Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

On his site this afternoon, Middle Eastern Studies Professor Juan Cole -- who runs one of the best blogs on the web -- says he'll be on the Newshour tonight talking about Ayatollah Sistani and the growing tension over the handover of power in Iraq next summer. That will definitely be worth watching.

So now Drudge's after Kerry in Iowa, claiming he wanted to abolish the Department of Agriculture and cut farm subsidies.

I know, let's say, rather less about Ag policy than foreign policy. So I really have no direct knowledge whether this is a fair characterization or not. And I'll be curious to see if someone out there can evaluate the statements in their context and get to the bottom of it.

But considering what a scam his dig at Clark ended up being yesterday, every benefit of the doubt has to be with Kerry.

Ahhh, Perle's of wisdom. Or perhaps unintended self-incrimination. But who's counting.

As you know, I've been flogging since yesterday this issue of the ridiculously distorted quotes Drudge used from Wes Clark's September 26th 2002 congressional testimony. Then this morning the Journal got into the act claiming that the silly clips showed that Clark was endorsing Perle's views.

Now, I've been suggesting that people go and read the actual testimony to get a sense of whether these cherry-picked lines at all represent what Clark said that day. But I know people's lives are busy. And perhaps you don't have the time to get through the whole transcript. But maybe that's not necessary.

Toward the end of the session Perle himself characterized Clark's position ...

(Perle's run-down is more than a little disingenuous and he apparently felt the need to wait until Clark had left the hearing room for the day. But let's forgive him this once.)

Schrock: Sure, I would love to know Mr. Perle's, you know, the general said time is on our side. My guess is you do not believe that.

Perle: No, I don't believe it and frankly I don't think [Clark] made a very convincing case in support of that cliche but it was one of many cliches. At the end of the day when you sought to elicit from him a reconciliation of the view that time is on our side with what he acknowledged to be our ignorance of how far along Saddam Hussein is, he had no explanation.

He seems to be preoccupied, and I'm quoting now, with building legitimacy, with exhausting all diplomatic remedies as though we hadn't been through diplomacy for the last decade, and relegating the use of force to a last resort, to building the broadest possible coalition, in short a variety of very amorphous, ephemeral concerns alongside which there's a stark reality and that is that every day that goes by, Saddam Hussein is busy perfecting those weapons of mass destruction that he already has, improving their capabilities, improving the means with which to deliver them and readying himself for a future conflict.

So I don't believe that time is on our side and I don't believe that this fuzzy notion that the most important thing is building legitimacy, as if we lack legitimacy now, after all the U.N. resolutions that he's in blatant violation of, I don't believe that that should be the decisive consideration. So I think General Clark simply doesn't want to see us use military force and he has thrown out as many reasons as he can develop to that but the bottom line is he just doesn't want to take action. He wants to wait.

Did the Journal guys run their piece by Richard? Seems he disagrees. And what about those shows on the cable nets that got taken in? (Yeah, I'm talking about you too, CNN) No research departments?

Let me add my voice to those criticizing the ABC News story on Dean and the state trooper on his security detail who apparently was guilty of spousal abuse. As nearly as I can tell, this person who worked on his security detail beat his wife. But there's no evidence in the piece that Dean knew it. Then, while this guy was beating his wife or after it had occurred, Dean filed a three page affidavit for use in a custody hearing attesting that the trooper, Dennis Madore, was a good father.

But, again, there's no evidence that Dean knew anything about the abuse! Or really, any evidence that he should have known. Without going into all the ins and outs of the story, Dean seems to have played it by the book at every point.

Now, certainly it's a bit of a touchy thing for Dean. But not because he did anything wrong, only because it's always awkward to have something ugly like that happen in your proximity.

But even in a pint-sized state like Vermont, governors have lots of people who work with them or for them. And they can't be expected to have a handle on what bad acts one or more of them might or might not be doing at home.

It's an impossible standard.

You might say that the piece can't be that unfair since I was able to glean this exculpatory information from it. And to an extent that's true. But the piece seems packaged to hit Dean with all sorts of ugly insinuations, and quite unfairly.

