We're hearing from sources close to Newt Gingrich that the reported memorandum outlining plans for a presidential run "does not exist," and that there are no plans at this time for him to run for anything. Moreover, according to the source, Newt and his wife did have a social dinner over the weekend with another couple in Virginia's horse country, but it was not in any way a "strategy session."
The Spectacle Blog
John: A friend of mine described Pennsylvania as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in between. Casey is going to have to do better than leading people to think that he will raise taxes and that he is no different from other Democrats on values issues. And, as you are well aware, the immigration issue has been HUGE this year. It animates many voters and I'm betting a lot of them are paying attention.
As for the polls, two things: I should have pointed out that a few months ago Casey was ahead of Santorum by close to twenty points, so his lead clearly is shrinking. The second one is embarrassing. The first poll I referred to was from last year. Oh boy. This D.C. heat is really getting to me.
From my NYSun column WEDNESDAY 26: addend: evidence that Iran is resupplying Syria. Via overland routes through Turkey. Iranian sureveillence equipment found in Leb At present, the Zelzal-2 missiles on their mobile launchers, under Iranian rocket crews, are deployed along the Syrian side of the Syrian-Lebanese border. When the order is given - and it may already have been - the rocket crews will push over the border crossings, park about 15 meters inside Lebanon, and launch on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Israelis will have a few minutes to shoot down the missiles, but not many, and then a warhead of a ton of high explosives will leave a hole in Israel's confidence in fighting on alone.
I hope Mark Tooley's analysis of Randall Balmer's book, provocatively subtitled "How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America: An Evangelical's Lament," adds to the critical momentum of Ross Douthat's piece in First Things about that book and other similarly themed tomes.
I'm not sure what Balmer thinks he is doing writing a book like that. He's an academic, someone who has deep knowledge of American evangelicals, and should by no means have the ability to don ideological blinders sufficient to write a hit piece. As a guy who has enjoyed some of Balmer's previous work and one who is sympathetic to the religious right if not a card-carrying member, I was shocked to find out he'd written a book-length political pamphlet.
This is the sort of project that breaks up friendships. Hard to imagine it was worth it. Either the book contracts for this kind of work are really fat or the levels of what my friend Tom Van Dyke refers to as Bush Derangement Syndrome have risen well past the point of reason and fairness.
If you've been reading The Corner, or TKS, or The Note, or Wonkette, or The Plank, you know that the buzz in Washington today has been all about Dana Milbank's Washington Post column, in which an anonymous GOP Senate candidate laments the drag that Bush's unpopularity has on his candidacy. It's pretty obvious that the candidate is Maryland's Michael Steele (ABC is apparently reporting as much). I called Steele's campaign to get a confirmation or denial; they haven't called back.
Jeopardy uber-champ Ken Jennings--er, Mormon Superstar?--dons his Angry hat and inexplicably sinks his teeth into the hand that fed for several weeks in 2004. Apparently $3 million doesn't buy the kind of respect it used to. Millions of dollars for trivia game show? What a country!
UPDATE: Jennings' website is back up after traffic crashed it. Here's the naughty post. And here's his ornery response to Michael Starr's rip on him, which talked about feeding hands being bit way before I did here. My failure to be clever was unorginal. Harumph.
David: Since the difference between those two poll results is statistically meaningless, I see no reason to conclude that Casey's real lead is slipping. As for the ads, they're disingenuous -- especially the immigration ad, which connects Casey to McCain to burnish centrist credentials while suggesting that this puts him to the right of Santorum -- but I'm not sure they won't be effective with voters who aren't paying close attention. I doubt the Schiavo position hurts him with many people who aren't already solidly in Santorum's camp, and standing silent seems like a reasonably smart way of handling the abortion issue (a pro-choice campaign, besides being a complete flip-flop, would fire up Santorum's support, but running as an unapologetic pro-lifer would depress Democratic turnout). I'm not saying Santorum can't win, but that's not the way I'd bet.
A poll from last week shows that Bob Casey's lead over Rick Santorum was about 11 points, and one from yesterday shows it at about 9. If Casey's lead is shrinking, perhaps it is because of the ads he is running.
You can listen to this radio ad that criticizes Santorum on immigration but then states that Casey supports the McCain bill. Umm…has anyone told Casey that the McCain bill was unpopular? Then there are the TV ads, which try to paint Casey as favoring fiscal responsibility, but then call for reducing the deficit in a way that only a moron would mistake as anything other than raising taxes. Hasn't anyone on the Casey campaign heard of the "bridge to nowhere"?
Other than maybe the guys at Powerline, this story probably won't get too much attention, but it should get more.
The skinny? Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch discovered that a political competitor had hired a team to do opposition research on Hatch and his family. Apparently the Star Tribune, a notoriously Democrat-friendly publication, received the opposition research file, or at the least was told the bulk of its contents, and a couple of reporters asked Hatch questions specific to the details revealed in the files.
Hatch refused to answer the questions, and filed a complaint with a state journalism organization. In response, the Star Tribune published an article about the complaint, and made it clear that it knew about the contents of the opposition research file. So without publishing it, it smeared Hatch anyway through hints and innuendo, even though the paper has no corroboration.
We don't know Hatch, but it's this kind of backdoor leaking and smear work of the MSM that is giving it a worse name than it already had.