Friday, February 13, 2004

A link to the 9-11 commision story here.


According to NBC's David Gregory, President Bush has agreed to meet privately with the 9-11 commission. This would take the place of a public testimony.

Another after hours release of a major story. In the biz this is what they call "a Friday night garbage dump."

The Saturday papers, which most people don't read, will be awfully interesting....


Here's The Washington Post story on Bush's military records.

It should be noted, not only is this a Friday night, it's a Friday night before a long weekend. By the time this story hits the masses, it'll three days old and spun into the ground by both Democrats and Republicans.


Check out this absurd exchange from yesterday's Inside Politics With Judy Woodruff. It was repeated again today on CNN's Live From.

Be sure to note how Bill Schneider, even admidst this fluffy drivel, manages to take a cheap shot at Al Gore.

"WOODRUFF: The grand finale to the Westminster Kennel Club dog show was Tuesday in New York. And that got us to thinking. Are there any similarities between the highly trained canines and politicians? Especially the breed seeking to be president? Who better to ask than our senior political or canine -- or political analyst Bill Schneider -- Bill.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Want to know how to pick a winner? Look at how the Westminster Kennel Club does it. The candidates have to go out on the road so they can show their stuff. These contenders are just like politicians. They require an awful lot of care and attention. But they also have to endure a lot of close scrutiny. The judges may dress a little more formal than New Hampshire primary voters but they are no less focused.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that concentration.

SCHNEIDER: Let's look at the contenders. Why there's Dennis Kucinich.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great little dogs. They think they're a big dog.

No, they know they're a big dog.

SCHNEIDER: Everyone loves John Edwards, so friendly and good natured.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't say enough good things about golden retrievers. I had a great golden retriever.

SCHNEIDER: But can he win?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never won best in show. Maybe that will change tonight.

SCHNEIDER: Now here's a very impressive candidate, John Kerry. Wonder if he's had Botox treatments? Nah.

Look! It's Al Sharpton. What has he done with his hair? How about this Dean dog?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His heart is fearless.

SCHNEIDER: But he's had some problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This breed has been deliberately reduced to be a lap-size companion.

SCHNEIDER: Too bad General Wesley Clark got eliminated. He had impressive credentials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Briard was the official dog of the French army. His intelligence, loyalty, strength and agility allowed him to keep on the move for long hours, as he keeps his flock within his gaze.

SCHNEIDER: Hey! There's Barney, President Bush's dog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Scottie owner must be firm enough to earn a Scottie's respect. Reasonable enough to satisfy the Scottie's strong sense of fair play. And confident enough to love a dog that openly feels superior to its owner.

SCHNEIDER: Sounds like a good dog to have in the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Westminster crowns the one, the only best in show.

SCHNEIDER: OK. Who's the winner? Oh, my God, it's Al Gore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was here last year and didn't win.

SCHNEIDER: He certainly sounds like Al Gore.

AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He betrayed this country. He played on our fears.


SCHNEIDER: The Westminster dog show may have the right idea. There are no endless debates and they get the whole thing done in a few days. Woof.

WOODRUFF: Our phones are ringing off the hook. The campaigns are calling to complain. Bill Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: I think the dog lovers might be calling.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. We can't do any better than that. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now."

No, we didn't make this up...


Read Wesley Clark's endorsement of John Kerry here.


President Bush has announced he will release all of his military records.

One thought: are the Bush people leaking this information on Friday night so that it will be stale by Monday morning?

More on this as it develops.


Thursday, February 12, 2004

If conservative pundits continue to cite John Kerry's defense of Bill Clinton's service record in 1992, it must be noted that the majority of comments made by Kerry were in response to attacks on Clinton by then president, George H.W. Bush.

While in college, Clinton sought and received a deferment from the draft lottery, which he later relinquished. It was ultimately a high draft number that kept him from service in Vietnam. In the final months of the 1992 presidential race, the Bush campaign latched onto Clinton's service record as a potential major issue.

