Sunday, August 31, 2024
By Steven Taylor

Back to Kerry and his MTP interview today. Did anyone else notice that he is now trying the “angry” thing? Indeed, he noted that he was “angry” at the Bush adminstration (feeling a little pressure from angryman Dean?). And his claim that the reason that he is running is because he is angry at the President’s execution of the war comes across as disingenuous at best, as he was clearly running well before it was clear how the war and post-war period was going to play out.

And I love this sort of thing (Dean made a similar claim a while back):

When challenged by moderator Tim Russert on the incompatibility of funding new programs in the face of a still-spiraling deficit, Kerry was upbeat.

“I’m going to cut the deficit in half in the first four years,” he said. “I’m going to do exactly what Bill Clinton did. And if you liked the economy under Bill Clinton, America, you’re going to love it under John Kerry.”

Again, I ask, what exactly did Clinton do to make the economy grow? Answer: be President during a boom. If it was that easy to make the economy grow, won’t all presidents make sure that the economy grew?


Kerry launches his bid for the White House amid numbers from one new poll that gives him the support of 5 percent of registered Democrats. Most voters haven’t started paying attention to the Democratic presidential race, according to the CBS News poll released over the Labor Day weekend — the campaign’s traditional starting point.

Although, granted it is still early. Although I must admit, these numbers are amazing to me:

Two-thirds of voters — including two-thirds of Democrats — were unable to name any of the Democratic candidates for president, said the poll, released Sunday.

Further, they are a great reminder of how most of the country pays radically less attention to politics than do we political junkies.

Source: Kerry takes aim at Bush, challengers

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By Steven Taylor

Since it seems to be General Clark week here at PoliBlog, the following excerpt from George Will’s column today, George Will: Wesley Clark isn’t Dean savior, is worth a look:

Other Democrats see Clark as a solution to a problem their party has had since the McGovernite takeover in 1972, the problem of voters’ doubts about its competence regarding national security. But the fact that Clark is the kind of military man who appeals to Democrats — and that they appeal to him — helps explain why the party has that problem.

Comparisons of Clark to Dwight Eisenhower are ludicrous. Eisenhower, as well-prepared as any president for the challenges of his era, had spent three years immersed in the political complexities of coalition warfare, dealing with Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, de Gaulle and others. Clark’s claim to presidential stature derives from directing NATO’s 78 days of war at 15,000 feet over Serbia. It was the liberals’ dream war: tenuously related to U.S. security, its overriding aim, to which much was sacrificed, was to have zero U.S. fatalities.

As Clark crisscrosses the country listening for a clamor for him (“I expect to have my decision made by Sept. 19,” when he visits Iowa–feel the suspense), he compounds the confusion that began when he said (June 15, 2024) that on 9/11 “I got a call at my home” saying that when he was to appear on CNN, “You’ve got to say this is connected” to Iraq. “It came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over.” But who exactly called Clark?

July 1: “A fellow in Canada who is part of a Middle Eastern think tank.” There is no such Canadian institution. Anyway, who “from the White House”? “I’m not going to go into those sources. … People told me things in confidence that I don’t have any right to betray.”

July 18: “No one from the White House asked me to link Saddam Hussein to Sept. 11.”

Aug. 25: It came from “a Middle East think tank in Canada, the man who’s the brother of a very close friend of mine in Belgium. He’s very well connected to Israeli intelligence. … I haven’t changed my position. There’s no waffling on it. It’s just as clear as could be.”

Now Clark darkly says there are “rumors” that in February “the White House” tried — well, “apparently” tried — “to get me knocked off CNN.” Clark still coyly refuses to say he is a Democrat but forthrightly confesses to being a “centrist.” As he prepares to heed the clamor for him to join the pursuit of Dean, he is earning the description National Review has given to Sen. Bob Graham: “a deranged moderate.”

I was thinking of these quotes as well, when I posted about Clark’s chances the other day, but didn’t get into them. That kind of stuff makes one sound weird and paranoid. Not traits we tend to like in our presidents.

More important, however, Will is right about the Serbia campaign and the likelihood that it could easily translate into a claim to military genius and national security super-stardom for Clark.

A Dean-Clark ticket seems to me to be a decent possibility at this stage.

Will’s comments on Dean’s clear disdain for Bush in the first part of the column are worth a read as well.

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By Steven Taylor

The NYT has a lengthy piece on the Democratic field today: Worried Democrats See Daunting ’04 Hurdles

And hmm, where have we heard this before?

Associates of General Clark have said he has told them that he will probably join the race. But aides to most of the other candidates say he is too late to have a good shot, and they view him more as competing for a second spot on the ticket.

