hair and see how much damage he did. Previously Kerry lied about having prostate cancer. Now he lies about Botox. Lying about sex I understand-- who hasn't? It's really the whole thing-- the vanity, the creepiness of paralyzing one's muscles when you already resemble Herman Munster, and the lying about it. Something tells me this isn't the way the Dems are gonna score with white men. Whoops, look at the time. I'm late for my manicure. Later.

The scoop:

Two prominent New York plastic surgeons - after examining "before" and "after" photos posted on the Drudge Report - told Lowdown yesterday that Kerry exhibits all the signs of a Botox injection.

"Not only is it Botox, but it's classic bad Botox," said Dr. Michael Kane, a surgeon in private practice.

"His forehead is just way too smooth. It looks weird. It's a bizarre appearance that he's got not a wrinkle. That doesn't happen to 60-year-olds."

Dr. Gerald Ember, an attending plastic surgeon at New York Presbyterian Hospital, agreed.

"The pictures ... show a marked absence of the horizontal lines of the forehead and wrinkles between the eyes. Only Botox or a forehead lift would do this," he said. "And I say good for him!"

In a Tuesday interview with a Boston radio station, the Massachusetts senator was asked about Lowdown's Tuesday item. Kerry "absolutely" denied receiving Botox treatments, and added: "I've never even heard it. Where did this come from? ... I've never even heard of it. Never heard of it."

Methinks he protests too much.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

"Native son" Kerry Fails to get 40% of the Vote in New Hampshire

(Manchester) Despite being broadcast into Southern New Hampshire living rooms for over two decades, John Kerry could not even muster 40% of the vote in his neighboring state. This is devastating, considering that much of the southern part of the Granite State serves as a bedroom community for metropolitan Boston.

Perspective is everything, ain't it? Kerry gets back to where he was months ago and it is hailed as the most dramatic comeback ever. Home boy takes only four more delegates than a candidate derided as a joke all week long and it is spun as a nomination clinching victory. He pretends to smoke a joint in Iowa, and says the "F" word in an major interview and he gets spun as "Presidential." Wes Clark merely refuses to pretend an AWOL drunk has been unfairly accused and he gets labeled as not ready for prime time. As Joementum would say, "Is this a great country or what?"

Joe Trippi and Me

Big news from the Dean camp today. Blogmaster architect Joe Trippi is outtathere. As luck would have it, I had met him and chatted the day before the election. Whatever one may think about the man, I found him to be friendly, forthcoming and completely unpretentious. He didn't know me from Adam, but acted as if we were neighbors-- and I was wearing my Clark button. He hadn't shaved in a couple of days, and was clearly a bit frustrated with recent events, but very personable.

He seemed surprised when I told him that I hoped Dean would pull an upset. I explained that Clark wasn't going to overtake Kerry at that point, but a Dean win would deflate the Kerry balloon. What I didn't say was that Dean was already damaged goods, and therefore, less of a concern than Kerry. I forget what brought it up, but he did say that this was probably his last campaign. Of course, maybe that was the lack of sleep talking. I thanked him for the innovations he had brought to the electoral process and he replied that Clark's campaign had energized the process as well.

Whatever he does, I wish him well.


I just read this:

Trippi had been part of the staff faction that had urged Dean to focus on a few upcoming states that could be won, skipping all or most of the seven Feb. 3 contests in favor of Michigan, Washington state and Wisconsin. Dean and Neel dug in their heels, insisting that he had to play everywhere - an argument that prevailed as Trippi left.

This is interesting, because one thing Trippi said to me, I thought in a reference to Clark and Iowa, was that he believed you had to compete in every state. Either he changed his mind overnight, or this story may not be right. In any event, it caught my eye.

Back from New Hampshire

Well I'm back from New Hampshire and I finally got my "always on internet connection" back up. For the political junkie, going to NH for the waning days of a contested primary must be somewhat akin to going to Mecca. I'm glad I finally made the pilgrimmage.

I would vote for ABB, but I have to really believe in a person to risk frostbite just to provide "visibility." In addition to "visibility," I called voters and entered voter data. There was a great deal of positive energy at Clark HQ and some very good people. At times, things seemed a little chaotic on the volunteer end of things, but enthusiasm never wavered and I suspect that had something to do with countering the conventional polling wisdom that Edwards had eclipsed Clark by about 2-3 points the day before. A win at Dixville Notch probably wasn't bad news for undecided NH voters to wake up to, either. And in a close race in a crowded, well-liked field, never underestimate the value of being first on the ballot.

New Hampshire residents are, by-in-large, friendly people. Of course, many of the Republicans are nasty, as they are anywhere. My interactions with volunteers from other campaigns were very positive. While doing visibility, I was only flipped-off and cussed at by Bush-loving, mankind-hating Repugs. Big surprise.

What the campaign officially called "volunteer housing" was referred to by actual volunteers as the "crack house" or the "flop house." As bad as it was, it was superior to the "Y." Again, these were committed folks. There are a ton of bright, inspired young people out there, which was reassuring.

Headquarters was located in what appeared to be an old mill and it was not the easiest place to find. I guess Clark got more space for the money, but less visibility. On the flip-side, parking was not a problem. Even Kucinich was on the main drag (Elm Street), not that it did him any good. Dean even had his volunteer HQ located right next to prime polling place in Manchester. He also had the best "Y" reserved for his troops. These are the advantages to starting early-- not that it did him a lot of good, either.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

New Hampshire Bound

I'm heading out to Manchester this weekend to see if the Clark campaign can use another hand. I may even lend both hands given what's at stake. I doubt I'll get much chance to blog while I'm there, but if so, I'll try to post something. My first goal is to avoid frostbite. Selecting a nominee that can slap Shrub back to Crawford is a close second.

Et tu, Peter?

How'd you like Peter Jennings' Fox audition tonight? My email to Petey.

Until tonight, Peter Jennings was my favorite anchor for the last 20 years. Of all the questions relevant to New Hamphire residents and Americans in general, you ask why Clark didn't shout down Moore regarding his "deserter" comment, and then you claim it is baseless? Do your homework. Prove it is untrue on your broadcast. There is no record he ever showed up for duty in Alabama. The commander there said he would have remembered and there would have been records. Bob Kerrey knows it. Dan Inouye knows it. Reputable reporters have reported it and irresponsible "journalists" like you try to bury it. Seriously, do a real investigative piece on this if it is truly relevant. Actually, with 500 American dead and counting, isn't it relevant that the commander-in-chief lacks the moral authority to ask for the ultimate sacrice?

Very disappointing, Peter.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

No wonder those former Iraqi soldiers are angry

They apparently had to give up a great gig. Scam mail-- it's not just from Nigeria anymore. Yeah, Operation Iraqi Freedom! The little guy in America is finally getting his shot at the loot!

Dear Sir,
My name is Hazz Mohammed , I am from Iraq. My cousin was a top officer in the former Government of Sadam Hussein. Before the beginning war he gave me $16,000,000.00 (Sixteen Million United States Dollars) to keep for him.

I managed to move the box containing the money out of Iraq through diplomatic immunity to a Security company in Dubai and the box is been deposited as family treasure, for security reasons. Now that the war is over I want to move the money to your country for safety reasons. Be rest assured that this transaction is risk free as no person is aware of this money.

You will be compensated with 25% of the total sum, if you can assist. Expecting your urgent reply via

Yours Faithfully,
Hazz Mohammed

Who's running a 50 state campaign?: Did Dean mention Tennessee in his post-caucus rant?

All eyes may be on New Hampshire, the great state of Tennessee has voters casting ballots now. Early influence could be key. Dean must still be looking for a map to see what states he forgot the other night.

Edwards, Clark tops in time, cash spent in state

Early voting begins today in presidential primary

NASHVILLE - As Tennesseans begin early voting in the presidential primaries today, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards has invested more time in the state and Gen. Wesley Clark has invested more money.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry plans soon to begin investing more of both in Tennessee, according to his state director.

Howard Dean's state coordinator, on the other hand, says only that there is a "good potential" for the former Vermont governor to visit the state before Tennessee's regular election day - Feb. 10 - though there are plans for TV advertising.

In the aftermath of the Iowa caucuses, the four men appear to be the only viable candidates for the Democratic nomination headed into the New Hampshire election Tuesday, Jan. 27.

Steve Lindsey, Kerry's Tennessee director, said his Iowa victory was "a really good bump for us" in Tennessee and nationally. He said most Tennessee Democrats are undecided now and Kerry is positioning himself to win their support.

He said Kerry will personally visit the state and "we will be active in the Tennessee media market - definitely TV and possibly some targeted radio."

Edwards is from neighboring North Carolina and Clark is from Arkansas. Both claim Tennessee ties. Edwards worked in Nashville as a young attorney while Clark attended a military preparatory school in Lebanon.

