Friday, January 30, 2004

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Up for grabs

A week ago, Roger L. Simon wrote the following:

For me one of the hallmarks of a good weblog is the honesty of the blogger--or at least the decent attempt at honesty because no one can be honest all the time, as Molière has shown us. So in keeping with that limited principal, I am going to open my ballot on here, revealing my votes in the Presidential election and primary and how they change (if they do). I call upon all bloggers--Democratic, Republican and 'Metropolitical'--to do the same to the extent they can (although the 'Metros' should be most interesting because they are the true 'swing' voters).

Well, one way to find out who I'm going to support is this Presidential Match site. According to their survey, my top three candidates were Bush, Lieberman... and Al Sharpton!! So I'm not placing a whole lot of faith in that site.

Here's my position -- I'm genuinely unsure of who I'm going to vote for. More and more, Bush reminds me of Nixon. He's not afraid to make the bold move in foreign policy. On domestic policy, Bush seems like he'll say or do anything, so long as it advances his short-term political advantage. If Karl Rove thought imposing wage and price controls would win Pennsylvania and Michigan for Bush, you'd see an Executive Order within 24 hours. Andrew Sullivan and others have delivered this harangue, so I won't repeat it.

If -- a big if -- the Democrats put forward a credible alternative, then I could very well pull the donkey lever.

posted by Dan on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM



I'm still looking for Democratic credibility. This budget busting stuff that Bush is doing, smells like Reaganomics version 2.0, without any of the domestic spending cuts. Next step, if I recall the 80's correctly, was a tax increase and then a recession followed by Bank failures.

I'm on the fence and unwilling to commit to either party.

I think if the Democrats would shut up about their plan for international relations they would be wildly popular. Just a statement that they 'would, of course, continue the agressive protection of the United States, that is not a partisan issue.' This would enable them to focus on all of the stupid things Bush has done domestically.

Instead of that they feel the need to show how much worse a foreign policy they would propose. Every revelation about Saddam's attrocities, his bribery, the French and Russian insider deals, all of this makes the Democrats look like a collection of ignorant chumps.

posted by: Mahatma on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

it's a choice between a roving dick up your ass and your lips on dick while ashcroft delivers a sermon over you, versus fellating france during an al qaeda gang bang while the UN nags you to death.

sullivan's gotta love it.

posted by: a concerned american on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Who do you consider credible? Lieberman seems to be it, and he has no chance.

posted by: Reg on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

10elation about Saddam's attrocities, his bribery, the French and Russian insider deals, all of this makes the Democrats look like a collection of ignorant chumps.”

The Democrats who choose their party’s standard bearer are a bunch of “ignorant chumps.” Deep in their guts, they don’t really believe that we are in a life and death struggle against militant Muslims and other nihilistic murderers. I am not exaggerating when asserting that more than a few of them believe that the war on terror is simply a con job to enrich Vice President Cheney’s buddies at Halliburton! A short time ago, Instapundit linked to a piece written by a BRUCE SCHNEIER

Please note this most disturbing sentence:

“Few people remind us how minor the terrorist threat really is.”

How likely is it that Dan Drezner will find a Democrat candidate worthy of his vote? Well, what are the survival chances of a snowball in hell? President Bush is the lesser of evils. He is committed to defeating our nation’s enemies, and the better bet in allowing outdated jobs to be destroyed.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

The problem with the siteyou mention is it makes it's judgements on what the candidate has SAID, and assumes he's going to stick to what he says. Which explains the Sharpton link; we both know he's not got the credibility or the integrity to do what he says he'll do.

(otherwise known as the Tawanna Shuffle)

But as for the rest I think your biggest problem with all of this, Dan, is the image of Bush as a conservative. As I said elsewhere, yesterday:

Neither Mr Bush, nor his father, was a conservative, much as the left would like to label him as such.

He's a centerist; always has been. So was his father.

Remember, for example, that Bush Sr was brought into Reagan's ticket as a moderate influence, not because he and Reagan were of like mind.

W made his name and path by compromise of people on both ends of the spectrum, and being good at it.

The only reason he looks like he's so far to the right, is that the only choices the Democrats are offering are so far to the left. That's the political reality.

Which leaves us with the choice, as conservatives, which way we go.... Any choice on the Democrat side is unacceptable. No other choice on the right stands a chance in hell of winning in the general election, and a vote for them is in reality one more for the Democrats.

The only choice left is to vote for the Moderate.

My choice is already made.

posted by: Bithead on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]


Bush's fiscal recklessness is not "moderate." On the spending side, it's gutlessness. On the taxation side, its Reagan me-too-ism. The conclusion I have is that Bush doesn't give an (expletive deleted) about economic policy.

The only thing keeping me voting GOP is that the Democrats willfully refuse to have a clue, when it comes to foreign policy. They'd rather believe that Bush is "exaggerating" the terrorist threat, and believe that the UN (and its member states) have the will to fix our Iraq mess and deal with a terrorist threat they perceive as a US problem.

posted by: appalled moderate on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

The first and most important job of the president is to defend the nation against enemies.

A president can do some harm to the economy, but he can't kill it (see 1964 -- 1980). He can, however, get a lot of Americans killed.

posted by: stan on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Vote for split government, the only solution to our modern problems. If we had a Split Government Party, I would sign up. The party would simply nominate the candidate from another party which splits government. Our platform is simple, vote oppositely in Congressional and Presidential races. The party color would be purple. Our motto: If government ain't broke, then break it!

posted by: Matt Young on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

I have not found a candidate that I can whole heartedly support. Bush has to say no to someone. His domestic policies have been low average. I am considering a Republican vote because the foreign policy issues are more concerning to me right now than his strange domestic agenda.

The Democratic candidates both a poorly thought out domestic agenda and a truly scary foreign policy.

Fiscal policy is a wash. Bush is reckless, but so are the plans described by the Democrats.

I think the Democrats would have been more successful if they had shut up about foreign policy and focused on the budget and domestic issues. I do not know if they can recover now. They have said so many stupid things that it may be impossible to cobble together a coherant foreign policy position out of them.

posted by: Mahatma on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

random thought;

Consider the scene, involving Democrats pushing back against the very Medishaft programs they claimed they wanted, because it's too expensive.. when it fact it's actually *less* money than they wanted to spend.

It's called discrediting the Democrats by giving them what they claim to want.

posted by: Bithead on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

May I join the conversation? The link told me that Kucinich is my man so I think I am in the minority here but I appreciate that all the commenters seem rational and not too angry. I would like to point something out in regards to Democrats and foreign policy. Any president, Republican, Democrat, even Nadar would have invaded Afghanistan. And as David Kay has pointed out, Iraq was not a threat. Equating the war on terror to the preemptive invasion of Iraq is only swallowing the line that is being fed to you. Democrats don't buy it and that is the difference.

posted by: frank on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Look, if Bush (or anyone else) *really* believed that this is a life or death struggle, then he'd be taking a very different tact. I offer this is a Democratic hawk speech.

"Let there be no mistake. America *is* in a war that it *must* win in order to preserve the the freedoms and economic success that we enjoy. The time for debating whether the invasion of Iraq was the best step towards victory is long over. Now we must concentrate on the matter at hand, ensuring the successful prosecution of the war given the current circumstances by making Iraq a successful beacon for the rest of the Arab world, while not ignoring the many other dangers that America faces.

The time for debating the merits of individual initiatives has past. Mistakes were made, and will be made in the future. War has never, and will never be, a game of certainties.

What is certain, however, is that America owes an enormous debt to those who have made great sacrifices, including their lives, to preserve our liberty and fight this war. I refer, of course, to the men and women in the armed forces.

It is they that are paying the price for our safety, and I will say with some shame, that to a great extent, they pay it alone. In times of great peril, Americans have always banded together to defeat our enemies. However, this time, in a war in which both I and the Republicans believe that our country is at stake, our president has decided that the only sacrifice required of the rest of us is the inconvenience of security checks. Indeed, while men and women are dying in the fight to keep us safe, President Bush has rewarded the wealthiest among us with tax cuts that, for many, are far larger than these brave soldiers annual salary.

I say that it is time for Americans to acknowledge that we are at war, and to make the sacrifices that will ensure that we win this war. If elected, I will revoke the tax cut, with the majorities of the moneys saved to be devoted to providing the military with the resources it requires to improve the safety of those serving abroad, while increasing the size of the armed forces so that it can deal with the threats that our great country now faces.

Let it no more be said that we send our young soldiers out to fight wars while we ignore their danger at home. Let us realize that this *is* a war, that our survival *is* at stake. Let us be willing to make meaningful sacrifices to aid those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for us."

posted by: Tom West on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Sadly, I believe that Mr. Bush has not furthered America's national interests with any policy of his -- domestic or foreign // economic or military -- particularly in the long-term view. If anyone disagrees, please enlighten me, for I truly want to find some policy this Administration has done right.

Mr. Bush must go! (please note that I liked his father and I don't vote along party lines every election). Unfortunately with the way our two party system works, rarely are there challengers to a sitting President from within his own party. So, that means I am voting Democrat this election without fail for the ABB strategy (anyone but Bush). And, maybe we can get a good candidate in 2008.

