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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Fred Thompson, on Surrender and Entitlements, at the VFW



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Fred Thompson before the VFW:

Yet even before General Petreaus, who is universally respected, has an opportunity to give his report, Congress furiously debates the terms of our surrender instead of how we might achieve success. They remind me of the scene from Iwo Jima where a group of men were struggling to plant the flag. However, this time it’s not the American flag, it’s the white flag.

That line might have packed a bit more punch before the Democrats returning from Iraq started acknowledging the success of the surge… In addition to that roundhouse swing at Congress, he had these hints of entitlement reform…

Our country was not prepared for our current situation. We took a holiday from history in the 90’s. We cut our military, our procurement and our research and development. Now our military is stretched too thin. We are wearing out our equipment. Our intelligence capabilities are inadequate.

To reverse this situation we must reassess our national priorities and face the truth about what it will take to defend this country.

Demographics and increasing medical costs are going to cause the growth of our entitlement programs to squeeze out discretionary spending, including our defense budget. America is going to have to come together for an honest bipartisan discussion about this. Because anyone who honestly looks at the situation knows that the current trend cannot be sustained. So remember when we’re talking about fiscal policy we’re also talking about the military and national defense.

 

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Salon Still Refuses To Acknowledge Giuliani Spent Time at Ground Zero Before September 17, 2001



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Before an axe-grinding hack like Joan Walsh comes after me, she ought to get her facts straight.

Salon’s article asserts, “By his own standard, Giuliani was one of the Yankees more than he was one of the rescue workers,” but that’s just flat wrong, as their calculation assumes that Giuliani spent 0 hours at Ground Zero before September 17. That’s laughable, and anyone trying to come anything resembling a fair comparison would have tried to at least assign some amount of time to represent that in their calculations.

My calculation of three hours a day for six days may be completely off (I think it’s probably underestimating the time Giuliani spent there that first week) but at least it’s a non-zero value to an amount that she, reporter Alex Koppelman and I know is not zero. They lopped off the days that where the amount of time Giuliani spent there almost certainly was longest, and when the health risk was probably most significant, because A) the New York Times couldn’t find it and B) it doesn’t enhance the point Salon wanted to make.

Second, I contend including Rudy’s travel time to the World Series games is “goosing” his Yankee-watching total by 22 hours. If you’re going to count travel time, why not count his travel time to and from Ground Zero? I realize that amount probably amounts to only a few minutes each way each time, but the point is that Salon used different standards in measuring time in each category – travel time is counted in the amount they want to look high (Yankee-related activities) but not for the amount they want to look low (exposure to Ground Zero health risks). Any fair comparison would use the same standard. You would think somewhere among Walsh’s sneers at Jonah “typically” missing the point, she would address these objections, but I guess when there’s no justification, it’s easier to attack the messenger.

It’s very dramatic to say, as Salon states, “Giuliani spent about 58 hours at Yankees games or flying to them in the 40 days between Sept. 25 and Nov. 4, roughly twice as long as he spent at ground zero in the 90 days between Sept. 17 and Dec. 16.”

 

It’s much less dramatic to say the actual facts: “Giuliani spent 36 hours in attendance at Yankee games in the fall of 2001 and 29 hours at Ground Zero between Sept. 17 and Dec. 16, in addition to an undetermined amount of time during the first six days after the attacks.”

She also writes, “Geraghty claimed the mayor of 9/11 only took one round-trip plane ride to Arizona for the last two 2001 World Series games.” No. Check the link. I wrote “As I understand it, it was one trip for two games.” I try to be modest about assumptions, and when I make them, I make sure to include qualifiers. When reporter Koppelman e-mailed me to clarify that it was two separate trips, updated the post. It’s a shame the staff at Salon does’t have the same standards, as they have done nothing to update their report to clarify that by not counting the first six days, they’ve dramatically underrepresented the amount of time Giuliani spent at Ground Zero.

