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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Another contender for our Karl Rove Dirty Trick's Watch?

You'll remember from Josh Green's piece on Rove's tactics in the current Atlantic Monthly, Rove has a certain penchant, shall we say, for mounting whisper campaigns which suggest that whatever candidate he happens to be running against at the moment is gay.

(What is it with these Republicans and gay sex?)

Well, it seems someone in South Dakota has been sending out stickers to churches in the state that read "Vote for Daschle & Vote for SODOMY."

Maybe not Rove, of course. But perhaps some young Rove acolyte learning the ropes?

Now, that's more like it. AP/IPSOS has Kerry over Bush 49% to 46% among likely voters.

That's within the margin of error. But almost every poll is within the margin these days. And that comes on the heels of dead-even readings among likely voters from NBC/WSJ and Pew in the last couple days.

Zogby does have Bush wobbling back to a one point lead today. And the Post still has Bush with a three point spread.

But on balance there seems to be at least a mild drift in Kerry's direction over this last week.

There's a buzz now about why the House Intelligence Committee still hasn't received a copy of a CIA inspector general's report which examines the Agency's performance during the run-up to the Sept. 11 attacks. Democrats suspect it's being held up until after the election. And even the Republican chairman of the Committee joined the ranking member telling the CIA to stop delaying.

Why stop there, though?

What I'd really like to see is the joint State Department-CIA Inspector General's report on the Niger forgeries that was finished a year ago.

It's got some details about Italy.

I don't know quite what <$Ad$>to think of Pat Robertson's claim that President Bush told him there'd be no casualties in Iraq. Candor requires me to say that, as a general matter, I don't trust this guy as far as I could throw him. I certainly wouldn't put in any stock in his say-so if he were accusing someone I supported.

(Oddly enough, Kevin Drum has the best Bush-exonerating theory on this one, though I think it's a stretch.)

But in this case, it's sort of an admission against interest. Robertson's no Kerry supporter. He has no interest in hurting the president.

And even if you assume that Robertson is acting out of some sort of intra-Republican pique, he's said this before -- and not at a time when the statement would be quite so politically charged.

As Andrew Sullivan notes this evening, back in June on Hardball Robertson said ...

I felt very uneasy about [the war] from the very get-go. Whenever I heard about it, I knew it was going to be trouble. I warned the president. I only met with him once. I said, You better prepare the American people for some serious casualties. And he said, Oh, no, our troops are, you know, so well protected, we don't have to worry about that.


Having said it months ago when the stakes were much lower -- and not having been contradicted at the time -- makes Robertson's claim more plausible. As Sullivan also points out, this looser formulation also has the ring of truth. To say that the US would suffer no casualties is either a rhetorical shorthand or ridiculous on its face.

When he spoke a few months ago, Robertson's point was that President Bush was sure the war would be a painless one.

That sounds a lot like our president.

A reader (MS) brings up another point.

When trying to refute Robertson's claim, Karen Hughes told the Associated Press, "Obviously, we already had casualties in Afghanistan at the time. If you look at that, that (the comment) was not consistent with what was going on."

In other words, Hughes is arguing that the president couldn't have said such a thing because such a statement wouldn't have been consistent with the reality that everyone could see in front of them.

Need I say more?

Back on July 1st a source first told me that Allen Raymond, the man at the heart of the New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal, had fingered Jim Tobin as one of his accomplices. (Tobin's role was reported first on TPM on October 11th.) Tobin, as we've noted earlier, was the New England regional director of the Bush-Cheney campaign until he resigned last Friday.

That's more than three and a half months ago. The Bush campaign has known at least since then. And I suspect much longer. And yet they left him in the post.

That means the campaign kept in place a man implicated in an election tampering scam that took place in the same part of the country over which the campaign had given him oversight.

What does that tell you?

Another point ...

To the best of my knowledge no political reporter covering the Bush campaign has asked a campaign spokesperson 1) when they found out about Tobin's role in the election tampering scheme and 2) why they didn't remove him from the campaign after they learned.

What does that tell you?

If anyone knows of a reporter who's asked or an article where an answer has been published, please let me know.

In other phone-jamming news, yesterday the Justice Department again went to the mat to prevent New Hampshire Democrats from gaining access to evidence about Tobin's role in the case.

Talk about pathetic ...

I don't know how much sense there is getting into the nitty-gritty of which pol has gotten a flu shot and which hasn't. But this is pretty feeble. If you look on Drudge as of around 12:31 AM there's a big headline about the Kerry campaign hitting Cheney, Snow and Frist for getting flu shots, notwithstanding the shortage.

And then just below there's a headline: "BUT CLINTON GOT ONE."

Please.

Didn't Clinton have a quadruple bypass like about six weeks ago? And, as long as we're on the topic, isn't Clinton, like ... not on the ballot?

For myself, I don't begrudge the Veep getting a shot. He's over sixty and he has a serious heart condition. But the White House is ill-positioned to make that case since the whole point is that the Vice President is, by definition, not in good health.

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