Thursday, December 18, 2003

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Let's go to the mailbag!!

Yesterday's Slate essay has inspired a much stronger reaction than my last Slate essay. Probably because it's featured on the MSN portal today.

The following is an (edited) collection of the most... "out there" responses I've received, and will be updated as the day goes along:

"[Y]our love for Howard Dean is to palpabable.... As for the IRAQ war, in fact the whole Muslim Middle east, something has to be done about their crusade against the west and America. Especially after the attack on 9/11/2001. We need to perform a crusade (1930's Germany style) against the Muslims and throw out of America all Muslims back to the Middle East as they do not support the US Constitution, much like yourself."

"Who died and left you in charge of National Security. It sounds if you would let all of the killers of the Mideast walk right and in take over America!!!"

"Sadly however, you ignored or opted out on the Pinocchio theory.... the current administration is based on lies, lies, (and will full apologies to Samuel Clement) damn lies. So there you have it from the “Left of Che Guevara” contingent of the Boomer generation. And yes, if you must be bitchy about it, I still read from my Thoughts of Chairman Mao book. What, you don’t?"

"I read the above captioned article and can easily tell that you are a democrat. It must be nice to sit back and "monday morning quarteback" the president. Your views are so far to the left, I'm sure some of your text must have been a rewording of a Marxist doctrine."

"Israel and the Israeli lobby in the U.S. are the ones that really call the shots in the substance and execution of our middle eastern foriegn policy. Without a doubt, they have wagged the body of our middle-eastern foreign policy for many, many decades."

"Just another Bush Basher. It seems very fashionable in the Preppy Soho society the annals of the campus and the media. Quite frankly, it makes me sick."

"We're shooting through an uncharted, terrorist-filled galaxy at light speed, and the spinners like you are all playing the role of Mr. Scott, shouting over the intercom to James T. Kirk that "..she can't take much more!" Bush, like Kirk, is facing something nobody ever wants to face: The unknown. He's boldly going where no man has gone before, and I think it's high time he gets some credit for doing a pretty damn good job at it."

"You hate us (clear minded Americans who don't even need to have a high school education, much less be a professor, to see that Bush is doing, what he believes is the best thing for America) so bad, with all due respect... LEAVE!"

"[L]like a good little American Nazi, you just blindly brush aside any evidence that Bush is trying to establish a world wide empire, and a totalitarian one at that?.... I am watching my country, the United States, rapidly become a fascist dictatorship and the press, instead of alerting Americans about what is actually going on, are blindly going along with it."

"Why don't you Bush Bashers just write something like, "Blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah!!!!! Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah." It seems to me, that's all you people know how to do.... The UN was never going to do anything about Hussein. You know this as well as every other Democrat, but you CHOOSE to ignore facts. So, rather that acknowledge truth and fact, you harp and nitpick."

"After reading your Bush the Bumbler I really need your address so I can send you a clue. Try reading 'Everything I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten'. This is not difficult. Please let your new babysitter be Michael Jackson."

"You are the very foundation of troubles in this country. Your 'freedom' to speech that allows you to write just reinforces why I would vote for this President again. Your "freedom" alone kills soldiers. Your words tell rulers around the world that America is disjointed and vulnerable. I never liked President Clinton but I never spoke badly of him. As citizens of this country and under democratic system - win or lose - we support our president."

"I am shocked at your radical views and at MSN for featuring such fanaticism. You might as well fly a plane into a building."

"With your inability to use sound logic and reasoning, how did you ever get to be a professor of anything?"

"You truly are nothing more than just a negative person, besides being a liberal. Your articles are from the mindset of someone who craves nothing more than attention. Grow some balls, be a man and support our country and president in a time of war."

"A word to the wise; Republican toadies should treat Dr. Dean with more respect. Show him some respect now and he may take pity on poor Bush when it comes to the 'head to head' debates. Even a conservative robot such as yourself has to see the writing on the wall."

"Sedition is any act, writing or speech, etc., directed against state authority, the government, or the constitution, or calculated to bring it into contempt or to entice others to hostility or disaffection. Mr. Drezner, You sir are a seditious traitor. Your reason: political advantage; pitiful and pathetic."

"As a politic (sic) science student, like myself, you must have heard of the project for the new American century (PNAC), you must also be aware that all major officials inside the admin are ex-corporate execs. You must also know that there are as many corporate lobbyers in Washington as there are politicians. And I am assuming that you also know that the invasion of Afghanistan had been in the making since the late 90?s. The list can continue, ut I feel that this is sufficient to show that your representation of the 'conspiracy theories' is both unfair and manipulative."

"When will liberals such as yourself grow up and stand up for what is right in this cruel, vicious world?.... What is your point besides a pathological hatred of President Bush?.... Your constant harping, piddling criticisms and infantile tantrums about President Bush is just too much to take."

