I don’t really have anything to say about Kerrygate, except, well, is it Tuesday yet? Way to stick your foot in it, Senator. But, really, is this all you guys got? Is this all you can conjure, Rove? The whole GOP media onslaught about it reeks of desperation (as do the gutterball ad campaigns), and, hey, I don’t blame them: times are desperate: “‘So many different kinds of scandals going on at the same time, that’s pretty unique,’ Zelizer said. ‘There were scandals throughout the ’70s, multiple scandals, but the number of stories now are almost overwhelming.‘”
“He’s making a political speech. He’s sitting in his air-conditioned office on his big, fat backside saying, ‘Stay the course.’ That’s not a plan.” As justifiably disgruntled veteran John Murtha lights into bile-spouting chicken-hawk Karl Rove for another gutterball attack on Dems’ patriotism, the Democrats step up to the bar and offer two substantive plans for phased withdrawal from Iraq, to be debated tomorrow. “Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Russell Feingold of Wisconsin…pushed an amendment requiring that U.S. combat troops be out by July 2007…In a statement, Kerry and Feingold said a deadline ‘gives Iraqis the best chance for stability and self-government’ and ‘allows us to begin refocusing on the true threats that face our country.‘”
“[Y]ou have somebody being fired from the CIA for allegedly telling the truth, and you have no one fired from the White House for revealing a CIA agent in order to support a lie. That underscores what’s really wrong in Washington, D.C.” Following the recent dismissal of CIA historian and Africa specialist Mary McCarthy for telling the Post about our secret gulags, several Dems, including John Kerry and Rep. Jane Harman, question the Dubya double standard regarding leaks. Update: Was it not McCarthy after all?
Entertaining the Vice-President? Set the thermostat, turn on FOX NEWS, stock up on Diet Caffeine Free Sprite, and hide the shotguns. The Smoking Gun gets ahold of Cheney’s “Downtime Requirements,” which have since been confirmed by the veep’s office. Update: Kerry’s requirements get unearthed as well, and they’re even more specific.
I already mentioned this in the Feingold post below, but it merits its own space: The brief Alito filibuster is already over, with nineteen Dems voting for cloture. There are a lot of blogs calling for the heads of the “Vichy Dems” right now, and, true, they’re not looking too good right now. But, frankly, neither is anyone else. The whole thing reeks of mismanagement and rank opportunism across the party.
I’m with Walter Shapiro: “In hindsight, the battle was effectively over after the first day of the Senate hearings when the criminally verbose Judiciary Committee Democrats failed to sustain a clear and consistent anti-Alito argument with all those cable networks broadcasting live. When politicians and interest-group leaders know that they are going to lose, they automatically retreat to a can-I-get-anything-out-of-the-wreckage calculus. So moderate senators from red states like South Dakota’s Tim Johnson decide that they can buttress their independent credentials with home-state conservatives by supporting Alito, since the outcome would be the same no matter how he voted. Groups like People for the American Way realize that shrill calls for a filibuster might preserve their fundraising base even if their years of urgent appeals to prevent a right-wing Supreme Court takeover failed to change a single Senate vote. And Kerry — whose late entry into the anti-Alito fray can be partly excused by his not serving on the Judiciary Committee — is also aware that such dramatic gestures help him maintain an up-to-date, ready-for-’08 e-mail list of Democratic activists.”
At any rate, the silver lining of this judicial nightmare (other than Judge Kennedy’s potential unpredictability) is that tomorrow, after Alito is voted through and Dubya gives his State of the Union, the GOP are officially out of good news. From tomorrow on, all the stories on tap, the continuing Iraq quagmire notwithstanding, are hearings and investigations — into the NSA wiretaps, into Abramoff, into Plamegate, into Katrina. So let’s pick ourselves up off the floor and get it together — We’ve got serious questions to ask of this administration, and, more importantly, we’ve got ourselves an election in nine months.
