Kyle's Republic
Sunday, September 19, 2004
On showing resolution in Iraq

From Joe Klein in Time:

And it is easy to predict Bush's response to any Kerry criticism about Iraq: "My
opponent is too pessimistic," the President will say. "See, what he doesn't
understand is that the President of the United States has to stand firm. We
can't show weakness. And we won't on my watch." Unless Kerry can come off with a
succinct, and lethal, response to those vaporous but compelling platitudes, he
will lose this election.

Well, here's the response: "Shooting your foot is bad enough. My opponent says let's saw off our leg and be consistent."
Thursday, September 09, 2004
The permanent campaign

More in the vein of my "Looking Forward" post: Every year has to be an election year for us. We don't pin our hopes to the next presidential campaign; we concentrate on taking as much power as we can now, day by day. Less worrying about how we look for the next vote; more focus on how we keep the other party from governing. If the GOP can't get anything done, we keep harm from being done to the country and we pick up more influence amid the disorder. When '08 comes along, the GOP looks like shit because it's the party that failed. This is what they did to us in 1998.

The above is no way to keep a system going. But if we let Bush run wild, the system will be wrecked in the short term. The GOP had its way with Iraq and with the tax cuts, and look how that turned out. Bottle up the GOP or there could be worse ahead.

Eventually it would be nice if voters got smarter and didn't let themselves get taken. When that happens, rabies will stop paying off as a vote-getter and the GOP's thug element may shrivel. Until then, tie up the government and start telling the public -- loud -- how you would do things differently.

Hillary Clinton could do the job as head of the Senate Democrats. But that would get in the way of running in '08, so she won't. Which leaves?
Because he knows that stuff isn't important anyway

Richard Perle on meeting George W.:

The first time I met Bush 43, I knew he was different. Two things became clear.
One, he didn't know very much. The other was he had confidence to ask questions
that revealed he didn't know very much. Most people are reluctant to say when
they don't know something, a word or a term they haven't heard before. Not him.

(The quote bobbed up on Slate because Pat Buchanan cited it in his recent book.)
. . . with the mysterious initials "KJW"

The perhaps-to-be famous CYA memo. Damn that Staudt.

1. Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about Bush. I'm having
trouble running interference and doing my job. Harris gave me a message today
from Grp regarding Bush's OBTR and Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it. Bush
wasn't here during rating period and I don't have any feedback from 187th in
Alabama. I will not rate. Austin is not happy today either.

2. Harris took the call from Grp today. I'll backdate but won't rate.
Harris agrees.


final UPDATE: There was a ripple of posts like this across the liberal blogs. Later in the day word came out that the White House had not "released" the documents, per se. The White House had got its copies from CBS and then just handed on copies to the press. That would be as opposed to having the copies sitting around in a secret file. (I heard this via Kevin Drum's site.)

If true, this would allow Bush supporters to argue that the administration had not known about the documents and was in good faith when making at least one of its assertions of full disclosure.

So it appears the White House did not release all of its National Guard documents back in February. The new arrivals show some bad stuff for Bush's cover story, but what's easiest to grab on to is what the first sentence of this post just said. The White House plainly lied to the public about a yes/no question regarding a scandal. Surely that is the kind of thing the Democrats can ride and that the public can understand -- surely.

UPDATE: Over at Tapped, Sam Rosenfeld bangs the same point and adds a highly essential corollary:

Let’s remember that for years now the White House has made it their
central, preeminent talking point on this matter to stress that “the president
has released all the documents on this issue.” They, not anyone else, have
chosen to stress that point -- full disclosure -- ad nauseam. (As have their
toadies in the media who, like Sean Hannity last night, make it a point to
contrast that supposedly complete disclosure with John Kerry’s refusal to commit
to a full release of all his military records.) That talking point has now quite
clearly been exposed as a lie.

They lie with a sense of impunity. That’s the story here.

Monday, September 06, 2004

The Decembrist puts its finger on the nub regarding Bush and his second-term "agenda":

What seems to have gone unsaid about this laundry list was that these weren't
proposals that were blocked by a hostile Congress or that he couldn't find the
money to fund. It's that most of them died as a result of his own incompetence
and that of his administration.

