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Monday, August 30, 2004
Weak on Terror

Oh, that John Kerry. So weak on terror:

I don’t think you can win [the war on terror]. But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are — less acceptable in parts of the world.

Why, he's ready to hand over the keys to Osama! What a weak-kneed, spineless....


It was George W. Bush who said that?

Oh, um, never mind.

Catastrophe! Hooray!

GDub is calling Iraq a "catastrophic success."

From Merriam-Webster:

Catastrophe: A momentous tragic event ranging from extreme misfortune to utter overthrow or ruin.

So the Iraq war was...successfully tragic.

Yeah, actually, that sounds about right.

Sully Slams Swiftie Smear

Even the Conservative Andrew Sullivan is back off of vacation, and has some harsh words for the swifties:

Every time I checked out the blogosphere or the cable news or the papers, I felt relieved to be absent with leave. The low point was obviously the Swift Boat vets, jumping like bait on the end of Karl Rove's line. For a president who never served in Vietnam to get his cronies to lambaste an opponent who actually put his life in danger was, well, breathtakingly bold. And you really have to hand it to Bush. He knows how to campaign hard, to deploy smears of opponents indirectly, to stoke fears of minorities to rally votes, and every other hardball tactic.

The most amazing turnabout I've seen is the insane meme that Kerry tried to avoid service in Vietnam, while Bush tried to get there.


Guys, Kerry actually served in Vietnam. Bush did not serve in Vietnam. I'm gonna tell you right now, if George W. Bush had wanted to serve in Vietnam, it wouldn't have been difficult--and as for Kerry, even if he did try to avoid serving there (which, for the umpteenth time, is hardly a moral failing), he nevertheless did.

Oh, and Sully catches Bush in a Kinsley gaffe (when you accidentally tell the truth):

I loved Bush's comment yesterday about the smear-ad: "I can understand why Senator Kerry is upset with us. I wasn't so pleased with the ads that were run about me. And my call is get rid of them all, now." "Us"?? I thought Bush had nothing to do with it.


Saturday, August 28, 2004
One, two, three, what are we fighting for?

So, George W. Bush. Did he have help evading service in Vietnam?


Let’s talk a minute about John Kerry and George Bush and I know them both. And I’m not name dropping to say I know ‘em both. I got a young man named George W. Bush in the National Guard when I was Lt. Gov. of Texas and I’m not necessarily proud of that. But I did it. And I got a lot of other people into the National Guard because I thought that was what people should do, when you're in office you helped a lot of rich people. And I walked through the Vietnam Memorial the other day and I looked at the names of the people that died in Vietnam and I became more ashamed of myself than I have ever been because it was the worst thing that I did was that I helped a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance get into the National Guard and I’m very sorry about that and I’m very ashamed and I apologize to you as voters of Texas.

The words of former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes (D-TX), who helped George W. Bush evade the draft.

Again, I wouldn't care--but evidently, this election is to be based on the actions of individuals 35 years ago. And I thought you all would want to know.

Friday, August 27, 2004
A Deeper Game

So Kerry kept the Swift Boat story alive for a day or two longer to cudgel Bush with it. When polls showed tht the story hurt Kerry (to the tune of about 2-3 points), why would he do something like that?

It wasn't about the swifties, folks.

This campaign is going to be vicious, and the SBVAK story is just chapter one. George W. Bush is not going to run for reelection on his record. With his slogan--"Prosperity is Around the Corner"* "We're Turning the Corner," Bush is all but admitting that his first term wasn't so good. But boy, his second will sure be a barnburner!

Bush can't win by painting himself as good, so he must win by painting Kerry as evil. He has no choice, and I don't even blame him; if he doesn't tar Kerry, Bush will lose.

John Kerry isn't stupid; he knows this. So he did something very smart: he's innoculated himself against future smears.

By forcing the President's hand, Kerry has put it out there that Bush will smear mercilessly, with lies and chicanery. When the next attack ad comes down the pipe, Kerry can swat it away with a "there they go again" air.

That's not to say there won't be more smearing, nor that none of it will stick. But it positions Kerry well for the stretch run--and the guy is a great closer.

*Slogan of the last President to preside over a net loss of jobs, Herbert Hoover.

The Real Issue

Via Flash, we find great news about the Best...Economy...Ever!

The number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million last year, while the ranks of the uninsured swelled by 1.4 million, the Census Bureau reported Thursday.

It was the third straight annual increase for both categories. While not unexpected, it was a double dose of bad economic news during a tight re-election campaign for President Bush.


The rise was more dramatic for children. There were 12.9 million living in poverty last year, or 17.6 percent of the under-18 population. That was an increase of about 800,000 from 2002, when 16.7 percent of all children were in poverty.


Meanwhile, the median household income, when adjusted for inflation, remained basically flat last year at $43,318. Whites, blacks and Asians saw no noticeable change, but income fell 2.6 percent for Hispanics to $32,997. Whites had the highest income at $47,777.

Boy, great economy. For...well, not for anyone I know, but whatever.

We're turning the corner...someday.

Your Daily Swiftie Liar

Al French, who said in the ad that he had served with John Kerry, and that Kerry had exaggerated his war record.

Except French wasn't there for any of the incidents in question, and he was relying on the statements of other swifties when he said that.

Incidentally, French has been suspended from his job as a Clackamas County prosecutor, ostensibly because he lied ten years ago about an extramarital affair. If you're saying to yourself, "Huh, funny that a ten-year-old offense would lead to a suspension right after complaints were filed with the Oregon State Bar Association," you're not too good at reading between the lines.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Two Russian Planes Down

At least one may have been hijacked.

At first blush (and remember, I have no discernable expertise in anything), I'd suspect Chechnyan dissidents ahead of al Qaeda, but I think it's safe to say this wasn't an accident.

As Drudge would say, developing....

Meanwhile, the Legless Plame Affair Chugs On....

Now, we've all wondered who it was who leaked Valerie Plame's identity.

I'm not good at reading tea leaves, but I think there's a chance--a chance, mind you--that it was OVP Chief of Staff Scooter Libby.

Why do I think that? Oh, I dunno...just a hunch:

Avoiding potential jail time, a Time magazine reporter has given a statement to prosecutors investigating the Bush administration leak of a covert CIA officer's identity.

In a statement Tuesday, Time said reporter Matthew Cooper agreed to give a deposition after Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, personally released Cooper from a promise of confidentiality about a conversation the two had last year.

I mean, I could be wrong....

Tuesday, August 24, 2004
John O'Neill is a Liar? You don't say....

Okay, I said I was done with the Swifties, but this one is just too fun.

