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Saturday, June 28, 2003

Daily Kos points us to this article from the New York Times, reporting that Bill Clinton says that Wesley Clark would be a good president. According to Kos, this may suggest that a Clark run is imminent.
--Posted at 10:29 PM | link

Debate continues over Dean's Meet the Press appearance. Jake Tapper writes in the New York Times that Dean's performance, while far from perfect, wasn't nearly as bad as the pundits say. Daily Howler contrasts Tim Russert's reaction to Dean's uncertainty on some issues with Russert's treatment of George W. Bush on his first Meet the Press appearance in 1999.
--Posted at 1:37 PM | link

Friday, June 27, 2003

Josh Marshall attacks Christopher Hitchens' recent article in Slate that accused John Kerry of being too "gullible" to be president.
--Posted at 2:27 PM | link

The primary posted its results today. Dean took first place, with 43.87% of the vote. Kucinich was second, with 23.93%, and Kerry was third, with 15.73%. No other candidates got more than 5% of the vote. Sharpton came in last among declared Democratic candidates, with 0.53%. Full results are here. will not be endorsing a candidate now, because no one got more than 50% of the vote.

None of these results are a huge surprise. As an organization of "progressives," was always likely to support Dean or Kucinich. If Kucinich had upset Dean, or taken a close second, this could have given his candidacy a huge boost. But as a distant second, he will face an uphill battle to capture even the progressive wing of his party. I'm not saying that Kucinich is finished, but this was probably his best opportunity yet to prove that his campaign has momentum. If he couldn't win a quarter of the vote in a primary dominated by progressive voters, how will his chances in the real primaries be any better?

Daily Kos has a piece on the vote. Dean and Kucinich supporters slug it out in the Comments section.
--Posted at 2:24 PM | link

Thursday, June 26, 2003

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that states cannot ban sex between consenting adults. The Bush administration declined to comment on the ruling. Politically, silence was really the only option for Bush. If he supported the decision, he would anger religious conservatives. If he opposed it, he would anger gays and anyone who cares about civil liberties. Bush has praised sodomy laws in the past, but he has no political interest in calling attention to these views.
--Posted at 5:08 PM | link

Dean delivered a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations. Slate's William Saletan argues that the speech is a symptom of Dean's unwarranted cockiness on foreign policy issues. TNR's Spencer Ackerman (showing the magazine's more conservative side) bashes Dean for calling the UN "a global platform . . . on which free people everywhere could stand," and for some of his comments on this Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

(As an aside, I think that Ackerman's criticism is misguided as far as the UN is concerned. Ackerman says that Dean's praise of the UN is ridiculous, because the UN failed to help the Tutsis and Albanians, and because Libya chairs the Human Rights Commission. True, one can criticize the UN for this sort of thing. But Ackerman misreads the context of Dean's statement. Dean was talking about how "Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy built and strengthened international institutions," such as the UN, in contrast to Bush's unilateralism. Naming a couple of mid-90's UN failures does not somehow disprove Dean's overall point about multilateralism. Furthermore, Dean's statement does not imply that everything that the UN has ever done, or failed to do, is perfect. Ackerman's logic damns anyone who has ever made idealistic comments about the purpose of the UN. I'm not sure if even Bush himself could escape similar criticism.)
--Posted at 4:51 PM | link

Lieberman's campaign responded to the 'D' in intellectual honesty given to him by Gregg Easterbrook for TNR Primary. The Lieberman campaign argues that Bush's restrictions on funding for stem-cell research are a de facto ban, and that Easterbrook was wrong to say that Lieberman distorted the issue. This letter is more mild than previous Lieberman campaign letters to TNR.

You can always count on the Lieberman campaign to spring to their candidate's defense against TNR. Edwards and Graham have also sent responses to articles in the past. Unless I've missed something, the other candidates haven't been paying much attention to TNR Primary, despite low grades handed out at various times to all of them. Apparently, either these articles aren't on their radar, or they don't consider it worth their time to respond. Despite the neoconservative streak in the New Republic in recent years, it is still an influential magazine among centrist Democratic voters. The campaigns would be wise to make sure than no bad press from TNR, in print or on the web, goes unrefuted.
--Posted at 12:33 PM | link

Blogger was being updated yesterday, so I couldn't access my account for a significant chunk of the day. I'll try to make up for that today.