I’ll let the readers decide who to trust.

UPDATE: The unhinged Ms. Walsh responds again, insisting that she and the original report did acknowledge the fact that they didn’t include the first six days. They indeed say, “between Sept. 17 and Dec. 16,” but they still refuse to credit Rudy for any amount of time spent at Ground Zero in those first six days. The side-column blurb for her column says, “our reporting that Rudy Giuliani spent twice as much time going to Yankees games as at ground zero after 9/11.” If you mean “after 9/11,” then count Rudy’s total starting after 9/11, not 9/17.

In her original post jabbing at NRO, she writes, “was at ground zero (29 hours, according to the New York Times) in the months after 9/11.” No, in the months after 9/17. There’s a difference, Ms. Walsh. 

The original article still doesn’t acknowledge that including the amount of time Rudy spent in the first six days would have significantly changed their total.

Why, oh why, won’t Salon admit that they should have counted those first six days if they wanted to get an honest total? Why do they consider snickering that I don’t have an intern as some sort of substantive response?

I have no interest in going any further with this pissing match with somebody who won’t admit a mistake; I’m reminded of that old saying about never getting into a bar fight with an ugly man because he doesn’t have enough to lose. I’ll close by pointing to this YouTube video of a short excerpt from the HBO documentary 9 Innings From Ground Zero, which I think illustrates the inanity of criticizing Giuliani for attending Yankees games. An unidentified but delightfully New York-accented speaker describes what the games meant to the city and to the country:

“At that moment, everybody there was there for baseball and to show the world that in spite of what can happen to us, we will pull ourselves together, and what is our life and our way of life will continue.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

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Don’t Let The Facts Get In The Way of a Good Accusation



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John Aravosis is a very pleasant guy when we’re off-camera before our irregular CNN appearances, but he’s completely out of left field in his post on Petraeus’ testimony, calling the general “a liar,” a “PR man,” “sickeningly career-obsessed” and accusing him of choosing “September 11 as a publicity stunt.”

Look, Ramesh reported that the Democrats picked the date, and the Washington Post confirmed that Congressional Democrats are calling it “simply a scheduling coincidence.” If Harry Reid and Carl Levin wanted a different date, it would be a different date. Lefty bloggers who are up in arms about the date should take it up with the Democratic Congressional leadership instead of blaming Petraeus.

UPDATE: By the way, the overheated rhetoric, damning Petraeus before he speaks, tends to ignore bits of news like this:

Like many other Republicans, LoBiondo said he awaits a report due from Petraeus next month before deciding on a stand about the future of U.S. involvement.

While in Baghdad, LoBiondo said he asked Petraeus about fears the White House would “scrub” the report clean of unwelcome news.

“He looked right in my eyes and said, “I will resign before I allow that to happen,’” LoBiondo said. “I felt a sense of relief.”

But I guess if you’ve concluded Petraeus is a liar about Iraq, I guess you’ll have no problem concluding he would lie about resisting a “scrub.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Rumbling, Stumbling, Bumbling His Way To The Top Tier



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Over on the home page, I contemplate the mystery that is Bill Richardson’s rising poll numbers.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Rudy vs. Fred on the Federalist Approach to Guns



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What an odd and direct early shot from Fred Thompson on Rudy Giuliani:

Anybody who knows me knows I’ve always cared deeply about the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. So I’ve always felt sort of relieved when I flew back home to where that particular civil liberty gets as much respect as the rest of the Bill of Rights.

Unfortunately, New York is trying, again, to force its ways on the rest of us, this time through the courts. First, they went after U.S. gun manufacturers, seeking through a lawsuit not only money but injunctive control over the entire industry. An act of congress in 2005 blocked, but did not end, that effort.

Now, the same activist federal judge from Brooklyn who provided Mayor Giuliani’s administration with the legal ruling it sought to sue gun makers, has done it again. Last week, he created a bizarre justification to allow New York City to sue out-of-state gun stores that sold guns that somehow ended up in criminal hands in the Big Apple. 