You know what Swift Boat Skipper/Nixon Crony/Paid Liar John O'Neill has to say about the idea that Kerry could possibly have been in Cambodia:

The whole country's watching him avoid the question. You asked about Cambodia. How do I know he's not in Cambodia? I was on the same river, George. I was there two months after him. Our patrol area ran to Sedek, it was 50 miles from Cambodia. There isn't any watery border. The Mekong River's like the Mississippi. There were gunboats stationed right up there to stop people from coming. And our boats didn't go north of, only slightly north of Sedek. So it was a made up story. He's told it over 50 times, George, that was on the floor of the Senate. He wrote articles about it, it was a malicious story because it painted all the guys above him, all of the commanding officers, in effect, as war criminals, that had ordered him into a neutral country, it was a lie.

Funny story. Later on, O'Neill was tapped by that beacon of American democracy, Richard Nixon, to be an attack dog against John Kerry. What did O'Neill tell Nixon about Cambodia?

O'NEILL: I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border on the water.

NIXON: In a swift boat?

O'NEILL: Yes, sir.

Game, set, and match.

Unless you're suggesting that O'Neill was lying when he told that to the President of the United States--in the Oval Office.

It's a 5-2-7 on an undercover cop....

One quick note:

Bush's response to Kerry's calls to denounce the swift boat ads has been simple: to denounce 527s.

This is stupid.

Look, I think the swifties are liars. But our political system is built on free speech. Any group should be able to get together and lob bombs--be they the swifties or MoveOn PAC or whomever.

527s should be legal, and the fact that one 527 happens to be staffed by serial dissemblers doesn't mean we should ban them all, any more than we should ban cars because some people like to drink and drive.

Kerry called on Bush to condemn this specific group. Bush can, or he can choose not to. That's his call. But calling for severe limits on free speech is ridiculous.

Bring. It. On.

Now, I have officially ended my response to the Swifties. They're lying--period. And while the right can spin and spin and spin, all the spinning in the world won't make this story true.

But the right has reopened the door on the service of our political leaders, so let's see...hmm...what was George W. Bush doing during Vietnam?

Oh, that's right: he was kinda, sorta fulfilling his commitment to the Texas/Alabama National Guard.

Now, I've brought up the TANG story only a couple times on this blog. The last time was in February, when I opined:

I haven't written much about the growing controversy over whether GDub adequately served in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. For one, I don't really care. Oh, I think it's lousy that the President can't just come clean and admit that he didn't do his duty as he should've--the continued lying is irksome at best, and it ties into the pattern of deception that this administration has excelled at. But honestly, if the President would just say, "Hey, I did enough to get an Honorable Discharge. But I didn't do everything I was supposed to. Am I proud of that? No, but this was thirty years ago, and I'm not proud of many things I did then," this would be over for me.

Of course, the President didn't do this. He did drop a bunch of paper on reporters in Washington, which in the mind of some conservatives means that he's proven he did his duty.

But as USA Today reminds us, there are still a few questions that haven't been answered:

At a time when Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has come under fire from a group of retired naval officers who say he lied about his combat record in Vietnam, questions about President Bush's 1968-73 stint in the Texas Air National Guard remain unresolved:

• Why did Bush, described by some of his fellow officers as a talented and enthusiastic pilot, stop flying fighter jets in the spring of 1972 and fail to take an annual physical exam required of all pilots?

• What explains the apparent gap in the president's Guard service in 1972-73, a period when commanders in Texas and Alabama say they never saw him report for duty and records show no pay to Bush when he was supposed to be on duty in Alabama?

• Did Bush receive preferential treatment in getting into the Guard and securing a coveted pilot slot despite poor qualifying scores and arrests, but no convictions, for stealing a Christmas wreath and rowdiness at a football game during his college years?

The White House has released hundreds of pages of records, but the files released so far haven't answered those questions. Since the documents were released in February, at least a half-dozen news organizations, including USA TODAY, have filed new requests for Bush's military records under the Freedom of Information Act.

Now, I haven't made this an issue, because, as I've said, I don't think it's a big deal. Bush probably didn't do everything he could do during Vietnam, but that was a long time ago.

But if we're going to be discussing the war experience of John Kerry, we need to look at the war experience of George W. Bush, too. Kerry went to Vietnam, served his country, was wounded, and returned, having fulfilled his duty: none of that is in dispute.

We cannot say the same of George W. Bush.

Now, I have argued that this is in the end a non-issue: Bush probably can't prove he fulfilled his required duty even if he did; it was a long time ago, and the records are piecemeal. But by the standards of the right, that doesn't matter. The burden is on the President to disprove these charges, and until he does he's a liar, a poor leader, and a serial dissembler.

So, George, we're waiting for an explanation.

Or, if you'd prefer, we could simply accept that both men served their country, and move on. I'd prefer that. But if the right wants to debate who served our country better thirty years ago, we can have that debate too.

Monday, August 23, 2004
The Fog of War

The story was shocking, that's for sure.

Many years before, the candidate had served his country during wartime. He had won some of the military's highest awards for his actions, actions taken under enemy fire at great personal risk. During his candidacy, he had often retold the story of that day, and he used it to illustrate his fitness as a Commander-in-Chief.

But now, decades later, people were saying his actions that day were less than heroic. They said his actions were meant to save his own skin, with no regard for the men he served with. Some of the men saying this were eyewitnesses to the event, though they were hundreds of yards away.

The candidate was George H.W. Bush, then-President of the United States. The incident was the day in September of 1944 that Bush bailed out of his airplane after it had taken fire. And the people doing the attacking were Democrats.

If you don't remember the story, don't worry: few do. Though the article breaking the story was written by Sidney Blumenthal, it didn't gain much traction. Indeed, after it hit, it promptly died out--which was proper.

Why, do you ask, was it proper? Simple. Because the attacks were harsh, they had nothing to back them up save the recollection of a few of Bush's fellow officers, and absent proof, it was wrong for them to be advanced. The story died a quiet death, a death so complete that when the former President recently jumped from an airplane to celebrate his birthday, it was tied to his heroic jump from his crippled plane--with nary a mention of the questions surrounding it.

Interestingly, the article I cited was mentioned by the National Review, which concluded, oddly:

Now, one can believe that Sid Blumenthal's article, citing Mierzejewski and some differing versions of Bush's story raises legitimate questions about the former president. And one can believe that the Swift Boat Vets for Truth, all 264 of them and their sworn affidavits, along with Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia story, raise legitimate questions about Kerry. But it is hard to contend that the former is legitimate hard-nosed journalism while the latter is just a smear campaign.

Indeed, but the National Review wants to use this to argue that we treat both as hard-nosed journalism.

But I disagree. I think both are smears. It's just that the SBVAK smear has been pushed harder by the right than this was ever pushed by the left. (Indeed, National Review admits the issue died--though somehow, this becomes the left's fault.)