One sees why Joe Lockhart has been saying the President wants a "do-over."
Now we know

The Note anatomizes your typical winning presidential campaign and does it quite well. Instead of a list of truisms, they lay out a neat synthesis that brings home exactly why our side should be nervous right now. Anyway, in The Note's textbook, here's what a winning campaign has got:

A. A candidate who is in control of his public image.

B. A clear and consistently delivered positive message that thematically
derives from the candidate's biography.

C. A clear and consistently delivered negative message that thematically
derives from what the American people are already predisposed to dislike about
the opposition candidate.

D. (Semi-)clear lines of authority at the upper levels of the campaign
about who does what, put in place by a strong candidate with vision and animated
by a shared passionate desire to win.

E. An "adult" staffer on the plane who has known the candidate for years,
can tell him anything, knows his rhythms and moods, and who understands
politics, policy, PR, and campaigns at the highest levels.

F. A traveling press corps whose belief that the person they are covering
can win in November not-so-subtly informs every syllable they write and

The difference between then and now

Afterward, Weld commemorated their exchanges with the gift of an actual kitchen
sink — reflecting everything the two had thrown at each other.
That was after Kerry came from behind to win the '96 Senate race thru a series of eight debates. Weld did that after he lost. Can you imagine George Bush doing that ever, let alone after losing? Weld is a gentleman and a mensch, but he finished second. Bush is neither, and that's why he's got a good shot at winning after four dismal years in the White House. Kerry is up against a thug and what he's used to is Weld.

UPDATE: Forgot to say the quote is from a Los Angeles Times account of the Senate race, with some heartening details on Kerry's ability to fight at least dirtyish.
Looking forward

It's time to face facts: not that we will lose, because the polls are more of a mixed bag than the two newsweeklies suggest, but that we could lose. We could lose in a year when there should be no possibility of that. The economy, the scandals, a really stupid war that offers no hope of victory -- all these should make George Bush and the Republicans dead meat. But the dead meat walks, and here we are hoping for Kitty Kelley to save us.

Democratic voters did their part this year. We got behind a plausible nominee early on and stayed behind him. We offered up enough cash to slice away the GOP's money advantage. When the left went protesting in New York, they kept the ugly street actions to a minimum and let the media's light shine undistracted on the great Zell. But our candidate is still a guy who, when asked the key question of the campaign year, will give exactly the wrong answer. ("Yes, I would have." Oh fuck.)

The top-level Democrats have to retool their thinking. They have to realize that keeping the Republicans from exercising power is the most important thing they can do for this country. That, in reverse, has been the Republican philosophy since Clinton took the White House. Now it has to be ours. The Republicans do not deserve office; if they hold office, they do so as an occupying power and it is our duty to make their lives hell.

Getting back at least a house in Congress will help, but we can fight on without it. The GOP did so in '93 and '94, as with the famous Kristol memo when they resolved to bring down any health care plan Clinton proposed, sight unseen. And obviously they got results. The Clintons, at least, learned something from that go-around, and I wouldn't mind seeing Hillary as Senate minority leader (or, please God, majority leader) with the daily job of sticking it to the White House. That may get in the way of her plans, if any, for a try at president, but protecting the country has to come first.

Two points: we don't have to lie or distort in order to do this; the truth is enough (why isn't Ahmed Chalabi an issue in this race? or the CPA's missing $9 billion?). And we have to decide, as the Republicans decided long ago, that nothing we dislike has been settled just because an election took place. If Bush wins, that does not mean his Iraq war suddenly makes sense or was honestly sold to the American people. It doesn't mean his tax cuts didn't bankrupt us. It just means we have more time to hold him accountable for these things, and more reason to do so before he comes up with more disasters.

The Republican philosophy: this is war, and when the other side wins an election that just means our territory has been aggressed upon. The government belongs to us, not them, and we won't let them have it.

That's going to be our philosophy too, and it's one we can pursue without their particular tactics -- wholesale dishonesty -- because our arguments actually make sense once we get them out of our throat. Now would be a good time to start, but if we have to settle for December, so be it.

Given that the Swift Vets are lying, some commentators have held on to their credentials for fair-mindedness by saying that, after all, Kerry brought up the subject of his service in Vietnam and therefore, somehow, invited the lies. To paraphrase George Orwell, only the evenhanded could believe something that unfair. And only the terminally evenhanded could believe that and the following. The Washington Post, detailing GOP smears about Kerry's Senate
voting record, covers itself this way:

. . . to some extent he opened himself to this line of attack when he
chose to largely skip over his Senate career during his acceptance speech at the
Democratic convention last month.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Either way at least it's fair.
Saturday, September 04, 2004
Be thankful for small things

The liberal blogs experienced a mini-flurry of outrage because AP said a crowd of Republicans had booed Bill Clinton's name when Bush broke the news of the ex-president's heart surgery. Josh Marshall then came thru with an on-the-scene recollection by a friend:

They didn't boo. More accurately, the overwhelming number of people didn't
boo (I heard maybe one or two, and even those died with "hospitalized.") AP got
it wrong.

