John Kerry made a campiagn stop in Mansfield last night (about fifteen miles from here). A reader who was there writes:
"I was at the game last nite when Kerry showed up. I was in the stadium guarding a block of seats so I didn’t go out to see him. Neither did too many others. It was an amazing lack of response. When I finally climbed to the top of the stadium to see what was going on, there were about as many staff around Kerry as there were local residents. Most of the people coming into the game were ignoring him.
This link from the paper shows Kerry giving some pointers to the Tygers. The home team went on to loose 7 to 34."
Kerry also stopped at nearby Bellville. About 2,000 people were there.
I missed this one from a few days ago. It is irresistible, perhaps even worse than Mario Cuomo trying to argue that Lincoln would support Kerry. Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times thinks that Shakespeare would be a Kerry supporter: "The paramount lesson in Shakespeares plays is that the world is full of nuances and uncertainties, and that leaders self-destruct when they are too rigid, too sure of themselves or - Mr. President, lend me your ears - too intoxicated by moral clarity." Read the whole thing. I just have to say that this is remarkably stupid stuff, Kristoff should be embarrassed.
Yesterday afternoon I mentioned the Time poll that showed Bush with 52% to Kerry’s 41% (You should look at the details within the poll, all to Bush’s advantage). The pro-Democratic talking heads (and some news anchors, of course), were downplaying the Time Poll, saying it could be a fluke, and so on. Well, das ist alles, baby. Now a Newsweek poll has been released that confirms the lead. Newsweek has Bush ahead 52 to 41 (without Nader it is Bush 54 to 43). But it gets even better for Bush: "The poll was taken over two nights, both before and after Bush’s acceptance speech. Respondents who were queried only on Friday, after Bush’s speech, gave the Republican a 16-point lead over Kerry." That’s a sixteen point lead. But sticking with the 52-41 lead that is an 11 point bounce. I was wrong in predicgting something between 5 and 7. Sorry, my pessimism got the best of me, temporarily. It won’t happen again.
"The poll shows that Bush and Cheney have gained ground, and now lead, on almost all key election issues: The president’s approval rating is back over the halfway mark (52 percent, with 41 percent disapproving) after having slipped to 45 percent in July; his favorability ratings (55 percent favorable versus 40 percent unfavorable) are the highest they have been all year, after having fallen to 48 percent unfavorable in the poll at the end of the DNC. And with perceptions of the president climbing back from a low over last month, more registered voters say they would like to see Bush reelected than not (53 percent versus 43 percent)—the most favorable ratio he has had since July, 2003."
And there is more: "As Bush’s numbers climb, those of his challenger appear to have sunk to their lowest point this year. Solid majorities of registered voters now view the president as personally likeable (67 percent), someone who ’says what he believes and not just want people want to hear’ (66 percent), as a strong leader (65 percent) and someone who cares about people (53 percent)—which is significant for the ’compassionate conservative’ who had previously been struggling to appear empathetic."
This is what we used to call the THE BIG MO.
I have been seeing bits and pieces of the reporting of barbarism in Beslan. Shocking. I cried. A thousand hostages taken by about thirty terrorists, hundreds of them children. It is not clear exactly what happened at the end, but one reporter said he thought that some children were attempting to get away and bombs attached to the roof of the gymnasium blew and hell arrived. Over 300 people died, about half of them children. Here is a report on the terror. I also noticed that, at least the first day or so, CNN continued to refer to the evil-doers as "activists." Here is another story, and another. I want to write something pithy and moving about this, to talk about the darkness of it all. I can’t do it. My wet eyes won’t let me. Look to the Belmont Club for insight and eloquence. Note he points out that the European Union has requested from Russia an explanation of how such a huge loss of life could have happened. The EU foreign minister said he
"would like to know from the Russian authorities how this tragedy could have happened."
Glenn Reynolds (for MSNBC) has a few thoughts on the inept Kerry campaign. The piece is entitled, "John Forbes Dukakis." And this piece by Susan Estrich (she had something to do with the Dukakis campiagn, didnt she) proves Reynolds point. Estrich is mad as a wet hen, wants all other Demos to get as mad as she is, wants to fight "fire with fire, mud with mud, dirt with dirt." The trouble with Democrats, she maintain, is that "we arent mean enough." She wants a meaner campaign. Yup, that will do it. Sure. Mark Steyn looks at Kerys midnight speech argues that Kerry just cant take the heat: "The way things are going, Democrats seem likely to be launching the post-election catastrophic-defeat vicious-recriminations phase of the campaign round about Sept. 12."
Richard Brookhiser writes a very thoughtful piece on Kerry and focuses on the Vietnam (and after) experience question, but not the way it has ordinarily been addressed. The title reflects the point, "Kerrys Murky Past, Our Uncertain Future." He concludes: "Mr. Kerry was sickened by his Vietnam experiences—if he really had them. He was a raging leftist—though he now runs as a warrior. He says he would see the struggle in Iraq—which he has, at different times, supported and opposed—through to the end, and we may believe him. No President comes in with a clean slate; half the job is serving the drinks your predecessor mixed.
Yet Iraq is only phase two of a war that will have many phases. If Mr. Kerry had some clear vision of its future, we could debate that. If he had some clear vision of his Vietnam past, we could debate that, too. The Terror War will have to be fought by Democrats as well as Republicans. Is John Kerry the way to begin that experiment?"
I have a question that I hope someone around here can answer. When a relative handful of folks--mostly anti-abortion activists--showed up to protest the Democratic National Convention in Boston they were confined to a small area surrounded by chain-link fence and razor wire. The threat of terrorism was cited as the reason for this, and I heard nary a peep--except from the protesters themselves--about this being a denial of constitutional rights. But a month later, of course, radicals of every shade traveled from all over the country to New York City to protest the Republican National Convention, and not only were they permitted to march, but they were able to hover outside the convention hall and harass GOP delegates.
