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The LiberalOasis Blog
The daily view from the oasis

September 3, 2004 PERMALINK
Second Try For Second-Term Agenda
(posted Sept. 3 2:30 AM ET)

Last night, Dubya did not give the speech he wanted to, he gave the speech he felt he had to.

Back in January, he attempted to roll out a domestic policy program to buoy him through the election.

But his immigration reform proposal failed to excite Latinos and sparked a right-wing backlash.

His Mission to Mars proposal, intended to unify the country around an optimistic goal, immediately fell flat and was quickly forgotten.

And the presidential call to fight steroids was just laughed out of town.

So Bush and Rove had to scramble, and go back to the drawing board.

Now, after having spent the year dwelling on the past, and having to defend the present, they needed to unveil something for the future.

So instead of being able to just focus on their favorite subjects -- 9/11, Iraq, taxes and Kerry-bashing -- they piled on a dry list of policy proposals.

That took up much time, yet in several cases, the proposals so thin in detail as to be meaningless.

There is no breakout policy idea here that will dominate the headlines and resonate with the public.

Bush's heart is never into those domestic ideas (outside of tax giveaways) anyway.

So the speech plodded along until the midway point, after which some passion and emotion kicked in.

Though some viewers may have tuned out by then.

And, while the latter part was well-delivered, it's questionable how open viewers are to the umpteenth exploitation of 9/11.

(Note that Bush neglected to mention the Patriot Act. Must not be playing well with the undecideds.)

But overall, the attempt to cover so much ground made the speech verbose (an hour-long) and unwieldy.

The Bush team also botched the time management.

On Arnold-Laura night, Arnold came on almost right at 10, and Laura finished close to 11, leaving the network anchors little time to provide feedback and criticism.

This time, a video ran in the first 15 minutes directly preceding Bush.

At least on NBC, the video was completely ignored.

That gave reporters the ability to air John Kerry's midnight speech remarks (deftly provided in advance) whacking Bush and Cheney, and throw them at Bush minions.

Kerry's bounce got blunted by the Swift Boat Liars.

Now Bush's bounce may be blunted by Kerry directly, perhaps even before the bounce can fully materialize.

As Kerry wasted no time in (to paraphrase Zell) getting in Bush's face and on the front pages, to deny him a traditional weekend victory lap.

(Bush tried this too, though Kerry's return to the trail is more dramatic.)

But whatever bounce Bush gets, he was not able to put Kerry on the defensive last night.

The failure to articulate a second-term agenda earlier in the year forced Bush to do too much in one speech, making it hard for him to accomplish much of anything.

QUICK HIT

Gratuitous Cheap Shot

If the Republicans can't secure their own convention hall, how can we trust them to secure the homeland?

September 2, 2004 PERMALINK
Then and Now
(posted Sept. 2 2 AM ET)
(edited Sept. 2 9:15 AM ET)

Then.

...the American people want a president who is forward-looking and positive.

If you saw the debate the other night with the nine Democratic presidential candidates, I think history will show that this field has taken presidential discourse to a new low...

...The kind of words we’re hearing now from the Democratic candidates go beyond political debate. This is political hate speech.

And I think that the American people will reject that approach.

They appreciate the president’s strong and principled leadership and the fact that he has a positive agenda, and they have, frankly, nothing but negativity and pessimism and protest to offer.
-- RNC Chair Ed Gillespie, NBC's Meet The Press, 9/7/03

Now.

This is a very angry convention. It's a very belligerent convention. I mean, I've covered 16 conventions...I've never heard such an angry speech.
-- CNN's Bill Schneider, 9/1/04

I don't think I've ever seen anything as angry or as ugly as [Zell] Miller's speech...angry inaccuracies by the basketful here tonight.
-- CNN's Joel Klein, 9/1/04

Now.

Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator.

And nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators.
-- Miller, 9/1/04

Then.

...the attitude of the Iraqis toward the American people…they're not happy they're occupied.

I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either.
-- George W. Bush, 4/13/04

Now.

It is not their patriotism -- it is their judgment that has been so sorely lacking.

