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Sunday, October 31, 2004

China Post > Taiwanese-Americans protest Powell sovereignty remark

2004/10/30
By Chris Cockel The China Post, Washington D.C.
Fourteen Taiwanese-American organizations on Thursday wrote a joint letter to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to protest remarks he made in Beijing on Oct. 25 about Taiwan's sovereignty and the nature that a cross-strait settlement might take. The organizations, all pro-Taiwan independence groups, also placed a full page advertisement in the conservative Washington Times newspaper on Friday, in which they urged Secretary Powell to correct his "erroneous" comments.
"Mr. Secretary, you are wrong!" reads the advertisement's headline.

In their letter, the Taiwanese Americans voiced their dismay over a remark Powell made in an interview with Hong Kong's Phoenix TV in which the secretary said that Taiwan is "not independent," nor does it "enjoy sovereignty as a nation."

"Clearly, sovereignty resides in the people of Taiwan. Taiwan's sovereignty and de facto independence is an incontestable reality," states the letter.

Please see REMARK on page



The groups' Washington Times advertisement points out that under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), Taiwan, officially called the Republic of China (ROC), is treated like "any other sovereign state."

They also note that under the so-called "six assurances," laid out by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, the U.S. pledged not to take a "position on the question of Taiwan's sovereignty."

Also on Oct. 25 in a separate interview with CNN International, Powell made a remark suggesting that "reunification" is a desirable solution to the cross-strait impasse and one "that all parties are seeking."

As Taiwan has never been ruled by the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) on the mainland, the island could not "reunify" with the PRC, as Powell apparently suggested, state the Taiwanese-Americans in their advertisement.

"The overwhelming majority of Taiwan's people do not seek any form of union with the PRC," the groups stress.

"We ask that the United States affirm its support for democracy, self determination and respect for sovereignty for the people of Taiwan," the advertisement concludes.

Wu Ming-chi, president of the lead sponsor of the letter and the advertisement, the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), noted on Thursday in a press release, "Powell's statements contradict the decades-long U.S. policy towards Taiwan.

"The U.S. silently recognizes Taiwan as an independent country and firmly upholds its commitment to Taiwan's security."

Wu added, that the U.S. helped Taiwan resist "the 'Red China' threat" during the Cold War, and provides the island with defensive military hardware, despite Beijing's protests.

With the majority of people on Taiwan, according to Wu, rejecting "unification" with mainland China as well as the so-called "one country, two systems" model as applied to Hong Kong, "it would be against the will of Taiwan's people if Powell prejudges 'reunification' as the eventual outcome for Taiwan," he said.

"Powell's unfortunate statements exactly one week prior to the (U.S.) presidential elections have caused uproar among Taiwanese Americans," said Wu, hinting that the secretary's remarks may hurt President George W. Bush at the ballot box.


Fourteen Taiwanese-American organizations on Thursday wrote a joint letter to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to protest remarks he made in Beijing on Oct. 25 about Taiwan's sovereignty and the nature that a cross-strait settlement might take. The organizations, all pro-Taiwan independence groups, also placed a full page advertisement in the conservative Washington Times newspaper on Friday, in which they urged Secretary Powell to correct his 'erroneous' comments.
'Mr. Secretary, you are wrong!' reads the advertisement's headline.
In their letter, the Taiwanese Americans voiced their dismay over a remark Powell made in an interview with Hong Kong's Phoenix TV in which the secretary said that Taiwan is 'not independent,' nor does it 'enjoy sovereignty as a nation.'
'Clearly, sovereignty resides in the people of Taiwan. Taiwan's sovereignty and de facto independence is an incontestable reality,' states the letter.
Please see REMARK on page
The groups' Washington Times advertisement points out that under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), Taiwan, officially called the Republic of China (ROC), is treated like 'any other sovereign state.'
They also note that under the so-called 'six assurances,' laid out by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, the U.S. pledged not to take a 'position on the question of Taiwan's sovereignty.'
Also on Oct. 25 in a separate interview with CNN International, Powell made a remark suggesting that 'reunification' is a desirable solution to the cross-strait impasse and one 'that all parties are seeking.'
As Taiwan has never been ruled by the government of the People"

Asia Times Online - News from greater China; Hong Kong and Taiwan > Taiwan reels from Powell's anti-sovereignty 'goof'

By Laurence Eyton

TAIPEI - Taiwan is still recovering from something approaching a collective heart attack over remarks made by US Secretary of State Colin Powell in Beijing this past week. Powell was in the Chinese capital principally to urge China to put pressure on Pyongyang over its nuclear-weapons program. While there he gave interviews to two cable TV networks, CNN International and China's Phoenix TV, at Beijing's China World Hotel.

Most of the interviews consisted of the familiar retread of the US "one China" policy. Powell's interpretation of this policy, as set out in the Three Communiques signed with China in the 1970s and early 1980s (defining their relationship), tends to be the most conservative of anybody's in the current US administration - he sticks most strictly to the letter of the documents.

In general, therefore, Powell's saying anything about Taiwan usually annoys a large swath of opinion on the island, if only because the Communiques, in as much as they address Taiwan at all, uphold a view of Taiwan-China relations that might have been acceptable to dictators in Taipei and Beijing at the time, but about which the Taiwanese themselves were never consulted, and which now is seen as hugely anachronistic.

This time around, however, was something special. In interviews on Tuesday, Powell spoke in unusually harsh terms on the topic of Taiwan's sovereignty. "Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation, and that remains our policy, our firm policy," he said.

In Taipei this was regarded as the harshest, most decisive expression of this principle made for some time, at least during the administration of US President George W Bush. And it was a remark that managed to annoy just about everyone, irrespective of where he or she stood on the political spectrum.

After all, the fundamental divide in Taiwan, between unificationists and Taiwanese-independence seekers, is an argument about eventual goals; it is not an argument about current status:
The unificationists think Taiwan is a truncated remnant of the Republic of China, founded in 1912, whose government was forced to move to Taiwan in 1949. Just because the land area it controls might be smaller and the government has moved does not mean that the pre-1949 sovereign state ever went out of business, and the world should recognize this. The communists, by founding a new country in 1949, have in effect created two current Chinas, and the world needs to accommodate itself to this reality.
The independence lobby maintains that Taiwan was never returned to China by treaty after the end of the Japanese colonial era, that it was illegally occupied by the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, or KMT) regime until the early 1990s, when democratic elections were held, in effect constituting an act of self-determination that established a new and sovereign country.

The current Democratic Progressive Party government tended to take a middle course between these two positions, but if there is one thing that all sides are agreed upon it is that the Taipei regime is independent and sovereign. So Powell's denial of this managed to raise hackles everywhere, much to the detriment of some important US plans (which we will address below).

But it was Powell's subsequent remarks that left Taiwan in a state of shock. "We want to see both sides not take unilateral action that would prejudice an eventual outcome, a reunification that all parties are seeking," Powell told CNN.

The problem here is twofold. While it might have been true at the time the Three Communiques were negotiated that both governments sought unification, the people of Taiwan were never asked if unification was something they wanted. And in fact they overwhelmingly don't want it. The most recent poll by Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council - the government ministry that deals with China policy - indicates that fewer than 2% of Taiwanese want unification now and only about 11% want it at all. (This is compared with 6% who want a formal declaration of independence immediately and 18% who want it some time in the future.) Forty percent of all Taiwanese prefer the status quo now/decision later option, while18% want the status quo to last forever.

So, apropos of Powell, one simple fact is that not all parties are seeking unification. Forty-three percent of Taiwanese (pro-independence plus pro-status quo forever) don't want it at any price and another 40% don't even want to consider it until China has changed into a democracy - the essence of the status quo now/decision later position.

But there is another problem on top of this, which is that it is a long-held US position that it does not take sides on any particular outcome in negotiations between Taiwan and China, nor does it act as a mediator; it only insists that the issues between them be solved peacefully. And yet Powell's remarks suggest that the United States does in fact favor one particular outcome - reunification - and, of course, that just happens to be the outcome least favored by most Taiwanese.

Opinion in Taiwan on Tuesday after Powell's remarks was running red-hot. Foreign Minister Mark Chen told legislators, "The US has told us not to give them surprises, but this time it is the US giving us a surprise. This is unfair. Taiwan and the US share the same interests and we should build mutual trust. But Powell's talk has breached mutual trust."