Has anyone made an issue of the obvious disparity in the way the two groups were treated? Why hasnt there been more of an outcry over this?
I had dinner with some friends in Zanesville last night, watched the President’s speech at the convention, then taped a panel discussion this morning on the convention for ONN for Sunday’s broadcast. Just got back to the office. Lot of driving, lot of thinking (with the help of my trusty satellite radio). The Democratic consultant (Why am I not a consultant, these guys all dress better?) who was my opponent on the show revealed a couple of things about how this campaign is going. Wouldn’t one normally say that the campaign is starting now, after the second convention? Rather, I think I’m going to argue that it is the start of the end of the campaign. Let me explain. This Demo consultant was in a tither. He was perspiring and nervous and ill at ease in this political world. I tried to engage him in pleasant small talk to get him to relax, and he wouldn’t have it. He was utterly incapable of saying anything interesting or analytical about what is going on with Bush and Kerry. He could only talk about the personal relationship between bin Laden and the Bush family and that’s why Bush didn’t mention bin Laden by name last night. Oil, money, Halliburton, deep, deep conspiracies. I was amazed because he did this both in public and in private. We are talking about black helicopters here folks! I noted this more quickly than I may have otherwise because I had heard pieces of Kerry’s midnight speech
in Springfield, Ohio (just down the road) on the radio, and also saw a bit of it on TV this morning. This is the talk in which Kerry--not even having heard Bush’s talk at the convention, I venture to suggest--says that Bush is not fit to command, and in which Kerry says something like, "All hat and no cattle." I have learned that recognizing extreme folly is often very difficult because it is (somehow) inexplicable; entirely unreasonable. Both Kerry and the Democratic consultant fall into this mode. Madness is surprising and you are inclined to say it ain’t so when you think you glimpse it. I kept saying it ain’t so when I heard Kerry, and said the same as I was sitting next to the Demo in Columbus. What is going on here? Maybe it is as simple as Mark Steyn’s understanding in the current paper National Review when he says that Kerry is a parody of himself: "Groucho Marx once observed that an audience will laugh at an actress playing an old lady pretending to fall downstairs, but for a professional comic to laugh, it has to be a real old lady." That is the Kerry campaign. Steyn says that watching Mondale or Dukakis fall down is not completely satisfying. These guys are average. But not John Kerry. He was made for the role: "a vain thin-skinned droning blueblood with an indestructible sense of his own status but none at all of his own ridiculousness." Bingo. The campaign is over, the outcome is a given. I kind of regret this because I was looking forward to it. By the way, I thought Bush’s speech was perfect. And one more thing, note this Time magazine poll. Time says that there is now a "clear leader" in the campaign. It shows that Bush has opened a double digit lead, Bush has 52% to Kerrys 41%. Im going home.
One notes this morning the furious amount of "ventriloquist journalism" (wherein reporters find people to give quotes to back up their preferred story line) still going on over the Zell Miller speech. I have lost count of all the stories, but note that the ventriloquists favorite sock-puppet, John McCain, has been enlisted in the cause of running down Zell.
I just finished listening to President Bush’s speech, and I think that it was quite powerful. The beginning was a laundry list of domestic policy. This needed to be done, but was quite frankly less important than what came after it. As much as the Democratic strategists continue to talk about medicare and social security--issues about which they traditionally have an electoral edge--those are back burner issues this year. This is a war-time election. The Democrats know this, which is why they nominated Kerry--who despite his weaknesses is the strongest candidate they could find on national security. And so, the second half of the President’s speech was a soliloquy by a Commander in Chief describing his vision for foreign policy.
And the President’s vision is bold. Here is a taste:
Others understand the historic importance of our work. The terrorists know. They know that a vibrant, successful democracy at the heart of the Middle East will discredit their radical ideology of hate. They know that men and women with hope, and purpose, and dignity do not strap bombs on their bodies and kill the innocent. The terrorists are fighting freedom with all their cunning and cruelty because freedom is their greatest fear -- and they should be afraid, because freedom is on the march.
I believe in the transformational power of liberty: The wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom. As the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq seize the moment, their example will send a message of hope throughout a vital region. Palestinians will hear the message that democracy and reform are within their reach, and so is peace with our good friend Israel. Young women across the Middle East will hear the message that their day of equality and justice is coming. Young men will hear the message that national progress and dignity are found in liberty, not tyranny and terror. Reformers, and political prisoners, and exiles will hear the message that their dream of freedom cannot be denied forever. And as freedom advances -- heart by heart, and nation by nation -- America will be more secure and the world more peaceful.
But the most moving part of the speech came in the last few minutes, as Bush described meeting with the families of the fallen:
These four years have brought moments I could not foresee and will not forget. I have tried to comfort Americans who lost the most on September 11th -- people who showed me a picture or told me a story, so I would know how much was taken from them. I have learned first-hand that ordering Americans into battle is the hardest decision, even when it is right. I have returned the salute of wounded soldiers, some with a very tough road ahead, who say they were just doing their job. I’ve held the children of the fallen, who are told their dad or mom is a hero, but would rather just have their dad or mom.
And I have met with parents and wives and husbands who have received a folded flag, and said a final goodbye to a soldier they loved. I am awed that so many have used those meetings to say that I am in their prayers to offer encouragement to me. Where does strength like that come from? How can people so burdened with sorrow also feel such pride? It is because they know their loved one was last seen doing good. Because they know that liberty was precious to the one they lost. And in those military families, I have seen the character of a great nation: decent, and idealistic, and strong.
As he said these words, he visibly choked back the tears, and many viewers undoubtedly did the same.
The speech did exactly what it needed to do: it showed the President as a resolute Commander in Chief at a time when security is the election issue. Its one failing was that the less interesting policy details may have caused viewers to tune out before Bush got to the more interesting and important foreign policy section of the speech. For those who missed it, however, the latter lines will inevitably be replayed and quoted. Now that the speech is done, all that is left is confirmation of the post-Convention bounce.
