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  • "AUTHENTICITY" ACT PROVIDES...

    "AUTHENTICITY" ACT PROVIDES COVER FOR PANDERING TO THE RIGHT. Kevin Drum aptly observes that the press corps shouldn't allow itself to be snookered by George Allen 's authenticity schtick the way it got snowed by John McCain 's rendition of the same act back in 2000. Let me add another point about this. The key to this game, as practiced by Allen, McCain and George Bush , is that it has a pernicious underside: The "regular-guy" schtick is crucial partly because it provides cover for the politician in question to pander relentlessly to the right. Here is some of what Crooks and Liars offers as a transcript of Allen speaking on Hardball : The thing that's good about Tony Snow is that being on talk radio ... he bring[s] the pulse of people in the real world to the White House, understanding how people react to it and whether they are on Rush Limbaugh's show or Hugh Hewitt's show or Laura Ingraham's show or who knows who, the Sean Hannity's or any other radio show -- the fact that he...
  • REBOUND. In a...

    REBOUND. In a last minute turnaround, House GOP leaders struck a deal with rebelling appropriators late yesterday and narrowly revived their lobbying reform package. A vote is set for next week. Leaders won over the Appropriations Committee members by assuring them that an extension of earmark reforms to the authorizing and tax committees would be added in conference negotiations with the Senate. (That is to say, they promised ahead of time that the final legislation would differ in specific ways from the version the House is actually going to vote on next week.) A Republican amendment to establish an independent Office of Public Integrity was prevented from getting a floor vote, while several of the most significant disclosure requirements passed by the Judiciary Committee were stripped out; this left as perhaps the key pillar of the legislation the new requirement that lobbyists file reports four times a year instead of just twice . Thus will Congress exorcise the specter of...
  • THE FULL TANK....

    THE FULL TANK. Err . . . I've been having some trouble dreaming up things to write about lately, but does my morning Washington Post really need not one , not two , but three columns on gas prices? Turns out there's a lot of political posturing going on. Who knew? But in case you missed the message, there's also an unsigned editorial making the point. The Times manages to restrain itself by offering one column and an editorial . I've had enough. --Matthew Yglesias
  • No Correction on Mexican Growth at the Washington Post

    To those following the issue, the Washington P ost still has not corrected the error in its reporting on Mexico's post NAFTA growth rate (" Mexican Deportee's U.S. Sojourn Illuminates Roots of Current Crisis ," 4-17-06:A1). My April 18th post noted that the growth data reported in this article implied that Mexico had enjoyed an average GDP growth rate of 17.5 percent a year in the post-NAFTA era, which would be a world record. The IMF data show Mexico's growth rate at a weak 2.9 percent. While the Post has taken a strong pro-NAFTA position on its editorial page, I wrote and continue to believe that this error was an honest mistake. The failure to correct this error after it has been called to their attention is harder to explain. (I also noted a similar error on growth in the Post's Sunday Outlook section, but we can give opinion writers more leeway.) Since the Post will make an effort to correct misspelled names in wedding announcements, it is difficult to understand its refusal to...
  • STILL DOING NOTHIN'....

    STILL DOING NOTHIN'. Faux lobbying reform bogs down in the House. The total collapse of the Republicans' legislative capacity is quite remarkable. John Boehner really needs to trot out some of those awesome Famous People quotes he included in his goofball "For a Majority that Matters" manifesto and get his caucus in line. Perhaps Walt Disney 's would work: "Of all the things I've done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them towards a certain goal." --Sam Rosenfeld
  • NOW THERE'S A...

    NOW THERE'S A BOLD PLAN. It seems almost too obvious to point out, but if the White House press secretary's job is to build favorable coverage for an administration too often seen as opaque and insular, it's probably a bad idea to ban all television cameras from the press room, thereby infuriating reporters and further closing off the administration's public accessibility. Now, to be fair, doing so would certainly fit in with Fred Barnes ' second piece of advice to Tony Snow , "be willing to be disliked," but I had no idea Barnes was searching for such self-fulfilling pieces of advice. --Ezra Klein
  • THE DEATH OF...

    THE DEATH OF MULTICULTURALISM. Ensconced in TimesSelect's fortress, David Brooks weighs in today on Mike 's essay . Brooks sees Tomasky's call for supplanting rights-based liberalism with a new(-old) common good liberalism as reflective of a sea change among Democrats and activists -- "over the past few years," he writes, "multiculturalism has faded away" as a pillar of the Democratic Party and American liberalism. I think there's some real truth to that -- indeed, one criticism I would make of Mike's piece is precisely that the sort of identity politics he's calling on Democrats to jettison already seems a good deal less salient and significant than it was, say, fifteen years ago. An interesting question is why that happened. There was real debate about this stuff in the eighties and nineties -- books by Mike , Arthur Schlesinger , Todd Gitlin , and Jim Sleeper all came out around the same time and offered similar criticisms of the rights-based identity politics cul de sac the left...
  • WHEN I WAS...

    WHEN I WAS YOUNG AND RACIST, I WAS YOUNG AND RACIST. Ryan Lizza 's new profile of George Allen is the sort of article that can sink a candidacy. Lizza reaches deep into Allen's past and, like a magician pulling endless amount of ropes from a tiny hat, emerges with decorative nooses, a string of confederate flags (one from Allen's car, another from his living room, another from the pin on his lapel in his high school yearbook photo), and a long pattern of racist votes and dog whistle appeals. Potentially worse, Allen comes off as a garden variety of sadist, a high school bully and vandal who hurled his brother through a glass door when he wanted to stay up past his bedtime, cracked another brother's collarbone for the same offense, and so tormented his youngest sister that she wrote a memoir packed with instances of his cruelty and thuggishness. It's grotesque stuff, and considering the perpetrator is being seriously considered as the chief executive and primary symbol of our country,...
  • A QUESTION ABOUT...

    A QUESTION ABOUT KARL ROVE'S SELF-DEFENSE. Can anyone explain this? Here's how today's Washington Post described part of the testimony that Karl Rove offered yesterday: Rove's testimony focused almost exclusively on his conversation about Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in 2003 and whether the top aide later tried to conceal it, the source said. Rove testified, in essence, that "it would have been a suicide mission" to "deliberately lie" about his conversation with Cooper because he knew beforehand that it eventually would be revealed , the source said. ( Emphasis added. ) But wait. At the time of his earlier testimony -- the testimony being examined by Patrick Fitzgerald -- Rove is supposed to have forgotten about his conversation with Cooper. In other words, he was then supposedly unaware that it had happened. So how could he have at that time worried that it would eventually be revealed , as he reportedly said yesterday? If he didn't remember it having occurred at...
  • WHO YOU CALLIN'...

    WHO YOU CALLIN' STUPID? Methinks a lot of folks out there are too quick to underestimate the intelligence of highly trained professional politicians. The basic dilemma facing Democrats at the moment regarding gasoline goes as follows: High gas prices are very unpopular with the public. This presents an opportunity for the opposition party to score gains against a genuinely pernicious incumbent party by presenting itself as prepared to "do something" about the situation. But, simultaneously, the correct liberal point of view is that high gasoline prices are actually a good thing for environmental and foreign policy reasons. Ergo, Democrats propose "legislation that would put a moratorium on the Federal gasoline tax for at least 60-days to provide consumers immediate relief at the pump,� but would also "chop oil company tax benefits and burden refineries with unwarranted reporting requirements, making it unable to win enough support in Congress to have even a remote chance of passing."...

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