All excerpts are from The Washington Post.

"In his most biting personal attack of the campaign, President Bush today savaged his Democratic opponent as a weak-kneed waffler who suffers from 'Clintonesia' about his prior statements and whose lack of military service detracts from his ability to serve as commander-in-chief...

It was here in Fort Lauderdale that Bush switched gears from attacking Clinton's Arkansas record and critiquing his economic proposals. Standing in front of the type of torpedo bomber he flew during World War II, Bush let loose with pointed assault on Clinton's character and truthfulness.

'I've finally figured out why he compares himself to Elvis,' Bush said. 'The minute he has to take a stand on something, he starts wiggling...'

The strongly personal tone of the assault - and that it came from Bush himself rather than campaign surrogates - marked a distinct upping of the rhetorical ante in a campaign that has just a month to run.

'It's no-holds-barred from now on,' said Bush-Quayle spokeswoman Torie Clarke."

("Bush Steps Rhetoric In Attacks On Clinton; Rival Called Waffler, Lack Of Service Noted [my emphasis]" 10.04.92)

Note the venomous tone (and the campaign aide who sounds like The Comic Book Guy, from The Simpsons) in the following:

"The Bush campaign makes it clear that further attacks on Clinton are likely. 'We're not going to start moving until we rip the skin off the guy,' said one official, an indication of negative ads likely to begin airing soon.

Another official said the Bush-Quayle campaign could not launch a full-scale attack on the issue of Clinton's credibility until it had 'laid a positive foundation.' Asked what that foundation consisted of, the official pointed to last week's speeches, then said only half-jokingly, 'The only reason you take the high road is to get to the low road.'

Bush aides said they will continue to make the draft part of the campaign dialogue. 'Surely, you jest,' one Bush adviser said when asked whether the president's campaign would drop the issue. 'We will keep whispering in America's ear until it is time to hit them with the hammer.' When will that be? 'In due time.'"

("For Bush Aides, Positive Tack Isn't A Winner, Draft Issue maneuver Points To More Attacks On Clinton" 09.16.92)

The Bush campaign later used a supporter's recording of her bed-ridden, 76-year-old father, to discredit Clinton's service record:

"The Bush campaign, attempting to keep alive questions about Bill Clinton's draft history, yesterday distributed a 'Memorandum for the Record' signed by the former chief of the University of Arkansas Reserve Officers' Training Corps program accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of 'purposely defrauding' the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

In the memo, retired Army Col. Eugene Holmes charged that Clinton deceived him by seeking entry to the Arkansas ROTC program as a 'ploy' to defer military service and failing to inform him about his 'anti-military activities.' Holmes also said he received 'several' calls from Clinton's draft board indicating that the office of Sen. J. William Fulbright (D-Ark.) was 'putting pressure on them' to get Clinton a slot in the ROTC program so he could avoid the draft.

Holmes's statement was somewhat stronger than comments he made to the press earlier this year, but added little new information to the controversy about Clinton's actions. It was faxed to some news organizations on Wednesday by Holmes's daughter, Linda Burnette of Fort Smith, Ark., a vocal supporter of President Bush and sometime Republican activist who said yesterday that she had compiled it based on tape-recorded interviews she conducted with her ailing, 76-year-old father this summer.

Nevertheless, the Bush campaign, the White House and Republican congressmen seized on the document yesterday as fresh evidence of what they charge are Clinton's character defects. 'He was deceitful and he still cannot tell America the facts about what happened related to his problem with the ROTC and the draft,' White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater said, en route to a campaign stop in Oklahoma.

("Bush Camp Distributes Memo In Effort To Keep The Clinton Draft Issue Alive" 09.18.92)

Will Bush Sr. be as "hawkish" on his son's service record?


Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Bush gives another nod to the base.

Where an ammendment banning gay marriage is concerned, the primary purpose of the Constitution is to grant rights, not take them away.