Not only that, but it has damaged US interests. Washington, concerned that Taiwan is falling behind as China's military budget soars, has been trying to persuade Taiwan to purchase an US$18 billion arms package for almost three years. A bill for the budget is currently in the legislature, where it has been held up by the opposition, which claims that the weapons are outrageously expensive and not what Taiwan needs. The government has been trying to get the bill through the legislature before it takes a month off to campaign for elections on December 11. Tuesday was the last chance to send the bill to committee. No sooner had Taipei received the news of Powell's interview than the opposition simply refused to deal with the bill, which means it is suspended at least until January and, unless the pro-government parties win the majority in the legislature they now lack, it may simply be dead.

The opposition is widely portrayed by the pro-government side as not wanting the weapons because it simply does China's bidding, and naturally China is against the package. But Powell's remarks might have turned the opinion of a dangerously large number of pro-government supporters against the bill.

A woman in a coffee shop told this reporter on Tuesday evening: "I used to see the arms deal as something like paying protection, but their weapons probably don't work - at least Patriot [anti-missile defense system] - and [I thought] they will help us out if we need it. But after this, they can forget their weapons. Why should we spend the money when the future has been decided anyway?"

A newspaper editorialist remarked: "Look, the last thing the US needs if it wants to be a power in this region is Taiwan controlled by China. You would think Powell, as an ex-general, would know that. So maybe we should offer China a confederation deal and use of the Tsoying naval base [Taiwan's biggest base, situated in Kaohsiung]. The Americans and the Japanese would wet themselves. They obviously need a sharp reminder where their strategic interest lies."

Since Tuesday, in fact almost since the CNN broadcast, the US has been trying to put things right. The State Department said the same day that Powell had not meant "reunification" - that was a slip of the tongue. What he had meant was "resolution." Wednesday saw the Taiwan Foreign Ministry summoning US representative to Taipei Douglas Paal, a man before whom it usually quails, to "clarify the US position". Paal said the US position hadn't changed but he could not say why Powell had used the word "reunification". A clearly still very angry Foreign Minister Mark Chen later said that Powell's remarks had damaged Taiwan's democracy and hurt its status, and he demanded a US restatement of the "Six Assurances".

The Six Assurances, enunciated on July 14, 1982, made clear that the United States:
Had not agreed to set a date for ending arms sales to the Republic of China on Taiwan.
Had not agreed to hold prior consultations with the Chinese government on arms sales to the Republic of China on Taiwan.
Would not play any mediation role between Taiwan and China.
Had not agreed to revise the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.
Had not altered its position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan.
Would not exert pressure on the Republic of China on Taiwan to enter negotiations with the People's Republic of China.

Currently the situation is that both the United States and Taiwan know that Powell goofed badly. The US wants to pass it off as a simple slip of the tongue. But Taiwan is well aware that China is likely to ignore a denial and make as much hay from Powell's remark as it can. Indeed, on Wednesday Zhang Mingqing, spokesman for the Chinese government's Taiwan Affairs Office, told a press conference, "Some people have said Powell made a slip of the tongue, but I don't believe it."

Taiwan well knows that in this game, something once said can be used and exploited, even if it is was said by accident. It can only be negated by categorical denial as part of a restatement of policy. This is why it wants a restatement of the Six Assurances, so the lasting impression is not that the US favors reunification but that the US will not play a role and does not favor any particular outcome. The US is reluctant to make Powell look foolish. It will be interesting to see who prevails.

Laurence Eyton is the deputy editor in chief of the Taipei Times newspaper and a columnist for the Chinese-language Taiwan Daily. He has lived and worked in Taiwan for 18 years.

Asia Times Online - News from greater China; Hong Kong and Taiwan > Taiwan reels from Powell's anti-sovereignty 'goof'

By Laurence Eyton

TAIPEI - Taiwan is still recovering from something approaching a collective heart attack over remarks made by US Secretary of State Colin Powell in Beijing this past week. Powell was in the Chinese capital principally to urge China to put pressure on Pyongyang over its nuclear-weapons program. While there he gave interviews to two cable TV networks, CNN International and China's Phoenix TV, at Beijing's China World Hotel.

Most of the interviews consisted of the familiar retread of the US "one China" policy. Powell's interpretation of this policy, as set out in the Three Communiques signed with China in the 1970s and early 1980s (defining their relationship), tends to be the most conservative of anybody's in the current US administration - he sticks most strictly to the letter of the documents.

In general, therefore, Powell's saying anything about Taiwan usually annoys a large swath of opinion on the island, if only because the Communiques, in as much as they address Taiwan at all, uphold a view of Taiwan-China relations that might have been acceptable to dictators in Taipei and Beijing at the time, but about which the Taiwanese themselves were never consulted, and which now is seen as hugely anachronistic.

This time around, however, was something special. In interviews on Tuesday, Powell spoke in unusually harsh terms on the topic of Taiwan's sovereignty. "Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation, and that remains our policy, our firm policy," he said.

In Taipei this was regarded as the harshest, most decisive expression of this principle made for some time, at least during the administration of US President George W Bush. And it was a remark that managed to annoy just about everyone, irrespective of where he or she stood on the political spectrum.

After all, the fundamental divide in Taiwan, between unificationists and Taiwanese-independence seekers, is an argument about eventual goals; it is not an argument about current status:
The unificationists think Taiwan is a truncated remnant of the Republic of China, founded in 1912, whose government was forced to move to Taiwan in 1949. Just because the land area it controls might be smaller and the government has moved does not mean that the pre-1949 sovereign state ever went out of business, and the world should recognize this. The communists, by founding a new country in 1949, have in effect created two current Chinas, and the world needs to accommodate itself to this reality.
The independence lobby maintains that Taiwan was never returned to China by treaty after the end of the Japanese colonial era, that it was illegally occupied by the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, or KMT) regime until the early 1990s, when democratic elections were held, in effect constituting an act of self-determination that established a new and sovereign country.

The current Democratic Progressive Party government tended to take a middle course between these two positions, but if there is one thing that all sides are agreed upon it is that the Taipei regime is independent and sovereign. So Powell's denial of this managed to raise hackles everywhere, much to the detriment of some important US plans (which we will address below).

But it was Powell's subsequent remarks that left Taiwan in a state of shock. "We want to see both sides not take unilateral action that would prejudice an eventual outcome, a reunification that all parties are seeking," Powell told CNN.

The problem here is twofold. While it might have been true at the time the Three Communiques were negotiated that both governments sought unification, the people of Taiwan were never asked if unification was something they wanted. And in fact they overwhelmingly don't want it. The most recent poll by Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council - the government ministry that deals with China policy - indicates that fewer than 2% of Taiwanese want unification now and only about 11% want it at all. (This is compared with 6% who want a formal declaration of independence immediately and 18% who want it some time in the future.) Forty percent of all Taiwanese prefer the status quo now/decision later option, while18% want the status quo to last forever.

So, apropos of Powell, one simple fact is that not all parties are seeking unification. Forty-three percent of Taiwanese (pro-independence plus pro-status quo forever) don't want it at any price and another 40% don't even want to consider it until China has changed into a democracy - the essence of the status quo now/decision later position.

But there is another problem on top of this, which is that it is a long-held US position that it does not take sides on any particular outcome in negotiations between Taiwan and China, nor does it act as a mediator; it only insists that the issues between them be solved peacefully. And yet Powell's remarks suggest that the United States does in fact favor one particular outcome - reunification - and, of course, that just happens to be the outcome least favored by most Taiwanese.

Opinion in Taiwan on Tuesday after Powell's remarks was running red-hot. Foreign Minister Mark Chen told legislators, "The US has told us not to give them surprises, but this time it is the US giving us a surprise. This is unfair. Taiwan and the US share the same interests and we should build mutual trust. But Powell's talk has breached mutual trust."

Not only that, but it has damaged US interests. Washington, concerned that Taiwan is falling behind as China's military budget soars, has been trying to persuade Taiwan to purchase an US$18 billion arms package for almost three years. A bill for the budget is currently in the legislature, where it has been held up by the opposition, which claims that the weapons are outrageously expensive and not what Taiwan needs. The government has been trying to get the bill through the legislature before it takes a month off to campaign for elections on December 11. Tuesday was the last chance to send the bill to committee. No sooner had Taipei received the news of Powell's interview than the opposition simply refused to deal with the bill, which means it is suspended at least until January and, unless the pro-government parties win the majority in the legislature they now lack, it may simply be dead.