By now, those words are tumbling out, unbidden, from a hundred right-leaning bloggers. "Why, John Kerry said he was in Cambodia, and you can't prove he was there, so therefore he's a liar!" they type, in unison.

So let's examine a story.

There was this guy, you see, and he was later going to be President, and he told some people that during World War II, he had participated in the liberation of Auschwitz, and that he'd taken photographs of the prisoners there. And that those photos had moved him to support the Jewish people from that day forward.

The guy was Ronald Reagan, who indeed served his country in uniform during World War II. Of course, he made propaganda films for the Army, and he didn't serve east of Los Angeles during the war. His recollection of liberating Auschwitz was made up out of whole cloth, a story meant to illustrate and impress despite its demonstrable falsehood.

Now, Reagan was likely boasting, and since we know he wasn't on the same continent as Auschwitz on the day it was liberated, it's unlikely he could prove anything. But of course, Reagan went on to become one of the five greatest Presidents in our nation's history; history has forgiven him his idle boasting.

Now, compare that to John Kerry's "lies": Kerry was in Southeast Asia on the Mekong river, which flows through both Cambodia and Vietnam; there's nothing disproving his story, though admittedly nothing proving it either; he certainly saw action near Cambodia, and may well have been there. At the absolute worst, Kerry is guilty of the same kind of boast that Reagan was, although at least Kerry was within a day's walk of where claimed to be. What seems more likely is that Kerry was, in fact, in Cambodia at some point during his tour there, though probably not on Christmas Eve of 1968.

So is what Kerry did an unpardonable sin? Hey, Bush claimed that he told people that in 2000 he said we could run a budget deficit if he hit the "trifecta" of a recession, war, and a national emergency. This is a story that has a direct bearing on his conduct in office--and yet, by all accounts, the story is a flat lie. He never said any such thing as a candidate--he simply lied when later, as President, he decided to abandon a policy of a balanced budget.

Somehow, Bush's supporters have moved on. I suggest we do the same with Sen. Kerry.

The End

Of course, we discuss Cambodia because all of the other claims of the Swift Boat Vets--from Kerry's "ficticious" Bronze Star to his "self-inflicted" wounds have been discredited here. And here. And here and here and here and here and here and, for good measure, here. And therein lies our lesson.

The Swifties' were never about truth. They were about tarring Kerry. Even their latest ad, which deals with the more legitimate question of Kerry's postwar activities, manages to quote Kerry out of context.

When Democrats tried to tar the elder President Bush, the story went nowhere. It went nowhere because extraordinary charges must be backed by extraordinary proof, and no such proof existed.

Today, Republicans are trying to tar John Kerry. They claim that it's because Kerry made an "issue" of his Vietnam service--but the elder Bush had made an issue of his World War II service, the better to tar that draft dodgin' Bill Clinton. Of course, this is a lie. They are trying to tar Kerry because they can--because they are losing, and they know that they cannot win a substanitive debate with John Kerry on the issues of the day--which, if you've forgotten, involve Iraq, al-Qaeda, our sputtering economy, and the general inability of our current administration to deal effectively with any of them.

Well, enough. Extraordinary charges must be backed by extraordinary proof, and the Swifties have provided none of the requisite proof. Until they do, I'm done arguing. This is a serious election, with serious consequences for our naton. If you want to tell me why George W. Bush is better than John Kerry on the issues, on his ability to lead, on his fitness for office, have at it. But if you want to dredge up forty-year-old activities demanding proof of perfection from a man who, by all accounts, served his country during wartime, don't come to me. I'm done. I'm not going to give the liars the satisfaction of a debate.

UPDATE: By the way, was John Kerry even off about being in Cambodia on Christmas Eve? Probably not:

The Daniel Boone teams entered Cambodia all along its 500-mile frontier with South Vietnam from the lonely, craggy, impenetrable mountain forests in the north, down to the well-populated and thickly reeded waterways along the Mekong River. [Italics added.] [Sic]

We know that Kerry's boat and two others were in those reeds on Christmas Eve '68.

The Cambodian special forces' incursions—which were conducted without the knowledge, much less approval, of Congress—were escalating around that time. Just over a month later, on Feb. 9, 1969, Gen. Creighton Abrams, commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, requested a B-52 bombing attack on a Communist camp inside Cambodia.


Did Kerry cross the border or just go up to it? We may never know for sure. Not much paperwork exists for covert operations (officially, U.S. forces weren't in Cambodia). Nor is it likely that a canny Swift-boat skipper (and Kerry was nothing if not canny) would jot down thoughts about such covert operations in a diary on a boat that might be captured by the enemy.

The circumstances at least suggest that Kerry was indeed involved in a "black" mission, even if he had never explicitly made that claim.

So Kerry was probably at least on the Cambodian border on December 24, 1968. He may well have been inside it. We know he was there in January and February of 1969. (No, there's no documentary evidence of that because we weren't supposed to be at war with Cambodia. But we were, as anyone who's studied Vietnam for five minutes knows.)

No, this doesn't prove Kerry right, but it also shows he may well be telling the truth. The burden falls to the accusers--who, thus far, have proven nothing.

So thanks, Swifties. With Cambodia safely into the "possible" category, you've managed to prove not a one of your allegations. Congratulations. And now, we move on.

Thursday, August 19, 2004
Meanwhile, in Abu...Gharef....

This is so surprising:

An Army investigation into the role of military intelligence personnel in the abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison reports that the scandal was not just caused by a small circle of rogue military police soldiers but resulted from failures of leadership rising to the highest levels of the U.S. command in Iraq, senior defense officials said.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the report has not yet been completed, said the 9,000-page document says that a combination of leadership failings, confounding policies, lack of discipline and absolute confusion at the prison led to the abuse. It widens the scope of culpability from seven MPs who have been charged with abuse to include nearly 20 low-ranking soldiers who could face criminal prosecution in military courts. No Army officers, however, are expected to face criminal charges.

Officials also said that the report implicates five civilian contractors in the abuse, and that Army officials plan to recommend that their cases be sent to the Justice Department for possible prosecution in civilian courts.

Just a few...hundred...bad apples.

Of course, if not for those leadership failings, confounding policies, and absolute confusion, what vital information would we have missed?

Meanwhile, John Kerry was off by two weeks on when he was in Cambodia. There's an important issue.


The New York Times drives the stake in--though the Wurlitzer can deny it, mainly because it's the Times. But this paragraph will stun you!

Records show that the group received the bulk of its initial financing from two men with ties to the president and his family - one a longtime political associate of Mr. Rove's, the other a trustee of the foundation for Mr. Bush's father's presidential library. A Texas publicist who once helped prepare Mr. Bush's father for his debate when he was running for vice president provided them with strategic advice. And the group's television commercial was produced by the same team that made the devastating ad mocking Michael S. Dukakis in an oversized tank helmet when he and Mr. Bush's father faced off in the 1988 presidential election.

