NDN Blog

Bush: “It didn’t work”

In his rambling, disquieting news conference this morning, President Bush said again and again that previous Administrations’ strategy towards North Korea “didn’t work.” It is a concept he should spend a great deal of time thinking about.

For what has he done that has worked? On his watch despite many warnings terrorists struck our homeland, Bin Laden is still active and Al Qaeda is growing in influence, the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan, our attempt to democratize the Middle East is failing spectacularly, our purposeful violation of the Geneva conventions has weakened our moral authority around the world, Iran is on its way to becoming a nuclear state, democracy is threatened in Russia, our relations with Latin America have worsened, our military has been degraded, we have become much more indebted to foreign nations, global trade talks have fallen apart, there is no action towards a global solution to climate change and as we saw with Katrina we are still not ready here at home.

Over six long years we’ve spent trillions on our defense, taken tens of thousand of casualties, lost a great deal of prestige around the world and what have we gotten for it?

A world much less safe.

Mr. President, you are right, “it didn’t work.” Stay the course isn’t an option. But what do we do now?

I think our Democratic leaders should ask for a bi-partisan, bi-cameral sit down with the President to discuss right now how we can take control of world events once again. The Administration’s approach has failed us, let down the American people and the world and is making the whole world less safe. It is critical that they admit that it isn’t working and ask for input to help to find a better path. The dogged determination to defend what isn’t working is what is causing this Administration to be in so much trouble with the American people.

Do they have the courage to change? Or we will stay with the moral equivocation of staying a course that is so clearly failing?

A defining moment for the Republican Party

Four new national polls are in the process of being released, and all of them show significant movement for the Democrats.  The CBS/NYTimes poll had a startling statistic: 79% of those polled believe the Republican Leadership put politics over the safety of pages.  The Foley scandal appears to have jelled into a "defining moment," and a very bad one for the GOP. 

All four polls give the Democrats a 15-23 point advantage in the Congressional generic ballot test, a dramatic improvement from other recent polls.  The infamous Gallup poll, the one touted by the R's two weeks ago as a sign of their recovery, has Bush dropping 7 points, from 44 to 37, and reports this:

 "On the question of which party's candidate would receive their vote if the election were held today, Democrats held a 23-point lead over Republicans among every type of person questioned — likely voters, registered voters and adults. That's the largest lead Democrats have held among registered voters since 1978 and a jump from last month's 48%-48% split among likely voters."When the Rs won in 1994 they had a 12 or point so advantage in the generic.  Despite their desperate attempts to blame others, the Republicans are getting what they deserve with the page scandal.  Foley was a well known sexual predator.  He was not only allowed to stay in Congress and keep doing what he was doing, but he was allowed to stay in the Republican Leadership, and was even given the Chairmanship of the Committee on Missing and Exploited Children after the leadership was informed of his problems.  The public has figured out these modern conservative's game - it is all about them, all the time, and seldom about us, the American people, our great country.  The page scandal has seared this sense into the American people, creating for us a "defining moment" that will be remembered for a long time to come. 

Cleaning up the mess of the Bush era

There has been a great deal of talk in recent years about political narratives and story arcs.  One I happen to believe is very germane to the times we live in is that the next stage of our history will be defined by those who work to clean up the mess of the Bush years.  We need to "clean up the mess."

The mess is our foreign policy, economic policy and in our vision of what the role of government is and does.  Lets reviews news from the last few days to get just the latest manifestation of their failures.  North Korea explodes a nuclear device.  Taliban resurgent in Afghanistan.  Iraq is spinning out of control, and now seems to be on the road either to a major civil war or becoming a failed state.  Only 51,000 jobs were created last month.  The Republican Leaders in Washington fan out across the country to defend their decision to put a known sexual predator in charge of the Committee for Missing and Exploited Children.  A 2nd senior White House official, Susan Ralston, Karl Rove's right hand, resigns over their ties to Abramoff.  Bush unilaterally decides to ignore portions of the new Homeland Security bill. 