Ah, but if only a candidate from the moderate-internationalist wing (on the endangered species list) of the GOP would emerge to join the 2004 fray...

-- daydreaming from DC ...

posted by: keith on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

I'm starting a draft McCain site, I think.

posted by: Mike on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Democrats say Bush is an extremist conservative. Republicans say he spends like a liberal. In truth, they are both right--and both wrong. Bush's real policy views are difficult to pin down--like Clinton, he does a great deal of vacillating based on the political wind. Bush does not really appear to care at all for conservative ideals--but he is willing to pander to the religious extremes of the GOP because they are a powerful voting bloc whose views dovetail with his avowed religious views.

To those who argue that a Democratic candidate would spend even more than Bush, you may be right--but I think you're also missing a crucial point. A Democrat may spend more in office, but they are also much more likely to find a way to pay for it.

I tend to lean towards fiscal conservatism myself, but given a choice between a Democrat--who will repeal the tax cuts or find other ways to pay for their pork--and Bush--who seems to have little interest in actually paying for all the things he proposes--the choice for our country's future seems obvious. Let the Republicans control Congress and bring in a Democratic president, and you'll see a much saner budget and economy as the two branches resume their check and balance roles instead of acting as a rubber stamp and an echo chamber.

posted by: Catsy on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

“Any president, Republican, Democrat, even Nadar would have invaded Afghanistan.”

Nonsense. Somebody obviously needs to learn how to Google. It took me less than a minute to find the following cache copy of Bill O’Reilly’s interview with Ralph Nader:

“NADER:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  No, but they gave them four weeks before they started the bombing, Bill.  You see, they were getting ready.  And while they were getting ready out of Washington,  that's when they should have done it.  And they would have basically got far more support and it would have unmasked the Taliban.  And by the way, there would have a chance that the Taliban  would have saved their neck and not go down with the al Qaeda.  

O'REILLY:  I doubt it, because they knew what was going to happen.  They just didn't know the ferocity of the air power.  

NADER:  Everything is a riverboat gamble.  And look where we are now.  You see?  

O'REILLY:  Well, we have some wins here, Ralph.  You're making it sound like we don't.  I mean, there are some problems, but that we have a big win.  The Taliban is out.  And we only  lost -- we lost less than a dozen guys.  Come on.  

NADER:  But that wasn't the goal.  The goal was...  

O'REILLY:  No, the goal was to remove the Taliban.  

NADER:  OK.  No, the goal was to break the network, the al Qaeda network.  

O'REILLY:  Well, you had to remove the Taliban first, because they were harboring them.  

NADER:  But it hasn't -- they've melted away.  I mean, they only have a few hundred out of 1,000.”

Ralph Nader and his fellow utopian liberal cohorts don’t really believe that military violence ever solves anything. They will always find an excuse not to fight our enemies. When push turns to shove, they are pacifists.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Whether he would have invaded Afghanistan or not, Nader is not a Democrat.

posted by: Mithras on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]


I actually agree with you. Problem is, I think a Dem would not do much on terror, and use the UN as an excuse to bail out of everything. After all, the frontrunner believes the whole terrorist threat is "exaggerated." And less spending on the military sure helps with the finances.

And Congresses have no real say on foreign policy. So your reasoning, while fine in an "End of History" world, does not fly in the world we have.

posted by: appalled moderate on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

I share your concerns about the President on the domestic front, and about the credibility of the Democratic candidates. More than that, I admire the fact that you're honest enough to admit that you're torn. The temptation to consider yourself the font of all truth when you publish a popular blog must be pretty big.

posted by: Jim on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

People here, and on other blogs, keep saying that the Democrats would be all wishy-washy about terrorism and that they think the terrorist threat is "exaggerated". I've watched and read alot of coverage of the primaries, and I've yet to hear any of the major candidates (Sharpton and Kucinich don't count) claim that the terrorist threat is overblown. Every one of them supported the invasion of Afghanistan. Every one of them supports the increase in military approaches to terrorism. Every one of them supports a harder line on North Korea than the Bush Administration has taken. Would they put more emphasis on international institutions and alliances than the Bush team? Sure, but that's more a question of using a lighter diplomatic touch than anything else. These are not peaceniks or head-in-the-sand liberals.

The only substantive point on which the Dems take a less aggressive stance than Bush is Iraq. They do claim that the threat from Iraq was overblown, and hey, it looks like they were right. I still think the war was worth it, but the Dems' belief that the war in Iraq was fought at the wrong time and in the wrong way is absolutely not the same as being soft on terrorism.

posted by: Dave on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Give me a Dem who's credible on national security and he's got my vote. First test of credibility: recognizing that we are *at war* with Al Qaeda, not involved in a police action to capture an outlaw. Currently, only Lieberman gives any sign of grasping this all-important fact. I cannot vote for any candidate who thinks that interpol, the French and Germans and the UN are sufficient to destroy the AQ threat.

posted by: tombo on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

All this swinging back and forth like bi-polar depressives is quite irritating. Doesn't anybody have a core set of convictions and then pick a candidate based on that conviction? If you did, you wouldn't find yourself changing your mind every week (or day).

Nobody is worse at this than Andrew Sullivan. Sully loves Bush. No wait, Bush did something Sully didn't like. Now Sully can't back Bush. No wait, Bush did something Sully likes. Now Sully supports Bush again. No, wait... Back and forth. Back and forth.

Who says that we're all captives of the marketing industry. We're all free thinkers, right? Except that, predictable as a sunrise, while the Democratic primary season is in full swing and the Dems are getting constant coverage and the President, by contrast, is in low-key mode these days, all we hear are the downbeat doldrums of every dissatisfied citizen (i.e. everyone). But no, press coverage has no effect on us!

The Dem/liberal sites are, naturally, in full scale 'Bush = evil chimp' mode. But even the conservative blogs are mostly down on Bush these days. They simply cannot whine enough about how Bush has let them down, is not a true virgin-pure conservative, and will not get *their* vote come November. Which, of course, is lie -- they will all vote for Bush, whether they have to hold their nose or not.

And just as predictably, later on in the year, when the Bush campaign goes into full swing and the contrast between him and his actual Dem opponent becomes strikingly clear, wait for all the Bush love to come flowing back in, seemingly from nowhere. But no, we are not affected by the inundation of political media coverage.

Well, my support of Bush began Sept 12, 2001. It has only gotten stronger since. It is based on his strong leadership of the country thru troubled times and his personal qualities of honesty, decency, respect for others, and the backbone to set a course and stick to it. It doesn't go up or down depending on what day it is or whether media blowhards have something interesting or juicy today.

I guess my lack of ability to sway with every political wind makes me "un-nuanced" and a moron. But I'm quite happy with my choices.

Bush/Cheney '04!

posted by: Daniel on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Someone needs to learn how to google? Pointing out that Nader spoke against the bombing campaign has nothing to do with the point I was trying to make. Bush is being given credit for doing what any president would have done, protect American security. Iraq had nothing to do with that. pacifists like FDR, Johnson, JFK?

posted by: frank on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

“I still think the war was worth it, but the Dems' belief that the war in Iraq was fought at the wrong time and in the wrong way is absolutely not the same as being soft on terrorism.”

“Currently, only Lieberman gives any sign of grasping this all-important fact. I cannot vote for any candidate who thinks that interpol, the French and Germans and the UN are sufficient to destroy the AQ threat.”

Senator Joseph Lieberman is the only Democrat candidate who essentially doesn’t give the French and the other Old Europeans the tacit right to veto American foreign policy. All the others, for all practical purposes, will do absolutely until receiving the blessing of Jacques Chirac.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Someone needs to learn how to google? Pointing out that Nader spoke against the bombing campaign has nothing to do with the point I was trying to make. Bush is being given credit for doing what any president would have done, protect American security. Iraq had nothing to do with that. pacifists like FDR, Johnson, JFK?”

Excuse me, but you are the one who mentioned Ralph Nader---and I merely provided evidence of how wrong you were. FDR actually helped save civilization while the Republicans ridiculously indulged in isolationism. Today, it is the Democrats who threaten our lives.

It is absurd to say the Iraq wasn’t a danger. I’ve long argued that Saddam Hussein was committed to discretely funding terrorist acts against the United States. That alone was enough for me. The WMDs may have been shipped to Syria while we wasted valuable time fooling with the United Nation back stabbers. The evidence also indicates that Saddam may have been conned by his underlings who took his money and then lied about developing the weapons. In other words, he thought that he still had the ability to severely harm us. Iraq is about the same size as California. Only a military invasion could have put our minds at rest.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

"All the others, for all practical purposes, will do absolutely until receiving the blessing of Jacques Chirac." should read "All the others, for all practical purposes, will do absolutely nothing until receiving the blessing of Jacques Chirac."

posted by: David Thomson on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]


Wesley Clark isn't giving anyone any veto over the use of force. I suggest you give the Democrat's some more consideration before you assume you understand their position. The fact is that Iraq wasn't an imminent threat, and this is why most Democrat's opposed the rush to war. The truth will set you free.

