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Michael Ubaldi, August 18, 2004.
Doves in the Democratic Party seem to have a nasty habit of inflating the military records they wield like truncheons whenever anything remotely military comes up in political dialogue. Take Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, whose tall tales resemble Kerry's own pattern of embellishment. A man who vainly insulted the sacrifice of real Pacific combat fighter pilots, Harkin still saw fit to call Vice President Cheney a "coward" when Cheney leveled a perfectly reasonable critique of John Kerry's call for a strategically "sensitive" conduction of war, far from the tactical considerations made — for good or ill — right now, in places like Najaf.
Answering questions of civilian administration with military ad hominem has unfortunately been a staple of the Kerry campaign's since the Massachusetts senator came out ahead in the primaries. I wrote over a week ago that public doubts about John Kerry's centerpiece presidential platform four months in Vietnam would be more than fair game if the Democratic candidate and his allies insisted on using veteran status as a means to silence debate — whether about Kerry's policies if elected president or the reliability of his own memory. The rumored, point-blank shot in question has yet to be uttered but if John Edwards' recent, subject-changing hyperbole is any indication, John Kerry is unafraid of the consequences of doing so, especially since there have been none among the elite press corps. Kerry's ominously bad post-convention polling, however, speaks of a different story for the general electorate; and one never can tell when the double-standard will catch up with political journalism.
It's impossible to sail through an election focusing on one-half of one percent of one's life at the expense of the near-totality of one's political life, indeed one-third of one's entire life; all the while setting completely different rules for an opponent, and expecting to get away with it all. Americans are gracious, not stupid. John Kerry ignores this adage at his own risk.
Michael Ubaldi, August 17, 2004.
Halloween is more than two months away but according to Danny O'Brien, who's sitting out in the pumpkin patch, the moonbats have already begun to howl. According to legend, the Great Moonbat will rise around Election Day, giving paranoia, blind rage and a mystifying disability in logical construction to all the good little fringe-leftists in the world. Now, it turns out that the gentleman responsible for Danny's first catch is actually one of us, working some perfectly dry humor. But then extremism is often indistinguishable from parody. We'll have to keep our wits telling turnip ghost from the odd leaf-rustling. Boo!
Michael Ubaldi, August 17, 2004.
Somebody's building something:
The Home Depot Inc. reported a nearly 19 percent jump in second-quarter profit on record sales as it benefited from strong performance in stores open at least a year. It also raised its earnings outlook for the year. The results, released Tuesday, handily beat Wall Street expectations.
Michael Ubaldi, August 16, 2004.
Leftist columnists are preparing to explain events over the next two months through the lens of conspiracy theory. Dan O'Brien's wise to it.
Michael Ubaldi, August 13, 2004.
The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger on the Democratic Party and its Hollywood membership:
Isn't it becoming harder by the day to take the Democrats seriously as the party of the common man and the left-out? Besides these people, the party's primary sources of support have become trial lawyers and Wall Street financiers. It is becoming a party run by a new class of elites who make fast money — $25 million for 30 days work on a movie, millions (even billions) winning lawsuits against doctors or asbestos users, millions to do arithmetic for a business merger. But they're all running against "Halliburton."
Michael Ubaldi, August 13, 2004.
In "Shoulda Been a Pollster" two weeks ago, I discussed the results of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's post-convention polls. In most surveys his bounce was small and short-lived; in Gallup's, the standard to which incumbent-challenger's bounces are measured, President Bush actually gained five points to lead Kerry, 51% to 47%.
Since 1936 ten incumbent presidents have stood for reelection in twelve contests, only three of them defeated by challengers. No challenger has been successful without leading the incumbent, before August, by an average crest of 24 points (33 for Jimmy Carter, 16 for Ronald Reagan, 25 for Bill Clinton) on the wings of a sizable post-convention bounce. Those leads acted as insulation, compressed in the autumn homestretch when, as almost always is the case, a portion of the electorate finally committed to stay with the incumbent. (Since 1936, Roosevelt versus Landon, incumbents have risen an average of 5 points in Gallup polls between August and Election Day, win or lose.) But in 1976, 1980 and 1992, enough voters had been attracted to the challenger's ticket to offset that return to the incumbent. In "Shoulda...", it was my observation that John Kerry's lack of electoral insulation left him vulnerable, perhaps fatally, to the president's initiative, beginning with the Republican National Convention at the end of August.
Gallup's new numbers are out: President Bush leads John Kerry by three points, 50% to 47%. I would have thought it sufficient for Bush to simply stay even on the eve of his nomination in New York City; with two weeks left until the Republican National Convention, the president seems poised well to bring back to his side a portion of uncommitted — or even dissatisfied — voters.
In coming days, I'll assemble a prediction for the president's post-convention performance and possibilities for the two months following. Until then, more royalty for Bush's hand: according to Gallup, the average presidential approval rating in post-WWII reelection years is 54%. Bush's average rating for 2004 happens to be his current rating, at 51%; it's well below his term average of 62%, but bodes well for reelection: those three unlucky incumbents, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, met public approval by respective averages of 49%, 38% and 41% (an overall average of 42%).