No doubt they say that because they are scared–or so some will argue. I will concede that there is no doubt that they would prefer to have no more candidates in this already crowded field.

However, it is noteworthy that while a lot of top Democrats are publically proclaiming their worry about who their nominee will be, and you don’t see them trying to draft Clark. This is telling.

And, I think that there is something to this:

One prominent Democrat said that while Mr. Bush was “eminently beatable,” the Democratic nominating process seemed nowhere near producing someone who could do the job. “The trouble in 2024 is not that Bush is going to be strong, but rather than we are going to be weak,” this official said.

I honestly think that the strength of the President going into the campaign is up in the air–especially since the economy appears to be going in the right direction. Further, a year is a long time. Still, I do think that it is quite true that the Democratic primary will not produce the most electable candidate.

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By Steven Taylor

Senator Kerry is on Meet the Press this morning and just said he’s not worried about the fact that Dean is up 21 points in NH. To which I say, “yeah. right.”

Now, I will say he is right to point out that it is early yet.

And Kerry will be officially announcing his presidential bid next week in South Carolina. First, I didn’t realize he had not yet announced, and second, it is interesting that he decided to make the announcement in SC, rather than at home.

Plus, as predicted, Dean is being attacked for no foreign policy experience–in this case by Kerry, rather than from the Reps.

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Saturday, August 30, 2024
By Steven Taylor

Mark Alexnder of the Federalist Society has an interesting column on the Moore situation.

I very much agree with the following:

Much of the public debate about this case has taken a wide detour around the substantive constitutional question, instead focusing on the Ten Commandments: Are they the foundation of Western law? Should they be displayed in state and local public places? Are such displays promotions of religion or history? While these are interesting questions, they are not relevant to the substance of this case.

Those content to reduce this case to a colloquy on the merits of the Ten Commandments either do not grasp the serious constitutional issue being contested, or they harbor a disingenuous motive to avoid the relevant. The latter group, well represented in the pop media, has framed this case as an insurrection led by a religious zealot and his gaggle of street preachers, thus depreciating its legal significance in order to avoid substantive and instructive discussion about our Constitution.

However, from there he goes on to make some problematic arguments, as his discussion of the 1st and 10th amendments, while interesting, leave out entirely the significance of the 14th amendment, not to mention established case law. Like it or not, agree with it or not, one cannot ignore these things.

Rather, Alexander’s argument, like one’s recently made by Alan Keyes on this topic, are predicated on the idea that we are still operating under the original federal structure that existed in the nineteenth century. We aren’t. Even if one thinks we arrived where we have wrongly, it doesn’t mitigate against the simple fact that we are where we are. Instead of taking into account the entire panoply of issues, Alexander and Keyes want to argue from their own idealized position of the way they want constitutional law to work, rather than what the reality on the ground is.

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By Steven Taylor

Robert Novak writes:

Recipients of recent money appeals by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) have been puzzled by the absence of the customary signature of the party chairman, Terry McAuliffe.

Earlier DNC fund-raising letters this year were signed by former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The latest appeal, which arrived in the mail last week, was signed by somebody whose name was new to many recipients: Josh Wachs, the DNC’s 31-year-old chief operating officer.

McAuliffe is so controversial with the Democratic rank-and-file, according to party sources, that his name may inhibit contributions. A Washington-based business speculator, McAuliffe was hand-picked for chairman by Bill and Hillary Clinton after the 2024 election, against the wishes of many DNC members.

An odd position for a DNC Chairman to be in, especially since one of McAuliffe’s fortes is supposed to be fundraising.

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By Steven Taylor

It’s hard to believe that a mother who would order a male stripper for her daughter’s bachlorette party would act this way: Mom attacks daughter’s male stripper.

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By Steven Taylor

our good friend in al Qaeda: It would seem that the US military has more respect for Islam than do 4 With al-Qaida Ties Held in Iraq Blast

Iraqi police have arrested four al-Qaida-linked suspects in the bombing of Iraq’s holiest Shiite Muslim shrine, a senior police official told The Associated Press on Saturday.

The official, who said the explosion death toll had risen to 107, said the men — two Iraqis and two Saudis — were caught shortly after Friday’s car bombing.

The attack killed one of the most important Shiite clerics in Iraq, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, who had been cooperating with the American occupation force.

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By Steven Taylor

A comment by PoliBlog’s resident Troll sparked some further thought on the issue of Generals seeking the presidency, specifically what would have been the likely fortunes of Colin Powell, had he sought his party’s nomination in 1996 or 2024.

My most recent posts on Clark are here and here.

