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Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #50 on: March 05, 2007, 09:32:21 PM »

A 21st Century Contract with America
MARCH 5, 2007 | Vol. 2, No. 10

Printer Friendly Version:



You'll never guess who asked for my autograph last week? The
answer in a bit, but first I want to report on the event that I
hope will help change the political discourse in America for the
2008 campaign.

Lincoln's Inspiration at Cooper Union

Regular readers of Winning the Future will know that last
Wednesday evening, New York's former Democratic Governor Mario
Cuomo and I appeared together at historic Cooper Union in New
York City, the site where Abraham Lincoln delivered the speech
that arguably made him President. Cooper Union is situated on
the edge of Manhattan's East Village. Those familiar with New
York City know that being a conservative in the East Village is
about as lonely as one can be. Hundreds waited in line outside
the Great Hall for hours to get in. By 6:30 p.m, the 900 seats
were full.

(Continued below)

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We came to Cooper Union for one reason -- to demonstrate that it
was possible for leaders from opposing political parties to have
a thoughtful and civilized conversation about the future of
America. We wrote about it in the New York Sun.  You can read it
here. [ ] And that it could be
done without the long list of rules political consultants insist
upon. In fact, there were no rules. We each spoke for 30
minutes. Then, Tim Russert from NBC News posed challenging
questions to each of us which produced a substantive
issue-driven exchange.

Speaking as a conservative, I am happy to report that it is
possible to go into the heart of a liberal stronghold with
conservative solutions and be well received. But, there are also
tremendous benefits in doing so. Here's why.

We have all become used to candidates appearing at events where
the audience is made up of ideologically sympathetic supporters.
Most candidates for president know all too well how to get cheers
of approval from their bases with well delivered poll-tested
partisan talking points. However, it would be a different
situation entirely if candidates had to consistently appear in
front of people who are not inclined to be in agreement with
them. Add to that, someone from the other party who will
challenge their positions, then add to that someone from the
media who knows how to cut through the rhetoric. Now, that is a
much more substantial challenge and one likely to produce a much
better quality of meaningful dialogue about how to meet the many
challenges facing the country.

Such a level of meaningful exchange is critical to our
democratic process. First and most importantly, it requires
candidates to know what they stand for. A candidate must know
more than talking points; he or she must know the substance of
the material. They must be able to draw on historical parallels
to support their arguments. They must know the audience and
understand something about their worldview in order to relate to
them. Candidates must be clear. They must provide real solutions
to our challenges. But even all of that is not nearly enough.
They must persuade.

Persuasion is what counts in a free society. If you cannot
persuade, you cannot succeed in solving America's challenges
because in the end, the American people must support your
solutions or nothing can get done. It's time for a new model.

Governor Cuomo and I set out to demonstrate that two political
leaders with dramatically different political perspectives can
have a constructive, intelligent, free-wheeling dialogue about
America without degenerating into petty partisan political point
scoring where no one is persuaded.

We wanted to contrast our lively exchange with the rule-driven,
consultant-strangled "debates" we've seen in the past few
campaign cycles, in which campaign consultants maximize
candidate choreography while minimizing the possibility of an
informative, challenging debate.

Governor Cuomo and I believe that the Cooper Union model is good
for America. I believe it will produce a much richer dialogue,
more informed and better candidates, will encourage solutions
and substance, and perhaps most significantly, will reengage
millions of Americans to become active participants in America's
future but who are today turned off by the trivial shallowness of
the current political process.

The "Nine Nineties in Nine" Pledge

If you believe, as I do, that there is an opportunity for a
better political dialogue now and in 2008, then I need your
help. I issued a challenge at Cooper Union to those who are
running for president asking them to take a pledge which can be
summarized as follows.

"If I receive my party's nomination for President of the United
States, I pledge to participate in nine, ninety-minute dialogues
in the nine weeks before the general election with my opponent.
In the Lincoln-Douglas style, I will agree to debate my opponent
with only a time-keeper, and to insist upon no rules. I
understand it will be just me and my solutions and my opponent
with theirs."

(Continued below)

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Tim Russert from Meet the Press stated in the Great Hall at
Cooper Union that he would ask every presidential candidate if
they would agree to nine ninety-minute debates in nine weeks. I
am asking you to do the same. When a candidate asks for your
support, ask them if they will take the Nine Nineties in Nine

Americans deserve the chance to see the candidates in an
unfiltered dialogue. They deserve to be persuaded with solutions
that stem from core beliefs. Most of all, they deserve a
presidential election process worthy of choosing the man or
woman who will occupy the Oval Office and assume the mantle of
leader of the free world.

One Candidate Takes the Nine Nineties in Nine Challenge -- Who
Will be Next?

So who asked for my autograph? Let's see if you guessed right.
Before the Cooper Union event I was walking in mid-town
Manhattan near 44th and 6th Ave. on my way to pre-tape an
interview with Dr. Jim Dobson for Focus on the Family. Someone
from behind tapped me on my shoulder and asked me for my
autograph. Reaching for my pen, I turned around and who was
standing there with his famous Big Apple smile but the former
Mayor himself, Rudy Giuliani. In the middle of the sidewalk we
spoke for 10 minutes and them something wonderful happened.
After I told him about the pledge challenge we were about to
issue at Cooper Union that night, without missing a beat, he
readily agreed to the challenge.

So who will be the next to take the Nine Nineties in Nine
Pledge? You can help every candidate to accept by writing their
offices, calling talk radio or asking them personally. If enough
voters insist upon substance and civility in the next eighteen
months, then candidates will have no choice but to tell their
consultants "No" and tell Americans "YES", there is a better

I believe we succeeded in providing one model to improve the
2008 campaign. I think those in attendance on Wednesday night
would agree. But I'll leave it up to you to decide. You can
watch the entire event on the web at
Let me know what you think.

Your friend,
Newt Gingrich

P.S. -- I spoke to a record crowd at the 34th annual CPAC
conference on Saturday. In the speech, I hit a number of points
including asking the candidates to take the Pledge.

(Continued Below)

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** On the Radio **

Winning the Future with Newt Gingrich, a new series of 90-second
radio commentaries, can be heard Monday through Friday on more
than 350 radio stations during The G. Gordon Liddy Show and The
Michael Reagan Show. For a list of stations, click here:


The Cooper Union Model

Come to Cooper Union

English First, Not English Only

Are We Our Own Most Expensive Enemy?

More Than the Presidency

Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #51 on: March 07, 2007, 02:26:53 PM »

In ’05 Investing, Obama Took Same Path as Donors

Published: March 7, 2007
Less than two months after ascending to the United States Senate, Barack Obama bought more than $50,000 worth of stock in two speculative companies whose major investors included some of his biggest political donors.

One of the companies was a biotech concern that was starting to develop a drug to treat avian flu. In March 2005, two weeks after buying about $5,000 of its shares, Mr. Obama took the lead in a legislative push for more federal spending to battle the disease.

The most recent financial disclosure form for Mr. Obama, an Illinois Democrat, also shows that he bought more than $50,000 in stock in a satellite communications business whose principal backers include four friends and donors who had raised more than $150,000 for his political committees.

A spokesman for Mr. Obama, who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination in 2008, said yesterday that the senator did not know that he had invested in either company until fall 2005, when he learned of it and decided to sell the stocks. He sold them at a net loss of $13,000.

The spokesman, Bill Burton, said Mr. Obama’s broker bought the stocks without consulting the senator, under the terms of a blind trust that was being set up for the senator at that time but was not finalized until several months after the investments were made.

“He went about this process to avoid an actual or apparent conflict of interest, and he had no knowledge of the stocks he owned,” Mr. Burton said. “And when he realized that he didn’t have the level of blindness that he expected, he moved to terminate the trust.”

Mr. Obama has made ethics a signature issue, and his quest for the presidency has benefited from the perception that he is unlike politicians who blend public and private interests. There is no evidence that any of his actions ended up benefiting either company during the roughly eight months that he owned the stocks.

Even so, the stock purchases raise questions about how he could unwittingly come to invest in two relatively obscure companies, whose backers happen to include generous contributors to his political committees. Among those donors was Jared Abbruzzese, a New York businessman now at the center of an F.B.I. inquiry into public corruption in Albany, who had also contributed to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that sought to undermine John Kerry’s Democratic presidential campaign in 2004.

Mr. Obama, who declined to be interviewed about the stock deals, has already had to contend with a controversy that arose out of his reliance on a major campaign contributor in Chicago to help him in a personal financial transaction. In that earlier case, he acknowledged last year that it had been a mistake to involve the contributor, a developer who has since been indicted in an unrelated political scandal, in deals related to the Obamas’ purchase of a home.

Senate ethics rules do not prohibit lawmakers from owning stocks — even in companies that do business with the federal government or could benefit from legislation they advance — and indeed other members of Congress have investments in government contractors. The rules say only that lawmakers should not take legislative actions whose primary purpose is to benefit themselves.

Mr. Obama’s sale of his shares in the two companies ended what appears to have been a brief foray into highly speculative investing that stood out amid an otherwise conservative portfolio of mutual funds and cash accounts, a review of his Senate disclosure statements shows. He earned $2,000 on the biotech company, AVI BioPharma, and lost $15,000 on the satellite communications concern, Skyterra, according to Mr. Burton of the Obama campaign.

Mr. Burton said the trust was different from qualified blind trusts that other senators commonly used, because it was intended to allow him greater flexibility to address any accusations of conflicts that might arise from its assets. He said Mr. Obama had decided to sell the stocks after receiving a communication that made him concerned about how the trust was set up.

The investments came at a time when Mr. Obama was enjoying sudden financial success, following his victory at the polls in November 2004. He had signed a $1.9 million book deal, and his ethics disclosure reports show that he received $1.2 million of book money in 2005.

His wife, Michelle, a hospital vice president in Chicago, received a promotion that March, nearly tripling her salary to $317,000, and they bought a $1.6 million house in June. The house sat on a large property that was subdivided to make it more affordable, and one of Mr. Obama’s political donors bought the adjacent lot.

The disclosure forms show that the Obamas also placed several hundred thousand dollars in a new private-client account at JPMorgan Chase, a bond fund and a checking account at a Chicago bank.

NY Times
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #52 on: March 08, 2007, 01:30:07 PM »

"Consider a contrast between the two front-runners for their respective party's nomination. A strong argument can be made that the shortcomings and vulnerabilities of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., are well known to virtually all; on Wall Street, they would say her numbers have already been discounted for her negatives... For Giuliani, the story is quite different. A cursory glance at not just Giuliani's stands on social and cultural issues, but also his complicated marital and personal life and the circumstances around his ability to avoid being drafted during the Vietnam War reveal ominous warning signals... And that is before discussing his support for gun control measures while he was mayor of New York City or mentioning that the first of his three marriages was to his second cousin and that one wife found out from a televised news conference that he was leaving her. The list could go on and on. Can he still win the GOP nomination? My guess remains no" -- political handicapper Charlie Cook, writing at
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #53 on: March 15, 2007, 05:57:16 AM »


  (Quite a devastating column follows. Bear in mind that this is the  London Times, which certainly has no conservative partisan agenda to push.   It was published Jan. 31st, 2007. Most interesting.)

  Subject: Hillary Clinton's shameless political reconstructive surgery:

  You can measure the scale of an American president's troubles by the  number of skutniks he deploys during his State of the Union address.

  Every year during his big set-piece speech to Congress, the president  will  digress from the main thrust of his remarks to offer fulsome praise to  some member of the audience in the gallery.  This person  will have been  carefully selected in advance by the president's speechwriters as an  exemplar of some virtue and placed there for the purpose.  The television  producers will have been alerted in advance so that at the right moment, as the president talks about the heroics of this American Everyman,   her  she can rise self-consciously and receive the praise of a grateful nation.

  This now obligatory part of a constitutional ritual is called a skutnik' after the name of the first person so honoured.  One January evening in   1982, Lenny Skutnik, a government employee, dived into the freezing   waters  of the Potomac River to rescue a victim of a plane crash.  Two   weeks  later, during his second State of the Union address, with the  US mired in  recession, Ronald Reagan had Mr Skutnik sit in the gallery and paid a  moving tribute to his heroics.

  This week, for his penultimate State of the Union, Mr Bush had a  veritable  galaxy of skutniks - soldiers, military people, firefighter.  Whatever  you  might feel about the wisdom of Mr Bush's Iraq policy or the feasibility of  his plans to wean Americans off petrol, you can't help but stand and  cheer  the good works of a decent person.

  But there was something unusual about this year's constellation of   ordinary  American heroes, beyond the sheer numbers.  Usually the   skutnik is a  presidential privilege.  But so intense already is the competition for the 2008 presidential race that others have muscled in.

  And so Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton had a skutnik of her own.  She 
arranged for the son of a New York policeman, sick with lung cancer to be there. As it happened, the man's father died that day, and the son's  grief  became a sad and very visible coda to the event. This little incident, the skillfully choreographed exploitation of a human tragedy, the
cynically  manipulated deployment of public sympathy in service of a personal political  end, offered a timely insight into the character of the politician who this  week launched the most anticipated presidential election campaign in modern history.

  There are many reasons people think Mrs Clinton will not be elected  president.  She lacks warmth; she is too polarising a figure; the   American  people don't want to relive the psychodrama of the eight  years of the  Clinton presidency.

  But they all miss this essential counterpoint.  As you consider her  career  this past 15 years or so in the public spotlight, it is impossible not to  be   struck, and even impressed, by the sheer ruthless, unapologetic, unshameable  way in which she has pursued this ambition, and confirmed   that there is   literally nothing she will not do, say, think or feel to achieve it.  Here,  finally, is someone who has taken the black arts of the politician's  trade,  the dissembling, the trimming, the pandering, all the way to  their logical  conclusion.

  Fifteen years ago there was once a principled, if somewhat  rebarbative and  unelectable politician called Hillary Rodham Clinton.  A woman who aggressively preached abortion on demand and the right of children to sue their own parents, a committed believer in the power of government   who tried  to create a healthcare system of such bureaucratic complexity it would have  made the Soviets blush; a militant feminist who scorned mothers who take time out from work to rear their children as "women who stay home and bake  cookies".

  Today we have a different Hillary Rodham Clinton, all soft focus and  expensively coiffed, exuding moderation and tolerance.  To grasp the scale  of the transfiguration, it is necessary only to consider the very moment it began.  The turning point in her political fortunes was the day her   husband  soiled his office and a certain blue dress. In that Monica Lewinsky moment,  all the public outrage and contempt for the sheer tawdriness of it all  was brilliantly rerouted and channelled to the direct benefit of Mrs. Clinton, who immediately began a campaign for the Senate.

  And so you had this irony, a woman who had carved out for herself a role as an icon of the feminist movement, launching her own political career, riding  a wave of public sympathy over the fact that she had been treated horridly by her husband.

  After that unsurpassed exercise in cynicism, nothing could be too expedient.  Her first Senate campaign was one long exercise in political   reconstructive surgery.  It went from the cosmetic - the sudden discovery  of   her Jewish ancestry, useful in New York, especially when you've   established  a reputation as a friend of Palestinians - to the radical: her sudden  message of tolerance for people who opposed abortion, gay marriage, gun control and everything else she had stood for.

  Once in the Senate, she published an absurd autobiography in which every single paragraph had been scrubbed clean of honest reflection to fit the campaign template.  As a lawmaker she is remembered mostly, when confronted with a President who enjoyed 75 per cent approval ratings,   for her infamous  decision to support the Iraq war in October 2002.

  This one-time anti-war protester recast herself as a latter-day Boadicea, even castigating President Bush for not taking a tough enough line with  the  Iranians over their nuclear programme.

 Now, you might say, hold on.  Aren't all politicians veined with an opportunistic streak?  Why is she any different?  The difference is that Mrs Clinton has raised that opportunism to an  animating philosophy, a P. T. Barnum approach to the political marketplace.

  All politicians, sadly, lie.  We can often forgive the lies as the necessary price paid to win popularity for a noble cause.  But the Clinton candidacy is a Grand Deceit, an entirely artificial construct  built around a  person who, stripped bare of the cynicism, manipulation and  calculation, is nothing more than an enormous, overpowering and rather terrifying ego.
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #54 on: March 15, 2007, 10:20:50 AM »

Second post of the day-- also about Hillary.  Its an interview where she gets much more specific about what she would do in Iraq.  Apart from the merits vel non of what she proposes, there is the matter of how it will play in her campaign strategy.  Although I loathe the woman and regard her as a tremendous threat to America's freedoms and well-being, I must say that on a political level what she says here is masterful political postioning.

WASHINGTON, March 14 - Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton foresees a "remaining
military as well as political mission" in Iraq, and says that if elected
president, she would keep a reduced military force there to fight Al Qaeda,
deter Iranian aggression, protect the Kurds and possibly support the Iraqi

If Elected ...

This is the first in a series of interviews with the 2008 presidential
candidates in both parties about how they would handle the issues they would
confront as president. Future articles will look at the positions of the
other candidates on Iraq and on other national security and domestic policy

In a half-hour interview on Tuesday in her Senate office, Mrs. Clinton said
the scaled-down American military force that she would maintain would stay
off the streets in Baghdad and would no longer try to protect Iraqis from
sectarian violence - even if it descended into ethnic cleansing.

In outlining how she would handle Iraq as commander in chief, Mrs. Clinton
articulated a more nuanced position than the one she has provided at her
campaign events, where she has backed the goal of "bringing the troops

She said in the interview that there were "remaining vital national security
interests in Iraq" that would require a continuing deployment of American

The United States' security would be undermined if parts of Iraq turned into
a failed state "that serves as a petri dish for insurgents and Al Qaeda,"
she said. "It is right in the heart of the oil region," she said. "It is
directly in opposition to our interests, to the interests of regimes, to
Israel's interests."

"So it will be up to me to try to figure out how to protect those national
security interests and continue to take our troops out of this urban
warfare, which I think is a loser," Mrs. Clinton added. She declined to
estimate the number of American troops she would keep in Iraq, saying she
would draw on the advice of military officers.

Mrs. Clinton's plans carry some political risk. Although she has been
extremely critical of the Bush administration's handling of the war, some
liberal Democrats are deeply suspicious of her intentions on Iraq, given
that she voted in 2002 to authorize the use of force there and, unlike some
of her rivals for the Democratic nomination, has not apologized for having
done so.

Senator Clinton's proposal is also likely to stir up debate among military
specialists. Some counterinsurgency experts say the plan is unrealistic
because Iraqis are unlikely to provide useful tips about Al Qaeda if
American troops end their efforts to protect Iraqi neighborhoods.

But a former Pentagon official argued that such an approach would minimize
American casualties and thus make it easier politically to sustain a
long-term military presence that might prevent the fighting from spreading
throughout the region.

Mrs. Clinton has said she would vote for a proposed Democratic resolution on
Iraq now being debated on the floor of the Senate, which sets a goal of
withdrawing combat forces by March 31, 2008. Asked if her plan was
consistent with the resolution, Mrs. Clinton and her advisers said it was,
noting that the resolution also called for "a limited number" of troops to
stay in Iraq to protect the American Embassy and other personnel, train and
equip Iraqi forces, and conduct "targeted counterterrorism operations."

(Senator Barack Obama, a rival of Mrs. Clinton, has said that if elected
president, he might keep a small number of troops in Iraq.)

With many Democratic primary voters favoring a total withdrawal, Senator
Clinton appears to be trying to balance her political interests with the
need to retain some flexibility. Like other Democratic candidates, she has
called for engaging Iran and Syria in talks and called on President Bush to
reverse his troop buildup.

But while Mrs. Clinton has criticized Mr. Bush's troop reinforcements as an
escalation of war, she said in the interview, "We're doing it, and it's
unlikely we can stop it."

