Wednesday, April 28, 2004

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Where to find evidence that up is down

Curious about information and evidence showing that for Bush and Kerry's political fortunes, up is down on Iraq? You can find a very embryonic version of this argument in this blog post of ten days ago.

The article was based on the polling data that has flummoxed DC insiders for the last ten days. Here's a link to the April 19th Washington Post-ABC News Poll, and here's a link to the USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll taken during the same week (hat tip to Andrew Sullivan, who linked to both articles).

Kerry's answers about the U.N. to Tim Russert on the April 18th Meet the Press can be found in this transcript. Krauthammer's spot-on essay on Kerry's Iraq position appeared last Friday in the Washington Post. Andrew Sullivan makes the case for Kerry to scold the anti-war movement in this Daily Dish post (you need to scroll down a bit). I discussed the constraints Kerry faces in taking a more assertive position in the Middle East in my last TNR Online essay, "Cornered."

I mentioned Howard Dean's desire to send more troops to Iraq last summer in last summer's TNR Online essay about Dean. Richard Clarke discusses the Somalia debacle -- and the mistake of pulling out following the Black Hawk Down incident -- in chapter four of Against All Enemies.

A final caveat -- the observation that Bush does better and Kerry does worse if there is trouble in Iraq falls apart if the trouble gets really serious. For all of the bad news coming out of that country, the fact remains that U.S. casualties remain quite low for such an occupation -- especially one with such a low ratio of occupying troops to population. If casualty numbers per week move from the tens into the hundreds or thousands, then calls for withdrawal will become more tempting for Kerry to make -- and the political logic discussed in the article won't hold.

posted by Dan on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM


Hard to comprehend US casualties reaching hundreds or thousands per week, given the nature and scale of the fighting. I suppose anything's possible, but those sorts of numbers are only likely to occur in a more "traditional" warfare scenario involving two real military forces.

posted by: Dave on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

Nice to know that we can so comfortably live with merely dozens of deaths per week. At this pace, we can occupy the country indefinetly. Great stuff. (We won't mention the thousands of morally innocent Iraqis that WE are killing - as we all know that Saddam [with or without U.S.-U.N. backing] killed so mnay more: no moral equivalence. Sit back. Enjoy the jungle: where the new code of morality is "a hundred eyes for an eye.")

posted by: comenius on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

Daniel -- I wonder if you'd be willing to blog about this suggestion from Joe Lieberman's speech at the Brookings Institution earlier this week.

It has gotten very little play, but is the best and potentially most constructive single idea I've seen regarding the Iraq situation.

This is a moment when Lieberman illustrates his reputation as "the conscience of the Senate". In fact, this is the best example of that yet -- the most important one.

We blog about it here on Centerfield, but it hasn't been mentioned on the more popular blogs such as yours.

posted by: William Swann on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]


You're forgetting the N word. Not Najaf but NADER, who now positions himself as a single-issue candidate and who will bleed Kerry to death on the war issue.

Given that Kerry is calling for escalation of our war effort, Nader has become the only true "antiwar" candidate. Nader can now gain traction with disgruntled leftist Dems by arguing, plausibly, that there's not a dime's worth of difference between Hubert H. Kerry and GW Bush. Remember, it only takes a few thousand defections by left-wing antiwar Dems to hand any of OH, FL, PA or MO to Bush.

Having argued for escalation, it's simply credible for Kerry to do a 180 and call for withdrawing the troops.

OTOH he gains nothing by calling for UN involvement (already happening) or increased military involvement by "the allies" (won't happen).

Iraq screws Kerry. His only hope is that events and the mainstream media conspire to move Iraq off the front pages and the nightly newscast.

posted by: tombo on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

change above phrase to "it's simply NOT credible for Kerry to... call for withdrawal"

posted by: tombo on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

William Swann,

Lieberman's plea ("in the interest of our nation's security, and in pursuit of our nation's highest ideals, stop the bickering, overcome the mistrust, appreciate how similar are our current goals in Iraq, and work together to achieve them") is so obviously the right prescription that it will never be accepted by either side's shock troops.

