Friday, July 30


Josh Marshall has a scoop:

Now this is rich.

President Bush's new line of attack is that John Kerry is a man of few achievements.

"My opponent has good intentions," the president said today. "But intentions don't always translate into results. After 19 years in the United States Senate, my opponent has had thousands of votes but very few signature achievements."

This might be a plausible line of attack coming from another opponent. Unlike, say, Russ Feingold or Ted Kennedy, there's no prominent piece of legislation with Kerry's name on it, though admirers of Kerry point to his critical role in a series of high-profile Senate investigations.

But coming from George W. Bush? A guy whose handlers had to get some of the more gullible run of journalists to refer to his life before he turned forty as his 'lost years'?

More evidence of a truly twisted, up-is-down mind...


Ezra Klein of Pandagon catches my breathless, disbelieving, euphoric reaction to The Speech:

There's no post I can write that won't be reductive to the moment. You guys talk; nothing driven by me can fit nor fill the moment.

Update: I believe, truly, that this is the perfect speech for John Kerry. It addresses every slander against him and absorbs the vulnerable edges into positive portions of a great man. This is phenomenal.

Update: Stunning. He did it. I didn't think he could, not after Obama and Clinton and Edwards and Cleland. But he did it. He gave the perfect speech for this moment, for this race, for this crowd. He couldn't rely on his charisma and so he instead told the country where it needed to go. He couldn't do flash so he did substance...and he did it. There's nothing I can say beyond that...I'm sorry...I just don't have the words for it.

I'm inspired. I'd forgot what this felt like.

I called to my husband as Kerry took the stage: "Honey, hurry up. You've never seen such a big smile on John Kerry's face as this!" It just went uphill from I the only Clintonite that thought he even did the Big Dog one better?

Loved that "sad eyes" comment from Max Cleland -- I've often thought the same thing about John Kerry. They've always struck me, too, as sad or soulful...contrast "The Smirk" with "The Soul."


Okay, I'm the mother of five still married to my college sweetheart, and my mother and sisters (Daddy's gone now) are the most wonderful women I know. So you can tell that family is a big thing with me.

But wasn't the sight of Chris Heinz carrying Jack Edwards around on his shoulders on the stage after Kerry's speech last night a Norman Rockwell kind of picture? Then came the shot of his brother teasing Emma Claire, and it all looked like a family reunion to me, those outstanding Kerry girls and hunky Heinz boys mixing naturally with the beaming Edwards kids as if it was just an ordinary beautiful day in the neighborhood.

We all get gut feelings from things like this from time to time. I've always looked carefully at a man or woman's family relationships as part of my overall evaluation of their character, especially in presidential races, where we're electing a "father of our country" for a season. For example, Reagan was a very distant father (though a devoted husband), so I couldn't see him as a man who would really care about the everyday lives of his constituents. The Bush girls certainly don't reflect well on the pResident's parenting skills, and the Bush siblings have had their share of scandals played out in the press, so Bush 41 didn't do much better. But both Kerry and Edwards have done marvelously well in raising their progeny and stepchildren (as did Carter, Clinton and Gore) to be well-adjusted, caring, down-to-earth young people you'd just love to embrace.


The print edition of today's Wall Street Journal has a front-page poll graphic. The question: Has removing Saddam Hussein been worth the U.S. casualties and financial cost?

Age 65 and older
Worth it: 33%
Other: 10%
Not worth it: 57%

Worth it: 34%
Other: 9%
Not worth it: 57%

Swing voters
Worth it: 34%
Other: 13%
Not worth it: 53%

Blue-collar workers
Worth it: 44%
Other: 10%
Not worth it: 46%

Worth it: 45%
Other: 12%
Not worth it: 43%

[Source: WSJ/NBC News poll, July 19-21. Margin of error is +/- 3.4 percentage points.]


Remember when George H.W. Bush revealed during the 1992 presidential race that he didn't know the price of a gallon of milk? (I wonder if his son has a clue that it's gone WAY WAY UP lately--) It was the eye-opener for many that the man was just plain out of touch with the lives of ordinary Americans.

The rumor about Tom Ridge leaving his post at Homeland Security because he "needs to make more money to put his two teenagers through college" strikes me as a similar moment. Gee, no wonder the Republicans are so desperate for those tax cuts for the wealthy -- they've got to put their kids through school, poor dears, and they need that extra money to do it!

Wonder how they'd like to try putting five kids through on half that salary...

Or a quarter...


It's gone now from the site, but this morning the Dallas Morning News invited readers to submit their answers to the question: What was the most memorable moment at the DNC? These were the answers, all of them:

--Kerry's speech was pretty concise and clear. My family has voted Republican in past elections, but we believe Kerry will approach the war on terrorism at home and abroad with intelligence, competence, and bring America back to its rightful place of honor in the eyes of the world. We will be on the path to a much safer world with him in the White House.

