Tuesday, December 23, 2003

All posts can now be found at my new blog here.

Monday, December 22, 2003

My friends, I am throwing my support behind General Clark. I appreciate the offers I've received from other blogs, but I've decided to continue writing on my own. From now on my new blog can be found at http://clarkforpres.blogspot.com. I will continue to analyze the campaign in general and will offer comments, advice and criticisms to all campaigns, including but not exclusive to Clark's. All comments are very welcome.

Why Clark? He's become a much better candidate and every time I see him speak I grow more confident. I was strongly impressed by his performance on "This Week" yesterday morning. He came out and accused the administration of deliberately misleading the American people. He revealed that Dean offered him the VP slot (a bold admission for Clark, but one I fully believe - word is Dean is campaigning hard for endorsements and Clark's would have been a huge one). In sum, he doesn't appear to back down from a fight.

A larger indication that Clark wouldn't back down came from a "slip-up" on C-Span. A supporter approached him and asked how Clark would respond to slime attacks from Karl Rove and the right. He responded, "I'll beat the shit out of them." I hope he does.

It's further indication that this notion that Dean supporters have that their candidate is the only one who will "stand up to Bush" is basically a bogus premise. I understand their anger, I'm angry. But when the anger is enough to start a grass-roots movement to draft a non-politician into the race, clearly that politician is going to stand up to Bush.

And Clark's indignation is real. My favorite thing about him is his utter disdain for a man I believe is the Devil incarnate - Tom Delay. Check out what Clark's official campaign released about DeLay's little snide remark about Clark. The official campaign went as far as labeling DeLay a "chickenhawk." That's EXACTLY what we need in this campaign, and only someone with the military experience of Clark has the credibility to go after DeLay in this manner.

Here's what Deaniacs sometimes don't get when it comes to their guy. Bush is a probable win, but not a sure win. He's a horrible president on a ton of issues. But Iraq and the war on terrorism IS going to be the dominant issue in this election, period.

So what we need is a candidate to make the case that Bush's aggressive, pre-emptive policy isn't working. That the war on Iraq was sold on the basis of misleading information. That the real terrorists were never in Iraq before the war, only after. And that this preposterous theory that killing them in Iraq is better than killing them here is again a bogus claim of the right, because who's to say those terrorists would ever make it here?

As far as I can see only one candidate can really sell this to the American people, and that's Clark. Why? Because he has enormous credibility.

As many regular readers may know, I'm a dual citizen with Israeli citizenship. A decade ago a great leader named Yitzhak Rabin was able to strike a peace deal with Jordan and initiate the peace process with the Palestinians. Had he lived I have no doubt he would have fulfilled the deal and gone on to make peace with Syria. And the Israeli people were willing to believe it was in their interests.

Why? Because Rabin was a soldier. He was a general who led the Israeli forces into battle in war after war and to victory after victory. If a GENERAL believed that peace was in the national security interests of our nation, then the Israeli people were inclined to believe it too.

Dean has no such credibility, respectfully. Kerry would have had more credibility had he voted against the war and remained consistent.

So the only one whose consistently opposed the war AND who brings the credibility to sell it to people beyond only the most motivated of our base is Clark.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Before I go on with this post I'd like to say it's one of my last posts about the Kerry campaign. As many of you know I am leaning to supporting Clark, and will make a decision soon. I will definitely continue writing as much as my job allows and will feature links to my writing on this blog (boy, how self-consumed am I?). So, stay tuned.

Two articles in Salon.com today both continue my disappointment in John Kerry and hearten my desire to beat Bush.

The first reveals again how Kerry continues to snipe at Dean, and often in ways that are simply unfair.

Caveat: I'm starting to feel the need to do this every time I make this point, but I'll do it again: THIS DOES NOT MEAN I'M A DEAN SUPPORTER. Phew, okay, done.

A disclaimer about Salon, my favorite publication: they are overt Dean supporters. While never explicitly endorsing him, it's pretty clear where their loyalties lie. But this article is right on the money. Kerry went after Dean for saying the U.S. needed the U.N.'s "permission" to attack Iraq. I saw Dean's speech. He never said anything like that. And Kerry is once again taking something he said out of context and twisting it into a very Republican-like attack on Dean.

