Monthly Archives: May 2004

Thoughts on the 2004 Presidential Election (3 Scenarios In Which Bush Wins)

Despite his low and shrinking standing in the polls, there are at least three1 scenarios in which GW Bush could still win his first Presidential election.

But first, the good news.

It's been obvious for some time that if the election is based on any of the traditional fundamentals, Bush is toast. The big question mark counterbalancing this fact was Bush's apparent financial advantage (not to mention the subsidies that always flow with incumbency), especially if it allowed him to define his opponent. The relative failure of the recent $50+ million Bush ad campaign — leaving the field open for Kerry to use the convention in the traditional way, as his introduction to the American people — suggests that Bush's (diminishing) financial advantage is primarily good for stemming the wounds, holding the base, not for making gains with the independent/undecided.

Importantly, a segment of the press (only part — the big cable networks remain solidly owned by zealots) and a much larger segment of the Establishment have decided that Bush is dangerous to the increasingly Argentinian economy, to the US's hard power (the army is hurting), and now to its soft power (whatever claim it had to moral standing in the community of nations). That is not an atmosphere that leads to the press Gore-ing Kerry, and Kerry's too disciplined and experienced to make a serious error likely.

Indeed, one thing that impresses me about Kerry is his political discipline and toughness. He stayed the course in Iowa, when the pundits and the futures market had written him off. He laid low this last six weeks, raising vast — impressively vast — amounts of money, when the chattering classes were out there pushing him to do or say silly things. He had the self-discipline to lay low, let events take their course, let Bush self-destruct, and not look like he was piling on. Most importantly, his campaign seems to have learned important lessons from the Gore campaign — and not just the dangers of letting your opponents define you: Kerry has been playing nice with reporters on his campaign plane, spending social time with them; this matters too much. Kerry's new plane has an airborne reporters' bar — this can only be good. Most importantly, the campaign is working for the long haul, and worried about peaking too soon, right after the convention. That was one of Gore's mistakes, one that people forget—in part because his decline was so visibly helped by the media echo chamber's repeat of lies and distortions such as “Al Gore said he invented the Internet”..

OK, now the bad news.

Here are three scenarios in which Bush pulls it out.

Continue reading

Posted in Politics: US: 2004 Election | 6 Comments

Why Are We Shuffling Commanders in Iraq?

The blogosphere is buzzing about the news that Gen. Sanchez is being relieved of command in Iraq, but not getting the plum reassignment and promotion that he was expecting, apparently because giving him another star would require Congressional approval. That's usually a formality, but in his case might lead to actual hearings.

But something else about the story caught my eye:

At the same time, other officials noted that Sanchez has served in Iraq for just over a year and that Army and Marine Corps division commanders all have rotated out of the country during that time.

Why are we rotating commanders? Are they incompetent? If not, is this back to the Vietnam era where everyone wants a turn as commander in order to get their ticket punched for promotion? And are the people ordering these rotations the same people who were just a few days ago explaining that Rumsfeld shouldn't resign because it's so important to have continuity in leadership during wartime?

Posted in National Security | 1 Comment

Lack of Training? Or Surplus of It?

Talkleft describes an atrocity:

TalkLeft: Teaching Prisoner Abuse A US soldier “sustained a traumatic brain injury that left him with a seizure disorder. Military records confirm that his injury “was due to soldier playing role as a detainee who was uncooperative.”

TalkLeft asks the obvious — but very serious — question:

A “training” exercise implies teaching and supervision. Who supervised the senseless beating of a soldier? And what, exactly, was being taught?

Just a few bad apples? If only.

Posted in Iraq Atrocities | Leave a comment

Best Buy Quite Probably the Worst Store in the USA

It seems I am not the only person around who thinks that Best Buy is Evil.

Posted in Shopping | 3 Comments

Neiman Watchdog Says, “Ask This”

Nieman Watchdog is a new web-based project devoted to questions the press should ask. It's run by Barry Susman, assisted by my brother (who will be doing this in addition to his White House Briefing gig). As you'd expect with anything supported by the Nieman Foundation, it boasts a star-studded (if Ivy-heavy) list of contributors …one of whom I'm happy to see is Brad DeLong.

Check out the list of questions the Neiman Watchdog thinks reporters should be asking.

Posted in Dan Froomkin | 2 Comments

Australians Want to Disclose Abuse in Guantanamo

JURIST reports that Australia asks US to lift gag on terror suspect's lawyers:

Following claims that two Australian nationals were abused while detained at Guantanamo Bay, the Australian government has asked the US to lift a confidentiality agreement signed by lawyers for David Hicks that bars the attorneys from revealing details of the abuse at Guantanamo Bay. Australia has also asked for a psychological assessment of a second detainee, Mamdouh Habib, whom a former cellmate said has become mentally unbalanced after guards falsely told him that his wife and children have died.

It just gets worse.

Posted in Guantanamo | Leave a comment

Suing the TSA

More later, but meanwhile just a note to say that I'm involved in this lawsuit, about which there is now early press coverage.

The case raises very interesting and difficult legal issues.

Posted in Law: Right to Travel | Leave a comment