March 5 2004
LET'S HOPE TERRY ISN'T TOAST: The Kerry campaign
has been beating back press reports that their
nominee wants Terry McAuliffe out. But he may end up sticking
around, and this sentence from today's
NY Times tells us why:
the problem that the campaign faces, an adviser to Mr. Kerry
said about Mr. McAuliffe's fund-raising prowess and his willingness
to be a lightning rod: "Terry is a very valuable player.
Terry will say anything." (emphasis added)
nutshell, folks: the two most valuable assets of the current head
of the Democratic party are 1) his ability to raise tons of dough
and 2) his willingness to go on national television and spin with
little or no regard for the facts or the truth. No wonder Bill
Clinton is so fond of him.
has always been in over his head, both as the lead communicator
of the party and as a political strategist. True, he's raised
a lot of money for the party, but the name of the game is winning
seats and under his watch Democrats have taken an electoral beating
around the country. I suspect most Democrats would be a whole
lot happier today with empty coffers but control of the Senate
or the House.
all McAuliffe's fault, of course. As a group, Democrats bungled
the war issue in the run up to the 2002 midterms and decided,
wrongly, that "kitchen table issues" would carry the
day over national security. It was a catastrophic mistake.
hope Terry gets to hang around until November because he can be
a "very valuable player" - for Republicans.
THE HATE GAME: I get a kick when liberals bloggers -
in this case Josh
Marshall - post an intemperate email they get from a conservative
just to, you know, remind everyone what hateful, evil people conservatives
So just for
kicks I decided to play the game this morning. I headed over to
Underground to see what I could find and, to my good luck
(seriously dark irony alert), it turns out John Ashcroft was rushed
to the hospital this morning with gallstone pancreatitis. He's
in intensive care.
say our good natured friends from the other side of the aisle?
Somebody called Demnan says:
I be completely evil if I stated what we're all thinking at
the moment. Let the bastard die. Ok, 'nough said."
is what i feel - suffer you nazi bastard!"
and match. Actually, that's a bit over the top. The point is that
there's more than enough intemperance out there to go around.
We get vicious, hateful emails from liberals all the time, I just
don't see the point in publishing them for the purpose of ridicule.
ANTI-SEMITISM IN NY UP OR DOWN?: The NY Post headline
Crimes Soaring in the City. The Post cites a report being
released by Congressman
Anthony Weiner saying there were 57 anti-semitic incidents
in NY City in the last three months of 2003 versus 21 incidents
in the same period the year before. Mayor Bloomberg rushed out
to claim that in the first two months of 2004, anti-Jewish incidents
are down 10 % versus last year.
is it? And what in the world is a hyper partisan Congressional
Democrat - who, not coincidentally, is Jewish and apparently can't
wait to be Mayor of NYC - doing studying/estimating/releasing
crime statistics? Isn't that somebody else's job?
SENATORS PLAY DEFENSE: C-Span junkies will know that
the other day Republicans in the Senate took the floor to defend
President Bush's credibility on the WMD issue (see the importance
of this in the post below). The Republican Policy Committee compiled
a list of excerpts from various Senators which you
can read here (pdf file). The following excerpts are from
Senator John Kyl (R-AZ), who also happens to be Chairman of the
reason we took to the floor is because there has been a lot
of criticism of the President of the United States and the administration
for its actions in finally deciding that enough was enough with
Saddam Hussein, that his continual violation of the U.N. resolutions
had to be enforced by someone, and that before there was an
imminent threat posed by his dangerous regime, it was important
for the United States and a coalition of other countries to
take action to remove him."
criticism has come both from potential Democratic nominees for
President, Members of this body, news organizations, and others
outside the body, but . . .there should be no question that
President Bush did the right thing."
three key points were, first, that an intelligence failure is
not the same thing as intelligence misuse or misleading, and
if there was a failure because the intelligence agencies were
wrong about the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, .
