Clift: Baghdad "More Hospitable" to al-Qaeda Now Than Pre-War --8/4/2003
2. Stephanopoulos Asks Qaddafi for Advice on Battling Terrorism
3. Dean No Liberal, He's a 'No Jews Allowed' Bush-Like Conservative
4. Fox News Channel Really Annoys Dean Donor Alec Baldwin
Newsweek's Eleanor Clift thinks "al-Qaeda is probably finding it more hospitable in Baghdad today than they did before" President Bush launched a war on terrorism, she charged on McLaughlin Group over the weekend.
Clift opined: "Overturning Saddam is not a central battle in that war against terrorism. In fact, al-Qaeda is probably finding it more hospitable in Baghdad today than they did before."
ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked a terrorist for advice ("What would be the wise course for the United States to follow now in Iraq?") Sounding just like a media liberal, Muammar Qaddafi warned that for the U.S. Iraq "will be like Vietnam." On Sunday's This Week, Stephanopoulos summarized how Qaddafi showed up for an interview wearing "ostrich-skin slippers and a silk shirt stenciled with the faces of African leaders, like Nelson Mandela." Stephanopoulos passed along how "Qaddafi excused himself for evening prayers" and, without any skepticism, Stephanopoulos relayed how Qaddafi "called al-Qaeda a common enemy that must be fought."
Stephanopoulos traveled to Libya to tape what ABC hyped as a "world exclusive" interview with Qaddafi.
On the August 3 This Week, Stephanopoulos recounted: "I met with him in a tent he pitched outside the city of Bengazi in eastern Libya. We landed in the early afternoon, but had to wait several hours in a hotel until Qaddafi summoned us. Then we drive to his compound, and as the sun was setting he finally appeared wearing ostrich-skin slippers and a silk shirt stenciled with the faces of African leaders, like Nelson Mandela. We spoke for over an hour and covered a lot of ground: Iraq, Middle East peace and the war against terror. At one point Qaddafi excused himself for evening prayers. And the more we talked the more it seemed to me that Qaddafi was torn between his desire for a better relationship with the United States and his belief that America's to blame for making enemies in the Arab world. On one big issue, however, Qaddafi's in complete agreement with the U.S. government. He called al-Qaeda a common enemy that must be fought."
Does anyone really think that Qaddafi himself pitched the tent?
After that laudatory introduction, Stephanopoulos asked Qaddafi for advice with questions such as:
-- "What would you advise the United States to do today to fight al-Qaeda?"
-- "What would be the wise course for the United States to follow now in Iraq?"
-- "If the U.S. continues on the course it's on now in Iraq, what do you think will happen?"
ABC News has posted video of the interview: abcnews.go.com
Before former Vermont Governor Howard Dean can be painted by conservatives as an out of the mainstream far-left ideologue, the national media, nearly simultaneously, are coming to his aide, penning stories about how he's not only not liberal, he's really a conservative.
"He remains a fiscal conservative," declared two New York Times reporter in a July 30 profile last Wednesday.
Then on Sunday, the front page of the Washington Post carried this unequivocal headline over a story: "As Governor, Dean Was Fiscal Conservative." The subhead: "Presidential Candidate Imposed Discipline on Vermont Legislature's Efforts to Spend."
But in 1,765 words of anecdotes and insistences from Vermont politicians about how Dean was far from a liberal as Governor, Post reporter Michael Powell failed to cite a single statistic about the rate of spending growth under Governor Dean. If he had, it would have undermined his premise since, as a Cato Institute report last year concluded: "After 12 years of Dean's so-called 'fiscal conservatism,' Vermont remains one of the highest taxing and spending states."
And this week's Time magazine features Dean on the cover, as does Newsweek. "The ex-Vermont Governor is a Park Avenue rebel and an unlikely spokesman for the anti-Bush Left," reads the Time headline over a story by John Cloud. He passed along how "last week I asked Dean's mother Andree Maitland Dean of East Hampton, N.Y., whether her son is truly a liberal insurgent. 'He's not really,' she said." Cloud argued that "the truth" is that Dean "is a rock-ribbed budget hawk, a moderate on gays and guns, and a true lefty on only a few issues."
Cloud insisted that "Dean, who has been compared so often to George McGovern and Ralph Nader, is far more like George W. Bush." As evidence, Cloud cited Dean's patrician upbringing in a Republican family who "belonged to the super-exclusive Maidstone golf club, which for decades had no minority or Jewish members."
That defines Republican for Time magazine.