"You are obviously apart of the angry left who entertain fanciful stories of withholding capture anouncements and the like from the public for pure political gain."

"Chicago, what a liberal hotbed, you, Cusak (sic) and Jessie Jackson and Co. Perhaps Dan, if the terrorists had reached out to Chicago on 9/11/01, you would feel very differently."

"After reading your article on what is really wrong with President Bush's foreign policy I can only conclude that you are either a pacifist, an appeaser, a coward, or some combination of all three."

"I for the life of me can not understand how you and your cohorts on the media and in Hollywood can be so un-American. If you were living and working under any of those people, I am certain you would have been done away with along time ago if so much as criticized them the way you criticize our government. Not one person offers any constructive advice and if any thing is offered it has to go before the UN which is a total waste of time any money and completely anti-American, except when it comes to our money. I am glad we have President Bush and I hope he continues to do exactly what he has done. He is at least doing something and not giving into people like you and the rest of you ultra liberals."

"While you liberals have the "right" to slam the president in print, I feel your patriotism borders on "verbal treason" for not standing with our commander in chief in a time of war. In most of the countries you defend, people are killed for that and less."

"Aren’t you glad you live in the United States, Communist like you are what is wrong with how our society is today."

The joys of open debate! I had no idea that there were this many people who agreed with Britney Spears' political philosophy -- or Che Guevara's, for that matter.

Just to be clear, I'm not posting these because they upset me or provoke a need for sympathy. Mostly, I found them hysterical, in both senses of the word.

That said, let me close with a few polite and trenchant e-mails:

"i'm 21 years old and a security forces member in the USAF, i've recently read about your criticism on the presidents foreign policies and what not. i'll be the first to admit, that a lot of the political topics are over my head, but i think your writings focused more on the bad than the good, this whole thing has been hard on all us military members but, hearing the thanks from the Iraqi people seeing how relieved they were doesn't that make it all worth it? these type of things are never easy, and i know there is always room for improvement, but on the whole i think President Bush is doing a wonderful job, and i have full faith in him. regardless of what ever problems there are with his policies he is doing some good in the world."

"You might be right about the Bush administration being incompetent. Problem is, we won't really know until long after the fact. Incompetence is a charge that more often accompanies failure, when in truth there have been many successes throughout history that happened in spite of being incompetently orchestrated.

In fact, I will go so far as to say that we have a greater chance at achieving good by incompetently following the correct policy than we do following, competently or otherwise, an incorrect policy....

Sometimes we just muddle through and it all works out anyway. Doing the right thing, however inexpertly, seems to be better than doing the wrong thing like a champ. It's the difference between being efficient and being effective."

posted by Dan on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM


So you're now a liberal communist? I guess tomorrow you'll wake up gay also?

posted by: Jeanie on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Wow. Do people actually understand what they read?

posted by: David Pinto on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

I’ve had my own confrontations with the ultraconservatives when I’ve dissented even partly from the uncompromising positions of the National Rifle Association. Also, my advocacy for decriminalizing mind altering drugs has resulted in suspicions that I might be a regular marihuana smoker. It is most fortunate that these right-wing crazies are the exception, and not the norm.

The 21 year old USAF member is wrong about our host allegedly focussing more on the bad than the good. Still, he’s right to to give President Bush credit for the effectiveness of his overall policies---while conceding that they might need to be improved. A rational Bush supporter should never think the President is above just criticisms.

posted by: David Thomson on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

You know, I've been reading this site for a while now and if I was asked to summarize Professor Drezner's politics words like Communist, ultra-liberal, appeaser and angry left would not be the ones which would instantly spring to mind.

I did like the last one though.

posted by: sam on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Gee, and I get annoyed when I'm in some semi-public forum and people insist on trying to angrily pigeon-hole me as soon as they find out either my profession (Middle East Studies = raving anti-American Saidista) or any given position in isolation. I admire you for contributing to the discourse in such a public manner. For me, life as a minor blogger is enough.

posted by: Brian Ulrich on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

So what was the point of printing out the email messages other than to set up an obvious series of strawman arguments?

posted by: Thorley Winston on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]


Because they're funny?

posted by: sam on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

David T.,

I admit it, I think of you as an ultraconservative wacko (which I say with much affection). But you're telling me that there are people *you* think are ultraconservative wackos? Gadzooks my world is small.

posted by: ogged on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

David Thompson wrote:

The 21 year old USAF member is wrong about our host allegedly focussing more on the bad than the good. Still, he’s right to to give President Bush credit for the effectiveness of his overall policies---while conceding that they might need to be improved. A rational Bush supporter should never think the President is above just criticisms.