The opposition is widely portrayed by the pro-government side as not wanting the weapons because it simply does China's bidding, and naturally China is against the package. But Powell's remarks might have turned the opinion of a dangerously large number of pro-government supporters against the bill.

A woman in a coffee shop told this reporter on Tuesday evening: "I used to see the arms deal as something like paying protection, but their weapons probably don't work - at least Patriot [anti-missile defense system] - and [I thought] they will help us out if we need it. But after this, they can forget their weapons. Why should we spend the money when the future has been decided anyway?"

A newspaper editorialist remarked: "Look, the last thing the US needs if it wants to be a power in this region is Taiwan controlled by China. You would think Powell, as an ex-general, would know that. So maybe we should offer China a confederation deal and use of the Tsoying naval base [Taiwan's biggest base, situated in Kaohsiung]. The Americans and the Japanese would wet themselves. They obviously need a sharp reminder where their strategic interest lies."

Since Tuesday, in fact almost since the CNN broadcast, the US has been trying to put things right. The State Department said the same day that Powell had not meant "reunification" - that was a slip of the tongue. What he had meant was "resolution." Wednesday saw the Taiwan Foreign Ministry summoning US representative to Taipei Douglas Paal, a man before whom it usually quails, to "clarify the US position". Paal said the US position hadn't changed but he could not say why Powell had used the word "reunification". A clearly still very angry Foreign Minister Mark Chen later said that Powell's remarks had damaged Taiwan's democracy and hurt its status, and he demanded a US restatement of the "Six Assurances".

The Six Assurances, enunciated on July 14, 1982, made clear that the United States:
Had not agreed to set a date for ending arms sales to the Republic of China on Taiwan.
Had not agreed to hold prior consultations with the Chinese government on arms sales to the Republic of China on Taiwan.
Would not play any mediation role between Taiwan and China.
Had not agreed to revise the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.
Had not altered its position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan.
Would not exert pressure on the Republic of China on Taiwan to enter negotiations with the People's Republic of China.

Currently the situation is that both the United States and Taiwan know that Powell goofed badly. The US wants to pass it off as a simple slip of the tongue. But Taiwan is well aware that China is likely to ignore a denial and make as much hay from Powell's remark as it can. Indeed, on Wednesday Zhang Mingqing, spokesman for the Chinese government's Taiwan Affairs Office, told a press conference, "Some people have said Powell made a slip of the tongue, but I don't believe it."

Taiwan well knows that in this game, something once said can be used and exploited, even if it is was said by accident. It can only be negated by categorical denial as part of a restatement of policy. This is why it wants a restatement of the Six Assurances, so the lasting impression is not that the US favors reunification but that the US will not play a role and does not favor any particular outcome. The US is reluctant to make Powell look foolish. It will be interesting to see who prevails.

Laurence Eyton is the deputy editor in chief of the Taipei Times newspaper and a columnist for the Chinese-language Taiwan Daily. He has lived and worked in Taiwan for 18 years.