I've heard the entreaties from the Kerry supporters that Dean is fair game for attacks and for pointing out policy differences. I agree. Gephardt attacked Dean in a very legitimate fashion, for instance. He said Dean was standing with Gingrich and the Republicans on Medicare in the 90s. While Dean may not have been pro-Republican, this attack does not misrepresent his position. It was the only real attack on Dean to draw blood and it did so because it was largely true.

Kerry's attacks have drawn no blood, however. They come across as petty, and are largely based on misrepresentations or quotes taken out of context. And I don't understand how Kerry's core supporters don't see how it demeans Kerry.

Most of us who at one time supported Kerry and those who still do did so because we felt he was most qualified to take on Bush and be a great President. He still is. But why not run on those facts? Why bow down to petty attacks? Especially when they're clearly sniping at something small that Dean said? Does anyone really think that will make an impact among voters? Voters want to know who can beat Bush. They don't want to hear about "well, another Dem candidate said this and that's bad because of this." Oy.

It pains me that Kerry's supporters can't see the mistake their candidate is making. That they can't see that a man so principled and strong who has sacrificed so much comes across looking like such a small politician when he does this. It's lost my support. But for those still in the Kerry camp, tell your campaign to stop it as soon as possible.

This whole situation makes it incredibly clear that Kerry is in the position he is because he voted for the Iraq War Resolution. If he didn't, he wouldn't be spending his summer having to explain himself over and over.

Here's the crux of the problem: Kerry says, "I voted to hold Saddam Hussein accountable." But that carries very little weight among those who opposed the war. Why? Because they didn't feel he was a threat to begin with. And the lack of WMD doesn't help that perception. To Kerry it was a vote to hold Saddam accountable, a vote which he thought would lead to more diplomacy, a vote which he felt would lead to an international coalition to pressure Saddam to disarm.

But to those who opposed the war it was a vote for war. And why? Because anyone who took one look at Bush knew he would rush to war as soon as possible. Nobody believed Bush would consult the U.N. In fact, he said before the whole process started that he wouldn't have to. It was only Powell who dragged him there to begin with. So to recap: Bush had already clearly shown disdain for the world community multiple times, starting with Kyoto, the ABM Treaty, and then with his statements about how he wouldn't have to consult the U.N.

And after all that, the vote was held. And Kerry voted for the War Resolution. I'm not saying he was right or wrong (personally I think he was wrong), but I'm saying to many anti-war Dems who didn't believe Saddam was an imminent threat and put no stock in Bush's ability to work with the world, it was a blank check for war. Without that vote, Kerry would be in a dramatically different position than he is today.

The other article in Salon.com is exactly the kind of piece that will never make mass media. While the NY Times continue to allow William Safire to write his insane articles attacking the Geneva Peace Conference and, my favorite, the one still claiming an Iraqi-Baghdad connection, Salon.com reveals the truth.

Why do I know in my heart of hearts that this will get no media play? Whatever happened to that brief one month in which they finally held Bush accountable for his misleading? Here is firm evidence that the Iraq-Sept 11th connection is bullshit. Will it get run anywhere? Nope. My heart breaks at the thought.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Well, Dean supporters are nothing if not motivated. As soon as I mentioned I'm losing my taste for Kerry's campaign I get bombarded with entreaties to switch to Dean. It ain't gonna happen my friends, although I appreciate a healthy exchange of ideas! The following is another letter I wrote to a reader explaining some of the reasons I'm not going to vote for Dean. But at the end of the day, I just am not into the guy. As hard as it is for some of his supporters to believe, I just don't like him that much. Of course, he'll have my vote in a general election, but not a primary. The following are excerpts from my letter:

Unfortunately, I'm not even a little bit convinced about Dean, although I appreciate your entreaties to reconsider him. Let's face it, on the issues, almost everyone is pretty close to each other's position. There's hardly any dem candidate whose policies I wouldn't be happy with.

My problem with Dean is that while is strongly connecting with a large group of new people, he has absolutely zero connection among some very important core Democratic constituencies. Chief among them African-Americans (whose turnout we need in a big way) and Southerners, including Southern Dems. The genius of Clinton was that he could convince these groups that he had shared experiences with them as a person, and frankly, that's very important to them. I've listened to many black friends of mine and read carefully reports from, in particular, southern black and southern democratic movements. They just are having a tough time believing that a rich guy from Long Island who moved to Vermont can really understand their life experiences. On top of that, I know countless, COUNTLESS Dems who were strong supporters of the Iraq War and for whom national security trumps all other issues. They've told me in no uncertain terms that they would rather vote for Bush or not vote at all if Dean is the nominee. They won't even consider him, while they would consider someone like Clark or Kerry.

