August 31, 2004
Rudy Can't Fail
My AmSpec column today is about the first night of speeches at the Republican convention.
Tomorrow's column will be filed from Manhattan; watch the blog for bonus material.
August 27, 2004
It Takes Two Wings To Fly
In my latest AmSpec column, I look at the somewhat absurd platform negotiation process, celebrate the big tent, praise low-tax liberals, dis Nelson Rockefeller, and mildly scold the Log Cabin Republicans. I don't think it's quite as incoherent as it sounds.
Elsewhere on the site, Pete Peterson reports on antipathy to John Kerry in Little Saigon in Orange County. This isn't particularly significant politically-- Vietnamese voters aren't going to swing California-- but it's still really interesting.
August 26, 2004
Start Spreading the News...
I don't have credentials for the Republican convention next week, but all the most interesting stuff will be happening outside the Garden, anyway, so I decided to take the trip. I won't be able to make the first day of the convention, but I'll be in Manhattan-- inside the "Safety Zone"-- from Tuesday night on. My first priority, of course, will be writing that I get paid for, but I'm sure that amid the sea of reporters and delegates and protestors will be tidbits worth sharing that will be blog-exclusive. So do check in.
August 17, 2004
The Hunting of the Snark
Don't worry, Dave, it won't be dismissed for snarkiness-- it'll be dismissed because it comes from those of us whom Kos refers to as "the Rightwing Nutso Reactionaries over at the American Spectator."
Fahim and Fortune
In today's AmSpec column I look at the upcoming election in Afghanistan, and why an NPR reporter who smeared Hamid Karzai on Slate last week is essentially rooting for criminals.
August 12, 2004
Read All About It
My newest AmSpec column looks at the Keyes-Obama race in Illinois, and what a wonderful thing it is-- for the media.
August 11, 2004
The day George Tenet resigned I was at a panel at AEI (I wrote about it a little bit here); David Corn of The Nation was sitting next to me, chatting up another reporter who was working on a story about Tenet. They were already talking about Porter Goss as the most obvious replacement, so this is not a shock. But Michael Ledeen (who, coincidentally enough, hosted that panel) is probably right that Goss is not the best choice.
August 08, 2004
It looks link Alan Keyes is set to ignore my advice and enter the Illinois Senate race.
It's not like he'd win anyway, but our esteemed press corps is already drawing a target on his back:
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. -- Two-time presidential hopeful Alan Keyes has been critical of candidates parachuting into a state where they don't live to run for office.No, that isn't an editorial or an opinion piece; it's the lede of the AP's report on news that Keyes is expected to enter the race.
Yet the Maryland resident is expected to announce during a rally Sunday afternoon that he will enter the U.S. Senate race in Illinois against Democratic rising star Barack Obama.
The "reverse pyramid," in which every journalist is tought to write news dispatches, dictates that the most important information should come first. Apparently, the AP's correspondant thinks the hypocrisy of Keyes's candidacy is a bigger story than the candidacy itself.
August 06, 2004
Don't Run, Alan
What would have been my AmSpec column today, had W. James Antle III not beat me to the punch on the topic:
Jack Ryan, the Republican candidate for Senate in Illinois, faced a scandal dug up from divorce records that media outlets demanded unsealed. Ryan vowed to stay in the race, but a few days later capitulated to the demands of GOP leaders (annoyed at him for having told them there was nothing of note in the divorce records) and dropped out of the race against Democratic rising star Barack Obama.
Since Ryan dropped out, the Illinois Republican party has cycled through a long list of possible candidates, including Mike Ditka. None of the choices have panned out.
Now, the party has approached the prominent black conservative Alan Keyes-- Reagan-era mid-level diplomat, nationally syndicated talk show host, author, and two-time long-shot candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. Keyes says he'll announce on Sunday whether he's decided to run or not.
If he has any sense, he'll say no.
For one thing, there's virtually no chance that he'll win. There's a reason that it's been so difficult to find a candidate: no one in Illinois want to enter the enormously uphill race against Obama. What ambitious politician wants to add "loser" to his resume? Keyes is especially handicapped: a passionate pro-lifer, he'd face an electorate who's core swing demographic consists of fiscally conservative, socially liberal suburbanites, represented by such pro-choice Republicans as Reps. Judy Biggert and Mark Kirk; the latter voted against even a partial-birth abortion ban. Add on top of that the carpetbag factor: Keyes has never lived in Illinois.