"I'm going to root for it if it has any chance of success," she said of Mr.
Bush's plan, "but I think it's more likely that the anti-American violence
and sectarian violence just moves from place to place to place, like the old
Whac a Mole. Clear some neighborhoods in Baghdad, then face Ramadi. Clear
Ramadi, then maybe it's back in Falluja."

Mrs. Clinton made it clear that she believed the next president is likely to
face an Iraq that is still plagued by sectarian fighting and occupied by a
sizable number of American troops. The likely problems, she said, include
continued political disagreements in Baghdad, die-hard Sunni insurgents, Al
Qaeda operatives, Turkish anxiety over the Kurds and the effort to "prevent
Iran from crossing the border and having too much influence inside of Iraq."

"The choices that one would face are neither good nor unlimited," she said.
"And from the vantage point of where I sit now, I can tell you, in the
absence of a very vigorous diplomatic effort on the political front and on
the regional and international front, I think it is unlikely there will be a
stable situation that will be inherited."


(Page 2 of 2)

On the campaign trail, Mrs. Clinton has repeatedly vowed to bring the war to
a close if the fighting were still going on when she took office as
president. "If we in Congress don't end this war before January 2009, as
president, I will," she has said.


This is the first in a series of interviews with the 2008 presidential
candidates in both parties about how they would handle the issues they would
confront as president. Future articles will look at the positions of the
other candidates on Iraq and on other national security and domestic policy

In the interview, she suggested that it was likely that the fighting among
the Iraqis would continue for some time. In broad terms, her strategy is to
abandon the American military effort to stop the sectarian violence and to
focus instead on trying to prevent the strife from spreading throughout the
region by shrinking and rearranging American troop deployments within Iraq.

The idea of repositioning American forces to minimize American casualties,
discourage Iranian, Syrian and Turkish intervention, and forestall the Kurds'
declaring independence is not a new one. It has been advocated by Dov S.
Zakheim, who served as the Pentagon's comptroller under former Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Mr. Zakheim has estimated that no more than
75,000 troops would be required, compared to the approximately 160,000
troops the United States will have in Iraq when the additional brigades in
Mr. Bush's plan are deployed.

While Mrs. Clinton declined to estimate the size of a residual American
troop presence, she indicated that troops might be based north of Baghdad
and in western Anbar Province.

"It would be far fewer troops," she said. "But what we can do is to almost
take a line sort of north of - between Baghdad and Kirkuk, and basically put
our troops into that region, the ones that are going to remain for our
antiterrorism mission, for our northern support mission, for our ability to
respond to the Iranians, and to continue to provide support, if called for,
for the Iraqis."

Mrs. Clinton described a mission with serious constraints.

"We would not be doing patrols," she added. "We would not be kicking in
doors. We would not be trying to insert ourselves in the middle between the
various Shiite and Sunni factions. I do not think that's a smart or
achievable mission for American forces."

One question raised by counterinsurgency experts is whether the more limited
military mission Mrs. Clinton is advocating would lead to a further
escalation in the sectarian fighting, because it would shift the entire
burden for protecting civilians to the nascent Iraqi Security Forces. A
National Intelligence Estimate issued in January said those forces would be
hard-pressed to take on significantly increased responsibilities in the next
12 to 18 months.

"Coalition capabilities, including force levels, resources and operations,
remain an essential stabilizing element in Iraq," the estimate noted,
referring to the American-led forces.

Mrs. Clinton said the intelligence estimate was based on a "faulty premise"
because it did not take into account the sort of "phased redeployment" plan
she was advocating. But she acknowledged that under her strategy American
troops would remain virtual bystanders if Shiites and Sunnis killed each
other in sectarian attacks. "That may be inevitable," she said. "And it
certainly may be the only way to concentrate the attention of the parties."

Asked if Americans would endure having troops in Iraq who do nothing to stop
sectarian attacks there, she replied: "Look, I think the American people are
done with Iraq. I think they are at a point where, whether they thought it
was a good idea or not, they have seen misjudgment and blunder after
blunder, and their attitude is, What is this getting us? What is this doing
for us?"

"No one wants to sit by and see mass killing," she added. "It's going on
every day! Thousands of people are dying every month in Iraq. Our presence
there is not stopping it. And there is no potential opportunity I can
imagine where it could. This is an Iraqi problem; we cannot save the Iraqis
from themselves. If we had a different attitude going in there, if we had
stopped the looting immediately, if we had asserted our authority - you can
go down the lines, if, if, if - "
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #55 on: March 15, 2007, 10:57:12 AM »
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #56 on: March 19, 2007, 01:34:03 AM »

WSJ oinline today

Lights, Camera . . . Candidacy?
Fred Thompson is shaking up the GOP presidential field. And he's not even running yet.

Saturday, March 17, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

NEW YORK--"Expect her to recount every moment of her ordeal," the savvy district attorney mused to his deputy. "There won't be a dry eye in the jury."

"That's a take!" says a director of the hit NBC series "Law and Order." With that, Fred Thompson, the former U.S. senator from Tennessee who has played "strict constructionist" prosecutor Arthur Branch for the past four years, walks back with me to his dressing room to talk about a new role he might soon be undertaking: surprise Republican presidential candidate.

It is a slightly surreal setting to be talking big-league politics. But not unprecedented. In 1965, Ronald Reagan held early strategy meetings on his nascent race for governor of California on the set of "Death Valley Days." In 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped off a plane from a world-wide publicity tour for his last "Terminator" film and immediately huddled with advisers on his own campaign for governor. Both men effectively used their celebrity status to completely transform the races they entered.

So too may Fred Thompson. When we meet on Thursday night, it's only been four days since he appeared on Fox News to merely announce he was "looking at" running. Chuck Todd, the political director of NBC News, notes in amazement how "a retired senator can show a tiny bit of interest and literally shake up the race overnight."

And he is shaking up the race. Every GOP candidate is nervously watching the reaction to his possible entry. J.C. Watts, an Oklahoma congressman from 1995 to 2003, has endorsed him: "I define Fred Thompson as AC, what's AC? All class."

Fan blogs for "Law and Order" note that since the show is especially popular among women, a Thompson race could help close the GOP's "gender gap." The most pithy comment is from Craig Hammond, a former mayor of Bluefield, W.Va. He told the Bluefield News: "He's the tall timber we've been waiting for. He's the total package. He can hold the red states and pick up a few blue ones along the way."

But Mr. Thompson appears serene about all the speculation swirling around him. "Those running are all good guys, and would be good presidents," he says leaning back in a recliner. "But there are truly vital issues--from the looming entitlement crisis to nuclear proliferation--I'm not afraid to talk about. Lots of people have such a low regard for politicians that they're open to a campaign that would be completely different."
So how would a possible Thompson campaign be distinctive? "Politics is now one big 24-hour news cycle, but we seem to spend less time than ever on real substance," he muses. "What if someone harnessed the Internet and other technologies and insisted in talking about real issues in more depth than consultants would advise? What if they took risks with their race in hopes that the risks to our children could be reduced through building a mandate for good policy?"

Children are a lot on Mr. Thompson's mind--especially his own. In 2002 he lost his daughter after she failed to come out of a drug-overdose-induced coma. Already frustrated with the Senate's endless maneuvering over minutiae, he decided to retire at age 60 only two months later and change his life. In June of that year he married his second wife, Jeri (his first marriage at age 17 ended amicably in divorce in 1985). In 2003 they had their first child (a second was born last November).

"Within the space of a year and a half, I experienced the ultimate tragedy and the ultimate happiness," Mr. Thompson sighs. "I count my blessings, and I have a real focused sense of purpose now."

That brings us to some of the knocks critics have about his possible parachute drop into the "Survivor 2008" competition. Bluntly put, Fred Thompson had a reputation for being lazy in wanting to do the political chores that come with office. People openly question if he has "the fire in the belly" to really make a serious race.

"They used to say I moved slowly," he chuckles. "But I move deliberately. I won every one of my races by more than 20 points in a state Clinton carried twice."

But what about his well-known reputation for dating up a storm as a bachelor senator in Washington in the 1990s? "I plead guilty," he says. "But everyone I knew is still a friend, and if somehow they aren't I guess we'd hear about it. I'm happy with my life partner and children now."

On issues, he addresses head-on the major complaints conservatives have about his record. He was largely stymied in his 1997 investigation of both Clinton-Gore and GOP campaign fund-raising abuses: Key witnesses declined to testify or fled the country, though evidence eventually surfaced of a Chinese plan to influence U.S. politics. He won't argue with those who say he showed "naiveté" about how he would be stonewalled in his investigation. He says he's wiser now.
Many on the right remain angry he supported the campaign finance law sponsored by his friend John McCain. "There are problems with people giving politicians large sums of money and then asking them to pass legislation," Mr. Thompson says. Still, he notes he proposed the amendment to raise the $1,000 per person "hard money" federal contribution limit.

Conceding that McCain-Feingold hasn't worked as intended, and is being riddled with new loopholes, he throws his hands open in exasperation. "I'm not prepared to go there yet, but I wonder if we shouldn't just take off the limits and have full disclosure with harsh penalties for not reporting everything on the Internet immediately."

Mr. Thompson has also been criticized for failing to back some comprehensive tort-reform bills because of his background as a trial lawyer. Here he insists his stance was based on grounds of federalism. "I'm consistent. I address Federalist Society meetings," he says, noting that more issues should be left to the states. For example, he cast the lonely "nay" in 99-1 votes against a national 0.8% blood alcohol level for drivers, a federal law banning guns in schools, and a measure limiting the tort liability of Good Samaritans. "Washington overreaches, and by doing so ends up not doing well the basics people really care about." Think Katrina and Walter Reed.

Indeed, the federal government's inability to function effectively would likely be a major theme of any Thompson campaign. "Audits have shown we've lost control of the waste and mismanagement in our most important agencies. It's getting so bad it's affecting our national security."

Mr. Thompson says that while a senator he was long concerned with U.S. intelligence failures. "The CIA has better politicians than it has spies," he says, referring to the internecine turf wars that have been a feature of the Bush administration.
A key problem, Mr. Thompson notes, is a general lack of accountability in government, where no one pays any price for failure. When asked about President Bush's awarding the Medal of Freedom to outgoing CIA Director George Tenet after U.S. intelligence failures in Iraq became apparent, he shakes his head: "I just didn't understand that."

The next president, according to Mr. Thompson, needs to exercise strong leadership "and get down in the weeds and fix a civil-service system that makes it too hard to hire good employees and too hard to fire bad ones." He doesn't offer specifics on what to do, but notes the "insanity" of the new Congress pushing for the unionization of homeland security employees only five years after it rejected the notion in the wake of 9/11. "Should we tie ourselves up in bureaucratic knots with the challenges we may have to face?" he asks in wonderment.

The challenges, he says, are numerous. On Iraq, he admits "we are left with nothing but bad choices." However, he says the "worst choice" would be to have Osama bin Laden proven right when he predicted America wouldn't have the stomach for a tough fight. The costs of Iraq have been high, but they could be even higher "if we have another stain on America like that infamous scene from Saigon 1975 in which our helicopters took off leaving those who supported us grabbing at the landing skids."

Mr. Thompson is especially worried about nuclear proliferation. He serves as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board, along with former Clinton CIA Director Jim Woolsey and former Democratic Sen. Chuck Robb. The board recently received an unclassified briefing that convinced him three or four countries in the Middle East are "on the cusp" of acquiring nuclear weapons should the Iranians carry through with their own weapons program.

He urges continued pressure on Iran, which he says has grave domestic problems. "Iran may fall of its own weight, and we can help that by offering vocal support to dissident groups and making effective use of the airwaves to reach its people."

On domestic issues, Mr. Thompson says a major reason Republicans lost last November was that they aided and abetted runaway government spending. Yet Democrats, he contends, are incapable of following through on their pledges to be fiscally prudent. "Their political coalition needs more revenue like a car requires gasoline," he laughs. "Reagan showed what can be done if you have the will to push for tough choices and the ability to ask the people to accept them."

But Mr. Thompson says those tough choices shouldn't include the tax increases contemplated in the new budget released by Senate Democrats this week. "The phony static accounting the government uses has obscured just how successful the 2003 tax cuts have been in boosting the economy," he says. "Lower marginal tax rates have proven to be a key to prosperity now by Kennedy, Reagan and Bush. It's time millionaires serving in the Senate learned not to overly tax other people trying to get wealthy."

I note that despite his humble background as the grandson of a sharecropper and son of a used-car salesman, Mr. Thompson himself is now quite wealthy. So how would he campaign against Democratic millionaires he used to serve in the Senate with, such as Hillary Clinton or John Edwards? He smiles and says he has plenty of zingers and points he would make but it's premature to discuss them.

Mr. Thompson says he can compete with Democrats in talking plainly about the anxiety many Americans have about the economy, despite good macro numbers. "Someone who is 18 today may well have 10 employers in their career," he says. "That's completely different from how their parents lived. I would address that insecurity and help people adapt without shooting ourselves in the foot with protectionism and income redistribution. I had 10 employers before I finished law school."

Fred Thompson clearly hasn't decided whether to run for president; and he underestimates just how much the traditional fund-raising he disdains may be necessary for his long-shot campaign. But he has assets that add up to an impressive portfolio.
As Republican counsel in the Watergate hearings, he began building a reputation as a straight-shooter. It was he who asked the question that forced a White House deputy to admit that Richard Nixon had secretly recorded his Oval Office conversations.

Later in the 1970s he played a key role in exposing a Tennessee cash-for-pardons scandal; his acting career began when he won the part of playing himself in the 1985 movie version of the story. Today, his national exposure is greater than ever with a dozen of his movies playing as TV repeats. All of this month he is substituting for radio legend Paul Harvey, whose show is heard on more than 1,200 stations.

Indeed, it is his need to wake up at 5 a.m. the next morning, so he can tape three Harvey segments before returning to the "Law and Order" set for a long day of shooting, that prompts Mr. Thompson to close out our chat. "With my current schedule I might have more time to myself if I gave all this up and did start a campaign," he says as he dons a sports coat and heads for his car.

So many voters remain unsold on any of the current GOP contenders that Mr. Thompson just might trade his TV sound stage for a campaign microphone. As this is the first truly open Republican nomination fight in decades, the party might as well revel in the competition it claims to cherish in other parts of life.

Mr. Fund is a columnist for

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« Reply #57 on: March 19, 2007, 05:18:42 PM »

Messiah Complex

All the TV camera lights will be focused on Capitol Hill this Wednesday when Al Gore arrives to testify on global warming. He will make one solo star turn in the morning before a House committee and then address Senator Barbara Boxer's Environment committee in the afternoon.

More and more Democrats are becoming convinced Mr. Gore is running for president -- by not running for president. "It makes perfect sense -- get credit for being a noble crusader on behalf of the environment, build up volunteer lists and wait to see if Hillary and Obama stalemate the race in the next few months," is how one Democratic consultant put it to me yesterday.

Indeed, Newsweek magazine concludes in its latest issue: "Gore isn't running, but he is." It quotes a longtime Gore adviser who notes that Mr. Gore has been working out every day he can: "He has lost a few pounds, and Hillary can read into that what she wants."

Mr. Gore's plans for the next few months indeed resemble a nascent campaign. He will mark Earth Day next month with a college tour that ends with a giant rally in Washington. That day he will also address by satellite the 1,000 "climate messengers" he has trained to take copies of his global-warming film to civic groups and add their own commentary. In May, Mr. Gore's new book, "The Assault on Reason," will be published accompanied by a major publicity splash.

If all this goes well, Mr. Gore is positioned to wait for the big event. This fall, many Gore aides are convinced he will win the Nobel Peace Prize for this global warming crusade. "If that happens, you can bet the roof will come off in terms of pressure from the Democratic base for him to run," predicts Rich Galen, a former GOP consultant who now writes "He can then enter the race and say the people drafted him into it."

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« Reply #58 on: March 19, 2007, 08:55:57 PM »

***Messiah Complex***

I always thought Bill Clinton had this notion that he was going to save humanity from itself.  The great man who would fix everything.

Gore more pompous.  Clinton more narcissistic.  Hillary is both.
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« Reply #59 on: March 20, 2007, 08:08:22 AM »

Published: March 20, 2007
DES MOINES, March 17 — Immigration, an issue that has divided Republicans in Washington, is reverberating across the party’s presidential campaign field, causing particular complications for Senator John McCain of Arizona.

The topic came up repeatedly in recent campaign swings through Iowa by Mr. McCain and Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, another Republican who, like Mr. McCain, supports giving some illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, a position that puts them at odds with many other conservatives. Both candidates faced intensive questioning from voters on the issue, which has become more prominent in the state as immigrants are playing a larger and increasingly visible role in the economy and society.

“Immigration is probably a more powerful issue here than almost anyplace that I’ve been,” Mr. McCain said after a stop in Cedar Falls.

As he left Iowa, Mr. McCain said he was reconsidering his views on how the immigration law might be changed. He said he was open to legislation that would require people who came to the United States illegally to return home before applying for citizenship, a measure proposed by Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana. Mr. McCain has previously favored legislation that would allow most illegal immigrants to become citizens without leaving the country.

Beyond whatever influence it has as the state whose caucuses kick off the presidential nominating contest, Iowa has become something of a laboratory for the politics of immigration. Not only is it a place where industries like meatpacking rely heavily on immigrant workers and where a once relatively homogenous population is confronting an influx of Hispanic residents, but the presidential candidates who are criss-crossing the state are also providing forums for Iowans to express their views and influence national policy.

On Saturday morning in Des Moines, Mr. Brownback stood for 30 minutes at a breakfast with Republicans as question after question — without exception — was directed at an immigration system that Iowans denounced as failing. “These people are stealing from us,” said Larry Smith, a factory owner from Truro and a member of the central committee of the state Republican Party.

Finally, Mr. Brownback, with a slight smile, inquired, “Any other topics that people want to talk about?”

“What are you going to do with illegal immigrants who come here and become criminals?” demanded Jodi Wohlenhaus, a Republican homemaker who lives outside Des Moines.

The debate on the campaign trail is both reflecting and feeding the politics of the issue in Washington. President Bush and the two parties in Congress have been engaged in a three-way negotiation that has pitted demands from many conservatives to concentrate first on improving border security against Mr. Bush’s call, backed by many Democrats, for a guest worker program that could include a right for some illegal workers to eventually get legal status.

The issue has become much more complicated as the presidential campaign has gotten under way, exposing the Republicans in particular to voters who are angry about what they see as porous borders, growing demands from immigrants on the social welfare and education systems and job losses that they link at least in part to a low-wage labor force coming over the border.

Mr. McCain, for example, appeared to distance himself from Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat with whom he formed an alliance last year on an immigration bill that stalled in Congress.

“What I’ve tried to point out is we couldn’t pass the legislation,” Mr. McCain said. “So we have to change the legislation so it can pass. And I’ve been working with Senator Kennedy, but we’ve also been working with additional senators, additional House members.”

Mr. McCain focused instead on the proposal by Mr. Pence, a conservative. “Pence has this touchback proposal,” Mr. McCain said at a news conference. “I said hey, let’s consider that if that’s a way we can get some stuff.”

Mr. McCain’s aides said his identification with Mr. Kennedy accounted for much of his political problem on the issue with conservatives. One of his rivals for the nomination, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, has taken to attacking what he calls the McCain-Kennedy bill.

Mr. McCain has found himself particularly identified with this battle in no small part because he is from a border state that is deeply divided over immigration. The issue is not likely to recede, regardless of the outcome of the debate in Washington: The Republican field of presidential candidates includes Representative Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican who has based his campaign on an anti-immigration message and who will almost certainly participate in Republican presidential debates starting this spring.

