Shouting 'Cross the Potomac
but never a Monday morning quarterback
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Saturday, March 09, 2002
Which Bitch Made Him Do It?
Tony AdragnaColbert raises some interesting points in his column today, Will. And, he clues into why Barry has a pretty good chance of winning. Barry has had a very interesting career.
Anybody who thinks that Barry doesn't have a chance ought to remember that even after his conviction he came back and won a council seat, and the mayor's office. His absence from elective office since 1998 has, as anyone who knows anything about DC politics will tell you, nothing at all to do with inability to win an election -- something he would have no trouble doing -- and everything to do with his own decision not to seek another term. As noted at the time:
Nonetheless, Barry can say he went out on top: A Washington Post survey conducted this month shows him with a commanding 2 to 1 lead over his rivals and a much more committed base of support.His prospects for another term were so good that the other three Democratic candidates suspended their campaigns while waiting for Barry to get off the pot.
Now, I've heard people from other places ask, "How does Barry do it?" The answer is obvious - he's a populist who doesn't just speak to what The People want, but actually works toward giving them what they want. How he goes about delivering on his promises -- he's an unashamed believer in socialist type government programs -- is questionable. But, at election time people only remember that Barry did his best to take care of them. Never mind the old lesson about how teaching a man to fish is preferred to just giving him a fish -- right now I'm gettin' fed, and I ain't gonna bite that hand.
And don't think that times have changed enough that Barry's old agenda has no currency. There's a whole host of issues -- school vouchers (school reform in gerneral), youth employment, development in economically depressed neighborhoods, etc. -- on which Barry gets much traction.
I wouldn't be surprised if Barry also has a reprise of services at DC General Hospital on his plate.
Of course, the answer to my question is supplied by Colbert: Barry's doing it 'cause he wants to, just like the last time...
Saturday Morning Offerings
Will VehrsCheck out the Saturday edition of Print Punditwatch and Blog Watch II.
Congratulations to JulieC, winner of the Ipse Dixit caption contest. Once again, she bested yours truly, but she benefited from the absence of "Rags" and one shot wonder Dan Dickinson. Another contest is awaiting your entries.
Ipse Dixit also has an interesting list contest going--what five songs could you never tire of? Here's my list, even though I have way more than five:
Thunder Road Bruce Springsteen
Running on Empty Jackson Browne
Jokerman Bob Dylan
In Dreams Roy Orbison
Poncho and Lefty Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard
Send your list in!
Friday, March 08, 2002
Tony AdragnaThat Novak column is interesting, Will – not for what it says about why Riordan lost, but for what it says about why Simon might have a better shot a Davis than it might appear. The clue comes in Novak’s final graf:
Champagne corks are popping in the governor's office, but Democratic consultant Joe Cerrell remembers 1966 when his party's establishment undermined San Francisco's moderate Republican Mayor George Christopher to permit a clear shot at an ''easily beatable'' conservative: Ronald Reagan. Cerrell tentatively views Simon as another probable loser, but adds: ''His momentum could propel him all the way, and that makes me worried.''I was but a wee one year old when Mr. Reagan won that election, but a quick mental review of what lessons I learned in school prompted me to take a look at what impact the circumstances of those times might have had on the election. I found a NYT excerpt from Matthew Dallek’s The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan's First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics 9the sample pages are worth a read, too):
In the mid-1960s revolution was in the air. Leaders of the New Left spoke of revolt against the Establishment; leaders of the Far Right echoed them in talk of toppling the liberal order. Media images were filled with violence: frightened National Guardsmen brandished fixed bayonets in Watts, where burned-out buildings lay in ruin; angry activists marched on military bases; protests erupted against segregated hotels and businesses; students turned out by the thousands to fight for free speech on campus; anticommunist leaders held rallies and workshops to teach people how to defend their homes and schools against the red menace. This was a time of stark contrasts, nowhere more so than in California. The much-discussed New Left activists of the '60s were offset by an equally impassioned group on the other side. For every organizer from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) there was a John Birch activist; for every civil rights marcher there was an anticommunist rally-goer; for every antiwar protester there were several more who sympathized with American aims in Vietnam.Seems an era that was rife with all of the excesses of radical liberalism, and ripe for the message of a social conservative. Are we at a parallel point?
I don’t think we are. There are some strains, though less virulent, of the old anti-war, anti-US sentiment. But, to read some of the commentary, especially the rantings a certain individual whom I hold in high regard, you would think that we’re on the verge of reprising the radicalism of the ‘60s. Is there an ulterior motive?
Maybe so -- it’s no secret that the more conservative wing of the GOP has been trying for awhile to sell a more-to-their-liking candidate, and they may be getting ready to ring up a sale – if California’s buying, that is.So what if Gray Davis isn’t a radical – the idea that the radicals, the moral decay, the John Walker Lindh’s, are the result of defunct liberal government, just might be an item that everybody is ready to buy, if properly presented.
I think that if the GOP wants to push Simon to the top in California, they hafta play the radical card.
p.s. Gimme some time to decide where I come down on steel tariffs. I think that they actually do more harm than good to our domestic steel industry, but I haven’t really looked at whether the specifics cited against foreign steel makers have any merit, or are just the finger-pointing of a perpetually failing U.S. steel industry (I lean toward the later).
Piling On Steel
Will VehrsTony, I'm going to pass on another Daschle war comments discussion in favor of a more recent controversy. Everybody is piling on President Bush for his decision on steel tariffs; the latest is our favorite oppressor, Tim Blair, writing for foxnews.com.
I'm a free trader and I wish Bush had not imposed tariffs. I'm also a realist. Congress is narrowly divided. The last presidential election was extremely close. Bush won West Virginia, but he lost Pennsylvania by a small margin. If he can keep WV and pick up PA, his prospects are good for 2004. If he can hold or pick up some Congressional seats for Republicans, he can better control the agenda. Trade is a big, amorphous issue for the American public. I suspect most Americans are for free trade except when presented with an example of an American industry going down the tubes due to foreign competition. Then they probably side with the American industry and "helping them."
As Glenn Reynolds points out, opinion leaders are outraged by the steel tariffs, but the public at large has no idea or doesn't care. Politically, steel tariffs are probably a political plus. It's not pretty, but politics rarely is. As for the comparisons with Clinton's "principled" stand on free trade and decision to not grant relief to the steel industry, let's remember that Clinton-Gore thought they could take WVA for granted and were ahead in PA, so their political calculus was much different than Bush's.
I just hope that the tariffs are indeed temporary and that the steel industry does do what it takes to compete against the world.
One anecdote from my recent personal experience. I was called on to help a scrap metal recycler in my state who was in trouble. Cheap steel imports were hurting his business and that of scores of other scrap dealers--it is American mills that buy scrap metal and recycle it into their products, not the foreign steelmakers. When US steel companies are not buying scrap metal, more of that metal goes into landfills, never to recovered and reused. I spoke to my contact at the scrap company yesterday and he is cautiously optimistic that the tariffs and the economic upturn will help his business. He won't know until July. Those who profess to be environmentalists ought to consider the recycling aspect of Bush's decision.
Pundits Attack Blogosphere Sacred Cows!
Will VehrsTony, I fully expect the slumbering Blog World to rise up in righteous indignation as Ayn Rand and gun ownership are attacked by major pundits this morning. It's all in Print Punditwatch.
I also got the AM edition of Blog Watch II up before it would have been another PM edition.
Tony AdragnaI've given some though to whether or not I would do this -- I don't particularly look forward to being likewise labeled -- but I just gotta.
What did Daschle say that was all that critical? Sure, he defended The Insufferable Old Man, but to read the Daschle Defamers (should I start a Daschle Anti-Defamation League) you would think that Daschle made those very comments himself. 'Bout the only thing Daschle said that might be open to criticism is his insistance that we won't have broken al Qaeda unless we catch bin Laden & Omar.
We, correctly in my opinion, don't want to define victory against terrorism -- the endpoint -- as having caught these two figures. The war is about going after and quashing global terrorist networks, not specific individuals. But, it seems perfectly clear to me that the capture of bin Laden & Omar, or the verification of their deaths, is a milestone which can't be skirted. So long as those two are walking free, they do pose a danger. We should pursue these guys just like the Israelis pursued Nazis.
But, there's also a broader policy question that needs be addressed. It's not sufficient to simply say, "Well, we're gonna fight terrorism where ever we find it." I agree with the sentiment, but congress has to have something better than that in order to fulfill its constitutional obligations - unless that administration wants a blank cheque, which congress was careful not to give (remember how there was much talk of the Tonkin Resolution around the time that congress approved the resolution authorizing current action? - they explicity didn't wanna go there again).
The administration is obviously going to have a hard time giving congress something specific on fighting terrorism - that fight is ad hoc per se ('tis not a set piece engagement: you gotta deal with terrorists as they're detected). However, there are some scenarios which are under consideration, and to the extent that there may be some info the administration can give congress, it ought to.