Rod Drehers opinion at The Corner on the Zeller speech is worth noting: "For the record, I dont think there will be a more compelling speech given this fall on Bushs behalf than the one Zell Miller delivered last night. He would surely resent the comparison, but Zell blitzkrieged Kerry like Sherman did Atlanta. I kept thinking last night: this is like listening to my dad in 1979, when the rage and contempt we Southerners felt toward Jimmy Carter for his weakness, which brought on national humiliation, drove so many Democrats to the Reagan camp. If you ask me, I think Zell just dug up the stinking corpse of the effete Carter presidency, and rubbed it all over John Kerry. On the national security issue, and to a lesser extent the God thing, Zell reminded Reagan Democrats why they became GOP voters in the first place. If the Republicans are smart, theyd turn Zell loose this fall in Ohio, Pennsylvania and other battleground states where there were a lot of Reagan Democrats a generation ago."
Joseph Knippenberg reflects on this: "This past Sunday, on the eve of the Republican National Convention, Bill Clinton preached a sermon from the pulpit of New York’s Riverside Church, long a leading pillar of liberal Protestantism. It was classic Clinton, and I’m sure the audience was moved. The sermon was part of a campaign—long urged by former Clinton aides Mike McCurry and John Podesta, and taken up by Riverside Church—for the Democrats and religious progressives to reclaim the language of faith from conservatives. Clinton always was, and still is, better at this than John Kerry. He knows his Bible—Old and New Testaments—and, unlike Howard Dean, he knows which is which." There is much more, read it.
A reader brough this to my attention, and I thank him. Rasmussen tracking poll has Bush up 49% to 45%.
"This is the first time that Bush has reached the 49% mark in the Tracking Poll since Kerry wrapped up the Democratic nomination on Super Tuesday (March 2). Its also the first time Bush has been up by four points since April 26." Note: "Three-quarters of the interviews for todays report were completed after Mondays Convention speeches by John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Half were completed after the Tuesday speeches by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Laura Bush."
A Zogby Poll notes this: "The convention may be giving the leaners a nudge.
Nearly three-quarters of people who have identified themselves as leaning toward voting for President Bush -- but not yet certain they will -- say they favor him more strongly now, based on what they have seen of or heard about the Republican convention."
The Anneberg Survey finds that Bush’s job approval rating rose in August from July, from 50% to 53%.
The Belmont Club has been considering the meaning of both the recent Russian terror attacks, as well as the issues the French hostage situation in Iraq. He has more than this, just click down, but I like this paragraph:
"In many ways, the Russian policy is exactly the reverse of the American. They are less squeamish about retaliating but lack the Bush doctrine of creating functioning democracies to replace the chaotic sinkholes of Islamism. To a certain extent, the Russian and French policies are identical. They draw a curtain over the putrefaction fermenting in certain societies, dismissing them as a natural state or in terms of cultural relativism, as situations in which civilization -- I use the word consciously -- would be ill advised to interfere. But it has become apparent that terrorism is an externality of rotting societies, an effluent, which if unchecked will poison the whole world. No cologne, not even French perfume, will long prevail against it. Civilization cannot hang back but must step forward, if not for love then for survival.
Liberals, Democrats and critical conservatives may question whether President Bushs forward strategy for freedom has been carried out well or botched; but its conceptual rightness is indisputable and its undertaking long overdue."
Tom Bevan has some comments on Zell Miller’s speech last night. Miller was angry, but not mean, Bevan argues. Yet the Demos will be playing on the anger, "which in addition to being the smart thing to do may be the ONLY thing they can do to try and fend off Miller’s devastating assault last night. Jay Carson, a Democratic spokesman, is quoted in today’s NY Times saying of Miller, ’This angry old man is scaring the children.’" Also this:
"The Dems will get an assist from some members of the mainstream media, many of whom I’m sure were shocked - shocked! -and appalled by what they saw and heard from Miller last night. (Incidentally, Ann Curry from the Today show just reported in her news wrap that Miller suggested John Kerry wanted to arm US soldiers with spit balls and Campbell Brown said Miller called Kerry ’unpatriotic.’ Is that really what he did, ladies?)"
Here is Rich Lowry’s opinion at The Corner: "I could be wrong, but I think the whole thing was too hot. Now it may be that people find that refreshing and that it plays as plain-spoken authenticity (I know most conservatives will find it that way, but I’m thinking of “puruadables”). McCain’s anger for a long time worked to his advantage in 2000 for exaclty this reason. Its just seems a risk for Zell to have taken this route. Why risk having him seem a bit unhinged, and why focus exclusively on national security, when presumably he could have turned on the Southern charm to explain how his party has left him on everything important--foreign policy, taxes, and social issues--by moving too far left? Wouldn’t this have been a better pitch for independents and moderate Democrats, when you have the wonderful opportunity of having a Democrat willing to make your case for you? On the other hand, this was an all-out bid to make Kerry radioactive on national security, and if it has any success at all, it might be worth it. In any case, for better or worse, this will be a long-remembered speech."
Michael Barones first paragraph: "Until Wednesday night, I was under the impression that Andrew Jackson had died in 1845. But on Wednesday night he appeared at the podium of the Republican National Convention under the guise of Georgia Senator and former Governor Zell Miller. In the accents of the mountain South, with a directness that left his sentiments unmistakable, with a hatred for what he considers betrayal of America and out of a fierce love of family and country Miller delivered the keynote for this Republican convention in the same place as he had delivered one of the keynotes for Bill Clinton’s convention in New York 12 years before."
Reuters reports: "The Fox News cable channel made a bit of television history by drawing more viewers than any of the Big Three broadcast networks on the opening night of major coverage of the Republican convention, according to figures issued on Wednesday.
Fox News presentation of Tuesdays speeches by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and first lady Laura Bush drew 5.4 million viewers, more than broadcasters ABC, CBS or NBC.
