2004: Things To Forget
(December 29, 2004)
While so many year-end publications focus on what we should remember about the year now grinding to a close, I'd like to continue this column's contrarian tradition of pointing out the things we'd all be better off never having cross our minds again. Here then is a list of all the things I'd like to forget, circa 2004:
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Will The GOP Nuke The Constitution?
(December 21, 2004)
Right now, somewhere in the White House, administration strategists are hatching plans to go to war. Battle plans are being drawn. Timing and tactics are being finalized. A nuclear option is even being openly discussed.
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What Our Troops Want For Xmas: Armored Humvees ... And An Exit Plan
(December 15, 2004)
If there is one thing Democrats should have learned from Karl Rove during this year’s election, it is the value of relentlessly attacking — day in and day out — your opponent’s perceived strength.
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The Next DNC Chair: Why You Should Care
(December 08, 2004)
This Saturday in Orlando, at a meeting of state party chairs, a parade of potential candidates are going to be making the case for why they should be the next chair of the Democratic National Committee. [ read more ]
Can The Democrats Make 2006 Their 1994?
(December 01, 2004)
You can’t get two Democrats together these days without a debate breaking out over what needs to be done to rescue, resuscitate, reanimate, remake, rebrand and redeem the Democratic Party.
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You Want A Moral Issue? How About Drugs That Don’t Kill?
(November 24, 2004)
As Democrats continue to search heaven and earth for a moral values issue they can call their own, I have just the prescription: Why not start with the immoral behavior of giant drug companies such as Merck that continue to sacrifice the health of the public on the altar of higher and higher profits?
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The Architects Of Defeat
(November 11, 2004)
Twelve days before the election, James Carville stood in a Beverly Hills living room surrounded by two generations of Hollywood stars. After being introduced by Sen. John Kerry’s daughter, Alexandra, he told the room — confidently, almost cockily — that the election was in the bag. “If we can’t win this damn election,” the advisor to the Kerry campaign said, “with a Democratic Party more unified than ever before, with us having raised as much money as the Republicans, with 55% of the country believing we’re heading in the wrong direction, with our candidate having won all three debates, and with our side being more passionate about the outcome than theirs — if we can’t win this one, then we can’t win shit! And we need to completely rethink the Democratic Party.” [ read more ]
And Now For Something Completely Different: Real Moral Values
(November 10, 2004)
They’re hot. They’re everywhere. People can’t get enough of them. I’m talking about the new conventional wisdom fodder: “moral values.” And it seems like everyone with a (D) after his or her name is suddenly seeing the moral values light. [ read more ]
Anatomy Of A Crushing Political Defeat
(November 03, 2004)
This election was not stolen. It was lost by the Kerry campaign. The reason it's so important to make this crystal clear — even as Kerry's concession speech is still ringing in our ears — is that to the victors go not only the spoils but the explanations. And the Republicans are framing their victory as the triumph of conservative moral values and the wedge cultural issues they exploited throughout the campaign. [ read more ]
Faith Abuse: When God Becomes A Campaign Ploy
(October 27, 2004)
This is my last column before Election Day. With less than a week to go, I plan on doing everything in my power to defeat George W. Bush (need a ride to the polls?). Then I'm going to get down on my knees and pray to a higher power. [ read more ]
Will Bush Spark A Seismic Youthquake?
(October 20, 2004)
Out on the campaign trail, President Bush never tires of talking about how America is facilitating "the march toward democracy" in Afghanistan and Iraq — evoking the heart-rending images of the 19-year-old Afghan girl who cast the first vote in her country's recent election and of eager Iraqis preparing to do "the hard work of democracy." [ read more ]
Appealing To Our Lizard Brains: Why Bush Is Still Standing
(October 13, 2004)
Since the president's meltdown in the first debate — followed in quick succession by Paul Bremer's confession, the CIA's no-al-Qaida/Saddam link report, the Duelfer no-WMD-since-'91 report, and the woeful September job numbers — I have been racking my brain trying to figure out why George W. Bush is still standing. [ read more ]
Bogus Polls: Meaningless Farce Or Looming Tragedy?
(October 06, 2004)
I've been wanting to weigh in for a while now on the negative — indeed, the downright dangerous — impact that public opinion polls are having on our democracy, but have held off until the numbers turned in John Kerry's favor lest I be accused of following in the footsteps of my Greek ancestors by killing the messenger. [ read more ]
Bush's Toxic Campaign Mix: God, Country And Perpetual Fear
(September 29, 2004)
Leave no sucker punch unthrown. That seems to be the scorched earth mantra of the GOP campaign as it heads into the final rounds. But if you're thinking these guys can't go any lower, guess again. George Bush doesn't just have his head buried in the sand — he's let his integrity sink below sea level, as well. [ read more ]
Campaign 2004: Will The World's Most Exclusive Club Get A Much Needed Infusion Of New Blood?
