Friday, November 03, 2006

"How to build a nuke," courtesy of the congressional GOP

During the ’06 campaign, the third straight national security election in the aftermath of 9/11, the governing Republicans again have been advertising themselves as the people who can best keep Americans safe. This pitch worked in 2002 and 2004. The vote on Tuesday night will tell us whether it has worked again. All the late polls indicate, however, that the GOP is battling a strong headwind – and now these reports, circulated today, can’t possibly be helping.

It turns out that the congressional Republicans, still convinced that Saddam Hussein must have possessed weapons of mass destruction, and still looking for ways to justify their war authorization votes, recently set up a website that would supposedly demonstrate Hussein’s prewar lethality. Yet now it turns out that, in their eagerness to make their case, the Republicans have managed to post some pre-1991 Hussein documents that give our potential enemies all kinds of handy tips about how to build nuclear weaponry.

This little detail triggered alarm bells at the International Atomic Energy Agency (which says it was "shocked by the explicitness of the contents"), angered various diplomats and weapons experts - and now the press exposure has compelled our director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, to suddenly take down the entire website, pending the usual “review.” And no wonder: According to former White House chief of staff Andrew Card, it now turns out that Negroponte had warned some time ago that these documents were being posted “at some risk.”

The best way to really understand the political dimension of this incident is to simply imagine, purely as a hypothetical, that a Democratic president had taken us to war in Iraq by claiming that WMDs were being aimed at America; that we had then discovered that not only were there no WMDs being aimed at America, but that in fact they did not appear to exist; and that a Democratic Congress had then set up a website seeking to justify the decision – and, in the process, had wound up posting a nuclear tip sheet for the axis of evil.

Here’s how the Republicans would play that news in their TV campaign ad:

Grainy black & white images of terrorists, and a thrumming bass guitar chord.
“Our enemies are gathering. Just waiting for their moment to attack you and your children. Yet the liberal Democrat party in Congress has actually been helping them out, giving them aid and comfort and new ideas about how to hit us as we’ve never been hit before. On November 7, don’t reward the incumbent party of weakness. Vote Republican, because your life depends on it.”


Nevertheless, back here in real life, the incumbent GOP will still try this weekend to play the Hussein card. It did not escape notice, two weeks ago, that Iraqi justice officials had decided to postpone the court verdict against Hussein until Nov. 5, which, as the calendar demonstrates, falls on the final Sunday of the U.S. election season, 48 hours prior to voting. I will leave it to others to speculate, in the absence of a smoking gun, as to whether this decision was wholly a coincidence.

But even if the new date is a coincidence, there’s little doubt that the GOP will seek to invoke the verdict (presumably, guilty) as part of their final pitch for re-election – seeking, it would appear, to justify the Iraq war by demonstrating that Hussein has been found accountable in a court of justice. Whether this will be enough to mollify independent swing voters who have long rejected the war as a debacle, I can’t help but wonder. More likely, the White House will probably seek to invoke the verdict as part of their final push to motivate their conservative base.

Anyway, White House spokesman Tony Snow launched the effort last night on Fox News, with minimal prompting from the usual helpful host.

Q: “Is there November surprise coming out of Iraq? Will the Iraqi court find a guilty verdict for Saddam Hussein and a possible death sentence? Rumors are flying that it’s going to come down this Sunday, November 5th — which of course will dominate the political news cycle, in the last two days in the midterms. Tony, what can you tell us about this?”

SNOW: “Larry, that is when this verdict is scheduled to come down. I’m not going to tell you what it will be, because I don’t know. But you are absolutely right, it will be a factor.”

For the record, Snow also denied that the White House will invoke the Hussein verdict as a way to justify the war, because, as the White House sees it, there is no need to justify the war:

“What you now have is an Iraq where people are fighting and working actively to build a democracy where they don’t have to worry about that kind of reign of terror in the future. This (verdict) is a benchmark episode, where the Iraqi people are taking control of their own destiny and saying to the world, we are going to be free, trust us, watch us, help us and that is what the United States is doing and that’s what we are going to do. We are going to finish the job.”

The Fox News host, of course, failed to ask Snow whether the Iraqi people would be wise to worry about the ever-worsening current reign of terror.

In any event, not all imperiled Republican incumbents plan to invoke the Hussein verdict on their own behalf in the final days. Rather, many would seem to prefer to ignore the war altogether. As imperiled Ohio congresswoman Deborah Pryce said yesterday on CNN, “What’s happening in Iraq is not a direct reflection on me.”