Now, more about the three Dean profiles cited above:
-- Last week, the MRC's TimesWatch.org featured an item on a July 30 Times article:
Howard Dean, Lean-Government Machine?
Jodi Wilgoren and David Rosenbaum's long profile on Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean was a solid, balanced piece citing Dean's record as Vermont Governor and noting the left-wing tilt of many of his supporters. But one paragraph of Wednesday's front-page piece raised eyebrows: "In fact, much of Dr. Dean's presidential platform, particularly his plan for universal health insurance, is a outgrowth of his accomplishments in Vermont. He remains a fiscal conservative, he believes gun control should be left to the states and he favors the death penalty for some crimes."
"Universal health insurance" and "fiscal conservative" are two phrases that don't really go together....
END of Excerpt of item by TimesWatch.org Editor Clay Waters
For the New York Times story in full: www.nytimes.com
-- An excerpt from the August 3 Washington Post front page story, "As Governor, Dean Was Fiscal Conservative," by Michael Powell:
BURLINGTON, Vt. -- The new governor faced a roomful of fellow Democrats in 1992, liberal warriors eager after two years of Republican rule to right every perceived wrong in Vermont. But Howard Dean issued no call to arms.
All of your progressive ideas, Dean told his party caucus, won't amount to anything if Vermonters don't trust you with their money -- and they don't. We're seen as tax-happy liberals who spend money unwisely.
Dean's words foreshadowed years of acrimonious battles with his party's formidable liberal wing, which controlled the legislature. From 1991 to 2002, Dean issued more vetoes than any previous governor. But he slowly bent Democrats to his will. When he left office in 2002, Vermont had a fairly balanced budget, while states across the nation bled fiscal red ink.
"He made us very disciplined about spending, even if we didn't really like it," said former state Senate president Dick McCormack, who sat in that caucus room in 1992. "I was a liberal Democrat, and I fought him a lot, but he made the Democrats very hard to beat."
Dean's emerging national reputation as a liberal tribune, a man whose rhetorical fires have seared President Bush for invading Iraq and cutting taxes for the wealthy, obscures the centrist course he steered during his tenure as governor of Vermont. In this small, northern New England state where the sole House member is a self-proclaimed socialist and the state legislature tends to come in three ideological flavors (moderate Republicans, liberal Democrats and left-wing Progressives), Dean gained a reputation as a careful, even cautious, steward.
That gubernatorial record could turn off some liberal true believers. Or it could allow Dean to execute a political pivot in next year's presidential primaries. A New England governor with a budget-balancing reputation might prove useful as the primaries move south of the Mason-Dixon line. "The national role reversal is that Democrats have become the party of the balanced budget," said Eric Davis, a Middlebury College political scientist. "Howard Dean can lay claim to that."
As governor, Dean preserved hundreds of thousands of acres of forests and lakes and mountains that had come under intense development pressure, passed a landmark health insurance program for children, insisted on pumping money into town centers rather than into sprawling suburbs and signed a bill that allowed gay couples to enter into civil unions.
At the same time, the former doctor resisted raising income taxes, vetoed some social spending for the elderly, and showered tens of millions of dollars in controversial tax breaks to attract businesses to Vermont, although most of the company officials acknowledged they would have relocated or expanded without subsidies. Dean poured relatively little money into state colleges and the university, where tuition costs are the highest in the nation.
"I'm a fiscal conservative, and I believe in social justice," Dean said in a recent interview. "I'm most proud of our fiscal stability -- I left the state in better shape than I found it."
Former governor Philip H. Hoff served three terms in the 1960s, and is regarded as the grand old man of liberal Democratic politics here. His support for Dean comes leavened with skepticism. "I'm quite clear that he sublimated his liberal impulses," Hoff said. "As governor, he fell under the sway of business interests."...
Dean was elected governor in his own right in 1992 and embarked on a reform campaign: to bring a single-payer health system to Vermont. He waged vigorous battles with the insurance companies. But his efforts came asunder in the 1994 legislative session.
It was a watershed for Dean. He became a devotee of the small step forward. Over the next decade, he successfully expanded a health insurance program to guarantee health coverage for every child in the state and insisted that the state health plan pay for mammograms. The state now has a prescription drug benefit for those with incomes up to 400 percent of the poverty level.
Critics, particularly on the left, say he lost his nerve. They note that Medicaid costs have soared, that Dean pushed higher deductibles for patients, and 9 percent of Vermonters remain uncovered by insurance (a low percentage by national standards)....