Am I crazy? Or am I so sane I just blew your mind?

Among other things, the Times finds swifties praising John Kerry's conduct as recently as 2003; that the private investigator hired to investigate faxed misleading statements to witnesses to sign; that Adm. William Schachte, Jr., who contends that Kerry injured himself in December 1968, may not have even been present; that there would have had to be contemporaneous corroboration of Kerry's actions that led to the Silver Star; that supposed proof that Kerry wrote the reports are the initials "KJW," but that those initials refer to the officer who received the reports at headquarters (and, by the way, "W?"); and finally, indicates once again that what drives the Vets' anger is what Kerry did after the war, not during it.

Read it and weep. Weep that this is what passes for a "scandal." Weep that there are those who think this is a more important issue than, say, international terrorism or Gulf War II. And most of all, weep for the right; if this is their best bet, they're screwed.

On Like Donkey Kong

So the right hemisphere got its wish: the SBVAK story is officially on.

Unfortunately, it's working for Kerry.

John Kerry blasted GDub for...well, we'll let John say it:

These are the values you live by, day in and day out, when you kiss your families goodbye, and head to the station – knowing full well that with the sound of an alarm, you might be called into harms way. I know what that’s like. And more than thirty years ago, I learned an important lesson—when you’re under attack, the best thing to do is turn your boat into the attacker. That’s what I intend to do today.

Over the last week or so, a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been attacking me. Of course, this group isn’t interested in the truth – and they’re not telling the truth. They didn’t even exist until I won the nomination for president.

But here’s what you really need to know about them. They’re funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas. They’re a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the President won’t denounce what they’re up to tells you everything you need to know—he wants them to do his dirty work.

Thirty years ago, official Navy reports documented my service in Vietnam and awarded me the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Thirty years ago, this was the plain truth. It still is. And I still carry the shrapnel in my leg from a wound in Vietnam.

As firefighters you risk your lives everyday. You know what it’s like to see the truth in the moment. You’re proud of what you’ve done—and so am I.

Of course, the President keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that. Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: “Bring it on.”

I’m not going to let anyone question my commitment to defending America—then, now, or ever. And I’m not going to let anyone attack the sacrifice and courage of the men who saw battle with me.

And let me make this commitment today: their lies about my record will not stop me from fighting for jobs, health care, and our security – the issues that really matter to the American people.

Touché. Kerry played this beautifully. By repudiating the MoveOn ad about Bush's alleged absence from the TANG, Kerry seized the high ground, and blasted away at Bush.

Now, our President is faced with a stark choice. Nobody likes negative ads, least of all the independents who will decide this election. Kerry has now decisively placed the ball in Bush's court. Will the President repudiate the ads? Or will he let them go?


Q Let me ask it this way: The President has said and believes that John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam, right?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, he's made that very clear. We've made it very clear that we will not make his -- will never raise questions about his service. We haven't, and we won't.

Q This advertisement raises questions about his service, and in fact concludes that he served dishonorably. So the President thinks this ad is false, right?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the issue here is these unregulated soft money groups that exist. The campaign finance reforms were passed in order to get rid of this kind of activity. Yet there is a loophole in the law, and the FEC has refused to address it. We think that all of this activity should be stopped.

Q Could I follow on that? Because what Terry seems to be getting at, what's clear from this event that Bush had last week --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let's not be selective here. Let's look at the overall activity that's going on by all of these shadowy groups. I think we're being a little selective right now. And Senator Kerry is being -- is trying to have it all ways, yet again. He says one thing, while his campaign goes out there and does another thing.

Says one thing, like, say, "John Kerry's service is admirable, and we won't attack it?"

And then doing another thing, like, say, standing by while your partisans attack it?

Now, the beauty and incompetence of the Bush campaign's response is that it's the worst of all possible worlds. Bush says, essentially, "John Kerry's service is beyond reproach...but hey, it's okay if others want to slander it." Right on, Mr. President!

It's a beautiful counterpunch, and judging by the reaction across the board, one likely to demolish the Swifties' case altogether. Those people just tuning in will hear, simply, that President Bush is running ads tarring John Kerry's service. And the beat goes on.

So it's been a fun time. We laughed, we cried. And now, with the Swifties' funding in question and their credibility in tatters, this story goes into the file with Troopergate and the White House Travel Office scandals of the nineties. Sorry, guys. But don't despair. The Wurlitzer will get cranked up again real soon. It's what the right does.

Why Don't I Give Credence to the Swifties?

Good question. This is why:

In newspaper interviews and a best-selling book, Larry Thurlow, who commanded a Navy Swift boat alongside Kerry in Vietnam, has strongly disputed Kerry's claim that the Massachusetts Democrat's boat came under fire during a mission in Viet Cong-controlled territory on March 13, 1969. Kerry won a Bronze Star for his actions that day.

But Thurlow's military records, portions of which were released yesterday to The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act, contain several references to "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" directed at "all units" of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow won his own Bronze Star that day, and the citation praises him for providing assistance to a damaged Swift boat "despite enemy bullets flying about him."

As one of five Swift boat skippers who led the raid up the Bay Hap River, Thurlow was a direct participant in the disputed events. He is also a leading member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a public advocacy group of Vietnam veterans dismayed by Kerry's subsequent antiwar activities, which has aired a controversial television advertisement attacking his war record.


Thurlow and other anti-Kerry veterans have repeatedly alleged that Kerry was the author of an after-action report that described how his boat came under enemy fire. Kerry campaign researchers dispute that assertion, and there is no convincing documentary evidence to settle the argument. As the senior skipper in the flotilla, Thurlow might have been expected to write the after-action report for March 13, but he said that Kerry routinely "duked the system" to present his version of events.

For much of the episode, Kerry was not in a position to know firsthand what was happening on Thurlow's boat, as Kerry's boat had sped down the river after the mine exploded under another boat. He later returned to provide assistance to the stricken boat.

So the Navy's records indicate that the Swift Boats were under fire. Thurlow's own Bronze Star recommendation indicated the Swift Boats were under fire. And while Thurlow can try to argue that John Kerry--devious guy, always on the make!--was the one who wrote up those reports, it seems that was actually the responsibility of Lt. Thurlow.

Who you gonna believe? Me, or your lying eyes?

Meanwhile, Ohio was one of the states that the Swifties were running ads in. And this is important, as this election essentially pivots on Michigan, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. So have the ads helped?

Yes. They've helped John Kerry gain a 9% edge, 50%-41%.