(Page 2 of 2)

In a speech to conservatives in Washington two weeks ago, Mr. Romney said: “The current system is a virtual concrete wall against those who have skill and education, but it’s a wide open walk across the border for those that have neither. And McCain-Kennedy isn’t the answer.”

Mr. Romney did not always take that position. He was quoted in The Boston Globe in November 2005 describing Mr. McCain’s immigration initiatives as “reasonable proposals,” though he stopped short of endorsing them, the newspaper said.

A third major Republican contender, Rudolph W. Giuliani, former mayor of New York, has supported measures similar to the one Mr. McCain is pressing. Mr. Giuliani has yet to campaign in Iowa and has not been pressed on his views on immigration; he is scheduled to spend a week in Iowa at the beginning of April.

Mr. McCain’s aides said they were confident that he could overcome concerns among Iowa voters if he pointed to the enforcement mechanisms he supports, arguing that only about one-third of Republican primary voters have strong-line views on immigration. “How are we dealing with it?” said John Weaver, a senior adviser to Mr. McCain. “We’re facing it head-on. John’s position — and the president’s position — is widely supported by a vast majority of primary and caucus voters.”

Republicans have a tougher view than the general population on whether illegal immigrants should be deported, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted this month. In that poll, 49 percent of Republican respondents said illegal immigrants who had lived in the United States for at least two years should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for citizenship; 45 percent said they should be deported immediately. By contrast, among the general electorate, 59 percent said they should be allowed to apply for legal status, compared with 36 percent who said they should be deported.

The poll found that 31 percent of Republicans said immigration into the United States should be kept at its current level, 14 percent said it should be increased and a majority, 51 percent, said immigration should be decreased. Those figures were similar to the finding among the general population.

Other Republicans said they thought Mr. McCain’s identification with the push for easing immigration laws could prove to be among his greatest vulnerabilities. “Senator McCain will be hurt badly if he continues to support a bill like last time,” said Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama. “I think he’ll have a hard time defending that piece of legislation. I think it would be important for him to demonstrate that his position on immigration is not defined by the bill that he introduced last time.”

Nowhere does that appear to be more the case than here, a state crucial to Mr. McCain’s hopes of winning his party’s nomination. A front-page article in The Des Moines Register after the first day of Mr. McCain’s bus trip here focused on his defending his efforts on changing immigration laws.

Mr. Smith, the Republican Party central committee member, said Mr. McCain’s views on immigration had eliminated him as a contender in the view of many state Republicans.

“I have a hard time appreciating McCain’s position at all on this issue,” Mr. Smith said. “I feel he’s been extremely weak.”

“When I go county to county visiting 29 counties in my area, I believe almost without exception that immigration is that issue that puts fire in their eyes,” he said. “They just really are livid that we have allowed this to happen to the point it has.”

Mr. Brownback was reminded of that throughout the day on Saturday, including during his march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade up Locust Avenue in Des Moines. “We need to build a fence,” Mike Clark, 38, a pig farmer, told Mr. Brownback as he walked alongside him. “We need to get them stopped.”

Mr. McCain’s suggestion that he might be open to Mr. Pence’s legislation requiring most workers to return home risks alienating business, a powerful constituency in the Republican Party.

“The business community has always been skeptical about any requirement to make workers leave the U.S. to obtain legal status,” said Laura Reiff, of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, which represents service industries. “We haven’t ruled a Pence-like touchback completely out of the question, but it would need to be an efficient, functional process.”

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« Reply #60 on: March 20, 2007, 09:31:15 AM »

I'd vote for Hillary before i'd vote for McCain.
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« Reply #61 on: March 21, 2007, 11:49:47 PM »

It's only 2 years until the election and I have held out long enough.  I made up my mind and Fred Thompson is my choice.  More after this comment on the last post:
GM: "I'd vote for Hillary before i'd vote for McCain."  - I don't know what to say to that except that I hope to vote for neither. 
Thompson gave his thoughts today on immigration and relations with Mexico:,pubID.25816/pub_detail.asp
Southern Exposure         
By Fred Thompson
Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2007
National Review Online 
Publication Date: March 20, 2007

Editor's note: Click here to listen to the original radio commentary this transcript is based on.

We are all very well aware of the fact that we have an illegal-immigration problem in this country. As usual, we avoided the problem for as long as we could and when we couldn’t avoid it any longer we were told that, indeed, somewhere between 12 and 20 million people had somehow come into this country unnoticed.

It's like we went overnight from "no problem" to a problem so big that it now defies a good solution. It’s become one of those "there are no good choices only less bad choices" that Americans are becoming all too familiar with.

Hey guys, you're our friends and neighbors and we love you but it’s time you had a little dose of reality.

We know that the overwhelming majority of illegals come across the Mexican border. Fortunately, we’ve got someone who is all too willing to tell us what we should do about it--the president of Mexico Felipe Calderon.  President Calderon doesn’t think much of our border policies. He criticizes our efforts to secure the border with things such as border fencing. He says that bottle necks at U.S. checkpoints hurt Mexican commerce and force his citizens to migrate illegally in order to make a living (and of course send money back to Mexico). He apparently thinks we should do nothing except make American citizens out of his constituents. Calderon also accused U.S. officials of failing to do enough to stop the flow of drugs in to the United States. Mexican politicians gave President Bush an earful of all of this during his recent trip to Mexico.

I think its time for a little plain talk to the leaders of Mexico. Something like:

    Hey guys, you're our friends and neighbors and we love you but it’s time you had a little dose of reality. A sovereign nation loses that status if it cannot secure its own borders and we are going to do whatever is necessary to do so, although our policies won't be as harsh as yours are along your southern border. And criticizing the U.S. for alternately doing too much and too little to stop your illegal activities is not going to set too well with Americans of good will who are trying to figure a way out of the mess that your and our open borders policy has already created.

My friends, it’s also time for a little introspection. Since we all agree that improving Mexico’s economy will help with the illegal-immigration problem, you might want to consider your own left-of-center policies. For example, nationalized industries are not known for enhancing economic growth. Just a thought. But here’s something even more to the point that you might want to think about: What does it say about the leadership of a country when that country’s economy and politics are dependent upon the exportation of its own citizens?

Fred Thompson is a visiting fellow at AEI.

A couple other comments of mine on Thompson:

He was impressive handling the Chief Justice nomination of John Roberts through confirmation.  Right or wrong, he didn't hesitate or flinch when asked about pardoning Scooter Libby.

I heard him on the radio today where he called the leadership of the Justice Department "the B team" and described exacty how he would have unapologetically made the changes with the US Attorneys. 

Areas I've found so far where I disagree with him:  He favored campaign finance reform.  He opposes tort reform.  And he voted against removing Clinton from office.  I think he may have softened on campaign finance regulations.  I'm no expert on tort reform and politically he may have been right not to remove CLinton from office.  After all they were certainly known criminals before the ''92 and 96 election so maybe the voters deserved two full terms.

No one is another Reagan, but he may have exactly what it takes to stand next to Hillary in the debates and explain the merits of a conservative philosophy with 'plain talk', grace and humor.
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« Reply #62 on: March 23, 2007, 04:31:49 PM »
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« Reply #63 on: March 24, 2007, 09:46:41 AM »

Go Tom!

Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.

(I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.)
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« Reply #64 on: March 27, 2007, 12:03:47 PM »

Quote of the Day I

"A national poll of likely voters by independent pollster John Zogby found nearly half (46 percent) said they couldn't vote for the former first lady under any circumstances... [A]nother number was even more disturbing to senior advisers in her campaign. Mr. Zogby found that among likely Democratic voters, 18 percent said they 'would never cast a vote in Mrs. Clinton's favor.' That such a large percentage of overall voters would flatly express an aversion to electing her president was troubling enough to top Democratic officials. But that she appeared to be losing support within the base of her own party set off alarm bells among her high command" -- Donald Lambro, chief political correspondent, writing in the Washington Times.

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« Reply #65 on: March 27, 2007, 12:40:49 PM »

Well I guess learning how to salute is going to win over the military and erase decades of disdain for the people in uniform.  It would be like Jane Fonda saluting for the cameras.  Hypocracy for the ages.  Yet she may win the election with promises of gifts to every group of constuents that she needs to win.

 The New York Times
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March 27, 2007
Mindful of Past, Clinton Cultivates the Military

Of all the early problems Bill Clinton faced as president, few stand out to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as more frustrating and avoidable than his rocky relationship with the military, her advisers say.

During his 1992 campaign, Mr. Clinton was attacked for avoiding the Vietnam draft and organizing antiwar marches in the 1960s. After taking office, his early focus on gay men and lesbians in the military drew sharp criticism from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin L. Powell, and other officers. Even his ability to salute properly was called into question.

Mrs. Clinton, to use a phrase, has been practicing her salute. As a senator and now as a presidential candidate, she has cultivated relationships with generals and admirals, prepped herself on wartime needs and strategy, and traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I think eight years in the White House, traveling the world and seeing the United States military doing the nation’s business, and now her time in the Senate, has given her a significant appreciation of the military that maybe her husband didn’t have before the White House,” said Jack Keane, the retired general and former Army vice chief of staff who has become close to the senator.

For Mrs. Clinton, exhibiting a command of military matters is not just about learning from her husband’s experience. It could be vital to her, as a woman seeking to become a wartime commander in chief, to show the public that she is comfortable with military policy and culture — and with the weight of responsibility that accompanies life-and-death decisions.

It is also part of an effort to shed the image some voters hold of her as an antimilitary liberal, defined by her opposition to the Vietnam War and, now, by her criticism of the Bush administration’s conduct of the war in Iraq.

A Time magazine poll in July asked adults to assess whether Mrs. Clinton would keep the military strong. Asked how much that description fit Mrs. Clinton, 33 percent said a lot, 25 percent said a little, 15 percent said not much, 18 percent said not at all and 10 percent had no answer.

Some uniformed officers, too, said that the Clintons were more associated with a ’60s culture than a military one, and that only time would tell if Mrs. Clinton’s appreciation of the military would go beyond niceties and expressions of concern.

Donald L. Kerrick, a retired general and former deputy national security adviser to President Clinton, acknowledged that some people inside and outside the military were skeptical of Mrs. Clinton’s intentions and wary that she would shift federal dollars to domestic programs like health care.

General Kerrick, who is close to Mrs. Clinton, said he believed that her appreciation of the military was genuine, but that it would take time and effort for that to come across.

“If, as president, she treats commanders and troops the same way she does now, she will quickly gain their support and respect,” General Kerrick said. “Military people are very loyal to the chain of command, and to people who understand them.”

In the Senate, Mrs. Clinton has supported expanding medical benefits for National Guard members and reservists and providing aid to those with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. She has also defied liberals in her own party at times, endorsing the expansion of the Army, supporting financing for missile defense, and refusing to support a total ban on land mines.

But just as she has encountered some hostility from the left for not being a critic of the Iraq war earlier and for not renouncing her vote in 2002 to authorize it, Mrs. Clinton could also risk coming off as too hawkish to some Democratic voters for her vociferous support of military initiatives.

Some on the left ask if she is engaging again in the Clinton strategy of political triangulation: reaching out to military leaders while also trying to appease the left with her criticism of the war in Iraq. During her Senate re-election race last year, some liberals criticized her as currying favor with pro-military conservatives and independents by fiercely supporting Israel and taking a tough line against Al Qaeda and Iranian operatives in Iraq, similar to what her husband did during his presidency on social issues like welfare.

“Some days she sounds like a total hawk, and other days she’s saying, ‘I’m against the war and it’s been mismanaged,’ ” said Jonathan Tasini, who ran against Mrs. Clinton for the Senate Democratic nomination last year on an antiwar platform.

“But I don’t see how this helps her in the primaries,” Mr. Tasini continued. “So many people have turned against the war.”

Of the other main Democratic presidential candidates, only Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut has served in the military, as an Army reservist. Like Mrs. Clinton, most of the candidates rely on their service on Senate committees for their foreign policy credentials. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois serves on the Foreign Relations and Veterans Affairs Committees; former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina served on the intelligence committee; Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; Mr. Dodd is a member of that committee.

Essential to Mrs. Clinton’s courtship of the military was winning a seat in 2002 on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which she had vigorously sought. In that role, she regularly meets with military officers, has traveled three times to Iraq and has attended hearings on global conflicts and the needs of the armed services.

Privately, two current military leaders who have testified before the Armed Services committee, and who by custom do not comment publicly on political figures, said they both found Mrs. Clinton conversant about the military and thoughtful in her questions.

Active-duty generals have sought her out, and she has reached out to them. Among those with whom she has built relationships are Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, and Adm. William J. Fallon, the new head of Central Command. Recently, too, James T. Conway, the commandant of the Marines, invited her to be his guest of honor at the “Sunset Parade” at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Washington, a high-profile tradition. (She has accepted.)

Some military analysts said that building ties with generals was only part of building a leadership image on military issues. Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, the libertarian research group, said Mrs. Clinton’s political shift to opposing the war in Iraq — combined with some voters’ skepticism about the Clintons and the military — posed a challenge for her, especially when she needs to prove that a woman is tough enough to be commander in chief.

“By surrounding herself with military brass, it reinforces an image of her as strong and hawkish,” Mr. Carpenter said. “But is that an authentic image? Would she really give dollars to the Pentagon instead of to cherished domestic programs?”

The Republican National Committee’s research staff members have already compiled a series of examples that they say show Mrs. Clinton at odds with military interests, including her Iraq war positioning and her opposition to sending additional troops there.

General Keane — whose support for sending more troops to Iraq is at odds with Mrs. Clinton’s view — and other admirers of hers see these skeptical or critical portrayals of her as playing into false stereotypes. He recalled how his own initial impression of her changed after their first meeting: It was supposed to last 15 minutes, but continued for a half hour longer as they talked about West Point and moved onto global hot spots.

John Batiste, a retired major general and former commander of the First Infantry Division, who also consults with Mrs. Clinton, said, “Very, very few politicians have any military experience, and they’re naïve — they don’t understand what it takes to develop a big picture, unified strategy to take a country to war.

“She’s the kind of person who would listen to sound military advice,” General Batiste said, “and not dismiss it or discard it. And I’m a lifelong Republican.“


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Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #66 on: March 27, 2007, 05:37:30 PM »


GM:  Whenever you post a URL please give your post a unique subject heading and/or a brief description.  For example, here it could be "The Image Hillary can't erase".

Thank you,
« Last Edit: March 27, 2007, 06:47:01 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Power User
Posts: 9476

« Reply #67 on: March 28, 2007, 01:32:18 AM »

Hillary in the news - today's talking point was 'universal healthcare'.  I'm sure we'll get to that in the campaign.  First I want to criticize her proposal from last week for a "Foreclosure-Timeout" in response to the trouble in the housing market.  I read it first in 'The Economist' but here is a short version from NPR Morning Edition:

Democratic Hopefuls Weigh In on Subprime Loans

Morning Edition, March 16, 2007 · "With foreclosure rates at their highest level in four decades, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York is calling for a "foreclosure timeout." Another Democratic presidential hopeful — Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, the Senate Banking Committee chairman — says he will hold hearings on the subprime crisis. In recent weeks at least 20 companies who specialize in high-risk mortgages have gone bust."

Let's walk through this.  A customer with a credit issue or low down payment, who would not qualify for the lowest risk - lowest interest rate mortgage, is able to buy a house they otherwise couldn't, by paying a premium on the interest rate to compensate the mortgage company for the higher risk.  It's a highly regulated business and the transaction is all legal.  The mortgage company pays out let's say $189,900 for the customer to buy the house in exchange for the right to receive scheduled payments and take the first position lien on the house for collateral.  Now let's say the customer with the higher risk defaults on his payments.  That happens; he did have a credit problem and/or insufficient savings. The mortgagecompany is powerless except to follow the contractual and highly regulated processs of mitigating its loss with a foreclosure and take back the property to re-sell.  During the long process they receive no further payments as the loan in in default.  The process takes some 6 months to a year(?) while the mortgage company has no right of possession, receives no money and keeps incurring costs.  Now enter new President Hillary who says they can't even do that.  She declares a 'foreclosure timeout'.  The customer stays in the house.  Payments in default don't need to be made.  The mortgage is prevented fom exercizing its right under the contract and under the law.

It reminds me of the Nixon Price Wage freeze of 1971.  So, the crisis includes lenders going broke and her answer is a foreclosure-timeout.  I don't know if these people hate capitalism or just don't understand it.  I can't say this stongly enough, but IMO, if you favor economic freedoms and the right to enter into binding, legal contracts - these policies are exactly the opposite.
Power User
Posts: 229

« Reply #68 on: March 28, 2007, 12:02:00 PM »

Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer and the remorselessness of US political life
By David Walsh
28 March 2007

Last Wednesday doctors in Chapel Hill, North Carolina told Elizabeth Edwards, wife of John Edwards, former US senator, Democratic Party vice presidential candidate in 2004 and presidential hopeful in 2008, that the breast cancer originally diagnosed three years ago had metastasized to her right rib, the surrounding bones and possibly to her lungs.

The following day, John Edwards announced that he was remaining in the race for the Democratic nomination and that his wife was planning to participate actively. Mrs. Edwards told the media, “I expect to do next week all the things I did this week.”

On the human level, it is entirely natural and appropriate to feel sympathy for the Edwardses’ situation. Less than three years after her initial diagnosis, Mrs. Edwards has received news that must be, for even the most stoic individual, deeply unsettling. She must feel anxiety not only for her own future, but, even more, for the impact of her illness and its emotional consequences upon her husband and, especially, her two young children. It is within this context that the response of the Edwardses to their personal crisis is troubling and, in its own way, sheds a certain grim light on the political culture of the United States.

First, there is the speed with which the couple came to their decision to soldier on regardless. Perhaps this is really what they want, in their heart of hearts, to do. But one cannot avoid the thought that the Edwards found themselves suddenly in the midst of a nightmare scenario that was as much political as medical. If their own accounts are to be believed, they committed themselves to the continuation of the campaign within hours of learning the unhappy news. According to a piece in the New York Times, based on Elizabeth Edwards’ account of the events, as “the nurse fumbled to find the vein in her arm last Wednesday,” for additional tests (which proved negative) to see if the cancer had spread even farther, “her decision about her husband’s presidential campaign was sealed.” As she sat getting her IV, Mrs. Edwards concluded, “It’s really important that he [Edwards] run.”

That this is what she would be thinking in the midst of these medical procedures says a great deal about the dehumanizing impact of the American political process on the candidates themselves. Receiving a diagnosis of metastatic cancer is, in the most literal sense, a deadly serious matter. Elizabeth Edwards’ disease is classified as Stage 4—that is to say, incurable. Various treatments may succeed in prolonging her life by years, even decades, but every stage of the process of confronting such a condition, including having an IV inserted, is exhausting and nerve-racking. As she told the Times, “I was feeling particularly desperate.”

And yet, in the midst of personal desperation, the decision to get back on the “campaign trail” brooked no delay. Why? The ugly truth is that Edwards and his wife had, according to the rules of the American political game, no choice. They had to come an immediate decision: either announce immediately that they were staying in, or get out and cash in their chips.

The Edwards and their political advisers were well aware of one inescapably political reality: within hours of the news of Elizabeth’s cancer breaking, their financial backers would start to bail out if there existed the slightest doubt about their future plans. There would be, to be sure, tearful expressions of sympathy and solidarity. But the cash would dry up quickly.

Ruthlessly stage-managed as they are, or perhaps all the more so because of their political emptiness, American presidential campaigns are demanding, monstrous undertakings. To be considered a serious candidate, the former North Carolina senator will be obliged to raise $100 million during 2007. March 31 marks the end of the first quarter of fundraising, and, comments the Associated Press, “the presidential campaigns are working overtime to make sure they don’t get tagged as losers in the money race. ‘Money in the off year has never been more important than in this presidential cycle,’ said Michael Toner, a former Federal Election Commission chairman.”

