Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

No, no, no ... we really really don't want a draft.

House Republicans, worried about the traction of charges that President Bush will be forced to reinstitute the draft in a second term, are rushing to the floor this afternoon to vote on the Draft legislation Charlie Rangel (D-NY) introduced early last year.

No hearings, no notice, no nuthin'.

I'll post more as the situation develops.

Marshall Unbound!

No, not this Marshall. But that one, Marshall Wittman.

As longtime readers know, way back in blog antiquity, Marshall ran a blog called the "Bull Moose." But it went into suspended animation when he took over as John McCain's Communications Director a couple years ago (I don't know the exact date; but it was something like that.)

I've known Marshall for, I think, about five years. He and I first met, if memory serves, in his then-office at the Heritage Foundation for an interview I was doing on ... well, honestly I can't remember what the article was even about. Thinking back on it, I think it was supposed to be for an article on McCain and the reformist conservatism that was then growing up around him. But given the constraints I was then operating under I think it never got written. In any case, I note the location to give some sense of the ideological terrain Marshall's covered over the last few years.

After that, Marshall became central (even that may be understating his importance to it) to what was then coming to be called National Greatness Conservatism -- a set of ideas that was perhaps as inchoate as it was compelling.

Bill Kristol was part of that. But Marshall was always its core. The political darling, of course, was McCain. And Marshall played a big idea role in McCain's 2000 campaign.

After McCain got dug under by President Bush, Marshall went to the Hudson Institute to work on the idea of National Greatness Conservatism. But after a relatively short stint there, he signed up with McCain.

Now, 'National Greatness Conservatism' grew out of the uncertainties and drift created within the Republican party by Clintonism, the end of the Cold War and the porkification of the congressional GOP after their 1994 sweep.

It's more complicated than that, of course. But it was an effort on the part of a group of conservative (probably fair to call them neo-conservative) intellectuals to build a new political synthesis around two basic planks: a hawkish internationalism which placed a heavy emphasis on American values and an abandonment of Norquistian anti-governmentism at home.

It wasn't liberal. But it was progressive -- at least in the old Rooseveltian (TR, that is) sense of harnessing the federal government to accomplish great things and become an engine of national unity. And perhaps it also contained some progressive elements in the more contemporary sense. But that was always the ambiguous part.

My own semi-outsider's sense of this -- and Marshall bears no responsibility for this interpretation -- was always that the post Marshall got at Hudson was in some very broad sense akin to what a venture capitalist or perhaps a major corporation will do when they buy equity in some start-up with a new technology.

So, in my sense of this, the GOP was like GM and Marshall was like some small tech company with a very promising technology for solar fuel cells or something. And they're figuring, 'Well, the internal combustion engine [the Nixon/Reagan coalition] is near the end of the line. So let's buy into this guy's new idea [National Greatness Conservatism] and see where it goes."

But then something went wrong.

The National Greatness thing was based on a belief that Bush represented a tired and vacuous politics of moneyed power -- perhaps preferable to the Democrats, but nothing to get excited about for the future. But then 9/11 came along. And most of those who'd classed themselves with the McCainiac/National Greatness clique decided that as long as Bush could rack up the votes that they could live with Karl Rove, Texas style conservatism and plutocracy just fine.

And with that, there just wasn't much need for National Greatness Conservatism any more -- no need for investments in speculative and innovative new ideas when George W. Bush was making a going concern of money politics and cynicism.

In fairness to those like Kristol, who jumped eagerly on to the Bush bandwagon, Marshall's vision of National Greatness Conservatism was also beginning to look more and more like Cold War Liberalism.

In any case, last week was Marshall's last week with McCain. He's taken a post at the DLC/Progressive Policy Institute. He's bringing back the Moose. And in his first public statement since he got his voice back, he's endorsing Kerry-Edwards.

Says Marshall in the first graf of the piece ...

