Saturday, May 31, 2008

Where are the Denials?

Scott McClellan's new book has dominated the news this week. Turncoat, traitor, snitch? Conscientious, concerned, chastened? The responses from the Right and the Left have been a perfect microcosm of today's political process. From the Right it's smear the messenger with personal attacks and accusations of money grubbing and disloyalty. From the Left it's "gee, we did that?" or "Just another come clean by a guilt ridden former cultist." McClellan has been attacked by both the Right and the Left. My question is simply "Is any of it true?"

First a digest of some samples of the coverage:

Rich Lowry - National Review

Likable, but maladroit and plodding, he was the perfect spokesman for the administration of Harriet Miers, Michael Brown and Al Gonzales. For anyone who doubted that President Bush too often valued loyalty over talent, there was McClellan stumbling through daily briefings to embody the point more eloquently than he ever could have stated it.

He took the conventional anti-Iraq War case and cut-and-pasted it into his book.

Michael Paul Williams in the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Being a White House spokesman -- the equivalent, credibilitywise, of a lying sack of potatoes -- would make McClellan's assertions dubious if they weren't so obvious and stale.

His book is not exactly a profile in courage. Funny how McClellan and his ilk get a crisis of conscience around the time publishers come sniffing around with book deals. The nation would have been better served if he'd come clean in a more timely fashion.

An interesting interview with Karl Rove by Bill O'Reilly offers a fascinating expose of the command decisions and lots of new detail about some of the decision making process, but still no denials, just lots of rationalizations and defensiveness. They pass it off as "old news" and the grumblings of a disgruntled former employee. O'Reilly:

And I have the book now, and I'm going through the book, and I'm just not seeing the headline here. I'm not obtuse. I may be dense. I may not be smart enough to get it, but I'm just seeing the same old stuff with real no specific backup for it.

From By Michael D. Shear and Michael Abramowitz in the Washington Post.

Reaction has begun to the new tell-all book by former White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

Karl Rove, the subject of many of McClellan's charges, said on Fox's Hannity & Colmes last night that he disputes those charges and said McClellan sounded like a liberal blogger.

Bob Dole on Fox:

"There are miserable creatures like you in every administration who don't have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues," the five-term Kansas senator wrote to McClellan. "No, your type soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight for years, then quits, and spurred on by greed, cashes in with a scathing critique."

He continues: "When the money starts rolling in you should donate it to a worthy cause, something like, 'Biting The Hand That Fed Me.' Another thought is to weasel your way back into the White House if a Democrat is elected. That would provide a good set up for a second book deal in a few years."

The Associated Press:

McClellan's accusations have been met by counteraccusations that he is cashing in on his White House access. Bush supporters have criticized him, but so have liberals such as commentator Arianna Huffington.

"It's George Tenet deja vu all over again," Huffington wrote in a posting on her blog,, referring to the former CIA director who received seven figures for his memoir. "How many times are we going to have a key Bush administration official try to wash the blood off his hands — and add a chunk of change to his bank account — by writing a come-clean book years after the fact ..."

Condoleezza Rice in Bloomberg:

``I'm not going to comment on a book that I haven't read but I will say that the concerns about weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein's Iraq were the fundamental reason for tens, for dozens of resolutions within the Security Council from the time Saddam Hussein was expelled from Kuwait in 1991 up until 2003,'' Rice said in Stockholm today after meeting Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

"It was not the United States of America alone that believed he had weapons of mass destruction, that he was hiding weapons of mass destruction, that led him to throw inspectors out," Rice added, referring to United Nations weapons experts.

William Tate at the American Thinker:

An examination of published reports reveals that Scott McClellan's kiss-and-smell betrayal of George W. Bush is a far cry from the book McClellan started out to write and was shaped into an offensive tome by a publisher with close ties to George Soros.

Matthew Yglesias in the Atlantic

But in coming clean, the man has performed a public service. Unlike Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and the rest of those freaks, McClellan, for all his deep moral deficiencies, is not a sociopath. And yeah, that's defining deviancy down, for sure. But at least it's something. McClellan seems to feel genuine regret at what he did, and that's more than I thought we'd ever get out of any of the Bushies.