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Forget what he says about foes, just watch where he goes

Even though the Republicans will argue, again today, that John Kerry’s joke-telling ineptitude is a momentous national issue, and even though they still officially exude optimism about holding both the House and Senate in Tuesday’s elections, it might be wise to remember the political adage that was well-coined four decades ago by Nixon attorney general John Mitchell:

“Watch what we do, not what we say.”

President Bush and his Republican strategists may be saying for public consumption that the ’06 elections look bullish for the GOP – indeed, Bush is saying that even the Iraq war looks bullish, given his claim last week that “absolutely, we are winning” – but we would all be well advised to look past the words, and assess what they are actually doing.

The best way to really gauge the Bush team’s thinking is simply to track the president’s physical movements along the campaign trail. Here is the Bush itinerary, a rundown of his stump appearances over a span of six days:

Two days ago, he was in Texas and Georgia.
Today, he is in Montana and Nevada.
Tomorrow, he is due in Missouri and Iowa.
Saturday, he is expected in Colorado.
Sunday, he is expected in Kansas.

Spot the pattern yet? Every single pit stop on the Bush tour is in a “red” state that voted for Bush in 2004. At every stop, either he will be defending Republican turf generally, or seeking to salvage the prospects of imperiled Republican incumbents.

For instance, in a normal political year, there would be absolutely no need for a Republican president to spend time, during the final week of a campaign, deep in the heart of his own home state. But because Tom DeLay got himself into criminal trouble and felt compelled to cough up his congressional seat, and because –amazingly enough – a Democrat (Nick Lampson) might actually win the seat down in Sugarland, Texas, the president from Texas felt compelled to stop there and try to put his proverbial finger in the dike.

Ditto Montana, today. Montana hasn’t voted Democratic in a presidential race in more than 40 years, yet Bush has to spend time there to shore up the endangered Republican senator Conrad Burns, a potential casualty of the Jack Abramoff scandal. Tomorrow, Bush will need to stop in Missouri, to shore up the endangered Republican senator Jim Talent, whom swing voters may judge to be on the wrong side of the stem cell issue.

And, in perhaps the most vivid demonstration of the GOP’s dire straits, plans are afoot to dispatch Bush to Kansas, to spend the final Sunday of the campaign helping to shore up a five-term Republican congressman, Jim Ryun, who is locked in a tight race with a Democratic challenger whom Ryan handily defeated two years ago.

Kansas is a deeply red state where Democrats virtually never win federal elections. So what has changed since 2004? GOP Kansas Senator Sam Brownback offered his diagnosis the other day: “I think what you're seeing is a lot of watching and concern about the war in Iraq. Without that, I don't think that this election cycle is what it is.”

So while the Bush team can talk all it wants about election day optimism, it is not acting optimistic. In the field, it is playing defense. Bush is not spending time invading the opposition’s turf, or traveling to traditionally Republican-leaning congressional districts, such as the suburbs of Philadelphia (where the GOP candidates don't want him around anyway). Rather, all his final week actions signal that the Bush team is back on its heels, preoccupied mostly with staving off disaster.

In other words, it’s likely that their internal polling numbers mirror the latest non-partisan polling stats. The respected Washington analyst Charlie Cook, looking at his own latest figures, stated flatly yesterday that, in the House, “it would take a miracle for the GOP to hold onto their majority.” He also says, with regards to the Senate, “the best case scenario” is that the Republicans will barely hold onto the chamber.

Bush is also spending all his time in red states because the religious conservative base is still deemed to be insufficiently motivated. The latest CBS-New York Times poll, released this morning, has one eye-opening stat: self-described evangelicals, when asked whether they favor a Democratic or Republican congressional candidate, opt for the Democrat by 42 to 41 percent. This may help explain why the GOP and its conservative allies are working so hard to keep the Kerry gaffe alive.

So watch that Bush itinerary. If the president suddenly scraps his weekend schedule and flies into blue states, you can bet that the national mood, as reflected in the internal polling numbers, has shifted in some dramatic fashion. But if, for most voters (particularly independents, who at last check still see this election as a referendum on Bush’s war stewardship), this election ultimately is viewed as a choice between a failed ’04 candidate who can’t tell a joke, and an ’06 commander-in-chief who can’t run a war, then odds are the Democrats still have a fighting chance next Tuesday.