The article is headlined "Dean's Trooper" -- a pretty obvious reference to the Clinton trooper stories. And the whole story is associating him with the extremely (and rightly) hotbutton issue of wife-beating, even though, as I noted above, it's wholly unmerited.

Perhaps this story deserved a small write-up about a minor controversy in Vermont state politics. But as it was done, I don't see how you can say it wasn't deeply unfair and really a smear.

Oh how sad a day it is when even the Wall Street Journal's 'Review & Outlook' section (subscription required) cribs its material right from the RNC fax printout. Today one of the 'Review & Outlook's' pieces is entitled 'General Wesley Perle'.

They take the cherry-picked quotes Drudge ran yesterday -- the ones he seems to have gotten from Ed Gillespie, who also used them in a speech yesterday in Little Rock -- and use them to argue that Clark has flip-flopped on the war.

Little more than a year ago, the Journalistas say, he was endorsing the views of none other than arch-hawk Richard Perle.

Now, we know that all the usual suspects have been hitting the airwaves on this one, with the crib notes from Movement Central in hand. But let's point out one fairly straightforward fact that the worthies at the Journal (and the rest who have made this point that Clark was supporting Perle's view) seem to leave out.

If you look at the actual testimony, which I've posted here, you'll notice something that couldn't be simpler. The testimony on that day before the House Armed Services Committee was set up with one supporter of the president's policy and one opponent of it. The first was Perle, the second was Clark. And if you read through the testimony, that's how it reads. A fuller picture, as usual, shows the real story.

The Journal 'Review & Outlook' piece plays it otherwise because the authors aren't troubled by making deceptive arguments by withholding key pieces of information which contradict their point -- which is a bit of a failing for journalists.

Do we need to rewrite the script? This is really getting interesting.

Today Zogby has John Kerry opening up a five point lead over Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt in Iowa. The numbers: Kerry 24%, Dean 19%, Gephardt 19%, Edwards 17%.

Even more interesting however are the ARG numbers out of New Hampshire. Today's numbers there are Dean 28%, Clark 23%, Kerry 16%.

Clark is now a mere five points behind Dean. But, again, Kerry is the bigger story.

He's moved up a point or two a day each day this week. And the internals on those numbers tell an interesting tale. As the ARG analysis says: "The drop in ballot preference for Howard Dean has stabilized and women voters who have switched from Dean are giving John Kerry a lift at the expense of Wesley Clark."

In other words, Dean has lost support. And most of it has gone to Clark so far. But Clark is having a real problem getting female voters who leave Dean to come to him. And they're going to Kerry.

If those Zogby numbers out of Iowa are real and Kerry wins the caucuses ... well, let's wait and see.

So imagine that. The same day <$NoAd$>Drudge has his 'world exclusive' with ridiculously distorted clips of Wes Clark's September 2002 congressional testimony on Iraq, RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie is in Little Rock giving a speech about Clark and he's using the same testimony to riff on.

What a coincidence they were both using google on the same day with the same idea, right? Amazing.

And then, according to KnightRidder, it turns out that Drudge didn't even play the smear straight. To quote the KnightRidder ...

Clark's congressional testimony was further distorted Thursday by cyber-gossip columnist Matt Drudge, who quoted selected portions of Clark's testimony and added sentences that don't appear in the transcript on his Web site Thursday. Drudge didn't respond to an e-mail request for comment.

Oh what a tangled web ...

A small note of thanks.

At a luncheon yesterday in Manhattan (actually at Harold Evans and Tina Brown’s apartment), The Week magazine gave out its first annual opinion awards. Tommy Tomlinson of The Charlotte Observer won in the local columnist category; Tom Friedman won for Columnist of the year; and Paul Krugman won for Issue Advocacy Columnist of the year.

In a cool development they also decided to make an award in the blog category. And I’m honored to say that they chose this humble web site. So to the editors at The Week, to Harold Evans, and to the judges on the panel a very sincere thank you.

There’s a write-up on it at Editor and Publisher if you want to find out more.

