The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Monday, January 12, 2004


These days, presidential candidates announce they are running at least 3, often 800 times in the 2-year period before the general election. And given that I've posted a small handful of times since the New Year was rung in, it is still appropriate for me to launch the 2004 edition of The Facts Machine, right here, and right now.

Welcome back everybody! Make yourselves at home, for regular posting should kick back into action this week, and shall continue deep into the forseeable future.

On the far right of the screen, if you scroll down, you'll find a bits-and-pieces summation of both myself and my occasionally-contributing co-writer and girlfriend Laurie. The short version: I'm an early-twenties Democrat who is finishing up a political science degree at UC Santa Barbara. I'm also an experienced singer-songwriter and have a variety of other talents. Hopefully, thoughtful-but-concise political punditry can be included among them.

I don't have much to say right now, but I caught bits and pieces of the final Democratic prez debate before the Iowa caucus earlier tonight, and I just saw a rerun of the post-debate edition of Hardball. After watching a woman identified as a Republican pollster trumpet on and on about how Bush, through his Medicare bill and the new immigration proposal, is forcing Democrats to reevaluate their positions on their classic issues and focus on other things, I came to a realization that the TV needed to be turned off.

From this brief episode, us Democrats can divine a very important lesson:

Do NOT believe Republican interpretations of disagreements between Democrats.

When Lieberman, Kerry, or Gephardt talk about unusual issues or make seemingly-outlying pledges on other issues, or even discuss traditionally Republican issues on their terms, it has nothing to do with George W Bush. Heck, it may not have much to do with their actual convictions. What it does have to do with, however, is Howard Dean. The other major candidates are simply looking for an opening, any opening, with which they can chip away at the Doctor's perceived frontrunner status. This process has nothing to do with Bush, at least directly.

Case in point: The attacks on Dean for his comment that the capture of Saddam Hussein hadn't made Americans any safer. John Kerry, for example, didn't attack Howard Dean for making this comment because he suddenly believed Bush was doing a good job handling Iraq. Nay, he attacked Dean because he thought he had a political opening, one he thought he could use to catapult himself back into first place in New Hampshire. But alas, he has now sunk into third place in the Granite State, behind the General.

This is why I simply wont support John Kerry for the nomination. With him, and to a lesser extent Gephardt and Lieberman, his attacks are less about principles and substance and more about political opportunism. Frankly, we already have that in the White House.

Anyway, back to Hardball: The point is that the squabbling between the Democratic candidates -- which I still think will be a distant memory long before the party conventions -- is symptomatic of the candidates and their electoral dynamic within the party, and not because of anything Smirk did. Why does Chris Matthews even bother having GOP propagandists do commentary on Dem debates? Oh, wait, this is Matthews we're talking about.

And hey, it's no relief that when the pollster finishes, Matthews says: "Thanks, now over to Newsweek political correspondent Howard Fineman...".

Ah well, good thing nobody watches MSNBC.


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