“Judge Alito’s record and his testimony have led me to conclude that his impulse to defer to the executive branch would make him a dangerous addition to the Supreme Court at a time when cases involving executive overreaching in the name of fighting terrorism are likely to be such an important part of the Court’s work.” Although the Senate Judiciary Dems (including Feingold) lined up against him, Sam Alito made it out of committee on a 10-8 party-line vote. Now, with his nomination before the full Senate, and with Nebraska Dem Ben Nelson joining the GOP majority, it seems, unfortunately, that the “worst nightmare of liberal democrats” will come to pass, and Alito will join the Roberts court. (For what it’s worth, Nelson wasn’t alone in his apostasy: Santorum challenger Bob Casey also came out for the judge.) Well, let’s hope Justice Alito takes a less forgiving look at executive encroachment than has Judge Alito. (Casey link via Medley.) Update: While the NYT says filibuster, Dems Robert Byrd and Tim Johnson back Alito. (Of course, if the NYT hadn’t sat on the NSA story for a year, perhaps we could have nipped Alito in the bud back in November 2004.)
“The curtain got pulled aside, and there’s not even a wizard behind it…these people are incompetent.” As you probably heard, Karl Rove emerged from hiding to offer his blueprint for Republican resurgence in 2006. Yep, you guessed it: terror, terror, terror, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, garnished with a smattering of tax cuts. But, to their credit, it sounds like Dems are relishing this coming fight, with Intelligence Committee Dem Jane Harman pushing back once more on the illegal wiretaps, and, in keeping with the recent trend of presidential also-rans finding their voice, John Kerry taking off the gloves on the Sunday shows. “Osama bin Laden is going to die of kidney failure before he’s killed by Karl Rove and his crowd.“
With the administration’s numbers in a continuing death spiral ever since their sheer incompetence, blatant cronyism, and general heartlessness was exposed by Katrina, several recent anti-Dubya speeches of note:
President Clinton: “Now, what Americans need to understand is that means every single day of the year, our Government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, and our tax cuts. We have never done this before. Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a conflict, military conflict, by borrowing money from somewhere else…We depend on Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Korea primarily to basically loan us money every day of the year to cover my tax cut and these conflicts and Katrina. I don’t think it makes any sense. I think it’s wrong.“
John Kerry: “‘Brownie is to Katrina what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq, what George Tenet is to slam-dunk intelligence, what Paul Wolfowitz is to parades paved with flowers in Baghdad, what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy, what Donald Rumsfeld is to basic war planning, what Tom DeLay is to ethics and what George Bush is to ‘Mission Accomplished’ and ‘Wanted Dead or Alive.‘”
John Edwards: “I might have missed something, but I don’t think the president ever talked about putting a cap on the salaries of the CEOs of Halliburton and the other companies . . . who are getting all these contracts…This president, who never met an earmark he wouldn’t approve or a millionaire’s tax cut he wouldn’t promote, decided to slash wages for the least of us and the most vulnerable.“
Bill Maher: (I forgot where I saw this one first, but it’s a toss-up between Booknotes and Follow Me Here.) “On your watch, we’ve lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you’re just not lucky. I’m not saying you don’t love this country. I’m just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: ‘Take a hint.’ “
“We…know that Bush ‘won’ Ohio by 51-48%, but statewide results were not matched by the court-supervised hand count of the 147,400 absentee and provisional ballots in which Kerry received 54.46% of the vote. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio the number of recorded votes was more than 93,000 greater than the number of registered voters. More importantly national exit polls showed Kerry winning in 2004. However, It was only in precincts where there were no paper trails on the voting machines that the exit polls ended up being different from the final count.” None dare call it stolen? A new report by Pomona professor Dennis Loo offers considerable evidence that election 2004 witnessed more GOP monkey business than has been previously reported in the mainstream press.
“Our troops deserve better: they deserve leadership equal to their sacrifice.” In the NY Times, John Kerry offers some advice to Dubya on tonight’s Iraq speech. Update: That’s your speech? Terror, terror, terror, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, all over again? Pathetic and shameful.
“The Committee for the Study of the American Electorate reported yesterday that more than 122 million people voted in the November election, a number that translates into the highest turnout — 60.7 percent — since 1968.” The Dems didn’t do so hot that year, either, but then we had Tet, Chicago, and the murders of both RFK and MLK. How are we going to answer for 2004? Also, “[t]he report noted that although turnout reached new heights, more than 78 million Americans who were eligible to vote stayed home on Election Day. The group estimated that Bush won just 30.8 percent of the total eligible voters.“
In a positive sign for more Congressional feistiness this next term, Dems force a two-hour debate over voting irregularities in Ohio. (Unlike in 2001 — as featured in the opening of Fahrenheit 9/11 — the House Dems found a Senate backer this time in Barbara Boxer. For his part, Kerry took a pass.) The GOP may chalk it up to simple sour grapes, but Congress desperately needs to talk about these issues: The American voting infrastructure was an international embarrassment in 2000 — that we had four years to solve the problem and didn’t speaks even worse of our self-appointed role as exemplars of democracy. If we can handle millions of ATM transactions every day, complete with paper trail, then surely we can do the same for millions of votes one Tuesday in November.
