Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

The lede of this AP article reads: "Democrat John Kerry accused President Bush on Monday of sending U.S. troops to the “wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time” and said he’d try to bring them all home in four years. Bush rebuked him for taking “yet another new position” on the war."

Simple advice for the Kerry campaign: keep the fire concentrated and tightly focused. The Democrats message on this is simple: the president lied the country into the war and then he screwed it up.

One, two. Two points. Simple as that. Everything else obscures the message. Both on principle and for tactical reasons, I don't think one presidential candidate should call the other a liar (call me old-fashioned). But the point can be made with appropriate language and surrogates can be more direct.

And as long as the president keeps misrepresenting Kerry's position on the war, starting him on flipflops. Which ones? Wanting to make Chalabi president of Iraq, now accusing him of being an Iranian spy. Wanting to have Halliburton run Iraq, now pulling their contracts. The list is truly endless.

These are sweeteners to be added for variety and entertainment. The two points above are the keys -- to be hit on again and again and again. They're effective because they're true and any look at the polls shows the public knows it.

I'd be very curious to hear the backstory on this article in the Times. It's a follow-on piece on the Franklin investigation at the Pentagon, entitled 'Spy Case Renews Debate Over Pro-Israel Lobby's Ties to Pentagon.'

It might have been better titled -- All Neocons Get to Place Quotes Saying They Were Framed By CIA, FBI, Other Establishment Wusses.

Whenever the neocons come under investigative scrutiny their defense is always that the investigations are a put-up by their bureaucratic enemies. And this piece seems almost entirely devoted to their unsubstantiated claims of the same.

Bureaucratic infighting happens of course. But these investigations are far more frequently the result of their recklessness, indifference to procedure and simple bad-acts.

On a deeper level, the defense is related to a mindset we often see in their analysis of intelligence. Just as they tend to discount the idea of disinterested intelligence analysis -- i.e., analysis that is not simply a cover for ideologically-driven opinion -- they are similarly unable or unwilling to see investigations such as these as anything other than a manifestation of ideological turf wars inside the executive branch.

Needless to say, I don't impute such views to all who could be classed as having 'neo-conservative' ideas or foreign policy views. But it is very much the case with this particular crew of neoconservative national security street-fighters who circulate in and out of government.

Along those lines, there is also a veritable smorgasbord of schadenfreude contained in this Times article on Richard Perle's latest troubles in the multiple investigations into Hollinger Inc.

Last we left this story, the report into the looting of the corporation had found that Hollinger was "an entity in which ethical corruption was a defining characteristic." And having found the management of the company to be such a model of integrity, the report went on to reserve its harshest criticisms for Perle, accusing him or "putting his own interests about those of Hollinger's shareholders" and "repeatedly breach[ing] his fiducicary duties."

Some passages seem worth quoting in their entirety ...

With the notable exception of Perle, none of Hollinger’s non-Black Group directors derived any financial or other improper personal benefits from their service on Hollinger’s Board. Unlike Black and Radler, Hollinger’s independent directors did not enrich themselves at the Company’s expense, did not misappropriate corporate opportunities belonging to Hollinger, and did not in any other way engage in self-dealing ... It is, of course, possible for a conflicted board member to act at least somewhat responsibly. As a conflicted executive committee member, however, Perle did not. Rather, his executive committee performance falls squarely into the 'head-in-the-sand' behavior that breaches a director's duty of good faith and renders him liable for damages.

In the latest turn of events, Perle has turned on Conrad Black. In a statement Perle released from his redoubt in the south of France, he now says that the conniving Black pulled the wool over his eyes. Perle of course was duped and given millions of dollars in the process, unlike the shareholders in the company who were duped and fleeced of their assets. So it seems things could be worse for him.

