Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday Miscellany - Carnivalingus

I will be making an effort over the next week to complete the process of converting DWSUWF to New Blogger. We are currently operating on New Blogger with an Old Blogger template. This works fine, but the mix occasionally precipitates some odd behavior and limits my ability to add widgets and enhancements to the blog. So * Fair Warning * while the update is in process there may be some unpredictable things happening around here, including parts of the blog appearing and disappearing without notice. To take advantage of Blogger labels, I may also have to repost everything from the beginning of time (April 2006), which may or may not confuse my RSS readers. I should have everything cleared up before July 4. Which brings me to...

The next post will probably be the Carnival of Divided Government Quârtus Decimus - Special Independence Day Edition, to be posted July 4th, 2007. Blog articles may be submitted for the carnival of divided government using the carnival submission form. Past posts can be found on our blog carnival index page or this label link. In this special edition we continue our search for bloggers, pundits and writers declaring their independence from conventional partisan wisdom. We will be searching the blogosphere and mainstream media for articles and posts on the singular topic of government divided between the major parties. As in all of the CODGOV series, the primary only criteria for acceptance in the carnival is to use the words and/or concept of "divided government" in submitted posts. If the words "divided government" are in the post, it almost certainly will be included. If the words "divided government" are not in the post, it almost certainly will not be included. Sooo... make sure the words "divided government" are in your submission.

In the meantime, you should check out these recent fine collections of high quality blogging punditry:

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Carnival of Divided GovernmentUPDATED: 07/01/07 - added some Carnival Links
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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Political blogger switches party affiliation and restores the GOP to pre-Bloomberg defection levels.

On Monday last, there were 69,548,864 voting age Americans affiliated with the Republican Party. On Tuesday, there were only 69,548,863 as New York mayor Michael Bloomberg ended his six year membership in the GOP saying "... good ideas should take precedence over rigid adherence to any particular political ideology." The GOP can ill afford any defections. They have enough problems with this Republican President hell bent on alienating every single voter in the country and this Republican Vice-President working to sever all legal ties to the government and the constitution. Enough is enough. I mean, it is not even fun beating this dead elephant any more. This is just not healthy.

Today I announce that I am switching my party affiliation from Democratic to Republican.

With this announcement the Republican party is restored to the pre-Bloomberg defection level of 69,548,864.

I am completely serious. Although I have been a registered Democrat for 20 years, I will be registering as a Republican in time for the 2008 primary in California. Why? I am simply acting on the lessons learned from Michael Bloomberg. He changes his party affiliation about as often as I change my underwear, and probably for similar reasons (comfort, style, personal hygiene, dirty laundry needing an airing out, whatever). He was a Democrat until it was more convenient for him to run for New York mayor as a Republican in 2001. Now being a Republican is chafing against his political ambitions and personal convictions. Time for Mike to drop those drawers. Bloomberg is right. Party affiliation really should only be worn under the cover of practical political clothing and the stylish ideological overcoats we show to the world.

Party affiliation is always secondary to, and in the service of accomplishing political objectives. Bloomberg's objective in changing his underparty support may be an independent run for the office of the President of the United States. My objective in changing my underparty is to secure better government in Washington DC.

If, you believe as I do, that federal government should be limited, careful, fiscally responsible, with individual rights respected, oversight of our elected representatives effective, and laws enacted only after being tempered by the fire of partisan debate, then you also may want to consider the merits of changing your underwear party affiliation frequently. These objectives can be accomplished at the ballot box. Not by voting exclusively Republican, Democratic or 3rd party, but by voting consistently for divided government. That these objectives can be accomplished by following this path is documented historical fact. The most recent example is playing out before our eyes as a result of the 2006 election. Wearing a Bloomberg independent 3rd party “hairshirt” presidential bid may or may not serve to accomplish these objectives. Working for these objectives in a worn pair of cotton “divided government” boxers is a much more comfortable way to go.

Here is the rub. The Democrats will not lose the House or Senate in 2008. There are 33 Senate seats contested in 2008. Of these, 21 are held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats. Simple numbers lead to a simple conclusion - the Republicans have more at risk, and the Democrats have many more opportunities to take seats than Republicans. This is a crushing structural advantage for Democrats. The Senate is out of reach, but what about the House? The House of Representatives has never changed majorities in the 100 years since we have been directly electing Senators, unless the Senate also changed majorities. The conclusion is clear. In 2009 we'll again have a Democratic House and Senate. The benefits of divided government can only be maintained by electing a Republican or independent 3rd party President in 2008. I have nothing against third parties, but tilting at windmills is not my thing. But, hey - don't let that stop you. If that is your preferred path, knock yourself out. If you get something going that might win, I just may change affiliations again. In the meantime I'll be working to make sure that we continue our happily divided government, by supporting the best Republican candidates to win the nomination.