This is an issue better left to the states.


Somebody explain to me how "Top Gun" Bush is going to beat this.

We've got one guy dressed up in a flight suit, the other toting an M-16 through the jungles of Vietnam. This is the last thing the Bush campaign wanted.

Off in a dark corner somewhere, a sobbing Ann Coulter craddles her George W. Bush pilot doll.

She whispers between tears:

"Talk to me Goose, talk to me..."


Wesley Clark discusses his exit from the democratic primaries here. I'll try to post a transcript of his speech from Little Rock later.


You can read the President's speech here.

The speech wasn't as assertive as I'd predicted, but Bush did throw a bone to the base.

"There is a consensus among nations that proliferation cannot be tolerated. Yet this consensus means little unless it is translated into action (my emphasis.) Every civilized nation has a stake in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. These materials and technologies, and the people who traffic in them, cross many borders. To stop this trade, the nations of the world must be strong and determined. We must work together, we must act effectively."

Dennis Miller must be giddy. This is the kind of forceful rhetoric that portended the war in Iraq.

Bush went on to announce a series of proposals designed to "strengthen the world's efforts to stop the spread of deadly weapons."

He saved the best, or at least the most interesting, for last:

"And, finally, countries under investigation for violating nuclear non-proliferation obligations are currently allowed to serve on the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Board of Governors. For instance, Iran -- a country suspected of maintaining an extensive nuclear weapons program -- recently completed a two-year term on the Board. Allowing potential violators to serve on the Board creates an unacceptable barrier to effective action. No state under investigation for proliferation violations should be allowed to serve on the IAEA Board of Governors -- or on the new special committee. And any state currently on the Board that comes under investigation should be suspended from the Board. The integrity and mission of the IAEA depends on this simple principle: Those actively breaking the rules should not be entrusted with enforcing the rules."

No more predictions, but this could become a future argument against the IAEA's legitimacy, the same way Libya's involvement with the Human Rights Commission was used against the United Nations.

Just last February, Donald Rumsfeld blasted the U.N. for allowing Libya to chair the commission:

"An institution that, with the support or acquiescence of many of the nations represented in this room, would permit [this] seems not to be even struggling to regain credibility." (N.Y. Daily News, 02.09.2003)


Michael Eisner must go.

He lost Pixar, plus his fingerprints are all over the disaster known as ABC.


Wesley Clark drops out here.

I don't see Clark as a VP candidate, but he might make an interesting choice for Secretary of State.

Also, in a speech later this afternoon, President Bush will clarify his position on WMD and proliferation.

My guess?

We're going to see the return of the assertive Bush. He's been on the defensive lately, and that doesn't work for him. Also, following the State of the Union let down, and to a smaller extent the Russert interview, he needs to give the base something inspirational. Just ask Peggy Noonan:

"Mr. Bush's supporters expect him to do well in speeches, and to inspire them in speeches. And he has in the past. The recent State of the Union was a good speech but not a great one, and because of that some Bush supporters were disappointed. They put the bar high for Mr. Bush in speeches, and he clears the bar. But his supporters don't really expect to be inspired by his interviews.

I expect he'll give them something to sink their teeth into today.


I'll have a bunch of quotes like this tomorrow, but here's a preview:

"The fundamental difficulty is that he has not told the full truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth." - George H.W. Bush, challenging Bill Clinton's draft record (The Washington Post. "Bush Takes Up Draft Cry" 09.22.92)

And to top it off, the statement was made to none other than Rush Limbaugh.

If the right is bringing Kerry's past comments on Vietnam and politics into play, they should be prepared for Bush Sr. to answer questions concerning Junior's National Guard service, or alleged lack thereof.