Along the lines noted at the head of this post, when I first heard about this, I was almost tempted to wonder when we'd hear that the Breedon Report -- the one which points such a finger of blame at Perle -- was actually a put up job by the Arabists at the CIA. But apparently this is a case where humor can't outrun sorry reality. In the words of the Times, "Mr. Perle's friends say that he is the victim of unjustified attacks that are motivated more by policy vendettas than substance."

And one other passage from the Times article that is worth noting ...

But others who have known Mr. Perle over the years say that he has been a consummate risk taker in both his business dealings and in some of the foreign policies he advocated, and that he ultimately may have been lured by millions of dollars in compensation and benefits to put aside ethical considerations, as the Breeden report concluded.

"Richard has always been willing to take the highest risks, playing for the highest stakes on policy issues over the years and often winning, but this is also really a story of being seduced by money," said Mr. Gelb, a former official at the State and Defense departments and a former columnist at The New York Times. "People in the foreign policy world do not make a lot of money. They go to think tanks, government, academe, and generally get $125,000 to $150,000 a year. When you are touched by lightning and manage to get into the inner sanctum to make money, the opportunities are delicious."

High-risk gamesmanship on other people's dime, cutting ethical and legal corners, blaming it on someone else when the racket goes south ... Sound like anything else Mr. Perle's been associated with recently?

A number of readers have written in to ask why the interview with Ben Barnes did not appear this evening on 60 Minutes.

I've done no new reporting on this (nor heard anything new on this) since I wrote about it last Thursday. But my understand was always that the interview was slated to run on Sunday, September 12th. And I assume that's still the case.

A note on polls: as of the day after the convention I'm told by what I believe to be reliable sources that the internal polls of both campaigns had President Bush up roughly four points on John Kerry.

Getting straight-up info on what each campaigns' own polls are telling them is inherently difficult. And I want to make clear that I have not seen the data with my own eyes. But I have heard this from sources (for each side) which I believe to be reliable. And I'm passing the information on on that caveat-ed basis.

Pretty much everyone in both parties has been discounting the results of the Time poll giving President Bush a ten point lead coming out of the convention -- for various reasons having to do with the methodology of the poll and two other polls giving a different result.

But now, according to pollingreport.com at least, Newsweek has a poll out with almost identical numbers: Bush 54%, Kerry 43%.

Karen gets results!

A little more on the boo-a-rama, <$NoAd$>from a reporter on the scene ...

Karen Hughes went totally apesh-t at the AP when that dispatch hit the wire.

She stormed up the bleachers and starting screaming at the AP writer (who took it in stride). "They didn't boo! Were you and I in the same rally! What is this crap?" or something along those lines (it was loud in there). The AP writer then canvassed his colleagues, who all said they hadn't heard any boos.

Say what you want about McClellan ("dreadful briefer," "talking points only"), I don't think he's ever screamed at a reporter.

The innards of a campaign ...

From a story in Saturday's Washington Post, we now have more evidence that the Larry Franklin investigation goes well beyond Larry Franklin.

According to the Post, FBI investigators are looking at people in Feith's office (Harold Rhode), Cheney's office (David Wurmser) and on the Defense Policy Board (Richard Perle).

I'm swamped at the moment working on another project. But note that the people in question track almost exactly with the list of the most ardent supporters of Ahmed Chalabi in the administration.

Be sure to read this article.

More later.

I take this as a final, definitive word on the back and forth about whether there was booing at the Bush rally.

This comes from a reporter on the scene whose judgment <$NoAd$>and honesty I completely trust ...

They didn't boo. More accurately, the overwhelming number of people didn't boo (I heard maybe one or two, and even those died with "hospitalized.") AP got it wrong.

When Bush said "En route here we just received news that President Clinton has been hospitalized in New York," there was a big intake of breath and some loud "oohs" in the crowd. It was unmistakably shock. No boos.

Bush then followed up, and the official transcript has it right: "He is in our thoughts and prayers. We send him our best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery. (Applause.)"

End of story. I give Bush and the crowd their due.