John Farmer at the New Jersey Star Ledger distills the problem and opportunity nicely in his op-ed "Americans are better off junking party loyalty":"
We're witnessing the dawning of the Age of Agnosticism in American politics. It's long overdue. Until recently, our major parties, Democrat and Republican, enjoyed a presumption that they represented not only the best in modern political thinking but also the interests of individual Americans and the nation. It's been hogwash for some time.... The Libertarian Party believes many Democrats and Republicans have, at last, spotted the scam. In a press release this week, the Libs gleefully reported a sharp decline in Republican and Democratic party membership, a rise in Libertarian enrollment and success at the polls. The Libs are on to something -- especially when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's defection from the GOP and new standing as an "unaffiliated" voter are cranked into the mix. But probably not as much as they think. The rise of a credible third party, which presumably is where all this is heading, is just not in the cards. The hurdle is not the popular vote. It's the Electoral College, with votes in most states awarded on a winner-take-all basis. That favors established parties. Teddy Roosevelt, the most successful Third Party candidate, won better than one in four votes in 1912 but carried only six states. Teddy's principal impact was to drain votes from the GOP president, the favorite, and elect the underdog Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, which is undoubtedly the effect a third-party effort would have in 2008. So what are we left with? Agnosticism. It's not a bad alternative. For it says to both parties, "We'll no longer take you on faith. Prove yourself."
Well said, John, but I have one nit to pick. The parties may never be able to "prove themselves." On the other hand, the benefits of divided government are already proven. We can continue those benefits, if enough of us are politically agnostic.

Tactically this is it how it can play out: Ron Paul and Chuck Hagel are my top Republican presidential hopefuls. I'd have added Bloomberg to that list if he had stayed with the GOP. Hagel remains undeclared, but is clearly a stronger national candidate than either Paul or Bloomberg. Interestingly, while sitting on the sidelines, he may find the path for a Republican run cleared by the surprising support garnered by Ron Paul, and the foundation for an Independent run built by the Bloomberg announcement. Unity08 is building the infrastructure and raising funds for a "Unity ticket", but requires the ticket to be a mix of Republican, Democratic, and/or Independent candidates. Bloomberg's quick-change artistry opens the door for a Hagel/Bloomberg Unity08 ticket. By waiting to declare, Chuck may have some pretty good choices.

My first choice is to save the GOP. To do that, real conservatives and libertarians need to take back the Republican party from the Bushists. Michael Nystrom and Verbatim at the Daily Paul are promoting the right idea with this call to action "Change Party Affiliation to Republican to Participate in Primaries":
"As you may realize, there are many people from across the spectrum planning to support Ron Paul: Libertarians, Constitutionalists, Green Party members, disenfranchised Democrats, and of course the disenfranchised Republicans. Many of these people may not realize that they NEED to change party affiliations to Republican to vote in the GOP Primary in many States. I think this information is important to get out as is instructions on how to change ones' party affiliation and the DEADLINE for each State."

This is an effort I can get behind. It is worth noting, that should the Paul candidacy falter, the base of enthusiastic Ron Paul supporters are a natural constituency for a Chuck Hagel run. In support of their efforts, I'll be posting the Daily Paul "Call to Action" badge in the sidebar of this blog, and encourage any other bloggers interested in saving the GOP to do the same.

The only way to avoid single party Democratic control of the Federal government in 2009 is to fix the GOP. We cannot fix the GOP if we are not in the GOP. Now is the time for all good independents, moderates, and libertarians to reach out and come to the aid of the Republican party. They need our help and they need our membership - whether they want it or not.

UPDATED: 06/25/07 - Unmixed a few metaphors.
x-posted at Donklephant.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Investors still love divided government.

This blog has distilled opinion, analysis and scholarship on the documented benefits of divided federal government, which include restrained growth of spending, better legislation, greater oversight, fewer wars, and overall better governance.

An interesting, less weighty, but potentially profitable additional benefit: The stock market loves divided government.

Shortly before the 2006 midterms, CNBC economist and commentator Larry Kudlow explained the market surge leading into the 2006 midterms was due to investors lusting after a divided government result. Reporting this fact almost blew the uber-Republican's head clean off, as you can see in this video. His perspective was reinforced at the time by Rich Miller at Bloomberg and Michael Sivy at CNN Money.