That marked what is believed to be the first time a cable channel has grabbed the biggest audience for a telecast of a single event covered by all the networks, Fox said.
Combined viewership during the 10 oclock hour in which the Big Three joined cable outlets Fox News, CNN and MSNBC in carrying Tuesdays proceedings totaled nearly 22.2 million, according to Nielsen Media Research.
That was up from the 18.5 million six-network total for the first night of the Democratic convention in July, when former President Bill Clinton addressed the delegates.
NBC was a close second behind Fox with 5.1 million viewers, followed by CBS with 4.4 million and ABC with 4.3 million. NBCs sister cable network, MSNBC, was fifth with 1.6 million viewers, and CNN was dead last with 1.5 million."
You might want to glance at Ratherbiased from time to time. They watch CBS for you "so you dont have to." Useful.
Zell Miller’s speech was something to behold. What do you call such a speech? Stemwinder, barn burner, electrifying? My son Johnny hasn’t been paying much attention to the convention, he was upstairs doing homework (so he says). Five minutes into Zell’s speech I told him to come down and listen. After all, how often does a sixteen year old boy get a chance to listen to a political speech out of the 1820’s or 1830’s? He listened intently, and then said something like "that was the coolest thing I ever heard." (He is a disadvantaged kid, he hasn’t been to enough of my public speeches!) Miller made clear that the election is about the war, and Kerry’s record should make people doubt that he can handle it. It’s that simple. No ribbon tossing, no questioning of purple hearts, just looking at the record. And this, it turned out really made the Liberals (read media) angry. Joe Klien was apoplectic: the GOP is angry, the tone of the GOP convention has changed into beating up on Kerry as a person, they are distorting; he compared this to the "beningn and positive" Democratic convention. Aaron Brown (with Howard Kurtz’s help) was bemoning the fact that no one listens to one another (read the people don’t listen to us anymore). The media is now angry that they are being ignored, the political conversation used to be civil (because the dumb people used to listen to us, we had a soothing and calming effect) but now with radio talk shows and blogs the national conversation is shrinking. There are too many opinions out there. No one is listening to one another. Democrats watch CNN, and Republicans watch FOX; it didn’t used to be that way, they lament. And so on. Quite revealing, all this. It proves that the liberal media is collapsing, and they are beginning to feel the collapse, although not yet fully comprehend it.
But perhaps the most revealing thing was the tet-a-tet between Chris Matthews and Zell Miller. Matthews was livid and wouldn’t let Zell talk. He accused Zell of putting up straw men, of fighting the last war, of participating in the rhetoric of complete destruction. I saw the whole thing. It was amazing. Zell actually said something like this at one point: "I am very sorry that we are no longer in an age of dueling Chris because I would challenge you." Zell insisted that Matthews let him talk. You asked me here as your guest, let me answer your questions; I shouldn’t have come, etc. And then came the focus group with the Frank Luntz swing voters that Hayward refers to below. That was amazing! Even I was surprised by how the vast majority of "swing voters" liked the speech and thought that Zell was right! And they loved Zell when he listed the weapons systems that Kerry had voted against ending in the spitball remark. The graph reached eighty percent. Even Luntz was surprised. Maybe Gallup is wrong when he says that there are only 2% undecided voters. Maybe there aren’t any. Watch the media’s (read Kerry campaign) reactions to all this. It should be fun.
Zell Millers keynote was the studliest political speech I have heard in a long time. The left and the media (but I repeat myself) are doing their best to turn it into Buchanans 1992 speech, calling it "divisive," etc. However, Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit notes the following very significant factoid:
The [Frank] Luntz swing-voter focus group loved Zell Millers speech. They liked it that he was a Democrat and an ex-Marine talking about national security. And the "spitballs" line did well.
Re: Peters post below on Paul Ehrlichs population bomb being a wet firecracker (as I have always called it). I recently taped a PBS episode of "Uncommon Knowledge" with Ehrlich out in California; it is not scheduled to air until November, and Ill try to let NLT readers know when it is on. But several observations on the Great Doomster:
In person Ehrlich is a very nice and engaging man, not at all nasty like his prose sometimes is. He freely admitted that he has made many wrong predictions in the past, and also that he is a Malthusian Doomsayer. Most environmentalists run like scalded dogs from the labels "Doomsayer" or "Malthusian."
I was struck that perhaps this is all a pose to sell books, win prizes cash prizes from idiots like Ted Turner and the MacArthur Foundation (which he has done). But his day has past, even before the NY Times realized it. Keep in mind, back when Peter was in school reading The Population Bomb, Ehrlich was a mega best-selling author with front line publishers like Simon & Schuster; he was a frequent guest on the Tonight Show with Johhny Carson. Today he publishes his alarmist tomes with Island Press, a small environmental press. And have you even seen him on C-SPAN lately? Now he has to slum it with the likes of me on a small syndicated PBS show where he gets smacked around by both me and the host. Its all over for these guys.
Since Im making commercial announcements, I am scheduled to be on CNBC tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 6:50 am (eastern) to debate someone from the League of Conservation Voters on the environment and the election. Should be fun.
You can tell at four months if your child will be a "Clint Eastwood" type, according to Jerome Kagan, a retired Harvard psychologist. His new book ("The Long Shadow of Temperament") is outlined in this Boston Globe story.
"At 4 months old, plop your baby into a bouncy seat and present him with a series of colorful new toys - ones he’s never seen - one after the other, for 20 seconds at a time. Does he cry madly and shake his arms and legs? If yes, be forewarned: Your baby may be at higher risk for ’developing serious anxiety over social interactions’ a decade down the road.
If he screams at 4 months, he’ll be more likely to stay home from junior-high dances. If he screams, he’ll be more likely to answer ’no’ when a psychologist asks, at age 11, ’Are you happy most of the time?’
It won’t really matter if you cuddled your child as an infant or showered him with play dates as a toddler. He’ll probably never be a brash CEO or politician, although he might become a brilliant solitary researcher or a melancholy poet.
