David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

Former Rep. Gerry Studds (D-MA), the first openly gay member of Congress, whose name has been in the news lately because, like Mark Foley, Studds had his own "page problem," died Saturday.

This is good stuff:

President Bush finds the world around him increasingly "unacceptable."

. . .

[A] survey of transcripts from Bush's public remarks over the past seven years shows the president's worsening political predicament has actually stoked, rather than diminished, his desire to proclaim what he cannot abide. Some presidential scholars and psychologists describe the trend as a signpost of Bush's rising frustration with his declining influence.

In the first nine months of this year, Bush declared more than twice as many events or outcomes "unacceptable" or "not acceptable" as he did in all of 2005, and nearly four times as many as he did in 2004. He is, in fact, at a presidential career high in denouncing events he considers intolerable. They number 37 so far this year, as opposed to five in 2003, 18 in 2002 and 14 in 2001.

More on this later . . .

As long as the Washington Post is talking about the beautiful Democratic faces to watch, we might as well give equal time to the GOP beautiful people.

For those of you who don't keep up with these things (I don't either, but some of our fearless readers do), here's the background. Country music star Sara Evans has filed for divorce, and it has gotten pretty nasty. I'll spare our more tender readers the allegations (porn) Evans is making (adultery) about her husband (a former GOP candidate for Congress).

Wait, former GOP candidate for Congress?

Yep. Ran for Congress in Oregon in 2002.

Funny thing is, his campaign website is still up--at least until this post it was. So you can see some of your GOP faves (President Bush) with the happy couple. There's even a photo touting the beauty of GOP women.

See what that WP front page has done? Now we're all wallowing in the gutter.

Caution: The front page of the Washington Post will make you hurl your Cheerios this morning:

Attractive politicians have an edge over not-so-attractive ones. The phenomenon is resonating especially this year. By a combination of luck and design, Democrats seem to be fielding an uncommonly high number of uncommonly good-looking candidates.

The beauty gap between the parties, some on Capitol Hill muse, could even be a factor in who controls Congress after Election Day.

I know, it's no more hackneyed than the analysis Broder regularly churns out, but Page 1? Maybe I'm just grumpy today.

Huge amount of independent expenditures today by the NRCC: $9.3 million.

Here are the biggest hits:

$424,948.80 against Democratic challenger Darcy Burner in the WA-8;

$571,073.60 against Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy in PA-8;

$657,276.80 against Democratic challenger Joe Sestak in PA-7;

$652,884.80 against Democratic challenger Lois Murphy in PA-6;

$579,187.60 against Democrat Zack Space in the race for Bob Ney's open OH-18 seat;

$521,985.88 against Democratic incumbent Rep. Melissa Bean in IL-8;

$436,881.00 against Democratic challenger Ron Klein in FL-22;

$417,933.39 against Democratic challenger Ken Lucas in KY-4;

A whopping 99% of today's expenditure was for negative advertising.

All indications at this point are that the North Koreans have conducted a nuclear weapons test. According to CNN:

Late Sunday in Washington, the U.S. military told CNN it believed the report to be true, but was working to fully confirm it.

Senior U.S. officials said they also believed the test took place.

This is a strategic disaster of the first order.

Well, Foley may get pushed off the front page.

North Korea claims it has successfully completed its first nuclear test.

And some South Korean officials say there are signs it's true.

Developing . . .

Update: From the AP:

North Korea said Monday it has performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test. The country's official Korean Central News Agency said the test was performed successfully and there was no radioactive leakage from the site.

"The nuclear test is a historic event that brought happiness to the our military and people," KCNA said.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency is reporting that government officials said North Korea performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test Monday.

South Korean officials could not immediately confirm the report.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun convened an urgent meeting of security advisers over the issue, Yonhap reported.

Late update: AP reporting that the test occurred 9:36 p.m. EDT Sunday. You can't very well hide a nuclear test, so American officials already know whether it occurred. Any unusual activity at State or Pentagon tonight?

This is big:

A Republican congressman knew of disgraced former representative Mark Foley's inappropriate Internet exchanges as far back as 2000 and personally confronted Foley about his communications.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) confirmed yesterday that a former page showed the congressman Internet messages that had made the youth feel uncomfortable with the direction Foley (R-Fla.) was taking their e-mail relationship. . . .

The revelation pushes back by at least five years the date when a member of Congress has acknowledged learning of Foley's behavior with former pages.

That's not the other shoe dropping, that's Imelda Marcos' whole closet.

TPM Reader MA checks in:

If only Democrats could plan a bit more than a half-step ahead, they'd pay close attention to what Baker is cooking up, as it were.

The emerging plan for the next couple of years seems to be to attempt to pile on Democrats with the accusation of "cut and run" prior to the midterm elections and then to shift gears, declare limited victory in Iraq and propose a timetable for withdrawal AFTER the midterm elections and before the next general election.

The Iraqi people want a timetable for us to get out of there as do the American people. The only other option is to ramp up the forces there to the half-million or more necessary to secure the country -- a plan that, with the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and other potential threats -- would almost surely entail reinstating the draft, something that the GOP will NEVER do in the leadup to a presidential election.

Democrats need to see what's coming -- and advocate for what they believe. I suspect that they will almost always be losers in the war debate since they were dumb enough to back Bush in the first place and they'll always be the ones who didn't have the guts to say what they knew was the right thing to say WHEN it needed to be said. If there charge against Bush is that he got it all wrong -- that just makes them look like the idiots they were for jumping on his bandwagon.

Still, they need to tell the public what's going on, that even as the GOP numbly repeat their "cut and run" charge, they are plotting to announce a plan for troop withdrawals after the elections, and they need to take the initiative to come up with a least-worst withdrawal plan and make that an issue NOW before Republicans steal it from them.

I think MA is correct on the GOP plans for Iraq, and I touched on this a while back. But the larger issue he is getting at applies well beyond Iraq.

The Democrats have to make sure that they frame the election in the next few weeks in such a way that they can convert the political momentum of victory into a strong post-election political position on a range of issues.

For example, prior to the Foley scandal, I think it would have been difficult for the Democrats to persuasively argue that their victory was a mandate for fundamental political reform. But now the issue of scandal and corruption has been clearly framed, and Democratic victory would carry with it a strong mandate to clean up public corruption.

Winning the election must of course be the first priority, but it's time to be thinking ahead.