Here's a new report that takes note of the defensive Bush itinerary - and cites some red destinations that had escaped my notice: Florida, Arkansas, and Nebraska.

So I just took a look at Nebraska...and it makes the case all by itself. The 3rd congressional district hasn't elected a Democrat since the era of black & white TV - 46 years, to be exact. The district's voters, two years ago, favored Bush over John Kerry by more than 50 percentage points. The district's registered Republicans outnumber their Democratic counterparts by a margin of 2-1. The big newspaper in Lincoln calls the 3rd "the reddest congressional district in a crimson state."

And yet even here, late polling reportedly shows that the GOP is being pushed hard. It appears that Democratic candidate Scott Kleeb (a rancher by trade, the kind of background much prized in red states by Democratic candidate recruiters) really has a shot at winning. Certainly the Republican National Committee agrees, because it's dumping a ton of TV advertising money on a place that should never need to see an RNC ad. And the Bush team knows the score as well, or else Bush wouldn't be compelled to cool his heels on crimson turf with the clock running out.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A beleaguered Republican party says, "Thank you, John Kerry"

Ever since the winnable 2004 election, most Democrats have been fervently hoping that John Kerry would just give it up and go away, after permanently stowing his White House fantasies inside Al Gore’s lockbox.

Instead, he has stuck around, emailing news of his every move to activists and journalists nationwide, seemingly on a thrice-daily basis, in an effort to prove that if given another chance, he would be a much better candidate – that is to say, at the very least, a more verbally nimble candidate.

But it’s not so easy for an old pol to teach himself new tricks, and that brings us to yesterday’s incident, in which John Kerry put himself in a beribboned gift box and mailed himself to Karl Rove.

The gift card read, “Don't despair. I’m your October surprise.”

It’s highly debatable, of course, that Kerry’s latest characteristic outbreak of foot-in-mouth disease will be enough to reverse the meta-narrative of the ’06 election season – i.e., that the congressional races are a virtual referendum on President Bush and his demonstrably failed stewardship of the Iraq war – but his self-confessed “botched” joke about Bush and the troops has infuriated fatalistic Democrats everywhere. The reasons are clear: By making it appear that he was belittling the soldiers (which he did not intend to do), he gave the GOP a short-hand headline (to wit: "Kerry attacks U.S. troops").

The Republicans have spent weeks playing defense, flailing wildly and unsuccessfully at whatever scary enemy they could concoct: Osama bin Laden, Nancy Pelosi, John Conyers. But now the ’04 presidential nominee has come along, offering himself up as punching bag, as a reminder of everything that swing voters may not have liked about Democrats two years ago, and, sure enough, the GOP message machine (as evidenced by the umpteen emails that have landed in my box over the past 16 hours) has been only too happy to comply by taking the offensive.

In a moment captured on YouTube (further proof that no politician can afford to err in this era), here’s what Kerry said yesterday, at Pasadena City College: “You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.”

Rove could not have written it better, because, in their view, it underscores their longstanding caricature of the Democratic party. They are now citing that sentence as further proof that Democrats are condescending elitists who malign our fighting men and women as people who don’t study hard, don’t do their homework, and are not smart. They can invoke that sentence to say that ’04 Democratic standard-bearer is branding the troops are losers who are fighting in Iraq only because they can’t cut it in civilian society.

Apparently, what Kerry meant to say was this joke aimed at Bush: “Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush.”

One can plausibly argue, of course, that the GOP has a lot of gall to exploit Kerry’s botched sentence, given the fact that it’s the Bush White House and the Bush Pentagon that sent those troops into Iraq without sufficient body armor and without a rational postwar plan to secure the peace. Democrats can certainly contend – as they have been doing – that the congressional Republicans, by failing to hold this administration accountable, are the people who have truly been most disrespectful to the fighting men and women.

And perhaps that argument will still hold sway with the majority of voters next Tuesday. But, for the moment, what we have instead is the familiar spectacle of John Kerry trying to set things right and explain what he really meant to say – thereby taking up valuable air time and press coverage that might otherwise be focused on the GOP’s political woes.

