Man Without Qualities

Thursday, March 18, 2004


Until tonight I had thought fairly well of Larry Sabato. But tonight I actually saw and heard him on Fox News state with a completely straight face and in apparent sincerity that the President could help his re-election chances by returning some of his campaign contributions to the donors with the stipulation that the donor use the returned money to create a few new jobs.

I repeat: With a completely straight face and in apparent sincerity.

And everything else he had to say - which wasn't that much - reached about that depth.

MORE: Jim Thomason has further evidence of Larry Sabato's descent into partisan self-parody. Jim is absolutely right. Sabato has gone completely over some partisan edge.

During the 2002 campaign I kept getting the gnawing feeling that Sabato just couldn't see that the Congress was swinging deeply Republican - especially in the last few days of the campaign. It was as if his objective data kept saying that - but he just couldn't allow himself to believe it. That troubled me for someone who holds himself out as independent, disinterested and professional - which was exactly how he was introduced on Fox News. Boy, did they get a surprise.

Sabato seems to have given up. His entire performance on Fox News - his demeanor, his comments, the tone of his voice - seriously suggested someone who has had some kind of breakdown. The reaction look on the face of O'Reilly after Sabato's "give-back-the-money-for-jobs" comments was priceless - and O'Reilly gave Sabato virtually no more time. You could almost hear the thought percolating through O'Reilly's brain after Sabato spoke: "Keep calm, Bill. Must think. Who let this guy in here? Get name. Is this one of those spots where we bring in some loon - like a psychic or Terry McAuliffe - to spice things up? No, no - I just introduced this guy as a no-spin-independent-analyst. O-my-God. Must keep calm."

Maybe all these recent years of political frustration have got to Sabato, who seems to be a serious Democratic partisan under all his posturing - destroying his mind, or at least his analytic political abilities. That is, maybe Larry's political crystal balls are blue. Maybe Larry needs a drink.

(0) comments

Senator Kerry Listens To Mahathir

John Kerry has, of course, now affirmed several times his boast that foreign leaders have in private conversations and meetings with him endorsed his candidacy - but Kerry foreign policy adviser Rand Beers is telling the media:

“This election will be decided by the American people, and the American people alone. It is simply not appropriate for any foreign leader to endorse a candidate in America’s presidential election. John Kerry does not seek, and will not accept, any such endorsements.”

I completely agree that it is not appropriate for any foreign leader to endorse a candidate in America’s presidential election - so why hasn't John Kerry publicly instructed all foreign leaders to lay off the endorsements - and why has he been bragging about the endorsements he received in confidential meetings and conversations? Senator Kerry's bragging and refusal to renounce foreign potentates has now led Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to chime in with an endorsement. The Senator through his spokesman Beers says he now "rejects any association" with Mahathir, "an avowed anti-Semite whose views are totally deplorable."

Well, Herr Doktorprofessor Paul Von Krugman is happy to associate with Mahathir, even take his money for conferences. Herr Doktorprofessor intones that Mahathir is not "ignorant" or "foolish" - and that this maker of a good many admittedly anti-Semitic comments is in many ways about as forward-looking a Muslim leader as we're likely to find.

So why is Senator Kerry being so picky all of a sudden? Could it be the all-too-obvious implication that the cagey but odious Mahathir knows full well that President Kerry would serve the purpose of advancing Mahathir causes - and the causes of those like him - far better than the inconvenient Mr. Bush?

Fox News link via Croooow Blog.
(0) comments

Plus Ca Change, Plus C'est La Meme Chose

Vice President Dick Cheney: "We have a right to know what [Senator Kerry] is saying to foreign leaders that makes them so supportive of his candidacy. American voters are the ones charged with determining the outcome of this election, not unnamed foreign leaders."

