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Author Topic: The 2008 Presidential Race  (Read 271695 times)
prentice crawford
« on: January 16, 2007, 11:08:57 AM »

Woof All,
 It looks like Tom Tancredo is throwing his hat into the ring! grin
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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2007, 03:56:59 PM »

Cool. He might well ride a groundswell of angry Americans right into the white house.
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« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2007, 04:15:35 PM »

A pleasant fellow with some very liberal views:
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« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2007, 04:25:50 PM »

I'll be curious what the Clinton machine does to Obama. He will be hard to beat, though I fear an Obama presidency would result in a good-looking Jimmy Carter.
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« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2007, 08:58:35 PM »

My prediction is that he's running to be Hillary Evita Clinton's running mate.
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« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2007, 09:08:23 PM »

Possible, but Obama is polling much better than the would-be dowager empress. The MSM is falling all over it's self to annoint him, and Obama could pull lots of undecideds while Hillary polarizes the voting public into love/hate.
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2007, 11:44:46 PM »

I picture more of an Obama/Edwards or Edwards/Obama ticket. Empress Clinton wants nothing to do with him. He's thrown a stick in the wheel of her perceived bike ride the White House.
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2007, 12:51:04 AM »

It's so far off, it's hard to say how it'll all unfold, but I will say that Obama is the front runner for the nomination, if not the presidency.
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« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2007, 06:26:20 AM »

Disagree.  He is very young, and has very little experience at the national level.  He has only one statewide race-- the one two years ago which put him in the Senate.  Even this is much less than it seems.  The original Republican candidate, whose name slips my mind, dropped out of the race when his divorcing wife made apparently founded accusations about him in strip clubs or something like that.  So at the last minute, bomb thrower and carpetbagger Alan Keyes stepped in.  Don't get me wrong: I love AK (don't agree with everything he says, but possibly one of the most principled and articulate men in American politics today) but for him to step in very late, very underfunded, and being his very uncompormising self did not make for much of a challenge for Osama.

I caught Osama on , , , the Jay Leno show I think it was.  On a personal level a very appealing fellow, and he seems to manifest well the desire of many American people to proceed without personal rancor towards the opposition, but his actual positions are quite the standard liberal democratic fare. 

My prediction, he will run a while, be well liked by the Dem faithful, do surprisingly well against Lady Evita, and then, due in part to the fact that he will not have been personally nasty towards her, will be swept up in grand unity ticket with him as VP candidate.

President Bush's many unprincipled domestic policies and his perceived incompetence in leading the Iraqi front of the Islamo Fascist war combined with the unprincipled Republican Congress have left the Republicans in array.

RINO Guiliani?

Tax and regulate McCain?

I had strong hopes for Newt Gingrich, but some recent moves of his (e.g. a special on FOX saying he was dedicating himself to the return of God to the American political sphere or some comletely unsound strategy--politically speaking-- like that) read to me like he has decided not to run.

There is a good chance that Reps will seek the equivalent of "Dem-lite" RINO Gov. Schwarzenegger of CA.
prentice crawford
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2007, 10:06:31 AM »

 The goldenboy of the Dems and the lib press Obama, has admitted to snorting coke in the past and going down the road to being a pothead. I don't think that will fly with but the most lib of libs, when it comes to the number one or number two spot in government. It's not cute like wild willy's, I didn't inhale or Bush throwing back a few. cheesy
prentice crawford
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2007, 10:34:11 AM »

 For the Right, I think Duncan Hunter will start to rise to the top above Newt and others trying to give Conservative Republicans a reason to go vote 08. A Liberal Republican like Guiliani getting the nomination would guarantee Hillary's ascension to the throne as Queen of the world! evil I, like many Conservatives, would waste our vote on a darkhorse, then go home and clean our guns. grin
« Last Edit: January 22, 2007, 01:25:28 PM by prentice crawford » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2007, 10:50:04 AM »

I agree that Obama isn't a good choice, that's why i've said he had the potential to be a "good looking Jimmy Carter". The last thing we need right now is a standard issue lib dem in office, however I see him taking Hillary out in the primary and the primary fight making them not be on the same ticket.

I think Rudy is way too liberal to win the repub voters over for the nomination. His takes on abortion and gun control are prpbably fatal to his aspirations. Mitt Romney seems to be viable, but his mormon faith won't get the pass from the MSM that Keith "allahu akbar" Ellison's belief sytem got.

Note: I predicted the republicans would keep congress, so rolleyes
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« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2007, 05:43:32 PM »

Also, Republican Congressman (and former Libertarian Presidential candidate) Ron Paul is running.
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« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2007, 08:16:09 PM »


I'd never vote for McCain. War hero, but horribly unprincipled politician.
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« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2007, 09:33:45 AM »


The Democratic Field
It's Hillary versus everybody else.

Thursday, January 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Illinois Senator Barack Obama's announcement this week that he's likely to enter the Presidential race adds a dash of glamour and excitement to the Democratic field. But all of his media attention doesn't change the basic truth of the 2008 primary contest: The race is between Hillary Rodham Clinton and everybody else.

New York's junior Senator hasn't announced yet, but her troops have long been massing, ready to march on her orders. And what a political machine it is, starting with her husband, who has made it clear he is aching for her to run. Psychoanalyzing the Clintons is perilous, but we suspect the former President doesn't like the way his years in office ended, with impeachment, the Marc Rich pardon and Al Gore's failure to deliver a third symbolic term. A victory for his wife would be a kind of political redemption for him too.

Mrs. Clinton brings her own considerable strengths, not least intelligence and self-discipline. She has performed far more smoothly in the Senate than many observers expected, and she hasn't been a polarizing figure in New York (winning 67% of the vote in November).

Then there are those Clinton legions--of fund-raisers, union chiefs, party bosses, think tank operatives, media consultants. Mrs. Clinton blew through more than $30 million during her all but uncontested Senate re-election campaign, and she will have little trouble raising another $100 million or more. Longtime aide Harold Ickes--famous for his silent depositions in Clinton II--is the seasoned hand on money matters and he'll also bring on Big Labor. Meanwhile, former White House chief of staff John Podesta has set up the Center for American Progress, from which she can poach left-leaning policy ideas.

From her national perch on the Armed Services Committee, Mrs. Clinton has so far also walked a remarkable tightrope on the Iraq war, only recently coming out for some sort of "cap" on the number of troops. A major story over the coming year will be whether she can resist the defeatist tug of her party's antiwar left as she tries to win the Democratic nomination.

Which brings up her biggest liability--the fear in many Democratic hearts that she's not "electable." Mrs. Clinton carries much of the scandal baggage of her husband's tenure without much of his political charisma. If one potential Democratic theme is to run against the "divisive" Bush Republicans, Hillary is not your ideal "uniter." Perhaps American voters won't want to hear about Arkansas, et cetera, all over again, but then is that a risk Democrats want to take?

This is where Mr. Obama comes in, bidding to be the un-Hillary. At age 45, he's already managed the remarkable feat of writing his own autobiography, literally and politically. He's applauded for saying he's proud that he did inhale, and he has the virtue of being a genuinely fresh face. But campaigns have a way of filling in a candidate's resumes in ways other than they design, including their positions on actual issues. Mr. Obama is already moving left on national security--which is dangerous ground for a political rookie amid what the Pentagon calls "the long war" on terror.
North Carolina's John Edwards is another vigorous contender, though the erstwhile Vice Presidential candidate failed to deliver his home state to John Kerry last time around. This time he's raising the decibels on his "two Americas" campaign theme, hoping to catch some of that Hubert Humphrey political magic. If he can sell this message as a millionaire trial lawyer, he'll have earned the nomination.

The rest of the Democratic field includes two governors--Iowa's Tom Vilsack and New Mexico's Bill Richardson--who have solid state records, and Mr. Richardson also has foreign-policy credentials. But both will have trouble breaking through the fund-raising barriers erected by the campaign-finance limits they themselves have supported. This is a shame, because both men have something to offer. And then there is the usual gaggle of Senators--Dodd, Biden and even Kerry--who are running because . . . well, because that seems to be what their DNA has programmed them to do.

If we were betting on a wild card challenger, we'd look instead to Al Gore. The former Vice President has been coy about his intentions. But he might be getting a ton of free publicity for his global warming "documentary" come Oscar time, and there's little doubt he could raise money if he got in. Unlike Mrs. Clinton, there are a lot of Democrats who feel passionately about him and his near-win in 2000.

There are cycles in politics, and, after eight years of Republicans in the White House, Democrats in 2008 will have the public's normal desire for change on their side. On the other hand, they will also have to show they can be trusted on national security in a post 9/11 world, especially running against the likes of Republicans John McCain or Rudy Giuliani. Mrs. Clinton's studied middle-ground on security suggests she understands that. The main Democratic drama of the coming months will be whether her party really trusts that she and her husband have learned enough not to repeat the mistakes of the 1990s.
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2007, 10:17:08 AM »

Obama's past offers ammo for critics

By RYAN KEITH, Associated Press Writer Wed Jan 17, 2:45 PM ET
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama may have a lot of explaining to do.

He voted against requiring medical care for aborted fetuses who survive. He supported allowing retired police officers to carry concealed weapons, but opposed allowing people to use banned handguns to defend against intruders in their homes. And the list of sensitive topics goes on.

With only a slim, two-year record in the U.S. Senate, Obama doesn't have many controversial congressional votes which political opponents can frame into attack ads. But his eight years as an Illinois state senator are sprinkled with potentially explosive land mines, such as his abortion and gun control votes.

Obama — who filed papers this week creating an exploratory committee to seek the 2008 Democratic nomination — may also find himself fielding questions about his actions outside public office, from his acknowledgment of cocaine use in his youth to a more recent land purchase from a political supporter who is facing charges in an unrelated kickback scheme involving investment firms seeking state business.

Obama was known in the Illinois Capitol as a consistently liberal senator who reflected the views of voters in his Chicago district. He helped reform the state death penalty system and create tax breaks for the poor while developing a reputation as someone who would work with critics to build consensus.

He had a 100 percent rating from the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council for his support of abortion rights, family planning services and health insurance coverage for female contraceptives.

One vote that especially riled abortion opponents involved restrictions on a type of abortion where the fetus sometimes survives, occasionally for hours. The restrictions, which never became law, included requiring the presence of a second doctor to care for the fetus.

"Everyone's going to use this and pound him over the head with it," said Daniel McConchie, vice president and chief of staff for Americans United for Life.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said voters will be able to judge distorted accounts of his votes against his legislative career in general.

"I don't doubt that if you take a series of votes and twist them and kind of squint, you can write a narrative the way you want to write it," Gibbs said. "I think what people understand is that (what matters) is taking the full measure of his career and the full measure of his legislative efforts."

Abortion opponents see Obama's vote on medical care for aborted fetuses as a refusal to protect the helpless. Some have even accused him of supporting infanticide.

Obama — who joined several other Democrats in voting "present" in 2001 and "no" the next year — argued the legislation was worded in a way that unconstitutionally threatened a woman's right to abortion by defining the fetus as a child.

"It would essentially bar abortions because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this was a child then this would be an anti-abortion statute," Obama said in the Senate's debate in March 2001.

During his 2004 run for U.S. Senate, Obama said he supported similar federal legislation that included language clarifying that the measure did not interfere with abortion rights.

Such hot-button issues were the exception in a legislative career that focused more on building consensus to improve the justice system and aid the poor.

Gibbs noted Obama's leadership on legislation requiring police to videotape interrogations in murder cases. It started out as a controversial idea but ended up passing the Senate unanimously.

Allies and opponents alike say he listened to those who disagreed, cooperated with Republicans and incorporated other people's suggestions for improving legislation.

"He was looked upon by members of both parties as someone whose view we listened carefully to," said Republican state Sen. Kirk Dillard from Hinsdale, Ill.

Obama regularly supported gun-control measures, including a ban on semiautomatic "assault weapons" and a limit on handgun purchases to one a month.

He also opposed letting people use a self-defense argument if charged with violating local handgun bans by using weapons in their homes. The bill was a reaction to a Chicago-area man who, after shooting an intruder, was charged with a handgun violation.

Supporters framed the issue as a fundamental question of whether homeowners have the right to protect themselves.

Obama joined several Chicago Democrats who argued the measure could open loopholes letting gun owners use their weapons on the street. They said local governments should have the final say, but the self-defense exception passed 41-16 and ultimately became state law.

"It's bad politics to be on the wrong side of the Second Amendment come election time," said Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association. "It will certainly be talked about. You can take that to the bank."

On the other hand, Obama parted company with gun control advocates when he backed a measure to let retired police officers and military police carry concealed weapons.

Obama occasionally supported higher taxes, joining other Democrats in pushing to raise more than 300 taxes and fees on businesses in 2004 to help solve a budget deficit. The increases passed the Senate 30-28.

That's one reason Illinois business groups gave Obama a low rating, while labor groups praised him. But even Obama's allies say he refused to become a rubber stamp for their legislation.

"He always wants to understand an issue and think it through," said Roberta Lynch, deputy director for Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. "You have to make your case no matter who you are."

For six years, Obama served in a Republican-controlled Senate, so he and fellow Democrats only got a fraction of their bills signed into law.

During his last two years, Democrats controlled the chamber and he was the go-to guy on a variety of issues. He helped pass legislation overhauling Illinois' troubled capital punishment system and was a key figure in requiring a massive statewide study of traffic stops to look for signs of racial profiling. Although police groups opposed the legislation, they say Obama listened to their concerns and accepted some of their suggestions to improve the bill.

Even when he was in the political minority, Obama sometimes played a critical role. He helped write one of the rare ethics laws in a state known for government corruption and worked on welfare reform with Republicans.

He sponsored legislation to bar job and housing discrimination against gays, and he helped create a state version of the earned income tax credit for the poor. Obama also led efforts to reject federal rules that would have put workers' overtime checks in jeopardy.
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« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2007, 09:05:08 AM »

prentice crawford
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2007, 12:17:12 PM »

 Yep, that's my girl cheesy paint the other guy as a potential terrorist because he went to school at a Madrasa when he was younger. The Clintons aren't going to take any prisoners in this coup attempt! evil
« Last Edit: January 22, 2007, 01:27:39 PM by prentice crawford » Logged
prentice crawford
« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2007, 04:02:46 PM »

 Of course she will also come out strong against racial profiling; heck she'll probably be know as the first Muslim President wink.
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« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2007, 04:16:09 PM »

Cue the Darth Vader theme music.....

Hillary Clinton Launching Presidential Run
'I'm In,' Former First Lady Says, as She Seeks to Become the First Female President

Jan. 20, 2006 — - Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has announced that she is forming an exploratory committee for president, thereby launching a bid to become the first female chief executive of the United States.

"I'm in," she said on a Web site, "And I'm in to win.

"As a senator, I will spend two years doing everything in my power to limit the damage George W. Bush can do," Clinton's statement added. "But only a new president will be able to undo Bush's mistakes and restore our hope and optimism."

While the timing of the news was a closely guarded secret, the announcement itself is not all together surprising. The junior senator from New York has been considering a presidential run for months.

During a televised debate just before her re-election to the Senate last November, Clinton told voters they should not count on her completing a full six-year Senate term.

Many political watchers consider Clinton the Democrat to beat -- particularly given her prolific fundraising abilities. Associates of Clinton say she will be capable of raising tens of millions of dollars in the year to come.

Clinton enjoys a substantial early lead for the nomination. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll last month, she was supported by 39 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, well ahead of her nearest competitors -- Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., with 17 percent support; former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., with 12 percent; and former Vice President Al Gore, 10 percent.

Clinton's support is particularly strong among Democratic women; 49 percent favor her for the nomination, compared with 29 percent of Democratic men.

But Clinton herself has also frequently acknowledged that there will be a "vigorous debate" prior to the next presidential election. And Clinton will be anxious to distinguish herself from the other leading candidates -- Obama and Edwards.

This past week, Clinton made a highly-publicized trip to Iraq, where she met with top U.S. commanders. During that trip, she told ABC News' Jonathan Karl the situation in Iraq is "heartbreaking."

"I don't know that the American people or the Congress at this point believe this mission can work," she told ABC News.

After returning to the United States, Clinton proposed legislation to cap the number of American troops serving in Iraq and to begin a redeployment of troops out of Baghdad, and eventually out of Iraq. She also supports putting conditions on the money being spent in Iraq.

Obama proposed similar legislation the following day. He often points to the fact that he never supported the war in the first place. Clinton did vote to authorize the use of force in 2002.

Prior to Clinton's proposal for legislation, Edwards leveled indirect criticism at Clinton for not taking bolder action to oppose the war. In a speech commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr., he said: "If you're in Congress and you know that this war is going in the wrong direction, and you know that we should not escalate this war in Iraq, it is no longer okay to study your options and keep your own private counsel."

ABC News' political director Mark Halperin and the ABC News polling unit contributed to this report.

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« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2007, 03:18:08 PM »

Ann Coulter has her badly off days, but this is not one of them.  I could have put it in the Rants thread, but I think it fits better here:


It's nice to have a president who is not so sleazy that not a single Supreme Court justice shows up for his State of the Union address (Bill Clinton, January 1999, when eight justices stayed away to protest Clinton's disregard for the law and David Souter skipped the speech to watch "Sex and the City").

Speaking of which, the horny hick's wife finally ended the breathless anticipation by announcing that she is running for president. I studied tapes of Hillary feigning surprise at hearing about Monica to help me look surprised upon learning that she's running.
As long as we have revived the practice of celebrating multicultural milestones (briefly suspended when Condoleeza Rice became the first black female to be secretary of state), let us pause to note that Mrs. Clinton, if elected, would be the first woman to become president after her husband had sex with an intern in the Oval Office.
According to the famed "polls" -- or, as I call them, "surveys of uninformed people who think it's possible to get the answer wrong" -- Hillary is the current front-runner for the Democrats. Other than the massive case of narcolepsy her name inspires, this would cause me not the slightest distress -- except for the fact that the Republicans' current front-runners are John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.
Fortunately, polls at this stage are nothing but name recognition contests, so please stop asking me to comment on them. "Arsenic" and "proctologist" have sky-high name recognition going for them, too.
In January, two years before the 2000 presidential election, the leading Republican candidate in New Hampshire was ... Liddy Dole (WMUR-TV/CNN poll, Jan. 12, 1999). In the end, Liddy Dole's most successful run turned out to be a mad dash from her husband Bob after he accidentally popped two Viagras.
At this stage before the 1992 presidential election, the three leading Democratic candidates were, in order: Mario Cuomo, Jesse Jackson and Lloyd Bentsen (Public Opinion Online, Feb. 21, 1991).
Only three months before the 1988 election, William Schneider cheerfully reported in The National Journal that Michael Dukakis beat George Herbert Walker Bush in 22 of 25 polls taken since April of that year. Bush did considerably better in the poll taken on Election Day.
The average poll respondent reads the above information and immediately responds that the administrations of presidents Cuomo, Dole and Dukakis were going in "the wrong direction."
Still and all, Mrs. Clinton is probably the real front-runner based on: (1) the multiple millions of dollars she has raised, and (2) the fact that her leading Democratic opponent is named "Barack Hussein Obama." Or, as he's known at CNN, "Osama." Or, as he's known on the Clinton campaign, "The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations."
Mrs. Clinton's acolytes are floating the idea of Hillary as another Margaret Thatcher to get past the question, "Can a woman be elected president?" This is based on the many, many things Hillary Clinton and Margaret Thatcher have in common, such as the lack of a Y chromosome and ... hmmm, you know, I think that's it.
Girl-power feminists who got where they are by marrying men with money or power -- Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry -- love to complain about how hard it is for a woman to be taken seriously.
It has nothing to do with their being women. It has to do with their cheap paths to power. Kevin Federline isn't taken seriously either.
It is as easy to imagine Americans voting for someone like Margaret Thatcher or Condoleezza Rice for president as it is difficult to imagine them voting for someone like Hillary. (Or Kevin Federline.) Hillary isn't piggybacking on Thatcher because she's a woman, she's piggybacking on Thatcher because Thatcher made it on her own, which Hillary did not.
But the most urgent question surrounding Hillary's candidacy is: How will the Democrats out-macho us if Hillary is their presidential nominee? Unlike their last presidential nominee, she doesn't even have any fake Purple Hearts.
Sen. Jim Webb, who managed to give the rebuttal to President Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday night without challenging the president to a fistfight (well done, Jim!), won his election last November by portraying himself as one of the new gun-totin' Democrats.
He once opposed women in the military by calling the idea "a horny woman's dream." But -- as some of us warned you -- it appears that Webb has already been fitted for his tutu by Rahm Emanuel.