They claimed Carter's pacifism would lead to peace. They were wrong.
-- Miller, 9/1/04

Then.

My family would still be isolated and destitute if we had not had FDR's Democratic brand of government.

I made it because Franklin Delano Roosevelt energized this nation...

...And I made it because a man with whom I served in the Georgia Senate, a man named Jimmy Carter, brought honesty and decency and integrity to public service.
-- Miller, 7/13/92

Now.

The biggest threat we face today is having nuclear weapons fall into the hands of terrorists...

...The most important result thus far -- and it is a very important one -- is that the black-market network that supplied nuclear weapons technology to Libya, as well as to Iran and North Korea, has been shut down.

The world's worst source of nuclear weapons proliferation is out of business -- and we are safer as a result.
-- Dick Cheney, 9/1/04

Then.

Over 30 years, [Pakistan's A.Q.] Khan put together what Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, called "a veritable Wal-Mart" for nuclear-weapons buyers, a not-so-secret netherworld where proliferation meshed with globalization.

Khan even held nuclear-related symposiums. "The horse is out of the barn. At this point, we can't stop the technology from spreading," says former Clinton official Gary Samore.

One senior U.S. official told NEWSWEEK that Khan's role in destabilizing the 21st century will "loom up there" with Hitler's and Stalin's impact in the 20th.

Even so, most of the A.Q. Khan network's key operatives will likely escape punishment, officials concede.

Khan himself benefits from the delicate politics of the war on terror.

Pakistan, not Iraq, is probably the world's most dangerous breeding ground for both WMD and terror.

But Pakistan is also a key U.S. ally.

U.S. officials had to swallow hard while President Pervez Musharraf only mildly disciplined Khan, a national hero, dismissing him from his ceremonial role as adviser.

NEWSWEEK has learned that it was the IAEA, rather than the Bush administration, that first put pressure on Pakistan to force Khan to publicly reveal his central role in the network.
-- Newsweek, 2/23/04 issue

Now.

Listing all the weapon systems that Senator Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security but Americans need to know the facts.
-- Miller, 9/1/04

Then.

The Republicans could have claimed, with equal logic, that Kerry voted to abolish the entire U.S. armed forces, but that might have raised suspicions.

Claiming that he opposed a list of specific weapons systems has an air of plausibility.

On close examination, though, it reeks of rank dishonesty.
-- Slate, 2/25/04

Then (and Now).

For 12 dark years, the Republicans have dealt in cynicism and skepticism.

They have mastered the art of division and diversion, and they have robbed us of our hope.

-- Miller, 7/13/92

September 1, 2004 PERMALINK
I Got Yer Compassion Right Here
(posted Sept. 1 2 AM ET)

"People of Compassion" was the theme for Day 2 of the convention.

But sending out a Hollywood millionaire to chastise anyone who is struggling to succeed in today's economy as "economic girlie men," is not quite the best way to convey compassion.

Perhaps that captured the real theme of last night: "I Got Yer Compassion Right Here."

As anyone who has checked out the official George W. Bush campaign site knows, "compassion" to George Bush means, "look like you're helping black people".

In turn, the biggest people of color names they had (outside of Colin and Condi, who are not there) spoke last night: Ed. Sec. Rod Paige, MD Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and Bush's nephew George P.

But none of them were on in the 10 PM ET hour, when the network coverage began.

(Like the Dem convention, relatively small numbers of people are watching on cable. Unlike before, the clear majority of cable watchers are choosing Fox. In other words, the choir, not the undecided.)

Instead, it was the European-bred Arnold Schwarzenegger who was given the job to appeal to minorities, particularly Latinos, with his heavy emphasis on immigrants.

Apparently, based on what CNN commentators were saying throughout the day, GOPers think that since Arnold got 31% of the Latino vote against a Latino opponent, he holds some massive appeal for Latinos nationwide.

But while Schwarzenegger wrapped himself in the immigrant identity, he offered Latinos no substance beyond GOP boilerplate and a desperate "you don't [have to] agree with this party on every single issue".

Schwarzenegger was also billed as someone who could appeal to "moderates."

But he shot that to hell early with a lame partisan swipe, calling all Dems liars in an opening "joke."

