Man Without Qualities

Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Importance Of Being Bouncy V

No bounce, no glory. And conversely ...

Not to be out done by TIME's reported 11% post-Convention bounce, Newsweek is now reporting that Bush-Cheney leads Kerry-Edwards by 54 to 43 percent in a three-way race, with Bush-Cheney receiving a 13% post-Convention bounce.
And yet, the mainstream media have been assuring us for many weeks that this can't be correct - since there are almost no persuadable voters and, to the extent there are any left, they will break disproportionately towards the challenger. For example, according to this USA Today poll in three battleground states (one could Google up many more such polls) only about 15% of Bush voters would even entertain the idea of voting for Kerry - and even fewer Kerry voters will consider Bush. So it's clearly impossible for a 13% bounce to materialize. Right? Of course, these are just two polls - the final numbers are not in, and there may even be oversampling of Republicans in the polls showing the biggest bounces. But this post will take the TIME and Newsweek polls seriously for the sake of the observations included here (but very much subject to possible reevaluation).

Where have you gone, Larry Sabato? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo) - so perhaps you'll eventually do us the favor of explaining why your election prediction (Kerry to win!) is so at odds with the results of the two Conventions and your own last-minute incoherent fudge:

Incumbent presidents usually get a convention bounce that is smaller, often about half to two-thirds, of their less well-known challengers in the other party. Since John Kerry got a bounce estimated to be a mere two points ... this "rule" would predict that George W. Bush will gain a mere one point from New York! So why do we wonder whether history will be rewritten by the Republican Convention? It's all just too pat and pre-packaged for our tastes. .... We're engaged in pure speculation here, but if our guess is correct, might not Bush's small surge reinforce the natural high tide created by a party convention? The confluence of these two minor shifts could create a rare historical phenomenon: a convention bounce that is greater for the incumbent than for the challenger.

O, and does "the confluence of these two minor shifts" explain a result that is thirteen times the result predicted by Mr. Sabato's "rule" - a "rule" that he doesn't really repudiate while "engaged in pure speculation," anyway - or is the excess Republican performance just something to be chalked up to the part that's "all just too pat and pre-packaged for [Mr. Sabato's] tastes?" There were lots of factors predicting a big Bush-Cheney bounce that went way beyond "the confluence of these two minor shifts" - I have listed many of them here in prior posts. They were very uncomfortable factors for Democrats. When do people wake up to the fact that Larry Sabato is a bloviating, pro-Democratic shill posing as a non-partisan expert and that he says almost nothing really useful now?

It's also interesting to compare what may be a rather large Bush-Cheney bounce with what happened in 2000:

In 2000, then Texas Gov. George Bush got a 4-percentage-point bounce coming out of the Republican convention in Philadelphia, but Vice President Al Gore neutralized it with an 8-percentage-point bounce after the Democratic convention in Los Angeles, Gallup said.

If the TIME and Newsweek polls are anywhere near to being correct (and other polls show much smaller bounces than these two), then Bush-Cheney has done quite a bit better after their 2004 Convention than they did after their 2000 Convention - and Kerry-Edwards has surely done spectacularly worse after their 2004 Convention than Gore-Lieberman did after their 2000 Convention, and Gore-Lieberman then lost. That bit of history can't feel good to the Democrats and their media water carriers right now.

Which raises the question of whether the mainstream media is approaching the point of turning on and cannibalizing their Kerry-Edwards team. At some point, if the negative indicia keep mounting for the Democrats, the media will likely become fed up with backing ever-more-obvious and incompetent losers - and start to savage the Democrats. Watching the increasingly frantic and even angry talking heads on CNN and MSNBC, and reading the extrusions of similar types at the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post, suggests that their cannibalism point may be close - maybe very close.

And then there's Terry McAuliffe. There always seems to be Terry McAuliffe nowadays - out there posturing bizarrely for his many friends in the media, with ever newer ways of signaling how out of touch he and his Party have become:

McAuliffe ... acknowledged that Bush should get a "bounce" following the [Republican] convention. He based his 9-point estimate on a Bush campaign aide. ..."I want the Republicans to have an enjoyable, peaceful convention," McAuliffe said. "I want them to be able to get their voice out, because the more the American people have to hear what the Republicans have to say, the less they like about it."

Well, the American people seem to have a very strange way of signaling that the more they hear what the Republicans have to say, the less they like about it.

In advance of the more frantic Democratic and media denials of what their predictions and expectations actually were just before this Republican Convention, it's worth reviewing this tabulation of recent Democratic and media delusions:
DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe said he expected Kerry to exit with an 8- to 10-point edge. Kerry fell short of both predictions.

Democrats offered several reasons for the lower-than-expected results, and noted that the same polls that showed Kerry failing to gain ground also offer bad news for the Bush campaign.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, among others, said a nation divided starkly along political lines provides little opportunity for a presidential candidate to pick up significant support during a four-day convention.

Just before the convention, polls showed that many more Americans than usual had already made up their minds about whom to support, leaving a small number of undecided voters to woo.

Unless something dramatic occurs during the Republican National Convention, which begins Aug. 30, Bush is similarly unlikely to see his poll numbers flourish.

And this:

"It's hard to get a big bounce when, like, 90 percent of the American people have already made up their mind," says MSNBC's Chris Matthews.