When Bush said "En route here we just received news that President
Clinton has been hospitalized in New York," there was a big intake of breath and
some loud "oohs" in the crowd. It was unmistakably shock. No boos.

It's not much. If say, this were Lyndon Johnson talking about ex-President Eisenhower, the scene would be completely unremarkable. But as it is, one gets a moment of cool, sweet surprise -- a crowd of handpicked Republican supporters feels shock and concern at the news that a Democratic former president's health is in trouble.
Bad-man Zell

The Blog for Democracy (via Andrew Sullivan) turns up something that delivers my "befuddled rube" interpretation a crashing blow to the ribs. At best we'll have to insert the words "lying" and "vindictive" right after "befuddled." And in the end, maybe John McCain interpreted the whole business best when he was joking around with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

Let's go back to 1964, near the climax of the civil rights era. Zell (I can't resist the name) calls Lyndon Johnson "a Southerner who sold his birthright for a mess of dark pottage." The meaning is clear, and the use of "dark" gives the phrase an especially nasty edge.

Time goes by. Southern blacks can now vote; Zell is still in the business of getting votes. By the mid-1980s he even endorses John Lewis for Congress.

In 1990, Zell is running for governor with James Carville and Paul Begala seated on his shoulder. During a debate, he's confronted with his ancient remark about "pottage." Carville and Begala (or their ghostwriters) take up the story:

Miller wheeled on his accuser and said that back in 1964 when the Atlanta
Constitution had printed that so-called quote he'd marched down to the paper's
offices and demanded and received a correction. He'd never say a thing like
that. A great moment.

The next day that great moment became one of our greatest nightmares. Al
May, the veteran political reporter for the Atlanta Constitution, interviewed
Miller . . . "Zell," he said, "I've talked to all the editors who were around
back then, checked the morgue and the archives, and you never asked for a
retraction and the paper never printed one."

"I know," Miller said, biting the words off the words like they were bitter

"So why'd you say all that in the debate last night?"

Miller leaned in close to May and said, "Because, Al, I was trying to
mislead the people of Georgia."

. . .

Miller opened his heart to May. Told him he'd always been for racial
equality but when Lyndon Johnson supported his opponent, he wanted to lash out.
He'd regretted that one moment of anger, dressed up as racial division, ever

This leaves us with many strands to consider: when is a race-baiter not a racist, when is a man of honor also full of shit? But, if Carville and Begala tell the truth, maybe we can settle on this hard bit of data: when Zell Miller gets pissed at you personally, he may say nasty things in public and pretend it's about policy differences.

So what was McCain's interpretation of the Zell keynote address? "Maybe John Kerry shot his dog."

The voice of the liberal

Over at the Washington Post, Richard Cohen:
The willingness to fight hard and fight dirty is something I both admire and
loathe -- and I apologize in advance for my ambivalence.

But after the self-parody, he makes some good points. I especially liked this closer:

The GOP convention . . . was a loathsome affair, suffused with lies and anger, but also beautiful to watch, like a nature show about some wild animal, amoral and intent only on survival.

I guess that is the best way to appreciate the Republicans.
Friday, September 03, 2004
For my parents

Because one loves Maureen Dowd and both hate Lee Atwater. From Tapped:

Aaron Brown interviewed Maureen Dowd tonight after the Bush speech. . . . She had one of the best lines of the evening: "Lee Atwater is looking up or down -- wherever he is -- and smiling. . ." --Ayelish McGarvey


George Bush stands by his friends. From

Late Thursday, Miller and his wife were removed from the list of
dignitaries who would be sitting in the first family’s box during the
president’s acceptance speech later in the evening. Scott Stanzel, a spokesman
for the Bush campaign, said Miller was not in the box because the campaign had
scheduled him to do too many television interviews.