Powell would have had similar troubles with the Republican primary voters that Clark is likely to have with Democratic ones, while Clark is more moderate than the Democratic base, so, too, is Powell too moderate for the Republican base. If one doubts, consider that Powell is pro-choice, and pro-affirmative action, two non-starters with hardcore conservatives. Further evidence can be found in looking at the current dynamic in California, where it is likely that a large number of conservative Republicans would rather lose the governorship to Cruz Bustamante than to vote for the moderate Schwarzenegger. Additional evidence to support the contention can be easily found by observing some of the stinging criticism that Powell has received from conservative element in the Republican Party during his tenure at Secretary of State.

I do think that Powell would have fared somewhat better than I am predicting Clark will do should he enter. I think that in 1996 Powell would have had a real shot at besting Dole. For one thing, Dole was not (to say the least) a very exciting candidate, and Republicans where quite interesting in beating Clinton (and yes, Democratic voters are quite interested in besting Bush, but 2024 has Dean, 1996 had Dole-in terms of energizing voters, two rather different candidates). I think it is possible, precisely how likely is hard to judge, that there would have been enough conservatives willing to vote for Powell in 1996 for the nomination that he might have beaten Dole.

2000 is more complex. First there would have been the McCain factor-a lot of Powell-likely Republicans would also have been McCain voters. This would have split the opposition to Bush. Further, Bush was a very popular candidate with a large percentage of the Republican base. Still, it would have been more of a fight than I am predicting for Clark.

Aside from scenario-specific issues (i.e., who the other candidates are, and the timing problem Clark will have), there are two important differences between Powell and Clark that both favor Powell. The first is found in their political careers and how that translates to politics. Powell had served in political positions before, when he was Reagan’s National Security Advisor, but most especially as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the first Gulf War. His association with the Reagan administration was a plus with conservatives, and his high visibility in a successful, and highly televised war meant that he was a well-known figure nationally.

Indeed, Mr. Powell ranked highly in polls as a top admired Americans after his retirement in the early goings of the Clinton administration.

Clark, despite an impressive resume, and even with his exposure on CNN, simply does not have that kind of relationship with the public at large and was never the kind of public presence during his military career that Powell was. Quick! Who’s the current Supreme Allied Commander Europe? Don’t know? Me, neither, and that was the case for even the informed American public during most of Clark’s tenure at that position. The conflicts in the Balkans raised his profile, but hardly to the degree that would come anywhere close to matching Powell’s during the Gulf War.

(It’s General James L. Jones, Marine Corps, actually. The internet is a wonderful thing).

A second factor that highly worked in Powell’s favor was race. On the one hand, his race would result in some initial blunting of criticisms, given the delicate nature of racial politics in the US. Second, and in some ways more importantly, is the fact that many in the Republican Party might have been willing to overlook some of Powell’s moderateness to have the opportunity for the first black president to be a Republican. Such things are very difficult to measure, but I think it would have been a factor.

In terms of fanciful predictions well after the fact, I would say that Powell had a serious shot at the Republican nomination in 1996, but probably would have lost to Clinton in the election, and had a lesser shot at the nomination in 2024. He likely would have been competitive against Gore.

Powell shares a key characteristics with Clark, however, and that is that out of power partisans found (in Powell’s case) and find (in Clark’s case) a semi-blank slate upon which to project their views. The problem with such blank slates, however, is that once the person in question starts filling in the blank spaces on their own, they inevitably disappoint someone.

Mr. Clark has had an impressive career and is, no doubt, a capable individual, but I stand by my analysis below-he won’t fare well in the Democratic nomination process, and even if he managed, somehow, to be nominated his rookie-status in terms of national politics will put him at a disadvantage in running against a sitting president.

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Friday, August 29, 2024
By Steven Taylor

Ok, so Kerry Outlines Tax, Economic Proposals. But I have two key questions. One, if it is really all that easy for jobs to be created, can someone explain to me why any President wouldn’t create them like crazy? Second, if the deficit is the great monster of the day, how does Mr. Kerry propose to deal with it by maintaining a substantial part of the Bush tax cut and by promising new tax credits plus sending substantial aid to the states?

The highlights of the plan:

  • Repealing the tax cuts for those making over $200,000.
  • Payroll tax credits for companies that create jobs ahead of the the “normal pace”.
  • Provide a “college opportunity tax credit” for the first $4,000 paid in tuition annually
  • Keep the middle-class oriented portions of the Bush plan.
  • Send $50 billion to the states over the next two years.

    Now, how is any of this going to guarantee new jobs?

    Of course, if Dean continues to lead Kerry in NH by 21 or more point, it will all be rather moot.

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