Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

The continuing decline of CNN. Miles O'Brien from yesterday afternoon ...

O'BRIEN: All right, we are listening to Max Cleland, former senator from Georgia and former Lieutenant Jim Rassmann, a former Green Beret whose life was saved by John Kerry in the Mekong Delta in 1969. Although, that is a point of dispute, given what has all transpired here with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Flagged by TPM reader AR.

Can somebody tell me where John Edwards is?

Late Update: Okay, okay. It was something of a rhetorical question. No more Edwards itinerary emails. But thanks for those who sent them.

A simple strategy note to the Kerry campaign:

If President Bush is going to try to pose as an advocate of campaign finance reform to dodge the Swift Boat issue, there's a really, really, really easy rejoinder to this one: mockery.

Don't get bogged down on the details. Just mockery. Full stop.

George W. Bush, Mr. Campaign Finance Reform? Please ... A laugh and a smile. Simple as that.

His credibility on the issue is zero. Voters know it.

Let's try being smart on this one, okay? Just once?

"Mr. Rove, Mr. Bush's top political aide, recently said through a spokeswoman that he and Mr. Perry were longtime friends, though he said they had not spoken for at least a year. Mr. Rove and Mr. Perry have been associates since at least 1986, when they both worked on the gubernatorial campaign of Bill Clements."

The New York Times, August 20th, 2004

HUME: Bob Perry, the Texas businessman who gave them the seed money, is a noted Republican, has been a contributor to President Bush, is someone you know. What about that connection, if there is a connection?

ROVE: Well, look, I know Bob Perry. I've known him for 25 years. When I moved to Texas, you can count the wealthy Republicans who are willing to write checks to support Republican candidates on the hand -- on the fingers of one hand. It would be unusual if I didn't know him, having been active for 25 years in Texas.

HUME: When's the last time you talked to him?

ROVE: Sometime in the last year. I can't remember exactly when. I saw him in the last year, and I remember seeing him someplace along the campaign trail and exchanging a few pleasantries.

Fox News, August 25th, 2004

"Any student of Bush family campaigns could have seen the swift boat shiv shining a mile away. This old family has traditions – horseshoes, fishing, bad syntax and having the help do the dirty work in campaigns as well as the kitchen. And they are very good at getting jobs done without leaving fingerprints, without compromising their patrician image and their alleged character."

A definite must-read piece by Dick Meyer over at CBSNews.com: "Dirty Tricks, Patrician Style."

The must-read of the day, a former special <$NoAd$> assistant to President Nixon and later a Reagan Pentagon appointee, Noel Koch on Dole on the Post oped page.

I quote the first and last grafs ...

"They want me to head Veterans," Bob Dole said. "They" meant the Bush White House. His tone said there were things he would rather do.

I asked him whether he was going to do it -- take on the campaign role of going after the veterans' vote. "Probably have to," he said, although he added that he knew the Bush campaign would want him to attack John Kerry, and he didn't intend to do that. He didn't have anything against Kerry, he said.


Bob Dole knows as well as any person how capricious is the gleaning of medals. Some men deserve what they don't get; some get what they don't deserve. And who should know better than he that it is craven to belittle a man's service because it didn't extend over some arbitrary stretch of time?

Bob Dole spent little time in combat. But as a result of the time he did spend, he lay on his back for years, recovering, and helping others to recover.

I spent a year in Vietnam and came home without a scratch. My brother served two tours in Vietnam, earned three Purple Hearts (and was hospitalized, and does draw disability -- weird yardsticks used to measure John Kerry's alleged shortfall), and yet spent far less time than I did in-country. Indeed, his first "tour" lasted about 15 minutes, ending on the beach near Danang in the midst of the U.S. Marines' first amphibious assault in Vietnam.

Time in-country, how often a man was wounded, how much blood he shed when he was wounded -- it is hurtful that those who served in Vietnam are being split in so vile a fashion, and that the wounds of that war are reopened at the instigation of people who avoided serving at all. It is hurtful that a man of Bob Dole's stature should lend himself to the effort to dishonor a fellow American veteran in the service of politics at its cheapest.