Webb began his rebuttal by complaining that we don't have national health care and aren't spending enough on "education" (teachers unions). In other words, he talked about national issues that only are national issues because of this country's rash experiment with women's suffrage. I guess we should all be relieved that at least Webb's response did not involve putting a young boy's penis into a man's mouth, as characters in his novels are wont to do. He then palavered on about the vast military experience of his entire family in order to better denounce the war in Iraq. As long as Democrats keep insisting that only warriors can discuss war, how about telling the chick to butt out?
prentice crawford
« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2007, 09:37:16 AM »

From: Tom Tancredo for President progress report,

              Let Down By The State Of The Union Address?
Dear friend of this campaign,
  Thanks to your early financial support, my campaign for the Republican nomination is really gearing up. Please know that I'm very grateful! And as a result of my campaign, the causes we deeply believe in are being heard nationally. In the last week, I've appeared on Fox and Friends, Neil Cavuto, Wolf Blitzer, Bill O'Reilly, and just this evening, Paula Zahn, plus just about every radio talk show you can think of. I'm traveling weekly to Iowa and New Hampshire to meet with voters in those all-important early states. In fact, we're looking for office locations in Iowa now. Wherever I go, the message I bring is the same. I stand for Border Security, Immigration Sanity, and a return to basic Law and Order along our porous borders. Last night, as I was listening to the President's State of the Union Address, I felt very sad, let down, and very, very angry. The White House seems determined to work with Pelosi and McCain to ram through an illegal alien amnesty. He seems almost glad to have a Democratic Congress! Both the President and the Democrats like to call what they want "comprehensive immigration reform," but we aren't buying it! The truth is, they're trotting out the same old pig... with a slightly different shade of lipstick. When I was first elected to Congress, there was no organized effort to fight the open-borders crowd who ran Capitol Hill. Things looked very bleak. So I formed the House Immigration Caucus, which now boasts over 100 members of Congress! Since I formed the Caucus not a single amnesty bill has passed in Congress! Now I'm taking this fight national, with my exploratory committee for a Presidential run. If you feel you would like to make a donation to back my efforts please go to and pass this on to all your friends.Thank You! Sincerely, Tom Tancredo

 Woof P.C.
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« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2007, 10:30:24 AM »

Well Hillary, do you think America "is ready for a woman president."  This was the first question asked at a "town hall" extravaganza for the Hill.  Oh I get it, lets get that out of the way.  and surely most people are supposed to sit there blindly and think, "well I could vote for a woman".   We know the media is drooling all over this.

BTW, weren't most Presidents fathers? huh

This is such a rehearsed planned question.  Please, anybody but another Clinton.  As one who generally votes Republican I'll take Biden, Obama who I don't know, Richardson, etc.  But Clintons I know (despite the never ending *we really don't know Hillary*).   I'm not even sure I wouldn't rather have Jimmy Carter come back then *them* again.  And I'm old enough to remember Carter.  Can't we just get rid of both the Bushes and the Clintons?    Come on Dems lets make a bargain.   Remember, we could always bring in Jeb just to piss ya off. cool
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« Reply #23 on: January 29, 2007, 02:06:25 PM »

Craig, all,

I thought of Condi when Hillary started changing her emphasis from 'woman' to 'mom'.  Of course Condi is out for now because a) she isn't running and b) Bush foreign policy is currently in low regard.
Speaking of foreign policy, this speech Mitt Romney gave in Israel last week offers a very clear plan regarding Iran and a worthwhile read IMO.

Mitt Romney Herzliya Conference Speech
January 23, 2007

    Thank you Ron Lauder for that introduction. And thank you for what you do – and to you Uzi Arad as well – to make this important conference happen. It’s good to be at the Herzliya Conference this afternoon. It’s been a busy day. I saw the sunrise in Jerusalem. And along with friends, I traveled to the Gaza border, from there wechoppered up to the Lebanese border. And now here.I am glad to be in Israel again. It has been about 10 years since my last visit and I am struck by how much has changed. The economy is booming. As someone who spent most of my career in business, I have great respect for the ingenuity and resilience of Israel’s workers and entrepreneurs.

    But the changes are not only economic and they are not only positive.

   And it is not just Israel that has changed in the past decade, but the world around us. Unfortunately, many have not fully caught up with the new strategic paradigm we face.In that old world, the Arab-Israeli conflict was thought of as just another intractable regionalconflict. One that drags on…that should be resolved…but is not part of a global threat to theworld order.9/11 changed that perspective. Or it should have. Contrary to the Baker-Hamilton Commission, resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict will not magically mollify the jihadists. No, what we should have realized since 9/11 is that what the world regarded as an Israeli-Arab conflict over borders represented something much larger. It was the oldest, most active front of the radical Islamist jihad against the entire West. It therefore was not really aboutborders. It was about the refusal of many parts of the Muslim world to accept Israel's right toexist – within any borders.

    This distinction came into vivid focus this summer. The war in Lebanon had little to do with thePalestinians. And it had nothing to do with a two-state solution. It demonstrated that Israel isnow facing a jihadist front that from Tehran through Damascus to Southern Lebanon andGaza.As Tony Blair astutely put it, Hizbullah was not fighting “for the coming into being of a Palestinian state...but for the going out of being of an Israeli state."

    Yet we have still not fully absorbed the magnitude of the change. As far as our enemies areconcerned, there is just one conflict. And in this single conflict, the goal of destroying Israel issimply a way station toward the real goal of subjugating the entire West.Jihadism -- violent radical Islamic fundamentalism -- has emerged as this century’s nightmare. It follows the same dark path as last century’s horrors: fascism and Soviet-styled communism.In my country, the attack by Al Queda has led some to believe that we are threatened by aband of fanatics in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. They imagine that if we couldonly get Bin Laden and his cohorts, all this unpleasantness could be over.But Jihadism is much, much more.

    Jihadists are among Shia and Sunni, promoted by Hamasand Hizbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, financed by knowing and unknowing Muslimgovernments, and preached to hundreds of millions in many nations. Their goal is theoverthrow of moderate Muslim states and their replacement by a caliphate. Their strategy isthe collapse of the economy, the government, and the military of America and our friends.To their eyes, our destruction is not delusional, but possible.In my country, the focus has been on Iraq, which is understandable. We have some 140,000 men and women there, with more on the way. And we are suffering casualties. Indeed, the past few days have been especially painful for the United States. Thousands of American families continue to make the greatest sacrifice for security in Iraq. And for whatever the mistakes made and the challenges before us, we must remain committed to making everyeffort for success there.And on Iraq, I would just like to make another point. Some Congressional leaders in theUnited States today are arguing that the President is not authorized to allow our forces topursue Iranian elements inside Iraq – which are attacking our own troops. That would be folly.

    But today, I wish to focus on the regime that has become the heart of the Jihadist threat - Iran. I believe that Iran’s leaders and ambitions represent the greatest threat to the world sincethe fall of the Soviet Union, and before that, Nazi Germany.

    Ahmadinejad has gone well beyond the boundary of outrage…beginning with his calculateddesecration of history. Indeed, when he denies the Holocaust, he could care less about history– his point is about the present and the future. His purpose is not to deny the Holocaust, but todeny Israel. He is testing the waters. He wants to know who will object. And how they willregister their objection.The Iranian regime threatens not only Israel, but also every other nation in the region, andultimately the world. And that threat would take on an entirely new dimension if Iran were allowed to become a nuclear power. And just think of the signal a nuclear Iran would send toother rogue regimes with nuclear ambitions – this could be a tipping point in the developmentand proliferation of nuclear regimes. How should the civilized world approach this challenge?

    Our first goal should be to dispense with three major schools of wishful thinking:The first school concedes that Iran must not be allowed to go nuclear. But that's where thecertitude ends. Beyond that recognition, there is only the hope that Iran’s weakeningeconomy and political rivalries will yield a change in the government’s leadership. We are all hopeful, but this is not a strategy. The second assumes that it is possible to live with a nuclear Iran. This thinking is based onthe theory that Iran, once granted the privilege of joining the nuclear club, will be aresponsible actor.

    Neither their words nor their record justify this conclusion. The third school believes that the logic of deterrence, which served us through the Cold War,will apply to Iran. But for all of the Soviets’ deep flaws, they were never suicidal. A Sovietcommitment to national survival was never in question. This assumption simply cannot bemade about an irrational regime that celebrates martyrdom.Each of these three represents a rationale for inaction, rather than a strategy for success.Each would in all likelihood yield the same result – an Iran that is nuclear armed, threateningthe world, or worse. They should be rejected. And they should be replaced with anunderstanding of two fundamental realities:

    1) Iran must stopped;

    2) Iran can be stopped.

    It is inconceivable to me that some think otherwise. Their view must be based ondisbelief…disbelief that Iran’s regime means what it says.Few believed that Hitler meant when he called for the destruction of the Jewish people in Mein Kampf. Few believed what Osama bin Laden said.

    The 9/11 Commission found numerous failures – failures of intelligence, of coordination, andof analysis. But they found that the most critical failure was what they called a “failure ofimagination.” Americans simply could not believe that people would crash airplanes full ofinnocent people into buildings full of innocent people.

    Since that happened, can we really dismiss horrific threats as mere rhetoric? A nuclear Iran is unacceptable because, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates pointed out inhis confirmation hearings, we have no way of guaranteeing that Iran will not use a nuclearweapon. Many people do understand that Iran must be stopped, but they do not believe it is possible. They see the modest sanctions that the UN took three years to produce. They see Russia refusing to end its cooperation with Iran's nuclear program. They conclude that the UNSecurity Council will never produce sanctions tough enough – and soon enough - to stop Iran.

    What is less appreciated is what the US and Europe can do. Yes, we should continue toencourage China and Russia to work with us on the UN Security Council. And from my meetings in Israel over the past few days, and in China two months ago, I have reason to bemore optimistic about the role China could play.But we must not sit idle while we wait for cooperation: The US and Europe can do much toexploit the Iranian regime’s vulnerabilities.

    In considering our strategy, we must remember that the government and the clerics arenot the sole center of power. The people of Iran also represent a major source of power. Byand large, they have not been radicalized by their government and clerics. They feareconomic stagnation and political repression. Most are not seeking a military confrontationwith the West. Indeed, most want greater engagement with the West - there’s a reason, for example, that there are more than 75,000 bloggers active in Iran today. A successfulstrategy should consider and encompass the people of Iran, as well as their leaders. In my view, our strategy to stop Iran should include the following five dimensions:

    First, we must continue tighten economic sanctions. Our model should be at least as severeto the sanctions imposed on Apartheid South Africa. We should demand no less from theinternational community today.The Bush Administration deserves credit for the efforts it has made on the economic trackthus far. The Administration’s campaign to deny Iran access to the international bankingsystem is crucial. The United States and Europe must ensure that Iran is unable to obtaincredit. And we must ensure that Iranian purchases in foreign currencies become difficult or impossible.

    We must also be imaginative in the way we pressure Iran economically – an issue I havebeen looking into. In my meetings this week in Israel, I have become aware of the potential ofUS pension funds to further isolate the Iranian economy. We should explore a selective disinvestment policy. After a series of briefings here, I have contacted the Treasurer of my own state of Massachusetts and Governors of other states to begin this process by meetingtoday with senior Israeli leaders in Boston.

    Second, we must impose diplomatic isolation of Iran’s Government. Ahmadinejad should notbe provided the trappings, respect, and recognition of a responsible head of state as hetravels. In fact, when former Iranian President Khatami traveled to Boston last year to lectureat Harvard University, I denied him state police security for his visit. The real question is: why was he invited in the first place? Ahmadinejad is even more strident than Khatami. He should neither be invited to foreign capitals nor feted by foreign leaders. This would haveimportant symbolic significance, not just to Ahmadinejad, but to the people of Iran.Diplomatic isolation should also include an indictment of Ahmadinejad for incitement togenocide under the Genocide Convention. The United States should lead this effort.

    The full title of the Genocide Convention is the Convention on the Prevention andPunishment of the Crime of Genocide. Remember that word: Prevention.Article III of that treaty establishes that “public incitement to commit genocide” is apunishable crime. Every signatory to this treaty, including the U.S. and most Europeancountries, shares an obligation to enforce it. So do human rights groups that care aboutinternational humanitarian law.Nobel Prize Winner Elie Wiesel, and human rights advocate and former Canadian JusticeMinister Irwin Cotler have spoken out on this issue.In addition, former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton has been a forceful advocate for this effort, and is joined by Alan Dershowitz. If these two can agree, they must be on to something.

    Third, Arab states must join this effort to prevent a nuclear Iran. These states can do muchmore than wring their hands and urge America to act. They should support Iraq’s nascentgovernment, They can help America focus on Iran by quickly turning down the temperatureof the Arab-Israeli conflict -- stopping the financial and weapons flows to Hamas andHizbullah…thawing relations with Israel…and telling the Palestinians they must dropterrorism and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

    Fourth, we must make it clear that while nuclearization may be a source of pride, it can alsobe a source of peril. The military option remains on the table. And further, nuclear materialthat falls into the hands of terrorists would surely provoke a devastating response from thecivilized world.

    Fifth, our strategy should be integrated into a broader approach to the broader Muslim world.I agree with our friend, former Prime Minister Aznar of Spain, that a central purpose of NATO should be to defeat radical Islam. I believe this has two critical dimensions. The first is anunquestionably capable military. This will mean a greater investment by the United States aswell as other nations. The second is a global partnership which includes NATO and otherallies. Its mission would be to support progressive Muslim communities and leaders in every nation where radical Islam is battling modernity and moderation. This Partnership for Prosperity should help provide the tools and funding necessary for moderates to win the debate in their own societies. They need secular public schools, micro credit and banking,the rule of law, adequate healthcare, human rights, and competitive economic policies. In thefinal analysis, only Muslims will be able to permanently defeat radical Islam. And we canhelp.

    We should remember that in the two other global confrontations with totalitarianism in thepast century, it was not always obvious that the West would prevail. Indeed, in these conflicts, the balance of power was not always in the West’s favor. Those were wars we could have lost, but did not.

    In the current conflict, the balance of forces is not nearly as dangerously close as it wasduring moments of World War II and the Cold War. There is no comparison between the economic, diplomatic, and military resources of the West and the handful of weak terrorist states that threaten us. In the previous global wars, there were many ways to lose, and victory was far fromguaranteed. In the current conflict, there is only one way to lose, and that is if we as acivilization decide not to lift a finger to defend ourselves, our values, and our way of life.

    It is time for the world to plainly speak three truths:

    One, Iran must be stopped.

    Two, Iran can be stopped.

    And three, Iran will be stopped.

    Thank you.
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« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2007, 09:31:51 AM »

Biden Unbound: Lays Into
Clinton, Obama, Edwards
Loquacious Senator, Democratic Candidate on Hillary: 'Four of 10 Is the Max
You Can Get?' Edwards 'Doesn't Know What He's Talking About'
By: Jason Horowitz
Date: 2/5/2007

Senator Joseph Biden doesn't think highly of the Iraq policies of some of
the other Democrats who are running for President.

To hear him tell it, Hillary Clinton's position is calibrated, confusing and
"a very bad idea." John Edwards doesn't know what he's talking about and is
pushing a recipe for Armageddon in the Middle East. Barack Obama is offering
charming but insubstantial fluff. And all of them are playing politics.

"Let me put it this way," Mr. Biden said. "You didn't hear any one of them
get in this debate at all until they announced for President."

Mr. Biden, who ran an ill-fated campaign for President in 1988, is a man who
believes his time has finally come, announcing this week that he was filing
papers to make his 2008 Presidential bid official. Although he admits to a
tendency to "bloviate," he thinks that an aggressive advocate with rough
edges might be just what the party needs right now. "Democrats nominated the
perfect blow-dried candidates in 2000 and 2004," he said, "and they couldn't

Though Mr. Biden, 64, has never achieved his national ambitions, he has in
recent years emerged as one of the party's go-to experts on foreign policy.
In the past week, he has spearheaded the Democratic pushback against the
President's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq, opposing the move with a
non-binding resolution that his party has rallied around.

On a recent weekday afternoon, he was discussing his rivals over a bowl of
tomato soup in the corner of a diner in Delaware, about a 15-minute drive
from his Senate office. He wore a red cardigan and blue shirt, periodically
raising his raspy voice over the sound of loudspeakers summoning customers
to pick up their sandwiches. He had showed up carrying a Mead notebook
filled with handwritten talking points, but once he'd gotten started, he
closed the book and pushed it aside.

The subject he prefers to talk about these days-particularly when
contrasting himself with his prospective Presidential rivals-is Iraq.

Addressing Mrs. Clinton's latest proposal to cap American troops and to
threaten Iraqi leaders with cuts in funding, Mr. Biden lowered his voice and
leaned in close over the table.

"From the part of Hillary's proposal, the part that really baffles me is,
'We're going to teach the Iraqis a lesson.' We're not going to equip them?
O.K. Cap our troops and withdraw support from the Iraqis? That's a real good

The result of Mrs. Clinton's position on Iraq, Mr. Biden says, would be
"nothing but disaster."

Most early polls show Mrs. Clinton as the party's clear front-runner. Mr.
Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is firmly in
the thick of a pack of third-tier candidates. Still, he thinks that at such
a precarious point in the nation's history, voters are seeking someone with
his level of experience to take the helm.

"Are they going to turn to Hillary Clinton?" Biden asked, lowering his voice
to a hush to explain why Mrs. Clinton won't win the election.

"Everyone in the world knows her," he said. "Her husband has used every
single legitimate tool in his behalf to lock people in, shut people down.
Legitimate. And she can't break out of 30 percent for a choice for
Democrats? Where do you want to be? Do you want to be in a place where 100
percent of the Democrats know you? They've looked at you for the last three
years. And four out of 10 is the max you can get?"

Mr. Biden is equally skeptical-albeit in a slightly more backhanded
way-about Mr. Obama. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American
who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," he said. "I
mean, that's a storybook, man."

But-and the "but" was clearly inevitable-he doubts whether American voters
are going to elect "a one-term, a guy who has served for four years in the
Senate," and added: "I don't recall hearing a word from Barack about a plan
or a tactic."

(After the interview with Mr. Biden and shortly before press time, Mr. Obama
proposed legislation that would require all American combat brigades to be
withdrawn from Iraq by the end of March 2008.)

Mr. Biden seemed to reserve a special scorn for Mr. Edwards, who suffered
from a perceived lack of depth in foreign policy in the Presidential
election of 2004.

"I don't think John Edwards knows what the heck he is talking about," Mr.
Biden said, when asked about Mr. Edwards' advocacy of the immediate
withdrawal of about 40,000 American troops from Iraq.

"John Edwards wants you and all the Democrats to think, 'I want us out of
there,' but when you come back and you say, 'O.K., John'"-here, the word
"John" became an accusatory, mocking refrain-"'what about the chaos that
will ensue? Do we have any interest, John, left in the region?' Well, John
will have to answer yes or no. If he says yes, what are they? What are those
interests, John? How do you protect those interests, John, if you are
completely withdrawn? Are you withdrawn from the region, John? Are you
withdrawn from Iraq, John? In what period? So all this stuff is like so much
Fluffernutter out there. So for me, what I think you have to do is have a
strategic notion. And they may have it-they are just smart enough not to
enunciate it."

The targets of Mr. Biden's criticism, whether out of shock, indifference or
a calculation that it would be unwise in this case to meet fire with fire,
declined to respond in kind.

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton wrote in an e-mail: "Senator Obama
opposed the Iraq War from Day 1 and has articulated clear principles in how
to address the tragic mistakes President Bush has made there." And as for
rest-including Mr. Biden's use of the words "articulate" and "nice-looking"
to describe the Senator from Illinois-the spokesman said, "Senator Biden's
words speak for themselves." The press offices for Mrs. Clinton and Mr.
Edwards declined to say anything at all.

By contrast with what Mr. Biden describes alternately as his opponents'
caution and their detachment from reality, the Senator from Delaware has for
months been pushing a comprehensive plan to split Iraq into autonomous
Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish ethnic regions that is controversial, to say the

Under the plan, local policing and laws will be the responsibility of
regional authorities. Most of the American troops would be withdrawn, with
small numbers remaining to help with anti-terrorism operations. The ensuing
chaos from ethnic migrations within Iraq would be contained with the help of
political pressure created by a conference of Iraq's neighbors.

But the idea of an American endorsement of Iraqi federation along those
lines has drawn criticism from just about every ideological corner of the
foreign-policy establishment. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, another potential
2008 candidate who played a major role in negotiating the peace talks that
ended the war in Bosnia, said in a recent interview that the Biden plan
would have people in mixed cities like Baghdad "fleeing for their lives."
Richard Perle, one of the chief architects of the war in Iraq, who resigned
from his advisory position at the Pentagon in 2003 after a
conflict-of-interest scandal, called the idea "harebrained." And perhaps
most notably, the original author of the partition plan, former Council on
Foreign Relations president Leslie Gelb, has suggested that spiraling chaos
on the ground in Iraq may have already rendered it unworkable.

Mr. Biden counters their criticism by insisting that Iraq has already
fractured along ethnic lines, and that the only pragmatic approach at this
point is to police the process in a way that could prevent a wider civil war
and, eventually, lead to a sort of stability.

"You have to give them breathing room," he said.

The Iraq he envisions has three ethnically homogenous enclaves, with a
central government responsible for securing the country's international
borders and distributing oil revenues.

He'd put the Shiite majority in the south, limiting their geographic control
but keeping them from being drawn into a wider Sunni-Shiite conflict.

He'd move the Sunni majority into the oil-poor Anbar province in the West,
but they would be guaranteed a cut of oil revenues worth billions of
dollars. Mr. Biden's hope is that the oil money and relative calm would
drain the loyal Baathist insurgency of support while simultaneously making
the province less amenable to Al Qaeda provocateurs.

"The argument that you make with Sunni tribal leaders is, 'You are not going
to get back to the point where you run the show,'" said Mr. Biden. They will
have to be made to understand that "you get a much bigger piece of the pie
by giving up a little of the pie."

