Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Charlie Rangel's (D-NY) statement on the draft bill <$NoAd$>brought to the House floor today ...

The Republican leadership decision to place the draft legislation on the Suspension Calendar is a political maneuver to kill rumors of the President's intention to reinstate the draft after the November election.

I am voting no, because my bill deserves serious consideration. It should be subject to hearings and to expert testimony. The Administration should come and tell us about our manpower needs, about recruitment and retention, about the extent to which out troops are overextended. And they should give us their views about shared sacrifice. If they did all of those things in a serious way, they would have to admit that my bill is an option.

But what we are seeing now is election-year politics. They are using the Suspension Calendar, which is reserved for non-controversial items, to make a cynical political statement. The American people are deeply concerned about this issue deserve more than this. So do our troops, who after we leave here today, will still be on ground, and left with the message that we couldn't take the time to discuss their situation and what should be done to relieve them.

This is hypocrisy of the worst kind. I would not encourage any Democrat running for reelection to vote for this bill.

More as the story develops ...

Et tu, Breme?

So here we go again: A former Bush administration official says -- after the fact -- that the central critiques of administration policy were entirely correct.

In this case, the admission is that the US never had enough troops in Iraq to get the job done. On top of that, there is a critical subsidiary point: that the US lost vital and perhaps irrecoverable ground in the first days and weeks of the occupation by not ending the widespread looting and not moving quickly enough to restore law and order.

"We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness," said Bremer, according to the Post, "We never had enough troops on the ground."

Needless to say, this wasn't just a critique mounted by political opponents but a prediction made far in advance of the outbreak of hostilities by many of the president's statutory advisors -- like Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki.

As Atrios notes, we're already hearing the chorus of Bush leakers whipping up the cry that Bremer is a liar and some sort of hopeless fool who was lucky not to get canned for all the mistakes he made -- a la, Clarke, O'Neill and all the rest.

What strikes me in the Post article is Bremer's contention, contained in an email he sent to the article's authors, that his contention that the US had insufficient troops applies to the immediate post-invasion period rather than to today.

Partly, this dodges the question. There's a lot of time between April/May 2003 and Sept./Oct. 2004. Most of that time, Bremer was in charge.

The key though is that it's hard to argue that the US had too few troops on the ground in June 2003 or December 2003 or March 2004 and yet has an adequate amount today when the situation has deteriorated so dramatically.

Not impossible, but very hard.

The whole point of coming in early with a robust occupying force is that you can establish law and order early with a number of troops that might not be able to re-establish order once things have spun out of control. The number of troops needed to put the genie back in the bottle, almost by definition, has to be greater than the number that would have been needed to stop it getting out in the first place.

Where was James Q. Wilson when these jokers needed him?

No, no, no ... we really really don't want a draft.

House Republicans, worried about the traction of charges that President Bush will be forced to reinstitute the draft in a second term, are rushing to the floor this afternoon to vote on the Draft legislation Charlie Rangel (D-NY) introduced early last year.

No hearings, no notice, no nuthin'.

I'll post more as the situation develops.

Marshall Unbound!

No, not this Marshall. But that one, Marshall Wittman.

As longtime readers know, way back in blog antiquity, Marshall ran a blog called the "Bull Moose." But it went into suspended animation when he took over as John McCain's Communications Director a couple years ago (I don't know the exact date; but it was something like that.)

I've known Marshall for, I think, about five years. He and I first met, if memory serves, in his then-office at the Heritage Foundation for an interview I was doing on ... well, honestly I can't remember what the article was even about. Thinking back on it, I think it was supposed to be for an article on McCain and the reformist conservatism that was then growing up around him. But given the constraints I was then operating under I think it never got written. In any case, I note the location to give some sense of the ideological terrain Marshall's covered over the last few years.

After that, Marshall became central (even that may be understating his importance to it) to what was then coming to be called National Greatness Conservatism -- a set of ideas that was perhaps as inchoate as it was compelling.

Bill Kristol was part of that. But Marshall was always its core. The political darling, of course, was McCain. And Marshall played a big idea role in McCain's 2000 campaign.

After McCain got dug under by President Bush, Marshall went to the Hudson Institute to work on the idea of National Greatness Conservatism. But after a relatively short stint there, he signed up with McCain.

Now, 'National Greatness Conservatism' grew out of the uncertainties and drift created within the Republican party by Clintonism, the end of the Cold War and the porkification of the congressional GOP after their 1994 sweep.

It's more complicated than that, of course. But it was an effort on the part of a group of conservative (probably fair to call them neo-conservative) intellectuals to build a new political synthesis around two basic planks: a hawkish internationalism which placed a heavy emphasis on American values and an abandonment of Norquistian anti-governmentism at home.

It wasn't liberal. But it was progressive -- at least in the old Rooseveltian (TR, that is) sense of harnessing the federal government to accomplish great things and become an engine of national unity. And perhaps it also contained some progressive elements in the more contemporary sense. But that was always the ambiguous part.

My own semi-outsider's sense of this -- and Marshall bears no responsibility for this interpretation -- was always that the post Marshall got at Hudson was in some very broad sense akin to what a venture capitalist or perhaps a major corporation will do when they buy equity in some start-up with a new technology.

So, in my sense of this, the GOP was like GM and Marshall was like some small tech company with a very promising technology for solar fuel cells or something. And they're figuring, 'Well, the internal combustion engine [the Nixon/Reagan coalition] is near the end of the line. So let's buy into this guy's new idea [National Greatness Conservatism] and see where it goes."

But then something went wrong.

The National Greatness thing was based on a belief that Bush represented a tired and vacuous politics of moneyed power -- perhaps preferable to the Democrats, but nothing to get excited about for the future. But then 9/11 came along. And most of those who'd classed themselves with the McCainiac/National Greatness clique decided that as long as Bush could rack up the votes that they could live with Karl Rove, Texas style conservatism and plutocracy just fine.