Hillary Clinton may report that she has already raised as much as $40 million, Barack Obama may have $20 million and Edwards is expected to come in third among Democratic candidates. If he were to skip a beat, lose momentum, he would effectively be out of the race.

And so, Edward and Elizabeth had to decide immediately. Yes, it is a heartless and even brutal process. But American presidential campaigns are not without logic and purpose. It is this very process of dehumanization that whips the character of the presidential hopefuls into shape. Do they have what it takes to run the most powerful and brutal capitalist state in the world? Have the candidates been so emptied of everything decent and humane that they are prepared for what will be demanded of them once they arrive at the top of the political dung heap?

There is another aspect of this process that deserves comment. Bourgeois politicians everywhere are ambitious, but perhaps nowhere as blindly or recklessly so as in the US. Edwards and his wife are risking a great deal . . . but in pursuit of what exactly? Were John and Elizabeth Edwards the leaders or representatives of a socially significant movement, their decision to fight on, whatever the personal consequences, would appear in an entirely different and far more noble light. A great historic cause has a right to demand everything of those who place themselves at its service.

But Edwards, to be blunt about it, serves no cause other than that dictated by his blind ambition for the pedestrian glory of a high state office. The assertions by John and Elizabeth Edwards that they ‘could not let their supporters down’ are hollow. He is, at the end of the day, just another bourgeois politician.

Edwards made his name and fortune (estimated in 2003 at between $12.8 and $60 million) as a personal injury lawyer. Elected to the US Senate in 1998, Edwards served one term. He co-sponsored Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s Iraq War Resolution and also later voted for it (a decision he now says he regrets), and voted for the Patriot Act, the blueprint for an American police-state. His policies are all over the map, and one has reason to believe they are mostly regulated by shifts in the political winds. He has nothing of importance to offer the American people. Were his campaign to end tomorrow, its only legacy would be unpaid campaign bills.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #69 on: March 28, 2007, 08:51:16 PM »

I'd agree that "Breck girl" Edwards would spin 180 if the polls went that way on any topic. The bit about the Patriot act being a blue print for a police state is beyond ignorant though."Do they have what it takes to run the most powerful and brutal capitalist state in the world?" rolleyes
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #70 on: March 29, 2007, 01:09:11 AM »

The WSWS of the citation stands for "World Socialist Web Site". tongue
Power User
Posts: 9476

« Reply #71 on: March 29, 2007, 01:46:10 AM »

Checking in here with two items:

1) Rumor that Steve Forbes is joining the Rudy Giuliani campaign at a high level policy position, per 'Pajamasa Media'; the news story so far is just that Forbes is endorsing Giuliani:

Forbes advising Giuliani is great news from my point of view.  In previous campaigns I found Steve Forbes to be my best choice on policy positions but not charismatic enough to carry the message or win the votes.  Giuliani isn't my first choice candidate, but as things sit today, he has the best chance of winning the nomination and getting elected.  He needs the best advisors possible to help nail down the specifics of his proposals and to successfully frame the arguments.  Steve Forbes on tax policy makes sense IMO--

2) I recommend a long piece this week from the Chicago Tribune on Ill. Sen. Barack Obama:,0,445780.story,1,605874.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed,1,605874.story?page=2&coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true
 They pursue the angle that his real story isn't exactly as he wrote in his books.  I would read these just from the point of just getting to know one of the key players entering the national stage.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #72 on: March 29, 2007, 09:57:13 AM »

The WSWS of the citation stands for "World Socialist Web Site". tongue

The irony of "The World Socialist Web Site" advocating a totalitarian ideology while accusing the Patriot Act of being a blue print for a police state is breathtaking.  rolleyes
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #73 on: March 29, 2007, 10:50:45 AM »

Forbes does have a good grasp of supply side economics/tax policy.  This is important for Republicans to escape the class warfare/racebaiting tactics of the Demogogue Party.  As mayor, Rudy showed tax-cutting tendencies so Forbes looks like an honest fit.

There's much to like about Rudy, but his history on gun rights is downright bad.  This issue IS a very important one for me.  Also I see him as a RINO a certain other issues. 

Still, he is an easy call over any Dem.

PS:  Newt is on Hannity & Wife tonight
« Last Edit: March 29, 2007, 11:07:13 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Power User
Posts: 9476

« Reply #74 on: March 29, 2007, 02:32:09 PM »

Crafty, I agree with you on Rudy. Wrong to my taste on too many issues to support him in the primaries, but I will certainly join up if/when he secures the endorsement.  I also oppose gun control, but if I favored it and was President, I hope I would be principled enough to propose amending rather than stomping on the constitution.  Rudy has talked the talk on strict constructionist judicial appointments, but that contradicts his own position on gun control and on a mother's right to choose. 

Back to tax issues, in the 2000 campaign John McCain opposed candidate Bush's tax cut proposal.  Now McCain says make most of them permanent and Rudy sounds like he may go further into cutting and simplifying. And those are the moderates (RINOs). That is a step forward IMO. Still, McCain is feuding with Club for Growth (who I recently joined) over his previous anti tax cut votes.  It is not just the 'no' votes, but the rhetoric that helps gives credibility and cover to the left.  Specifically, McCain words and votes were cited often by the Dem here in our most recent senate race to demonstrate that she wasn't some extreme leftist.

Club for Growth Calls on McCain to Apologize for Tax Votes

Washington - The Club for Growth called on Senator McCain to renounce his 2001 and 2003 votes against the Bush tax cuts and apologize for his vocal class-warfare-laced opposition to them.

In 2001, Senator McCain was 1 of only 2 Republicans to oppose the Bush tax cuts (Roll Call #170, 05/26/01) and 1 of only 3 Republicans in 2003 (Roll Call #196, 05/23/03).  He even went so far as to adopt the class-warfare rhetoric of the Senate’s most liberal Democrats, arguing in a 2003 Face the Nation interview that “the reason why I opposed the last round was because the—what I felt was a disproportionate favoring of the wealthiest 1 percent, 10 percent of Americans.  If that's continued, obviously, then I wouldn't support that.”
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #75 on: March 29, 2007, 05:05:10 PM »

McCain has high integrity on WW3, but the list of things I oppose him on is long and strong.  To your list I would add the McCain-Feingold Act.  I get red hot angry on this one.  It is a total violation of the First Amendment and it is the shame of the Supreme Court that they affirmed it.
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #76 on: March 30, 2007, 08:16:59 AM »

Rudy's the One
The free-market leader of the GOP field.

Friday, March 30, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Rudy Giuliani is the real fiscal conservative in the 2008 presidential race. That's why I'm endorsing him for president.

Most Americans know that Mr. Giuliani turned around America's largest city. They know he cut crime and welfare in half; they know that he improved the quality of life from Times Square to Coney Island and everywhere in between. And they witnessed his Churchillian leadership following the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

Less well known is the mayor's fiscal record. Nonetheless, conservatives will find it impressive. He built New York's resurgence not just on fundamental police work, but also on a foundation of fiscal discipline. He cut taxes and the size of government and turned an inherited deficit into a multibillion dollar surplus.

Mr. Giuliani entered office in 1994 with a $2.3 billion budget deficit handed to him by his predecessor, Mayor David Dinkins. Liberal conventional wisdom held that the only way to close the gap was to raise taxes while cutting back on basic city services such as sanitation. The new mayor rejected this advice--in fact, he famously threw the report recommending tax hikes in the trash!

Instead, he set out to restore fiscal discipline to the "ungovernable city"--and achieved results that Reagan Republicans can applaud.

In his first budget address Mr. Giuliani explained that he would "cut taxes to attract jobs so our people can work." While lots of politicians make promises about cutting taxes Mr. Giuliani delivered, overcoming the initial resistance of the overwhelmingly Democratic City Council. He ultimately prevailed 23 times, including cuts in sales, personal income, commercial rent and hotel occupancy taxes. He understood that these taxes were not revenue producers, but counterproductive job killers.

When he left office after eight years, New Yorkers had saved over $9 billion, while enjoying their lowest tax burden in decades. The private sector, which had been hemorrhaging hundreds of thousands of jobs in the years before he took office, produced over 423,000 new jobs. Meanwhile the unemployment rate was cut in half. Businesses responded to Mr. Giuliani's reforms by returning to the center of city life.

So when he talks about his belief in supply-side economics, its not just theory, it's a plan he has already succeeded at putting into action. He's seen the results of supply-side economics first hand--higher revenues from lower taxes.

Controlling government spending is another pledge often made by politicians. Conservative voters now know to be skeptical of such claims. But Mr. Giuliani has a record they can have confidence in. His first budget cut spending for the first time in the city since the fiscal crisis of the 1970s--and over the course of his administration he controlled the city's spending while federal government spending grew by over 40% and average state spending ballooned by over 60%. Mr. Giuliani always made fiscal discipline a priority: instructing city commissioners to cut agency budgets even when the deficits had turned to surpluses.
Mr. Giuliani set out to cut the size of city government, insisting that New York should live within its means. New Yorkers saw their quality of life improve with more effective delivery of services while the bureaucratic ranks were being thinned by nearly 20,000--a near 20% decrease in city headcount, excluding police officers and teachers. He increased the number of cops and teachers because he understood that public safety and quality education are what we expect in return for our tax dollars, not partisan job protection or union featherbedding. As mayor, he proved that government can be smaller and smarter--more efficient and more effective.

Rudy Giuliani can unite the Republican Party and restore our traditional claim as the party of fiscal conservatism. He has already proven he can stand up to liberal special interest groups and achieve tax cuts, even with a Democrat-controlled City Council. That's the kind of leadership we need in Washington. That's the kind of leadership that will inspire the next generation of the Reagan Revolution. And that's why America's Mayor should be America's next president.

Mr. Forbes is president and CEO of Forbes Inc. and editor in chief of Forbes magazine.
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #77 on: April 11, 2007, 09:30:30 AM »

Today's WSJ

These columns have had more than one disagreement with John McCain over the years, especially on issues that typically win the Arizona Republican accolades from the rest of the media: campaign-finance reform, global warming, detainee interrogations and tax cuts. Yet now that he is under attack from his erstwhile media "base" for refusing to repudiate the war in Iraq, we think he deserves some covering fire. The word for what he's demonstrating is character.

Presidential campaigns often have their defining media moments, for better or worse: Think of Teddy Kennedy's fumbling replies to Roger Mudd's Chappaquiddick questions in 1979, or George H. W. Bush shaking off the so-called wimp factor in his 1988 interview with Dan Rather. It's too soon to say if Mr. McCain's interview Sunday with Scott Pelley of CBS's "60 Minutes" will be equally defining. But it certainly illuminated the chasm that distinguishes Mr. McCain from the Beltway media that used to adore him.

The most revealing exchange came when Mr. Pelley, in all apparent seriousness, asked the Senator "at what point do you stop doing what you think is right and you start doing what the majority of the American people want?"

Answered Mr. McCain: "I disagree with what the majority of the American people want. I still believe the majority of the American people, when asked, say if you can show them a path to success . . . then they'll support it." Later Mr. Pelley observed that Mr. McCain was betting his entire campaign on the success of the current "surge" strategy in Baghdad. The Senator replied that he'd "rather lose a campaign than lose a war."

It's hard not to respect that. Hard, too, not to notice that statements like those exist at a vast and principled remove from the recent Solonic utterances of other Senators who supported the war when it was popular. Such as "let's cut and run, or cut and walk" (Oregon Republican Gordon Smith, running for re-election next year), and "if we knew then what we know now, there wouldn't have been a vote and I certainly wouldn't have voted that way" (Hillary Rodham Clinton, trying to appease the antiwar left as she seeks the Democratic Presidential nomination).
The difference is not merely of consistency but of conviction. Mr. McCain is making clear he understands that leadership is often by nature unpopular. He has been equally clear about the consequences of U.S. withdrawal from Iraq--"chaos" and "genocide" were among the scenarios he painted for Mr. Pelley.

He has also shown that he understands the moral obligation his vote authorizing the war entailed, which was to see it through to victory, or at least until the conclusion becomes inescapable that victory is impossible. With General David Petraeus only recently installed in Baghdad and his surge strategy not yet fully under way, Mr. McCain realizes that we are nowhere near being able to draw that conclusion.

Not surprisingly, all this has the media in a state of apoplexy, with his former liberal pals shaking their heads in phony regret that his supposed blunder in Baghdad--observing last week that a market is safer than it was only a few months ago--is going to sink his candidacy. Our view is that Mr. McCain's difficulty so far in attracting conservative voters has nothing to do with Iraq, and everything to do with the positions that once made him the media darling. On the contrary, his support for the war and his appreciation of the stakes is one thing that keeps his candidacy alive, at least within the Republican Party.

Later today, Mr. McCain will deliver a speech at the Virginia Military Institute about how the war in Iraq can be won. Along with many Americans, we will listen with interest and respect, not because we always agree with Mr. McCain, but because he has demonstrated that his views on the subject are serious and born of belief, not of polls. That's more than can be said for most of our political and chattering classes, and a reason to admire a politician whose newfound unpopularity coincides with his finest political hour.
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #78 on: April 13, 2007, 09:42:09 PM »

Rudy's Big Apple Baggage
Will New York politics haunt Mr. Giuliani?

Friday, April 13, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Here's a little nugget from the past, a tale that may offer some insights into the next stage of the GOP presidential race, and the fortunes of front-runner Rudy Giuliani:

The date is the mid-1990s, and Republicans have swept Congress with their Contract with America. A top promise is greater fiscal responsibility, and a crucial element of that is a vow to pass a line-item veto and give the president the power to weed out pork. In 1996 Republicans are as good as their word, and grant the opposition's Bill Clinton a broad new power to strip wasteful spending.

Mr. Clinton is enthusiastic, and in August 1997 uses his tool for the first time to strike down a special-interest provision tucked in a bill. That provision gives New York hospitals a unique right to bilk extra Medicaid money, and the veto is expected to save federal taxpayers at least $200 million. Quicker than a Big Apple pol can say "pork," New York officials sue, challenging the line item veto's constitutionality. That suit, Clinton v. City of New York, goes all the way to the Supremes, which in 1998 put the kibosh on veto authority.

The kicker? The guy who brought the suit and won--or, rather, the guy who helped stall one of the more powerful tools for reining in government spending--was none other than former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #79 on: April 14, 2007, 09:19:08 AM »

Case Closed
Tax cuts mean growth.

Saturday, April 14, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

It's that time again, and I was thinking of the old joke about paying your taxes with a smile. The punch line is that the IRS doesn't accept smiles. They want your money.

So it's not that funny, but there is reason to smile this tax season. The results of the experiment that began when Congress passed a series of tax-rate cuts in 2001 and 2003 are in. Supporters of those cuts said they would stimulate the economy. Opponents predicted ever-increasing budget deficits and national bankruptcy unless tax rates were increased, especially on the wealthy.

In fact, Treasury statistics show that tax revenues have soared and the budget deficit has been shrinking faster than even the optimists projected. Since the first tax cuts were passed, when I was in the Senate, the budget deficit has been cut in half.

Remarkably, this has happened despite the financial trauma of 9/11 and the cost of the War on Terror. The deficit, compared to the entire economy, is well below the average for the last 35 years and, at this rate, the budget will be in surplus by 2010.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this success story is where the increased revenues are coming from. Critics claimed that across-the-board tax cuts were some sort of gift to the rich but, on the contrary, the wealthy are paying a greater percentage of the national bill than ever before.

The richest 1% of Americans now pays 35% of all income taxes. The top 10% pay more taxes than the bottom 60%.

The reason for this outcome is that, because of lower rates, money is being invested in our economy instead of being sheltered from the taxman. Greater investment has created overall economic strength. Job growth is robust, overcoming trouble in the housing sector; and the personal incomes of Americans at every income level are higher than they've ever been.

President John F. Kennedy was an astute proponent of tax cuts and the proposition that lower tax rates produce economic growth. Calvin Coolidge and Ronald Reagan also understood the power of lower tax rates and managed to put through cuts that grew the U.S. economy like Kansas corn. Sadly, we just don't seem able to keep that lesson learned.
Now, as before, politicians are itching to fund their pet projects with the short-term revenue increases that come from tax hikes, ignoring the long-term pain they always cause. Unfortunately, the tax cuts that have produced our record-breaking government revenues and personal incomes will expire soon. Because Congress has failed to make them permanent, we are facing the worst tax hike in our history. Already, worried investors are trying to figure out what the financial landscape will look like in 2011 and beyond.

This issue is particularly important now because massive, unfunded entitlements are coming due as the baby-boom generation retires. We simply cannot afford higher taxes if we want an economy able to bear up under the strain of those obligations. And beyond the issue of our annual federal budget is the nearly $9 trillion national debt that we have not even begun to pay off.

To face these challenges, and any others that we might encounter in a hazardous world, we need to maintain economic growth and healthy tax revenues. That is why we need to reject taxes that punish rather than reward success. Those who say they want a "more progressive" tax system should be asked one question:

Are you really interested in tax rates that benefit the economy and raise revenue--or are you interested in redistributing income for political reasons?

Mr. Thompson is a former Republican senator from Tennessee whose commentaries, "The Fred Thompson Report," can be heard on the ABC Radio network.
Power User
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« Reply #80 on: April 14, 2007, 12:32:34 PM »

 From the Courthouse
to the White House
Fred Thompson auditions for the leading role.
by Stephen F. Hayes
04/23/2007, Volume 012, Issue 30

A strange thing happened a few weeks back when I went to the Café Promenade at the Mayflower Hotel for an off-the-record interview with an unpaid adviser to the non-campaign of unannounced presidential candidate Fred Thompson.

Fred Thompson showed up.

Thompson was there to have lunch with Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a powerhouse consultant with ties to the White House. The two men worked together in the fall of 2005 on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. Thompson had invited Gillespie to lunch to discuss a potential presidential bid.

On March 11, just a week before, Thompson had appeared on Fox News Sunday and told Chris Wallace that he was giving "serious consideration" to running for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Ever since, advisers on other campaigns have tried to figure out how he'll affect the race if he runs.

Several patrons in the restaurant recognized Thompson. One well-dressed man with thick white hair approached him for an autograph. It's possible that this man wanted the autograph because Thompson served for eight years as a senator from Tennessee. But it's more likely that he wanted a memento of the day he ate at the same restaurant as Arthur Branch, the sagacious district attorney on Law & Order; Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; Law & Order: Criminal Intent; Law & Order: Trial by Jury; and Conviction, a spin-off of, well, you can probably guess. The same man returned to the table twice more. Each time Thompson put his conversation on hold and graciously tolerated the interruption.

After an hour, Thompson and Gillespie--currently chairman of the Republican party of Virginia--rose and left the restaurant. Ten minutes later, Thompson walked back in with former senator Bill Frist. They were led to a different table, but Thompson's waitress was the same. She laughed as she took his new order. Thompson says this second lunch was unplanned. Although he and Frist talk daily, the two Tennesseans met this time by chance. Finding they both had gaps in their schedules, they spent the next two hours at Café Promenade talking about a Fred Thompson for President campaign.

There is some discontent among Republicans with the current choices for the party's nominee in 2008. The complaints are well known: Senator John McCain, the maverick Republican, is too much maverick and not enough Republican. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani is thought to be too willful and too liberal: He recently suggested he would allow his new wife to attend cabinet meetings and reaffirmed his support for federal funding of abortion. Mitt Romney seems pleasant and competent, but pleasant and competent doesn't beat Hillary Clinton. Senator Sam Brownback is unknown and uncharismatic. And former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is from Arkansas.

According to an adviser to one of the leading candidates, the rationale for a Thompson run is best illustrated--as so many things are--by The Simpsons. In one episode, Homer Simpson's civic-minded neighbor Ned Flanders tells a large crowd of fellow Springfield citizens that they must choose someone to lead an anticrime campaign in the town.

