David Corn

David Corn

Washington Bureau Chief

Corn has broken stories on presidents, politicians, and other Washington players. He's written for numerous publications and is a talk show regular. His best-selling books include Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.

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GOPers Debate (Nicely) in Florida; Here Are the Whoppers of the Night

| Thu Jan. 24, 2008 9:31 PM PST

At Thursday night's Republican presidential debate, the GOP contenders did their best not to make any news. No one attacked anyone; no one disagreed on any major policy matter--except regarding a proposal to establish a national catastrophic insurance fund that would back up private insurance firms. (Rudy Giuliani, playing to Florida homeowners, voiced his support for it; Mitt Romney supported the general notion; John McCain attacked legislation that would set up such a fund as a $200 billion boondoggle.) Generally, the candidates made up a chorus for tax cuts and fighting--make that, winning--the Iraq war. (Then there was Ron Paul.) At times, the candidates hailed their rivals. It was so.... un-Democratic. No nastiness--even though McCain and Romney, essentially tied for first place in the Florida polls, have been hurling negative ads at each other. (A Romney ad assails McCain for flip-flopping on tax cuts; a McCain spot blasts Romney for...flip-flopping on tax cuts. McCain is actually comparing Romney to John Kerry.)

If you were forced to pick a winner--and in the absence of policy disputes, the debate was all about the horse race--you'd probably have to choose Romney, who seemed quasi-commanding and who this night, for some reason, looked more like Hollywood's idea of a president than usual. But no candidate hurt his own prospects. That doesn't mean, though, they didn't come out with some whoppers. Here's a sampling:

* Moderator Tim Russert asked McCain about a comment McCain had supposedly made--"I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues; I still need to be educated"--and McCain shot back, "I don't know where you got that quote from; I'm very well-versed in economics." Well, McCain did tell the Baltimore Sun, "The issue of economics is something that I've really never understood as well as I should." So much for being "well-versed."

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Blinded by McCain, Michelle Malkin Misreads MoJo

| Thu Jan. 24, 2008 6:16 PM PST

Michelle Malkin, my old sparring partner at Fox News, ought to reread my colleague Jonathan Stein's dispatch on the feverish McCain hatred among right-wing commentators (including Malkin). On her blog, Malkin cites the article as--a-ha!--yet more proof of the "left-wing media's love affair" with Senator John McCain. But in the piece, Stein shows McCain no affection. He merely reports on the rage McCain triggers among conservative leaders, writers, and bloggers, noting that this gang, already upset with McCain's recent success in the GOP primaries, will go ballistic if he does well in Florida and--gasp!--on Supersaturated Tuesday. Her item confirms the point of the piece: McCain sure pushes these guys and gals over the edge. And consider this: McCain is the only major Republican party candidate who's done any heavy-lifting in support of George W. Bush's war in Iraq. Yet he gets no love from these war cheerleaders. What ingrates.

Michelle vs. Bill: In the Democratic Race, the Spouses Go at It

| Thu Jan. 24, 2008 1:22 PM PST

Can Michelle Obama take down Bill Clinton?

Well, can she at least exploit the spouse of her spouse's chief rival to raise money for her own spouse?

On Thursday afternoon, the Obama campaign sent out a fundraising appeal signed by Barack Obama's wife that uses Bill Clinton's recent swipes at Senator Obama as its main get-out-your-checkbooks motivator. She writes:

We knew getting into this race that Barack would be competing with Senator Clinton and President Clinton at the same time.

Schwarzkopf Endorses McCain: Let's Forget About the Iraq War

| Wed Jan. 23, 2008 8:30 AM PST

A press release from McCain HQ:

ARLINGTON, VA — Today, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, U.S. Army (Ret.) issued the following statement endorsing John McCain for President of the United States:
"Senator John McCain has served our country with honor in war and in peace. He has demonstrated the type of courageous leadership our country sorely needs at this time. For that reason, he has my complete support."

A January 28, 2003 article from The Washington Post:

TAMPA — Norman Schwarzkopf wants to give peace a chance.
The general who commanded U.S. forces in the 1991 Gulf War says he hasn't seen enough evidence to convince him that his old comrades Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz are correct in moving toward a new war now. He thinks U.N. inspections are still the proper course to follow. He's worried about the cockiness of the U.S. war plan, and even more by the potential human and financial costs of occupying Iraq....

Fred Thompson Exits, Stage Right

| Tue Jan. 22, 2008 1:50 PM PST

Fred Thompson, we hardly knew ye.

Well, actually, we did. And we—or, more importantly, Republican voters—didn't like what they saw: a halfhearted and curmudgeonly candidate who didn't seem to have all that much to say.

The failed candidacy of Thompson, who announced his retreat from the presidential race on Tuesday, does not demand much analysis. On paper, he seemed ideal: a Southerner with a conservative bent, a popular television star, and a Republican who did not piss off any major bloc in the GOP coalition. But as any Hollywood veteran knows, a project on paper can look a lot better than what eventually hits the local multiplex or TV screen.

Thompson put in the worst presidential campaign performance of recent years. At times, he didn't seem to want the part. The media narrative that emerged—Thompson the Lazy Candidate—was, whaddayaknow, kind of true. A few days ago, NPR asked several presidential candidates to name their all-time favorite presidents. The replies were predictable. And Thompson selected George Washington. But his explanation was all-too telling. Thompson did not cite Washington's military victory over the British or his achievements as the nation's first president. He said he admired Washington because he had been able to walk away from the presidency after serving two terms. Thompson pointed out that Washington never returned to Washington (the city) once he was no longer chief executive. Thompson was more intrigued by how a president leaves office than how one governs while in the job.

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