Pontificator: News and Commentary


Friday, September 26, 2003 :::
 
That Familiar Voice

I've been thinking for awhile that Howard Dean's voice reminds me of someone else's, but I couldn't put my finger on who. Then, watching some repeat footage of this week's debate, it hit me.

Howard Dean sounds an awful lot like Kevin Costner.

Close your eyes when you listen to him, and then think back to Field of Dreams, or Bull Durham.

See?


::: posted by Pontificator at 9:22 PM



Thursday, September 25, 2003 :::
 
Latest Republican attack: Clark likes Republicans!

The latest Republican attack on Clark is that he "praised Republicans." This attack presumably has two goals: (1) to make Clark less popular in a Democratic primary; (2) to make Clark look inconsistent when he trashes Bush. The Republicans better hope that their attack delivers a knockout blow and keeps Clark from getting the nomination. If it doesn't, then the Republicans have just successfully painted Clark as a moderate who would be acceptable to all Americans in the general election.

The ferocity of the attack on Clark this early is stunning and unprecedented. No primary votes will be counted for almost four months. Given the fact that professional political operatives presumably know something about who would be an effective candidate in a general election, these continuing attacks are reason enough to support Clark. Simply put, the attacks demonstrate that Clark is the most electable candidate. So, if you're for getting rid of Bush, you should vote for Clark. The Republican attacks prove it's the right thing to do.


::: posted by Pontificator at 6:05 PM


 
Quid Pro Quo?

Here's how Bush's Campaign Manager, Ken Mehlman, concludes his most recent fundraising letter:

P.S. On Tuesday September 30, the Federal Election Commission will require every campaign to report how many people have contributed to their campaign and how much it has raised. Please make sure that your name is counted among those who support our President by making your contribution today. . .

Maybe I'm paranoid, but I detect in that language an unspoken promise and threat. Why is it so important that a contributor's name be counted? What benefits accrue from having the name counted? What penalties accrue if you are not on the list? Inquiring minds want to know!


::: posted by Pontificator at 12:12 PM



Wednesday, September 24, 2003 :::
 
Jon Stewart Summarizes the Bush U.N. Speech

We were right. You were wrong. Give us money.
-- Jon Stewart, The Daily Show 9/23/03


::: posted by Pontificator at 11:04 PM


 
Checkbook Diplomacy

Bush's speech at the U.N. has been universally hammered for sticking with the same old unilateralist approach that got us into this mess in Iraq in the first place. On the other hand, despite Bush's belligerent public approach, there are signs of some diplomatic progress, including an apparent rapproachement with Germany.

So the question is, what exactly is going on?

In all likelihood, while Bush plays the unilateralist hardliner role for domestic consumption, behind the scenes his administration is giving away the store to get other countries on our side. Colin Powell is likely telling his diplomatic counterparts to ignore the puppet Bush speech, and that, as long as the media isn't looking, the United States is ready to sign any check and grease any palm to get the help it needs in Iraq.


::: posted by Pontificator at 2:44 PM



Tuesday, September 23, 2003 :::
 
9-11 Commission Issues Second Interim Report

This is quite a report. No substantive conclusions, thus far, but it contains an enormously ambitious agenda over the next 9 months for getting to the bottom of the mystery which is 9-11. For instance, among many, many other things, the Commission will:

reconstruct[] the events of September 11, minute by minute, so that we can see the strengths and weaknesses in the way the air traffic control system, our air defenses, the national command authorities, and local emergency responders understood and responded to the attack

And it will:

develop[] a full depiction of the conspiracy to attack this country; how the plotters analyzed our weaknesses, the strategies they developed, the actions they took, and those who helped them.

I expect the Commission's activities, barely noticed now, will build up to a headline dominating news story over the next nine months.

Update: Here is an article on the interim report and the press conference held afterwards.


::: posted by Pontificator at 3:34 PM


 
War Hero Hackworth likes Clark!