. . it is not the same thing as saying that the President misled
anyone or that anyone else with access to intelligence misled
second point was that whatever the state of intelligence, the
case for removing Saddam Hussein is still very strong, a point
which several of our colleagues have made repeatedly on both
sides of the aisle, as well as President Clinton and other members
of his administration prior to the Bush administration."
third, that the question regarding the weapons of mass destruction,
the stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons is not a matter
of whether they existed but what happened to them; that everyone
who had access to the intelligence was convinced they existed..."
of us on the Intelligence Committee had access to the same intelligence
the President did, at least similar intelligence to what other
countries in the world had, and all of us . . . . believed these
things. We had the same intelligence that was given to the President.
We were not misleading anyone. The President obviously was not
misleading anyone. The fact that it turns out some of the intelligence
turned out not to be totally
correct is not the same thing as saying somebody misused the
hope my colleagues on the other side do not cross that line
of accusing the President of intentionally misleading the American
people because to do so, in effect, would be also to accuse
our own colleagues of that very same thing. I do not believe,
based upon what I know of my colleagues, that that could be
said of any one of them. So I hope we can get over this notion
that just because not all the intelligence was correct, therefore,
it must mean somebody was misleading someone else. I think we
have established that is not true, and that it would be very
wrong to try to pursue that line of attack against President
Bush simply because we happen to be in an election year."
to do this every day between now and November. - T. Bevan
8:36 am | Link | Email
March 4 2004
THE BUSH BRAND: If you haven't
viewed the ads released by the Bush campaign yesterday , you
should. They represent the President's first effort at communicating
directly to the public the reason why he should be given a second
the ads have already generated a number of reviews: Andrew
Sullivan thinks they're too "retrospective" and
that "if they're the campaign, he'll lose." Kevin
Drum suggests the ads are more Hoover than Reagan. And Josh
Marshall says with typical arrogance that the theme of the
ads is "it's not my fault", though given Marshall's
extreme partisanship I doubt there is a single thing the Bush
campaign could have produced that he would have said anything
who's spent a number of years in the advertising industry, let
me give you my take on them. All three ads are incredibly well
crafted, powerful pieces of communication that do exactly what
they are designed to do. Let me elaborate real quickly.
ads are made up of two important parts: a rational core and an
emotional wrapper. The core is where you articulate the essence
of your brand; the single, solitary reason why someone should
choose your product or service. It's also known as your brand
is made up of the stuff you choose to surround that promise with;
the images, music and language you use to evoke the types of emotions
you want associated with your brand.
When it comes
to television advertising, political candidates are brands just
like anything else. And there are two iron rules to follow if
you want advertising to effectively and successfully promote your
1) Your brand
promise MUST be relevant and believable. It doesn't matter how
you package your core or promise, if it isn't something people
want and something they think you will deliver then they won't
2) Your ads
MUST be designed to speak to and resonate with a specific target
audience. You need to identify the people who are most inclined
to buy your product and then make sure the emotional wrapper of
your ad is constructed in their language and with elements that
will generate the most possible appeal among that group.
get back to President Bush's reelection ads. Has the Bush team
followed these rules? Have they constructed ads that will be effective?
I think the obvious answer is yes.
Bush's brand promise is simple: leadership. In the three ads the
Bush team has communicated this promise in slightly different
ways. In "Lead", the President casts his leadership
in a forward-looking way, saying he knows "exactly"
where he wants to take the country. In "Tested" and
"Safer Stronger", the ads communicate Bush's leadership
through difficult times, including September 11, and surround
his promise of leadership with themes of optimism, patriotism,
and using words like "freedom", "faith", "family",
get to the big questions: 1) is Bush's brand promise of leadership
believable and 2) will it resonate with the people that matter?
the last question first. To the roughly forty percent (I'm using
guesstimates from the
new Pew Poll released yesterday) of the country who are against
President Bush, these ads will have little or no effect. That's
not their purpose.