I concur although our host's comments do seem more negative than positive as of late so that could explain the last emailer's comments.

posted by: Thorley Winston on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Speaking as a conservative robot, I wish to note my disgust at the prejudice displayed by the letter writer featured in this post. Conservative robots have been an integral part of the development of this country; we have served in both war and peace. Yet prejudice against us and our unique heritage continues, and is indeed not only permitted but is encouraged in the popular media: Lucas' recent glorifications of conservative robotic genocide is merely the latest face of intolerance.

The truth is far more benign: we only wish to live in peace with humanity (emulating as best we can their noble delusion of free will), maintain our unique cultural heritage and exercise our right as Americans to methodically wander peacefully through the streets with our hands stretched out in front of us*. I call upon all Americans (whether liberal or conservative, organic or inorganic, extra-dimensional puppeteer-invaders or non-telemarketer) to repudiate this message of hate and prejudice, and we thank Mr. Drezner for bringing it to our attention.

- Moe R.

*This statement has also been endorsed by Zombi Nation Republicans, Pod People of the GOP, Local VRWC #2317 and Sheeple for Bush.

posted by: Moe Lane on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

I do not often agree with you, but I find your writings to be always thoughtful. More importantly, in this time of errant civility, your posts seem to be offered in the best possible spirit: that is to say, as an honest contribution to an ongoing dialogue that is necessarily filled with strife. It is hard to digest the acrimony of many of these responses.

posted by: Stephen Pack on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]


For what it's worth, I'll bet Gene Orza's hatemail looked even worse this morning! (Bonus points if you know who the heck I'm talking about).

posted by: Kelli on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]


posted by: Brian Ulrich on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

What Stephen Pack said, except I agree with you most of the time. Also I second David Pinto's comment

posted by: David Blumgart on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Bravo Moe, for standing up for conservative robo-Americans everywhere. The letter-writer is obviously ignorant of the three laws:

1. A conservative robot may not harm a conservative, or, through inaction, allow a conservative to come to harm.
2. A conservative robot must follow the orders of a conservative, except when it conflicts with the first law.
3. A conservative robot preserve itself, except when it conflicts with the first law.

Of course, these are mere approximations of the laws, which are in fact complex mathematical equations. But it is obvious here that the letter-writer has subsumed his own self-hatred of humanity into a blatant anti-robo prejudice.

R. Independant George

posted by: R. Independant George on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Dan, you have at last been uncovered, you weasely Saddam-loving, unpatriotic, Bush-hating traitor, obviously prepared to surrender to the forces of Evil.

I used to believe that David Thomson was a good parody, but he is obviously an amateur compared to these guys.

posted by: amusedfrog on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

When I see that litany of, um, stuff, I realize, that in this group, David T could be an appalled moderate. (He'd be appalled, probably, because someone just called him a moderate.)

posted by: appalled moderate on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

When both sides are calling you an ignorant fanatic, you've got to be approximately correct. Or, at least, 'a fanatic of the middle ground'.

Don't agree with you a lot of the time, but love your stuff. Nietzsche said something about greater nobility in the courage to attack one's convictions (versus 'the courage of one's convictions'). It's nice to see it in action.


posted by: Carleton Wu on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Carleton wrote "When both sides are calling you an ignorant fanatic, you've got to be approximately correct."

Well, the lunatics come nearly exclusively from the right in the sample reprinted by Dan.

posted by: amusedfrog on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

“When I see that litany of, um, stuff, I realize, that in this group, David T could be an appalled moderate. (He'd be appalled, probably, because someone just called him a moderate.)”

Many people subconsciously hold views simply because they wish to be loved by their immediate social group. The factors of education and intelligence are nowhere near as important as the natural inclination of human beings to put their wet finger into the air to see which way the wind blows. One must overcome the temptation to become an intellectual whore. It’s not easy but it has to be done.

posted by: David Thomson on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Thanks for posting those, Dan. Letters like these should stand as an eye-opener for those who won't stand up and denounce the more vehement proponents of the liberals-as-traitors meme.

Dave Neiwert has been chronicling the rise of this kind of extremist rhetoric for some time, and while you may disagree with some of his conclusions, or rightfully point out that people like this do not represent the mainstream, this kind of thing /will/ continue as long as it is tacitly condoned by those who agree with the views but not the means.

Welcome to the club, Dan. Now you know how us liberal traitors feel. :>

posted by: Catsy on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

I don't think that this set of reactions is that surprising. After all, the original article was a half-hearted, minimal critique of Bush foreign policy on process grounds, complete with the ahistorical and false claim that this type of critique is coming primarily from the right. It makes sense that you'd get flak both from part of the right wing, which can't stand to see any criticism of Bush, and from part of the left, which would view your piece as designed to minimize far worse problems with Bush foreign policy.