OpinionJournal, March 15, 2004: A year ago John Kerry described the nations that would liberate Iraq as a "coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted." It turns out that may be a better description of his own antiwar camp. From Jacques Chirac's and Vladimir Putin's political cronies to Tony Blair's own Labour Party, many of the most vocal opponents of enforcing U.N. resolutions turn out to have been on the take. Were some of the most vehement and prominent American critics of the war similarly bought and paid for? There's no hard evidence to support such a conclusion, but it's a possibility worthy of investigation following the appearance of a politically connected Detroit-area businessman on a recently published list of individuals receiving oil money from Saddam Hussein. Shakir al-Khafaji's close ties to Iraqi Baathists and Michigan Democrats are a matter of public record.

OpinionJournal, February 9, 2004: [T]he Iraqi daily Al Mada published a partial list of names, compiled by Iraq's oil ministry, of those whom Saddam Hussein rewarded with allocations of Iraqi oil. ... The list reads like an official registry of Friends of Saddam across some 50 countries. It's clear where his best, best friends were. There are 11 entries under France (totaling 150.8 million barrels of crude). ... Patrick Maugein, a close friend of Jacques Chirac and head of Soco International oil company, says his dealings were all within "the framework of the oil-for-food program and there was nothing illegal about it."

XYZ Affair: is the name usually given to an incident (1797-98) in Franco-American diplomatic relations. ... [A] three-man [American] commission was immediately confronted by the refusal of French foreign minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand to receive it officially. ... The proposal that the Americans pay Talleyrand about $250,000 before the French government would even deal with them created an uproar when it was released in the United States. ... The XYZ Affair contributed to American patriotic legend in the reply Pinckney is supposed to have made to a French request for money, “Millions for defense, sir, but not one cent for tribute.” This reply was certainly not made, but a better case can be made for the alternate version, “No, no, not a sixpence.”

(0) comments

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

How sweet it is to see Senator John Kerry reclaiming one of his many former identities!
(0) comments

Very Specific Terms

Astute reader Daniel Aronstein e-mails to ask why John Kerry is not being specific about this charge, reported in the New York Times:

"And we were misled in very specific terms about the evidence that we were showed within those briefings to the Congress of the United States. "

But CIA Chief Tenet swore under oath before Congress that the briefings were truthful. Since the Senator says he is now aware in very specific terms of how the evidence showed within those briefings to the Congress was "misleading" why doesn't he say what those very specific terms are? Isn't his charge that the CIA lied to the Congress a matter of great national urgency?

Maybe those nameless foreign (er, "other") leaders who looked at the Senator and said they support his candidacy and the need to replace Mr. Bush also provided to him in very specific terms the who, when and where of how the evidence within those briefings misled Congress? Will Congress have to subpoena Senator Kerry? Just kidding.

On a more serious note, is Senator Kerry or Mr. Tenet lying? MUST ONE OF THEM BE LYING?

(0) comments

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The Brothers Kerry

This Fox News video of interviews of two of John Kerry's Vietnam crew is remarkable.
(0) comments

Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XIV: Hostages

Senator Kerry says that the US troops he voted to send to Iraq should not necessarilly have body armor unless the federal income tax rates are as he wants them to be.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The Bush ad [now running in West Virginia] ... struck back at Kerry on the issue of body armor. Kerry has been critical of the lack of personal body armor provided for troops in Iraq, and has called for the government to reimburse those who had to purchase their own.

When reporters have asked Kerry recently how he could criticize the administration for not providing adequate protection for soldiers when he didn't support the president's $87.5-billion funding request, Kerry said that he would support spending the money, but only if Bush rolled back tax cuts for the wealthy.

"I said very clearly that I would not abandon the troops and that I was prepared to put whatever funding in the troops needed," Kerry told reporters last week in Mississippi. "I did vote to fund the $87 billion. Let's look at the record clearly. But I voted to fund it by taking a percentage of the tax cut from the wealthiest Americans in order to fund it."

