There is no “the” Bush Doctrine

At lunch, I ran an experiment. Every single person at my table had worked on a Presidential campaign. Every single one was saturated in politics. Active -- in their time -- in youth affiliates of their party. These people came from multiple parties

Every single person had a different definition of the Bush Doctrine. One argued that the "Bush Doctrine" emerged from "a series of speeches".

There is no "Bush Doctrine." At best it is a squishy idea. That may be the grounds for a critique in its own right. But not of Sarah Palin.

Clive Crook makes the same point:

I don't go along with the view that her answers on the "Bush doctrine" were a serious misstep, however. True, she did not know what that term meant. The fact is, it means different things to different people. If Gibson had put that question to me, my answer would have been: "It depends what you mean by the Bush doctrine." In effect, that was what she said. And it deserves to be noted (as Jim points out, but with a kindly lack of emphasis, calling it a minor error) that Gibson himself apparently does not know what it means.

GIBSON [impatiently]: The Bush doctrine as I understand it is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree...?

No, Charles. That is not what the Bush doctrine means. The right of anticipatory self-defence is already enshrined in international law. Countries do not have to wait until they are attacked to legitimately defend themselves. The Bush doctrine advances the notion of preventive war: the right to attack not in order to defend yourself against an imminent assault, but to deal with less certain, more distant but still possibly mortal threats.


By Soren Dayton, ago

LA-SEN: Landreiu is corrupt and anti-business, but still gets Chamber’s endorsement

The logic of interest groups sometimes escapes reason. They often issue endorsements based on scored votes. They have to do that. But they shoot themselves in the foot. Jon has written about this with Don Young and Americans for Tax Reform. Certainly ATR has redeemed itself with the "rats head in a Coke bottle". But still, in a 150 vote House race, which AK-AL turned in to, that ATR award might have made the difference, giving us a venal Democrat over a good reformist Republican.

Well, the Chamber of Commerce is doing it too. In Louisana, they endorsed Mary Landreiu over proven vote-winner State Treasurer John Kennedy. She empowers union thugs. She voted for card-check, the "Employee Free Choice Act." But get this. According to the Chamber's CEO, defeating card-check is their highest priority:

"The main thing is that we want to keep enough people in the Senate to maintain the filibuster," he said.

They want 40 people. But they endorse someone for it who is running against someone against it. John Kennedy can actually win this race, if he gets some support.

But righty groups play defense for his corrupt opponent.  Corrupt? Where did that come from. Today, CREW, an unimpeachably lefty organization, declared Mary Landreiu one of the "most corrupt members of Congress". Why?

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is a second-term senator from Louisiana.  Her ethics issues stem from inserting an earmark into an appropriations bill to benefit a large campaign donor.

Just like ATR, acting totally rationally, may have delivered us a venal Alaskan Democrat, the Chamber may have delivered us an economy-crippling card-check bill by backing a corrupt politician who votes against them when it counts.

Thanks guys.

By Soren Dayton, ago

I guess the press doesn’t care about campaigning with religious groups anymore

Yesterday at a campaign stop in Cinncinatti, Michelle Obama said:

"Barack can't win without you, and he can't lead without you," Michelle Obama said. "We have less than two months between now and election day. So every day every hour counts."

The crowd responded:

The crowd — those who were able — stood for several minutes before she spoke and chanted, "Yes we can."

Sounds pretty normal. The head of the group to which she was speaking got a little edgy:

"We do not call the senator and his wife Jesus, but in his candidacy, the hopes of generations are finding expression. And in that same candidacy, the fears of many are finding fresh life. But it is our prayer always, that hope overrides fear. When history is made you can say, "I was there.'"

Except one thing. The guy who said that was William J. Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA. This was the annual convention of the National Baptist Convention, one of the largest African American denomination in America.

Now if a Republican had said something like that at a Southern Baptist event, the reporters would be screaming from the rafters about the seperation of church and state and the politicization of religion.

But no one cares about Democrats intermingling religion and politics. Only Republicans. This only gets a completely positive story in a Dayton, OH newspaper.

By Soren Dayton, ago

Mr. HopeChange can’t seem to change the subject

Time is running out on Barack Obama. The last day that they have had substantial positive control over the content of the news cycle was the day of Barack Obama's acceptance speech, two weeks ago. You can't hear him talk about CHANGE! because John McCain, Sarah Palin, or Obama's own surrogates are stepping on Obama's story every single day.

Let's look at the schedule for the rest of the election.

Tomorrow is September 11. Sarah Palin will wish her son off to war in Iraq tomorrow. Between that and Joe Biden's blunder about Hillary Clinton being more qualified, John McCain and the GOP own the rest of this week.