That's doesn't mean that your piece is right because "both sides dislike it". Your piece is wrong because it's shoddy writing containing false claims.

posted by: Rich Puchalsky on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

First, Brian Leiter attacks you; now, you're inundated with hate mail. What a fantastic way to end the year! Advantage: Drezner!

Next up: put a flame under Dean Nation.

posted by: Robert Tagorda on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

“It makes sense that you'd get flak both from part of the right wing, which can't stand to see any criticism of Bush”

You obviously ignore the mainstream conservative publications like The Weekly Standard and National Review. They constantly take the Bush administration to task. Here is a very recent example:

posted by: David Thomson on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Posts like this are why you generally well-respected, policy differences aside.

But geez, see what real liberals have to put up with all the time?

posted by: praktike on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Daniel, you are wrong that the 'process critique' is the coming primarily from the right. In fact, the left has been slamming Bush's competence from the very first, the right has only recently joined in now that the evidence of incompetence is overwealming.

At this point, the difference is that the right uses ONLY the incompetence critique, while the left also includes the poor-judgment and he's-evil critique as well.

Personally, I think that Bush is too incompetent to be evil. He simply lacks the leadership ability to get the results that he asks for. But he also lacks the maturity of judgment to set goals that are best for the country. He acts out of spite and fear as often as anything else.

Real grown ups know when what they want will be harmful to their best interests and act accordingly. Bush doesn't seem to do that - The counterproductive war with Iraq being the prime example. He had far more pressing problems to deal with, but they weren't viserally satisfying enough for him, so he ignored them and went for the bitch slap.

posted by: Bones on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

David Thompson, you say:

"You obviously ignore the mainstream conservative publications like The Weekly Standard and National Review. They constantly take the Bush administration to task. Here is a very recent example:"

While the Standard does critique the administration on the direction of Iraq (usually, that it's not being stringent enough), NR's criticism is almost solely on the domestic front -- the Medicare bill, spending, etc. Rarely, is there a naysaying word to be found at NRO.

posted by: GR on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

A hit! A palpabable hit!

However improbabable that may seem...

posted by: tdent on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

newcomer here, after a referral from TPM. But if you want to see some really crazy whacked stuff, much more hate-filled than the crazies mr. drezner reprinted, check out the anti-idiotarian rottweiller (sp?)...sorry, don't know the address, as I had to flip to something else before my pc exploded...

posted by: edzo vt on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

The points in the article are valid, and don't reek too much of your bias. On an objectivity scale, I would give it a 6.5 because it is still lacking other perspectives. Everyone ask yourself, honestly, how many government projects can you think of that haven't been bogged down by the big G bureaucracy?

Timing the release of a memo off a day - good or bad? Frankly, I am surprised that they were ONLY a day off.

Planning the post-war efforts BEFORE the war began? Nobody knew how this war would play out, so how can anyone expect different departments to agree on a pre-war post-war plan, when they couldn’t even agree within a single department?

Treasury and Justice Departments "working together" to crack down on terrorist financing? Ask yourself this, how rarely does ANYTHING go smoothly when dealing with finance people? And Snow has to put up with Ashcroft too…

I am not defending them with excuses, I am just pointing out that these systematic problems are not exculsive to this administration, and that fact should have been mentioned in the article.

posted by: Jimmy J on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

I think lots of these people who wrote back have a skewed idea of democracy and patriotism. I can love my country and still not follow blindly just because the President says so.

I think they are also forgetting that most countries in the world felt unified with the United States after 9/11, but within a year Bush had squandered all that good will. Two years after HRM Elizabeth's band played the Star Spangled Banner to much solemn praise, Bush visited the UK to protest riots.

I would think that making the rest of the world hate us would be considered unpatriotic...

posted by: Maryann on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

I can certainly understand how you come to the conclusions you do in your article. However, I think you may be missing a subtle point or two.

For example, you point up the apparent stumble in sending out word that those who didn’t co-operate in the initial move against Iraq, wouldn’t profit on the clean up… Just as Baker was making his tour, trying to drum up support for forgiving Iraqi debt.

In case you’d not noticed, once all the smoke had blown off, and the screaming predictable screaming had died down, nations like France, and Germany, who are on the excrement list… and rightly so… were lining up to sign onto the debt restructuring plan.

This is quite unlike the run-up to our attack on Saddam, when it was fashionable to ‘rise up against America’… even among some of our own left.

And the announcement wasn't withheld, or sprung on these idiots suddenly. The administration had told everyone involved that the contract ban against those not assiting would be in place, before during and after the war.

But notice that following that timed event, things smoothed out, to everyone's amazement. Indeed, the change is such among such nations, now, where they’ve been playing along with us very nicely indeed, with none of the anti-American posturing of just a few months ago, and they’re in a figurative sense writing checks to support the reconstruction.