Yes, when, like, 90 percent of the American people have already made up their mind, it certainly should be hard to get a 13% bounce.

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Friday, September 03, 2004

Undiscovered Checks

The Swiftee assault on John Kerry's record represents reanimation of just one of several skeletons lurking in the Senator's closet, with the others for the moment slipping from public attention. But the others are probably destined to emerge at some point, perhaps to paralyze his campaign as the Swiftees have done. Some "forgotten" examples:

John Kerry has cancer (or, to use the current euphemism, he "is a cancer survivor")and many other health issues that have not been fully disclosed. Indeed, Senator Kerry's health difficulties seem to be more serious than those of Vice President Cheney - whose health issues the Democrats have tried to make a campaign issue. It is worth recalling, for example, that former Sen. Paul E. Tsongas, who rebounded from cancer to briefly become the Democratic presidential front-runner in 1992, died [at age] 55. Tsongas ... with a liver problem related to his cancer treatments and later developed pneumonia, died at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He died free of cancer the hospital said. .... [H]e declared himself cancer free after being one of the first 100 people to undergo a grueling, experimental transplant in which his own bone marrow was removed and later reintroduced into his body.

John Kerry has not released either his full military or his health records.

Teresa Kerry's tax returns remain undisclosed.

Court records for John Kerry's divorce from his first wife have not been disclosed.

This is not a complete list. But it is remarkable how much Senator Kerry appears to be relying on his ability to keep information from the voters. There is a strong tendency for this kind of information to find its way out, one way or the other - sometimes in not very savory, ethical or even legal ways. But it does tend to happen.

Just ask George Bush about that DUI incident.
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Post convention bounce and "momentum" are related, but by no means the same thing. SurveyUSA's specialized sampling - which is not a standard preference poll - finds that "momentum" has shifted to Bush:

The number of Americans who think George W. Bush will be re-elected in November has suddenly jumped 10 to 20 points in dozens of cities around the country, according to SurveyUSA tracking polls conducted before, during and after the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

SurveyUSA has been asking respondents not who they will vote for, but rather: who they think will win the presidential election in November. This question is more sensitive to changes in sentiment, and is designed to capture "momentum" swings more precisely than preference questions asked of likely voters. Tracking polls released today, 9/3/04, the day after the Republican National Convention ended, show sizeable swings in the public consciousness. ....

Results of these surveys are not intended to forecast the outcome of the presidential election in November nor predict how respondents would vote in an election "today"; rather, results here are intended solely to measure shifts in momentum, which can reveal much about the public's collective psyche. Momentum can and does change in a campaign, sometimes dramatically. Events may well happen during this campaign to shift momentum back to the Democrats just as suddenly as it has here shifted to the Republicans. Results presented here should not be confused with SurveyUSA Election Polls, which are conducted over a longer field period, and which tightly screen for registered and likely voters, and which do in fact ask respondents how they would vote in an election "today."
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Is That Correct?

At a meeting with editors of the Wall Street Journal yesterday Bush campaign chief Ken Mehlman said:

"Competition is a great thing for schools and it's a great thing for the media. CNN is more honest because of Fox."

Mr. Mehlman is spot-on with his first sentence, but I believe he is dead wrong on the second. It is true that Fox News is one of the newer elements to news delivery that allows interested news consumers to check up on CNN and other liberal news outlets. In that sense, competition has been a great thing for the media and for news consumers.

But that's not the same as saying that CNN (or the New York Times, or any other particular news outlet) is now more honest than it was, because of Fox or any other reason. In fact, the American news market seems to be heading the way of the British news market - with outfits such as CNN and the Times bearing an increasing resemblance to loony left shops such as the Guardian. The more the CNN's and New York Times of the American market have been countered by the likes of Fox News, the shriller and more tendentious the CNN's and New York Times become.

It's true that competition is great for the market - but that doesn't mean increased competition necessarilly pulls any particular competitor towards producing a generic or average product. In fact, the better markets often - but not always - produce greater choice and diversity of product. For example, Old Ma Bell concentrated on "Plain Old Telephone Service" - but that's not where the market has gone since the breakup of her monopoly. Fragmentation seems to be what is happening to the American news market as the outlets grope for niches and special audiences. It's not an accident that CNN did much better in the ratings with the Democratic Convention - while Fox polled much better than CNN for Republican Convention coverage.

Yes, competition is a great thing for schools and it's a great thing for the media. But CNN is shriller and more tendentious and less honest because of Fox. That seems to reflect what CNN thinks CNN's particular audience wants to hear. Why not? Anyone who doesn't like it can always flip to Fox.
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One of John Kerry's more pathetic answers to the firestorm that is the inevitable and oft-predicted consequence of his having made his essentially irrelevant 4 months of Vietnam service the centerpiece of his Presidential bid is his criticism of Vice President Cheney's five draft deferments:

"The vice president called me unfit for office last night," Mr. Kerry said. "Well, I'm going to leave it up to the voters to decide whether five deferments make someone more qualified than two tours of duty."

Mr. Cheney received five deferments and did not serve in the military..

Voters should be free and informed to decide whether they care about Senator Kerry's charge - although I don't think it makes much sense (or has much force) as a campaign argument. But what about those "five deferments?" Why would anyone even need five deferments? Why did Mr. Cheney need to request five deferments?