Boondocks 10-31-4 By Aaron McGruder Posted by Hello

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

New York Times > JOHN KERRY'S JOURNEY | THE SENATE YEARS


October 27, 20042 Kerry Votes on War and Peace Underline a Political EvolutionBy TODD S. PURDUM
ASHINGTON, Oct. 26 - On Jan. 11, 1991, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts took the Senate floor to make a clear, impassioned speech against passage of a resolution authorizing the first President Bush to use force to eject Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
"Are we supposed to go to war simply because one man - the president - makes a series of unilateral decisions that put us in a box, a box that makes war, to a greater degree, inevitable?" Mr. Kerry asked.
On Oct. 9, 2002, Mr. Kerry rose in the Senate chamber to make a very different speech, a tortured, 45-minute argument reluctantly supporting George W. Bush's request for authority to disarm Mr. Hussein, almost certainly by force.
"By standing with the president, Congress would demonstrate our nation is united in its determination to take away" Iraq's arsenal, Mr. Kerry said, "and we are affirming the president's right and responsibility to keep the American people safe."
Those votes on war and peace, out of the thousands Mr. Kerry has cast over nearly 20 years, have come to seem a kind of metaphor for his career in the Senate, a study in the conflicts between conviction and calculation, clarity and confusion that have marked much of his public life.
There were many differences between those two moments, 11 years apart. In 1991, the United Nations had already voted to authorize military action; the Senate vote came four days before an international deadline for war. In 2002, the Bush administration was still awaiting U.N. support: the vote was seen as important leverage. Meanwhile, the Sept. 11 attacks had "changed a lot" about American thinking, as Mr. Kerry put it before his vote.
But for Mr. Kerry personally, the most potent change may well have been that by 2002 he had all but publicly resolved to run for president. He was thinking about presidential power, and his own two-decade record as what Mr. Bush calls "a liberal senator from Massachusetts," in new and more defensive ways. The vote came two weeks before the midterm elections, and the White House was happy for the chance to put Democratic senators on the record - and on the spot.
As it turns out, Mr. Kerry has spent much of his current campaign on the defensive over both votes: against authorizing force in a war that turned out to be short and popular, and for backing it in one that has proved longer and far more divisive.
Mr. Kerry's entire Senate career has been equally complicated. While The National Journal ranked Mr. Kerry the Senate's most liberal member based on his roll-call votes in 2003, his career voting -and speaking - record is more eclectic and less predictable than that rating would imply.
Mr. Kerry has been a reliable advocate of environmental regulation, gay rights and gun control, but he also joined with Republicans to press for reduction of the federal deficit in the mid-1980's, long before that was popular with most other Democrats. He questioned the idea of raising the minimum wage when the Clinton administration advanced that as one of its few initiatives in the newly Republican-controlled Congress of 1995, and two years later he voted in favor of requiring well-off older Americans to pay a higher share of Medicare premiums.
Like many other politicians, and maybe more than most, Mr. Kerry has changed positions with changing times, prevailing political winds and his own electoral interests. But perhaps above all else, he has been a cold-eyed realist, and he describes his vote on Iraq in those terms.
"I did not think the president would be quite so arrogant, or quite so na?ve, as to ultimately put America in the position of almost unilaterally invading a Middle Eastern country," Mr. Kerry said in an interview late last year, when his campaign was floundering in the face of a challenge from former Gov. Howard Dean, the antiwar Democrat. "If there's any kind of mistake at all, it's in judging that these guys were subject to some kind of basic rule of common sense at some level. The vote itself was the correct thing, in terms of the United States should have proceeded to hold Saddam Hussein accountable.''
"And were I president of the United States," he added, "we wouldn't be at war with Iraq."
Authorization Opposed
Mr. Kerry was hardly alone among Democrats in voting against the use of force in 1991 and for it in 2002. In 1991, 45 of 54 Democratic senators voted against authorizing force, while in 2002, 29 of 50 voted to allow it. Many who, like Mr. Kerry, were in office for both had become convinced that their votes against the Persian Gulf war turned out to be wrong as well as politically damaging.
"We didn't trust the old man," Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, recounted in explaining why even some hawkish Democrats, including former Senators Sam Nunn of Georgia , voted against the first President Bush in 1991. They were worried about where such a war would stop, what would happen in Kuwait, whether the conflict might spill into Iran.
"When it was over," Mr. Biden recalled, "I said, 'Well, we should have voted for it, if we'd known he was going to do it that way.' "
By 2002, Mr. Biden said, the choice was complicated other ways. International sanctions that had been imposed against Iraq after the Persian Gulf war were eroding, and many of the chemical and biological stocks that Iraq had possessed could not be traced. Far from crumbling after his 1991 defeat, Mr. Hussein remained a thorn, and a perceived threat. The administration's demand that Congress and the United Nations force him to comply with a raft of U.N. resolutions and allow weapons inspections hardly seemed unreasonable.
"We were in a very unhappy circumstance" Mr. Biden said. "We sure didn't trust this president's judgment, and we knew he didn't know much. We weren't sure who he was going to listen to. Was he going to listen to the three-quarters of his administration that agreed with Colin Powell, or the one-quarter that had his ear?
In neither 1991 nor 2002 did Mr. Kerry make the bolder political choice, but two years ago he would have had more cover from fellow Democrats had he chosen to oppose President Bush than he would have had he opted to support Mr. Bush's father.
In 2002, 21 of Mr. Kerry's Democratic Senate colleagues voted against authorizing force, more than twice those who voted to allow it in 1991. They included Bob Graham of Florida, who was also weighing a presidential campaign. He voted against it on the grounds that Mr. Bush had not proved the case, and that an invasion of Iraq would be a diversion from the hunt for Al Qaeda - the very points Mr. Kerry makes today.
But Mr. Kerry did not make those arguments two years ago, and the contrast between how he handled the first and second Iraq wars is particularly striking.
In 1991, his arguments were passionate, personal, rooted in his Vietnam service. He began his speech by asking, "Are we ready for another generation of amputees, paraplegics, burn victims, and whatever the new desert war term will be for combat fatigue?" and ended it by reading from the antiwar novel "Johnny Got His Gun."
Published on the eve of World War II, the book, by Dalton Trumbo, tells the story of a World War I soldier, who has lost all his limbs, much of his face, his eyesight, hearing and speech. Alone in a veterans' hospital, he finally figures out how to tap his head in Morse code. His one demand: to be put on exhibit in a glass case in the world's parliaments as a barely living argument against war.
Mr. Kerry read the soldier's words: "I want to be there when they talk about honor and justice and making 'the world safe for democracy' and Fourteen Points and the self-determination of peoples. I want to be there to remind them I haven't got a tongue to stick into the cheek I haven't got either. But the statesmen have tongues. The statesmen have cheek. Put my glass case upon the speaker's desk and every time the gavel descends, let me feel its vibration through my little jewel case."
Authorization Given
In 2002, Mr. Kerry's arguments were dispassionate and impersonal, and rejected any suggestion that the legacy of Vietnam had left him and fellow veterans ambivalent about using force.
He began by saying "I wish for the sake of the country we were not here now at this moment," and adding that there were "legitimate questions" about the administration's timing. But, he said, the threat of Saddam Hussein and his weapons was too real to ignore any longer.
"In the wake of Sept. 11," he asked, "who among us can say, with any certainty, to anybody, that those weapons might not be used against our troops or against allies in the region? Who can say that this master of miscalculation will not develop a weapon of mass destruction even greater - a nuclear weapon - then invade Kuwait, push the Kurds out, attack Israel, any number of scenarios to try to further his ambition to be the pan-Arab leader?"
At one point, Mr. Kerry declared, "Let there be no doubt or confusion about where we stand on this."
Then he seemed to sow some, saying he would "support a multilateral effort to disarm" Mr. Hussein "by force, if we ever exhaust those other options as the president has promised, but I will not support a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq unless that threat is imminent and the multilateral effort has not proven possible under any circumstances."
He concluded with President John F. Kennedy's stern vow, in the Cuban missile crisis, that "the path we have chosen is full of hazards, as all paths are," and that there was "one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission."
The resolution was structured so as to be Congress's last word on the subject, and to allow Mr. Bush to take whatever action he saw fit. But four days after his vote, Mr. Kerry told a Democratic audience in Arizona: "Don't for an instant believe the president has some great free hand. He has a free hand to make a catastrophic mistake."
Some advisers warned that it was Mr. Kerry who had made a mistake, that his support for the resolution would spell trouble with the Democratic base. Indeed, for many months, as Dr. Dean's antiwar candidacy flourished, Mr. Kerry's vote did cause problems with party liberals. Later, trying to explain a subsequent vote against financing for the occupation of Iraq, he faced more problems, and charges of inconsistency.
But just as Mr. Kerry believed his service in Vietnam gave him special credentials to criticize that war when he believed it went wrong, he seems to have regarded his vote to authorize Mr. Bush to use force in Iraq as both a test of his toughness on national security matters, and a reflection of the flexibility that he himself would want from Congress were he commander in chief.
"Look, my Iraq position has been and is very simply, It was right to stand up to Saddam Hussein," Mr. Kerry said in the interview in his study in Boston last November. "Any president should have. It was wrong to do it as arrogantly, stupidly as George Bush did it. Simple. Very simple position. But when you explain to people greater details about how you did this or that. ..." His voice trailed off in an unfinished thought.
A Senator Apart
On both votes, Mr. Kerry ended up siding with the bulk of his Democratic colleagues. But he has not always been a team player, and from the moment of his arrival in the Senate in 1985, he gravitated more toward investigative and oversight activities that he could control himself than to the faceless, compromising grind of legislation.
Mr. Kerry suffered by comparison with his senior Massachusetts colleague, Edward M. Kennedy, one of the Senate's most skilled and influential legislators. He struggled to make a mark of his own.
Early in Mr. Kerry's first Senate term, though, he drew the scorn of some senior members with brash, high-profile investigations into the Iran-contra scandal and other matters. In response, he declared, "I came to do a job, not join a club."
To this day, longtime associates say, he remains driven more by his own restless, shifting interests than by the chummy log-rolling and vote-swapping common on Capitol Hill.
He is personally close to just a handful of senators, including John McCain, the Arizona Republican whom he sounded out about joining the Democratic ticket this year. He is politically close to others like Mr. Biden, with whom he discusses foreign policy and campaign strategy. But his best friends are mostly outside politics, roommates from college, colleagues from his earliest days as an antiwar protester and Congressional candidate.
Even the man who may bear more responsibility than anyone else for Mr. Kerry's current political career remains puzzled by his lack of personal connection. In 1982, Mr. Kerry had spent 10 years in the political wilderness - attending law school, working as a prosecutor - after a bruising 1972 defeat for Congress, and he was not the party establishment's favored candidate for lieutenant governor.
But Raymond Flynn, a popular Boston councilman on his way to becoming the city's mayor, saw something he liked.
"I didn't know any of the candidates, to be honest," Mr. Flynn recalled recently. "But the one thing I could say I admired was his service to our country in Vietnam.''
"I grew up in a community here in South Boston, my brother spent a significant period of his time in the Army in Vietnam," Mr. Flynn continued. "I figured, here's a rich kid from Yale who could have got out of this if he wanted to, and chose not to. That was good enough for me. I had no idea what his positions were on the issues."
Mr. Flynn backed Mr. Kerry, who won the lieutenant governor's job, and he backed him again two years later in his Senate campaign, when prominent party regulars favored someone else.
But to this day, Mr. Flynn said, "I never had a beer with him. I never went out to dinner with him. Of course, if John had called me and said, 'Let's get together and discuss this issue. '
"I just assumed, 'Look, he's the United States senator. He's got bigger fish to fry than I do as mayor of Boston.' "
In fact, the two have split over Mr. Kerry's support for abortion rights and Mr. Flynn's opposition to abortion; Mr. Flynn, who was President Bill Clinton's ambassador to the Vatican, has run advertisements criticizing Mr. Kerry's stance this fall. "I don't hold anything against him," Mr. Flynn said. "I just disagree with his position."
If Mr. Kerry's lack of camaraderie is unusual in a presidential candidate, his difficulties in translating his Senate record into a campaign platform is hardly exceptional. More often than not, sitting senators have a terrible time getting to the White House, in part because it is hard for those who are not legislative leaders to compile a record that is easily summed up on the stump. For half of Mr. Kerry's time in the Senate, Republicans have controlled the chamber.
"I think he's been effective, given the fact that he's been in the political minority for much of the time," said Darrell M. West, a Brown University professor who has followed Mr. Kerry's career. "He hasn't passed major legislation, but he wasn't usually in a position to do that. When you're in the minority, you just can't move things.''
"So I always thought part of the reason he concentrated on oversight is that that's something you can do things about," Professor West added. "But the problem is it's a lone-wolf type of activity, one person out there spearheading the investigation. That has just reinforced the image of him as a loner."
Mr. Kerry has often seemed to play down his Senate record on the campaign trail and at his nominating convention, in favor of his Navy service in Vietnam or his years as a prosecutor, and Mr. Bush has accused him of running from his record. Mr. Biden, for one, thinks that not talking much about it may have been a mistake, declaring, "If the election came down to comparing what did Bush do for the last 20 years and what did Kerry do, give me a break."
The last senator to move to the White House directly was also a junior senator from Massachusetts: John F. Kennedy. He was an indifferent senator, regarded as excessively ambitious and facing some of the same criticisms that Mr. Kerry has endured, as an exchange in Thurston Clarke's new book, "Ask Not: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed America," (Henry Holt) shows.
"As you know, one thing holding back many liberal Democrats and sensitive people of some influence," Harris Wofford, an aide to Kennedy, wrote after he announced his candidacy, "is to see some sign of passionate courage on your part, or, to state these separately, courage and passion."
Mr. Kerry's friends say he has displayed such qualities on the issues that most concerned him, including his investigation in the early 1990's with Mr. McCain and others that concluded there was no evidence that American prisoners of war were still alive in Vietnam, an inquiry that paved the way for normalization of relations a decade ago.
"He and John McCain provoked outright hatred with the P.O.W. commission," Bob Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska, said. "I heard people say to both McCain and Kerry, 'You are killing people over there.' People just didn't get over it."
Mr. Kerry is proud of that investigation, but is quick to insist that is not all he did. In another interview last year, he insisted, "I've done a hell of a lot more legislatively than meets the eye." But he also acknowledged that he might have an executive temperament, not a legislative one.
"I think there is a lot of me that is more about moving people, and setting goals," he said. "I think I'm good at it. When the going gets tough, I'm pretty clear about where you're going."
From: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/27/politics/campaign/27journey.html?ei=5094&en=309997aed8ee3f99&hp=&ex=1098936000&partner=homepage&pagewanted=print&position=