There was no explanation, however, for why Miller would be giving multiple
interviews during Bush’s acceptance speech, or what channels would snub the
president in favor of Miller. Nor was it made clear why Miller’s wife also was
not allowed to take her place in the president’s box 24 hours after his deeply
personal denunciation of his own party’s nominee.

The change was made only a few hours after Laura Bush, asked about Miller’s
speech, said in an interview with NBC News that “I don’t know that we share that
point of view.”

. . .

A senior White House official, speaking to reporters before Bush’s address Thursday night, said, “Senator Miller was speaking on behalf of himself and obviously on behalf of himself.”

"Not the conflagration we'd all been banking on"

The line is from a Beyond the Fringe sketch about some doomsday religious types waiting on a hilltop for an apocalypse that never comes. I'm reminded of it by this item that Slate's William Saletan exhibits from the Tommy Franks convention address:

He applauds Bush for caring so much about American troops that he "made
sure everything possible was done to protect our troops from the weapons of mass
destruction we all expected."

The face of Miller

I read a lot about who said what on TV, but I don't actually get to see much television news. So this was an event for me, catching the Daily Show just after Bush's acceptance. Seeing the things you've read about is like getting your sight back.

The big thing: Zell Miller footage. The Democrats or MoveOn have to use this stuff. This was the keynote? Zell Miller is the hood ornament the Republicans chose for their car?

Did they have any idea what they were getting? Even if he hadn't said anything, Miller would have seemed crazy. He's a natural, the way Quayle was at looking dumb or Gore at looking smarmy.

Miller has black, glittering eyes. When was the last time you saw eyes like that on TV? (UPDATE: I'm told they are blue; so maybe "tiny, glittering eyes.") Looking at him, you think of someone who trained his will through staring contests with dangerous poison snakes. Except that he's also livid with indignation and pain, like a man who's been played a practical joke that involves hornets and his bare flesh. This is what Republicans want people to be looking at when they think, Here is the Republican party speaking to me.

What Miller said. Well, I read some quotes and I saw the Daily Show excerpts, but that was with Jon Stewart hooting at him. I'll just say Miller likes the United States but hasn't figured out why the Constitution comes with the deal. Maybe I should read the speech and pin down the misdeeds he blames the Democrats for. All that's emerged from the quotes is that he's furious and he thinks a lot of soldiers.

UPDATE: Via Oliver Willis, an item from the Washington Post:

"Everyone read the speech in advance and approved it," said one prominent GOP
lobbyist working closely with the Bush-Cheney campaign on the staging and
message for the convention. The problem, he added, was that handlers did not
account for the shouting voice or glowering stare with which the 72-year-old
former Marine delivered his speech . . .

That's the face, as mentioned above. Then there's his spontaneity of manner:

. . . or the short-tempered manner he displayed in interviews once the veracity of his charges began being challenged minutes after he left the podium.

The Daily Show played snippets from the famous CNN and MSNBC encounters. All I can say is Miller strikes me as an authentic man. I don't believe, based on these small bits, that he was out to do a political hit job in the spirit of Bob Dole. I liked Miller's moment of bashfulness when Wolf Blitzer said he had seemed angry out there; when Miller said he was sorry, he looked like he was sorry, like it hurt a bit to feel he had dampened the evening somehow.

With Matthews a little later, the challenge to a duel -- well, I got the feeling Miller said it because he did genuinely want to kick Matthews's ass, not because he thought the challenge would play well around the watercooler. I like seeing when politicians dart away from whatever internal minders they carry around with them. Depending on what Miller's hearing transmitted to his brain, he might very well have been justified in standing up to Matthews, to hell with television protocol. He reminded me of a very deep-woods rube who has come to New York and knows everyone is rude there, so he makes a flaming fool of himself in the first ten minutes, but he does it because he thinks he's standing up for himself.

Bloggers are saying Miller got some of his speech's anti-Kerry data and language from crackpot e-mail circulars that have been going around. According to the theory, I suppose, he read the stuff and believed it, leaving him to be flummoxed when the CNN anchors threw back at him some rebuttal material that would have been unsurprising to anyone who at least read the papers a lot. This theory does not seem far-fetched as regards the man I saw on the TV; it does seem a bit hard to believe of someone who, reportedly, was quite a good governor of Georgia (seg roots notwithstanding).

Then again, see the "prominent GOP lobbyist" above: "Everyone read the speech in advance and approved it." The various bullshit points that didn't pass muster with CNN worked fine for the Republicans' masterminds. But they don't expect to believe speeches anyway. Zell Miller, on the other hand, I like to see as a man of honor.