--Obama's speech.

--I loved seeing Jimmy Carter criticize President Bush. It reminds me of how great this country is and how sad/delusional the democratic party is...only in America could the worst President in American history whose tenure was marked by economic stagnation and diplomatic humiliation lecture one of our better Presidents about the economy and national security. Priceless!!!

--I watched this convention with an open mind as an undecide [sic] voter. I never really knew much about Senator Kerry but I like Senator Edwards. After listening to Senator Kerry's speach [sic] I am confident thyat he will make a great leader for our Nation. I have lost hope and confidence in President Bush. He promised to be a uniter, but never came through. Good luck Senators Kerry and Edwards,you just earned my vote!

--Seeing the next president of the U.S.A. John Kerry. I hope Kerry cuts off every nickle [sic] of money coming to the north Texas rightwing hate land. The big endorsement from the Dallas Morning News for Bush will do no good.

--If I had watched it then I would tell you...but...

--"Reporting for duty" was a poor opening and epitomized the overall weakness of his speech. I do not understand why he implores President Bush to run a positive campaign immediately following his sharp criticisms of him, VP Cheney, SecDef Rumsfeld, and Attorney General Ashcroft. Poor taste.

--Memorable moment? It had one?

--When Kerry made this statement, "We value an America that controls its own destiny because it's finally and forever independent of Mideast oil. What does it mean for our economy and our national security when we only have three percent of the world's oil reserves, yet we rely on foreign countries for fifty-three percent of what we consume? I want an America that relies on its own ingenuity and innovation -- not the Saudi royal family." If he does become president, I hope he remembers this statement when there is an oil embargo and our only ingenuity is drilling the arctic. I thought he started off by saying we need to mend fences with our allies. Yes I know the Saudis are not the most loyal to us. See if this bites him later.

--When it ended.

--Bill Clinton. Kerry's speech was very good and Obama was certainly the most pleasant surprise, but Clinton is still the star of the party and would easily defeat W in a head to head race.

--The best thing about the Democratic National Convention is that it is finished.

--When the phrase "Hope is on the way" was said after every other word...gimme a break, please.

--Obama!!! He had the best speech I have ever heard. He spoke of true American dreams, and gave hope to everyone who had the fortune of listening to him speak!

--Excellent: Bill Clinton, Obama. OK: John Edwards. Average: Heinz-Kerry, Dean. Not good: Hillary (why does she get so much pub?). His time is up: Gore.

--I think the convention as a whole was very positive and gave Americans a genuine hope for a better future. The most memorable event thus far has been the unifying keynote address by Illinois state senator Barak Obama, with VP candidate John Edwards' uplifting speech a close second. I look forward to the Republican Convention in August to see if they can match the Democrats' positiveness, as this country has been a victim of negative campaigning for too long.

--I am a republican, but the most memorable moment was Clinton's speech. Unbelievable. I am not a Clinton fan, but was so impressed with his speech. If he was running, I might consider voting for him for the first time. I have to admit, if Clinton was running, I do not think George Bush would have a shot.

--Howard Dean was the highlight for me. He is a great man, he got the ball rolling earlier this year politically, he was able to get more people involved in this election, brought attention to issues that no one else even touched on.

--Hearing the Democrats speak about real issues that affect all Americans. I want to hear how we can unite the country and solve our problems rather than hear all of the divisive talk. We had a real opportunity after 911 to unite against terrorism but the President used that togetherness to take us into a war we should not have fought. I hope we can get that feeling back and focus it where it should be. I hope to hear the same type of thing from the Republicans convention. I look forward to making a difficult decision come November.

--I absolutely love Barack Obama, Teresa Heinz Kerry, President Clinton and Senator Clinton. There, I said it inb one breath. If I could choose one highlight that was a show stopper, it had to have been the presence of Ron Reagan on the dias [sic]. That in itself says it all. Send him!

--Definitely Barak Obama. He is so inspiring, positive, energetic, intelligent and dignified. Would love to see him fill the shoes of President of the United States someday.


Tune in, turn on, decide:

Political conventions are important, and they deserve to be broadcast and viewed in their entirety. You can't call everyone in Washington morons if you don't know exactly what it is that makes them morons.

The conventional wisdom is that conventions nowadays are beneath our attention because they're so "produced" and there's no drama. So what? We're picking the president, not the last comic standing. It's not a reality show; if it were, they would have voted Al Sharpton off the first night.
The media treat these conventions as if they're pointless interruptions of their real job, which is covering the Scott Peterson trial. No drama, no excitement.

