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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Okay, from the ridiculous to the sublime, only in reverse.

Adam Nagourney's piece in the Times gives the standard run-down of Wes Clark's seemingly imminent announcement of his candidacy. He puts a bit more flesh on the story than Dan Balz in the Post and leaves less doubt about the outcome.

But look at the quote he got from Mark Fabiani ...

He's an intriguing figure. You spend any time with him and you realize he is a prestigiously talented person with an extraordinary record. He would be a very potent candidate.


Here's my question: what the &#$% is a "prestigiously talented person"?

This piece by Dan Balz is Friday's Washington Post strikes me as a very accurate assessment of the swirl currently whipping around Wes Clark and the pressure on him to get off the dime.

Aha! More news about Dean Campaign Manager Joe Trippi's 'he's-begging-to-be-our-VP' dirty tricks campaign against Wes Clark. This from the just-posted edition of USNews' Washington Whispers ...

And forget about that talk that all the retired four-star general and former NATO boss wants is the veep nomination. Supporters say that's a dirty-tricks campaign pushed by rival Howard Dean who's scared of a Clark candidacy. Says Frisby: "Wes Clark firmly believes that he is the best choice to be president, not be vice president or hold any other government post."


Leave it to TPM to bring you the scoop first.

And in this just-released AP story signaling Clark's decision to run, see these two grafs ...

While mulling his options, Clark has met with several presidential contenders who covet his endorsement and might consider him for a vice presidential slot. He met Saturday with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who said it is too soon to talk about political alliances.

"There is a lot of vetting that would have to be done before you would have those kinds of discussions," Dean said when asked whether he had discussed the vice presidency with Clark.



In other words, the Dean camp is trying to pooh-pooh the bogus spin they floated to the Washington Post only yesterday.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave ...

Is the Dean camp trying to set up Wes Clark? (Yep, I'm talkin' about you, Joe!) This piece in today's Post says Dean and Clark "discussed the vice presidency at a weekend meeting in California." Read down into the article and there doesn't seem to be that much there there. But the story got picked up on CNN too. And now the story of the day is not those very active discussions Clark is having about his own presidential run, but the potential 'Dean/Clark alliance'. And if Clark decides to get into the race after all, doesn't that mean that he wobbled, that as recently as this week he was thinking of taking the number two slot from Dean, or endorsing Dean? (His opponents want to play to the 'indecision' meme, remember.) I think that's what some people would like us to think. The Post calls those people "sources familiar with the [Dean/Clark] discussions." But I think we can imagine who those folks might be.

Two years ago today I rolled out of bed in the morning, still semi-conscious and half asleep. As I walked into my living room --- the TV was still on from the night before --- I saw the second plane slam into the World Trade Center and explode in an orange and black fireball.

I'll never know whether that was a live shot or a replay of the images from a few minutes before. It was just after nine. Still groggy, I had a hard time processing what I had seen. I knew it was a big deal. But I didn't at first grasp just how big a deal.

When I sat down at my desk my girlfriend was already typing out messages on IM from her office at work. Had I seen? Where was I? They (she worked on Capitol Hill) were next, she said.

Beside watching the plane crash into the building, what stands out in my mind about those few minutes was that I asked her why she was so sure it was terrorism.

Partly --- mainly, I think --- this was because I was still only half awake and still trying to process what I had seen. I'm not sure in those first moments I was quite clear on how large the planes were. But certainly part of what was happening was that I was still for a moment living in a pre 9/11 world, where something like this was still hard to comprehend, hard to imagine.

Then she said something like: Two planes one after another in to both buildings? What do you think it is?

With that, suddenly everything snapped into place. The sleep fell from my eyes. My mind cleared. Everything was obvious.

A few moments later she typed out a quick message: they were evacuating.

This weekend I watched a CNN documentary about September 11th. 'Documentary' is probably too grandiose a term. But the images and recollections still cut into me. Perhaps more than I'd expected, perhaps because it had been some time since I had seen some of these pictures.

There was one set of images that got to me most, ones I didn't remember seeing before. As we all have, I'd seen many times the crushing images of bodies falling the hundreds of feet from the upper floors of the towers. But I hadn't seen or didn't remember the close-ups, the zoom-ins of people on the upper floors leaning out the windows and waiving shirts or clothes into the air, trying to grab the attention of helicopters circling nearby, hoping for help.

To me these sorts of images are worse than all the rest, the bodies falling, all of them. There is something unbearable about seeing people clinging to hope when, you know, there is no hope. Their fate is sealed; they just didn't know it yet. Those were the pictures that even today made me grit my teeth and twist up my face.

Watching brought me back to the newness and rawness of those first hours and days. I recalled the images of the president getting the first word from Andy Card about the attacks, the later ones of his touring ground-zero and talking to the assembled search and rescue crews. I found him an inspiring leader in those moments. And not simply because it was such a traumatic event. I never thought much of the criticism that President Bush didn't get back to Washington till late that evening. I thought he served admirably in those first days.

