The proof is in.
I’m open to being spun in favor of the position that John Edwards made a savvy move by announcing his intention to accept public financing (and the spending limits that come with it) for his primary campaign, but his staff’s official spin-memo isn’t very convincing:
Why did we do this?
Quite simply, we did it because it is the right thing to do.
At the beginning of last night’s PBS Republican presidential forum, radio host Tom Joyner introduced the event by poking fun at the four frontrunners who had decided to skip the event, saying “hello to those of you viewing from home.” The audience erupted into cheers at the jab. Watch it:
Yesterday on CNN, PBS’s Tavis Smiley sharply criticized the snub by the four candidates — Giuliani, McCain, Romney, and Thompson — stating that they were “trying to go through this entire primary process and never have to address voters of color and never queried journalists of color.” Last night was the third minority-focused debate in which the Republican front runners refused to participate. They also skipped a debate on gay issues and a Spanish-language debate.
Recently, CBS anchor Katie Couric traveled to the Middle East for a “heavily promoted week in the war zone,” reporting the situation on the ground from Iraq. Her reporting was superficial and uncritical, airing several “puff pieces” mouthing Bush administration talking points.
This week, Couric spoke at the National Press Club with host Marvin Kalb to discuss “Democracy and the Press.” Couric explained that her goal in Iraq was to appear neutral and avoid “a Walter Cronkite moment,” as she put it:
Is it my job to go over and say this war is terrible and withdrawal is necessary? I don’t necessarily think that is the case. … I don’t necessarily feel that [I should pass judgment] unless there is a clear cut factual element to it. … I have never really saw it as my role, unless something is really egregious and without question wrong.
Kalb rebutted Couric’s assertions, charging that she offered only neutered judgments about the status on the ground and missed an opportunity to critically assess the situation in Iraq:
You offered only one judgment about the war. And you cushioned that by the way. You said, “There are definitely areas where the situation is improving.” Fine. But you then asked nine questions, nine important questions about Iraq. But you didn’t even make an effort to answer them. … You have been there. You’re an anchor every night. You’ve seen the material that flows into you. Surely on some of those nine issues, you must have had a strong feeling.
Couric tried to defend herself, using an example of when she “came down hard” on a man several years ago for making racist statements. But with respect to Iraq, she maintained: “I think you need to be careful though quite frankly on coming down on certain positions when it’s unclear.”
In addition to her implicit assumption that there is nothing currently “egregious” or “unclear” about the war, Couric’s efforts at neutrality are ironic. In her attempts to avoid a “Walter Cronkite moment,” she spewed Bush administration talking points. “You do see signs of life that seem to be normal,” she reported from Iraq. “It really is a trend.”
Ultimately, Couric made a case for staying in Iraq, denying reality and undermining her desired impartiality.
Cliff Shecter has more on Couric.
I don’t really agree with most of this David Brooks column on S-CHIP, and I certainly don’t agree with his implication that the S-CHIP expansion bill is a bad thing on net, but this is true:
Third, it creates a fund-raising mechanism cowardly in the extreme. Politicians in Washington like to talk in the abstract about shared sacrifice. They could go to the American people and say: We need to insure more children and to do that we’re going to raise broad-based taxes slightly.
But that’s honest and direct, and therefore impermissible. Instead, this program is funded by raising taxes on smokers, who generally are much poorer than average Americans and much less educated. High school dropouts smoke at roughly three times the rates of college graduates.
Now Brooks tries to deploy this factoid into an effort to convince us, I guess, that the Republicans standing against this expansion are doing so out of earnest concern for the well-being of the American working class. And that, of course, is ridiculous. It is, however, quite true that it’s very hard to really make sensible policy in this country within the constraint that everything has to be financed through gimmicks and whatnot rather than through broadish taxes. Now, of course, Brooks has conveniently left out the part of the story where the conservative movement of which he’s a part has worked assiduously to try to convince people that it’s simply not possible for the benefits of any non-lethal government program to exceed the cost of financing it through taxation, which — rather than some characterological predilection for dishonesty — explains why politicians now resort constantly to these sort of tactics.
For the Guardian I try to put the story of Bush rejecting exile options for Saddam Hussein into the broader context of his administration’s approach to nuclear proliferation. Rejecting the rule-based framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Bush sought another way outside the bounds of international law:
That way, known as “counterproliferation” by its advocates, was, in essence, brute force. The US would break its non-proliferation treaty commitments by building a new generation of “bunker buster” nukes, turn a blind eye to nuclear activities by friendly states, and restrain WMD acquisition by hostile states through intimidation rather than a legitimate international process. Iraq was targeted not merely on its own terms but in order that Bush might make an example out of Saddam and send a message to the leaders of Iran, Syria, North Korea and other states. Cutting a deal with Saddam wasn’t an option.
Unfortunately, as a result of the same thinking, neither were any number of other moves that could have improved American policy. In particular, the invasion force needed to be small enough, and the reconstruction plan fast and cheap enough, that the US could credibly threaten to do it again if other countries didn’t get the message.
Read the whole thing.
White House photo by Eric Draper
ThinkProgress has obtained a letter being circulated on Capitol Hill today by the Senate Democratic Leadership that calls on Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays to repudiate its employee Rush Limbaugh’s “phony troops” remark. Clear Channel is Limbaugh’s parent company, and it owns or operates at least 1,165 radio stations in the United States.