Dean, over the objections of liberals, let Snelling's income tax increase sunset in 1994. He vetoed several social welfare spending bills. He was, always, the embattled man of the middle. "He was very artful," said Elizabeth Ready, the state auditor and a liberal former state representative. "He was always saying: 'You've got your nuts on the left, your nuts on the right, and you've got me.'"...
So the question arises: If Dean was so effective leading that fight [for civil unions], why didn't he risk more battles on the sort of issues that are dear to the liberals? Ready, the state auditor, laughs when asked the question.
"Because Howard Dean's neither a phony nor a liar," Ready said. "He's just not a liberal."
END of Excerpt
For the Post story in its entirety: www.washingtonpost.com
Howard Dean, Vermont's articulate and telegenic governor since 1991, is one of America's most iconoclastic politicians. On many issues, he is as pro-government intervention as any governor. He supports state-funded universal health care, government-subsidized child care (even for upper-income families), a higher minimum wage, liberal family leave legislation, and taxpayer-financed campaigns. Dean has raised many taxes over the past decade, including the gas tax, the sales tax, the corporate income tax, the cigarette tax, and the property tax. But he also claims to be "Vermont's most fiscally conservative governor in decades." He has been receptive to smaller government in a few areas. In his first three terms as governor, state spending rose by less than personal income growth. In 1999, he sought and won support for an across-the-board income tax cut to make the state more competitive. He was dead right on that score: Vermont has one of the highest income taxes in the nation and loses jobs and businesses to its income tax-free neighbor, New Hampshire. He also has also supported electricity deregulation and some limited school choice initiatives for high school students.
By far the most contentious decision of his administration was to back Act 60, a controversial Robin Hood-like school equity financing scheme. Act 60 guarantees $5,000 per student for every school district and delivers that guarantee by soaking up funds from some communities and redistributing dollars to poorer ones. Act 60 has unleashed a taxpayer revolt across the state. Dean has taken the brunt of the anger and nearly lost reelection in 1998 as a result. Vermonters want local control back and their property tax dollars spent on their own kids' schools. Vermont has been hit hard by the recession, and Dean's main response has been higher taxes. He raised the cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack and then decoupled the state income tax from the federal tax, so that Vermont would not have to reduce taxes in response to President Bush's federal tax relief.
After 12 years of Dean's so-called "fiscal conservatism," Vermont remains one of the highest taxing and spending states. Dean is said to be a potential Democratic presidential nominee and is a frequent guest on national TV talk shows, usually espousing a more activist government.
END of Excerpt
For the Cato report in full, in PDF format: www.cato.org
-- An excerpt from John Cloud's profile of Dean in the August 11 Time, paying attention to the sections in which Cloud maintained Dean is no liberal:
....A year ago, Dean was the outgoing Governor of the 49th largest state, a bewildering new presence on the campaign trail. Today he has a shot at winning his party's nomination. What's unclear is whether he has surged because contributors and poll respondents think he is a new kind of Old Democrat -- a candidate who will finally revive the left -- or because those contributors and respondents know the truth -- he is a rock-ribbed budget hawk, a moderate on gays and guns, and a true lefty on only a few issues, primarily the use of U.S. military power, which Dean seems to regard with a mixture of contempt and suspicion.
At this early stage it's likely that Dean enjoys support from those to his left who don't know the fine points of his proposals as well as they know the fine volleys of his rhetoric. In that sense, it's hard to imagine Dean's glorious season ending without disappointment. Either he will alienate the mainstream by tacking left in order to keep his troops in their combat sandals, or, more likely, they will shed a tear when they learn who he really is. Last week I asked Dean's mother Andree Maitland Dean of East Hampton, N.Y., whether her son is truly a liberal insurgent. "He's not really," she said. A beat passed, and she added with a chuckle, "I hope they don't find that out just yet."
That's a great thing about the Deans: they are funny, they are quick, they are direct....
But the portrait of Dean as scrappy outsider is incomplete. Rather, he combines the sense of entitlement afforded by a childhood of extreme wealth with the moral certitude gained by his decision not to merely live off-or, for that matter, maximize-that wealth. Instead, Dean got a medical degree, which gave him confidence, a comfort in his own skin. In that sense -- and in some others -- Dean, who has been compared so often to George McGovern and Ralph Nader, is far more like...George W. Bush.
Howard Dean is the firstborn son of the aforementioned Andree (who can trace her family back to Richard Maitland, born in Scotland circa 1234) and Howard Brush Dean Jr. Like his own father and grandfather, Dean's dad made a living-a very, very good living -- on Wall Street, retiring as a top executive of Dean Witter Reynolds. His four sons grew up mostly in East Hampton, where in the mid-'50s the family built a house on Hook Pond, among the oldest-money addresses in the nation. The Deans-who were, of course, Republicans -- belonged to the super-exclusive Maidstone golf club, which for decades had no minority or Jewish members....