He continued: "George Bush and the Republicans said no, we're not going to do that. We're not going to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay for body armor. We're going to ask the average families in the country to shoulder the burden. And that's exactly what they're doing."

Amazingly, the Bush ad didn't accuse Senator Kerry of treating American soldiers as a variety of hostage to the Senator's tax agenda. Senator Kerry's "explanation" did that. Here, as has been the case so often with Senator Kerry recently, his "explanations" leave him in a much worse position than he began - and with a much worse self-definition.

Ah, yes. We must tax as Senator Kerry desires or as far as he is concerned servicemen in Iraq can take bullets for want of body armor. Sure Senator, sure. Whatever you say. This is all nuance!

UPDATE: The New York Times provides the sterling nuance line that the Los Angeles Times omits:

Mr. Kerry added, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it," referring to an amendment he supported that would have rescinded some tax cuts to finance the war.

Link from Maguire.


The Washington Post reports:

Kerry said at the time that he was opposed to "throwing $87 billion at George Bush's failed policies" and wanted to "force" the president to develop a better plan for postwar Iraq.

But, apparently, the Senator would have had no problem with "throwing $87 billion at George Bush's failed policies" if the tax rates had been changed?

Senator Kerry just keeps getting in deeper every time he opens him mouth.
(0) comments

The Shape Of The Quarter To Come

Dow Jones Newswires reports:

More companies expect to increase net hiring in the second quarter of 2004 than they had planned three months ago for the current quarter or than was planned one year ago, a survey released Tuesday shows. ... After seasonal adjustment, however, the net percentage of firms indicating hiring over layoffs moved up to 20% compared with 13% in the first quarter and 11% in the second quarter of 2003. .... Jeffrey Joerres, chairman and chief executive of Milwaukee-based Manpower, the nation's largest staffing company ... sounded a cautious note that while "the surveys did capture the pickup in payroll jobs over the past two quarters, we're not likely to see increases as large as 200,000 per month." ....

"[W]hen seasonal variations are removed from the data, the job outlook in seven of the sectors is more robust than it has been in three years since the second quarter of 2001," he said.

(0) comments

Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XIII: The Kerrymass Episode

The Woody Allen short story, The Kuglemass Episode, drops the hapless Kuglemass into Flaubert's Madame Bovary to conduct a discrete affair with the eponymous, randy Frenchwoman. Allen provides few details as to how such an amazing thing could be accomplished. But, as The Great Persky packs Kuglemass into the box that will work the miraculous projection, the magician exhales a single explanatory whoop: "This is all nuance!"

Senator Kerry intends his projection into the White House to be effected similarly - with Bob Shrum angling for the Persky role.

But I don't think the current strategy of "explaining" the Senator's bizarre claim that still-nameless foreign leaders personally looked him in the eye and expressed support for his candidacy was "really" a claim that those still-nameless foreign leaders disagree with some of the current President's policies is going to work. It's just getting the Senator deeper into the Old Self-Definition Muddy. He intends to present the episode as suffused with what the New York Times embarrassingly calls "nuance," but it's being seen for what it really was: bizarre and intentional misrepresentation.

That the Senator and so many of his media questioners keep returning to the episode, and the President is now personally drawing attention to it, strongly suggests that the episode is hurting the Senator significantly in private polls and focus groups.

Messrs. Kerry and Shrum may wish to recall that Mr. Kuglemass came to a bad end - ultimately projected into no novel at all, but rather into a book of remedial Spanish where Kuglemass is last seen fleeing over a barren landscape as the irregular verb tener ("to have") raced after him on its spindly legs.

The magician, Persky, dies when the magic box explodes.

(0) comments

Sunday, March 14, 2004

An Unsurprising Finding

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Despite the political outcry over the outsourcing of white-collar jobs to such places as India and Ghana, the latest U.S. government data suggest that foreigners outsource far more office work to the U.S. than American companies send abroad. The value of U.S. exports of legal work, computer programming, telecommunications, banking, engineering, management consulting and other private services jumped to $131.01 billion in 2003, up $8.42 billion from the previous year, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

So, will Democrats (and a few Republicans) continue to demagogue this issue?