The Rudy team’s response:

“Those who live in New York in the real world – not on TV – know that Rudy Giuliani’s record of making the city safe for families speaks for itself.  No amount of political theater will change that.”

Katie Levinson, Giuliani Communications Director

Thompson’s argument that Giuliani is insufficiently federalist is a bit ironic, because just a short while ago, Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times was dubbing Giuliani “the federalist candidate.”

In an interview last week, Giuliani said the key to resolving cultural arguments “where our society on a national level ends up being very divided” is to apply the “principle of federalism.” Questions on topics such as gun control, gay rights or aspects of abortion, he continued, “are issues that I think the founding fathers would say should be consigned to state and local governments, experimenting, deciding, having different views, and the federal government having a more limited role.”

That perspective leads Giuliani toward positions uncomfortable for both left and right. As mayor, for instance, Giuliani supported President Clinton’s nationwide ban on semi-automatic assault weapons. But President Bush allowed that ban to lapse, and now Giuliani (in a view many gun-control advocates consider impractical) says decisions on whether to ban such weapons should be made “on a state-by-state, almost city-by-city basis.”

As Ramesh noted, Giuliani certainly doesn’t fit the description of a down-the-line federalist, and even on this issue, there are odd wrinkles: “He used to be for licensure of gun owners, but now says that he favors Judge Silberman’s ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own guns. So does he think that states should have to respect that right? If he favors a state-by-state approach, that can reasonably be called federalist—but it would leave him in the odd position, for a Republican, of treating the Second Amendment as the only provision of the Bill of Rights that shouldn’t be enforced against the states.

The NRA noted and presumably applauded Ramesh’s point. (I should also note that based on my interactions with NRA members, they do not find federalism an acceptable compromise; they believe that the Second Amendment rights are not optional depending on who your local officials are.)

It’s an odd defense from the Giuliani folks, too. We knew at some point they were going to deploy an argument in the vein of, “Fred Thompson has made an acting career out of playing the kind of man that Rudy Giuliani is in real life.” Used it awfully early, I think. Also, we know Giuliani and Bloomberg don’t agree on a lot of topics, and aren’t on the best of terms - so why didn’t Rudy score some points with gun owners by criticizing Bloomberg?

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

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Accordingly, We Expect Much Less Discussion of Trans-Fats on the Campaign Trail



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I had spotlighted this earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again – Michael Bloomberg told Dan Rather he’s not running for President in 2008.

Thankfully, Rather is not citing any 1972 memos confirming the Bloomberg denial.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Obama Girl, Homewrecker



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AP:

Obama girl has upset Obama’s girls. The Web video of a scantily clad actress pledging her affection for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has been a hit online, but not in his own home. Obama says his 6-year-old daughter Sasha has noticed news coverage of the video.

“Sasha asked Mommy about it,” Obama said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press. “She said, ‘Daddy already has a wife’ or something like that.” …

“I guess it’s too much to ask, but you do wish people would think about what impact their actions have on kids and families,” Obama said during the interview, held in the den of a supporter who just had hosted a campaign stop on her front lawn attended by about 120 people.

“This is part of the process of politics that can be difficult, (that) is making sure that your kids and your wife and your family are insulated from both things like this and what I suspect will be at some point some negative campaigning,” Obama said.

My, that sounds like an awkward moment in the Obama household.

I don’t think many books on parenting include a chapter on “What To Do When Your Six-Year-Old Sees a Complete Stranger Singing Suggestively About You on the National News.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Hillary, and Her Thoughts on What, Exactly, ‘Is Working’



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Team Clinton is left to say that when Hillary told the VFW “it’s working,” she meant the surge in Anbar is working, not the surge in other parts of Iraq.