Eight months after the American electorate in their collective wisdom saw fit to install divided government in Washington DC, the investor class seems to be enjoying it more and more. So says Ken Fisher, author, investment manager and a columnist in Forbes magazine for over 20 years.

Ken has been cited here before, when he ventured out of his investment sphere to partake in some political prognostication for the 2006 midterms. He correctly invoked a little know historical fact, which we dubbed the "100 Year Rule." In the 100 years since we have directly elected Senators, the House of Representatives has never switch majority party control unless the Senate does also. He originally referenced this rule to support his prediction that Republicans would maintain control of Congress. While the rule held true, Ken bet on the wrong side of the outcome, as both houses of Congress flipped Democratic in 2006. I can tell you that Ken is a much better investment manager than he is a political prognosticator.

In a recent column he makes the investor case for gridlock and divided government in "Thanks for not Legislating":
"Here's one more reason to remain bullish in 2007 and into 2008: We've got a do-nothing Congress. Stalemated legislators are good for the market. Have you ever seen a more gutless Congress than the one now in session? Well, okay, maybe the last one, the Republican one, was almost as gutless, but it's all the same bull market. The less that lawmakers can do, the less damage they can do... In years when Congress is active, political risk aversion rises and, as it does, demand for stocks and bonds falls. Political risk aversion and stock demand are inversely correlated.For this year and next anything important that Congress passes, and there will be precious little of it, can be vetoed with impunity by our lame-duck President. What a beautiful world. Celebrate gutlessness! If you haven't already done so, buy stocks."
If interested, you can read the rest of this or other Ken Fisher columns for his specific stock picks. I'm not going to tell you what to do with your money, but I can report that I have been following Ken Fisher for years and he has almost always been a profitable read for me. Your mileage may vary. Regardless whether you want to invest in it, this divided government sure seems to be fueling a very nice bull market. Since November 2006:

DOW +11.0%
S&P 500 +10.37%
NASDAQ +10.57%

This may be counter-intuitive but is certainly true: While a single party controlled Republican government is better for business than a single pary controlled Democratic government, neither is as good for business as any configuration of divided government (President, Senate, House not all one party).

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.
(and profitable)

UPDATED: 6/22/07 to correct typos and replace accidently deleted sentence.

Friday, June 15, 2007

GWB determined to honor campaign promise and unite the country.

On the eve of the 2000 election, George W Bush clearly articulated why we should vote for him, and why he should be our president:
"Responsible leadership sets a tone of civility and bipartisanship that gets things done. I am a uniter, not a divider and, as the governor of Texas, that is how I have led. It is how I will lead in the White House."
In recent weeks, the President has moved decisively to fulfill that promise. Consider this screenshot of the president's approval rating since the beginning of the Iraq occupation (from the Washington Post).

Now some would think that 65% of country (as high as 71% in some polls), joined shoulder to shoulder, arms locked in solidarity disapproving of how the president is doing his job qualifies as uniting the country. While this may be close enough for some, it is not enough for this President. He understands that the remaining ~30% of his support is comprised of hard core loyalists that fully intend to stand with him through thick and thin. With only 18 months left in his presidency, he realizes he must act decisively if he is going to truly be a "uniter". He recently launched a three prong "shock and awe" attack on the Republican base: First standing by his discredited Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; Second, aggressively attacking Republican opponents of the immigration bill; Third, leaving loyalist Scooter Libby twisting slowly in the wind, knowing that Libby's only crime was to perjure himself to protect Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. Is it working? Can he really unite this country? Only time will tell. The next few polls will be critical. But there are indications in both the main stream media and the blogosphere that his efforts are bearing fruit.

Long time supporter Peggy Noonan at the WSJ thinks it is all just "Too Bad":
"The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they "don't want to do what's right for America." His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, "We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up." On Fox last weekend he vowed to "push back." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want "mass deportation." Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are "anti-immigrant" and suggested they suffer from "rage" and "national chauvinism." Why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens? And often, though not exclusively, concerned conservatives? It is odd, but it is of a piece with, or a variation on, the "Too bad" governing style. And it is one that has, day by day for at least the past three years, been tearing apart the conservative movement."
At RedState Bluey complains that "President Bush Contines to Antagonize Us":
"Conservatives who are already frustrated with President Bush should be even more upset with him after seeing his remarks in recent days. Yesterday, he antagonized us by boasting, "I'll see you at the bill signing." Just as Bush had angered the base by telling us that we "don’t want to do what’s right for America," he once again put his foot in his mouth with this latest quip. "
Jaded and Kyle chime in:
"I am consistantly amazed at the bravado of this President, he is truly tone deaf, he cannot hear us because he is insulated with nothing but yes men telling him what he wants to hear. I thought that the un-American comment was the straw that broke the camel's back for me however his snotty smug self saying "I'll see you at the bill signing" was the height of arrogance, he should be ashamed of himself I know I am ashamed of him. I knew that politics was brutal I am not a young person but I never thought I would feel as disheartened as I feel today. This President has taken every good feeling I ever had for him and has replaced it with disgust. I believe his legacy will be as the President who broke his party into two."

