Friday's must-reads


Geraldine Sealey
July 2, 2004 5:55PM (UTC)

Kerry's VP considerations include "chemistry"
John Kerry "lights up" when Dick Gephardt walks into the room, and finds a kindred spirit in tall and awkward Tom Vilsack. John Edwards may be magnetic and engaging, but his relationship with Kerry has been fiery. Does any of this matter as Kerry comes close to deciding on a running mate? The New York Times says personal chemistry is one of the factors Kerry is taking into consideration:

"Indeed, while some Democrats believe that Mr. Kerry will in the end select Mr. Edwards, some Kerry associates say one reason he appeared to resist Mr. Edwards is a personal unease with him.

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"In his search, associates say, Mr. Kerry has focused as much on personal considerations as on raw political imperatives that other candidates have considered critical: delivering an important state, mollifying a constituency, broadening an ideological appeal or shaking up the dynamics of a long-shot challenge.

"'The most important thing is that he picks somebody that he believes with all his heart would be a great president if he dropped dead, got shot, was in a plane crash,' former President Bill Clinton said on CNN. 'And the second most important thing is that he pick somebody that he likes and has confidence in, that he'll give a lot of responsibility to and form a real partnership with. If those two conditions are met, everything else is secondary.'

That view was seconded by one Democrat with more than a passing interest in Mr. Kerry's selection. 'This is not always about reinforcing, it's about marriage,' Mr. Vilsack said in an interview. 'You don't marry somebody that's exactly like you. Hopefully, you end up with somebody that fulfills you, that completes the jigsaw puzzle of your life.'"

Eligible voters on "felons list"
Four years after the Florida vote was decided by 537 ballots, a Miami Herald investigation has found more than 2,100 Florida voters -- many of them black Democrats -- on the state's list of felons potentially ineligible to vote. The Herald had a copy of the list for about a week, and issued their report a day after a state judge said news organizations, including CNN, were allowed to see the felons list.

"A Florida Division of Elections database lists more than 47,000 people the department said may be ineligible to vote because of felony records. The state is directing local elections offices to check the list and scrub felons from voter rolls."

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"But a Herald review shows that at least 2,119 of those names -- including 547 in South Florida -- shouldn't be on the list because their rights to vote were formally restored through the state's clemency process."

"That's a potentially jarring flaw, critics say, in a state that turned the 2000 presidential election to Gov. Jeb Bush's brother George on the narrowest of margins -- 537 votes."

"Florida -- one of just six states that don't allow felons to vote -- has come under intense criticism over its botched attempts to purge felons since the bitterly contested 2000 presidential election, when myriad problems prompted many elections officials to ignore the purge altogether. The new list is causing its own problems, raising more questions about the fairness and accuracy of the state's efforts to purge the voter rolls of ineligible voters."

Krugman on Fahrenheit
Paul Krugman devotes his column today to Fahrenheit 9/11, and although much has been written about Michael Moore's movie by now, this is a must-read analysis of the film's value.

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"Why hold a self-proclaimed polemicist to a higher standard than you hold the president of the United States? And for all its flaws, "Fahrenheit 9/11" performs an essential service. It would be a better movie if it didn't promote a few unproven conspiracy theories, but those theories aren't the reason why millions of people who aren't die-hard Bush-haters are flocking to see it. These people see the film to learn true stories they should have heard elsewhere, but didn't. Mr. Moore may not be considered respectable, but his film is a hit because the respectable media haven't been doing their job."

"For example, audiences are shocked by the now-famous seven minutes, when George Bush knew the nation was under attack but continued reading "My Pet Goat" with a group of children. Nobody had told them that the tales of Mr. Bush's decisiveness and bravery on that day were pure fiction."

"Or consider the Bush family's ties to the Saudis. The film suggests that Mr. Bush and his good friend Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the ambassador known to the family as Bandar Bush, have tried to cover up the extent of Saudi involvement in terrorism. This may or may not be true. But what shocks people, I think, is the fact that nobody told them about this side of Mr. Bush's life."

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" ... Mr. Moore's greatest strength is a real empathy with working-class Americans that most journalists lack. Having stripped away Mr. Bush's common-man mask, he uses his film to make the case, in a way statistics never could, that Mr. Bush's policies favor a narrow elite at the expense of less fortunate Americans -- sometimes, indeed, at the cost of their lives."

Deja vu all over again
Administration officials are taking advantage of the TV images of Saddam Hussein's arraignment to fan across the United States and claim their actions in Iraq have made the U.S. safer -- plus restate old arguments for war, the Washington Post reports.

Dick Cheney continues to lecture about the "long-established ties" between Iraq and al-Qaida, and Donald Rumsfeld is telling people chemical weapons have been found recently in Iraq.

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"Rumsfeld said the Polish defense minister told him this week 'that his troops in Iraq had recently come across -- I've forgotten the number, but something like 16 or 17 -- warheads that contained sarin and mustard gas.' Rumsfeld added: 'I have not seen them and I have not tested them, but they believe that they are correct that these, in fact, were undeclared chemical weapons.'"

" ... Cheney, at the New Orleans D-Day Museum, delivered the most extensive defense of the administration's Iraq policy. 'This week, only 15 months after the liberation of Iraq, we reached an important milestone, as the world witnessed the arrival of a free and sovereign Iraqi government,' he said."

"Countering the staff of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, which found no 'collaborative relationship' between Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda, Cheney renewed his accusation that they had 'long-established ties.' He listed several examples and stated: 'In the early 1990s, Saddam had sent a brigadier general in the Iraqi intelligence service to Sudan to train al Qaeda in bombmaking and document forgery.' Senior intelligence officials said yesterday that they had no knowledge of this."

Kerry computers crash from donations
"Senator John Kerry collected more than $34 million in June, including $3 million raised online on Wednesday, setting a record for single-day Internet fund-raising and causing the campaign's computers to crash," The New York Times reports.

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"'There wasn't even any significant political event,' Michael Meehan, a Kerry spokesman, said of the record online donations. 'A lot of people predicted a slowdown, but in fact we've grown it. It's like the Wild West.' Mr. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, who has raised more than any challenger in presidential campaign history, brought his total for the election to about $180 million, with a steady stream of mail, Internet and phone contributions as well as fund-raising events in Los Angeles, Aspen and elsewhere."

"Mr. Kerry has raised more than $44 million through mail and phone solicitations and more than $56 million over the Internet this year. President Bush, who holds the overall presidential fund-raising record, raised about $213 million through May and had about $64 million in the bank at the end of June, according to his campaign. It did not release other totals for June."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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