The right person to deliver that message is Bill Clinton. He can and should point out that

--Bush's Iraq War was simply a continuation of Clinton's regime change policy and his 1999 lightning war vs Saddam (4 days of round-the-clock, carpet bombing of Baghdad)

--Bush's conclusions re Saddam and the WMD threat were the same as Clinton's conclusions

--no US president, Democratic, Republican, or whatever, will ever let the UN, the French or any foreign entity override US national security decisions.

Lieberman's a superb guy but he has no pull with the media or the Dems' left-libs (note how his Brookings plea has been totally ignored by the press). Gore could sway the left but he's too bitter to do so. Only Clinton, having been thoroughly savaged by the left as well as the right, and with nothing left to lose, has the ability and potential inclination to step forth and bind up the nation's wounds on this issue.

posted by: tombo on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

Good suggestion, Tombo. And I suspect Clinton's thinking is very much in line with Lieberman's.

One quibble: The one thing in Lieberman's speech I disagreed with was the emphasis he placed on how "right" the original case for going into Iraq was.

I think we very much need a broader perspective right now. The truth is that reasonable people could (and did) come to different conclusions on the original question for going to war. It's also true that the rationale for war has been subsequently undermined in key respects.

And the final (and key) point is that the question of whether to go in originally is very different from the question we face now that we're in. It's perfectly rational, in my opinion, for folks who opposed the war to conclude, now, that they should support a firm committment to success in Iraq.

The key is to draw all those folks together -- as many as possible, at least. And a little humility in terms of making room for their earlier views helps.

Lieberman did that in the latter part of his speech -- but he hit the "making the case" part a little too heavily at the beginning.

The trick is really to build a consensus. Fat chance, I know ... but it is the right thing to do, and a very important thing to do. So you have to try.

posted by: William Swann on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

John Lewis Gaddis makes the point that we're at a position in this conflict--I mean this long twilight struggle vs Islamist apocalyptic jihadism-- similar to where we were in 1947, before the nation had fully come to grips with what would later be known as the Cold War.

In 1947 there was still a great deal of bitter, Taftite Republican opposition to Truman's interventionist foreign policy. That died away when the Eisenhower wing of the Republican party defeated Taft's wing, and then we had two decades of bipartisan cold war policies.

What we need today is for a farsighted Dem of national stature to convince his own party's haters that this is not about Bush. Or to put it another way, to rebuke the Deaniacs and say, "Bush is not the enemy, Saddam is (was)."

I can't see any Dem making that case strongly today except for Clinton. Everyone else has far too much invested in demonizing Bush. A shame, really, what's happened to the Dems. Until the demonization of Bush stops, I'll sadly have to renounce my Dem affiliation. 2004 will be the first time I've ever voted for a Republican presidential candidate.

posted by: tombo on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

It is a conundrum, but it becomes a little more understandable when viewed in the light of Kerry’s strategy against Bush.

Those disaffected with Bush’s performance in Iraq will be looking for an alternate candidate with a position to address the deficiencies in US post-“Victory” Iraq policy with a strong plan for the future.

What has Kerry offered in contrast to the Bush Administration’s policies and their execution in Iraq? To paraphrase Kerry, first-person –

· I shouldered the burden of my citizenship and accepted active duty in Vietnam, while Bush used his family’s influence to avoid duty in Vietnam at any cost.

· During my military service I executed my duties even in harm’s way, for which my valor in defense of America was recognized through medals and citations for injury sustained in battle, while Bush did even less than the absolute minimum required of a National Guardsman, manipulating the system to avoid even the National Guard’s less stringent requirements of duty and ultimately maneuvering exception from performance of duty (approved or not, but de facto through avoidance of penalty) and even early release.

· Therefore - I am good; Bush is bad.