And with that, there just wasn't much need for National Greatness Conservatism any more -- no need for investments in speculative and innovative new ideas when George W. Bush was making a going concern of money politics and cynicism.

In fairness to those like Kristol, who jumped eagerly on to the Bush bandwagon, Marshall's vision of National Greatness Conservatism was also beginning to look more and more like Cold War Liberalism.

In any case, last week was Marshall's last week with McCain. He's taken a post at the DLC/Progressive Policy Institute. He's bringing back the Moose. And in his first public statement since he got his voice back, he's endorsing Kerry-Edwards.

Says Marshall in the first graf of the piece ...

I am an independent McCainiac who hopes to revive the Bull Moose tradition of Theodore Roosevelt, and I support the Kerry-Edwards agenda. Don't get me wrong -- this Bull Moose is not completely in agreement with the Democratic donkey. But the Bush administration has betrayed the effort to create a new politics of national greatness in the aftermath of 9/11.

Marshall's political views probably aren't in line with the majority of TPM readers, though in many respects I'd say that they probably differ in ways that mine also differ from the majority of TPM readers. But Marshall is at the top of my list of those who straddle the line between being political thinkers and political operators. I think the world of him.

Okay, we've now got six new post-debate polls.

One shows a very slight Kerry lead: Newsweek (Kerry by +3).

Three are basically a tie: Zogby (Bush +1), CNN/USAT/Gallup (Tied), CBS/NYT (Tied).

Two show a modest but measurable Bush lead: Pew (Bush +5), ABC/WaPo (Bush +5).

We now have enough data to make some general conclusions. Kerry got a big bounce out of the debate. He's now even or close to even with Bush. With Bush as the incumbent and under 50%, that puts him squarely back in the danger zone. But Kerry clearly still has his work cut out for him. The remaining debates are crucial and beating back the Bush campaign's 'Kerry Doctrine' lies is imperative.

[ed.note: In the numbers above I've used 'likely voter' numbers where possible and straight Bush-Kerry numbers were possible. I'll be waiting for Ruy and others to crunch the internals.]


As we noted earlier this morning and others have now noted in greater detail, it's pretty clear that Frank Luntz bamboozled Howie Kurtz when he said "he's done no GOP work since 2001."

But here we have it in pure dollars and cents.

According to the California Secretary of State's website, the Bill Simon (R) for Governor campaign paid Luntz about $80,000 in 2002 and 2003.

He also got paid over $25,000 in 2003 by Darrell Issa's recall committee "RESCUE CALIFORNIA".

In any meaningful sense that was "GOP work." But perhaps Luntz could have claimed that the recall effort wasn't technically partisan.

Simon, though? No getting around that one. And this is just one state and one candidate.

I think that guy lied to you, Howie.

[ed.note: A Special Note of thanks to TPM reader WT for some very meritorious and slam-dunk sleuthing.]

There was a mini-brouhaha <$NoAd$>this afternoon when a purported internal Fox News memo, which announced the suspension of Carl Cameron over the Kerry quotes, was revealed to be a hoax.

This is the actual memo that Fox Senior VP John Moody sent to Fox employees ...

PLEASE READ: Last week, we experienced separate lapses of judgment, resulting in the posting, on our website, of inaccurate material.

Credibility is our lifeblood. When we make factual mistakes, we affect adversely all the hard work that we've done for eight years to become the country's leading news channel.

There is enough blame to go around. In last week's incident, a stupid parody of a quote was included in the script queue. It was picked up unthinkingly and included on the website.

For that reason, we are implementing a number of changes: first, and immediately, the scripts queue is OFF LIMITS for editorial use until the item has been broadcast or the script is approved for use. Second, the use of scripts queue for humor, sarcasm, parody or other unprofessional conduct is strictly forbidden.

Failure to follow this directive is a dismissable offense.

Asked for a comment, Fox News spokesman Paul Schur told me, "This note speaks for itself."

And in case you're wondering, given recent events, a Fox News representative confirmed to me that this memo is authentic.

I think this memo leaves the key issue entirely unstated. But there you go.

Late Update: I see now from a link on Atrios that Media Bistro posted this same memo about a half hour before I posted mine. This just shows that you really shouldn't get that dinner before you finish a post you've been working on. In any case, this is independently reported.

If you go to this graphic from this weekend's New York Times Week in Review, it shows a series of Kerry and Bush quotes from the debates and then text bubbles with humorous quips about what they were probably thinking when they made the given statement.

One of those from Kerry is this one: "And long before President Bush and I get a tax cut—and that‘s who gets it—long before we do, I‘m going to invest in homeland security and I‘m going to make sure we‘re not cutting cops programs in America and we‘re fully staffed in our firehouses and that we protect the nuclear and chemical plants."

The Times then suggested Kerry was thinking: "If I call officers 'cops' I sound like a regular guy."

Actually, though, if you look at the published transcript of the debate it says not 'cops' but 'COPS'. And that's because anyone who comes even remotely close to following public policy knows that COPS is an acronym for Community Oriented Policing Services program, passed under Clinton (i.e., hundred thousand new cops, etc.)

I'm assuming there'll soon be a little bubble over the Times writer's head saying: "If I spent more time learning about public policy and less time with Dowdesque thumb-nail cultural criticism maybe I wouldn't make such a fool of myself."

Special thanks to reader MJ for the catch.

According to Steve Clemons, at a speech over the weekend at the University of Central Arkansas, Michael Moore said that he had been offered the 'Killian memos' during his work on Fahrenheit 9/11, but passed on them, considering them unreliable.