MATTHEWS (4/2/07): Lynn [Sweet], lets talk for a minute—because I want to talk, when we come back, about Fred Thompson. It looks to me—and this is my seat-of-the-pants judgment—he looks like the daddy figure the Republican Party has been looking around for. He looks classic wise man. He has gravitas. Hes no Dan Quayle, a guy when he says somethings got that Colin Powell feature, where you just sort of trust him. Is he going to jump in this race and take over?Fred Thompson? He looks classic wise. He has gravitas, the talker insisted. And when he says something, you just sort of trust him. Previously, this talker has pimped Saints McCain and Rudy. But their polling woes have moved him on—and a new love is starting to grow.
BROWN (4/2/07): The core of the No Child Left Behind legislation demands proficiency, measured by standardized tests, from one hundred percent of students by the year 2014, a goal that is by all measures ludicrous. As Linda Darling-Hammond points out in her contribution to the incisive essay collection Many Children Left Behind, "...there is the fundamental problem that it is impossible to attain 100 percent proficiency for students on norm-referenced tests (when 50 percent of students by definition must score below the norm and some proportion must score below any cut point selected)..." Did the people writing and voting for NCLB somehow miss that in their own proficient math?We havent read Darling-Hammonds essay, but shes semi-right about one thing; as a matter of elementary logic, it is impossible to attain 100 percent proficiency for students on norm-referenced tests. (Although, for that reason, such tests arent normally used to measure proficiency.) Sadly, though, for Browns heartfelt point, NCLB doesnt use norm-referenced tests; on the types of tests the program does use, it is entirely possible for 100 percent of some group to attain proficiency. (Just make the test easy enough, and youll see it happen in many schools.) But is it surprising to see such groaning errors at a site whose founder spent Campaign 2000 calling Gore every name in the book—even miscounting the number of buttons on his suits? Today, she tells HuffPo readers that shed like to see Gore run for the White House—and she keeps forgetting to tell her readers why that would be so hard. Yep! We liberals live the lives of children, helped along by such facile users. Result? The other side—the one with the skillful adults—eats us for three-martini lunch. Their president has virtually destroyed the known world—and their leading candidates in Campaign 08 are currently running ahead of ours. How do you think that sh*t happens?
COHEN (4/3/07): The first 57 of the 152 death penalty cases [Governor] Bush presided over occurred when Gonzales was general counsel. It was his job to prepare a document summarizing the facts of the case. Those memos were examined by Alan Berlow of the Atlantic magazine, who reported on them back in 2003. What he found was that of the 57, there was hardly a case that gave Gonzales pause—not the mental retardation of the condemned, not the stunning negligence of some lawyers and not the occasional use of questionable police methods. Gonzales was always the imperturbable cog in Texas's killing machine.Ouch! Cohen goes on to summarizes the moral squalor Gonzalez brought to his oversight role in those Texas death penalty cases:
COHEN: It's not that Gonzales never questioned a condemned prisoner's guilt; it's rather that he never wondered about the process, either. In some cases, the lack of competent legal representation was startling, or the use of dubious experts— the infamous and discredited James Grigson ("Dr. Death"), for instance —was appalling. Nonetheless, Gonzales's memos to Bush were serene. He apparently knew what his customer wanted and stocked his shelves accordingly. Executions, almost no matter what, were to proceed.We liberals simply luvv stories like this—and Berlows Atlantic piece was very important. But Gonzalez wasnt the only person who refused to consider the Texas death cases. So did the Washington Posts Mark Shields, during Campaign 2000, when his cohort was working hard to dispatch Al Gore and send George Bush to the White House. And we liberals, living the lives of children, still refuse to discuss this ongoing problem! We luvv to roll our eyes at Gonzales—and refuse to understand the process which sent this man, and his patron, to Washington. When we get the head of Bush—or Gonzalez—were happy. For us kids, thats enough.
LEHRER (6/23/00): Okay. Now on to other matters. Governor Bush, the [Graham] capital punishment issue—is that going to dog him from now on?In jumbled prose, Shields said that Bushs press event was probably the finest moment of his campaign. And what had made Bushs performance so impressive? He had worn a suit and tie, Shields said, and he had displayed a serious manner. Of course, Bush had also failed to say how he knew that Graham was guilty (in part, he failed to say because the press corps never asked him, then or later). But so what? Wearing a suit was enough for Shields. That and the fact that Candidate Bush had managed to smother all joking.
SHIELDS: Well, Jim, this is a perfect example. Its an important issue, don't get me wrong. But a perfect example and sort of the quiet time of a campaign, when folks who have a cause—and the cause obviously being the abolition of capital punishment, a growing cause in the country—grab an opportunity to make this into a media event, which was done in Texas, put it on the spotlight, put him on the spotlight. That was intended. But I think the cause is to get this as a full-fledged debate. I think they did.
I thought, as somebody who has mentioned on this broadcast, that George W. Bush—the doubts voters have about him is that he fills the chair, whether hes big enough, whether he really has the heft to be president. I thought this was probably the finest moment of his campaign as he explained his position. He did it as, outside of a press conference in a suit and tie, with appropriately serious words and manner. And I thought ironically that it worked for him politically without being overly analytical.
KIEL (4/2/07): Matthew Dowd, principled dissenter? Or grieving, over-protective parent driven mad by heartbreak?Kiel gave us two choices about Dowd—and then, he said that Dowds reasons [for breaking with Bush] were clear. And yes, that last statement is perfectly accurate—if we liberals plan to keep living the glorious lives of children.
Yesterday, Matthew Dowd, a former top strategist for Bush, publicly broke wtih the administration in The New York Times. His reasons were clear from the piece: Bush, he said, had become more "secluded and bubbled in. And he cited a series of President's Bush's blunders (Abu Ghraib, Katrina, the war in Iraq) to explain his loss of confidence in Bush's leadership.