As we Dems still mull over November’s ignominy, Newsweek releases the details of an 11/9 interview with John Kerry in order to flog their upcoming election book. “He never quite came out and said it, but Kerry sounded very much like a man who was running for president again…Some of Kerry’s followers are already plotting how Kerry can defeat Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses in 2008.” Hmmm…I really think we need a lot more intraparty soul-searching before we pin our 2008 hopes on those two candidates…at this point, that sounds like a recipe for disaster.
“Let’s put our heads together, and start a new country up…” Well, it’s been a week. So now what? Howard Dean says put me in charge (Sure, he can’t be worse than McAuliffe), James Carville says let’s find a new story (and Keep It Simple, Stupid), and John Kerry, well, he’s “fired up” about returning to the Senate (?)…and has started contemplating a 2008 run.
From Boing Boing and the AP: “A computer error with a voting machine cartridge gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in a Gahanna [Ohio] precinct. Franklin County’s unofficial results gave Bush 4,258 votes to Democratic challenger John Kerry’s 260 votes in Precinct 1B. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct.” Hmmm…I for one don’t think it’s feasible that the entirety of Dubya’s winning popular vote margin is manufactured. (Right now, I’m more inclined to side with Jane Smiley and the Brits.) But factor in Greg Palast’s discussion of Ohio chads to the equation and, I’ll admit, one starts to wonder.
So, that’s that, then…the Idiot Wind blows anew. The American electorate has spoken and — despite all the shadiness and incompetence of the past four years — has given Dubya and his cronies the imprimatur to go hog-wild. 51-48%…this is pretty much a mandate, folks. (Big of those Red Staters to ensure that we will be woefully unprepared for the next terrorist attack on a Blue State.) Y’know, H.L. Mencken‘s whole Tyranny of the Booboisie schtick has always grated on my lefty sensibilities, but at this point I have to admit he may have been on to something.
Ugh. I’m too young to remember 1984 very well, but I’m curious as to how last night and this morning compared for America’s Left. (I’ve since been reminded by several people I trust that 1968 and 1972 were much more grievous blows.) Thing is, 2004 started out with such promise over here. But, right around the time I ended up on crutches in May, events personal and political took a nasty turn, and the past few months have been some of the most dismal I can remember. Now, it seems, I may just look back on this time as relatively calm and worry-free.
But, ok, enough wallowing…let’s start taking it frame-by-frame. Given the war, the economy, and Dubya’s obvious incompetence, how on Earth did we lose this election? Well, give credit where credit is due…all this exit-talk of “moral values” proves that Karl Rove pulled off his gambit: He got the extra 4 million evangelical votes he was targeting, partly, it seems, by judiciously invoking rampant anti-gay hysteria. Yet, for some reason or another — a lousy ground game, perhaps? — the Dems inexplicably didn’t counter with extra votes of our own.
Where do we go from here? The Dems are facing an ugly Rule of Four…We lost four seats in the Senate, at least four seats in the House, and likely four seats in the Supreme Court. Whatsmore, we now appear officially dead in the water in the South and Midwest. And, with Kerry and Daschle gone, our standard-bearers now appear to be Hillary Clinton (about whom the country has already made up its mind), John Edwards (whom I still admire, but he couldn’t carry his home state), and Barack Obama (who’s probably too inexperienced to make much headway in 2008.)
Obviously, it’s now well past time for the serious party overhaul we should’ve began last cycle, when Al Gore had an election stolen from him that he should have won hands down. Daschle & Gephardt are already in the dustbin of history, and Terry McAuliffe should probably follow them there. I for one don’t think Howard Dean was or is the answer, but he’s one of the only people injecting new blood and enthusiasm into the party right now, so he should have a seat at the table. Right now, I think Edwardsian populism is our strongest ideological card, but as I said, it didn’t seem to make much headway last night.