This week and last, due to the re-insertion of the Bush/National Guard issue by Democrats, conservatives have attacked John Kerry on past statements he made concerning Vietnam and its use in politics. Here's a sample:

"What saddens me most is that Democrats, above all those who shared the agonies of that generation, should now be re-fighting the many conflicts of Vietnam in order to win the current political conflict of a presidential primary.” - Kerry, in response to an attack on Bill Clinton’s draft record, made by Democratic Primary candidate Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.)

“You and I know that if service or non-service in the war is to become a test of qualification for high office, you would not have a vice president, nor would you have a secretary of defense, and our nation would never recover from the divisions created by that war.” - Kerry again, responding to another attack on Clinton’s draft record, this time by the first President Bush.

The isn't exactly news. It was reported last fall by The Hill, when Howard Dean's campaign took issue with the same thing. And yes, on some level it looks like Kerry is trying to have his cake and eat it too. Especially when he makes comments like this: (Hannity and Colmes, 02.03.04)

"What I've always said is that I've defended Bill Clinton's choice and I would defend the president's choice with respect to going into the guard. I've never made any judgments about any choice somebody made about avoiding the draft, about going to Canada, going to jail, being a conscientious objector, going into the National Guard. Those are choices people make.”

However, there are some differences between the 1992 Clinton campaign Kerry was defending, and the 2004 Bush campaign he challenges.

Namely, in 1992 Clinton ran on a platform of social and economic reform; the military was not a central issue. Bush, on the other hand, went so far as landing a jet on an aircraft carrier to create the impression of a bond between himself and the military. It not only signaled the direction of his 2004 campaign, but served as a figurative "shot across the bow" of the Democratic challengers.

The message? Not only is this president strong on defense, but damn it, he's got a bond with the military.

Last May, our friends on the right were all too happy to sing this song. I'll hum a few bars, you be sure to note how quick they are to draw comparisons between Bush and other Democrats, as pertains to the military.

This is an exchange between Brit Hume and former Reagan communications staffer, Eric Dezenhall. (Fox News Special Report With Brit Hume, 05.07.03)

HUME: What here has the Democrats so upset?

DEZENHALL: That it worked. Bush's landing on the aircraft carrier was effective. This is a man who -- a president who is absolutely comfortable with military power, and the exercise of it. When you are supposed to be ashamed of it, he's not. The best crisis management response he could give, is not only did I do it. But I would do it again. And this is what presidents do, they land on aircraft carriers to send signals of confidence to a military that did a good job.

HUME: Now, this is not the first photo opportunity that we have seen, or event that embodied within it that we've seen, a pretty major photo opportunity that we've seen in which a presidential figure, or presidential candidate donned military garb, and rode in a piece of military equipment. We recall also famously the Michael Dukakis tank situation. Michael Dukakis had served in the Army and he had every reason, if he wanted to check out military equipment, to put on the necessary helmet, and ride in a tank. That went badly. This went well. What's the difference?

DEZENHALL: The difference is your own personal authority. And it is absolutely plausible when George Bush gets out of a fighter jet in the helmet, and walks on the aircraft carrier, it is consistent with what we believe to be true about him. In 1993, when Bill Clinton took a helicopter out to an aircraft carrier, and began talking the lingo of fighter pilots, there was a lot of eye rolling, because everybody knew that Clinton was not a pro-military guy. It was simply not plausible. It looked like a photo op. But with Bush, it's what you expect and this is what a victorious president does (my emphasis.)

Sean Hannity says the same thing, albeit in fewer words. (Hannity and Colmes, 05.07.2003)

HANNITY: We've got to take a break, but the fact is Clinton would never have been greeted that way by the military. And he just won a war, and he is the commander-in-chief and that's what got you -- has gotten you guys so mad.

What we have here is the classic case of a bully getting punched in the nose. Eight months ago, when the right thought Dean was the sure-fire Democratic nominee, they were clamoring for a race based on ties to the military. Now that John Kerry, a decorated war veteran, has brought them that fight, they want to cry "no fair" and go home.


Welcome to things fall apart...

And congrats to John Kerry for his wins in Virginia and Tennessee.