Hey, you know what's exciting? It's exciting when politicians get drunk with power because people aren't keeping an eye on them. That's when the high jinks really begin: Who expected we'd invade Iraq because of 9/11? Unpredictable, whoo!

And by the way, it's good that these conventions are "produced." "Produced" is good. I like the produced version of the "Let It Be" album better. It's good that someone produces my show, and when I find out who it is, I'm gonna shake his hand! It's good when you produce a date: Most women like it when their boyfriends pick the restaurant and make the reservations. The postwar in Iraq is something that could have used a little more production value.

The point of "producing" political conventions is to make it easy for us to make a choice. In recent years, the parties have gone out of their way to give you their pitch in the one medium all Americans respect and can still understand, the infomercial — and yes, they produced it so as not to waste your time, or drag you away for too long from the challenges of the "Andy Dick Show."
They put on a pageant for you: "These are our faces, these are our voices, this is our vision of America's future" — like a car show, but instead of cars, they have ideas, ideas about where our country is going and about how the people who take such a huge chunk of our money are going to use it.

And you'd think, after all that's hit the fan since the last conventions, viewership would have gone up from 2000. What does John Kerry have to do to get your attention, fire Omarosa?

I'm not asking you to pore over issues and read everything that's out there; we can't even get our president to do that. But the conventions are one of the only times when the election isn't reduced to a war of sound bites and attack ads, one of your last chances to form an opinion that means something.

Americans don't get taught anything, but they get asked their opinions every day, so we get the impression that having an opinion is the same as knowing something. Which it isn't. And I've got the polls to back that up.

So instead of downgrading the conventions, let's elevate them so that campaigns are no longer reduced to just sound bites, and come November, I guarantee that voters will finally be able to make informed decisions based on speeches they TiVo'd but never got around to watching.


Just had a fascinating discussion with J, the Strategic Planning guru of my Fortune 250 company. He's a mid-thirties Republican who likes to chat with me because I'm the token Democratic progressive around here, and he likes a good political discussion. His take on the convention last night, Bush, the election, etc.:

The staging last night was terrific. Hearing the kids talk about their dad (Kerry) and seeing the Swift Boat veterans standing behind their commander were impressive -- that's two things the Republicans can't do (J thinks the Repubs would be taking a big risk setting the Bush twins and the Cheney progeny loose with a microphone, and the lack of a "band of brothers" just raises the usual embarrassing questions).

Kerry's speech: strong on Kerry's qualifications, good with the attacks on the current administration, lousy on policy.

Bottom line: It didn't change his mind about who to vote for. He hasn't decided yet. He's a Republican who believes in his party's ideals: limited government, fiscal conservatism, strong national defense. Only he voiced doubts that his party is acting as if those are its values.

So I asked him, what is it about Bush that makes you consider voting for another four years of him? I got an unsatisfactory answer, and I think the fact that he couldn't come up with a better one disturbed him:

Bush is unflappable, determined, and won't be swayed from his course of action. Of course, J mused, that can also be a negative if his course of action is the wrong one. He went on to opine that Bush's decision-making process is flawed, not sensible, and tends to lead to bad decisions (which he asserted is usually a problem for Democrats). But still, he cited Bush's "strength" as his greatest asset. The example he gave? A case can still be made that, given the available intelligence at the time, going to war with Iraq was the right decision, and only Bush would have made it. That's a plus, he says, though he confided that he'd been upset during the run-up to war that it was a preordained decision based on an undisclosed political agenda, reflecting a troubling lack of transparency in the administration. He believes that reasonable people could disagree about the war, and objects to BushCo's stereotyping of war objectors (or questioners) as unpatriotic.

J confided that trust and transparency are troublesome negatives for him where the Bushies are concerned. The Florida electronic voting problems haunt him. "There's no hint of a desire to fix it, to do the right thing," he said. A former rising-star consultant with one of the world's big three consulting companies, he said, "I've seen it many times in companies, a reluctance to open the books to outsiders. When that happens, there's almost always something they have to hide."

J came back a while later and said, "Oh I forgot to add that Bush has terrific charisma when he turns it on." He had spent the time he was away listing for himself those issues that were most important and comparing the two candidates' comparative strengths in those areas. "They're not even close on the nature of their strengths," he stated. "I guess the vote will come down to which criteria are most important to the individual voter." Said he's still undecided.

Do you have friends as conflicted? Maybe it's time to ask them the question: JUST WHY ARE YOU VOTING FOR GEORGE BUSH? I never really entered the conversation, except to provide the occasional prompt. J just thought aloud for a half hour and went away very very troubled. IT'S TIME WE STARTED TO GET PEOPLE THINKING OUT LOUD AND LET THEM CONVINCE THEMSELVES TO VOTE KERRY, NOT BUSH.