Well, it turns out that Mr. Cheney mostly seems to have changed schools as a college student, and simply needed to make additional requests to accommodate the move. Mr. Cheney was born in Lincoln, Nebr., January 30, 1941; attended public schools in Lincoln and Casper, Wyo.; attended Yale University 1959-1960; Casper College, Casper, Wyo. 1963; B.A., University of Wyoming, Laramie 1965; M.A., University of Wyoming 1966; Ph.D. candidate, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis. 1968. Here's the apparent story, as gleaned from various sources on the web - some of them violently anti-Cheney:

1. While Mr. Cheney was at Yale the military was taking only older men and he therefore needed no deferment at that time.

2. Mr. Cheney enrolled in Casper Community College in January 1963 he turned 22 that month and sought his first student deferment on March 20, according to records from the Selective Service System.

3. After transferring to the University of Wyoming at Laramie, he sought his second student deferment on July 23, 1963.

4. Just 22 days later, Mr. Cheney married his high school sweetheart, Lynne. He sought his third student deferment on Oct. 14, 1964.

5. Mr. Cheney obtained his fourth deferment when he started graduate school at the University of Wyoming on Nov. 1, 1965.

6. On Jan. 19, 1966, when his wife was about 10 weeks pregnant, Mr. Cheney applied for 3-A status, the "hardship" exemption (his fifth deferment), which excluded men with children or dependent parents. It was granted.

In January 1967, Mr. Cheney turned 26 and was no longer eligible for the draft.
So it seems that three of Mr. Cheney's deferments cover only his undergraduate career. Senator Kerry also requested and was granted a deferment for his undergraduate education - but only one deferment was to cover that period in his career only because he didn't change schools.

Then Mr. Cheney requested and was granted a deferment to cover his post-college education. When the "married man" deferment was ended, Mr. Cheney was granted an exemption based on his being a "married father." This seems entirely technical - the two deferments are essentially a single deferment.

Senator Kerry also requested a post-college deferment to allow him to study in Paris - but it was denied. Senator Kerry then enlisted in the Navy rather than be drafted. He and his his supporters have characterized that enlistment as "volunteering," which it technically was. But the Senator could not have avoided service by not "volunteering" - contrary to what was squarely and falsely asserted by Bill Clinton in his Boston convention address and what the Senator has often attempted to induce the public to believe.

In sum: Mr. Cheney requested two substantively separate deferments from the draft - both were granted. Senator Kerry also requested two separate deferments from the draft - one of which was granted and one was denied. He then enlisted in the Navy to avoid being drafted.

So what's the big deal? The differences between Mr. Cheney's requests for deferments and Senator Kerry's seem to be entirely technical - except for differences arising solely from the Senator's second request for a deferment being denied by his draft board. It seems a stretch to argue that one is entitled to be President because of something one's draft board did thirty-some-odd years ago.

POSTSCRIPT: One may be able to view these deferments another way: Mr. Cheney obtained deferments for four years of his life (ages 22 through 26). While I have not been able to definitively determine the date of Senator Kerry's deferment, he seems to have obtained a single four year deferment for his four years at Yale. Senator Kerry then tried to obtain further deferment, which would have secured for him more total deferment in excess of the four years of deferment both he and Mr. Cheney had obtained. But Senator Kerry's draft board denied that second request.

This is heroic patriotic intent on John Kerry's part? I don't think so. The man should just pipe down about draft deferments and make the best of what he's got. What he's doing now is embarrassing ... for him, the Democratic Party, veterans everywhere and the country as a whole.
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The Importance Of Being Bouncy IV

For pure entertainment it's sometimes worth looking at the Zogby Poll:

Zogby (1,011 LV) 8/12 - 8/14:..........Bush 43%.............Kerry 50%

Zogby (1001 LV) 8/30 - 9/2:............Bush 46%............Kerry 44%

So Zogby finds that Mr. Bush went from being down by 7% to being up by 2% in the two Zogby polls that seem to most closely bracket the Republican Convention (so far - perhaps there will be a true post-Convention Zogby Poll). That would give Mr. Bush a 9% Convention bounce.

But, remember, it's Zogby.

Today's Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll shows President Bush with 49% of the vote and Senator Kerry with 45%. Perhaps Mr. Bush will receive only this modest bounce, but the Convention effects are not yet completely reflected in the Rasmussen Poll, which explains:

Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll is reported on a three-day rolling average basis. Very few of the interviews for today's report were completed after the President's speech last night. Most were completed before the speeches given on Wednesday by Senator Zell Miller and Vice President Dick Cheney.

UPDATE: TIME says Bush-Cheney now leads by 11% in its poll. That's also an 11% bounce. The bouncing process is not yet complete even for this one poll because much of the poll was taken before President Bush's speech on Thursday night.
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Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose: Waist Deep In The Big Nuancey

Things are really bad for John Kerry when even his own campaign spokespeople and the most slavish of his media apologists at the Associated Press can't keep his ever-changing-and-nuance-rotted stories straight:

The Associated Press, in an article today headlined Bush Glosses Over Complex Facts in Speech:

[President Bush] attacked Kerry for voting against an $87 billion package for Iraq and Afghanistan operations that included money for extra sets of body armor and other supplies, mocking his opponent for saying the issue was complicated. "There's nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat," Bush said. But the bill in question was not solely about supporting troops and Kerry's campaign said he ultimately voted against it because, among other reasons, it included no-bid contracts for companies.

