Saturday, February 21, 2004

Dead Heat

The new Fox News Channel/Opinion Dynamics Corporation Poll has been posted. After two straight months of Democratic primary coverage and the Bush-bashing that has gone with it, President Bush and Senator Kerry are tied in the presidential preference question.

Schaffer in Montana

He rides into the Montana gubernatorial race on a great white steed, "tired of the BS, the corruption." I love this guy. You have to scroll down a bit to find the item and the picture.

A Slow Expansion Toward Nothingness

It turns out Albert Einstein was right. There is a "cosmological constant."

Friday, February 20, 2004

That's Better

Senator John Edwards has challenged Senator John Kerry to four debates in advance of the March 2nd Super Tuesday primaries. See Kausfiles for details.

More Details on Saddam's Payoila

It's a huge scandal and it's about to get bigger. MEMRI has the details. Thanks to Roger Simon for the link.

A Political Joke

Query to Kerry after he won yet another primary: Why the long face?

Reader E-Mail


Tell me this is true...two democrats are fighting over who is more electable by trying to cast themselves as more different than Clinton...both say they're opposed to Free Trade...even though most economists will tell you that the real thing Clinton/Rubin did to help the 90's economy was to ensure Free Trade through all the (small) decisions of the administration (while making nice with unions)...and that the thing both Bushes (but not Reagan) did to extend their recessions was to allow many small protectionist moves while talking Free Trade... ...meanwhile the guy with the support of the higher income Democrats is the guy who is more strongly taking an anti-NAFTA stand.

In NY and CA, the two most strongly pro-Clinton states, either guy could take this by saying the other one is turning his back on what made America strong when Clinton was President (also pleasing the ghost of Chappaqua).

Thursday, February 19, 2004

The Best Book on How to Navigate The Health Care System

Was written by my neighbor and friend, Pam Yablon. Professionally, she is known as Doctor Pamela Gallin. You can buy it here. It's invaluable.

Why John Edwards Is Going To Lose

Because he doesn't get it. Today, he challenged Senator John Kerry to a debate in Georgia! What he should have done was challenge Senator Kerry to three debates; one each in New York, Ohio and California. Edwards might then have added that he didn't need to debate John Kerry in Georgia because he (Edwards) knew the South like the back of his hand and it wouldn't prove anything if he won a debate down there.

This is not rocket science. What the Kerry campaign wants to do is shorten the race. What the Edwards campaign needs to do is elongate the race; make these next twelve days feel like a month. The only way to elongate a race is to make it feel longer and the only way to make it feel longer is to have a number of major events between now and March 2nd. Three debates would turn that trick.

All Edwards has to do to sell the idea (to a media ready to swoon) is to add some hooey about wanting to debate the key regional issues of the Pacific West in California, the Midwestern issues in Ohio and Northeastern concerns in New York. How, really, could Kerry say no. It would look like he was ducking, which front-runners can't do. Not when The New York Times says they must (the editorial writes itself!). Democratic presidential candidates cannot afford to alienate their most important megaphone.

There are a lot of other reasons why Edwards should have challenged Kerry to three debates. You know what they are. Sorry Mickey! The Georgia debate challenge is yet another sign that the lad is not quite ready for The Show.

Postscript: It turns out that Edwards also issued a challenge to debate Kerry in New York. See kausfiles for details. I still think that by not framing the debate gauntlet properly, Edwards made a rather glaring rookie mistake.

The Beginning of The Negative?

Cosmo has the new Kerry e-mails. Could they be forerunners of negative advertising? Ellisblog keeps chanting: Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

They're Fired Up, They're Just Not Voting

One of the prevailing myths of this campaign season is that Democrats are fired up as never before, eager to slay the evil Bush. Well, maybe so, but they're not voting. Overall, turnout in last Tuesday's Wisconsin Democratic presidential primary was down by 183,000 votes from 1988. Kerry trailed Dukakis by 150,000 votes. Liberal media (not that they're not objective!) have somehow overlooked this angle.

Back to Burlington

Every wiseguy is now having his say about what went wrong with the Dean campaign, but say this about the mad doctor: he ran the race and he changed the game. Credit should always go to the man or woman in the arena; the one who takes the chance, runs the risk and trys to move the ball in his or her direction. Howard Dean moved the Democratic party toward his direction. And he transformed political fund-raising and organization. Forever.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

More Voter Feedback


I'm a Wisconsin voter and agree with your Wisconsin reader's assessment. I observed the same lack of enthusiasm for Kerry among Kerry voters. Those I talked to last night seemed to be motivated by a need to follow the pack and unite behind an
electable candidate. Edwards voters, in contrast, seemed to me to be much better informed and voted for Edwards because they like him, agree with him and think he can beat Bush. They struck me as leaders of opinion, not followers. Thus, if follower-type voters in other states get the sense that Edwards now has the momentum, Kerry could be in real trouble.

-- Dave S.