Here he was this morning, looking for some kind of verbal exit strategy, on Don Imus’ radio show: “Look, everybody knows I botched a joke. It's not the first time anybody's done that, Don. Am I right?...I left out one word. I left out the word ‘us.’ ‘They got US stuck.’ Instead of that, I said, ‘They got stuck,’ and (the Republicans) are taking advantage of it…I said it was a botched joke. Of course, I'm sorry about a botched joke. You think I love botched jokes? I mean, it's pretty stupid…But you know what would screw it up is if we shift off the topic of Iraq. Iraq is what this is about. They know it. They're trying to change the topic. They want the topic to be about what they know was a small gaffe. Incidentally, how many times has the president made some kind of a gaff of one kind or another...”

The problem for Democrats is obvious: On a day when the news out of Iraq, is that Bush’s own military hierarchy views his "freedom agenda" as more imperiled by chaos and potential civil war than ever before – news that the Democrats might wish to see emphasized, as part of their ongoing bid to make the ’06 elections a referendum on the president – John Kerry is out in front, dominating the discourse, seeking once again to explain himself, this time by chasing after the elusive word us.

Some Democrats have already felt the need to distance themselves from Kerry (Nebraska Democratic candidate Scott Kleeb calls his remarks “disgraceful and insulting”), and Kerry himself has staged a retreat from the battle by canceling a scheduled appearance tonight in Philadelphia, apparently deciding that he didn’t want to put Democratic senatorial candidate Bob Casey Jr. on the spot.

And late this afternoon, he followed up his apology on the Imus show with a more abject apology: "As a combat veteran, I want to make it clear to anyone in uniform and to their loved ones: my poorly stated joke at a rally was not about, and never intended to refer to any troop.
I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended."

Yet, even in that statement, he felt compelled to try to give himself some wiggle room, with his claim that his words were "misinterpreted." Uh, no. The words were interpreted correctly; he's the one who spoke them incorrectly.

One exasperated Democrat, a top fund-raising guy, said to me privately today that Kerry "should be sidelined. The Democrats have a great opportunity (next week), and they do not need to have it squandered by his mistakes."

In other words, at this point, what most Democrats nationwide would probably like to hear Kerry say is this:

“Despite all my careful planning, I have decided not to seek the 2008 presidential nomination. I was for it, before I was against it.”


On the flip side, a case can certainly be made that the Kerry flap is trivial, when compared with the troublesome facts on the ground in Iraq. One political veteran, coming to Kerry's defense last night on MSNBC's Hardball:

"What people care about in Iraq is not what John Kerry -- John Kerry lost a presidential election. The American public's already made that decision. What they care about is what's going on there and how we're going to deal with the situation, not some misspoken statement about whether or he thought the troops were ignorant or not, which I don't think, in any way, you could say he thought that. He misspoke."

Clearly that must have been some left-wing partisan armed with Democratic talking points, yes?

Well, no. That was former Bush pollster Matthew Dowd, one of the prime architects of the president's 2004 re-election victory.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Bush-Cheney contradiction, and the Duncan Hunter juggernaut

It’s a busy day, compounded by travel, so I’ll be brief:

In furtherance of his ’06 campaign message (which is essentially, “If you vote for Democrats, you are aiding the terrorists”), Vice President Cheney yesterday told Fox News that a Democratic Congress is precisely what are enemies are yearning for.

Cheney’s host, Neil Cavuto tossed the requisite friendly softball: “Do you suspect that these insurgent attacks (in Iraq) are timed to influence our midterm elections?”

And Cheney replied: “That’s my belief. I think they are, very, very cognizant of our schedule, if you will.”

One would not expect Cavuto to follow up by pointing out that Cheney’s “belief” appears to be groundless – because President Bush himself has already said so. Cavuto, of course, didn’t follow up, so let’s do it here:

Nine days ago, Bush was questioned by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. The host, citing the increasing violence that was making October one of the deadliest months of the war, asked Bush whether the Iraqi fighters were “trying to influence the elections” in America.

Bush’s reply: “I don’t know. I haven’t -- I don’t have any intelligence that says that.”

And Bush was right; there is no such intelligence. Military officials in Baghdad have acknowledged this. The violence has indeed increased during October, but it just so happens the ‘06 elections roughly coincide with Ramadan, Islam's holy month – a time frame when the level of violence has increased in Iraq during each of the past three years.