So they will have between Monday the 16th and Thursday the 25th to have significant impact over the news cycle. On the 26th, the first Presidential debate will happen. But between the the 16th and the 25th, there will be:

  • John Gibson interview of Sarah Palin on ABC.
  • Probably a significant profile or two of Sarah Palin.
  • Some sort of serious debate in Congress on energy.

One can imagine that this will suck up 3 of those 8 news cycles.

One you get into the debates, the ability to shape the story gets even harder. The next debate, the VP debate, is 6 days later on a Thursday, which is really 3 or 4 real news cycles. (Granted, one of those will be October 3rd, when the unemployment number comes out, which probably won't be pretty)

The next debate is October 7, a mere 6 days later on a Tuesday. The Monday before is probably the only day that Obama could seriously have an impact on the news cycle.

Then you have October 15th for the final debate on a Wednesday. That's 5 real days of news.

One of those will be occupied by the release of the Alaska legislature's report on Sarah Palin firing a guy who refused to fire a cop who drank in his cop car, tasered a 10 year old, and threatened to murder her dad. (remind me how this is a good story for the Dems?)

And then early voting starts.

Time is really, really running out on these guys. Before voting starts, they probably don't have a real shot of moving the story for more than about 15 days. That has got to be scary. In the meantime, Palin's star power will just dominate.

By Soren Dayton, ago

Does rising generic ballot show that the GOP is now beyond Bush?

This is just a thought. Probably not a particularly good one. But tell me what you think.

Reid Wilson, writing at RCP did a write up of generic congressional ballot tests yesterday. He said:

Earlier this summer, Democrats held leads approaching 20%. But Republicans have long maintained that Congress' low approval rating -- sitting at just under 18% in the latest RCP Congressional Average -- would cost Democrats in November. [...] 

But National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Tom Cole made a good point in an interview with The Scorecard this week in St. Paul, hinting that internal polling showed more voters than average know which party is in charge of Congress. That reflects poorly on Democrats, who have so far taken shelter behind an unpopular president, and it could cost them marginal seats in November.

Republicans still face a harsh electoral climate as they trail the generic ballot matchups. But perhaps it's not as bad as it was even earlier this summer.

But I have another thought. Has the GOP gotten beyond George W. Bush in some sense? Is George Bush yesterday's GOP? I mean .... John McCain is not Bush. The Dems tried that messaging and it didn't work. It seems to me to be even more unlikely to work now. Sarah Palin is not Bush.

McCain and, to a lesser extent, Palin have launched attacks on Washington and the GOP in a way that Barack Obama is not doing and is probablty not capable of doing against his own party.

Furthermore, there is a high-powered media event that provides this pivot: the GOP Covention. Bush wasn't at the covnention, which turned out to be an even bigger media event than the Democratic convention. Bush's name wasn't even used.  And Bush is doing his best to lay low.

Is Bush drifting off into the sunset? If he is, McCain and Palin might just be able to ride right in.

By Soren Dayton, ago

No putting lipstick on Obama’s blunder

Barack Obama blundered today. In Lebanon, VA, he said:

"You know, you can put lipstick on a pig," Obama said, "but it's still a pig."

Jake Tapper and the crowd got the reference:

The crowd rose and applauded, some of them no doubt thinking he may have been alluding to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's ad lib during her vice presidential nomination acceptance speech last week, "What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick."

Obama made a sexualized attack on Palin, comparing her to a pig. This is exactlty the same sort of thing that he did in the primary. Earlier in the cycle I noted:

Jake Tapper first noted this when Obama said that Hillary was "taking out the claws." At the same time he noted that Obama would use "[l]anguage such as 'when she's feeling down' 'periodically' she 'launches attacks.'" Tapper noted that a number of female reporters and bloggers picked up on this. Later Obama complained that Hillary was "throwing the China" at him. Again, Tapper heard the dog whistle. Tapper noted that this "feeds into the 'harridan' caricature of Clinton."

This is the stuff that alienated Hillary Clinton voters.

No wonder white women are swinging to McCain-Palin. If he keeps this up, it will be a landslide. Democrats do not know how to run against women.

By Soren Dayton, ago

Indies breaking hard for McCain

Jerome Armstrong notes another phenomenon in the polling. Indies are breaking hard for John McCain. First, he notes this picture from Gallup:

Then notes the same pattern in other polls:

CBS: McCain is ahead by 55-25 among Independents.

Hotline: McCain is ahead by 45-32, among Independents.

Here, there are two theories. The first is that these are real independents. The second is that these are disaffected Republicans ("rehab Republicans" in the McCain campiagn's schema of target voters). These would be Republicans who disaffiliated from the GOP but like McCain and, perhaps, Palin. If the second theory holds, we probably will keep these voters. If the second is going on, we won't know for a little while.

But Jerome closes on an important point:

Under this sort of scenario, the only possible way Obama could be ahead, or tied, is if party ID dramatically favors Democrats on election day. It hasn't in any of the recent election years.


By Soren Dayton, ago

Obama for a "new politics" as long as it helps him

Obama doesn't do what's right. He does what's right for him.

When the going gets rough, Barack Obama's principles get going.

Marc Ambinder notes that Obama is abandoning his previous statements on outside groups:

There's been a spurt of 527 activity on behalf of Sen. John McCain, but Barack Obama campaign has suddenly gone silent on the subject.

That's because, after of year of telling donors not to contribute to 527 groups, of encouraging strategists not to form them and of suggesting that outside messaging efforts would not be welcome in Obama's Democratic Party, Obama's strategists have changed their approach.

An Obama adviser privy to the campaign's internal thinking on the matter says that,with less than two months before the election and with the realization that Republicans have achieved financial parity with Democrats, they hope that Democratic allies -- what another campaign aide termed "the cavalry" -- with come to Obama's aid.

This is the same guy who was for the public financing system until he realized he could raise more money outside of it. This is the same guy who took on the Chicago Daley machines opponents in State Senator Alice Palmer and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL). This is the same guy who was for a bipartisan ethics proposal with John McCain until the Democratic leaders in the Senate yanked his chain and brought him back into line.

This guy doesn't do what's right. He does what's right for him.

By Soren Dayton, ago

How McCain-Palin’s lead could be durable

One of the questions that will be endlessly debated will be whether the convention provided John McCain with a bump up or a bounce (coming back down). You can imagine mechanisms for how a convention could do both. As Patrick pointed out, George W. Bush's 2004 convention bump gave an enduring lead in the polls.

For example, the Democratic convention likely provided some permanent consolidation of the Democratic base. Hillary Clinton supporting voters probably came home in some part to Barack Obama. These will likely result in a sustained increase in Obama's floor vote. The convention provided a moment for Hillary-supporting core Democratic base voters to return ot the party's fold.

Turning to the Republicans, we see a similar mechanism in play that might result in a permanent increase in McCain's floor. From the new ABC/WaPo poll, we note the cross-tabs of white women

White women have moved from 50-42 percent in Obama’s favor before the conventions to 53-41 percent for McCain now, a 20-point shift in the margin that’s one of the single biggest post-convention changes in voter preferences. The other, also to McCain’s advantage, is in the battleground Midwest, where he’s moved from a 19-point deficit to a 7-point edge.

White women supporting McCain could be attributed to any number of factors. The most obvious is Palin's star appeal, but also McCain's focus on service.

But another possibility is that white women are simply coming home to the Republican party. In CNN's 2004 exit poll, George W. Bush beat John Kerry 55-44 among white women.

In other words, white women voters who should be (or at least easily could be) Republican voters are now back to supporting the Republicans this cycle. Don't look for this dump to turn into a temporary bounce. This is a real phenomenon with a real mechanism, not some temporary blip caused by a whirlwind of media.

By Soren Dayton, ago

Yepsen calls on reforming caucuses

MyDD's desmoinesdem points to this David Yepsen piece about reforming the Iowa caucus system. Yepsen notes, following Marc Ambinder, that both parties have created commissions to revisit the caucus process. Yepsen says:

It's one thing to tell critics to buzz off or to outmaneuver them during internal party skirmishes. It's another, more public-minded thing to say, "You know, you've got a point, and here's what we've done to address your concerns." [...]

So, while the 2012 election seems eons away, the procedural fights leading up to it aren't. Iowa's political leaders will need to move quickly after the election to discuss the changes they want to make to their processes to protect the caucuses while making them better. (It's also wise to discuss these changes now, while institutional memories are fresh and before new leaders and staffers are in place in three years, when the cycle begins again.)

Yepsen recommends a series of changes including running the caucuses with county auditors, using secret ballots (already done by Republicans), allowing absentee ballots, picking a better day, dis-allowing same-day registration, and setting national standards.

I should point out that at the RNC's Convention Rules Committee, a coalition of military groups fought to add language supporting a guaranteed right to vote for active duty military in all presidential nominating contests. While the langauge was gutted by the party establishment, the final language in the RNC rules is now:

Any process authorized or implemented by a state Republican Party for selecting delegates or alternate delegates or for binding teh presidential preference of such delegates may use every means practicable in the sole discretion of the state Republican Party, to encourage active military personnel the opportuntiy to exercise their right to vote.

This passes the buck to state Republican Parties who may yet decide to do the right thing and guarantee our servicemen and women the right to vote. Now with Yepsen on the side of this right (and the rights for others), there is a good chance that the caucus system may shift before the next election. And if Iowa moves, so move the rest of them.


By Soren Dayton, ago