I don't think Dean is unelectable because he makes mistakes or because he's "too liberal." I believe he's unelectable because of who he is (his background), combined with some of his positions. While he is motivating a strong group of new Dems, he is not motivating the entire base. There are just as many Dems who are turned off by Dean as are turned on by him, if not more. Of everyone I know, all strong Dems, I literally do not know a single Dean supporter, and he rubs us all the wrong way. I am not believing any media hype about his liberal-ness, etc. I am watching how people react to him. What upsets me sometimes about some Dean supporters is that they believe if I don't support him, somehow I'm buying into the criticism from Lieberman, et al. That's not true, I'm more intelligent than that and I can see through hype and take a more nuanced view. I sometimes wish Dean's ardent supporters would too. It is conceivable that I just don't support their candidate at the moment without my being the anti-Christ.

Three last points: 1) Don't believe the hype that the other candidates wouldn't stand up to Bush. I agree the Democratic Party didn't in 2002 and on other instances, but that's over. Every presidential candidate will stand up to Bush, and if you think Dean is the only one who will fight, you're sorely mistaken. These are all professional politicians who want to be president, they will fight. 2) Respectfully, you're living in denial if you believe that his lack of national security experience won't be an issue. Okay, so a group of motivated Dems is propelling him towards a plurality in a crowded pack of 9 candidates, but do you really believe that when it's a one-on-one election with a "wartime" president, this won't be an issue? 3) Of course, I will be with you no matter who the candidate is in the end. I don't like Dean, no one will convince me otherwise. But if he is the nominee, I will of course support him. But I can't let go of the thought that it is a ticket to disaster, and I've heard every argument to the contrary, and respectfully, I don't buy any one of them.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Time for me to clarify my explanations. Below I am posting the copy of a letter to Pamela, the maintainer of the Unofficial Kerry Blog among other things. Let me say that Pamela and her team do great work. I am fully supportive of anyone who works so hard to support their candidate and hope they succeed.

Before I publish it, let me make it very clear: I am NOT a Dean supporter. Far from it. I like that he's brought new people into the process and generated excitement. But I still don't want him to be our candidate. I'm not going to get into an explanation why here, I've been doing that for months on this blog. But I know too many Dems who would vote for Bush over Dean because they believe Dean is weak on security and they'd rather someone do too much than do too little. If our candidate is credible on that issue, it gives us a fighting chance. But there's more to it than that, read the blog for a further explanation. I'm not here to discuss Dean, who isn't my candidate, but to explain why I pulled my support for Kerry.

Finally, I want to say that I love John Kerry, the man. He has spent his life working for this country. He volunteered for one of the hardest duties in Vietnam and paid dearly for it. He spent 20 years fighting for genuinely liberal causes in the Senate. He has one of the most liberal voting records in our legislature. And Dean needs to stop denigrating his work, and that of other Dems, by putting them all down as "Washington-Insiders." I shudder to think where this country would be without their work. My withdrawal of support for Kerry has to do with his campaign, not my level of respect for him as a man. And I hope I am wrong and he wins in spite of me, because he would make a GREAT president, and a better one that Dean.

Here is my letter to Pamela, all comments welcome:

Hey Pamela,

Thanks for writing, I was actually thinking about you and thought about sending a note to you. I'm glad I can explain myself more fully, and hope you won't be too upset! I've always respected you and your hard work a lot and hope we'll stay in contact even after my decision.

Basically, my decisions came down to two parts. First is the "offline part." I've actually been giving a fair amount of my money to Kerry and then did some volunteering around NYC, meetups, etc. On a broad scale, I've just been unhappy with the Kerry campaign. I've seen Kerry speak when he lets his guard down and is himself and it's great. But I feel he is rarely allowed to be himself, and what comes out is stilted and stiff. As a result, the campaign has had a tough time generating excitement past a core constituency. That was disappointing.

But what was truly disheartening was the constant sniping at Dean. I know that the conventional wisdom is to attack and that it is legitimate to point out policy differences. For instance, Gephardt went after Dean for the Medicare thing and it actually drew blood among the seniors of Iowa. But Kerry's campaign often went beyond pointing out policy differences and went further. The clincher was the e-mail sent out highlighting Dean's flip-flop on the war resolution thing. Now, this may be legitimate campaigning, but it's not pointing out a policy difference and I just don't like it.