· Therefore - I did right; Bush did wrong.

· Therefore - I am responsible, reliable and upright; Bush is unreliable and irresponsible, a man who takes advantage of the system without regards for fairness or effect on others.

Now, I’m neither supporting nor denying these paraphrased positions, but even if they were true and accurate they only go towards individual merit and character, which, while important characteristics in a presidential candidate in terms of ability to perform, they are not statements of policy that can be offered or executed as an alternative to the policies of the BA.

Saying “I served in Vietnam” (or any of the other of Kerry’s personal characterizations) offers little in and of itself as preeminent qualification to define effective policy in Iraq. Kerry has offered no position for Iraq, certainly none at the volume of Kerry’s unhelpful personal characterizations, that allows voters to assess the merits of his proposed policy for Iraq.

The result - in the minds of the uncommitted voters who will make or break either campaign, there is no compelling reason for supporting Kerry. Upset with the BA’s lack of a sensible policy and Iraqi transition plan, they are searching for just such to prove that someone else has a viable direction. They can see the result in Iraq of insufficient assessment, planning and policy – it’s the issue. What makes the Kerry Campaign then think these same voters would marshal behind a candidate who offers no assessable plan and policy?

This is why Kerry goes down and Bush goes up as the Iraqi situation worsens. A large percentage of the voter base may be dissatisfied with the BA plan in Iraq, but they know he has one. Kerry’s lack of known and vocally self-promoted policy for Iraq scares the shit out of people when Iraq is an issue. The polls reflect this. And no, screaming the “BA are idiots / nepotistic / arrogant / self-serving / misguided / … Republicans!” is neither plan nor policy.

This is indicative of the Kerry Campaign’s own unique quagmire that seems to deepen with each passing week, and I submit the root of the Kerry Campaign’s frustration and inability to understand how they can be behind what they deem such an obvious target.

If Kerry is going to beat Bush he needs to stick his neck out over the middle of road political line and present positions and policies of substance on how to correct what is wrong. Yes, they will be analyzed and criticized by the GOP down to a level even Stephen Hawkings dreads to go, but that is only all the more reason for Kerry to construct and critique his own consistent policy vision now. But the damage is far worse when the result of the GOP’s analysis is there’s nothing to analyze.

Bush can play the political game of personal attack because he is the incumbent and he has four years of policy development and execution that the voters know and can touch. One can argue the validity of BA policy in solving the issues it targets, but it at least it is a known entity. Given a known Bush plan, however open-for-argument it may be as to efficacy vis-à-vis the issues, versus a Kerry plan that is not supported from the rooftops by the Kerry himself and in analysis decomposes into irrelevant personal characterization – the voters aren’t left with much of a choice. Better bad Bush policy we can predict, than a Kerry policy we can’t see. We’ve already had four years to see just how far awry things can go when due diligence is not applied openly, and well, diligently and planning follows rhetoric as an after thought.

My advice to Kerry – quit the anti-Bush attacks and the redundant litany of null-content personal characterizations. You want to be President of the United States? Start acting like one. Show the voters the detail and substance of the policy positions you will take in office. Now there’s a real contrast. With such foundation going into September & October’s debates you can fluster your opponent’s reiterative sound-bytes and attack with both fact and character. This is not an election that can be won by the candidate sitting firmly in a chair of moral superiority placed firmly on a mound of hyper-critical abuse heaped on top the body of his opponent. Senator Kerry, you had it right at the start - this is a campaign of issues. You know what they are. Right or wrong, have the cahones to deliver on some and let the chips fall as may.

posted by: Jon on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

Tombo & William Swann,

I agree about Clinton, but the Democrats need to lose big at least once, and IMO more like several times, before they will change.

By Democrats I mean their political class, not Democratic voters. There is a significant difference between them concerning the war on terror.