The Dean Obit

Here's the official version from the AP. The database is all that remains.

An Alternate View

Which may be even more disturbing (for Kerry) than Ellisblog's analysis. A Wisconsin reader emails as follows:

The Drudge Report had nothing to do with Edwards' near victory in Wisconsin. I'm a Wisconsin voter and I have talked with dozens of Wisconsin and Illinois Democrats about Edwards and Kerry. Noone believed the story about Kerry's infidelity and furthermore they weren't interested in the story. Many of them hadn't even heard about it. The overwhelming sentiment is one of not feeling strongly positive about Kerry as a candidate. Most begin the conversation with "well, I guess I'm going to vote for Kerry". So when an alternative as attractive as Edwards gets their attention, they easily give up their support of Kerry.

Giving Democrats Pause

The Wisconsin primary is one of those political events that give political professionals pause. Here you have Senator John Kerry running the table. There you have a website hit job. And presto!.....a (let's just say) 25-point lead evaporates over a long holiday weekend.

Yikes. It's enough to give any good Democrat the heebie-jeebies. Senator Kerry's inability to put this race to bed is disquieting by itself. His precipitous drop in the estimation of Badger State voters is positively unnerving. The question that hangs there is: what happens when the Bush people start to carve him up? It's not like they don't have a lot to work with!

The answer from the old-line Kerry people will be: "John's a great counter-puncher. Nobody's better in the clinches." This is the story they sold to the New York Times 11 days ago and it is one that they are fond of telling and re-telling at bad bars around Boston. The story line goes something like this: Trailing Jimmy Shannon in the 1984 primary, Kerry fought back and won. Trailing Ray Shamie in the 1984 general (when even Massachusetts voted for Reagan), Kerry fought back and won. Trailing Bill Weld in 1996, Kerry fought back and won. TKOs all, but wins nonetheless.

Fair enough. But is there any evidence to suggest that the United States of America is anything like the state of Massachusetts? Isn't it the most Democratic state in the Union? And wasn't The Boston Globe largely responsible for taking out Ray Shamie, with that silly story about John Birch Society books in the library of one of Shamie's companies? And will the Band of Brothers schtick (which worked so well at the close of the Weld race, after that David Warsh column all but accused Kerry of war crimes) remain as compelling after its constant repetition during the primaries?

William Safire points out today that Kerry has not said one interesting thing since December. Others might say that Kerry has not said one interesting thing (that he hasn't subsequently retracted) in years. What will Kerry say now?

Experienced Kerry watchers in Boston aren't sure, because they're still not sure who has the candidate's ear. John Martilla and Tom Kiley are Kerry's oldest and closest advisers/friends. They've been pushed aside by the Shrum-Devine axis, which works hand-in-glove with the Kennedy embeds who are "managing" the enterprise. Lurking are the Dukakisoids -- John Sasso et alia -- who are anxious to have another shot at (a) Bush. Then there are the Boston boyo types; who are always looking for a piece of the action. And then there are the candidate's real friends, who are having trouble getting through.

It's likely that all these competing voices are causing gridlock in the candidate's brain. Which means that Kerry is likely to stick with Bush-bashing rhetorical oatmeal and endorsement announcements while he sorts out what to do next. This creates an excellent opportunity for Senator Edwards to "frame the choice," as the talking heads say; to talk clearly and concisely to Democratic primary voters about the choice they now face. I'm not sure he's up to it, frankly, and a blizzard of negative advertising would probably knock him off his stride. But today, Edwards has at least some control over what happens next. Which means he still has a shot.

Notes on Wisconsin

1. The Elephant in the Room. Nobody writes an election night story better than David Broder. His report on the Wisconsin results is typically excellent. But he doesn't address one issue -- the Drudge Report's sleazing of Senator Kerry -- that clearly had a huge impact on the race.

Go here to look at the pre-primary polling (Zogby -- ouch!). The Real Clear Politics average of all the data gave Kerry a 30% lead over Edwards. He won by 6%. I don't think Edwards "opposition" to NAFTA or the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's endorsement of Edwards moved the dial that much. The "game changing event" of the last six days was the Drudge Report. As far as I can tell, no analysis of the Wisconsin results points to the elephant in the room. Bad journalism.

2. Why rely on Drudge when Wonkette has better exit poll numbers? Ellisblog has learned its lesson. And it turns out that for all my excellent blather below, the mid-day exit numbers posted by Drudge were not inaccurate. He posted 42-31-15. Actual was: 40-34-18. Well with the margin of error. Apologies to Warren!

3. It's important to remember that Senator Kerry is viewed from within his campaign pretty much the same way he is viewed by Mickey Kaus and Ellisblog. They think he's a stiff! They were surprised that he won Iowa (they thought the Edwards surge would catch them there) and they were amazed that he won New Hampshire more or less without a fight. And they've been stunned that the others have basically let him keep on winning. What they dread most of all is negative momentum, because (let's face it) the candidate has no strong base of support within the party. They're only for him because he's winning. Once he starts losing, he's a loser.