I don’t know if the audience caught the distinction (obviously the Associated Press didn’t catch the difference) and I don’t know if the anti-war crowd will be pleased with her acknowledging any success in any part of Iraq.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

If Only She Could Run Across Dr. Gregory House



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If Hillary Clinton says she doesn’t want to take control of the nation’s health care system… why is her web site touting her playing “Nurse for a Day”? Must… resist… Nurse Ratchet… reference… Photo

To Hillary’s credit, the patient looks very happy. Perhaps the senator authorized upping her morphine drip.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Salon’s Unfair, Inaccurate Shot at Giuliani



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Salon (annoying ad at link) takes an unfair shot at Rudy Giuliani, accusing him of spending more time watching the Yankees in fall 2001 than spending at Ground Zero.

“By our count, Giuliani spent about 58 hours at Yankees games or flying to them in the 40 days between Sept. 25 and Nov. 4, roughly twice as long as he spent at ground zero in the 90 days between Sept. 17 and Dec. 16.”

Right off the bat, we notice something unfair in their measuring stick; they’re including travel time to Arizona for two World Series games. According to Orbitz, the average travel time from New York, NY to Phoenix, AZ is 5 hours and 40 minutes. So for a round trip flight, that’s ten hours and twenty minutes. (As I understand it, it was one trip for two games two trips for two games*. And yes, I know the jet stream and weather can affect travel time, etc.)

Was it somehow indecent for Rudy to go to the World Series games? By late October and early November, the operations at Ground Zero were a recovery effort, not a rescue effort. Much of the nation had talked about the need for life to go on after the mourning, and the return of baseball was part of that.

Next question – why do we start counting at September 17? Because the Times writes, “A complete record of Mr. Giuliani’s exposure to the site is not available for the chaotic six days after the attack, when he was a frequent visitor.” Well, gee, do you think knowing the total amount of time in those first six days might affect the total number of hours spent at Ground Zero?

 

Can we assume Rudy spent three hours a day there those first six days? (I’m being deliberately cautious in undercounting – unless I’m remembering his autobiography incorrectly, Rudy spent much of the first 72 hours on site…)

 

So, just by this cautious calculation, the mayor’s time at ground zero is forty-seven hours, and his time actually attending Yankee games is forty-six hours and twenty minutes. Salon puts Giuliani’s in-stadium time at thirty-three hours, but admits they can’t be certain Giuliani didn’t leave early from any of them.

 

(And if the question is whether Giuliani spent enough time at the site to be exposed to pollutants, toxins, air particles, etc., wouldn’t those be worst in the first couple of days? Wouldn’t they have at least somewhat dispersed as time goes by?)

There’s another question left unexamined by the jab at Giuliani - just what could, or should, a mayor do on site during those times? Wasn’t the city management operating off-site? During those days, rescue and recovery efforts were digging into rubble. Wouldn’t the mayor be getting in the way? The Times article notes that many of Giuliani’s visits were escorting visiting officials and dignitaries through the site. Beyond that, what should the mayor be doing at the site?

Was it boneheaded for Rudy to say he spent more time at Ground Zero than many rescue workers? Sure. A lot of them put in twelve hour shifts; Rudy made many visits of an hour here, an hour and a half there. He shouldn’t have compared the two. But Salon, eager to jump on the dogpile, is no better for ignoring Rudy’s time in the first six days and blaming him for traveling to a Western city in November, long after the immediate crisis had passed.

* UPDATE: Alex Koppelman at Salon writes in, saying Giuliani took two trips to Arizona in two days. They point to an AP description: “four 2,500-mile plane rides at 5 1/2 hours each for a total of 10,000 miles and 22 hours in the air.”

He further clarifies, “The 58 hours number is made up of three separate numbers; it’s the 33 hours at post-season games, the 22 hours of travel in two trips to Arizona and the just under three hours (I believe it was 2:52, to be exact) that the Yankees first game back in New York after 9/11 lasted. It doesn’t count pre-game ceremonies, or the time he spent on the field and in the clubhouse afterwards.”