Edwards has made seven campaign visits to Tennessee, more than any of the other candidates, while Clark has already spent $500,000 on TV ads to best other candidates by far in that category.

Clark also has 16 paid staff members in Tennessee versus three for Edwards, two for Kerry and none for Dean. Spokesmen for Kerry and Edwards say they will soon be bolstering their staff in the state.

Clark spokeswoman Carol Andrews said Clark will continue running Tennessee ads up to election day.

None for Dean? Just where does he think them boys in them thare trucks are, anyway?

Before Kerry, there was Tsongas

Kerry took Paul Tsongas senate seat after he stepped down in 1984. Apparently, Kerry has not impressed the late senator's daughter. This is actually, from a couple of days ago, but I hadn't seen it.

Clark has the skills and vision
By Katina Tsongas, 1/19/2004

IN 1992, I WAS 14 years old and had the opportunity to experience the New Hampshire primary as few do. My father, Paul Tsongas, came to New Hampshire with a message that resonated with the voters of this state, a message that won him the New Hampshire primary. I saw New Hampshire voters respond to the substance of my father's message and the respect with which he addressed them.

As I look at the current state of our country I believe we need a president whose message is substantive and visionary. This year I have chosen to support General Wesley Clark in his bid for the White House. I believe Clark has the skills, the experience, and the fortitude we need in the next president of the United States.

Grassroots in the Heartland

Ohio would be a plum pick-up for any Dem. Not as tough as Indiana, but I think it is safe to say that if the Dem candidate takes it, election night is over.

At least one guy in Ohio likes what he sees in Clark's grassroots support:

Obscured by the media's premature coronation of Howard Dean as the Democrats' presidential nominee, and the local interest in the quirky candidacy of Dennis Kucinich is the remarkable rise of retired General Wesley Clark as a force to be reckoned with in the March 2 Ohio Democratic Presidential Primary.

At last week's delegate caucuses held all around Ohio, the number of Clark supporters who showed up nearly matched the number who represented Howard Dean, according to Greg Haas, longtime Ohio campaign strategist and current political director for Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman. In Haas' view, what makes this achievement truly stunning is that Dean has been campaigning for more than a year and many of his supporters were bussed in by unions and paid, while Clark has only been in the race since late September and won't even have an officially funded campaign in Ohio until early February.

At the 10th District's caucus in Middleburg Heights last week, I saw many familiar faces — union officials, veteran activists and a smattering of officeholders — in the general meeting room, but once the main group broke into individual candidate caucuses, the 50 or so people who headed into the Clark room were almost entirely individuals whom I had never seen and who had never before participated in a caucus. And of the 18 folks who vied for delegate positions, only two had ever done so before. One by one — a Vietnam vet, a schoolteacher, a small business owner, a high school student, a young working mom — they made their short speeches about how they were inspired enough by Clark to find their way to meet-ups and house parties and finally to commit themselves to an active role in supporting him.

Much has been made of the contention that Howard Dean has brought all kinds of brand new people into the electoral process, but a survey of his early supporters done last November indicated that 80 percent of them were Democratic party members who always vote, have a yearly income of more than $70,000 and who classify themselves as anti-war liberals. Over the past two months, of course, Dean has picked up several endorsements from established politicians and big service unions, the kind of individuals and groups who glom onto apparent frontrunners seeking both the spotlight and some spoils. These are hardly new faces.

Contrast Dean's big-money, big-name, big-special-interests campaign to the true grassroots efforts of the Clark people. First of all, the move to draft Clark into the race didn't even get off the ground until just this past summer. In July, the first small groups of Draft Clark got together to support each other and began to tap into a national computer network that ultimately was able to pledge enough money and generate enough nationwide enthusiasm to convince Clark to finally declare his candidacy in September. Since then, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and his band of grassroots insurgents have had a lot of catching up to do. And based on the number of committed foot soldiers, money raised and polling figures, they've done an incredible job of getting in position to challenge for the nomination.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Scaring Grandma Just Won't Cut It

Many at Blog for America are pathologically in denial. Others are just understandably down. They believed in their candidate, worked hard, gave money, and argued for him all over the blogosphere regardless of what he said or did. Until last night. From BFA:

I just can't be for Dean anymore. I still like him alot, I love his message, and I thank him for setting the tone for the national debate this year. For this he deserves credit.

But everyone was right, only Dean can stop Dean. And he did last night.

I'm now officially undecided, with an eye towards Edwards, and a squint towards Kerry, and a oh well maybe towards Clark.

But Dr. Dean, you show last night, it scared my grandma, and well, that won't cut it in November.

All viable candidates must, at a minimum, meet the "Doesn't scare Grandma Threshold." Dean has stepped into that place that money just can't get you out of, regardless of what Pat Cadell says. He has also become the joke. Okay, some just think he's crazy, but it seems pretty clear today that his post-caucus performance is not something people just chuckle about and move on.

For any Deaniacs or former Deaniacs out there, his implosion was coming. It was just a matter of time. Better now, than after wrapping up the nomination, don't you think?

Monday, January 19, 2004

Iowa and beyond

Wow. After hearing all the old-time Iowans and other so-called caucus experts wax on about the importance of organization and how great Geppy and Dean's respective organizations were, being no expert on the Iowa caucus, I was still left to wonder if the polls trends could be as irrelevant as some pundits seemed to think. Uh, no.

What I was right about:

1. Dean's implosion was imminent and it was self-inflicted. Yes, as the front-runner he took a few hits and whined incessantly about it. Telling old men, "You sit down," doesn't play well in Iowa, or most places. I'm also guessing mindless, state-listing rants, followed by a "yeeaah!" won't play well most places either. I wonder if he could win Vermont now. Yes, they will say, "We have a fifty state organization." We also heard they had the biggest, most sophisticated organization in Iowa. And we'll hear, "But we have money!" Yes, and they spent more than any candidate ever in Iowa. Look where it got you with a lousy candidate.

2. When people pay attention to Edwards, he does very well. He may be the best campaigner of the whole bunch. As Clinton once said, "He could talk an owl out of a tree." He could whip Bush if he gets the chance. If he doesn't, either Clark or Kerry would be wise to make him the VP.

3. Gephardt is a very good man whose campaign was a miserable failure. I was amazed all fall when pundits kept indicating he would be the "anti-Dean." Tired. Very tired.

4. Trippi is no genius. He is on to something, but over-estimated it. He works on another losing campaign. This one will be historic in its collapse.

What I was wrong about:

1. Kerry's campaign is obviously not dead. When he mortgaged his house to finance his campaign I thought it was like a pitcher who has lost his fast ball refusing to retire.

Where from here:

1. Dean needs to retool. He won't. He can't. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, particularly on the blogosphere, his political instincts suck. His message: "You have the power!"; "I stood up against George Bush!"; "We can't win by being Bush-lite."

I've been amazed by Deaniacs who claim Clark has no specifics. And Dean does? He may have some position papers somewhere, but I always hear the same old thing. Clark has now become a much more fleshed out candidate than Dean. The Doctor had the same approach tonight: I'm a fighter!! I'm gonna kick everyone's ass!! Guess what Howard? We just don't care. I vigorously opposed the war from day one. It made and still makes me viscerally angry. I wish Kerry and Edwards had voted differently. I wish the Democrats had questioned it more. But I would still vote for Edwards, and even Kerry, over Dean. Tweety and friends have trouble understanding this. They think voters must have been confused. Howie thought he needed to drive the point home in the waning days. It didn't matter. The world is more complicated than that. I've always thought that Dean has had loser written all over him. Maybe he should run for Senator when it opens up.

2. Gephardt. Class act. Good man. Good public servant. Probably feeling a bit spent right now. Perhaps he can win a senate seat for us in Missouri.

3. Clark will likely be a target in NH. Perhaps everyone will be. Kerry may quickly ride the wave into first-place and the grudge match between him and Dean may take center stage in regard to nastiness.

4. Chris Lehane was been the object of irrational hatred in certain quarters of the blogosphere, including the Daily Dean. It has been way over the top. Nonetheless, the guy is a creepy little jerk who does not play well on TV. He needs to keep his name out of print media, as well. Someone needs to get a clue and bury this dude away from sight.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Dean: "I'm opting out of matching funds so I can compete with Bush." wink, wink

Well, Deaniacs who've maxed out your credit cards and sold your bicycyles to "feed the bat" so Howie can compete with Bush, looks like he's decided to ignore spending caps in the primaries so he can run negative ads against other Dems. Oh, I know, he'll say, "I had to defend myself. I was becoming a pin cushion." The truth is, Dean's slippage is largely self-inflicted. His ads seemed to hurt him, but he just can't help himself. The boy was spending like a drunken sailor-- and he's going to balance the budget?

