Lets face it: Kerry proved to be in a no-win situation at the first presidential debate. His Senate record since 9/11 combined with his wavering campaign statements prevented him from being either for the war or against it in any principled way. Kerry could not find a coherent way to voice an anti-Bush/non-Howard Dean middle ground on the war against terrorism on which he has staked his presidential prospects. Bush forces him to defend the noble sacrifices of our troops while Kerry tries moments later to criticize our even being in Iraq. This is the kind of "nuance" for which Democrats have praised Kerry but through which he is unable to articulate what his plan for Iraq would be.
Kerry can repeat forever that he has a plan, a better plan, a stronger plan for winning the war in Iraq and getting our troops home, but he is at pains to explain just what that plan is. Mercy, at one point the man actually said if you wanted to know what some plan of his was, you could just look it up at his website! You could just sense Dems and Indies across the nation screaming at the television: "Tell us, please, please tell us what it is! Give us a reason to vote for you!"
Simply put, Bush was more adept at setting the terms for the debate over foreign policy and put Kerry the challenger on the defensive rather than the other way around (like youre supposed to do to an incumbent). The president actually made Sen. Kerry say, "I have never wilted in my life." Pathetic. On several occasions, Bush countered Kerrys assertions of weak implementation or insufficient resources with specific numbers and the results of his administrations efforts to get the bad guys.
Also, Kerry never explained how he would bring additional nations on board for the fight in Iraq; he simply asserted that this was the best way forward. Not a bad distinction to make before the American people, who will have to decide if Bushs way or Kerrys expanded multilateralism is the best approach to finishing the job in Iraq and continuing the fight against global terrorism.
I thought Bush, despite a few awkward pauses and repetitive statements, won this round handily. Kerry has yet to give the clear, succinct, and coherent plans for a Kerry presidency that are necessary to fire up voters enough to replace the current administration.
Kerry did better than I expected. He was smooth, and clearly had the better delivery. I think the overall edge on debating form goes to Kerry. Aside from Bush’s ordinary pronunciation gaffes, Bush was repetitive, but that may ultimately play to his advantage. The repetition likely drove the points home, or assured that the viewer who tuned in for just a few minutes got his message.
But before Bush and Kerry readers draw the wrong conclusions, let me say that Bush did what he needed to do. Bush didn’t need a slam dunk--he just needed to show. He had the lead--Kerry needed a strong win, and Bush needed to be crushed for the dynamics to change. This didn’t happen.
Furthermore, Kerry’s substance was quite thin. Does anyone really think that Kerry is going to win the war in Iraq by holding a summit? He needed more to overcome his indecisive policy.
My one regret is that Bush didnt score a few easy points. Kerry attacked Bushs State of the Union statement about Yellowcake uranium. But we now know that Bush was fundamentally right: Saddam had been in negotiations to purchase uranium. Kerry said that he would stop the development of bunker-busting nuclear weapons. Bush should have given him a "there you go again--yet another weapon that Kerry is voting against." You get the idea. But, as I said, Bush did enough.
The short of it is that it proved more interesting than I thought it would be. Kerry did better than I thought he would. But Kerry did not surprise. He seemed to be himself and predictable, although was a bit nervous at the start. Everything he said he had said before, and was able to deflect some of Bushs attacks. Bush seemed to me to be a bit more feisty than I expected, maybe even more annoyed than he should have been. He even seemed ill at ease at times.
Perhaps Kerrys greatest virtue was that he emphasized that Iraq was a mistake and Bush didnt respond directly to his characterizations. But this is now a dangerous position for Kerry because he seems more than ever to be an anti-war candidate. This may revivify his base, but will not get him elected president. Interestingly Kerry never mentioned Vietnam (I think), although he made at least two references to his experience in war. It seems to me that Bush could have come back with greater force. It was interesting to note that Kerry used JFK and Reagan and the elder Bush (and Powell) to try to buttress his positions. Poor attempts, and the fact that he thought he needed to appeal to such authority is not to his advantage. But he couldnt, in the end, overcome the "multilateral" tone he always has and his "global test" remark was revealing and Bush took advantage of it. It should noted that Kerry endorsed (in his way) pre-emptive war. I liked Bushs emphasis on the connection between our strategic interests and freedom, and his closing remarks were effective. In all, Kerry may have helped himself by showing he had a grasp of policy, but his inconsistencies did not dissappear. He also showed that his persona is limited and not especially appealing. In the end, it was at best a draw for Kerry. Although Kerry may have done himself some good, it will no effect on the race (or the polls).
Homeland defense. Kerry first. Firehouses in Iraq but not here, Bush doesnt invest in homeland security. I believe in protecting the homeland first. And by the way, the pres has given in to the chemical industry. I can also keep Russian nuclear stuff out of the hands of terrorists. Bush we are funding it enough, but staying on the offense is the most important thing. Brings up the Patriot Act as vital. Repeats staying on the offense is the most important thing. Kerry connects tax cuts with out inability to protect the homeland. Bush is emphatic first time by saying that the president has to go after the bad guys. Good line, well delivered. Bush then explains that you cant have artifical deadlines to get out of Iraq. A free Iraq will be an ally in the war on terror. It will lead to reform of the region, and is essential for the security of our country. Kerry repeats old theme to troops, "help is on the way." Kerry praises the senior Bush for not wanting to stay in a land that opposes us. Nice te-a-tet, which Bush wins. A commander in chief cant say its the wrong war, etc. Kerry comes back, mentions he misspoke when he said he said he voted for it before he voted against it. Not effective. Kerry repeats that we should have listened to Gen. Shinseki. Other countries have to recognize the stake they have in the war. Bush has pushed them away, including the UN. Now Haliburton is mentioned. Bush claims all that is absurd. We have allies, we talked to the UN. What about England and Poland? "Please join us for a grand diversion." Is that what we should potential allies. They are not going to follow someone who has no core conviction. Bush is effective here. Brings Powell into it. Kerry: UN offered help, we didnt take it. Bush breaks in and explains that the world cant be led if you call our allies the coerced and the bribed. Seems very effective to me. Johnny and Vicki like it.