But, as noted here in a previous post, the Los Angeles Times has reported that Senator Kerry gave quite different reasons for voting against that $87 billion - he actually said he was holding the troops in Iraq hostage to his tax agenda:

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."

Got that? The candidate even explains that "I said very clearly ...." So why can't his campaign and apologists figure out what Senator Kerry says "very clearly?"
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The New York Times v. The New York Stock Exchange? II

OOPS! Looks like the equities markets beat out the write-it-and-they-will-come effort at the Times - which has purged last night's hilariously tendentious front page "report" on something that hadn't happened and never would happen, Jobless Figures on Friday Could Emphasize Bush's Big Weakness, in favor of today's sober U.S. Economy Added 144,000 Jobs in August from Reuters. It's as though Mr. Stevenson, the author of yesterday's analysis of a mythical gloomy jobs report that never happened, just used up all his energy on last night's creative writing project - and therefore just had to leave the reporting of the actual job numbers that were released a few hours later to the Reuters "news" service. One empathizes with this hard and late scribing spinner-without-a-story. One feels his pain!

That much over reported and analysed preliminary 32,000 July payroll employment gain has now been revised upward to a modest but respectable 73,000. Most importantly, the unemployment rate - the real unemployment rate, the one with the historical correlation to political effects - fell to 5.4 percent. Bill Clinton entered the year 1996 with the exact same unemployment rate George W. Bush entered 2004 with — 5.6 percent, and Clinton was reelected in November 1996 with a 5.4-percent unemployment rate. That means the Democrats and Herr Doktorprofessor Paul Von Krugman will have to work overtime to "explain" why the voting public shouldn't focus on the unemp-loyment rate, but on some ad hoc measure of employment or economic well being of their construction - such as the Kerry-Edwards ludicrous and pseudo-scientific "middle class misery index."

One should also expect these jobs numbers to add substantially to the Republican post-Convention "bounce."

Here's today's story from the Senate Joint Economic Committee (JEC):

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced today that 144,000 new payroll jobs were created during the month of August. According to the household survey, which is used to calculate the unemployment rate, employment increased by 21,000 and unemployment fell by 174,000. The unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent. Payroll employment gains for July and June were also revised upward by a total of 59,000. Manufacturing added 22,000 payroll jobs in August. Over the past year, nearly 1.7 million new payroll jobs have been created; over 1.4 million new payroll jobs have been created thus far in 2004.


144,000 new payroll jobs were created in August. Since August 2003, nearly 1.7 million new payroll jobs have been created.

Manufacturing added 22,000 new payroll jobs in August. 97,000 new manufacturing payroll jobs have been created in 2004.

The unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent, well below its recent peak of 6.3 percent last June, and below the average unemployment rates of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

Payroll employment gains for July and June were revised upwards. July payroll employment gains were revised upward to 73,000 from 32,000, and June gains were revised upward to 96,000 from 78,000.

Payroll jobs gains over the past year have been broad-based, with 9 out of 10 major private sector industries adding new jobs since August 2003.


1.7 Million New Jobs Since August 2003

Unemployment Rate Declining

How Many New Jobs?

UPDATE: The Times now has its own story, which has replaced the Reuter's weeper. But poor Mr. Stevenson didn't get to write it. Perhaps he was up too late last night writing that story about a mythical gloomy jobs report never happened - or maybe he's just too traumatised by the implications of the actual report.

FURTHER UPDATE: Mr. Stevenson is back! His new article is essentially his old article turned inside out: Job Figures Help President Promote Economic Record.

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Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Importance Of Being Bouncy III

Dick Morris is on Fox News predicting that Bush-Cheney will recieve a post-Convention bounce of 8% to 10%.

That sounds at least plausible at this point.

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Pathetic .... And Bound To Lose: Flip-Flopping At Midnight, Or Kerry v. Kerry Again

John Kerry, 9-2-2004:

I'm not going to have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have...

John Kerry, 2-27-1992

Kelley Benander, a spokeswoman for Kerry’s campaign, responded to the charges by saying: “John Kerry has always said military experience is not a pre-requisite for the presidency ....

On Feb. 27, 1992, Kerry defended then presidential candidate Bill Clinton against an attack by his Democratic rival Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.). As the primary season unfolded, Kerrey, who lost part of his leg in Vietnam, had peppered Clinton with uncomfortable questions about whether the Arkansan had evaded the draft.

Kerry hit back at his Senate colleague, saying: "I am saddened by the fact that Vietnam has yet again been inserted into the campaign, and that it has been inserted in what I feel to be the worst possible way. . . . What saddens me most is that Democrats, above all those who shared the agonies of that generation, should now be re-fighting the many conflicts of Vietnam in order to win the current political conflict of a presidential primary."

Could Senator Kerry get any more pathetic than attempting to meet criticisms of his post-Vietnam record with by misrepresenting those criticisms as attacks on his patriotism and simultaneously feeds the Bush-Cheney criticism of the Senator's record as largely flip-flopping by, well, flip-flopping on whether a President needs to have military service in his (or her?!) resume.

By the way, how many Democratic women office holders have been ever in the military?
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The New York Times v. The New York Stock Exchange?

