The Nation

Rove's Race

George W. Bush may have secured the presidency this week. But the real winner was Karl Rove.

The White House political czar has solidified his position as the nation's campaigner-in-chief. Republicans love him, Democrats fear him, and everyone now agrees that Rove is the political genius of the age.

So, let's listen to Rove.

In the epilogue of Bob Woodward's book, Plan of Attack, the author writes about how Rove saw the presidential race in early February, 2004.

Noting that Rove believed the war in Iraq was turning into "a potential negative" for the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign, Woodward wrote, "Previously, Rove had claimed he was salivating at the prospect that the Democrats would nominate former Vermont Governor Howard Dean in the 2004 presidential race. But Dean had imploded and Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, had won 12 of the first 14 Democratic primary contests and it looked like he was headed for the nomination."

What did Rove have to say about this development? "'The good news for us is that Dean is not the nominee,' Rove now argued to an associate in his second floor West Wing office. Dean's unconditional opposition to the Iraq War could have been potent in a face-off with Bush. 'One of Dean's strengths though was he could say, I'm not part of that crowd down there.' But Kerry was very much a part of the Washington crowd and he had voted in favor of the resolution for war. Rove got out his two-inch-think loose-leaf binder titled 'Bring It On.' It consisted of research into Kerry's 19-year record in the Senate. Most relevant were pages 9-20 of the section on Iraq."

Woodward explained that, "Rove believed they had Kerry pretty cold on voting to give the president a green light for war and then backing off when he didn't like the aftermath or saw a political opportunity. Whatever the case, Rove sounded as if he believed they could inoculate the president on the Iraq War in a campaign with Kerry."

"Rove," Woodward observed, "was gleeful."

Ten months later, as the returns rolled in on Tuesday night, Rove's glee seemed well placed.

After every imaginable revelation about the missteps, misdeeds and lies that the Bush administration used to steer the country into the Iraq misadventure, and after all the news about the quagmire it had become, America effectively said to George W. Bush: We trust you to manage the mess more than we trust John Kerry.

This is the most painful reality of the fall campaign of 2004: For all the talk about Iraq, the debate about the U.S. occupation of that country never really took hold.

Kerry tried to offer himself up as a clear alternative to Bush, and from a stylistic standpoint he succeeded. But when the debate got down to the practical question of when American troops would be out of harm's way -- and when the Iraqis will really be running things in their own country -- about all Kerry had to offer was a vague sooner-rather-than-later promise that sounded a bit too much like the "secret plan" to get U.S. troops out of Vietnam that Richard Nixon peddled in 1968.

It is a stretch to suggest that Howard Dean would necessarily have been a better foe for Bush than Kerry. Dean had enough baggage to fill several of those loose-leaf folders on Rove's desk.

But, at a fundamental level, Rove was right. A Democratic challenger who could have distanced him-or herself from the use-of-force resolution and Bush's plan of attack would have been, as Woodward suggests, "potent in a face-off with Bush."

To be sure, Bush lost the actual debates. But the results of the election suggest that he did not loose the broader debate about the war. Hindsight is always 20-20, but it is worth noting that a lot of progressives rejected Kerry's candidacy during the primary season because they feared that -- in light of his vote on the use-of-force resolution -- he could not hold Bush fully accountable for the rush to war that has now cost so many American and Iraqi lives. They, like Karl Rove, were proven right on Tuesday.

Stand and Fight

One thing we can say for certain at this point, after the grieving, the anger, is that the country is still bitterly divided.

We saw two turnouts and Two Nations last night. Both sides of the chasm saw a major turnout of its voting base. Karl Rove talked about creating a permanent Republican majority. But the truth is, he has a divide-and-rule strategy. And the electoral college amplifies the rural, socially conservative vote. (Twenty percent of voters considered "moral values"--eleven states had anti-gay marriage ballots--more important than the economy or Iraq in this election.)

Perhaps more astonishing than the polling on the murky issue of morality (why aren't poverty and unjust war considered immoral?) are the figures reported in the New York Times: "Voters who cited honesty as the most important quality in a candidate broke 2 to 1 in Mr. Bush's favor..." The most mendacious Administration in American history won the honesty vote?

Progressives, who were on the defensive two years ago, added millions of new voters as well, and tapped a new energy and activism that will last far beyond November 2nd. The extremism and incompetence of this rightwing cabal has sharpened our focus to a razor's edge.

But for me, one of the fundamental questions about this campaign has been whether you could defeat a terrible but clear incumbent without a substantive policy alternative, and this time at least we couldn't. Kerry offered intelligence, a return to fiscal discipline, a bulwark against a rightwing court, and a health plan that few understood. He failed to use the moral message of "Two Americas" to erode Bush's edge. He mounted a late challenge to Bush's disastrous war in Iraq-- but he also talked about "staying the course." That wasn't enough of a coherent positive, populist or moral message to complement the impressive mechanics. We've got to build a politics of conviction, of passion and substance. It's there but it needs to be built and fought for. And the lesser lessons, if that's the big one, are:

1) People really are confused and manipulated (we have a mainstream media that continues to focus on irrelevant stories--Swift Boat, Rathergate and all the rest--abrogating its responsibility to focus on what's important and significant; and too much of it keeps giving head instead of keeping its head.) This makes an expansion of the progressive media echo chamber all the more important; And,

2) Neoliberalism is broken beyond repair and people need to be offered a real alternative not just despair at this point. This is truly a non-violent Civil War between those who think government is basically screwed up and that they're on their own, and those who believe....what exactly? We've got to be much clearer on the latter.