I think his book is valuable for two reasons. One is its potentially considerable merits as history. Future historians looking back at this administration are going to have a very frustrating time of it. The one thing the Republicans learned from Watergate is that it's essential to perfect the art of the cover-up, and surely the Bushies have that covered. Of course there will be no White House tapes, but it goes way beyond that. The Bush administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to restrict public access to presidential records.

The most interesting assessment by far and in my opinion, the one that get's us closest to what really happened is at the blog Nukes and Spooks written by the reporters from the McClatchy Washington Bureau. They have reported on all the allegations in McClellan's book from the beginning! They've finally posted on the book because they want us to see and read their documented, systematic journalistic record of the tragic march to war, the Katrina disaster, and Valerie Plame treason. McClatchy alone among the journalistic media as done the insightful, investigative reporting that has been sadly missing in the last seven years.

Until now, we've resisted the temptation to post on former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's new book, which accuses the Bush White House of launching a propaganda campaign to sell the war in Iraq.

Why? It's not news. At least not to some of us who've covered the story from the start.

(Click here, here and here to get just a taste of what we mean).

Second, we find it a wee bit preposterous -- and we are being diplomatic here -- that a man who slavishly - no, robotically! -- defended President Bush's policies in Iraq and elsewhere is trying to "set the record straight" (and sell a few books) five years and more after the invasion, with U.S. troops still bravely fighting and dying to stabilize that country.

But the responses to McClellan from the Bush administration and media bigwigs, history-bending as they are, compel us to jump in. As we like to say around here, it's truth to power time, not just for the politicians but also for some folks in our own business.

As we listen to the MSM hem and haw and offer excuses, it is refreshing to finally read an account from a truly reliable and accountable source that gives us the proper perspective on what has proven to be a landmark publication. The echos and ramifications of this book will be felt throughout this presidential campaign and indeed historically. The famous Bush "legacy" that we hear so much about is at stake. The stones are slowly being overturned and the slavish, loyalty-driven, personality cult that is the Bush Administration is beginning to realize it's true legacy.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Carter and Obama? Let's see....

The Daily News Record this morning presents a commentary on David Broder's recent comparison of the Obama and Carter campaigns. The original column appears in today's WAPO under the title of "Hamilton Jordan's Message to Obama." I guess because the DNR editor considers Mr. Broder to be "the dean of the old-school scribes who combines shoe-leather journalism with political analysis," and therefore a liberal, the new headline "Obama's run like Carter's..but the candidates differ greatly" appears over Broder's name.

The editor seems to be making only three points; that military service, being the governor of a state, and having run a business qualified Jimmy Carter for the presidency. The editor goes on to point out the contrast with Senator Obama.

"By contrast, Mr. Obama is a Chicago liberal.."

This is a good thing. I'd spell that LIBERAL! I call it good news because the conservative agenda we've followed for 16 years has gotten us in a pretty big jam. I'd say it is time to become "open to new behavior and opinions" and to discard the traditional conservative values that have caused America so much grief. Yes, LIBERAL is a good thing.

Jimmy Carter was a Southern Liberal which is pretty stunning when you think about it. Of course this whole article is a sly attempt to smear Obama by linking him with President Carter.

"with no military experience.."

This is also a good thing. Contrary to what the editors believe, service in the military is NOT a prerequisite for government service. In fact, the founders specifically gave the President the power of "commander-in-chief" as a CIVILIAN, expressly to keep the military from growing too powerful.

Mr. Carter's belief that the military is NOT the primary source of bringing peace to the world pretty much negates the argument that military service is required.

"and no experience managing anything beyond the activist whippersnappers in his Senate office and the hipsters on his campaign.."

The writer conveniently ignores the most highly organized, effective political campaign in recent history. Contrast this to the organizational disasters of the Clinton and McCain campaigns and Obama's competence in governance is obvious. National political campaigns, how they are organized are indeed an indicator of effective management. (comment: whippersnappers? hipsters? Showing your cards a little are you? old fuddyduddy..)