Ah, compassion.

The compassion theme was supposed to be capped with a closing speech from Laura Bush.

But her speech was strangely reminiscent of her husband's '03 State of the Union, where he gamely ran through his domestic proposals, but only got really passionate at the end, when he spoke of war and terrorism.

In Laura's case, after asking herself why should people vote for Dubya, she quickly ticked off a list of domestic issues.

But she downplayed them, saying over and over "I could talk about" -- such as "I could talk about health care" or "I could talk about…home ownership."

After dispatching with those "I could"s, she then heavily dwelled on the "most important" issue: "George's work to protect our country and defeat terror…"

Of course, since Rove needs to close the gender gap that favors Kerry, Laura put on a "security mom" spin: "…so that all children can grow up in a more peaceful world."

She went on, trying to make Dubya not sound like a overly-macho warmonger.

For example, "I knew he was wrestling with these agonizing decisions."

That's the best they can do on compassion. He compassionately ponders his wars.

The whole "security mom" conceit is the GOP wishful thinking that if they can pick up some suburban moms on terrorism alone, that negates any need to revise and moderate domestic policies.

But that logic hasn't gotten Bush over 50% versus Kerry.

However, the second-term "big ideas" on the domestic front will be revealed before the convention is out. We wait with baited breath.

If they were drafted by the same people who thought up Mission to Mars, or who wrote Jenna and Barbara's remarks for last night, then there's definitely nothing to worry about.

QUICK HIT

Theater Discount For LO Readers

If you're in the NYC area, the producers of the anti-Bush play "Voting For Godot" are offering a $5 discount off of the $15 ticket price for LO readers.

You can order tickets through SmartTix, online or by phone at 212-868-4444. Use the discount code "prot04".

The show runs through Monday (except Thursday) at 8 PM at 14th St. Y Theatre, 344 E. 14th St.

August 31, 2004 PERMALINK
The Ultimate Flip-Flop
Dubya & Co. Find Their Inner Nuance
(posted Aug. 31 3 AM ET)

[In] the first week of the administration, Dr. [Condi] Rice asked for the ideas that [Richard] Clarke had in mind, or the previous policies of the previous administration.

But we wanted to go beyond that.

We didn't feel it was sufficient to simply roll back al Qaeda. We pursued a policy to eliminate al Qaeda.
-- WH Press Sec. Scott McClellan, 3/22/04

I don't think you can win it [the war on terror].

But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world -- let's put it that way.
-- George W. Bush, 8/28/04

[Emphasis added in both above quotes]

Talking Points Memo and Daily Kos have already noted that Bush's proclamation that we can't win the war on terror is a massive flip-flop from all the times he said we would.

John Kerry's blog did too, and John Edwards led an aggressive Dem response to capitalize on it, saying, "This is no time to declare defeat." (which seems to have helped shape some media coverage.)

On CNN, Bush surrogates in the convention hall were tied up in knots trying to spin their way out of this.

For example, here's WH Communications Director Dan Bartlett, talking with Wolf Blitzer and Judy Woodruff:

BARTLETT: When he said we can't win "it," what he is saying is that this, "it," Al Qaeda, is not a conventional enemy, not one that's going to sign up to a treaty and say we surrender.

What he's talking about is we've got to get to the root causes on the war on terror.

And that's what spreading freedom and hope and liberty is all about.

WOODRUFF: But when he was asked that almost identical question on CNN just a few weeks ago, the same question, can the war on terror be won, he said absolutely it can be won.

BARTLETT: That's what I'm saying.

WOODRUFF: So which is it?

BARTLETT: Exactly...

Of course, you can read the original Bush quote above and know he was not merely saying the war could not be won by conventional means.

He was saying it could not be truly won.

The comment must have been made too late for Rudy and McCain to strip out lines like these from their convention speeches:

GIULIANI: When President Bush announced his commitment to ending global terrorism...

GIULIANI: We will see an end to global terrorism. I can see it. I believe it.

McCAIN: My friends in the Democratic Party...assure us they share the conviction that winning the war against terrorism is our government's most important obligation.

I don't doubt their sincerity...And they should not doubt ours.