"Who should lead the group?"

"You," shouts a man from the crowd. The entire mob begins to chant.

"Flanders! Flanders! Flanders!"

When Flanders humbly begins to explain that he doesn't have much experience in such matters, Moe the Bartender cuts him off.

"Someone else!"

The crowd joins in.

"Someone else! Someone else! Someone else!"

One obvious advantage Fred Thompson has is that he's someone else.

In recent Republican presidential preference polls, Thompson tends to run third, behind Giuliani and McCain but ahead of Romney and the rest of the field. In a Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll released last week, Thompson came in second, just ahead of McCain, with support from 15 percent of those surveyed. In late March, Thompson won a straw poll of Republicans in conservative Gwinnett County, Georgia, earning more votes than all of the other candidates combined. And Iowa Republican party executive director Chuck Laudner told the Washington Times, "He's the biggest buzz in the state."

Representative Zach Wamp, a fellow Tennesseean who is running an effort to "Draft Fred," tells me he expects 60 congressional Republicans to show up early next week at a meet-and-greet with Thompson. Mark Corallo, who has volunteered to answer press inquiries for Thompson, has been getting dozens of calls each day--not only from reporters, but from Republicans around the country who have seen his name in the newspaper and tracked him down at his private consulting firm to sign up for a Thompson campaign. Politicians are reaching out to Bill Frist to offer their support. Says Frist: "I have governors who have called me, fundraisers I've known from my days as majority leader who are ready to go."

All of this, for a candidate who has not yet announced for anything.

Last week, I went to Thompson's home in the verdant Washington suburb of McLean, Virginia, to talk to him about his prospective presidential run. We spoke for more than four hours about his life in Tennessee, his family, his acting career, his foray into politics, and his future.

I was 30 minutes late. Thompson, who was on the phone with Howard Baker, his political mentor, didn't seem to care. He hung up, extended his large hand, offered a friendly greeting, and led me to his office. We were alone. Thompson's work space looks just like what the home office of a successful politician or CEO should look like--though a little messier: a large desk, dark wood, leather furniture, lots of books and magazines and newspapers, a flat-screen TV, and box upon box of cigars--Montecristos from Havana.

The presence of the cigars and the absence of a press chaperone were clues that Thompson is taking a different approach to his potential candidacy. A campaign flack would have insisted on hiding the cigars--Senator, how did you get those Cuban cigars? Isn't there a trade embargo?--and might have dampened Thompson's natural candor. On subjects ranging from Social Security to abortion, the CIA and to Iran, there would be lots of candor over the next several hours.

And by the end of the conversation, two unexpected realities had emerged. If he joins the race for the Republican nomination, and if he campaigns the same way he spoke to me last week, Fred Thompson, a mild-mannered, slow-talking southern gentleman, will run as the politically aggressive conservative that George W. Bush hasn't been for four years. And the actor in the race could well be the most authentic personality in the field.

Thompson seems to recognize that he wins the guy-I'd-want-to-get-a-beer-with primary the moment he announces. He comes across as a regular guy--"folksy" will be the political cliché that attaches to his candidacy--and punctuates explanations of his positions with the kind of off-the-cuff homespun witticisms that Dan Rather spent a career trying to come up with.

We sat facing each other in leather armchairs, and after some small talk I asked him what life was like growing up in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. He began talking, and about 30 minutes later it was already 1994 and he was about to be elected to the U.S. Senate. I'd tried to interrupt with questions here and there, but he had a story he was determined to tell.

It's a good story. Thompson was born in Alabama and lived for most of his young life in Middle Tennessee. His father sold used cars and his mother took care of the house. Neither one graduated from high school, although Thompson's father earned his high school equivalency certificate later in life. His family ate dinner every night at 6:00 P.M. "It was like clockwork," he says. Thompson was not a great student in high school. At one point, he says, several of his teachers worked together to strip him of the title given to him by a vote of his peers--Most Athletic--because his grades were substandard. His father was something of a jokester, but also when necessary a disciplinarian.

"I grew up not having anything to live up to from an economic or professional standpoint, but having a lot to live up to from a growing-up and becoming-a-man standpoint," says Thompson.

That example would be important at a young age. Thompson married his high school sweetheart at 17, and together they enrolled at Memphis State University, where he studied philosophy and political science. Thompson worked several jobs to put himself through college and support a growing family.

"I sold clothing," he says. "I sold shoes. I sold baby shoes. I sold ladies shoes. I worked in a factory."

His wife's uncle and grandfather were both lawyers, and Thompson says he wanted to live up to the professional standards of her family. The law school at Vanderbilt University had seemed an unattainable goal for an underachieving high school student from a family without means. But it was a goal nonetheless. Thompson got serious academically as an undergraduate, and won admission.

Once a lawyer, he had a brief stint with the U.S. attorney's office, then went into private practice--"hung out my shingle," he says--and volunteered to work for Howard Baker's reelection campaign for Senate in 1972. Shortly after Baker returned to Washington he asked Thompson to join him for what he thought would be a short-term project. A special committee had been established to look into the Committee to Reelect President Richard M. Nixon, and Baker, the panel's top Republican, asked Thompson to serve as minority counsel. Thompson could often be seen at Baker's side as the investigation grew from a routine oversight hearing into the proceedings that would cause a president to resign. Thompson, who wrote a book about his experiences called At That Point in Time: The Inside Story of the Senate Watergate Committee, asked the question that led to the revelation of the White House taping systems. "Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President?" And Thompson is often credited with feeding Baker the line that would become one of the most famous of an era: "What did the president know and when did he know it?"

Thompson says he passed up several offers with big Washington law firms to return to Nashville, where he entered a private practice with two law school classmates. He took the case of Marie Ragghianti, the head of Tennessee's Parole and Pardons Board. Ragghianti had grown concerned about what she saw as a pattern of suspicious pardons ordered from the office of Governor Ray Blanton. Her suspicions were later confirmed and Blanton was forced from office in a cash-for-clemency scandal that continued until his last day.

Peter Maas, author of Serpico, turned Marie Ragghianti's story into a book creatively titled Marie and published in 1983. Director Roger Donaldson bought the movie rights and came to Nashville to interview the major players. After meeting Thompson, Donaldson asked him if he'd like to play himself in the movie. Thompson agreed.

Over the next two decades, Thompson would appear in dozens of films and television shows as a character actor, often one who personifies government strength. It is a role that seems to fit. "Literally, I don't think Fred ever acts," says Tom Ingram, a longtime friend from Tennessee who now serves as chief of staff to Senator Lamar Alexander. "He played himself in Marie, and he's been playing himself ever since."

When Donaldson needed someone to play the role of CIA director in his next film, No Way Out, he turned to Thompson. A string of movies followed: The Hunt for Red October, Days of Thunder, Die Hard 2, Curly Sue, Cape Fear, In the Line of Fire. And there were cameo appearances on TV's Matlock and later Sex and the City.

Thompson never moved to Hollywood, choosing to stay in Tennessee, where he continued to practice law and remained involved in Republican politics. When Al Gore was elected vice president, Tennessee's Democratic governor, Ned McWherter, appointed one of his top advisers to serve until the 1994 elections, when a replacement would be elected to fill the final two years of Gore's term. Thompson's name came up early, and eventually, in July 1993, he filed papers for an exploratory committee.

Thompson knew from the beginning that it would be a difficult race. His opponent was Jim Cooper, a popular conservative Democrat who had developed a national reputation as a legislative expert on health care, widely considered one of the country's most important issues. Thompson started the race well behind Cooper. He told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal that he was a moderate Republican. The reporter who interviewed Thompson described him as "pro-choice," but noted that he supported restrictions on abortion at the state level and opposed federal funding. (A 1994 story in National Review also described Thompson as pro-choice.)

In a poll taken in February 1994, 36 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for Cooper, while just 17 percent supported Thompson. The Hotline, a Washington-based digest on campaigns and elections, reported the poll results under the headline: "They Know Thompson's Face, But Not His Name." It would prove to be an accurate diagnosis of Thompson's difficulties.

"For a year, I didn't scratch," Thompson says, looking back.

At the low point, Thompson met at a Cracker Barrel with Ingram. Thompson told his friend that he wasn't having any fun campaigning and was pessimistic about his chances to win. He was considering dropping out. Thompson had had it with the rubber-chicken Republican dinners and the rigors of campaigning across the state. "Fred was beleaguered by the traditional way of running for office," Ingram remembers. "He was expressing his misery over things."

Ingram had a question for Thompson: What would you do if you ran the way you wanted to run? Thompson thought for a minute, then said he'd shed as much of the campaign apparatus as possible and drive around the state in a pick-up truck. Ingram suggested he do just that, and Thompson thought it a good recommendation. Thompson would soon be known for his red pick-up truck. Cooper's campaign complained that it was a Hollywood-style gimmick designed to make Thompson look down to earth, and it surely was that. "But it was more than a device," Ingram insists. "It made Fred comfortable as a candidate. He felt liberated to just be himself."

Thompson ran on a strong small-government--even antigovernment--message. "America's government is bringing America down, and the only thing that can change that is a return to the basics," he said. "We will get back to basics and make the sacrifices and once again amaze the world at how, in America, ordinary people can do very extraordinary things." Thompson emphasized issues that would appeal to disaffected voters--making laws apply to the members of Congress who pass them; congressional pay raises; entitlement reform.

It was a message that began to resonate. Two months before the election, a poll by national Republicans put the race dead even. And as Thompson increased his advertising--allowing voters to put his famous face together with his name--he took the lead, and it grew. "Some people knew me and knew my face, but I started out 20 points behind" he says. "I just had to work at it until I raised enough money to go on television and then I went up pretty fast." Cooper asked for and was given free air-time for his ads after stations played movies starring Thompson. But it was too late.

Thompson won 61 percent of the vote, Cooper just 39 percent. Part of the explanation was that Thompson was swept along in the historic Republican tide of 1994. But Cooper would later say that he'd underestimated the political importance of Thompson's film career. "He was in so many movies," Cooper told the Nashville Tennesseean in 2002. "I should have been more worried than I was because that is a powerful way to present yourself to the public."

Thompson's new colleagues in Washington immediately tried to capitalize on his ability to communicate. Bob Dole, recently elevated to Senate majority leader, picked Thompson to present the televised Republican response to a national address by President Bill Clinton.

On Christmas Day, 1994, Thompson was a guest on ABC's This Week. Sam Donaldson opened the interview by telling viewers that while they might not know the name Fred Thompson, they might recognize his face. "I want to just show people how accomplished you are, because if they have been sitting at home saying, 'You know, I know this guy, I know this guy,' there's a reason," he said, before playing clips of the actor.

Thompson was at his most self-deprecating. "When they needed some middle-aged guy who'd work cheap, they'd call me for a little part and I'd go out there two or three weeks and knock one out," he explained to Donaldson.

Donaldson asked Thompson why he was chosen to give the GOP response to Clinton. "I want to keep boring in on this question of--perhaps you were chosen because the Republican leaders said, 'Fred Thompson is not just another pretty face.' I mean, Fred Thompson--"

"That's for sure."

Then Donaldson asked Thompson about presidential politics. "Who are the Republicans going to put up to run for the presidency in two years?"

"I think that it's going to be wide open," Thompson replied. "I think that there's at least a half a dozen people out there. There might be someone that hasn't been mentioned."

"Let me give you a name," Donaldson pressed. "Let me give you a name: Fred Thompson. Senator Fred Thompson."

Thompson found the suggestion amusing. "There's one thing, I think, for certain that I've observed around here over the period of time that I've been here, and watching all this for years, and that is when people come to town, somewhere along the line, if they do anything at all, if they're shown to be able to put one foot in front of the other, they're mentioned for the national ticket. So now you've mentioned me, and I appreciate it, so we can move on to more serious topics."

Thompson had not yet been sworn in.

In eight years in the Senate, Thompson developed a reputation for an independent streak, yet he compiled a voting record more conservative than one might expect of one who had described himself as a moderate in his first campaign. Over the course of his time in Congress he earned a lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union of 86 percent. He was not quite as conservative (using 2002 numbers) as Rick Santorum (87), Strom Thurmond (91), Trent Lott (93), or Jesse Helms (99), but more conservative than Arlen Specter (42), Olympia Snowe (52), John Warner (82), and John McCain (84).

His voting record suggests a strong belief in federalism. Thompson was frequently a lonely voice opposing the federalization of what in his view were state issues. His unwillingness to compromise on that principle even put him on the losing end of a 99-to-1 vote on the so-called Good Samaritan law, legislation that protected individuals from being sued if their good faith efforts to help someone in distress were unsuccessful. He thought it should have been left to the states.
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« Reply #81 on: April 14, 2007, 12:36:36 PM »

Thompson also served as chairman of the Senate Government Relations Committee, which he used to investigate fundraising irregularities in the 1996 presidential election cycle. Republicans had high hopes that Thompson's inquiry would add to the political difficulties of the Clinton White House stemming from its malfeasance on campaign financing.

After the hearings ended, Fox News Channel's Brit Hume described Thompson as "flying high before his hearings . . . and shot down once they started and all the way through them."

Thompson says "the congressional investigative function is not a prosecutorial function" and acknowledges that the hearings produced "mixed result in many respects." He believes the criticism stems from the fact that "few people went to jail."

As Thompson considered his future, he began telling friends that he was not certain he wanted to seek reelection in 2002. He changed his mind after the attacks of September 11. Thompson, who served at the time on the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced in late September that he would run again. "Now is not the time for me to leave," he said. "This is the way now, it's perfectly clear, for me to contribute the most." He spent the next several weeks traveling to churches throughout Tennessee talking about the attacks and the coming U.S. response to them.

At a hearing of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee on October 4, 2001, Thompson sounded a skeptical note about the prospect of reorganizing the federal homeland security bureaucracy. "The government, basically, cannot manage large projects very well," he said. "Maybe we can learn from our past experience with other government agencies and other crises and things of that nature and not make the same mistakes as we go about trying to rearrange these boxes and decide who reports to who and who has what authority. And maybe we'll take the lessons that we've learned from our other management problems in particular."

Then in late January 2002, his daughter Elizabeth Panici died suddenly following a heart attack. She was only 38. Thompson's friends say he was devastated. A month later he announced that he had changed his mind--he would not seek reelection. "I simply do not have the heart for another six-year term."

At a press conference after his announcement, he lashed out at the media for their intrusive coverage of his private life. "Every public official has to understand that he or she is a public official and that's the price you pay. For the most part, that's appropriate," he said. "That's the price your whole family pays. There are lines to be drawn. I think it's extremely unfortunate and uncalled for for the local newspaper to discuss the details of this. Her death obviously played in my decision, but the details of all of that, what news value does that have? Why did she have to pay that price? Why does her little five-year-old boy have to pay that price because her daddy chose to try to serve his state and his country? It's over the line and more like the National Enquirer-type stuff than anything else."

In his final months in the Senate, Thompson concentrated his efforts on legislation that would create the Department of Homeland Security. He fought efforts by Democrats to subject the new workforce to union and collective bargaining rules that apply to federal employees more broadly. The bill passed two weeks after the 2002 midterm elections, on a vote of 90-9.

"This is the most significant thing I've been involved in and certainly the most significant thing I've had my name on because it involves the main function of government, and that is protecting its citizens."

More than four years later, munching on a turkey sandwich and sour cream and onion potato chips at his dining room table, he displays an unusual willingness to second-guess his own decision. After Thompson criticized the growth of bureaucracy under the new director of national intelligence, I asked him why the new bureaucracy under Department of Homeland Security is any different.

"Well, to tell you the truth, in retrospect, we may conclude that it wasn't any different. But it got to the point where almost anything would have been an improvement," he says. "A lot of those agencies were in and of themselves dysfunctional, so bringing them together was not going to make everybody greater. . . . But you've got to start somewhere and you can't wait until everything is just right until you start coordinating. So we were kind of jumping aboard a moving train."

It was an admirably honest appraisal of what he once pointed to as the crowning achievement of his career in Congress. As we spoke, I was struck by the fact that Thompson didn't seem to be calibrating his answers for a presidential run. On issue after contentious issue, I got the sense from both his manner and the answers he gave me that he was just speaking extemporaneously. Many of his answers would drive a poll-watching political consultant nuts.

My suspicions were confirmed when Thompson asked at one point if he could have a transcript of our interview. "I found myself talking on some subjects that I haven't really thought that much about," he explained. "Oh, so this is what I think, huh?"

* Thompson says he came to respect George W. Bush during the 2000 campaign because of his plan to reform Social Security. Congressional Republicans considered the plan a political liability, and it went nowhere. Thompson says that although it was only tinkering on the margins of real reform, it was a good start. He won't share his own plan--"I'll roll that out at the appropriate time"--but the general principle he articulates sounds like a political risk.

"It's based upon the proposition that granddad and grandmom will be willing to sacrifice a little bit if they feel like it helps their grandkids avoid financial disaster, and that their sacrifice is not going to be wasted down some government rathole," he explains. "Under most plans, most good plans, you know current retirees probably would not be affected that much at all. . . . We've been operating under the assumption in this country that it's the third rail and that if you talk about it, those people who are most concerned about retirement programs will kill you. I don't think that's true."

* He believes that elements of the CIA were out to get Scooter Libby and his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby, though not the original leaker of the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame, was convicted of lying and obstructing justice. "It makes me mad as the devil just to think about it," Thompson says. He had never met Libby when he volunteered to serve on the advisory board of the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Trust. Is Libby innocent? Thompson answers with one word. "Yes."

Do you think there will be negative political fallout from defending the convicted former chief of staff to an unpopular vice president?

"I have no idea. I have a hard time seeing it. If I'm wrong about the temperature of the American people on this, then I'm wrong about a lot of things about the American people. And we might as well find out."

* I asked him about his vote for the Iraq war and the Bush administration's failure to explain to the American public the real story of the prewar intelligence on Iraq. I ask Thompson how it is possible that a majority of the country believes the Bush administration lied about Iraqi WMD, when the U.S. intelligence community and the world consensus was that Saddam Hussein had these weapons.

"Part of it had to do with what has become almost a knee-jerk suspicion on the part of a lot of people with regards to anybody in authority," he says. And then he directly faults the Bush administration. "A part of it has been the administration's inability to sufficiently communicate the reality of the situation. It's not just the president. . . . You have to have an organized, pervasive ability to get your message across and rebut erroneous misstatements of the history. It is amazing to me how something like this could be perceived so erroneously by so many people. Because we all
 know what the facts are. We've all seen the statements and the comments of Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, and the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, and the list goes on and on and on."

Thompson slips into sarcasm. "It is amazing to me how a man that they say is so dumb fooled so many real smart people. But that's what they're saying about Bush. Bush
 canoodled the entire Democratic establishment. Absurd on its face, and yet some people want to believe that sort of thing."

Then he goes on to give a better defense of the White House than anything that has come out of the White House communications shop in four years.