"You know what is even more galling? The fact that I defended him for years from liberals who said EXACTLY the same things you are saying, but I could not see it then and just thought they were being partisan. The truth is that they were substantially correct. That really makes me feel stupid."
NeoCon William Kristol at The Weekly Standard asks whether George Bush is evading his repsonsiblility in "Who Me?":
"So much for loyalty, or decency, or courage. For President Bush, loyalty is apparently a one-way street; decency is something he's for as long as he doesn't have to take any risks in its behalf; and courage--well, that's nowhere to be seen. Many of us used to respect President Bush. Can one respect him still?"
Ace at Ace of Spades HQ has a very direct answer:
"Hey, President Bush? F**k off. You are going down in history in a neck-and-neck battle with Jimmy Carter as worst president of the twentieth century. And you know what? You are, pretty much, a f*****ng moron. All that time we've razzed the left about claiming that? Oh, you're not diagnosably retarded or anything, but you're a F*****ng dim bulb, and you've got some nerve of accusing opponents of the amnesty bill (which you surely haven't even read, genius) of not being smart enough to support it... Message To The Left: I'm not saying you should impeach him, I'm just sayin', you know, go with your hearts."
Hat tip to Militant Skeptic at the Angry Blog for pointing us to Brad Delong's "Pecking Order for Honest Conservatives", offering another window for tracking the decline and fall of support for this administration through the defection of conservative celebrities. DWSUWF followed Niskannen in the class of 2003 throwing away the adminsitration kool-aid, in favor of a tall cool glass of divided government.
Meanwhile, Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice reports on a new poll that reinforces that the Republican support continues to drain away.
Yes, it looks like the President's bold gambit just might work. But can he pull this off in time? I've extrapolated the trend line from the graphic above to illustrate just how close this is going to be.

It will go down to the wire, but I for one have confidence in the President. With this latest initiative he is likely to drive his approval rating back below the trend line, and put us firmly on a course to finally unite the country, with 95% - 99% of us disapproving of the job he has done as President when he triumphantly hands over the reigns in January, 2009. Thank you President Bush for fulfilling your promise. Thank you for bringing us together with a truly bipartisan purpose. Thank you for uniting our country again.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Powell Agonistes

Not too long ago, Colin Powell was legitimately described as the most trusted man in American politics. Today he is perceived to struggle in a battle to rehabilitate his credibility, the most recent effort being a Sunday appearance on Meet the Press with Tim Russert. I missed the show itself, as I was returning from an extended fishing holiday in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. [How was the fishing you ask? Quite good thank you. We had several fish fries comprised of some nice bass and plenty of panfish. I even managed to catch and release a couple of brookies despite my general incompetence with a fly rod.]

Upon my return, I got a flavor for the reaction to Powell's interview, when I re-immersed myself in the political pool by taking a deep dive with a quadruple twisting plunge on MSNBC, watching Tucker, Matthews, Olberman and Scarborough back-to-back-to-back-to-back. All had pointed questions for Powell.
CARLSON: "Powell‘s willingness to vote for a Democrat in ‘08 is interesting as well as the obvious rebuke he gave the Bush administration. But consider the opposite angle, though he has escaped the deep public anger absorbed by the president, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, any number of others in this administration, Colin Powell was the chief salesman of the decision to invade and occupy Iraq. So the question is, why would Barack Obama want his advice in the first place?"

MATTHEWS: "Why didn‘t Colin Powell just resign? Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has criticized this administration since he left office. But why did he salute the boss if he did not fully support the war? Where was Powell‘s tough talk against the administration when it would have counted?"

ROBACH (substituting for Olberman): "We know that Colin Powell did not advocate going to war, but he tells Tim Russert that once the president decided to do it, he, Powell, was with him all the way. Have we ever heard Colin Powell say that the president and that he ultimately made a mistake in that decision?"