Monday, October 18, 2004

BBC NEWS | Africa | 'Things fall apart' in Nigeria

'Things fall apart' in Nigeria
World-famous Nigerian author Chinua Achebe has rejected an award from his home country, criticising the "dangerous" state of affairs.
"The situation is getting worse and worse," he told the BBC, saying that President Olusegun Obasanjo bears primary responsibility.

Achebe's most famous book, Things Fall Apart, has sold some 11 million copies around the world.

Nigeria is Africa's major oil producer but two-thirds of the people are poor.


'Lawless fiefdom'

"Nigeria is a country that does not work," he said: "Schools, universities, roads, hospitals, water, the economy, security, life."

There was a four-day national strike last week over a rise in fuel prices, while more than 10,000 people have been killed in communal clashes since Mr Obasanjo was elected in 1999.


Achebe told the BBC's Network Africa programme that he hoped that rejecting the Commander of the Federal Republic - Nigeria's second highest honour - would serve as a "wake-up call".
He also said that he hoped the recent wave of strikes and protests would continue until there is "change".

Information Minister Chukwuemeka Chikelu said Achebe had the right to reject the award.

"All I can say is that Nigeria and Nigerians are proud of his contributions," he said. In his two-page letter about rejecting the honour, published in Nigerian newspapers, he was most scathing about the situation in his home state of Anambra in the south-east.

"A small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom."

Anambra state governor Chris Ngige was last year kidnapped and forced to write a resignation letter at gun-point.


The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial Observer: Imagining America if George Bush Chose the Supreme Court

The'>http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/18/opinion/18mon3.html?ei=5090&en=0504f5241c0098ea&ex=1255838400&partner=rssuserland&pagewanted=print&position=">The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial Observer: Imagining America if George Bush Chose the Supreme Court: "Imagining America if George Bush Chose the Supreme CourtBy ADAM COHEN
Abortion might be a crime in most states. Gay people could be thrown in prison for having sex in their homes. States might be free to become mini-theocracies, endorsing Christianity and using tax money to help spread the gospel. The Constitution might no longer protect inmates from being brutalized by prison guards. Family and medical leave and environmental protections could disappear.It hardly sounds like a winning platform, and of course President Bush isn't openly espousing these positions. But he did say in his last campaign that his favorite Supreme Court justices were Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, and the nominations he has made to the lower courts bear that out. Justices Scalia and Thomas are often called 'conservative,' but that does not begin to capture their philosophies. Both vehemently reject many of the core tenets of modern constitutional law.For years, Justices Scalia and Thomas have been lobbing their judicial Molotov cocktails from the sidelines, while the court proceeded on its moderate-conservative path. But given the ages and inclinations of the current justices, it is quite possible that if Mr. Bush is re-elected, he will get three appointments, enough to forge a new majority that would turn the extreme Scalia-Thomas worldview into the law of the land.There is every reason to believe Roe v. Wade would quickly be overturned. Mr. Bush ducked a question about his views on Roe in the third debate. But he sent his base a coded message in the second debate, with an odd reference to the Dred Scott case. Dred Scott, an 1857 dec"

Sunday, October 17, 2004

New York Times > John Kerry for President

October 17, 2004
Senator John Kerry goes toward the election with a base that is built more on opposition to George W. Bush than loyalty to his own candidacy. But over the last year we have come to know Mr. Kerry as more than just an alternative to the status quo. We like what we've seen. He has qualities that could be the basis for a great chief executive, not just a modest improvement on the incumbent.
We have been impressed with Mr. Kerry's wide knowledge and clear thinking - something that became more apparent once he was reined in by that two-minute debate light. He is blessedly willing to re-evaluate decisions when conditions change. And while Mr. Kerry's service in Vietnam was first over-promoted and then over-pilloried, his entire life has been devoted to public service, from the war to a series of elected offices. He strikes us, above all, as a man with a strong moral core.?
There is no denying that this race is mainly about Mr. Bush's disastrous tenure. Nearly four years ago, after the Supreme Court awarded him the presidency, Mr. Bush came into office amid popular expectation that he would acknowledge his lack of a mandate by sticking close to the center. Instead, he turned the government over to the radical right.
Mr. Bush installed John Ashcroft, a favorite of the far right with a history of insensitivity to civil liberties, as attorney general. He sent the Senate one ideological, activist judicial nominee after another. He moved quickly to implement a far-reaching anti-choice agenda including censorship of government Web sites and a clampdown on embryonic stem cell research. He threw the government's weight against efforts by the University of Michigan to give minority students an edge in admission, as it did for students from rural areas or the offspring of alumni.
When the nation fell into recession, the president remained fixated not on generating jobs but rather on fighting the right wing's war against taxing the wealthy. As a result, money that could have been used to strengthen Social Security evaporated, as did the chance to provide adequate funding for programs the president himself had backed. No Child Left Behind, his signature domestic program, imposed higher standards on local school systems without providing enough money to meet them.
If Mr. Bush had wanted to make a mark on an issue on which Republicans and Democrats have long made common cause, he could have picked the environment. Christie Whitman, the former New Jersey governor chosen to run the Environmental Protection Agency, came from that bipartisan tradition. Yet she left after three years of futile struggle against the ideologues and industry lobbyists Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney had installed in every other important environmental post. The result has been a systematic weakening of regulatory safeguards across the entire spectrum of environmental issues, from clean air to wilderness protection.?
The president who lost the popular vote got a real mandate on Sept. 11, 2001. With the grieving country united behind him, Mr. Bush had an unparalleled opportunity to ask for almost any shared sacrifice. The only limit was his imagination.
He asked for another tax cut and the war against Iraq.
The president's refusal to drop his tax-cutting agenda when the nation was gearing up for war is perhaps the most shocking example of his inability to change his priorities in the face of drastically altered circumstances. Mr. Bush did not just starve the government of the money it needed for his own education initiative or the Medicare drug bill. He also made tax cuts a higher priority than doing what was needed for America's security; 90 percent of the cargo unloaded every day in the nation's ports still goes uninspected.
Along with the invasion of Afghanistan, which had near unanimous international and domestic support, Mr. Bush and his attorney general put in place a strategy for a domestic antiterror war that had all the hallmarks of the administration's normal method of doing business: a Nixonian obsession with secrecy, disrespect for civil liberties and inept management.
American citizens were detained for long periods without access to lawyers or family members. Immigrants were rounded up and forced to languish in what the Justice Department's own inspector general found were often "unduly harsh" conditions. Men captured in the Afghan war were held incommunicado with no right to challenge their confinement. The Justice Department became a cheerleader for skirting decades-old international laws and treaties forbidding the brutal treatment of prisoners taken during wartime.
Mr. Ashcroft appeared on TV time and again to announce sensational arrests of people who turned out to be either innocent, harmless braggarts or extremely low-level sympathizers of Osama bin Laden who, while perhaps wishing to do something terrible, lacked the means. The Justice Department cannot claim one major successful terrorism prosecution, and has squandered much of the trust and patience the American people freely gave in 2001. Other nations, perceiving that the vast bulk of the prisoners held for so long at Guant?namo Bay came from the same line of ineffectual incompetents or unlucky innocents, and seeing the awful photographs from the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, were shocked that the nation that was supposed to be setting the world standard for human rights could behave that way.?
Like the tax cuts, Mr. Bush's obsession with Saddam Hussein seemed closer to zealotry than mere policy. He sold the war to the American people, and to Congress, as an antiterrorist campaign even though Iraq had no known working relationship with Al Qaeda. His most frightening allegation was that Saddam Hussein was close to getting nuclear weapons. It was based on two pieces of evidence. One was a story about attempts to purchase critical materials from Niger, and it was the product of rumor and forgery. The other evidence, the purchase of aluminum tubes that the administration said were meant for a nuclear centrifuge, was concocted by one low-level analyst and had been thoroughly debunked by administration investigators and international vetting. Top members of the administration knew this, but the selling went on anyway. None of the president's chief advisers have ever been held accountable for their misrepresentations to the American people or for their mismanagement of th!
e war that followed.
The international outrage over the American invasion is now joined by a sense of disdain for the incompetence of the effort. Moderate Arab leaders who have attempted to introduce a modicum of democracy are tainted by their connection to an administration that is now radioactive in the Muslim world. Heads of rogue states, including Iran and North Korea, have been taught decisively that the best protection against a pre-emptive American strike is to acquire nuclear weapons themselves.?
We have specific fears about what would happen in a second Bush term, particularly regarding the Supreme Court. The record so far gives us plenty of cause for worry. Thanks to Mr. Bush, Jay Bybee, the author of an infamous Justice Department memo justifying the use of torture as an interrogation technique, is now a federal appeals court judge. Another Bush selection, J. Leon Holmes, a federal judge in Arkansas, has written that wives must be subordinate to their husbands and compared abortion rights activists to Nazis.
Mr. Bush remains enamored of tax cuts but he has never stopped Republican lawmakers from passing massive spending, even for projects he dislikes, like increased farm aid.
If he wins re-election, domestic and foreign financial markets will know the fiscal recklessness will continue. Along with record trade imbalances, that increases the chances of a financial crisis, like an uncontrolled decline of the dollar, and higher long-term interest rates.
The Bush White House has always given us the worst aspects of the American right without any of the advantages. We get the radical goals but not the efficient management. The Department of Education's handling of the No Child Left Behind Act has been heavily politicized and inept. The Department of Homeland Security is famous for its useless alerts and its inability to distribute antiterrorism aid according to actual threats. Without providing enough troops to properly secure Iraq, the administration has managed to so strain the resources of our armed forces that the nation is unprepared to respond to a crisis anywhere else in the world.?
Mr. Kerry has the capacity to do far, far better. He has a willingness - sorely missing in Washington these days - to reach across the aisle. We are relieved that he is a strong defender of civil rights, that he would remove unnecessary restrictions on stem cell research and that he understands the concept of separation of church and state. We appreciate his sensible plan to provide health coverage for most of the people who currently do without.
Mr. Kerry has an aggressive and in some cases innovative package of ideas about energy, aimed at addressing global warming and oil dependency. He is a longtime advocate of deficit reduction. In the Senate, he worked with John McCain in restoring relations between the United States and Vietnam, and led investigations of the way the international financial system has been gamed to permit the laundering of drug and terror money. He has always understood that America's appropriate role in world affairs is as leader of a willing community of nations, not in my-way-or-the-highway domination.
We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.
Voting for president is a leap of faith. A candidate can explain his positions in minute detail and wind up governing with a hostile Congress that refuses to let him deliver. A disaster can upend the best-laid plans. All citizens can do is mix guesswork and hope, examining what the candidates have done in the past, their apparent priorities and their general character. It's on those three grounds that we enthusiastically endorse John Kerry for president.
An endorsement of Senator Charles Schumer for re-election to the Senate appears today in the City, Long Island and Westchester weekly sections.
From: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/opinion/17sun1.html?ei=5090&en=29df426c41c76478&ex=1255752000&partner=rssuserland&pagewanted=print&position=