Now, the beauty of the four states I mentioned is that Bush is essentially hosed unless he wins three of the four. (Not totally, but his margin for error is down to zero.) If Ohio is down 9%, Bush must win Florida (which he's losing), Pennsylvania (losing), and Michigan (losing).

So thanks, Swifties! Keep reminding everyone that John Kerry was only fairly heroic, rather than a god of war and death. We appreciate it.

Monday, August 16, 2004
1,000 Words

So who has the momentum in this race? Well, I think Kos may have it nailed.

Hell Freezes Over

Bill O'Reilly makes sense:

What should we on the sidelines make of all this? Well, it's a judgment call. It is absolutely wrong for Americans to condemn Kerry's war record because he demonstrated provable valor. However, those who distrust him do deserve to be heard, although facts, not emotion, should be demanded.

I think the Swift boat political advertisement calling Kerry a charlatan is in poor taste, and if this kind of thing continues, it might well backfire on the Kerry haters. Most Americans are fair-minded, and bitter personal attacks do not go down well with folks who are not driven by partisanship.

This is emminently reasonable, which leaves us with one question:

If Bill O'Reilly thinks it's a non-issue, Glenn, isn't it?

Sunday, August 15, 2004
Poll Watch

Zogby America, August 12-14, 1,011 likely voters, MOE +/- 3.1%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 50% (+2)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 43% (unc)

Kerry (D) 47% (+1)
Bush (R) [I] 43% (+2)
Nader (I) 2% (-1)
Badnarik (L) 1% (+1)
Peroutka (Const) 0% (unc)
Cobb (Grn) 0% (unc)

Nothing really new--again. A healthy 4-7% lead for John2, and the distinct possibility that Michael Badnarik could actually siphon a few votes.

One thing's for sure: the SBVAK ads seem to have had no effect whatsoever. Sorry, Glenn, Mitch, et. al.

Friday, August 13, 2004
Kerry is a LIAR! And Instapundit has the TRUTH!

Prof. Reynolds sure has Kerry in a bind now:

"On Christmas Eve he was near Cambodia; he was around 50 miles from the Cambodian border. There's no indictment of Kerry to be made, but he was mistaken about Christmas in Cambodia," said Douglas Brinkley, who has unique access to the candidate's wartime journals. . . .

He said: "Kerry went into Cambodian waters three or four times in January and February 1969 on clandestine missions. He had a run dropping off US Navy Seals, Green Berets and CIA guys." The missions were not armed attacks on Cambodia, said Mr Brinkley, who did not include the clandestine missions in his wartime biography of Mr Kerry, Tour of Duty.

That's right--John Kerry's recollection was off by as much as two weeks.

What a liar! What a jerk! What a mentally

Actaully, Kevin Drum sums it well:

So let me get this straight. Kerry did go to Cambodia — even though that was supposedly impossible, he did take CIA guys in — even though that was supposedly absurd, and he did get a hat from one of them — even though that was supposedly a sign of mental instability. The extent of Kerry's malfeasance is that instead of doing it in December, he actually did it in January and February.

Considering that he's mentioned this story only twice, most recently 18 years ago, and it turns out that his only crime is to have tarted it up with a bit of holiday pathos, I think I'll pass on following it any further down the Swift Vets rabbit hole. But thanks to everyone who displayed their deep unseriousness about this election by participating in this smear. It will be remembered.

This, of course, is just the opening volley. For all the talk of "Irrational Bush Hatred," we should not forget that it was the GOP that raised personal hatred of the President to an art form in the '90's. Who wants to take odds that we'll be looking at an impeachment trial again somewhere around 2011?

Oh, and Glenn whines:

And what's even more amazing -- and considerably more appalling -- is that I just checked the New York Times and Washington Post sites and there's still absolutely nothing on this story there. A Kerry claim proven false, a retraction, and a retrenchment -- and absolutely no coverage at all. If we were seeing the same sort of questions raised about George W. Bush I think we'd be getting wall-to-wall coverage.

The National Guard issue, it should be remembered, was raised in 2000. It didn't get a lot of play then, either.

No, Glenn, the reason this story isn't going anywhere is there's no there there. It's a smear campaign run by a bunch of angry republicans, and its biggest revelation has been that John Kerry thought he was in Cambodia in December 1968, but was actually there in January 1969.

There are serious issues here, folks. We're at war (as you never tire of reminding us). Our economy isn't exactly taking off. We've got issues that need addressing. If you were serious about those, you wouldn't be playng SBVAK's games. But I guess that your irrational hatred of John Kerry trumps that, huh?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004
The Definitive Word on Cambodiagate

Matt Yglesias puts it in perspective:

Hugh Hewitt makes an effort to connect this fracas to something election-relevant:

Why all the attention? Simply put, if John Kerry can be conclusively demonstrated to have lied about aspects of his Vietnam service, the media has to ask what else has he been lying about. The voters have to ask if he can be trusted. In short: Free fall.

This is one of these things that sounds good if you believe George Washington confessed in the cherry tree scandal of 1743, but doesn't get you very far as a serious analysis of political character. To take an example at random, if you scroll down to the bottom here you'll see that George W. Bush claimed to have been on the Yale varsity rugby team even though there wasn't a varsity rugby team. Bush, then, is a liar and the media have to ask what else he's been lying about. Can we trust Bush? What's worse, he not only lied about his participation in on the varsity team, but the whole squad is nothing more than a figment of his imagination. Is this the sort of deranged fantasist we can afford to have in the White House?

Heh. Indeed. Read the whole thing.

The Truth About Kerry

Former U.S. Sen. Chic Hecht of Nevada is a staunch Republican, but he thanks his lucky stars for Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

On July 12, 1988, Hecht was attending a weekly Republican luncheon when a piece of apple lodged firmly in his throat.

Hecht stumbled out of the room, thinking he might vomit but not wanting to do it in front of his colleagues. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., thumped his back, but Hecht quickly passed out in the hallway.

Just then, Kerry stepped off an elevator, rushed to Hecht's side and gave him the Heimlich maneuver -- four times.

The lifesaving incident made international news, and Dr. Henry Heimlich, who invented the maneuver in 1974, called Hecht to say that had Kerry intervened just 30 seconds later Hecht might have been in a vegetative state for life.

"This man gave me my life," the 75-year-old Hecht said Thursday.

Las Vegas Sun, February 6, 2004

"Apple" (0:60)

Fmr. Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS): I was in the elevator with John Kerry.

Fmr. Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX): John Kerry has not been honest about what happened.

Dole: He's lying about the apple.

Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN): I know John Kerry is lying about the apple, because I treated Chic Hecht after he collapsed.

(On-screen: Fake plastic vomit)

Fmr. Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA): Apples are an important part of a balanced diet. Haven't you heard the saying, "An apple a day?" John Kerry has besmirched the honor of every apple farmer who ever served.