(September 22, 2004)
The passion invested by the Democratic faithful in taking back the White House has meant that not enough has been said about the imperative of taking back control of the place John Kerry will hopefully be leaving — the United States Senate. [ read more ]
Special Delivery: A Hogwarts Howler For The American Voter
(September 15, 2004)
Oh, how I wish this column were capable of special effects. If it were, the newspaper or computer screen you’re reading it on would suddenly morph into a Howler, one of those bright red envelopes in the Harry Potter books that, when opened, begin to shout at the recipient in the sender’s voice. In this case, my Greek-accented cry would fill the air: WAKE UP! WAKE UP!! WAKE UP!!! [ read more ]
Heroes And Villains: Reframing The 2004 Race
(September 08, 2004)
John Kerry is suddenly being bombarded with more advice than an obese, alcoholic, unwed teenage mother seated between Dr. Laura and Dr. Phil on a cross-country bus trip. Spurred by Bush's convention bounce, jittery Democrats of every stripe -- including a hospital-bound Bill Clinton -- are urging him to "throw caution to the wind," "start smacking back," "hammer home jobs, the economy, health care and education," and concentrate on domestic issues.
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Bush In NYC: Watch Out, The 'Reformer With Results' Is Back
(August 31, 2004)
So far the Republican convention has been all about courage, compassion and lauding our War President for possessing ample quantities of both, including the theater-in-the-round stage designed to highlight the president's strength and authority, and the Deco-inspired presidential lectern meant to invoke the skyscrapers of New York (and oh, by the way, those two skyscrapers that are no longer there). [ read more ]
Focusing On Undecided Voters: Not A Very Swift Idea
(August 25, 2004)
I've decided: I've had enough of the undecideds. Thanks to a tidal wave of polls, focus groups, Powerpoint presentations, slideshows, studies and laboratory dissections, we now know more about undecided voters than we do about almost anyone else involved in the 2004 campaign - including the candidates themselves. [ read more ]
Bernard Levin Remembered
(August 15, 2004)
I first met Bernard Levin on a "Face the Music" panel. I was there as a curiosity -- a woman with a foreign accent, elected president of the Cambridge Union. He was there as a celebrated columnist for the London Times, an intellectual with an encyclopedic knowledge of music. It was 1971. I was 21, he was 42. He knew nothing about me. I had had a major intellectual crush on him ever since I discovered his writings while at Girton. I had devoured his book "The Pendulum Years," and would meticulously cut his columns, underline them, and save them in a file (no, I did not put pressed flowers in the file, but might as well have). So when I found out that he was on the panel, I was reduced to a bundle of inarticulateness. I'm still amazed that in my fog, I actually managed to recognize Schuman's Fourth Symphony. [ read more ]
Jim McGreevey: "I Am A Gay American"
(August 13, 2004)
On Thursday, my day started at eight in the morning speaking together with New Jersey Senator John Corzine at a breakfast sponsored by ANGLE -- an organization consisting of the gay and lesbian leadership of Southern California and a magnet for political candidates running for office and raising funds. A couple of hours after I had left the breakfast, where I had been surrounded by successful gay men and women -- businesspeople, politicians, accountants, even a priest -- my phone started ringing off the hook. New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey had just resigned and announced that he is gay, and it seemed as if the bookers from every television talk show in America -- from CNN’s “American Morning” to ABC’s “Nightline” -- had simultaneously had the exact same thought: “Let's get Arianna Huffington." I was the proverbial two birds being killed with one stone -- a political commentator whose ex-husband had come out as gay.
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Fortress Boston: The Happiest Place on Earth?
(July 27, 2004)
BOSTON -- Forget Disneyland, for the next few days, Beantown is the happiest place on earth. Or at least the most civil. The Kerry campaign has put the kibosh on Bush-bashing, preferring to make their candidate's positive vision for the country the overriding theme of the convention. [ read more ]
In Praise of Unruly Women
(July 21, 2004)
Teresa Heinz Kerry is a breath of fresh air, so why are the media choking on it?
Almost every story about her these days includes at least one snarky remark — usually attacking her for her refusal to endlessly regurgitate the same preapproved talking points.
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George W. Bush: Presidential or Pathological?
(July 13, 2004)
That is the highly provocative question being asked in “Bush on the Couch,” a new book in which psychoanalyst and George Washington University professor Dr. Justin Frank uses the president’s public pronouncements and behavior, along with biographical data, to craft a comprehensive psychological profile of Bush 43.
It’s not a pretty picture, but it goes a long way in explaining how exactly our country got itself into the mess we are in: an intractable war, the loss of allies and international goodwill, a half-trillion-dollar deficit. [ read more ]
The First Great Decision of the Kerry Presidency
(July 07, 2004)
The choice of John Edwards as No. 2 on the Democratic ticket is the first great decision of the Kerry presidency — a mature, self-confident choice that bodes well for the Kerry campaign as it kicks into high gear.