The letter, signed by Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV, Dick Durbin (D-IL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Patty Murray (D-WA), states that Limbaugh’s comments were “outrageous” and “unconscionable”:
Although Americans of goodwill debate the merits of this war, we can all agree that those who serve with such great courage deserve our deepest respect and gratitude. That is why Rush Limbaugh’s recent characterization of troops who oppose the war as “phony soldiers” is such an outrage.
Our troops are fighting and dying to bring to others the freedoms that many take for granted. It is unconscionable that Mr. Limbaugh would criticize them for exercising the fundamentally American right to free speech. Mr. Limbaugh has made outrageous remarks before, but this affront to our soldiers is beyond the pale.
Yesterday, ThinkProgress asked whether lawmakers who voted to attack a MoveOn newspaper ad would now condemn Limbaugh. The Senate leadership is challenging all their colleagues to demonstrate whether they can show principled condemnation by signing onto the letter. It specifically calls on Clear Channel to issue an apology and demands Limbaugh do the same:
Thousands of active troops and veterans were subjected to Mr. Limbaugh’s unpatriotic and indefensible comments on your broadcast. We trust you will agree that not a single one of our sons, daughters, neighbors and friends serving overseas is a “phony soldier.” We call on you to publicly repudiate these comments that call into question their service and sacrifice and to ask Mr. Limbaugh to apologize for his comments.
UPDATE: More smears against the military by Limbaugh. Huff Post notes that he called Iraq war vet Paul Hackett a “staff puke,” claiming he went to Iraq “to pad [his] resume,” and attacked him as “a liberal hiding behind a military uniform.”
Bush has given us a new drinking game: Down a shot whenever the President uses the word “technology” in a climate speech. You’d get 19 shots for today’s 21 minute speech!
As predicted Bush closely follows the Frank Luntz playbook on how to seem like you care about the climate when you don’t. Bush stated the basic do-nothing message well:
Our investments in research and technology are bringing the world closer to a remarkable breakthrough – an age of clean energy where we can power our growing economies and improve the lives of our people and be responsible stewards of the earth the Almighty trusted to our care.
Translation: “If we had those technologies today, then maybe we could take genuine action now. But, darn it, people, we don’t. We can’t grow the economy and be responsible stewards of the earth quite yet. We are close, though, so be patient already and stop with all those calls for mandatory regulation. Sheesh!”
Since this is the main message of the shrewd Luntz-led delayers, who realized years ago it could be politically dangerous to be seen as opposing all action on global warming, let me repeat Luntz’s advice from his 2002 and 2005 memos to conservatives [both must-reads for progressives]. In his 2002 “Straight Talk” memo on climate change messaging he writes:
In a press briefing this morning, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino was pressed specifically about Rush Limbaugh’s “phony soldiers” comment. She responded: “It’s not what the President would have used, no.” Watch it:
Recall, Bush blasted the MoveOn ad as “disgusting,” and he lamented that more Democrats did not “speak out strongly” against it. TPM observes that the White House response to Limbaugh is “hardly the scathing condemnation that MoveOn earned at the hands of the President of course.”
UPDATE: Taylor Marsh does a round up of some of the indignation directed at MoveOn that came from the right wing.
UPDATE II: The Weekly Standard steps up to defend Limbaugh, while acknowledging his words were “poorly chosen.”
UPDATE III: In remarks on his radio station today, Rush Limbaugh refused to apologize for his “phony soldiers” remark, but instead turned his fire on Media Matters, the “drive-by media,” and Rep. John Murtha (D-PA). C&L has the audio.
Here’s the “Student’s Guide to Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week”. Jim Henley notes the key passage:
Distributing a petition is an excellent protest tactic for several reasons. First, it is a very easy and cost-effective way to draw attention to the issues at hand. Second, a petition can serve as an advertisement for other events, such as film screenings and panel discussions (when you ask students to sign the petition, hand them a flyer about the other activities you have planned throughout the week). Perhaps most importantly, a petition forces students and faculty to declare their allegiances: either to fighting our terrorist adversaries or failing to take action to stop our enemies. For this reason, we encourage you to make a special effort to bring this petition to those groups who might be least likely to sign it, for example to campus administrators, student government officers, and the Muslim Students’ Association.
In short, the main goal of the “David Horowitz Freedom Center” here is to write up a petition deliberately designed to be unlikely for Muslim groups to sign and then to use Muslim groups’ failure to sign the petition as evidence that they’re on the side of “our terrorist adversaries.” This is a great way to go about things if you want to (a) be a campus troublemaker, (b) over the long run turn hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world into hardened enemies of the United States, and (c) create a large group of disaffected Muslims inside the United States who’ve been made to feel that adherence to their faith is unwelcome in America and fundamentally incompatible with loyalty to this country.
Back in saneville, what we’d like to do is build as broad a coalition as possible of people opposed to bin Laden-style acts of terrorist violence against civilians. We’d like to frame our opposition to this kind of terrorism in a manner calculated to gain allies rather than alienate them in order to score points in endless and pointless campus political battles. We’d like to empower mainstream Islamic groups so that Muslims around the world can feel that their concerns can be addressed through legitimate political mechanisms rather than violent holy wars, and so that mainstream Muslims have a platform from which to fight back against extremism.