He'd keep the Kurds up in the north, where they already enjoy a measure of
de facto autonomy, but would seek guarantees that they would not take it
upon themselves to purge Sunni residents from the mixed city of Kirkuk, or
to lay exclusive claim to the enormous oil resources in that region, or to
secede from Iraq by forming an independent Kurdistan.

Mr. Biden said he has made the argument to Kurdish leaders over the course
of his seven trips to Iraq as follows: "You will be eaten alive by the Turks
and the Iranians, they will attack you, there will be an all-out war."

The clear implication is that the United States, not for the first time,
would be unable to protect them. "I don't see how we could," he said.

Mr. Biden disagrees with foreign leaders like Britain's Tony Blair and
Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf, who say that the key to fixing Iraq's problems
is solving the dispute between Israel and Palestinians.

"They are wrong, because I think it is a veiled way to do what the Europeans
and the Arabists have always wanted to do, which is back Israel into a
corner," he said. "They still blame Israel."

Mr. Biden says that support for his Iraq plan is growing. The influential
New York Senator Chuck Schumer has declared at various times that he
supports the plan-albeit in an uncharacteristically quiet manner-as has
Michael O'Hanlon, a prominent Iraq policy expert at the Brookings

But their support, for Mr. Biden, is almost an afterthought. If one thing is
clear about him, it is that he doesn't mind being alone.

"They may be politically right, and I may be politically wrong," he said.
"But I believe I am substantively right, and their substantive approaches
are not very deep and will not get us where I want to go."
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Posts: 42475

« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2007, 06:39:36 AM »

Dick Morris on the upcoming elections:

Although Barack Obama is an “exciting phenomenon,” he is the equivalent of “political stem cells: You can make him into any tissue you want.”

“It is in the national interest that, if there is a Democratic president, that it not be Hillary.”

“The Republican field is like the New York Yankees: They’ve got a pitching rotation of really great names who are 45 years old and who probably won Cy Young Awards when they were younger. But they’ll have a sore arm by the World Series and will end up on the [disabled list]. Republicans need to look to the minor leagues.”

He laid out the political future: “Hillary will be the next president, and she’ll be the worst president we’ve ever seen.” No matter what happens, the situation in Iraq will “assure that the GOP gets massacred in 2008 congressional elections.” In 2010, the Republicans will take back the Congress — “Hillary will give Republicans the same gift she gave them in 1994” — and they’ll win the presidency in 2012, but thanks to demographic shifts favoring Democrats (namely the rising Hispanic and African-American populations), “that will be the last Republican president we’ll ever see.”

From today's NY Slimes:

Biden Unwraps His Bid for ’08 With an Oops!
Published: February 1, 2007
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 — In an era of meticulous political choreography, the staging of the kickoff for this presidential candidacy could hardly have gone worse.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., head of the Foreign Relations Committee, who Wednesday announced his Democratic presidential candidacy.

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, who announced his candidacy on Wednesday with the hope that he could ride his foreign policy expertise into contention for the Democratic nomination, instead spent the day struggling to explain his description of Senator Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat running for president, as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

The remark, published Wednesday in The New York Observer, left Mr. Biden’s campaign struggling to survive its first hours and injected race more directly into the presidential contest. The day ended, appropriately enough for the way politics is practiced now, with Mr. Biden explaining himself to Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”

Earlier, in a decidedly nonpresidential afternoon conference call with reporters that had been intended to announce his candidacy, Mr. Biden, speaking over loud echoes and a blaring television set, said that he had been “quoted accurately.” He volunteered that he had called Mr. Obama to express regret that his remarks had been taken “out of context,” and that Mr. Obama had assured him he had nothing to explain.

“Barack Obama is probably the most exciting candidate that the Democratic or Republican party has produced at least since I’ve been around,” he said, adding: “Call Senator Obama. He knew what I meant by it. The idea was very straightforward and simple. This guy is something brand new that nobody has seen before.”

Asked about Mr. Biden’s comments, Mr. Obama said in an interview, “I didn’t take it personally and I don’t think he intended to offend.” Mr. Obama, who serves with Mr. Biden on the Foreign Relations Committee, added, “But the way he constructed the statement was probably a little unfortunate.”

But later in the day, with Mr. Biden coming under fire from some black leaders, Mr. Obama issued a statement that approached a condemnation. “I didn’t take Senator Biden’s comments personally, but obviously they were historically inaccurate,” he said. “African-American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate.”

For Mr. Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it was an inauspicious beginning to his first presidential campaign since 1988, when he dropped out after acknowledging using without attribution portions of a speech from a British politician. By the end of the day on Wednesday, Democrats were asking only half-jokingly whether Mr. Biden might be remembered for having the shortest-lived presidential campaign in the history of the Republic.

Shortly after 6 p.m., Mr. Biden issued a written statement. “I deeply regret any offense my remark in the New York Observer might have caused anyone,” he said. “That was not my intent and I expressed that to Senator Obama.”

Under questioning from reporters at his announcement conference call, Mr. Biden was pressed on what he meant in his description of Mr. Obama, particularly in his use of the word clean.

“He understood exactly what I meant,” Mr. Biden said. “And I have no doubt that Jesse Jackson and every other black leader — Al Sharpton and the rest — will know exactly what I meant.”

When he was asked, again, what he meant, Mr. Biden — known in Washington for his long-winded ways and his love of the microphone and the spotlight — bristled as he struggled over the squawk of feedback and echoes.

“I’m not going to repeat everything I just said,” he said. “There is a vote that starts at 2:30, it takes 11 minutes to get to the floor. I can take one more question but not on the subject I have already spoken to.”

And after taking one more question, Mr. Biden did something entirely out of character: He announced he was done talking.

Mr. Biden’s assurances notwithstanding, both Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sharpton — African-Americans who have run for president — said they had no idea what Mr. Biden meant. And both suggested they felt at least a little offended by the remarks.

Mr. Jackson described Mr. Biden’s remarks to the Observer, which also included critical statements about the Iraq positions of two of his Democratic opponents — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina — as “blabbering bluster.”

A wounded note to his voice, Mr. Jackson pointed out that he had run against Mr. Biden for the 1988 Democratic nomination, and had lasted far longer and drawn more votes than did Mr. Biden. Mr. Biden was forced out in September 1987.

“I am not sure what he means — ask him to explain what he meant,” Mr. Jackson said. “I don’t know whether it was an attempt to diminish what I had done in ’88, or to say Barack is all style and no substance.”

Mr. Sharpton said that when Mr. Biden called him to apologize, Mr. Sharpton started off the conversation reassuring Mr. Biden about his hygienic practices. “I told him I take a bath every day,” Mr. Sharpton said.

No stranger to electoral intrigue, Mr. Sharpton was quick to offer a political motive: That Mr. Biden was drawing distinctions between Mr. Obama and African-American leaders like Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Jackson, to “discredit Mr. Obama with his base.”

At the very least, Mr. Biden’s remarks obscured a campaign roll-out in which he said that Mr. Bush had “dug America into a very big hole” with the war in Iraq and that the nation would need a leader experienced in foreign policy to take over during dangerous times. More than that, it seemed sure to harden Mr. Biden’s image in political circles as politically undisciplined, an image he had been working scrupulously to change in what has emerged as a long-term political rehabilitation project for him.

In his conference call, Mr. Biden quoted his mother in trying to explain what he meant about Mr. Obama. “My mother has an expression: Clean as a whistle and sharp as a tack,” Mr. Biden said, showering more praise on one of his biggest opponents for the nomination.

On Comedy Central, he told Mr. Stewart: “What got me in trouble was using the world clean. I should have said fresh. What I meant was he’s got new ideas.”

Mr. Biden’s comments also focused new attention on remarks he made about Indians last year, when he said, “you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

Before he went on television, Mr. Biden found himself sharing a stage with Mr. Obama at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iraq, where he was noticeably solicitous to his new presidential rival as members of the committee questioned Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state. Mr. Biden chastised Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, to keep his comments short (“just one minute, Senator, or we will have everybody else”).

But he could not have been more accommodating to Mr. Obama as the senator from Illinois began wrapping up: “I know I’m out of time.”

Mr. Biden would have none of that. “That’s O.K.,” he told Mr. Obama. “You’re making a very salient point.”

Jeff Zeleny and Helene Cooper contributed reporting from Washington, and Conrad Mulcahy from New York.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2007, 12:24:08 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2007, 06:39:15 PM »

President Clinton
February 1, 2007; Page A17

Senator Hillary Clinton is waging two presidential campaigns at once. She is running for the Democratic presidential nomination while keeping a sharp eye on the general election campaign against the Republican presidential nominee, whoever that turns out to be. Mrs. Clinton wants to run as a centrist, not a liberal, in the general election. But there's a problem. She is being tugged to the left in the nomination fight, forced to take positions that may jeopardize her chances later against the Republican candidate.

Her opponents in the Democratic primaries next year don't have this problem. They are unabashed liberals who have done nothing to place themselves near the ideological center of American politics. Mrs. Clinton, however, spent her first term as senator from New York downplaying her image as a staunch liberal. Instead, she has sought with some success to fashion a reputation as a centrist on some several key issues, particularly national security. And while doing so, she became the undisputed frontrunner for the 2008 Democratic nomination. She became electable.

A glance at the breakdown of red and blue states in the 2004 presidential race shows how little it would take for her to win the general election. If she holds the states won by Democrat John Kerry, she would need to add only one populous red state or two smaller ones. And there are numerous Republican states that have drifted toward the Democrats since 2004 -- Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Arizona and Virginia, just to name a few.

But Mrs. Clinton's ability to pick up one or two of these red states depends on her maintaining credibility as a centrist on key issues. That is a difficult task. Given the pressure from her party's liberal base and from her Democratic opponents for the presidential nomination, it's now very much in doubt whether she can accomplish it. She's already becoming more liberal than it's safe to be in a presidential election in a nation with an enduring center-right majority.

As surprising as this may sound, Mrs. Clinton starts her campaign as the Democratic candidate furthest to the right. The only two Democrats who might have gotten to her right -- Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana and former Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia -- dropped out of the race. So she faces competition from a phalanx of liberals, two of whom -- Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards -- are formidable opponents.

In her six years in the Senate, Mrs. Clinton has gone a good ways toward achieving the threshold requirement for a female candidate for president: making herself believable as a commander in chief. She did this by spending long hours at Senate Armed Services Committee hearings, forging a supportive relationship with Donald Rumsfeld, and voting in 2002 to authorize the invasion of Iraq.

She became conversant on defense issues. At a breakfast with reporters in late 2003, I asked her if there had been good reason to believe, as President Bush did, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. "The intelligence from Bush 1 to Clinton to Bush 2 was consistent," she said, in concluding Saddam had chemical and biological weapons and was developing nuclear weapons.

Mrs. Clinton had done her own "due diligence," she went on, by attending classified briefings on Capitol Hill and at the White House and the Pentagon, and also by consulting national security officials from the Clinton administration whom she trusted. All agreed Saddam had WMD. Now, an investigation was needed on how everyone had been "so misled," Mrs. Clinton said. But she declined to endorse the theory of Sen. Edward Kennedy that the existence of WMD was a "fraud" cooked up by Mr. Bush to justify the war in Iraq.

It was a strong answer and I was impressed. Mrs. Clinton further burnished her credentials as a serious person on national security affairs by refusing once the war turned unpopular to repudiate her vote, as Mr. Edwards had. (Mr. Obama, as a state legislator, had opposed the war from the outset.) She criticized the conduct of the postwar occupation and suggested there might never have been a vote to go to war had it been known Saddam had no WMD. But this was the standard sort of second-guessing by a senator, Democrat or Republican.

Then came January 2007 and two events: the sudden effort by Democrats to compel Mr. Bush to bring the Iraq war to an end and the just-as-sudden acceleration of the presidential race. Mrs. Clinton joined the stampede to cast the president and the war in the most pessimistic light. She dramatically escalated her criticism.

First, after a trip to Iraq, she called for a cap on American troops in Iraq at the current level of 137,000, thus no "surge" in the number of troops. At a Senate hearing a few days later, Mrs. Clinton lectured Gen. David Petraeus, the new Iraq commander, on the appropriate counterinsurgency strategy in Baghdad; she asked the general, the Army's foremost expert on counterinsurgency, no questions. Then during her first campaign trip to Iowa, she demanded Mr. Bush "extricate our country" from Iraq before he leaves office.

It was as if all the pressure had gotten to Mrs. Clinton and she'd forgotten her need to remain resolute on national security. Rather than acting like a potential president, she acted like a bickering senator. She put the reputation she'd earned for seriousness on national security at risk. That the Iraq war was unpopular in 2006 and early 2007 probably won't help her in 2008, when Mr. Bush is stepping down.

The question now is whether Mrs. Clinton will stand up to the political pressure to move left on other issues. In 2005, she boldly reached out to pro-lifers, calling abortion "a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women." She said both sides in the abortion debate should seek "common ground." Will she repeat that when she and the other Democrats appear before groups like Naral Pro-Choice America?

And on health care, Mrs. Clinton insists she's learned from her painful experience of authoring a failed national plan in 1993 that relied heavily on government mandates. Lobbyists for health-care groups say she speaks approvingly now of injecting free-market incentives into the system. But will she advocate them as part of a centrist health-care initiative in the Democratic primaries?

Presidential campaigns are unfair to liberals. The American electorate prefers presidents to be centrists (Bill Clinton, the elder George Bush) or conservatives (Ronald Reagan, the younger George Bush). Voters usually opt for a presidential candidate who is tough-minded, rather than wavering or vulnerable to fleeting passions, on one issue above all, national security. Hillary Clinton was well on her way to becoming such a candidate. Until now.

Mr. Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, is the author of "Rebel-in-Chief" (Crown Forum, 2006).
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« Reply #27 on: February 04, 2007, 11:28:22 AM »

Interesting political point by VDH that: "We are in a rare period in American political history, in which the battlefield alone will determine the next election..."

As time permits, I'll post my take on each candidate.  So far there isn't one running from my wing of conservatism.  A new face with wisdom and maturity is needed in the race, How about Hanson...

February 2, 2007 7:15 AM

Hedging on Iraq
The Democrats prepare for anything, and advocate nothing.

By Victor Davis Hanson

For all the talk of cutting off funds, redeployment, and pulling out, the new Democratic Congress will, at least for now, probably do nothing except speak impassioned words and make implicit threats. Here’s why.

First, they have to digest what they have swallowed. Democratic critics had previously framed their opposition to the war in terms of a disastrous tenure of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld; a culpable indifference to the status quo in Baghdad and at Centcom; a failure to listen to the more intellectual generals such as David Petraeus; the “too few troops” mantra; and the lionization of Gens. Shinseki, Zinni, and other shunned military critics.

But now Abizaid, Casey, Khalilzad, and Rumsfeld are all absent — or about to be — from direct involvement in the war. The supposed villain cast of Cobra II and Fiasco has exited, and the purported good guys have entered. David Petraeus will, de facto, be in charge, not just in the strictly military sense, but, given the press and politics of the war, spiritually as well — in the manner that Grant by late summer 1864 had become symbolic of the entire Union military effort that was his to win or lose. Many of those officers involved in the “revolt of the generals” have now largely supported the surge — something Democrats themselves had inadvertently apparently called for when they serially lamented there were too few troops to win in Iraq.

All the old targets of the Democrats are no more, and it will take time for them to re-adjust the crosshairs to aim at men and policies that they have heretofore viewed sympathetically.

Second, there is also a new twist to the Democratic criticism, evident in their increasing attacks on the Iraqi government in general and on Prime Minister Maliki in particular. The Michael Moore/Cindy Sheehan/Code Pink rants are no longer to be echoed by bellowing Sens. Durbin, Kennedy, or Kerry, saying in effect that American troops at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, or on patrol in Iraq are somehow akin to Hitler, Pol Pot, terrorists, or Saddam Hussein. Instead, in the new liberal brief, we are dying for incompetent Iraqi sectarians who can’t even conduct a decent execution.

That is, we are getting the Sen. Webb brand of critique of Iraq, given in terms of the national interest. Democrats seem to be saying that the Iraqis aren’t worth another American life, and that the hope of democracy over there was misplaced, making futile the rare opportunity offered by American blood and treasure.

It matters little whether this is factually correct; their only concern is the immediate political ramifications of such a “blame ’em” stance. In terms of the effect on military operations, Bush is, in a weird way, sometimes being attacked from his right by the Left — that the Iraqis are tying our hands, or not doing their own part, or incapable of enlightened government.

Not only will the administration bring pressure on Maliki by playing the sympathetic good cop to the Democrats’ bad, but also in the process it will ironically be given, for a time, more leeway to inflict damage on the jihadists. If the old liberal mantra was Abu Ghraib ad nauseam, the new one is that the treacherous Iraqis are releasing those killers that our brave soldiers arrest. While the Democrats may have meant to attack our present tactics in terms of naiveté and incompetence, the charge often translates as insufficient force applied — giving Bush a window to do more, not less.

Third, for all the gloom about Iraq, it remains volatile. We have gone from wild exultation in April 2003 when Saddam’s statue fell, to depression in 2004 during the pullback from Fallujah, to optimism at the elections and the Cedar Revolution in the spring of 2005, to gloom over the sectarian killing. Of course, the politics and punditry have adjusted accordingly.

Now all agree that the surge is not merely an increase of a few thousand troops, but a last effort to bring in new tactics and personnel to win or lose the war in 2007. Given the 2008 election to come, Democrats are crafting the necessary holding position for the next few months, which will allow them to readjust their past records either to defeat or to victory — something difficult to achieve should they now vote to cut off funds before the verdict is in.

Fourth, there is the “what next?” dilemma. It is fine for Democrats to talk of “redeployment” out of Iraq, “engagement” with Syria and Iran, more soft power, Europeans and the United Nations, organizing “regional interests,” etc. — until one realizes that we did mostly just that for most of the 1990s.

And? We got Syrian absorption of Lebanon, Afghanistan as an al Qaeda base, a Libyan WMD program, worldwide serial terrorist attacks, Oslo, a Pakistani bomb, a full-bore Iranian nuclear program, Oil-for-Food — and 9/11. If one doubts any of this, just reflect on why the Democrats have not offered any specific alternative plans. And when pressed, they usually talk only of “talking” and thereby bring embarrassment to even their liberal questioners.

So, privately, some sober Democrats realize that the use of force in the present was a reaction to the frustrations of the past. For all the slurs against the neocons, it could be wise to stay mum, and see whether the stabilization of Afghanistan and Iraq might well, in fact, still provide the United States with options unavailable in the past. It could be even wiser to let Bush take the heat for the ordeal in Iraq, and the slanders against democratization, and then, if it all finally succeeds, to huff, snort, nit-pick about the messy details — and then take advantage of the favorable outcome.

In contrast to the complex daily Democratic triangulation, the Republican position has solidified and can’t really be further nuanced. More troops, Secretary Rumsfeld, new tactics — these are no longer issues between a Sen. McCain and the administration. And the other front-runners likewise support the current effort, and its success or failure will help determine their own particular fates.

We are in a rare period in American political history, in which the battlefield alone will determine the next election, perhaps not seen since 1864. The economy, scandal, social issues, domestic spending, jobs, all these usual criteria and more pale in comparison to what happens in Iraq, where a few thousand brave American soldiers will determine our collective future.
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« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2007, 07:16:43 PM »

If only Victor Hanson would run for president....
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« Reply #29 on: February 05, 2007, 12:10:09 AM »

Doug, GM:

VDH is probably right that the battlefield may well trump all-- but given the political position of our Commander in Chief, at the moment I glumly doubt a favorable outcome.  My understanding is the plan for the "surge" (what a stupid word that is-- for it clearly implies that this effort will promptly recede) that was presented to the President called for 30k troops, so , , , he asked for 20K.  IMHO this is simply the latest version of the same mistake that President Bush has been making for quite a while now.

But I digress (please feel to discuss further on the Iraq thread or the Politics thread) and this is the 2008 Presidential Race thread.  So here are two articles that must be read together for the relevance to this thread to be understood.  evil



Paper Chase
Did investigators turn a blind eye to the seriousness of the Sandy Berger scandal?

Monday, January 29, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Washington scandals are curious things. Sometimes special prosecutors are appointed and the media provide saturation coverage of their doings. An example would be the Valerie Plame episode, which led to this month's perjury trial of Scooter Libby, the former White House aide accused of lying about who first told him Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA.

Then there are the barely noticed scandals, which prosecutors pursue quietly and professionally. Take the case of Donald Keyser, a former State Department official who last week was sentenced to just over a year in jail for keeping classified documents at his home and for lying about his personal relationship with a Taiwanese diplomat.

Then there is Sandy Berger, the former Clinton national security adviser who pleaded guilty last year to knowingly taking and destroying classified documents from the National Archives while preparing for his testimony before the 9/11 Commission. When archives officials caught Mr. Berger, they bizarrely first asked a friend of his, former Clinton White House counsel Bruce Lindsey, for an explanation, rather than contact the Justice Department. After initially lying to investigators, Mr. Berger finally admitted that he took the documents, but only for "personal convenience."