MORE: [S]mall businesses are finding that "offshoring" jobs is a boon to their bottom line -- and sometimes gives them room to create new jobs at home.

Will this kind of thing make the Democrats lay the heck off poor, struggling India? Sheesh.
(0) comments

Some Very Odd Polls

The most recent NPR Poll taken over 2-26 through 3-1 shows President Bush with various net negative ratings - including that by a wopping margin of 14% people think that the country is on the "wrong track."

But the same poll also shows President Bush beating John Kerry in a one-on-one (no Nader) by 47-45%. Those are essentially the same "wrong track" and hypothetical election results shown in another recent poll.

The number of people thinking that the country is "on the wrong track" should be very telling. The big negative gaps in these polls - the NPR Poll shows only 40% think that the country is "on the right track" - should correspond to a huge problem for the incumbent. Yet, the same polls both show President Bush narrowly winning over John Kerry.

What's going on?

Well, for one thing, some (but not all) other polls are not consistent with such large percentages responding that the country is "on the wrong track." For example, the often Republican-hostile CNN/Time Poll for 2/5 - 2/6 reported that 60% of respondents think that things in the country are going "very or fairly well."

So, one major poll shows 60% of the nation responding that things are going "very or fairly well" - and another poll taken at virtually the same time (a twenty day lag) shows that only 40% think the country is on the right track. Of course, it could be that 20% of the country changed its mind in 20 days.

Does the reader believe that?

UPDATE: The Democratic primary media coverage has been acting on polling results like a bar magnet held to a television screen. But a new poll shows that distortion seems to be ending (Via Viking Pundit - who has all kinds of interesting posts today):

President Bush has regained the lead from Sen. John Kerry in the latest IBD/TIPP Poll as the boost the challenger got from the Democratic primaries wears off and the incumbent starts his own campaign in earnest. The nationwide poll of 863 adults taken last Monday through Thursday showed that, among 743 registered voters, Bush leads Kerry 45% to 40%, with 6% going to Independent Ralph Nader. In a two-way race Bush leads Kerry 46% to 43%. A week earlier, Bush trailed Kerry in IBD/TIPP polling by a 44%-41% margin. But the president reclaimed support in his traditional strongholds. Bush now leads Kerry 56% to 33% in Republican-loyal, or "red," states, 51% to 38% in the South and 49% to 40% in the Midwest. Bush's lead in swing states, however, has narrowed to 1 point from 4. But Kerry's lead in Democrat-loyal (blue) states has shrunk to 9 points from 12, and his advantage in urban areas has narrowed to 10 points from 18. In suburban areas, Bush's lead widened to 18 points from 13. In rural America, a traditional Bush stronghold, Kerry ran even in the week-earlier survey. But now Bush is back up by 14 points.

And, as noted below, Senator Kerry is doing his darnedest to normalize these polls, too.
(0) comments

Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XII: Himself Defining Himself

I believe it was Napoleon who counseled against attacking an opponent destroying himself. On this advice, the Bush campaign's new ads criticizing John Kerry are ill advised - but that doesn't seem to matter because Senator Kerry seems determined to get on with the job of self-destruction anyway.

We are repeatedly told that this is the period in which Senator Kerry must "define himself" to the great majority of Americans outside the rather tiny core of Democratic voters who actually participated in the primaries. And Senator Kerry is obliging with outre comments that could have been written by Howard Dean or Wesley Clark. Yet the mainstream media sounds no alarms when Senator Kerry says these similar things, although sources like the Wall Street Journal have doubted whether such comments will appeal to independents and moderates.

I think it's much worse than that. I think the Senator is rapidly "defining himself" in self-destructive ways that will not easily be concealed or corrected by his campaign or his doting masses in the mainstream media.