From Clark's "10 Pledges":

"Restoring our alliance with Europe is the first essential part of my broader strategy for American national security. President Bush has created a go-it-alone approach and declared the use of preemptive military force as the defining characteristic of his national security strategy. A Clark Administration would place our work with Europe and a reinvigorated NATO as a centerpiece of U.S. policy -- and then seek not to rely on preemptive force, but instead to use diplomatic, political, economic power and international law in support of preventive engagement. We would reserve the use of force for an absolutely last resort and then act together if possible and alone only if we must."

posted by: Curious Stranger on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

"If -- a big if -- the Democrats put forward a credible alternative"

Come on, Drezner, that's a cop out. You KNOW that the Democrats will "put forward" one of four people. Based on what you know today, do any or all of those four constitute a "credible alternative", in your opinion? That, after all, is the real question.

(After all, even though I'm a big Bush fan, if the Democrats put forward a "credible alternative" -- defined by me to mean someone who takes virtually all of Bush's foreign policies but is, say, pro-gay rights, pro-abortion -- I'd vote for the other guy too. But none of the 4 the Democrats may put forward remotely qualifies.)

posted by: Al on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

David T.,

The idea that the Dems would give the French (ah, French-bashing...always a cheap way out of an argument) a veto over US foreign policy is just plain stupid. I'm sorry, but there's no other word for it. Why is it that die-hard conservatives can't seem to grasp the difference between diplomacy and impotence? The Dems have all said that they would put US security interests ahead of the rules and restrictions of international organizations, but they (fortunately) also recognize that US security interests are best served by bringing those international organizations along for the ride.

Doing what's right, regardless of what others think, is only one part of leadership. The other part is convincing those others to join you. Bush Sr. recognized that in Gulf War I, as do most of the "grown up" Republican foreign policy people. Bush Jr. and company seem to have missed the second part of that lesson.

posted by: Dave on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Understandably foreign policy dominates discussion of things here. So let me start with my take on the Dems foreign policy credentials. I think Dean was a bit scary in his flippance towards the terrorist threat. But the three Senators and the General have all had sane opinions on this issue. None has said anything remotely close to, "terrorism, why worry about a one time thing." or "terrorism, I think we can handle a few attacks if it keeps us popular around the world." Yet for some reason critics of the Democratic candidates seem to equate a desire to work with other democratic societies as being soft on terrorism. Just because Bush hasn't been able to do both does not mean it is impossible.

Further, I think that we don't have to worry about any of these candidates (again, leaving Dean out) being weak once they start receiving the daily national security briefing. Everyone knows this is stuff to be taken seriously now. Bush was as disengaged as anyone leading into the 2000 election and now he is the hero of keeping our nation safe? Does anyone seriously believe that the Democrats are going to pass up chances to make America safer? Do you really think they will win political points if an attack occurs on their watch? Get with it. No matter who is elected we are going to be fighting this war and American security will be a Presidential priority.

It will just be about how we fight it, and many sane people believe that we could have fought it better by putting 100,000 troops in Afganistan than by kicking Sadaam out of Iraq. You can disagree with that, but don't think that any of these candidates will make America significantly less safe by someone ignoring a threat they are going to be reminded of on a daily basis.

That leaves us with domestic policy and trade policy. I beleive that Bush has been irresponsible on both. He uses social issues to divide our nation rather than unite it. He doesn't ask for any sacrafices from the public in winning this war. He is beholden to a hard right that seems to care little about the integrity of our constitution (separation of church and state, congressional redistriction, civil rights, etc). These are all very compelling reasons for me to not even consider a vote for Bush.

But again, my belief starts with a faith that the viable Democratic candidates are going to do everything they can to keep Americans safe. If you don't accept that premise than perhaps I could understand a vote for Bush.

posted by: Rich on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Bush reminds me of Nixon in more ways than one. He has a near-pathological penchant for secrecy, and a Vice-President with questionable (at best) ethical standards.

He might want to study a bit of history if he doesn't want to suffer a similar fate.

posted by: JKC on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

“We would reserve the use of force for an absolutely last resort and then act together if possible and alone only if we must."

Oh pleeease! I could care less about Wesley Clark's explicit assertions. He interprets acting alone is such a restrictive manner---that he tacitly gives the Old Europeans the right to veto our foreign policy decisions.

General Clark dishonestly charges the President Bush with unilateralism. The exact opposite is the truth: the Bush administration went out of its way to cooperate with the United Nations. However, France and the Old Europeans never had any intention of granting their approval.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Whatever, David Thomson. We are marginally safer after overthrowing Saddam, but we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars and sacrificed hundreds of American lives. We have also committed our military to Iraq. How is this worth it? Oh yeah, I forgot -- by dramatically overthrowing a useful bogeyman, with the rest of the world glaring at us, we allow ourselves to beat our chests with pride after the disastrous tragedy of September 11th.

And you call this "visionary foreign policy." President Bush couldn't have found Afghanistan on a map before 9/11. Historic times indeed.

posted by: 2 in the Bush on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Your obsession with France and "Old-Europeans" is pretty pathetic David. Whether this is the case or not, it comes across as though you're so anti-French and anti-Europe that you equate any effort to work with them as equivalent to sacrificing the autonomy and security of the US. Are you on the Bush foreign policy team, perchance? Sure sounds like it.

posted by: Dave on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Holy cow! What a bizarre coincidence. I decided to visit the WSJ’s online edition after finishing my last post. This is what I found:

Friday, January 30, 2004 3:35 p.m. EST

Kerry: Terror Threat Exaggerated
Tom Brokaw asked John Kerry an excellent question during last night's South Carolina debate:

Robert Kagan, who writes about these issues a great deal from the Carnegie Institute for Peace, has written recently that Europeans believe that the Bush administration has exaggerated the threat of terrorism, and the Bush administration believes that the Europeans simply don't get it. Who is right?

The Democratic front-runner's response should give pause to anyone who cares about national security. Here's the exchange that ensued:

Kerry: I think it's somewhere in between. I think that there has been an exaggeration and there has been a refocusing--

Brokaw: Where has the exaggeration been in the threat on terrorism?

Kerry: Well, 45 minutes deployment of weapons of mass destruction, No. 1. Aerial vehicles to be able to deliver materials of mass destruction, No. 2. I mean, I--nuclear weapons, No. 3. I could run a long list of clear misleading, clear exaggeration. The linkage to Al Qaida, No. 4.

That said, they are really misleading all of America, Tom, in a profound way. The war on terror is less--it is occasionally military, and it will be, and it will continue to be for a long time. And we will need the best-trained and the most well-equipped and the most capable military, such as we have today.

But it's primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world--the very thing this administration is worst at. And most importantly, the war on terror is also an engagement in the Middle East economically, socially, culturally, in a way that we haven't embraced, because otherwise we're inviting a clash of civilizations.

Let's go through this step by step. Kerry first agrees, at least in part, with the "European" view that America is exaggerating the threat of terrorism. It was left to John Edwards later to state the obvious: "It's just hard for me to see how you can say there's an exaggeration when thousands of people lost their lives on September the 11th." You'd think Kerry would have more sensitivity on this subject, given that both the planes that the terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center took off from his home state.

An incredulous Brokaw interrupts Kerry to ask for examples. Kerry list four purported exaggerations of the terror threat, all of which actually have to do with Iraq. Now, we thought the party line was that Iraq had nothing to do with the war on terror and was just a "distraction."

Kerry then goes on to outline his philosophy about fighting terrorism. The war on terror, in his view, isn't really a war at all; it's chiefly a matter for intelligence and police agencies. Military action is called for only "occasionally"--exactly the view that prevailed before Sept. 11. Kerry, it seems, has learned nothing from that day's attacks.

Finally, Kerry complains that the U.S. has not entered into "an engagement in the Middle East economically, socially, culturally." Yet that is precisely what we are now doing in Iraq. And once again, we see Kerry is all over the map on this stuff. In October 2002 he voted in favor of a war he now denounces. And in October 2003 he voted to defund the troops and the reconstruction effort, yet now he demands "an engagement in the Middle East."

Does Kerry have the ability to make a decision and stick by it? Is it possible to be an effective leader without this capacity?”

posted by: David Thomson on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Dave (not David T):

Kerry, in last night's debate, did say he felt the terrorist threat had been exaggerated by the administration. (In fairness to him, though, all his examples of "exaggeration" were about Iraq --and maybe that's all Kerry really thinks was exaggerated.) He also said in response to the same question that, while the military may be involved on the fight against terrorism, from time to time, "it's primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation."

I personally think that's a mindset that puts the fight against terrorism on a second tier, below, say, an enhanced perscription drug program, or tougher standards on corp executives. I beleive that to be a mistake. You may not.