On the other hand, if your baby just stares calmly at the toys, he will be calm on dates but also slightly more likely to become a delinquent, because parental threats won’t faze him."
There is a lot more (Pinker, Bowlby’s "attachment theory," etc.)
and the article, although not deep, is just good and long enough to be interesting. It must be said that it is fun watching people limit their thinking by depending on modern science.
This is not the first time I have mentioned such matters, but here it is again, a newstory on the world-wide population decline in The New York Times. Paul Ehrlich was stuffed down our throats in several courses when I was an undergraduate. It was, of course, a political act warning of catastrophe. A few lines from the piece:
"As late as 1970, the world’s median fertility level was 5.4 births per woman; in 2000, it was 2.9. Barring war, famine, epidemic or disaster, a country needs a birthrate of 2.1 children per woman to hold steady.
The best-known example of shrinkage is Italy, whose women were once symbols of fecundity partly because of the country’s peasant traditions and partly because of its Roman Catholicism, which rejects birth control. By 2000, Italy’s fertility rate was Western Europe’s lowest, at 1.2 births per woman. Its population is expected to drop 20 percent by midcentury.
Italy plummeted right past wealthy, liberal, Protestant Denmark, where women got birth control early. Denmark was below population replacement level in 1970, at 2.0 births per woman, and slid to 1.7 by 2001. In Europe’s poorest country, Albania, where rural people still live in armed clan compounds, the 1970 rate of 5.1 births per woman fell to 2.1 in 1999." And:
"Alarmed by the trends, many countries are paying citizens to get pregnant. Estonia pays for a year’s maternity leave. The treasurer of Australia, Peter Costello, introduced $2,000-per-baby subsidies in that country’s 2004 budget. He told his fellow citizens to ’go home and do your patriotic duty tonight.’"
This is the CNN story on the shake-up. "It could be too late," one Democrat is quoted as saying. Not everyone quoted agrees, but you dont have to be an overly careful reader of texts to know that the situation is critical. Donors and elected officials are asking too many questions, are raising too many concerns. Perhaps that explains why Senator Daschles campaign is running ads showing him with President Bush. Thune has 50% while Daschle has 48% in the latest polls, by the way. Also see this Boston Globe piece on how Kerry was in a huddle with advisors in Nantucket yesterday. But, note the caution put out by J. McIntyre at Instapundit. He warns Republicans not to get cocky, the dynamics of the race can chnage very quickly. A couple of lines:
"With the Presidents job approval back around 50% , there is almost no chance Kerry can win the election in a big way. Right now there seem to be roughly three broad options: 1) a big Bush win (4-7 points), 2) Bush in a squeaker or 3) Kerry in a squeaker.
But if this election cycle has taught us anything, it is that the dynamic of this race can change quickly. As one who felt pretty good in December that Howard Dean was the almost certain Democratic nominee it would be a mistake to make too much of two-three week trend change.
Republicans should not become too cocky. Bush has had a good run and there is roughly a 33% chance that the poll bump from this convention and the 9/11 anniversary may be enough to TKO John Kerry. But there is also at least a 50% chance that before the first debate we will be staring at the same 50/50, dead heat race that weve more or less had since Kerry captured the nomination."
Last night, Peter Jennings concluded his broadcast:
[T]he one thing well leave you with tonight was what Giuliani said last night. He being a great New York Yankees fan said the Republican partys future was like the Yankees, maybe a little glib to conclude with but tonight the Yankees got beaten by Cleveland, 22-0. Im Peter Jennings.
Drawing cheers, laughs and even leading a brief "New York, New York" chant, Giuliani reveled in the minute-long standing ovation from the Republicans. "It feels like a Yankee game," he quipped, after chants of "Rudy! Rudy!"
On this tragic day, I must rise to the defense of my beloved Yankees. I was at the Yankee game last week when Cleveland squeaked out a narrow win against NY (after dropping the first two games to the Yankees). Upon leaving the stadium, I was greeted by a Cleveland fan who expressed their opinion about NY. My response to the Cleveland fan then and now is simple: Ill see you in the post-season. But of course I wont, because Cleveland will not make it to the post-season. It is a terrible thing to see ones team beaten the way the Yankees were admittedly pummeled last night, but that is one game in an exceedingly long season. The season is a marathon, and the Yankees are true marathon runners. They will see the end of the race in the post-season--the Indians will not.
Mr. Kajca shows that no one is harder on the Yankees than a Yankee fan. I certainly agree that this team is not as good as Yankee teams in recent years. I do not believe that they will win the series this year, but unlike Mr. Kajca, I have little doubt that they will make it to the post-season. Why? Because they play Boston 6 times this month. Boston is only 3 1/2 games back. The pressure is mounting. There is only one thing for Boston to do--that which they have done so many times before--choke. Boston choking in fall is as much a tradition as school starting or leaves falling. It is something that can be counted on. And so, when I am in New York this weekend sitting in the house that Ruth built, I can be confident that the Yanks will take the AL East, because the curse of the Bambino lives.
Some of you might know that the Indians of
played baseball last night while the Yankees of New York were also on the field. I understand that there were also circa 51,000 Yankee fans as witnesses to this Hegelian augenblick. While I am not the sort of person to rub it in or anything like that, I would like to ask a few of my friends (using the word loosely, if I may) what they thought of this earthshaking event. Does this have anything to with the election? Does the fact that, near the end, all those Yankee fans ended up rooting for the Indians mean anything? At would seem that at a certain point in the battle, even the partisans recognize the excellence of the other side and have to admit--in their hearts and even in public--that the other side should win. There is room for virtue. So, Robert, what do you think?