"which does not compare to shouldering gubernatorial duties."

Could this be one of those famous "gaffes" that political junkies and chatterboxes love to point out so they can ridicule the "gaffer?" Of course the editor is referring to Jimmy Carter's run as Governor of Georgia, but... I choose not to poke fun, but only to say that being a US Senator certainly does not compare to being a governor and that being a governor doesn't really indicate competence in governance. Some governors have shown competence (Carter), some haven't (Bush).

"Being a "community organizer" isn't exactly a command experience, either."

Command experience? No. Organization? Yes. Management? Yes. Building a better community, working to improve the lives of citizens, helping people, boosting employment, education and housing? Yes. All of the above are common to Mr. Carter and Mr. Obama... Your point? Oh yeah.... it's the military code word, "command experience..." Nope. See the previous comment.

"And again, he has past associations with vituperative and violent anti-American radicals, one being his unhinged "minister" and the other being a fan of mass murderer Charles Manson."

This statement is vile, stupid, and obscene. To exaggerate so wildly and pronounce it so publicly is truly a sad commentary on the sorry state of this editorial page. Mr Editor/wing-nut blogger, this is shameful, inflammatory, and totally unnecessary to your point. To abuse the readers of this paper with this type of vitriolic, hypocritical, partisan rhetoric is unprofessional and incompetent. A retraction would be appropriate.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wake up Call for Republicans

E. J. Dionne has a bit of good news today in his editorial in today's Daily News Record, "Issues This Year ‘Moving the Democrats’ Way." He supports Barack Obama's new political voice by pointing out the recent election success of Democrat Don Cazayoux in Louisiana. It seems that the Republican Party has had the 6th District in their pockets for 33 years. They ran the usually successful campaign of "slash and burn," "guilt by association," and "tax and spend." They lost.

In a district that Republicans had held for 33 years, the party and its candidate Woody Jenkins ran a campaign straight from their tattered playbook. Republicans tried to persuade voters that Cazayoux was really pronounced "Tax You" and were unrelenting in trying to tie Cazayoux to Obama and the Democratic House speaker.

"A Vote for Don Cazayoux is a vote for Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi," one ad declared. "If Don Tax You gets to Washington, he'll do what they tell him to do." Another ad cast the stakes this way: "Is Obama right for Louisiana? Is Pelosi? You decide." Decide the voters did, not so much for Obama and Pelosi as against the very concept of the Republican campaign. Cazayoux ran as a conservative on guns and abortion, but relied on national Democratic themes in advocating for "middle-class families" and the proposition that "every family should have health care."

Senator Obama has regained his balance after the recent media broadsides about race and religion, has taken the body blows from Senator Clinton, and has engaged the debate with Senator McCain in anticipation of the fall presidential campaign. It appears that the "change" that Obama has been proclaiming since the beginning of the campaign is taking root. In Louisiana, the voters voted against the Republicans as much as they voted for Cazayoux. This is especially significant in that a Democrat won for the first time in 33 years. Could the political landscape be turning? Is this perhaps an indication that the divisive politics of the past might give way to the uniting politics of change?

In his speech Tuesday night, Obama predicted that his opponents would "play on our fears and exploit our differences." He would face "the same names and labels they always pin on everyone who doesn't agree with all their ideas, the same efforts to distract us from the issues that affect our lives, by pouncing on every gaffe and association and fake controversy, in the hopes that the media will play along." And then he promised "to make this year different."

The best thing for America right now is a hard turn away from political business as usual. The Republicans have enjoyed 28 years of being the top dog. Bloggers are still reminding us that what they've accomplished during their reign of error is still better than "Carter Malaise", the "Great Depression", "Stagflation", and "Hoovervilles." That two of those four are on the Republican Party doesn't seem to matter in the attack dog right wing blogosphere.

