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Friday, June 20, 2003

The American Prospect has two articles in its current issue urging the Democrats not to fight too much among themselves. The first article is by Robert Kuttner. The following is an excerpt:

Game theorists famously describe a "prisoners' dilemma" in which everyone would be better off if all involved cooperated, but each prisoner in isolation maximizes his personal advantage by betraying the others. The Democratic debates amount to a partisan prisoners' dilemma: The whole field would be better off if everyone turned their fire only on President Bush, but they can't resist attacking one another.

Ronald Reagan, back in 1966, called for a Republican Eleventh Commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican." If even one candidate began speaking in the spirit of the dialogue above, maybe the others would be shamed into reciprocating.

The other article is written by Robert B. Reich. He writes:

So here's my advice to activists: Don't get so emotionally invested in any particular primary candidate that you lose the psychological capacity to be enthusiastic about whomever emerges as the Democratic candidate nine months from now. Remember, the overriding goal is to unseat W.

When you hear a Democratic primary candidate criticize or demean a primary opponent, don't just sit there: Make a phone call and send a letter or an e-mail to that candidate expressing outrage.

Most importantly, don't sink too much of your time, energy and money into primary fights. Remember that the real fight begins next spring. It will take everything you have.

The American Prospect's views on the upcoming campaign are clear: any of the nine Democrats is better than four more years of Bush. This is not the time for arguing about the future direction of the Democratic party, they say, if doing so means weakening the drive to kick Bush out of office. This kind of argument is inevitable, however, in any primary where two or more strong candidates with substantively different opinions are fighting for the nomination. The best hope for the Democrats is that they settle on a nominee early in the primary season. The sooner they can devote their fundraising efforts and attention to one person rather than nine, the better for them and the worse for Bush.
--Posted at 6:48 PM | link

William Saletan of Slate is writing a series in which he analyzes the favorite phrases and "buzzwords" of the presidential candidates. So far, he's covered Moseley Braun, Dean, and Edwards.
--Posted at 2:00 PM | link

Ralph Nader may be despised by liberals, but he hasn't ruled out another presidential run:

Nader says that if the Greens reject him, he might choose to run as an independent, or possibly even as a Republican, which would pit him against George W. Bush in the primary.

"Wouldn't that be interesting? A Republican run?" he muses.

When asked why a campaigner so closely identified with progressive causes would contemplate running for the White House as a candidate from a party on the other end of the political spectrum, Nader answers without missing a beat.

"To give the American people a choice as to the political institutions they desire and the clean elections they deserve," he said. "Isn't that what politics should be all about?"

No matter what you think of Nader, you have to agree that watching him challenge George W. Bush for the Republican nomination would be extremely interesting. Read the full article
--Posted at 1:24 PM | link

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Let's look at what's going on over at TNR Primary:

  • Gephardt gets an 'A' and an 'F' on the same day, for the same speech. The 'A' is for criticizing the U.S. dependence on Saudi Arabian (he said that the U.S. behaves like "the United States of Saudi Arabia.") The 'F' is for promising to co-sponsor a bill that would allow companies to avoid reporting stock options on their balance sheets, which TNR views as pandering to the Silicon Valley vote. The 'F' seems like an overreaction, because as even TNR admits, many Republicans and Democrats support the same idea. The article even says that Joe Lieberman supports it, yet he didn't get an 'F'. In fact....

  • TNR Primary still hasn't touched Lieberman, aside from a 'B' from a few days ago, since his campaign sent two strongly-worded letters in response to previous TNR Primary articles. Is this coincidence, or have they been scared away by the Lieberman campaign?

  • Kerry also gets two different grades on the same day, an 'A' and a 'C'. The 'C' is for the Boston Globe's series about Kerry's life, which started well for him by describing military heroics, but is now examining some of his earlier political positions, some of which Kerry now dismisses as "stupid." Kerry gets an 'A' for his statement that President Bush "misled every one of us" before the war in Iraq. Kerry is presenting himself as one of the misled, who supported the war based on what Bush told him, and wants an investigation before he reaches any conclusions. TNR calls this an "enormous risk," as opposed to ignoring the questions about the war's justification.

--Posted at 4:42 PM | link

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Dean says that he regrets his statement that Bob Graham is "not one of the top-tier candidates," after Graham's campaign complained about the slight.
--Posted at 11:12 AM | link

Bush's fundraising for the 2004 campaign has begun. Bush is expected to raise as much money in the next two weeks as all nine Democratic candidates collected from January to March. The goal is to raise about $200 million by the end of primary season, which doubles the previous record of $100 million, set by Bush in the 2000 election.
--Posted at 11:05 AM | link

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Every once in a while, you should browse The Memory Hole, a site dedicated to preserving news stories and other information that would otherwise be forgotten. One of its most useful functions is to keep copies of web pages that were later changed or deleted. Here are some campaign related things that I discovered there:

  • The New York Times, on the web and in print, ran an article with the headline "Goal is to Lay cornerstone at Ground Zero During GOP Convention." The headline was later changed and the part about laying the cornerstone was deleted from the article. Was this merely an error that was corrected, or was the NYT afraid of prematurely exposing Republican plans to exploit the 9/11 tragedy? The Memory Hole has some comments on this incident, along with a scan of the original article in print (click here).

  • Joseph Lieberman supported an organization called the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. This organization encourages the emigration of Jews to Israel, and urges Christians to support Israel. The goal of "returning" Jews to Israel, according to fundamentalist Christian theology, is to help bring about the Apocalypse. Of course, when that comes the Jews will have to become Christians or go to hell, but hey, they will have served their purpose.