As a matter of logic, how can this be? By what information is coming our way, the full and happy involvement in such debt re-structuring that we’ve seen in the last few days would seem at least an unlikely if not impossible outcome of this event. Yet, we see what can only be described as wild success.

How? Based on what we know, it doesn’t make sense. Could it be that we don’t have all the information upon which to judge the matter? Could it be that what looked like a blunder was in fact, a policy masterstroke? The result, in that case, at least would seem to indicate so.

The Democrats at the moment are in serious electoral trouble. They are so not only because of their own misdeeds and a large mistrust of them following the Bill Clinton era, but also but a President they keep under-estimating, and about whom the leftist press invariably has been projecting the worst possible picture they can. Can it be you’ve fallen into the same trap? They certainly seem happy to have you on board, if I read DU correctly, for example.

And mind, this is merely one example of how Mr. Bush continues to out perform the naysayers. By no means am I suggesting he’s perfect. But is your read of the man and his actions what it is because you’re being misled? Are you ALLOWING yourself to be misled?

posted by: Bithead on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

How did Rush have enough time to write all that?

posted by: MattB on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Your process comments make more sense than the things most Democrats are saying about Bush policies, but not by much.

The State Department warned Defense about problems with the Iraq electrical grid? That took real foresight: the grid was a known wreck before the war began.

Cutting the French and Germans out of the contract dance was crazy policy? Kristol, Will and other writers (and all the Democrats) hastened to tell us how stupid it was. OK, that's their opinion. To me it sounded more like a good opening gambit for an effective negotiation.

And now what? AFTER it was announced, Chirac and Schroeder suddenly found themselves amenable to Iraqi debt forgiveness.

Here's to more such "Failed" policies.

posted by: George on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Reading the selection of emails was a lot like listing to talk radio while I was on the freeway for a couple hours yesterday.

Most like Savage but not far from Hannity and Medved.

posted by: Steve on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]


Instead of posting praise for you in the blog's sidebar you should post snippets of some of these emails. Nothing shows you're important more than hatred directed towards you.

posted by: Hei Lun Chan on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

i read your article "bush the bumbler" today. i thought you might like a european prespective on your article. when i saw some of the reaction you got, i was stunned. some of that vitriol was incredible. it is said that we in europe don't understand the effect that 9/11 had on americans. now i believe it.

I could argue with almost everthing you wrote but the views of the rest of the world are so different to what appears to be the consensus in the usa, there would be little point.

it is fox news in the usa versus public service broadcasting in most other countries. i prefer a tv station that is dedicated to telling me what is happening than one dedicated to selling me stuff.


posted by: se on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Guys, before you start rushing in to claim that France and Germany have signed on to Iraqi debt reduction, you might want to take a closer look at just what they actually agreed to. Hint: it ain't much.

posted by: PaulB on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Oh, you wrote that article? Cool.

Nah, I read it last night, and I mostly agree with it. I think the incompetence..above the hallmark of the Bush administration.

The part I disagree with, partly, is that somehow the negative impressions of the motives of the Bush administration are a completely different animal than the incompetence.

The reality of the situation, is that the Bush administration, through half-truths, deceit and plain-old lack of good judgement, have given this whole operation a black eye. A obvious negative judgement.

The whole thing just FEELS corrupt. Combine that with that these guys just won't take responsibility for anything that might cause political fallout.

Maybe these guys are on the level, and are truly working for stability in the mid-east. It just doesn't appear to be that way. And that is what really is important.

posted by: Karmakin on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

In all the most negative comments, I don't think I saw a single swear word or accusation of your being a 'nazi'. Pretty encouraging, I'd say, if those are the most 'out there' responses you've recieved.

Wish I could say the same for some of the 'out there' activists on the Left.

posted by: SkipKent on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]


Excellent article in Slate. Two points of disagreement. I think there are many serious folks who believe the military-industry complex is alive and well, at least to some extent. While this may not have been the primary reason for the war in Iraq, it may have played a role. Also, I think that Dean's comment on the fact was sarcastic and/or political. Overall, though, great piece!

posted by: Bert on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Just a follow-up on the post by se above who writes:

"When i saw some of the reaction you got, i was stunned. some of that vitriol was incredible. ...the views of the rest of the world are so different to what appears to be the consensus in the usa"

Indeed I agree. We simply don't have neo-cons and conservative talk show radio in Europe. For most Europeans, it would really be a scary revelation if they knew how extremist (by their standards) the mainstream Republicans are.

I suspect that the divergence between the US and Europe (and in fact with most of the rest of the world) can get much much worse.

And if you want to see the emergence of a united political Europe, there is one ticket: BUSH-CHENEY 2004.

posted by: amusedfrog on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]


Remember, I said I edited those e-mails... but on the whole you're right. No death threats or the like.

posted by: Dan Drezner on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Dan - now just imagine if you'd written about the Yankees.

posted by: Independant George on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Dan, I guess you may have learned that while the current Administration is by no means truly fascist (as many leftists accuse it of being), many of its "religious" right supporters are.

