Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Twenty Paces, Pistols Drawn

Senator Zel Miller's speech at last night's Republican convention was truly astonishing. A Democrat disgusted with the ideology of the leadership of his party, he has come out in full support of President Bush. He delivered a blistering keynote address at the convention and scalded the Democrat leadership in general, and Senator Kerry in particular with heavy doses of white-hot political rhetoric . How much damage he did to Kerry is impossible to tell at this point, although I suspect that it was not insignificant. Perhaps a more pressing question is how much damage the Georgia senator did to himself. His career in the Senate is coming to a close because he's retiring so his political future is not at issue, but he doubtless made some very serious personal enemies tonight. Maybe the Senator should stay away from Fort Marcey Park for a while.

If you watched the MSNBC Hardball segment after Vice-president Cheney's speech you received a rare treat. Chris Matthews had Senator Miller on and was peppering him with questions about his extraordinary speech earlier in the evening. As he often does with guests, Matthews would ask Miller a question and then interrupt him as he tried to answer. Miller finally got visibly angry with this rudeness and told Matthews that he didn't know why he was submitting to the interview. He also informed the startled host that he wouldn't be bullied like the "young lady" (Michelle Malkin) Matthews had on last week whom he also wouldn't allow speak. Then in frustration the fiery ex-Marine proclaimed that he wished he was in the studio with Matthews and that these were the old days so that he could face him in a duel!

It's not clear that Matthews understood what Miller was saying, but he could tell that Miller was angry with him and he grew considerably more subdued and deferential. He realized that Miller wasn't going to be pushed around like many of his other guests. It's one thing, after all, to browbeat demure young women, it's something else to take on a crusty ex-Marine from Georgia. It was surely one of the most fascinating and entertaining exchanges in the history of cable news television.

The last duel fought by a major political figure was, I think, fought by Andrew Jackson. Maybe Viewpoint should start a movement to get Zell Miller's face on the $20 bill.

Speaking of Hardball and shows like it, one gets the feeling watching and listening to the pundits who tend to lean toward Kerry that a certain fatalism is setting in. It's as if they know in their hearts that they have a deeply flawed candidate and they realize that his flaws will only receive increasing exposure as the campaign wears on. There was not much of a rebuttal to Miller's vigorous criticism of Kerry tonight, as if even the Kerry troopers in the media knew that Miller's indictment was too obviously true. Matthews tried to discredit some of Miller's allegations until he got all but challenged to a fight, much to the delight of the panelists in the studio, but the other lefties on cable had little to say by way of substantive criticism of Miller's performance.

We don't want to make too much of this, but it does seem as if some of these pundits are perhaps beginning to show signs of resigning themselves to four more years of a Bush presidency.

Holy Litigation, Batman!

Senator Edwards, who is playing Robin to John Kerry's Batman this electoral season, is a congressional non-entity who nevertheless has made a fortune extorting vast sums of money from hapless medical practitioners and insurance companies. He has, hearsay has it, almost single-handedly driven ob-gyn practitioners out of the state of North Carolina.

Jean Pearce lays out the history of this man who would, if elected, be a heartbeat from the presidency, and the picture she paints for us is deeply disturbing. Here are some excerpts:

The real story of Edwards' short political career is one of hypocrisy, cheap rip-offs, flip-flops and boneheaded moves. But in the media's version of the story, Edwards is the political prodigy who is going get John Kerry elected president, forgetting that had Kerry not picked him as his running mate last month, the tattered thread by which Edwards' political career had long been hanging would have snapped.

Much of Edwards' career has been based on bashing President George Bush for things that he himself voted for and advocated. Edwards voted for the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, and then spent the next three years bashing Bush for the law.

"This 'No Child Left Behind'? This President is leaving millions of kids behind every single day," Edwards said at the Baltimore debate in 2003.

Like Kerry, Edwards came out against the war in Iraq after he had voted for it. But Edwards took it a step further. In the fall of 2002, Edwards was one of the most vocal members of Congress on the need to remove Saddam Hussein. In the hours after Bush's famous speech before the U.N., Edwards gave an impassioned oration on the Senate floor, demanding the president take unilateral military action to remove Hussein from power.

Then, just three weeks later, after voting to authorize the war, Edwards trashed Bush for taking unilateral military action in Iraq, referring to Bush's actions in a CBS interview as "gratuitous unilateralism, a determination to act alone for the sake of acting alone."

Edwards voted in 2001 to kill an amendment that would ensure that patients receive the majority of benefits from any new lawsuit allowed in the McCain-Kennedy-Edwards "Patient's Bill of Rights." He also led the fight against a liability exemption for doctors providing pro-bono services and helped kill medical malpractice reform in 2002 and 2003 that would have saved the federal government at least $6 billion in healthcare costs.

Edwards' campaign against the interests of the "little guy" didn't stop there. He also voted to kill a bill in committee that ensured that class action members receive the majority of the benefits of settlements instead of personal injury lawyers. Moreover, in 1999, he voted against a bill to limit lawsuits and damages from potential Y2K computer failures.

Edwards was also the only Democrat missing from debates on asbestos litigation reform. Perhaps that's because the co-finance chairman of Edwards' campaign was Fred Baron, who pioneered the practice of suing companies on behalf of supposed asbestos victims that resulted in the bankruptcy of 67 companies, $57 billion in economic losses and the loss of 60,000 jobs.

There's much more in Pearce's article to give us pause about this candidate. He strikes us as the sort of man that should be treated like a pariah rather than a messiah, but for reasons that Viewpoint finds excruciatingly perverse, millions of Americans will nevertheless vote for him.

It'll be interesting to see how much of Edwards' Senate record and professional history as a legal shake-down artist comes out in the vice-presidential debates. The elite media certainly can't be expected to trouble themselves to inform us about it. They'll be too busy trying to prove the really important stuff like that Bush did too say that we can't win the war on terror and searching under every rock to show some tenuous connection between Bush and the Swiftees. No wonder they're becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Meanwhile Viewpoint will be spending the evening reassessing the confidence we had placed in John O'Neill's judgment and integrity. O'Neill, the reader will recall, is the author of the Kerry expose Unfit For Command. There's nothing in the book which calls O'Neill's judgment into question, but he did make the statement a couple of weeks ago, while trying to explain that he was not working on behalf of Bush or the Republicans, that he would have indeed voted for John Edwards for president had he won his party's nomination.

We're flabbergasted.

Another New Blog

Here's another new blog that's just starting up. It's being managed by a couple of former students of mine, and I'll let them tell about it in their own words:

Dear Cleary Brothers,

After reading your weblog and linking it to my good friend D.W., both he and I were inspired by your commitment to providing a forum for expressing opinion. We decided to enter into a joint venture for our own weblog with commentary on culture, arts, and politics. While we can never pretend to have our site anywhere near the quality of yours, we're still quite proud of the work we've completed so far.

Our first article is up. The article process for our blog is unique. One of us drafts an article. It is then revised to include the voice of the other author. After two more revisions, the article is ready for publication.

Later this week we'll introduce our first political opinion, expressing our views on how the Republican Convention played out.

Hopefully you can take a look at our blog and find something to enjoy in it, much like we've found inspiration in your blog. Plus, a little publicity on your high-traffic site just might get us up and running a little faster!



Pay them a visit and wish them luck.