Silver lining? Yeah, right. Well, as this Washington Monthly forum noted in September, second terms are notoriously scandal-prone (Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica), partly out of press boredom, and Dubya’s ilk seem particularly scandal-worthy…perhaps we’ll finally hear a little more about Halliburton. I’m sure there’ll be no shortage of horrifying policy decisions emanating from this administration that’ll keep lefty blogs like this one in business. And, on a purely selfish note, my likely dissertation topic on the fortunes of progressivism in the twenties is now seeming much more sexy in the wake of last night’s 1928-like cultural divide. Of course, none of these are really any consolation at all.
At any rate, I generally believe that America tends to get the president it deserves. So, God help us, we’ve brought this upon ourselves. And now, for we 48%, the hard work begins…we have to lick our wounds, get our act together, and figure out how we can best combat the rightward drift that’s afflicting our nation. Alas, I fear Dubya will do much of the heavy lifting for us, by running the nation further into the ground over the next four years. Still, we gotta keep on keeping on, y’all. I do not believe this darkness will endure.
Well, fuck. Here we go again. At 3:10am, Ohio is still up in the air, and may well be for days, as we wait for the provisional ballots to be counted. Right now, Dubya’s up by 140,000 votes with 99% reporting, which means Kerry has to run the table with those 175,000 provisionals to go over the top. Doable, sure, but we’re definitely running really low on ammo at this point.
I’ll save the real post-mortem for when the winner’s declared (and I’m less tired), but obviously both my earlier confidence and most of today’s exit polls were, um, somewhat off. So, more tomorrow. For now, I’m off to bed, where I’m going to try not to dwell on the future of the Supreme Court.
Update: 3:49am…Oof, there went Daschle. I think it’s safe to say at this point that our party is in disarray. Still, given that 51% of the electorate signed off on four more years of Dubya tonight, despite the arrogance and incompetence displayed by this White House since January 2001…well, perhaps we Dems are destined to remain a minority party for some time to come.
[Scroll down this post for exit poll updates.] The 2pm exit polls should be out now…I’ll post ‘em as soon as I find ‘em (or when Jack Shafer of Slate divulges them.) Right now, Drudge is leading with the following: “KERRY CAMPAIGN FINDS COMFORT IN FIRST BATCH OF EXIT POLLS. Election 2004 has been rocked with first wave of exit polls which show Kerry competitive in key states, campaign and media sources tell DRUDGE. National Election Pool — representing six major news organizations — shows Kerry in striking distance — with small lead — in Florida and Ohio.” Sounds like music to my ears, but what’s this talk of striking distance? Drudge makes it sound as if Kerry was expected to lose. Update: Ok, here they are, courtesy of dKos. Apparently, they ratio was skewed 59-41 women to men, for what it’s worth:
Arizona: Bush 55, Kerry 45
Colorado: Bush 51, Kerry 48
Florida: Kerry 51, Bush 48
Iowa: Tied at 49
Louisiana: Bush 57, Kerry 42
Michigan: Kerry 51, Bush 47
Minnesota: Kerry 58, Bush 40
New Hampshire: Kerry 57, Bush 41
New Mexico: Kerry 50, Bush 48
Ohio: Kerry 52, Bush 48
Pennsylvania: Kerry 60, Bush 40
Wisconsin: Kerry 52, Bush 43
So, as of right now, Kerry’s up in all three prongs of the trifecta (Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida), and doing well in Michigan, New Mexico, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire. Iowa’s tied, and Dubya’s got Arizona and Louisiana locked up with Colorado in play. Hey, it’s early yet, but so far, so good. Let’s get those 4pm numbers!
Update 2: More from Drudge on the Senate Races: “Senate races: Thune +4 Castor +3 Burr +6 Bunning +6 Coburn +6 Demint +4 Salazar +4…” Thune (SD, v. Daschle), Burr (NC, v. Bowles), Bunning (KY, v. Mongiardo), Coburn (OK, v. Carson ), and Demint (SC, v. Tenenbaum) are GOP. Castor (FL, v. Martinez) and Salazar (CO, v. Coors) are Dems.