Prosecutors accepted Mr. Berger's assurance that he had taken only five documents from the archives, even though on three of his four visits there he had access to original working papers of the National Security Council for which no adequate inventory exists. Nancy Smith, the archives official who provided the materials to Mr. Berger, said that she would "never know what if any original documents were missing." We have only Mr. Berger's word that he didn't take anything else. The Justice Department secured his agreement to take a polygraph on the matter, but never followed through and administered it.

The issue is still relevant. Officials of the 9/11 Commission are now on record expressing "grave concern" about the materials to which Mr. Berger had access. A report from the National Archives Inspector General last month found he took extraordinary measures to spirit them out of the archives, including hiding them in his pockets and socks. He also went outside without an escort and put some documents under a construction trailer, from where he could later retrieve them.

After archives staff became suspicious of Mr. Berger during his third visit, they numbered some of the documents he looked at. After he left, they reviewed the documents and noted that No. 217 was missing. The next time he came, the staff gave him another copy of 217 with the comment that it had been inadvertently not made available to him during his previous visit. Mr. Berger appropriated the same document again.

What could have been so important for Mr. Berger to take such risks? Was he trying to airbrush history by removing embarrassing information about the Clinton administration's fight against Osama bin Laden? As columnist Ron Cass has noted with dry understatement, "Bill Clinton has great sensitivity to his place in history and to accusations that he did too little to respond to al Qaeda." Last year the former president blew up when Chris Wallace of "Fox News Sunday" asked him, "Why didn't you do more to put bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were president?"
Richard Miniter, author of "Losing bin Laden," notes that in 1996 President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan wrote Mr. Clinton a letter offering to hand over bin Laden, then living in Khartoum. A draft of that document was seen on the desk of a Sudanese official by then-U.S. Ambassador Tim Carney. The document itself has never been found, although there is no suggestion it was among the papers Mr. Berger was perusing.

Despite all of these unanswered questions, Mr. Berger was allowed to plead guilty last year to only a misdemeanor charge. As part of a plea agreement, the Justice Department asked him to pay a $10,000 fine for the violations, perform 100 hours of community service and lose his security clearance for just three years (meaning that he will be eligible to regain it just about the time the next president takes office). The presiding judge, outraged at the lenient plea bargain, bumped the fine up to $50,000.

The Inspector General's report found that the papers Mr. Berger took outlined the adequacy of the government's knowledge of terrorist threats in the U.S. in the final months of the Clinton administration--documents that could have been of some interest to the 9/11 Commission, before which Mr. Berger was scheduled to testify. The Washington Post buried news of the Inspector General's report on page 7; the New York Times dumped it on page 36.

But the report did catch the attention of Rep. Tom Davis, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who last month, while he was still committee chairman, finished his own probe of the Berger affair. This week he and 17 other top Republicans wrote to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to detail the deficiencies the committee has found in the Justice Department's handling of the Berger case. They specifically asked him to administer the polygraph examination that Mr. Berger agreed to but was inexplicably never given.

While a polygraph is not admissible in court, it is a valuable tool investigators can use to lead them to other evidence. Andrew Napolitano, a former judge who is a legal analyst for Fox News, notes: "If they ask him, did you take document X, Y, Z, and he says no, and the polygraph shows that he's lying, that will send them on a hunt for document X, Y, Z." In addition, Mr. Berger would have to take the test under oath and thus could be prosecuted for perjury if he lied, even though his document-theft case is closed.

Philip Zelikow and Daniel Marcus, respectively the executive director and general counsel of the 9/11 Commission, told Mr. Davis's investigators that they were never told Mr. Berger had access to original classified documents for which no copies existed. Had he known, Mr. Zelikow says, he would had "grave concern."
As it was, the 9/11 Commission was not informed of any investigation of Mr. Berger's alleged tampering with documents until only two days before his testimony, and then in only the most vague terms. Not only were the 9/11 Commission not told that Mr. Berger had access to original documents; they were affirmatively led to believe that the commission got all the documents that Mr. Berger took. Both Mr. Zelikow and Mr. Marcus understood Justice to mean that there was no way Mr. Berger had taken any other documents. An investigator for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee bluntly told Fox News last week: "The Justice Department lied to the 9/11 Commission about Sandy Berger. That is a fact." A Justice Department spokesman still insists it "has no evidence that Sandy Berger's actions deprived the 9/11 Commission of documents." But that raises the question: How hard did Justice look for such evidence?

The 9/11 Commission wishes it had known answers to that and more. It's time that Congress and the public learn why the Berger scandal was treated so nonchalantly.

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« Reply #30 on: February 05, 2007, 12:10:56 AM »

Sherlock Holmes in the 21st Century

by Ray Van Dune


The Case of the Purloined NSC Documents

Mrs. Hudson had only just cleared away the remains of a fast-food luncheon she had brought us from 'round the corner, when my esteemed colleague startled me with a question. "Watson, pray can you tell this humble student of the misdeeds of men, what so perplexes you in the incident of Mr. Sandy Berger?"

Having observed the great Sherlock Holmes for several lifetimes now, I am no stranger to his powers. But I can scarcely describe my amazement at having my thoughts read as clearly as if they were tattooed upon my forehead! I stammered out "But Holmes, how on Earth could you possibly know that bit of nastiness was indeed the subject of my private thoughts?!"

Holmes replied, softly and deliberately in his usual manner of speaking, but he used a charming turn of phrase I had certainly never heard from him before. I instantly determined to work it into my next commercial efforts at chronicling his exploits.

What he said was: "Elementary, my dear Watson."

Holmes continued: "As you were joylessly masticating your wretched cheeseburger, I observed you also distractedly tugging at the tops of your stockings. Have I not told you on occasion before this that such unthinking behaviors offer a window into the thoughts of men, but only to the observer who has attuned his senses to the accurate reading of them?"

I had indeed been ruminating on the actions of the now-disgraced (if insufficiently so) former National Security Advisor. So I was relieved to share with Holmes the exact question that puzzled me. "Yes, indeed you have, but can you now tell me how on Earth could that rascal Berger practically beat this rap altogether? Had he not at a minimum demonstrably lied to Federal investigators, the heinous crime for which the hapless Ms. Stewart did time, and for which the long-suffering Mr. Libby may yet?"

I was taken aback at the uncharacteristic bitterness in Holmes' response. "My good Doctor, please enlighten me… by what mechanism could Berger possibly be convicted of a crime, while never being at the slightest risk of being charged with one?! Can you seriously be unaware, or have you forgotten as has every newspaper reporter, that on the first day after his infamous Patron took an oath on the Good Book, he demanded and received letters of resignation from every US Attorney in the nation, with a view to selectively replacing the last few honest ones with cronies, guaranteed to overlook the skullduggeries from which Democrats have come to enjoy immunity not merely before the law, but just as importantly, in the press!"

"Then I suppose that clears up any remaining mystery," I mumbled, and began to quaff my soft drink. Again I was surprised by the coarseness of speech that Holmes apparently reserves for the subject of Democrats: "It bloody well does no such thing, Watson! There is still the mystery surrounding the true motives of Berger!"

Now, I was perfectly sure that I could identify his motivation, and felt positively giddy with the prospect that I might have seen the truth where the Great Detective had not. Regrettably, I again neglected Mum's advice to "remain silent and let them wonder if you are a fool," etc., and plunged ahead in my quest to be proven one. "Well, his motive is obvious, is it not, Holmes? What plainer impetus to his crime could there be than preserving the fulsome "legacy" of that vainest of former Presidents? Would not that precious national treasure be sullied, were it revealed that he had frittered away several opportunities to vaporize that vile murderous Saudi, whom his fellow Democrats have subsequently made an Albatross for his successor?"

"Ha!" my companion sniffed. "Watson, like you, I curse our bad luck that the first of the 9-11 "pilots" did not dive his aircraft empty of passengers into a certain office address in Harlem, and that the second, perhaps laden with Lawyers, was not plunged into that glass slab of a building on the East River, whose occupants are in the main devoted to the advancement of knavery worldwide!"

"Or vice-versa, it matters not, if only such a just fate could have been meted out to a few hundred professional thieves and hypocrites, instead of such protracted agony to thousands of innocents!" Holmes may speak floridly, but he knows how to make a point.

"Sadly, the attention span of the American public has lapsed thrice over or more since the tragedy occurred, and culpability for it has been villainously sown in nearly every place but the one where it should truly have taken root. Berger's Patron could now simply admit his mistake and claim, with some justification, that in the climate of those times most of his fellow politicians would have made the very same one. Consider that even today there are sitting US Senators who propose that America should emulate the strategies of our own most execrable Prime Minister, Mr. Chamberlain, the ninny who continues to defile the soil of England by virtue of his burial in it!"

"No, I am afraid that Bubba the First's position in the Pantheon of Presidents is as secure as a fawning press and the hosannas of preening movie stars can make it, which in today's world means it is as sound as Gibraltar."

"Given these sad realities, I must conclude that there was some far greater game afoot than we have yet perceived in this matter. The Democrats' frenzied efforts to, as it were, "Win one for the Groper", seem to have merely been staged for the benefit of the naïf's among us. Nothing could be more certain than that these poseurs value their reputations only insofar as it will serve to cloak their deceits."

I protested to Holmes "But, of those who were present at the National Security Council meetings, and so could have left evidence of their fecklessness in the margins of these documents, surely all are either dead or have retired from the labors of attaining political glory?"

I had to add "True, I can name one Democrat of that vintage who is lamentably neither dead nor retired, but surely even that fool must have known that during a Democrat administration, he had better remain silent on his peanut plantation, lest he lose any more allies or embassies while his party holds office!"

Even as I spoke these last words, I saw that Holmes had closed his eyes and traveled to some inward sanctum of thought, and that he had ceased to be aware of the comparative simpleton who sat before him. But as I prepared to rise for a stroll pending his eventual return to this world, Holmes suddenly exclaimed "Ha!" and awoke. Evidently those with his powers of the intellect need not tarry long in the land of contemplation.

With his first words Holmes demonstrated the acumen for which he has justly earned his immortality, and the right to insist that Mrs. Hudson and I be allowed to accompany him on that long journey. But I digress.

Holmes now spoke: "It is clear as crystal to me, my good friend! You will note that having eliminated the motive of protecting any who were entitled and required to participate in those NSC meetings, especially as they and their political aspirations have died away, we are inexorably drawn toward one stunning conclusion."

After an awkward silence of several seconds, I assayed "We may indeed be inexorably drawn there, Holmes, but could you favor me with a description of our destination?"

Holmes drew upon his pipe and came forth with one of his trademark perfectly-formed smoke rings. "Very well, can there be any doubt that Mr. Berger and his Patron were seeking to protect someone who has neither of the characteristics I have just mentioned?"

Holmes saw my confusion and elaborated "They seek to protect the identity of one who should NOT have been at any meeting of the National Security Council, and whose thirst for political power has NOT yet been slaked!"

"I dare say that this person argued eloquently for "kicking the can down the road", a course that would ultimately lead to disaster. Indeed, they argued for it so convincingly that their disastrous advice carried the day! And their words that will ultimately prove a curse on them are noted on the margins of the purloined documents! Nay, I should say they were so noted, until our gallant Sandbagger rescued them from the possibility of inspection by future historians!"

Indignant, I could only splutter "My God, Holmes! Who the deuce is this mystery man that the Democrats strive to protect from his own disgraceful advice?!"

Suddenly the door to our sitting chamber was kicked violently open by an obviously enraged Mrs. Hudson! She stood with one foot drawn back as if to ready to resume the kicking of things, and from her expression I feared she was set on starting out with me! Clearly, the old girl had been eavesdropping outside our chamber, when at this hour of the afternoon we should have expected to find her at the neighborhood bingo parlor!

In her fury, her lips at first could only move soundlessly, but she overcame this obstacle soon enough.

"Dr. Watson, you must certainly know our Mr. Holmes is acclaimed as the smartest man in the whole bloody world, but do you realize how my conviction in that is tested whenever I see him handing you his loaded revolver! You must be utterly bereft of a clue, and probably are still a virgin. Quite evidently, you lack even the requisite two brain cells that might by accident rub up against each other to create the illusion of thought!"

I sat there, totally at a loss for words. Mrs. Hudson however, was far from out of them, and she re-exploded…

"Oh, for Pete's sake — right-click on it, you old fart! There is no bloody mystery man!" Her eyes rolled back into her head until nearly only the whites showed. She almost screamed.

"Hallooo — this is the bloody Earth calling Dr. Watson! We'll have film at 11:00, but the breaking news about your friggen mystery man is that he's a she!!"

I could only croak out "A she…?" Mrs. Hudson went on "Now perhaps even you can guess why the old Sandbagger was happy to help her out of a jam, and even take that suite at the Crowbar Hotel if need be?"

"No, not for sex, you old buzzard — it was for his bloody health! He wanted to avoid that lead-poisoning this lady's ex-friends are so prone to… the kind you can catch from a .45 automatic!"

Mrs. Hudson paused for a long breath, which I feared was only a reload for another broadside. But her irritation was now dissipating, and perhaps she even felt a twinge of care that her stinging words may have wounded me. She came forward into the room, and looked down at me with pity as I slumped in my chair, more bewildered than ever.

"Dear silly old Watson, can't you see who Holmes is on about… it's Hillary!"

I cried out "Holmes, for God's sake, what say you of this?!" The Great Detective languidly drew at his pipe and produced another perfect smoke ring. His smile flashed, but his eyes were devoid of any mirth.

"Bingo!" said Holmes.
« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2007, 01:37:43 PM »

Tancredo pushes for border security

February 4, 2007

Council Bluffs, Ia. - Saying that illegal immigration has diluted the country's patriotism, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo advocated that border security be the nation's top priority. He spoke during a visit Saturday with supporters in western Iowa.

The Republican presidential candidate spoke to about 60 people Saturday afternoon at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 737 hall in Council Bluffs. He also visited Sioux City.

Since 1999, the Denver native has represented Colorado's 6th Congressional District.

Tancredo has been a harsh critic of the Bush administration's proposal to grant amnesty for illegal immigrants.

"We have a cult of multiculturalism. This is what permeates our society," he said. Immigrants who come to the United States but refuse to assimilate by learning the language and following the laws water down what it means to be an American, he said.

"It's a cultural, political, linguistic tower of Babel," he said.

He favors eliminating incentives for immigrants to come to the United States and reducing the number of legal immigrants.

The nation should enforce its immigration laws by building a fence along the border with Mexico, deporting illegal immigrants and going after companies that hire them for cheap labor, he said.

He cited the Dec. 12 raids on the Swift & Co. meat processing plants in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement netted 1,300 people, including almost 100 workers from the plant in Marshalltown.

"Amazingly, miraculously, all plants are operating. They're right at capacity again," said Tancredo. The congressman said he didn't know who Swift hired to replace the deported workers. "But are there Americans who would work there? You be there are," he said.

The congressman did not address the border with Canada, which is 4,000 miles long when including Alaska.

He said illegal immigrants are a drain on the nation's health care, schools and other entitlement programs and he suggested doing away with bilingual education.

Spending on English-as-a-second-language classes also concerns Peggy Sieleman, 39, from Persia, a small town north of Council Bluffs. Sieleman has four school-age children.

Government spending on social programs, especially education, should instead go toward veterans and programs for the elderly, she said. She said she supports Tancredo because he advocates better enforcement of the nation's existing immigration laws.

"I like that he speaks the truth and he does his research," she said. "He is a man of honor and character."

Tancredo is a former teacher who also worked in Colorado for the U.S. Department of Education under former presidents Reagan and Bush.

Although Tancredo doesn't have the national profile of more well-known Republican candidates such as former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, he recently entered the spotlight tied to today's Super Bowl in Miami.

Tancredo referred to Miami as a "Third World country" because many of the city's don't speak English. That caught the ire of Miami Herald humor columnist Dave Barry.

As part of his jabs against the congressman, whom Barry referred to as a "xenophobic dimwit," the columnist told readers to call Tancredo's office for Super Bowl tickets.
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« Reply #32 on: February 05, 2007, 03:18:23 PM »

I share the essence of Tancredo's concerns, but think he makes a major mistake with his thinking about legal immigration.  There are many categories of legal immigration which are quite good for the United States and I am not getting that he gets that.  I am also not getting that he gets the consequences for Mexico of successful execution of his ideas-- to have millions of motivated people kept in Mexico unemployed on top of those already there on top of the burgeoning narco economy is something that needs to be thought about carefully.  I also am not getting that he gets all the ways in which Mexco and Mexicans are good for the US.  Yes, I agree 100% that we need to control our borders!!!  AND he needs to grow in his message to address these other things.

Monday, February 5, 2007 4:00 p.m. EST

Indecision 2008
Last Monday we faulted Sen. Hillary Clinton for demanding that President Bush "extricate" America from Iraq before he leaves office, and for saying, of the president's view that troops will have to remain there into his successor's (i.e., her) term, "I really resent it." We wrote, "If withdrawing from Iraq is in America's interests, why doesn't Mrs. Clinton--who by the way voted for the war--simply urge President Bush to do so on that ground, or promise to do so herself if elected?"

By the end of the week she had done as we suggested--or so the headlines seemed to indicate. "Clinton Promises to End War if Elected" was the title of an Associated Press dispatch Friday afternoon, which reported that Mrs. Clinton told a meeting of the Democratic National Committee, "If we in Congress don't end this war before January 2009, as president, I will."

Well, now, that sounds definitive. Yet on Friday's "Lou Dobbs Tonight," Democratic operative Robert Zimmerman (who, according to, had just been "bagged" by Mrs. Clinton as a fund-raiser) was furiously backtracking, in an exchange involving your humble columnist (we've made a few corrections to the CNN transcript):

Dobbs: And Sen. Clinton told you today and all those other folks sitting there, she's out of Iraq immediately if she's elected president in 2008.

Zimmerman: Well, she laid out a plan, and she put some ideas before the table that were received very well. And I applaud her initiative for doing so. Obviously, she's not pulling everyone out Jan. 20, and that's--

Dobbs: Good grief.

Zimmerman: And that's not the full statement of what she said.

Dobbs: Robert, we're going to have to pull you out of Washington. You're starting to sound like you live there, man.

Zimmerman: No, but I think, truly, you can't--you know, as Kenneth Pollack pointed out from Brookings, there aren't solutions. There are just very tough choices.

Dobbs: Let me turn to James Taranto. Now, what is the solution from--in your lights, to Iraq? What is the solution?

Taranto: Well, I don't know. I think whatever it is, it's going to be long and hard. I'm just not a military strategist. I don't--I don't feel qualified to answer that question.

I will say on Mrs. Clinton, though, I think that Robert is actually right, at least in terms of predicting what she's going to do. If she becomes president in 2009 and we are still in Iraq, as I suspect we will be, she's not going to pull out. She's not going to keep this promise. She's telling this to rally the base.

Zimmerman: I didn't say that, James. I have every belief that she will keep her promise. And she's been remarkably consistent on Iraq, where others have wavered. Because the solution is not going to be military, it's going to be a political solution.

We had not seen or read the speech when we appeared on the Dobbs show, but we looked it up later and found that (1) Zimmerman's description of it was substantially accurate, and (2) Mrs. Clinton's promise to withdraw upon inauguration was even emptier than we had thought. Here's what she said:

Now, I know very well that we're going to be debating, starting this week in the Senate, a resolution of disapproval of this president's ill-conceived plan to escalate our involvement in Iraq. Now, there are many people--there are many people who wish we could do more, but let me say that if we can get a large bipartisan vote to disapprove this president's plan for escalation, that will be the first time that we will have said "no" to President Bush and begin to reverse his policies.

Now, I want to go further. I propose capping the troop levels. I want to make it very clear that we need to threaten the Iraqi government, that we're going to take money away from their troops, not our troops who still lack body armor and armored vehicles; that we're going to send a clear message--that we are finished with their empty promises and with this president's blank check.

And let me add one other thing, and I want to be very clear about this. If I had been president in October of 2002, I would not have started this war. I would not--and if in Congress, if we in Congress, working as hard as we can to get the 60 votes you need to do anything in the Senate--believe me, I understand the frustration and the outrage, you have to have 60 votes to cap troops, to limit funding, to do anything.

If we in Congress don't end this war before January 2009, as president, I will.

And I expect to be busy in the White House in January 2009, because once and for all, we are going to provide quality, affordable, universal health-care coverage to every single American.

So she's going to end the war and give health insurance to everyone--all in the last 11 days of January! Okey dokey, artichokey.

The most telling line in Mrs. Clinton's speech is that counterfactual conditional: "If I had been president in October of 2002, I would not have started this war." This is quite an astonishing statement, seeing as how in October 2002 Mrs. Clinton voted for the war. And yet when you stop and think about it, the statement is not intuitively false. If you can imagine Mrs. Clinton as president in October 2002, you probably can imagine her not starting the Iraq war.

Whether or not you think the war was a good idea, it was indisputably the product of President Bush's leadership. He rallied the country behind it, so that it commanded something like 70% support in opinion polls. Congress's support was similarly strong, with 69% of the House and 77% of the Senate (including not just Mrs. Clinton but also fellow Democratic presidential candidates John Edwards, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, along with John Kerry) voting in favor of the war.

Mrs. Clinton now says that if she were president in 2002, she would not have led the country to war. This amounts to an acknowledgment that her vote in favor of the war was not an act of leadership--that she was a follower. Was she following the president? This president? Obviously not. President Bush led the public to support the war, and Sen. Clinton followed the public. Now that public opinion has turned against the president and the war, so has Mrs. Clinton.

