I am quite glad that kept the political ads off the Super Bowl. I wish they'd have kept other ads off too, as well as the halftime show, but as Howard Fineman said, the Super Bowl has become an American secular holiday, and most people don't want to watch political ads.
Chris Matthews added, if the anti-Bush went on, you'd see an arms race, which would just ruin the Super Bowl. Can you imagine? Instead of waiting until Iowa, or New Hampshire, or South Carolina, we'd wait until the Super Bowl before candidates would drop out. They'd have a special Super Bowl fund. It'd be ridiculous.
Matthews' two guests who don't care about football thought the ads should air; no surprise there, I suppose. Norah O'Donnell said something inane, though: she said if they have the money, they should be allowed to have an ad. That's not how real life works. People have the right to refuse your money, and when the money is that big, that right is often exercised. There is no right for these ads to be accepted, nor any right of the viewers to have them shown.
Not that any of this really matters: the Patriots won! All else is just irrelevant.
Democrats for President
It's over; Kerry's won. He may not sweep this week, but he's won. Dean won't win a single state. Edwards and Clark might win one apiece, but Clark probably won't.
Kerry certainly isn't invulnerable as a candidate against Bush, but he has the best mix of experience and respectability and ideas. I'm sure we'll see mostly lame attacks on Kerry's post-Vietnam-war record and his first marriage. I'm also sure we'll see less lame attacks on his voting record in the Senate, and his ties to special interests. (I am hoping we also see real debate about his views, and how they differ from Bush's; it could happen!)
Kerry is far less vulnerable than the other three candidates left (sorry Joe, I can't include you). I suppose Edwards' lack of experience makes him less vulnerable to the attacks Kerry will be open to, but I think it's a net loss to him.
Dean, One More Time
Speaking of vulnerability, I love how it's now been shown that Dean favored unilateral action in Bosnia even though NATO and the UN wouldn't act, despite now saying such a thing is anathema. And he wanted to do it for reasons unrelated to any American interests! So he goes around using the word "ideological" as an epithet, and it is telling: he has no ideology, no principles, no guiding philosophies. He changes with the tides.
Let's be clear: there's not a damned thing wrong with ideology. Kennedy was very ideological. All of our leading Founding Fathers were ideological, except for maybe Benjamin Franklin. The question is not whether you are ideological, it is what your ideology is. Frankly, a man in power without ideology scares me, which is why I have been so adamant in my opposition to Dean these many months, and why -- despite the fact that I want Bush to win, and that Dean would be an easy candidate to beat -- I am glad he is finished.
He was on Meet the Press for a final interview this weekend. He was better than his previous attempts: more confident, quicker and more certain answers. But he still flunked in some serious ways.
The best part -- and that which sinks him as the party favorite -- was his hiring of Roy Neal as his new campaign manager. This guy was the assistant chief of staff to Clinton and chief of staff to Gore in the White House, and went from there to the head of the U.S. Telecom Association, a DC lobbyist group. This is precisely what Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) is attempting to do, but for a medical industry PAC instead, and the Democrats are ready to use that against the Republicans this fall.
There's no way to sugar-coat it so that Neal's deal is acceptable and Tauzin's is not. His answers to this were horrible: when Russert asked him about going to be a lobbyist directly from being a top White House staffer, Dean replied that he's been a college professor the last few years, as if that made it OK. Russert noted that he lobbied Congress, giving money to Gingrich and DeLay; Dean replied, "What's that got to do with being a college professor or working for several years under Clinton and Gore?" Nothing, Howard, nothing at all.
And then Dean was asked about his charge that Cheney "berated" CIA agents "because he didn't like their intelligence reports." Russert asked him for evidence, and Dean refused. The fact is, there is more evidence of WMD in Iraq than there is that this incident ever occurred, but that won't stop Dean from impugning Cheney!
Despite looking more confident and certain, he also exuded a strong stench of desperation. And desperation is never attractive, whether in a singles' bar or a voting booth. It's a sad end to an entertaining campaign.
Speaking of the DNC
Terry McAuliffe really needs to stop going on TV. He makes the Democrats look bad. Not that I am a big fan of RNC head Ed Gillespie, but Ed went out the other day and attacked Kerry's Senate record for votes on national security. McAuliffe said Kerry's patriotism was questioned. No, it wasn't: Gillespie was questioning his suitability to be commander in chief. There's a difference. Kerry's patriotism was not questioned by Gillespie. It didn't happen.
Then -- and this was one literally made me laugh out loud -- McAuliffe accused Bush of going negative against Kerry first, implying that now the gloves are off, and Kerry is free to attack Bush. He must not have heard any Kerry speech over the last half year, where he's consistently launched very nasty atttacks at Bush, calling his administration inept and the like. Anyone who believes Bush went negative against Kerry first -- where negative is saying bad things about the other's positions and policies -- either hasn't been paying attention, or is intentionally blind to the facts.
I've always disliked McAuliffe, but I have to think this sort of thing doesn't help Kerry at all.
A lot of people have questioned what Kay meant last week when he talked about Iraq being a greater threat than previously thought. Kay was on Fox News Sunday and discussed it; I quote him here, without comment.
I think Iraq was a dangerous place, becoming more dangerous, because in fact what we observed was that the regime itself was coming apart, it was descending at the worst part of moral depravity and corruption. Saddam Hussein was isolated in fantasy land, capable of wreaking tremendous harm and terrorists on his individual citizens, but corruption and money gain was the root cause. At the same time that we know there were terrorist groups and states still seeking WMD capability. Iraq -- although I found no weapons -- had tremendous capabilities in this area. A marketplace phenomena was about to occur -- if it did not occur -- sellers meeting buyers. And I think that would have been very dangerous, if the war had not intervened.
Chris Wallace: But what could the sellers had sold, if they didn't have actual weapons?
Kay: The knowledge of how to make them, the knowledge of how to make small amounts, which is, after all, mostly what the terrorists want; they don't want battlefield amounts of weapons. Iraq remained a very dangerous place in terms of WMD capabilities, even though we found no large stockpiles of weapons.
I am not smart enough to know how feasible an independent investigation of the intelligence failures is. One thing I am smart enough to know is that we do need to have an investigation, independent or not.
But what troubles me is that so many Bush-haters (you know who you are! I SEE YOU!) are willing to pass judgment without facts. Al Hunt, a big-time liberal, said this week that everyone he knows, including sources from both the Bush and Clinton administrations, told him that they were sure Hussein currently had WMD (only Scott Ritter and Bob Novak believed otherwise, he said). He isn't going to jump on Bush for the failures of intelligence until actual information justifies it.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey and former UN weapons inspector Richard Holbrooke were on This Week, and both agreed we need an investigation of the WMD intelligence, as pretty much everyone does (Bush will supposedly make an announcement about this soon, if he hasn't already). Both asserted we should seek to find out what went wrong, not whom to point fingers at. Imagine that. It sounds positively archaic!
Holbrooke wants an investigation immediately; Woolsey wants to wait a few months, as there are several active investigations in both the executive and legislative branch, that he'd like to see wrapped up. I doubt that will happen; the public wants a response immediately, with answers as soon as possible, and for good reason.
But we don't have answers yet. It's pretty ridiculous how Bush-haters jump from "the information was wrong" to "Bush deceived us." What's wrong with waiting to find out for sure?
And so too with the Joe Wilson matter. In this, we actually have an ongoing investigation. Would it hurt so much to just wait for its results?
In other words: chill. Have some patience. I know the upcoming election brings with it a sense of urgency to "get Bush," but your hatred combined with the political urgency is driving you to madness, and you need to let it go.