Daniel (the poster, not the proprietor):

Most of us here have a pretty good idea of what our politics are and what our stands on the issues are. Most of us are adult enough to realize that the politicians we elect will not entirely be in accord with that. We all assign degrees of importance to various positions, which sometimes change. Those of us who believe that (i) carelessly running up a big deficit will destroy this country in the future but (ii) electing a democrat devoted to high-minded isolationism could get us all killed have got a real problem. You're just going to have to dealwith the mood swings, bub.

posted by: appalled moderate on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Three other things I forgot to mention which are evidence that Bush is not making us any safer than if there was a Democrat in the Oval Office:

1) His refusal to help a supposedly non-partisan investigation into the attacks of 9/11. It seems that anyone serious about stopping terrorism would want a full investigation into everything that happenend. Unfortunatly such an investigation will inevitably find some uncomfortable (yet probably meaningless) fact against Bush, so he stonewalls the entire project. Then when the people running the investigation start to ask questions about why they are being stopped short of their goal, they are dismissed as being partisan. Is there anyway to learn something that might make us safer?

2) Intelligence failures in Iraq. Regardless of if you think our invasion of Iraq is justified or not, you have to ask the question about why we got it so wrong about their WMD capability. This is not limited to Bush, just about everyone was wrong about this. If we don't look into why we were wrong then how can we learn to do a better job in the future? How can we find out what else we might be getting wrong? Like who might really have weapons that threaten us. How can we convince the world to back us next time there is an alarm going off? This is very serious stuff. We need quality intelligence, and we are not going to get there by ignoring the major mistakes that have been made in the past.

3) Missle Defense - I think we agree that we are threatened by terrorists. Terrorists don't fire ICBMs, they bring bombs in suitcases and wear them as vests. Why are we spending billions on Missle Defense when the real threats are going to be travelling on jets? And if you think that the threat is from nations that will attack us with ICBMs then what is going to stop those nations from attacking us with ICBMs that can evade a missle defense system? It will just be another level of evolution in the sophistication of global military power that will accomplish nothing in the end. (Oh, I forgot, evolution is just a the real world people don't respond to advances with an advance of their own)

posted by: Rich on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Dan (and all others),

It seems to me that firts one has to decide what are the deciding factors. What issue or issues do you care about the most?

If you think the Iraq war was a good idea and you want as president someone willing to do something like that in the future than I doubt the Dems can offer much to you.

Are you socially liberal or conservative? Fiscally?

posted by: GT on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

"General Clark dishonestly charges the President Bush with unilateralism. The exact opposite is the truth: the Bush administration went out of its way to cooperate with the United Nations. However, France and the Old Europeans never had any intention of granting their approval."

So if Clark did this, he would be giving France and "Old Europe" the "tacit right to veto American foreign policy", but when Bush does it, he's unfairly attacked for being unilateral? If Clark's attack is unfair, isn't yours as well?

posted by: Curious Stranger on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Kerry's comments suggest the following to me:

1) He feels the threat from Iraq and it's connection to the terrorist threat were exaggerated by the Administration.

Given that all of his comments about things that were exaggerated had to do with Iraq, and he's been proven right on every one of them, it seems pretty hard to find fault here. I think it's a huge stretch to say he considers the threat from al-Qaeda to be exaggerated when he's argued repeatedly that we should be doing more than we are to target them specifically. He thinks Iraq was a mistake, but again, I say that doesn't tell us anything about how seriously he takes the threat from al-Qaeda.

2) Kerry thinks most of the fight against terrorism will involve something other than an outright war.

Well, unless you think we can/should invade a few dozen other countries, then this is exactly right. We don't have the resources to do a repeat of Iraq, and even if we did, the blowback would make the whole thing counter-productive. Kerry's simply stating the obvious here. Remember, he supported the invasion of Afghanistan. Think about that for a minute. We're talking about a guy who supported invading another country, overthrowing its government, dismantling its military and setting up an entirely new system, and you're saying he doesn't sufficiently recognize the need for military force in the war on terrorism?

3) He supports some sort of economic and cultural engagement with the Middle East.

Ah, that's just campaign puffery that can mean anything or nothing. Bush talks about the same thing. It's a throw away line to the do-gooder strain in American politics.

I guarantee you that all a Kerry presidency would change about our approach to the war on terror would be to improve our diplomatic situation vis-a-vis our allies, get more international support in Iraq, refocus our attention on Afghanistan and al-Qaeda, and tighten our security on the homefront. All to the good in my opinion.

posted by: Dave on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Question: What more could we be doing to break up al Qaeda?

That's not meant to be snarky. It's a serious question. If it's simply to throw a lot of troops into Afghanistan, that still doesn't address the issue of OBL using the mountains of Pakistan as cover.

As for other al Qaeda members ... well, we (or our proxies) seem to be making arrests and busting cells. I mean, it's not like NOTHING is being accomplished. Is there any guarantee that doing "more" would give us any better results? Or is the assumption that simply throwing more money/personnel at a problem will necessarily result in commensurate results?

As for Iraq not being a threat, and the entire world's intelligence being mistaken ... well, intelligence is an art, and a difficult one. Successes/failures take years to develop, and are especially difficult when trying to infiltrate totalitarian states.

But to say "well, obviously Saddam was no threat" and thus blaming the Bush administration for it is to ignore what has been discovered in the meantime - for example, the fact that Libya's program was a lot more advanced than was publicly thought (no one seems to be freaking out over the fact they were actively trading for WMD capabilities).

And in fact there's increasing awareness that WMD proliferation has been "componentized" just like other industries - by separating functions and productions across several countries, those countries could have plausible deniability (yay Nixon!) about their efforts. I mean, after all, Libya might say, all we have is uranium. We don't make centrifuges, so therefore we aren't in violation. Besides, we hold important positions in the UN...

Now, is it so completely implausible that Iraq under Saddam would be interested in that racket? And that once it made sure the world's attention was elswhere (say, Michael Jackson), it would get re-involved? Saddam was undoubtedly interested in WMD; I'm guessing his sons were too.

After all that, the question then becomes: Could we afford to relent in our pressure on him? Because that's what was looming: The UN would have eventually lost interest, sanctions would have been lifted, and our military would have gone home. Or stayed in Saudi Arabia ... which, as I recall, caused not a little irritation to a certain terrorist mastermind.

posted by: Steve in Houston on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Rich, we plan, build and deploy military equipment as systems. We plan in terms of decades, and for every conceivable threat.

I think that what we acutally agree on in regards to BMD is that you haven't the foggiest idea what you're talking about.

But then...

Dave (above) and you need to remember that this is just some guys blog, and all your 'strategery' here is just so many 1's and 0's.

But hey, thanks for your interest in your Department of Defense.
"The DOD - We're their when you need us"

posted by: TommyG on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

I'd be tempted to sit on my hands come November in hopes of returning to divided government except for one thing: the judges. I'm disgusted with Bush's spending jag, but I am boiling mad about the Dem's using the fillibuster to block judges they don't have the votes to stop. They've got to pay.

posted by: kozinski on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

We plan, build and deploy military equipment as systems. We plan in terms of decades, and for every conceivable threat.

I think that what we actually agree on here, in regards to BMD, is that you haven't the foggiest idea what you're talking about.

But then...

Dave (above) and you need to remember that this is just some guys blog, and all your 'strategery' here is just so many 1's and 0's.

But hey, thanks for your interest in your Department of Defense.
"The DOD - We're there when you need us"

posted by: TommyG on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

I think people are missing the point about the "Bush vs. the Democrats" divide on national security.

First off, I believe that every serious Dem candidate and President Bush would all take the issue of national security seriously in the years 2005-2009. What exactly is the scenario proposed here -- that it would be discovered that Iran is funding a terrorist group aiming to blow up New York City and kill 10,000 Americans, and a Democratic President is going to say, "Well, that sounds bad, but shouldn't we ask France first before we do anything about it?"

Isn't it interesting that all the dramatic debate between Bush and the Dems on terrorism seems to stem from one act -- the invasion of Iraq? On the other hand, not so surprising. Are there any other terrorism issues where Bush and the Dems would differ? Most of this is under the radar and people are unaware of it. Iraq is the main story.

What do the supporters of the Iraqi War say? They say that Bush is tough and unafraid to act; they say he takes terrorism seriously, since terror=war; they say that the Dems would be too hesitant to use force to protect us.

But Iraq was not actually a threat to us -- and it seems quite likely that this should have been known beforehand. To what extent did we invade Iraq so that we could convince ourselves of our toughness? I don't understand the logic that we have to give Bush props for flexing muscle in the Middle East when it's unclear that the benefits of that action exceed the costs. Hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of lives... in exchange for what, exactly? Getting rid of Saddam? Bringing democracy to Iraq?

posted by: 2 in the Bush on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Setting up a base of operations in the Middle East that removes us from the holy lands of Saudi Arabia.

Indicating to various factions who prey upon American ambivalence that we are capable and willing of saying something and doing it, at least militarily.

Giving a foothold to democrats (small-d) in the ME.

Helping to secure oil production for the entire planet in the (increasingly likely) chance that Saudi Arabia will experience significant domestic turmoil.

Taking out a totalitarian regime that had used WMD in the past and had been at the very least interested in acquiring them in the future - a regime that, by the way, looked to be passed down to the next generation of psycopaths, and would have funding in virtual perpetuity due to the oil reserves.

Upholding the integrity of the United Nations, by actually following through in its stated aims and threats.

Asserting our interests in the ME over those of Russia and France in order to bolster our economy.