There was a time when he would have refused. I know. I was there.

Bush sullies everyone around him.

This might be the most telling testimony about <$Ad$>the Rassman incident.

Robert E. Lambert, was on Larry Thurlow's boat -- Thurlow's Kerry's chief accuser about this particular incident. He himself got a Bronze Star for, among other things, pulling Thurlow out of the water that day.

Lambert says he found Kerry's post-war anti-war activism "reprehensible."

"That was absolutely reprehensible but, there again, I’m career military" he told the local paper.

But on the key point ...

Lambert, now 64, was a crew member on swift boat PCF-51 that day. The boat was commanded by Navy Lt. Larry Thurlow, a now-retired officer who questions why Kerry was awarded a Bronze star for bravery and a third Purple Heart for the March 13 incident.

"He and another officer now say we weren’t under fire at that time," Lambert said Wednesday afternoon. "Well, I sure was under the impression we were."

Lambert’s Bronze Star medal citation for the incident praises his courage under fire in the aftermath of a mine explosion that rocked another swift boat on that day 35 years ago. "Anytime you are blown out of the water like that, they always follow that up with small arms fire," he said.

Lambert also sheds some light on the idea that Kerry somehow doctored the after-action report. Read this one.

Taegan D. Goddard at politicalwire.com says he got an advance look at the new LA Times poll and that it shows Bush 49% - Kerry 46% among registered voters.

Not a huge difference from recent polls -- and of course still in the margin of error. But it does provide some more evidence for at least a small move in the president's direction.

I do think this Swift Boat garbage has hurt.

We'll see how much or for how long.

By point of comparison the last LA Times poll (July 17-21) had Kerry 48% - Bush 46% (46-44 with Nader). To a statistician the difference between that poll and today's is meaningless. They're both deep in the margin of error. But as much as I'd like to believe that the difference is insignificant, my read of the few other recent national polls tells me that at least the direction of the movement, if not the extent of it, is real.

I love this.

The Times has a piece today on<$NoAd$> the Republican convention and Southern Rock bands or Country-ish acts they're having as entertainment in New York: Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Charlie Daniels Band, 38 Special, et al. ( Or maybe et y'al.?)

In any case, down in the piece they have this graf ...

Throwbacks, maybe, but that does not mean they are uncontroversial: Charlie Daniels recently angered some Arab-Americans with a song that included the lyrics "This ain't no rag, it's a flag, and we don't wear it on our heads." And Lynyrd Skynyrd is known for waving a giant Confederate flag during their rendition of "Sweet Home Alabama."

A confederate flag for "Sweet Home Alabama"?

Imagine that ...

Do we need some remedial rock hermeneutics here? Look, "Sweet Home Alabama" is an amazingly good song. I'm listening to it right now. I have it on one of the top playlists on my Ipod. So I can have it at the ready when I'm jogging.

But let's face facts: it is a paean to Southern defiance of civil rights revolution.

If you don't know that, have you listened to the lyrics?

In Birmingham they love the governor Now we all did what we could do Now Watergate does not bother me Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth ...

Sweet home Alabama Oh sweet home baby Where the skies are so blue And the governor’s true [i.e., then-segregationist Governor George Wallace] Sweet home Alabama Lordy Lord, I’m coming home to you Yeah, yeah [Alabama state capital] Montgomery’s got the answer

Now, if you'll pardon me, I've gotta go rock out to some Skynyrd.

[Late Update: I should note, as several readers have now reminded me, that several of the more deep-reading Skynyrdologists argue that the "Boo Boo Boo" which comes after "In Birmingham they love the guv'nah" is actually the band's winking effort to signal their ... well, disapprobation, shall we say, of Wallacite stand-pat segregationism. But I've never found that reading wholly convincing -- given the rest of the lyrics in the song. It always seemed to me more likely that that shadow lyric is a mocking allusion to anti-Wallace protestors. But who knows? And of course there's also the song's back-n-forth with Neil Young's 'Southern Man'.]