(On-screen: young child gives apple to teacher)

Dole: I don't even think he ever liked apples. He was more of a grape man. You know...grapes...France.

Gingrich: He says he did the Heimlich maneuver. But the in classic Heimlich maneuver your hands are linked. Kerry did some sort of reckless, two-handed thing.

Gramm: What was Kerry doing there anyway? It was a Republican luncheon. I don't think he was even there that day. He was forty feet east, well within the borders of the Democratic caucus.

(On-screen: "No Gurlz Alloud" sign)

Gingrich: Really, he was doing it because someday, he planned to run for President, and he knew it would be good to have saved the life of a Republican.

Frist: The Heimlich? It looked more like he was trying to crush Hecht. Didn't look like any kind of Heimlich I would've done.

(On-screen: flag-draped casket)

Gramm: He betrayed his fellow senators. He lied before the Senate.

Frist: He lied to Dr. Heimlich. He lied to the country.

Gingrich: When his fellow senators were choking, you could not count on John Kerry.

(On-screen: gavel falls.)

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA): He blamed the apple. He blamed the caterers. Everyone but himself.

(On-screen: apple core)

Announcer: Republican Fundraiser Veterans for Truth is responsible for the content of this advertisement

Happy Birthday Katie!

Happy second birthday to my precious daughter Katie. This hasn't exactly been the best year, baby girl, but your mother and I love you more than you can possibly know, and we are so proud of you that we could burst. It's been an incredible two years, and I can't wait for the scores more to come.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Merry Christmas from the most inland Market Time unit

Kevin Drum has put together the timeline for John Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia (featuring Soupy Sales! Sammy Davis, Jr! Ann-Margaret! And the incomparable Liberace!) And it seems to blow a bit of a hole in the "See! See! John Kerry couldn't possibly be in Cambodia!" line of argument. Indeed, Kerry's sarcastic journal entry (this blog entry's title) appears to be real--which suggests rather strongly that Kerry was indeed near, if not in, Cambodia.

Essentially, the was-he-or-wasn't-he argument boils down to this:

  • Kerry says he was in Cambodia on December 24, 1968
  • His contemporaneous journal has a sarcastic entry which he has said refers to his position in Cambodia
  • There's no other proof he was in Cambodia, and some other officers say he was not in Cambodia

Now, SBVAK would take the above facts and conclude: Ergo, Kerry was not in Cambodia. I don't think the evidence sustains such a conclusion.

At the very least, Kerry's position is not disproven by SBVAK's argument. I can argue that you had pancakes for breakfast yesterday, and unless you can produce a receipt from IHOP showing you had waffles instead, it's hard for you to disprove what I'm saying.

Essentially, this is the Kerry in Cambodia argument: some people say he wasn't there. He said he was. There's no proof either way (unless you count Kerry's journal entry). In the end, no proof=no scandal. Oh, sure, some righty partisans will cling to the notion that Kerry was actually in Saigon on Christmas Eve 1968, just as some lefties can't let go the Bush was a dodger notion (he may have been, just as Kerry may have been searching for Col. Kurtz. Absent proof, we can't say for sure. We partisans may have our own beliefs, but they don't affect much.)

My prediction? Simple. For a scandal to gather momentum, it needs a steady diet of new, shocking revelations. Unless we see something real quick that indicates Kerry was not in Cambodia, this issue dies, probably by the weekend.

Poll Watch, Senate Edition

Survey USA Illinois Senate, August 7-8, 612 Registered Voters, MOE +/- 4%

Open Republican Seat (Fitzgerald)
Obama (D) 67%
Keyes (R) 28%

I'm not sure Ted Nugent would be doing worse.

Still, though, I can't wait for the debates.

Shootin' At the Walls of Heartache, Bang Bang....

So right now in the right hemisphere of the blogosphere, the Biggest...Scandal...Ever! is raging unabated. This is not to be confused with Pantsgate--the Sandy Berger scandal that was the previous Biggest...Scandal...Ever!

No, this scandal is about the Swift Boat Vets Against Kerry, who have alleged that Kerry:

  • Was a bad commander.
  • Used minor injuries to get out of Vietnam.
  • Wasn't in Cambodia on the exact date he said he was.
  • Killed a member of the Viet Cong just to watch him die.
  • Raped goats.
  • Stole women.
  • And...a lot of other bad stuff!

Of course, there are a few holes in the SBVAK story. First off, none of the Swifties served under Lt. Kerry's command. All of them were angry that Kerry came back and became an anti-war protestor. A few managed to shred their credibility beyond all recognition: Lt. Comdr. George Elliot (Kerry's CO in Vietnam) praised Kerry in 1996, signed an affadavit that Kerry didn't deserve the Silver star in May of 2004, retracted his affadavit in a Boston Globe interview, then retracted the retraction. So which is it? Who knows?

SBVAK has laid out what seems like a reasoable case, but of course, there were reasonable, well-researched books by Arkansas state troopers showing how Bill Clinton was running cocaine while sleeping with hookers, too. Those books, like this one, were published under the Regenery imprint--the imprint of Richard Mellon Scaife, the George Soros of the right, if Soros was a meglomaniac who owned media companies.

SBVAK is financed by John O'Neill, who was tapped back in the early 70's to be Nixon's foil to Kerry. Building your entire career around destroying one man will tend to lead one to hate that man. His co-author, Jerome Corsi, is a denzien of Free Republic, who has said of "John F*ing Commie Kerry," "After he married TerRAHsa, didn't John Kerry begin practicing Judiasm? He also has paternal grandparents that were Jewish. What religion is John Kerry?"

So we're not talking about a balanced group leading a calm, reasoned investigation into Sen. Kerry's background. We're talking, instead, about a right-wing hatchet group.

Now, Larry Flynt has been making noise about publishing an account that George W. Bush paid a woman to have an abortion back in the '70's. The book, by all accounts, appears well-researched and informative. But it will be dismissed out of hand--and should be. Why? Because Flynt is well-known as a left-wing bomb-thrower, and the book is tainted irrevocably by his invovement.

So it is with the SBVAK. Their backbone is right-wing bomb-throwers. (You don't pick a freeper to co-author your book if you want balance). Anything that comes out of their organization is instantly suspect, and subject to higher standards of proof than, say, a CNN report.

This is not to say that SBVAK can't find the truth, just that they're unlikely to. And moreover, the SBVAK are extremely unlikely to drive national debate.

There's a perfect analogy here: the Bush National Guard records. The Bush National Guard story was circulating since at least 1999. But nothing was pursued until 2004. Why? Not because of Michael Moore, who popped off about Bush "deserting" in February.

No, the story took off when Terry McAulliffe, the DNC Chair, spoke out about it. Once an actual Democratic official was talking of it, it was a story. A few lefty bloggers chewing on it got the story nowhere.