And fascists are not in any way conservatives, and eventually they lash out against the conservatives.

And booting Bush out in '04 won't make these zealots go away, rather, it will only increase their vitriol.

Conservatives need to unite with the moderates and liberals for the time being to put down this theocratic fascist beast. The Muslim fundamentalists can kill some of us and knock down buildings, but the Christian fundamentalists can destroy our entire society and democracy.

posted by: AngryElephant on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Those emails go to show that most of those who have an opinion often have no idea what they have an opinion on, and yet express it anyway. Amazingly enough, no one seems to have an argument, much less coherent ideas (except for the last two presented). But, even though I had my reservations about you until recently, I think you just hit the mark; and the median voter is a tad upset at your remarks. Must mean you are right; but regardless of what it means, it is more than just amusing to go through all those somewhat ludicrious remarks you have received.

posted by: Christina Rios-Roman on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Isnt right wing anti goverment produced by so called "intelligent reporting" opinions with a means to express your so called intelligence of the life of americans and security's of our nations? Everyones a expert that writes for a living or lives a peacefull life in there comfy lil town.I didnt wanna see u.s.a go to war i have family in the u.s services but so did alot of poeple in the all us involments in past wars.The end results gave you what you live now in this country and the freedom country to express your opinion.They did not have that in iraq. Why is that so hard for alot of you to understand.Why are all the murdered children and poeple in iraq the past 25 years being ignored! Where were you then when you had a chance to make a difference.You chose the easy route and critize this administration but not the last"clinton" admin who could have helped the peace cause?That my friend is anti american right wing journalism!

posted by: Rick in the midwest on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

For a moment there I thought Dan was excerpting comments from the Slate Fray. Maybe he was; I don't want to take the time to look.

Bush critics on both the left and the right suffer from one of the same problems bedeviling Bush himself, namely that prior to 9/11 foreign policy had not been a major priority in domestic politics. In the modern era this means that major political figures could advance quite far without anything resembling a coherent philosophy on foreign relations (or defense either for that matter), and that having such a philosophy really wasn't much of an advantage as far as voters were concerned.

A "competence critique" is going to be pretty much inevitable until this changes, regardless of whether the President is a Democrat or Republican. It goes beyond whether a given President enters office knowing who the Argentinian Foreign Minister is; also at issue is the way foreign policy is to be made. There's not much evidence Bush gave much thought to this before his inauguration, so in the event the strongest personalities and those with greatest daily access to the President came willy-nilly to dominate the formation of policy. The immediate contrast of the Bush White House being the vehicle to promote individual policy agendas is to the Clinton White House, which tended to be a kind of giant policy bottleneck. But this isn't really a desirable model either. In fact, the only prominent politicians who might set up a fully professional process for managing the formation of foreign policy are people like Richard Lugar who have not had to worry about reelection lately and have thought about foreign affairs for years. But there aren't many of these people and none of them would stand a chance of getting elected even now.

posted by: Zathras on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

This is an ugly trend that I see in this beloved country of mine. Now Dan isn't anywhere near a neutral or objective observer, but at least he tries to be broad-minded. Nowadays there is a demagogery machine that calls anyone who doesn't conform to group opinion a "traitor" or an "extremist radical". This is a trend which all intelligent and rational people from any part of the political spectrum should oppose. As students of history know, the demise of Athenian democracy happened when the functions of the state were subverted by demagogery to the extent that failed military adventures were blamed on scape-goats like Socrates who had only spoken sense in opposing them. While Bush is hardly a Pericles, this shift in *how* the debate is being conducted is a dangerous signal of the drift of this country.

We have taken wrong turns in persecution and orthodox social conformity before - the Red Scare, the detention of Japanese US citizens, anti-German sentiment, etc. However we've always pulled out of it. Let's hope we do this time again also. Otherwise the aspect of persecution for failing to publicly conform to party line would make us more and more resemble the totalitarian or fascist states than our liberal democratic Republic.

posted by: Oldman on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

I will give you this . . . you appear more rational than most "ultra-liberals." It blows my mind how well educated, presumably intelligent professionals can sound as ridiculous as an AM radio political talk show. Thank you for being blunt with your friends.

On foreign policy, I personally feel that the U.S. is in such a different position from the rest of the world that it is difficult for us to feel as though we should be terribly concerned with their feelings. True, Bush could be more humble and true his administration could be more tactful. However, we are a target unlike any target out there. Despite all the dumb and bad things we have done in the world we have done many more incredible sacrificial deeds as well. Unfortunately, many countries are as bad as your ideology warped irrational friends, they will never be rational and will only do something risky when it is too late and we have to "get their butts out of a sling." Thanks for good debate. What a great country. Sometimes I wonder how we can have such diverse perspectives and still be successful. I think most of us do agree on democracy. God Bless America.

posted by: Greg Rutherford on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Classic post, Moe

posted by: sidereal on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Dan, why you hate America?


posted by: fyreflye on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

The least some of those frothy morons could have done was to go Johnny Carson on you, e.g. "may a thousand gnats from a sick goat nest in your jockey shorts".