Michael O’Hanlon, an Iraq expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, who has been tracking the violence since the war began, tells UPI that he sees no correlation between the current bloodshed and the ’06 domestic political calendar:

“I see no basis for it in the previous three-and-a-half years of experience in Iraq. We did not see a spike before the November 2004 (presidential) election. We have not seen big spikes before other major political milestones. Sure, you can see slight increases in violence due to such things, but the big increases are generally due to changed American and Iraqi army tactics. Increased engagements with the enemy lead to greater casualties on all sides. Political events do not in my experience appear to be big drivers. I'd love to be proven wrong this time, because that would imply a reduced level of violence after Nov. 7, but I'd be very surprised if that happened on a major scale.”

But don’t expect Cheney to abandon his message that the terrorists are killing people in order to help the Democrats, just because Bush contradicted him. With the election drawing near, and with the GOP in the unusual position of underdog, empirical facts take a back seat to message. And that’s where Bush and Cheney are in sync. As the president declared yesterday in Texas, if the Democrats get their way, “The terrorists win and America loses.”


All aboard the Duncan Hunter bandwagon.

Hunter, a California Republican congressman from San Diego, announced yesterday that he is going to seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. You may well be asking, who? And, what’s that all about?

A few thoughts:

This announcement is a sign of GOP weakness, an admission that Republicans are truly worried about coughing up House control to the Democrats in the elections next Tuesday. Hunter is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. If the Democrats take the House, it means that Hunter loses is chair and is relegated to the minority - and, as a longstanding congressman, he well remembers that it’s no fun to be a clout-free member of the minority. As chairman, Hunter often gets booked on CNN and the various Sunday shows. If he’s just the ranking minority Armed Services guy, he can kiss those national bookings goodbye. However, as a prospective presidential candidate, he can sustain some national visibility, and tour the land giving speeches to the GOP faithful.

Which prompts my second thought:

If the Democrats win big next Tuesday, there will be considerable infighting within GOP ranks among those who seek to redefine a winning conservatism. Hunter may sense that he can fill a niche, as a Republican who is actually to the right of many prospective presidential candidates. As a staunch Iraq war supporter and a backer of the Bush White House policies on torture, Hunter has been to the right of John McCain; for instance, he opposed McCain’s (largely futile) attempts to defy the White House’s hardline stance on torture.

There are lots of conservatives in the GOP camp who don’t trust McCain, the purported ’08 frontrunner. Hunter’s presence in the early ’08 jockeying may say less about Hunter himself than about the intense conservative intramurals that may commence within days of a (potential) ’06 election debacle.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bimbos and strippers and bears, oh my

Keeping score on the hardball competition for the U.S. Senate:

As I mentioned last week, the Republican National Committee has been financing a Tennessee TV ad which resurrects the Old South racist fears about miscegenation. The ad suggested that black Democratic senatorial candidate Harold Ford Jr. – who is currently locked in a tight and pivotal race with his GOP opponent - might be tempted to enjoy the sexual favors of white women, thanks to the bare-shouldered model/bimbo who coos into the camera, “Harold! Call me!”

Yesterday, on CBS’ Face the Nation, Republican chairman Ken Mehlman staged an elaborate verbal dance, in his trademark rapid-fire delivery: Yes, he paid for the ad, and, yes, it did say on the air that his committee was responsible for the contents of the ad, but, under federal law as written, he actually had no say over the ad contents because the ad was independently produced, yet despite all that, “I didn’t think it was necessarily a racist ad,” and yet despite the fact that he semi-denies that the ad was racist, “I would not have put the ad up” in the first place.

Got all that?

He’s technically right about the campaign finance laws, which limit how much the national parties can directly spend on individual campaigns – but which permit the parties to spend with unfettered abandon if they set up “independent” committees that operate without any oversight from the party overlords.

But here’s the key point: Mehlman hired the person who in turn hired the person who produced the “independent” Tennessee ad. So even though Mehlman may have been officially in the dark about this specific ad, it strains credulity to believe that he didn’t know what kind of ad his “independent” ad producer would create. Especially since this ad producer would not have been hired in the first place, to act “independently” and provide Mehlman with official deniability, unless he had been sanctioned by top GOP officials.

Or perhaps it’s a total coincidence that the ad producer, Scott Howell, turns out to be a longstanding associate of Karl Rove’s, going way back to the latter’s days as a direct-mail specialist in Texas; and that Howell was one of the producers who in 2002 helped defeat Georgia Democratic Sen. Max Cleland by crafting a TV ad which charged that the triple-amputee Vietnam vet was weak on Osama bin Laden (whose face appeared in the ad).