I am an independent McCainiac who hopes to revive the Bull Moose tradition of Theodore Roosevelt, and I support the Kerry-Edwards agenda. Don't get me wrong -- this Bull Moose is not completely in agreement with the Democratic donkey. But the Bush administration has betrayed the effort to create a new politics of national greatness in the aftermath of 9/11.

Marshall's political views probably aren't in line with the majority of TPM readers, though in many respects I'd say that they probably differ in ways that mine also differ from the majority of TPM readers. But Marshall is at the top of my list of those who straddle the line between being political thinkers and political operators. I think the world of him.

Okay, we've now got six new post-debate polls.

One shows a very slight Kerry lead: Newsweek (Kerry by +3).

Three are basically a tie: Zogby (Bush +1), CNN/USAT/Gallup (Tied), CBS/NYT (Tied).

Two show a modest but measurable Bush lead: Pew (Bush +5), ABC/WaPo (Bush +5).

We now have enough data to make some general conclusions. Kerry got a big bounce out of the debate. He's now even or close to even with Bush. With Bush as the incumbent and under 50%, that puts him squarely back in the danger zone. But Kerry clearly still has his work cut out for him. The remaining debates are crucial and beating back the Bush campaign's 'Kerry Doctrine' lies is imperative.

[ed.note: In the numbers above I've used 'likely voter' numbers where possible and straight Bush-Kerry numbers were possible. I'll be waiting for Ruy and others to crunch the internals.]


As we noted earlier this morning and others have now noted in greater detail, it's pretty clear that Frank Luntz bamboozled Howie Kurtz when he said "he's done no GOP work since 2001."

But here we have it in pure dollars and cents.

According to the California Secretary of State's website, the Bill Simon (R) for Governor campaign paid Luntz about $80,000 in 2002 and 2003.

He also got paid over $25,000 in 2003 by Darrell Issa's recall committee "RESCUE CALIFORNIA".

In any meaningful sense that was "GOP work." But perhaps Luntz could have claimed that the recall effort wasn't technically partisan.

Simon, though? No getting around that one. And this is just one state and one candidate.

I think that guy lied to you, Howie.

[ed.note: A Special Note of thanks to TPM reader WT for some very meritorious and slam-dunk sleuthing.]

There was a mini-brouhaha <$NoAd$>this afternoon when a purported internal Fox News memo, which announced the suspension of Carl Cameron over the Kerry quotes, was revealed to be a hoax.

This is the actual memo that Fox Senior VP John Moody sent to Fox employees ...

PLEASE READ: Last week, we experienced separate lapses of judgment, resulting in the posting, on our website, of inaccurate material.

Credibility is our lifeblood. When we make factual mistakes, we affect adversely all the hard work that we've done for eight years to become the country's leading news channel.

There is enough blame to go around. In last week's incident, a stupid parody of a quote was included in the script queue. It was picked up unthinkingly and included on the website.

For that reason, we are implementing a number of changes: first, and immediately, the scripts queue is OFF LIMITS for editorial use until the item has been broadcast or the script is approved for use. Second, the use of scripts queue for humor, sarcasm, parody or other unprofessional conduct is strictly forbidden.

Failure to follow this directive is a dismissable offense.

Asked for a comment, Fox News spokesman Paul Schur told me, "This note speaks for itself."

And in case you're wondering, given recent events, a Fox News representative confirmed to me that this memo is authentic.

I think this memo leaves the key issue entirely unstated. But there you go.

Late Update: I see now from a link on Atrios that Media Bistro posted this same memo about a half hour before I posted mine. This just shows that you really shouldn't get that dinner before you finish a post you've been working on. In any case, this is independently reported.

If you go to this graphic from this weekend's New York Times Week in Review, it shows a series of Kerry and Bush quotes from the debates and then text bubbles with humorous quips about what they were probably thinking when they made the given statement.

One of those from Kerry is this one: "And long before President Bush and I get a tax cut—and that‘s who gets it—long before we do, I‘m going to invest in homeland security and I‘m going to make sure we‘re not cutting cops programs in America and we‘re fully staffed in our firehouses and that we protect the nuclear and chemical plants."