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Political Real Estate: John Kerry's Room With A View
(June 30, 2004)
Among the headline-grabbing disclosures from the Clinton Rock and Roll Revival World Tour — ranging from the former president once dreaming of being a doorman at the Plaza Hotel to his being on the South Beach diet — was a little noticed morsel in the Boston Globe noting that Clinton has advised John Kerry to “campaign as though Iraq was stable, the economy was going great guns, and bin Laden was dead… concentrating on selling himself.” [ read more ]
Bush Ducks for Cover as NRA Opens Fire on Assault Weapons Ban
(June 23, 2004)
Attention al-Qaida sleeper cells, domestic terrorists, school shooters, David Koresh wannabes and bloodthirsty lunatics everywhere: Be sure to mark Sept. 13 in your day planners because — thanks to President Bush and his GOP pals in Congress — your murderous missions are about to get a whole lot easier. [ read more ]
Graduation 2004: Pomp and Crummy Circumstances
(June 16, 2004)
It's that time. And I’m not talking about cicadas. It's graduation time, and all across the country high school seniors are tossing their mortarboards into the air and heading off to face a future filled with hope, promise -
and soaring college tuition and fees. [ read more ]
Ronald Reagan, Hedgehogs and the November Election
(June 08, 2004)
Since Ronald Reagan’s passing, the media have been filled with a celebration of his youthful spirit, his indomitable optimism, his faith in America’s greatness and in America’s goodness. His words have been reverberating: “morning again in America,” “springtime of hope,” “a promised land,” “the last best hope of man on earth.”
The imagery varied, but a single, overarching principle remained: Reagan’s pledge to return America to its essential role as “a shining city on a hill,” a place of goodness, promise and hope.
In other words, Ronald Reagan was one hell of a hedgehog. [ read more ]
Shakespeare Turns A Spotlight On Bush And Iraq
(June 02, 2004)
As our anger, anguish and anxiety about Iraq continue to mount, I find myself looking for clarity and understanding not in the media’s daily play-by-play, which confuses more than it illuminates (Did we win in Fallujah or get our butts kicked?), but rather in Shakespeare’s “Henry V.” I’ve found it contains far more truth about our present situation than anything coming out of the White House or the Pentagon. [ read more ]
Oil Money And A Smart Energy Policy Don't Mix
(May 26, 2004)
Drivers, start your engines — and empty your wallets! As we gear up for the biggest driving weekend of the year, vacationers all across America are coming face to face with the highest average gas prices in history — up 42 cents a gallon since 2001 — and a bad case of "pump panic," a new malady in which your heart rate instantly matches the price of full-service high-test. Where I live, there are lots of folks palpitating at 325 beats a minute.
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John Kerry and Bobby Kennedy's Unfinished Mission
(May 19, 2004)
There is no shortage of comparisons between our current military misadventures and Vietnam. But after watching "RFK," David Grubin's powerful new documentary on the life of Robert F. Kennedy set to air on PBS's American Experience in October, I feel there is a more useful comparison -- not of the two wars but of two eras and two leaders. [ read more ]
See Rummy Spin. Spin, Rummy, Spin.
(May 12, 2004)
To hear Don Rumsfeld tell it, even though the Bush administration had been told back in January about the abuse and torture going on at Abu Ghraib — and that there were photos documenting it — the idea that this might be a very bad thing didn’t really hit home until recently because no one in the White House had actually laid eyes on the photos. [ read more ]
Bush Democracy: Do You Recognize His America?
(May 05, 2004)
Welcome to George W. Bush's version of America — Bush Democracy. Apparently, he's had his fanatical neo-con programmers working overtime to iron out all those bothersome bugs and kinks that have been holding the United States back for the last 228 years — exasperating glitches like openness, integrity, accountability, responsibility and the value of an informed public.
