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Between the Lines

December 01, 2003

2004 could produce some genuine political excitement

So argues commentator and author Kevin Phillips, who sees unusual potential for both the Democratic and Republican conventions.

This would be a Good Thing indeed. In recent decades, the conventions have been little more than exercises in finding new ways to drop balloons and lie more convincingly in candidate "biographies."

Phillips argues that the sheer number of Democratic candidates could lead to the first multi-ballot convention for the donkeys since 1952. Given the Democratic record in such circumstances – four losses in four occurrences – this probably would bode ill for the Democrats’ chances. However, Phillips, who seems to think the nomination is Howard Dean’s to win or lose, argues that a sharp Democratic contest until shortly before the convention in July could help keep the Dems on message against the GOP – and the money flowing to the candidates.

Should Dean lack the horsepower to push through at the convention, Phillips raises the notion that a deadlocked convention might turn back to – Al Gore! After all, he did beat Bush in the popular vote last time and he’s been sounding “increasingly feisty” lately.

Obviously, there will be no suspense about the Republican nominee. But the convention in New York City in September could be a different matter.

“In 2002, the idea of again draping the mantle of 9/11 around Bush at a 2004 nomination convention just a few miles from ‘ground zero’ must have seemed highly opportune to GOP strategists,” Phillips writes. Now, in face of a tough, continuing war (November produced the highest number of U.S. deaths since the invasion of Iraq), plus security concerns raised by a surge in Islamic terrorism, the Republicans may face some unwanted suspense when they gather in the Big Apple.

“Keep in mind that when Bush was in London recently, Al Qaeda or affiliated terrorists made it a point to bomb the British Consulate and a British bank in Istanbul, Turkey,” Phillips writes. “Even if no attempts are made on Manhattan, the probability of extreme security measures and possibly something approaching martial law in sections of the island could cast a long shadow over the convention. This potential embarrassment is another one of the extraordinary political uncertainties of 2004.”

Posted by tbrown at 12:16 PM

The adventures of First Brother

Let’s see. Neil Bush, the president’s younger brother, supposedly is being paid $400,000 a year by a Chinese semiconductor manufacturer to advise it on a business Bush admits he knows nothing about. Sound like influence-buying?

Bush says that while he doesn’t know anything about semiconductors he is a business expert – which I guess he proved by becoming a central figure in the savings and loan scandals a decade ago.

He also has a $60,000 a year contract with a company that wants to profit from contracts in postwar Iraq. Again, influence buying?

Then there’s the report – denied in Taiwan – that he was paid $1 million for agreeing to meet with Taiwan’s president while the latter was in the U.S. for a visit (high U.S. government officials rarely meet with their Taiwanese counterparts because of objections from China, which considers Taiwan a province).

All this would at the very least get a prominent Democrat on every nutbar radio show and most likely would lead to calls for appointment of a special prosecutor – and that’s without even considering the younger Bush’s anti-family-values stunts.

Somehow, though, I don’t expect Rush, O’Neill and the rest to spend much time on First Brother.

Posted by tbrown at 12:13 PM

George and Hillary go to Baghdad …

… and Glenn Reynolds has a wrapup of reactions from the blogosphere.

Posted by tbrown at 12:09 PM

Bloody November

November was the deadliest month of the Iraq war for U.S. troops. It was also marked by a major increase in attacks on U.S. allies. None of which bodes well for at least the short-term future.

Winds of Change has one of its periodic wrapups on events in Iraq. Of particular interest is a linked exchange on what the U.S. response would be should terrorists devise a way of making repeated attacks on the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction. Some real Armageddon talk there.

Be sure to add Juan Cole to your web favorites. His blog is the best one-stop place for updates on what’s happening in Iraq (he does his own translations of the Arab press).

Posted by tbrown at 12:08 PM

As expected, ‘The Reagans’ is a turkey

David Postman, chief political reporter for The Seattle Times, took the time to sit through the CBS miniseries, “The Reagans,” and not surprisingly found it wanting. Republican activists were successful in getting CBS to pull the two-parter from its network lineup, you’ll recall, but it did begin airing on CBS’ Showtime last night.

I still fail to see what the flap was all about. Hello? It's television.

Posted by tbrown at 12:06 PM

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2004 could produce some genuine political excitement
The adventures of First Brother
George and Hillary go to Baghdad …
Bloody November
As expected, ‘The Reagans’ is a turkey


Blogs to watch

Abu Ardvark
Andrew Sullivan
Atrios Eschaton
Best of the Web
Drudge Report
Joe Conason (subscription required)
Josh Marshall
Kaus files
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Real Clear Politics
The Corner
The Volokh Conspiracy
The Whiskey Bar

Mideast blogs

Salam Pax (Iraq)
G. in Baghdad
L.T. Smash (U.S. military in Iraq)
Lady Sun (Iran)

City blogs

L.A. Examiner

Africa blogs

Cathy Buckle

Media blogs

Dan Gillmor's eJournal
Media Whores Online


Newspapers online (guide to papers on the web)
International Herald Tribune
The Guardian U.K.
New York Times (free registration required)

Economy blogs

Brad DeLong

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