To meet Bush he'll have to survive first. Guess that means a ton more negative ads bloodying other potential nominees. He'll rationalize it. Most of his supporters will as well. But for the rest of us, we will see it for what it is-- another Howie change of position.

Howie's Economic Stimulus Package

In just the seven days from Saturday, Jan. 10 through Friday, Jan. 16, Howard Dean spent $530,000 on television in Iowa-an astounding amount in a state so small. Indeed, Dean spent more than twice as much on television last week as he spent just the week before.

The huge final barrage pushed Dean's total television spending in the state to $3.3 million, by all indications the most any candidate has ever spent on television here.

For Dean, that translated into 8,920 total commercials aired in the four major media markets reaching Iowa that CMAG tracks. John Kerry, the next heaviest advertiser, bought only 6,045 commercials in the state.

Dean can spend so much on television in the state largely because he has opted out of the public finance system, which imposes caps on how much candidates can spend in each primary and caucus contest.

Sorry, Joe. There's no contingency for your candidacy

From the Moonie Times.

Bush strategists hedge bets, prepare plans for Dean loss

President Bush's political strategists, who have been "war-gaming" against Howard Dean for weeks, have begun to prepare for the growing possibility that Mr. Dean might not win the Democratic nomination.
Although Bush officials still regard the former Vermont governor as the likely nominee, the race has become tight in Iowa and New Hampshire. That has led them to spend more time on contingency plans for the emergence of an alternative to Mr. Dean.
Those alternatives include Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts; Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri; Wesley Clark, the retired general from Arkansas; and to a lesser extent, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. The Bush campaign is not devoting significant energy to preparing for the nomination of Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, or the Rev. Al Sharpton, the Pentecostal pastor from Harlem.<.i>

Truth take's another hit: Will anyone care?

Who wants to bet any one of the "celebrity" trials gets tons more press coverage than this travesty?

9/11 Panel Unlikely to Get Later Deadline: Hearings Being Scaled Back to Finish Work by May

President Bush and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) have decided to oppose granting more time to an independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, virtually guaranteeing that the panel will have to complete its work by the end of May, officials said last week.

A growing number of commission members had concluded that the panel needs more time to prepare a thorough and credible accounting of missteps leading to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But the White House and leading Republicans have informed the panel that they oppose any delay, which raises the possibility that Sept. 11-related controversies could emerge during the heat of the presidential campaign, sources said.

With time running short, the 10-member bipartisan panel has already decided to scale back the number and scope of hearings that it will hold for the public, commission members and staffers said. The commission is rushing to finish interviews with as many as 200 remaining witnesses and to finish examining about 2 million pages of documents related to the attacks.
"We need at least a few more months to complete our work," said commission member Timothy J. Roemer, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana who has pushed for more time. "We have a breathtaking task ahead of us, and we need enough time to make sure our work is credible and thorough."

But the White House and Hastert's office made clear during discussions over the past two weeks that they would strongly oppose any extension of the deadline, which would require congressional approval, officials said. One source described the issue Friday as "dead in the water."

Dead in the water. Along with getting at the truth of what happened. Heaven forbid we not give Bush enough time to try to spin his administration's mistakes before the fall election. This needs to be HUGE issue.

Don't attack Dean with...facts

Carter's non-endorsement

Pressed in recent interviews why he would leave Iowa at a crunch time, Dean said he could not turn down an invitation to appear with a former president he admires. But when a visitor to the Maranatha church -- thousands come from out of town annually to hear Carter's Sunday-morning homilies -- thanked Carter for inviting Dean, Carter quickly interjected "I did not invite him" before adding "I'm glad he came."

"He called me on the phone and said he'd like to worship with me," Carter explained to reporters before the church service began. The appearance was originally slated for Jan. 4, but an Iowa debate that afternoon made out-of-state travel impossible for Dean, and this was the only alternative left in January, said Chip Carter, the former president's son and a Dean backer. The former president said he has visited with retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark and hopes he will again.

Well, I have no insights into Clark's scheduling, but I doubt the meeting will happen the day before New Hampshire. Perhaps shortly after. And I suspect that if Clark calls Carter to arrange one, he will admit to as much.

The Bush Legacy

This is only one of many horrible blunders that the worst President in American history will be noted for: the incredible weakening of the greatest alliance in modern times. This story is about our defense alliance, but the economic impact will probably be the greatest downside of our deteriorating relationship with our European allies. The EU will replace the US as the world's greatest economic engine and will increasingly be looked to as such, in large part because of its willingness to see the world in more global terms, as well as its willingness to take care of its citizens' education and health needs.

Time Europe defended itself -EU military official

SALEN, Sweden, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The European Union's top military official suggested on Sunday that American and European forces should be responsible for their own territorial defence and only cooperate on major crises outside their regions.

Finnish general, Gustav Hagglund, who is chairman of the EU's military committee, told a defence conference it was time Europe shouldered the defence of the continent itself.

"The American and the European pillars (of NATO) would be responsible for their respective territorial defences, and would together engage in crisis management outside their own territories," Hagglund told the conference in Salen, 450 km (280 miles) northwest of Stockholm.

"My prediction is that this will happen within the next decade," he told a news conference later.

If McGovern doesn't care who voted for Nixon, why should you?

Dean, Kerry and their surrogates have been trying to make a big deal out of who Clark voted for 32 years ago. Well, it wasn't for the guy who endorsed him today. McGovern was born in 1922, but he is living in the here-and-now. A lesson for all of us.

His words:

Today, I am proud to stand here this morning and announce my support for a true progressive, a true Democrat, and the next president of the United States.

A man whose progressive policies on education, taxation, health care are in the finest tradition of the Democratic Party.

A man whose ideals, decency, and compassion are in the great tradition of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton.

A man whose life's work and devotion to America will serve as a beacon to our young and give pride to us all.

That man is Wes Clark - and he will lead our party to victory in November.

Like Wes Clark, I'm a veteran. I was an airman in World War II. And I believe there is nothing more patriotic than serving your country.

I also believe there is nothing more patriotic than speaking out - and standing up for what you believe in. That was one of the reasons I ran for president in 1972 - because I believed that Vietnam was a not a war America should be fighting. Back then, Wes Clark was an officer in the United States Army. And in the election of '72, he voted for the other candidate. Let's call it youthful indiscretion. The good news is that this time we both agree.

Today, we are fighting the wrong war in Iraq. And that's one of the reasons I'm standing here today. Because there is only one man in this race with four stars on his shoulders and thirty-four years of military experience. There is only one man in this race who stopped genocide and saved 1.5 million Kosovar Albanians from ethnic cleansing. There is only one man in this race who has a success strategy to get us out of the war in Iraq - and get our servicemen and women home safely. And that man is Wes Clark.

Wes Clark is also a champion of America's working families, because he knows that you can't be strong abroad unless you're strong at home. Wes Clark understands the problems facing ordinary Americans, especially the three million Americans who've lost their job since George W. Bush arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And the 44 million Americans don't have health care, and the thousands who can't afford the sky-rocketing costs of education.

Wes Clark is the only man who can get our country back on track. He's got a jobs program to get our economy going ... a real tax reform to help our working and hard-pressed families ... and a health care plan to make health care affordable for all Americans and universal for all our children. He wants to fight for all Americans, from all walks of life. These are not just Democratic values. These are American values.

Running for president is no easy task. And I have the battle scars to show it. I, too, was the subject of a few dirty tricks during my day. But I'll tell you, there is no better man to withstand the Republican attacks then Wes Clark. And the Republicans know that - they're running scared. The last thing they want is a four star general on their hands. So to my Republican friends out there: get ready, here we come.

Finally, let me say this: There are a lot of good Democrats in this race. But Wes Clark is the best Democrat. He is a true progressive. He's the Democrat's Democrat. I've been around the political block - and I can tell you, I know a true progressive when I see one. And that's why he has my vote.

Wes Clark will bring a higher standard of leadership back to Washington. He'll fight for America's interests, not the special interests. He'll bring honesty, openness, and accountability to the White House. He is a born leader.

That is why I am standing here today: because there's one man in this race with a success strategy in Iraq... there's one man who can really stand up for working American families ... there's one man who can beat George W. Bush - and take back the White House in 2004.

And that man is my friend, our leader, a true progressive, and the next Democratic president of the United States, Wes Clark.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Lieberman/Drudge in 2004?

Drudge get's talking points from the RNC, takes a September 26, 2002, congressional hearing transcript that has been all over the internet for all those who wish to be informed to see, takes highly selective quotes out of context, and call's it a "World Exclusive." (Drudge's use of this term reminds me of Wallace Shawn's frequent line, "inconceivable," to describe things that kept happening in The Princess Bride. As Mandy Patinkin pointed out, "I do not think that word means what you think it means.") Then Holy Joe, looking to slime Clark with a "credibility gap," takes his talking points from Matt Drudge. This alone should disqualify him from holding office again as a Democrat.

