Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Friday, April 18, 2008
Mr. Stephanopoulos under the microscope
Fairly or unfairly, George Stephanopoulos is taking the lions share of the blame for Wednesday night's disastrous Democratic debate on ABC. Charles Gibson, though he turned in an equally crappy performance, is mostly being belittled for his seeming fixation on capital gains taxes, but it is Stephanolpoulos, the former Bill Clinton flak, who is being pilloried (and rightly so, in my opinion,) for his seeming bias against Barack Obama, his rude, off key questions about trivia, and especially for his cribbing of debate question ideas from Sean Hannity.

It's in that environment that George will interview media darling John McCain on "This Week" on Sunday. Damn the boycott. I'm watching this. The host will be under some pressure, to say the least, to be as tough on the Republican as he was on Obama. Some are even pulling a Hannity and suggesting some questions for him to ask. I'll just skip to numbers 11 and 12:

11) How can you call yourself a straight-talker in light of the fact that you have changed your positions or rhetorically flip-flopped on the following issues: Abortion, Creationism in science class, immigration, intervention abroad, tax cuts for the wealthy, civil unions, a Martin Luther King holiday, the Confederate Flag, the Christian Right, Bob Jones University, whether Rumsfeld did a good job, whether Dick Cheney is doing a good job, whether President Bush is an honest man, a Patient's Bill of Rights, global warming, campaign finance reform in general, public financing of campaigns specifically, lobbying reform, whether the War in Iraq would be "easy," whether Sunni and Shiite are working together, whether "Iraqi blood should be traded for American blood," military readiness, how many troops are necessary for the suge to succeed in Iraq, ehtanol subsidies, the continuing existence of a minimum wage, closing the gun-show loophole, healthcare for children...and I could go on, but how about we start with those?

12) Finally, if Barack Obama must account for everyone he has ever passed within a 100 square mile radius of, then here are some associations you might want to explain, with the indicted, the white supremacists and the downright corrupt: Rick Renzi (indicted), Terry Nelson (racist ads against Harold Ford in 2006), Trent Lott (pining for a Strom presidency), The Wyly Brothers (corrupt), Bob Perry (Chief Swift Boater), Richard Quinn (white supremacist), Rev. Richard Land (homosexual hate), Ken Blackwell (Ohio election suppression), Charlie Black (lobbyist and according to John Gorenfeld's new book, Bad Moon Rising, Reverend Moon lover). That would be a start.
Mr. Stephanopoulos? You're up.

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posted by JReid @ 8:29 PM  
Friday, November 30, 2007
Obama leading in another Iowa poll
ARG has him in a statistical tie with Hillary in Iowa, but a two point lead is still a lead. The ARG poll has Hil still ahead in New Hampshire and South Carolina. It gets interesting...

Incidentally, Hillary is talking to the cameras now about that hostage situation today at one of her campaign offices in NH.

Meanwhile on the other side, Romney is now just one point ahead of Mike Huckabee in Iowa and only three points up on Huck in South Carolina.

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posted by JReid @ 6:48 PM  
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Bartlett unplugged
Well you don't have Dan Bartlett to kick around anymore. In fact, he'll do the kicking now, thank you. Barlett dispensed some wisdom recently, and to be honest, some of it was pretty good:
One of President Bush's closest advisers has a brutally candid analysis of the Republican nomination battle: Fred Thompson is the campaign's "biggest dud," Mitt Romney has "a real problem in the South" because people will not vote for a Mormon, Mike Huckabee's last name is too hick and John McCain could end up repeating 2000 by winning New Hampshire but losing the nomination.

Dan Bartlett, who stepped down as White House counselor in July after working nearly his entire adult life for Bush, gave those frank assessments of the Republican presidential candidates during a recent appearance before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that went unnoticed outside the room. Never before has Bartlett opened up in a public setting with such an unvarnished analysis of the race. And while he no longer formally speaks for the president, Bartlett spent 14 years channeling Bush and remains virtually his alter ego, so his views could be seen as a revealing look into the thinking within the president's inner circle.

Bartlett was harshest in his judgment of Thompson, the former Tennessee senator who jumped into the contest a month ago and faces his first televised debate today. Thompson, Bartlett said, was the "biggest dud" because he peaked last spring when he first started talking about running and since then has yet to articulate a compelling vision for why he is running. "The biggest liability was whether he had the fire in the belly to run for office in the first place and be president," Bartlett said. "So what does he do? He waits four months, fires a bunch of staff, has a big staff turnover, has a lot of backbiting, comes out with his big campaign launch and gives a very incoherent and not very concise stump speech for why he's running for president."