So the Kerry campaign has to kill this Edwards thing now. That's why they stepped on Edwards's speech last night. That's why Ellisblog thinks they will go negative on Edwards quickly. Because no one in the Democratic Party harbors any deep affection for Senator Kerry, negative momentum can kill his candidacy. Given that reality, the way for Kerry to win (for sure) is to get ugly, fast.

Reader E-Mail:


It would seem awfully foolish for Kerry to go negative. All he has to do is grind it out. Going negative would make him look scared, even more scared than he looked when "big-footing" Edwards' speech. And while it's unclear whether Edwards can take a punch, why take the chance? He could fire back hard, especially if he decides he won't be picked for veep anyway.

It's funny that the Washington Post mentioned the sources saying Kerry was annoyed by Edwards' mild barbs. I thought he was angry just watching on television. This doesn't bode well. And it also hurts Kerry to have to win Mondale-style, relying on the unions and the establishment and the diehard Democratic voters while ceding the independents to Edwards.

My only hope, as a Dem who much prefers Edwards but will vote for Kerry if I must, is that Kerry has done okay when he really has to. But I didn't like what I saw Tuesday. The Kerry people were pooh-poohing Wisconsin ("you can't cherry-pick states," etc...) and they won, for crying out loud. For a campaign that has gotten extremely lucky and is way out in front, they shouldn't be whining.

-- C. A.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I'm Sensing Some Hostility

Ommmmmmmmmmm! Ellisblog suspects that Bob Shrum and Tad Devine and Tommy V. may not subscribe to the Ashram principles of Democratic presidential politics. Ellisblog suspects that the lads are already editing negative television commercials. The kind that might lead one to the conclusion that Senator Edwards is a hypocritical sleazeball. They better hurry up and get them on the air. Because Big Media is signing on with John Edwards in a big way.

Half Sample Half Right

Turns out the exit poll half-sample underestimated Senator Edwards, not (as had been the case in previous states) Senator Kerry. Looking at the county vote, it appears that Senator Kerry will win Wisconsin by a 3-6% margin, depending on the (it should have read) Milwaukee and Dane County figures, which at this point have not been posted.

So it goes. Exit poll half-samples are sometimes misleading. And judging from tonight's coverage, the commentariat couldn't be happier. It gave them their story line -- Edwards did even better than the exit poll expected!

Vodafone Is Seen as Favored Buyer of AT&T Wireless

So read The New York Times headline this morning regarding the bake-off for AT&T Wireless. Oh well.

Exit Polls

Matt Drudge is reporting that Senator John Kerry leads Senator John Edwards by 42%-31% in the network exit poll of Democratic primary voters in Wisconsin. Howard Dean is said to be lagging at 16%. You can almost hear the media buzz that is building. Finally, the mano-a-mano battle is at hand. Most of the commentary you will hear this evening will revolve around an Edwards surge (and the dismissal of Dean). Which is nice because, as Mr. Kaus points out, that's what the media want.

But take it with at least a couple of grains of salt. This primary season, the exit poll numbers have been problematic in a number of states. And in a few states (most notably Tennessee) Senator Kerry has run well ahead of his mid-day exit poll numbers.

There's a theory in exit poll circles that candidates with the most enthusiastic supporters tend to do better in election day voter polls than they do when the actual votes are tallied. Why this should be, Ellisblog knows not. But it is the case that Howard Dean did a lot better in the New Hampshire exit poll than he did in real life. And the same was true of Edwards in the Tennessee exit poll. So while our friends in the liberal media (not that they're not objective!) get all worked up about an Edwards surge, keep your eye on the vote board.

The A-Rod of TV News

Rick Kaplan finally got a job worthy of his talent. He'll be running MSNBC, which has been mismanaged since its inception. Kaplan may well be the best "live news" producer in the business.

No Joy in Mudville

Red Sox Nation suffers from severe mood swings; wild bursts of optimism and enthusiasm are followed by new depths of despair. Today, however, may be the lowest point ever. Mighty A-Rod is a Yank.


Another primary day and still no negative ads. The New York Times finally waddles into this story and offers an explanation. Mr. Kerry's rivals can't run negative ads because Democratic primary voters won't stand for it! Who says so? DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe says so!

That settles it, don't you think? Ommmmmmmm.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Source-Greaser 101

Now that Senator John Kerry has locked up the Democratic presidential nomination, time for The New York Times to start locking up sources within the Kerry campaign! Today's slathering source-greaser features Cameron Kerry, the Senator's younger brother, a lawyer/fixer at Bob Popeo's firm in Boston. The piece goes so far as to quote film-maker George Butler as saying that the Kerry brothers' relationship is reminiscent of -- yes, that's right -- JFK and RFK.

Ellisblog awaits the ultimate Kerry source greaser -- a profile of the great Tommy Vallely, who remains the only conceivable reason one might vote for Senator Kerry.