I appreciate his further details, but I think Salon’s counting of travel time in his “Yankee time” that is a bit unfair. If the Mets or Phillies had won the NLCS, Giuliani would have spent a lot less time getting to the game.

More than one reader has asked a question in the vein of, “Hey, do they start the clock when the tower came down on top of where he was that morning?” Another reader asked if his time spent going to funerals of 9/11 victims should count toward his total. Considering how the entire controversy was spurred by the question of Giuliani’s exposure to site-related health risks, I think not, but again, Salon’s hyperbolic attack suggests Rudy was more interested in the Yankees than Ground Zero, an unfair and ludicrous charge.

Another reader asked how many hours the junior Senator spent at the site. As much as I’d like to poke at Hillary over this, if we’re not sure whether the mayor would or could accomplish much on site, I’m not sure she would or could have accomplished much at the site, either.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

I’d Put The Chances of a Third Party Bid As Slim To Nunn



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Sam Nunn running for president as an independent?

I’m skeptical. Not only has he been out of office since January 1997, he’s really been out of the public eye. This smells like a way of getting a bit of attention for his causes in the interim.

By the way, bad news for those who don’t want Mike Bloomberg to run: Dan Rather said on Chris Matthews’ show this weekend that Bloomberg told him clearly that he was not going to run.

When Dan Rather agrees with me, I tend to reexamine my position…

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Hillary: The Surge Is Working



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The diehard antiwar lefties are up in arms about Hillary’s comments to the VFW that “the surge is working” and “we have to be prepared to fight the new war.” They think she’s talking about Iran, I guess. I’m skeptical, and I think they’re missing her complaint in the middle that the surge tactics should have been used years ago.

Today Barack Obama and Fred Thompson address the VFW.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Warner, Levin Declare “Measurable Results” From Surge, But Some Problems Remain



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Late last week, I wrote:

I know this is going to sound like pie-in-the-sky optimism, but I wonder if by the time General Petraeus makes his report, there will be something of a consensus on Capitol Hill – “we know that the surge has improved security for the Iraqi people and beat the hell out of al-Qaeda in Iraq. The question is, how do we get enough political stability so that we can hand this all off to the Iraqis and come home with honor?”

Today, Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan and Republican John Warner of Virginia have a joint statement on returning from their latest trip to Iraq. Important highlights:

We visited forward operating bases in Mosul and Baghdad. In these areas, as well as a number of others in Iraq, the military aspects of President Bush’s new strategy in Iraq, as articulated by him on January 10, 2007, appear to have produced some credible and positive results…

We have seen indications that the surge of additional brigades to Baghdad and its immediate vicinity and the revitalized counter-insurgency strategy being employed have produced tangible results in making several areas of the capital more secure. We are also encouraged by continuing positive results — in al Anbar Province, from the recent decisions of some of the Sunni tribes to turn against al Qaeda and cooperate with coalition force efforts to kill or capture its adherents. We remain concerned, however, that in the absence of overall “national” political reconciliation, we may be inadvertently helping to create another militia which will have to be dealt with in the future.

We note the continuing improvement in the ability and willingness of the Iraqi Army to conduct combat operations against the insurgents, but remain concerned about the lack of experience of some of its leadership and the lack of critical military capabilities needed before more of its units can operate independently. Chief among these are modern small arms, artillery, combat and lift aviation, explosive ordnance disposal, transportation assets, and engineer capability essential for force protection. Logistics capabilities are virtually non-existent and are a major hindrance to independent action.