How does Mrs. Clinton deal with a problem about which public opinion has not yet gelled? On Thursday she spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and blogress Heather Robinson captured this choice quote:

I have advocated engagement with our enemies and Israel's enemies because I want to understand better what we can do to defeat those who . . . are aiming their weapons at us. . . . This is a worthy debate. . . . There are many, including our president, who reject any engagement with Iran and Syria. I believe that is a good-faith position to take, but I'm not sure it's the smart strategy that'll take us to the goal we share.

What do I mean by engagement or some kind of process? I'm not sure anything positive would come out of it . . . but there are a number of factors that argue for doing what I'm suggesting.

Says Robinson: "And what was it she was suggesting, exactly? Well, she never said."

So on Iraq, Mrs. Clinton stands resolutely on the side of public opinion, whichever side that may be in any given year. On Iran, about which public opinion is unformed, she is maddeningly noncommittal. This is fine for a senator, who merely casts one vote among 100. But the president--especially in times of international peril--needs to be able to make decisions in the national interest. Sometimes that means shaping public opinion, as President Bush did when he persuaded the public and Congress to support the war in Iraq. Sometimes it means defying public opinion, as Bush has done lately by resisting pressure to flee.

Were these decisions bad ones? History will judge, but at the moment most Americans seem to think so. Mrs. Clinton is seeking to become President Bush's successor by countering his dangerous boldness with extreme caution. She is presenting herself as the candidate who won't make bad decisions because she won't make decisions--who won't lead us astray because she will not lead.

But an excess of caution is itself a form of recklessness. Someone who won't make decisions won't make good or necessary decisions either. Therein lies the peril of a Hillary Clinton presidency.

Oh Grow Up!

"The president gets on my nerves. The war gets on my nerves. I don't think it's affected our lives that much, 'cause I'm too young to drive, I'm too young to vote. But killing and death in general, I don't know, it bothers me mentally."--Colin Wilkey, 15, a freshman at Hopkinton High School, quoted in the "Teen Life" feature of the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, Feb. 5

"I think it's the height of irresponsibility and I really resent it--this was his decision to go to war, he went with an ill-conceived plan, an incompetently executed strategy, and we should expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office."--Hillary Clinton, 59, a sophomore in the U.S. Senate, quoted in the "Politics" section of the New York Times, Jan. 28
« Last Edit: February 05, 2007, 03:54:23 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #33 on: February 06, 2007, 01:15:23 PM »

Picking a couple passages from Reagan speeches in honor of his birthday in the context of looking for a governing philosophy for our next leader.  (If your time is limited, read the two Reagan speeches linked rather than my ramblings.) Here is Reagan quoting Lincoln:

"What they truly don't understand is the principle so eloquently stated by Abraham Lincoln: "You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage-earner by pulling down the wage-payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves."" - Reagan speech 1992 RNC

Amazingly, what was an issue for Lincoln, was the issue of Reagan and certainly the economic issue of 2008.   Distracted by war, Republicans largely didn't show up for the debate on economic policy differences in 2006 and for the most part couldn't demonstrate that their view was noticably different from their opponents.

Here's another Reagan quote from his farewell Oval office speech expanding on what he meant by his usage of the famous Shining City on a Hill vision:

"I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still."

There is so much in there.  For today's controversies I'll pick out the parts about free ports and open doors. 

Free trade versus protectionism has been debated for centuries.  Both parties have members on both sides.  Put me with Reagan and the free traders.  I see at least one conservative running with tendencies toward protectionism. 

Lastly, I don't interpret the Reagan vision of open doors to be in conflict with the paramount need today to secure our borders; there aren't any suicide bombers in his shining city vision.  In my view we can should favor and encourage increased legal immigration and guest workers, highly screened, while enacting a lock-down, zero tolerance border enforcement for our national security (echoing what Crafty wrote in the previous post).  My reasons are economic and moral, but I also think a general anti-immigration message will not win in 2008.

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« Reply #34 on: February 08, 2007, 08:04:27 AM »


In my sense of "how the world works" one of the very most important things is marginal tax rates.  Sen. McCain I perceive as not being good on this issue, and Guliani as having better instincts.  I saw a bit of Romney on the tube last night wherein he was speaking about taxes and I was pretty impressed-- the man identified himself as a supply-sider.   IMHO supply side's "win-win" attitude is also politically sound for Republicans as a counter to Dems promises of tax "Peter to give to Paul & Mary."

Here's this from this morning's NY Slimes on Romney:

Mormon Candidate Braces for Religion as Issue

Published: February 8, 2007
WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 — As he begins campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is facing a threshold issue: Will his religion — he is a Mormon — be a big obstacle to winning the White House?


Polls show a substantial number of Americans will not vote for a Mormon for president. The religion is viewed with suspicion by Christian conservatives, a vital part of the Republicans’ primary base.

Mr. Romney’s advisers acknowledged that popular misconceptions about Mormonism — as well as questions about whether Mormons are beholden to their church’s leaders on public policy — could give his opponents ammunition in the wide-open fight among Republicans to become the consensus candidate of social conservatives.

Mr. Romney, in an extended interview on the subject as he drove through South Carolina last week, expressed confidence that he could quell concerns about his faith, pointing to his own experience winning in Massachusetts. He said he shared with many Americans the bafflement over obsolete Mormon practices like polygamy — he described it as “bizarre” — and disputed the argument that his faith would require him to be loyal to his church before his country.

“People have interest early on in your religion and any similar element of your background,” he said. “But as soon as they begin to watch you on TV and see the debates and hear you talking about issues, they are overwhelmingly concerned with your vision of the future and the leadership skills that you can bring to bear.”

Still, Mr. Romney is taking no chances. He has set up a meeting this month in Florida with 100 ministers and religious broadcasters. That gathering follows what was by all accounts a successful meeting at his home last fall with evangelical leaders, including the Rev. Jerry Falwell; the Rev. Franklin Graham, who is a son of the Rev. Billy Graham; and Paula White, a popular preacher.

Mr. Romney said he was giving strong consideration to a public address about his faith and political views, modeled after the one John F. Kennedy gave in 1960 in the face of a wave of concern about his being a Roman Catholic.

Mr. Romney’s aides said he had closely studied Kennedy’s speech in trying to measure how to navigate the task of becoming the nation’s first Mormon president, and he has consulted other Mormon elected leaders, including Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, about how to proceed.

Mr. Romney appears to be making some headway. Several prominent evangelical leaders said that, after meeting him, they had grown sufficiently comfortable with the notion of Mr. Romney as president to overcome any concerns they might have about his religion.

On a pragmatic level, some said that Mr. Romney — despite questions among conservatives about his shifting views on abortion and gay rights — struck them as the Republican candidate best able to win and carry their social conservative agenda to the White House.

“There’s this growing acceptance of this idea that Mitt Romney may well be and is our best candidate,” said Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative legal advocacy group, and a prominent host on Christian radio.

Mark DeMoss, an evangelical public relations consultant who represents many conservative Christian groups, said it was “more important to me that a candidate shares my values than my faith,” adding, “And if I look at it this way, Mr. Romney would be my top choice.”

Mormons consider themselves to be Christians, but some beliefs central to Mormons are regarded by other churches as heretical. For example, Mormons have three books of Scripture other than the Bible, including the Book of Mormon, which Mormons believe was translated from golden plates discovered in 1827 by Joseph Smith Jr., the church’s founder and first prophet.

Mormons believe that Smith rescued Christianity from apostasy and restored the church to what was envisioned in the New Testament — but these doctrines are beyond the pale for most Christian churches.

Beyond that, there are perceptions among some people regarding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the church is formally known, that account for at least some of the public unease: that Mormons still practice polygamy (the church renounced polygamy in 1890), that it is more of a cult than a religion and that its members take political direction from the church’s leaders.

Several Republicans said such perceptions could be a problem for Mr. Romney, especially in the South, which has had a disproportionate influence in selecting Republican presidential nominees.

Gloria A. Haskins, a state representative from South Carolina who is supporting Senator John McCain for the Republican nomination, said discussions with her constituents in Greenville, an evangelical stronghold, convinced her that a Mormon like Mr. Romney could not win a Republican primary in her state. South Carolina has one of the earliest, and most critical, primaries next year.

“From what I hear in my district, it is very doubtful,” Ms. Haskins said. “This is South Carolina. We’re very mainstream, evangelical, Christian, conservative. It will come up. In this of all states, it will come up.”

Page 2 of 2)

But Katon Dawson, the state Republican chairman, said he thought Mr. Romney had made significant progress in dealing with those concerns. “I have heard him on his personal faith and on his character and conviction and the love for his country,” Mr. Dawson said. “I have all confidence that he will be able to answer those questions, whether they be in negative ads against him or in forums or in debates.”

Mr. Romney’s candidacy has stirred discussion about faith and the White House unlike any since Kennedy, including a remarkable debate that unfolded recently in The New Republic. Damon Linker, a critic of the influence of Christian conservatism on politics, described Mormonism as a “theologically unstable, and thus politically perilous, religion.”

The article brought a stinging rebuttal in the same publication from Richard Lyman Bushman, a Mormon who is a history professor at Columbia University, and who said Mr. Linker’s arguments had “no grounding in reality.”

Mr. Romney is not the first Mormon to seek a presidential nomination, but by every indication he has the best chance yet of being in the general election next year. His father, George Romney, was a candidate in 1968, but his campaign collapsed before he ever had to deal seriously with questions about religion.

Senator Hatch said his own candidacy in 2000, which was something of a long shot, was to “knock down prejudice against my faith.”

“There’s a lot of prejudice out there,” Mr. Hatch said. “We’ve come a long way, but there are still many people around the country who consider the Mormon faith a cult.”

But if Mr. Romney has made progress with evangelicals, he appears to face a larger challenge in dispelling apprehensions among the public at large. A national poll by The Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News last June found 37 percent said they would not vote for a Mormon for president.

Mr. Romney offered assurances that seemed to reflect what Kennedy told the nation in discussing his Catholicism some 50 years ago. Mr. Romney said the requirements of his faith would never overcome his political obligations. He pointed out that in Massachusetts, he had signed laws allowing stores to sell alcohol on Sundays, even though he was prohibited by his faith from drinking, and to expand the state lottery, though Mormons are forbidden to gamble. He also noted that Mormons are not exclusively Republicans, pointing to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader.

“There’s no church-directed view,” Mr. Romney said. “How can you have Harry Reid on one side and Orrin Hatch on the other without recognizing that the church doesn’t direct political views? I very clearly subscribe to Abraham Lincoln’s view of America’s political religion. And that is when you take the oath of office, your responsibility is to the nation, and that is first and foremost.”

He said he was not concerned about the resistance in the polls. “If you did a poll and said: ‘Could a divorced actor be elected as president? Would you vote for a divorced actor as president?’ my guess is 70 percent would say no. But then they saw Ronald Reagan. They heard him. They heard his vision. They heard his experience. They said: ‘I like Ronald Reagan. I’m voting for him.’ ”

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« Reply #35 on: February 08, 2007, 10:53:30 AM »

Second post of the morning:



Reckless Caution
Edwards vs. Clinton: Indecision 2008.

Thursday, February 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

When NBC's Tim Russert asked John Edwards on Sunday if he, as president, would accept a nuclear-armed Iran, the silver-tongued lawyer got tongue-tied: "I--there's no answer to that question at this moment. I think that it's a--it's a--it's a very bad thing for Iran to get a nuclear weapon. I think we have--we have many steps in front of us that have not been used. We ought to negotiate directly with the Iranians, which has not, not been done. The things that I just talked about, I think, are the right approach in dealing with Iran. And then we'll, we'll see what the result is. . . . I think--I think the--we don't know, and you have to make a judgment as you go along, and that's what I would do as president."

Less than two weeks earlier, Mr. Edwards had spoken by satellite to Israel's annual Herzliya Conference. "Let me be clear: Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons. . . . To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep all options on the table. Let me reiterate--all options must remain on the table."

Why did Mr. Edwards's views morph so quickly from hawkish to weaselly? Probably because confrontation with Iran is very unpopular among the Democratic antiwar base. Last week Ezra Klein of The American Prospect, a left-liberal magazine, confronted Mr. Edwards about the Herzliya speech, and the candidate waffled. Although allowing that "it would be foolish for any American president to ever take any option off the table," he offered this criticism of President Bush: "When he uses this kind of language 'options are on the table,' he does it in a very threatening kind of way." Does Mr. Edwards mean to be docile?

Mr. Klein asked if America can live with a nuclear Iran. "I'm not ready to cross that bridge yet," Mr. Edwards answered. There's a world of difference between the unequivocal "under no circumstances" and the coy "I'm not ready." And that "yet" suggests it is only a matter of time before he does cross the bridge.

Mr. Edwards is not the only Democratic presidential candidate without a comprehensible position on Iran. Last week Hillary Clinton spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Heather Robinson of reported that Mrs. Clinton said: "There are many, including our president, who reject any engagement with Iran and Syria. I believe that is a good-faith position to take, but I'm not sure it's the smart strategy that'll take us to the goal we share. What do I mean by engagement or some kind of process? I'm not sure anything positive would come out of it . . . but there are a number of factors that argue for doing what I'm suggesting." Whatever that may be.
Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Clinton have something else in common: Both voted for the Iraq war in 2002, and both turned against it only after it became unpopular. On Iraq, they followed public opinion; on Iran, they are waiting to be led.

Pandering to public sentiment may be fine for a senator, but the president needs to be able to make decisions in the national interest--which sometimes means shaping public opinion, sometimes defying it. Mr. Bush has done both, whether or not his decisions were wise ones.

Perhaps voters next year, chastened by Mr. Bush's dangerous boldness, will opt for someone more risk-averse. But if a crisis arises and the president proves unable to lead, they may find themselves longing for Mr. Bush's steadfastness. An excess of caution is itself a form of recklessness.

Mr. Taranto is the editor of

Hillary on Iraq
From stalwart hawk to get out fast.

Thursday, February 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

One pleasant surprise of Hillary Rodham Clinton's tenure as New York Senator has been her tough-minded approach on national security. She responded to 9/11 by supporting President Bush's strategy of taking on not just terrorists but the states that harbor them. She also voted for the war in Iraq and has refused to follow much of her party in alleging that Mr. Bush "lied" about weapons of mass destruction.

But as Mrs. Clinton bids to win the Democratic Presidential nomination, she is taking a marked turn to the left. Pressured by other candidates and by her party's left wing, she is walking back her hawkish statements and is now all but part of the antiwar camp. The polls show her to be the favorite to be the next Commander in Chief, so what she really believes, and how firmly she'll stick to it, deserves to be debated. Here's a summary of the arc of Mrs. Clinton's public thinking on Iraq:

• October 10, 2002. Mrs. Clinton addresses the Senate on the use-of-force resolution. "The facts that have brought us to this fateful vote are not in doubt," she declares, citing Saddam's record of using chemical weapons, the invasion of Kuwait, and his history of deceiving U.N. weapons inspectors. "As a result, President Clinton, with the British and others, ordered an intensive four-day air assault, Operation Desert Fox, on known and suspected weapons of mass destruction sites and other military targets," she continues, adding that Saddam "has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members."

While she expresses her preference for working through the U.N. if possible, she adds, "I believe the authority to use force to enforce that mandate is inherent in the original 1991 U.N. resolution, as President Clinton recognized when he launched Operation Desert Fox in 1998."

• December 15, 2003. It is clear by now that no large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq. But Mrs. Clinton tells the Council on Foreign Relations that "Yesterday was a good day. I was thrilled that Saddam Hussein had finally been captured. . . . We owe a great debt of gratitude to our troops, to the President, to our intelligence services, to all who had a hand in apprehending Saddam. Now he will be brought to justice."

She adds, "I was one who supported giving President Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. I believe that that was the right vote." As for Iraq's prospects, she declares herself "a little optimistic and a little pessimistic . . . We have no option but to stay involved and committed."

• April 20, 2004. Mrs. Clinton tells Larry King: "I don't regret giving the President the authority because at the time it was in the context of weapons of mass destruction, grave threats to the United States, and clearly, Saddam Hussein had been a real problem for the international community for more than a decade." Asked whether she thinks she was "fooled," she replies: "The consensus was the same, from the Clinton Administration to the Bush Administration. It was the same intelligence belief that our allies and friends around the world shared about the weapons of mass destruction."

• October 2005. Antiwar fervor on the left is picking up, and activist Cindy Sheehan compares her to Rush Limbaugh after Mrs. Clinton tells the Village Voice: "My bottom line is that I don't want their sons to die in vain. . . . I don't believe it's smart to set a date for withdrawal . . . I don't think it's the right time to withdraw."

• November 2005. Mrs. Clinton posts a letter to constituents that marks her first dovish turn. "If Congress had been asked [to authorize the war], based on what we know now, we never would have agreed," she writes. But invoking retired General Eric Shinseki's estimate of more American troops necessary to pacify Iraq, she demands not withdrawal but a new plan: "It is time for the President to stop serving up platitudes and present us with a plan for finishing this war with success and honor--not a rigid timetable that terrorists can exploit, but a public plan for winning and concluding the war."

• August 3, 2006. Mrs. Clinton calls for Donald Rumsfeld to resign as Defense Secretary, asking for "new leadership that would give us a fighting chance to turn the situation around before it's too late."

• December 18, 2006. Her march left gains speed. On NBC's "Today" show, Mrs. Clinton renounces her war vote unequivocally for the first time: "I certainly wouldn't have voted that way."

• January 13, 2007. From Baghdad, Mrs. Clinton responds to Mr. Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq to secure Baghdad: "I don't know that the American people or the Congress at this point believe this mission can work. And in the absence of a commitment that is backed up by actions from the Iraqi government, why should we believe it?"

• January 17, 2007. Mrs. Clinton calls for capping the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, saying she will introduce legislation to do so. And while she says she won't block money for the troops, she suggests withholding funds for the Iraqi government. It is precisely such a funds cut-off to the South Vietnamese government in 1975 that led to the final U.S. flight from Saigon.

• January 27, 2007. On the campaign trail in Iowa, Mrs. Clinton demands that President Bush "extricate our country from this before he leaves office." And she promises that, if elected, she will end the war quickly.

All politicians change their minds about something at some point, but what's troubling about Mrs. Clinton's record on Iraq is that it tends to follow, rather than lead, public opinion. When the war was first debated, and she couldn't easily walk away from her husband's record against Saddam, she was a solid, even eloquent, hawk. Then for a time she laid low and avoided the antiwar excesses of John Kerry and others.

But now that the war has proven to be difficult, and her fellow Democrats are outflanking her on the antiwar left, she is steadily, even rapidly, moving in their direction. So in the space of merely 14 months and as the Presidential campaign begins in earnest, Mrs. Clinton has gone from advocating a new plan to "win" the Iraq war, with "honor," to vocally opposing President Bush's new strategy to try to do precisely that. And, oh, yes, she now wants the "surge" to be in Afghanistan instead of Iraq.

The question we'd ask is whether this is the kind of stalwart drift that Mrs. Clinton would bring to the Oval Office?
« Last Edit: February 08, 2007, 10:58:53 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #36 on: February 09, 2007, 01:18:22 PM »

Below is Peggy Noonan on Hillary v. Rudy. First my take on the players so far.  My bias is right-wing, free market, low tax, limited government, strong defense conservative with certain, limited, 'neocon' type tendencies.

I agree with the points above on Edwards indecisiveness and Hillary on war.  Obama, I think, is a good man, too far left for me, and too far left for America if people choose to consider that.  Unqualified in the sense of executive experience, but not necessarily unelectable.

The top Republicans have greater stature.  Quoting powerline: 

"John McCain is a war hero. In addition, as a U.S. Senator he's been at the forefront of nearly every major legislative battle for well over a decade. For better or worse, his footprints are all over our election laws, the judicial confirmation wars, and the war against terrorism, to cite three leading examples."

I don't support McCain and I think they don't either.  But he is qualified to be President.

Mitt Romney I just don't know.  Some conservatives are turning toward him.  To me, it seems his conservative views are too recent for me to trust.  He does comes across as presidential. 

Rudy is the front-runner.  His liberal social views, different than mine, perhaps make him more electable, yet he says he would appoint non-activist judges in the spirit of Roberts and Alito.  He has executive experience, national clout, a solid conservative record on tax and spend issues, and a strong persuasive view of taking the fight to the enemy.  He is consistent, diplomatic and unapologetic with his views.  That's better than shifting in most cases.  That said, and that Rudy personally detests abortion,  as a man and a father I have no idea what the phrase "a woman's right to choose" means, except that a legislating court made a ruling in violation of the judicial principles that Giuliani supports.

I am hoping to learn more from others here especially those who favor the other candidates.  Duncan Hunter, Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee and Tom Tancredo have not been able to break through with measuralbe support.  I like Hunter but have concern about a tendency toward protectionism.  Brownback I believe is anti-war.  For some that is a positive quality.  Tancredo is too single issue oriented for my taste and on that issue I think he mixes an anti-immigration feeling with the important border security message. (I'm happy to be corrected on that or anything else.)