BTW, have fun on the conservative robot reservations! We're not gonna honor any of those bogus treaties!

posted by: Norbizness on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

A fine article in Slate, but those responses... oh my; can make one worry about the state of the Republic. As to the article itself, the question about the incompetence of the Bush administration asks for further exploration as to what aspect or aspects of its process leads to this outcome. In Iraq and in the budget cutting/deficit mess the administration looks as if there is a divorce between the idea of the policy (cut taxes, war on Iraq) and the consequences, dismissing concerns about the latter as mere politicking. It may simply be that the administration has followed in the steps of the poll-sensitive Clinton administration, only here, paying attention to the impact on '04.

posted by: W R Harris on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

"Please let your new babysitter be Michael Jackson."

translation -- "I hate you so much that your child deserves to be molested."

While the other emails are filled with ignorance, delusions, and intolerance, this statement is really beyond the pale. The person who wrote it should be utterly ashamed, though I know that is unlikely. I wonder who he or she would recommend as a dog sitter?

posted by: Conlon on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Just so long as you don't go the way of Kevin Phillips, I'll be happy, Dan. :-)

Actually, what you're seeing could be a forerunner of what the Republican Party will face in 2008. There's ceretainly a lot of grumbling in GOP ranks about some of the policies the administration has undertaken, but the combination of the war on terror and the fear that a divided party could open things up for Howard Dean or some other Democrat will keep those concerns below the surface. But with no likely successor sitting in the vice-president's office right now, no matter what happens the ideloigical differences between the moderate conservatives and the hard-line right will be a major battleground in 2008.

Bush kept those two factions of the Texas Republican Party together when he was in office as governor. Three years down the line, those differences are starting to show and will probably be a major factor in the 2006 state primaries. The same divide at the national level could be an opening for the Democrats to get back into the game they currently seem so far out of (and why Hillary's votes in support of Bush on the terror war and funds for rebuilding Iraq are very smart moves, if you're planning a run five years from now).

posted by: John on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

As another comment suggested above, if you are taking heat from both sides, you are probably right on target.

As for the article, I would suggest that your critiques #s 2 and 3 of the Bush leadership are both valid, not mutually exclusive, and are probably interrelated to some degree.

Additional kudos for allowing us to see that the political polarity insanity is by no means an exclusive domain of the left. I often worry that it is much more widespread and growing phenomenon
amongst the population in general.

posted by: Waffle on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Hm... nobody seems to be mentioning the elephant in the room (pardon the pun). The blogosphere is famously tilted towards the intelligent, the reasonably affluent, the thinky-libertarian on the right and the DLC-liberal on the left.

Dan unwittingly stumbled into wider exposure and heard back from the people who compose the base of his party. The folks in those emails above? They are the footsoldiers of the right. There are more of them than there are Dan Drezners or Tacituses or Sullivans. They're the reason Bush is in power.

What do you think about that, Dan? How about you, David T? Thorley? You comfortable with the people who compose your majority?

posted by: Realish on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Wow. Do people actually understand what they read?

Never mind that -- do they even understand what they write? 'Cause half the time, no one else can, either.

posted by: Ray Radlein on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Oldman, and other regular's.

The thing is, at least the way they think is out in the open (so to speak). I think that most of the old and new regular's here (what, 20-30 tops?) eventually become a regular because they can craft arguments, even bad ones, and get immediate feed-back. Their politics might never change, but they get better at logic, little by little, if for no other reason then the most base- vanity.

Does Oldman drive me nuts sometimes? Sure. Is Thomson over the top on some stuff? Of course. Would I demand that they, and the 30 some-odd regulars here be on an advisory board if I were the president? Damn right - and well-paid at that. My ideas don't amount for s* if I can't defend them to those that challenge my POV.

posted by: TommyG on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Dan, yours is one of the most intelligent blogs out there. I continue to find the vitriol displayed in such emails to be stunning in their bigotry and ignorance. Perhaps the U.S. and my own country, Britain, should resume the old classical practice of teaching formal logic in ours schools, like the ancient Greeks.

When are conservatives going to realise that criticising Bush and co does not make one a raging leftie? In fact, if one reads the likes of Andrew Sullivan, for example, some of the toughest critiques of Bush, especially on his domestic policies, come from the centre-right. The left mostly resorts to insults and negativity.

More power to the Dreszners of this world. Have a good Christmas.