For anyone who cares, Clark's testimony reveals that he has been not only remarkably consistent, but prescient. Any reasonable, intelligent, objective person can readily see this, which leaves Lieberman out, even though he was on the committee to which Clark testified.

In the parts excerpted by Drudge, you see what a persuasive speaker does. He doesn't get in the person's face that he his trying to persuade. He concedes the minor points, finds areas of agreement, builds trust and then points out the differences. This entire text show's that Clark did so masterfully. The Big Dog would be proud. Lieberman, on the other hand, doesn't get it.

When Clinton's letter to the ROTC commandant surfaced and lesser folks like Stephanopolous were wringing their hands, Carville supposedly smiled and said, "This letter is your best friend." This situation is not nearly as dramatic, but I do think this transcript should be a plus for Clark, if handled correctly. The Campaign should hand out a highlighted version to the press and at town meetings. Some highlights:

From Clark's Statement

We have an unfinished, world-wide war against Al Qaeda, a war that has to be won in conjunction with friends and allies, and that ultimately be won by persuasion as much as by force, when we turn off the Al Qaeda recruiting machine. Some three thousand deaths on September 11th testify to the real danger from Al Qaeda, and as all acknowledge, Al Qaeda has not yet been defeated. Thus far, substantial evidence has not been made available to link Saddam’s regime to the Al Qaeda network. And while such linkages may emerge,winning the war against Al Qaeda may well require different actions than ending the weapons programs in Iraq.

The critical issue facing the Unites States now is how to force action against Saddam Hussein and his weapons programs without detracting from our focus on Al Qaeda or efforts to deal with other immediate, mid and long-term security problems. In this regard, I would offer the following considerations:

The United States diplomacy in the United Nations will be further strengthened if the Congress can adopt a resolution expressing US determination to act if the United Nations will not. The use of force must remain a US option under active consideration. The resolution need not at this point authorize the use of force, but simply agree on the intent to authorize the use of force, if other measures fail. The more focused the resolution on Iraq and the problem of weapons of mass destruction, the greater its utility in the United Nations. The more nearly unanimous the resolution, the greater its impact in the diplomatic efforts underway.

The President and his national security team must deploy imagination, leverage, and patience in crafting UN engagement. In the near term, time is on our side, and we should endeavor to use the UN if at all possible. This may require a period of time for inspections or even the development of a more intrusive inspection program, if necessary backed by force. This is foremost an effort to gain world-wide legitimacy for US concerns and possible later action, but it may also impede Saddam’s weapons programs and further constrain his freedom of action. Yes, there is a risk that inspections would fail to provide the evidence of his weapons programs, but the difficulties of dealing with this outcome are more than offset by opportunity to gain allies and support in the campaign against Saddam.

If efforts to resolve the problem by using the United Nations fail, either initially or ultimately, the US should form the broadest possible coalition, including its NATO allies and the North Atlantic Council if possible, to bring force to bear. Force should not be used until the personnel and organizations to be involved in post-conflict Iraq are identified and readied to assume their responsibilities. This includes requirements for humanitarian assistance, police and judicial capabilities, emergency medical and reconstruction assistance, and preparations for a transitional governing body and eventual elections, perhaps including a new constitution. Ideally, international and multinational organizations will participate in the readying of such post-conflict operations, including the UN, NATO, and other regional and Islamic organizations.

Force should be used as the last resort; after all diplomatic means have been exhausted, unless information indicates that further delay would present an immediate risk to the assembled forces and organizations. This action should not be categorized as “preemptive.”

Once initiated, any military operation should aim for the most rapid accomplishment of its operational aims and prompt turnover to follow-on organizations and agencies.

If we proceed as outlined above, we may be able to minimize the disruption to the ongoing campaign against Al Qaeda, reduce the impact on friendly governments in the region, and even contribute to the resolution of other regional issues such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iranian efforts to develop nuclear capabilities, and Saudi funding for terrorism. But there are no guarantees. The war is unpredictable and could be difficult and costly. And what is at risk in the aftermath is an open-ended American ground commitment in Iraq and an even deeper sense of humiliation in the Arab world, which could intensify our problems in the region and elsewhere.

Ultimately, it's going to be inadequate in the main but as far as the intelligence is concerned and the time available, I don't know how to make sense of the intelligence. I mean we've heard six months from the CIA. We've heard the latest British estimate of a couple of years. We've heard other people say a year. We've heard Iraqi defectors saying it's ready. All he has to do is just machine the plutonium if he can get his hands on it.

From Clark's Testimony:

The honest truth is that the absence of intelligence is not an adequate reason to go forward to war in and of itself, and so what we have to do is we have to build a program that builds, that encourages other nations to share our perspective. We can do it relatively quickly. We should not discard inspections. They have done some measure of good, otherwise Saddam wouldn't object to them so strongly. …

But I will say this, that the administration has not proceeded heretofore in a way that would encourage its friends and allies to support it. One of the problems we have is the overhang from a number of decisions taken by the administration which have undercut its friends and allies around the world and given the impression that the United States doesn't respect the opinions of other.

I think the broader the coalition, the stronger the preparations in advance, the smoother the operation is likely to be, the more rapid Saddam's army will collapse, and the less humanitarian hardship is likely to be imposed.

That having been said once we move into the area, what we can expect is a complete breakdown of governmental authority. …

[W]e have to imagine a complete breakdown of order. That will be accompanied no doubt by a breakdown in the distribution of services, water, food.

And so, we really don't know what we're going to face. So in the immediate aftermath, there's going to be the possibility of a chaotic environment that's going to require a substantial American presence as well as a vast humanitarian governmental structure to meet the needs of the 23 million Iraqi people.

Then we're dealing with the longer mid term, the mid term problems. Will Iraq be able to establish a government that holds it together or will it fragment?

CLARK: I'm saying there hasn't been any substantiation of the linkage of the Iraqi regime to the events of 9/11 or the fact that they are giving weapons of mass destruction capability to Al Qaida, yes sir….

So I think that, you know, the key issue is how we move from here and what do we need to do to deal with this threat? But I think what's also clear is that the way you deal with the threat from Iraq is different than the way you deal with the threat from Al Qaida. And so, my contention has been we need to look at different means for dealing with these threats. We need to take advantage of all the resources at our disposal, not just the military.

My French friends constantly remind me that these are problems that we had a hand in creating. So when it comes to creating another strategy, which is built around the intrusion into the region by U.S. forces, all the warning signs should be flashing. There are unintended consequences when force is used. Use it as a last resort. Use it multilaterally if you can. Use it unilaterally only if you must.

So the president, our commander-in-chief, has committed himself. I think it's wise to narrow the resolution that was submitted. I think it will be more effective and more useful and I think it's more in keeping with the checks and balances that are the hallmark of the American government if that resolution is narrowed.

And on the other hand, I think you have to narrow it in such a way that you don't remove the resort to force as a last option consideration in this case. So, not giving a blank check but expressing an intent to sign the check when all other alternatives are exhausted. I think in dealing with men like Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein that diplomacy has to be leveraged by discussions the threat, or in the last instance, the use of force.

Your second question was about the exit strategy and what I've tried to portray is if you're going to have an exit strategy, you're going to have a turnover you have to anticipate some of the worst things that might happen.

I hope that we're starting to do that in a very, very serious way but there are a number of steps that have to be taken first, like engaging international organizations and the U.N. and trying to build a framework because we don't want to put the United States armed forces if it takes I don't know how many, 50,000, 70,000 initially.

We don't want a bunch of young men in battle dress uniforms out there indefinitely trying to perform humanitarian assistance. That's not our job. We're not very good at it. We're also not any good at police work. Now we're doing a lot of it in place like Kosovo and Bosnia and we have and it's been unfortunate. So we should try to do better in this case.

If we had the information that you're suggesting that he was going to have a nuclear device, presumably we'd have some idea of where it was and we have the means to strike Saddam Hussein literally on a moment's notice today. We could do so if we were under threat. We should take the time. It's a matter of practical statesmanship.

I think we didn't fully appreciate the danger of Al Qaida and you know I start from the 11th of September and work backwards -- of 2001 and work backwards and say not only the intelligence communities but, you know, in the military as you well know, we have a tendency to look up the chain of command and down the chain of command and we work it from top to bottom and we do an after action review after every operation. We ask what happened, why did it happen and how can we fix it? That after action review, sir, has not been done and those who were accountable have not be held accountable….

CLARK: I think the first thing is you have a very strong determination that's out in public and supported by this body that says if we don't get the assistance we need from the United Nations, as a last resort we will use force and we will solve this problem ourselves.