    Joseph Lieberman spoke in support of the IFCJ on more than one occasion. A clip of him endorsing it appears in their infomercial. Also, he called it "the best-kept secret in the United States," a quotation that used to appear on the group's web site. Now, as a Democratic presidential candidate, Lieberman is uncomfortable with his connection to this fundamentalist nuttiness. He has asked to be removed from the informercial, and the IFCJ's web site no longer has Lieberman's "best-kept secret" quotation. The Memory Hole, however, preserved a copy of the old version. Click here to see the Memory Hole's discussion of the subject, and here to see another article about it.

It's not likely to be a campaign news gold mine, but The Memory Hole is valuable because it helps us remember some of the things that the candidates would like us to forget.
--Posted at 3:22 PM | link

William Saletan discusses John Kerry's not-always-obvious sense of humor in Slate.
--Posted at 2:48 PM | link

Noah Shachtman has a two-part piece (parts one and two) on how the Democrats can beat Bush on national security issues. (This link discovered via TAPPED.)
--Posted at 11:43 AM | link

A recent poll indicates that one-third of Americans believe that WMD's have been found in Iraq. Twenty-two percent believe that Iraq actually used these weapons during the war. According to the director of the organization that carried out the poll, the belief that WMD's were found "is substantially greater among those who favored the war."

It's no surprise that people think that WMD's have been found. After all, Bush has announced that they were found, citing those two trailers as his only evidence. If you support Bush, and believe in the "liberal media," then Bush's false claims will stick with you more than the quiet corrections that are made later by allegedly "biased" sources.

The WMD issue is a delicate one for the Democrats. They have to argue that Bush lied about WMD's, while leaving themselves a way out if WMD's are found--or at least if the Bush administration claims that they are found. This is not logically impossible, since even the discovery of WMD's won't change the fact that Bush lied repeatedly about much of the evidence. But the subtlety will be completely lost on a public whose understanding of events is reflected in the poll numbers described above.

Michael Tomasky of The American Prospect has more on how the Democrats should deal with the WMD issue.
--Posted at 10:54 AM | link

Monday, June 16, 2003

The Boston Globe is running a series of articles about the life of John Kerry. As noted by TNR, the heroic actions described in this series should make it very difficult for Republicans to portray Kerry as a wimp.
--Posted at 6:07 PM | link

The Nation's David Corn, discussing the lack of public outrage over Bush's lies, says that now he knows how Republicans felt in 1998, when the public didn't seem to care about Monica.
--Posted at 5:14 PM | link

Graham's campaign responds to a 'D' in intellectual honesty awarded on June 10 by Gregg Easterbrook for the TNR Primary. The Graham campaign's letter concludes, "Perhaps Mr. Easterbrook deserves a less than passing grade on his own intellectual honesty."

Meanwhile, TNR Primary hasn't given Lieberman any low grades (well, nothing lower than a 'B') since his campaign sent two nasty letters, most recently on June 9. I suspect that they are choosing their battles with Lieberman carefully.

Also, TNR Primary warns John Kerry to avoid exaggerations, even minor ones, so that he doesn't end up in Al Gore's situation. A while back, an article in Salon warned that the press is already portraying Kerry as boring and without charisma. The last thing Kerry needs on top of this is a reputation as a serial exaggerator. This caricature could be lethal, especially in a campaign where Bush's honesty is one of his greatest potential weaknesses. Democrats can't get away with attacks on Bush's credibility if their own candidate is perceived as a liar.
--Posted at 5:05 PM | link

Daily Kos has the third part of the "How They Could Win" series, this one starring Graham.

Also, Kos has some commentary on Wesley Clark's Meet the Press appearance where he announced that he might still run for president. Kos was a founding member of the Draft Clark movement, but he has defected to Dean's campaign recently. He concludes that Clark's recent statements are probably an attempt to stay in the public eye so that he can win the vice-presidential nomination.
--Posted at 4:30 PM | link

CNN reports that General Wesley Clark will decide within two months whether to run for president. Although he would not disclose which party's nomination he would seek, there is little reason to believe that he would run as a Republican. Based on the information about him that blogger Atrios gives us, Clark is not nearly conservative enough to win the Republican nomination, even if Bush were out of the picture.

So what are Clark's chances if he ran as a Democrat? Well, Democratic fundraising efforts have been underway for months, so Clark will be at a disadvantage initially. But he could easily catch up if he is perceived to be a better candidate than any of the nine current ones. From what I've seen online and in real life, some Democrats aren't very happy with the choices that they have. The only candidate that generates a lot of genuine enthusiasm is Dean, and his supporters come mostly from the Democratic party's more liberal wing. Centrists tend to evaluate the other candidates by their chances of toppling Bush. If Clark entered the race, I suspect that some of the Kerry/Gephardt/Lieberman/Edwards supporters might defect. Clark will have to spend his two months not merely "deciding" whether to run, but probing whether he can divert significant sources of funding and support from other Democratic candidates to his own campaign. He has to start out strong, because two months from now will be too late to start from scratch.

Several sites exist that are dedicated to drafting Clark to run for President. Among them:,, and
--Posted at 12:59 PM | link

Hesiod of the blog Counterspin has an entry today about how Democrats can use the WMD issue as part of an effort to show a pattern of deception by the Bush administration. He has plenty of good links too.
--Posted at 10:12 AM | link

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