Later in the campaigns people complain about not having the best candidates to choose from. I am voicing my frustration right now.  The only other name mentioned around that matches my views better is Newt Gingrich.  I don't find him to be presidential and in his case I am not confidant he can win a general election which is more important to me than matching my views perfectly.

Maybe I am just to picky.  Anyway, the score right now is Hillary versus Rudy.  Rudy reaches better to the middle and so he wins if the election is held today and if conservatives show up.  Of course the election isn't held today.  They have nearly a couple of years to bring him down.

Here is Peggy Noonan on that particular matchup:

New York, New York
Rudy vs. Hillary in 2008?

Friday, February 9, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

According to polls, Hillary Clinton holds an early and significant lead among Democratic voters (43%, compared with 22% for Barack Obama, according to a Fox News poll 10 days ago). She is of course the killer fund-raiser of the race, with one of her contributors crowing this week that she'll raise more money than all the other candidates combined. So let's call her the likely Democratic nominee, even though Mr. Obama hasn't even announced yet. On the Republican side it's Giuliani time, with Fox News putting him at 34% among GOP voters and John McCain coming in second with 22%. He hasn't announced yet either, but this week he filed all the papers.

So at the moment, and with keen awareness that not a vote has been cast, it is possible to say the state of New York is poised to become the home of both major-party presidential candidates. This is not unprecedented, but it is unusual. It happened in 1904, when New York, was the home of the hero of Oyster Bay, President Theodore Roosevelt, and reluctant Democratic nominee Alton Parker, a judge on New York's Court of Appeals, who carried only the solid South. It happened again in New York in 1944, when Teddy's cousin Franklin sought a fourth term against the bland and mustachioed Thomas Dewey, the New York district attorney unforgettably labeled by Teddy's daughter, the chilly and amusing Alice Roosevelt Longworth, "the little man on the wedding cake." In 1920 both the Democratic and Republican nominees were from Ohio; Sen. Warren Harding, who seemed boring but proved sprightly, landslided Democrat James Cox, a dreamy Wilsonian who thought America wished to hear more about the League of Nations. (Illinois was the first state to enjoy dual nominees when Republican Abraham Lincoln beat Stephen Douglas, the official but not the only Democratic candidate that year.)

Right now New York, our beloved, overtaxed, postindustrial state, is the red-hot center of the political map.

These are exciting times, with rival gangs roaming uptown and down looking for money and support. The styles of the two tongs are different. Hillary's people are cool and give away nothing; they're all business. They're like a captain from an army about to crush you. Why should he bother to charm you?

Rudy's people are more like old-style New Yorkers: They are pugnacious, and if you express reservations about their guy, they give you the chin. They don't make the case or try to persuade; they tilt their chins up and try to argue you into conceding he can win. As if they think it's all on them, and if they can win the conversation, he will win the nomination.

The city, as we say in the state, is full of people who've met both candidates, know them, had dealings with them. The other night I bumped into a veteran journalist who talked about Iran. The journalist said, "I wrote Hillary and gave her good advice but she didn't write back!" I went to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee speech Mrs. Clinton gave last week, and the higher geopolitical meanings of the event aside, the crowd ate dinner as she spoke and didn't seem unduly impressed. They'd seen her before and would see her again.

What a boon the race is for the tabloid press and the mainstream media: If New York's at the center, they're at the center. The tabloids had fun with the formal debut, via a Harper's Bazaar interview, of Judi Giuliani. The Post famously front-paged The Kiss, a posed and mildly creepy smooch--it was bigger story in New York than the mad astronaut--and her recent reflections that the presidential race is "a journey" they can make "together." It left one observer--that would be me--saying, "Oh no, please no." In politics, in the world of political life, the proper attitude of a third wife is modesty.

Mrs. Clinton also has an interesting spouse.

Mr. Giuliani and Mrs. Clinton seem in a way to represent two different New Yorks, two different templates of what it is to be a New Yorker. Rudy as mayor: An embattled pol bickering with reporters trying to bait him. A Western European ethnic from the outer boroughs with a slight hunch to his shoulders. He does the chin too, or did. His people probably got it from him. He was the government-prosecutor son of a Brooklyn guy, a Republican in a Democratic town, a man who had ideas--convictions!--about how to cut crime and stop the long slide, and who had to move entire establishments (and if there's one thing New York knows how to make, it's establishments) to get his way. And he pretty much did, winning progress and enmity along the way. On 9/10/01 he was a bum, on 9/11 he was a man, and on 9/12 he was a hero. Life can change, shift, upend in an instant.

Mrs. Clinton is not ethnic or outer-borough. She's suburban, middle class; she was raised in a handsome town in Illinois and lived an adulthood in Arkansas and Washington. She founded the original war room, is called "The Warrior" by some of her staff, has been fierce and combative in private, but obscures it all now under clouds of pink scarves. She literally hides the chin.

Both candidates seem now almost...jarringly happy. As if they've arrived and it's good, which they have and it is. But good fortune distances. They are both rich now, and both have spent the past six years being lauded and praised. In both it seems to have softened their edges--the easy, ready smile. We'll see if it's softened their heads.

But it is significant that in Mrs. Clinton's case, for the past 30 years, from 1978 through 2007--which is to say throughout most, almost all, of her adulthood--her view of America, and of American life, came through the tinted window of a limousine. (Now the view is, mostly, through the tinted window of an SUV.)

From first lady of Arkansas through first lady of the United States to U.S. senator, her life has been eased and cosseted by staff--by aides, drivers, cooks, Secret Service, etc. Her life has been lived within a motorcade. And so she didn't have to worry about crime, the cost of things, the culture. Status incubates. Rudy Giuliani was fighting a deterioration she didn't have to face. That's a big difference. It's the difference between the New Yorker in the subway and the Wall Street titan in the town car.
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« Reply #37 on: February 10, 2007, 09:49:20 AM »


Sounds like our politics are rather similar smiley


The GOP Field
So who's the tax-cutting, reform candidate?

Saturday, February 10, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Now is the season of Republican discontent, extending even to the party's Presidential candidates. For the first time in decades, no dominant candidate has emerged and GOP voters seem to be in a Missouri state of mind: Show us what you really believe. We know exactly how they feel.

John McCain has been considered the front-runner, having lost a rough nomination fight in 2000 to President Bush. In the normal GOP habit of Presidential primogeniture, he'd be the likeliest nominee. The Arizona Senator has an inspiring personal story and a strong record on national security. His fortitude on Iraq has been all the more impressive since the war has become unpopular and threatens the media adulation he has long enjoyed. Tenacity is a Presidential asset, especially in dangerous times.
But among many Republicans, Mr. McCain is also paying a price for his years as a policy "maverick." Social conservatives hate his signature achievement of campaign-finance reform, which limits public ability to influence politicians. He also grandstanded on rules for interrogating terrorists.

Our own doubts relate to his economic instincts. He's a bulwark against spending earmarks, no question. But Mr. McCain turned against the Reagan tax-cut agenda in 2000, and he voted against the Bush tax cuts of 2003. Now that those tax cuts have proven to be a spectacular success, the Senator says he wants them made permanent. But his justification is the political one that he has "never voted for a tax increase," not that he now understands his opposition was wrong on the merits. With 2008 likely to be a tax watershed, the GOP needs a candidate who can articulate a pro-growth agenda. Maybe his estimable economic advisers, former Senator Phil Gramm and former FTC Chairman Tim Muris, can steer him right.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor, has had some success exploiting conservative unease with Mr. McCain. He has shown he can win votes in a blue state, and he was successful both as a capitalist and as manager of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
However, he too is something of an empty policy slate. The former business consultant made a big deal of the health-care "reform" he steered through the Massachusetts legislature last year, and we suppose he deserves credit for trying. But he oversold the results--to the applause of the national health-care lobby--and imposed an insurance mandate without reforming the state insurance market.

As it unfolds, this law is turning out to be far from a free-market success. And so now Mr. Romney is distancing himself from it--never mind that he upbraided his critics last year for not understanding its virtues. The episode suggests a thin political skin and perhaps a too malleable policy core.

Filling out the current top tier of candidates is the anomaly of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. We say anomaly because a Northeasterner who favors gun control and abortion rights isn't supposed to have a Ralph Nader's chance in the GOP primaries. Yet today Mr. Giuliani leads in the national polls and is all but tied with Mr. McCain in New Hampshire.
Some of this is no doubt due to name recognition after his 9/11 heroics. On the other hand, maybe cultural conservatives aren't the single-issue voters of media lore. Mr. Giuliani can point to the revival of the previously ungovernable New York, and his temerity and experience in a crisis are qualities that voters look for in a Commander-in-Chief.

The competition will attack his social liberalism, and our guess is that Mr. Giuliani could help himself if he came out solidly for appointing judges like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Today's cultural disputes all end up in the courts, and what most conservatives want above all is to know that their views will get a democratic hearing rather than be pre-empted by judicial fiat.

As always, there are a pack of other potential candidates, one or two of whom could make a splash along the way. Newt Gingrich is famous as the former House Speaker and ubiquitous on Fox News. He is also a font of ideas, some of them sensible. But he will have to persuade Republicans that he can win given the baggage of his Beltway days and low favorability ratings.
There's always room for a strong anti-abortion voice in any GOP race, and Kansas Senator Sam Brownback is bidding for that slot. Though little known nationally, he's done impressive, and often bipartisan, work on everything from malaria to immigration. So we are astounded by his recent remarks from Baghdad distancing himself, a la Hillary Clinton, from the war he voted for. Millions of Republicans are frustrated with the war, but if he sustains this antiwar theme someone will note that he co-sponsored the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act.

All in all, this looks like the most wide-open Republican race in years. That may be a good thing if it forces the candidates to battle over ideas and revive the GOP reform agenda that got lost in the fog of the 109th Congress.

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« Reply #38 on: February 13, 2007, 12:32:54 AM »


Culture Warrior
Don't write off Giuliani's appeal to social conservatives.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

The book on Rudy Giuliani is that he is too liberal on social issues to win the Republican presidential nomination. Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, put it succinctly: "I don't see anyone getting the Republican nomination who is not pro-life and a staunch defender of traditional marriage."

But Mr. Giuliani is running strong in Iowa and New Hampshire polls and leading most national surveys of Republicans. He's charming crowds of conservatives everywhere he goes. So it's worth wondering if Mr. Perkins is missing an undercurrent coursing through conservative politics.

Republicans have just experienced a bruising midterm election defeat. The president is suffering dismal approval ratings, and its erstwhile front-runner for the presidential nomination, Sen. John McCain, made his national reputation as a "maverick." The Giuliani rise evident now may be more than name recognition and residual support from his stalwart leadership following the Sept. 11 attacks. Mr. Giuliani's support may also arise from his having successfully moved an entrenched political culture in New York City, something national Republicans have not been able to do in Washington.
Mr. Perkins has publicly predicted that Mr. Giuliani's support will evaporate once voters learn more about him. And Mr. Giuliani's track record, both political and personal, may hurt him in the primaries. He's been divorced twice, opposes banning abortion, supports gun control, and for a time as mayor lived with two gay men and (as Time magazine noted recently) their frou-frou dog, Bonnie. None of this will endear him to the party's values voters. But it also may not be what tips the scales in the primaries.

Take South Carolina. The state's influence in presidential politics has only grown since it derailed Mr. McCain's Straight Talk Express in 2000. Two weeks ago, Mr. Giuliani made a trip to the state and struck a chord by speaking to a burning issue in South Carolina--a fight over school choice. This probably won't make the national evening news, but today some 5,000 people--many of whom are black and live in poorly performing rural school districts--are expected to descend on the state capitol in Columbia to rally for school choice. After lobbying their elected leaders, they plan to leave behind chocolates for Valentine's Day embossed with the words "another voice for school choice."

Mr. Giuliani delivered his South Carolina speech to several dozen conservatives. One woman who attended told me she wonders whether electing a president who successfully took on the mob in New York is what it will take to finally break through the entrenched education political culture. Christian conservatives make up the core of the school-choice movement in the state. If they come to the conclusion that Mr. Giuliani is on their side and has the leadership qualities to achieve lasting and meaningful change, he may prove a surprisingly strong contender.

Sen. McCain will have his own problems winning over Christian conservatives. A man who won media accolades by cutting against the base of his party will be ill-equipped to win the nomination. He's recently taken lashes in the media from Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and is reviled among some in the right-to-life movement for pushing through campaign finance restrictions that have made it more difficult for them to get their message out.

Christian conservative leaders will continue to be unhappy with Mr. Giuliani. Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, recently laid into the former mayor for a shifting stance on abortion, saying that a politician who personally believes the practice is wrong but who refuses to ban it is more repugnant than someone who isn't morally troubled by the termination of a pregnancy.
He's right. But there is little the president can do directly about abortion. In weighing contenders for the party's nomination, will right-to-life Republicans be more worried about Mr. Giuliani's personal beliefs, or will they find comfort in his promises to appoint judges in the mold of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, who may actually overturn Roe v. Wade? If Mr. Giuliani makes a convincing case that he'll also lend his efforts to school choice and other endeavors that will help win the other culture war under way in American politics--the one against an intransient political culture that is unresponsive to the demands of the public--Mr. Perkins could turn out to be mistaken.

Mr. Miniter is assistant editor of His column appears Tuesdays.

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« Reply #39 on: February 13, 2007, 11:02:29 PM »

Karl Rove picked out these four segments for Republicans to work on:

Suburbanites: "The heart of our party is married couples with children, but they are also those that are most prone to be mobile in our society and hence less linked into politics."

Younger voters: "That's where you set in motion things that come to pass not in a matter of an election or two, but a matter of a decade or two."

African-Americans: "You can't claim to be a great political party if you're getting 9 or 10 or 11 percent. One of the interesting things about the 2006 election is that we appeared to make gains in the African-American community even while we were losing a national election."

Latinos: "This group is rapidly growing. We do well among them in some elections and not well in others."

Rove has a special interest in the group that demographers call "some college" -- people who, like him, attended college but did not graduate. The concerns of this group dovetail with one of his current policy passions: income distribution and education.

"Income is increasingly correlated to more education," he said. "The challenge for our society is how do we prepare every child to be ready for college if he or she decided to go to college? Our problem today is not that we don't have enough higher education opportunities. It's that we don't have enough people who are prepared to take advantage of it."
The rest of the interview is interesting as well.
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« Reply #40 on: February 14, 2007, 11:54:31 AM »


The Ever-'Present' Obama
Barack has a along track record of not taking a stand.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Finally and officially, Barack Obama is running for president. His symbolic announcement, in the Land of Lincoln, called for a new era in politics. Obama downplayed his thin federal experience while championing his record on the state and local level, and he talked about the need to change Washington, set priorities, and "make hard choices."

"What's stopped us is the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics--the ease with which we're distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions," Obama said in his announcement speech. But a closer look at the presidential candidate's record in the Illinois Legislature reveals something seemingly contradictory: a number of occasions when Obama avoided making hard choices.

While some conservatives and Republicans surely will harp on what they call his "liberal record," highlighting applicable votes to support their case, it's Obama's history of voting "present" in Springfield--even on some of the most controversial and politically explosive issues of the day--that raises questions that he will need to answer. Voting "present" is one of three options in the Illinois Legislature (along with "yes" and "no"), but it's almost never an option for the occupant of the Oval Office.

We aren't talking about a "present" vote on whether to name a state office building after a deceased state official, but rather about votes that reflect an officeholder's core values.
For example, in 1997, Obama voted "present" on two bills (HB 382 and SB 230) that would have prohibited a procedure often referred to as partial birth abortion. He also voted "present" on SB 71, which lowered the first offense of carrying a concealed weapon from a felony to a misdemeanor and raised the penalty of subsequent offenses.

In 1999, Obama voted "present" on SB 759, a bill that required mandatory adult prosecution for firing a gun on or near school grounds. The bill passed the state Senate 52-1. Also in 1999, Obama voted "present" on HB 854 that protected the privacy of sex-abuse victims by allowing petitions to have the trial records sealed. He was the only member to not support the bill.

In 2001, Obama voted "present" on two parental notification abortion bills (HB 1900 and SB 562), and he voted "present" on a series of bills (SB 1093, 1094, 1095) that sought to protect a child if it survived a failed abortion. In his book, the "Audacity of Hope," on page 132, Obama explained his problems with the "born alive" bills, specifically arguing that they would overturn Roe v. Wade. But he failed to mention that he only felt strongly enough to vote "present" on the bills instead of "no."

And finally in 2001, Obama voted "present" on SB 609, a bill prohibiting strip clubs and other adult establishments from being within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, and daycares.

If Obama had taken a position for or against these bills, he would have pleased some constituents and alienated others. Instead, the Illinois legislator-turned-U.S. senator and, now, Democratic presidential hopeful essentially took a pass.

Some of these bills may have been "bad." They may have included poison pills or been poorly written, making it impossible for Obama to support them. They may have even been unconstitutional. When I asked the Obama campaign about those votes, they explained that in some cases, the Senator was uncomfortable with only certain parts of the bill, while in other cases, the bills were attempts by Republicans simply to score points.

But even if that were the case, it doesn't explain his votes. The state legislator had an easy solution if the bills were unacceptable to him: he could have voted against them and explained his reasoning.

Because it takes affirmative votes to pass legislation in the Illinois Senate, a "present" vote is tantamount to a "no" vote. A "present" vote is generally used to provide political cover for legislators who don't want to be on the record against a bill that they oppose. Of course, Obama isn't the first or only Illinois state senator to vote "present," but he is the only one running for President of the United States.

While these votes occurred while Obama and the Democrats were in the minority in the Illinois Senate, in the "Audacity of Hope" (page 130), Obama explained that even as a legislator in the minority, "You must vote yes or no on whatever bill comes up, with the knowledge that it's unlikely to be a compromise that either you or your supporters consider fair and or just."

Obama's "present" record could hurt him in two very different ways in his bid to win the Democratic presidential nomination and, ultimately, the White House. On one hand, those votes could anger some Democrats, even liberals, because he did not take a strong enough stand on their issues. On the other hand, his votes could simply be portrayed by adversaries as a failure of leadership for not being willing to make a tough decision and stick by it.
Obama is one of the most dynamic and captivating figures in American politics at this time, and he has put together an excellent campaign team. He clearly is a factor in the race for the Democratic nomination in 2008.

But as Democrats--and Americans--are searching for their next leader, the Illinois senator's record, and not just his rhetoric, will be examined under a microscope. As president, Obama will be faced with countless difficult decisions on numerous gray issues, and voting "present" will not be an option. He will need to explain those "present" votes as a member of the Illinois Legislature if he hopes to become America's commander-in-chief.