Now there were various luminaries there and it was quite flattering to hear that some of these people have visited the site. But let me share with you a private moment.

Early on I noticed that one of the folks there was Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Schlesinger, if you’re not familiar with him, is one of those few people who is quite literally a legend in his own time. I don’t know precisely how old he is. But, to give you a sense of the range we’re talking about, the book that made his name as an historian, The Age of Jackson, came out, I believe, in 1946.

Schlesinger is an historian and an advisor to president Kennedy, but also a towering figure in 20th century American political life, particularly in the first phase of the Cold War when his name was almost a shorthand for liberal anti-communism and Cold War Liberalism. The key book here is The Vital Center, published I believe in 1949 --- a phrase and concept of high moment, before it got cheapened in the 1990s to refer to mere political centrism.

In any case, as you can probably see, Schlesinger is a rather big deal to me. So toward the end of the whole event, after most folks had left, I saw Schlesinger and two women standing off to one side. And I thought, this is my chance. How can I let it go by?

So I walked over to where the three were talking and planted myself there like a schoolboy and waited.

And I waited, and waited a bit more until they, a touch awkwardly, turned their attention to me. When they did, I introduced myself and told him what a great admirer I was of his and what an honor it was to meet him and so forth. When I did this I explained that in addition to my semi-reputable work as a blogger I was also a trained historian with a Ph.D. in American history and the works.

Now normally I never mention this, or say such things. And I’m half embarrassed to mention to you that I did. But given Schlesinger’s merit in the profession, and my limited window of opportunity to play up my admiration, I thought I’d make an exception for myself in this one case. I probably figured that I’d be making clear that I knew who he was, that my admiration wasn’t just a pleasantry, or perhaps, candidly, that I wasn’t just some yahoo.

To be polite Schlesinger’s wife asked me to explain to them just what a blog is. And though I get this question pretty often, it turns out to be a rather challenging one if the people you’re trying to explain it to don’t necessarily have a lot of clear web reference points to make sense of what you’re saying.

I ended up telling them that it was something like political commentary structured like a personal journal with occasional reporting mixed in.

Now, as I was explaining and watching the looks on everyone’s faces it was incrementally becoming clear to me that this was playing rather like saying that something was like a washing machine structured like a rhinoceros with the occasional sandwich thrown in. And, as Schlesinger himself had said rather little through all this, it was also dawning on me that being one of the four guests of honor at this little event was providing no guarantee against making a bit of a fool of myself.

So we let the brief conversation come to a merciful end and they started to walk away. And, as he was turning to leave, Schlesinger said, “Are you Joshua Micah M ….”

“Yeah, that's me.”

“You work for Charlie Peters [i.e., for The Washington Monthly]. I’m an admirer of your journalism.”

Then they walked away.

My day was made.

Lieberman picks up on Drudge's line about <$NoAd$>Clark's September 2002 testimony.

Here's the lede from the just-released Lieberman press release ...

LIEBERMAN STATEMENT ON CLARK IRAQ TESTIMONY Drudge: Clark made the case for war against Iraq

MANCHESTER, NH -- Joe Lieberman issued the following statement in response to the Drudge Report's discovery of congressional testimony from September 2002 in which Wes Clark made the case for war in Iraq. The report provides evidence directly contradicting Clark's repeated claims that he has been "very consistent" on the war "from the very beginning."

Statement by Joe Lieberman

"Yesterday, Wesley Clark attacked me for pointing out his multiple positions on the war in Iraq. It is no longer credible for Wesley Clark to assert that he has always had only one position on the war - being against it. His own testimony before Congress shows otherwise.

"He may think it is 'old-style politics' to point this out, but the only thing old here is a candidate not leveling with the American people. If we want to begin anew and replace George Bush, we need to level with the American people, which is what I have done in this campaign and throughout my career. You may not always agree with me but you will always know where I stand."

Woe to the Democrat who uses Drudge as a clip service!

I don't know if the Lieberman folks looked at the actual testimony -- as opposed to the drudged version -- before sending out this press release. But you can, in the post below.