As the documentary moved toward the aftermath, I wondered whether those thoughts of mine would seep into the present to color what's happening today.

They didn't.

What I felt wasn't continuity but the jarring contrast, the cheap, obvious lies, the hubris, the tough-talk for low ends, not so much the mistakes as the tawdriness of so much of what's happened, especially over the last eighteen months. Fred Kaplan has an excellent piece in Slate this week about the missed opportunity of September 12th. "By the summer of 2003," writes Kaplan, "it could fairly be said that most of the world hated the United States, or at least feared the current U.S. government." That sounds like such an extreme, over-the-top statement. "Hate" is a pretty subjective word. But it's hard to read the papers regularly and not realize that what Kaplan says is true. It's sickening.

Up-is-downism from Michael Ledeen on CNN ...

Lou Dobbs: Have we really seen a significant change in the way in which our allies deal with us over the course of the past two years?

...

Michael Ledeen: No. I think, basically, that France and Germany have alienated the rest of Europe. They're the ones who have been more unilateral than anybody else. And the French invaded the Ivory Coast, never once went to the Security Council, never once even went to the European Council. And nobody said boo. So what we're seeing here is just the usual ebb and flow of political concerns, varying from one government to another. The anti-Americanism of today is nothing compared to anti- Americanism back in the 1970s during Vietnam or even in the 1980s, towards the end of the Cold War.

...

Lou Dobbs: This administration has apparently chosen to acknowledge some humbleness, some humility by going back to the United Nations. Are you both in any way assured by this new direct, by this administration on the issue of at least Iraq -- Clyde.

Clyde Prestowitz: Yes, I think it's a positive step. I think he did the right thing. But again, in a kind of churlish manner, it was kind of OK, I know you didn't agree with us, but we're in trouble and send soldiers and send money, But we're not going to give up any control. I think it's important that we go to the u.n. I think we have to be prepared to share some of the power, some of the decision making.

Lou Dobbs: Clyde, we have to turn quickly. We're running out of time. I have to turn to Michael Ledeen. Last word, Michael.

Michael Ledeen: We're not in trouble. We're doing fine. And we will do better yet. What we're doing is providing a fig leaf to countries who want to join with us and want to participate in Iraq, but for one reason or another, feel they need some kind of blessing from the United Nations before they do it.



A fig leaf.

Department of Homeland Security.

36 billion dollars ...

Current Projected Cost of War-fighting and Reconstruction in Iraq.

241 billion dollars ...

Having a president who's got a friggin' clue.

Priceless ...

Here are the results of a comprehensive poll conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (Pipa) at the University of Maryland. They're bad news for the White House.

A summary of the findings in the Financial Times includes ...

SIXTY-FOUR PERCENT of respondents said that the U.S. military presence in the Middle East increased the likelihood of terrorism, 77 percent thought there were widespread negative feelings towards the U.S. in the Islamic world that enhanced terrorist recruiting, and 54 per cent thought the US had been too assertive in its foreign policies.

In addition, 81 percent thought a key lesson of September 11 was that the U.S. needed to work more closely with other countries to fight terrorism, up from 61 percent in a similar poll more than a year ago.



The poll was conducted between August 26th and September 3rd. And it's only fair to say that that was one of the worst foreign policy weeks this White House has ever had.

But these numbers do show that the White House has serious vulnerabilities on foreign policy and national security issues. The 2004 election could well turn on whether the Democrats will nominate a candidate who has sufficient credibility on national security issues to exploit those vulnerabilities.

Today when taking questions about Iraq, President Bush said, "I will once again make that plea" for money and troops from other countries.

I guarantee you that the president's handlers in the room gritted their teeth or drew blood from their lower lips when they heard the P-word come out of the president's mouth.

Just for starters, what would the Standard and the National Review have said if Bill Clinton had used that word in the context of seeking help from other countries?

(Actually, scratch that: What will the Standard say? They're getting as much distance from this administration on this as they can.)

This is what we call a Kinsley Gaffe, the unintentional and deeply embarrassing statement of the truth.

The truth is that we do need other countries' help. But it's only the president's folly which has put us in the position of needing to beg.

A victory in the senate. Senate Democrats succeeded in getting an amendment passed to block the White House's proposal to restrict overtime pay. The vote wasn't even as close as might have been expected -- 54-45. As noted earlier, this is a very important issue in its own right. But it's also a cutting political issue and one that will now keep bubbling through the system.

The president has issued a veto threat against any legislative attempts to overturn his new overtime rule. And at first I had assumed the whole issue was academic since the Senate amendment would be stripped out by the House in the conference. But apparently the Dems might get another bite at this apple in the House, and perhaps even a vote to instruct the conferees. And I'm curious to find out whether that nine point spread in the Senate points to a shifting political climate, a growing perception of the Republicans' vulnerability on the economy, or a growing salience of economic issues as the foreign policy trump card weakens.

In any case, I'll try to find out more.

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