The scale of the governing challenge in front of us is captured by Fareed Zakaria in today's Washington Post: "When Iraq's government was formed in April, after four months of bitter disputes, wrangling and paralysis, many voices in America and Iraq said the next six months would be the crucial testing period.  That was a fair expectation.  It has now been six months, and we have seen bitter disputes, wrangling and paralysis.  Meanwhile the violence has gotten worse, sectarian tensions have risen steeply and ethnic cleansing is in full swing.  There is really no functioning government south of Kurdistan, only power vacuums that have been filled by factions, militias and strongmen.  It is time to call an end to the tests, the six-month trials, the waiting and watching, and to recognize that the Iraqi government has failed.  It is also time to face the terrible reality that America's mission in Iraq has substantially failed."

Our governing party is a mess and can no longer be counted on to lead America in a challening era.  They have failed at virtually everything they have tried to do, but the world has not slowed down, our problems have not just magically gone away.  Our movement has done a remarkable job fighting the great PR machine of the governing party, so evident even in the last few days.  We should be proud of how we've stood firm, fought back and helped weaken their hold on power.  But in the months ahead, regardless of what happens in the fall elections, we now have to get serious about cleaning up the mess they've created, and building a governing coalition true to our democratic heritage, and ready to tackle the challenges of our time. 

Bullsh-t fatigue

No matter what happens this fall, it sure seems like we are coming to the end of a particular era in American history.  From the highest vantage point it may be the end of the great 20th century battle between progressivism and conservatism; a little lower down it may be the end of the Bush era; and a little lower, the end of the Hastert-DeLay-Abramoff reign of corruption, unseriousness and extreme partisanship in the House.  

NDN has been commentating a great deal these last few years about the utter failure of conservative governance.  And certainly the American people have grown weary of these conservatives inability to tackle the important challenges of our time.  But I think we may also be witnessing a growing weariness of the spin, deceit, lying and proproganda that has also been a defining characteristic of this era.  After years of this over-the-top win at all costs proproganda strategy, Americans are beginning to distrust everything that comes from a Republican or conservative mouth.  The world is just not as they describe it, tarnishing their brand in a way so elemental that it will be hard to restore in the years ahead.

Think about it.  Rice just lying again and again about the run up to 9/11.  Hastert's unbelievable lies these past few days, and desperate attempts to paint the Foley scandal as a Democratic one.  Fox News's repeated and purposeful identification of Foley as a Democrat on the air.  Progress in Iraq.  Wages are rising.  No one knew the levees could break.  No one in the Administration sanctioned the torture of people in Iraq.  It is all bullsh-t. 

As progressives who have a proud history of making government work for the common good, we will have to spend time better understanding and changing this culture of untruth.  Democracy requires an informed citizenry.  But in this era, it would be more accurate to say we have a "misinformed" people, as the government itself, backed by fierce partisan like Fox News, Limbaugh, Hannity and Drudge spew purposeful lies and falsehoods each day. 

A great deal of the energy of the early 21st century progressive era has been to counter this culture of deceit.  It has been effective so far, unearthing the strategic nature of this proproganda machine.   And you can see it in the most effective political ads of this cycle, many of which have the candidate, unadorned, speaking directly to camera, trying desperately to reconnect voters to an actual person, a true event, a real set of beliefs, reality. 

I'm not sure how our movement and our nation should approach all this going forward.  But it is clear that the American people have an inkling of all this themselves, and like a TV show whose characters no longer speak with the same authority as at the beginning of its run, people are reaching for the remote and are looking for a politics that better speaks to them and the challenges, culture and values of our time.   We call it "a new politics," and I believe what we will see in the next few years is a fierce battle between the two great ideological movements to identify and claim it for their very own. 

News roundup: Castro is terminally ill, staffer confirms that Hastert is a liar

Two stories caught my eye today.

First Time reports that Fidel Castro is terminally ill. For a look at how the Cuban-American community views the coming Post-Castro era see our new just-released study.