The New York Times:

Economists do not expect the employment report tomorrow to show terribly strong growth in jobs. With economic statistics over the last month suggesting that the recovery has slowed or even faltered, Mr. Bush is heading into the final two months of the campaign vulnerable to any further bad economic news, especially in swing states like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where employment losses have hit hard.
The Associated Press:

Stocks strode higher in a late-session buying surge Thursday, as oil prices stepped back from their highs and investors shrugged off mixed economic data, focusing with renewed optimism on the government's upcoming jobs report. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped more than 120 points.

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Couric & Streep v. Washington

Katie Couric's interview of Academy Award winners Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep and Jonathan Demme hasn't received proper attention in its original form, which shows a very interesting, gutsy and substantial side of Mr. Washington (an elaborated version is circulating on the internet, but the original packs lots of whallop without any need of elaboration):

Couric: "I know you were there. And in fact, I read your quote. You said -- you talked about President Bush and his invocation of religion and you said—"

Streep: "No, of Jesus."

Couric: "Of Jesus, sorry. ‘Through the shock and awe, I wondered which of the megaton bombs Jesus, our president's personal savior, would have personally dropped on the sleeping families in Baghdad.’"

Streep: "It was a question about when you put Jesus on the campaign bus to stump for you, you have to really listen to what he says, because he says, ‘If a man smite thee on the cheek, let you turn the other that he may smite it also.’ And he says, ‘He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.’ And he says, ‘Love thine enemy.’ Jesus could have raised an army against the people that persecuted him. He didn't. So that's what I was pointing out in my speech, and I couldn't really imagine Jesus, like I couldn't imagine how Jesus would vote. Jesus was the Prince of Peace. Would the Prince of Peace vote for a war President?"

Washington: "And it's open to interpretation. Jesus also went into the temple and kicked everybody out."

Streep: "That's kicking the money-changers out of the temple."

Washington: "Well, you're right. So—"

Streep: "The money-changers should get out of Congress, I agree. And I agree, but he didn't—"

Washington: "He didn't. He didn't only say turn the other cheek though. You’ve got to read the whole book. That's not what all he said."

Streep: "Oh, I do read the whole book."

Washington: "I do too. And that's not all he said."

Streep: "What does he say that said 'pick up a stick and kill somebody?'"

Washington: "Like I said, he did go into the temple and cleared the place well—"

Streep: "Of money, yeah."

Washington: "Okay, well, we're all—"

Streep: "Money's bad."

Washington: "We all make money. So does that make us bad? Maybe he's talking about us?"

Streep: "Well, yeah, maybe."

While the New Testament might have been an unexpected and volatile sidebar, politics proved equally incendiary for Denzel.

Couric: "Denzel, are you-- do you feel-- you know some people say Hollywood folks should stick to acting."

Washington: "I don't know what Hollywood folks are, first of all. Hollywood is a town that has some stars on the sidewalk. I don't know anybody from there. So, I don't-- that's like saying-- calling you a type of folks. I'm not a Hollywood folk. I don't know who they are."

Couric: "Okay, all right, well, let me rephrase the question. Are you one of those people that—"

Washington: "Ah, there you go. Am I one of those people? Hmmm, isn't that interesting?"

Couric: "Oh, stop, stop, stop."

Washington: "No, don't stop. I heard what you just said. "Am I one of those people?" No, I'm not."

Couric: "No, are you an actor who would rather not—"

Washington: "No, I'm not that either. I'm a human being. My job is acting."

Couric: "Okay, are you somebody who would rather not express his political views publicly? I mean how do you feel about that? Some people are more outspoken than others. And what I meant, are you one of the people who would rather keep it private? Don't make my questions loaded when they're not."

Washington: "Would I rather keep it private? No, I'm not one of those people. I think I speak what's on my mind."

Couric: "And how do you feel about the current political situation?"

Washington: "You know, I haven't seen ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ because I live in America. I grew up here. I'm an ex-slave. I'm a result of what this country can do. So it's nothing knew to me. I'm not surprised at all. It's just business as usual. What I want to talk about is, what are we doing right now, today, for these young kids that are coming home? Are we embracing them? I don't hear about them being lifted up. I mean, I'm not just talking about a parade but—"

Couric: "Are they getting the support they need."

Washington: "Are they getting the support and love they need from us? And maybe that story's being told, but I sure haven't seen it that much in the news. Yeah, they're pointing fingers about who was right and whose wrong and who started what and where the weapons of mass destruction. But these kids are coming home."

Streep: "Uh-huh."

Washington: "You know, I have a son, 19, 19-year-olds are coming home completely different."
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The Importance Of Being Bouncy II

Democrats and media representatives, just keep chanting your mantra:

There can be no Republican convention bounce, because there are almost no persuadable voters.

There can be no Republican convention bounce, because there are almost no persuadable voters.

There can be no Republican convention bounce, because there are almost no persuadable voters.

There can be no Republican convention bounce, because there are almost no persuadable voters.

And, gee, I wonder how the Hispanic voters are bouncing today after the Governor Schwarzenegger they are so fond of here in California gave that wonderful Convention riff?