 While we believe that the “surge” is having measurable results, and has provided a degree of “breathing space” for Iraqi politicians to make the political compromises which are essential for a political solution in Iraq, we are not optimistic about the prospects for those compromises. We were in Iraq both during the recent initial meeting of the Iraq Presidency Council, the Prime Minister and the President of the Kurdish region and during the immediately following expanded meeting, which were intended to reach political compromises. We would like to be optimistic that those meetings will lead to substantive progress, however — given the performance of the Iraqi political leadership to date — we remain extremely cautious in our expectations, as does our distinguished U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

The senators identified problems within the U.S. bureaucracy delivering military equipment for Iraqi forces, and concluded, “In all of our meetings we witnessed a great deal of apprehension regarding the capabilities of the current Iraqi government to shed its sectarian biases and act in a unifying manner.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Edwards: Is Cuba’s Health Care System Run By the Government?



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Wow. Hard to believe John Edwards isn’t gaining more traction:

ABC News’ Rick Klein Reports: When an Iowa resident asked former senator John Edwards Thursday whether the United States should follow the Cuban healthcare model, the 2004 vice presidential contender deflected the question by saying he didn’t know enough to answer the question.

“I’m going to be honest with you — I don’t know a lot about Cuba’s healthcare system,” Edwards, D-N.C., said at an event in Oskaloosa, Iowa. “Is it a government-run system?”

Ya think, Senator?

But just three days earlier, the candidate was asked a question about the Michael Moore documentary “Sicko” — which focuses extensively on the Cuban healthcare system.

As Willie Nelson’s classic “On the Road Again” blared, Edwards leaned out of a window of his campaign bus dubbed “Fighting for One America”, to hear an off-camera voice howl, “I wanted to ask ya, is it required that everyone go see “Fahrenheit 9/11″ and “Sicko”?

Edwards, in between autographs outside Dan’s Pizzeria in Onawa, Iowa, replies, “I watched Sicko,” later adding, “It’s a great movie.”

Hat tip, Captain Ed.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Michael Vick Pleads Guilty



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Not much of a presidential campaign angle here, other than John Kerry weighed in early on this… looks like Michael Vick has pled guilty. Details haven’t been released, but reportedly he’s looking at a year in jail.

You know who I feel bad for today? Atlanta Falcons fans. No, really. I know what it’s like to root for a team with a level of die-hard enthusiasm that makes normal people question your sanity. Now the franchise has been set back tremendously because they staked their future on a young man who preferred to spend the off-season… dog-fighting. Not only has their hero revealed himself to be a supremely twisted individual, but it will be a long time before the team’s image is separated from this awful, nightmarish scandal.

I can almost understand the guys who get in trouble with drugs, who get in trouble with booze, who get into fights in bars, or who run around with women. Young men, enormous amounts of money and fame, and little accountability is a formula for trouble. But the Falcons organization bet big on a man who preferred to blow off steam in the most socially unacceptable manner possible, one that makes the “usual” scandals look small-time.

If Michael Vick had been running Fight Clubs in his basement, even that wouldn’t have spurred this level of outrage, from the argument that at least human fighters have a choice in what they do.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Another Thompsonite Departs...



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Not long after the arrival of new press shop folks Linda Rozett and Jim Mills, spokeswoman Burson Snyder departs.

“I support Senator Thompson fully and plan to assist in any way I can in the future, but I plan to pursue a better professional fit,” Snyder tells Politico.

Sounds like somebody’s duties were changing…

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Chatting About the McCain Call, the Petraeus Report, the New Republic...



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At 3 p.m. Eastern, I’ll be on BlogTalkRadio with Captain Ed. The tone of the show is very much “unplugged,” so you’ve been warned…

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Anyone Else Think Petraeus Testifying on 9/11 Is a Bad Idea?



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Over at the Corner, NROniks say they, like McCain, have heard that General Petraeus will testify before the Senate on September 11, and that Congress requested the date, not the White House.

I was initially not offended by the thought of it occuring that day, but scheduling it for that date sounds like a sure-fire formula for accusations that the White House is “politicizing 9/11.” Even if it turns out Democratic congressional leaders scheduled it for that day, little facts like that barely amount to speedbumps on the sprint to Outrageland. Congressional Democrats accused Bush of politicizing the anniversary last year for daring to discuss Iraq in his speech that evening.