HUFFINGTON (Guest on Scarborough Country): "So many people will tell you again and again that, if it wasn‘t for Colin Powell putting his enormous credibility behind the selling of the war, they would not have been behind the war. So I think it‘s really sad. It‘s a little bit like watching George Tenet, you know, come out, after all the damage has been done, and then singing a very different song. And, you know, of course, it‘s great that he wants to close down Guantanamo, not tomorrow but this afternoon, but where was that kind of moral authority when the country needed it? "
DWSUWF finds these questions for Colin Powell to be disingeuous, and a distraction from the important comments that Powell made in the interview. The questions are echoed and amplified by disngenuous bloggers on both the right and left. [SIDEBAR: Don't you just love the word "disingenuous"? It is such a great high-brow way for DWSUWF to say they are all "so completely full of sh*t their eyes are brown."]

Colin Powell is speaking out. This is exactly what we need him to do. The Powell Doctrine, forged from the lessons learned in Viet Nam, served this country well in the first gulf war and as a guiding set of principles for our involvement in other military conflicts. The irony of Colin Powell being a primary enabler for the US involvement in a conflict that so clearly violated the tenets of the doctrine that bears his name has not been lost on us. The only one who can solve the riddle of of Colin Powell is Powell himself.

Powell has been a recurring topic at DWSUWF, and taken to task for failing to contribute to the national dialog prior to the 2006 mid-term elections. In September, DWSUWF posed the question "whether Colin Powell might, in the judgement of history, carry the label of being to Iraq what McNamara was to Vietnam". A few weeks later, still questioning his silence, DWSUWF posted an Open Letter to Colin Powell, concluding with this:
"Your experience with the military, with this administration, with the field of conflict in Iraq, with both failed and successful US conflicts, means you are uniquely qualified to help the American people find the right path through this thicket, by shedding some light on the problem. Permit me to be blunt. As an American citizen that supported this war to a large extent because of your support of it, and your eloquent arguments before United Nations in January of 2003, I do not find it acceptable for you to withhold your assessment of the status and outlook for this war now. Quite frankly, you owe this country the benefit of your honest assessment now. You owe us your complete, unexpurgated, unvarnished view."
In all honesty, DWSUWF did not expect Colin Powell to respond to a letter from this blog, and was not surprised that he did not. Regardless, his statements and appearances in the MSM over the last few months have addressed many of the very concerns expressed in that letter. It is critically important for Powell's evolving perspective on the war he helped sell to be publicly aired, as the country struggles to find a way to bring it to an end. He provides a unique and important perspective that is worthy of careful consideration by all Americans.

DWSUWF highlighted more recent Colin Powell quotes in these posts (Thank you Mr. Powell, One more Rum & Mac for the road) while commenting on his 12/17/06 interview with Bob Scheifer on CBS News' Face the Nation:
SCHIEFFER: "Let me ask you about the retirement ceremony they had for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. The vice president said Secretary Rumsfeld is the finest secretary of defense in the history of this country, or words to that effect. What is your assessment?

Mr. POWELL (paraphrased): Well, that's the vice president's judgement. As we all know, Rumsfeld had his nose so far up Cheney's fat ass, I am surprised they could pull him out to fire him.
More Powell quotes:
"So if it's grave and deteriorating, and we're not winning, we are losing."

"...this looks like a civil war, and we ought to call it that."

"I am not persuaded that another surge of troops into Baghdad for the purpose of suppressing this communitarian violence, this civil war, will work..."

"...I think you have to talk to a country like Syria.

"The current active Army is not large enough, and the Marine Corps is not large enough, for the kinds of missions they're being asked to perform."

"... we are a little less safe in the sense that we don't have the same force structure available for other problems."

"But sooner or later, you have to... begin the drawdown of US forces. I think that's got to happen sometime before the middle of next year, at least the beginning of this. You cannot--we cannot walk away."
To this list we can now add Powell's comments from his Sunday (6/10/06) appearance on Meet the Press with Tim Russert:
"The current strategy to deal with it... —the military surge, our part of the surge under General Petraeus—the only thing it can do is put a heavier lid on this boiling pot of civil war stew... The solution has to emerge from the other two legs, the Iraqi political actions and reconciliation, and building up the Iraqi security and police forces. And those two legs are not going well." the end of the day, when this civil war resolves itself, as every civil war eventually does resolve itself, one way or the other, and we see a government emerge that does represent the interests of its people, then maybe that’s the best success we can hope for, even though it might not be a government... we would have designed in Philadelphia based on Jeffersonian principles."

" ...the president is not satisfied with the way in which the war has been managed. Now, you can, you can move the deck chairs around, and you can bring in new people and you can change the organizational arrangements, but, ultimately, the president has the responsibility. "

"Once the government in Baghdad came down, everything came down. And it was our responsibility then, under international law as the occupying authority as well as the liberators, to be responsible for restoring order, and we didn’t have enough troops there to restore that order nor did we have the political understanding of our obligation to restore that order."