Howard Dean has dominated media coverage this week, due to his Meet the Press appearance and his "official" announcement of his candidacy. He even got a Letterman
top ten list devoted to him, although not a very flattering one ("Top Ten Signs You're in Love with Democratic Presidential Candidate Howard Dean"--"1. You're actually considering wasting a vote on him"). The following day, Dean got another mention on a top ten list, this one mocking his chances of winning the election.

His son's alleged burglary attempt will probably not have any lasting impact. After all, there's more than enough irresponsible behavior among the youth of the Bush clan. Conservatives don't want to pick this fight, because it can't improve their position. We'll hear a lot from both sides about double standards in media coverage, but none of it will hurt Dean as long as he handles it well. He should also avoid slips of the tongue like this.

With Dean in the spotlight, people are questioning how liberal he really is. This is not a new issue. An article from May 8 in The Nation attacked Dean's liberal credentials. And a November 2002 article in The Forward points out that Dean has rejected the views of the group Americans for Peace Now in favor of a more hawkish stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dean's appearance on Meet the Press has created even more questions about whether he is really a liberal. William Saletan, writing for, calls Dean a "closet centrist", due to his defense of the death penalty and other issues (link via This Modern World). I had already linked to the comparison of Dean and Kucinich put together by Kucinich supporter Bob Harris, but it has now been updated and corrected. Harris also links to an article in Salon in which Dean says "I don't mind being characterized as 'liberal' -- I just don't happen to think it's true."

The irony is that if Dean wins the nomination, the Bush campaign will inevitably label him an extreme liberal, and the label might stick. After all, even though Dean is claiming not to be a "liberal," he has certainly positioned himself as more liberal than the other major Democratic candidates. The worst-case scenario for the Democrats is for Bush to succeed in painting Dean as an extreme liberal, while Democratic activists remain apathetic because they view Dean as just another centrist candidate. Or, even worse, the Green party might decide that Dean is too centrist and launch another serious campaign. Fortunately for the Democrats, this scenario seems unlikely. Most "progressives" seem to be backing Dean, while only a small number has decided to back Kucinich instead. One essential indicator of progressive opnion will be the results of the MoveOn Primary, which will be announced on Friday at noon Eastern.

Dean dominated TNR Primary's coverage on June 25. John B. Judis gives Dean an 'A' for the clear statement of his views on the Iraq war (with which Judis happens to agree) on his website. Joshua Kurlantzick gives Dean a 'B' for arguing that opposing the war does not make a candidate weak on national security. Michelle Cottle gives him a 'C' for arguing in favor of funding special education programs, which Cottle believes to be in disarray. These marks show that TNR hasn't given up on Dean, even though they trashed his Meet the Press appearance a few days before.

Daily Kos has Part V of "How They Can Win," starring Dean.
--Posted at 9:56 AM | link

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Someone left a prototype for a future Bush campaign site at The prototype is gone now, but Slate managed to capture some screen shots. Among the amusing links--"See more Hispanic Photos". (Link via This Modern World).
--Posted at 11:16 AM | link

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Bob Harris, a Kucinich supporter and frequent contributer to the This Modern World blog, has put together a page comparing Kucinich and Dean.
--Posted at 3:11 PM | link

Christopher Hitchens bashes Kerry for his claim that he was "misled" into supporting the war by the Bush administration. He writes:

Meanwhile, the overwhelming moral case for regime change in both countries is once again being left to the forces of neoconservatism, with the liberals pulling a long face while they wait to be reluctantly "persuaded."

This is serious stuff and will engage us for a long time. Meanwhile we have learned that Sen. Kerry considers himself to be gullible both ways, which ought to mean that he is ineligible for the nomination, let alone the presidency.