Saturday, October 16, 2004

New York Times > Press Freedom on the Precipice

October 16, 2004
A prosecutor's investigation into an apparent attempt by the Bush administration to punish a political opponent by revealing classified information has veered terribly off course. It threatens grievous harm to freedom of the press and the vital protection it provides against government misconduct.
The reality of the threat was driven home, quite personally for us, last week, when a federal judge in Washington sentenced a Times reporter, Judith Miller, to up to 18 months in prison for refusing to testify before a grand jury. The panel is looking into who gave Robert Novak the name of a covert Central Intelligence Agency operative, Valerie Plame, for publication in his syndicated column. Ms. Miller, who never wrote about the C.I.A. officer, was asked to describe any conversations she had with a specified government official. The danger was reinforced again on Wednesday, when Judge Thomas Hogan ordered a prison sentence for a Time magazine reporter, Matthew Cooper, in the same case.
The sentences have been stayed pending a consolidated appeal, expected to be heard next month. The specter of reporters' being imprisoned merely for doing their jobs is something that should worry everyone who cherishes the First Amendment and the essential role of a free press in a democracy.
Mr. Cooper, who wrote an article in which he said "some government officials" had identified the C.I.A. official, earlier testified about his conversations with Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, after Mr. Libby explicitly waived confidentiality. Ms. Miller declined to testify, or to seek a waiver, on the basis that consent granted under a threat of firing cannot be considered truly voluntary. After Mr. Cooper testified, the prosecutor issued yet another subpoena and demanded that he identify other sources. Mr. Cooper properly refused to do so on First Amendment grounds.
There are other issues at play, chief among them a decision by a United States attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, to compel Ms. Miller to disclose her contacts with government officials even though she never wrote an article about the controversy. Mr. Fitzgerald has also subpoenaed Ms. Miller's phone records in a different investigation, raising at least a perception of harassment, or that Mr. Fitzgerald may be trying apply pressure in the second situation to gain leverage in the first.
It remains extremely puzzling that Mr. Novak, who originally published Ms. Plame's name, appears to be in no jeopardy. Mr. Novak has remained oddly silent about the jail sentences his colleagues face for defending principles that also protect him.
Judge Hogan ruled that a reporter's privilege does not exist in a grand jury setting. He also said the prosecutor had met the standards that courts generally apply before ordering a reporter to disclose confidential sources. There are reasons to doubt that conclusion, but the secrecy of the prosecutor's filings makes it hard to be certain. Even the reporters and their lawyers are prohibited from seeing the prosecutor's affidavits.
No matter how journalists' privileges are calibrated, Supreme Court precedent protects them from harassment and heedless prosecutorial fishing expeditions like this one. The situation points to the wisdom of state laws that recognize and protect a special relationship between journalists and their sources. Congress should follow their lead.
From: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/16/opinion/16sat2.html?ei=5090&en=86e00da608e86f57&ex=1255665600&partner=rssuserland&pagewanted=print&position=

Thursday, October 14, 2004

New York Times > Quick Verdict on Results of the Most Crucial Debate

By JIM RUTENBERG
Published: October 14, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz., Oct. 13 - With an overwhelming perception that Senator John Kerry had won the first two debates, the predebate story line playing out among commentators on cable and network television and the Internet during the hours before the debate was clear: It was do or die for President Bush.
"How he does tonight,'' said Brigitte Quinn, an anchor on Fox News, "could be the deciding factor in whether he gets a second term.''
Noting the belief among Mr. Kerry's aides that Mr. Bush could not afford to be perceived as losing all three debates, Carl Quintanilla, the NBC News correspondent, reported on "NBC Nightly News," "The stakes are high tonight for Mr. Kerry, but even higher for Mr. Bush.''