"... the case that we took to the world and the case that we took to the American people rested not just in his human rights abuses or his cheating on the Oil for Food program, it rested on the real and present danger of weapons of mass destruction that he could use against his neighbors, or terrorists could use against us. That was the precipitating issue in my judgment, and it turned out those weapons were not there... they all came to the conclusion there are none, and they’re not buried in the ground, they weren’t shipped to Syria. We got it wrong."

"Guantanamo has become a major, major problem for... the way the world perceives America. And if it was up to me, I would close Guantanamo not tomorrow, but this afternoon. I’d close it. And I would not let any of those people go. I would simply move them to the United States and put them into our federal legal system."
Powell did not back away from his support of the war in 2003. Consequently the unasked and unanswered question for Colin Powell still goes begging: General Powell, even accepting that the decision was based on wrong intelligence, how do you justify your suppport for a military action that unambiguous failed to meet the tests of the Powell Doctrine?

Colinn Powell put his reputation on the line, performing in the role of Huckster In Chief, pitching the war in Iraq during his January, 2003 address to the United Nations. Notwithstanding, Powell is now making strong, direct statements that provide a valuable and important contribution to the dialog on Iraq, from a voice that is uniquely qualified to offer observations, recommendations and opinions. His MSM appearances sharpen the focus of his critical view of the administration's handling of the war, as well as his own complicity in its outcome. His words are a valuable resource for those Americans struggling to understand our remaining limited options in Iraq.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Live blogging the live bloggers - Democratic Debate Part Deux

UPDATED: Tuesday, June 4, 2007

It is the Democrats turn. The declared Democratic presidential candidates will take the stage again tonight, this time in New Hampshire for a debate hosted by CNN -
"CNN's Wolf Blitzer will moderate the debates and WMUR's Scott Spradling and the Union Leader's Tom Fahey will pose questions to the Democratic and Republican candidates. WMUR's Jennifer Vaughn will moderate questions from the audience."
The important question is one I have asked before:
"There are plenty of bloggers covering the Republican debate live tonight, but is anyone covering the live bloggers? DWSUWF rushes in where other, more sensible bloggers, fear to tread. "
I was going to blow this one off, as I am on a fishing holiday in the backwoods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. But, having slept through the first Democratic debate, while covering two Republican debates, we will (in the interest of Divided & Balanced reporting), try to stay awake this time. Full disclosure: We are not so far "backwoods" that we must suffer without basic cable, a cable modem, and a wireless router, so your fearless derivative blogger will once again attempt to monitor and report real-time on other bloggers covering the debate live. As before, we'll include Daily Kos, Heading Right, Wonkette, for a "left", "right" and "whatever" perspective and will add the Reason Hit and Run Blog for a libertarian point of view. I'll also add a moderate blog if I can find one blogging live between now and 7:00 PM EDT.