Why would the Democratic Convention be bounceless but maybe not the Republican Convention? Well, in addition to everything else, maybe it matters that more people care to watch the Republicans, as the Wall Street Journal notes:

The Zogby Interactive poll finds that Americans are tuning into the Republican convention more so than they did to the Democratic convention. In the poll, 65% said they have watched some coverage of the convention; at the same point in the Boston convention, 56% said they had tuned in. This time, just 7.3% said they have no plans to watch any of the remaining coverage, while 26% answered that way during the Democratic convention.
And, you, Tom Daschle, keep on hugging!

I know that 50%-48% poll is only a paper moon with a 4.5% MoE, and put out by Republican outfit, to boot. So at this point the question mark in "The Start Of The Final, Dying Fall?" has to stay where it is. But isn't it remarkable that Tom Daschle has a tie on his hands? With all his time in the Senate and all his opportunities to bring home the bacon to little South Dakota, he should be cruising in the stratosphere.

Tom Daschle may well lose in the flotsam of Kerry's hideous South Dakota wake. The state's voters are famously "pragmatic," and hanging Daschle out the window every six years does focus the Senator's mind on the federal agricultural pork he has in the past used to molify much of his electorate.

But many of the anti-Bush positions Senator Daschle has been forced to take as Senate Minority Leader have drawn a lot of unfavorable attention in South Dakota - so the "pragmatism" has more to overcome this time. And now GOP control of the both Senate and the House seems secure and if Mr. Daschle is reelected the entire South Dakota Congressional delegation will be in the minority. That wouldn't be very "pragmatic," would it?

Poor Tom Daschle! Someone one said that "pragmatism" is like a warm bath with the hot water left running - at first it's comfortable but at some point one can't quite define the bather wants to scream. Tom Daschle must be trying to identify that point right now.

If the country as a whole is already Convention-bouncing like this, I'll bet that the bounce in SD is enough to send TD right over Mt. Rushmore on the rebound. Yep, looks like they're already getting a lot of Kerry-Edwards flotsam in South Dakota to me.

MORE: Another Rasmussen index bounces:

Thursday September 02, 2004--Fifty-four percent (54%) of American voters say they approve of the way George W. Bush is performing his role as President. Forty-six percent (46%)disapprove. The 54% Approval rating is the highest for the President since April 26.

On August 30 the President's approval rating in the Rasmussen survey was 51%.


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Wednesday, September 01, 2004

About That 97.5%

The Presidential election is 97.5% about the domestic economy, at least according to Yale Professor Ray Fair.

Don Luskin ably explains why, despite all the media and Democratic efforts to obscure the basic economic realities, that 97.5% is not going the Kerry-Edwards way.
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Daschle Descending: The Start Of The Final, Dying Fall?

Thune takes the lead in a Public Opinion Strategies (R) poll, conducted 8/24-26 for the NRSC, of likely voters: 50% Thune to 48% Daschle.

Mr. Bush took South Dakota in 2000 by 22% over Al Gore, and, according to a Zogby International poll taken on May 19-20, George W. Bush led John Kerry in South Dakota by 50% to 35% among likely voters.

No wonder Tom Daschle is hugging Mr. Bush.
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Blathering Points Memo

Josh Marshall is angry at panicked Democrats and for good measure shares his ire at the old 2000 Gore campaign:

I remember a [Gore 2000] campaign that was far too sensitive to the spin and CW of the moment and thus capable of being buffeted by the smallest political squall. This, rather than any particular tactic or strategy, has always struck me as its greatest failing.

The Bush 2000 campaign was wholly different. They had many reverses. But there was never any serious question that a Rove or a Hughes would get canned. And if there was, the campaign sent out a clear signal that it would never happen. On many levels they were more disciplined.

That difference made a big difference in consistency of strategy and morale among the troops.

If you're a regular reader of this column, you'll know I've been very critical of the rapid-response from the Kerry campaign wherever it may have gone to) as well as their seeming disinclination to go on the offensive and stay there.

May I translate this Libnewspeak diatribe into English? Something like this, perhaps:

I remember a [Gore 2000] campaign that flip-flopped on the important points far too much. This, rather than any particular tactic or strategy, has always struck me as its greatest failing.

The Bush 2000 campaign was wholly different. They had many reverses. But there was never any serious question where George Bush and his campaign stood. That characteristic of Mr. Bush and his people is a big advantage, even though we Democrats keep tying ourselves in knots arguing that the President is just "inflexibile" and therefore weak. On many levels Bush and the people he surrounds himself with were - and are - more disciplined than the corresponding Democrats.

That difference made a big difference in consistency of strategy and morale among the campaign troops - and when Mr. Bush is reelected that difference will also make a big difference in consistency of strategy and morale among the troops in the American military and among the populace generally.

If you're a regular reader of this column, you'll know I've been absolutely frustrated with the Kerry campaign's flip flopping for pretty much the same reasons those Bush-Cheney campaign ads say everyone should be absolutely frustrated with John Kerry's clear disinclination to go on the offensive and stay there on many critical issues.

Ah, Josh, we hardly knew ya!

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Let's Hear It For The Girls, Let's Give The Girls A Hand

Last night, Jenna and Barbara Bush, the president's 22-year-old twin daughters, joked and said they were not very political but couldn't sit out their father's final campaign - and they have caught a lot of hell for it. Real Clear Politics - which is usually excellent - positively huffs:

The Bush twins were a disaster. I just don't know how to put it any other way. After the first couple of jokes I winced. After a couple of more I was begging them to stop. They didn't.