In case you are wandering why there is a shakeup (meltdown might be better) in the Kerry campaign, see this from Charlie Cook, who weeks ago said that the race was Kerry’s: "Three weeks ago, most political insiders in both parties gave Sen. John Kerry a slight edge over President Bush. Granted, Kerry’s lead appeared to be only 2 or 3 points, but it showed up consistently in the national polls and was corroborated by public and private polling on the state level that showed Kerry ahead in seven or eight of the 10 most competitive battleground states. Experienced Republican operatives, particularly pollsters, were worried. Their Democratic counterparts were
Since then, Kerry appears to have lost a point or two, maybe three, and Bush has picked up a point or two. State polls are showing Bush ahead in five or six of those same 10 battleground states."
Some poll numbers: Florida: Bush 48, Kerry 46. Ohio:, Bush, 49, Kerry 46. Pennsylvania: Bush, 47, Kerry 46.
Wisconsin:, Bush 48, Kerry 47. Also note this interesting piece by Cook that considers the importance of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, that if either Kerry or Bush two out these three states he would win the election. But, even in this reasobale scenario, Cook explains how that’s not really the case for Bush: he still could win with winning only one of the three. Worth reading.
Someone explain to me how Joe Lockhart (and some other Clintonistas) is going to help Kerry out of this hole that he (with the help of his advisors) has dug for himself? More is coming, I am certain.
Grantings has some good comments on Giuliani’s rhetoric. He uses Churchill’s "Scaffolding of Rhetoric" to explain why Rudy gave a great speech. An example from Giuliani: "Frankly, I believed then and I believe now that Saddam Hussein, who supported global terrorism, slaughtered thousands and thousands of his own people, permitted horrific acts of atrocities against women, and used weapons of mass destruction, was himself a weapon of mass destruction."
Churchill: "An apt analogy... appeals to the everyday knowledge of the hearer and invites him to decide the problems that have baffled his powers of reason by the standard of the nursery and the heart.... Whether they translate an established truth into simple language or whether they adventurously aspire to reveal the unknown, they are among the most formidable weapons of the rhetorician."
I noticed that the networks carried last night’s speeches, while they did not carry McCain and Giuiliani. I don’t understand why they didn’t carry Monday’s speakers and I was irritated at first, thinking that last night couldn’t possibly be as effective as Monday. I was wrong. Mrs. Bush gave a nice speech, somehow appropriate and not silly, nor pseudo-sophisticated, nor one that everyone had to apologize for by calling her an independent woman who speaks her own mind. At first I thought she went on too long, but then I noticed myself comparing her to Mrs. Kerry, and the comparison was entirely to Laura’s advantage. Keep talking, I found myself saying. This wife of the president, and mother of the girls who introduced her, this librarian(!) is a great contrast to Marie Antoinette. The girls were cute, silly, and maybe allowed to overindulge in their youth a bit. Yet, they were speaking to their own crowd--what with the obscure references to pop stars and such--references that only someone their own age might understand. I did like the note about the hamster, "ours didn’t make it." Clever. I didn’t really want to envision the pres giving mouth-to-mouth to a rodent; compassionate conservatism should only go so far. Arnold was the rock star. I would say an almost perfect speech for the occassion. Hard, partisan, full of wit, tying the party to being American. Who else could have made a favorable reference to Nixon, and call Humphrey’s ideas socialist? Calling the Demo convention "true lies" was brilliant, as was the reference to "economic grilie-men." Arnold loves America and the things for which we stand, and he’s not shy about telling people why. He told us. Freedom, opportunity, no one caring who your father was. The chance to do what you can with what you have; economic and social mobility, the thing you don’t get in your tribe. This is not a small thing to remind people of, especially when you are a person known by every human being on the planet. Arnold has special resonance with a part of the citizens that should be Republicans by instinct, and these folks are not only immigrants. These are the people the Demos claim are downtrodden, if not oppressed, but Arnold knows they don’t feel that way. They are not victims. They are only open to that kind of Liberal rhetoric because it is often in their interest; Arnold argued that the principle that allows them to be hopeful and optimistic is the most important thing. The Demo mantra of the victim has no home here. I think Arnold’s speech may have the most political effect: those not necessarily inclined to vote Republican will have listened to him, and they’ll think about it. That’s plenty good. In short, I think he answered Lucas post below.
With Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger scheduled to speak tonight at the GOP Convention, CNN reports that he "will tell the delegates how he believes his life story shows the viability of the American Dream." Why doesnt it surprise me that the Governator will make himself the focus at a convention supposedly touting the virtues of the Republican Party and its leader, President George W. Bush.
We all know Sen. Hillary Clinton is already running for the 2008 presidential election, but I think Schwarzenegger is steadily becoming a Republican version of Clinton and will prove to be more of a liability than an asset to the GOP and its future as a governing majority for the nation. Why? He repeatedly addresses political problems as if individual personalities (like his own) are more important than the principles that inform their decision-making. In short, he cannot stop himself from talking about politics as if it was not political. This undermines public debate by teaching citizens that parties are simply instruments of division rather than principled policy-making. Lets hope his speech tonight is sufficiently partisan, sufficiently Republican, to persuade voters of the merits of both George W. Bushs reelection and the two-party system in America.
In his NY Times Magazine article, "How to Reinvent the G.O.P.", columnist David Brooks argues that the Republican Party is suffering an identity crisis that has as much to do with its victories as it does its defeats. It won the debate over the evils of big government, but lost the debate over an activist government.
And so Brooks proclaims that to counter the Democratic Party’s mission to use "government in the name of equality and social justice," the Republican Party must promote "limited but energetic government in the name of social mobility and national union." In other words, he is calling for a revival of the Whig Party for the 21st Century.
For those who have forgotten what the Whig Party stood for, Brooks rehearses some of its ideals and programs, beginning with its principled origins in Alexander Hamilton, and tracing its manifestations in the thinking and actions of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. While Brooks gives an unduly incomplete portrait of Lincoln, his presentation of a Whiggian revitalization of today’s GOP invites reflection.
