September 24, 2004

In perhaps the surest sign that the Presidential race is neck-and-neck, the latest Time poll shows Kerry cutting Bush's edge over in half, down to 6 points among likely voters. However, as with the Gallup poll published last week, the Time methodology includes a disproportionate percentage of Republicans; among both registered and likely voters, their sample has 6% more Republican respondents than Democratic, exactly matching the Bush lead, even though the actual party I.D. numbers in the electorate have slightly favored the Democrats over the years. Although it's entirely possible that the GOP suddenly has picked up ten percent in voter identification since the last election, in all likelihood their gains (if any) are far less than that, and the real state of the race shows a dead heat, or even a slight Kerry lead.

September 22, 2004

I know the adage about how correlation is not causation, but isn't it interesting how Bush's poll numbers have fallen since Col. Burkett "found" the Killian Papers three weeks ago. From a double-digit, post-convention lead to a dead heat: maybe the "fake but accurate" meme has caught on with the electorate. Or then again, maybe the polls several weeks ago showing the President with a suddenly commanding lead were a joke, taken too close to the convention to have any contextual connection with public opinion, and with too many Republicans sampled to reflect a true picture of the American Voter. I like the former suggestion better, since it shows how a determined set of bloggers, huddled around their terminals wearing their cotton jammies, fact-checking and document-scoping the asses of the lib'rul media, and thereby forcing the largely-irrelevant issue of Bush's service in the National Guard into the public limelight for three weeks. Advantage: Blogosphere !!!

One of the things striking about the ARG polling results is how low Bush's support is; the rule that any incumbent with below 50% in the polls is likely to lose applies not just nationally, but in each state as well. Even those states where Bush possesses a slight lead, such as Ohio, Colorado, West Virginia and Arkansas, as well as the Purple States won by Gore in 2000, such as Iowa and Minnesota, his numbers are under 50%, and falling ever-so-slightly.

For what it's worth, the latest poll from out here shows Kerry leading by 15 points in California, as clear a sign as any that he has the momentum (or rather, that Bush's post-convention bounce has gone the way of the LA Dodgers' NL West lead). Since Gore won the state by only 13 points last time, this bodes ill for the President.
Can you imagine being an airline passenger on a flight from London to D.C., no doubt having to fight exhaustion, boredom, the incessant whining of babies, and the discomfort of sitting in a seat designed for a person half your size, having waited for several hours at Heathrow to board your plane (United, btw, so you just know there was only a minimal delay taking off), then another six or so hours doing nothing on the plane except eating the gristle-and-gravy dinner with salad and watching an expurgated version of Catwoman, then having to delay being reunited with family and loved ones for another half the day after the plane gets diverted 1000 miles north to Bangor, Maine, because one of Ashcroft's weenies thought that Cat Stevens was a hijacker? If you want to punish the guy for "Morning Has Broken" or for his politically incorrect statements about Salman Rushdie, fine, but don't take it out on the commuters, to whom he wasn't a threat.

September 20, 2004

Three Debates: After weeks of negotiating, the campaigns have decided to do pretty much go along with what the presidential debate commission already decided, a series of debates between Bush and Kerry, with one debate slated to be "town hall" format before undecided voters. Considering that the undecided voters will be selected by Gallup, the polling outfit that just went out of its way to rig a poll to show Bush with a huge lead, don't be surprised if the President gets the same sort of soft ball questions he often gets at one of the potemkinesque "Meet the President" gatherings his campaign sets up.
In defense of CBS, it should be pointed out that it took them less time to conclude the obvious than it took the White House to acknowledge that there were no WMDs in Iraq, and which still claims, sans evidence, that the forged documents "detailing" Iraq's purchase of yellowcake from Niger were "fake but accurate". The whole debate about whether this story symbolizes the decline of "Big Media" and the rise of the blogosphere is unimportant to me, especially when one realizes that the same blogs that broke this story knowingly spread false stories from the "Swift Boat Vets" that were discredited after further review. What it should teach us is that anonymously-sourced stories should always be read with a jaundiced eye, but I think most of us already learned that moral from Judith Miller.

September 19, 2004

Europe 18 1/2, U.S. 9 1/2: Now that I've had further time to reflect, these guys aren't entitled to make the Iverson Speech. Never send rich white Republicans (and one Cablinasian) to do anything that entails representing the Stars and Stripes....
Here's another "hypothesis", from blogger Robert Musil, based on the assumption that the "disgruntled" ex-guardsman with an axe to grind against Bush was merely the "conduit" for the Killian Papers. He suggests that the actual creator was an insider with the DNC or Kerry campaign, which managed to bind Dan Rather into silence by a crafty non-disclosure agreement drafted by a "fancy lawyer". One problem: if the DNC or Kerry went to the trouble of drafting forged documents, wouldn't they also have taken the added burden of "pre-authenticating" them, let's say, with the assistance of their "fancy lawyer"? Putting these documents out into the public domain was an extremely risky move, especially if it could be traced back to them, so wouldn't it have been worth doing right? Assuming that whichever lawyer drafted the alleged agreement performed some sort of due diligence before sending them to their "conduit", wouldn't the same problems that made the Killian Papers so questionable from the outset have been spotted?

Musil also questions CBS' investigative zeal, defending the White House's initial response to the documents by suggesting that there was no way Dan Bartlett, the spokesman quoted by 60 Minutes II, could have vouched for the authenticity of documents. As I've mentioned previously, though, the White House can be excused for not immediately claiming that these documents were forgeries, but they could hardly be excused for not knowing if the contents of said papers were true or false. After all, these documents have been "proven" to be fake only to the same extent that the "Swift Boat Vets" stories about John Kerry's cowardice in battle have been proven to be "false"; there may be an overwhelming circumstantial case, but, theoretically, the Killian Papers could still be authentic.

However, Bush would know if he ever received an order to take a medical exam, and there was certainly plenty of time, in the twenty-four hours preceding the broadcast, for the White House to challenge the accuracy of those allegations. It is most telling that, unlike John Kerry's forceful denunciation of the "Swift Boat" charges, they did not do so.
Europe 11, U.S.A. 5: The stench emanating from Michigan grows worse. But we are doing better in singles this afternoon, so Tiger, Gagger, and the rest might not have to give the Iverson Speech (you know, where they say it's an honor just to play for your country, win or lose).