But this morning, we woke to a country at war with itself--as well as Al Qaeda. As America fights Islamic fundamentalism abroad, progressives are re-fighting the Enlightenment here at home. (The two new Senators from Oklahoma and South Carolina are leaders of our homegrown Taliban.)

This is war at a very deep level about how this country will proceed and this war isn't over, it's just renewed.

In that spirit, on Election Day, a friend sent some words by John Dos Passos, from his great trilogy USA. He said these lines, from the part where Dos Passos narrates the death of Sacco and Vanzetti, stuck in his head in these last weeks as we faced the possibility of Bush winning this election:

"America our nation has been beaten by strangers who have turned our language inside out who have taken the clean words our fathers spoke and made them slimy and foul

their hired men sit on the judge's bench they sit back with their feet on the tables under the dome of the State House they are ignorant of our beliefs they have the dollars the guns the armed forces the power plants

they have built the electric chair and hired the executioner to throw the switch

all right we are two nations."

The American Right understands we are two nations, and cares less about healing than about holding power. A Bush wins forces us to understand, in a very deep way, what that means for us and for the values and institutions we care about. Not that they are wrong, or rejected or weighed down by "identity politics" or some other rationale for surrender. But that they are in desperate danger and we need to start thinking along the lines of how to resist, delay, deflect, oppose and ultimately defeat the assault on our freedoms. As progressives, we will need to marshal at least as much dedication, purpose, strategic focus and tactical ruthlessness, and The Nation is one of the few places that will have earned the trust of over 40 percent of the American people who were against Bush and all his works from the beginning.

And we should be thinking about the indispensable work of resistance. We need to identify legislative and administrative choke points where Bush's initiatives can be blocked, and make clear to both legislators and their constituents that the days of go-along in the interest of non-partisan comity have to stop.

We need to give a clear sense of priorities and red-lines so that people aren't fatigued by constantly being asked to protest--and we need to identify and work for some early victories, at both the local and national (and international) levels...BECAUSE we all need to remember, and remind ourselves, and everyone else that there are two Nations--not Bush's America and some dissenters--especially since I'd be willing to bet that numerically there are more of us.

In the end, this election is about what kind of people we are, what kind of country we'll be. Half of the electorate dissents from Bushism. The election still represents an expression of the strength of opposition to the radical and reckless course Bush has followed, despite the ugly campaign.

Unlike 1972, when Democrats were wiped out everywhere--in 2004 there is an emerging progressive infrastructure capable of standing and fighting. Progressives should build on those structures put in place in this last cycle and redouble their commitment to economic justice, peace and environmental movements that can make real change.

In the streets of New York on August 29th on the eve of the Republican National Convention and in precincts across America these past few months, millions of people stood up for democracy. This is the heart and soul of this country and it will be the heart and soul of the defense of our rights and liberties in the months to come.

'We Can Wait One More Night'

Nothing frustrated Democratic loyalists more in 2000 than the sense that their presidential nominee, former Vice President Al Gore, failed to aggressively, and effectively, challenge Republican moves to steal that year's election--and the presidency--in the disputed state of Florida.

This year, Democrats again find themselves stuck in a close election where the final results of one state's voting could decide the presidency for or against their candidate.

The difference is that, this time, the disputed state is Ohio, where Republican George W. Bush, the man who elbowed Gore aside in 2000, was maintaining a roughly 120,000 vote lead in the Buckeye state over Democrat John Kerry, out of more than 2.6 million votes cast. Some television networks declared Bush the winner of Ohio last night, others did not.

That left the fight for the presidency unsettled. And Kerry aides argued early Wednesday morning that Bush's Ohio margin could yet be reversed when there is a tallying of an estimated 250,000 provisional ballots--which were cast by citizens of that state who were denied the right to vote because their names did not appear on registration rolls.

With the Electoral College closely divided, a reversal in Ohio could provide Kerry with enough electoral votes to pass the 270 mark required for him to defeat Bush.

With the presidency again hanging in the balance in a battleground state--however tenuously--the Kerry team did not want to be seen as having displayed a willingness to surrender prematurely.

So at 2:30 this morning, Kerry's running mate, North Carolina Senator John Edwards, appeared in Boston's Copley Square to inform thousands of Kerry backers that, this time, the Democratic ticket would concede nothing.

"It's been a long time--but we've waited four years for this victory,'' Edwards explained to the crowd. "We can wait one more night."

Then, referencing the concerns of Democrats who thought Gore backed out too soon in 2000, Edwards said: "John Kerry and I made a promise to the American people that in this election, every vote would count and every vote would be counted. Tonight, we are keeping our word."

When all is said and done, it will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to reverse Bush's lead in Ohio and nationally. The president's election night position is significantly stronger than in 2000, as he has secured the popular-vote win he lacked that year.

But Kerry took as his campaign's theme song Bruce Springsteen's "No Surrender." Democrats with bitter memories of the Florida debacle embraced that theme. It was part of what made them warm this year to Kerry, who often delivered "count-every-vote" comments at his rallies.

Now, at the close of a very long campaign, with the pressure on for Kerry to fold his candidacy and let Bush claim a second term, that is the message his supporters want to hear from Kerry's campaign. And, so far at least, he is giving it to them.

