Thursday's must-reads


Geraldine Sealey
June 24, 2004 5:46PM (UTC)

Military spending bill passes Senate
After five weeks of Democratic attempts to rework the president's military spending plan, the $447 billion bill was approved last night by the Senate. A proposal by Sen. Ted Kennedy that would have required the administration to estimate the number of U.S. troops who will be in Iraq at the end of next year was defeated 50-48. Two Democrats who crossed party lines to vote against the proposal -- Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman.

The Washington Post says "the Senate also rejected a proposal by Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) to guarantee annual increases in veterans' health benefits. ... In several votes over the past two weeks, Democrats attempted to slow what they regard as unduly hasty deployment of initial missile defenses -- the scaled-back version of President Ronald Reagan's 'Star Wars' plan for a nuclear shield that Bush has made a centerpiece of his national security policy ...

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"Democrats also failed to derail the new nuclear weapons, make war profiteering a crime and bar private contractors from interrogating war prisoners. But they succeeded in adding to the defense bill one of their major domestic priorities: legislation to toughen hate-crime laws by including gays for the first time."

Fahrenheit in D.C.
The Washington Post also reports on the premiere of Fahrenheit 9/11 in Washington, D.C.

"The White House preemptively gave the movie two thumbs down: 'Outrageously false,' said communications director Dan Bartlett, when he was asked about some of its allegations. Sizzling! countered Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), who plans a teach-in at a Seattle theater to tap into the 'anger brewing against this administration.'"

"The director, Michael Moore, predicted that those on the fence regarding his new documentary will be off it and on his side when the last credits roll. A group called Move America Forward has begun a letter-writing campaign asking theaters not to show 'Michael Moore's horrible anti-American movie.' All this before "Fahrenheit 9/11" has even officially opened."

More Moore news out of Washington: The FEC may ban TV and radio ads for Fahrenheit after July 30 for violating the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

The Clinton effect -- nada?
Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein looks at "Bill Clinton's emphatic return to the spotlight" and concludes that while Clinton's re-emergence "has created short-term opportunities for both parties, [it] is unlikely to affect the long-term dynamics of the presidential race, Republican and Democratic strategists agree."

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" ... The consensus in both parties is that Clinton's resurfacing, much like the death this month of former President Reagan, won't affect many voters' decisions as the spotlight inexorably returns to the two men vying for president. 'Come October the focus is going to be squarely on John Kerry and George W. Bush, and the Clinton book tour and the Reagan death are going to be a distant memory,' said Democratic media consultant David Axelrod."

"Unlike Reagan, though, Clinton promises to be a visible presence in this race until the end. Indeed, his confidantes expect that he will play a much more prominent role in 2004 than he did in 2000, when then-Vice President Al Gore mostly kept him at arm's length, partly because he feared that the Lewinsky scandal had tainted Clinton with swing voters."

Nader: Choose "well-honed" Edwards
The Los Angeles Times reports that Ralph Nader wrote a letter to John Kerry with (unsolicited, of course) advice that he choose John Edwards as his running mate.

"In an open letter to Kerry, Nader said Edwards had 'already gone through a primary campaign and has his rhythm and oratory all well honed.' Although Nader's praise paralleled comments from many Democrats impressed by the North Carolina lawmaker's performance during the Democratic primaries, it is unlikely his advice will have much effect."

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" ... Still, the letter marked another unusual episode in the curious relationship between Nader and Kerry -- who both want President Bush out of the White House, but who disagree on how to accomplish that."

The Nader letter is here.

Arnold campaigns on his terms
The New York Times reports that Arnold Schwarzenegger, "who has dazzled California with a string of legislative victories in his first months in office, has shown that he may well be a political master after all. And now he is letting President Bush know just how much he is -- and is not -- ready to devote his full star power to the national re-election effort."

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"Mr. Schwarzenegger, in an interview in the Bedouin-style smoking tent he has set up in the courtyard of the State Capitol here -- smoking is banned in state buildings -- made it clear that he expected a prominent role at the Republican National Convention in New York in late August."

"'Whether I'm speaking, I'll leave that up to them,' said Mr. Schwarzenegger, a global celebrity who has emerged as perhaps the most intriguing new Republican face of the political season. 'If they're smart, they'll have me obviously in prime time.'"

"But Mr. Schwarzenegger, who has been defining himself as a moderate, also made it clear that when prime time is over, he intends to keep some distance from Mr. Bush, who is not particularly popular in Democratic-leaning California."

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Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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