The litany of jokes they told were, in my opinion, both juvenile and inappropriate. Even worse, the twins reflected badly on the President, reinforcing the worst possible stereotype of the ditsy, slacker daughters of a C-student fratboy from Yale. My jaw literally hit the floor when Jenna Bush said: 'Since we've graduated from college, we're looking around for something to do for the next few years. Kind of like Dad.'

I'm sorry, but whoever wrote that line should be dragged to the guillotine at noon today. . . .

Amy Sullivan positively seethes from the pages of the Washington Monthly:

Bill Kristol: 'The last half hour did not help, as far as I can tell, Bush's campaign for reelection.'

Mort Kondracke: 'Those two girls were ditzes. I'm surprised they were allowed on the program.'

Fred Barnes: 'I think she [Laura] had no place up there or the daughters either. . . . Their mother said they'll be pursuing their own careers. I would advise them to look in some field other than comedy.'

Now I don't think that anyone -- anyone -- casts their vote based on the family of the candidate. And that goes for people who really don't like Teresa, too. But it's gotta be pretty bad when the message discipline breaks down like this at Fox News.

Although he doesn't personally criticize the twins, Howard Kurtz is happy to carry the water for the dousing.

With all due respect for such worthies as Ms. Sullivan and Messrs. Bevan, Kristol, Barnes, Kondracke and Kurtz, their comments seem to me to be as completely off base as the early pundit praise of John Kerry's ludicrously inept and ineffective acceptance speech. Maybe I just have a weakness for two highly attractive young women who obviously genuinely love their dad, but I thought the twins accomplished their likely mission quite well.

What was that likely mission? They were supposed to be not to the liking of those such as Ms. Sullivan and Messrs. Bevan, Kristol, Barnes, Kondracke and Kurtz. The twins were supposed to show that young people of good heart have a place in the Republican Party even if they are given bad material to read and don't follow the script, anyway.

Why on earth would the Bush-Cheney campaign want such a thing? After all, in Boston John Kerry's daughters Alexandra and Vanessa had been much more polished - one might say, Stepfordized, like all of the Democratic delegates. Maybe the plasticized personalities evidenced by Alexandra and Vanessa there have something to do with their receiving boos outweighing anything close to cheers at the annual MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS, with the reaction turning worse when the Kerry daughters asked the VIACOM youth to vote for their father.

In other words, maybe what the Kerry daughters did and was done with them is a campaign's nightmare.

Kerry supporter Andrew Sullivan is shocked - shocked - to see interest group politics rearing a Republican head:

How to convey the spectacular incoherence of last night's continuing infomercial for the re-election of George W. Bush? ... The speakers were designed to target certain demographic and interest groups, just as the Democrats used to. The notion that these things are best left to the private sector, or that spending needs to be slashed in the wake of rising debt, or that the race of a speaker is irrelevant: all these are now Republican heterodoxy.

Mr. Sullivan is exactly right on one point: the various speakers at the Republican convention are there not to show the world that the Republican Party agrees with - or approves of - everything the speaker believes or says, but that there is room to welcome into the Republican Party people who believe or say such things.

And I can't think of anything more constructive than telling the world that the Republican Party is wide open to young women - even somewhat awkward, unpolished, genuine, fun, young women of good heart - especially when they don't perform like Stepford daughters.

Put aside all the pundit huffing. Does the reader think it would be fun to spend some time with those two young women? - you know, really fun, maybe even the kind of fun that makes you glad to be alive? Or maybe the reader prefers to spend time with goody-two-shoes types who are always on the best behavior?

Are goody-two-shoe types more likely to get booed at MTV events?
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United States Stamps Honoring Slobodan Milosevic ...

... and many other strange but "unobjectionable" people! It's true, and the Postal Service will let you create your own!

Here's the whole story from the Smoking Gun.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Importance Of Being Bouncy

O, that post-Convention bounce. Every candidate wants it. Most get it; Kerry-Edwards didn't get much, maybe none, maybe negative.

The mainstream media - sometimes speaking through the avatar of Larry Sabato - is eager to tell us that the reason Kerry-Edwards got no meaningful bounce is that infamous dearth of persuadable voters, that consequence of the almost completely early-polarized electorate in which almost every voter has already made up his or her mind. And that's that. See, the media says, there are just no voters left for anyone to bounce off - and that means you, too, Mr. Bush. So don't get any ideas. And, of course, much of the media is also eager to tell us that post-Convention bounce all goes away, anyway. So it really doesn't matter that Kerry-Edwards got little ... or none .. or negative. Nor will the media let us forget that most undecided voters swing against the incumbent, since the first thing a voter does is to decide if he or she likes the incumbent, with whom the voter is already familiar, anyway.

Except that what the media is saying is all wrong. Worse for the Kerry-Edwards prospects, much of the media optimism for the Democratic ticket is based on exactly such errors.

Yes, post-convention bounce always goes away, except when it doesn't - as happened with Bill Clinton's 1992 huge and mostly permanent bounce. But even in election years less exceptional than 1992, bounce matters a lot. The importance of bounce is that it demonstrates how (or whether) a candidate can move voters under the best conditions, when almost all media attention is focused on one candidate and that candidate's message. If a candidate can't move more voters under such conditions, that's very bad news for that candidate's chances of moving voters under the less favorable conditions of the general campaign. Kerry-Edwards is there.