2d UPDATE, Heartbreak edition. From a New York Times article, this mention of Miller's appearance on Imus:

According to The Associated Press, Mr. Miller said a man his age should not
be "coming to New York and getting involved in all this stuff." He said he
should have stayed down in his northern Georgia home "with his two yellow Labs,
Gus and Woodrow, and let the world go by."

Thursday, September 02, 2004
Does this really need to be explained?

Matthew Yglesias quotes from Zell Miller's speech:

For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom to abuse and burn that flag.

Soldiers also take away freedom of speech, and over the centuries they've certainly done that far more times than they've done the reverse. Reporters, protesters, agitators, and poets keep them from doing so or put them in a frame of mind where they wouldn't want to. And, at any rate, they and not soldiers make freedom of speech worth having.
Raging Zell

Both the liberal and rightist bloggers seem to have loved Zell Miller's appearance on Hardball. Looking at the transcript, I have to say the senator comes off as belligerent and slow-witted, which I always thought was Matthews's specialty. So, to this liberal, the liberals are right to be pleased.

The senator's words seem so off that perhaps anything other than praise would have set him going. (I gather he'd just had a hard time with CNN's anchors.) Still, the trigger appears to have been this: Matthews brought up a Democratic rhetorical trick and suggested Miller and his Republican hosts might be trying their own version of the same thing.

Democrats, the interviewer said, will single out one item from aan appropriations bill that a lawmaker has voted against and then claim he voted specifically against that item (usually some long established program for getting money to old people or hot meals to school kids). When actually he was voting against the appropriations bill as a whole and backing instead some other one that was differently configured but contained the same item. That's not the best explanation, but legislative mechanics is a headache for me to understand.

At any rate. Substitute weapons systems for school lunches, Matthews suggested, and don't you get the Republican argument regarding Kerry's defense votes?

The senator couldn't follow that. He thought Matthews was accusing him of claiming that Democrats wanted to starve kids, old people, etc. So he got very angry, very fast. This was enough to make rightwing bloggers happy.

The moment in question:

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you, when Democrats come out, as they often do,
liberal Democrats, and attack conservatives, and say they want to starve little
kids, they want to get rid of education, they want to kill the old

MILLER: I am not saying that. Wait a minute.

MATTHEWS: That kind of rhetoric is not educational, is it?

MILLER: Wait a minute. Now, this is your program. And
I am a guest on your program.

MATTHEWS: Yes, sir.

MILLER: And so I want to try to be as nice as I possibly can to you. I wish I was over there, where I could get a little closer up into your face.


MILLER: But I don‘t have to stand here and listen to that kind of
stuff. I didn‘t say anything about not feeding poor kids. What are
you doing?

MATTHEWS: No, I‘m saying that when you said tonight—I
just want you to...

MILLER: Well, you are saying a bunch of baloney that didn‘t have
anything to do with what I said up there on the


It was all downhill from there.

Catastrophic success

Apparently this is a technical term that the president has recently latched on to. Going by context from press accounts, I'd say it means this: when your military success abruptly unhinges the enemy's civil structure, leaving your fighting forces with the unexpected job of running the enemy's country when all they are really equipped to do is fight.
Less like John Kennedy, more like a parrot

Bob Novak (via The Note) on what we learned when Bush opened his mouth about the unwinnable war:

The lesson for Bush strategists and other Republican politicians is that
George W. Bush is no John F. Kennedy who can nonchalantly respond to reporters'
questions. At his best, Bush is tightly disciplined in giving answers that have
been carefully prepared.

You're probably right

From the New York Times via Slate's "Today's Papers":
"Karen has known the girls for so long she was able to capture their
personality," Mrs. Whitson said.

Karen Hughes wrote that stuff? Wow. Well, she did seem like kind of a jerk on The Daily Show.
Sullivan on the Republicans' gaping hole in their armor

Now that he's against Bush, I suppose I have to contain my distaste for Andrew Sullivan. Well, not really, but he is a clever man and also a non-Democrat who is no longer subject to Bush blindness. That makes him worth listening to on how the two sides present themselves.