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Bush Is Running On 9/11; Kerry Should Run On 9/12
(April 28, 2004)
It's a puzzling paradox: Recent polls show that voters are more worried that we are losing the war on terror, more convinced that we're about to be attacked, and more certain that the invasion of Iraq has put America at greater risk from terrorists. And yet, these same voters overwhelmingly believe that President Bush will do a better job of protecting them from terrorists than John Kerry. [ read more ]
Fanatics and Fools: How the Dysfunctional White House Led Us to War
(April 21, 2004)
For the past year, I’ve been studying and writing about the Fanatics running the White House and the Fools on both sides of the aisle who have enabled them to prevail. Bob Woodward has now given us a chilling behind-the-scenes look at how this dysfunctional dynamic drove us to war in Iraq — providing devastating snapshots of both the evidence-be-damned zealotry of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their minions and the craven capitulation of White House enablers Powell, Tenet, Rice, and Hughes. [ read more ]
As The White House Whiffs, Kerry Needs To Swing For The Fences
(April 13, 2004)
Poor Karl Rove. He’s the George Steinbrenner of presidential politics. Here he’s assembled the best campaign team corporate money can buy, and his all-star lineup of heavy hitters is being mowed down like a bunch of bottom-of-the-batting-order chumps. [ read more ]
A Mash Note to the Blogosphere
(April 07, 2004)
I’ve got a confession to make. I’ve got a big-time crush. I’m talking weak-in-the-knees infatuation. But it’s not Brad or Orlando or Colin or any of the cinematic hunks du jour who have set my heart aflutter. No, it’s Atrios and Kos and Josh Micah Marshall and Kausfiles and Kevin Drum and Wonkette. Bloggers all. Yes, when it comes to the blogosphere, I’m a regular cyberslut. And I don’t care who knows it. Bring on the fines, Michael Powell! [ read more ]
Girls Gone Riled: Will Single Women Break Bush's Heart?
(March 31, 2004)
Trend-conscious candidates beware: Do not get caught courting soccer moms or NASCAR dads. They’re so over. This year’s hot new swing voter is the single woman. [ read more ]
I’d Like a Tuna On White — Hold The Mercury!
(March 24, 2004)
To the list of Campaign 2004’s make-or-break issues — Iraq, homeland security, lost jobs, tax cuts — we can now add tuna fish sandwiches. I’m not kidding. [ read more ]
A Modest Proposal: Let's Have Two GDPs
(March 17, 2004)
Desperate to shore up its highly vulnerable economic flank, Team Bush is turning positively delusional. Despite more bad news on the jobless recovery front -- 129,000 fewer new jobs in February than forecast -- the White House spinmeisters are acting like everything is coming up roses and daffodils. [ read more ]
Campaign 2004: Six Things John Kerry Needs To Do To Win In November
(March 08, 2004)
Dear Senator Kerry,
Congratulations on becoming the de facto nominee. Now the White House is gunning for you and party hacks are deafening you with advice. Take a deep breath and tune them out. Here is a simple six-point plan for becoming the 44th president of the United States. [ read more ]
Lawyers, Guns, And Money: Bush Backs The NRA
(March 03, 2004)
Mel Gibson's screenwriting partner the Good Lord thought "Thou shall not kill" was important enough to qualify for his Top Ten list. If he'd had a little more room on those tablets, he might have added: ". . . and, while you're at it, thou shall not grant immunity to those who help arm killers." [ read more ]
The Pentagon Sounds The Alarm On Global Warming; Why Isn't President Bush Listening?
(February 25, 2004)
If he's smart enough to use it, the Democratic nominee may have just been handed the perfect cudgel with which to pummel President Bush -- and cripple Karl Rove's attempts to position his man as America's go-to guy on national security. [ read more ]
Memo To John Kerry: Heed Not The Call Of The Mild
(February 11, 2004)
The most intriguing passion in play these days is not whether Mel Gibson's controversial "The Passion of the Christ" will do miraculously at the box office when it opens on Ash Wednesday (My prophecy: It will). No the real wild card is what is going to happen to "The Passion of the Deaniacs" once their leaderís campaign closes. [ read more ]
Judy Dean And The Politics Of Authenticity
(January 28, 2004)
Dr. Dean for President! No, I'm not talking about Howard, who finished second in New Hampshire -- 13 points behind John Kerry. [ read more ]
The State Of The Union: Bush Leaves No Bride Behind
(January 21, 2004)
Signaling that the Pander Countdown to Election Day 2004 has begun in earnest, President Bush spiced up Tuesday's State of the Union speech by tossing a bone, if not a garter belt and a bible, to his conservative base, which is up in arms over the thought that gay people may soon have the right to legally tie and untie the knot -- and thus make a mockery of the sacred institution that Britney and Jason are such big fans of. He did this by tiptoeing up to the edge of saying "I do" to supporting a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the exclusive province of heterosexual couples. [ read more ]
When Paul O'Neill Sounds Like Tip O'Neill
(January 14, 2004)
Struggling to reconcile the ever-widening gulf between what the Bush administration claims to be true and what is actually true is getting harder by the day. Fortunately, Paul O'Neill has a timely, if disturbing, diagnosis, backed up by some 19,000 pages of lab results: the country is being governed not by the genial figurehead now running toward the center in hopes of re-election but by a band of out and out fanatics. [ read more ]
Dean, Bobby, And The Ghost Of Landslides Past
(January 07, 2004)
I swear, if I hear one more Democratic honcho say that Howard Dean is not electable, I'm going to do something crazy (maybe that's what happened to Britney in Vegas this weekend). [ read more ]