Senator Kerry's self-demolition began in earnest with his characterizing his "Republican critics" as a "crooked, lying group," etc. - and was substantially accelerated by his subsequent refusal to apologize, instead trying to destroy his Republican critics with a mean but nutty negative claim: "There is a Republican attack squad that specializes in trying to destroy people and be negative."

Mainstream media coverage of the Senator's bizarrely self-destructive statements has been entirely consistent with the early media infatuation with Howard Dean. The mainstream media resisted detecting the self-demolition implicit in very similar comments and speeches by Howard Dean until the Iowa primary made such resistance impossible. Similarly, there has been essentially no suggestion in the mainstream media that the presumptive candidate has done himself any real damage with these comments. I don't think that is correct - and I expect the next round of polls to show that these comments of Senator Kerry, which did receive widespread coverage (albeit without appropriate media analysis), have substantially and negatively defined him to the public.

Senator Kerry is also defining himself as someone who makes up the darnedest things for the purposes of self promotion. It's a trait that may have entirely undone General Clark - but the Senator seems not to care. Indeed, he is well on his way to making Al Gore, whose penchant in this area is widely thought to have seriously eroded his support, seem a piker. He says that foreign leaders want him as the next U.S. president - but he provides no names and his claim to meeting with them is demonstrably inconsistent with his schedule - leading Colin Powell to the brink of exasperation:

"I don't know what foreign leaders Senator Kerry is talking about. It's an easy charge, an easy assertion to make. But if he feels it is that important an assertion to make, he ought to list some names. If he can't list names, then perhaps he should find something else to talk about."

Senator Kerry has also recently suggested that Mr. Powell has been "undercut" by the Bush administration - a suggestion Mr. Powell also dismissed and challenged Kerry to substantiate. It's a particularly odd claim, since Senator Kerry would be "undercutting" the Secretary of State by going around him secretly to obtain expressions of support against the interests of Mr. Powell's boss from world leaders. But, as noted, Senator Kerry seems only to have confabulated those expressions of support. Senator Kerry's claim to having unverifiable memories of being supported by terrestrial alien leaders is a little too much like his having unverifiable memories of being abducted by extraterrestrial alien leaders. It's probably going to leave some nasty "definition" that won't go away easily.

Then there's his "memory" of having voted for what he calls the Helms-Burton legislation - where he was actually one of only 22 senators to vote against it.

Most presidential elections are mostly about the economy - and this one might turn out to be one of them. That, in turn, might be to Senator Kerry's advantage, if the "jobs" issue really tilts as much in his favor as the mainstream media is suggesting it does. That suggests that he should "define himself" by focusing on the economy and deal with national security issues to the extent he must. That approach would play best to his own military service record. Instead, he is doing his best to define himself as a "warrior." He has been calling attention dramatically to national security issues and therfore his own weak Senate record on national security by attacking Bush's own service record, sending his own representative to Iraq and falsely "remembering" being very committed to the defense and security of the nation (wait one minute after launching this site for the music video to begin; you needn't click anything once you are at the site).

He may well be defining himself into oblivion.

UPDATE: William Safire construes:

Kerry's pollsters apparently told him that his defiant embrace of the nasty crack backfired, and he was being tagged not as deliciously tough but as distastefully negative.

The other night, uncomfortable in his role as the Massachusetts Mauler, Kerry spun around with a gentlemanly "Americans shouldn't have to put up with eight months of sniping," and deplored "personal attacks." Hustling to the high road, Democratic weekend commercials flip-flopped too, enervating the base but calming independents with crocodile tears about "misleading negative ads."

It was, like, I mean, you know, an indirect apology.

Yeah, OK ... but, it was, like, I mean, you know, also a defining moment. And a lot of the damage is done. The effect will, you know, like I said above, probably show up in the polls. In fact, Mr. Safire thinks it already has - which is why the fake Kerry "tough guy" line is now fake-retracted with a fake apology.