Mr. Gonzales is political editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

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« Reply #41 on: February 14, 2007, 04:15:42 PM »


Romney retreats on gun control

Ex-governor woos Republican votes

By Scott Helman, Globe Staff | January 14, 2007
ORLANDO , Fla. -- Former governor Mitt Romney, who once described himself as a supporter of strong gun laws, is distancing himself from that rhetoric now as he attempts to court the gun owners who make up a significant force in Republican primary politics.
In his 1994 US Senate run, Romney backed two gun-control measures strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups: the Brady Bill, which imposed a five-day waiting period on gun sales, and a ban on certain assault weapons.
"That's not going to make me the hero of the NRA," Romney told the Boston Herald in 1994.
At another campaign stop that year, he told reporters: "I don't line up with the NRA."
And as the GOP gubernatorial candidate in 2002, Romney lauded the state's strong laws during a debate against Democrat Shannon O'Brien. "We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts; I support them," he said. "I won't chip away at them; I believe they protect us and provide for our safety."
Today, as he explores a presidential bid, Romney is sending a very different message on gun issues, which are far more prominent in Republican national politics than in Massachusetts.
He now touts his work as governor to ease restrictions on gun owners. He proudly describes himself as a member of the NRA -- though his campaign won't say when he joined. And Friday, at his campaign's request, top officials of the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation led him around one of the country's biggest gun shows.
Romney says he still backs the ban on assault weapons, but he won't say whether he stands by the Brady Bill. And after the gun show tour, his campaign declined to say whether he would still describe himself as a supporter of tough gun laws.
"He believes Americans have the right to own and possess firearms as guaranteed under the US Constitution," spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom wrote in an e-mail. "He's proud to be among the many decent, law-abiding men and women who safely use firearms. Like President Bush, he supports restrictions on assault weapons, but Mitt Romney has also worked with gun owners and sportsmen to ease the gun-licensing laws in Massachusetts."
Romney appears to be stepping up his efforts to portray himself as a gun-friendly candidate, though some gun-rights activists in important primary states say his past positions will hurt him politically.
On Wednesday, Romney said on an Internet podcast, "The Glenn and Helen Show," that he hopes states would continue to ease regulations on gun owners, and he expressed enthusiasm for guns and hunting. "I have a gun of my own. I go hunting myself. I'm a member of the NRA and believe firmly in the right to bear arms," Romney said.
Asked by reporters at the gun show Friday whether he personally owned the gun, Romney said he did not. He said one of his sons, Josh, keeps two guns at the family vacation home in Utah, and he uses them "from time to time." The guns are a Winchester hunting rifle and a Glock 9mm handgun, which Romney uses for target shooting . Romney also described himself as a sportsman who learned to shoot as a boy rabbit hunting in Idaho with a .22 rifle. He fondly recalled shooting quail last year at a Republican Governors Association event in Georgia.
"I . . . had a good time and actually knocked down a couple of birds," he said.
Fehrnstrom said Romney had taken steps to support gun rights as governor, including his signing of an NRA-backed bill last year that reduced a testing requirement on certain pistol-makers before they could sell guns in Massachusetts.
In 2002, even as he was pledging to uphold the state's strong gun laws, Romney still garnered a "B" grade from the NRA.
Also, in 2005, Romney designated May 7 as "The Right to Bear Arms Day" in Massachusetts to honor "the right of decent, law-abiding citizens to own and use firearms in defense of their families, persons, and property and for all lawful purposes, including the common defense."
But perhaps the most significant gun legislation Romney signed as governor was a 2004 measure instituting a permanent ban on assault weapons. The Legislature mirrored the law after the federal assault weapons ban, which was set to expire. According to activists at the time, the bill made Massachusetts the first state to enact its own such ban, and Romney hailed the move.
"These guns are not made for recreation or self-defense," he was quoted as saying. "They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people."
The bill enjoyed the support of Massachusetts gun owners because it also encompassed several measures they favored -- including a lengthening of the terms of firearm identification cards and licenses to carry. (Asked about the bill Friday, Romney described it as a "consensus measure" and a "positive step.")
But the NRA and many local affiliates do not support assault weapons bans, arguing that the arms are rarely used in crimes and have a legitimate purpose in hunting, target shooting, and self-protection. Romney's signing of that bill, despite its progun provisions, will be problematic politically, activists say.
"Why don't you just not take away [rights] from us?" Michael Thiede, president of the group Michigan Gun Owners, said last week. He said Romney's support for the assault-weapons ban and the Brady Bill will "absolutely" give him friction.
Gerald W. Stoudemire, president of Gun Owners of South Carolina, agreed, saying Romney has been "basically antigun on some issues."
"They're going to be a big scratch on his record," Stoudemire said. "He's going to have to not just get over them, but show a different direction if he's going to pick up voters."
The NRA officials who led Romney around the trade show declined to discuss his positions. "We meet with candidates all over the country at every level," said Chris W. Cox, who heads the NRA's political and legislative work.
Romney's past positions on gun control have also drawn some attention in the blogosphere, though not nearly as much as his statements in support of abortion rights and gay rights. (He's now antiabortion and takes a harder line on gay rights.) "Wait until the 2d amendment crowd gets a hold of Mitt's views on gun control," one blogger wrote on .
Romney was clearly trying to allay such concerns by attending the massive Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show and Conference at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center. Romney, joined by his wife, Ann, and trailed by local television stations and a few reporters, chatted enthusiastically with vendors displaying a wide variety of weapons.
"Let's see your shotguns here," Romney said to Michael F. Golden, CEO of the Springfield-based gunmaker Smith & Wesson. Romney's dark suit stood out in a sea of camouflage, but he gamely introduced himself to anyone in his path.
At one booth, he met exhibition shooter Tom Knapp , who gave Romney some hunting advice: When you miss an animal, pretend you did it on purpose, because you want the animal to breed lots of offspring (read: targets).
"That's a great hunting tip!" Romney said with a laugh.
The trade show illustrated the work that lies ahead for Romney in broadening his name recognition. Though many people knew who he was -- "I was just pitching you last night!" one man said enthusiastically -- many others did not.
"Who is that?" a woman at the Crossman gunmaker booth asked quietly after Romney walked away.
"A governor," someone said.
"Where?" she asked.
"Massachusetts -- may be running for president."
Moments later, a different woman gestured in his direction: "Is that Jeb Bush?"
"No, it's Mitt Romney," Fehrnstrom corrected.
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« Reply #42 on: February 15, 2007, 11:49:18 AM »

Not yet(!), but we will need a thread for the House and Senate races of 2008 as well.  I stick this in here because the in-state politics will affect the Presidential vote and turnout in 'purple' states. Al Franken is not guranteed the nomination, but is running to unseat MN Senator Norm coleman.  Powerline with its Minnesota roots will obviously be covering this closely (as they did with Keith Ellison).

Vox populi, vox Franken

(link for text and video) in which Al Franken made his announcement yesterday of his candidacy for the Democatic nomination to run for the Senate seat currently held by Norm Coleman. In the video Franken states that he campaigned last year for Democratic candidates "from Waseca and Wabasha up to Fergus Falls and Detroit Lakes, over to Bemidji and the Iron Range, from Duluth down to Albert Lea." He recalls what voters told him as he travelled around the state: "They told me that they’re sick of politics as usual—and they're sick of the usual politicians."

Funny thing is, that's pretty much the same statement that Al Frnaken used in announcing his satirical presidential candidacy in his 2000 book Why Not Me? There in his fictional March 24, 1999 announcement of his presidential candidacy, he envisions the creation of an electoral majority that will "let them know that politics as usual will only get you politicians as usual. (PAUSE FOR APPLAUSE.)"

Yesterday's real-life announcement of his Senate candidacy mixes recycling with shtick to kick off a campaign that promises to be even longer than the one depiicted in Why Not Me? It also promises to offer the definitive answer to the question posed in the book's title.

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« Reply #43 on: February 16, 2007, 10:18:27 AM »

Clinton fundraiser Daphna Ziman:

"Hillary Clinton is the right candidate.  The nation is in deep need of a mother figure who will lead the people out of a violent world and back into caring for the poor and the disabled, mostly caring for our children, our future."
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« Reply #44 on: February 19, 2007, 01:59:37 PM »

Here comes Newt
By Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
Thursday, February 15, 2007

To echo the famous Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige: “Don’t look back, Newt Gingrich might be gaining on you.” Newt, consigned by many observers to Elizabeth Dole or Dan Quayle status in this GOP nominating process, appears to be moving up into contention, overtaking former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and battling to be the conservative alternative to either former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani or Arizona Sen. John McCain.

To grasp what’s happening, don’t think of states like New Hampshire or Iowa or worry whether it’s too early or too late. The key to following the Republican presidential nominating process this year is to recognize its essential similarity to the tennis’s U.S. Open at Forest Hills. There are quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at the GOP Christmas dinner dance in Manchester, N.H., Friday, Dec. 15, 2006. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter) In the quarter-finals, the center and the right each sort out the nominees to choose their candidate. On center court, Giuliani seems to be gaining a decisive lead over McCain’s impoverished presidential campaign. But on the right-hand court, unnoticed by most pundits, Gingrich seems to be building a lead over Romney and a host of conservative wannabes. The ultimate winner of the Giuliani/McCain quarter-final will face the winner of the Gingrich/Romney match-up in the semi-finals.

As McCain drops in the polls — he’s down to 22 percent while Rudy is up at 34 percent in the latest Fox News poll — some conservatives seem eager for a “real Republican” to challenge for the nomination. Their first choice, former Virginia Sen. George Allen, lies a-moldering in the grave and his runner-up, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, has gone home to Tennessee.

Most observers assumed that Romney would fill the void. But he doesn’t seem to have been able to do so. It may be a racist refusal to vote for a Mormon or, more charitably, Romney’s flip-flop-flip from pro-life to pro-choice to pro-life, or it may have been his inconsistency on gay issues, but Mitt seems to be going the way of his father — out of contention. The Fox News poll, which recorded a surge to up to 8 percent of the GOP vote in its Dec. 5-6 tally, now has Romney dropping back to only 3 percent of the vote.

Enter Newt. Hungry for new ideas and desperate after losing Congress, Republican voters seem to be rallying to the only real genius in the race — the former Speaker. The statute of limitations seems to have expired on his personal scandals and Gingrich is striking a responsive chord among conservatives.

Fox News’s Jan. 30-31 survey had Newt leaving Romney way behind and challenging McCain for second place. The former Speaker’s vote share was 15 percent, giving him third place in the current standings.

Episodically, I just addressed a 450-person Lincoln Day dinner of the Lane County Republican Party in Eugene, Ore. A show of hands brought these results: Giuliani, 50 percent; Gingrich, 30 percent; McCain, 6 percent; Romney, 4 percent. A few days before, a speech to an Orlando investors group produced similar results.

But, as the slogan of the New York State Lottery goes: “You can’t win if you don’t play.” Newt’s current posture of waiting until the fall of 2007 to see how the process sorts itself out won’t work. The process abhors a vacuum. If Gingrich doesn’t move out to respond to the affection of the GOP base, one of the minor-leaguers — Huckabee, Brownback, Gilmore, Thompson, Hunter or Tancredo — will.

The irony of the GOP field at the moment is that while most Republicans are conservatives, the two frontrunners — Rudy and McCain — are moderates. And this isn’t Nelson Rockefeller’s Republican Party anymore! Gingrich is filling a real political need and if he moves out smartly and files his paperwork, takes his announcement bows, and journeys to Iowa and New Hampshire as a candidate, he might well be a contender.

Morris, a former political adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill Clinton, is the author of Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race. To get all of Dick Morris’s and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to
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« Reply #45 on: February 20, 2007, 05:05:51 PM »

From Newt's mailing list:


'Come to Cooper Union'

As I've mentioned to you before here in "Winning the Future," former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and I are doing something different on February 28 in New York City. We're meeting at Cooper Union, the site of Abraham Lincoln's most famous pre-presidential speech, to do something about the lack of debate in our presidential debates.

On February 28 at Cooper Union, Gov. Cuomo and I will have a 90-minute, unrestricted, unrehearsed dialogue about the major challenges confronting America today.

We will also issue a challenge to the men and women running for President: Come to Cooper Union and participate in the Lincoln Dialogue Series.

Toss out the rule book, put aside the negative, partisan attacks, and come debate the issues.

Today's Presidential Debates: 32 Pages of Ground Rules

We're going to Cooper Union for a very specific reason: To remind our fellow Americans of a time when campaign debates were real debates, not a series of poll-tested, consultant-written, 30-second sound bites.

Here's how far we've come since that time:

In the 1996 campaign, the rules for the presidential debates were a full 11 pages of dos and don'ts for the candidates. But the consultants who control today's campaigns were just getting started.

By 2004, the debate rules had ballooned to 32 pages, including one rule that ordered the moderator to stop any candidate who dared to depart from the script to refer to someone in the audience.

In addition, the candidates were ordered to "submit to the staff of the [Debate] Commission prior to the debate all such paper and any pens or pencils with which a candidate may wish to take notes during the debate."

Pen and pencils. Talk about the vital stuff of democracy!

Presidential debates are supposed to be an opportunity for Americans to get to know their choices for the leader of our great nation. But how can you get to know someone through 32 pages of rules restricting their speech?

We don't have presidential debates today, we have kabuki theatre: Maximally choreographed, minimally informative performance art by the various candidates.

Watch the Cooper Union Event Live at the Northport Community Arts Center

So what does this have to do with Joan Jackson? And what does it have to do with you?

When Joan Jackson heard that Mario Cuomo and I were going to debate at Cooper Union, her first instinct wasn't to hope that I would use the opportunity to score partisan political points against Gov. Cuomo. It wasn't even to come to Cooper Union and support me.

Joan Jackson's first instinct was to figure out how she could bring our debate to others in her community.

So she went to work. She met with the superintendent of her local public school and told him about the debate between me and Mario Cuomo. He told Joan that she could use the auditorium in the Northport Community Arts Center that is attached to the public school and extend an invitation to the whole county to view the event on their big screen. In 24 hours, she did just that. She contacted the local Republican and Democratic Party leadership and local elected officials and invited them to come. She's writing a news release for the local paper. She stood up at a community meeting and told her neighbors about the debate. The school superintendent even offered to serve cookies and punch.

(Continued below)

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What You Can Do to Get Involved

Joan Jackson is an extraordinary American, but she would be the first to tell you that she isn't unique. She's simply looking for something more meaningful and more productive than our current, negative, partisan campaign culture. And she is doing something about it.

From talking to you and reading your e-mail to me, I know that members of the Winning the Future community share this desire for meaningful, substantive dialogue. We want solutions, not sound bites.

For those of you who are looking to be more than passive spectators in a stale, empty political play, look no further than Joan Jackson. Contact your local school or community center and ask them to carry our February 28 debate live. We will broadcast the event live and on-demand via web cast on

Then tell your friends, reach out to both Democrats and Republicans. Alert the local paper. Got a blog? Host this YouTube message from me advertising the webcast, and include a link to, where your readers can sign up for an email reminder.

So come on, toss out the rulebook of politics as usual. Bring the history and the dialogue of Cooper Union to your own community. And be a modern American citizen leader like Joan Jackson.

For more information, just go to or I hope you'll join us on February 28.

  Your friend,
 Newt Gingrich

P.S. - In case you missed it, I wanted to let you know the latest in the fight to promote English as the language of American success and cultural unity. The mayor of Nashville, Tenn., has vetoed a local measure that would have required all government documents to be in English, except where required by federal law to "protect or promote public health, safety or welfare." The mayor said he was afraid the city would be sued if he allowed the bill, which was passed by a vote of 23-14, to become law. Speaking as someone who last week in "Winning the Future" called for the federal government to print all its documents in English, I agree with what Councilman Eric Crafton, the sponsor of the bill, told the AP when he was informed of the mayor's fears: "It's almost ridiculous to the point of being absurd for the mayor to say, 'Well, I'm afraid that somebody might sue us because we want to conduct our business in English.' To me it's a lack of courage and a lack of leadership."

P.P.S. - As I mentioned on Fox News Sunday this weekend, the agreement reached between the United States and North Korea last week only rewards the bad behavior of the North Korean dictatorship. The signal it sends to other dictatorships pursuing nuclear weapons like Iran is to ignore the Americans, ignore the threat of sanctions, get your nuclear weapons, and then cut a deal later, because in the end, the democracies are going to cave. You can read my analysis here.
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« Reply #46 on: February 21, 2007, 01:22:23 PM »

CLINTON VOWS TO END U.S. ‘ARROGANCE’ AS PRESIDENT: Hillary Rodham Clinton vowed yesterday to change the United States so it’s no longer an “arrogant power” that alienates the world. “When I’m president, I’m going to send a message to the world that America is back - we’re not the arrogant power that we’ve been acting like for the last six years,” Sen. Clinton said during her first campaign stop in the Sunshine State.
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« Reply #47 on: February 28, 2007, 04:11:55 AM »

Giuliani the Conservative
And he's electable too.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Not since Teddy Roosevelt took on Tammany Hall a century ago has a New York politician closely linked to urban reform looked like presidential timber. But today Rudy Giuliani sits at or near the top of virtually every poll of potential 2008 presidential candidates. Already, Mr. Giuliani's popularity has set off a "stop Rudy" movement among cultural conservatives, who object to his three marriages and his support for abortion rights, gay unions and curbs on gun ownership. Some social conservatives even dismiss his achievement in reviving New York before 9/11. An August story on the Web site Right Wing News, for instance, claims that Mr. Giuliani governed Gotham from "left of center." Similarly, conservatives have been feeding the press a misleading collection of quotations by and about Mr. Giuliani, on tax policy and school choice issues, assembled to make him look like a liberal.

But in a GOP presidential field in which cultural and religious conservatives may find something to object to in every candidate who could really get nominated (and, more important, elected), Mr. Giuliani may be the most conservative candidate on a wide range of issues. Far from being a liberal, he ran New York with a conservative's priorities. Government exists above all to keep people safe in their homes and in the streets, he said, not to redistribute income, run a welfare state, or perform social engineering. The private economy, not government, creates opportunity, he argued; government should just deliver basic services well and then get out of the private sector's way. He denied that cities and their citizens were victims of vast forces outside their control, and he urged New Yorkers to take personal responsibility for their lives.

"Over the last century, millions of people from all over the world have come to New York City," Mr. Giuliani once observed. "They didn't come here to be taken care of and to be dependent on city government. They came here for the freedom to take care of themselves." It was that spirit of opportunity and can-do-ism that Mr. Giuliani tried to reinstill in New York and that he himself exemplified not only in the hours and weeks after 9/11 but in his heroic and successful effort to bring a dying city back to life.

The entrenched political culture that Mr. Giuliani faced when he became mayor was the pure embodiment of American liberalism, stretching back to the New Deal, whose public works projects had turned Gotham into a massive government-jobs program. Even during the post-World War II economic boom, New York politicians kept the New Deal's big-government philosophy alive, with huge municipal tax increases that financed a growing public sector but drove away private-sector jobs.
Later, in the mid-1960s, flamboyant mayor John Lindsay set out to make New York a poster child for the Johnson administration's War on Poverty, vastly expanding welfare rolls, giving power over the school system to black-power activists, and directing hundreds of millions of government dollars into useless and often fraudulent community-based antipoverty programs. To pay for all this, Lindsay taxed with abandon. The result: sharply increasing crime, a rising underclass inclined to languish on welfare rather than strive to uplift itself, a failing school system that emphasized racial grievance and separateness, and near-bankruptcy.

When Mr. Giuliani's predecessor, David Dinkins, came into office--thanks to voters' hopes that as the city's first black mayor, he'd defuse New York's intense racial tensions--he wholly embraced the War on Poverty's core belief that the problems of the urban poor sprang from vast external forces over which neither they nor the politicians had much control. Under Mr. Dinkins, the city's welfare rolls grew by one-third, or some 273,000 people. By 1992, with some 1.1 million New Yorkers on welfare, the city's political leadership seemed stuck on dependency, too. Mr. Dinkins became the chief proponent of a tin-cup urbanism, constantly hounding Washington and Albany with demands and grim warnings about what would happen if they were not met.

Mr. Dinkins's political philosophy substituted can't-do fatalism for the can-do optimism that had made New York great. As crime spiked--there were 2,262 murders in Mr. Dinkins's first year, compared with fewer than 600 in 1963, two years before Lindsay became mayor--Mr. Dinkins declared: "If we had a police officer on every other corner, we couldn't stop some of the random violence that goes on," since it resulted from poverty and racism, not poor policing.

Accordingly, Mr. Dinkins wanted to turn the police into social workers. His police commissioner, Lee Brown, believed that cops should stop reacting to crime and become neighborhood "problem solvers." In an article on that "community policing" approach, the New York Times informed readers that such experiments, in Houston and in Newark, N.J., were "enormously popular"--but "neither city experienced a statistical drop in crime." Under that policing regime, New York's already high crime rate soared, prompting the New York Post to plead, in a famous headline, "Dave Do Something."

As crime and welfare rocketed up, Mr. Dinkins decided that government should promote diversity and multiculturalism--"a gorgeous mosaic," in his phrase. Though the performance of the city's schools was crumbling, so that by 1992 fewer than half the pupils were reading at grade level, the Board of Education turned its energies to two controversies unrelated to education: it tried to adopt a "Rainbow Curriculum" geared to instilling in first-graders respect for homosexuality, and it proposed to distribute free condoms in high schools to promote safe sex among students. Although many parents objected that the board was promoting values that they did not share, Mr. Dinkins supported the board on both fiercely controversial issues.

By the time Mr. Giuliani ran against Mr. Dinkins for a second time, in 1993 (his first try had failed), the former prosecutor had fashioned a philosophy of local government based on two core conservative principles vastly at odds with New York's political culture: that government should be accountable for delivering basic services well, and that ordinary citizens should be personally responsible for their actions and their destiny and not expect government to take care of them. Mr. Giuliani spoke of the need to reestablish a "civil society," where citizens adhered to a "social contract." "If you have a right," he observed, "there is a duty that goes along with that right." Later, when he became mayor, Mr. Giuliani would preach about the duties of citizenship, quoting the ancient Athenian Oath of Fealty: "We will revere and obey the city's laws. . . . We will strive unceasingly to quicken the public sense of civic duty. Thus in all these ways we will transmit this city not only not less, but far greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us."
In New York, where generations of liberal policy had produced a city in which 1 in 7 citizens lived off government benefits, in which lawbreakers whose actions diminished everyone else's quality of life were routinely ignored or excused, in which the rights of those who broke the law were often defended vigorously over the rights of those who adhered to it, Mr. Giuliani's prescriptions for an urban revival based on shared civic values seemed unrealistic to some and dangerous to others. The head of the local American Civil Liberties Union chapter described Mr. Giuliani's ideas on respect for authority and the law as "frightening" and "scary." But New Yorkers who had watched their city deteriorate were more frightened of life under an outdated and ineffective liberal agenda. Mr. Giuliani rode to victory in 1993 with heavy support from the same white ethnic Democratic voters who, a decade earlier, had crossed party lines even in liberal New York to vote for Ronald Reagan.

To those of us who observed Mr. Giuliani from the beginning, it was astonishing how fully he followed through on his conservative principles once elected, no matter how much he upset elite opinion, no matter how often radical advocates took to the streets in protest, no matter how many veiled (and not-so-veiled) threats that incendiary figures like Al Sharpton made against him, and no matter how often the New York Times fulminated against his policies.

In particular, offended by the notion that people should be treated differently and demand privileges based on the color of their skin, Mr. Giuliani was fearless in confronting racial extortionists like Mr. Sharpton. Early in his tenure, he startled the city when he refused to meet with Mr. Sharpton and other black activists after a confrontation between police and black Muslims at a Harlem mosque. And though activists claimed that Mr. Giuliani inflamed racial tensions with such actions, there were no incidents during his tenure comparable with the disgraceful Crown Heights riot under Mr. Dinkins, in which the police let blacks terrorize Orthodox Jews for several days in a Brooklyn neighborhood.

