Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Do we have a challenger for the Count?

According to the South Bend Tribune, Joe Donnelly is pretty much certain to make another run to unseat Rep. Chris Chocola (R) of Indiana's second district.

Donnelly ran against Chocola last year. And the Count expanded his margin from 2002. But Donnelly still made a race of it. The final tally was Count 54% and Donnelly 45%.

As is usually the case with challengers, Donnelly was short of funds. And apparently the DCCC didn't give him much support either. So money-wise he was pretty much on his own.

It would certainly be a shame to see that happen again, given all the nonsense Chocola has pulled so far this year.

TPM Reader G flagged my attention to an article in today's LA Times about whether or not President Bush is a lame duck.

The piece includes quotes you'd expect from folks on both sides.

But then there's this line from the author of the piece, Janet Hook: "Many of the assets Bush brings to his second term distinguish him from other two-term presidents. Unlike President Reagan's broad-brush "Morning in America" campaign for reelection in 1984, for example, Bush ran in 2004 on a specific agenda of new issues, notably overhauling Social Security and the tax code. Some Bush allies say his recent troubles in Congress are a measure of how ambitious his aims are, not how much <$Ad$>leverage he has lost."

The idea that President Bush ran on a specific agenda that included privatizing Social Security strikes me as little more than preposterous. And I am surprised to see Hook accept it so uncritically.

Yes, he did mention it during the campaign -- just enough to allow his supporters to say now that he didn't spring it on the public without ever having mentioned it before. But when he did mention it, it was almost always in speeches to loyalists and just as a few toss-off lines intended for said loyalists' eager consumption.

But he didn't bring it up in ads, in the debates, in any prominent setting. And for good reason. His entire campaign was framed around two planks: strength against terrorism and the flaws of John Kerry. The first time it got any sort of significant emphasis from the president was a couple days after the election.

Indeed, I think we could make the whole point more specific. Since his election President Bush has laid out a very aggressive legislative agenda, one based on reforms that would fundamentally change how the country looks -- privatization, tax reform, etc. These just weren't the things he ran on. It may not have been 'Morning in America', more like 'Midnight in America'. He ran on toughness against terror. Then once he'd bagged reelection he shifted gears entirely to focus on political economy.

If he really had run hard on privatization and won, even narrowly, he'd be in a vastly stronger position on the issue now than he is. What this last six months has shown is the poverty of the idea that winning an election gives you a 'mandate' if you try to use it to push policies you'd never told voters you were going to push.

Robert A. George, who perhaps in this context especially I should identify as being from the 'saving remnant' wing of the Republican party, has a post this morning in the Huffington Post about Mark Felt, Deep Throat and, of all people, Ken Duberstein. Take a look.

Among other things, he has a quote from Duberstein which puts the whole 'Felt should have told the president' nonsense in some proper context: "He couldn't go to the White House Chief of Staff (Haldeman or Ehrlichman); he couldn't go to the Justice Department (John Mitchell); he couldn't go to the White House Counsel (John Dean). He did something responsible. The congressional committees hadn't been formed yet. What do you do? Felt put America first."

I suppose there may be more sensible <$NoAd$> things than to stand up in the middle of folks who are fixin' to have a duel. But that said, I wanted to post this letter my friend Sid Blumenthal sent me this morning that he sent earlier to John Hinderaker of the Powerline group blog ...

Dear John Hinderaker:

I appreciate your attention to my column and the questions raised about President Bush's judicial nomination in the light of the treatment of President Clinton's nominations.

Rather than indulging in vituperative name-calling (Power Line: Close enough for Vicious Work), I would hope that you would bring to your interested readers' attention this statement by Senator Diane Feinstein of California on the subject, provide a link and publish lengthy relevant excerpts. The facts of the matter ought to be the basis for debate, not vilification.

Statement of Senator Dianne Feinstein - Judicial Nominations


Sidney Blumenthal

Without going into the specifics of this exchange, it's always struck me as more a matter of humor than debate that Republicans actually try to argue that they didn't spend the better part of a decade doing to Clinton nominees what Democrats have now done, less successfully and less systemically, to Bush's.