Most importantly, Daschle explicitly made clear his support of current action, and never said that he wouldn't support some future action. All he said was: Tell me what you're gonna do so's we can do what we gotta do.
... and Burning Down Another Strawman
To top off the nastiness of the Daschle Defamation, the conservative rag that I love to hate, The Washington Times, ran a story recently (which I can't find a link to) making it sound as if Daschle had all of a sudden decided to support the war when confronted with casualties in the field. The writer made a big deal of Daschle saying "today" he supports the President, asserting by implication that the day before Daschle was not in support of the Presidnet. What TWT left out is that Daschle had previously used similar language --"to date" -- meaning: as of this date, I'm still in support.
Seems to me that what I've always observed about TWT -- that its reportage is blatantly full of editorializing (as opposed to at least an attempt at fairness from the WaPo - though bias still intrudes) -- is irrefutable.
[Update 12:13 PM - Here's the Washington Times Story. Don't remember where I read the "today" language, but the point I'm making still holds:
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who last week criticized President Bush for the direction of the war in Afghanistan, is now praising the president's leadership.And
The about-face, initiated by Mr. Daschle's office after eight U.S. troops were killed in combat this weekend, follows the storm of protest he raised last week by calling into question the direction and success of the war.I'll reiterate: Daschle never criticized the conduct of the war in Afganistan. What he said is very much the opposite: "I don't think it would do anybody any good to second-guess what has been done to date. I think it has been successful." What is he claiming to have been successful? The action in Afghanistan (what else?). Who does he not want to second guess? The President (who else?). Those comments were made on Feb 28. So, where's this "about face"?...]
Thursday, March 07, 2002
Yours TrulyHey Will – I did it again!
Maybe I am prescient, though I prefer to think that I’m merely intuitive and perceptive. And it’s very much those qualities upon which I counted when I predicted the outcome on the “Stimulus” debate:
“Relief” will pass easily sometime early in the year […] the relief will take the form of tax breaks and government spending.[emphasis original - eds]So, imagine my glee when I read that House GOP relented, opting for a plan that:
[…]provide[s] as much as 13 weeks of extra unemployment benefits to hundreds of thousands of Americans. It also calls for $43 billion in tax breaks designed to stimulate investment, a proposal with considerable bipartisan support.But, I had to say to myself, “Self! It isn’t done yet! will they meet my deadline?”
Well, I got into the office, pulled up the story online (preparatory to commenting here), and lo & behold, I see a a link to a related story headlined, House Passes Economic Stimulus Bill (by an almost unheard of margin on like matters: 417 - 3) - never mind the misleading headline: the stimulus is aimed mostly at countering adverse impacts from the slowdown (rather than a broader long-term economic policy initiative), and so I call it relief.
And the news gets even better! Ya know, there usually are minor differences what gotta get worked out in conference – it can’t be that the House version will track the Senate version so closely as to make conferencing not necessary (can it? On non-controversial measures, yes, but on items such as this, usually no). Certainly there are minor divergences in the two versions (don’t know what they are as I haven’t bounced one off the other), but Daschle has telegraphed that there may be no need for conference: if the Senate takes up the House version and passes it with no amendments, then it’s a done deal!
My question for you, Will (since it be your forte): How bodes this for the parties vis a vis the current election cycle?
p.s.: On a bit of election cycle news that ought have been a no-brainer, I'm curious as to why Condit's loss at the polls is news - seems to me that's another one that I would characterize as something a highschool social studies class coulda figured out...
Will's TakeTony, I think this is proof that the politicians think the recession is essentially over, so it's in both parties' interests to pass something innoculating them from a "do-nothing" charge in the fall. That means this election cycle will not be about blame for the recession, but ancillary economic issues like social security, deficit spending, and healthcare. Democrats will scream that Republicans want to take social security away; Republicans will scream that Democrats are insufficiently bellicose to be trusted in the War on Terror. With loads of soon to be outlawed soft money available for ads, that does not bode well for a high-minded campaign season. We've already seen what candidates with lots of money, e.g. Gray Davis, will do with it.
Oh, and I predicted your prediction would be right ....
Clean Sweep at Punditwatch
StaffToday's Print Punditwatch features a first--every pundit covered today makes the recommended reading list. Check it out for the summaries.
Blog Watch II is back. With Joanne Jacobs vacationing in England, the squabbling Spinsters are a provocative replacement in the AM line-up.
Wednesday, March 06, 2002
Tony's Brutal Honesty
Will VehrsDon't be sorry, Tony. Just hope that shutting up when you don't have anything to say doesn't catch on in the Blogosphere ....
When's A Good Time