- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Too angry

“Iowa Democrats decided Howard Dean was simply too angry, too liberal and too gaffe-prone to be trusted with his party’s presidential nomination,” Des Moines Register political columnist David Yepsen writes.

“Early in the race, they liked his opposition to the Iraq war and thought Dean would be able to attract enough new people into the process to win. But as the campaign wore on, the war faded as a front-burner issue and he plateaued after the arrest of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein,” Mr. Yepsen said.

“As Dean’s political shortcomings became more evident, Iowa Democrats … began having buyer’s remorse. Dean’s organization was the best ever built in Iowa, but it couldn’t make up for the shortcomings of the candidate and the limitations of his message.”

Slanted polling

An unnamed but “seasoned Republican analyst” sent blogger Andrew Sullivan (www.andrewsullivan.com) the following explanation for what Mr. Sullivan called “the somewhat dismal polling for the president” in Sunday’s New York Times:

“In the most recent Gallup poll, the party ID was 37 percent GOP and 37 percent Democratic. In the AP/Ipsos poll, the party ID was 42 percent GOP and 45 percent Democratic. And in the CBS/NYT poll on Sunday, the party ID was 34 percent GOP and 47 percent Democratic. Is it any wonder the numbers were what they were? This is more evidence, in my judgment, why you shouldn’t trust the NYT polls. (In their last poll, the NYT had a 10-point advantage for Democrats in the party ID.)”

Said Mr. Sullivan: “That strikes me as a pretty devastating indictment of the polling at the New York Times. Is the skewing deliberate? The Washington Post poll [yesterday] shows some similar down-draft on domestic policies, but is far more favorable to Bush than the NYT’s analysis. Can we even trust the NYT polls any more?”

Vanishing voters

“One of Howard Dean’s selling points is that his campaign attracts a lot of people who do not participate in politics,” David Hogberg writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Indeed, this is crucial to Dean’s general-election strategy. ‘We’re not gonna beat George Bush by being Bush-lite,’ Dean proclaims. ‘The way to beat George Bush is to give the 50 percent of Americans who quit voting because they can’t tell the difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, give them a reason to vote again. And that’s how we’re gonna beat George Bush. We’re gonna go out and bring new people to this process.’ Dean claims that the campaign is already attracting these new people in droves: ‘A quarter of all the people who donate money to our campaign are under 30 years old.’

“Yet some of the evidence behind this claim is shaky,” Mr. Hogberg said. “After the discovery two weeks ago of Dean’s four-year-old comments criticizing the Iowa caucuses, he released a damage-control statement. Dean explained, ‘Just the other day, I was in Muscatine, where nearly 50 percent of those gathered either had never been to a caucus before or were not even registered to vote; but they were there because they believed we can change things,’ referring to a January 7 pancake breakfast at an American Legion post in eastern Iowa. While there were a few people under 30 in attendance, the room was dominated with folks over age 50 — i.e., those from the age demographic with the highest rates of voter participation, not to mention high rates of Iowa-caucus participation. …

“Even if nearly 50 percent of those in attendance had never voted in nor attended a caucus, it’s not clear how Dean would know that. He didn’t spend much time talking to people one-on-one. Nor did I see his campaign staff taking a survey of the crowd to determine their recent voting habits. A call to Dean’s Iowa press office yielded no answer; a spokeswoman did not know how the Dean campaign arrived at the 50-percent figure.”

Flat-out false

“In small towns across America — from New England village greens to sun-drenched county seats in California — there are FBI agents pounding on the doors of libraries, demanding to know what books the citizens are reading. Inside stand librarians, white-haired and apple-cheeked, resisting as best they can the terrible forces of McCarthyism, evangelical Christian book-burning, middle-class hypocrisy, and Big Brother government.

“It’s a picture so poignant, one would need a heart of stone to mention that it’s also false, a deliberate and cold-blooded fabrication. Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?” the Weekly Standard asks in an editorial written by J. Bottum.

“Certainly not our Democratic presidential candidates, each of whom at some point last week spoke the word ‘libraries’ on the campaign trail, always with a reverential catch in the voice — and always followed, shortly after, by the name ‘Ashcroft,’ spat out with a sharp and holy scorn.

“Certainly not the American Library Association, which denounced the anti-terrorist Patriot Act’s destruction of literary freedom at its 10,000-member meeting in San Diego last week.

“And certainly not the activists and potential voters in the upcoming Democratic caucuses and primaries,” the magazine said. “Take an identification of Attorney General John Ashcroft as the frontman for the evangelicals’ plot to turn America into an illiterate theocracy. Add a long-festering distrust of federal law-enforcement that was denied outlet by the eight-year need to defend President Clinton’s Democratic administration. Roll the whole thing up in a belief that Republicans are all peeking, prying bigots, and you have, somehow, this shorthand way of expressing everything that’s wrong in President Bush’s America: They want to know what books we read!

“Republicans should not underestimate this trope. It is perhaps the single most motivating talking point on the left today, even though it has been repeatedly debunked.”

Weighing his options

Bob Corker, the mayor of Chattanooga, Tenn., has not decided if he will seek re-election in 2005 and is not ruling out another U.S. Senate race, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Corker lost the Republican nomination for Senate to Bill Frist in 1994. Mr. Frist, now Senate majority leader, said last year that he is inclined not to seek a third term in 2006.

Into the slammer

Brent Coles, the former mayor of Boise, Idaho, reported to the Ada County Jail to begin serving a six-month sentence for misusing public money, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Coles, the former president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, admitted filing a false reimbursement expense report last year. He also pleaded guilty to misusing public money during a 1999 trip with his chief of staff.

Not yet

John Weaver, manager of Sen. John McCain’s 2000 presidential bid, is being wooed by the Wesley Clark presidential campaign, but has yet to accept a position, United Press International reports.

The wire service, in a dispatch picked up by this column yesterday, had said Mr. Weaver was coming aboard the Clark campaign as a senior aide.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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