Ideology says it all for me regardless but when it comes to this election's polling, I'm glad not to be a Democrat.
GOOD, INDEED: Craig Brett comments. Craig, a Canadian living in England, has been reading the American economy's (and President Bush's) glass half empty; he has it from good authority, as well as his own observations. I would suspect the economy to be of no advantage to John Kerry in the November election for three reasons.
First and foremost, the public appraisal of the today's economy is astronomically higher than that of 1992, the quintessential market-driven election. The Los Angeles Times ran polls "at various points during 1991 and 1992" revealing that a staggering 9 out of 10 respondents believed the economy was in recession. Who could forget the ubiquitous "WILL WORK FOR FOOD" photograph? There's also a hidden political equation to this November. A good deal of Ohioans blame Columbus, not Washington, for our ho-hum market. Not many were happy with recent tax hikes. Even if a voter is pessimistic, will he necessarily pull the presidential lever for a man who will undoubtedly raise his taxes? Bill Clinton managed to lie through his teeth; it's a thing he does quite well. John Kerry seems not so well accomplished.
Second, the Federal Reserve has made an excellent case as to why the economy will muscle through everything from shifting workplace definitions to temporary resource fluctuations — like the present worry over oil. The Wall Street Journal paper had an excellent commentary piece yesterday entitled "Greenspan Nation" — whose authors escape me at the moment — about the changing and globalizing economy, and how a change in perspective is all that is necessary to see the expansion. That's not a complete argument, no, but my point is this: it suggests a very good chance for all the politically unhelpful numbers to come back in line with the ones that have remained stable all along, giving President Bush complete control of the issue.
Third, even if that August payroll report following the Republican National Convention is less than stellar, it will not resonate. The national conversation will not be about domestic politics. There's one word to it — Iran. But that's for the follow-up I mentioned earlier.
(Note: Made some corrections to the addendum when I realized I was trying to make an extraneous point.)
Michael Ubaldi, August 11, 2004.
If you haven't, Kevin O'Brien already picked up the slack.
Michael Ubaldi, August 10, 2004.
Every time investors have suspected the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year, the stock market has dropped like a brick. Not today, when each major index wiped out half of its loss from last week's dip, which may say something for the trade's unpredictability. Or something else:
U.S. stocks rose after the Federal Reserve said economic growth is poised to accelerate and reiterated its plan to boost borrowing costs at a "measured'' pace to contain inflation.
Michael Ubaldi, August 9, 2004.
Says the Hartford Courant's Washington Bureau Chief:
The presidential campaign's defining moment, Democrats whisper, will come when John Kerry turns to President Bush during a debate and asks, "Where were you while I was serving the country in Vietnam."
What was once an unsightly red herring may become a question of John Kerry's honesty in retelling the details of his own life. Challenges come from Unfit for Command, a book co-written by fellow swift boat veteran and longtime Kerry critic John O'Neill; and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group of over 200 of Kerry's colleagues in the war, including the senator's entire chain of command.
Glenn Reynolds has been following the scrutiny against John Kerry's telling of his service, a discussion that remains largely shrouded with the Democratic candidate's refusal to release all of his service records. As yet, however, Reynolds has been a good, dispassionate observer. In the interests of the presidential debate and rightist argument, it's wisest to concentrate not on Kerry's Vietnam record but on the thirty years of his life after that, particularly the last twenty in public office when the man was actually exercising skills relevant to being judged fit for Commander-in-Chief.
But now we read that the senator may frame Vietnam as a direct — and insulting — ad hominem. If he does, the book should be thrown at Kerry; any discrepancies discovered by bloggers and journalists put to the senator, and the vampire that is Vietnam politics tossed back in the coffin with a half-dozen stakes through its heart.
USEFUL: Both Kerry's overall Senate record and disgracefully naive crossings with Moscow-backed despots are all one needs to know about his potential to damage the office of Commander-in-Chief. Reading details brought, for me, the general career arc most of us know to life. The Bush campaign would do well to use this sorry narrative in public advertisements.
Michael Ubaldi, August 9, 2004.
Scott Rasmussen's polling now echoes Gallup's numbers from one week ago — whatever tiny bounce John Kerry received from the four-day Democratic National Convention is gone, with Bush slightly ahead, 48%-47%. The president has also closed gaps in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Iowa and Florida, while polls from Michigan continue to fluctuate. Both Bush and Kerry have solidified leads in safe-polling states; one notable gain of Kerry's has been on issue questions, with year-high approval numbers that near or exceed the president's. A body blow to Kerry's supercharged appeal as a veteran, not a senator, is his relatively poor polling with veterans themselves; among whom, according to Rasmussen, Bush would win today by a landslide.
MORE: Rasmussen shows that Kerry has taken a one-point lead in my state of Ohio. Elsewhere, Kerry is ahead in Maine and Washington but Bush remains within striking distance. And the president's best categories — leadership and public confidence on the war — are faring better, with Bush enjoying a solid plurality on both.