The irony here is that intelligence services had consistently over the years understated the capabilities of enemies and potential enemies. Now, here there was unanimity among the intelligence services, some of whom are supposed to be better than ours. . . . People don't understand intelligence. They don't understand. It's seldom clear. It's often caveated. It's sometimes flat-out wrong. Different people often have different ideas. That's what a president is faced with. And some today would say that politically a president has got to have unanimity before he can make a choice. And then they say that if he has that unanimity, the president has to make that choice--at the same time talking about how deficient our capabilities are. But if those deficient capabilities produced a recommendation, the president of the United States and leader of the free world has to take that recommendation. That has been so faulty in the past. It's absurd. Presidents in the future, as always, have to make a determination based on a lot of things, and intelligence is one of them. And the president not only has the right to evaluate the intelligence that he's receiving, he has a duty to do that. He listens to the British. I mean, if history was any judge, I don't know about now, but if the Brits tell me that there's an [Iraqi] deal with Niger and our guys don't know whether there was or not, I tend to rely on the Brits. I mean, those are the calls the president's got to make, and the question is really: Which way do you want the president to lean? Caution--that it's probably not so? When bad news is delivered, he gets mixed messages, he gets various intelligence reports of various kinds. Did you want him all balled up in all of that, you know, trying to apply some kind of a scientific equation to it for fear that somebody in an intelligence committee is going to wave it around at a hearing later on or something like that? Is that what it's come to? If so, the world is going to be a lot more dangerous than it otherwise already is. You've got to exercise the authority and the responsibilities that you've been given. I mean, in this debate over intelligence and what it is and what it ought to be and how it's used and all of that, you know, [it] needs to be dealt with and laid out in a way that people can understand it. . . . The next report says somebody's got weapons of mass destruction, you know what're we going to do with that? You know, just because history--a cat won't sit on a hot stove twice, but he won't sit on a cold stove either.
* He is equally blunt about Iran. Thompson says that the actions of the Iranian regime--harboring senior al Qaeda leaders, funding and training Iraqi insurgents, supplying terrorists in Iraq with devices that are killing American soldiers--are acts of war. He stops short of calling for a military response, but seems to suggest that he would be saying something different if circumstances were different.

"Unfortunately, today it can't be considered in isolation, so you have to take into consideration our capabilities and our priorities worldwide right now. And unfortunately we're stretched too thin." Nonetheless, he says, the long-term objective in Iran is the same one that led to the Iraq war. "I think the bottom line with Iran is that nothing is going to change unless there is a regime change."

* In the days since Thompson allowed that he was thinking about running for president, his views on abortion have come under scrutiny. Thompson finds the news reports from his first run for Senate perplexing.

"I have read these accounts and tried to think back 13 years ago as to what may have given rise to them. Although I don't remember it, I must have said something to someone as I was getting my campaign started that led to a story. Apparently, another story was based upon that story, and then another was based upon that, concluding I was pro-choice."

But, he adds: "I was interviewed and rated pro-life by the National Right to Life folks in 1994, and I had a 100 percent voting record on abortion issues while in the Senate."

Darla St. Martin, associate executive director of National Right to Life, supports Thompson on those claims. She traveled to Tennessee in 1994 to meet with him. "I interviewed him and on all of the questions I asked him, he opposed abortion," she told the American Spectator's Philip Klein.

Thompson says he thinks Roe v. Wade is bad law and should be overturned, but he says he does not support a Human Life Amendment.

One of the few times Thompson was unwilling to share his thoughts came when I asked him if he thought Rudy Giuliani was too liberal to win the Republican nomination and if Hillary Clinton could make a good president. The only question he would answer about his potential rivals concerned John McCain.

Thompson was one of four senators to support McCain in 2000 and served as the national co-chairman of his campaign. So I asked him why he's not supporting McCain again.

"You know the old joke about--what about me? As self-centered as that sounds, and it is, that ought to be the way it is." He adds: "Besides, you can't predict what's going to happen anyway, with any of them. Anybody could implode. Anybody could take off."

Before his appearance on Fox News Sunday, Thompson called McCain to let him know that he would announce that he was seriously considering a presidential bid. The conversation was friendly. "If we do this," he says, "we'll remain friends and we'll be friends after this."

There is considerable talk among the other Republican campaigns that the Thompson boomlet is driven by little more than celebrity. Maybe. But history suggests that Thompson may actually be underpolling right now. As was the case when he ran for office in Tennessee, he has a very recognizable face but his national name identity is actually quite low.

Gallup conducted a survey in late March asking respondents an open-ended question: "What comes to your mind when you think about former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson?" Sixty-seven percent of Republicans responded that they had no opinion of Thompson or were not familiar with him. And yet he shows up in the top three choices of potential Republican nominees in most of the polling that includes his name. As voters come to associate that name with a familiar and well-liked face, and if they get to see the personable Thompson on TV, Thompson strategists assume those polling numbers can only go up.

When Thompson met with Bill Frist at the Mayflower Hotel, they had important business to discuss. More than two years ago, Thompson had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It is "indolent" lymphoma, a slow-growing form of the disease that is not usually symptomatic. If you're going to have one of the 33 varieties of lymphoma, Thompson says, this is the one you want. "It's easy to diagnose, easy to treat and easy to live with," Frist, a physician, confirms. But it sounds scary, the kind of thing that might spook potential primary voters if it were disclosed by an announced candidate.

"We thought we had to get it out early," says Frist, "in the sense that he's going to be announcing."

If Frist's acknowledgment that Thompson was going to run may have been a slip, Thompson's own words also suggest he's running. He says he understands "how hard it is, how difficult it is, how embarrassing it is, how intrusive it is." And he knows that as a candidate he could be subject to harsh attacks.

"That's the least of it anymore," he says. "It's not pleasant, but it's not that important anymore because you're straight with your family, you have a level of understanding and knowledge about your family, and they with you, and with the man upstairs, and that's that. You know, ain't really much past that. And it kind of frees you up in a way."

Yes, it does.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

© Copyright 2007, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved. 
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« Reply #82 on: April 18, 2007, 12:31:08 PM »


Newt's presentation with Congressman Mark Udall to EcoVision 2007 will be  webcast live at   

April 18
7:00 PM ET

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« Reply #83 on: April 19, 2007, 02:46:00 PM »

-- John Fund
The Comeback Kid?

It's hardly news that John McCain's second run for the White House hasn't gone all that swimmingly. Sen. McCain never expected the adulation of the conservative base, whose mistrust has only increased since 2000. What Mr. McCain did expect was the support of moderate Republicans and independents.

Today's he's encountering almost the opposite. Mr. McCain's steadfast support of the Iraq war has irritated moderates who were otherwise fond of his maverick ways, and it has also given the media a reason to turn against its darling of the 2000 race. On the other hand, conservatives may be starting to readjust their traditional love-hate relationship with the Arizona Senator precisely because they see Mr. McCain's support of the war as both right and honorable.

Mr. McCain's staunch and very public support for the war has clearly given him a boost in the Republican field -- as shown by five polls taken since his appearance on "60 Minutes" a week and a half ago, all of which have him back above 20%.

There are other good signs for Mr. McCain. In a recent CNN poll, he received 24%, just three points behind Rudy Giuliani, who was at 27%. Less encouragingly, when Fred Thompson is taken out of the mix, Mr. Giuliani jumps to 31%, while Mr. McCain remains at 25%. Because former Sen. Thompson is likely to get into the race, what these numbers suggest is that Mr. Giuliani's support is much more fickle than Mr. McCain's. Also, despite Mr. McCain's poor first quarter fundraising totals, he was second only to Sen. Barack Obama in grassroots fundraising (i.e., donors who gave $200 or less). Mr. McCain's support might not yet be broad enough to capture the nomination but it is deep.

Of course, his fortunes are tied to Iraq in a way the other candidates' aren't. The perceived wisdom is that if Iraq falls, so does Mr. McCain. Quite possible, but it's also possible that conservatives would see Mr. McCain's determination to achieve victory in Iraq as the sort of quality they want in their next president.

-- Blake Dvorak,
Quote of the Day
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« Reply #84 on: April 19, 2007, 02:48:06 PM »

McCain was the MSM's darling and main source of support. Now they've decided to unmake him.
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« Reply #85 on: April 19, 2007, 06:47:29 PM »



Published on on April 18, 2007.

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All the polling and analysis of the 2008 presidential primaries neatly bifurcate their consideration into partisan categories. In the Democratic primary, Clinton, Obama and Edwards face off, while in the Republican contest, the polls take measure of Giuliani, McCain, Romney and, depending on their assumptions, Gingrich and Fred Thompson. But this analysis fundamentally ignores one of the most important elements in the looming contest of 2008: the likelihood that independents and even Republicans may enter the Democratic primary to support or oppose Hillary Clinton. So polarizing is her candidacy that the migration into the Democratic primary could be enormous, even so large as to overshadow the core Democratic partisans who always vote in their party’s contests.

In all, 24 states — including big ones like California, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois — with a combined 56 percent of America’s population permit independents to vote in the Democratic primary; 19 states, with 39 percent of the population, let anyone vote in either primary, even if they are registered in the opposite party. More importantly, among the early states, Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have completely open primaries and permit voters to choose whichever primary they wish. California law is particularly odd (as is often the case with that state). Independents can vote only in the Democratic primary — not in the Republican contest. This  provision virtually assures a massive influx of unaffiliated voters into the Clinton-Obama battle.

Crossovers were an important factor the last time both parties had simultaneous nominating processes. In 2000, Bush and Gore wrapped up most of the votes of the loyalists of their respective parties while challengers McCain and Bradley split the independent vote. Had either McCain or Bradley not run, it is possible that the remaining candidate would have gotten so many independent votes that he might have been nominated.

  But in 2008, all the gravitational pull will be into the Democratic primary. If Giuliani is well ahead by primary season, the GOP contest could turn out to be anti-climactic. But even if the Republican primary will be fought closely, none of the candidates has the same potential to attract or repel voters as Hillary Clinton.

So which will it be? Will Hillary attract or repel independent voters? The Gallup organization recently released a composite of its polling on Hillary among independents over the past three years. It found that while Democrats hold a favorable opinion of the former first lady by 83 percent to 13, independents break in her favor by only 51 percent to 43. Republicans, needless to say, dislike her: Among GOPers the favorable rating is only 20 percent to 76.

Given these data, two factors would indicate that the crossover voting laws may spell trouble for Hillary:

If she only leads Obama by 5 to 10 points among Democrats when she has an 83-13 favorability rating, she will likely do much worse among independents.

The passion and the depth of animus against Hillary, particularly among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, may be so intense as to motivate them to participate in the Democratic primary in great numbers.

Most current polling fails to capture the likelihood of crossover voting. News media surveys generally ask Democrats what they think about the Democratic field and Republicans what they think about the GOP contenders. Since half the states do not permit independents, much less members of the opposite party, to enter the primaries, few national samples ask independents what they are likely to do. Those that do tend not to divide their samples along the lines of each state’s law; fewer still ask Republicans if they will vote in the Democratic primary. So crossover voting is a blind spot in most current polling.

All strategists and pollsters need to amend their thinking to view the primaries as the three-dimensional processes they really are.
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« Reply #86 on: April 19, 2007, 11:29:02 PM »

Dick Morris makes a good headsup about the potential for crossover vote to swing the primaries on one side or the other, but I wouldn't predict that the either race will be decided that early or that a crossover would be effective.  I think both sides will be contested.  I'd rank myself as very high on the dislike-Hillary scale, and I can't imagine risking a crossover and adding momentum to a Obama or Edwards campaign when both are to the left of Hillary on paper.

If the Democratic race wraps up early, moderate Dems might crossover to vote for the moderate R, but that would be a sign that they would also support him in the general election.   Extreme leftists could try to help the weaker Republican.  But all the R candidates seem to be pro-war which is not moderate in these times, and trying to pick the other side's weakest candidate is a losing proposition.

So it's independents that hold the balance as they so often do.  Except for the war issue which could change in a year, Republican candidates seem to be positioned more to the center while the Democrats seem to be in a race to the left.

For the general election there is the possibility of a third party spoiler, depending on who feels unrepresenting when the nominations get resolved.
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« Reply #87 on: April 24, 2007, 12:38:25 PM »

Love That Loophole

Mitt Romney has an ace up his sleeve when it comes to his presidential campaign. Not only did the former Massachusetts governor raise more money than any other GOP candidate in the first quarter, but he has the potential to outspend his opponents regardless of how much money he raises.

Mr. Romney has a personal fortune that exceeds $500 million, and while he has only chipped in about $2 million of his personal funds so far, he has the option to donate far more. Even more importantly, his opponents would not be eligible for the provision in the McCain-Feingold law of 2002 that allows congressional candidates to accept contributions in excess of usual limits when facing a wealthy self-funding opponent. The so-called "Millionaires' Amendment" was inadvertently excluded from applying to presidential campaigns. "If Romney pours millions of his own dollars into the race, Republican primary opponents would have little recourse but to raise further funds in $2,300 increments, a time-consuming process," reports The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

In Congressional campaigns, the Millionaire's Amendment has sometimes made a big difference. In 2004, a then-obscure Illinois state senator used the provision to accept contributions as large as $12,000 in his uphill race for the Democratic Senate nomination against wealthy businessman Blair Hull. Without that financial leg up, Barack Obama might still be voting on driver's license fee bills as a state legislator in Springfield.

Mr. Romney insists he plans to raise money from his proven network of contributors and their friends. But he has the option of pouring in additional resources in advance of the "Super Tuesday" collection of 24 state primaries on Feb. 5, when close to 40% of all delegates will be at stake.

-- John Fund  Political Journal of the WSJ
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« Reply #88 on: May 03, 2007, 04:38:16 PM »

The Shadow Candidates
The art of not running for president.

Thursday, May 3, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Tonight 10 Republicans go on stage to trade sound bites in a debate at the Reagan Library in Los Angeles. But a lot of media oxygen is being used up by the "noncandidate candidates"--those who might want to be president, but haven't yet officially jumped into the race.

In every election some conventional wisdom is swept aside. Be it that third party candidates can't influence the race (Ross Perot won 19% of the popular vote in 1992), that sitting presidents have to wait for their opposing party to pick a candidate (Bill Clinton ran negative ads more than a year before the 1996 election and went on to be the first Democrat to win re-election since FDR in 1944) or that an Internet-based campaign can't threaten an establishment candidate (Howard Dean surged, if briefly, past everyone in 2004), conventional wisdom is only right until it turns out to be wrong. This year, the assumption that the best way to run for president is to, well, run for president might go by the boards.

Everyone agrees on the negatives of being a noncandidate. Rivals scoop up cash, campaign talent and endorsements while noncandidates sit and wait. But for the already well-known, there are advantages to being "outside the ring." While official candidates are scrutinized relentlessly for gaffes and battered by "independent" opposition groups, noncandidates can be selective in their media exposure and appear high-minded.
Playing hard-to-get also creates allure and curiosity. Today noncandidates appeal to both parties. Depending on the poll, between one-third and three-fifths of Republicans are dissatisfied with their current crop of candidates. Last month, a straw poll at the Oklahoma Republican Party's convention saw noncandidates Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich top the field with a majority of the votes between them. Democrats are more happy with their field, but persistent doubts about Hillary Clinton's electability or Barack Obama's seasoning fuels speculation that Al Gore or some other savior will enter the race.

Mr. Gingrich is touring the country touting his ideas without the scrutiny and legal constraints that an official candidate's fund-raising team would get. His aim is to offer "solutions so compelling that if voters say I have to be the president, it will happen." He will make up his mind in September, but in the meantime his audiences are larger, his influence greater and his exposure on TV even more ubiquitous.

The same is true for Mr. Gore. Only a noncandidate could get the praise and royal treatment he enjoyed testifying before Congress in March. This summer, he is both losing weight and keeping his name in the headlines by promoting his new book and environmentally themed rock concerts. Even if he doesn't win the Nobel Peace Prize this fall, he could parachute into the presidential race. He has trained thousands of people to present his global-warming film in every state, a cast of supporters who could easily be converted into campaign volunteers. A Quinnipiac Poll of three battleground states shows that Mr. Gore polls better against leading Republicans than either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama.

Mr. Thompson, whose movies and network appearances are a fixture on TV screens, is clearly being helped for now by not being part of the candidate pack. The day after tonight's GOP debate he will appear before a large GOP audience in Orange County, 75 miles south of the Reagan Library. C-Span and CNN will cover the event live. His solo act may get as many viewers as tonight's debate. Pollsters John Zogby and Doug Schoen both agree that Mr. Thompson could shake up the GOP race.

Another candidate who could transform the race is popular New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a client of Mr. Schoen's. He has already told friends he could easily spend $500 million of his own money on an independent run and could snap up middle-of-the-road voters from both parties.

Whoever runs, looking over this year's shadow candidates it is clear that they are changing the rules of American politics. "Americans love having more choices," says Peter Brown, an analyst with the Quinnipiac Poll. "They'll now even give noncandidates a real look to see if there's something there they're missing in the others."
In 2000, blogger Mickey Kaus refined the Feiler Faster Thesis, which holds that though news cycles are constantly getting faster, "people are comfortable processing that information with what seems like breathtaking speed." This rapid pace may be transforming presidential politics. Voters aren't waiting for pundits to tell them who is running for president, and shadow candidates can run low-cost guerilla campaigns using the Internet, talk shows and word-of-mouth. "Candidates have been running so long already it opens up opportunities for late entries," says Glenn Reynolds of "We may not like it, but voter boredom may now be a driver of politics."

Modern presidential campaigns started in 1960 when the first Kennedy-Nixon debate established the primacy of television. This upcoming race could mark similar dramatic changes in the pace, shape and tone of elections to come.

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« Reply #89 on: May 04, 2007, 05:55:04 PM »

Newt Analyzes the First GOP Debate
Hannity and Colmes
Fox News Transcripts 
Sean Hannity   Alan  Colmes   Newt Gingrich   
ALAN COLMES: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes."

The Republican candidates' first debate in California is happening now, but the conservative that everybody wants to hear from tonight, right here, only on "Hannity & Colmes." Former speaker of the House, FOX News contributor, author of "Rediscovering God," Newt Gingrich joins us.

Mr. Speaker, do you wish you were on that stage tonight?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No. If anything would convince me to lean away from running, it was watching all of those guys with too little time, with too many Mickey Mouse questions from the reporters. It's exactly the wrong way to pick a president, and I think it doesn't help the country much.

Some of them I think did very well in brief moments. Senator McCain and Governor Tommy Thompson both were very, very eloquent on Iraq and offered very good ideas about Iraq. Governor Romney was very good in talking about health care, where he knows a great deal. Mayor Giuliani was very good about having controlled crime, having turned New York around.

But think about -- you know, you have 10 people up there. You have a couple of news media types being self-important. Towards the close of the debate, we get this absolutely childish question: How would you feel about Senator Clinton being in the White House? I mean, why would you waste the time of the American people and the 10 candidates when it's obvious that every single Republican is going to say that Senator Clinton shouldn't be in the White House?

Compare this for a minute, Alan, with the debate the French had last night. The French presidential runoff is Sunday. And last night, two candidates went head-to-head with almost no interference from the two moderators, and they went at each other. It was emotional; it was direct; it was aggressive.

And people had a chance to see the real personalities come out. I think, if they eliminated the moderators, and allowed the candidates to ask each other questions and kept the entire process between the candidates, it would be fascinating to see how an evening like this would evolve.

COLMES: By the way, is this why, in all the speculation about you, that you have decided, if you get in, it will be later in the process, is this example Exhibit A as to why that would be the case, so you don't have to go through this particular kind of gauntlet? And if you do get in, it will be after this part of the process?

GINGRICH: It's not a gauntlet. It's boring. Look, I have great respect for the people who are running. They're working very, very hard. They're on the road every day.

My hunch is Governor Thompson, by the time this was done, will have been in every town in Iowa 12 times. Governor Romney has done a great job of raising money. Senator McCain has been campaigning now for years and has built a huge national network. These are serious people doing serious things. You know, Mayor Giuliani, as you know, is the front-runner.

But what I'm struck with is, we as a country need to have a serious dialogue about a lot of things. This is not about Newt Gingrich. It's something, as you know, Governor Cuomo and I have talked about. Governor Cuomo recently wrote two articles talking about this and suggesting that the Democrats would be much better off to have a longer debate in an open, free form, to really talk things out.