Listening to Cheney, he spots a sizable non-barking dog in the Republican night (excuse the phrase) and identifies its importance to anyone who takes national defense seriously:

. . . neither he not [nor] anyone, in invoking the war on terror, has mentioned any developments in Iraq or Afghanistan over the last year. These speeches could have been written as Baghdad fell or at the latest, when Saddam was captured. And this party and president claim to be war-leaders. Real war-leaders explain defeats and set-backs, they recognize the current situation, they grapple with reality.

For my records: Zell on Kerry

Atrios is crowing about this, and I figure I might as well have a copy. It may come in handy for partisan disputes.

Zell Miller in 2001:

My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation's
authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders – and a
good friend.

He was once a lieutenant governor – but he didn't stay in that office 16
years, like someone else I know. It just took two years before the people of
Massachusetts moved him into the United States Senate in 1984.

In his 16 years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government
waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington. Early in his
Senate career in 1986, John signed on to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit
Reduction Bill, and he fought for balanced budgets before it was considered
politically correct for Democrats to do so.

John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost
the economy and protect the environment. Business Week magazine named him one of the top pro-technology legislators and made him a member of its "Digital

John was re-elected in 1990 and again in 1996 – when he defeated popular
Republican Governor William Weld in the most closely watched Senate race in the
country.John is a graduate of Yale University and was a gunboat officer in the
Navy. He received a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three awards of the Purple
Heart for combat duty in Vietnam. He later co-founded the Vietnam Veterans of

Democratic Party of Georgia's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner
March 1, 2001

Like Roosevelt's wheelchair

. . . not only was Mary Cheney not on stage but her partner, Heather Poe, was
carefully kept out of the camera frame, even when the CNN cameras caught the
family . . .

From a Tapped item by Sarah Wildman. This is a little hard to follow, but I think she's saying that, even in candid shots away from the convention stage, CNN would not aim its cameras at Mary Cheney's girlfriend. And made the choice voluntarily, I suppose.

UPDATE: But aside from the question of press tact (misguided or not) and what can trigger it in this day and age, I should not forget the big story: the GOP disappeared Mary. The Note, of all places, reminds us how shabby that move is:

We are just amazed at how little commentary there has been about the decision to
have Mary Cheney not appear on stage with her sister and parents at the end of
the speech. We are certain of a few things -- Mrs. Cheney will be furious about
such speculation and talk, and that Mary Cheney is on the campaign payroll and
someone whose parents are constantly talking about how proud they are of her.

I hate finding common ground with Dick Cheney, but he did stand by his daughter. Well, up to a point -- he didn't stand by her on stage. Cheney can defy the President regarding the Constitution but not TV choreography. Because that shit's important.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Will Alan Keyes be alive in January?

He had something not well-judged to say regarding Dick Cheney's daughter:

Keyes' first comments about Mary Cheney came during an interview Monday night on Sirius OutQ, a New York-based satellite station that provides 24-hour gay and
lesbian programming.
After the candidate told the hosts that homosexuality is "selfish hedonism," he was asked whether Mary Cheney is a "selfish hedonist."
"Of course she is," Keyes replied. "That goes by definition. Of course she is."

I might as well give the full text, if you're not registered with the Chicago Tribune. (Link from QandO):

Keyes takes jabs at his own party
By Jennifer Skalka and Ofelia Casillas.

Published September 1, 2004

NEW YORK -- Madison Square Garden, home of many prizefights and hockey
brawls, seems a fitting venue for Alan Keyes to be meeting his fellow

The candidate for U.S. Senate has miffed many members of the Illinois
delegation by spending more time on national talk shows than schmoozing with
them. He has been prickly with the media, chastising reporters for asking
"inappropriate" questions. As the Republican National Convention focused
on unity Tuesday, Keyes lashed out at Vice President Dick Cheney's gay daughter.
And it was only the second day of the convention.

Keyes' first comments about Mary Cheney came during an interview Monday
night on Sirius OutQ, a New York-based satellite station that provides 24-hour
gay and lesbian programming. After the candidate told the hosts that
homosexuality is "selfish hedonism," he was asked whether Mary Cheney is a
"selfish hedonist."

"Of course she is," Keyes replied. "That goes by definition. Of course she

On Tuesday, Keyes defended his remarks, adding that if his daughter were a
lesbian, he would tell her she was committing a sin and should pray. Thus far,
the Republican hopeful's week has been defined by friction with his state party
chairwoman and the Illinois delegation, who feel they are playing second fiddle
to Keyes' media campaign. Some have also expressed concerns about Keyes'
beliefs, calling them too far right for Illinois.