But I think the consequences will, like, more than last the night even with the fake apology and everything. Like, you know, the Senator knocked himself up, or something.

FURTHER UPDATE: The Senator is now reported by the New York Times as coming close to (but not quite) denying that he ever said he had private conversations with foreign leaders offering support for his candidacy - even though he has said that he could not name them because that would "violate" his "conversations:"

As his aides have all week, Mr. Kerry refused Sunday to cite any names of foreign officials or describe their rank, telling reporters, "I can't violate any conversation because no one would share something with me again."

Instead, Mr. Kerry disputed the wording of his comment, and tried to change the subject from individual leaders' specific support of his efforts to oust President Bush to a broader deterioration of the United States' international reputation.

"I think the quote, the quote in the comment I made publicly, I believe, was that I `heard from,' that's the direct quote," Mr. Kerry said. "I've likewise had meetings. I've also had conversations. I said I've heard from, that was what I believe I said."

The remark came at a breakfast with about 50 fund-raisers in Florida, after one observed that Europeans were "counting on us" to "get rid of Mr. Bush."

"I've met foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but boy, they look at you and say, `You gotta win this, you gotta beat this guy, we need a new policy,' things like that," Mr. Kerry said, according to a transcript from a reporter who attended the session.

On Sunday, Mr. Kerry said that he had not been abroad since he announced his presidential ambitions in December 2002. In Bethlehem, he told voters he had "had conversations with a number of leaders in the course of the last two years, up until the present moment," and that he had "also had friends of mine who have met with leaders, as recently as the past week I've heard from a couple."

Speaking afterward with reporters, he said the who, when and where was not the point.

"The point is that all across the world Americans and America is meeting with a new level of hostility," Mr. Kerry said, "and that there are relationships that have been broken, and everybody who follows the foreign policy of the United States understands that."

So the Senator now says that he can't violate any conversation because no one would share something with him again even though he has only, you know, "heard from" those leaders, apparently in the sense that he assumes or deduces that they support him because he's, you know, on their side. But he's not really had "conversations" with them - although he says he has also had "conversations" and "meetings." And sometimes he's "heard" from those leaders through friends but those leaders also look at you and say, `You gotta win this, you gotta beat this guy, we need a new policy,' things like that. Is that all clear now?

Yes, the Senator is defining himself very quickly now.

Contrary to the Senator's thinking, the who, when and where is the point. He said that he had had private conversations with foreign leaders who looked at him and expressed support. If it never happened, if there was no who, when and where, then what he said was a lie or a fairly serious and weird delusion. It's that simple. And it's not going to go away.

This New York Times article suggests that the Senator's strategy here is to obscure exactly the who, when and where. He'll say he actually met the leader (say, Chancellor Schroeder) something like two years ago - and the leader then said that he didn't like President Bush's policies. Then the Senator "heard" more recently through friends that the leader was now supportive of the Senator presidential ambitions. Etc., etc.

But the problem with that approach is that his original comments were pretty clear - his challenge to the transcript notwithstanding. Perhaps the Senator needs to write a "Note to self: Don't make unnuanced statements."
(0) comments

Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XII: The Palm At The End Of John Kerry's Mind

Wallace Stevens warned of the effects Florida can work on unmoored New England minds. But John Kerry seems to have read not a word of it before leaving his hometown slime of men and clouds to risk the lust of a billion black mosquitoes. Kausfiles points to this amazing Miami Herald report, which distills so much incoherent John Kerry weirdness that I just can't help quoting it here:

''I'm pretty tough on Castro, because I think he's running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world,'' Kerry told WPLG-ABC 10 reporter Michael Putney in an interview to be aired at 11:30 this morning.

Then, reaching back eight years to one of the more significant efforts to toughen sanctions on the communist island, Kerry volunteered: ``And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him.'' ....

There is only one problem: Kerry voted against it.

(0) comments