The Democratic political class has never gotten over Vietnam. IMO there is a real good chance we'll have to wait for those political generations (Kerry perfectly represents them) to die before the Democratic Party will change on this.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]


I think you have the right idea, but Kerry needs to expand it beyond Iraq. Part of the problem Kerry has is not just that his stated policy on Iraq ("give it to the UN"; "make our allies happier") has been poached by Bush, but that his stated thoughts on terrorism ("exaggerated", "law enforcement") seem, somehow, small.

As has been stated on this blog quite often, Bush policy implementation is usually disasterous. Kerry seems like he ought to be able to run on a ticket of "Hey, at least I'm competent." But if he's going to do that, he needs to show some competence on the campaign trail -- something that seems to elude him.

Oh, and I agree Kerry needs to lose his "Bush is the worstest, awfullist president there ever ever was" schtick. Competent realists are not supposed to be given to hyperbolic nastiness.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

Shorter Jon:
To get elected, Sen. Kerry:

For all the ink and electrons devoted to the subject, this, IMO, is the issue in a nutshell. The flaws and failures of Bush 43's Adminstration are out there for all to see: certainly, there is a hard core of voters who will NEVER vote to turn him out of office: but there are many, many more out there (as polls have borne out) who have soured on the present government, and would be only too glad to pull the lever for a Democrat - if he is NOT seen or felt to be a worse alternative than the currrent gang. That, I think will be John Kerry's biggest task: craft a set of "electable" policies that will accentuate the difference between the parties, get the message out, and push to make the election hinge ON THE ISSUES (admittedly the hardest part of American politics).

posted by: Jay C. on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

Appalled Moderate: Agree completely. Kerry’s strongest weapon should be a set of unified policy positions that directly address his position and the BA failures on each issue. Let him enlist bi-partisan, accredited expertise and craft such; show the electorate a different process to policy, not the yea of the yes-men that’s set the BA off-course. Not a normal political tactic, but the only approach to gather momentum for Kerry that I can see. The percentage of electorate that can be influenced by characterization already has made their decision. Walked through the lobby at work a bit ago. Another talking head Kerry mouthpiece reading extracts from Kerry’s military record and drawing contrasts to Bush. Gag. 3 months ago it might’ve spoken to character; now it’s beginning to smack of a one-dimensional candidate with nothing more to say. Which I don’t think is true, but I’d like to some action that validates my dwindling confidence.

Jay C: Thanks for the summation. Appreciated any time. Got an ex-lecturer’s love of self-expression, or less politely, a bad case of verbal diarrhea that emanates from me fingertips. Agree with your thoughts on need for Kerry’s developed and vocalized policy. If he can’t find the intellectual courage to present real positions, then he’ll never have the chance for four years to develop them to solutions.

posted by: Jon on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

Tombo wrote:

I can't see any Dem making that case strongly today except for Clinton. Everyone else has far too much invested in demonizing Bush. A shame, really, what's happened to the Dems.

In your estimation as someone who identifies with the Democratic Party, would you say that Kerry based on his words and behavior as a presidential candidate has been part of the solution or part of the problem?

Bonus Question: if the latter, do you think that, based on his previous words and behavior, this would still be the case had Howard Dean not started out so strong by catering to anger of the ABB crowd?

posted by: Thorley Winston on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]


To me John Kerry is an actor who's been reprising a role he perfected 30 years ago. He exemplifies much of what's wrong with the party: the obsession with Vietnam; the pseudo-sophistication that masks an absence of real thought or analysis; the failure to engage with ordinary working people who, contrary to Beltway wisdom, do not want to cut and run when casualties mount.

If the man did not have the hair, the height and the resume, no one would take him seriously. He's not serious.

I supported Clinton early and voted for him twice, mainly because of his genius for New Democratic formulations that retain the commitment to helping the weak while squarely addressing the source of the problem in ways that don't demonize people ("end welfare as we know it"; "make abortion safe, legal and rare").