Bush Wins (Or Seems To)

It's 3:30 AM. Ohio looks bad for John Kerry. He's down 180,000 votes. There may be 175,000 provisional ballots. But can Kerry win practically every single one and find other votes there? Kerry is losing by 1,700 votes in New Mexico and 15,000 in Iowa.John Edwards appeared before Kerry supporters in Copley Square and promised that the Kerry campaign will fight to count every vote. But the Kerry ticket is behind in the national numbers, on the short end of a 51-48 split, trailing Bush by almost 4 million votes, with 93 percent of the precincts reporting. The election was close, achingly close. There may be an odd bounce or two yet to come. But the safe assumption is that George W. Bush will emerge the winner of the electoral vote and the popular vote. It's a sad morning in America.

The electorate almost engaged in a much-needed political correction. It almost undid the asterisk of 2000. Instead, voters legitimized the fellow who gained the White House against the will of the majority and who then pretended he had a mandate and subsequently pushed tax cuts for the well-to-do and launched a war predicated on untrue assertions. So there will be no good-bye to reckless preemptive war, an economic policy based on tax breaks tilted toward the wealthy, a war on environmental regulations, a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, excessive secrecy in government, unilateral machismo, the neocon theology of hubris and arrogance, a ban on effective stem cell research, no-bid Halliburton contracts, John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, and much more. Did I mention Dick Cheney?

Bush lied his way into office and lied his way through his presidency. His reelection campaign was based on derision and disingenuousness; he mischaracterized Kerry and his positions and touted successes that did not exist. And now, it seems, he got away with it. He was not punished for leading the country into a war that was not necessary. He was not booted for having overstated the WMD threat from Iraq. He paid no price for failing to plan adequately for the post-invasion period. Iraq remains his mess. And the United States and the world remains at the mercy of a gang that, no doubt, will feel even more emboldened to pursue their misguided policies.

The good news: America is a divided nation. Despite the pundit hand-wringing over this fact, it is a positive thing. Nearly--nearly--half of the electorate rejected Bush's leadership, his agenda, his priorities, his falsehoods. From Eminem to the chairman of Bank of America to 48 Nobel laureates to gangbangers who joined anti-Bush get-out-the-vote efforts in swing states. Nearly half of the voting public concluded that Bush had caused the deaths of over 1,100 American GIs and literally countless Iraqis (maybe 100,000) for no compelling reason. Nearly half saw the emperor buck naked and butt ugly. Nearly half said no to his rash actions and dishonest justifications. Nearly half realized that Bush had misrepresented the war in Iraq as a crucial part of the effort against al Qaeda and Islamic jihadism. Nearly half desired better and more honest leadership. Nearly half knew that Bush has led the country astray.

Other good news: Second-term presidents often hit the skids. The last three second-terms were marked by scandal (Watergate, Iran-contra, Monicagate). And as top officials sprint through the revolving door to snag high-paying jobs (while their contacts are fresh), the job of running the government during the second administration often falls to the B Team. In the post-9/11 world, this is not all that reassuring. But the historical trend does suggest that Bush will have trouble enacting his various schemes. Yet--let's be realistic--the Senate results indicate that the GOP will expand its majority in the Senate, which means Bush will have more allies for his wrongheaded missions.

More good news; Bush will not be able to hand off his own wreckage--Iraq and the gargantuan deficit--to a new man. But this does not mean he will accept responsibility and deal with it. Bush has the ability to deny and defy reality. And if he cannot see that the trash has piled up, he will not be hauling it to the curb.

Okay, no more good news. I can't stand all this good news. Bush has bamboozled and frightened just enough Americans to gain the opportunity to flimflam them for another four years. And the rest of the country--and the globe--will be along for the dangerous ride.


When you're done reading this article,visit David Corn's WEBLOG at www.davidcorn.com. Read recent entries document the twists and turns of Election Day, show how federal records could easily resolve lingering questions over Bush's National Guard service (if Bush requested them), and explore the "defining sin" of the Bush presidency.


As for John Kerry, he and his advisers looked like geniuses early on Election Day, when exit polls showed him ahead in the critical states There will be time--plenty of time--to critique Kerry and his crew and second-guess their various decisions. Had he swatted down the Swift Vets earlier would that have saved him just the right number of votes? Had he voted against granting Bush the authorization to launch an elective war against Iraq anytime Bush damn well pleased, perhaps Kerry would have presented a clearer picture for the electorate and inoculated himself from the trumped-up flip-flop charge. Perhaps. He, too, will have years to ponder all of this.

Kerry was no top-gun campaigner. His rhetoric often meandered. More than once he shot himself in the foot with inartful language. But he did vigorously criticize Bush for misleading the country into war and for screwing up (big time!) the planning for the post-invasion period. He called for expanding health care coverage and for dramatic investments in alternative energy. He slammed Bush for ignoring the middle class crisis. He advocated raising the minimum wage and vowed to take on such special interests as the prescription drugs lobby. He excoriated Bush's assault on environmental safeguards and defended abortion rights. And he effectively used the three debates to counter the Bush camp's claim that he was a finger-in-the-wind pol and a weak-kneed opportunist with no convictions. Those encounters hurt Bush. Of those voters who say they decided in the past month, Kerry led 60 to 37 percent. All of this--it almost worked.

There was a clear difference between the two candidates. They disagreed on many basic issues. But--perhaps more importantly--they represented vastly different ways of engaging the world. One has adopted an ask-no-questions, nevermind-the-nuances, don't-look-back, tough-guy style of leadership. The other promised to consider and reach out before leaping. One said--practically boasted--that he read no newspapers. The other came across as a man who absorbed much information before rendering a decision. The voters chose the wrong man.