And, yes, most undecided voters swing against the incumbent - if they are still undecided towards the end of the campaign. But this campaign is just beginning - not ending - so the "swing voter" rule is simply not applicable at this point in the campaign.

To get an idea of how badly deluded the media coverage has been, consider Hispanic voters - arguably the most generally misunderstood group of voters in the country, if they can even be meaningfully called a "group." For example, the Washington Post recently reported on a poll that found that Kerry claimed support from 60 percent of all Latino registered voters in the 11 states surveyed while Bush had 30 percent. The Post chipped in this bit of analysis:

The findings suggest that, at this point in the campaign, Bush is falling short of his goal of notably improving on the 35 percent share of the Hispanic vote he received four years ago, although his advisers said they believe he is still on track to do so.

Are the President's advisers really this out of touch? Do the Post's findings suggest that the President really falling short on his goal of notably improving on his share of the Hispanic vote? Well, no - on all counts. One might start by pointing out that the Post is using the old "registered/likely" voter trick. The Post poll is among registered voters - and Hispanic voters have historically had a turnout rate of about 40%. And, historically, Hispanic voters who do vote tend to vote a good deal more Republican than what is seen in polls of registered Hispanic voters. The Post knows all that - but doesn't mention any of it.

But it gets worse. The Post article doesn't even mention post-Convention bounce, but the analysis implicitly assumes that Mr. Bush will receive much less post Convention bounce among Hispanic voters than he did in 2000. That's because the Post is comparing pre-Convention 2004 poll numbers with actual 2000 election results.

The picture changes quite a bit if we compare pre-2004-Convention poll numbers with pre-2000-Convention poll numbers. This Hispanic Trends Polling Report examined the effect of the 2000 Republican Convention on Hispanic voters. Hispanic Trends found that Mr. Bush entered his 2000 Convention with the support of just 24% of registered Hispanic voters and came out of it with a modest bounce among such voters to 28%. In other words, Mr. Bush enters his 2004 convention with six percentage points more support in the Post poll from registered Hispanic voters than what was recorded in 2000 Hispanic Trends poll. Even keeping in mind possibly differing poll methodologies, in light of the Hispanic Trends data, the Post survey suggests that the President has made lots of headway towards his goal of notably improving on his share of the Hispanic vote since 2000.

But the Hispanic story gets even worse for the Democrats: Al Gore's support fell 12% - from 58% to 46% - during the 2000 Republican convention. Here are some other effects Hispanic Trends found that the 2000 Republican Convention had on Hispanic voters:

The GOP's Convention succeeded in convincing a significant percentage of Hispanic registered voters nationally to give its presidential nominee, George W. Bush, a second look. 24% of all Latino voters told our interviewers that they are now undecided about the upcoming election. In contrast - 13% and 16% were undecided in our May and July (pre-convention) polls respectively. The large majority of Hispanic voters that moved from the Gore column to the undecided column are Mexican-Americans.

* The positive impact of the Philadelphia event on Hispanic voters becomes even more evident when we analyze those voters that watched at least some of the Republican Convention (65% of all Latino voters). Gore's lead over Bush among this group is only 8 points (41%-33%). In contrast, the Democratic nominee leads his Republican counterpart by 34 points (53%-19%) among those that did not watch the convention at all. There is little doubt that the Republican strategy of communicating messages of "compassionate conservatism" and of "minority inclusion" worked extremely well with the Latino electorate.

* George W. Bush made important gains among foreign-born Hispanics who became citizens and voters before 1995. The Republican nominee now leads among these voters - most of whom became politically active during the Reagan-Bush years- by 42% to 38%. Bush trailed among these voters in our May poll by 12 points. He also is continuing to increase his support among Cuban-American voters, among whom he leads 75% - 7% .

* Al Gore's most loyal constituencies in the Latino electorate are now Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Central Americans and South Americans. He leads among these voters by over 40 points (61%-18%). But the Republican Convention hurt him significantly with the group that up until now had been his most loyal Hispanic constituency - "new immigrants". These voters - who became citizens in the aftermath of former California Governor Pete Wilson's anti-immigrant campaign - are one of the most important reasons why California was considered "not-in-play" before Philadelphia. In our pre-convention survey, Gore led among this group by 46 points (67%-21%). Our post-convention study indicates that his lead among "new immigrants" has been cut in more than half to 17 points (45%-28%). Is California "back-in-play"?

Do you think maybe the 2000 Convention effects are part of the reason why the President's advisers aren't agreeing with the Post? But, see, the media is telling us that none of that 2000 stuff matters now - because there are just no voters left for anyone to bounce off - and that means you, too, Mr. Bush. So don't get any ideas. And, of course, that post-Convention bounce all goes away, anyway. Except that Mr. Bush's 2000 Hispanic bounce didn't go away. It got bigger. In fact, Mr. Bush's support grew from 28% support among registered Hispanic voters right out of his 2000 Convention to 35% support among actual Hispanic voters on election day. The Post poll suggests that he will do considerably better than that in November.


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Monday, August 30, 2004

Now, Remind Me Exactly Who It Was That The Democrats Nominated In Boston

Click here to see the President duke it out with the Democrats' most significant spokesman!

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