Here we go ...
Pre-Debate Comments:
Wonkette: No Action?
Daily Kos: "Poll: Going into the debate, who are you supporting?" [DWSUWF voted for Richardson]
Heading Right: No Action?
Moderate Voice:Holly- "I don’t pay for CNN, MSNBC or Fox News so I can’t watch these debates on TV. I have managed to set up Internet viewing via CNN Pipeline Web Player. If I were unable to have broadband Internet, I wouldn’t have access to the debates. In order to provide adequate information to the voting poor, let’s move the debates back to CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox broadcast channels."
Reason - David Weigel: "I'm in Manchester, New Hampshire (where, as a Free State Projecter could tell you, it is now hailing) to chase a few stories and cover both parties' debates"
DWSUWF:Turns out basic cable does not cover CNN here. Had the same problem as Holly. viewing though the web now. Off to a rough start.
First Question:
Wonkette: No Action?
Daily Kos: "Clinton asks she agrees with Edwards; she does not. Hoists up 9/11 (f*cking hate that. F*ck that.). God, she's as bad as Giuliani on this."
Heading Right: No Action?
Moderate Voice:Comments - Nick Rivera: "Wow! Are we actually having a real debate?! Five minutes into the debate, and the candidates are actually criticizing on another and drawing key distinctions between one another."
Reason - David Weigel: "Hillary Clinton, trying to grab back some of that "Democratic hawk" mojo after voting against the Iraq supplemental, basically agrees with Rudy Giuliani that it's not a bumper sticker and 9/11 9/11 9/11."
DWSUWF: Ok got the pipeleine working, and we think we have a quorum, will go looking for a right wing blog.
Biden & Gravel straight talk:
Wonkette: No Action?
Daily Kos: "Biden says that Democrats should be telling the truth - basically that we don't have enough votes to get us out. Plainly speaks that the war won't end until we have a Democratic president."
The Fix: Chris Cillizza: "Wolf Blitzer asked the candidates to raise their hands if they thought English should be the official language of the United States, former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) was the lone person to raise his hand. But Sen. Obama jumped in after Gravel explained himself."This is the kind of question that is designed precisely to divide us," said Obama -- calling it a "disservice."
Moderate Voice: "Does it look to anyone else as if the major candidates are in the middle of the line while the minor candidates are on the edges?"
Reason - David Weigel: "7:22: Biden: "The last thing we Democrats need to do is not tell truth. I love these guys who tell you they're going to stop the war." You can understand his attitude, but is he aiming at Kucinich or at the guy who spent 6 years in the Senate and thinks he can lecture Joe F*cking Biden?"
DWSUWF: I like Biden's demeanor tonight. May have to move him above Richardson again. Richardson just does not do well in this format. Substituted Wahsington Post's Chris Cillizza for M.I.A. blogs.
Don't Ask Don't Tell:
Daily Kos: tgray comment:"doesn't make sense for Hillary to support "don't ask..." the Clinton Admin signed it into law but that was not what they originally wanted. it was a capitulation!"
The Fix: Chris Cillizza: "on this particular question, Clinton wasn't afraid to say her husband's administration made a mistake. Clinton said "don't ask, don't tell" was a "transition policy" that wasn't well implemented and "it's not the best way to do it." She said gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve in the armed forces and be treated the same as all other recruits."
Moderate Voice: "I’m glad to see that nobody likes DADT anymore!"
Reason - David Weigel: "7:49: The gays in the military question would be dealt with a little faster in a Republican debate. I mean, Mike Huckabee would probably call Edwards a queer and run around the stage for high fives, but otherwise they'd all say "nope" and we'd move on to a new question. After a little tussle, everyone agrees: Gays in the military now!"
DWSUWF: Hillary is laughing. A lot. Too much. Perhaps the latest effort to "warm up" her image?
Chairs and Pens and Pandering:
Daily Kos:"Biden: Do away with regime change policy. 10 years away from nuclear weapon; there are so many other ways, but take it out if there's a missile on the launch pad."

The Fix: Chris Cillizza:"[Dodd] delivered a muscular statement about the role of the next president when it comes to keeping Americans safe. "No one is going to be elected president who is not going to have as their primary responsibility to keep us safe and secure," said Dodd. A nice moment for him. And did we mention all the candidates are now sitting?"

Moderate Voice: Holly- "BTW I don’t care if Kucinich drops his pen or somebody thinks Sen. Clinton is dressed like a bee."
Reason - David Weigel: "8:15: Given the chance to pander and tell a military mom that he'll let veterans use any hospital they want, Obama doesn't—he wants to fix the VA. Hillary nods. Richardson does not nod: "I will give your son a hero's health care."
DWSUWF: The citizen questions are better than the MSM.
Kill Obama Osama:
Daily Kos:"Kucinich: No assassinations, International Criminal Court [hints Bush should go as well]"

The Fix: Chris Cillizza: "It's not exactly following him to the gates of Hell, but Sens. Obama and Clinton just gave tough answers to a question on whether they would take advantage of a 20 minute window to kill Osama bin Laden even if civilians would also be killed."

Moderate Voice: Holly- "Dennis, I am willing to kill OBL with my own hands. Peace requires justice."
Reason - David Weigel: "8:28: Blitzer tries out the CNN version of the 24 question on... Dennis Kucinich. It's actually not news that he wouldn't kill bin Laden if given the chance, but it's nice for the rest of the Democrats, who will disagree... 8:29: ...Obama doesn't disagree! No, wait, he does. He wouldn't assassinate most people, but he would drop some bombs into Osama's batcave."
DWSUWF: Who says politicians can't learn? Everyone gets tougher. Except Dennis.
Who Won?
Daily Kos: Talex -"Here Is An Interestin Metric - Clinton Won. Given that I expect Obama and Edwards supporters to vote for their candidate on the dkos poll Clinton is logging 17% on who won the debate. Given that she gets 5% or less support here I think the dkos poll shows she actually won the debate as she peeled off some Edwards and Obama support..."