And it was indicative of a lot of the sniping they had Kerry do. For instance, Dean once mentioned off-hand that he wanted trade rules to demand other countries meet our environment standards. It was a typical Dean mistake and he didn't really mean it (it's not an official policy proposal). But Kerry started going off about how Dean was going to launch a recession because of that policy...even though it's not really a policy, but just one of Dean's many off-hand remarks.

It's just a personal thing for me, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I know many other people have no problem with it, but I do. I would rather Kerry be above the fray and highlight himself rather than attack another. Clark, for instance, has had better success by staying out of the personal politics. But the others just seem whiney. Especially Lieberman, and unfortunately, at times, Kerry.

But more importantly, it's not working. Kerry isn't improving in the polls or raising more money when he snipes at Dean. His candidacy was based upon the idea that he is the most qualified. And he should tout that instead of going after others. But he kept doing it, even after the big campaign shake-up, and that just bums me out.

Then there is the organization on the ground. Frankly, it's terrible. In NYC alone, at almost every volunteer event I've shown up to, there's been a major SNAFU. Then I would go to the meetups, and what would we do? Nothing. I wanted to talk about action, how we could work on the campaign, write letters, help out, etc. But all they would do is send some rep to talk about how great Kerry is. They never capitalized on our energy. I heard the same thing about other cities. Some folks from here went up to New Hampshire to campaign and said they got no support from the Kerry people despite trying.

So, in the "offline" world, I have two things to give, money and time, and both are valuable to me and I would have hoped to see some sort of return on investment so to speak. But the campaign seems to grow weaker by the day.

In terms of my "online" time, it's no secret I just didn't click with a lot of the online Kerry supporters. My tactics were different. I deeply believed that it was important for the most rabid supporters to acknowledge problems in the Kerry campaign and then figure out how to fix them. I know you had issues with this approach, and I respect that. I always felt what you do is incredibly valuable, talking about the issues, the positive news developments, etc.

But my problem with the core group of online Kerry supporters goes beyond that. It's not that they wanted to highlight the positives, it was their refusal to acknowledge the negatives. To me that's supporting a failed policy, similar to giving a blank check to Bush for a failed Iraq policy. If it's not working, fix it first. But refusing to acknowledge it's not working is a trait I can't stand in Bush supporters, and it's no better if Kerry supporters react the same way to the Kerry campaign. I pointed out the problems not to search for negatives, but to show that they exist and need to be fixed. I never tried to find negatives in the Kerry campaign, to me they were just so evident. Something's not working. Kerry sinks in every new poll. Why not acknowledge things aren't going our way and try to fix it? But just saying everything is fine and the Kerry campaign can do no wrong to me spells certain defeat.

And beyond that, I was increasingly upset with the Kerry supporters' searching for Dean's faults rather than pointing out Kerry's strengths. For instance, that (name withheld) guy who posts preposterous reports on the blog about how "Dean is Worse than Ashcroft!" etc. Digging up trash like that and posting them on the official blog is bad enough, but no one seemed to mind. I once put up a statement saying I condemn the act of digging up dirt on fellow Dems and saying things like Dean is Worse than Ashcroft is just preposterous. And I got killed, everyone rushed to (name withheld)'s support.

Okay, this has gone on way too long, but I definitely wanted to explain myself fully to you. Like I said, I really respect you and all the work you put into the campaign. I wish more people on the campaign were like you, touting the strengths of Kerry instead of digging up dirt on his opponents.

And I still have tremendous respect for Kerry the man. If he is the candidate I would be thrilled, would admit I was wrong, and would rush to his support. But his campaign is weak, the organization is weak, the presentation of the candidate is weak, and it's not generating excitement. I think the truth of the matter is, those of us who have always believed in Kerry are having a tough time that not everyone else sees what we see. We are frustrated that people aren't rallying to someone who would make a great president. But they're not, so something isn't going right. I've felt this way for a long time, have talked to as many people in the campaign as possible, and tried to offer positive suggestions. Throughout everything, I continued to give what little money I could.

