Thursday, August 12, 2004

Latest Gallup

Kerry Spot at NRO has the most recent Gallup poll numbers. If they're accurate they aren't good news for the Kerry campaign. They show Bush moving ahead 50 - 47 among likely voters.

Bush has several tactical advantages going into the next several months and one possible pitfall (at least the Dems will see it that way. It's not clear that it really is a pitfall). Bush has the release of the book Unfit For Command coming up next week, he has the convention in about two weeks from which he will probably derive a modest boost, and he has a lot of ad material on Kerry that makes Kerry look very indecisive, even silly. If Bush does reasonably well in the debates he'll be holding all the cards. Kerry has no ammo left to shoot. He'll be on the defensive about his military fictions for the next month or so and will find it hard to regain the offensive momentum that he had coming out of his convention.

If Iraq continues to move toward stability and democracy, if oil prices moderate, and if there is no national emergency, three big but not improbable "ifs", Kerry will be bereft of a major issue.

His only hope for persuading the electorate to switch horses is a big win in the debates. He shouldn't be over-confident, however. Gore and his supporters thought he would wipe the floor with Bush in the 2000 debates, but it didn't work out that way. Bush has been fortunate in his opponents who seem almost psychologically unable to resist the temptation to "misunderestimate" him.

Paging Howard Dean

For many Democrats, the whole point of wedding themselves to John Kerry was the chance to oust the hated George Bush from the Oval Office, and the main reason for wanting Bush ousted, ostensibly, was the Iraq war. For these left/liberals Howard Dean was their first love, but they realized that Dean was too volatile to be elected so they abandoned Dean to elope with Kerry.

Kerry wooed these starry-eyed lovers away from the hapless governor of Vermont by whispering into their ears that enticing sweet talk about Bush lying to us about WMD and leading us into an elective, unnecessary war in Iraq. Kerry seduced them by fueling their anti-Bush hysteria with all the right words and consummated the seduction at Boston.

Now the Democrats find themselves in an awful state. They have yielded themselves to Kerry only to wake up Tuesday morning to find that, on the most critical issue of the election, he has chosen to sidle up so close to the devil himself that his position is now indistinguishable from what Bush has been saying all along.

The sense of betrayal, one would think, must be surging through the Democrat rank and file like a stadium wave. Yet, if there is outrage out there, it's pretty hard to find. William F.Buckley writes about this in a column here. Buckley says:

The statement made on Monday by John Kerry is the climactic event in this matter. Sen. Kerry said that notwithstanding all that is known now, whatever have been the developments in the past year, if he had it to do again, he'd vote as he did: in favor of giving the president the power he requested, before going on to wage war in Iraq.

Buckley is emphasizing here an incredible admission by the Massachussetts senator. Kerry is evidently acknowledging that war with Iraq was justified even if there were no WMD there. His objections to what Bush did turn out to be little more than procedural quibbles. This must be causing rank and file Bush-haters to break out in hives. They hate Bush because of Iraq, and Kerry is telling them that he would vote to authorize war with Iraq again even if he knew Saddam had no WMD!

Perhaps equally as maddening for Democrats, one must assume, is what Kerry said about how long troops should remain in Iraq. Buckley writes:

[H]ere is how Kerry put it: "I believe if you do the kind of alliance-building that is available to us, that it is appropriate to have a goal of reducing our troops over that period of time. Obviously we have to see how events unfold." Indeed. How events unfold. What events?

Here is where Kerry underwrote the Iraq venture in terms extraordinarily comprehensive. "The measurement has to be, as I've said all along, the stability of Iraq, the ability to have the elections, and the training and transformation of the Iraqi security force itself." Get from your paper supplier the thinnest sheet in the inventory, and you won't succeed in wedging it between the Republican and the Democratic position on the nature of our strategic objectives in Iraq.

Liberals who were ecstatic about Kerry at the convention in Boston have no one to blame but themselves. They should have known that when a flip-flopper flips you never know which side he'll wind up on, and he definitely won't respect you in the morning.

Coulter and Old Faithful

Ann Coulter has a great column on the Swift Boat veteran controversy. Here are just a few of the highlights:

With the media playing their usual role as Truth Commissar for the now-dead Soviet Union, the Swiftees are having to purchase ad time in order to be heard. No Tim Russert interviews, no "Today" show appearances, no New York Times editorials or Vanity Fair hagiographies for these heretics against the liberal religion. The only way Swift Boat Veterans for Truth could get less attention would be to go on "Air America" radio.

If the 254 veterans against Kerry got one-tenth as much media coverage for calling Kerry a liar as Clown Joe Wilson did for calling Bush a liar, the veterans wouldn't need to buy ad time to get their message out. (Wilson, you'll recall, was a media darling for six or seven months before being exposed as a fantasist by Senate investigators.)

With their commitment to free speech and a robust exchange of ideas (i.e., "child pornography" and "sedition"), the Democratic National Committee is threatening to sue TV stations that run the Swift Boat Veterans' paid ads. Sue? Can you tell already that there are two lawyers at the top of the Democratic ticket? These are the same people who accuse John Ashcroft of shredding the Bill of Rights.

Ron Brownstein, Los Angeles Times reporter and Bill Clinton's favorite reporter, compared the Swift Boat Veterans' ad to a "snuff film." He claimed the veterans have "strong Republican ties." Apparently, before being permitted to engage in free speech against Democrats in this country you have to: (1) prove that you are not a Republican, (2) take a vow of poverty, and (3) purchase the right to speak in a TV ad. On the basis of Clown Wilson, Michael Moore, George Soros,, etc., etc., etc., I gather the requirements for engaging in free speech against a Republican are somewhat less rigorous. Hey! Maybe John Edwards is right: There really are two Americas!

O'Neill, the author of "Unfit for Command" and founder of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, can be heard on the Nixon tapes - unaware that he was being taped - telling Nixon that he came from a family of Democrats and voted for Hubert Humphrey in the prior election. Unlike Joe Wilson, Anita Hill or Richard Clarke, Woodward and Bernstein, et al., O'Neill has said he will take no royalties on his book but will donate all his profits to the Navy.

For a rather dramatic illustration of the power of the Swift Boat veterans' testimony go here.

As Coulter says the major media have pretty much ignored this issue so far, but they won't be able to ignore it much longer. Like a subterranean geyser, it's quickly reaching the point in the blogosphere and the conservative media where its temperature and pressure are about to reach critical levels. How will Kerry handle this story when the geyser erupts? Up to this point their response has been to try intimidation through lawsuit and character assassination.

Eventually, however, they'll have to respond to the charges themselves. If they can't, the danger for the Kerry campaign is, as Viewpoint has argued before, that a lot of the people who would otherwise vote for Kerry, but who don't particularly despise Bush, will be disillusioned and either switch to Nader or sit it out.