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Mr. Kerry had been declared the victor by a majority of commentators almost immediately after the first debate. This time, it was an initial mixed verdict that, if anything, tilted slightly toward Mr. Kerry as quickie media polls trickled in.
It took but 25 minutes for the first instant poll to hit, from ABC News: 41 percent said Mr. Bush had won, 42 percent said Mr. Kerry had won and 14 percent said neither had won, a statistical tie, though among a group more Republican than Democrat.
But not everybody waited so long to pass judgment, and not everybody agreed with the consensus opinion. Within five minutes, Polipundit, a conservative Web blogger, had not only called the debate for Mr. Bush, but also the entire election.
"Kerry comes off as an arch-pessimist, reciting a litany of woes that could depress anyone,'' Polipundit wrote. "Meanwhile, Bush is cheerfully celebrating the fact that a 19-year-old girl was the first democratic voter in the history of Afghanistan.'' And Polipundit concluded: "Americans like optimists. This election is over.''
"BUSH WINS," Michael Graham declared on National Review Online at 9:36. "Thirty minutes in and Bush is actually winning. For real." But 16 minutes earlier, on the same site, Jonathan H. Adler, was not so bullish. "Kerry just noted that Bush has never vetoed a spending bill - a charge that Bush could have pre-empted in the last debate,'' he wrote. "This is damaging attack because it demoralized the conservative base."
Just after 10 p.m., the Democratic Web blogger Ann Althouse wrote on Althouse.com: "A glob of foam forms on the right side of his mouth! Yikes! That's really going to lose the women's vote.''
Some people posting messages on the liberal "Table Talk'' section of Salon.com had their own concerns.
"Is it my imagination,'' wrote StephenA at 10:02 p.m., "or is Bush getting the last word a lot more often than Kerry?''
A minute later, on the same site, Lola 1970 wrote, "O.K. Kerry has enough info to go for the jugular ... what is he waiting for???''
But liberal bloggers were generally just as bullish as conservative ones. "Kerry is on Fire!'' was the post on DailyKos at 10:11 p.m.
Tom Slick wrote on Salon's Table Talk site three minutes before the debate's close, "Sounds like one big win and two 'narrow' wins for J.K.," and exclaimed, "Sweep!"
At the debate's conclusion, television commentators were equally split - and both campaigns had quotations to show their guy on top.
It was their comments that both campaigns watched most closely. "What they say can change people's perceptions of what they just saw,'' Nicolle Devenish, Mr. Bush's communications director, said in an interview before the debate.
"When all is said and done," said Carlos Watson of CNN, "I think John Kerry will be proclaimed the winner, which I think will be significant because I think he will be viewed as having won all three debates."
John Roberts of CBS News said: "I would probably have to give it to John Kerry. He seemed a little bit more poised."
But on Fox News, Bill Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, said, "I think Bush knocked Kerry out tonight," and added, "He just slaughtered him."
Republicans quoted in an e-mail message George Stephanopoulos of ABC News as calling Mr. Bush "particularly effective tonight."
But more polls were still to come in. A CBS News poll showed that 39 percent of respondents said Mr. Kerry had won and 25 percent said Mr. Bush had won.
A Gallup poll of 511 debate viewers conducted for CNN and USA Today gave the debate to Mr. Kerry, 52 percent to 39 percent.
From:
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/14/politics/campaign/14media.html


Sunday, October 10, 2004

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > The Town Hall Debate

The New York Times > Opinion > The Town Hall Debate: "October 9, 2004

The Town Hall Debate

Town hall meetings are one vestige of early American democracy that modern presidential candidates know very well. No one who has survived a New Hampshire primary season needs to be told what it's like to answer questions tossed out by a group of average citizens. It's the democratic process in its most amiable state: earnest Americans asking serious questions about the issues. Last night's format was much more suited to George Bush's talents than the hard-edged debate last week, but John Kerry still managed to goad him to irritable near-shouting at some points.

One of the uncommitted voters in the audience sensibly asked President Bush to name three mistakes he'd made in office, and what he had done to remedy the damage. Mr. Bush declined to list even one, and instead launched into an impassioned defense of the invasion of Iraq as a good idea. The president's insistence on defending his decision to go into Iraq seemed increasingly bizarre in a week when his own investigators reported that there were no weapons of mass destruction there, and when his own secretary of defense acknowledged that there was no serious evidence of a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

Even worse, the president's refusal to come up with even a minor error - apart from saying that he might have made some unspecified appointments that he now regretted - underscores his inability to respond to failure in any way except by insisting over and over again that his original decision was right.

Unfortunately, for long stretches of the evening, the format did not lead to such telling responses. On occasion, the arguments were impossible to follow. Heaven help any citizen who relied on last night's debate to understand what is going on with North Korea or who tried to understand the fight about tax cuts on Subchapter S corporations.

Mr. Bush was deeply unpersuasive when asked why he had not permitted the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. He claimed that the reason was "I want to make sure it cures you and doesn't kill you." Mr. Kerry cleanly retorted that four years ago in a campaign debate, Mr. Bush had said importing medicine from Canada sounded sensible.

And the president was utterly incoherent when asked about whom he might name to the Supreme Court in a second term. His comment about how he didn't want to offend any judges because he wanted "them all voting for me" was a joke - but an unfortunate one, given the fact that the president owes his job to a Supreme Court vote.

Mr. Kerry was weaker when he had to respond to a woman who wanted to know about spending federal money on abortions. Social issues seem to bring out the senator's worst tendencies to paint a word picture in shades of gray and equivocation.

Both men seemed overly defensive at times, as if they were fighting shadow opponents that were not even in the hall. Mr. Kerry seemed intent, without much prompting by Mr. Bush, on countering the attack ads run by the president's campaign and by other Republican organizations. Mr. Bush sometimes seemed as if he was trying to make up for his weak performance in Debate No. 1.

Mr. Kerry demonstrated, at the very minimum, a stature that was equal to the president's. If Mr. Bush was hoping to recover all the ground he lost last week, he failed in his mission.

The president seemed to fall back frequently on name-calling, denouncing his opponent as a liberal and a tool of the trial lawyers. "The president's just trying to scare," Mr. Kerry said. It will be another few weeks before we see how well that works.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > The Poll: Poll Finds Kerry Assured Voters in Initial Debate

The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > The Poll: Poll Finds Kerry Assured Voters in Initial Debate

Poll Finds Kerry Assured Voters in Initial Debate
By RICHARD W. STEVENSON and JANET ELDER

Senator John Kerry came out of the first presidential debate having reassured many Americans of his ability to handle an international crisis or a terrorist attack and with a generally more favorable image, but he failed to shake the perception that he panders to voters in search of support, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The poll also found significant doubts about President Bush's policies toward Iraq, with a majority of the public saying that the United States invaded too soon and that the administration did a poor job thinking through the consequences of the war. But Mr. Bush maintained an advantage on personal characteristics like strong leadership and likability, as well as in the enthusiasm of his supporters.

Four weeks from Election Day, the presidential race is again a dead heat, with Mr. Bush having given up the gains he enjoyed for the last month after the Republican convention in New York, the poll found. In both a head-to-head matchup and a three-way race including Ralph Nader, the Republican and Democratic tickets each won the support of 47 percent of registered voters surveyed in the poll.

Last month, Mr. Bush led Mr. Kerry by 50-42 in a two-way race and 50-41 in a three-way race.

The results, which parallel those of several other national polls in the past few days, are likely to intensify interest in tonight's debate in Cleveland between the vice-presidential candidates, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina and Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as the two additional presidential debates, on Friday and Oct. 13.

Aides to both campaigns said yesterday that the running mates' debate, which begins at 9 p.m. Eastern time, was unlikely to have a major impact on the vote in November. That did not stop them, though, from trying once again to set high expectations for the other side, as each campaign pointed to the debating strengths of its opponents.

Some of the drop in Mr. Bush's numbers appeared to reflect the traditional cycle in which a candidate's standing surges after his nominating convention and then declines somewhat. Both the Bush and Kerry campaigns have said for months that they expect the race to be tight at the very end.

But Mr. Kerry also scored notable gains in several areas that could be vital in a campaign being largely fought over the war in Iraq and the threat of terrorism.

Forty-one percent of registered voters said they had confidence in Mr. Kerry's ability to deal wisely with an international crisis, up from 32 percent before the debate. Thirty-nine percent said they had a lot of confidence that Mr. Kerry would make the right decisions when it came to protecting against a terrorist attack, up 13 percentage points.

On both scores, however, Mr. Kerry still trailed Mr. Bush. Fifty-one percent of voters said they had confidence in Mr. Bush's ability to deal with an international crisis, unchanged from before the debate, and 52 percent said they had a lot of confidence in his ability to protect against a terrorist attack, up slightly from 50 percent last month.

Mr. Bush's strategy of portraying Mr. Kerry as an unprincipled flip-flopper appears to have stuck in the national consciousness. Sixty percent of registered voters said Mr. Kerry told people what they wanted to hear rather than what he really believed, about the same level as throughout the spring and summer. The corresponding figure for Mr. Bush was 38 percent.

It is unclear whether the race for the White House has merely reverted to a steady state in which neither candidate can establish a clear lead, whether Mr. Bush can regain the advantage with a strong performance in the next debates or whether Thursday was a turning point at which Mr. Kerry seized the initiative.

There is also considerable uncertainty over whether national polling numbers reflect the state of play in the 18 or so swing states where the election will be decided and where the relative success of get-out-the-vote efforts by both sides could prove to be the difference. In recent weeks there has been a surge of new voter registrations in many states as the two campaigns and their allies seek to ensure that every possible supporter goes to the polls on Nov. 2.

