Friday’s must-reads

Topics: War Room,

No clue in Iowa
Heading into the weekend before the Iowa caucuses, nobody really knows whos ahead and and whos tanking. But it seems pretty clear that Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt are cannibalizing each other, and John Kerry (who’s 5 points ahead of Dean and Gephardt in the Zogby poll today) and John Edwards are benefiting. But since new voters can register for the first time on caucus night, polling doesnt necessarily give us the whole picture. Stay tuned!

Deans opponents: Why so blue?
The Washington Post ponders the fundamental question facing Democrats this year: How do they beat Bush, anyway? It seems there are two starkly different views of how Democrats can achieve electability this year. Theres the Howard Dean approach (focus on energizing new voters), and then theres everybody else (forget the liberal renaissance, go for the swing states). As a Clark aide warns, We dont need the blue states any bluer.

Bush does drive-by of MLK grave, gets booed
President Bush spent yesterday wooing black voters, but many werent swooning. As he laid a wreath at the gravesite of Martin Luther King, Jr., Bush faced hundreds of protesters carrying signs reading: ”Impeach The Liar,” ”Bush No More in 2004 and Money For Jobs And Housing, Not War.” Bush also raised $2.3 million for his campaign. Says the president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials: ”It’s hypocrisy for George Bush to come down here, raise money and do a drive-by at the grave site. It’s not about Dr. King’s legacy, it’s about getting reelected.”

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Investigating Halliburton
Rep. Henry Waxman sent a letter to Condi Rice detailing what he said were unusual circumstances surrounding Halliburtons awarding of a contract to transport oil to Iraq. For starters, the Kuwaiti company lacks experience in fuel transport, and charged more per gallon of delivered gas than the going rate. The Defense Contract Audit Agency has already asked the Pentagon’s inspector general to formally investigate Dick Cheneys former company for how it handled the fuel transport contracts.

The Drudging and Dobbing of Wes Clark
Matt Drudges fudging of Wesley Clarks statement before the House Armed Services Committee in September 2002 gets worse the more you look at it. Thats exactly what the folks at the Columbia Journalism Review did last night as part of their new Campaign Desk, a truth-squad service for presidential campaign coverage.

Heres what CJR writes about Drudges creative excerpting: Clark’s statement that “Saddam Hussein is a threat” came from his opening remarks to the committee. An ellipse then carries the reader more than 11,500 words later into the transcript to a second quotation. Finally, Drudge uses the next ellipse to jump way back to the beginning of Clark’s testimony. The effect is to make Clark’s testimony sound more frantic than it really is and to incorrectly suggest that Clark had endorsed the war.

Drudges hatchet job made it onto CNN, where he was cited (by name!) by Lou Dobbs.

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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