But not all is lost. The Red-Blue battle--a war of culture, ideology, politics and psychology--will not end with the final tally in Ohio. The forces of Bushism appear to have triumphed this day. But life--if we are lucky--is long, and history never ends. Let the great divide in America continue.


WHILE THERE IS STILL TIME BEFORE THE ELECTION, DON'T FORGET ABOUT DAVID CORN'S BOOK, The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception (Crown Publishers). A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! An UPDATED and EXPANDED EDITION is NOW AVAILABLE in PAPERBACK. The Washington Post says, "This is a fierce polemic, but it is based on an immense amount of research....[I]t does present a serious case for the president's partisans to answer....Readers can hardly avoid drawing...troubling conclusions from Corn's painstaking indictment." The Los Angeles Times says, "David Corn's The Lies of George W. Bush is as hard-hitting an attack as has been leveled against the current president. He compares what Bush said with the known facts of a given situation and ends up making a persuasive case." The Library Journal says, "Corn chronicles to devastating effect the lies, falsehoods, and misrepresentations....Corn has painstakingly unearthed a bill of particulars against the president that is as damaging as it is thorough." And GEORGE W. BUSH SAYS, "I'd like to tell you I've read [ The Lies of George W. Bush], but that'd be a lie."

For more information and a sample, go to www.davidcorn.com. And see his WEBLOG there.

Bush's Lone Star Scheming

The final event on George W. Bush's schedule on the final day of the 2004 presidential election campaign was not a late-night gathering in a "battleground" state such as Florida or Ohio. Rather, it was a Monday evening "victory rally" on the campus of Southern Methodist University in his home state of Texas.

Texas? After months of focusing on the dozen or more targeted states that supposedly will decide this election, why did the Bush camp decide to finish things off in the one state that ought to be securely in the president's column?

Because, despite everything that has been said over the past few months, this campaign is not just about battleground states. There is also a national fight to win the popular vote, and Bush's election-eve trip to Texas was an acknowledgment of that fact.

To be sure, the fight for the popular vote was overshadowed during this year's long campaign by the fight to reach the "magic" number of 270 electoral votes. That Electoral College fight plays out in the battleground states. And as the 2004 campaign raced to a close, it was far from settled. At least 20 states--from Hawaii to Maine--saw pre-election poll numbers that suggested either Bush or Democrat John Kerry could win their precious electoral votes. Never before in the modern history of American electoral politics have so many states been so undecided on the eve of an election.

The candidates could not possibly visit all of those states before the voting started, however, so they effectively ceded states to one another in the final days. Both campaigns narrowed the focus of their last-minute campaigning to a handful of states where polls suggest the two campaigns are effectively tied. Bush campaigned in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Mexico, while Kerry awoke Monday in Florida and then flew north for a stop in Wisconsin, several stops in Ohio--including a huge rally in Cleveland where Bruce Springsteen sang and urged the crowd to "Vote for Change"--and a return to Wisconsin for a 1:00am Tuesday rally in the city of LaCrosse. Kerry spent the night in LaCrosse, where local television news programs reach audiences in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, before beginning a Tuesday morning journey home--via Ohio, again--to Boston.

Kerry can be reasonably assured of winning roughly 200 electoral votes from states where he led going into today's election, while Bush is assured of at least that many electoral votes. This means that whichever campaign secures a clear majority of the roughly 135 electoral votes that are up for grabs in the so-called "super-battleground" states that have been the targets of so much late-in-the-day politicking will be well positioned to claim an Electoral College majority and the presidency.

On election eve, late polls from the "super-battleground states" suggested that Kerry might be the one staking that claim.

But the key word there is "claim."

With so many undecided states at the close of campaigning, the Bush team was determined to cover all of its bases. And one of those bases involves securing the popular-vote win that could convey legitimacy in the chaotic aftermath of a close and contentious election.

The Bush camp got a huge break in 2000, when Al Gore and his backers failed to play up a clear popular-vote win by the Democrat in order to gain an advantage in the public relations fight that was every bit as significant as the confusing and inconsistent recounting of Florida ballots. When Democrats failed to press the case that Gore was the popular choice of the American people, they made it easier for Florida Republicans and a politicized US Supreme to hand the presidency to Bush.

As the campaign wound down, Bush campaign czar Karl Rove and his aides were fully conscious of the prospects for similar scenarios to play out this year.

For instance, let's say that no clear winner emerges tonight, or that the states split in a manner that produces either an Electoral College tie or a very narrow lead for Kerry. There are no guarantees of such a result, but there is a prospect. And the Bush camp does not fret about prospects that might prevent the president from securing a second term. It plans.

Essential to such planning is the assembly of all the tools that could be required to win a post-election PR battle--including that popular-vote win.

Hence the trip to Texas, where polls showed Bush leading Kerry by a comfortable but not overwhelming margin. The Bush stop in Texas on election eve was designed to ramp up excitement about the president's campaign in hopes of spurring a "home state pride" increase in turnout that could pad Bush's popular-vote total not just in Texas but nationwide.

Make no mistake, the first goal of the Bush campaign is an Electoral College win.

But, failing that, they want a popular-vote win that they can use as part of a push to raise questions about the legitimacy of a Kerry victory in the Electoral College and, if that victory cannot be upset, about a Kerry presidency.

Is it really possible that Kerry could win the Electoral College even as Bush wins the popular vote?

Of course.

