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Saturday, June 07, 2003

TNR Primary awarded Kerry an A in political courage for his statement that Democrats do not deserve to win in 2004 if they are not strong on defense. The author, Clay Risen, compared Kerry's statement to Bill Clinton's denunciation of black rapper Sister Souljah, which showed that Clinton was willing to break with black leaders on some issues.

Well, maybe it did take some courage to make a statement like this in front of a crowd that wasn't enthusiastic about greater defense spending. But in the context of the overall campaign, Kerry's statements are not terribly bold. As a supporter of the war in Iraq, Kerry surely realizes that he has little chance of winning the "dove" vote over a candidate like Dean or Kucinich (or Nader). He's not risking a lot by claiming to be pro-defense or by saying that U.S. power is not always bad.
--Posted at 2:45 PM | link

Friday, June 06, 2003

Amy Sullivan replies to criticism of her article about religion and the Democratic party. (The link to her reply is courtesy of TAPPED.)
--Posted at 4:43 PM | link

Carol Moseley Braun is probably the longest of several longshots in the 2004 race for the Democratic nomination. Nonetheless, she thinks that she might have a chance. As this AP article reports, Moseley Braun's strategy will be to bypass New Hampshire, "because it's so far from her home town of Chicago," and instead focus on being competitive in Iowa and winning Michigan.

Even this will be an uphill battle. In a recent poll, Moseley Braun had only 2 percent of Iowa voters supporting her. Gephardt led with 27 percent, well ahead of Kerry (14 percent), Dean (11 percent), Lieberman (10 percent), Edwards (4 percent), and Sharpton, Graham, and Kucinich (all had 1 percent). Moseley Braun was not in last place, but she is still not competitive, and her "lead" over Sharpton, Graham and Kucinich is well within the margin of error. In Michigan, the first state that she hopes to win, she is in single digits according to this poll.

It is never wise to make too much of polls, especially ones taken this early, when few people are following the race. Still, it's interesting that Graham and Edwards have such pitiful numbers, since many consider them to be serious candidates. TNR Primary doesn't even bother covering the Kucinich, Moseley Braun, or Sharpton campaigns, but it pays lots of attention to Graham and Edwards. Fundraising is part of the explanation. Edwards had raised over $7 million by March 2003, according to Buying of the President, putting him second only to Kerry. Graham has only a little over $1 million, but he also joined the race late, so it's not necessarily fair to judge him by this standard. And even with his late start, he beat Kucinich's $180,080 and Moseley Braun's $72,450. Sharpton did not even file a report (which he is legally required to do if he has raised more than $5000).

The messages conveyed by money, the media, and polls will continue to reinforce each other, making the strong candidates stronger and the weak ones weaker. If Moseley Braun, Kucinich, and Sharpton want to recover, they'd better have one hell of a strategy. But as I've said, it's too early to say anything for sure.
--Posted at 11:32 AM | link

The AP reports that several Democratic candidates spoke at a "Take Back America" conference, sponsored by the Campaign for America's Future and the Institute for America's Future. These look like parts of the same group to me, but the article implies that they are two different ones. Anyway, the conference attracted liberal Democratic activists, and the candidates emphasized views that would appeal to them. John Edwards, a supporter of the war against Iraq, did not mention foreign policy in his speech. The audience did not respond with much enthusiasm to John Kerry's comment that Democrats do not deserve to win in 2004 if they don't focus on defense ("making America safer, stronger and more secure,") Dennis Kucinich got a standing ovation, however, when he said that money should be taken from the defense budget and used for domestic priorities.
--Posted at 10:33 AM | link

Presidential candidates are responding to the TNR Primary.

On June 3, TNR's Joshua Kurlantzick accused Lieberman of intellectual dishonesty for his complaints about outsourcing in the semiconductor industry, as reported in an article in the Hartford Courant. Kurlantzick said that the timing of these complaints is "more than a little suspicious," since he has recently accepted endorsements from several American high-tech businesses. Lieberman's office called this "groundless, cynical speculation getting recycled and repackaged as groundless, cynical criticism," and noted that Lieberman's research into the semiconductor industry had started three months before he declared his candidacy.

Also, TNR's Michelle Cottle expressed annoyance over John Edwards' frequent discussion of his "small-town cred." The Edwards campaign sent back a note (which is posted on the same page as Cottle's original piece) saying that Edwards is the "genuine article," and that Bush's phony populism will be exposed when he is compared to Edwards.