But my heart's not in it anymore. I feel continually let down and I don't have enough money or time to put it into a cause I genuinely feel is on the path to losing. I've tried for so long, I really did give it my best shot. I am so passionately opposed to Bush (and unfortunately, am pretty convinced he's going to win), that I have to support who among the Dems actually has a chance to win the nomination and then gives us a fighting chance against Bush. Right now the only guy who really says that to me is Clark. Yes, Kerry would do well against Bush, but I don't see how he wins the nomination.

Okay, that's more than enough. I hope that's clear. I'm sure there are going to be differences of opinion on the matter. I know you've been disillusioned with my tactics in the past. I respect that difference of opinion. I just want you to know that I did more than just bitch and really tried to make positive changes and do what I thought was right for the campaign even when I felt let down by them time and time again. I really did give it my best shot.


Thursday, December 11, 2003

For those of you just reading this post alone, go to the main blog page and you'll see a fleshed out explanation of this post.

It's official: I'm withdrawing my support from John Kerry. No, I'm not running to Dean. If I support anyone at this point, it will be Clark or Gephardt. I still have a tremendous amount of respect for John Kerry and believe him to be the best qualified to be president. If he is the nominee, I will be very happy and will offer my wholeheardest support. But his campaign is just God-Awful. The clincher today was an e-mail I got accusing Howard Dean of this and that. Sure, there may be truth to it, but it's fodder for the Republicans. No candidate is perfect. No one has been consistent on every issue their whole lives. These are human beings. Dean is far from perfect, and Kerry can even point out legitimate policy differences with him. But to start digging up dirt and sending it out under the official auspices of the campaign is too much for me to stomach. It's Republican. And once Dean is the nominee, it'll be in the RNC ads.

I think the race is coming down to Dean and Clark. Dean will take the first two states, but Clark can still surge in the Feb. 3rd states. I see no scenario in which Kerry can win. I'll be happy to be wrong, but the game is winning now. That's all that matters. Kerry supporters seem to be too willing to let someone as talented as Kerry demean himself with these pathetic, desperate stabs at Dean rather than focus on the issues.

Anyone with any sense of honesty can see that Kerry's sinking, Dean is rising, and when the fundraising dollars come up, Clark will surprise people with a strong showing.

I'm sorry to those I may have let down, but there's been too much denial and I can't afford to spend my time and hard-earned money supporting a candidate with a flailing campaign one month before the votes.

I want to beat Bush. We should all want that above all. And dividing the Democratic party won't achieve that.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

So there are those who feel that being critical of the campaign is unproductive. That the best thing to do is to be a mindless cheerleader of Kerry no matter what state his campaign is in. Perhaps a fair criticism is that I tend to write more about the bad than the good. Maybe, but I think that's important. I think that's my role. But to not do that is like standing on the deck of a sinking ship saying everything is fine instead of acknowledging there's a hole somewhere and trying to fix it.

I'm giving Kerry a shot. You never know what might happen, and if he pulls this out, it'll be a miracle, but one I'll be happy about. Remember, not a single vote has been cast. With all my criticism, I haven't forgotten it. There is time.

But I'm not too entranced with some of Kerry's online supporters. I've never seen so much denial. Read the blogs, you'll still see, to this day, how "Dean is done," Kerry is in a great position, etc etc. Worse yet is the characters who dig up evil dirt on other nominees, especially Dean, and put them in headlines saying "DEAN IS WORSE THAN ASHCROFT." No he's not, and you know it.

In 1988 Al Gore dug up the Willie Horton story on Dukakis. The Republicans were thrilled. It was a gift that fell in their lap and they used it to no end. Do we really believe that digging up dirt on fellow Dems is a good thing? Do you really believe that Dean is worse than Ashcroft or Bush?

This is a sampling of what is posted in the Kerry blogs. Yet somehow my criticism of the Kerry campaign is more damaging to our cause, huh? The cause is to beat Bush. I like Kerry, but his campaign has been crappy. Am I the first one to think so? How about every major news outlet in the country. So I criticize the campaign and offer some advice on how to improve it. But I get pummelled with negative e-mails about it. I don't mind, I'm not gonna stop. I believe I'm offering realistic criticism and advice. If you don't like it, you don't have to.

But I'm gonna criticize you too. You can be an empty vessel, cheering Kerry onto defeat. You can be even worse and dig up dirt on opposing candidates to provide for the Republicans. For some reason, I still believe I'm being the most useful.

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