The Fix: Chris Cillizza: "The discussion was largely controlled by the Big 3, however, who fielded questions on a number of foreign policy matters (Iraq, Iran, Pakistan) and a handful of domestic concerns like health care and veterans' benefits. Biden occasionally broke through the clutter but the other second-tier candidates struggled to distinguish themselves. Tune into The Fix tomorrow for a look at the winners and losers from tonight's debate. And don't forget -- we are in New Hampshire all the way through Tuesday night's Republican debate."

Moderate Voice: Holly- "Debate’s over. I’d say that ALL of the candidates had some good moments."
Reason - Comments: CRIMETHINK -"Now if Ron Paul wins the text message poll for this debate, we'll know something's up" ... MSM PUPPET MASTER - "Of course, Hillary won the debate. If anyone else wins the poll, their supporters must have been cheating. QED."

DWSUWF concludes: Biden and Gravel were strong. Doesn't matter. Obama and Edwards had a few good moments. Doesn't matter. Richardson and Dodd showed up, sort of. Doesn't matter. Kucinich doesn't matter. Clinton fake laughed too much. She wins.
UPDATE - The Morning After Post-Mortem Posts

Daily Kos: Kos has a truly embarrasing and pointless post and poll on Mike Gravel:
"So is there really a point to having Gravel, in between advocating English as an "official" language and promoting his right-wing flat tax, sit on the debates doing nothing but attack other Democrats?"
Surpringly (at least to DWSUWF) most Kossacks vote to deny Gravel an invitation to additional debates.

Reason - Dave Weigel: Weigel was also thinking about Mike Gravel: "
Wags used to joke about a Ron Paul-Mike Gravel unity ticket. They're both old, they're both odd, they're both hated in their parties—they could rent out Ken Kesey's bus and convert into their own Straight Talk Express! Well, here's Gravel sounding alternately super-libertarian and semi-coherent."
The Fix: Chris Cillizza: Cillizza arrives at a similar conclusion to DWSUWF, declaring Clinton a winner 12 hours later, probably after sneaking a peak at this blog:
"Hillary Rodham Clinton: The New York Senator was placed at the center of the stage last night at Saint Anselm College, a fitting place for the role she played in the festivities. Clinton was in the middle of nearly every exchange and repeatedly sought to speak for the group. She cast the Democrats on the stage as united against a common opponent -- George W. Bush and the Republican Party. ("This is George Bush's war," she said. "He is responsible for this war.") That approach made Clinton look magnanimous and presidential. Put simply: Clinton is a pro. She is polished, smart and savvy -- all of which was on display last night."

Daily Dish -Andrew Sullivan: Sullivan did not need 12 hours to arrive at a similar conclusion:

"She did well, it seems to me. There were times when her robo-lecture act began to wear down my ear-drums, but, in general, Senator Clinton bestrode the debate as an authoritative figure. In fact, I've never witnessed a U.S. political debate in which a woman clearly dominated as she did tonight. She was hawkish, and I was frankly surprised to hear her state baldly that "we are safer than we were," referring to the Bush administration's counter-terrorism policies... Still: she wins this one. It kills me to admit it. But there you are. And as it sinks in, a dreadful specter emerges. Think June 2008. Think Romney vs Clinton. Plastic vs Perma-Freeze. It could happen."

Moderate Voice: Robert Stein- Stein has some pithy observations (also posted at Connecting the Dots):
"Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, obviously on defense as front runners, lost no ground, with the former First Lady looking somewhat more relaxed than she has been up to now... Mike Gravel overplayed his crotchety, foxy grandfather role while Dennis Kucinich evoked admiration for his sincerity and sadness over the fact that it is irrelevant. Overall, the tone was satisfyingly serious and collegial if not wildly informative, and an interesting set-up for the God-fearing. self-righteous gang of poseurs later this week."
Wonkette: I remain bitter about Wonkette taking the night off from live blogging the debate. My derivative live blog suffers when I don't have a good smarmy live blogger from which to steal. I hope Wonkette will be more considerate about their impact on fellow bloggers when they next consider taking the night off. Wonkette finally gets back to work this morning:
"...props to CNN for their placement of the candidates on stage, allowing us all to witness the sexual tension simmer between Obama and Hillary, and sticking Kucinich and Gravel on the furtherest ends of the stage where they wouldn’t bother the real candidates. Here is a picture where you can sort of see the box they let Dennis stand on."
DWSUWF: I was surprised that Heading Right was not live blogging, leaving a partisan gap in my methodology. They were live blogging the previous four debates. Moreover, After an admittedly hasty search, I could not find any major right-of-center blog live-blogging the debate. Odd. It was almost as if they got a memo or e-mail or something to not draw attention to the Dems debate. I never saw it. I guess the spam filter must have eaten mine.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.