I often find Colonel David Hackworth infuriating -- he can demagogue with the best of them. However, there's been noone more loyal to the troops on the ground in recent public discourse than Hackworth -- the most most decorated soldier in the Vietnam war. His article today on Clark could not be more positive. And this is especially notable in light of his dismissive 1999 article on Clark called the "perfurmed prince." Here, he admits straight up that he was wrong in his earlier article, and that Clark is THE MAN!

What I also find encouraging is that Hackworth is interviewing Clark for MAXIM magazine. Looks like Clark has smart media people -- who would of thought of doing a MAXIM interview? But that's perfect -- he'll reach politically apathetic, pro-military voters who would otherwise most likely vote for Bush (if they vote at all). And he'll get great copy from a genuine military hero to boot!


::: posted by Pontificator at 10:55 AM



Monday, September 22, 2003 :::
 
When Republicans Attack

When Republicans attack, you get Novak articles such as "The Touble with Wes," an innuendo filled diatribe against a caricature of a person, free of any substantive criticism. Attacks like this are transparent attempts to strangle the baby in the crib, before he can get his sea legs. The Republicans don't want to run against Clark, and are unloading their ammunition now in an attempt to stop him. However, if Clark is still standing after these blows (and I expect he will be), he will be that much stronger in the general election, having survived the first round of GOP slings and arrows.

Someone like Dean, however, who the Republicans are laying off because they want to run against him, can expect this same treatment if he receives the nomination, but only after that nomination is secure. Dean would be much more vulnerable in that situation, having not previously survived a round against the Republican slime machine.

The more the Republicans attack Clark now, the more I am in favor of his candidacy. That's because the more they hit him now, the less effective those attacks will be when they're launched again next summer.

Personally, I think Clark should state the following in a speech:

"Well I've been watching Fox News recently, and it looks like the Republicans are scared of me, and are trying to stop my candidacy with false and malicious attacks. Well Republicans, here is what I say to that [Clark looks directly into the Camera] -- Bring it on!!!!!"


::: posted by Pontificator at 12:22 PM



Sunday, September 21, 2003 :::
 
Not Bad for for the First Week

For an election held today: Bush 47, Clark 43, Margin of Error, +/- 3%

And the first week isn't even over yet!


::: posted by Pontificator at 11:19 PM


 
Wesley Clark off to a Fast Fundraising Start

Over $750,000 in just three days. And that's in addition to the nearly $2 million that had been pledged to him beforehand. Those aren't Howard Dean numbers, and they aren't from Howard Dean's internet grass-roots contributors, but they are nevertheless impressive. I think it's fairly certain that, presuming Clark doesn't completely melt down in his first few weeks, his high profile and Clinton connections will make him a leader in the fundraising department. The real question, however, is will he be a minimally competent candidate? If he is, then it's going to be Clark and Dean going to down to the wire in the primaries.

The establishment Democratic support for Clark reminds me somewhat of the establishment Republican support for Bush in 2000. If the Democratic power establishment stays behind this guy, then the Clark-Dean race will resemble the 2000 race between Bush and McCain. The difference, however, is that the other candidates, Kerry and Gephart in particular, but also Lieberman and Edwards, are far, far more serious than the other also-rans in the 2000 Republican primary. Does anyone remember Steve Forbes? How about Lamar Alexander and Elizabeth Dole?


::: posted by Pontificator at 4:30 PM


 
A Big Story to Watch This Week

The 9-11 Commission will release its second interim report on Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. The first interim report (released last July), chided the Bush administration in general, and NORAD in particular, for being secretive and uncooperative in its responses to the Commissions' requests for documents and information. This second interim report will probably not have any substantive conclusions, but rather will simply discuss what ground has been covered, and what still needs to be done, and perhaps it will again chide the Bushies for being uncooperative.

The real fireworks, however, will be in May 2004, when the Commission releases its final report and then testifies in Congress. The members of the Commission seem like serious guys, and I have high expectatations that their final report will actually have some answers to the many unanswered questions about what exactly happened on September 11. I hope I am not disappointed.


::: posted by Pontificator at 2:55 PM






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