Kerry leads in the District of Columbia and 14 states, including some that are rich in electoral votes, such as California (55), New York (31) and Illinois (21). Bush leads in 25 states that, for the most part, have small numbers of electoral votes, such as Wyoming (3), North Dakota (3), South Dakota (3), Idaho (4) and Mississippi (6). By far, Bush's best state when it comes to electoral votes is Texas (34).

If polls are to be believed, however, Bush should win his "safe" states by significantly greater margins than Kerry piles up in his "safe" states. For instance, polls show Bush leading by 45 points in Utah, 36 points in Wyoming, 30 points in Oklahoma, 29 points in Nebraska, 26 points in Louisiana, 23 points in Kansas, 21 points in Montana and 21 points in Kentucky.

By contrast, the only place where Kerry leads by more than 20 points is the District of Columbia. Kerry's lead in New York state is a solid 18 points, but the latest poll from California has him ahead by just 7 points.

Of course, New York and California produce a lot more raw votes than Wyoming and North Dakota. So, to secure a popular vote win, Bush needs a big "bump" from Texas. Yet, on the ground in Texas last week, some polls have suggested that Bush is likely to win the state by a relatively narrow 55-45 margin. That would translate to a margin as small as 600,000 votes, as compared with the 1.4 million vote margin Bush secured in Texas in 2000.

That 800,000-vote slippage could spell the difference between a popular-vote win and a popular-vote defeat for Bush. And the Bush team does not want to cede the popular vote.

So, when Bush went to Texas Monday night--to deliver a pointed anti-Kerry speech in which the president pumped up the crowd with "He's from Massachusetts, I'm from Texas" rhetoric--he did not do so simply because he wanted to sleep in his own bed on the ranch at Crawford. Bush and Karl Rove were, even at the last minute of the campaign they have so skillfully manipulated, cooking up one last scheme for maintaining their grip on the White House.


John Nichols' book on Cheney, Dick: The Man Who Is President, has just been released by The New Press. Former White House counsel John Dean, the author of Worse Than Watergate, says, "This page-turner closes the case: Cheney is our de facto president." Arianna Huffington, the author of Fanatics and Fools, calls Dick, "The first full portrait of The Most Powerful Number Two in History, a scary and appalling picture. Cheney is revealed as the poster child for crony capitalism (think Halliburton's no bid, cost-plus Iraq contracts) and crony democracy (think Scalia and duck-hunting)."

Dick: The Man Who Is President is available from independent bookstores nationwide and by clicking here.


Decision Day

With the networks, the cable news stations, radio outlets, newspapers and magazines and, of course, the internet, this election will be the most widely reported electoral contest in US history. So, where are some good places to find independent reporting on Election Day?

First, of course, check out The Nation's special election weblog Ground War 2004, which features Nation correspondents reporting from swing states nationwide on the battle to preserve voting rights.

The Independent Media Center is providing around-the-clock reporting coast to coast with a special emphasis on Ohio and Michigan.

Created in response to repeated reports of problems at polling places, Blog the Vote is compiling news stories and eyewitness testimony about problems people have in attempting to exercise their franchise.

Link TV, with its partner Salon.com, will offer up-to-the-minute election results, reporting from the polls, political commentary, and updates from key battleground states. Although Link is not available on many cable systems, those with satellite TV can tune in through DIRECT TV (channel 375) or DISH Network (channel 9410). You can also click here to watch online.

Alternet has consistently published valuable articles on voting and the election throughout the campaign season, and will continue to post new reports on Election Day. The site also has a special state page for Ohio, designed to provide breaking news on what could be the decisive swing state.

Michael Moore has created "Mike's Election Watch Page," which is publishing reports of electoral fraud, voter intimidation and other polling place irregularities.

Check out the Common Dreams news site daily for a collection of each day's best articles culled from both the alternative and mainstream media.

Election Protection 2004, which has sent thousands of volunteers to swing states across the country to defend against voter intimidation, is posting reports by its poll watchers detailing problems they're finding at the polls.

Finally, check out Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight for a special one-hour live election special at 10:00pm EST.

Co-written by Patrick Mulvaney

Election Day Top Ten

I couldn't let Election Day come and go without offering a top ten list of progressive groups working for change on November 2nd and beyond. Here, then, is my far-from-comprehensive list of organizations embodying a new progressive spirit and infrastructure that will mobilize first-time voters, protect every vote, help to elect John Kerry and provide the basis for progressive victories in the future.

The majority of these groups are affiliated with one of two coalitions. National Voice is coordinating non-profit groups such as ACORN, the NAACP National Voter Fund, the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, and the USAction Education Fund (as well as 1,000 other nonpartisan groups) to create a new kind of voter registration, education and outreach effort directed at the millions of Americans usually ignored by the campaigns.

The November 2 Campaign is the most effective voter mobilization group in the National Voice coalition. Its simple "November 2" slogan is plastered on t-shirts, billboards, buses and ads in movie theaters. "You want people to come up and ask you what the shirt is all about so you can engage them in conversation about voting," explained Mark Ritchie, NV's executive director. There's an inspirational and optimistic quality to it, combined with real service, reminding people when to vote, how to get register, how to find your polling place. It's civics with an edge. Having recruited 200,000 volunteers, the November 2 Campaign has upped its registration goal to 5 million new voters.

Election Protection 2004 (EP2004 ) was launched by Ralph Neas' People for the American Way (PFAW) and other coalition public interest partners to provide educational tools and legal assistance to minority voters in battleground states. PFAW has set up 58 field offices in the targeted states, and along with its strategic partners in the coalition it is mobilizing nearly 20,000 volunteers including 5,000 lawyers. "What Freedom Summer was to 1964," Neas says, "Freedom Fall will be to 2004."