As President, Dean would ask Congress to repeal all the tax cuts Bush signed, which would have the effect of raising -- in some cases dramatically -- Americans' tax bills. Dean opposes the tax cuts because he believes they have produced deficits, but his planned tax "hike" is one of the most damning exhibits Republicans will use in making the case that he is an out-of-touch liberal.
So is he a liberal, a conservative or something in between? The answer is, all of the above. Dean is constantly attacking "ideologues in both parties," which allows him to choose what he thinks is the best of all worlds. Take health care. Again, Dean learned from Clinton. In the early '90s, Dean was arguably the Governor most involved in helping shape the huge, doomed Clinton health-care plan. During the 1994 State of the Union address, according to the Burlington Free Press, Dean was sitting just behind Hillary Rodham Clinton, the plan's major architect. Dean claims he doesn't remember the event and even at the time thought the plan was overly ambitious. Today, nine years after HillaryCare imploded, Dean is preaching the virtues of incrementalism....
Dean's health-care plan remains modest by Democratic standards. Where Dean is truly to the left of his party is on just one issue, Iraq....
Dean has tried to seem more conservative than he really is on guns and more liberal than he really is on gays. Though Dean constantly brags about his 2000 "A" rating from the National Rifle Association, N.R.A. executive director Wayne LaPierre says Dean today is "totally trying to have it both ways." Yes, Vermont has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the nation. But Dean opposes a federal bill that would grant gunmakers immunity from lawsuits and supports background checks for buyers at gun shows --two positions that put him at odds with the N.R.A...
END of Excerpt
For the Time article in full: www.time.com
The existence of the Fox News Channel really annoys liberals, especially Hollywood liberals. The latest evidence: Appearing Friday night on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, actor Alec Baldwin got quite animated, gesticulating with his arms, as he charged: "If 9/11 had happened on Clinton's watch or during a potential Gore presidency, Fox News would have a banner under the bottom of the TV every day that says, 'Osama-at-Large Day 20,' 'Osama-at-Large Day 50,' 'Osama-at-Large Day 100.' They would never have let this bastard skate the way that they let this-"
At that point he was drowned out by the other panelists and so I'm not sure who "bastard" was a reference to.
Seconds earlier on the August 1 program, on which Baldwin appeared with Christopher Hitchens and Tara Setmeyer, identified as a "Republican strategist," Baldwin contended: "Bill Clinton's lies didn't get any American people killed."
Hitchens reminded viewers that Clinton launched bombing campaigns to distract from the Lewinsky scandal.
For a photo and bio of Baldwin: us.imdb.com
For HBO's Web page for Maher's weekly show: www.hbo.com
Baldwin, along with a bunch of other well-known celebrities, was a big donor in the past quarter to the Howard Dean presidential campaign.
In a July 16 story, Washington Post reporters Dan Balz and Thomas B. Edsall recited some of the names in the latest FEC filings:
Imagine all of them supporting a candidate whom the Post, just a few weeks later, described as a "fiscal conservative." (See item #3 above.)
That same day, on the July 16 Inside Politics, Candy Crowley ran through some celebrity names and to whom they donated. The A-list names all contributed to Democratic presidential candidates with George W. Bush getting money from names from the past, such as Andy Williams and Wink Martindale.
Crowley relayed: "Give her a Democrat any Democrat. Putting her money where her mouth is, Barbra Streisand has contributed to the campaigns of John Kerry, John Edwards, Richard Gephardt, Bob Graham and Howard Dean. Not a penny for Joe Lieberman, Mr. V-Chip."
She listed some of Dean's donors: "Robin Williams, an enthusiastic donor of years past, Ted Danson, Susan Sarandon, Paul Newman, Stephen King and Alec Baldwin, still living in the country, are all Dean-ies."
As for Bush, "the President is not without some marquee names, in a retro kind of way. Several blasts from the past rang it up for Bush/Cheney, including crooner Andy Williams, game show host Wink Martindale and Chuck Norris, who's not a Texas Ranger, but plays one on TV."
She added one more liberal donor: "West Wing's Brad Whitford is down for $4,000 to the Kerry campaign. Brad, call your accountant. The limit is $2,000."
# The Hillary Clinton Media Tour continues this week. She's scheduled to appear Monday night on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Thursday night on Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
-- Brent Baker