The Times then suggested Kerry was thinking: "If I call officers 'cops' I sound like a regular guy."

Actually, though, if you look at the published transcript of the debate it says not 'cops' but 'COPS'. And that's because anyone who comes even remotely close to following public policy knows that COPS is an acronym for Community Oriented Policing Services program, passed under Clinton (i.e., hundred thousand new cops, etc.)

I'm assuming there'll soon be a little bubble over the Times writer's head saying: "If I spent more time learning about public policy and less time with Dowdesque thumb-nail cultural criticism maybe I wouldn't make such a fool of myself."

Special thanks to reader MJ for the catch.

According to Steve Clemons, at a speech over the weekend at the University of Central Arkansas, Michael Moore said that he had been offered the 'Killian memos' during his work on Fahrenheit 9/11, but passed on them, considering them unreliable.

Today in the Washington Post, GOP pollster Frank <$Ad$>Luntz talks to Howie Kurtz about getting canned by MSNBC after he'd already spent thirty grand putting together a debate night focus group to appear with their coverage.

In the piece he told Kurtz that "he's done no GOP work since 2001."

Is that really true?

An article in Roll Call from just this summer (June 22nd, 2004) discusses Luntz and his love-hate relationship with the House Republican Caucus. Specifically, it notes the regular briefings he gives to the caucus.

A few passages stand out ...

At the highest level, several leadership sources confirmed that Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and his office are not fans of Luntz or his work, while Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) has hired him in the past and is an eager customer for Luntz's research.


A senior Republican lawmaker had a more straightforward explanation for why Luntz's sessions are well-attended.

"It's free stuff," said the lawmaker, adding that the relationship was mutually beneficial because after seeing Luntz's presentations, "some [Members] become true believers and hire him, and some refer him" to other campaigns.


At last week's session, for example, Luntz started off by discussing homeland security and how Members should frame terrorism and security issues. He then screened some recent Kerry campaign ads and assessed their merits, as well as those of three different ads on the recently unveiled prescription drug discount card.

Attendees also received Luntz memos on three different topics: outsourcing, terrorism and tort reform.

Sounds like Luntz provides regular strategy briefings for Republicans and does it, not suprisingly, in part to troll for work.

Good as his word ...

"Nearly 100,000 fully trained <$NoAd$>and equipped Iraqi soldiers, police officers, and other security personnel are working today. And that total will rise to 125,000 by the end of this year. The Iraqi government is on track to build a force of over 200,000 security personnel by the end of next year. With the help of the American military, the training of the Iraqi army is almost halfway complete."

President George W. Bush News Conference with Prime Minister Allawi September 23rd, 2004

"There's 100,000 troops trained: police, guard, special units, border patrol. There's going to be 125,000 trained by the end of this year."

President George W. Bush Presidential Debate September 30th, 2004

And then this from Reuters, out today ...

But many of these assertions have met with scepticism from key lawmakers, congressional aides and experts, and Pentagon documents, given to lawmakers and obtained by Reuters, paint a more complicated picture.

The documents show that of the nearly 90,000 currently in the police force, only 8,169 have had the full eight-week academy training. Another 46,176 are listed as "untrained," and it will be July 2006 before the administration reaches its new goal of a 135,000-strong, fully trained police force.

Six Army battalions have had "initial training," while 57 National Guard battalions, 896 soldiers in each, are still being recruited or "awaiting equipment." Just eight Guard battalions have reached "initial (operating) capability," and the Pentagon acknowledged the Guard's performance has been "uneven."

Training has yet to begin for the 4,800-man civil intervention force, which will help counter a deadly insurgency. And none of the 18,000 border enforcement guards have received any centralised training to date, despite earlier claims they had, according to Democrats on the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.

They estimated that 22,700 Iraqi personnel have received enough basic training to make them "minimally effective at their tasks," in contrast to the 100,000 figure cited by Bush.

Has any reporter asked the president or his advisors about this? They really do seem to be just making this stuff up ...