But now we have even more reason to doubt Bush's sincerity, based on his own revealing unscripted words.

They are more than just a flip-flop.

They reveal why Bush shifted resources away from fighting Al Qaeda and into Iraq.

They reveal why Bush's so-called democracy initiative actually props up friendly dictators with taxpayer dollars.

Because deep down, the Bushies don't believe you can end terror, and don't believe you should spread freedom.

Hell, they don't even believe in really going after terrorist organizations.

They believe "state sponsors" like Iraq (and Iran) are the real game, still not accepting what non-state terror groups can accomplish on their own.

They only believe in the power of the military to push bloodshed elsewhere ("Our military is confronting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other places so our people will not have to confront terrorist violence in New York, or St. Louis, or Los Angeles.")

And even then, only most of the time. ("You can never protect against every attack of terrorists, you just can't.")

Which also explains why they don't bother to spend what it takes to secure our borders, ports, and cargo.

They don't believe in comprehensive strategies that cover offense and defense -- military, economic, and political.

They believe a military component is enough to (brace yourself, Iraq War lovers) "contain" radical Islamic terror.

They mocked the notion of "rolling back" Al Qaeda when they needed a talking point to smear Richard Clarke.

But at their core, they are gloomy Hobbesian pessimists, and a roll back is the best they think can be accomplished.

John Kerry is not one of them.

And since the Right always accuses Dems and liberals of appeasing terrorists and given them incentive to attack (as was implicitly done last night), it is fair to ask:

Is telling the terrorists they can't truly be defeated showing the dreaded weakness that you always insist they feast upon?

QUICK HIT

So Many Lies, So Little Time

Allow LO to debunk just one of the lies and distortions Rudy slung at Kerry last night.

In Rudy's flip-flop rant (geared towards peeling off some Jewish vote for the GOP), he said:

In October of 2003 he told an Arab-American Institute in Detroit that a security barrier separating Israel from the Palestinian Territories was a "barrier to peace." OK.

Then a few months later, he took exactly the opposite position. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post he said, "Israel's security fence is a legitimate act of self defense."

But here's what the Jerusalem Post reported this past February:

Sources inside the Kerry campaign said Kerry's position on the fence was misconstrued after the October speech.

While he has objected to the route of the fence – as has Bush – Kerry has never opposed Israel's right to build the barrier for security reasons, they said.

When Kerry said, "We don't need another barrier to peace," he meant a barrier that deviates from the Green Line and makes peace talks harder, the sources added.

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said he sees no contradiction between Kerry's two statements...

...Steve Rabinowitz, a Democratic strategist in Washington, said he sees no contradiction. "Kerry's position is no different from Bush's," he said.

August 30, 2004 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted Aug. 30 12 AM ET)

See if you can figure out what Dubya's position is on so-called independent 527 groups, from what transpired on the Sunday shows.

Here's Sen. John McCain on CBS' Face The Nation:

If we can get the Democrats to join us [Bush and McCain] … that we will force these 527s -- not to be banned, not to be outlawed -- but live under the same rules that everybody else does.

In other words, they should [funded by] hard money contributions, the same campaign contribution limitations that all of us have.

And for pundits to say, "We're suppressing free speech," speak all you want to but play by the same rules as everybody else has.

Basically, McCain says that the Bush position is it's the unlimited, unregulated soft money contributions that's the problem with 527s.

And if they were solely funded with hard money -- contributions with limits from individuals -- that'd be alright.

But here's Sen. Bill Frist on Fox News Sunday:

We ought to do what the president has called for. And that is to address 527s -- to get them off the table, out of the system.

Hmmm. Either Frist or McCain must be wrong.

Because George W. Bush would never, ever take a mushy, flip-floppy stance on an issue.

Let see what Dubya said last Monday:

I'm denouncing all the stuff being on TV of the 527s...I said this kind of unregulated soft money is wrong for the process.

And I asked Senator Kerry to join me in getting rid of all that kind of soft money, not only on TV, but used for other purposes, as well.

Well that sounds like what McCain thought, that it's the funding of 527s that's the issue.