But there's a second part of this, Alan, that really worries me. You have people sitting around in May of this year trying to describe what they would do in January of 2009. And now, let's say the world changes. Something different happens, and so somebody changes their position in September, October, November. Suddenly they'll have seven reporters, 16 blog sites, all saying, "Ah, this person switched." And you suddenly freeze people into defending positions that they took a year and a half or two years before they're ever going to be in office.

SEAN HANNITY: All right, I'm a little intrigued, because we're friends, Mr. Speaker, and you're going to hate me for going down this road, but when you said this would make you lean away more, I think people would like a little bit more definitive an answer about you.

GINGRICH: Well, I've told you, and I've told everybody that American Solutions is going to have a nationwide workshop on September 27th on the Internet, available to everybody in the country, in both Democrat, Republican, independent, and we're going to try to explain how you could change and dramatically improve government at every level. There are 511,000 elected offices in America; only one of them is the Oval Office.

But we have an amazing number of elected officials in this country. After we're done with that, we'll have a second workshop on Saturday the 29th of September. And then I'll look at it. But I am absolutely not going to think about this until then.

If it weren't for my friendship with you two and my willingness to come on tonight and talk about this, I wouldn't even be talking about the debate tonight. I mean, I think that it is so absurd to have this much attention paid to an office that doesn't get filled until January of 2009, that I really think this is exactly the wrong model for this country.

HANNITY: Well, I agree with you, and I like the debate that you mentioned in France that took place. I love the free-for-all. This is basically a joint press conference, where you end up getting like four minutes each in the course of an hour-and-a-half debate, so I think your criticism is valid. And you don't really have the substance that either one of us would like.

Do you glean anything -- the two issues that are picking news out of this debate, one has to do with Mayor Giuliani and his comments that it would be OK to repeal Roe v. Wade, it would be OK if a strict constructionist viewed it as precedent, and Senator McCain saying the Bush administration had terribly mismanaged the war.

Your reaction to both of those moments, which will make all the news here tonight?

GINGRICH: Well, I mean, I do think that, if Mayor Giuliani's position tomorrow clarifies what he just said, that would be a remarkable change from what I understood his position to be. So I think that will certainly lead to several days of conversation, probably more news out of that one item than everything that happened at the Democratic debate a week ago.

In the case of Senator McCain's position, I think he has been -- you have to give him enormous credit. He has been in Iraq over and over again. He has been deeply concerned for years. He has been public about his concerned about this war.

He has served very, very ably in a very senior position in the Senate on this. He's a graduate of Annapolis. As you know, he was a prisoner of war. I mean, Senator McCain has as much authority as any person in this country to render judgment on the mismanagement of the war in Iraq, and I think it's an act of courage on his part to simply tell the truth.

I mean, I don't care how much you like President Bush or how loyal you are to the Republican Party. This is clearly not where we wanted to be and not where we thought we would be in 2003 when the war began.

HANNITY: Is that what you're saying then yourself, Mr. Speaker, that the war is terribly mismanaged? Because I know you've had criticisms, but...

GINGRICH: Look, I said, in December of 2003, publicly in "Newsweek" and on several TV shows, that we went off a cliff in June of 2003 when Ambassador Bremer changed all the plans, abandoned the Iraqi army, failed to go through with having an Iraqi governing council, took over the administration, and made it an American administration. I spoke out as -- if you go back and look at what I said at that time, I was as clear and as direct as I could be that we were on a disastrous path and it was going to cause us an enormous amount of trouble.

Recently, I testified in the Senate in front of Senator Biden's committee, and I outlined 18 additional changes over and above the surge that I thought we needed. And I'm very, very concerned, Sean. I mean, as you know, I think that being defeated in Iraq, which clearly many Democrats in the House and Senate would like to see happen, will be a terrible blow to the United States and to the cause of freedom. And I think it is very, very dangerous for us to contemplate being defeated and think that's going to make life easier.

I think it's doubly dangerous to have the Congress imposing defeat on the United States in a way that will resonate around the world. But I am also very troubled. I believe very deeply in General Petraeus, as I believed earlier in General Abizaid. I think both of them are superb people, and I think that, had their advice been followed more carefully, we'd be in dramatically better shape today.

COLMES: We can debate whether Democrats really want defeat, but I'd rather talk about the debates. I don't see it that way, and many Democrats don't see it that way.

But I want to get back to John McCain, because when John McCain said it's been mismanaged, the other part of what he said tonight was, "But now we're on the right track." Most Americans, Quinnipiac poll out today, says 31 percent don't agree with Bush's Iraq policy. Most Americans don't see it that way. So I wonder if Senator McCain hurt himself by somehow saying we're now on the right track, when many of us, most Americans, don't see a difference.

GINGRICH: Well, look, I think Senator McCain has decided that it's his duty to be honest about what he honestly believes. And I think that's actually a very courageous thing for him to be doing.

I think, on the issue of Iraq, that John McCain is not going to look at any polling. He's not going to listen to any advisors. This is a field where he has spent his lifetime serving his country. He believes in his own knowledge. He knows very, very well the senior military leaders. He has been on the ground. And I think he is telling us what he believes to be the case.

Now, I don't think he's telling us we're going to win the war next Tuesday. I don't think he's telling us that bombings are going to go away. But what he is saying is that the team that General Petraeus has assembled, the strategy that they're following, gives us a better chance of defeating the terrorists than anything we've done up until now.

And, Alan, what we have to face up to as a country is this is very hard and very painful, but the alternative may be worse. And I think that it's very important to have a conscious national dialogue about, what's the world going to look like if the Congress mandates defeat, forces the U.S. to withdraw, and we end up with the entire world seeing us as having been defeated?

COLMES: If that's what it is. You know, most of the candidates, most of the Republican candidates who either want to stay in Iraq, or support a surge, or support the continuation of this war, and I include some Democrats in this, are out of synch with what most of the American public is now saying. So how would the American public vote for somebody who wants to continue any of the Bush policies for which most Americans don't agree?

GINGRICH: Look, I think the question is, what do the American people think after six weeks of discussing the consequences of defeat? I think what we've had -- look, I've not been happy, and I've been pretty public about the fact that I think there are a lot of changes we ought to have in how the American government works. There are a lot of changes we ought to have in what we've been doing in Iraq. I have always been against using American forces in the streets of big cities, because I don't think that they're very effective as policemen. I think they should be the reinforcers of Iraqi troops, rather than enforcers.

So I'm not sitting here as a pie in the sky, let's salute and march forward stubbornly. But I am saying, it's one thing to try to find a way to be patient and determined and to ultimately find a way to victory. It's another thing to say, "Let's set a deadline. Let's guarantee that the U.S. Congress will legislate defeat," and not talk about the consequences, Alan.

All I'm saying is, let's have a national debate about what the world is going to look like a year after the United States is publicly defeated, and the terrorists publicly are in triumph, and countries around the world look at us as a country that doesn't have the will to keep its word and doesn't have the will to protect its friends. I think, after that debate, you might be surprised how many Americans say, "Well, let's go a little slow with this legislative defeat process."

HANNITY: You know, Mr. Speaker, I'm listening to you, and what you're describing is so consequential. And I'm listening to the comments of Senator McCain here tonight and what you're saying here. And I can't imagine, especially in light of the veto that took place, and, you know, the slow bleed strategy that has emerged from the Democrats, and, you know, Harry Reid saying the war is lost, meanwhile we have troops over there in harm's way that are fighting and trying to win this whole thing.

And it seems what you've hit on here is the one thing that nobody has ever thought of: What happens if we lose Iraq? What does the world think? We create a safe haven for Al Qaeda and Iran inside of Iraq, and the world is a less dangerous place. And with all the criticism -- and I guess there's a lot to go around -- it seems that nobody has thought of that and nobody is thinking about that. And I don't think anyone's stopping to do so.

GINGRICH: You know, it's as though our neighbor's house was on fire, to quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt, somebody who I assume Alan would approve of...

HANNITY: At times.

GINGRICH: ... it's as though our neighbor's house was on fire, and we were getting tired of fighting the fire, and we said, you know, let's just give up. This is too hard. The house is going to burn down. And nobody has stopped to say, "Well, what if the fire spreads to our house?"

Yesterday, in Great Britain, five terrorists were sentenced to prison for life, and the judge said to them, "Do not expect to ever be back on the street, because you are ruthless, dangerous, evil men." I just want to suggest to you, the British weren't doing that as some kind of political ploy. They know that they are in a serious, long war and that the terrorists out there want to destroy us, if they can.

So all I think we have to ask is, let's have a national dialogue about, how are we going to manage the Middle East? How are we going to manage America's role in the world? Why would any of our allies trust us, if the Congress decides to legislate defeat and if we, in fact, leave in defeat?

HANNITY: Let me ask you this question.

GINGRICH: I'm not saying this is easy. I am not saying this is a happy time. I'm not saying this is a positive thing we should feel good about. I'm saying that Senator McCain tonight and Governor Thompson both had positive ideas.

HANNITY: What are the troops thinking? We're running out of time. What are the troops thinking when they hear Senator McCain, the Republican, say that? What are they thinking when they hear Senator Reid say that it's lost? What do they think when they have slow bleed strategies and other strategies emerging to cut off bullet supplies and armor? What are these guys thinking, you know, out there?

GINGRICH: There's no question -- I was just told today by somebody who has a son who's serving at Fort Bragg -- that the level of demoralization and confusion among the younger troops watching the Congress, watching the news, watching the debates, watching the maneuvering, these guys want to serve their country. They're willing to risk their lives. They sure wish the political class would get them the money, have the policy fights, but don't mess up the military while you're doing it.

COLMES: The confusion might be because of policy, not because of free speech in the United States, Mr. Speaker.

We thank you very much for being with us tonight. Thank you for your time.

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« Reply #90 on: May 07, 2007, 07:18:29 PM »

Newt Gingrich

A French Lesson for Republicans

BERLIN, Germany, May 7 -- Callista and I are in Europe this week for a conference on innovation in health care. More about our trip to Berlin in a minute, but first the big news in Europe this week isn't in Germany but in France.

I know this will seem strange to those of us who like to make jokes about the French, but the fact is that there is a great deal to be learned from the victory of Nicolas Sarkozy (a member of the ruling party) in last weekend's "change" election in France -- and Republicans had better learn it.

For those of you who haven't followed it closely, here is some background on the election.

The Background: An Unpopular Incumbent President and a Desire for Change

Incumbent French President Jacques Chirac had been twice elected, has served a total of 12 years in office, and is very unpopular. Coming into this election, people were very tired of the Chirac government and there was a sense that there had to be change.

But the opposition on the left, the Socialist Party, failed completely to capitalize on this desire for change. They nominated a candidate of great achievement, Ségolène Royal, but she proved herself to be the candidate of the status quo, not the candidate of change. She was actually committed to keeping all the bureaucracies that were failing and all the policies that were creating unemployment. She was committed to avoiding the changes necessary for a French future of prosperity, opportunity and safety.

Normally, with the incumbent conservative government so unpopular, the left would have been expected to win the election, probably by a significant margin. But the conservative candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, won decisively because he is an aggressive, different kind of French political leader. He is a member of the Chirac government -- the Minister of the Interior. But not only is he a man who is willing to stand up and fight for what he believes in, but Sarkozy is also a man who hasn't followed the normal French path to success by going to an elite university, becoming part of the ruling elite and fitting in.

Sarkozy: A Different Kind of Frenchman

Instead, Sarkozy is just the opposite. He was born of Hungarian parents who had fled communism in Eastern Europe. That makes him the first president of France who is a first-generation immigrant. It also means his name doesn't sound very French. And his style certainly isn't very French. He is a tough, confrontational leader -- a man who has been preaching things that don't sound very much like the French establishment.

In the campaign, Sarkozy argued that the French have to work longer hours and, in order to give them an incentive to do so, that they shouldn't pay taxes if they work overtime. He called for tax cuts to encourage investment so the private sector can create jobs. And critically, Sarkozy has said that the people must obey the law, that the creation of law and respect for the law is a central part of any civilized society.

Remember, this is a jarring message for a country that routinely accepts the burning of up to 15,000 cars a year by hooligans who, according to the elites, are simply "expressing their desire to disrupt society." It's jarring for a country that was very proud a few years back to have the first mandatory 35-hour work week in history. Yet an increasing majority of the French believes that without the kind of changes Sarkozy is calling for, France's stature will disappear in a wave of lawlessness and economic decay.

A Royal Commitment to the Status Quo and a Candidate of Change

As for the opposition in the French election, much like the American Democratic Party, it is trapped by its commitment to big labor, big bureaucracy, high taxes and social values people don't believe in. Every time French voters seriously looked at Ségolène Royal and the kind of politics she represents, she lost ground. She simply couldn't make the case that left-wing Socialist policies would work.

The result was a surprising and powerful upset by Sarkozy -- a victory by a center-right reformer, a member of the unpopular ruling party, who came to personify change.

And here's where American Republicans really need to pay attention: In France, voting for change meant voting for the party in office, but not the personality in office. And voting to keep the old order meant voting for the opposition, not for the incumbent party.

If Republicans hope to win the presidency next year, they better find a candidate who is prepared to stand for very bold, very dramatic and very systematic change in Washington. Not only that, but they had better make the case that the left-wing Democrat likely to be nominated represents the failed status quo: the bureaucracies that are failing, the social policies that are failing, the high tax policies that are failing, and the weakness around the world that has failed so badly in protecting America.

Only if we have that kind of campaign do we have a reasonable chance to expect the American people will vote for effective change for a better, safer and more prosperous future -- and that they will see that effective change as being Republican.

A Franco-American Alliance for 'Green Conservatism'?

In the meantime, Sarkozy has pledged to repair relations between France and America, and we should take him seriously in his pledge. In particular, he has called on America to lead the world in addressing climate change.

This gives President Bush a unique opportunity to change the perception of his attitude toward both Europe and the environment. The President should take up Sarkozy's call for U.S. leadership on global warming by proposing a bold new initiative on market-based, entrepreneurial incentives to help in the environment. As I outline in an op-ed that appeared in Sunday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, using new technology to dramatically increase energy independence and reduce reliance on carbon isn't giving in to the left -- it's resisting the big government solutions that the left routinely imposes under the guise of protecting the environment and instead finding a more effective way forward to protect and renew the natural world.

Solutions Watch

In the news here at home, I wanted to take a moment to congratulate former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for his call in a speech [video, audio] at the Citadel last week for the creation of a special force to specifically handle post-combat operations in places like Iraq.

In 1999, I served on the United States Commission on National Security/21st Century (also known as the Hart-Rudman Commission) to examine our national security challenges as far out as 2025. One of the reforms we called for was the creation of a post-combat force.

In addition, I have long argued for the creation of a much larger military. Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are all on record calling for a bigger army. The White House should answer their calls now. We can't wait until 2009.

Environmental Polar Opposites

While we are here in Berlin, Callista and I plan to stop by the zoo to see my namesake, Knut the polar bear. He's getting bigger these days, but you probably remember him from a few months ago when he was a cub recently abandoned by his mother. Some animal rights activists had declared that he should be put to death rather than be raised by humans. I'm going to see Knut, not only because of my great love of zoos and the natural world, but because I think he is a symbol of a growing divide on man's relationship with the environment. The activists who wanted Knut killed represent the radical view that humans are only destroyers of the natural world and that human needs and wants shall always be a distant second to the environment.

My view is that we are stewards of the natural world. We have an obligation to preserve and protect it, not only for future generations of human beings, but for all living things.

So long for now from Berlin. I'll report again next week on the launch of my new novel, Pearl Harbor, and the national security lessons it contains for America today.

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« Reply #91 on: May 07, 2007, 09:00:15 PM »


I don't know if I am alone but I wish Newt would run.

He is the only one who when I hear him speak I hear a visionary.

He is the only one with ideas and the leadership qualities to carry them out.

I can see why he made it to Speaker of the House.  If only he can keep his ego in check...

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« Reply #92 on: May 07, 2007, 09:33:04 PM »

I think he IS running and doing so in a manner to avoid the stupdities of McCain-Feingold Act (Shame on McCain and the US Supreme Court!  angry )  Also, he gets to be on TV lots and lots without triggering the obligation to air other candidates.

Newt is the only one I could support with considerable enthusiasm. 
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« Reply #93 on: May 08, 2007, 03:55:28 PM »

I am closer to Newt than any of the others on the issues.  He loves to say "This is not about Newt Gingrich."  Once he enters the race it is about him and he has high negatives, plenty of enemies and very little crossover appeal IMO.  The 1994 Republican takeover of congress was amazing.  They had some great accomplishments in the majority such as capital gains rate cuts and  welfare reform, while constrained by an opposing president.  Other important things never got done such as reforming the budget process and rules.  Tax cuts are still limited by false forecasting methods that were never ended at CBO.

Unfair as it is, I think Giuliani or even McCain might get a pass on past marital issues where Newt will forever be punished, mostly because of the timing of his in relation to the Clinton impeachment (which wasn't even about infidelity).

CD wrote: "...stupidities of McCain-Feingold Act (Shame on McCain and the US Supreme Court!"  - Agree wholeheartedly!  The name alone is a clue, partnering with Feingold on campaign rules or Kennedy on education policy is a sign you are headed in the wrong direction from my point of view.  Shame on Bush for signing this when he already made clear that he saw everything flawed in it. 

I wish those in politics or on the court who don't like the constitution would go through the process of amending it rather than arbitrarily declaring which rights and provisions we have outgrown and are no longer operative.

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« Reply #94 on: May 08, 2007, 11:38:42 PM »

McCain is my least favorite of the leading Republicans running, but I'm posting this piece anyway written by Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota, posted at the  candidates forum.  Pawlenty is co-chair of the McCain campaign and making his attempt to explain to conservatives why he supports McCain.  The posts that follow Pawlenty at that forum seem to focus on disapproval with a) McCain Feingold, b) gang of 14, and c) immigration.  I would add that he was a huge opponent of tax rate cuts, though his view has changed somewhat since.   - DM
Conservative Case for McCain   by Gov.Tim Pawlenty (R-MN)

"The 2008 Presidential election presents the Republican Party with a new opportunity to chart its future. For the first time in decades, a sitting president or vice president will not be a candidate to lead our country.

How will Republicans respond to this challenge?  Hopefully, by selecting a strong, tested national leader of uncommon courage.

History has shown that Americans elect their president based on the times and the challenges confronting our nation.  America is being tested in momentous ways, both domestically and internationally.

The times are calling out one of the finest public leaders in the modern history of our country – John McCain.  Like Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, he powerfully expresses conservative principles in a common sense way.  John McCain’s unwavering courage, candor, character, and demonstrated willingness to take visionary risks to do what is right are all in the tradition of these great Republicans.

The next president will need all of these attributes and more in confronting the challenges we face both at home and abroad.

The pressure from the left to give up on Iraq will be immense.  We need a president whose life is a testament to fortitude under fire and courage in the face of challenges.  John McCain is a living example of such experience and leadership.

We need John McCain to keep America safe and strong.  Under President McCain, America will never surrender to the threats of extremists.

That same toughness will be required in addressing key issues at home.  The Republican Party spent twelve years in control of Congress, yet failed to curtail run-away spending.  For more than 20 years John McCain has been an unwavering voice on behalf of hardworking, taxpaying Americans.  He has been a lonely voice for spending restraint in the nation’s capitol and the leading advocate for “earmark reform.”

We also face an impending crisis in Social Security and Medicare.  As recent history has clearly illustrated, solving these issues will require almost unending political will.  Senator McCain’s record makes it clear he’s not afraid to tackle these challenges.

And you wouldn’t know it by listening to the mainstream media, but John McCain has been rock-solid on critical moral issues.  He campaigned hard for Arizona’s amendment to protect traditional marriage and has been consistently pro-life throughout his career.