And a Washington Post piece may have ended Speaker Hastert's political career today. The story has a 2nd staffer confirming the story of Tom Reynold's former Chief of Staff that Hastert and his team knew about Foley as early as 2003. The account seems to make it clear that Hastert and his whole team have been repeatedly lying about their covering up for a sexual predator.

Proud of the NDN team

I am proud of our small but talented NDN team.  At a critical time for our nation, a nation so desperate to find a new and better path, it is clear that they are stepping up and taking a big swing part.  In the last few weeks we've offered a powerful and wide-ranging body of work. that has gotten a great deal of attention, and is clearly helping shape the national debate.

I offer a quick review, without links, as all can be found on www.ndn.org:  

- Our globalization initiative has released a series of compelling studies, from fashioning a new consensus on trade liberalization to a series of peices on wages to a review of the Bush economic record, and our Senior Policy Analyst James Crabtree keeps banging it out each day on our blog;

- On the Hispanic front, the NDN political fund's Mas Que un Partido campaign launched a new national radio ad; along with our friends at PowerPac we released a new poll of Spanish-prefered Latino voters in CA; our daily Spanish-language talking points email to Spanish-media continues; along with Sergio Bendixen we released an influential new study about the changing attitudes of Cubans in Miami in the early days of the Post-Castro era, and was picked up in the Washington Post, Newsweek, many Florida papers, and Business week; and on Monday we launch a 2nd media campaign, this one with the CPC, that will put Spanish-language ads on the air in AZ and CO in support of the minimum wage ballot initiatives in those states;

- NPI has had an incredible couple of weeks, releasing two new pieces of our Tools campaign, papers on Buy Cable and Engage the Blogs; but of course the big news is the launching of a new web 2.0 site for NPI, www.newpolitics.net, that allows us our own tools to practice what we preach about the new media;

- This week we also gave our blog a new and much more media rich look, one that will better help us bring our agenda, ideas and values to you each day; readership of the blog has increased dramatically as we've offered a much better product in recent months;

- Our daily commentary got wide pick-up outside our blog, particularly a seies of piece we wrote on the Condi Rice's serial lying about the run-up to 9/11;

- and we continued to appear regularly in publications from the New York Times to Wired to the Nation. 

As I sit here on rainy Saturday morning here in DC wondering what to do with my kids today, I reflect with pride on what our whole NDN team has done these last couple of weeks, and thank them for stepping up at what is a critical time for our nation. 

Friends, we need your help today

I sent a national email out yesterday asking our friends and family for help, one more time.  As you are well aware, we have important things still left to do this year.  Here it is, and if you have a little left in your political wallet for NDN and our affiliate, the NDN political fund, we will put it to good use:

"This is a critical time for our country. With conservatives stumbling, progressives have a real chance to reassert our values and our agenda. We at NDN are hard at work making this happen.

But for us to keep our agenda moving forward, I need your help. If you are going to support NDN and our path breaking work this year, the time is now.

Will you support NDN, today, with a contribution of $50, $100, $500 or more?

Your support for NDN will allow us to help break the conservative ideological hold on our politics in three concrete ways:

  1. Put more ads on the air in more places – NDN and its affiliate, the NDN political fund, are running two media campaigns designed to speak to and engage Hispanic communities across the country. Your support will help us put more ads on in more places, expanding these powerful campaigns.
  2. Beat the conservatives in the economic debate – Your support will help us continue to challenge the conservatives in the national debate over the economy, and offer more progressives the facts and arguments needed to beat them.  This is no idle act - in recent polls, the economy is the number one issue facing the American people.
  3. Help progressives deploy the latest and best New Tools – A fast-changing media environment is creating a set of new tools that can help progressives reach more people more effectively at this critical time. Your support will help The New Politics Institute continue their “New Tools” campaign to help progressives fight for our agenda more effectively.

The NDN team is proven and accomplished. Our advisors include some of the most remarkable people in progressive politics. Our work is cutting edge. If you choose to support us in these final days I promise your money will make a real difference at this pivotal moment.

Thanks for everything,"

The magic of October

I became a Mets fan in 1969.   It was their magical year, and I was just old enough to start following the game in earnest.  I have been a loyal and passionate fan ever since. 

