Up Front

We're Screwed!

Print may not be dead, but it sure is slow. this issue was sent to the printer on October 17. It'll hit newsstands on November 3. It'll remain there until early December. And in the middle of that publication cycle, a pivotal election will happen -- one that this issue cannot in any way address. Excuse us while we scream.

Rest assured, there will be constant midterm election commentary at our high-tech Internet outpost www.prospect.org to compensate for the pitfalls of monthly magazine publishing. But even so, we ask you, our beloved reader, not to leave this magazine ignorant and out-of-date, and to complete the article below. Call it citizen journalism:

On November 7, Republicans [please circle one] held their ground against the Democrats/collapsed in the face of the left's resurgent populism and rediscovered spine. For this magazine, the outcome was as expected: We've long maintained that [please circle one] unless/until Democrats finally rediscovered their roots and relearned the language of liberalism, they would remain out of power. The American people evidently agreed.
It's now time for Democrats to heed the [please circle one] message/mandate and refocus their energies on the core problems
of the Bush era: stagnating middle-class wages, the deterioration of the employer-based health-care system, the misguided war in Iraq, and the grotesque aggregation of executive power perpetrated by the administration. The 2006 midterms marked [please circle one] a true turning point/yet one more wake-up call for Democrats. The real work has yet to be done.

-- Ezra Klein

Death Wish

Breaking news: People are dying in Iraq. Of course, just how many has been the subject of some debate. Researchers at Johns Hopkins released a massive, rigorous cluster sample survey of Iraqi casualties in October, which found, between 2003 and 2006, an estimated 654,965 "excess deaths"-that is, deaths above and beyond the country's prewar mortality rate. What did President Bush think of the finding? "I don't consider it a credible report," said the president at a press conference, citing as evidence for this claim nothing more the fact that General George Casey agreed with him. Instead, Bush stood by his count from December, when he said that "more or less" 30,000 Iraqis had been killed -- a wild guesstimate that Press Secretary Scott McClellan emphasized at the time was not an official government count. We're certain that it isn't official this time, either.

More or less.

A History of Violence

To be sure, at the same press conference, Bush was careful to "applaud" the Iraqis for their courage in the face of this daunting carnage, even if he didn't quite couch it in terms that accepted U.S. responsibility for any of it: "I am amazed that this is a society which so wants to be free that they're willing to-that there's a level of violence that they tolerate. And it's now time for the Iraqi government to work hard to bring security in neighborhoods so people can feel at peace." In terms of tolerating violence, Bush must have been referring to the 61 percent of Iraqis that now approve of attacks against Americans, according to a huge World Public Opinion poll released in October. The poll also found that 78 percent of Iraqis believe the American military presence is "provoking more conflict than it is preventing" and that 71 percent favor U.S. withdrawal within one year.

The Gambler

Meanwhile, the president's expressed thoughts on North Korea's nuclear test were perhaps more alarming than anything else, if only because he appears to be basing his actions on a very confused poker metaphor. Multilateral negotiations (i.e., refusing to talk to North Korea and pleading with China, Japan, and Russia to fix everything) are the way to go, the president said. "One has a stronger hand when there's more people playing your same cards." Ante up.


As part of its new "You're a Great American," ad campaign, General Motors has picked Alan Colmes-abuser Sean Hannity as its spokesman. Who better to kick off a new sales initiative meant to expand the appeal of a diminishing brand than the guy who said a Kerry win would be a victory for the terrorists and keeping Nancy Pelosi out of the speakership was "worth … dying for"? Some manager over there should figure out which ad executive thought GM's problem was that too many Democrats were buying their cars -- and fire him.

Open Secret

David Kuo, former No. 2 in the president's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, recently released a book revealing how the administration has played religious conservatives for suckers. "National Christian leaders," Kuo complains, "received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as 'ridiculous' and 'out of control.'" Conservative pundit Tucker Carlson recently made the same revelation -- that "elites in the Republican Party have pure contempt for the evangelicals." Of course, this is hardly a bombshell. Indeed, in his typically pithy manner, disgraced Jack Abramoff crony (and Tom DeLay aide) Michael Scanlon laid out the blueprint better than anyone in a 2001 memo to a tribal client: "The wackos get their information through the Christian right ... Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them."


It wasn't long ago that Joe Lockhart was Bill Clinton's affable, preternaturally composed press secretary. And it really wasn't long ago that he was one of the grown-ups brought in to right the then-floundering Kerry campaign. Since that election he's become a shill for telecom companies, aiding their efforts to undo the "net neutrality" regulation of the Internet and begin charging variable rates for bandwidth usage. As part of their political team, Lockhart's Glover Park Group recently conducted a completely nonslanted and rigorous poll that asked participants: "Which of the following two items do you think is the most important to you: Delivering the benefits of new TV and video choice so consumers will see increased competition and lower prices for cable TV, OR Enhancing Internet neutrality by barring high-speed Internet providers from offering specialized services like faster speed and increased security for a fee?" Follow-up question: If you chose the second option, do you also enjoy kicking puppies?

THE QUESTION: What's the All-time Best Washington Sex Scandal?

"Chuck Robb and Tai Collins. Larry King's interview with Collins is a classic. 'And then the sexual occurrence was in New York?' was an actual question."

-- Chuck Todd, The Hotline

"Wilbur Mills, Ways and Means Committee chairman and second-most powerful man in Washington, dallying drunk with stripper Fanne Foxe ('the Argentine firecracker')."

-- Eric Rauchway, historian, UC Davis

"Clinton-Lewinsky, as it gave us new definitions for 'cigar,' 'sexual relations,' and 'is.'"

-- Curtis Gans, director, Center for the Study of the American Electorate


Bob Woodward's Next Three Books

Commander in Chief: John McCain's Ascendance.

An in-depth portrait, as only legendary investigative journalist Bob Woodward can render it, of how war hero and maverick senator John McCain beat the ambitious Hillary Clinton to the White House -- then moved to restore America's standing in the world. The reinstatement of the draft, the invasion of Iran -- Woodward gets the inside story on all this and more, offering an astonishingly intimate portrait of the man whom many are calling, just two years into his first term, one of America's greatest presidents.

The Plan: McCain's War on Poverty.

Legendary investigative journalist Bob Woodward strikes again -- and this time, the author casts his gaze toward President McCain's bold tax-and-budget deal of 2011. Told partly through the eyes of Vice President Sam Brownback, White House Chief of Staff Tony Snow, and other key players behind the deal, The Plan offers readers a fly-on-the-wall account of how the administration maneuvered Democrats into supporting the president's 15 percent flat tax -- what many are calling the boldest domestic agenda since Lyndon Johnson's presidency.

Meltdown: Inside the Collapse of the McCain Administration.

An astonishingly intimate portrait of a presidency in crisis. Documenting the disastrous first year of President McCain's second term, legendary investigative journalist Bob Woodward reveals how the roots of McCain's failure lay at the very inception of his presidency. It's all here: The massive protests over the draft, the catastrophe in Iran, and the 2011 tax-and-budget deal -- passed over the objections of Vice President Brownback and McCain's own chief of staff -- that plunged the country into recession. Woodward also gives a fly-on-the-wall account of the president's increasingly violent temper, culminating in his infamous physical assault on Grover Norquist in a Washington hotel lobby. Not to be missed.