Late Update: Here's a helpful tabular listing of Feinstein's speech, helping illustrate just how many nominees were blocked and how it was done.

Chris Matthews and Henry Kissinger <$NoAd$> reminisce on Hardball ...

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the whole Nixon—and I‘m sure you‘ve thought this over a zillion times in your life in your long career and all that you‘ve done. If you think about Nixon and break-ins, I know I have a tape -- I listened to it myself over at the archives—of Nixon saying, go break into Brookings after the Pentagon Papers were published.

There was another tape I listened to where he said, let‘s go break into the Republican headquarters and make it look like the Democrats did it. What is with Nixon and break-ins?

KISSINGER: You have to understand that Nixon had a habit of making grandiloquent statements. This was his way of letting off steam to prove that he was macho.

And the people who really knew him would not act on these comments. When I learned about Watergate, I asked Bryce Harlow, who was a wise old man around Washington, I said , what do you think happened here, Bryce? And he said, some damn fool went into the Oval Office and did what he was told, because Nixon didn‘t mean these things to be carried out. And he didn‘t really order them. He would say these things rhetorically. Let‘s break into Brookings. And he...

Just misunderstood.

(ed.note: Thanks to TPM Reader JW.)

Peggy Noonan on Mark Felt's crimes against humanity and history ...

The Washington Post said yesterday that Mr. Felt's information allowed them to continue their probe. That probe brought down a president. Ben Stein is angry but not incorrect: What Mr. Felt helped produce was a weakened president who was a serious president at a serious time. Nixon's ruin led to a cascade of catastrophic events--the crude and humiliating abandonment of Vietnam and the Vietnamese, the rise of a monster named Pol Pot, and millions--millions--killed in his genocide. America lost confidence; the Soviet Union gained brazenness. What a terrible time. Is it terrible when an American president lies and surrounds himself by dirty tricksters? Yes, it is. How about the butchering of children in the South China Sea. Is that worse? Yes. Infinitely, unforgettably and forever.

And who are the real heroes of Watergate?

Were there heroes of Watergate? Surely many unknown ones, those who did their best to be constructive and not destructive, those who didn't think it was all about their beautiful careers. I'll give you a candidate for great man of the era: Chuck Colson. Colson functioned in the Nixon White House as a genuinely bad man, went to prison and emerged a genuinely good man. He told the truth about himself in "Born Again," a book not fully appreciated as the great Washington classic it is, and has devoted his life to helping prisoners and their families. He paid the price, told the truth, blamed no one but himself, and turned his shame into something helpful. Children aren't dead because of him. There are children who are alive because of him.

Mark Felt, force of death; Chuck Colson, force of life.

Earlier in the piece, she has this choice sentence: "Mr. Felt simply leaked information gained from his position in government to damage those who were doing what he didn't want done."

The stuff truly takes <$NoAd$> your breath away.

I guess, though, we owe Peggy et al. thanks for stipulating for the record that they don't think anything of any consequence was done wrong in Watergate because that provides a helpful context for understanding why they keep carrying the water of this administration, knowing as they do that many of the same things are happening.

Emerging right-wing talking points from TPM Reader MK ...


Has dumping on Chuck Colson become one of the many Liberal pastimes? I am guessing that no one on the left has ever read "Born Again." If they did they would realize that Chuck Colson waived his 5th Amendment rights after his conversion and went to prison for his principles.

And what was his crime? Admitting that he viewed a FBI report on a Nixon emeny.

If Colson was the pathological liar you and your ilk make him out to be he would never even seen one day of prison time.

Sincerely, MK

I sent MK a note asking just what <$NoAd$> 'principles' Colson was going to prison for exactly.

As for dumping on Watergate crooks being a liberal pastime, I think the cat is pretty much out of the bag on that one, right?

Oh the liberal bias of it all ...

In the Chicago Tribune, John Kass laments that Mark Felt is honored as a hero while Linda Tripp is still ridiculed.