America's Families United Voter Protection Project, as I wrote here in August, understands that election protection begins long before Election Day. For months, AFUVPP has been working in some 100 counties and 20 states to clarify ID rules, monitor election officials and ensure that registered voters remain on the rolls. AFUVPP, says Director Penda Hair, is "adding additional activities" prior to Election Day, is "very active" in Ohio, where GOP poll watchers are seeking to suppress African-American turnout, and is trying to prevent the election from being thrown into the courts. "Our lawyers are now developing a county-by-county strategy for dealing with problems," explains Hair.

Rock the Vote, also a member of National Voice, was founded in 1990 to promote freedom of speech and artistic expression and mobilize young voters. Rock the Vote has registered 1.3 million new voters in this cycle. By emailing fake draft cards to 650,000 youth, it "substantially cranked up the volume on the already loud Internet buzz surrounding a possible military draft," said the Los Angeles Times.

Women's Voices. Women Vote (WVWV) is fighting to mobilize 22 million voters that, until now, the Democratic Party (and even progressives) have ignored--unmarried women. "What we know is that these women are concerned about affordable health care, job security, a livable minimum wage and the environment, and progressive groups should approach these women and respond to their concerns," says Chris Desser, WVWV's co-director. WVWV has registered 150,000 women so far, and dozens of organizations have used its lists in battleground states to register unmarried women.

A second coordinating group, America Votes, is a coalition of 33 progressive national mass membership organizations combining venerable Democratic organizations like the NAACP, the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club and US Action with newer, well-financed groups like MoveOn.org and America Coming Together.

America Votes has conducted door-to-door canvasses, run phone banks and spearheaded registration drives in 17 battleground states. Active in America Votes are the largest grassroots organizations in the US, representing 20 million people and doing work to protect the environment, guard civil rights, support labor rights, promote choice and mobilize voters in under-represented communities. This unprecedented coalition is deploying 30,000 volunteers in swing states on Election Day.

America Coming Together (ACT) says its efforts will result in "the largest voter mobilization effort in history." ACT is funding more than 12 million phone calls and delivering 11 million pieces of literature to voters in battleground states. Its 45,000 paid canvassers complement the Democratic Party's GOTV efforts and give Kerry a leg up.

MoveOn.org has taken on Fox News, the Gallup Poll and the Bush Administration's disastrous Iraq policy. MoveOn.org is "recruiting 50,000 volunteers to turn out 440,000 additional votes from 10,000 targeted neighborhoods across the country," establishing itself as a linchpin in the new progressive movement.

Citizen Change (CC), which was founded by P. Diddy, has recruited celebrities including 50 Cent, Jay-Z and Leonardo DiCaprio to mobilize the hip-hop generation. CC intends "to make voting hot, sexy and relevant" to youth who regard politics as irrelevant in their lives. CC's message: "Vote or Die."

The League of Pissed Off Voters (LPOV), as our Nation cover story pointed out, wants "to establish a voting bloc specifically on the basis of being young and angry." Punk rock fans, argues LPOV, should vote "to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office," as the title of its book urges.

Alongside edgy groups like Punk Voter, LPOV is crafting a first-time appeal to a disaffected voting bloc; The League has close to 100 local chapters and over 500 organizers using the internet and other creative 21st century strategies to spread the word. Its members recently embarked on an 80-city swing state tour. LPOV encourages folks to hold "Politics n' Pancakes" brunches "to learn and teach each other in the environments we hang in anyway" and it is committed to "building a long term progressive power base."

Progressive Majority is a farm team for recruiting the next generation of progressive public officials at the local and national levels. As I pointed out in this space last December, Progressive Majority, led by veteran organizer Gloria Totten, was launched in 2001 with the purpose of electing progressive champions. As the only national organization dedicated exclusively to supporting the next generation of progressive candidates, it is dedicated to long-term change, and to countering the DLC's centrist candidates and efforts to steer the party rightward.

In the end, then, this is a grand (though by no means comprehensive) coalition of progressivism. The hard work of these groups over the past two years will pay dividends on Election Day. Equally important, however, is that these groups represent a kind of shadow Democratic Party--that has arisen due to new campaign finance rules and the Party's weakness--offering a fighting chance to progressives who are committed to protecting the vote, mobilizing progressive voters and revitalizing democracy in the decades ahead.

These organizations--and the values they represent--are finding strength in numbers. Regardless of who wins, progressives aren't going away after November 2nd.

Anti-Bushism: Before and After E Day

Two and a half years ago, I had an idea for a book. I mentioned it to my agent, Gail Ross, and she thought the notion had potential. She then spoke with editors at the major publishing houses in New York. No one was interested. No one wanted a book that would explore and explain the untrue assertions of George W. Bush. In the spring of 2002, Bush was still walking tall as the post-9/11 defender of the nation and conqueror of the Taliban. These editors--all of whom were probably liberal and sympathetic to a critique of Bush--had each reached the same decision: there was no market for an anti-Bush book. Fine, I thought, and went ahead with other projects.

Six months later--in October 2002--my agent called and said that she believed it was time to try again. After all, Bush and his lieutenants had started pounding on the drums of war and anxiety among the Bush opposition was growing. She asked me for a sample chapter. I said I didn't want to invest that much time and told her to call around first and see if there might now be interest. She asked for a proposal. I'm lazy, I said. Okay, she replied, how about a one-paragraph description of the book you have in mind? I agreed and shot her off an email. She forwarded it to editors and within hours about six publishing houses had come forward as suitors. Within a week, I had a contract.

