Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

On ABC this evening

On ABC this evening, Terry Moran has a piece that runs down the state of play on the Bush Guard issue. In addition to taking an extremely skeptical view of the questions about and criticisms of the lapses in the president's service, he repeats the claims of James "Bill" Calhoun, who says he saw young George W. Bush show up for his drills as many as six times during the period in question.

"I have no doubt in my mind that it was George W. Bush that he made his drills," Moran quotes Calhoun telling him. "He was very professional. He came in uniform. He signed in. He was very low-key."

What he doesn't mention is that six months ago numerous press reports noted that records showed that Bush hadn't even been assigned to the unit in question at the time Calhoun remembers seeing him there.

See Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Memories place Bush in Alabama if records don't," Feb. 13th, 2004, among other examples.

I think 'liar' is too strong a term for lapses in momentary recollections from 30+ years ago. But the significance of Calhoun's recollection seems pretty questionable on this count.

Perhaps Moran could have mentioned that.

A bunch of folks

A bunch of folks have written in to ask what I thought of Dan Rather's piece on the Bush Guard story. All I can think to say is, that's what's called getting rolled by the White House.

Supposedly CBS is going to put these memos themselves up on their website later this evening. Will they ask the White House for permission?

New ICR poll conducted

New ICR poll, conducted September 1st-5th ...

With Nader, among 'likely voters': Bush:46, Kerry: 46, Nader: 4.

Without Nader, among 'likely voters': Bush 48, Kerry 47.

Without Nader, among 'registered voters': Bush 46, Kerry 47.

CBS has now gone

CBS has now gone live with its online promo for the Ben Barnes interview that is running tomorrow evening. But, as I noted earlier, that's not what the headline will be after the segment runs.

The big news won't be how Bush got into the Guard but how he blew off his duties once he got there. Again, new documents -- stuff that is clear and straightforward and apparently puts beyond any debate or doubt that the now-President blew off the duties that he said, as recently as this year, that he fulfilled.

Where would we be

Where would we be without Alan Keyes?

According to this new report, Keyes now says that Barack Obama is a "socialist" and a "liar". He accuses Obama of using anti-black racist code words. And he claims that if Jesus were still walking the earth today in the flesh and eligible to vote in the Illinois Senate election, that he would definitely not vote for Barack Obama.

So much for secret ballots!

Slimy as they wanna

Slimy as they wanna be ...

Cheney: Kerry Victory Will Bring Devastating Terrorist Attack.

(The AP's got the story.)

Feel the buzz. Contrary

Feel the buzz. Contrary to what I had originally understood, the Ben Barnes interview is running Wednesday evening. But, I'm told by several sources that the Barnes' interview is only a relatively small part of the package 60 Minutes is running. There's other stuff that CBS has -- newly discovered, or at least newly-revealed, documents that shed light on Bush's guard service or lack thereof.

The text of a

The text of a letter former President Carter sent to Zell <$NoAd$>Miller over the weekend ...

You seem to have forgotten that loyal Democrats elected you as mayor and as state senator. Loyal Democrats, including members of my family and me, elected you as lieutenant governor and as governor. It was a loyal Democrat, Lester Maddox, who assigned you to high positions in the state government when you were out of office. It was a loyal Democrat, Roy Barnes, who appointed you as U.S. Senator when you were out of office. By your historically unprecedented disloyalty, you have betrayed our trust.

Great Georgia Democrats who served in the past, including Walter George, Richard Russell, Herman Talmadge, and Sam Nunn disagreed strongly with the policies of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and me, but they remained loyal to the party in which they gained their public office. Other Democrats, because of philosophical differences or the race issue, like Bo Callaway and Strom Thurmond, at least had the decency to become Republicans.

Everyone knows that you were chosen to speak at the Republican Convention because of your being a “Democrat,” and it’s quite possible that your rabid and mean-spirited speech damaged our party and paid the Republicans some transient dividends.

Perhaps more troublesome of all is seeing you adopt an established and very effective Republican campaign technique of destroying the character of opponents by wild and false allegations. The Bush campaign’s personal attacks on the character of John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 was a vivid example. The claim that war hero Max Cleland was a disloyal American and an ally of Osama bin Laden should have given you pause, but you have joined in this ploy by your bizarre claims that another war hero, John Kerry, would not defend the security of our nation except with spitballs. (This is the same man whom you described previously as “one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders -- and a good friend.")

I, myself, never claimed to have been a war hero, but I served in the navy from 1942 to 1953, and, as president, greatly strengthened our military forces and protected our nation and its interests in every way. I don’t believe this warrants your referring to me as a pacificist.

Zell, I have known you for forty-two years and have, in the past, respected you as a trustworthy political leader and a personal friend. But now, there are many of us loyal Democrats who feel uncomfortable in seeing that you have chosen the rich over the poor, unilateral preemptive war over a strong nation united with others for peace, lies and obfuscation over the truth, and the political technique of personal character assassination as a way to win elections or to garner a few moments of applause. These are not the characteristics of great Democrats whose legacy you and I have inherited.



I contacted President Carter's office for comment and his press spokesperson Deanna Congileo told me that the letter was a private communication and that President Carter would not be issuing further comment.

The lede of this

The lede of this AP article reads: "Democrat John Kerry accused President Bush on Monday of sending U.S. troops to the “wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time” and said he’d try to bring them all home in four years. Bush rebuked him for taking “yet another new position” on the war."

Simple advice for the Kerry campaign: keep the fire concentrated and tightly focused. The Democrats message on this is simple: the president lied the country into the war and then he screwed it up.

One, two. Two points. Simple as that. Everything else obscures the message. Both on principle and for tactical reasons, I don't think one presidential candidate should call the other a liar (call me old-fashioned). But the point can be made with appropriate language and surrogates can be more direct.

And as long as the president keeps misrepresenting Kerry's position on the war, starting him on flipflops. Which ones? Wanting to make Chalabi president of Iraq, now accusing him of being an Iranian spy. Wanting to have Halliburton run Iraq, now pulling their contracts. The list is truly endless.

These are sweeteners to be added for variety and entertainment. The two points above are the keys -- to be hit on again and again and again. They're effective because they're true and any look at the polls shows the public knows it.

LiveWire