The progress report on Iraq is due Sept. 15. The thirteen and fourteenth are Rosh Hashana. That still leaves the 10th and 12th, which would be better dates, if you ask me.

In fact, if indeed the Democratic leadership of Congress scheduled Petraeus to testify that day, I cannot help but suspect that they indeed are trying to politicize the anniversary. The all-too-easy soundbites write themselves — “Today, six years after 9/11, we learn that we’re failing in Iraq and the Bush administration has made us no safer and blah blah blah.” Rather than think about the trigger that launched the war on terror, that set the chain of events in motion, they want to grill Petraeus. The hearing is important, but there are other dates; we’re all going to be thinking, remembering and mourning for much of that day.

I hope they move the testimony up or back a day. It just seems like forcing an unnecessary controversy into a day that’s full enough as is.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Does Rove Fear Obama? Or Does He Actually, You Know, Mean What He Says?



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Meet the Press, yesterday:

MR. GREGORY:  Do you really fear Barack Obama?  That’s why you’re spending all this time attacking Hillary Clinton?

 

MR. ROVE:  You know, I—you know, I read that in the LA Times this morning. Those, those guys really out in LA have got to get clued in.  I mean, come on.

Gregory, later:

MR. GREGORY:  John Harwood, back to politics and Karl Rove leading the charge, in some cases, against Hillary Clinton.  That was a very well-thought political attack on Hillary Clinton’s views in some of her past votes.  What about the fact that he wouldn’t talk about Barack Obama?  And some are speculating that just like in 2004 when they were building up John Kerry that the Republicans were—that’s what they want to do here, to run against Hillary Clinton.  

The Los Angeles Times:

Is Rove playing a similar game against Clinton? Is he trying to stampede Democrats into nominating her, having concluded that Obama, Edwards or someone else would pose a stiffer challenge to the Republican nominee?

The White House declined to make Rove available to comment for this article. But political strategists said Rove’s visibility suggested he had no intention of fading from the game in 2008.

You know, some folks aren’t so subtle about who they want the opposition to nominate…

Brilliant reverse psychology? Or did NR’s editors prefer a Democrat prone to “YEARRRGH”s?

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

Petraeus To Testify Before the Senate on September 11; McCain Launching ‘No Surrender Tour’



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Highlights from the McCain Campaign’s Conference Call:

 

Headline one: McCain says he has been told General Petraeus will be testifying before the Senate on September 11. (!?)

 

Headline two: McCain is going to launch the “No Surrender Tour” in the near future, featuring veterans, medal of honor winners, and those who have served in Iraq. The schedule should be set by Labor Day, and they’ll be blogging from the bus.

 

McCain was in Kansas City headed to speak Veterans of Foreign Wars.

 

McCain said he had been holding town hall meetings that are “going extremely well… crowded… Also in Beaufort couple other places. Health care seems to be on people’s minds as much any other domestic issue, and of course, as we would expect, Iraq dominates.”

 

“We all know we’re going to hear the report in September. I believe Democrats are going to propose a date for withdrawal. We’re going to get together a lot of our veterans, medal of honor winners, those who have served in Iraq, and we’re going to launch the “No Surrender Tour.” We’re going to try to build up support for this strategy, the anti-war people have been very active, so we’re going to try to organize not just for men and women serving, but the strategy. Believe me, I understand the frustration, sorrow, and sacrifices made… I would remind you I was one of the greatest critics of Rumsfeld and the previous failed strategy. This strategy will succeed.”

 

Jen Rubin: Democratic friends closed minds?

 

McCain: “I think that they’ve lost sight of the fact that presidents don’t lose wars, but nations lose wars.  McCain Cites congressman south Carolina who has said that success in the war would cause them problems (Clyburn),Reid declared the war was lost…  If we lost, then you want to know who won? Al-Qaeda, that’s who. Chuck Schumer has said, ‘we will pick up seats in the senate as a result of this war.’”