It is often said that the best sermons are lived, not preached. Newsweek once wrote, “McCain’s character has withstood tests the average politician can only imagine … He may be the last of his kind.” I hope you will join me in supporting him."
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« Reply #95 on: May 12, 2007, 12:33:31 PM »

Blankley points out the Cans prospects look bleak for 2008.  All the Cans are slipping in the polls including Guliani and McCain.  Depending on how things look in September many Cans may break ranks with W.  Of course our enemies know this as well,and will work diligently towards that goal.  Can any serious thinker believe that radical Muslims, nad Iranians would not rather deal with the dovish Crats than Can hawks?

I couldn't agree more with Tony's (and Cheney's) hardline stance.  But I am now apparantly in the minority.   For fun:  my predictive guess.   We will get Hillary.  The slight majority will adore her gifts *stolen* (IMO- according to George Will we pay more in gasoline tax than the oil companies make in profits- you won't hear that from the Hill)  from those who make more and this will continue till we get another exogenous threat.  Maybe then Newt will have a shot in 2012 or even 2016?  As always time will tell.   Two cents for other thoughts:
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« Reply #96 on: May 13, 2007, 05:06:47 AM »

Today's NY Slimes:


Bill Clinton’s connections, and his endless supply of chits, only begin to capture his singular role in his wife’s presidential candidacy, advisers and friends of the couple say. He is the master strategist behind the scenes; the consigliere to the head of “the family,” as some Clinton aides refer to her operation; and a fund-raising machine who is steadily pulling in $100,000 or more at receptions.

So far, his roles have unfolded in private as he provides ideas to his wife and makes sure she paces herself, and as he acts as something of a field general with donors, instructing them on how to talk up Mrs. Clinton. Eventually, though, he will go public in a big way: Clinton advisers can already imagine a point in 2008 when Mr. Clinton has his own campaign plane, press corps and schedule of events in crucial states while Mrs. Clinton is barnstorming in others.

He is also galvanizing new support. At a recent gathering at Morgan Stanley, organized by Roger C. Altman, a Clinton Treasury Department official who now advises Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Clinton fielded questions for an hour from 60 major new donors about issues like her positions on Iraq and the impact of the compressed 2008 primary schedule. Mr. Clinton also recently filmed a five-minute video, which is being sent to new and old allies, narrating her biography and lavishing praise on her.

“He is the great security blanket for her campaign: Democrats listen to him with intensity, and he can assure her and her staff that he can get her message out,” said Jerry Lundergan, chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, who recently played host to Mr. Clinton at a four-hour fund-raiser for the campaign.

But for all the value Mr. Clinton adds to the campaign, there is internal recognition of the potential pitfalls of his involvement. Early on, the Clintons concluded that the former president would not participate in staff conference calls, nor would he call Mrs. Clinton’s aides directly, advisers say. Instead, he would circulate his advice through Mrs. Clinton; Mark Penn, her chief strategist; and a couple of others. The idea has been to keep the lines of authority clear, and also to avoid the messiness and leaks that marked his White House.

Indeed, Democrats close to Mrs. Clinton remain keenly aware of his foibles and blind spots. In private, these allies are blunt: He has disappointed her before, most painfully with Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment. He can be undisciplined, and his love for the cut and thrust of politics could unleash that side, especially if he believes her campaign is in trouble.

“When you’re dealing with the Clintons in ’08, you essentially have two candidates — her and him — and he’s going to have to have a Boy Scout report card given his history,” said Douglas Brinkley, the presidential historian, who is not affiliated with any campaign. “He can definitely help her, but that also means he can hurt her.”

That concern was crystallized by a question that arose at the Republican presidential debate this month: “Would it be good for America to have Bill Clinton back living in the White House?” The question underscored the sheer oddity of the Clintonian package deal redux.

Friends say the couple has learned from the mistakes of his 1992 race and has avoided again promoting a two-for-one bargain (which, in her camp’s view, cut against the tradition of voting based on a candidate’s merits alone). Campaign advisers also say that Mr. Clinton is simply too busy with his charitable work to be a full-time candidate spouse at his wife’s side.

At the same time, the advisers say, Mr. Clinton and the campaign view 2008 as a chance to get right what they saw as a mistake in 2000, when Vice President Al Gore shied away from deploying Mr. Clinton.

For example, two friends said Mr. Clinton had told them a victory for Mrs. Clinton in Arkansas in the general election was a personal mission of his. (Mr. Gore lost Arkansas in 2000, as Senator John Kerry did in 2004.) And he is cashing in chits for her that Mr. Gore, post-impeachment, never asked him to do. In March, for instance, Mr. Lundergan opened his home in Kentucky to Mr. Clinton for a fund-raiser as a favor after the couple helped raise money for the state party in 2005 and 2006. (Mr. Clinton carried Kentucky in 1992 and 1996, while Mr. Gore and Mr. Kerry did not.)

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign is not a do-over of Gore 2000 for Mr. Clinton, their advisers say, but the couple did decide early on that Mrs. Clinton would treat her husband and his administration’s record as assets, rather than distance herself from him in the interest of standing in her own light.


Page 2 of 2)

“We don’t want to make the Al Gore mistake — trying to separate Hillary from the president, or not sending the president out because you think he’s not well liked or because he might be a better speaker than Hillary,” one senior campaign adviser said, who spoke about internal campaign strategy on the condition of anonymity. “Voters would think we were acting phony.”

For now, Mr. Clinton is purposely staying out of the spotlight because he believes it is important for voters to get to know Mrs. Clinton better, friends of the couple say. He believes that the American public will like her the more they see her — “warm up to her” is the phrase that several friends attributed to Mr. Clinton.

“He’s not just sitting in Chappaqua watching the game on TV and calling everybody in the campaign with advice,” said Melanne Verveer, a close friend and adviser of Mrs. Clinton. “He brings enormous strength and assets but is in a very secondary role.”

Yet he continues to adjust to that new role.

“He’s grappling with it a bit now, how he properly plays the role of subordinate,” said a former senior aide to Mr. Clinton who still speaks with him regularly. “His foundation work gives him real focus. And he wants this for her, so badly. He feels he owes it to her on so many levels, for bringing her to Arkansas in the early ’70s and upending her career and everything since.”

The Clintons mostly talk about strategy, not campaign management, advisers say. He receives polling data from Mr. Penn, who was his pollster in 1996, and the two men speak regularly. He sometimes looks over drafts of Mrs. Clinton’s major speeches, and he gives her feedback on her performances.

When need be, she also knows how to cut him off. In preparation for a Senate debate, she more or less ordered him out of the room when he began coaching too much, Democrats close to the Clintons say. During a policy discussion awhile back about New York issues, when Mr. Clinton began to pontificate, she told him that he did not exactly know what he was talking about and to hush up.

Advisers say his advice to her can be boiled down to a few broad themes. He urges her to remember that the biggest person gets elected (in other words, the one who rises above political pettiness) and that the most optimistic candidate wins. He has encouraged her to talk about average people who work hard and play by the rules, classic Clintonian language. And she has, using those phrases and other themes in talking, for example, about regular Americans who are “invisible” to the Bush administration. (Advisers say Mr. Clinton did not devise the invisible line.)

He has also favored town hall forums as better venues for her than formal policy speeches, where she can seem cold and stentorian. And he has advised her to walk beyond the podiums with a microphone on her lapel.

In the campaign’s current plan, Mr. Clinton will not appear regularly at large public events for Mrs. Clinton until the fall, though the timing largely depends on how well she is doing, advisers say. He is adding more income-generating speeches than usual to his personal schedule now, so he has more free time in the fall and in 2008 to campaign for her, advisers add. Still, they note that Mr. Penn has not mapped out which states Mr. Clinton would visit during a general election campaign, if Mrs. Clinton wins the nomination, but that both men see Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana and Virginia as Republican-leaning states that Mrs. Clinton might contend in.

Instead, Mr. Clinton is raising $100,000 to $200,000 a night at a steady stream of fund-raisers. He had two last Tuesday, in Greenwich, Conn., and in a New York City suburb, and he is expected to attend more than a dozen more through the end of June, probably raising millions of dollars from his political network.

This spring, for instance, as Mrs. Clinton prepared to raise money in Philadelphia, no one was better positioned to provide a lucrative entree than the city’s former mayor, Edward G. Rendell, now the governor of Pennsylvania. Yet Mr. Rendell, a Democrat, was on the sidelines of his party’s presidential primary race.

Then the phone rang.

“It was President Clinton asking if I’d help, and I told him I’d give the go-ahead to a lot of my fund-raisers to join in her event,” said Mr. Rendell, who has not endorsed a candidate. “Philadelphia owes a great deal to his presidency, and we’re good friends. It was an easy call for me to take, and it was an easy call for me to make.”
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« Reply #97 on: May 18, 2007, 11:53:43 AM »

 May 18, 2007
12:48pm EDT

The Man Who Wasn't There
Fred Thompson isn't yet running, but he's running a great campaign.

Friday, May 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Having watched the second Republican debate the other night, it's clear to me the subject today is Fred Thompson, the man who wasn't there. While the other candidates bang away earnestly in a frozen format, Thompson continues to sneak up from the creek and steal their underwear--boxers, briefs and temple garments.

He is running a great campaign. It's just not a declared campaign. It's a guerrilla campaign whose informality is meant to obscure his intent. It has been going on for months and is aimed at the major pleasure zones of the Republican brain. In a series of pointed columns, commentaries and podcasts, Mr. Thompson has been talking about things conservatives actually talk about. Shouldn't homeowners have the right to own a gun? Isn't it bad that colleges don't teach military history? How about that Sarkozy--good news, isn't it? Did you see Tenet on Russert? His book sounds shallow, tell-all-y.

These comments and opinions are being read and forwarded in Internet Nation. They are revealing and interesting, but they're not heavy, not homework. They have an air of "This is the sound of a candidate thinking." That's an unusual sound.

Most illustrative was what started this week as a small trading of barbs with provocateur Michael Moore, whose general and iconic dishabille is meant to show identification with the workingman, though in America workingmen bathe. Mr. Moore was back from Cuba, where he made a documentary on the superiority of Castro's health care system. Mr. Thompson suggested Mr. Moore is just another lefty who loves dictators. Mr. Moore challenged Mr. Thompson to a health-care debate and accused him of smoking embargoed cigars. Within hours Mr. Thompson and his supposedly nonexistent staff had produced a spirited video response that flew through YouTube and the conservative blogosphere. Sitting at a desk and puffing on a fat cigar, Mr. Thompson announces to Mr. Moore he can't fit him into his schedule. Then: "The next time you're down in Cuba . . . you might ask them about another documentary maker. His name was Nicolás Guillén. He did something Castro didn't like, and they put him in a mental institution for several years, giving him devastating electroshock treatments. A mental institution, Michael. Might be something you ought to think about."

You couldn't quite tell if Mr. Thompson was telling Mr. Moore he ought to think more about Cuba, or might himself benefit from psychiatric treatment. It seemed almost . . . deliberately unclear.

Right now Mr. Thompson has the best of both worlds, an air of fearlessness and nothing on the line. He hasn't committed. He's not in. He can take a chance and be himself because he's not afraid, and he's not afraid because he has nothing to lose.
He says he'll get in if enough people ask him to. If they don't, he'll go someplace else and do something else. It's not as if his speech fees would go down.

Why would he run now? Because he thinks there's no one of greater stature on the field. Because he thinks he's got a better, shrewder read of the base than the rest of them. Because he's at an age where you throw the dice or know you never will. Because he thinks the one essential to modern presidential leadership, the one thing you must have now, in the age of terror, is the ability to communicate, and he reads himself as the best communicator. And because he's at a point in his private life where it's possible for him. He's got a wife who's got his back and two kids who've given him a second chance. Even in great careers it's the private life that's hardest to get right. He feels he has.

People speak of Mr. Thompson's movie-star looks. But he's not beautiful, he's heavy and gray. What he has is bearing. He has the manner of someone who thinks a great deal of himself, and thinks it after long personal pondering of his good points, bad points, high points and low. He may or may not be correct in his conclusions, but I suspect they are part of his draw. I suspect people pick them up.

Is he anything beyond a standard Republican conservative? Will he have anything beyond a Mideast policy that consists of win in Iraq, support the surge, and oppose any timetable? Does he stand for any strategic thinking apart from what John McCain unconsciously but aptly characterized as "Bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran"? On domestic issues, can Mr. Thompson go beyond standard conservative thought? I happen to be standard conservative myself, but sometimes old things need to be made new, the obvious needs to be made fresh.

Here are some things Mr. Thompson has going for him. He had eight years in the U.S. Senate, and then left in 2002 instead of sticking around and getting all the muck on him. He has a conservative record but a moderate persona. He seems nonradical, non-let's-follow-the-banner-over-the-cliff. He's a Southerner but modern. He has a great voice. (Voices matter. Ask Obama, who has one. Ask Hillary, who doesn't.) He comes to a field that may soon start to feel tired. That to some extent already does. His relatively late entry suggests--suggests--his motives are serious, not just ego-related.

But Mr. Thompson's challenges are real, too. He'll have to show he's serious--that he's in it for big reasons and in it to the end. He'll have to knock down the "low energy, gadfly, hops from thing to thing" charge, which has persisted so long that one assumes there's something in it. He'll have to show he's not just a rote, pro forma conservative--a dumb conservative--but someone who knows times change, horizons shift. He has to show he has run something, or can run something. Romney ran a state, Giuliani a city. Mr. Thompson has run what--a career? Big whoop.

Most importantly for him, and for all the Republican candidates for that matter, Mr. Thompson will have to answer this question: What is he running to do? Why should the Republicans get another eight years, or four years, after all the missteps they've made? Isn't conservatism, or Republicanism, or whatever you call it, just tired? Isn't it over? Isn't America just waiting for whatever will take its place?
Why shouldn't liberalism get a shot? Could they mess up more? Why should we trust Republicans with foreign affairs?

If Fred Thompson can answer these questions, he'll be showing he's something new, and not just the newest candidate, or the latest face.

Reports this week said an announcement could come in June.
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« Reply #98 on: May 21, 2007, 06:13:02 PM »

Newt is on O'Reilly tonight:
An email missive from Newt:

An Immigration Shipwreck
in Sight

The announcement last week that the White House and a group of senators have reached an agreement on "comprehensive immigration reform" should have the same effect that the word "iceberg" had on the passengers and crew of the Titanic.

This proposed agreement is a disaster of the first order, and it would severely cripple America for the foreseeable future.

You can tell how bad this bill is by the Senate Democratic leadership's announced goal of trying to pass it before the Memorial Day weekend.

Remember, this bill has not yet been finished. Senators and their staffs were still negotiating over the weekend and many key items were still in confusion. So here's what we have to do:




75 Reasons to Oppose the New Immigration Bill

When the FBI arrested six terrorists in New Jersey two weeks ago it turned out that three of them had been in the U.S. illegally for at least TWENTY years.

These three had crossed our unprotected border and had been living in New Jersey.

But here's the even more outrageous part: The police had filed 75 (SEVENTY-FIVE!) charges against them, including drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.

In 75 interactions, the police never once learned that these three people were here illegally.

The government failed twice: First, by failing to secure the border, and second, by failing to determine that these people were here illegally. The result was that more than five years after 9/11 we were saved from a mass killing at Fort Dix only because of the patriotism and courage of a clerk at an electronics store.

Compare the 75 charges made against the would-be Fort Dix terrorists with how we rounded up German spies in World War II. In June 1942, it took a total of 15 days to track down and arrest eight German spies who landed in Florida and New York from submarines. We executed six of them and gave one life in prison and the other thirty years. We were serious about winning that war. Go here for a more detailed comparison and a list of the 75 charges against the Fort Dix terrorists.

Faced with this level of failure of bureaucracy, how could anyone believe for a minute that this new immigration bill will work? The fact is it can't and it won't. It will rely on the same failed bureaucracy and produce more years of failure.

We Have Been Here Before

In 1986, I voted for the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration bill. We were promised that in return for amnesty for far fewer than three million illegal immigrants we would get:

Control of the border;
Enforcement of laws requiring employers to know someone is here legally before hiring them; and
No more amnesty and no more tolerance of illegality
The government broke its word on every one of those provisions.

We eventually amnestied three million people who had broken the law, and we sent a signal to the world that it is okay to break the law and come to America.

Now, 20 years later, we are told to trust Washington while we amnesty 12 to 20 million more people who have broken the law.

A Tax Amnesty Too?

When its supporters refer to the new immigration bill as "comprehensive," they must mean comprehensively outrageous.

The Boston Globe reported this weekend that the new bill will not require illegal workers to pay back taxes.

If this is true, the bill is an assault on every law-abiding, patriotic American who has been obeying the law, working legally and paying his taxes.

Every taxpaying American should insist that any bill involving any condition for illegal workers having any future in America should require them to do three things when it comes to taxes: 1) Admit how long they've been here (under threat of immediate deportation if they lie); 2) admit whom they worked for (who, after all, had also been breaking the law and avoiding paying taxes); and 3) pay any back taxes and penalties they owe.

There Is a Way to Deal With Illegal Immigration -- This is Not It

I have written extensively about good solutions for our current immigration mess in Winning the Future and elsewhere. Click here for more information.

Undermining America's Young Men and Women in Uniform

No one should doubt how much damage the Democrats are doing to America and to our young men and women in uniform with their political maneuvering in Congress.

In Atlanta Friday night, a doctor in the National Guard who had just come home from serving in Mosul briefed me on the damage he had seen to American morale and the confusion among young soldiers as the Democrats continue to play games with the supplemental appropriations and talk about legislating defeat in the war our troops are trying every day to win.

How would you like to be risking your life on the point in Iraq knowing some politician back home was undermining everything you are trying to do?

Call your House and Senate members and tell them to quit undermining our troops in the middle of a war and get the money to the troops without any more games or delays.

(I discussed Iraq with Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday. You can watch it here.)


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Border Security First
The Senate Amnesty Bill Will Be Impossible to Implement
English First, Not English Only
Trapping Immigrants in Ignorance
Pursuing Happiness with English
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« Reply #99 on: May 30, 2007, 10:40:31 AM »

Gingrich rips the Bush Administration

(First, a poll update: Rasmussen has Romney passing McCain, just slightly,for second place of the Republicans.)

Gingrich picks a fight with the White House. If interested, read The New Yorker article "Party Unfaithful - the Republican Implosion" for context.  I understand the strategy of separate from Bush, but I don't follow him on all the details.  Basically he attacks Rove for a bad strategy in 2004, but in 2004 Bush added 25% to his 2000 vote and held the house and senate.  To me it would make more sense to criticize everything they did after successful reelection.  As we look back now at the Gingrich congress, there is plenty of open criticism between Newt, Delay and Dick Armey, among others.  Unfortunately, each point has some validity IMO.  (I see Newt as a policy and strategy expert; I don't see him as a future President.)
Excerpt from the article, regarding Newt: "...he blames not only Iraq and Hurricane Katrina but also Karl Rove’s “maniacally dumb” strategy in 2004, which left Bush with no political capital. “All he proved was that the anti-Kerry vote was bigger than the anti-Bush vote,” Gingrich said. He continued, “The Bush people deliberately could not bring themselves to wage a campaign of choice”—of ideology, of suggesting that Kerry was “to the left of Ted Kennedy”—and chose instead to attack Kerry’s war record.

The only way to keep the White House in G.O.P. hands, Gingrich said, would be to nominate someone who, in essence, runs against Bush, in the style of Nicolas Sarkozy, the center-right cabinet minister who just won the French Presidency by making his own President, Jacques Chirac, his virtual opponent."

Bush could have run on tax cut success or on getting another shot at re-making social security, but the issue of the day was war, and backbone on war was the weakness of his opponent.  Bush needed to win on that question in order to ever have any say on the rest.
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