HUNTER: So if the United Nations doesn't give us a strong aggressive inspection regime, we should reject a weaker inspection regime and take military action?

CLARK: I'm not suggesting that.

HUNTER: OK, now what if they give us a weaker -- I think we can --

CLARK: You're leading the witness, sir.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Geppy Gets Grumpy

For the most part, Gephardt's campaign has been...a miserable failure. (Sorry, Geppy, but it's true.) From his speech today, I get the sense that Dean will not be on his future Christmas card list. I'll say this for him, the bland blonde one from the Heartland sounded very sincere.

Dick's indictment

Democrats must "be clear about where we stand and be truthful with the American people," Gephardt said as part of his broadest assault on Dean to date. "There is no room for the cynical politics of manufactured anger and false conviction." He accused Dean of harboring "great contempt" for the Iowa caucuses and of being a "fair-weather friend" of workers.

Gephardt used his final major speech of the Iowa campaign for a broad indictment of Dean. Although the congressman has slammed Dean before, this was by far his most comprehensive and personal critique of the Dean candidacy.

Gephardt, who has the most riding on Iowa because a loss would likely signal the end of his political career, considers Dean the biggest, if not the only, obstacle to winning here, a top adviser said. With a large number of voters undecided, Gephardt wanted to show how consistent and reliable he has been for voters, compared with Dean.

After laying out a case that he offered Iowans the boldest alternative to President Bush, Gephardt pounded Dean for flip-flopping on free trade; misrepresenting himself as a "straight-talker"; hiding his records as governor and coddling corporations; previously supporting less spending on Medicare and opposing an assault weapons ban; making "excuses" for his misstatements; and saying "outrageous" things about foreign affairs.

"I have come to realize that Howard Dean isn't shooting from the hip," Gephardt said here to an audience primarily of union workers and senior citizens. "That's just making excuses for him. Howard Dean knows exactly what he's saying when he says it. And if you think he's contradicting himself, well, as far as he's concerned that's your problem, not his."

"Real Deal" Democrat beats out NRA approved "Internet Doctor"

Michael Moore endorses Clark:

I have decided to cast my vote in the primary for Wesley Clark. That's right, a peacenik is voting for a general. What a country!

I believe that Wesley Clark will end this war. He will make the rich pay their fair share of taxes. He will stand up for the rights of women, African Americans, and the working people of this country.

And he will cream George W. Bush.

I have met Clark and spoken to him on a number of occasions, feeling him out on the issues but, more importantly, getting a sense of him as a human being. And I have to tell you I have found him to be the real deal, someone whom I'm convinced all of you would like, both as a person and as the individual leading this country. He is an honest, decent, honorable man who would be a breath of fresh air in the White House. He is clearly not a professional politician. He is clearly not from Park Avenue. And he is clearly the absolute best hope we have of defeating George W. Bush.
The decision in November is going to come down to 15 states and just a few percentage points. So, I had to ask myself -- and I want you to honestly ask yourselves -- who has the BEST chance of winning Florida, West Virginia, Arizona, Nevada, Missouri, Ohio? Because THAT is the only thing that is going to matter in the end. You know the answer -- and it ain't you or me or our good internet doctor.

Ouch! Well, at least he didn't say Dean wasn't a Democrat-- just a sure loser. And I wonder if that Park Avenue jab was intended? If so, nice touch, Michael.

I don't know if it happened, but I have this humorous image in my mind of Dean calling Moore and asking, "Dude, where's my endorsement?"

I was going to post in some detail about Howie and surrogates echoing Kerry's surrogates echoing Howie regarding Clark being a Republican, but I saw this and decided to leave it at that-- at least for tonight.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Dean's new theme song-- "You and me (Okay, maybe just me) against the world": Helen Reddy comes out of retirement to object

Howie has taken his whining to a new level.

“I’m going after everybody because I’m tired of being the pin cushion here,” Dean said Monday.
The comments and the ad marked a shift in strategy for Dean, who had been behaving like a front-runner and attempting to shrug off the daily barbs from his rivals. He told reporters last week that he would remain above the fray.

“I think the way to deal with that is not to go back at them because I think that’s what voters don’t like,” Dean said Jan. 6 in Iowa. “I think the best way to deal with it is to rise above them and that’s what I intend to do.”

Well, that strategy lasted almost a week.

He also started running a new TV ad in Iowa about their positions on the war. Before stating “Howard Dean has a different view,” an announcer says in the ad: “Where did the Washington Democrats stand on the war? Dick Gephardt wrote the resolution to authorize war. John Kerry and John Edwards both voted for the war. Then Dick Gephardt voted to spend another $87 billion on Iraq.”

Actually, he's recycling his own negativity and deceptions. From November 21, 2003:

DES MOINES, Iowa, Nov. 21 - The political ad war on Iowa television airwaves will reach a crescendo this weekend. Earlier this week, Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean launched an air assault on his rival, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt for voting to support $87 billion in funds to sustain the Iraq operation. On Saturday, Gephardt will open fire on Iowa stations with a counter-blast, accusing Dean of contradicting himself on the $87 billion.

It is really not fair to expect Dean to keep up with all of his contradictions. Perhaps he could ask each of the 3,500 ground troops in Iowa to just remember one each.

A little refresher from November:

On Saturday, Gephardt begins airing a new television ad that says, “Howard Dean’s attacking Dick Gephardt for a position Dean took himself.”

The ad included an excerpt from a Sept. 25 debate aired on CNBC in which NBC anchorman Brian Williams asked Dean, “Is that an up or down, yes or no, on the $87 billion per se?”

Dean replied, “On the 87 billion dollars for Iraq? We have no choice, but it has to be financed by getting rid of all the president’s tax cuts.”

The ad also has footage of Dean from an Oct. 19 Iowa television appearance in which he said, “I don’t think this Iraq disagreement frankly rises to the level of a big campaign issue and I don’t, I don’t intend to make whether you voted for it or against the supplemental appropriation a campaign issue.”

Gephardt says in the ad, “leadership is about making tough decisions and sticking with them.”
When reporters first questioned Dean about the pending vote on the $87 billion in early September, he avoided answering.

“I’m not in Congress,” he told reporters on Sept. 8. “That’s not a decision that I make. … I’ll tell you what I’m going to do but I’m not going to tell you how I face an issue that is not of my making. This was created by Congress because they didn’t stand up to the president when they should have.”

Boy, that's straight talki, ain't it? If Dean's the real deal, Bush founded Mensa.

Time to kick the bastard out

I'm all for a reasonably big tent, but I don't believe we should just allow any old crazy son-of-a-bitch to use the Democrat label. The party needs to formally eject Zell "crazy as a Bessie Bug" Miller from the fold. Yes, I'm generally more compassionate when it comes to the mentally infirm, but I have my limits.

Georgia Democratic Sen. Miller to Back Bush

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Sen. Zell Miller, a Georgia Democrat who has frequently broken with his party to support Republican policies, has agreed to campaign for President Bush's reelection, a campaign spokesman said on Tuesday.

The move gives the campaign a major name for its efforts to organize Democrats for Bush around the country, after a similar push struggled in 2000.

It also represents a further step in the Republican party's effort to solidify its hold on the South, where the retirement of several senior Democratic senators could help Republicans widen their majority in the Senate.

"He (Miller) will serve as a top surrogate for the president this year and help spread the word about the president's leadership," Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel said.

Miller, accompanied by other Georgia Democrats, is to introduce the president at a Bush campaign fundraiser in Atlanta on Thursday, Stanzel said.

Miller representatives were not immediately available for comment. The Georgia Democrat, who said a year ago he would not seek reelection this year, has previously announced his support for Bush's reelection, calling him "the right man at the right time."

The Democratic National Committee dismissed Miller's plans to campaign for Bush. "Zell Miller hasn't helped a Democrat in years, and as my mother always said, don't let the door hit you on the way out," said party spokeswoman Debra DeShong.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Random mumblings about Iowa

Things are heating up in the great state of Iowa, land of extreme caucusing.

Debate Highlights:

Barely a week before the Jan. 19 caucuses kick off the Democratic contest for the White House, Dean conceded under questions from Sharpton that he did not have a black or Hispanic in his six-member Cabinet during more than 11 years as governor.

"If you want to lecture people on race, you ought to have the background and track record," said Sharpton.

Deaniacs are going ballistic saying Sharpton is an unfair rabblerouser. Okay, he is, but Dean has asked for this kind of treatment by insisting that he, and only he, speaks to white folks about race. And he does address the topic in a lecturing fashion that makes Al Gore seem self-effacing.

Dean thinks what he has said in the fairly recent past is simply not important.