To test and demonstrate new weaponry and tactics in preparation for future conflicts.

To finish a job we should have finished in 1991 (and might have if we weren't so beholden to other totalitarian regimes back then); and at the same time make up for our diplomatic error visited upon the Shiites.

To smash and expose Iraq's role in the trade of terrorism and destabilization in Israel and elsewhere.

All of the above, ranging from idealism to realpolitik to pure Machiavellian goals, are reasons to go into Iraq.

posted by: Steve in Houston on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]


What if the choice came down to Hillary (out of a brokered convention after all the Democratic candidates have either melted down, choked on their feet, or been hauled away in straitjackets) and Bush (whose fiscal profligacy leaves him so weakened that Hillary can't resist seizing the moment)? Could you bring yourself to vote for Hillary to continue an aggressive foreign policy, while counting on a Republican Congress to block her domestic agenda? I'm not claiming it's likely scenario, but I find it somewhat more intriguing, or less depressing than I find the current choices (speaking as a somewhat hawkish DLC Dem fossil).

At this point I'm no longer sure whether I prefer my divided government to be Dem Congress, Rep President, or vice versa. But I don't see that any of the current Dem candidates have much credibility on foreign policy. That's about the only advantage I would see in Hillary. She might not be any better (or worse) than Bush on domestic issues, but might leave the country better off than Bush will by failing to get her agendas through Congress.

On foreign policy, Edwards is as green as Bush was--and I'm not sure whose "team" he might inherit. Kerry should have experience going for him, but when anyone tries to tell me that Kerry has said this or Kerry has said that, I can only reply that he has taken both sides of every major issue, often at the same time--and continues to do so. I'm afraid he would be on foreign policy what Bush is on domestic policy, just trying to buy support anywhere he can find it. Liebermann has no chance, and I don't trust Clark or Dean not to make every issue all about them personally.

posted by: Joel on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

What Steve in Houston said.

posted by: ppack on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

I would hope at sometime we could hear the democrats (and Bush Administration as well) answer some more narrowly focused questions--for example:
1) do you think anti-semitism is on the rise in Europe, and if so, what action should the US take?
2) What is your position on the protective barrier/wall/fence Israel is building?
3) Would you replace Alan Greenspan--if so, with whom?
4) How SPECIFICALLY are you prepared to deal with social security given the obvious demographic tsunami on the horizon
5) Is the loss of jobs a structural feature of the evolving American economy? if so, what policies will you implement? If you are going to create jobs, which ones, and how?
6) How precisely will you deal with North Korea?

I am sure my fellow posters could add similar questions to such a list.

posted by: RogerA on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Steve in Houston, nice. I am technically in the "anti-war" camp, but most of my feelings about the war stem from the fact that I think Bush is a fearmonger who largely thinks of the war on terror as a great way to get re-elected. Is this unfair to Bush, who after all is a politician? Maybe. Long-term national security and foreign policy plans aren't exactly things you can be totally frank about with the people. Bush's domestic policy record doesn't really encourage me though.

Clinton vs. Bush comparison: I would be happier with Bush if he actually seemed to be working hard and struggling with difficult decisions. Instead, he always appears to be certain of himself, and doesn't seem to be working that hard, although he appears to mean well on foreign policy issues (on domestic policy, it is very obvious that he doesn't care about much beyond tax-cutting and professional sports... oh right, that isn't domestic policy). I would be happier if he seemed "serious" in a more substantial sense...

posted by: 2 in the Bush on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Steve in Houston:

I agree with pretty much all your points about Iraq. I think the war was worth it too. All I'm saying is that there's a valid case to be made on the opposite side as well, and so Kerry's opposition to the war in Iraq is not necessarily indicative of weakness on the general threat of terrorism.

posted by: Dave on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

I think Roger Simon's original suggestion is most peculiar. Given the secret ballot, why should someone feel compelled, due to "honesty", to reveal his or her vote, before or after? It's a little like saying you aren't "honest" unless you discuss the regularity of your bowel movements -- and I fear more than a few bloggers in fact discuss this very thing. Why should we care? I might think that in extreme cases, I'd be concerned if Rich Lowry wrote conservative pieces all day, and I found out he voted for the Democrat. But I'm not sure how much even that would bother me. This is a non-issue, I think.

posted by: John Bruce on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

What makes you think any of the democrats have a more sensible domestic policy plan? Last i heard, estimats for all of thier various programs would increase spending even more than Bush's have so far.

posted by: semm on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

If I'm not mistaken, one of Dean's reasons for opposing the Iraq invasion was that it represents a distraction from the war against al-Qaeda. He invokes Afghanistan fairly often, and is clearly following developments in both countries. Also, his foreign policy guru is Danny Sebright, who played a key role in overseeing the Afghanistan war. How is he not credible in the war against al-Qaeda?

posted by: Brian Ulrich on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

I'm disgusted with Bush's spending jag, but I am boiling mad about the Dem's using the fillibuster to block judges they don't have the votes to stop. They've got to pay.

I understand that this is a hot button for some people, but you might want to dig a little deeper before making that kind of snap judgment. The GOP has been all over this story by trying to claim that the Democrats were being unreasonable, but before making this a voting issue, consider the facts:

The Democrats were hardly taking an unreasonable black marker to Bush appointees. They confirmed 168 of the judges that came up for a vote, while filibustering to block only /four/. That hardly speaks of egregious obstructionism. The four judges in question, whatever you think of your qualifications, raised strong red flags in the minds of Senate Democrats and prompted them to take action they didn't consider against /one hundred and sixty-eight/ others who passed.

Shouldn't this cause a reasonable person to ask themselves what about those four judges was so objectionable that Senate Democrats would take this extreme measure to block them? That perhaps if the Democrats passed 98% of the judges brought before them, their decision to filibuster wasn't out of arbitrary spite against Bush's nominees per se, but for very specific reasons valid and critical to them?

posted by: Catsy on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Quite a hot-button topic! And appropriately enough. :)

Dave, Keith -- very good points, I enjoyed your posts.

I also liked what GT had to say: choosing a candidate is a question of priorities, because of course no one is perfect (wouldn't that be nice? but pretty unlikely, alas).

I'm an IR person and foreign policy matters greatly in my book. However, as with economics, both Dems and Reps frequently mess it up. Unfortunately. If security is our foremost concern, as several have suggested it is, then I believe there is a straightforward question to consider here: is the U.S. better off alienating allies and fostering resentment in areas of the world known to violently express anti-US sentiment?

It's not a tough question. No matter whether the war in Iraq was "right" or "wrong," the way Bush handles foreign policy is tragic. Case in point: when Vladimir Putin is your favorite foreign leader, and France is an enemy, something's rotten in the state of... diplomacy.

On economics, I fear for the future of government solvency. I am well aware of reasonable economic arguments in favor of running deficits in times of recession, and all Democrats should be remembering FDR. However, however, however! Bush's deficits are too large and will cause too much damage; I refer to Paul Krugman on this point, who has written so prolifically and passionately on it.

And lastly, there is social policy. For me, this clinches the game before the starting bell. I want to guarantee my rights over my body, I want teenagers to be taught how to protect their health, I want my friends and family, all of them, to have the right to marry the partner they love. I want civil liberties protected and Benjamin Franklin's warning carefully heeded.

And the AAB strategy is the only way to do all this.

posted by: Lisa on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]


From the Democrats' memos, we know one of the judges got blocked because he was Hispanic. We also know that some 6th district judges had their confirmations delayed so that they wouldn't be on the bench in time to rule on the Michigan affirmative action case. Are these legitimate reasons to block judicial nominees?

posted by: Hei Lun Chan on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

“How is he not credible in the war against al-Qaeda?”

That’s a real easy question to answer: Saddam Hussein had a working relationship with numerous terrorist organizations. Abu Abbas, the terrorist who masterminded the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro, for instance, was captured in Baghdad by our invasion forces. The former Iraqi dictator even paid around $25,000 to the families of the Palestinian suicide bombers. There is sufficient evidence that Saddam Hussein perceived al-Quaeda as the enemy of his enemy, and therefore deserving of an uneasy and awkward relationship.

Anyone who opted to place Saddam on the back burner of United States foreign policy is dangerously naive. Saddam Hussein did not dare to openly attack America---but would have, sooner or later, done so discretely.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

“Case in point: when Vladimir Putin is your favorite foreign leader, and France is an enemy, something's rotten in the state of... diplomacy.”

President Bush merely has an uneasy relationship with Vladimir Putin. Tony Blair is a true friend. France has opted to be our enemy. You should read Jean-Francois Revel’s --Anti-Americanism.-The French have a long history of stabbing us in the back. They are extremely bitter and envious of our preeminent power and influence.

posted by: David Thomson on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Strange. Nixon is about the last Republican President I would compare Bush to, as far as being President is concerned.