The War Party has a tired and worn platform. They are still running against the New Deal, the 60's, and are still trying to justify the Vietnam debacle and the Watergate scandals of the 70's. They've pushed too hard, divided the country to the point that they've finally isolated themselves and are reduced to lobbing rhetorical mortar shots from behind their safe ideological walls. These are OLD ideas that have little relevance to today's political climate. Democrats have the pulse of the nation, the Republicans are mired in the past.

Newt Gingrich said it best in a recent issue of Human Events Magazine.

The Republican brand has been so badly damaged that if Republicans try to run an anti-Obama, anti- Reverend Wright, or (if Senator Clinton wins), anti-Clinton campaign, they are simply going to fail.

This model has already been tested with disastrous results.

In 2006, there were six incumbent Republican Senators who had plenty of money, the advantage of incumbency, and traditionally successful consultants.

But the voters in all six states had adopted a simple position: "Not you." No matter what the GOP Senators attacked their opponents with, the voters shrugged off the attacks and returned to, "Not you."

The danger for House and Senate Republicans in 2008 is that the voters will say, "Not the Republicans.

He goes on to say:

The Republican loss in the special election for Louisiana's Sixth Congressional District last Saturday should be a sharp wake up call for Republicans: Either Congressional Republicans are going to chart a bold course of real change or they are going to suffer decisive losses this November.

Folks the tide is turning. I'm more encouraged by this news than I have been in this whole political season. It ain't over till it's over, but hope is abounding. The dogs of the war party are losing the scent, the Great American Hypocrites are being exposed finally as political frauds. Their true aims of Empire and Monarchy have been exposed. The choice between Empire and Republic is clear. Republicans have chosen Empire, Democrats will return us to a Republic. President Barack Obama...I like the sound of that!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Voter Fraud? Not!

An ongoing thread in the Daily News Record this week is a discussion of the recent SCOTUS ruling on Photo ID cards in Indiana. Time after time on the board, folks chime in with the time-honored Republican talking points concerning both illegal immigrants and alleged voter fraud. The tenants sound reasonable, "don't let illegal immigrants or 'dead' people vote." Of course everyone can agree that that "this makes sense."

The "problem" of illegal immigrants voting is a plank in the platform of the Republican Right Wing Noise Machine. They've piggybacked their xenophopia right on top of their largly bogus claims of widespread "voter fraud." For Republicans, the most important thing is to DECREASE the size of the total voter pool which INCREASES the chances for the minority view to WIN. Democrats, of course, prefer the opposite. Democrats lead voter registration drives trying to INCREASE the voter pool. A lot of mud is there for slinging on both sides.

The reality:

Some communities around the country are more LIBERAL than others, surprise, surprise! In doing a little reading, I found that the conservative communities pretty much use the liberal communities as examples for how bad things will get, while the liberal communities show how progressive and humanitarian they are and point to the draconian measures enforced in conservative communities to show how bad they are!

Reading a little further, I found plenty of evidence that some illegals have managed to take the huge risk to register and vote, mainly in Texas and California. In the rest of the country, the problem isn't statistically relevant. The fact that the propaganda has taken hold of the discussion on this board is evidence of it's effectiveness. That the "problem" doesn't even exist matters not, it's the IDEA of it that causes all the shouting.

With regards to the voter fraud in the Indiana case, the Republicans have been working on this one for years. (see paragraph one) Again, although there are many anecdotal stories about dead people voting, (mostly in Chicago in the bad old Mayor Daley days) voter fraud is not statistically relevant and is not a problem. Republicans win a huge victory however when they manage to restrict the rights of millions of citizens to vote, based on the alleged fraud of a few hundred.

The effectiveness of the Right Wing Noise Machine cannot be understated. They've managed to make THEIR talking points the accepted "conventional wisdom." My efforts on the board are to dispel the myths and simply point out the reality. It is important to continue shining the light on the true purposes of the Republican Creed: attainment and maintenance of political power; tax 'reform' and privatization to ensure corporate profit, unequivocal support of the military, and the unabashed hypocritical pandering to social conservatism.