And perhaps Mehlman would be totally stunned to discover that Howell had been hired for the Tennessee job by Terry Nelson, who in turn had been hired by Mehlman to run the “independent” GOP operations. Perhaps Mehlman had no inkling of Nelson’s own track record, which includes ties to Chris LaCivita, the GOP consultant who helped the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth map their ’04 attacks on John Kerry.

In other words, perhaps Mehlman was truly shocked, shocked at the contents of the “Harold, call me” commercial.

Or perhaps, on this point, he is no different than the Claude Rains character who tut-tutted gambling in Casablanca, then pocketed his winnings.


Tuning to Fox News Sunday, meanwhile, I was curious to see whether it would further the story which broke last Friday, concerning some smutty novelistic passages that were written years ago by James Webb, the Virginia Democrat and best-selling novelist who is locked in a tight Senate race with incumbent Republican George Allen.

But Fox News said nary a word, a testament to the story's debateable news value.

Allen partisans have been trying to push this charge for weeks, the idea that what Webb made up 15 or 20 years ago should be deemed at least as important as what Allen said in real life on the campaign trail this year (using a racial slur to describe a Virginia-born Indian-American). The Drudge Report finally took the bait late last week, and I even received a grand total of two emails urging me to get with the program.

In a way, it’s ironic that Allen partisans see the Webb excerpts as a disqualifier for the Senate (actually, they wouldn’t be complaining about the Webb passages at all if Allen was cruising to victory, as originally expected), because Webb the novelist has seemed mainly interested in defending military culture against what he views as weak-kneed antiwar liberals back home. Somehow the Allen partisans overlook this.

It’s undeniable that Webb has written some gamy passages – for instance, about female strippers in Thailand using fruit as accessories, and about a Southeast Asian man who hoists his four-year-old son and puts the boy’s penis in his mouth – but, as a novelist, his overall intent has been to vividly depict the stresses and strains on U.S. fighting men, along with the usual episodes of decadence and deprivation. His efforts have prompted raves from all kinds of reviewers. Here’s praise, for instance, for the book that included the father-and-son scene:

“James Webb’s new novel paints a portrait of a modern Vietnam charged with hopes for the future but haunted by the ghosts of its war-torn past. It captures well the lingering scars of the war, and exposes the tension between the dynamism of a new generation and the invisible bondage of an older generation for whom wartime allegiances, and animosities, are rendered no less vivid by the passage of time. A novel of revenge and redemption that tells us much about both where Vietnam is headed and where it has been.”

The reviewer was John McCain.

The idea that a candidate should be judged on what he makes up in the fiction realm seems a tad dubious…but I’ll just quote this guy: “I don't think that works of fiction, especially scenes taken out of context, give any enlightenment to the policy position of the candidates. I've written fiction, and plan to do so again in the future. If I depict a brutal murder, does that make me a potential murderer? If I write about a rape, does that make me a potential rapist? I think not, and the notion that this is in any way relevant to the policies of import to Virginians insults the voters both candidates want to convince to support them.”

That’s the guy at Captain’s Quarters, a conservative blog that supports George Allen.

I could also spend time quoting from novels penned by indicted Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby (who wrote a scene that described children being placed in a cage with a bear, for sexual purposes), and by Cheney’s spouse Lynne (who wrote some lesbian scenes), to make the point that this is what novelists, of all political persuasions, sometimes do…but I’ll just quote this commentator: “Are the (Webb) passages…bizarre and perverted? Yes. But they are no more proof of Webb's immorality and unfitness for office than the passages in ‘Sisters’ are proof that Lynne Cheney hates men, or that the passages in ‘The Apprentice’ are proof that Scooter Libby endorses sex between children and bears.”

That’s blogger and columnist Michelle Malkin, the scourge of Democrats.

I guess it’s a good thing that Philip Roth never ran for the Senate in New Jersey.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Programming announcement

A TV tip:

Early this evening (check your local listings), ABC World News Sunday is slated to air a segment on the Democrats' chronic inability to come up with an Iraq agenda. I was interviewed for the segment - the network contacted me after I wrote this column - and they told me today that I will appear. Obviously, I am curious to see what sound bite they pluck from my lips, and what they leave on the cutting-room floor...but, more importantly for you viewers, reporter Jake Tapper will probably examine some of the key questions of the '06 campaign:

Does it matter that the Democrats don't have an affirmative agenda for Iraq? Can they win simply by saying "we're not Bush"? Or do they owe the voters more than that?