Less than a year later, in September 2003, The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception was published by Crown. It became a bestseller. And it was part of a wave of anti-Bush books that included works by Al Franken, Joe Conason, and Molly Ivins. (My distinction was that I had written the only book that focused on Bush and his falsehoods.) All of these books became bestsellers. And in the following months many other Bush-bashing volumes overran the shelves at bookstores. The market had spoken.

This spate of books and other developments prompted pundits to wonder about a phenomenon they called "Bush hating." They wondered if the libs had become too angry--meaning, irrational. But it was clear that the anger--or outrage--was not misplaced. For as these pundits wringed their hands over the nasty tone of the national political discourse, Bush and his crew were leading the country to war on the basis of false assertions. Which was worse: being intemperate in tone when critiquing Bush policy, or using phony arguments to whip up support for a war that was not necessary? A number of us at that time attempted to question or challenge the Bush administration's pitch for war in Iraq. But it was a hard current to swim against, and much of the media seemed to avoid a critical examination of Bush's case for war. In recent months, both The New York Times and The Washington Post have each conceded--grudgingly--that they failed in their prewar coverage. Now, a majority of Americans, according to recent polls, say they believe the war in Iraq was a mistake. And a majority have told pollsters they think that Bush either had distorted or exaggerated the truth when he presented his case for the invasion.

This is not (entirely) an I-told-you-so moment. All the telling won't matter much if on Election Day the defining sin of the Bush administration--launching a war that need not have been launched--is washed away by a victory for Bush. (This election is not only about Bush; there's another guy involved.) But perhaps this is a moment to reflect upon the rapid growth of the anti-Bush movement--from what was once about a third of the public to what this week might be a majority of the electorate. And consider the diverse nature of this anti-Bush and pro-Kerry coalition: The Times, The Post, The Economist, the Financial Times, The Nation, The New Republic, Pat Buchanan's The American Conservative (with Buchanan dissenting), P. Diddy, Russell Simmons, Eminem, Michael Stipe, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Moore, Andrew Sullivan, Camille Paglia, Jesse Ventura, George Soros, Winona LaDuke, Barry Diller, Charles Gifford (chairman of Bank of America), ret. General John Shalikashvili, ret. Adm. William Crowe, ret. Gen. Joseph Hoar, ret. Gen. Merrill McPeak. It also includes several Bush relatives (see www.bushrelativesforkerry.com) and dozens of Nobel prize winners.


When you're done reading this article,visit David Corn's WEBLOG at www.davidcorn.com. Read recent entries on how federal records could easily resolve lingering questions over Bush's National Guard service (if Bush requested them), the 100,000 "excess" civilian deaths in Iraq, and the "defining sin" of the Bush administration.


The good news is that--no matter what occurs on Election Day (or the days and weeks afterward, if it takes that long)--about half of the country (give or take that crucial 1 or 2 percent) and much more than half of the nation's cultural and intellectual community has rejected Bush's leadership and agenda during a time of war and quasi-war. Bush really must be doing something wrong to piss off both the Financial Times and LaDuke, who was Nader's running mate in 2000, and cause each to endorse (even if haltingly) John Kerry. It should tell Bush something that his war in Iraq has so bitterly divided the nation. But there is no sign that Bush has absorbed any lessons. He has mainly responded to Kerry's critique of the war with derision and false accusations. Even in the red-hot crucible of a neck-and-neck election, a commander in chief engaged in a controversial war overseas can still be expected to discuss the matter in a serious manner. But not Bush. He would rather push buttons than discuss points.

Commentators have observed that this election is a contest for the soul of the nation. There is limited truth to that. The United States is a country split along various fault lines: Red States versus Blue States. Rs versus Ds. Town versus country. Traditionalists versus modernists. Those who question authority versus those who crave authority. Those who believe Bush lied the nation to war versus those who don't. Those who accept the findings that Iraq had no WMDs versus those who still believe Saddam Hussein was loaded with WMDs. Those who want a man of action who is guided more by principles than analysis versus those who appreciate a fellow who fully analyzes a situation before he acts. And these divides will remain after the votes are added up and a winner announced (or appointed).

This election will not resolve the underlying issues that animate these various sociological, cultural and political face-offs. In a winner-take-all system, it may appear as if one said has vanquished the other. But that will be a false impression. The clash over values, ideals and policies will not be done. It will, however, certainly be a relief for our side if Bushism and all it represents (dishonesty in government, unnecessary war, tax cuts favoring the best off) receives a slap-down and has to regroup, while Kerry strives (we can hope) to make good on his promise. Half the nation or so will still be on the other side, and the fray will continue. Yet putting hope aside regarding the final tally and looking at this half-full/half-empty election before the counting is done, participants in the anti-Bush coalition (from Eminem to The Economist) can perhaps be encouraged that they have forced a close fight that will decide a battle but not a war.