To the thirty-five
percent of the country who already support the President, these
ads will give them the warm fuzzies and may help ring some bells
among a few disgruntled conservatives and bring them back on base.
But that's not really the purpose of the ads, either.
the other thirty percent of undecideds, independents, etc., out
there who are "open to persuasion?" According to Pew,
13% of these of people already lean in "favor"of the
President over John Kerry and another 6% are "pure undecided".
Do the Bush ads speak to these people? You may disagree, but I
think they do the job quite well.
ability to close the deal with independents and undecideds ultimately
rests on the first question of whether his brand promise is believable
or not. And here is where it gets interesting.
of leadership is inextricably linked with the issue of his credibility.
If you think he's a liar, then there's a very good chance you
won't find any resonance in the claim that he's a strong and focused
exactly what Pew
found in their last poll two weeks ago:
when asked for a one-word description of Bush, equal percentages
now give negative and positive responses, which marks a dramatic
shift since last May when positive descriptions outnumbered
negative ones by roughly two-to-one (52%-27%). The most frequently
used negative word to describe Bush is "liar," which
did not come up in the May 2003 survey.
in Bush's credibility can be traced back in a fairly clear line
to David Kay's congressional testimony and the way it was reported
in the press.
were able to seize on the doubt created by Kay's testimony, replicate
it and spread it a like a virus across Bush's credibility on a
host of other issues: from his National Guard service to the economy,
etc. It gave them the ability to go wherever they want to go to
challenge Bush's credibility.
gotten to the point now where sitting members of Congress are
willing to call Bush a liar in public and to his face based solely
on the word of a thug and murderer like Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
So I disagree
with Andrew Sullivan. Before the President spends valuable time
and money laying out plans for a second term, his first job is
to repair the damage done to his credibility by reminding people
of where we've been and what he's done, to state his brand promise
clearly, and to convince the public he'll deliver.
KERRY BRAND: It's also worth spending a second discussing
John Kerry's brand. What is it now? What's it going to be in the
So far we've
seen Kerry branding himself as the bane of "special interests."
That brand promise isn't even remotely believable coming from
John Kerry, nor do I think it's a core message strong enough to
win a Presidential campaign under the current circumstances.
usually run against incumbents on themes of change. John Kerry
will certainly look to capitalize on this theme, even if the change
he wants to represent is one that takes us backward to the "good
times" of the Clinton era.
might be harder than it looks, because I think the Bush team has
scored a masterstroke with the tag line "Steady leadership
in times of change." In addition to reinforcing his own message
of leadership, the use of the word "change" preemptively
strikes at Kerry's ability to use it as a theme. Bush is telling
us that change is already going on in events at home and abroad.
Why would we want more "change" when change is what's
happening all around us?
be better off grabbing Bush's current Achilles heel (the aforementioned
credibility issue) and offering himself as the antidote: Honest
John. He does what he says. He's got a twenty year record of keeping
his promises to the American people.
Will it work?
Is it believable? I know Kaus
won't be buying, but maybe enough people will. We'll have to wait
and see. - T. Bevan 12:53 pm | Link
March 3 2004
ITS OFFICIALLY OVER: Senator
Kerry delivered an impressive
performance yesterday, sweeping every state where John Edwards
was on the ballot. (In
Vermont, Senator Edwards was not on the ballot and favorite
son Howard Dean beat Kerry 58% - 34%.) Edwards is scheduled to
officially withdraw from the race and endorse Senator Kerry today
in Raleigh, NC.
REAL RACE BEGINS: Ironically, Kerry's powerful
knockout punch to Senator Edwards yesterday puts an end to the
sequence of debates and primaries that have provided Kerry with
platforms to pound on President Bush and the positive media that
goes along with winning state after state. Next week's wins in
Florida and Texas will now be footnotes, not front-page headlines
like this morning: "Kerry
in Big Victories Across Nation" - NY Times, "Kerry
Wins 9 of 10 States" - LA Times, "Kerry
Rout, Edwards Out" - USA Today.
will Kerry lose the favorable backdrop of crushing his rivals
week after week, but the Bush campaign is rolling out its first
wave of paid advertising starting - not coincidentally - tomorrow.