[T]he moderator's first question challenged Dr. Dean to explain his four-year-old criticisms of the Iowa caucuses as favoring special interests, and the debate turned progressively raucous and was filled with difficult moments for the candidates.

Dr. Dean said, "I frankly think people are a little tired of having debates about who said what 4 years ago, or who said what 6 years ago, or 8 years ago, or 10 years ago."

On the other hand, Dean thinks people are very interested in who voted for Nixon 32 years ago, which, by the way, 61% of Americans did.

Pre-Debate Smackdown

Dean invites rude remarks and lives to regret it.

The former Vermont governor had just finished his standard stump speech blasting President Bush for, among other things, his Iraq policy and his stewardship of the economy. He asked, as is his custom, for "questions, comments or rude remarks in the New England tradition."

Ungerer, wearing a T-shirt bearing the words "Mr Fix It," rose to his feet and condemned what he called the incivility of the campaign and the political press. He suggested Dean and the other Democratic candidates stop "tearing down your neighbor" and cut their "slam, bam and bash Bush" rhetoric.

"Please tone down the garbage, the mean-mouthing of tearing down your neighbor and being so pompous," Ungerer, a registered Republican who voted for Bush in 2000, said to scattered hisses and boos from the overwhelmingly pro-Dean audience at the Oelwein Community Center.

Dean, whose rivals have suggested his impulsiveness, outspokenness and temperament make him less than ready for the White House but have been unable to provoke him in a dozen or more debates and forums, began by calmly replying: "George Bush is not my neighbor."

But when Ungerer stood and tried to interrupt, Dean shouted: "You sit down. You had your say. Now I'm going to have my say."

Well, Howard, the man did say "please." Okay, you let him go on for long enough and you needed to take control. How about saying, "Sir. I've given you more time to speak than I'm gonna get for each debate question tonight. Now I'm gonna respond to you." Or something like that. No. Too easy. Instead Dean has an unpleasant visual and sound-bite sounding angry at a potential voter he disagrees with.

I've read responses from some Deaniacs who are thrilled with the exchange. I've even seen the old man referred to as a "troll." (The world is not a blog, people) I'm not convinced this will play well with undecided voters in the waning days of the Iowa campaign, however. I don't think those undecided folks have just been laying back hoping that a more fiesty alternative to Howie was gonna prove himself and will now say, "Nope. That seals it. Dean's my man. Did you see the way he bitch-slapped that old geezer who dared to ask him to 'tone down the garbage.'?" I think he has those voters wrapped up already.

Coupled with Edwards' huge endorsement by the Des Moines Register and a much better debate performance than the front-runner, Howard may have given Johnny the late-opening he was hoping for to at least beat "expectations" in Iowa. And I'm increasingly thinking other candidates' supporters are going to be less inclined to move toward Dean if their guy doesn't muster 15% the first go around on caucus night.

And another thing-- Dean's been trying to play up his Christianity lately with somewhat amusing results, and now this quote: "It's not the time to put up any of this 'love thy neighbor' stuff ... I guess tomorrow he'll be quoting: "'To everything there is a season-- a time to love your neighbor, a time to deny the sonuvabitch is your damn neighbor.' That's either Old Testament, New Testament, I forget which."

Friday, January 09, 2004

Son of the "Environmental President"

Dubya's daddy promised to be a lot of things. He meant none of it. One thing that assuaged the wary was his promise to be the "Environmental President." We know how that turned out. The sequel is even worse.

This is an issue which could help chip away at that middle-class/upper middle-class white family vote that Repugs did so well with against Gore, or perhaps at least the mothers.

Peterborough, New Hampshire - January, 8, 2004 At the Town Hall in Peterborough, New Hampshire (the home base of Democratic Presidential Candidate General Wesley Clark discussed issues concerning renewable energy as a means of protecting the environment, fighting global warming, and achieving energy independence.
Fernald introduced Clark to a cheering crowd of over 900, who braved frigid temperatures of 15 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill factor of 2 degrees to come to Peterborough (a town with a population of less than 6,000) to hear the candidate speak from 12 noon until 1:30 p.m. yesterday.

Clark criticized President George W. Bush for having the audacity to claim that his current administration stands for family values while the President largely ignores viable renewable energy technology in favor of continuing to support polluting energy industries that are harming the air and water.

"You can't talk about family values if you're going to wreck our environment," said Clark.

The candidate cited scientific studies that support theoretical estimations that the Bush Administration's policies that disregard environmental concerns, if left unchecked, would eventually kill over 100,000 American citizens from pollution-related illnesses.

Clark said that renewable energy objectives are among his top specific goals to establish a "higher standard of leadership" that will bring the Nation together.

"We need to move towards energy independence with natural renewable fuel sources like wind and solar power," said Clark. "We've got the technology. We've got the know-how. We just don't have the political will. But when I am elected President, we will have the political will."

Clark told this reporter that he would fully support a national Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) to provide 10 percent of our country's electricity needs from renewable energy by 2013 -- and growing to 20 percent by 2020.

"I want the RPS and much more," said Clark. "I explain it all on my website."

On his website, Clark calls President Bush's environmental record a disgrace. Clark accuses the President of betraying the public trust and mortgaging our children's future.

Shut up and raise money

Madonna was engaging in shock and awe back when Dubya was still driving drunk. She's reinvented herself more than Al Gore, and as we're finding out, Howard Dean as well. Now she's writing children's books. And once those kids get legal, she's sticking her tongue down their throats on MTV. I've never been a fan, and contrary to those she speaks of in her recent letter, I don't really find her interesting. Granted, I respect her politically at least as much as Tom Harkin who, during his 1992 run, struck me as a rather odd duck. Given his endorsement of Dean, it also appears he has a very odd view of what it means to be “someone who comes from a working-class background, someone who’s had life experiences that most normal people might have had.” And I guess there are those out there, at least in the primaries, who are impressed with her support of Clark, and according to ARG, the General needs all the women he can get.

So I'm not knocking the Madonna endorsement. But it doesn't exactly wow me, either. In particular, this comment jumped out at me:

She criticized the current administration for not seeing the big picture and not enacting polices that "reflect what is great about America."

"They think too small," she wrote. "They suffer from the 'what's in it for me?' syndrome.

Now, to be clear, I totally agree with her. But I'm not sure she's the best person to be speaking for the campaign on the sins of the self-indulgent.

I understand that people grow, and perhaps she has genuinely gained more depth than has been apparent to me over the years, but for the time being, I hope she spends the bulk of her time behind the scenes raising money.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Colin Powell redefines "Prudent"

Powell Refutes Think-Tank Report on Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged Thursday that he had seen no "smoking gun, concrete evidence" of ties between Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaida terror network, but insisted that Iraq had had dangerous weapons and needed to be disarmed by force.

At a State Department news conference, Powell disagreed with a private think tank report that maintained Iraq had not been an imminent threat to the United States. And the secretary defended the case he had made last February before the United Nations for a U.S.-led war to force Saddam from power.

"My presentation ... made it clear that we had seen some links and connections to terrorist organizations over time," Powell said. "I have not seen smoking gun, concrete evidence about the connection, but I think the possibility of such connections did exist and it was prudent to consider them at the time that we did."

I don't think this is how Bush #41 used the term "prudent." We've invaded a country, overthrown it's government (nasty as it was), lost 500 troops (last I checked), had 9,000 seriously ill or injured, and spent over 150 billion dollars and counting. We did a little more than "consider" "the possibility of those connections." Colin, Colin, Colin...(That's my Peggy Noonan impression, except I substitute a Republican.) You once had such promise. You once had integrity, or at least we assumed you did. Don't be like Pete Rose. Come clean now! It just gets tougher as the lies and denials fester and the last remnants of your dignity slough off like dead skin.

Clark's not shooting back, but he's keeping his powder dry

Clark Won't Respond to Rivals' Criticism

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Increasingly under attack by his Democratic rivals, retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark is holding his fire, for now.

"I don't want to get into the conventional politics mode," he said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press. "There may come a time when I'm going to have to talk about other people. I'm not going to say I never will ... (but) I'm keeping my eye on what's good for America."

Attacks by some of Clark's eight rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination have intensified as he rises in New Hampshire and national polls. A tracking poll released Thursday showed Clark in second place in New Hampshire, trailing former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

Yeah, he's not fighting back, yet-- but keep it up and he'll beat the shit out of ya.

I rather liked the old Howard Dean

Too bad he bears little resemblance to the new one.

Dean Criticized Iowa Caucuses Four Years Ago -NBC

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Democratic presidential front-runner Howard Dean told a Canadian public affairs program four years ago the Iowa caucuses were "dominated by the special interests" and a waste of time, according to tapes aired by NBC News on Thursday.

Howie sure has been wasting alot of time for the last several months. Guess he can't really critique Clark for sitting it out.