Update 3: Slate‘s Shafer has somewhat different morning numbers. His (that differ) are below. New states in bold:
Colorado: Bush 56, Kerry 43
Florida: Kerry 50, Bush 49
Nevada: Bush 50, Kerry 48
North Carolina: Bush 51, Kerry 49
Ohio: Kerry 50, Bush 49
Pennsylvania: Kerry 54, Bush 45
Wisconsin: Kerry 51, Bush 46
So, I don’t know what’s going on over there in Edwards Country, but otherwise, these are better numbers for Bush…he’s pulling away in Colorado and closing the gap in the Trifecta and Wisconsin. Phew…and more numbers in 15-30 minutes…if I can find them!
Update 4: Some good news on Florida, via MyDD: Hispanics in Florida are voting 53-46 for Bush (The Cuban breakdown is 68-32). This is significantly better for Kerry than the 2000 numbers: 65-35 and 83-17 for Dubya respectively.
Update 5: A friend of mine in the program alerted me to Wonkette’s numbers, which are also slightly different…I don’t know if these are the 4pm numbers or not, so I’ll just go ahead and post them, new states in bold. Update 6: These are confirmed as the 4pm numbers:
Arkansas: Bush 54, Kerry 45
Colorado: Bush 50, Kerry 49
Florida: Kerry 52, Bush 48
Iowa: Kerry 50, Bush 48 (This was a tie earlier.)
Maine: Kerry 55, Bush 44
Michigan: Kerry 51, Bush 48
Minnesota: Kerry 57, Bush 42
Ohio: Kerry 52, Bush 47
New Hampshire Kerry 58, Bush 41
New Mexico: Tied at 49 (Kerry was up before)
Nevada: Bush 49, Kerry 48
North Carolina: Bush 53, Kerry 47
Pennsylvania: Kerry 58, Bush 42
Wisconsin: Kerry 53, Bush 47
Update 7: Late numbers via Wonkette:
Colorado: Bush 50, Kerry 48
Florida: Kerry 51, Bush 49
Iowa: Kerry 50 Bush 49
Michigan: Kerry 51 Bush 47
Minnesota: Kerry 54, Bush 44
Nevada: Tied (Bush up at 4pm)
New Hampshire: Kerry 53, Bush 45
New Jersey: Kerry 54, Bush 44
New Mexico Kerry 50, Bush 48
Ohio Kerry 51, Bush 49
Pennsylvania: Kerry 53, Bush 46
Wisconsin: Kerry 51, Bush 48
Update 8: Ok, one last batch from dKos, and then I’m off to the local grad student watering hole to watch the real numbers come in. All in all, it’s looking pretty good for Kerry — he’s still leading in the Trifecta, the Michigan-Wisconsin axis, and New Mexico. But let’s keep our fingers crossed that there isn’t a Diebold surprise in the works. Here they are — I’ll see y’all on the flip-side:
Arkansas: Bush 53, Kerry 47
Ok, I can now guarantee at least one vote for the Kerry-Edwards ticket in New York. (Of course, the guy in front of me picked Nader, so it’s neck-and-neck in the Empire State in the early going…)
Well, if nothing else, it should be a lively evening, and I for one am eagerly anticipating Dubya’s Rove-penned concession speech. So, until tomorrow, vote early, vote often, and vote Kerry-Edwards!
until the American people crawl out of the television set and kick this godawful administration to the curb. I know Dubya is up ever so slightly in the polls, but ties generally go to the challenger, and, at this point I still feel pretty confident that Kerry is going to win next Tuesday. (Then again, I’ve felt that way since the primaries ended, which probably has more to do with my inability to conceive of this nation actually choosing Dubya than anything else.) And, with Big Bill back in the game to help close the deal in swing states (something Gore should have considered more seriously in 2000), I think we’re good to go. Hope is on the way, y’all.
Just in case anybody needed it spelled out, Rehnquist’s recent health problems make it explicit: next week’s vote will in fact determine the Supreme Court. It’d be hard to find a judge more Right-Wing than the Chief here, but I’m sure a second Dubya administration would do its damnedest to find one nevertheless.
Biden, Holbrooke, Biden, Holbrooke…Richardson? The Washington Post starts handicapping Kerry’s possible Cabinet choices. “Kerry has told friends he wants to tap a Republican for one of the top national security posts, preferably defense or state. Those under consideration include Sens. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Richard G. Lugar (Ind.), as well as former senator Warren Rudman.” Somehow I think the GOP won’t return the favor should Dubya win.
A new study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland finally figures out the crux of Dubya’s support: the misinformed. “75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission.” And that’s just the beginning, folks.