Perhaps the article’s chief debatable point is the claim that a GOP embrace of limited but energetic federal programs can foster the kind of independent character that Hamilton, Lincoln, and TR preached and practiced. That said, Brooks’s reflections upon Bush’s compassionate conservativism as sowing the seeds of a return to Whig politics bears serious discussion. With the Republican Convention now under way, Brooks offers a "New Conservative Platform" for its consideration.
While you’re at it, you should also take a look at Brooks’s NY Times op-ed today entitled
"The Courage Factor." It argues that what unites the speakers at the GOP convention this week is not so much their moderate politics but their embodiment of bravery in the political arena.
McCain set the tone and the purpose. We are Americans first, last and always, and we’ll never surrender to these opponents who lack all human virtue. Our enemy is a malevolent force. We are fighting evil. It’s a big thing, this war and it could become bigger. But we have the moral courage to see it through. The liberation of Iraq was necessary, achievable, and noble. Bush will not yield or flinch and neither shall we. We--as one America, not two--must vanquish this unpardonable enemy. Stand up with our president and fight. Giuliani was poetic and thereby even electrifying. He warmed the faithful, and reminded them of the facts, of the horror, of the courage, of the determination, of the pithy human moments brought forth by the evil deed, of men laying down their lives for one another, of men crying and hugging, and of men with their controlled anger stepping into the abyss and returning. Bush said they would hear from us, and they have. Bush is solid as a rock, and Kerry isn’t, and to point that out is not not a personal attack.
I thought the two speeches were excellent. I know that you could argue that McCain needs a few lessons in delivery and Giuliani went on a bit long. But such details are not worth mentioning. These men represented what biography in politics means. It does makes a difference who gives a speech on what. Both men can talk about courage, hardship, leadership, the value of freedom. They don’t have to lay down an argument (although McCain did); they lived it. So people listen. This night was a great start. These are Republicans, here is what they consider important, here’s why. We understand something about freedom as a great good, and we think we know what it’s for and how we should protect it. Our party has always understood this, from Lincoln on. If you agree that we are at war, you must make an argument why you would not support such statesmanship, such character, such noble purpose. And Bush’s opponent has yet to make that argument. See my point about the inside straight below. I have to run. I have a Freshman class called Understanding Politics and I am ready for it. You can find the text and videos of the speeches here.
I guess Dan Rather--remember him, he used to be a very important person, the chief talking head for one of the three most important sources of news for the nation--has a blog. He is admitting that the Bush campaign is on a roll, the Big Mo has started, and that the Kerry campaign is, to put it clearly, flabbergasted by their decline. He quotes one Democrat: "Our best hope now is that Kerry does well, very well, in the debates. They look like the next chance to change momentum around—maybe the only chance." Does this need to be interpreted? We can still win if we can just pull the inside straight (with chances being somewhere between 38 to 1 to 71 to 1).
Just one minute before 6 p.m. tonight I was watching CNN. Wolf Blitzer reported on the MTV awards ceremony and how both the Kerry daughters and the Bush daughters were booed. All the while he was talking, circa 45 seconds, a picture of the two Bush daughters was on the screen, as it was during the awards after the Kerry daughters spoke live and were booed. In other words, according to CNN, the Bush daughters were booed. Im still naive, thus amazed. The video of what CNN didnt show is here.
I almost missed this Washington Post/ABC News Poll. Bush and Kerry each at 48% of likely voters and, oddly, Bush ahead 48-47% among registered voters. But the most interesting fact is this: "The new poll found that a slight majority of registered voters -- 53 percent -- say Bush is more qualified than Kerry to be commander-in-chief, while 43 percent say they prefer the Democratic nominee. At the end of the Democratic convention, Kerry enjoyed an 8-point advantage over Bush on that question." There is more, but you get the point.
This William Safire op-ed, as compared to Raspberry’s below, is an elegant and serious statement on what the election is really about, and what its bumper sticker slogan should be: "In war, resolution." (Notice the graceful first ten lines or so about the "Najaf primary.") Because the election is about resolution in war (and even though Kerry and the Demos sense this, witness the Demo convention ignoring everything but Kerry’s ability to be commander-in-chief) and it is clear that Kerry is incapable of actually talking about it, or act according to its mandates, Kerry can not win. This has always been my opinion. The rest--how the people are discovering this inability, through Swiftvet ads, etc.--is secondary. This is stage upon which the play is unfolding.
William Raspberry, not exactly a conservative Republican, offers a somewhat melancholic reflection on John Kerry as a candidate. This isn’t a great essay, nor is it deep. Yet, it is worth a read to see how an ordinary Democrat is feeling about Kerry. And these are not happy feelings. Kerry is frustrating and infuriating "because he seems not to believe much of anything worth risking offense." Kerry wants to be "all things to all people." He doesn’t want to be controversial. He doesn’t talk about big things. What does a reflection like this from someone like Raspberry mean? It means that the support Kerry is getting, he is getting for the wrong reason (i.e., that he is not George W. Bush) and Raspberry thinks that will not be enough to get him elected. Raspberry is reading tea leaves, he doesn’t like what he reads, but he is honest enough to say so. If the Kerry campaign is as perceptive as Raspberry--and I think they must be--I foresee a "reinvention" of John Kerry the candidate that will take place within the next two weeks. Watch for it. I want to thank Mr. Raspberry for making what is being whispered in private among Democrats public.
USA Today front page headline: "Kerry lead fades in two battleground states". The Gallup Poll shows that "President Bush has eroded John Kerry’s lead in two big battleground states that voted Democratic four years ago, complicating the Massachusetts senator’s electoral landscape." Bush is now narrowly ahead in Wisconsin, and pulled even in Pennsylvania, and leads nationally 50-47 among likely voters. And, by the way, Larry Sabato claims that a rare historical phenomenon could occur: "a convention bounce that is greater for the incumbent than for the challenger." Normally the challenger gets a bigger bounce from a convention than the incumbent. And because Kerry, as Sabato calculates--based on averaging national non-partisan surveys for two weeks following the convention--got a 2 point bumb, Bush should get only a one point bump.