For Mr. Giuliani, the revival of New York started with securing public safety, because all other agendas were useless if citizens didn't feel protected. "The most fundamental of civil rights is the guarantee that government can give you a reasonable degree of safety," Mr. Giuliani said. He aimed to do so by reinstituting respect for the law. As a federal prosecutor in New York in the 1980s, he had vigorously hunted low-level drug dealers--whom other law enforcement agencies ignored--because he thought that the brazen selling of drugs on street corners cultivated disrespect for the law and encouraged criminality. "You have to . . . dispel cynicism about law enforcement by showing we treat everyone alike, whether you are a major criminal or a low-level drug pusher," Mr. Giuliani explained.
As mayor, he instituted a "zero tolerance" approach that cracked down on quality-of-life offenses like panhandling and public urination (in a city where some streets reeked of urine), in order to restore a sense of civic order that he believed would discourage larger crimes. "Murder and graffiti are two vastly different crimes," he explained. "But they are part of the same continuum, and a climate that tolerates one is more likely to tolerate the other." He linked the Dinkins era's permissive climate, which tolerated the squeegee men (street-corner windshield cleaners who coerced drivers into giving them money at the entrances to Manhattan), to the rise of more serious crime. "The police started ignoring all kinds of offenses," Mr. Giuliani later recounted of the Dinkins years. They "became," he deadpanned, "highly skilled observers of crime."

Civil rights advocates warned that Mr. Giuliani's promise to deprive the squeegee men of their $40 to $100 weekly shakedown might drive them to more violent crime; in effect, they endorsed a lesser form of criminality, hoping that it would forestall more serious crime. The city's newspapers were happy to print threats from squeegee men, like this one: "I feel like if I can't hustle honestly, I've got to go back to doing what I used to do . . . robbing and stealing." But the squeegee-men campaign provided Mr. Giuliani with his first significant victory, showing a beleaguered citizenry that government actually could bring about change for the better. Within months, the squeegee men disappeared. "A city, and especially a city like New York, should be a place of optimism," Mr. Giuliani later explained about his policing strategies. "Quality of life is about focusing on the things that make a difference in the everyday life of all New Yorkers in order to restore this spirit of optimism."

Mr. Giuliani changed the primary mission of the police department to preventing crime from happening rather than merely responding to it once it had occurred. His police chief, William Bratton, reorganized the NYPD, emphasizing a street-crimes unit that moved around the city, flooding high-crime areas and getting guns off the street. Mr. Bratton also changed the department's scheduling. Crime was open for business 24 hours a day, but most detectives, including narcotics cops, had previously gone off duty at 5 p.m., just as criminals were coming on "duty." No more.

The department brought modern management techniques to its new mission. It began compiling a computerized database to track the city's crime patterns and the effectiveness of the NYPD's responses to them. That database, known as Compstat, helped police target their manpower where it was needed, and in due course it became a national model. The department drove authority down to its precinct captains and emphasized that it expected results from these top managers. Mr. Bratton replaced a third of the city's 76 precinct commanders within a few months. "If you were to manage a bank with 76 branches every day, you would get a profit-and-loss statement from the bank," explained Mr. Giuliani. "After a week or so, you would see branches that were going in the wrong direction, and then you would take management action to try to reverse the trend. That is precisely what is happening in the police department."

The policing innovations led to a historic drop in crime far beyond what anyone could have imagined, with total crime down by some 64% during the Giuliani years, and murder (the most reliable crime statistic) down 67%, from 1,960 in Mr. Dinkins's last year to 640 in Mr. Giuliani's last year. The number of cars stolen in New York City every year plummeted by an astounding 78,000.

Criminologists tried to dismiss this achievement by arguing that the police have little influence on crime. The crime drop, they contended, was merely the fruit of an improving national economy, though the decline preceded the city's economic rebound by several years. Others argued that New York was just riding a demographic trend, as the population of teenagers prone to break the law declined. One criminologist even suggested that Mr. Giuliani's New York would soon see another upsurge, as a new cohort of children reached the teen years. "I don't need a crystal ball," the criminologist confidently predicted. Instead, crime declined relentlessly over Mr. Giuliani's eight years, even when it rose nationally.

Critics, especially those on the left, have tried to minimize Mr. Giuliani's accomplishment by claiming that he lowered crime by letting cops oppress black and Latino New Yorkers with brute force. As evidence, they point to unfortunate incidents such as the shootings of unarmed black immigrants Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond. But the data tell a far different story: Mr. Giuliani's NYPD managed to drive down crime while showing admirable restraint. From 1995 to 2000, civilian complaints of excessive force by the NYPD declined from one complaint per ten officers to one per 19 officers. Meanwhile, shootings by cops declined by 50% and were far lower under Mr. Giuliani than under Mr. Dinkins--lower in fact than in cities like San Diego and Houston, hailed for practicing community policing.

Moreover, Mr. Giuliani's policing success was a boon to minority neighborhoods. For instance, in the city's 34th Precinct, covering the largely Hispanic Washington Heights section of Manhattan, murders dropped from 76 in 1993, Mr. Dinkins's last year, to only seven by Mr. Giuliani's last year, a decline of more than 90%. Far from being the racist that activists claimed, Mr. Giuliani had delivered to the city's minority neighborhoods a true form of equal protection under the law.

Mayor Giuliani's success against crime wasn't merely the singular achievement of a former prosecutor. He applied the same principles to social and economic policy, with equally impressive results. Long before President Bush's "ownership" society, Mr. Giuliani described his intention to restore New York as the "entrepreneurial city," not only providing the climate for new job creation but also reshaping government social policy away from encouraging dependency and toward reinforcing independence.
New York had gone in the opposite direction starting in the mid-1960s, when Lindsay had drastically increased welfare rolls, believing many of the poor too disadvantaged ever to succeed and thus needing to be permanently on the dole. The Gotham welfare bureaucracy saw signing people up as its goal, while an entire industry of nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups arose to cater to and contract with the city's vast welfare system. Budget documents from the Dinkins years projected an eventual 1.6 million people on welfare. "The City of New York was actually quite successful in achieving what it wanted to achieve, which was to encourage the maximum number of people to be on welfare," Mr. Giuliani later explained. "If you ran a welfare office, . . . you had a bigger budget, and you had more authority, if you had more people on welfare."

Mr. Giuliani decided to launch a welfare revolution, moving recipients from the dole to a job. Mindful that for years the city's welfare bureaucracy had focused on signing up new recipients (Lindsay's welfare chief had been nicknamed Mitchell "Come and Get It" Ginsberg), the Giuliani administration first set out to recertify everyone in the city's own home-relief program to eliminate fraud. In less than a year, the rolls of the program (for able-bodied adults not eligible for federal welfare programs) declined by 20%, as the city discovered tens of thousands of recipients who were actually employed, living outside the city, or providing false Social Security numbers.

Mr. Giuliani then instituted a work requirement for the remaining home-relief recipients, mostly men, obliging them to earn their checks by cleaning city parks and streets or doing clerical work in municipal offices for 20 hours a week. Welfare advocates vigorously objected, and one advocate pronounced the workfare program "slavery." The New York Times editorialized that most people on home relief were incapable of work.
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« Reply #48 on: February 28, 2007, 04:14:25 AM »

Mr. Giuliani persisted, and when Congress finally passed welfare reform in 1996, giving states and cities broad powers to refocus the giant, federally funded welfare program for mothers and children, Mr. Giuliani applied many of the same kinds of reforms. He hired as welfare commissioner Jason Turner, the architect of welfare reform in Wisconsin, which had led the nation in putting welfare recipients back to work. Mr. Turner promptly converted the city's grim welfare intake offices into cheerful and optimistic job centers, where counselors advised welfare recipients on how to write a résumé and provided them with skills assessment and a space they could use to look for work.

By 1999, the number of welfare recipients finding work had risen to more than 100,000 annually, and the welfare rolls had dropped by more than 600,000. It took steadfast courage to win those gains. "The pressure on Rudy during these years was enormous," says Richard Schwartz, a Giuliani policy advisor. "The advocates and the press trained their sights on us, just waiting for something to go wrong in these workfare programs."

As part of Mr. Giuliani's quintessentially conservative belief that dysfunctional behavior, not our economic system, lay at the heart of intergenerational poverty, he also spoke out against illegitimacy and the rise of fatherless families. A child born out of wedlock, he observed in one speech, was three times as likely to wind up on welfare as a child from a two-parent family. "Seventy percent of long-term prisoners and 75% of adolescents charged with murder grew up without fathers," Mr. Giuliani told the city. He insisted that the city and the nation had to re-establish the "responsibility that accompanies bringing a child into the world," and to that end he required deadbeat fathers either to find a private-sector job or to work in the city's workfare program as a way of contributing to their child's upbringing. But he added that changing society's attitude toward marriage was more important than anything government could do: "If you wanted a social program that would really save these kids, . . . I guess the social program would be called fatherhood."

As a consequence of his rejection of the time-honored New York liberal belief in congenital black victimhood, Mr. Giuliani set out to change the city's conversation about race. He objected to affirmative action, ending the city's set-aside program for minority contractors, and he rejected the idea of lowering standards for minorities. Accordingly, he ended open enrollment at the City University of New York, a 1970s policy aimed at increasing the minority population at the nation's third-largest public college system but one that also led to a steep decline in standards and in graduation rates.
The reform of CUNY began when its chancellor complained that it was unfair to require students on welfare to work because it jeopardized their studies. Mr. Giuliani responded that it was unfair to expect middle-class kids to work their way through college by holding down jobs and going to classes while exempting students on welfare from working. While the controversy raged, several critics of CUNY pointed out that only 10% to 15% of CUNY students on welfare ever graduated, and that the system's overall graduation rate was abysmally low. Mr. Giuliani and Gov. George Pataki appointed a blue-chip panel led by former Yale president Benno Schmidt and former New York City congressman and longtime CUNY critic Herman Badillo to examine the system. The panel recommended widespread changes, including tightening admissions standards and eliminating remedial courses for students at the system's 11 senior colleges.

The moves sparked a startling turnaround. Within a few years, CUNY was attracting 20% more students from New York's elite high schools (who had previously shunned it), SAT scores of incoming freshmen had risen 168 points, and the student population reached its highest number since the mid-1970s.

Mr. Giuliani wanted to work the same dramatic reform on the city's K-12 school system, but the entrenched educational bureaucracy and his lack of direct control over the school system stymied him. The best he could do was to use the bully pulpit as well as his influence over the two Board of Education members (out of a total of seven) whom he appointed. He did this so relentlessly that he ultimately pushed out two schools chancellors who wouldn't install the reforms that he believed would spur dramatic, systemic change--reforms that included using city money for vouchers to provide low-income students in failing public schools with scholarships to private schools. He never could get his vouchers, however, and when he managed to prod the board into trying to privatize five of the city's worst public schools, the board's pointed lack of enthusiasm scared off necessary parental approval, and the idea died.

Although Mr. Giuliani didn't start out as a proponent of school choice, his frustration in trying to turn around a huge school system where the teachers union and the bureaucrats worked to stymie reform made him into a powerful proponent of vouchers, which he believed would force the public schools to compete for students with their private counterparts. "The whole notion of choice is really about more freedom for people, rather than being subjugated by a government system that says you have no choice about the education of your child," he said.

Mr. Giuliani's relentless attacks on the city's educational system finally convinced most New Yorkers that it could never be salvaged unless it was under the control of a mayor responsible to voters. In 2002, the state Legislature placed the city's school system under the mayor--too late for Mr. Giuliani.

Mr. Giuliani's efforts to revive entrepreneurial New York naturally focused on unleashing the city's private sector through tax cuts achieved by slowing the growth of government. Mr. Giuliani preached against New York's lingering New Deal belief that government creates jobs, arguing that government should instead get out of the way and let the private sector work. "City government should not and cannot create jobs through government planning," he said. "The best it can do, and what it has a responsibility to do, is to deal with its own finances first, to create a solid budgetary foundation that allows businesses to move the economy forward on the strength of their energy and ideas. After all, businesses are and have always been the backbone of New York City."
When Mr. Giuliani took office, the city's private sector was experiencing the worst of times. After four years under Mr. Dinkins, it had shrunk to its lowest level since 1978, losing 275,000 jobs--192,000 in 1991 alone, the largest one-year job decline that any American city had ever suffered. Not coincidentally, Gotham also had the highest overall rate of taxation of any major city and a budget that spent far more per capita than any other major city. Despite that, and despite billions of dollars in tax increases during the Dinkins years, New York could barely pay its bills, and Mr. Giuliani, immediately after taking office, faced a nearly $2.5 billion budget deficit.

Mr. Giuliani's first budget, submitted just weeks after he took office, stunned the city's political establishment by its fiscal conservatism. To demonstrate his disdain for the reigning orthodoxy, when the New York Times editorial board urged him to solve the budget crisis with tax and fee increases that a Dinkins-era special commission had recommended, Mr. Giuliani unceremoniously dumped a copy of the commission's report into the garbage and derided it as "old thinking." It was a pointed declaration that a very different set of ideas would guide his administration.

After years of tax hikes under Mr. Dinkins, Mr. Giuliani proposed making up the city's still-huge budget deficit entirely through spending cuts and savings. Even more audaciously, he proposed a modest tax cut to signal the business community that New York was open for business, promising more tax cuts later. "I felt it was really important the first year I was mayor to cut a tax," Mr. Giuliani later explained. "Nobody ever cut a tax before in New York City, and that was one of the reasons I wanted to set a new precedent."

To balance the city's budget early in his tenure, when tax revenues stagnated amid a struggling economy, the mayor played hardball, winning concessions from city workers that other mayors had failed to get. The city's police unions had used their power in Albany to resist efforts by Mr. Dinkins and his predecessor, Ed Koch, to merge the city's housing police and transit police into the NYPD. Mr. Giuliani strong-armed Albany leaders into agreeing to the merger, saving the city hundreds of millions in administrative costs and making the department a better crime-fighting unit, by threatening to fire every housing and transit officer and rehire each as a city cop if legislative leaders did not go along.

Similarly, though the city's garbage men, many of whom worked only half days because their department was so overstaffed, had rebuffed the Dinkins administration's push for productivity savings, Mr. Giuliani won $300 million in savings from them by threatening to contract out trash collection to private companies. Ultimately, with such deals, Mr. Giuliani reduced city-funded spending by 1.6% his first year in office, the largest overall reduction in city spending since the Depression.

Although Mr. Giuliani was no tax or economic expert when he took office, he became a tax-cut true believer when he saw how the city's economy and targeted industries perked up at his first reductions. One of his initial budgetary moves was to cut the city's hotel tax, which during the Dinkins administration had been the highest of any major city in the world. When tourism rebounded, Mr. Giuliani pointed out that the city was collecting more in taxes from a lower rate. "No one ever considered tax reductions a reasonable option," Mr. Giuliani explained. But, he added in a speech at the Reagan Library, "targeted tax reductions spur growth. That's why we have made obtaining targeted tax reductions a priority of every budget." In his eight years in office, Mr. Giuliani reduced or eliminated 23 taxes, including the sales tax on some clothing purchases, the tax on commercial rents everywhere outside of Manhattan's major business districts, and various taxes on small businesses and self-employed New Yorkers.

The national, and even world, press marveled at the spectacular success of Mr. Giuliani's policies. The combination of a safer city and a better budget environment ignited an economic boom unlike any other on record. Construction permits increased by more than 50%, to 70,000 a year, under Mr. Giuliani, compared with just 46,000 in Mr. Dinkins's last year. Meanwhile, as crime plunged, New Yorkers took to the newly safe streets to go out at night to shows and restaurants, and the number of tourists soared from 24 million in the early 1990s to 38 million in 2000. Under Mr. Giuliani, the city gained some 430,000 new jobs to reach its all-time employment peak of 3.72 million jobs in 2000, while the unemployment rate plummeted from 10.3% to 5.1%. Personal income earned by New Yorkers, meanwhile, soared by $100 million, or 50%, while the percentage of their income that they paid in taxes declined from 8.8% to 7.3%. During Mr. Giuliani's second term, for virtually the only time since World War II, the city's economy consistently grew faster than the nation's.

Today, Americans see Mr. Giuliani as presidential material because of his leadership in the wake of the terrorist attacks, but to those of us who watched him first manage America's biggest city when it was crime-ridden, financially shaky and plagued by doubts about its future as employers and educated and prosperous residents fled in droves, Mr. Giuliani's leadership on 9/11 came as no surprise. What Americans saw after the attacks is a combination of attributes that Mr. Giuliani governed with all along: the tough-mindedness that had gotten him through earlier civic crises, a no-nonsense and efficient management style, and a clarity and directness of speech that made plain what he thought needed to be done and how he would do it.
Like great wartime leaders, Mr. Giuliani displayed unflinching courage on 9/11. A minute after the first plane struck, he rushed downtown, arriving at the World Trade Center just after the second plane hit the South Tower, when it became obvious to everyone that New York was under attack. Fearing that more strikes were on the way--and without access to City Hall, the police department or the city's command center because of damage from the attacks--Mr. Giuliani hurried to reestablish city government, narrowly escaping death himself as the towers came down next to a temporary command post he had set up in lower Manhattan. "There is no playbook for a mayor on how to organize city government when you are standing on a street covered by dust from the city's worst calamity," one of his deputy mayors, Anthony Coles, later observed.

Mr. Giuliani understood that he needed not only to keep city government operating but to inspire and console as well. Within a few hours, he had reestablished New York's government in temporary headquarters, where he led the first post-9/11 meeting with his commissioners and with a host of other New York elected officials on hand to observe, prompting even one of his harshest critics, liberal Manhattan congressman Jerrold Nadler, to marvel at the "efficiency of the meeting." Within hours, the city launched a massive search-and-recovery operation. Some half a dozen times that day Mr. Giuliani went on TV, reassuring the city and then the nation with his calm, frank demeanor and his plainspoken talk. As the nation struggled to understand what had happened and President Bush made his way back to Washington, Mr. Giuliani emerged as the one public official in America who seemed to be in command on 9/11. He became, as Newsweek later called him, "our Winston Churchill."

In the weeks following the attacks, Mr. Giuliani became both the cheerleader of New York's efforts to pick itself up and the voice of moral outrage about the attacks. Mr. Giuliani exhorted private institutions within the city--the stock exchanges, the Broadway theaters--to resume operations and urged the rest of America and the world to come visit the city. Not waiting for federal aid, the city rapidly began a cleanup of the World Trade Center site, which proceeded ahead of schedule, and of the devastated neighborhood around the site, which reopened block by block in the weeks after the attacks. Meanwhile, the mayor led visiting heads of state on tours of the devastation, because, he said, "You can't come here and be neutral." He addressed the United Nations on the new war against terrorism, warning the delegates: "You're either with civilization or with terrorists." When a Saudi prince donated millions to relief efforts but later suggested that U.S. policy in the Middle East may have been partially responsible for the attacks, Mr. Giuliani returned the money, observing that there was "no moral equivalent" for the unprecedented terrorist attack. He attended dozens of funerals of emergency workers killed in the towers' collapse, leading the city not just in remembrance but in catharsis.

As "America's mayor," a sobriquet he earned after 9/11, Mr. Giuliani has a unique profile as a presidential candidate. To engineer the city's turnaround, he had to take on a government whose budget and workforce were larger than all but five or six states. (Indeed, his budget his first year as mayor was about 10 times the size of the one that Bill Clinton managed in his last year as governor of Arkansas.) For more than a decade, the city has been among the biggest U.S. tourist destinations, and tens of millions of Americans have seen firsthand the dramatic changes he wrought in Gotham.
Moreover, as an expert on policing and America's key leader on 9/11, Mr. Giuliani is an authority on today's crucial foreign-policy issue, the war on terror. In fact, as a federal prosecutor in New York, he investigated and prosecuted major terrorist cases. As mayor, he took the high moral ground in the terrorism debate in 1995, when he had an uninvited Yasser Arafat expelled from city-sponsored celebrations during the United Nations' 50th anniversary because, in Mr. Giuliani's eyes, Arafat was a terrorist, not a world leader. "When we're having a party and a celebration, I would rather not have someone who has been implicated in the murders of Americans there, if I have the discretion not to have him there," Mr. Giuliani said at the time.

These are impressive conservative credentials. And if social and religious conservatives fret about Mr. Giuliani's more liberal social views, nevertheless, in the general election such views might make this experience-tested conservative even more electable.

Mr. Malanga is a contributing editor of City Journal, in whose Winter issue this article appears.
Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.

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« Reply #49 on: March 04, 2007, 11:00:58 PM »

One day a fourth-grade teacher asked the children what their fathers did for a living. All the typical answers came up -- fireman, mechanic, businessman, salesman, doctor, lawyer, and so forth.
However, little Justin was being uncharacteristically quiet, so when the teacher prodded him about his father, he replied, "My father's an exotic dancer in a gay cabaret and takes off all his clothes in front of other men and they put money in his underwear.
Sometimes, if the offer is really good, he will go home with some guy and stay with him all night for money."
The teacher, obviously shaken by this statement, hurriedly set the other children to work on some exercises and then took little Justin aside to ask him, "Is that really true about your father?"
"No," the boy said, "He works for the Democratic National Committee and is helping to get Hillary Clinton to be our next President, but I was too embarrassed to say that in front of the other kids."
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