Lieberman's campaign chose to attack the TNR article, and Edwards' campaign chose a milder response. But both of them considered it necessary to reply, confirming TNR's perceived influence among potential Democratic voters. Personally, I think that the judgements in the TNR Primary were a bit random. They will pounce on a statement or position and assign a letter grade, but the overall quality of the candidates and their campaigns isn't always clear. Was Lieberman really the "best" candidate in the month of May, as TNR's grading system implies, or did he just end up with the best average from TNR's haphazard grading system? I wonder if TNR's approach will be affected by the knowledge that the campaigns are watching them.
--Posted at 10:05 AM | link

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Dennis Kucinich has asked that the Defense Department release the footage of Jessica Lynch's rescue from an Iraqi hospital. Kucinich is the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs and International Relations. A spokesman for the Defense Department said, however, that the full tape probably will not be released.
--Posted at 3:09 PM | link

Dean continues to generate enthusiasm among progressives. This month, he made the cover of In These Times, a biweekly left-leaning magazine. Read the article here.

The New Republic has some comments on the In These Times article.
--Posted at 3:00 PM | link

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Grist Magazine has an interview with Howard Dean about environmental and energy policy.
--Posted at 5:07 PM | link

Today, Slate does a profile of Dick Gephardt.

Slate is getting its "net worth" information from a site called Buying of the President. To see this information for all candidates, click on the main link and scroll down to the box on the lower right that says "Candidate Information."
--Posted at 11:51 AM | link

Ralph Nader says that he hasn't decided whether to run for president in 2004, and that the Green party is still discussing the idea of backing the Democratic nominee. Read here.
--Posted at 11:42 AM | link

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

A few months ago, The Nation declared that it would evaluate the Democratic candidates according to "how forward-looking their ideas are--"The Vision Primary". Recently, they posted a follow-up article that asserts that the campaign for the Democratic nomination has a surprising amount of substance, and they cite Gephardt's health care plan as an example. "It's too soon to claim their recovery of voice and imagination," the Nation editors write, "but the early signs are promising."

David Corn of The Nation also discusses the outcome of the Iraq war and how Democrats have tried to use it to their advantage.
--Posted at 5:07 PM | link

Slate is beginning "a series of short features explaining who the 2004 presidential candidates are, what they've said and done, and where they propose to take the country." The first installment presents basic biographical information, such as education, military background, parents' jobs, net worth, and religion. So far, they have profiled Howard Dean and John Edwards, and they will presumably cover a new candidate each day. All profiles (so far, anyway) are written by William Saletan, Slate's chief political correspondent.
--Posted at 4:58 PM | link

Tom Tomorrow's comic strip This Modern World asks which candidate the Democrats will nominate: Goofus or Gallant. Click here to view.
--Posted at 4:49 PM | link

The New Republic has declared Joe Lieberman the winner of the first month of the TNR primary. The "winner" is determined by letter grades assigned by the writers over the course of a month. Lieberman got a 2.6 "GPA" for May according to TNR's ranking system, and the lowest candidate was Bob Graham with a 2.0 (Sharpton, Kucinich, and Moseley Braun are apparently not considered to be contenders). The standings are here.
--Posted at 12:35 PM | link

Monday, June 02, 2003

Speaking of religion, Malia Rulon of the Associated Press reports on Dennis Kucinich's spiritual side. Although he is a Roman Catholic, he also embraces some--for lack of a better term--"alternative" religious beliefs. The article states:

"Kucinich, a Roman Catholic, also is close friends with actress Shirley MacLaine, who is the godmother of his daughter. It was MacLaine who first introduced Kucinich to [spiritual advisor Chris] Griscom, whom MacLaine wrote about in her best-selling book, "Dancing in the Light."

Griscom founded The Light Institute and Nizhoni School For Global Consciousness, both located in Galisteo, N.M., to teach people how to connect with their inner self, partially by helping them to remember their past lives. Kucinich donated $3,000 in speaking fees earned last year to Griscom's school, campaign finance reports showed."

The article below discussed the importance of religion to candidates' success. But I'm not sure how "alternative" or "New Age" religion will go over with the American people. Kucinich might be better off downplaying this aspect of his religious belief and emphasizing his Catholicism (although even that is probably not as "safe" as some kind of Protestantism).
--Posted at 9:53 AM | link

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