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Tuesday, March 02, 2004

VandeHei Watch 3.2.04: Edwards Ebbing, Senate Vote Politics

It's a Jim VandeHei two-fer in Tuesday's Wasington Post.

He co-bylines a Super Tuesday preview article with John F. Harris that runs inside and sets pretty low expectations for Edwards on Tuesday based on his reception Monday in Ohio:

Edwards's day at times had a desultory air. At Dayton, a large aircraft hangar felt decidedly drafty, as only 120 or so people gathered to hear the candidate. At the University of Toledo, he campaigned in the same student union where Kerry had appeared last week. According to some in the audience who attended both events, Kerry drew a larger and more boisterous audience.

Is this really going to be the end for Edwards? Or are media members just lowering the expectations so that they can talk up Edwards yet again when he exceeds them tomorrow night? They even throw in the detail that Edwards skipped his customary five-mile run on Monday due to fatigue.

The more important article is VandeHei's front-pager, co-bylined with Charles Babington, about Congressional Republicans' plans to use Senate votes for political purposes against Kerry/Edwards during the election year. This is relevant today because of the gun legislation that is likely to be voted on regarding the extension of a ban on certain assault weapons (other issues that may come up as amendments include protecting gun manufacturers from liability). More is on the way:

Republicans also plan a series of votes on judicial appointments and tax cuts this year that could put Kerry in tough political spots, according to a senior GOP leadership aide. Another possible wedge issue, aides in both parties say, is a long-standing proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw burning the American flag.

That would be really stupid if they try injecting a flag-burning amendment to the election year. I will gag if they do, though they've already shown how craven they are by pushing the gay marriage ban. I think this gamesmanship all serves as a reminder of why it's helpful to have a presidential candidate who is not a current member of Congress and why current members so rarely are elected to the White House.

The reporting is pretty fair, though I'm left wondering why reporters write ridiculous paragraphs like this:

GOP leaders are not specifically scheduling votes to influence the election, he said, but they are aware of the political calendar and the potential impact of congressional votes. "We've got a lot of things to get done," Ueland said. "If they have resonance with the campaign, that's an added benefit."

What is that supposed to mean? They claim not to be "specifically scheduling votes to influence the election" but they profess to be pleased that the votes they are scheduling (willfully) may influence the election. Why do the reporters play along with the obviously inaccurate claim that the scheduling of these votes isn't pure election-year politics? It contradicts everything else in the article--not least the headline of "GOP Plans Votes to Put Democrats on the Spot"--and I wish they would have written instead something like, "Republican claims to the contrary notwithstanding, these votes clearly appear to be timed for political purposes in an election year."