The Kerry campaign said the poll showed that the race was moving in its direction. The nationwide telephone poll of 979 adults included 851 registered voters. The margin of sampling error for the entire sample, and for registered voters, is plus or minus three percentage points.

"The public took a measure of John Kerry standing next to the president, and came to the conclusion that he had the strength, judgment and experience to be the commander in chief," said Joe Lockhart, a senior strategist for Mr. Kerry.

Mr. Bush's team said he remained ahead in the ways that would count most on Election Day.

"We always said this race would be close," said Matthew Dowd, Mr. Bush's chief campaign strategist. "When style fades quickly, leadership and policies remain, and that is where the president has the advantage."

Over all, Mr. Kerry appears to have come off well in the debate, which respondents to the poll said, 60 percent to 23 percent, that he won.

The proportion of registered voters saying they viewed Mr. Kerry favorably jumped to its highest level, 40 percent, from 31 percent in mid-September, while the number of people who said they did not view him favorably, 41 percent, did not change appreciably.

The percentage of voters who said their opinion of Mr. Bush was favorable dipped slightly, to 44 percent from 47 percent last month, while the percentage of voters who said they did not view Mr. Bush favorably increased to 44 percent from 38 percent in that period.

Mr. Kerry, who sought to emphasize during the debate how aggressive he would be in hunting down terrorists and protecting the nation from attack, made some headway in winning back women who had been drifting toward Mr. Bush. Mr. Kerry led Mr. Bush 48 percent to 46 percent among women; last month Mr. Bush led among women 48 percent to 43 percent.

The results show not only how closely divided the nation is, but also how clearly defined the differences are between the candidates, especially on foreign policy. Just under half of voters said both Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry would bring the right balance to judgments about when to go to war. But 46 percent said Mr. Bush would not be careful enough and 31 percent said Mr. Kerry would be too careful.

The poll indicated that Americans continued to have doubts about both candidates. Mr. Bush's job approval rating, at 47 percent, was little changed from last month and close to what has traditionally been a danger zone for an incumbent seeking re-election. His approval ratings for his handling of foreign policy, Iraq and the economy were even lower, and a narrow majority of respondents, 51 percent, said the country was on the wrong track.

The poll suggested that the daily bloodshed in Iraq and Mr. Kerry's strategy of hammering away at Mr. Bush's handling of the war might be resonating among voters. Asked what kind of job Mr. Bush had done in anticipating what would happen in Iraq as a result of the war, 59 percent said he had done a poor job and 34 percent said a good job. A slight majority, 52 percent, said the United States had been too quick to go to war in Iraq, compared with 37 percent who said the timing was about right.

But Mr. Bush maintained his reputation as an effective leader in confronting terrorism, with 57 percent of respondents saying they approved of his handling of the issue and 37 percent disapproving. Asked whether they thought of Mr. Bush as someone they would like personally, even if they did not approve of his policies, 61 percent said yes, versus 48 percent for Mr. Kerry. Asked whether both candidates have strong qualities of leadership, 62 percent said yes for Mr. Bush and 56 percent said yes for Mr. Kerry.

Mr. Kerry continued to generate increased levels of enthusiasm for his candidacy among those who said they supported him, with 48 percent saying they strongly favored him, up from 40 percent last month. But, in a race that could hinge on turnout, Mr. Bush maintained a strong advantage on that measure, with 70 percent of his backers saying they strongly favored him, up from 63 percent.

Fifty-five percent of voters said Mr. Bush had made clear what he wants to accomplish in the next four years, a five-point increase since last month, while 45 percent of voters said Mr. Kerry had a clear agenda, up seven points in the same period.

The poll found that 65 percent of voters did not think Mr. Bush had a clear plan for getting American troops out of Iraq, and that 59 percent of voters did not think Mr. Kerry had one. Half of voters said they thought Mr. Bush made the situation in Iraq sound better than it is, and 43 percent said Mr. Kerry made it sound worse.


Friday, October 01, 2004

China Daily > Powell: US opposes Taiwan independence moves

Updated: 2004-10-01 14:23
US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Thursday that the United States does not support a movement toward independence on the part of Taiwan and the ultimate settlement of Taiwan issue has to be acceptable to both sides of the Taiwan Straits.
Addressing a joint press conference with his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing after their working lunch in Washington, Powell said that he reaffirmed the US one-China policy to the Chinese foreign minister during their talks.
"I once again reaffirmed our one-China policy and the strength of the three communiques and also noted our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act and reaffirmed what President Bush has said a number of times, that we do not support a movement toward independence on the part of Taiwan," the US official said.
However, Li indicated that the Taiwan Relations Act, which violates the Sino-US communique on establishment of full diplomatic relations, should not go above the US international commitments.
"The Chinese government and the people attach great importance to the reaffirmations made by the US president, the secretary, and US government on many occasions of the US continued adherence to the one-China policy, the observance of the three Sino-US joint communiques, and the opposition to Taiwan independence," the Chinese foreign minister said.
"At the same time, I wish to point out that in any country its domestic law should not go above its international commitments," Li affirmed. The Taiwan Relations Act were approved by the US Congress in 1979, weeks after Washington established diplomatic relations with Beijing.
Powell stressed that "there is no support in the United States for an independence movement in Taiwan, because that would be inconsistent with our obligations and our commitment to our one- China policy."
Asked whether the United States is going to ignore the voice and desire of a billion-plus people in the Chinese mainland as US officials often stated that the ultimate settlement of Taiwan issue has to be acceptable to the people in Taiwan, Powell responded with "of course not."
"It has to be acceptable to both sides (of the Taiwan Straits). That's what reconciliation is all about," Powell said, adding that "we strongly support our one-China policy, which has stood the test of time; it has benefited people in Taiwan, benefited people in the mainland, and it's benefited the international community and certainly benefited the United States."

From: http://www2.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-10/01/content_379383.htm


New York Times > The First Debate


October 1, 2004
If Americans who tuned into last night's presidential debate were waiting for one of the candidates to catch the other in a fatal error, or leave him stammering, the event was obviously a draw. But if the question was whether Senator John Kerry would appear presidential, whether he could present his positions clearly and succinctly and keep President Bush on the defensive when it came to the critical issue of Iraq, Mr. Kerry delivered the goods.
George W. Bush is famous for fierce discipline when it comes to sticking to a carefully honed, simple message. Last night he reiterated this campaign message once again - that "the world is safer without Saddam Hussein" and that things are, on the whole, going well in Iraq. The confidence with which Mr. Bush has kept hammering home those points has clearly had an effect in the polls, encouraging wavering voters to believe that the president is the one who can best lead the country out of the morass he created.
But last night Mr. Bush sounded less convincing when he had to make his case in the face of Mr. Kerry's withering criticism, particularly his repeated insistence that the invasion had diverted attention from the true center of the war on terror in Afghanistan.
Mr. Kerry found the most effective line of argument when he told the audience that "Iraq was not even close to the center of the war on terror" and that the president had "rushed the war in Iraq without a plan to win the peace." It is the strongest and most sensible critique of the administration's actions. Of course, it left Mr. Kerry open to rejoinders by Mr. Bush that Mr. Kerry had sounded far more warlike about Iraq in his pre-campaign persona. That's a fair comment, and one the senator simply has to live with in this campaign. "As the politics changed, his position changed," Mr. Bush said.
But when Mr. Bush jabbed at the senator with a reminder about his infamous comment on voting for a war appropriation before he voted against it, Mr. Kerry had finally found an effective answer. While saying he had made a mistake in the way he had expressed himself, the senator added: "But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?"
Both men made errors that appeared to be mainly a matter of misspeaking under the pressure of the moment. But Mr. Kerry scored an important point when the president made a more significant slip and talked about the need to go to war because "the enemy attacked us." The person who sent planes smashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Mr. Kerry reminded the audience, was Osama bin Laden, who was operating from Afghanistan, not Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bush, whose body and facial language sometimes seemed downright petulant, insisted, again and again, that by criticizing the way the war is being run, Mr. Kerry was sending "mixed signals" that threatened the success of the effort.
Before last night's debate, we worried that the long list of rules insisted on by both camps would create a stilted exchange of packaged sound bites. But this campaign was starved for real discussion and substance. Even a format controlled by handlers and spin doctors seemed like a breath of fresh air.