Bartlett held out little hope that Thompson could win the nomination. "Unless they really find a way to crystallize his message for why he's different than the other candidates, why people should take a second look now, I don't feel very good that Fred Thompson's going to be the candidate for my party," he said.

His judgment of Romney was only somewhat less negative. While crediting the former Massachusetts governor with the "best strategy and organization" born out of his "business acumen," Bartlett said "the flip-flopping on positions" stemmed from a miscalculation that the primary field would be more conservative than it proved to be. "They were trying to solidify his conservative credentials." Bartlett added: "He's getting a narrative in the national media as somebody that is too much trying to position himself, trying to hedge himself, almost too mechanical about the issues. Authenticity is going to be a very important principle in this campaign. And right now that's their biggest danger."

The flip-flopping issue, Bartlett added, provides an outlet for another big reason why Republican voters will not back Romney -- his religion. "The Mormon issue is a real problem in the South, it's a real problem in other parts of the country," he said. "But people are not going to say it. People are not going to step out and say, 'I have a problem with Romney because he's Mormon.' What they're going to say is he's a flip-flopper. ... It's a fact, it's reality. I don't know if it's one that will keep him from becoming the nominee for the party but it's something they clearly understand they've got to deal with."

Bartlett was more sympathetic to McCain, calling him the "biggest wild card," but he clearly felt the Arizona senator who lost the nomination to Bush in 2000 still faces enormous hurdles. "He is now where he does his best," Bartlett said. "He's lean, he's mean, he's out there, he's fighting in New Hampshire. The problem's going to be it always comes down to money, money, money. He doesn't have it. The irony could be he could see this thing play out the exact same way it did in 2000. He could win in New Hampshire and not have any infrastructure or funding to maximize it in a national campaign."

As it happens, the Bush adviser was most enthusiastic about a contender who seems to have even less chance. He called Huckabee the "best candidate," one who seems to most mirror Bush's own vision of compassionate conservatism. "He is the most articulate, visionary candidate of anybody in the field," Bartlett said. Initially, he admitted, he was perplexed that the former Arkansas governor was running. "But the more I watch him, the more impressed I become." When it comes to advocating conservative positions on social issues, "he does it in a very positive, optimistic way."

But Huckabee probably cannot win, Bartlett added. "He's got the obvious problems -- being from Hope, Ark., and, quite frankly, having the last name 'Huckabee,'" he said. "I hate to be so light about it, but it is, it's an issue. Politics can be fickle like that. I mean, you're trying to get somebody's attention for the first time. ... 'Huckabee? You've got to be kidding me! Hope, Arkansas? Here we go again.'"

The only top-tier candidate Bartlett did not criticize was Rudy Giuliani, whom he credited with the "best message," particularly because the former New York mayor has kept his focus on attacking Democrats, not fellow Republicans, which serves as an effective distraction from his own liberal positions on guns, gays and abortion. "He's doing it particularly with Hillary," Bartlett said. "There's headlines the other day. He wants to engage in this debate. And there's a very practical aspect of it because if he's engaged with the Democrats, he's not engaged on ... his own positions, whatever those that would not be very receptive in a typical Republican primary." ...
Not bad for a Bush guy.

Video excerpts here.

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posted by JReid @ 8:50 PM  
Thursday, June 07, 2007
I never thought I'd see the day
...that Chris Matthews would criticize Rudy Giuliani. He just did so on "Hardball," saying, during a back and forth with actor/political junkie Ben Affleck about the politican candidates:
"I agree with what Fareed Zakaria wrote in Newsweek this week, which is that terrorism isn't bombs and explosions and death... terrorism is when you change your society because of those explosions... and you become fearful to the point that you shut out immigration, you shut out student exchanges, you keep people out of buildings ... and begin to act in an almost fascist manner because you're afraid of what might happen to you, and that's when terrorism becomes real, and frighteningly succesful. That's what I believe, and that's why I question the way Giuliani has raised this issue. He raises it as a specter, and in a wierd way, he helps the bad guys."
Wow. That's a switch, Chris. I honestly didn't think this guy was capable of doing anything besides fawning over Rudy. Of course, he did get in a swipe at Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky during the segment, just to make the point that he's still Chris "the Clinton obsessor".

But a stunning development nonetheless. I get the feeling Matthews is disappointed that his Big City Mayor hero has turned out to be nothing but a fear mongering neocon -- liberal on social issues, crazy for war in the Middle East, and authoritarian in the extreme.

Welcome to my world, Chris.

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posted by JReid @ 7:20 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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