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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Huckabee: Shhhh, It's Between God and Me

| Tue Dec. 18, 2007 1:01 PM PST

I'm telling God, not you.

That seemed to be Mike Huckabee's message to the people of Arkansas when he was governor there. Here's an item from the February 19, 1999 issue of the Arkansas Times:

What the people don't know won't hurt me.
In an interview with the Arkansas Baptist news magazine, Gov. Mike Huckabee elaborated on his statement that he had resolved to "trust God more and people less."
The magazine said: "Citing 'the classic Baptist phrase to trust the Lord and tell the people,' he noted, 'I've found you can still trust the Lord, but you better not tell the people everything. Too much information can hurt you more than not giving information."
Huckabee went on to say that being guarded was "the reversal of everything I have practiced and been led to believe."

When Jimmy Carter ran for president in 1976 as an evangelical, he looked voters straight in the eye and promised, "I will never lie to you." Will former pastor Huckabee proclaim, "I will not tell you everything"?

And my pal Robert Wright of Bloggingheads.tv wonders (as he sits in my office) if this Huckabee statement represents the intersection of Baptist theology and the neocon-Straussian concept of the noble lie. In any event, how noble of Huckabee in this instance to ignore a Baptist injunction for the sake of his own administration.

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Email from Iraq: U.S.-Approved Turkish Attack on Kurds Will Hurt the U.S.

| Mon Dec. 17, 2007 9:34 AM PST

On Sunday, Turkish fighter jets bombed targets in northern Iraq, looking to strike Kurdish militants--and did so with the permission of the U.S. government, which controls the air space over Iraq. Turkey's military chief, General Yasar Buyukanit, was quoted on Turkish television saying, "America gave [us] intelligence. But more importantly, America last night opened [the Iraqi] air space to us. By opening the air space, America gave its approval to this operation."

This one-day military mission might have tremendous consequences that affect the U.S. position in Iraq. Last week, on this site, retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor speculated that recent developments in Iraq (the so-called Great Awakening in Anbar province and the so-called surge) could lead to a Turkish-Kurdish military conflict and land the United States in the middle of a regional war. (In Macgregor's view, the United States would end up on the side of the Kurds, which is not what's happening at the moment.) Given the profound political instability within Iraq, a Turkish-Kurdish war in the north could cause all efforts at national reconciliation (no matter how unsuccessful they have been so far) to collapse.

Shortly after news of the air strike broke, a former U.S. official who is trying to broker business deals in the Kurdish region of Iraq fired off an email to me. He was in Iraq at the time of the attack, and he was outraged at the U.S. involvement in the Turkish strike. He has been in contact with leading Kurds in Iraq and fears this development could lead to a great unraveling in the north. In his email (which I've tidied up), he wrote:

The blow back here in Kurdistan is building against the US government. There are protests and visible anger as the story of the US Air Force helping the Turks kill Kurds in the Kandil Mountains spreads. My [Kurdish] colleagues here are headed to an emergency session of the parliament. The entire [Kurdish] negotiating team left Baghdad and flew back here to attend the session. People are really upset. The Turks of course are...emphasizing that the US Air Force was heavily involved in the attack.
The Kurdish theme is one of shock, and betrayal. The Kurds see themselves as the only true friend of the Americans in the region, and the only part of Iraq that is working, and are especially hurt by the attack. The US has never killed Kurds deliberately before. We killed a lot of them in the war by accident and recklessness, which [the Kurds] managed to rationalize away, but never on purpose. We are at a loss to understand the [US government] thinking on supporting this operation.

Democratic Debate: We Watch So You Don't Have To (and There Was Nothing To See)

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 1:52 PM PST

This afternoon, the Democratic presidential candidates gathered in Des Moines for their final debate prior to the Iowa cacuses on January 3. For undecided voters, there was no new material

Here's a brief recap of an utterly uneventful affair. From the horse race perspective, no one flopped, fumbled or drooled. And no one attacked anyone. There were no moments you will see replayed and dissected excessively on cable news shows. There were, essentially no highlights--except perhaps for a moment when Barack Obama was asked how his foreign policy as president would be a break from the past given that he has several ex-Clintonites advising him. Before he could answer, Hillary Clinton said, "I want to hear that." As the crowd laughed, Obama shot back, "I'm looking forward to you advising me as well." That was as spicy as it got.

And for anyone obsessed with policy matters, there was not much there either. (Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel were not invited to attend because the host, the Des Moines Register, determined that neither have a functioning campaign office in Iowa.) Bill Richardson called for a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget and for awarding line-item veto authority to the president--positions most of the other candidates do not back. He also called for scrapping the no Child Left Behind law; the other candidates talked of fixing it. Each declared their intention to end the war in Iraq; there was no detailed discussion about that. But Richardson declared he would leave no residual troops in Iraq. (Iran did not come up.) After Richardson called China a "strategic competitor," Chris Dodd maintained the United States has an "adversarial relationship" with China.

There were no clashes of policy or proposals. Clinton, Obama and Edwards did not revive their past disagreements over Social Security and health care. And while Obama decried "special interests" in Washington, John Edwards repeatedly--and I do mean repeatedly--cited the necessity of crushing "corporate power" and "corporate greed" in Washington, claiming he was the only candidate with the guts and spine to do so.

As soon as the debate ended, it was as if it had never occurred.

Hillary Wins Big Endorsement: Her Mother

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 9:42 AM PST

The Hillary Clinton is airing a new 30-second television ad in Iowa today that features...her mother:

DOROTHY RODHAM: What I would like people to know about Hillary is what a good person she is. She never was envious of anybody--she was helpful. And she's continued that with her adult life with helping other women. She has empathy for other people's unfortunate circumstances. I've always admired that because it isn't always true of people. I think she ought to be elected even if she weren't my daughter.

Never envious, always helpful. Insipid? A wee bit. And note that she's been helping "other women," not "other people." With Barack Obama in the lead in the first state, the Clinton campaign is obviously aiming to preserve its support among older women. Is this an indication Clinton and her strategists are worried about their base?

Update: Video of the ad after the jump.

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