There are some disturbing resemblances between the two as far as running for President is concerned, but in the second Bush administration the campaign is a much more pervasive influence than it was 30 or even 10 years ago.

posted by: Zathras on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]


I disagree that France makes it a habit to stab the US in the back. Not supporting the US war in Iraq is not treachery. The war in Iraq is a very complex issue over which reasonable people will (did) disagree. The disagreements are far deeper than petty jealousy, and it is unfair to reduce the argument to this. IR scholar John Mearsheimer, among others, advanced very thoughtful arguments against the US war in Iraq (the article was published in Foreign Affairs, I'm certain, and I believe The New York Times as well.) I have not read Revel, though I have read about him, and though his hypotheses are thought-provoking, I'm not sure I find them convincing. His belief that Islam is incapable of tolerance is just one example.

posted by: Lisa on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Terrific discussion -- thank you, everyone. When I saw that 60 comments were listed for this post, I feared that the whole thread would be full of anger at him for expressing uncertainty. It's good to know that reasonable debate is still alive and well.

A few people have pointed out that there is a problem when evaluating the Democrat's positions on the War on Terror (I'm an independent who will vote Democrat, though I may be holding my nose as I do so, depending on the nominee) -- because President Bush has consistently connected Iraq with that war.

I believe that we truly are in a war -- not a police action -- against terrorists. I'm not comfortable with a doctrine of pre-emption (especially if the argument about Iraq is going to be that we had bad intel), but I'm open to the idea that it might be necessary.

But I also believe that Iraq was the wrong target at the wrong time, as part of the WoT. And when you add in the administration's failure to put forth the real debate about Iraq (building democracies in the Middle East, establishing stable footholds there),their bullheaded refusal to listen to plans for post-war, and the mess they've made of it, the whole Iraq situation makes me quite angry.

What I listen for in the Democrats' positions is a focus on AlQaeda and those who truly fund and support them. Dean has a completely undeserved "anti-war liberal" label, in that his only objection is to this Iraq war. I like what he says about pursuing AlQaeda, and I especially like what he says about Saudi Arabia.

Thanks for reading.

posted by: Opus on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Giving money to Palestinian suicide bombers does not constitute aid to al-Qaeda. Especially when the U.S. government made its case for Saddam being involved in the resistance by releasing evidence that Saddam was working to prevent the Ba'ath remnants from working with al-Qaeda. In any case, you're talking about something hypothetical that could happen down the line. I agree with you something had to be done about Iraq; however, had we concentrated on taking out al-Qaeda first, we could then have dealt with Saddam. As it is, we may leave a failed state in Iraq, where they can fester just like they are in the border areas of Pakistan.

posted by: Brian Ulrich on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Anyone who thinks Kerry, Dean or Edwards is serious about the war on terror hasn't been paying very much attention to what they have been saying. The Democratic front runners apparantly believe that the war on terror begins and ends with al Qaeda and they are oblivious to the notion that there is a wider clash of civilizations and ideals going on. The simple truth is that the only reason why they make noises about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda at all is to avoid appearing soft on terrorism, but the lack of specific proposals for what more could be done to capture bin Laden and dismantle al Qaeda and the vague handwaving about how we need to get the UN or our "allies" further involved is indicative of how the war on terror really isn't a proirity for these three.

I'm in pretty much the same boat as the appalled moderate. I vacillate back and forth between wanting to vote for Bush and wanting to vote for anyone but him. I think he is the only candidate who understands that this is a war, not just with al Qaeda, but with a militant strand of Islam that resents, fears and hates us precisely because they realize that we and they cannot coexist in the same world. However, Bush's domestic agenda sucks putrid eggs (to put it mildly).

posted by: Tom Ault on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Anyone who thinks Kerry, Edwards, or Clark wouldn't do a better job at protecting America than GWB hasn't paid attention. Period. If you vote for GWB because you think he'll be "stronger on terror," you are a fool. Period.

posted by: Michael on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Sigh, as a newly minted registered Democrat let me put in my two cents. The Dem's have been making the right noises on foreign policy, but the problem is that they have no credibility. To say that a vote for a Dem is a vote for UN paralysis is wholly ignorant of history - just a few years ago the Democratic President Clinton afterall took us into Serbia without a UN consensus or resolution. Little details like this fact get lost though in the pushing contest of partisanship accusations.

The current Democratic candidates however have a perception problem - not many people believe they are as serious about using force as Bush and co are. Between profligate and erroneous use of force, and perhaps the possibility of hesitancy unfortunately the public will go with irresponsible use of force. As former President Clinton noted: people will choose strong and wrong, over weak and right.

Finally, shocking as it may come to all of you the first duty of a President of the United States of America is not to protect its population. Instead, the President as are all citizens is duty bound to " the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

This is not a mere semantic difference or schoolroom lesson. It goes to the heart of what makes America so special. As Dan Drezner points out "... More and more, Bush reminds me of Nixon." What everyone here is arguing about is whether or not a Democratic candidate is strong enough to be considered as a replacement for a wrongly acting President, with the benefit of the doubt to the wrong but strong President. Kind of an interesting commentary on people really.
It is not our lives the President should seek to protect foremost, but our way of life embodied in the Constitution. And each of us out of duty ought to be willing to give our lives so that the core essence of what is America can survive and go on.

posted by: Oldman on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Aside from the tax cuts, which were fairly radical in magnitude, Bush's domestic policies are fairly moderate. The bones he throws to his religious base and corporate fund-raising base are mostly symbolic and small potatoes.

But his foreign policy is radical. And I'm not talking about multilateral or unilateral bs, that's just weak-ass criticism the dems throw at Bush because they are too scared to oppose the war. (In favor of war, just nit-picking the process, trying to have it both ways).

I'm opposed the Afghanistan war (not absolutely, but at that precise time) - and of course, the Iraq war. What's wrong with everybody else? Why are you guys so scared? If you could step outside of yourself, don't you think you'd sound silly? "Um, we had to invade Iraq because it posed a threat to us, or because it had weapons which they might have given to other people who might have brought them over here, or because the country was so big there was no other way to make me feel safe, or because we have to remake the culture of the middle east and this is the first step."

Almost everyone here expresses some notion that the Dems would be afraid to pull the trigger and invade a country to stop terrorism. But Bush wouldn't hesitate. But it is COMPLETELY UNKNOWN and UNPREDICTABLE if invading countries will actually deter further terrorist attacks. It is a complete guess. Sometimes the tough guy on the playground, once he demonstrates that he will kick anybody's ass at any time, enjoys a period of peace and security. But sometimes he becomes more of a target than if he had demnstrated the potential but not used it. It is absolutely unclear which effect dominates, unless you guys want to try and kill every single person who could ever develop hostile intentions towards America.

None of this is new. All the terrorism hawks act like this is a new world. Read history. Ask your host, Mr. Drezner, about the demonstration effect and the security dilemma. The latter probably just resulted in a hundred little races to acquire weapons by countries fearing the US. And does the demonstration effect work on stateless actors, motivated to die for their cause? Doubtful. It might deter some states,like future Talibans, from accepting payoffs to allow al Queda to set up shop. But remove the terrorist threat?

Would invading Syria, Iran, Libya and trying to institute different governments decrease the terrorist threat to the US? No one knows.

Does doing nothing except serious law enforcement and intelligence decrease the terrorist threat? Again, no one knows, but this plan has the benefit of NOT KILLING TENS OF THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT MUSLIMS. But of course, you guys probably ascribe little or no value to this cost. I'd rather 99 innocent Americans die than 100 innocent Iraqis. Who would think otherwise?

Since no one can predict the effect of invading countries like Iraq, what is it that you guys like about tough-talking Bush? Why does he make you feel safe against terrorism?

See, I think the Democrats would be no better, they would be just as cowardly as the prevailing US public opinion, and they would pull the trigger too on the next Iraq.

posted by: andrew on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

And each of us out of duty ought to be willing to give our lives so that the core essence of what is America can survive and go on.

Which is what Kerry and Clark did, yet you claim they have no credibility. It is precisely what George Bush did not do as he chose the National Guard and working on political campaigns while Clark and Kerry risked their lives for their Commander in Chief. I am not raising Bush's AWOL issue for any other reason then to demonstrate just how inconsistent the quoted position is.

posted by: vee on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

I had actually taken three of those "PresidentMatch"-type tests the other day - two gave me more or less the same result, and the third was all out of whack. I'm glad to see someone put some work into those algorithims.

posted by: tom on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Dear vee,

You have put your finger on an interesting sore spot in the consciousness of the nation. As you point out, Clark and Kerry have vastly more evidence of courage and military ability than Bush and yet the Democrats are getting pounded over and over again for military ineptness. The key to busting out of this stereotype is that both candidates need to define themselves as having an attitude toward the use of military force different from the Democratic stereotype. So far they aren't doing themselves any favors by promising to work with the UN. Even Clinton found it impossible to authorize all military actions through the UN.

I believe in genuine partnerships and cooperative multilateral concerted action. However, once a good faith effort along those lines has failed America has to be willing to go it alone. To say otherwise is not only foolish but to play into Bush's hands. You see he's set himself up like that crazy guy from Lethal Weapon played by Mel Gibson. Everybody knows he's willing to use force irresponsibly. Yet that very same willingness effectively let's him outbid the Democrats in the bidding contest to convince the American public about who is going to be more serious about taking on the bad guys.