WHILE THERE IS STILL TIME BEFORE THE ELECTION, DON'T FORGET ABOUT DAVID CORN'S BOOK, The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception (Crown Publishers). A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! An UPDATED and EXPANDED EDITION is NOW AVAILABLE in PAPERBACK. The Washington Post says, "This is a fierce polemic, but it is based on an immense amount of research....[I]t does present a serious case for the president's partisans to answer....Readers can hardly avoid drawing...troubling conclusions from Corn's painstaking indictment." The Los Angeles Times says, "David Corn's The Lies of George W. Bush is as hard-hitting an attack as has been leveled against the current president. He compares what Bush said with the known facts of a given situation and ends up making a persuasive case." The Library Journal says, "Corn chronicles to devastating effect the lies, falsehoods, and misrepresentations....Corn has painstakingly unearthed a bill of particulars against the president that is as damaging as it is thorough." And GEORGE W. BUSH SAYS, "I'd like to tell you I've read [ The Lies of George W. Bush], but that'd be a lie."

For more information and a sample, go to www.davidcorn.com. And see his WEBLOG there.

All About Osama

In the most unexpected and bizarre October surprise of my lifetime, Osama bin Laden interjected himself into the last days of the presidential campaign by editorializing against Bush. He accused the Bush family of nepotism, cronyism, and corruption. He criticized the Patriot Act by name, saying its purpose is to suppress freedom. And he said he found it easy to provoke and bait this administration. As Bill Maher courageously joked Friday night, "He's stolen Michael Moore's and my act."

Here's Osama's take on the opening scenes of Farenheit 9/11: "It never occurred to us that the commander-in-chief of the American forces would leave 50,000 in the two towers to face those horrors alone…because he thought listening to a child discussing her goat and its ramming was more important than the planes and their ramming of the skyscrapers. That gave us three times the required time to carry out the operations, praise Allah."

In a perfect world we would treat Osama bin Laden's remarks with the disdain they deserve and ignore them. He is a megalomaniacal murderer who should be captured and brought to justice, not analyzed. He's also an aging diva, who desperately wants to get back into the spotlight after having been displaced by a younger, more vicious version of himself--Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Osama looked tan, fit, and rested for his comeback role as Public Enemy #1. This is becoming like a Jihadist production of All About Eve.

Instead we live in Partisan World, where everything is about the horse race. Immediately the media, aided as always by The Note, was weighing two scenarios. A) It helps Bush because it would turn the topic away from the mess in Iraq to terrorism and Osama. B) It helps Kerry because it underlines his critique of the Bush Administration's failure to focus on Osama instead of going to war with Iraq. On balance, the Gang of 500 thinks it helps Bush.

Many reached this conclusion in part because of the virtually audible collective gasp from Kerry supporters on Friday afternoon. Osama bin Laden is using the same lines of attack against Bush that Democrats have been using for the last three years? Talk about the kiss of death.

But the question arises: kiss of death for whom? Since we have already started down this road, one feels the need to ask: does Osama really want Kerry to win? Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, one of our few remaining Arab allies, says Bush is a walking recruitment poster for al Qaeda.

Or to borrow the words of blogger Ana Marie Cox, aka Wonkette, "[Osama's] condemning Bush. Which of course means that he wants Kerry to win. Unless he really wants Bush to win and is just by default endorsing Kerry in order to get people to vote for Bush out of spite. But then again, if we're smart enough to figure this out, then maybe Osama knows that too and he really wants Kerry to win, and is endorsing Kerry so that people will at first lean towards voting for Bush but then think that's what Osama wants…So confusing."

None of this should matter. In a perfect world, the Bush Administration wouldn't try to spin this, because if they acknowledge and therefore amplify Osama's political importance, "the terrorists"--to borrow a popular refrain from three yaers ago--"win."

But in Partisan World, the Republicans were barely able to contain their glee as they went spinning away. "When people look at that guy [Osama], they understand we are at war," said Mr. Bush's campaign manager, Ken Mehlman. "And they want to make sure that their commander-in-chief does."

Well, Ken, since you brought the subject up, does this commander-in-chief really understand we are at war with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda? It seems to me when Bush had a chance to capture Osama "dead or alive" at Tora Bora he not only blew it but almost immediately turned the attention of the military, the special forces and his Administration to war with Iraq and Saddam Hussein, who the 9/11 commission confirmed had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

Correct me if I'm wrong here, Kenny Boy, but wasn't it George W. Bush who said at one of his exceedingly rare press conferences in March of 2002, "So I don't know where he is. Nor, you know, I just don't spend that much time on him really, to be honest with you. I...I truly am not that concerned about him"?

And wasn't it President Bush who was so unconcerned about bin Laden that when Kerry brought up that specific quote in the second debate, Bush, apparently having forgotten he made it, denied it, calling Kerry's attack "One of those exaggerations"--drawling out the word "exaggerations" in the affected West Texas accent he breaks out when going for cheap laughs?

No, this dividing-not-uniting Administration can't help trying to turn its failure to capture bin Laden into a political positive. After all, they successfully turned their failure to take Islamic terrorism seriously before 9/11--remember the August 2001 PDB report entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside United States?"--into a political mandate when grieving Americans quite naturally wanted to rally around the flag after the shocking tragedy.

This Administration initially resisted proposals for a homeland security office before flip-flopping, while still making certain to put a poison pill into the bill limiting the legal rights of the new agency's employees. When Senate Democrats, like war hero Max Cleland, who left three limbs in the jungles of Vietnam, voted against this cynical provision, the Bush Administration used their honorable votes to claim they were soft on terrorism in the 2002 elections. As a result, Vietnam draft deferral specialist Saxby Chambliss beat veteran Cleland because of these baseless attacks.

No, this Administration can't help but try and turn its failures of vision, strategy, and policy into political positives. On November 2nd the American people have the opportunity to reject their cruel and cynical opportunism. I pray we do.