The Samuel Johnson Society of Vermont, which occasionally digresses from the literature and politics of the 18th century to take up current topics, met in Montpelier on Tuesday night to discuss the first chapter of The Way To Win. Though there was considerable expression of distress about the effects of the new media, or "The Freak Show" as Halperin and Harris dub them, there was also general agreement that future presidential candidates must not only understand the new conditions but be able to turn them to advantage. Quite a bit of skepticism emerged about the book's contention that the Freak Show is the enemy of ideas but that ideas are the enemy of the Freak Show. The latter half of the assertion was allowed to be true only if the word "idea" is expanded to include cloudy abstractions which may imply something very different from what a candidate is actually pursuing. The claim, for example, to be a champion of freedom and democracy, often turns into a kind of freak show of its own. After more than an hour of pessimistic conversation about the prospects for democracy in America, the hopeful thought came forward that if candidates can discover ways to turn the Freak Show back on itself such confrontations might end up being an educational tool for the public. If that should happen, analyses like The Way To Win will have been an essential element of political reform and the kind of intellectual development Dr. Johnson would very much have approved.
"Americans for Honesty on Issues" is a new 527 headed up by DeLay ally Sue Walden, reports John Broder of the New York Times. Broder writes that the group plans to go up with $1 million in negative television ads against nine Democratic House candidates across the country. And don't miss Broder's adding up the total dollar amount expected this season. LINK
Foley: Jeff Trandahl, the former House Clerk:
David Rogers of the Wall Street Journal makes it clear again: Jeff Trandahl, the former House Clerk, is the Third (or so) Man in this drama.
Regarding the Kolbe developments, Rogers writes: "If Mr. Trandahl was informed, the Ethics Committee will want to know if he shared that information with the speaker's office. When the complaint came last year from the Louisiana family, it would have been a second red flag about Mr. Foley's behavior for Mr. Trandahl and anyone he advised in Mr. Hastert's office."
The Chicago Tribune writes about the emergence of Trandahl as one of the key players in the Foley scandal after Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) said he passed along a complaint about Foley's inappropriate e-mails. LINK
"A new account from a Republican congressman who was informed as early as 2000 of suggestive emails from Foley to a former page described a more significant role for then-House Clerk Jeff Trandahl. The congressman, Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ.), said he passed the complaint on to Trandahl, who also was involved in handling a complaint in 2005 about inappropriate emails to another former page. The account raises new questions about the quiet disposition of the later complaint, which officials handled by privately warning Foley to cease contact with pages."
Foley: news of day: