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  • DEMOCRACY BUILDING AT HOME.

    DEMOCRACY BUILDING AT HOME. I was going to let the Clinton interview pass, if only because the green fields of Wingnuttia are so alive these days with natives reliving the spirited days of their feckless political youth. But, watching it again, and sliding through the endless grinding of Chris Wallace into potato salad, I noticed that the former president said this, long after everything had settled down some: I think the question is, what's the best way to do it? I think also the question is, how do you educate people about democracy? Democracy is about way more than majority rule. Democracy is about minority rights, individual rights, restraints on power. And there's more than one way to advance democracy. The old boxing guys say that you never see the right hand that comes behind the hook, the one that puts you out. Sure, he was talking about Iraq. Sure, he was. -- Charles P. Pierce
  • TIM RYAN.

    TIM RYAN. Plenty of people may have noted this before, but when it comes to floor speeches, this guy is really something . --Sam Rosenfeld
  • GETTING RATHER-IZED.

    GETTING RATHER-IZED. Did Chris Wallace get Rather -ized on Sunday? According to reporting by Norah O�Donnell on the NBC's Today show yesterday: Liberals and conservatives alike are buzzing about whether Mr. Clinton outfoxed FOX News by planning this attack. One of Mr. Clinton�s advisers admitted to me that, �We didn�t go into it looking for a fight, but we had our lead pipe ready.� If this is true, that means that Clinton didn�t go ballistic, blow his Vesuvian top, or any of the other disparaging labels now being invoked by conservatives to disparage his performance -- and ignore the substance of his comments. Instead, this media moment harkens back to the famous exchange between then-Vice President George H. W. Bush and Dan Rather on January 25, 1988, when the elder Bush was trying to shake the �wimp� label. That episode, the transcript of which can be read here , is considered a great act of political jujitsu by Bush, who got himself a two-fer by showing some backbone and...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ROGUE STATE.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ROGUE STATE. Regarding last week's torture "compromise" in the Senate, Matt gets very shrill. --The Editors
  • ASYMMETRIC ISSUES. ...

    ASYMMETRIC ISSUES. This article on Democrats using free trade as a cudgel against their Republican opponents is an interesting one. In the abstract at least, free trade enjoys broad support. But trade, like abortion or taxes, is a voting issue. While "fair trade" isn't the most broadly agreed upon policy -- unlike the minimum wage or Canadian drug reimportation -- for the fraction of voters affected or unnerved by globalization, it moves them to the polls. In recent elections, Democrats have tended to emphasize the issues with the broadest constituencies, not the most intense ones. So they've ended up touting policies the electorate agrees with but does not vote on -- after all, if the electorate agreed and did vote on that issue, the GOP would quickly notice its wisdom and make it a central policy plank. So while this strategy garnered very high numbers of Americans telling pollsters they agreed with the Democratic position, it didn't lead to all that many voting for the Democrats...
  • LISTEN UP. ...

    LISTEN UP. Matt notes that Democrats actually held an unofficial oversight hearing on the Iraq War yesterday. "Naturally," he writes, "the press more-or-less entirely ignored this event, since people only report on the Democrats to mock them for being in 'disarray.'" True. Remember the Roll Call story from a couple days ago that Democrats were going to cease mentioning national security and the Iraq War and focus entirely on economic issues? That becomes a bit self-fulfilling if the press refuses to report Democratic events on national security and the Iraq War. For all the complaints about Democratic messaging, it often seems less like they lack a message and more like they lack a press corps receptive to repeating that message. The apparent clarity of the Republican Party certainly isn't harmed by George W. Bush 's ability to demand that all the networks cover his latest speech or press conference. This is a structural advantage for the GOP that's often mistaken for an expertise...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THEY'RE BACK.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THEY'RE BACK. Laura Rozen reports on new evidence that some old and unsavory Iranian intelligence-peddlers are once again getting a hearing in Washington. Deja vu all over again. --The Editors
  • THE �ESSENTIAL DILEMMA� RAISED BY THE NIE.

    THE �ESSENTIAL DILEMMA� RAISED BY THE NIE. A contact familiar with the April NIE on terrorism says that buried in the discussion of the report so far is this dilemma: �The report notes that �victory� in Iraq would be a blow to the jihadists, and that failure (especially if it led to the establishment of an al-Qaeda sanctuary or if veteran foreign jihadists dispersed out of Iraq to engage in terrorism in other parts of the world) would also be very bad. Thus, the report highlights the essential dilemma Iraq poses for the war on terror: staying fuels the al-Qaeda-inspired movement, creating a net increase in the terrorist threat; while leaving Iraq in chaos would also worsen the threat. The Democrats tend to focus on the first part of the dilemma; the administration focuses on the second part. They are both right (and wrong) -- and the debate would be greatly served by focusing on the dilemma itself.� With both the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence committee...
  • DEERHUNTER.

    DEERHUNTER. The controversy over George Allen �s racial attitudes and behavior took another sudden turn -- for the worse, in Allen�s case -- yesterday with the release of a Salon story in which Michael Scherer reports of accusations by three former friends of Allen�s who claim that the future senator used �nigger� as a frequent racial epithet. Scherer�s piece is book-ended by the superb reporting of The New Republic �s Ryan Lizza , who put this storyline into motion last May with a cover piece and then published an online piece last night confirming much of Scherer�s story, with added sources and details -- Allen, of course, having used the racial epithet. The sickest part of the latest reporting is the claim by R. Kendall Shelton that Allen -- who called Shelton the �Wizard,� because Shelton shared the surname of a former KKK imperial wizard -- once cut the head off a deer and asked where the nearest black person lived, and promptly shoved that head into the person�s mailbox. This...
  • SATAN NEEDS AN...

    SATAN NEEDS AN AGENT. The devil is certainly getting a lot of press these days. Not to be outdone by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez , who last week called President George W. Bush the devil, the Rev. Jerry Falwell one-upped him by naming Hillary Clinton as something even worse than the devil. At the "Values Voter Summit" convened this past weekend by the Family Research Council, Rev. Falwell addressed a gathering of pastors. From the Los Angeles Times : "I certainly hope that Hillary is the candidate," Falwell said, according to the recording. "She has $300 million so far. But I hope she's the candidate. Because nothing will energize my [constituency] like Hillary Clinton." Cheers and laughter filled the room as Falwell continued: "If Lucifer ran, he wouldn't." Apparently, no one did a sniff test for sulfur around the podium at the Omni Shoreham from which Falwell delivered his speech. --Adele M. Stan

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