Dean, who is leading the nine-member Democratic field in polls in Iowa just more than a week before that state's caucuses, was a frequent guest on the program while Vermont governor and voiced strong opinions on several other subjects, including President Bush, who was "in his soul, a moderate."

In their soul, those Yale boys stick together.

He also said former Vice President Al Gore, who endorsed him last month and will campaign for him in Iowa on Friday, was not quick on his feet.

True. Al is not a great dancer. His political judgement sucks, too.

"If you look at the caucus system, they are dominated by the special interests, in both sides, in both parties," Dean said on the Canadian television show "The Editors."

"The special interests don't represent the centrist tendencies of the American people, they represent the extremes."

So how do you spin a win, Doctor?

Talking about the time-consuming process of attending a caucus with neighbors as opposed to casting a ballot in a primary, he said, "I can't stand there and listen to everyone else's opinion for eight hours about how to fix the world."

Headline: Dean Encourages Iowans to boycott Caucus

Dean could not be immediately reached for comment about the remarks.

Now he's quiet?

In December 2000, shortly after Bush's election, Dean speculated on Bush's future political vulnerabilities.

"So I think that all of us who are salivating and saying, 'Ah hah,' this is going to be a one-term presidency,' I think that is going to be a mistake," he said.

Guess this exlpains his campaign. He doesn't think he can win, either.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Clark has your "net roots" right here

Wes Clark Participates In First Online Chat With Bloggers

Little Rock - On Wednesday, January 7th, from 5:00 - 5:30 pm EST, at, Wes Clark will participate in his first ever online chat with bloggers. Blogs, short for Weblogs, are frequently updated Internet journals that are fostering a growing Internet subculture. This relatively new phenomenon has become an invaluable tool in the 2004 presidential election, transforming the way presidential campaigns communicate, according to a report released by Johns Hopkins University's

Now, my invite apparently got lost in cyberspace, but unlike some early Clark bloggers, I'm not the bitter type. The line has to be drawn somewhere and there are many good Clark friendly bloggers, but keep me in mind in the future, okay?

Good friends of this blog who participated included: Digby, Kevin Kraynick of Tooney Bin, Dave Koehler of the original Wesley Clark Weblog, Bill Scher of LiberalOasis, and, although not listed, Aaron Benson of Geckoblue. All good bloggers worth checking out if you don't already.

Yale Blue Bloods should be a little classier, don't you think?

Bush, Kerry, Lieberman and Dean: all Yale men. Apparently Yale men don't like to lose, but then again, who does? Still, let's show a little class, shall we, gentelmen?

Gaining in Poll, Retired General Becomes a Target

PETERBOROUGH, N.H., Jan. 7 -- With his poll numbers inching steadily upward here in New Hampshire and nationally, retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark on Wednesday received the most sincere compliment front-runner Howard Dean's campaign can give to a presidential rival: pointed barbs questioning Clark's standing as a "real Democrat," and recalling his trail of ambivalent comments about whether he would have backed President Bush on the Iraq war.

Clark's campaign, which like others in the Democratic nominating contest is trying to establish itself as the leading alternative to the former Vermont governor, was buoyed by an independent daily tracking poll showing he is making modest but clear gains in New Hampshire -- at the expense of Dean and Sen. John F. Kerry, from neighboring Massachusetts. In recent days, the survey said, the former commander of U.S. forces in Europe has moved from 12 percent to 16 percent support, while Dean has dropped from 39 percent to 35 percent. Perhaps most significant, Clark is now a shade ahead of Kerry, who urgently needs to gain second place in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 27 if his candidacy is to remain viable.

These hints of fluidity in a race that Dean has dominated were being taken seriously by Dean's backers in this state. At a Clark event here, Dean campaign workers were handing out fliers titled "Wesley Clark: Real Democrat?" The literature included such recycled headlines as "Clark voted Republican for Decades," and "CLARK PRO WAR" and "CLARK NOW ANTI-WAR."

Kerry, too, was taking notice of Clark's progress -- and fighting back with themes similar to Dean's. Unlike Clark, Kerry is also competing in the Jan. 19 Iowa caucuses, where most recent polls have shown Dean ahead but in a fight against Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.), who has pinned his hopes on a late surge there.

Kerry flew from Iowa to Manchester on Tuesday night and was up early Wednesday with an anti-Clark message. "Unlike some other candidates, I have 35 years' experience fighting for the Democratic values of the party," he said, "never having voted for Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan or others. I've been a Democrat all my life."

Clark's spokesmen professed themselves delighted by the attention from Dean and others. "They are feeling Wes Clark's hot breath on the napes of their necks," said Clark communications strategist Chris Lehane, who last year left Kerry's campaign amid staff tension. He mocked Dean's recent complaint that Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe was not doing more to enforce a civil debate among the nine candidates seeking the nomination. "Howard Dean was pleading for the DNC as if the DNC was his mother to protect him from others in the field. Now in the face of changing polls, suddenly he's begun to engage in the same old politics."

In addition to the New Hampshire tracking poll by American Research Group Inc., a national survey for USA Today and CNN, conducted by the Gallup Organization, showed Clark climbing to within 4 percentage points of Dean as the first choice of Democrats around the country. Dean had the backing of 24 percent, down by 3 points from mid-December, and Clark had 20 percent, up by 8 points from last month.

Tricia Enright, a Dean spokeswoman, said the barbs were merely taking note of Clark's past statements and were not at odds with the Dean campaign's appeal in recent days for Democrats to strike a more positive tone. "I don't think it's inappropriate to point out the facts," she said.

Geoff Garin, Clark's pollster, asserted in a conference call with reporters that the campaign's surveys show the candidate leading in Oklahoma and running strongly in South Carolina, Arizona, Wisconsin and North Carolina.

Kerry's day included a New Hampshire standard: the purchase of a jacket at Timberland headquarters in Stratham. Substantively, his emphasis was a critique of tax plans offered by Clark, Dean and Gephardt. He questioned whether Clark's plan, unveiled this week, to eliminate taxes on people earning less than $50,000 a year "kind of excuses them from a sense of responsibility for the country."

Where to start? Dean's campaign quotes Clark once saying he had not been particularly partisan in the past while at the same time claiming that he was a Republican until recently. Dean unequivocally supported a version of a resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq and then makes extremely tenuous and disingenuous arguments that Clark was once "Pro War."

Then there's that other child of privilege, John Kerry, claiming that under Clark's tax plan, families pulling in up to $50,000 a year will bear no responsibility as citizens because they don't pay income tax. Never mind that they are still subject to payroll taxes (social security, medicare), property taxes, state income taxes (in some cases), sales taxes, etc. Kerry can't grasp that most Americans can't mortgage their home for a cool $6 million (and even fewer can't count on their heiress wife to later bail them out) in order to pursue a personal fantasy that has become a lost cause. And Kerry is claiming to be a stronger Democrat than Clark just because he has had a (D) by his name for 35 years?

New World Disorder: Bush ruins the entire world

How much damage can one man do in three years? It is truly phenomenal how much this arrogant, incompetent boob has caused such long-term harm to this country and most Americans seem to not have a clue. The big, underlying story is the death of American journalism.

IMF Researchers: US Budget Gaps Endanger Global Economy

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--Economists at the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday expressed alarm at growing U.S. budget deficits, saying continued deficits could hurt the global economy by roiling currency markets and driving up interest rates.

In a report on U.S. budget outlook, IMF researchers described the state of government finances as "perilous" in the long run and urged Congress and the White House to take steps to quickly rein in the deficits. Although federal tax cuts and spending increases since 2001 bolstered the global economy in the short run, the report said "large U.S. fiscal deficits also pose significant risks for the rest of the world."
"We feel there is a substantial risk that the foreign investors' appetite for U.S. assets, and in particular U.S. government assets, will over time diminish," Collyns said in a news conference. "We think to some degree over the past year this has occurred, and this is one of the reasons why there has been weakness in the U.S. dollar." So far, he said, the decline hasn't jeopardized the economic recoveries in Europe and Japan, but the danger to the global economy could grow if the U.S. budget deficits aren't shrunk.

The White House has said it expects the budget deficit to expand to a record $ 475 billion in fiscal 2004, exceeding 4% of the gross domestic product. U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow on Wednesday described that level as "entirely manageable," and said the Bush administration expects the deficit to shrink to 2% of GDP within five years.

But the IMF researchers said that won't be enough to address the government's long-term fiscal problems - including financing the Social Security and Medicare programs over the next 75 years. In their report, they said the government faces a $47 trillion shortfall in its ability to pay for those and all other long-term obligations. Closing that gap would require "an immediate and permanent" federal tax increase of 60% or a 50% cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Did Ross Perot's crazy cousin escape from the attic?