But wait, a little bit later in that press conference, Bush also said:

I don't think we ought to have 527s. I can't be more plain about it.

Right. Plain.

Then three days later, he announced he would join McCain's lawsuit to ban activities funded by soft-money.

So you can see how Frist and McCain each got their impression.

Well then, what's Bush real position on 527s?

Let's go to Sen. Russ Feingold for the answer. Looks like he revealed it on Friday to Wisconsin's Capital Times:

Feingold said Bush tried to protect [527] groups when he signed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill two years ago...

...Bush told reporters last week that he didn't know the McCain-Feingold bill didn't cover 527 committees and he promised to work with...McCain...to limit their activities.

[But] Feingold said Bush is "flat-out distorting the truth when he tries to pretend he thought the bill addressed 527s."

He said Bush even objected to the bill's regulation of "phony issue ads," which look like regular campaign ads but don't tell voters directly to vote for or against a candidate.

"So it is completely disingenuous for the president to now pretend -- as a way to protect himself against the criticism for the Swift boats -- that he somehow didn't know this."...

..."I'm glad the president has finally joined the fight. But the president didn't say a word about these 527s until it was a political problem for him, and that's just the reality," he said.

[emphasis added]

So Bush's position is merely that he'll hypocritically and disingenuously do whatever helps him at a given moment.

That clears everything up.

One more key 527 point.

On FTN, McCain had this exchange with Time's Karen Tumulty about the soft money lawsuit:

TUMULTY: But what good does going to court do? The court almost certainly will not act before the November election.

In the meantime, these Swift Boat Veterans have $2 1/2 million they'll be putting on the air. George Soros has more than that.

McCAIN: Yeah. I say, shame on you, Mr. Soros, and shame on all of the people who are funding these, both from the Republican side as well as the Democrat side.

Well, shame on you McCain and Tumulty and most of the media.

For not explaining that under the current law, after Sept. 2 (60 days before Election Day), 527s can't use soft money any more.

So this is a moot point after Thursday.

But what isn't a moot point is that the Swift Boat ads lie, and the Dem 527 ads don't.

All politicians have a moral obligation to denounce slanderous ads.

And even though soft money is a problem, they do not have an obligation to denounce ads simply for being funded as the current law allows.

QUICK HITS

Lies Lies Lies Yeah

Here are the lies from the GOP surrogates that were completely unchecked by their interviewers yesterday.

-- Gov. George Pataki, on ABC's This Week:

President Bush has called for them all to stop, whether it's the Swift Boat Veterans, or MoveOn.org, that have spent tens of millions of dollars for months, distorting our President.

And we haven't heard that from Senator Kerry.

He criticizes the ones that attack him, but he's silent about the ones that attack the President.

Apparently, this Kerry statement counts as silent:

I agree with Senator McCain that the [MoveOn.org] ad [on Bush's National Guard service] is inappropriate. This should be a campaign of issues, not insults.

-- Mayor Rudy Giuliani, on NBC's Meet The Press:

You can't ignore the fact that President Bush did what no one else had done, which is to support stem cell research.

As LiberalOasis noted earlier this month, it was Bill Clinton who signed the first executive order supporting stem cell research.

-- And more Giuliani:

I agree that John Kerry is a hero...I also think we shouldn't emphasize just those four months of his life, however.

Uh, try four years. (See JohnKerry.com and Atrios)

The Blog Wire
Tracking the liberal blogosphere

Feministing: new Census data shows gender pay gap widening

WSJ Washington Wire: (no link) Kitty Kelley, author of unauthorized "Bush Dynasty" bio, "grouses CNN's Larry King won't book her as he has before"

Angry Bear on 2Q GDP growth revised down to a slow 2.8%

Kerry O-Blog: has a dispatch from Elizabeth Edwards

Rittenhouse Review learns from a member of the Army's 427th reserve unit that soldiers headed into Iraq's "meat grinder" still don't have proper armor for their vehicles

Juan Cole: "I think the big losers from the Najaf episode ... are the Americans. They have become ... even more unpopular in Iraq ..."

The Left Coaster: Col. Hackworth lashes out at the Swift Boat Liars

**************

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