I'm deeply disturbed by the rise of Dean and the influence of hack conspiracy-peddlers like Michael Moore, the Hollywood idiots et al on the party's leadership. But there's really nowhere to go: I don't believe in God and can't really stomach the religious right (and for that reason can't get excited by Rabbi Lieberman). The best I can hope for is that somehow, someday, a Scoop Jackson/Truman Dem will emerge again. But I don't see any on the horizon.

posted by: tombo on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

To Thorley's Bonus Q, yes, Kerry would still come across as a clown even if Howard Dean had never left Montpelier. There's simply nothing to the man aside from his home videos and ridiculously ponderous statements that contain lots of words and clauses summing up to zilch.

Case in point: Kerry's supposedly the foreign affairs expert. Yet whenever asked for his analysis of Al Qaeda and the other jihadists, he tries to compare them to... the MAFIA! I recall a TV appearance of his shortly after 9/11 (jointly with McCain) in which he first voiced this comparison and then added, "and like the mafia, I suppose it's just something we'll have to get used to."

This is asinine. AQ are not even remotely comparable to the mafia. If Bush had said this, everyone would call him a moron, a hick who doesn't understand apocalyptic theocratic ideologies or modern terror or the Arab mind etc etc. Why do people fail to see the essential stupidity and shallowness of Kerry?

Predictable reply: But Kerry's the anti-Bush. Really? Kerry's a complete lightweight who married into big money.

We had a shot at a bipartisan foreign policy with continuity of the Clinton-Bush Iraq regime change
policy at its core. The Dems (except for Lieberman) bear IMO most of the responsibility for trashing this. A real pity, and nominating anyone but a real hawk (ideally, a liberal hawk) will only set the Dems, and the nation, back for years.

posted by: tombo on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

Kerry is on the horns of a dilemna. If he runs left he'll lose the middle and probably ensure a total disaster from democratic congressional candidates on his coattails. If he runs right he'll lose the antiwar wing to Nader. Dont be fooled, Nader could easilly take 5% or more of the vote if Kerry proposes more troops and a more intense war. His only other option is to keep tap dancing along answering without answering policy questions. This will cost him the election for sure, and make him look like an unserious boob to boot.

There is one possible winning path, but it would take some major political chops. He could run right and run left at the same time. What this would look like is basically advocating increasing military forces in Iraq for, say 6 months to put down the insurgency, then removing all forces within a year to a UN endorsed government, possibly with an observervation force remaining in Kuwait. He could talk tough about Syria and Iran, but also talk about how he will nurture the homegrown revolutionaries in those countries. A very Kennedy-like solution.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

Kennedy as in... Bay of Pigs? Or our great Vietnam victory? I'm not sure one can get too clever with this.

I think Kerry is basically screwed by Iraq under any scenario except the two most unlikely ones: either a) complete disaster, with civil war and collapse of all authority, or b) complete and rapid success, with total pacification and a swift transfer of power allowing us to disengage.

Either way, there's no alternative but to tough it out and contin ue to make grinding progress with jihadists, Ba'athists, and the "allies" and media sniping at us every step of the way. With Nader as the one true antiwar candidate, this will spell certain defeat for Kerry, regardless of how he tries to spin the situation.

posted by: tombo on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

IMHO here's what Kerry should say: "I support the president in Iraq. Now let's talk about the economy and health care...."

posted by: Tombo on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

Well being pragmatic, if GWB doesn't believe that the situation in Iraq is a political threat to his success rather than attempting to rock the boat he may simply push on hoping to keep the lid on until past November.

I suppose this would please those hear who believe that another six months of exactly the same policies will produce a winning formula.

If we get a messed up situation in Iraq and a Bush victory, I suppose that it will just another case of the electorate getting the leader they deserve.

posted by: Oldman on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]


The Democratic party left me twenty years ago. It took me five years after that, with the example of Jean Kirkpatrick, to switch my registration to Republican.

And I was an anti-Vietnam War Democrat. When I was 18, I managed the presidential primary campaign of Senator Eugene McCarthy in my county (Santa Cruz, California) and won it for him by the biggest percentage in the state after tiny Butte County.

