Posts from September 8, 2004

Live by the mud, die by the mud

Live by the mud, die by the mud

: I’ll say it once again: The Bush National Guard flap and the Kerry Swiftie flap are both nonstories, just negative campaigning, just mudslinging, just distractions from what really matters. But the Bush side should not be surprised at all the renewed attention to his military history now (see 60 Minutes and the Boston Globe).

What a friggin’ newsflash: Politicians stretch the truth!

Stop the friggin’ presses.

Can we move on now?

See the post below from The Week’s event: Gallup finds that we the people say candidates and media (and bloggers, by extension) are not discussing the economy, health care, and jobs enough.

We don’t want more mud.

Something else to look forward to

Something else to look forward to

: Scientists say 9/11 cancers may take years to emerge.

Who will be President

Who will be President

: I’m at The Week’s panel with Mario Cuomo, Dick Morris, Joe Trippi, and Frank Newport of Gallup, I’ll liveblog. So I’m not packaging this. React to the quotes as you may. I make no warranty on their value. Mine away.

Newport: “Where we are now is George Bush is ahead of Kerry.” He says Bush is ahead among likelies by 7 points. Morris says the gap is larger. “Bush is substantially ahead at this point. ” Harry evans asks Cuomo whether he accepts that: “Yeah, I accept them with ease because I don’t think mean an awful lot.”

Cuomo: “The difference between the two conventions is that the Republicans did it better than the Democrats.” But he says the impact is temporary.

Trippi on polls: “I believe this one…. The Kerry campaign has two gears: Coast and fight. They really coasted in August. But I’ve seen them when they fight.”

Evans asks whether Superman will take his vest off. Trippi: “I saw Superman take his vest off in Iowa… I would never underestimate them.”

Evans asks whether the lesson of this campaign over others is that negative campaigning works.

Morris makes an aside to praise Trippi, who singlehanded “accomplished campaign finance reform in this country.”

Morris then launches into a spiel to say it’s not a campaign between men or parties but between two issues: terror or domestic policy. “The real race boils down to whether we want a wartime or a peacetime president.”

He says that the rest of the Democratic convention set domestic as the agenda and “Kerry like an idiot’ brought it back to Bush’s issue, terror. Cuomo disagrees and says that “Kerry did not talk about terror enough…. This is a war on terrorism and the President is doing everything wrong…. He does not have a plan for terrorism.”

Evans asks Trippi what he would advise Kerry: “Oh, I think he should take a hammer to these guys.”

The Gallup guy says that a poll this weekend asked what issues aren’t being talked about. The economy. Health care. Jobs. That’s what the voters said. Iraq was way down the list.

Evans asks why the Democrats keep tripping over each other. Morris says it’s because the Democrats don’t agree with each other. “The problem Kerry has is that he cannot open his mouth on these (terror) issues, he alienates half his voters.”

Trippi accepts credit, oddly, for splitting those Democrats by pushing the antiwar agenda.

Morris, disagreeing with Cuomo, says the more the Democrats talk terrorism — “Bush issues” — the more they hurt themselves; they should be talking about domestic issues because “those are the issues Kerry leads on.”

Evans asks how many people in the room think Kerry should concentrate on terrorism now. Only a half dozen out of a few hundred raise their hands.

Morris says that Bush will stick with one issue in all the debates: terror in foreign policy, homeland security in the domestic debate.

Pathetic Nader guy now gets microphone. “America is about jobs and computerization takes away jobs,” he says. What, Nader is becoming the Stone Age candidate: Vote Flinstone?

Russell Simmons is on the phone to talk get-out-the-vote. He says “the number one concern of these people is the war on poverty and ignorance.” Oh, that war.

The Gallup guy debunks what they call “the Michael Moore hypothesis… It’s an urban myth that somehow if you bring young people into the voting stream, they’re going to vote one-for-one for Kerry.” He says young people are split, too.