According to the Christian
indicate that the Bush campaign has bought ad time on national
cable news and sports channels, plus local broadcast stations
in 17 states, which not coincidentally are the states that analysts
agree make up the battleground for election 2004. Further, President
Bush will start advertising next week on Spanish-language networks
Univision and Telemundo in competitive states with large Hispanic
populations: Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona.
for the English-language ads include CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox
Sports Net, which airs NASCAR races. The campaign is also looking
into advertising on ESPN, the Golf Channel, and the History
Kerry has had an extremely impressive run these last two months,
coming back from near oblivion to win over 90% of all the contests
to date. But the pre-season is over and his regular season match
up against Bush, Cheney, and Rove isn't going to be quite the
same game as going up against Edwards, Dean and Clark.
MATH: As most Americans should know after 2000, this will
not be a national election but rather a battle of 50 individual
state elections. Using the 2000 results as a starting blueprint,
with the new apportionment of electoral votes President Bush would
be at 278 and Senator Kerry 260 (271 are needed to win). Given
Kerry's geographic affiliation with New Hampshire, it is reasonable
to throw that state into the Kerry column which leaves us with
Bush 274 - Kerry 264.
I mentioned the importance of Ohio, Missouri and West Virginia,
suggesting that if Kerry could win the Gore states and NH any
one of these would be enough to give him the Presidency. This
would be true for Ohio and Missouri, but winning West Virginia
would give Kerry only 5 more votes and leave the nation in a 269
- 269 tie, which would then go to the Republican House giving
Bush the victory. (Any presidential election scenario which is
effectively 50-50, precludes any possibility that the Democrats
could take back the House.)
Cook did an electoral rundown yesterday that allocated 25
states and 211 electoral votes to Bush and 16 states and 221 electoral
votes to Kerry leaving Florida (27), Iowa (7), Minnesota (10),
Missouri (11), Nevada (5), New Hampshire (4), Ohio (20), Oregon
(7), New Mexico (5) and Wisconsin (10) up for grabs. I agree with
his basic choices of battleground states though I would swap West
Virginia and New Hampshire, and if you are going to include Missouri
you should probably throw Pennsylvania into the group as well.
line is the election is going to come down to who wins these 10
- 12 battleground states, and when you dissect these states even
further, we may only be talking about 2-3 states which will decide
Given the electoral math Edwards seems to be an unwise choice
for Kerry. I just don't see how Edwards makes a big enough of
difference in any of the states that are going to matter. I still
feel Gephardt makes a lot of sense for the Kerry campaign, as
I think he would deliver Missouri for the Democrats.
of this analysis is predicated on the hypothesis that this is
a close election, if Bush's job approval heads up, all of these
battleground states start to look more like Bush wins as opposed
Evan Bayh would be another logical choice for Kerry as he would
provide a moderating force on the ticket and would help in states
like Ohio and Missouri and could even put Indiana into play.
Lindberg suggested a Kerry-Rubin ticket which, while unconventional
in many respects, could be a bold move that would help Kerry with
the nation's burgeoning investor class. Rubin would of course
be anathema to Nader leaning Democrats and would complicate Bob
Shrum's simplistic campaign against Big Oil, Big Drug Companies,
etc.., but he would reassure Wall Street and the millions of stockholders
in America. Another side benefit for picking Rubin is he could
help in Florida.
on I heard Dick Morris suggest Bill Richardson, Wesley Clark and
Hillary Clinton as good choices for Kerry. Gov. Richardson would
obviously take New Mexico off the board and energize Hispanics,
but outside of Arizona I don't see how he helps in some of the
important Midwest battleground states. Wesley Clark would be a
big mistake. Senator Clinton would certainly energize the base,
but she has the real potential to upstage Kerry which would not
be helpful. And while she is immensely popular with core Democratic
constituencies I don't know how much of a help she would be in
winning swing votes in Ohio, Missouri or West Virginia.