So far Bush is winning, and that's the only thing keeping him afloat. The Democrats got it all wrong regarding electability. The rest of America doesn't care who got the Iraq war issue right. They care about how much you're "in their corner". Bush however plain dumb his policy execution, is clearly willing to pull the trigger. Any Democrat who wants to be beat him has to be like the new sheriff in town - quick on the draw AND more responsible.

posted by: Oldman on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

how is bush tough on terror? if he were really after terrorists he'd be in palestine, saudi arabia, pakistan, egypt, syria and iran -- all known states that harbor terrorists, not coddling them.

bush's message to states that harbor terrorists? safe! have a cookout while you plan your next move to mass murder americans and btw it's fine if you raise your children to hate america, we're OK with that.

oh and why yes north korea *is* linking up with nigeria...

i'd just like to rid people of the illusion that bush is taking a strong stance against terror. he's not!

afghanistan and iraq were a *start* and it looks increasingly clear that bush doens't have the cojones to finish what he started. he's turned out to be what he looked liked all along -- a pathetic weakling.

i mean dems wouldn't do any better, probably worse, but to think that this administration has a good national security policy is laughable. bush is a joke.

posted by: a concerned american on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

As already stated, we know why the Dems have blocked those judicial nominees - raw politics. Take Janice Brown for instance. She is on the CA Supreme Court right now, and as such is confirmed by the voters every 4 years, and ask Rose Bird if the CA voters just rubber stamp those elections. As a justice on the CA Supreme Court Janice Brown has written more majority opinions than any other California Justice during her tenure on the court.

The Democrat's only problem with Janice Brown is that she is a Conservitive Black Woman. A conservitive white man with her background and paper trail would have been confirmed without major problems.

posted by: Kozinski on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Kozinski, that is the worst form of race baiting. The Democrats are not stonewalling her because she is a "Conservitive Black Woman" [sic], but rather that she is a conservative. Period. You can continue to read Orin Hatch's talking points or you can see the articulated positions of those that oppose her nomination which include:

When Justice Brown was nominated to the California Supreme Court, three-fourths of the California State Bar's Commission on Judicial Nominees rated her "unqualified" for the position because of her lack of experience and her tendency to inject her own personal views into her judicial opinions.

In her judicial writings and public statements, Justice Brown expresses an ideology defined by overriding concern for property rights and deep disdain for government. She has authored opinions restricting free speech rights, undermining health and safety protections, and banning affirmative action. Likewise, she has written dissents that would have barred civil rights claims, denied effective remedies to victims of unlawful discrimination, struck down an affordable housing program in San Francisco as an unconstitutional "taking" of private property, and allowed companies to shut down group e-mail from outside individuals or organizations.

In Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car Systems, Inc. 980 P.2d 846 (Cal. 1999), the trial court found that the employer had violated the California Fair Housing and Employment Act by creating a hostile work environment through the use of racial slurs directed at Latino employees. On appeal, the California Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s remedy that prohibited the use of racial slurs in the future, holding that prevention of such speech was not a violation of the employer’s First Amendment rights. Brown dissented, arguing that the First Amendment protects the use of racial slurs in the workplace, even when it becomes illegal race discrimination. Brown’s dissent virtually ignored several Supreme Court precedents. Her opinion also went so far as to suggest that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination, violates the First Amendment and is therefore unconstitutional.

Janice Rogers Brown’s lone dissent in Konig v. Fair Employment and Housing Commission, 50 P. 3d 718 (Cal. 2002), would have seriously limited the redress options available to victims of housing discrimination. Brown found that the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing Commission, unlike the courts, did not have the right to award damages for emotional distress. Further, in Peatros v. Bank of America NT&SA, 990 P.2d 539 (Cal. 2000), Brown argued in dissent that the National Banking Act of 1864 pre-empted California’s fair employment law, thus preventing a bank employee from being able to file a lawsuit for race and age discrimination in state court. Justice Brown made this argument despite the fact that other more recent federal laws, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, would clearly supercede the 135-year-old banking law on this question.

Brown has also expressed a desire to limit legal recourse for people with disabilities who are victims of discrimination. In Richards v. CH2M Hill, Inc., 29 P.3d 175 (Cal. 2001), an employee sued her employer for disability discrimination based on her employer’s refusal to reasonably accommodate her disability over a five-year period. The state trial court awarded the plaintiff emotional distress and economic damages. On appeal, the employer argued that the statute of limitations had run on the allegations that were more than a year old at the time the case was filed, and thus liability should be greatly reduced. In its majority decision upholding the trial court’s verdict, the California Supreme Court adopted a version of the “continuing violation doctrine,” under which there may be liability for acts occurring outside the statute of limitations if they are sufficiently related to acts occurring within the prescribed time period. Brown’s lone dissent argued against use of the “continuing violation doctrine.” Rather, she asserted her view that plaintiffs should have to file separate lawsuits, subject to separate statutes of limitations, for each act of discrimination.

In City of Moopark v. Superior Court, 959 P.2d 752 (Cal. 1998), Brown argued in dissent against allowing a disabled city employee to bring a cause of action under the state common law prohibiting employers from firing workers in violation of well-established, substantial, and fundamental public policies, such as the policy against firing people because they have a disability. As the author of the only dissent in Stevenson v. Superior Court, 959 P.2d 752 (Cal. 1998), Brown argued that the plaintiff had failed to show that public policy against age discrimination “inures to the benefit of the public” or is “fundamental and substantial.” She further stated, “Discrimination based on age is not, however, like race and sex discrimination. It does not mark its victim with a ‘stigma of inferiority and second class citizenship’ (citation omitted); it is the unavoidable consequence of that universal leveler: time.”

Brown has also shown hostility toward affirmative action. Her majority opinion in Hi-Voltage Wire Works v. City of San Jose, 12 P.3d 1068 (Cal. 2000) has made it nearly impossible to have a meaningful affirmative action program in California. Justice Brown’s opinion went so far as to also prohibit cities from requiring their contractors to reach out to subcontractor businesses owned by minorities and women. Her opinion also ignored legal precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court. Despite consistent Court rulings that, under the right circumstances, affirmative action is permissible under federal law, Justice Brown stated that affirmative action was at odds with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While some of the result in this case may have been dictated by Proposition 209, California’s anti-affirmative action ballot initiative, her opinion clearly misinterpreted Proposition 209 and the intentions of California residents who voted for it. One of Brown’s California Supreme Court colleagues, who concurred with the result of the case, wrote that Brown’s opinion seriously distorted history and that she was not correct when she wrote that past decisions in favor of affirmative action were “wrongly decided.”

Justice Brown’s opinions have also shown great antagonism toward the rights of workers. In Loder v. City of Glendale, 927 P.2d 1200 (1997), a case addressing the constitutionality of a drug and alcohol testing program for employees of the City of Glendale, Brown, in dissent, explicitly rejected binding Supreme Court precedent that called for the use of a balancing test to weigh the interest of the government against those of its employees in assessing whether these types of tests were constitutionally permissible. Despite the clear Supreme Court precedent, Brown would have imposed a bright line rule allowing drug tests for all employees. This opinion raises very serious concerns about Brown’s commitment to upholding settled law in both the workers’ rights context and many other areas of civil rights and liberties.

Brown’s extreme ideological opinions also extend to the rights of defendants. In People v. Mar, 52 P.3d 95 (Cal. 2002), the California Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a defendant who was made to wear a stun belt during his testimony at trial. The belt made the defendant uncomfortable and nervous and may have affected how the jury viewed his testimony. In her dissent arguing to uphold the requirement that the defendant wear the belt, Brown berated her colleagues in a brazenly sarcastic and highly critical way, belittling the court’s research into stun belts, accusing her colleagues of “rushing to judgment after conducting an embarrassing search,” and implying that a high school student could have done a better job than the chief justice in preparing the majority ruling. Also, Brown’s dissent in People v. Ray would have allowed a warrantless search of a person’s home as part of law enforcement’s “community care taking functions,” – an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against warrantless searches not recognized by the Supreme Court.


posted by: vee on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Wow...perhaps you should have chosen another example Kozinski? Or maybe you just should not have picked a rhetorical fight with someone who knows what they are talking about.

In any event, I am quite confident that Drezner's vote is not going to come down to deciding that the GOP is a better party for Civil Rights so he better vote for Bush. If that is the argument you want to make fine, but I think most of America, and definitely the portion of America most affected by Civil Rights, will see right through it.

You have to speculate that something is wrong with the GOP when 90% of the African-American vote goes to Gore. I don't think you could find any other group that provides such a large plurality to one candidate...although I would be interested in knowing about it if it does exist.

posted by: Rich on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

From the Democrats' memos, we know one of the judges got blocked because he was Hispanic. We also know that some 6th district judges had their confirmations delayed so that they wouldn't be on the bench in time to rule on the Michigan affirmative action case. Are these legitimate reasons to block judicial nominees?
The "because he was Hispanic" is a willful misreading of the memo. You have to be pretty partisan to say that Miguel Estrada was blocked because he was Hispanic, when other Hispanic nominees were approved. The correct and logical reading of the memo is that the Democrats feared that Estrada would be more difficult to stop because he was Hispanic, because people who were troubled by his politics and jurisprudential affinities (such as could be descried) might nevertheless support him. You might compare, say, liberals who normally supported the New York Giants rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers when they signed Jackie Robinson. If you don't think that nominating conservative Hispanics (and blacks) is a particular delight of the Bush Administration, to show their own bona fides, you are terribly naive.