Keyes is challenging Democrat Barack Obama, who wowed his party's national
convention with his keynote address last month.

Illinois Republican Party Chairwoman Judy Baar Topinka said the remarks
about Cheney's daughter should not distract from key election issues. "It's a
pity that we have gotten away from the substance of the campaign and instead
have gotten into personalities and things that are personal and name-calling,"
Topinka said. "Since this is amongst Republicans, it really needs to stop and
get on course."

When informed of Keyes' comments about Mary Cheney, Bush/Cheney campaign
spokesman Steve Schmidt offered a terse reply Tuesday. "It was inappropriate,"
he said.

Similar response to remark

Campaigning in North Middleton Township, Pa., with President Bush, Sen.
John McCain (R-Ariz.) spoke to reporters about Republican chances to hold the
Senate and said, "I think it's clear we lose Illinois." Informed about Keyes'
comments from the radio program, McCain said, "I don't think that's appropriate,
but it's not the first inappropriate remark Mr. Keyes has made. He made a remark
the other day that people who perform abortions are the same as terrorists.
That's a very unique take on that issue and one that's very seldom

For the last two days, Keyes has frequented Radio Row, a hallway in Madison
Square Garden occupied by talk-show hosts. Keyes, who had a radio show in the
1990s, appeared comfortable there, stopping for interviews when asked.

Two hosts with Sirius OutQ spoke with Keyes for four minutes Monday night
in a nearby hallway. Their conversation centered on his opposition to same-sex
marriage. Keyes said family is defined by having children. "If we embrace
homosexuality as a proper basis for marriage, we are saying that it's possible
to have a marriage state that in principle excludes procreation and is based
simply on the premise of selfish hedonism," the senate candidate told hosts
Michelangelo Signorile and Corey Johnson.

It was at this point that the hosts asked Keyes their question about Mary
Cheney, getting a response. An interviewer then said: "I don't think Dick Cheney
would like to hear that about his daughter." Replied Keyes: "Dick Cheney may or may not like to hear the truth, but it can be spoken."

When asked Tuesday evening to explain his statements about Mary Cheney,
Keyes did not back down. "I have said that if you are actively engaging in
homosexual relations, those relations are about selfish hedonism," he said. "If
my daughter were a lesbian, I'd look at her and say, `That is a relationship
that is based on selfish hedonism.' I would also tell my daughter that it's a
sin, and she needs to pray to the Lord God to help her to deal with that

Rick Garcia, director of Equality Illinois, a non-partisan gay-rights
group, said Keyes' views are not representative of the state's Republicans nor
Democrats. "Selfish hedonism? Has anyone seen Dr. Keyes look at a microphone or a television camera? That's hedonism," Garcia said. "The mainstream of the Illinois Republican Party is not behind Dr. Keyes."

Trying to build bridges

Keyes attempted to build bridges Tuesday with the Illinois delegation. But
a breakfast gathering ended messily for him as he chastised reporters for not
giving his candidacy a fair shake and left early.

Topinka had welcomed Keyes to a Times Square hotel for his first delegate
breakfast. She said there was room under the Republican Party's tent for
different beliefs, but added that a far-right candidate would not win in
Illinois. "Without social moderates this party cannot win," Topinka told a few
reporters before she and Keyes shook hands for the cameras. "It has to be
center-right, it can't be right-right."

When Topinka and Keyes greeted each other, the exchange was brief and
awkward. It ended strangely, as Topinka ducked out, dashing behind a ficus
plant. "There you go," she said to Keyes. "You're on."

Reporters surrounded Keyes on his way out. When asked why he had not
addressed the delegates, he promised it would not be the last time he would see
them this week but that he had to tend to a schedule packed with media

Pressed for a reason why he had not spent more time with his state party,
Keyes responded angrily. "The proper question would be: `What are you doing at
this convention?' And that is a fact," he said.

Though her views differ with Keyes' on several social issues, Topinka said
Tuesday morning that she would support him, saying, "He is on the ticket. We
will support the ticket."
Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune

You got a point

Josh Marshall:

. . . this is one of the worst things about Democrats . . . As a
group they seem to have a great tendency toward becoming disheartened, turning
on their candidate, doubting his strategy, doubting his advisors, and so forth.
Unfortunately, the candidates and advisors have an equal tendency to be open to
that kind of fretting.

Everything the others don't get

12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 /

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