Not that I had any illusions about the Communists. I opposed the Vietnam War because I knew we would lose the way we were going about it, rather than feeling the war was wrong.

The final paper in my spring 1968 freshman core course titled Stability and Change in the Soviet Union asked what would happen in Czechoslovakia. I said that the Soviets would invade, gave the usual reasons why, and added some predictions: it would happen in the first week of August, listed various future indicators that it would happen (holding over a conscript class at the end of June with a call up of signals reservists, etc.) and even provided a likely order of battle from public record sources in the UC Santa Cruz library. That was in June 1968.

It all happened the way I said it would. Bear in mind that by 1968 I had already playtested two board war games for Jim Dunnigan - Jutland and 1914. Really bright young historian-type wargamers can do things like that.

A nice distinguished gentleman from Langley, Virginia, who knew my father (Pop had given him a copy of my paper - Pop was McCarthy's convention director and Tom was Gene's Washington D.C. chief) came to UCSC my senior year to interest me in a career opportunity. I turned him down, but it was an interesting conversation.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]


Your position will get worse rather than better for some time. Check out the last part of the post here:

It will be increasingly more difficult for Democrats to find people who can turn things around for you.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

IMHO here's what Kerry should say: "I support the president in Iraq. Now let's talk about the economy and health care...."

In all seriousness, that would probably be the best tact. A candidate could conceivably run to Bush’s right on Iraq and neutralize the “national security deficit” (as well as charges that they hate the President more than our enemies) faced by Democrats much the same way that Clinton tried to neutralize the crime issue by (rightfully) executing a murderer in his State even though he (irrelevantly) happened to be retarded. As others have pointed out, the only candidate who really had a chance at something like that was Lieberman.

posted by: Thorley Winston on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

“Dont be fooled, Nader could easilly take 5% or more of the vote if Kerry proposes more troops and a more intense war.”

I originally thought that Ralph Nader would only get about 2% of the vote. Nope, the reality is that he might get 5%! The anti-war people are out for blood. They will unhesitatingly give the Democrat Party the proverbial middle finger. There is a hard core faction who is more than willing to destroy a liberal candidate who is not entirely with them.

posted by: David Thomson on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

The anti-war people are out for blood.

At first, I thought this a slip of the tounge, but perhaps you've stumbled onto the most accurate way to describe their thinking and actions.
And isn't that strange?

I've said for years, the position of the far left when they complain about hate, isn't against hate itself, but rather depends on WHOM you hate.

Your comment, would seem to be showing more of that kind of thought on the far left.

posted by: Bithead on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

At first, I thought this a slip of the tounge, but perhaps you've stumbled onto the most accurate way to describe their thinking and actions. And isn't that strange?

I've said for years, the position of the far left when they complain about hate, isn't against hate itself, but rather depends on WHOM you hate.

Your comment, would seem to be showing more of that kind of thought on the far left.

I agree which is why I never thought it proper to characterize most of the so-called “antiwar” movement as being “antiwar” but rather either (a) anti-Bush (the majority of those protesting at home) in which they were unwilling to rationally examine evidence and instead promulgated phony claims that “Bush lied” or “it’s all about Haliburton” etc., (b) to a somewhat lesser extent “anti-American” (in that they tend to automatically oppose those military actions which could reasonably be thought to be in the interest of the United States and/or reflexively willing to believe anything that might reflect poorly on our nation while unwilling to hold the UN, France, Germany, and Russia accountable for their actions– probably the majority protesting abroad), with only a small percentage being (c) actual pacifists who can truly be said to be “antiwar” which as Orwell pointed out, makes them objectively “pro-Fascist.”

posted by: Thorley Winston on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

Another reason that Kerry should support Bush on Iraq and change the subject is that Kerry, and the Dems generally, simply don't have anything like a coherent view of or strategy for the new security challenges we face.