His political history suggests that Keyes doesn't mind losing; besides his dead-end bids for president, he was the Republican nominee for Senate in Maryland twice, garnering 38% of the vote in 1988 and a measly 29% in 1992. Keyes is a tireless self-promoter, and may be tempted to jump into that race to that end.
But there's one thing that should be a deal-breaker. Much of Keyes's personal success, like his political failure, can be traced to his uncompromising devotion to his conservative principles. And one of those principles happens to be an aversion to carpetbagging.
In 2000, Pat Buchanan suggested to Keyes on television that he run for Senate in New York. Keyes's response: "I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton's willingness go into a state she doesn't even live in and pretend to represent people there, so I certainly wouldn't imitate it." And yesterday the Chicago Sun-Times quoted Keyes, on running in state he's never lived in: "As a matter of principle, I don't think it's a good idea."
"It has to be something where I would be convinced it's not only consonant with federalism as I understand it but that it's in the best interest of the state and of the nation," Keyes continued.
Perhaps Keyes could convince himself that it's good for Illinois, and good for the country, for two black men to run against each other for Senate. And it would send a powerful message about how far we've come in terms of race. But Keyes would have to do intellectual backflips to square this with his views on federalism.
When Dennis Kucinich ran for president, he ditched a long pro-life record and suddenly started calling for a pro-Roe v. Wade Supreme Court litmus test. That might have made sense in a bid to become a leader in his ideological niche, but it undercut Kucinich's reputation as a man of unbending left-wing principle.
If there were a Senate seat in Illinois waiting for Alan Keyes, he could be forgiven for similarly compromising. But there isn't. On Sunday, Keyes should give the Illinois Republican Party a gracious "Thanks, but no thanks."
August 04, 2004
Saletan's Latest Misunderestimation
Will Saletan tries valiantly to spin the post-convention polls in Kerry's favor. His analysis is flawed.
Throughout, Saletan ignores likely voter figures; even where they're available, he uses registered voter data and links to pages where the likely voter data is missing. But as I mentioned in yesterday's AmSpec column, polls that measure likely voters are generally most accurate. (Elsewhere on Slate is a good explanation of how likely voter models work.)
The entire "What's changed" section is based on registered voter polls; to be fair, I've had trouble finding the internals he talks about here from the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll broken down by likely voter, though Gallup does use likely voter measures-- see here for the first version of the poll Saletan refers to (USA Today extended polling for a day to double-check the negative bounce).
In the "Trial heats" section, Saletan writes:
Before the convention, Bush led Kerry 48-46 among registered voters in the ABC poll. After the convention, Kerry leads 50-44.But that poll also measured likely voters, who came out with a far less impressive-- statistically insignificant, in fact-- 49-47 lead for Kerry. (It's typical for likely voter tallies to look better for the Republican; Republicans are usually more likely to vote.)
Saletan continues quoting registered voter tallies:
In the CBS poll, Kerry turned a 45-42 lead into a 48-43 lead. The CNN/USA poll goes the other way, boosting Bush from a 47-43 deficit to a 48-47 lead. That's counterintuitive, given the pro-Kerry media coverage around the convention. It doesn't square with the CBS or ABC polls. Nor does it square with an American Research Group poll, which bumps Kerry from a 47-44 lead to a 49-45 lead, or a Newsweek poll—taken on the last night of the convention and the night afterward—which bumps Kerry from 47-44 to 49-42. So my guess is that the CNN poll is off the mark.That Newsweek poll measured adults, not registered voters, an even more inaccurate method. And of course the counterintuitive poll is closer to ABC's likely voter tally than the rest.
In the "Locking up support" section, Saletan argues that Kerry's base is more solid than Bush's. Once again, he's looking at registered voters; as I mentioned at the beginning of yesterday's column, the "may change mind" supporters on either side are about the same size among likely voters.
The one perfectly fair point that Saletan makes is the "Bush's flat line" section: Bush's approval ratings are consistently lower than those of presidents who've won re-election. (The Zogby poll he refers to even measures likely voters.) But Bush's ratings are also higher than those of presidents who've lost, so this proves less than Saletan implies.
In 2000 Saletan made the embarrassing-in-hindsight declaration that "Bush is toast," and he cautions that he's not going that far now. But declaring a race this tight "Kerry's race to lose" is going too far already.
UPDATE: Since Mickey Kaus seems to read this post as somewhat more bellicose than I meant it to sound ("John Tabin snipes at Saletan"), I should mention that I like Will Saletan-- he's a smart guy, and a class act. But on this one he's wrong.