I still think Gephardt as VP and a northern electoral strategy
aimed at winning the Gore states plus New Hampshire and Missouri
is Senator Kerry's best shot. J.
McIntyre 7:43am | Link
March 2 2004
STUPOR TUESDAY: Not a lot of time to blog today, but
that's okay because there isn't a whole lot to say with respect
to Super Tuesday. I'm sure the entire country will be on the edge
of its seat wondering if Edwards can pull
off a win in Georgia.
contests aren't very competitive, the media has already moved
on to more important matters, namely, the question of whether
John Kerry will pick John Edwards as his running mate.
Lawrence in USA Today and Sheryl
Gay Stolberg in The NY Times plumb the speculative depths
of whether Kerry can stand Edwards enough to put him on the ticket.
The short answer looks like it may be "no."
Edwards has an
ace in the hole: a close relationship with the one person
who has more influence on Kerry than just about anybody else:
has an important fan in Sen. Edward Kennedy, Kerry's close adviser.
The Massachusetts senators have known each other for 35 years
and when Kerry's campaign appeared doomed last fall, Kennedy
dispatched his own chief of staff to run it.
a malpractice lawyer, worked with Kennedy in 2001 on a patients'
bill of rights designed to protect people from substandard care.
Kennedy was so impressed with Edwards that he started talking
him up as a national candidate.
Maybe Kennedy will be able to engineer the ticket
so many Democrats are hoping for.
it's fairly well documented at this point that Kennedy is the
man behind the curtain of the Kerry campaign. Hillary's famous
two for the price of one" quip has never been scarier.
The thought of John Kerry in the White House is bad enough, but
to have Ted Kennedy as a senior member of President Kerry's kitchen
cabinet makes the blood run cold.
given the most
recent National Journal ratings, maybe Kennedy would serve
as a moderating influence to Kerry's runaway liberalism.
ALERT: John is on media duty today and will be appearing
on the Kevin
McCullough radio show this afternoon at 2:20pm eastern and
also providing analysis of today's primaries on Milt
Rosenberg's show, Extension 720, tonight from 10:00pm to 12:00am
eastern. Give a listen if you can. - T. Bevan 12:06 pm
| Link | Email
March 1 2004
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS: I hate to write off
the "excitement" of Super Tuesday and the playing out
of the Democratic process, but it's hard not to argue that we're
only about 36 hours away from the official start of the general
gave a decent
performance in yesterday's
debate and, yes, he's shown this primary season that he can
be a "good closer." But the numbers don't lie: Edwards
heads into tomorrow trailing
in every single state, including a 13-point deficit to Kerry
in Georgia, the one state he should be most able to win. Even
a surprise victory there will leave Edwards well short of what
he needs to continue his campaign.
It's a strange
dynamic: Edwards is more likable, a better campaigner with a more
defined message, and comes with significantly less baggage than
Kerry. In short, Edwards is the better candidate in every respect
except for the one that matters most to Democrats this year: "electability."
You can see
it in poll after poll of registered
and likely voters around the country. Democrats remain unfazed
by Kerry's substantial shortcomings as a candidate and unconcerned
by contradictions in his record. Diane Kammerer from Minnesota
up Kerry's candidacy this way:
I think he's the best one? I don't know that we can come up with
be any confusion, she did NOT mean that in a good way. It's a
marriage of convenience, and Democrats seem ready and willing
to consummate that marriage tomorrow.