A few prescient commentators on the left have noted that the Dems "can't beat something [the Rumsfeld/Cheney/Wolfowitz strategy] with nothing." But we still have not seen any kind of intelligent discussion within the party about how we should respond to challenges that don't fit any of the frameworks that used to guide our understanding in the last century.

Instead, we have reflexive babbling about some vague need to "involve" the "allies" and the UN, to build bridges, schools etc in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and lame sniping about tactical decisions re troop strength.

The complete lameness of the Democratic Party's thinking on foreign affairs became even more obvious when Kerry endorsed wholeheartedly the recent Sharon plan for Gaza! Regardless of what you think about Sharon or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it's absurd to prattle on and on about the importance of catering to and working with the Europeans and the UN and then, on the middle eastern issue that those entities care most about, stiff them completely.

The impression this creates is of not only complete incoherence but also hypocrisy. What exactly is the Democratic Party's attitude toward the Palestinians today? Toward the middle east? North-south issues?

On all these matters, the Republicans are way out front: they have detailed and coherent position papers, strategies, and tactical plans. AIDS in Africa is a perfect example: Bush gave $15B and did so in a way that's consistent with his domestic religious agenda. Again, the point is not that Bush's vision is the right one but that it's a COHERENT and consistent vision. Until Dems can do the same, they'll be frozen out of the White House.

posted by: tombo on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

Tom Holsinger,

Read and agree with your linked post: "the Democrats really don't have people who know beans about national security. President Clinton's first Defense Secretary, Les Aspin, was the first to mention the problem. Fewer and fewer bright young Democrats went into the field after the Vietnam War because almost all preferred domestic issues...."

This is why I'm so disgusted with these Dean- and Michael Maroon-inspired "idealistic" activists. The kind of person who gets excited about Howard Dean is exactly the type who disdains serious discussion of security issues. For most of them, the big outside world is nothing but a reflection of internal US culture wars.

Iraq? It's all about Halliburton and Enron.

Africa's problems? Blame the greedy pharmaceutical companies. South Africa's horrors (20% of population with AIDS, highest murder rate in the world, 50% uinemployment, Mbeki's insanity)? No comment.

Russia? Dunno. China? Silence. India? Um, er, outsourcing sucks.

Israel-Palestinians? A few brave or extreme leftist souls actually take the Palestinians' side, but for the rest, if the issue can't be spun to Bush's electoral disadvantage, then fuhgeddaboutit.

You see, history began in November 2000. And the world revolves around FLORIDA.

posted by: tombo on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

Tom Holsinger,

Any second thoughts about turning down Langley? Or do you feel relieved at having avoided a train wreck? Do you think individuals can make much of a difference to that troubled institution's future?

posted by: tombo on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

More evidence that this game is over:

"Big Blue's chairman, Samuel J. Palmisano, was also sounding bullish this week. The IBM chief "told shareholders that 'an economic recovery is occurring around the world, including the U.S.,' amplifying optimism he expressed earlier this month," The Wall Street Journal reported. More on Palmisano's remarks from wire reports cobbled together by the Toronto Star: "'We are enthusiastic about our prospects for 2004 and beyond,' he told shareholders at the company's annual meeting yesterday. Economies are steadily improving in many nations, including the United States, he said. 'We intend to capitalize fully on the rebound.' Palmisano is counting on increased technology spending to boost sales at IBM...."

Perhaps a blowout would be the best way to force the Democrats to finally get serious about confronting the new world we live in.

posted by: tombo on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

Sometimes I wonder if Kerry is just not saving his money until the end. The common consensus in elections seems to be no one pays attention until the end. I wonder if he is waiting until the 9/11 Commission is done to go on the offense so he will not say something he will regret later.

I guess we will see. This election is different in a way but the polls I have been following show that perhaps many people are not willing to think about the election until the end. Who knows??

posted by: Kat on 04.28.04 at 08:18 AM [permalink]

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