Thursday, September 30, 2004

Some random initial thoughts on the Pez debate...

1) Kerry looked more Presidential;
2) Bush looked more resolute;
3) Kerry fought that by saying resolute wasn't worth American lives

Bottom Line:

Kerry won, big time.

More detail tomorrow.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

WHO IS THE FLIP FLOPPER?

John Harris, in today's Washington Post, makes a strong case that Bush has been know to flip and flop himself from time to time, but only on the things, like the 9/11 Commission, Campaign Fiance reform, same sex marriage, the Department of Homeland Security, free trade, air pollution -- you know the small, unimportant things.

But hey, at least Junior is consistent in his message that things in Iraq are going OK.

It was only a matter of time . . .

before Bush started making the argument that Kerry is "demoralizing" the troops by his critism of the President's Iraq policy and, according to the Washington Times, that time is now.

Two thoughts on that line of argument: First, it is meant to play off of the Swift Boat Veterans ads regarding Kerry's activities after he returned from Vietnam. It is a subtle, but fairly clear and meant to help gin up the Republican base.

Second, however, it illustrates the problems that the Bush campaign has with Kerry's criticism over Iraq. Instead of attacking the criticism substantively, they claim it is bad for the troops or that it is a flip flop. They can't attack it head on, because Iraq is a mess, and Bush doesn't have a clear plan, other than "stay the course."

However, most people realize that of all the options, "stay the course" is the least likely to change the situation. But Bush can't say that we should withdraw and he can't say that we should increase the number of troops . So, he is left with the old canard that any criticism of the President is bad for the troops. And frankly that is such a weak argument, that if the Kerry campaign can exploit it, they will get the voters who will decide this election to take another look at Kerry.

NADER OFF OREGON BALLOT

The Oregon Supreme Court has knock Ralph Nader off the ballot for Nov.'s election. According to the AP, The Court agreed with Democratic Secretary of State Bill Bradbury that Nader was 218 signatures short of the required 15,306.

Given the competitive nature of Oregon this election, and last (Gore won the state by only a half a percentage point), and the attractiveness of Nader in the state (he received 5% of the vote in 2000) this is certainly welcome news for the Kerry camp.

3 Point Race

On NBC Nightly News last night, NBC Washington bureau chief and moderator of Meet the Press Tim Russert said, "We have a three-point race. George Bush is at 48, Kerry at 45%, and Ralph Nader is at 2%."

Thursday, September 16, 2004

KERRY ACTUALLY LEADS IN ONE NATIONAL POLL

John Kerry is leading in the recent Harris National Poll. (Story here)

This is around the time that the convention bounce for Bush should be wearing off in the national polls. However his national poll lead (which is now disappearing) is helping in state polls, which are usually lagging indicators at this point in the race. By the end of September, I would expect that Bush will have a national lead on 1 - 2 points, and that the battlegrounds states will probably be back to even.

As I have said before, the debates will be huge, and especially the first one -- if Kerry can come across positively, or even more importantly, likeable, he will be in an excellent position to win. If he falls short, then Bush will have a distinct advantage.

The bottom line in this race is still the same, voters are ready to turn out Bush, but only if they can find Kerry acceptable. So that hasn't happened.

Nader in Fla.

The Florida Supreme Court will decided Ralph Nader's ballot status, after one court kocked him off, but the Bush appointed Director of Election dcelared that he would be on anyway. (Story here.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I SHOULD STOP UNDERESTIMATING DC VOTERS

but somehow their ability to amaze me has no limits. A perfect illustration: Marion Barry is back and wins in a landslide. And mark my words, it will only be a matter of time before Barry challanges Anthony Williams for Mayor.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Two Speeches

(And I am not talking about Bush's acceptance and Kerry's rebuttal 35 minutes later.)

Junior gave two speeches last night, one was a passionate one about Iraq-9/11-Middle East. We have seen this before, and he is strong when he talks about this topic. (Although you can certainly quibble if all three are truly one subject and not three distinct ones.)

However, before he gave that speech, he gave an extremely pedestrian speech about America, domestic issues and his plan for the next four years. It was as unoriginal as his second speech was passionate -- it was nothing but a laundry list of unoriginal ideas, without details or a plan to pay for them.

Frankly, this is the part of being President that his Daddy never got either. Being a foreign policy President is the easy part -- being a domestic policy President is hard.

Tonight was an illustration that Junior prefers the easy to the hard. The problem for him, and the hopes for the Democrats, is that the domestic part is more important to most voters. And despite attempts to merge the two via 9/11, the three most important issues will always be: jobs, jobs and jobs.

And Junior didn't really talk about that -- something he may well regret come November.

P.S.- I liked Kerry's midnight speech, but was blown away by the introduction that he got by John Edwards. I questioned the wisdom of the event, but I think it worked. It won't change the race, but it sent a message that after the GOP convention, and a less than stellar late August, the Kerry/Edwards ticket is still kicking.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

KERRY'S INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT

The Guardian is reporting the Tony Blair is silently supporting John Kerry. Not a surprise to me, but it will certainly comes as a shock to those how didn't believe Kerry when he said something along those lines in the spring.

What the Zell?

Zell Miller may have undermined the GOP convention for Junior, ala Pat Buchanan in 1992. The speech was so hate filled, and his ranting on Hardball later that night made it appear as though he had become unhinged. (He appeared to challenge Chris Matthews to a duel -- video of that is supposed to be available at msnbc.com, but I haven't found it [UPDATE - a transcript of the Hardball exchange can be found here (you have to scroll down), but it omits Zell challneging Chris to a duel; a transcript of a slightly lessed crazed Zell on CNN is here.])

Although I am sure that it played well in the Hall, and that the Fox viewers loved it, it is important to remember that the immediate reviews of Buchanan's 1992 speech were positive too. It was only after the echo chamber of the convention was lifted that the scariness of the speech were understood.

I can understand the theoretic appeal of Zell Miller -- he was a Democrat and he might be able to appeal to those people who don't quite feel comfortable with the GOP yet, by explaining, calmly rationally and even remorsefully, why he can't be a Democrat anymore. But Miller is a poor messenger for that -- he has sounded increasingly screechy, and if it was thought that he going to make a rational, calm argument by organizers, then no one had apparently been listening to him for the past year. (And, as a general rule, those Democrats who become Republicans are even more conservative and strident than the Republicans that they used to oppose. (See Phil Graham, Trent Lott and Richard Shelby.)

As for the reaction to Zell: Rich Lowry gave him only 2 stars on FOX last night, while Bill Kristol gave him 4 1/2 stars; Ramesh Ponnur has some questions he would like to ask Zell here and appears to not have been very impressed; the New York Times called it "a memorably brutal attack"; and the USA Today said it was a "angry speech, delivered with a firm scowl" and "brutal". Andrew Sullivan declared that "[t]he man's speech was not merely crude; it added whole universes to the word crude" and has ripped the speech apart here.

While I don't think Zell is as bad a Pat was in 1992 (although it is close), I do think it will be the speech that is most rued, and maybe remembered, from the GOP's New York experience.

(Also feel free to read this story on how John Kerry was a "authentic American hero" to Zell Miller, a mere three years ago, and an website devoted to all things Zell here.)

[UPDATE - More on Zell here. ]
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