Of course, there was much hand-wringing, Bush released enough of his records to quell the controversy, and while Bush hasn't proved he served adequately, those alleging he didn't serve haven't proven anything, either. The story died out, and while some still toil on it today, it's over.

Today, the Swifties are raising this issue, but it isn't going to go anywhere until relatively high-ranking Republicans take up the banner. And that isn't bloodly likely. Thanks to every Democrat's favorite Republican, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), it's politically untenable for the right to jump on board with the Swifties' allegations. The best they can do is Scott McClellan's non-repudiation repudiation.

And so, here we are. The Swift Boat story is already dying, there doesn't appear to be anything that will bring it back. And so the right side of the blogosphere spins and spins, trying desperately to focus on whether John Kerry was in Cambodia, or forty miles east, on December 24, 1968. Anything to avoid focusing on November 2004.

Monday, August 09, 2004
Poll Watch

More grist for the mill...

(All via Polling Report)

AP/Ipsos Poll, August 3-5, 798 registered voters, MOE +/- 3.5%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 48% (+2)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 45% (-5)
Nader/Camejo (I) 3% (+1)

Time Poll, August 3-5, 977 registered voters, 757 likely voters, MOE +/- 4%

Kerry/Edwards (D) RV: 51% (+1) LV: 51% (+1)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] RV: 44% (-2) LV: 43% (-2)

Kerry/Edwards (D) RV: 47% (+1) LV: 48% (+2)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] RV: 42% (-2) LV: 44% (-2)
Nader/Camejo (I) RV: 6% (+1) LV: 4% (-1)

Does Bush Deserve Re-election?

Yes RV: 42% (-1) LV: 43% (-2)
No LV: 53% (+1) RV: 54% (+1)

Democracy Corps Poll*, August 2-5, 1,013 likely voters, MOE +/- 3.1%

*Note: Democracy Corps is ideologically affiliated with the Democratic party.

Kerry (D) 52% (+2)
Bush (R) [I] 45% (-2)

Kerry (D) 49% (+1)
Bush (R) [I] 44% (-1)
Nader (I) 4% (unc)

I add these polls not because they show anything different; they don't. I add them because they fit well with the other polls we've seen. Kerry is winning by about 3-7%, and the USA Today poll can be wadded up and thrown away.

Hate to keep coming back to it, but the big number remains Bush's generic reelect: only 43% of voters want him back; 53% want new blood. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that such a number is nothing short of disastrous--especially since it's so stable, across so many different polls.

The American people have made up their mind on Bush. They want him gone. The only question--the only question--that must be asked between now and November is this: will John Kerry do an adequate job? If the answer is yes, Kerry will win. If the answer is no--well, Kerry still stands a better-than-even chance of winning, because Bush has been judged wanting.

I'm trying not to get too up. But these numbers are phenomenal--and they look pretty dang solid right now.

Saturday, August 07, 2004
Congrats Greg Maddux

It's fitting that Greg Maddux won his 300th in Cubby blue.

Yes, Maddux won most of those 300 in the red, white, and navy of the Atlanta Braves. Only the most demented denzien of the bleachers would think that, in a few years when Maddux's career ends, he should go to the hall as anything other than a Brave.

Maddux is one of the great blunders (among many) committed by Cubs management over the last, oh, 96 years or so. He was already one of the best pitchers in baseball when the Tribune company, one of the worst owners in baseball, decided a few million more would hurt the bottom line.

So Greg Maddux left the Cubs, and went on to star for the Atlanta Braves as the anchor of one of the best rotations in the history of baseball. And Maddux went on to be the greatest pitcher of the last half-century.

I don't say that lightly. Yes, Steve Carlton had more wins, and Roger Clemens had flashier stuff. All Maddux has had is an unbelieveable drive, supernatural control, and a genius for the game of baseball. He hasn't just dominated as a pitcher. Along with his four Cy Youngs, Maddux can put thirteen Gold Gloves on the shelf. When not pitching, Dusty Baker will still call on Maddux first to lay down a pinch bunt. (In his youth, he was the first choice of Cubs and Braves managers alike to pinch run.)

He's had two sub-2.00 ERAs in his career. He holds the all-time record for consecutive fifteen-win seasons, and he's just one season behind Steve Carlton for the consecutive ten-win season record.

And he's got one of the best records among three hundred game winners.

Of course, it's fitting that Maddux put the exclamation point on his career back where it started--with the Cubs. One can argue that the Trib's foolishness led to this day. If the Cubs hadn't let Maddux slip away, would he have won three hundred? Not for another three or four years. Yes, the Cubs have the edge for the wild card. (They're not going to catch the Cards, but winning your division is overrated). Yes, the Cubbies are a good team--now. But this will be the first time in decades that the Cubs have had a winning record in back-to-back seasons. Maddux would've made the Cubs of the early 90's better...but they would've made him worse.

But the real reason it's appropriate that Greg Maddux won his 300th with the Cubs is that Cubs fans never gave up on him. Usually, when a player leaves over salary issues, it's the player that's villified. But we knew--we knew this guy was one of the all-time greats. We didn't blame him. He was just asking for what he was worth, from a major-market franchise with money to spare. He went to the Braves because they paid him what he was worth.

And so we waited patiently, hearts breaking with each Cy Young and postseason appearance. "It should've been us," we said with each win. But we never blamed Greg. He deserved his success.

And now, after having his success, he's come home to us. His career has come full-circle. And he's back with a winning team, a Cubs team that just might make the playoffs for the second straight year.

Greg's come back, at long last. And he's giving us a taste of what might have been--and what still may be.

So thanks, Greg. Thanks for being the amazing, dominating pitcher you are--despite being 5'10" with an 88-mile-an-hour fastball. Thanks for pitching your heart out. But most of all, thanks for coming back home. We missed you, and we're glad to have you back.

Friday, August 06, 2004
Poll Watch: State Edition

American Research Group Florida, August 3-5, 600 likely voters, MOE +/- 4%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 50% (+3)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 43% (-1)

Bush needs Florida. Needs it like a junkie needs a fix. Needs it like Michael Moore needs another slice of pie. Needs it like Andrew Sullivan needs hairy men.

So being down 7% in Florida is incredibly bad news for Dear Leader. Bush must have Florida to win the electoral college--any other scenario is so difficult for Bush to achieve that it can be discounted (winning Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa, for examle).

For all the handwringing over national polls, this is very good news for Kerry. I think I speak for Democrats everywhere when I say I don't care who wins the popular vote--I just want my guy in the Oval Office. This lead, while not inpregnable, is a great start.

Antichrist Superstar

Via Pandagon, we find out that Barack Obama may be the Antichrist. Oh well. It was a nice run. It won't affect my support, though; as a Unitarian, I'm already damned, so what the Hell.