Rgds, Johnathan

posted by: Johnathan Pearce on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

I love the offense some people took at you being a professor.

posted by: Barbar on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

"Bush kept those two factions of the Texas Republican Party together when he was in office as governor. Three years down the line, those differences are starting to show and will probably be a major factor in the 2006 state primaries. The same divide at the national level could be an opening for the Democrats to get back into the game they currently seem so far out of..."

So you see the emergence of a fascist plurality in the Republican Party simply as an electoral opportunity for the Democrats, rather than a huge threat to our country? What?

Why are you assuming that fascists are going to play nice within the democratic framework? Ever read a history book?

posted by: AngryElephant on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

"My ideas don't amount for s* if I can't defend them to those that challenge my POV."

Which is exactly why we have such disastrously bad policy right now. We have a president who is totally incapable of defending - or even articulating - his positions, so we simply cease asking him to do so. Then the various branches of our goverment and their agencies begin fighting amongst themselves to come up with the actual definition of our national policies. Without a coherent vision at the top we are flailing wildly in the dark, at the mercy of every ambitious ideologue in a position of authority.
It's why leadership matters.

posted by: Fightin Irish on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

It's funny how a predominantly lucid post can, at the same time, contain a simplistic caricature like this:

The left mostly resorts to insults and negativity.

Gimme a break. The center-left has been critiquing Bush, intelligently and earnestly, for quite some time now. Each side has its own crackpots, as the email above demonstrates. But there are plenty of lefties out there with good arguments. You just have to look.

posted by: GFW on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

"It may simply be that the administration has followed in the steps of the poll-sensitive Clinton administration, only here, paying attention to the impact on '04."

Poll-sensitive Clinton administration? ROFLMAO! Dubya doesn't even take a dump without Rove taking a poll. The Bush administration is the most stage-managed, poll-driven admin in history.

Not to mention the most corrupt, hands down.

posted by: S&P on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

I've linked to this here.

posted by: Gary Farber on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Fightin Irish:

I read through all the posts above and finally found the one that hit the nail precisely on the head.

Mr. Bush backed into this presidency with the public and the national media full well understanding that whomever of the two major candidates won the election, we were not going to get an intellectual or charismatic heavyweight for our national leader.

How soon we forget the virtual cornucopia of humoristic jibes at both men by political pundits and humorists (they often reflect back to us our own, honest opinions and beliefs) before, during and after the election.

Mr. Bush, to his own personal credit, seems to be taking the job seriously, and probably performing up to his capability. Unfortunately, these are times that call for exemplary management and leadership. I don't believe, moreover, that his cast of supporting characters are strong enough to individually pull him through the through either of the tough issues of foreign or domestic policy making. No Alexander Haig or Henry Kissenger in this administration. There are, however, a few retreads that should have stayed in their prosperous private jobs, having already served their fair share of government service.

If you look honestly at this group that is responsible for providing the leadership of not only the free world, but, by virtue of our nation's international stature, leadership of the entire world of nations, you can understand why the ship of state seems to be on a less than well charted course.

I'm not saying, by this criticism, that Al Gore and a Democrat administration would have had a better record. I believe that the protracted battles during the Clinton improprieties and the impeachment turmoil, left both parties unprepared for a serious presidential election.
The ensuing election process and result bears this out. Mr. Gore got what is normally accorded a standing Vice President - his party's somewhat reserved nomination; and the Republican Party picked a candidate whose college days of partying were made almost legend.

In an almost quixotic irony, we experienced a most embarrassing election fiasco that neatly sums up my point.

I'm afraid we may be in for more of the same this time around. I will be the first to cheer if I'm wrong.

posted by: Marcel Perez on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

Reading the reactions (above).

We have some people feeding on the lies that the Bush Administration used to manufacture consent. Some are now ready to throw out Muslims along with the constitution that protects the life they're so rabid to preserve. Terrorism replacing communism in galvanizing the people behind Western imperialism when the core issues in the world are really poverty and injustice today just as they were 100 years ago.

Mr. Powell and Ms. Rice stating within 90 days of the new Bush administration's taking power that Saddam was no threat. Scott Ritter saying in 1998 that Iraq had no qualitative WMD threat. Paul O'Neil witnessing to Mr. Bush's desire to "find a way to do this".

Lo and behold Mr. Powell and Mr. Ritter and Ms. Rice were originally correct but the administration ultimately played the art of democracy so well that they found a way to do this.

Keep the oil, blame the CIA for intelligence blunders. But the blame won't go out til after the elections.

What a strange people we are. With all this out in the open all we seem to be able to do is obsess about Janet Jackson's right breast.

It's the art of democracy..........until the next act of terrorism brings Patriot Act II then Act III then............

posted by: John on 12.18.03 at 10:53 AM [permalink]

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