Rich Lowry has an amusing article on NRO this morning recounting his experiences yesterday walking among the anti-Bush protesters. Conventional wisdom among the major media has been that these protests could tarnish the convention. Indeed, some of the media can hardly contain their hope that New York 2004 becomes a redux of Chicago 1968.
But there is another, more probable effect. The attempt to keep the Democratic National Convention scripted and "positive" was in no small measure an attempt to keep in check the radical Michael Moore/Howard Dean elements of the party which would, quite frankly, scare straight a fair number of swing voters. With the protests, however, the lunatics are running the asylum. The major media will do their best to cover the numbers of protesters without covering the outrageous, offensive, and uninformed content, but the new media will, and voters in swing states will not be impressed.
The French Foreign Minister, Michel Barnier, is trying to persuade those who kidnapped the two Frenchmen (they are insisting that France drop its ban on Muslim headscarves in schools!) to release them. So Barnier is in Egypt trying to get the locals to help. Here are some things he said: "I call for their release in the name of the principles of humanity and respect for human beings which are at the very heart of the message of Islam and Muslim religious practice." And this: "Their kidnapping is incomprehensible to all those who know that France, the country of origin of human rights, is a land of tolerance and of respect for others." And then this: "France has always opposed the vision of a clash between the West and Islam." This is what happens when you base a revolution on Rousseau instead of Locke; or, when you can’t defend the things for which you think you stand, when you lack conviction, when you don’t know the difference between freedom and tyranny, when you dont know why some things--if you understand freedom correctly--cant be tolerated. I know that many more--and deeper--things can be said on all this but I’ll just mention one other that especially riles me (and always has): "France, the country of origin of human rights." OK, M. l’foreign minister, OK. Very deep, very serious, very stupid. You need to take my Freshman level introduction to politics. That’s not the origin, and those French things are not human rights, and whatever they are they have nothing to do with Right. You guys believe in nothing, you are unreasonable. Keep begging. Of course this is
incomprehensible to you. How do you say idiot in French? Le Figaro is quoted as saying: "France, due to its position on the war in Iraq, could have hoped it was safe. This was not the case." Voila!
I was told told that yesterday was Lockes birthday. I laughed because the guy expected me to know that, me, who cant remember his own birthday, never mind his wifes, or his four kids. Anyway, here is a good recent piece on Locke by Thomas G. West, to celebrate, as it were.
Jeet Heer writes a nice little note on Walter Ong for Books and Culture: A Christian Review. I have always thought Ong very interesting, and the more I have read him, the more I like him. Many important things are mentioned in this piece, from Marshall McLuhan to Hugh Kenner and Neil Postman, and then language, always words, the oral and the written, the warm and the cold, from Homer to Plato, from ears to eyes. Interesting stuff. Dip into Ong sometime if you think you are interested in "communication." Here is a passage from Ong:
"Because we have by today so deeply interiorized writing, made it so much a part of ourselves, as Platos age had not yet made it fully a part of itself, we find it difficult to consider writing to be a technology as we commonly assume printing and the computer to be. Yet writing (and especially alphabetic writing) is a technology, calling for the use of tools and other equipment: styli or brushes or pens, carefully prepared surfaces such as paper, animal skins, strips of wood, as well as inks or paints, and much more. … Writing is in a way the most drastic of the three technologies. It initiated what print and computers only continue, the reduction of dynamic sound to quiescent space, the separation of the word from the living present, where alone spoken words can exist." Or this (both from Orality and Literacy):
"Writing, in this ordinary sense, was and is, the most momentous of all human technological inventions. It is not a mere appendage to speech. Because it moves speech from the oral-aural to a new sensory world, that of vision, it transforms speech and thought as well. Notches on sticks and other aides-memoire lead up to writing, but they do not restructure the human life world as true writing does."
This New York Times editorial argues that the Electoral College should be abolished: "It’s a ridiculous setup, which thwarts the will of the majority, distorts presidential campaigning and has the potential to produce a true constitutional crisis. There should be a bipartisan movement for direct election of the president." And: "The majority does not rule and every vote is not equal - those are reasons enough for scrapping the system." And then: "And there is no interest higher than making every vote count."
Now, I don’t have the time--or the inclination--at the moment to go into this silliness, besides, I already have here and
so has the late Martin Diamond, as well as Judith Best, and others. What is noteworthy here is that the Times, also known as the mouthpiece of the Kerry campaign, is calling for it now. Why now? It is ignorant to talk about a coming constitutional "crisis" (there wasn’t one in 2000, for example), but even dangerous to talk about the small states being overepresented, or that the Electoral College thwarts the will of the majority. And it is just plain silly to say, as the Times does, that the College "distorts prsidential campaigning."
What forces these silly reflections on the deep minds of the Times editorial board? Kerry’s stalled campaign, that’s what. Or, as Mark Steyn so clearly argues in a piece across the pond, it turns out that Bush is a great poker player: a good poker player encourages his opponent to put all his chips in a losing hand. This is what Bush has done to Kerry. And Bush is now holding all the aces. Why now? Desperation combined with some foresight. After Kerry loses, as the Times thinks because he--it would seem--cannot win in a number of battleground states (read small states) the whole kit-and-caboodle has to re-thought for the next election. That may be the only chance for victory in the future, re-writing the Constitution and its core elements like federalism. Panic time. This will be fun.
"Kerrys wifes speech at the Democratic Convention was a lot like a bottle
of Heinz ketchup -- slow, full of vinegar and after hearing it you wanted to
smack her on the bottom."
This zinger, and several others, may be found in this article in the Wall Street Journal about the "Right Stuff," a traveling comedy troupe that bills itself as providing "comedy for real Americans." Apparently theyll be doing quite a few shows during this weeks Republican National Convention.