Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Sometimes a picture is worth <$Ad$>a thousand words.

But a good graph can be worth a thousand words, several good movies, a Raymond Chandler novel, true love, a lifetime supply of good cigars, and assorted other relics of the good life.

Paul Krugman's got one of those graphs in his Tuesday column.

Editorial Note: In the first draft of this post, "a lifetime supply of good cigars" was "a lifetime supply of Funyuns." But as I was hunting around for a Funyuns link (there could be no TPM without google) I found this rather critical article on the Funyun by Alissa Rowinsky in Flak Magazine. And I realized Funyuns are simply too awful for such a bequest to be considered a good thing even in jest. But the Funyun's loss was my gain, because Alissa's short piece has to be one of the funniest things I've read in a long time.

Up is down, baby!

WALLACE: Let's talk about that, because some families say that their biggest problem is that, at the same time the president is putting 9/11 in his campaign commercials, that he has sharply limited cooperation with the commission studying the 9/11 attacks.

RACICOT: You know, I don't believe the facts support that particular notion. The fact is that the president — this is a legislative inquiry. The president has agreed to an examination by the members of that particular commission. That is unprecedented. Typically that doesn't happen.

All of the documentation that they have requested has been provided at their request. I think their own assessment is that, in fact, the president has been entirely cooperative and trying to provide all the assistance...

That's Chris Wallace<$Ad$> interviewing the president's campaign chairman Marc Racicot yesterday on Fox News Sunday.

They've provided "all of the documentation"?

The president's been "entirely cooperative"?

Please tell me there's a penalty box for this kind of behavior.

As it happens, Racicot later tries to clarify his point after Wallace knocked him around a bit.

You'll remember, one of the big disputes now is whether all the commission members will be able to attend the interview with the president or just the two co-chairs.

When he came to this point, Racicot came up with this galactically silly argument ...

As a matter of fact, I might also point out that none of the members of the commission have been present for all of the interviews that have taken place, even those of Dr. Rice.

So apparently the restrictions are punishment for prior slacking off by the commission members.

Racicot's becoming the Tommy Flanagan of this campaign, Jon Lovitz's old 'Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket!' character from the old Saturday Night Live.

We'll be following up on this later. But apparently some of the president's most opprobrious surrogates have hit the airwaves this evening peddling their latest smear about John Kerry as a dupe or stooge for "communist North Korea".

Gettin' bad pretty quick, ain't it?

At one level of course this is just silliness. But it's no mystery what sort of dingbat imaginations and Hofstadterian impulses they're trying to tap.

It's a pale echo of the wingnut awfulness of the 'Manchurian candidate' smears the president's operatives mobilized against John McCain in South Carolina four years ago.

No surprise of course since it's coming from the same strategists.

Like we've been saying, a wounded, cornered animal.

Beware ...

At what point do you bend over backwards so far that you just fall on your face?

We've been talking this evening about a new CNN/USAToday Gallup poll that shows John Kerry beating President Bush by 6% points among likely voters in a three man race (with Nader) and 8% points in a two way race (without Nader).

Now, as of 10:30 PM on the east coast, if you go to the CNN website, on the front page you'll find the palpably ridiculous headline: "Poll: Mixed news for presidential candidates".

I mean, who came up with that headline?

With all the obvious caveats that polls eight months before an election don't necessarily tell you much about election day, there's no getting around the fact that this is a good poll for John Kerry and a pretty bad one for the president.

If you look down into the internals on both the USAToday and CNN sites you'll see a number of examples of this.

And yet on the CNN page with the actual story it says:"Kerry leads Bush in new poll: But most voters think president will be re-elected"

Skim down and you'll find that 52% of voters think Bush will win versus 42% who think Kerry will take it.

To me that seems like a pretty obvious lagging indicator for president who was extremely popular -- and seemingly assured of reelection -- but is now sinking fast.

But whatever it means, the idea that it makes the overall import of the poll "mixed news" is silly. A week from now, or a month from now, Kerry may be in the dumps. But this poll was good news for him and bad news for the president.

Why be afraid to say that? How now mau-mau?

Here we seem to have the answer to the question I posed earlier about 'likely' and 'registered' voters.

According to CNN's story on the new CNN/USAToday Gallup poll ...

The poll, released Monday, found that among likely voters, Kerry was the choice of 52 percent and Bush 44 percent in a two-way matchup, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points ...

Among registered voters, Kerry's lead over Bush narrowed from 8 percentage points to 5 points in a two-way race and from 6 points to 2 points in a three-way race.

That is because Democratic voters are indicating they are more likely to vote than the overall electorate -- something that has rarely happened in past elections and may be fueled by the interest in the recent Democratic primaries.

So there you have it. <$Ad$>When the pollsters restrict their count to 'likely' voters Kerry does better.

I'm not enough of a poll maven to give a precise enumeration or history, but that's really uncommon. Restricting down to 'likely' or even 'very likely' voters almost always gets you a more Republican-friendly number.

Notwithstanding the CNN story's reference to interest generated by the primaries, it seems to me that the most straightforward explanation of this is that Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are more energized, more committed to getting out and voting this year.

Of course, that energy could be a product of the primaries. But I suspect that gets the order of events, at least in part, wrong.

The fact that primaries turned out so well for the Dems -- and I mean this only in the limited sense of not producing a lot of intra-party dissension -- is a product of the energy and unanimity among Democrats over the central and overriding importance of ousting the president.

Special TPM Flashback: January 6th, 2001. The House of Representatives approves the Bush electors from the state of Florida over the vain but glorious objections of the Congressional Black Caucus and Bob Filner.

Yet more evidence.

The new ABCNews/Washington Post poll out this evening has Kerry over Bush 48% to 44% among registered voters (for a discussion of the possible significance of 'registered voters' see this post from a bit ago.)

Ralph Nader is pulling 3%. And lest we be tempted to depart from the friggin' obvious, the Post poll confirms that "Nader is drawing essentially all of his support from Kerry."

In a two way race Kerry beats Bush by 9%.

Another interesting data point: "A majority of Americans -- 57 percent -- say they want their next president to steer the country away from the course set by Bush."

So perhaps Kerry can get past the finish line first even carrying this lanky egomaniac on his back.

The poll does show that the president is getting down near his solid base of support while a substantial minority of Kerry's present supporters still don't know that much about him. That only underscores the importance of Kerry's defining himself now before the Republican slime machine -- which is already appealing to the wingnut, Manchurian Candidate Kerry's-a-communist constituency -- does it for him.

In a new article out this afternoon investigative journalist Murray Waas reports that in an FBI interview last October Karl Rove admitted that "he circulated and discussed damaging information regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame with others in the White House, outside political consultants, and journalists."

Rove also apparently mentioned "at least six other administration officials who were involved in the effort to discredit Wilson."

However, Rove insisted that he did this only after Plame's name appeared in Novak's column; and that he was not Novak's source.

It's great to know what Rove said. But let's find out what folks in the Vice President's office told the investigators -- from the top of the org chart on down.

Speaking of wounded, cornered animals, Republicans get awfully nasty when they see the writing on the wall.

For instance, see this headline from a new public memo from RNC research ...

Communist North Korea Is Only Government On Record Supporting John Kerry

Does the president have a list of names in his hand who ... well, you know the rest.