In a Nickelodeon online poll, nearly 400,000 American children pick Kerry over Dubya 57%-43%. “Nickelodeon has held a “Kids’ Vote” every election year since 1988, and kids have correctly predicted the winner of the general elections for the last four U.S. presidential campaigns.”
So, how you like them apples? Against all odds, the Sox reverse the Curse and finally defeat the detestable Yanks 10-3. They shouldn’t throw up the “Mission Accomplished” banner prior to the Series, but still, this must bode well for Johnny Kerry…
“We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.” The New York Times endorses John Kerry for President. Not much of a surprise, sure, but still worth reading.
Well, Dubya’s still up slightly in the polls right now, but Republican pollster Frank Luntz has nevertheless sounded the warning bells for the GOP. “Step by step, debate-by-debate, John Kerry has addressed and removed many remaining doubts among uncommitted voters. My own polling research after each debate suggests a rather bleak outlook for the Bush candidacy: many who still claim to be ‘undecided’ are in fact leaning to Mr. Kerry and are about ready to commit.“
“Less than a day after President Bush implied that Senator John Kerry lacked ‘fiscal sanity,’ the Bush administration said on Thursday that the federal government had hit the debt ceiling set by Congress [for the fourth time in three years] and would have to borrow from the civil service retirement system until after the elections.” As this article goes on to note, the Congressional GOP kicked the vote on this matter until after Election Day, so Dubya wouldn’t get any bad press. Under this president, the national debt has increased 40%, to $7.4 trillion.
“This is one of those Bush/Cheney invitation-only lovefests where the president could walk out in his boxer shorts and speak in pig Latin and the crowd would still chant ‘four more years.’” With the debates over, it’s shore-up-the-base time for Dubya (Hence, the return of the dreaded “L-Word”.) And, along those lines, evangelical leaders are working hard to get believers out for Bush. Update: Liberal Christians push back.
“The senator now says we’d have to pass some international truth standard.” Um, well, yes, we do. As Will Saletan points out, in the final three weeks of the campaign, Dubya is now explicitly running against reality. The reality is, it’s time for this faith-based administration to go.
Well, to no one’s surprise, I think John Kerry won again. But, while I’d like to say that the Senator knocked this final debate in Tempe, Arizona out of the park, frankly, he didn’t. In the early going, I thought he seemed tired and slightly discombobulated, and, at times when a concise rebuttal could have scored some serious points, Kerry’s answers often seemed more wordy and circuitous than necessary. On the other hand, I thought this was Dubya’s best performance – he was still smirking and guffawing too much, still distorting the facts, still running from his record, and still demonizing his opponent like the best of ‘em, but at least he seemed in full possession of his faculties this time around (perhaps the wire was working tonight.) I did think that Kerry warmed up in the middle third, but he lost focus again during the final questions (Native American blessings? Idears?) That being said, given the relative lack of drama tonight and the playoff baseball on FOX, I highly doubt this final debate will end up altering the current campaign dynamic much.
So there you have it, folks. Barring an October Surprise in the next three weeks, it now all comes down to the ground game, and — given what we’ve been hearing regarding voter registration, given the white-hot contempt towards Dubya held by Dems and the ambivalence with which fiscal conservatives and many veterans view this administration, and given the usual tendency of undecideds to break towards the challenger — turnout is a factor which John Kerry should win handily (barring Diebold shenanigans.) It ain’t over yet, to be sure, but right now I’d say that, despite tonight’s missed opportunities, John Kerry and John Edwards have put themselves in a solid position to win with their cumulative debate performance. The election is too close to call, definitely, but at this point I feel pretty confident our nation will make the right decision on Nov 2.
So apparently the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a right-wing-flunky television conglomerate who previously refused to air a Nightline on fallen soldiers in Iraq, will show an anti-Kerry hatchet-job on its swing state affiliates in the next two weeks. Well, I must say, that’s quite an end-run around the equal time rule, if not a blatant misuse of the public airwaves. Perhaps the FCC can extricate themselves from their shock over Janet Jackson’s breast long enough to look into this.
