New Republic Articles - the Condensed Version
Posted by Mary
Dean's List, Ryan Lizza's story in the TNR reports on how the other Democratic candidates are reacting to Dean's success during the last quarter. These candidates are all saying, This is great for us! John Kerry says that the race has come down to him and Dean and the campaign is actively working to define themselves as the candidate that can beat George Bush. John Kerry's campaign is adopting many of the same tactics as Dean uses, including harder jabs at Bush and using the internet to generate excitement in the grassroots supporters, while contrasting his positions against those of Dean and emphasizing why Dean is not capable of winning outside the liberal base.
The other candidates think that Dean and Kerry are fighting for the same voters so the real battle is for the majority of the Democrats who find Dean and Kerry too liberal. Gephardt thinks he is the one who benefits most from the Dean Kerry battle, but he is having to work hard to keep his Iowa labor base. Edwards believes that when the contest moves south, he'll be the best contender and he is sitting on a pile of money. However, he is not polling well, even in his home state of South Carolina. Lieberman still considers himself the front runner, but has had a few bad weeks and did not do well last quarter in raising money. Lieberman believes that Dean's rise is good because it will pull down Kerry and leave him (Lieberman) in the strongest position. Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager, thinks this is all good for Dean.
Wrongly Accused, by Peter Beinart, talks about the way the administration is diverting people from the real culprits in the SOTU uranium controversy. To do this, they are throwing Tenet overboard to the media sharks. Beinet says that Robert Joseph, on the NSC, would be the logical candidate to sacrifice, but the White House is pointing at Tenet because to focus on Joseph would turn the attention to his superiors. Beinart reviews the evidence about how the CIA tried to prevent the use of the yellowcake claim, but the White House continued to try to drag it in and furthermore, made Tenet state he supported the White House's story:
The conflict came to a head on October 7, 2002, when Tenet, in response to Senate Intelligence Committee questions, wrote that "Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or C.B.W. [chemical or biological weapons] against the United States." That evening, however, in a major speech in Cincinnati, Bush said that "Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist." The press pounced on the discrepancy, and Tenet was forced to claim there was "no inconsistency" between his views and the president's.
Tenet didn't just take a comparatively dim view of the Iraq threat in general; he took a dim view of the uranium claim in particular. The Washington Post has reported that Tenet personally intervened with Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley to keep the discredited assertion out of Bush's Cincinnati speech. When Tenet sat behind Colin Powell at the secretary of state's February 5 U.N. presentation, the uranium charge was again absent. And Tenet avoided mentioning it in his February 11 testimony before the Senate. Tenet (and his subordinates) was clearly negligent (maybe willfully so) in not keeping the uranium charge out of the State of the Union as well. But suggesting that he deserves primary blame for its inclusion gets the story exactly backward.
Beinart concludes by advising the reporters, don't take your eye off the ball. The questions to get answered are:
For instance, how did Hadley, the man Tenet told of his misgivings about the uranium charge before the Cincinnati speech, allow it to reappear in the State of the Union? What about his boss, Rice, who cited the uranium claim in a January New York Times op-ed? Did she not know that Tenet had told her deputy it was dubious months before? Or her boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, who, according to Time, showed the personal interest in the uranium charge that spurred the CIA to send an investigator to Niger? Did Cheney not know the investigation he had initiated found the story to be untrue?
Bitter Pill, by Jonathan Chait, is a thoughtful piece about why he thinks Dean is bad for the Democratic party. Chait points out three areas where he thinks Dean is not helping the Democratic party.
He says Dean is stoking the anger of his supporters and putting himself as the only one willing to take the fight to Bush. However, Chait says that Democrats might believe this, but that the charge is really misdirected and the Democratic leadership is just not getting its message out because the media is not covering it. He goes on to show how the Democrats have been doing their best to oppose the Bush policies, but in some cases, like the last tax cut, a couple of Democrats undercut a unified message that could have held it back. Chait believes that Dean is unfairly maligning the Democratic leadership and this will hurt the party in the next election.
Chait says Dean's opposition to the war is a serious problem because Americans will interpret this opposition as weak on national security. He says that even when at the height of the opposition to the Vietnam war, people didn't vote for the anti-war candidate.
The main problem for Dean is not that the public is so supportive of the war in Iraq specifically but, rather, that it abhors any politician who smacks of weakness against foreign enemies generally.
Chait believes that Dean's stand on the Patriot Act is just as big of a liability, since he points out that for years Republicans used Democratic unwavering support for civil-liberties to paint Democrats as soft on crime. He believes this will be the approach the Republicans will take on the Patriot Act too.
Finally, Chait believes that Dean is firing up the activist base and that even if he doesn't win, he will have done a lot of damage to the Democratic party. He believes that Dean's uncompromising message can make the base believe it can win without compromising on their positions and Chait thinks this is wrong. He finds Dean's charge that the Republicans don't compromise wrongheaded because he shows that Bush is willing to disappoint his base just so he can win. All in all, Chait believes that Dean's uncompromising stance combined with stoking the anger of the activists is dangerous and could lead to the losing the next election.
Don't Look Now, by Michael Crowley and Spencer Ackerman, reports on Senators Pat Roberts, head of Senate Intelligence Committee and Jay Rockefeller, Democratic ranking member. They believe that both Roberts and Rockefeller are problematic in their new roles. The previous heads, Bob Graham and Richard Shelby had been term-limited out.
Pat Roberts seems to be very concerned about protecting the President and is only allowing secret investigations which he controls tightly. He has divide the investigations into 4 committees: WMD, Al Qaeda links, human rights, and regional threat and has only allowed the Democrat staffers to head up the non-controversial ones. For both WMD and Al Qaeda links, the committees have 3 Republicans and 1 Democrat.
Democrats are worried that Jay Rockefeller isn't up to the task of keeping the investigations focused on digging deeply into the issues. Even Rockefeller admitted that term-limited Bob Graham understood the issues around intelligence much better. Rockefeller is working hard to try to come up to speed, but meanwhile Democrats say the Rockefeller is letting Roberts roll over him. It does not appear that Roberts will let the hearings get into substantive areas. Rockefeller might be betting that the media will help force the investigations into the open, but as Crowley and Ackerman say,
Worse, Democrats risk abdicating responsibility if they overestimate the media's power to keep this story afloat. Reporters confronting the tight-lipped Bush administration may have to let the story drop for want of information, whereas a congressional committee that can subpoena witnesses stands a far better chance of getting to the truth.