When I went into politics full time I had not thought through all the consequences of my career choice.  You see October is a busy time in my day job, making it a whole lot harder to follow my boys when they make their October run.  I missed big chunks of the 2000 playoffs, when they went all the way to the World Series.  And yesterday I missed Delgado's home run and David Wright's two doubles on their way to a first game win.  But this year I have three surrogates, rooting at home, wearing their Mets clothes - Jed, Will and Kate, my three kids.  They all wore their Mets gear yesterday, bought by grandpa, another die-hard Mets fan. My oldest son Jed, the same age now I was in 1969, regaled me with stories of the game when I got home last night.  He has caught the baseball virus, no doubt about it. 

A few years ago when I would go to New York I would joke that I was both a Mets fan and a Democrat, suffering at the superiority of the Yankees and Republicans.  What is so sweet this October is that it sure appears that we Mets fans and Democrats are not a suffering lot anymore. 

Why Hastert should resign

Denny Hastert should resign out of embarrassment for what he has presided over as Speaker.  His team has been without question one of the most corrupt, irresponsible bunch that have ever run Washington.  For respect for our government, and for the American people, he should take responsibility for the anything goes culture he has fostered and resign.  Lets review what's happened with senior members of his team in just the past year:

Majority Leader Tom DeLay - indicted, resigned.  General corruption, fixing elections. 

Duke Cunningham - indicted, resigned, now serving the longest jail term in Congressional history.  Bribery, corruption, prostitutes, gambling.

Rules Committee Chairman Bob Ney - indicted, resigned.  Intervened against an Abramoff business rival - in Florida of course - who was then murdered by a mafia hit man. 

Committee on Missing and Exploited Children Chairman Mark Foley -  resigned, rehab, etc. 

NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds - Hires Foley's chief of staff, participates in the Foley cover up. 

Add to that the extraordinary corruption of the Iraqi occupation contracting process, the Katrina contracting process, the selling off of "earmarks", the arrest and jailing of a series of top Congressional staffers turned "lobbyists," the creation of a K street secret police reporting in, shaking down and terrifying American business interests, the systemic buying off of journalists, the degradation of the Committee and budgeting process, the now apparent corruption of the 9/11 Commission, the acceptance of warrentless spying on American citizens, and it all ends being a terrible, shameful period in our history. 

Speaker Hastert should take responsibility for all this - with Mark Foley being simply a mild manifestation of the underlying anything goes culture - and resign. 

The Intelligence Committees need to convene this week

Buried in the Rice affair is the very real possibility that the 9/11 Commission process was corrupted by Republicans looking to cover their mistakes.  As I wrote this morning, the Commission's Executive Director Phillip Zelikow was present in 2004 when CIA Director George Tenet testified to the Commission.  In that interview, which the Post reported earlier today, Tenet told the Commission of the now fateful July 10th meeting with then National Security Advisor Rice where he warned the White House of an imminent attack by Bin Laden.  Somehow, even though this meeting was very important to establishing the official record of what happened prior to 9/11, this meeting never made it into the final 9/11 Commission Report. 

One person will know what happened - Phillip Zelikow, who of course is now working for Secretary Rice.  Did he purposefully keep this meeting from the 9/11 Commission to protect Rice and the White House?

There is one way to find out.  The Senate and House Intelligence Committees should call him to testify this week.  Right now.  The entire credibility of the 9/11 Commission is at stake.  For if something of this magnitude was manipulated, what else may have been altered by Zelikow or other staff?

Given the appearance of tampering with a grave and serious national security matter, Speaker Hastert and Senate Leader Frist should demand an immediate investigation into what happened.  This cannot wait until after the election.  They should task the two Intelligence Committees with a limited and brief task of bringing Zelikow, Rice, Tenet and Cofer Black to the Congress this week and see what can be learned. 

The nation needs to know immediately if the 9/11 Commission process was corrupted.  If the Republicans do not create such a process right away they are admiting their complicity into a terrible cover up of one of the most tragic events in American history. 

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