Holly Hunter stands up. I love that accent. “I’m here just to talk a little about People for the American Way” and avoid the problems with disenfranchisement in the last election and educate voters on their rights. Is it wrong for me to also notice how athletic she looks? Well, if it is, ignore that.

Cuomo emphasizes the issue of Supreme Court appointment. Morris asks why Cuomo didn’t say yes to Clinton’s nomination to the Court. Cuomo says Ginsberg was better than he would be.

It’s getting duller. Amazin g how even this election can get dull.

Trippi says “I really believe there’s a pretty good chance that Kerry is going to win the popular vote by an even bigger margin than Gore did in the end” while it’s still likely that Bush will win the electoral vote.

Morris theorizes that this could be in part because, following Clinton’s lead, campaigns run commercials only in swing states.

Now Michael Dukakis is on the phone. Of course, Evans asks about negative campaigning. “I did a terrible job of dealing with it,” Dukakis concedes. He says no one believes the “independent’ committee is independent and “on the whole Kerry has done a pretty good job of dealing with that…. At least Willie Horton happened. I had to deal with this story that I’d had a nervous breakdown…” That is, with lies “you find your campaign stopped.” He said the press would not touch the story until “the incumbent president called me ‘the invalid’ and then it was in play.”

Mario speaks. Dukakis interrupts: “You gave me lousy advice, remember? You said don’t pay any attention” to the attacks…. “At least at the time it happens, you gotta deal with it.”

Evans asks whether Cuomo was tempted to hit back in kind. “Well, I did, but much too late,” Dukakis says.

Monica Crowley of FoxNews complains that the conversation about negative advertising is “extremely one-sided.” Cue Soros line.

Dukakis responds: “We’ve had negative campaigning… This is about telling the truth… The business about Kerry and the Swift Boats is a pack of lies… The business about my mental health is a pack of lies.” Morris gives the other side of that. You know the drill. No need to waste more pixels on it.

Trippi says that when you start with Bush, who had negatives, you have one way out, which is to emphasize the other guy’s negatives and “it’s mutually assured destruction.”

Cuomo: “There’s no doubt that negative works.” He said he ran a campaign insisting on “nothing but positive” and “the polls went nowhere and then they went negative and I went down like a stone in the pond, including an ad that said I’d stolen $14 from the state treasury for a license for my dog, Ginger.”

Cuomo: “I am not going to call him a liar about weapons of mass destruction…. But I tell you this: It would be easy to call a liar with the evidence since.”

Cuomo gets on the stump and can’t stop; on a roll.

Morris stands up and starts shouting and shaking: “The Garment District was not blown up because of George Bush’s Patriot Act!” Now he’s on the stump and on the roll. He goes on about al-Qaeda buying a Garment District business to use import licenses for Stinger missiles.

Hmmm. Al-Qaeda fashions.

Cuomo: “Dick, I would have thought that even now even a political consultant could have gotten away with trying to sell the Brooklyn Bride, but you did.”

Now its a Cuomo v. Morris fistfight.

Evans asks whether the next campaign will be different because of the Internet.

Trippi: “By 2008 you will see a real third party emerge in this country.”

I always said that Dean’s real agenda was to launch a third party. I’d call that a tacit admission.

He said you’ll see a Republican and Democrat with $200 million each and someone else with $300 million.

Morris says we’ll see a fight between Hillary Clinton and Edwards for the nomination.

Morris praises Trippi again for his campaign finance reform and says that “the other part of that revolution is that people have stopped watching television” and the focus of attention in campaigns will shift to the internet.

The Gallup guy says we have problems because elected leaders “pay too little attention to the wisdom of the people themselves.” Amen! He says there’ll be less interest in what candidates say and whether they listen to us. Amen again!

Cuomo looks for one big change in 2008: Let the parties have their exercise in narcisim in conventions “but then in October have an unconventional convention: all debates.” Not just candidates but the experts and leaders across the board. Amen to that, too.

