Good Things Come in Twos

Maybe the conventional wisdom that President Bush’s speech about Iraq Monday night put the pressure on Sen. John Kerry to differentiate himself on the issue isn’t so conventional after all. Noam Scheiber — writing on his New Republic blog whose name can’t easily be pronounced out loud but looks like this: “&c.” — echoes Oxblog’s David Adesnik from yesterday. Scheiber writes, “[T]he fact that Bush has moved closer to Kerry on some Iraq-related questions is neither here nor there. Iraq is Bush’s baby. Everyone knows it’s Bush’s baby. And if it keeps going badly, he’s finished, regardless of how close he happens to be to Kerry’s positions on the matter.” But has Scheiber been to any crazy wedding parties lately? Eh?

And speaking of echoing, Kevin Drum and Nick Confessore both think that Tom Clancy’s disillusionment (subscription required) with the president could be a significant development come October. Clancy, who dedicated one of his novels to Ronald Reagan and is said to speak for a large constituency of “national security conservatives,” recently teamed up with Gen. Anthony Zinni on a book that sharply criticizes the president’s handling of the Iraq war. Writes Confessore on the American Prospect’s Web site: “[F]or Clancy to be that unhappy with Bush is practically a zeitgeist shift. This is the best news John Kerry has heard in weeks!”

Mickey Kaus takes a break from his Anyone-But-Kerry campaign, and instead turns his fire on his second favorite target, Adam Nagourney. In a post which Kaus ledes, “For your collection of Credulous Adam Nagourney Sentences Ron Brownstein Would Never Write,” he takes the Timesman to task for giving credence in his front-pager today to the notion, floated by aides to John Kerry, that the Democrat might select a “safe if unexciting” running-mate, like John Edwards or Dick Gephardt, rather than taking a chance on John McCain. Writes Kaus: “Does Nagourney really think that if McCain would agree to be Kerry’s running mate, Kerry wouldn’t pick him?” Kaus thinks the Kerry campaign is spinning willing reporters to make it look like it doesn’t want McCain anyway. Which would be a smarter move than anything Kaus has given the Kerry campaign credit for so far.

And via the Daily Kos, a blogger named Ragout points us to a fascinating study which suggests that local campaign events are often more effective than saturation advertising at winning support for a candidate. In 2000, Al Gore is said to have engineered a 14 point shift in statewide polls with a single visit to Lacrosse, Wis. But Bush may have learned the same lesson: “One big believer in this kind of ‘under the radar’ campaign …” writes Ragout, “is Karl Rove.”

And finally, it’s Cox on Cox: The National Debate’s Robert Cox — who recently brought the New York Times legal department to its knees — has made his site the place to go for all your Washingtonienne-Wonkette!-sex-for-hire-saga shopping needs. Looks like poor Robert just can’t get enough of the Cutler-Cox (Ana Marie, that is) double act. He’s even done an ironic Onion-style (in fact, Onion ripped-off) item headed “Missouri Housewife ‘Unaware’ of Washingtonienne Scandal.” As for Cox on Cox on Cox, Campaign Desk’s own Liz Cox Barrett doesn’t understand the fuss. Or so we’re told by an impeccable source.

Zachary Roth

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Zachary Roth is a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly. He also has written for The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets.