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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

Earlier, Josh posted on NRCC chair Tom Reynolds' statement that he had told Speaker Hastert about the Mark Foley situation in early 2006. Why is Reynolds throwing Denny from the train?

Republican insiders said Reynolds spoke out because he was angry that Hastert appeared willing to let him take the blame for the party leadership's silence.

A House GOP leadership aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said that Reynolds realizes he has taken a shot at his leader but that it is understandable.

"This is what happens when one member tries to throw another member under a bus," the aide said.


Indeed. When one GOP congressman tries to damage another politically, it's time to speak out. But when a GOP congressman tries to proposition an underage page? Silence is the better part of what passes for GOP valor these days.

The lede in the NYT Sunday piece gets it about right:

Top House Republicans knew for months about e-mail traffic between Representative Mark Foley and a former teenage page, but kept the matter secret and allowed Mr. Foley to remain head of a Congressional caucus on children’s issues, Republican lawmakers said Saturday.


Buried deep in the piece is the suggestion of a possible federal criminal investigation:

At the Justice Department, an official said that there was no investigation under way but that the agency had “real interest” in examining the circumstances to see if any crimes were committed.


The statement that Hastert's office released late today came only "after senior aides, the House clerk and legal advisers huddled for much of Saturday in the Capitol."

It's a bit ironic that while denying for the past two days that they were circling the wagons back when the information about Foley first came to their attention, the GOP leadership has been . . . circling the wagons.

One still doesn't get the sense that their focus is on the alleged victims of Foley, or on the possible unknown victims. If the allegations against Foley are true, the kind of conduct involved is rarely isolated or limited to one victim.

So what does the GOP leadership propose to do to figure out who those victims are and provide them with assistance? A toll-free telephone number for pages and their parents to report concerns. But that pre-supposes that once a report is received, the GOP will actually do something about it.

Ever wonder why it seems like we are enduring a repeat of the Nixon Administration? Now we know. From Bob Woodward's new book, via War and Piece:

A powerful, largely invisible influence on Bush's Iraq policy was former secretary of state Kissinger.

"Of the outside people that I talk to in this job," Vice President Cheney told me in the summer of 2005, "I probably talk to Henry Kissinger more than I talk to anybody else. He just comes by and, I guess at least once a month, Scooter and I sit down with him." (Scooter is I. Lewis Libby, then Cheney's chief of staff.)

The president met privately with Kissinger every couple of months, making him the most regular and frequent outside adviser to Bush on foreign affairs.

Kissinger sensed wobbliness everywhere on Iraq, and he increasingly saw the situation through the prism of the Vietnam War. For Kissinger, the overriding lesson of Vietnam is to stick it out.

In his writing, speeches and private comments, Kissinger claimed that the United States had essentially won the war in 1972, only to lose it because of the weakened resolve of the public and Congress.

In a column in The Washington Post on Aug. 12, 2005, titled "Lessons for an Exit Strategy," Kissinger wrote, "Victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy."

He delivered the same message directly to Bush, Cheney and Hadley at the White House.


The image of Henry Kissinger schooling George W. Bush on the lessons of Vietnam is enough to make a grown man cry.

Yesterday the NRCC put more than $3.5 million into GOP congressional campaigns nationwide. Of that amount, negative ad buys accounted for all but $63,000. The list of expenditures is here.

"It's vile. It's more sad than anything else, to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction." --Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), commenting on President Clinton, following release of the Starr Report, September 12, 1998.

I've gotten several emails in response to the earlier post on whether military action against Iran may happen before the election. Most have focused on the political dynamic, but I'm most interested in the nuts and bolts of whether we are in a position to pull such a thing off logistically.

TPM Reader GH thinks not:

Iranians have aced us in a major respect. The largest bunkerbuster we have is good for maybe 100 feet of compacted earth. Iranians have been burying sensitive installations, including about 45 nuclear processing sites, under 200 feet of layered dirt and concrete. We simply cannot, at this time, do a damn thing about it. But a much larger bomb is under development with a contract end date of about a year from now. Assume we can beat that, still leaves us somewhere next summer.

Our support capacity is stretched to breaking. All the airlift (C5 and C17) is pretty well engaged in Iraq and Iran. Can't insert troops you cannot support. Critical hardware (up armored humvees, Strykers, etc) all in use. Hard to scrape up the hardware, even if you activated all the reserves, etc. Shades of WWII, where guys trained with broomsticks, because we did not have enough rifles. This country's logistics capacity is awesome, but it is not "poof" overnight . . .

Still, we have been gearing up for this for a long time. Look at the federal authorization bill over the last few years. Many $ on intel assets in and around the area. We have so many satellites flying over, that there are traffic jams. There is the political drumbeat, which signals preparation of the populace, and the need for Repugs to be the party in control in time of war. Americans do not like to change horses in wars.

Such a war would be no fun, for sure, but I have no confidence these clowns will get it right. Likely they will start shooting just as soon as they can get it loaded. And that is about a year off, minimum.

Today's NYT report describing a U.S. intelligence assessment that the Iraq invasion has worsened global terrorism (no surprise there) is "not representative" of the entire assessment, the White House says.

So what does the entire asssessment say? The White House won't say exactly. The report is still classified. But Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte offers that the assessment concludes that if the U.S. succeeds in stabilizing Iraq "fewer jihadists will leave Iraq determined to carry on the fight elsewhere."

The implication of course is that regardless of whether we succeed in Iraq, jihadists will leave determined to carry on the fight. It's just that if we fail, more will leave determined to fight.

Excellent. Our strategic objective now is to demoralize some of the jihadists.

A nod to TPM alum Matt Yglesias:

Bush, Cheney, and those around them remind me of Nietzsche's line about staring too long into the abyss. They've become transfixed, hypnotized almost, by the evils they believe themselves to be fighting. Obsessed to the point where they've clearly developed an admiration for the brutal methods, ruthless dishonesty, and utter secrecy with which the enemies of liberalism conduct themselves.

Liberal democracy isn't a fluke occurrence that just so happens to have survived despite its drawbacks. It's actually a superior method of organizing a state. The idea that the country is being run by people who don't understand that is sad and frightening. The idea that the very same people claim to be embarked upon a grand mission to spread our system of government around the world is like a horrible tawdry joke . . .

Poor Mike Wallace. His son gets handed his hat by an ex-President, and 60 Minutes goes peppy (or is it "perky"?), all on the same day.

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