Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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No time to discuss it in detail now. But keep a close eye on this developing situation with the Kurds in northern Iraq, which is discussed in this piece in tomorrow's Washington Post. Also note this post on Juan Cole's site.

I haven't yet had a chance to give a close look to the Carnegie Endowment'sreport on Iraq and WMD. But it's awfully distressing to see Colin Powell (almost a tragic figure in all this) spouting the ridiculousness that whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction is still an open question.

"This game is still unfolding," said the Secretary today.

Game, indeed.

There are real questions about just how almost everyone in the US government seemed to get this one so wrong. (The administration systematically exaggerated the evidence. But even the 'good' evidence turned out to be wrong.) But that we got it wrong really isn't up for discussion anymore.

The fact that David Kay says he wants out and that, as Times reported today, we have "quietly withdrawn from Iraq a 400-member military team whose job was to scour the country for military equipment" makes the point pretty clearly.

At a certain point, the inability to come to grips with this publicly just becomes pathetic.

But this is what it's come to. We're like OJ and Scott Peterson, off searching for the 'real killers.'

Or when they bring back 'In Search Of' ... Amelia Earhart, the Bermuda Triangle and Iraqi WMD.

If you're going to be in Washington on January 13th consider attending the Second Annual "REAL STATE OF THE UNION" Media Briefing and National Policy Forum put on by the New America Foundation and the Atlantic Monthly.

Find out more here.

Finally! New numbers out of Iowa.

Dean 29%, Gephardt 25%, Kerry 18%.

Those numbers are from a poll out this afternoon from Research 2000 for KCCI-TV.

Some backdrop to Democratic congressional candidate Ben Chandler's (Kentucky-6th) endorsement of Wes Clark, noted below.

The following numbers are from a poll taken in mid-December in Kentucky's 6th district, a district which has been held by Democrats and Republicans and is a fairly Democrat-friendly district by Kentucky standards.

For Bush ...

69% favorable/29% unfavorable

The breakdown: 46% very favorable, 23% somewhat favorable, 9% somewhat unforavable, 20% very unfavorable, 2% don't know.

For Dean ...

22% favorable/40% unfavorable

The breakdown: 5% very favorable, 17% somewhat favorable, 12% somewhat unforavable, 29% very unfavorable, 29% don't know, 9% never heard of

The poll was conducted by a well-known Democratic polling firm. Dean was the only one of the Democratic presidential candidates who's name was tested. The poll was not commissioned by or connected in any way to the Clark campaign.

The sample group was made of a 400 registered voters who said they were at least "very likely" to vote in the February 17th special election.

Today's ARG New Hampshire daily tracking poll: Dean 35%, Clark 18%, Kerry 12%.

It's worth saying that the ARG poll is not the most respected poll in the business. They completely missed the result of the Republican primary in New Hampshire in 2000, in which John McCain outdid George W. Bush. But it's hard to miss the pretty clear trend in these numbers.

On December 28th the spread was Dean 37%, Kerry 19%, Clark 12%.

When do we see some new numbers out of Iowa?

Former Kentucky Attorney General Ben Chandler, who was defeated in the governor's race last November by Ernie Fletcher, is now running for Congress in the state's 6th congressional district. It's a special election and it's being held on February 17th. Ironically, that's the seat Fletcher had to vacate to move into the governor's mansion.

Yesterday The Hill ran an article discussing whether, as has been rumored, Howard Dean would try to help Chandler raise money as he has, very successfully, for Rep. Leonard Boswell of Iowa.

The Hill quoted Chandler campaign manager Mark Nickolas thus ...

“We would love their support,” Nickolas said, adding that for Democratic candidates it comes down to grassroots support to “counterbalance the Republican moneymaking machine.”

Nickolas believes that if Dean would formally ask his supporters to help Chandler, the campaign of retired Gen. Wesley Clark would follow suit.

As the article reads, <$Ad$>that mention of Clark seems to come out of nowhere.

Tomorrow, TPM has learned, Chandler will announce that he's endorsing Wes Clark for President.

In itself, an endorsement from someone who's not even a member of congress but just someone running for congress wouldn't be such a big deal. (Dean has a slew of real live congressmen and congresswomen who've endorsed him.) But I think we can expect this to become fodder for the Dean electability/'can he win in the South' debate for a number of reasons which we'll discuss in future posts.

A related point.

To date, Clark has been able to benefit from the other Democratic candidates' merciless attacks on Howard Dean (particularly on foreign policy and electability) while remaining more or less mum on Dean himself. That's allowed Clark to have his cake and eat it too.

How long will that last?

As this article in tomorrow's Times notes, the Dean campaign is starting to turn some fire Clark's way.

This is where this race is going -- Dean versus Clark in New Hampshire, with Dean pushing whether Clark is a real Democrat and Clark pushing foreign policy credentials and electability.

Get a load of how George Harrison's <$NoAd$> estate says his oncologist treated him in the days before he died. This from today's Times ...

The doctor, Gilbert Lederman, the director of radiation oncology at Staten Island University Hospital, which widely advertises his stereotactic radiosurgery cancer treatment, was portrayed in the suit as violating Mr. Harrison's privacy to bask in the glow of a famous patient. The suit, which also names the hospital, seeks millions of dollars in damages and the return of autographed items.

Two weeks before Mr. Harrison died at age 58, the suit said, the doctor took his children to the Staten Island house where Mr. Harrison was struggling with his deteriorating condition. It said he had Mr. Harrison listen to the doctor's son play a guitar, placed the guitar in Mr. Harrison's lap and asked him to sign it.

"Mr. Harrison, who was weak and exhausted," the suit said, "resisted and said, `I do not even know if I know how to spell my name anymore.' Dr. Lederman reached out to hold Mr. Harrison's hand to help him write and said, `Come on, you can do this,' and spelled out Mr. Harrison's name for him beginning with the letter "G" and continuing to spell the entire name, 'E-O-R-G-E H-A-R-R-I-S-O-N."

The suit said the doctor had refused to turn over the guitar and two autographs Mr. Harrison signed on cards for the doctor's daughters. It also said the doctor had promoted himself with network television appearances and in interviews with national publications.

Lederman has already been fined by the New York State Health Department for discussing Harrison's final days with the press without permission.