Seriously, there's big news in the Illinois race, and that is this:

Alan Keyes in the hizouse!

Yes, everyone's favorite neckbeard-sporting insane righty perennial candidate is going to run for the office of Senate from the state of Illinois. The Illinois GOP wanted the best, and they didn't let a little technicality like the fact that Alan Keyes is a resident of Maryland stand in the way.

I'm excited. Alan Keyes is right up there with Al Sharpton and B-1 Bob Dornan in the pantheon of comic relief candidates--you know, the candidates who run, make you laugh, and make you feel good because hey, if they can run for President, maybe you can, too.

And he once moshed at a Rage Against the Machine concert sponsored by Michael Moore. I am not making this up.

So I welcome Alan Keyes to be the sacrificial lamb for Obama. No, Keyes won't make it a race. But he'll make the debates Must See TV. CSPAN--you've gotta pick this up.

Thursday, August 05, 2004
Poll Watch

As my daughter would say, bouncy bouncy....

(Via Polling Report)

FOX News/Opinion Dynamics, August 3-4, 900 Registered Voters (MOE +/- 3%), 775 Likely Voters (MOE +/- 4%)

Kerry/Edwards (D) RV: 46% (+3) LV: 47% (+3)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] RV: 42% (-1) LV: 43% (unc)
Nader/Camejo (I) RV: 2% (-2) LV: 3% (-1)

Kerry/Edwards (D) RV: 46% (+2) LV: 48% (+3)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] RV: 43% (-1) LV: 43% (-1)

ABC News/Washington Post, July 30-August 1, 940 Registered Voters, MOE +/- 3%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 50% (+4)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 44% (-4)
Nader/Camejo (I) 2% (-1)

Kerry/Edwards (D) 52% (+4)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 45% (-4)

American Research Group, July 30-August 1, 776 Registered Voters, MOE +/- 3.5%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 49% (+2)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 45% (+1)
Nader/Camejo (RP) 2% (-1)

Kerry/Edwards (D) 49% (unc)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 46% (+1)

Three polls, three bounces. Well, 2 1/2; the ARG poll either shows Kerry with a net one-point gain or a net one-point loss, depending on whether St. Ralph is involved. (Again, He Who Must Be Ignored helps Kerry! Huzzah!)

But the FOX poll shows a solid three-to-four-point bounce, and the WaPo poll shows an eight-point bounce (though it should be remembered that the WaPo poll before the convention was the outlier--it showed what was almost certainly an incorrectly low percentage for Kerry, and and incorrectly high percentage for Bush).

This tears it: the USA Today poll is an outlier. When even the FOX poll shows a solid Kerry lead, there's a solid Kerry lead.

How solid is the lead? Hard to say. Things can--and will--change. But there's no question that right now Kerry is in the driver's seat. I expect a one-to-three point bounce for Bush in September (the rule of thumb is that the incumbent gets a bounce about 2/3 the size of the challenger's bounce; that would be -2 to 5 points, the average is about two points.) If all stays as I expect, Kerry will do exactly what I think he's going to do--win solidly, if not in a landslide. (Think Clinton '92: he didn't exactly destroy Bush pere. But the outcome wasn't in doubt.)

Kerry did what he had to do. Now, he needs to survive to the second week of September. If the race is not materially changed as of then, I would expect that barring calamity, Kerry will win.

Ernie in NYC

Winston, as usual, offers cogent, reasoned analysis of the most recent terror alert. (Winston, baby--that's not how we roll in the blogosphere!) His thoughts:

So I'm inclined to think that there's little in the way that this particular terrorism alert was handled to raise much suspicion. That's not to say that I'm not suspicious. But I'm suspicious of almost everything this administration does anymore given its stunningly bad record. There was good reason to believe that this adminstration was politicizing terrorism--and virtually everything else--before this alert was issued. It's their past actions that alarm me, not this most recent one.

I think that's about right. At least this time there seemed to be some basis for the alert.

The problem, of course, is that Tom Ridge is rapidly becoming the boy who cried "Wolf! And the wolves are being kept at bay by the leadership of President Bush!" The Bush administration started politicizing the War on Terra in late 2001/early 2002; they can hardly complain now that Really Important Thing #2211 isn't being taken seriously.

Indeed, what we are seeing now is the ultimate result of the way the Bush administation has handled the WoT. A different administration would not have traded the trust of the American people for short-term political gain. But the Bushies did. Now, when the administration has some actual reason to raise the threat level, the nation yawns, or jokes about it.

For that reason alone, Bush should lose.

Paging Dr. Freud

Quoth GDub:

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.


Monday, August 02, 2004
Poll Watch

Two men say they're Jesus. One of them must be wrong:

CBS News, July 30-August 1, 1,052 registered voters, MOE +/- 3%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 48% (+3)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 43% (unc)
Nader/Camejo (RP) 3% (-2)

USA Today/Gallup, July 30-31, 763 likely voters, 916 registered voters, MOE +/- 4%

Likely Voters
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 50% (+3)
Kerry/Edwards (D) 47% (-2)

Registered Voters
Kerry/Edwards (D) 50% (+1)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 47% (+2)

Newsweek/Princeton Research Group, July 29-30, 1,010, MOE +/- 4%

Kerry/Edwards (D) 49% (+2)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 42% (-2)
Nader/Camejo (3P) 3% (unc)

July 29 (Pre-Kerry) Sample:
Kerry/Edwards (D) 47%
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 45%
Nader/Camejo (3P) 2%

July 30 (Post-Kerry) Sample:
Kerry/Edwards (D) 50% (+3)
Bush/Cheney (R) [I] 40% (-5)
Nader/Camejo (3P) 3% (+1)

So much is being made over the lack of Kerry bounce, and it's true: the bounce has been tepid, at best.

But I wasn't expecting a huge bounce, and while the bounce is slightly lower than I expected, I never expected a huge move.

For good or ill--for good, if you're Kerry--this electorate is not showing signs of movement. People have, for the most part, made up their minds.

There is an outlier to report--the USA Today likely voter sample is opposed to the CBS News and Newsweek polls, and given the wide swing, leads one to question the USA Today "likely voter" criteria. As for bounce, the Newsweek poll tends to indicate a huge Kerry bounce, which I think is a bit of an outlier, too.

Overall, one poll shows Bush with a three-point lead, one shows a five-point Kerry lead, one a seven-point Kerry lead. Combined with the Zogby pre-Kerry speech poll that showed a five-point Kerry edge and the robots at Rasmussen, who were showing a four-point Kerry lead, and you have to think the USA Today poll is just off, and that Kerry currently has a four-to-seven point edge on Bush. We'll know more when a couple other national polls are released.