It took me five hours to get from home to midtown

It took me five hours to get from home to midtown via car and trains this morning and I speeded it up by negotiating with other drivers to unlock one jam. How to waste a life…. At The Week event now. Blogging soon.

Dean’s children

Dean’s children

: Zephyr Teachout of the Dean campaign has just teamed up with Mitch Kapor to start Baobab, aimed at getting college students in swing states to mobilize and bring out the vote.

Meanwhile, Zack Rosen, who created DeanSpace, is helping movements create their own space online at Civic Space Labs. He’s about to announce something exciting in the Middle East.

Maus house

Maus house

: I picked up Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers yesterday, its first day out as a book.

The packaging is as pretentious as the politics. These were cartoons that ran in Old European publications where Spiegelman says “my political views hardly seemed extreme.” But there are only a few of them — 10 to be exact — so they are printed onto hard, thick, oversized cardboard stock to beef this up and make it feel $20 worth of heavy, and even then only after the end of the book is padded with vintage cartoons from another age. It’s not a book. It’s newsprint acting uppity.

I have no doubt of Spiegelman’s own humanity and horror from that day, as he watched the terror of 9/11 and rescued his daughter from the shadow of the attacks. But even as he complains that others — namely, Bush and Cheney — politicized the attacks, he politicizes them himself, more bluntly than I am accustomed to seeing.

In those first few days after 9/11 I got lost constructing conspiracy theories about my government’s complicity in what had happened that would have done a Frenchman proud…. Only when I heard paranoid Arab Americans blaming it all on the Jews did I reel myself back in, deciding it wasn’t essential to know precisely how much my ‘leaders’ knew about the hijackings in advance — it was sufficient that they immediately instrumentalized the attack for their own agenda…..

When the government began to move into full dystopian Big Brother mode and hurtle America into a colonialist adventure in Iraq — while doing very little to make American genuinely safer beyond confiscating nail clippers at airports — all the rate I’d surpressed after the 2000 election, all the paranoia I’d barely managed to squelch immediately after 9/11, returned with a vengeance….

He writes about being “equally terrorized by al-Qaeda and by my own government.”

He writes about his daughter:

I intended to do a sequence about my daughter, Nadja, being told to dress in red, white and blue on her first day at the Brooklyn high school she was transferred to while her school in Ground Zero was being used as a triage center. I forbade her to go, ranting that I hadn’t raised my daughter to become a goddamn flag…”

He complains later, asking “why did those provincial American flags have to sprout out of the embers of Ground Zero.” And he asks: “Why not a globe?” Well, perhaps it was because we were attacked because we were Americans that we chose to fly those flags in defiance. If we run into each other in the elevator of the building where we’ve both worked, I’ll make sure to wear my flag pin in my lapel, just to piss you off.

The most glib panel shows Spiegelman himself falling from one of the towers — the most sacred of all 9/11 images, to me, instrumentalized for his own agenda — as he shows a homeless bum on the street at the bottom of the panel, surrounded by garbage and these words: “But in the economic dislocation that has followed since that day, he has witnessed lots of people landing in the streets of Manhattan.” He thinks it’s cute. He thinks it’s profound. He thinks it’s bold and brave. I just think it’s tasteless and dumb.

Spiegelman, whose Maus was, indeed, wonderful, says that “after all, disaster is my muse!” Or, in this case, merely his tool.

Ad cops

Ad cops

: John Battelle has a hilarious exchange with Google over his alleged violations of the AdSense terms of service, even bringing Fred Wilson down with him. What’s most amusing is that Battelle is writing the book on search and Google and now this search bureaucrat in the Kremlin of queries will end up in that book.

Google is a machine and interacts like a machine.

That is why Google’s hegemony will not last long. This is a medium of humans and relationships, not machines.

Tomorrow, Google will be so yesterday.

Liveblogging politics

Liveblogging politics

: The Week magazine is having a star-sprinkled discussion on the presidential election today and I’ll try live-blogging it later.