Okay, he's more sane than Perot, but I'm sure Ross thinks he's crazy. He's diminutive, has big ears and likes pie charts-- even on the radio.

Kucinich Shows Pie Chart on Radio Debate

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Federal spending was the topic and Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich came prepared with a pie chart to argue his point about a bloated Pentagon budget.

But although many listened to Tuesday's presidential debate, few could see the Ohio congressman's prop. The debate was broadcast only on National Public Radio.

As Kucinich challenged Democratic front-runner Howard Dean for refusing to acknowledge that the Pentagon budget needs to be cut, debate moderator Neal Conan of NPR interrupted.

"Congressman Kucinich is holding up a pie chart, which is not truly effective on radio," Conan told his listeners.

Kucinich was not deterred.

"Well, it's effective if Howard can see it," he replied.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Open minds are changing in New Hampshire

Clark's impressing the folks in Concord:

The crowd tested Clark with tough questions but responded enthusiastically.

Mary Fowler of Newport wanted to know about Clark's dismissal from NATO as supreme allied commander and whether it would compromise his ability to be president. When Fowler said, given the hard question, she'd rather not use a microphone, Clark came to her, leaned in and listened.

Clark answered, saying he was replaced over a policy disagreement, not dismissed. He wanted to stop Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansing while defense officials in Washington wanted to focus on Saddam Hussein and North Korea. The people criticizing him now are upset that President Clinton sided with Clark, not them, he said.

"There are a few jealous generals out there who have their noses out of joint," he said. Clark then returned to Fowler, shook her hand and thanked her for her question.

After the event, Fowler said she was leaving another candidate (whom she didn't want to name) to sign on with Clark. "When he talks about pulling America together, I think that's truly his values," she said. "I have been observing his mass media campaign, and I don't think it's spin. I saw that man here today."

Yvonne Howard of Sutton also came to hear Clark yesterday with another candidate at the top of her list.

"I've been a staunch (Howard) Dean supporter, but Clark is causing me to think again," she said. She said she saw in Clark yesterday the passion she has appreciated in Dean. "I'm really concerned. I want to vote for a candidate who can beat George Bush."

Andrea Reid of Concord, who asked Clark how he'd pay for more health insurance and education, also found herself reconsidering her support for Dean.

"I was very impressed today," she said. "I think Dean is polarizing himself from Bush and going a little more to the left than I'm comfortable with. I'm a fiscal conservative, and I'm not sure Dean is."

Practice has also helped Clark. He is rambling less when answering questions and connecting with his audiences more easily. Clark couldn't land his applause lines last month up north; yesterday, he was interrupted with an "Amen" and "All right," not to mention several rounds of applause.

Preach, Brother, Preach!

Clark, Wes Clark

Clark surges

Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor who pulled away from the Democratic field in early December, has lost his lead over No. 2 Wesley Clark, the former NATO commander. Dean slipped from a 21-point gap to 4 points, effectively a tie within the margin of error.

Is Dean losing his Mojo? Could Austin Powers even help? Will Clark be able to stop Dr. Evil from destroying the world? (Calm down, Dean fans, I'm talkin' 'bout the Shrub.)

Coming this Fall-- From Little Rock with Love: Wes Clark beats The Living Daylights out of Blunderball

Howie: Exit stage left

History Shows January Front-runner Often Does Not Win Democratic Nomination

Less than half of Democratic presidential candidates who led in national Gallup Polls of Democratic voters in early January of 10 different election years since 1952 went on to win the nomination. In 6 out of 10 years, the front-runner in January stumbled or withdrew and a secondary candidate ultimately received the bid. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean leads in most national polls as the year 2004 begins, but the historical analysis suggests that his eventual ascension to the Democratic nomination is by no means assured.

Finally, some statistical data that I can use. Makes sense. Most folks don't pay attention until after Christmas. Others may have an early crush, but when it comes time to get hitched...You want the best.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Clark is calling Karl Rove out

He dares you. He double-dog dares you.

This plan is fair. This plan is just. This plan won't increase the deficit.

So if Karl Rove is watching today, Karl, I want you to hear this loud and clear - I'm going to provide tax cuts to ease the burden for 34 million American families and lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty by raising the taxes on one-tenth of one percent of families in America, those who make more than a million dollars a year. You don't have to read my lips, I'm saying it.* And if that makes me an "old style" Democrat, then, I accept that label with pride and dare you to come after me for it. Because what I am talking about today is in the best tradition of Wilson and Roosevelt; of JFK, LBJ, and Bill Clinton - and it is in the best interest of the United States of America!

But let's also be clear: this is not old style "tax and spend." 99.9 percent of Americans will not have to pay this extra rate. And it can only be used toward tax relief for America's working and hard-pressed families. Not a penny will go to increase government spending.

And families making $50,000 a year will still be paying payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and sales and property taxes to help fund their neighborhood schools and police departments.

If Dems want a fighter, here he is. If Dems think he isn't one of them, think again.

Repugs convinced most Americans Bill Clinton raised their taxes. He didn't. Clark knows what he is up against. The plan needs to be simple, and the most basic facts need to be repeated often so that the truth seeps into the public mind between stories of Britney's marriages, Michael's eccentricities, celebrity criminals, and alleged criminals turned into celebrities by virtue of their alleged wrongdoing. Simplifying filing was a stroke of brilliance.

Dean's plan: reinstitute Clinton's tax plan. Makes sense on some levels, but it is not bold, not original and does raise taxes from current levels on the same working class folks Clark reduces taxes on. It also won't happen. Clinton barely passed it with a Democratic congress. Clark has framed the debate on taxes for the Dem primary and the general election. If Karl Rove doesn't like it he can meet Wes after school and get the shit kicked out of him.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Dean's religious awakening

Dean Now Willing to Discuss His Faith:
Campaign Changed Him, Candidate Says

STORM LAKE, Iowa, Jan. 3 -- Howard Dean, after practicing a quiet Christianity throughout his political career, said he is talking more about his faith because the presidential race has awakened him to the importance of religious expression, especially to southerners.

"I am not used to wearing religion on my sleeve and being open about it," the former Vermont governor told reporters aboard his campaign plane late Friday night. "I am gradually getting more comfortable to talk about religion in ways I did not talk about it before."

Dean said frequent trips to South Carolina, where evangelical Christianity flourishes often in public ways, are prompting him to more candidly discuss his faith. "It does not make me more religious or less religious than before. It just means I am more comfortable talking about it in different ways," he said.

He cited the Gospels -- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- as a strong influence. The Gospels tell the story of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. "As I have gotten older I have thought about what it means to be a Christian and what the role of religion is in my life," Dean said.

Dean's new strategy may have backfired, however. Some were taken aback when Dean referred to the Gospels as, "Those four dudes." He then appeared to get off script when he launched into an angry rant questioning why "women aren't given more significant leadership roles in the Bible." He then said that although he did not believe it, one of the more interesting rumors he had heard "was that God was sexist." The Dean campaign later issued a press release clarifying that Governor Dean did not endorse that view, and that he was just repeating a rumor he had heard.

"I am still learning a lot about faith and the South and how important it is," said Dean, a Congregationalist. The Congregationalist Church is a Christian denomination that preaches a personal relationship with God without a strong hierarchal structure guiding it. Dean was reared an Episcopalian, but left the church 25 years ago in a dispute with a local Vermont church over efforts to build a bike path. Dean's wife is Jewish, as are their two children.

Having secured the cyclist vote, Dean is now deftly tacking back toward his religious faith.

Unlike Canada, our neighbor to the north, the southern United States is foreign soil to Dean. One benefit to campaigning is the opportunity to discover new and strange cultures.

"Faith is important in a lot of places, but it is really important in the South -- I think I did not understand fully how comfortably religion fits in with daily life -- for both black and white populations in the South," he said. Dean has visited South Carolina, which holds its presidential primary Feb. 3, nine times since the beginning of the campaign. "The people there are pretty openly religious, and it plays an ingrained role in people's daily lives," he said.

And those aren't just people, they're voters.

Dean said he prays daily and has read the Bible from cover to cover.

When pressed, Dean admitted that it may have been the Cliff Notes.

When asked Friday night about his favorite book of the New Testament, he cited Job, about a righteous man whose faith was tested mightily by God through great suffering. After thinking about the scripture, Dean pointed out an hour later that Job is from the Old Testament. Dean said Job reinforces the uncomfortable fact of life that "terrible things can happen to very good people for no good reason."

And that's true regardless of what Terry McAuliffe does or doesn't do. (Eds. note: Biblical scholars have pointed out that the "no good reason" was that God was testing Job. Although God refused comment, citing confidentiality policies, rumor has it that God is not pleased with Dean's critique of his faith-testing tactics.)