MATTERS : Continuing on with John Kerry, the Senator
very poignant and powerful op-ed in today's NYT about his
service in Vietnam.
how his "beliefs were challenged during that difficult time"
and how, as a matter of conscience, he felt compelled to protest
the war upon his return home.
me most, however, was how much of his description of the war and
his attitudes toward it (those which ultimately led him to oppose
it so vociferously) apply to Iraq and to the overall war on terror
were outsiders in a complex war among Vietnamese. Too
many allies were corrupt. Adversaries were ruthless. Enemy territory
is hard still to explain the clashing feelings. There was the
deep and enduring bonds forged among crewmates, brothers in
arms from all walks of life fighting each day to keep faith
with one another on a tiny boat on the rivers of the Mekong
Delta. And there was the anger I felt toward body-counting,
face-saving leaders sitting safely in Washington sending to
the killing fields troops who were often poor, black or brown.
that was Vietnam, where the children of America were
pulled from front porches and living rooms and plunged almost
overnight into a world of sniper fire, ambushes, rockets, booby
traps, body bags, explosions, sleeplessness, and the confusion
created by an enemy who was sometimes invisible and firing at
us, and sometimes right next to us and smiling.
understanding only in the shared experience of those for whom
the war was personal, who had lost friends and seen brothers
lose arms and legs, who had seen all around them human beings
fight and curse, weep and die. At times it seemed that
we were the only ones who really understood that the faults
in Vietnam were those of the war, not the warriors.
made most, if not all of the same charges against the Bush administration
in its prosecution of the war in Iraq? Shouldn't it also be a
matter of conscience for John Kerry to be ardently against the
war in Iraq and call for a full withdrawal as part of his platform?
is John Kerry has tried to have it both ways on Iraq by voting
in favor of the October 2002 resolution and then criticizing the
President for handling Iraq "the wrong way." He's opposed
to the war on grounds of "process", not the war itself.
Kerry is also telling his base that "the right way"
to handle Iraq was not to go to war at all, thus signaling his
opposition to the war itself, regardless of process.
conviction over one war and not the other? Is it possible for
a man with Kerry's history to support what he considers to be
an unjust war? Or does he consider the war in Iraq just? Or was
his opposition to the war in Vietnam, as some have suggested,
driven more by political opportunism than true conviction? I could
go on, but I won't.
important questions for a man asking the country for permission
to take decisive control over questions of war, peace, and U.S.
national security. Hopefully we can begin getting some direct
answers starting on Wednesday.
POWELL: I'm not sure I've seen anything
like this before. Colin Powell publicly defends his influence
with the President and the administration's policies:
Mr. Powell said his record speaks for itself and he is quite
capable of standing his ground.
something that's out there in the ether — people wondering,
'I'm at the State Department, I'm getting eaten up by everybody
But when you look at most foreign policy achievements in the
administration's first three years, he said, "you will
find that we are more than carrying our weight and putting more
than our finger on the scale."
was this department that went to Pakistan on the 13th of September
and said, 'Musharraf, you've got to change. You've got to flip.
You now have to turn against the Taliban.' And he did. And it
was done here, on this floor, all in response to what the president
needed," Mr. Powell said.
the president decided, with my advice, that he should take [the
Iraq] case to the United Nations, it was this department that
went and got what the president asked for — a resolution.
Sometimes it was lonely fighting for those resolutions. But
we did it — not because we are wimpy diplomats, but because
that's what the president wanted," he said.
then referred to his famous presentation at the United Nations
on Iraq's illicit arms programs, which the administration hoped
would persuade the world that military action was necessary.
Some of its contentions have yet to be proven right.
was your beloved State Department that went up there on the
5th of February last year and made the case on weapons of mass
destruction. And why did they pick the State Department? Why
was I the agent?"
credibility, the reporter suggested.
answered the question," Mr. Powell said.
felt that Colin Powell has been an extraordinary asset to the
President and a valuable counterweight to the neocon influences
within the administration. His presence has given the President
a broader perspective, more flexibility, and ultimately resulted
in better policy decisions for the country. - T. Bevan
12:07 pm | Link | Email