Hitchens' position is not a huge surprise, since he has already decided to support Bush in 2004, since he believes him to be the only candidate who is "completely serious about prosecuting the war on theocratic terrorism to the fullest extent."
--Posted at 2:32 PM | link

The link problem has been fixed. I think. We'll see if they endure through future page updates and archivings.
--Posted at 12:32 PM |

The good news: I've added permalinks to the blog. At the bottom of each post, you will now not only see the posting time, but a link to that specific post.

The bad news: These permalinks are almost worthless. Thanks to Blogger's horrible archiving system, they rarely link to the right place, and sometimes they link to pages that don't exist. I've tried republishing my archives, but with no luck. I'll see what I can do to fix the archives, but if I can't, I'll have to do the links by hand, find some code that can handle it, or find a replacement for Blogger itself.
--Posted at 11:27 AM |

Bob Harris posts on This Modern World that Republicans are planning to vote for Sharpton in the primary. The half-serious goal is to make Sharpton into the Democratic nominee, ensuring a disaster for Democrats in 2004.
--Posted at 10:18 AM | link

President Bush raised $4 million at a fundraiser in New York, while Cheney raised $1.7 at fund raisers in Virginia and Massachusetts, part of a campaign to raise $20 million in two weeks. The NYT also has a story on the fundraising campaign. According to the Washington Post, Bush is trying to win New York, which he lost by 25 percentage points in 2000, and Cheney has pledged to win Virginia again.
--Posted at 9:59 AM | link

Monday, June 23, 2003

Dean has officially announced his candidacy. A copy of his prepared speech for the occasion is available on Dean's website (on the main page and here in PDF format). His website says that an online video will be available by 6:00 PM Eastern Time on Monday. A video is already available from C-SPAN's main page.

Ben & Jerry's honored Dean's announcement with a "Maple Powered Howard" sundae, to be sold only in Vermont. But Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's will be supporting Kucinich.

Dean made his announcement amidst some negative publicity. His son's alleged involvement in a burglary over the weekend could blow over without any serious consequences for the candidate. His appearance on Meet the Press this weekend seems to be generating some criticism, however. TNR Primary is merciless, giving him an 'F' in intellectual honesty for his contradictory statements on the death penalty, and giving him a 'D' in general likeability for not appearing confident during the interview, even when he was right. The New York Times gives him a harsh review, even criticizing him for saying "My understanding is we have in the neighborhood of 135,000 troops" in Iraq, when the actual number is 146,000. ABC News' The Note says that the mainstream media's assessment of Dean's performance won't seriously hurt his standing among his most enthusiastic supporters.
--Posted at 2:31 PM | link

TNR Primary's Gregg Easterbrook slams Lieberman for his promise to repeal Bush's "ban" on stem-cell research. As Easterbrook explains, Bush did not ban stem-cell research, but rather federal funding for new "lines" of stem cells. He writes:

Either the senator doesn't understand the subject--disturbing since medical research, via a proposed $150 billion American Center for Cures, is a signature issue in the Lieberman campaign--or he's turning into the sort of politician who will say anything to get elected.

This is TNR Primary's first attack on Lieberman in a while. Ever since Lieberman's campaign sent two harsh letters in response to earlier pieces, TNR has tended to give Lieberman passing grades or ignore him altogether.

Meanwhile, Edwards' campaign sent a mild letter in response to an earlier Easterbrook piece.
--Posted at 12:02 PM | link

Seven of the nine Democratic candidates spoke at the annual conference of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition this weekend. According to the New York Times, Sharpton got the most enthusiastic reaction.
--Posted at 11:36 AM | link

Daily Kos has Part IV of "How They Can Win," featuring Gephardt.

Kos also has some comments on the way campaigns have used blogging so far. Dean's blog has been running for some time now, and Kucinich is starting a blog now as well.

Finally, Kos ponders how Bush and Rove will spin the issue of same-sex marriages now that Canada has made them legal.
--Posted at 9:55 AM | link

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