An hour after tonight’s town hall debate in St. Louis, the immediate spin seems to be that it was a draw, mainly because Dubya didn’t scowl and sputter to the extent he did last time around. (The “soft bigotry of low expectations” strikes again.) But it must be a Two Americas thing, ’cause that’s not the debate I saw…most of the time I was waiting for Rove and Cheney to run on stage, hold a light to Dubya’s eyes, and squirt some water in his mouth. As before, John Kerry radiated calm, determination, and a quick, roving intelligence. In a word, leadership. Dubya, on the other hand, was once again all hat and no cattle, trying to shirk, smirk, weasel, bluster, and lie his way through the proceedings. “Flip-flopper,” “global test,” tax-and-spend, etc…Dubya sought to evade every single question about his dismal record with a insult or a threat, even going so far as to throw around “Liberal” desperately, a word still verboten since his Daddy ran it through the mud in ’88.
Kerry’s been surging since last Thursday, and I expect it’ll continue after tonight. But I confess, I really can’t wrap my mind around how anyone could have watched tonight’s event and think Bush would be the better choice between these two men. With the possible exception of the canned Red Sox quip, there wasn’t a moment when Kerry didn’t seem presidential and didn’t hold the upper hand. And, as for Dubya…based on tonight, I wouldn’t trust this guy to run the local chapter of the Elks, much less the Oval Office. No mistakes made at all, Mr. President? Who wants a President so blatantly unreflective about life-and-death decisions? I mean, he could have at least tried to look one up on the Internets. Would forgetting about your timber company count as a mistake?
That being said, I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that, when considering the inevitable Supreme Court appointments over the next four years, Dubya has at least promised not to overturn Dred Scott v. Sandford. Phew! Say what you will about Dubya’s godawful judicial nominees, at least we know they’ll hold up the Thirteenth Amendment. (Civil rights and civil liberties, of course, are another matter…) Update: Ok, now I get it. It was a coded pro-life message to the right-wing fundies. (Via Blivet.) Update 2: Tim Noah talks more about Dred.
What do the Bushies do with their backs to the wall? Why, lie, of course. “From the beginning of the year, the White House has charted new ground with the sweep of its negative campaigning…[but now] several analysts say, Mr. Bush pushed the limits of subjective interpretation and offered exaggerated or what some Democrats said were distorted accounts of Mr. Kerry’s positions on health care, tax cuts, the Iraq war and foreign policy.”
“The global test is the measurement of the president’s assertions against the real world, the world you and I can see. This is the test Bush has failed.” Will Saletan dispels the “global test” canard that the GOP has been latching on to since last Thursday.
Well, to my partisan eye, Dick Cheney proved time and time again in tonight’s sole veep debate that he’s not only an inveterate liar but a major-league asshole. (Yeah, big time.) Iraq (“It’s going great!”), Osama (“We never stopped going after him!”), the homefront (“Things are looking up!”), you name it…the guy just seems to have no compunction about dissembling flat-out to the American people. Said the veep early on, “The senator has got his facts wrong. I have not suggested there’s a connection between Iraq and 9/11.” Really, Dick? How were we supposed to take Saddam “had long-established ties with Al Qaeda” then? Similarly, the audacity of Dick Cheney attacking John Kerry for voting against weapons systems he himself opposed is simply staggering.
From lies to misdirection. How did Cheney try to explain away Halliburton’s sweetheart no-bid Iraq contracts, and the subsequent looking askance at their egregious overbilling of the American people? “Um, John, I’ve never seen you around the Senate before.” (Not true, of course, but nice of Dick to send voters to the Soros-run FactCheck.com rather than FactCheck.org, though.) And, when Edwards skewered the veep with his own voting record from back in the day — no to Head Start, Meals on Wheels, and the Education Dept, no to MLK Day and to condemning apartheid(?!) — what was Cheney’s answer? “Oh, I think his record speaks for itself.” You’re damn right it does, as does yours.
All that being said, I thought Edwards missed a few chances to put the hurt on Cheney in the early going, and should have responded harder to the ridiculous “facing-up-to-Howard Dean” riff. And he didn’t really hit his stride until the domestic-policy-oriented second half, when less-interested swing voters out there had probably started tuning out. (Conversely, I thought Cheney self-destructed for awhile there, mumbling about No Child Left Behind in a question about jobs.) So, while my gut (and the insta-polling) say Edwards took this one, I’m guessing the numbers in the next few days will show a draw, if only because Cheney seemed at least somewhat cognizant of the world around him, unlike his running mate. Next stop: Friday.