 

“I may be digging for the pony but I think we are seeing a shift in American public opinion. The successes on the ground are filtering through some parts of the media to the public, at least to some degree. If they’ve already declared the war is lost, I think they’re unlikely to allow the strategy to continue.”

 

In response to a question from Matt Lewis, McCain says he has not requested an outside audit of his campaign…

 

Joyner asks about political progress between the factions in Iraq…

 

McCain: “I can’t say I’m optimistic but I think there’s some potential for progress… I keep believing that Maliki and the others are staring at the abyss. Hopefully they’re going to make some progress… there’s also the option – and I note we don’t need to tell them to what to do, it’s hypocritical to say they’re independent and then tell them to do A, B, and C… You could have a vote of no confidence. But then the question is who takes their place? There is no Kemal Ataturk [founder of modern Turkey] waiting around over there…”

 

“I’m greatly encouraged by military progress… Without that, you don’t have any chance for progress on any other front.”

 

N.Z. Bear – Iran? Bonus points if you answer in the form of a song.

 

McCain: “Heh. Maybe I’ll make another selection from my collection of Beach Boys hits…

 

I’d like to get together with other like-minded countries. Every time we’ve tried to act at the U.N., we’re blocked by China and Russia. The latest information is that the Iranians continue to up the ante. If we can get some cooperation, and now we have [German Chancellor] Merkel and [French President] Sarkozy, we might be able to get meaningful diplomatic and trade sanctions. That option has never been truly exhausted. That could inflict significant economic harm. The Iranian economy is weak…”

 

Goldfarb: Lieberman op-ed, try to keep European flights from Damascus airport?

 

McCain: “One of my great and enduring heroes is George Schultz. And he told me once something he had learned in the military, ‘Never point a gun at anybody unless you intend to shoot.’ Syrians continue to not only be transit point for suicide bombers but they’re also supplying Hezbollah, making mischief all over Lebanon… Not sure I would bomb the airport, but I would make it clear to the Syrians. Go back to the Security Council first. There have to be some kind of consequences. Start to enforce existing sanctions and existing investigations against Syria, including involvement in assassination of Prime Minister of Lebanon, Hariri.”

 

Question from me, kind of a follow up to Jennifers, I don’t know if you saw the Democratic debate, but the Democratic candidates are pretty much all competing to see who can propose the fastest withdrawal. Bill Richardson is practically promising to get all the troops out in half an hour. We know that’s being driven by the furious passions of their base. How do you get enough Democratic lawmakers to defy their base, on what is clearly their make-or-break issue?

  

McCain: “Our first goal is to shore up our shaky Republicans. They’ll never get to sixty votes if we can shore up our shaky Republicans. Second of all, we’ve got to have demonstrations of support around the country. MoveOn.org, Ms Sheehan have been very visible on the public scene as anti-war activists. We need to crank up support. We need to make clear the consequences of failure, make sure the public understands this is part of  our struggle against Islamic extremism, that if we leave, Iraq will become a base for al-Qaeda and they will follow us home.”

 

“The calendar I’ve been told is that Petraues testify 11th . We’re off September 13 and 14 for Rosh Hoshannah. The Senate debate will begin September 18th.”

 

“I was in Woffboro, New Hampshire and a woman, the mother of Matthew Stanley, who was killed in Baghdad in December,  asked me to make sure her son’s death not in vain. She gave me a bracelet with her son’s name, and I’m wearing that bracelet today. We’ve got to make sure the American people understand the consequences of failure.”

 

“If we hold on to our shaky Republicans… Even if they get 60 votes, it will not be enough because the President will veto it. But the way it will be portrayed will be as a serious setback for the war effort, and the Democrats will put that resolution on every bill that goes to president’s desk.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson

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