Your point about the Michigan judges is somewhat better taken.

Have you ever troubled to compare the percentage of nominees approved for Bush to those approved for Clinton? Including the many for whom Orrin Hatch simply failed to schedule committee hearings and votes? Do so before you post on this topic again.

posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

For over a year now, the existence of WMD and a credible military threat to us from Iraq (either directly, with chemical weapons that were already capable of being delivered to the East Coast, or indirectly via Al Qaeda) had taken on the status of a folklore myth. With much of the moderate and conservative polity organized around affirmation of this "grave and gathering" threat, contraindications beginning even before the invasion, e.g. the negative reports of Hans Blix's team, were dismissed. Only this week, over the last feeble dissimulations of the Vice President of the United States, the dominant paradigm shifts. The rearguard now seeks rather to prevent too close an examination of how so many were self-deceived.

There's little doubt in my mind what myth will fall next: that Iraq (that "sideshow", as Wesley Clark so well put it) and the capture of Saddam made us "safer". The three months since the capture of Saddam were the worst for American military deaths, while at home only one week later we returned to "Orange Alert" to counter threats that were devised far outside Iraq. So the belief that Bush's War on Iraq is some sort of brilliant foreign policy relies on invisibles cognizable only to previous converts to the religion. They generally involve an axiom that we are made safer merely through demonstrating a willingness to use force even when most of our traditional allies are against it (for which the anti-Taliban War, supported by all the world, did not suffice). Contrary evidence mounts. The axiom is mistaken. The Presidential popinjay "prancing" (Clark again!) in his flight suit, declaring "Mission Accomplished" is returning to reality with his followers, like it or not.

posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

I thought it was a pretty decent test, but it gave me Kucinich and Sharpton as my 1-2. I guess based on their stated policy I agree with them the most, but if you factor in character and the likelihood of actually enacting their stated policy in a way I agree with, forget about it.

You can't judge a race where policy is in the backseat based on policy alone.

posted by: neil on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Lets delve into a few points you raised, but just a few, I'm not as ambitious as you are. You say: "Brown has also shown hostility toward affirmative action. Her majority opinion ..." hmmm majority opinion huh, that sounds pretty mainstream to me. You don't mention that it was a unanimous decision either. The civil rights act says: "(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin". Isn't that exactly what affirmitive action does?

Now how about her dissent in Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car Systems, are you really saying that racist speech is not constitutionaly protected? The state can bar "White Men can't Jump" as a movie title? Local government can censor rap lyrics? What Brown's dissent came down to is she said the lower court could not put a prior restraint on speech, if the supervisor at Avis repeated his racist remarks then his employees could sue him again and win again. She fully supported the finding of workplace discrimination and damages, where she drew the line was at a prior restraint of speech. You don't really think that even the 1964 civil rights law trumps the Constitution do you?

posted by: Kozinski on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

I'm not going to bother reading the other comments here(at least now)so if this is just a repeat(hopefully it will be)I apologize.

Oooooh! If that's your idea of a straight answer. Please don't inflict a gutless one on us.


After your first answer, I realize I need to request some guidelines.

Please restrict yourself to..
1)actual existing people
2)in this universe please; Thankyou

posted by: Rocketman on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

One other quick note, there are these things on your keyboard called quotes. They are these small double lines like: ". When you are lifting others words verbatim it is generally accepted usage to wrap quotes around them. When I post something without quotes, they're my words, even when I mispell them.

posted by: Kozinski on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

It appears Sharpton rises up on lots of people's list because he has 'No Opinion' on a lot of issues. Bush ended up as my first, followed by Lieberman and then Sharpton. That is silly.

posted by: Karr on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Thanks for the tip Kozinski. I entered what I thought was the proper html code to put it in quotes and then placed the source link at the bottom. The source was listed(though my href code apparently was wrong as it did not show up as a link). I was taught long ago that you do not use quotation marks with quotes longer then 50 words--you block them instead. I attempted that, but my knowledge of html was about as sound as your conclusions that Justice Brown was passed over for being a "Conservitive Black Woman". You can cherry pick those cases all you want, but clearly there is enough concern raised by positions taken in those cases to justify the concern about her substantive position on the issues and nothing to do with her race or gender.

posted by: vee on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

The main reason to use quotes or any other method to indicate passages that were pasted in is because it helps others determine whether you actually understand these issues or whether you are just parroting what you've heard.
Aguilar VS Avis is an extremly important case, the issue was does 'hostile work environment' law trump free speech? If you disagree with Brown in Aguilar then apply the majority decision to these circumstances: suppose a librarian sues her employer for creating a hostile work environment because it has 3 copies of Huck Finn in the library's collection. The Librarian considers the book racist and deeply offensive. She feels uncomfortble and humiliated whenever she has to interact with the library's patrons checking out, or returning the book. The Library says there is nothing they can do to fix the situation. Under Aguilar the judge could order the library to remove Huck Finn from its shelves, and any other book that contains the 'N' word.
If you think that this is a farfetched scenario then you are wrong. Basically the same thing has actually happened in this case:

posted by: kozinski on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Would you say that a threat anywhere in the middle east, as of 2001, was a threat to the US, an dthe remainder of the world?

I would.

posted by: Bithead on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Vote for the Bush dynasty. Double-plus good.

posted by: JoJo on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Have you ever troubled to compare the percentage of nominees approved for Bush to those approved for Clinton?

When the Republicans were blocking Clinton's nominees, they controlled the Senate. Now you have a minority party blocking nominees. In terms of democratic values, that would seem to be an important difference.

posted by: LC on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

So DD understands that on domestic policy Bush always allows short-term political considerations to override what is in the best interests of the country. But somehow Bush is supposed to completely change tack when it comes to foreign policy.

Why on earth would Bush make such a distinction? If he's happy to sabotage long run growth by saddling future generations with debt, to blatantly stack the courts, to betray his campaign promises and to run roughshod over constitutional freedoms, all to look good on Fox news, what makes you think he won't go to war for political gain? It was all perfectly timed for the mid-term Congressionals.

But of course that would require taking an objective look at the Iraq war, which must lead you to conclude that it has made the US substantially less safe - not least by shattering its credibility (I wouldn't like to be the President who has to try and get a pre-emptive war going against North Korea based on secret intelligence. and heaven help us anyway if we do have to fight another war while we're bogged down in Iraq).

I can understand people buying the package before the war - the propaganda offensive was overwhelming, no-one likes to think the Preident is a scoundrel and war-fever always create a will to believe. But now that we've seen the outcome no honest person could vote for Bush based on this fiasco.

posted by: derrida derider on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Meaning, the vast majority of the country is not honest, I take you... thank you very much.

Gee...There's a platform for the Democrats to run on...

posted by: Bithead on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

2 in the Bush wrote: Isn't it interesting that all the dramatic debate between Bush and the Dems on terrorism seems to stem from one act -- the invasion of Iraq? On the other hand, not so surprising. Are there any other terrorism issues where Bush and the Dems would differ? Most of this is under the radar and people are unaware of it. Iraq is the main story.

On terrorism, perhaps. On national security more generally, I would add North Korea. While one doesn't have to endorse everything Bush has done wrt NK, his (stated) instincts are correct, and the Democrats' stated instincts are wrong. Their idea is to continue the Clinton policy of appeasement. (I hesitate to use the word because of the negative connotations, but it fits here.) Their idea is that if we just sit down with NK and promise them more stuff, we'll be safer.

On issue after issue, foreign policywise, one can make this generalization: Bush's execution of his foreign policy ideas is often lacking, but he generally has the right ideas, and Democrats generally have the wrong ones.

posted by: David Nieporent on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Perhaps Bush's execution suffers from the fact his more utopian ideas are impossible, in which case their correctness relative to the Democrats' is frankly not very relevant.

For instance, it must have seemed like a good idea to create a pseudo-democratic Iraq under Ahmed Chalabi, which would be pro-US (and even pro-Israel!), certainly more appealing than the Democrats' ideas of inspections and/or sanctions and Iraq still under Saddam's yoke.

However, hope is not a plan. Instead, we bought ourselves $1.5 billion and ten fatalities a week for the indefinite future. But as Bush said, "What's the difference."

posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

Bithead - Que? For my last comment to have implied the vast majority of the country is not honest, both the following would have to hold:
1) the vast majority of the country will vote for Bush;
2) they will base their votes on the Iraq fiasco.

Neither of which is true.

But I do believe that the few who will base their vote for Bush on his actions in Iraq must have an exceptional unwillingness to face facts, amounting to wilful ignorance. A minute's hard thought must show people that on this issue at least Bush is either a liar or a fool (or both). Unfortunately a minute is a long time and thought is a painful process.

posted by: derrida derider on 01.30.04 at 11:53 AM [permalink]

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