"I get the casualty reports every day." I know this is hard. But our objectives will not be achieved if we send mixed signals. We have a plan in place. It is working. It is hard to go from a tyranny to a democracy. Good line.
Kerry: Truth is what leadership and good policy is based on. I respect Tony Blair. But this isnt a genuine coalition. We are ninety percent of casualties. And now North Korea has nuclear weapons. Id change that.
Bush explains that he knows how to lead. Be strong, never waiver, stay on the offensive, spread liberty. Hard work but we must do it. We are fighting an ideology of hatred. Kerry says Bush made a "collosal error of judgment." Military guys support me, he lists a few few of standard Demo names. What misjudgments? "Where do you want me to begin." Vicki says, "sarcastic s.o.b." Shes right. That didnt serve him well.
Then sounds like a standard stump speech. Cost of war, opium, etc. Misspeaks a couple of times. Not especially effective.
Bush responds. An attempt at wit, gentle, it worked. Saddam explanation, connect to U.N. Kerry has a "Pre-September 10th mentality." We can go after both Saddam and UBL. This is a global war. Kerry doesnt understand the nature of the war.
A bit of list of the progress in the war. The front is not just in one place. The worse thing that could happen is that we dont succeed in Iraq. Praises PM Allawi.
Kerry. Iraq not at the center of the war on terror. Bush rushed to war without a plan to make the piece. Soldiers dont have body armor. Thats wrong. Humvees are not armored. The president doesnt see.
Bush quotes Kerry, "wrong war, wrong time wrong place." Wrong stay resolved. Kerry. So am I, and I know we cant leave, but this president cant do it. We need allies.
About five minutes into the debate. Bush does his Texas walk, Kerry strides. Kerrys much taller. Advantage Kerry. Bush is smiling and so is Kerry. Both look comfortable and friendly. Advantage to both. Kerry starts. Already hangs his hat on Bush: we are both patriots. Begins a prosaic listing of how to strengthen America. The president has not reached out to the Muslim world. I can do everything better. Bush is halting at the start. 9/11 counts and changes everything. Starts a list of accomplishments. From al Qaeda to Lybia. Freedom is important. Only a fair start for both.
Jonah Goldberg recommends that Bush, at some point in the debate, ask the moderator something like this: "You should have asked him if that was his final answer." I like it!
By now youve probably seen the newspaper headlines claiming that a federal judge has "struck down an important surveillance provision of the antiterrorism legislation known as the USA Patriot Act." But over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr demonstrates that this really isnt so. What was struck down was a portion of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, but the New York Times, Washington Post, and Associated Press have all gone out of their way to make it appear as though this were some sort of setback for the administration.
Later on, Kerr found out the real source that reporters were using for this story: a press release from the ACLU, breathlessly proclaiming that the ruling "is the first to strike down any of the vast new surveillance powers authorized by the Patriot Act." But one cant help but sympathize with the plight of legal reporters:
I can understand the difficulties that long and complicated legal opinions raise for many reporters. Imagine you are a reporter who covers legal issues and terrorism. Its late on a Wednesday afternoon, and a court hands down a 122-page legal opinion. You have just a few hours to write a story on it. The Justice Department declines comment, so thats no help. But then the ACLU gives you a nice and easy-to-understand press release that tells you what the opinion does, what it means, and offers a few great soundbites. With a deadline just a few hours away, what are you going to do — wade through 122 pages of hypertechnical legalese yourself, or base your story at least in large part on the ACLUs press release?
Of course, it helps if the ACLUs agenda fits your preordained vision of what the world should be like.
Bill Kristol also poses a few questions to John Kerry. I like this one: "You have said that we cannot cut and run from Iraq and that we could ’realistically aim to bring all our troops home within the next four years.’ But if you now consider the war to have been a mistake, how could you, as president, ’ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake’"? Victor Davis Hanson also poses a few. Here is the short one: "President Bush was the first American president to isolate Yasir Arafat. Do you agree with the presidents radical step of ostracizing Mr. Arafat? If so, would you also ensure that he is no longer a party to the Middle East peace negotiations?"
Apparently Glenn Reynolds will be writing a weekly column for the London Guardian. This is his first. He claims--I think he is essentially right, subtleties aside--that Democrats don’t have a chance to take the South because they are not strong enough on defense. The movement away from JFK’s "bear any burden, pay any price" language to the "peace at any price" language of the anti-war people of the 60’s is the turning point. I would add, in passing, that the election in 2004 is the first time the Democrats have actually given up on the South. At least in the past, for example 2000 (and 1976, 1980, 1992, and 1996), they had nominated a Southerner; that helped. Now, having Edwards on the ticket doesn’t even help. In giving up the South, the Demos are forced to pull on inside straight this time. I also remind you that if Gore had won his home state in 2000, it would be a different political world.
Andrew Busch explains why Kerry is facing an uphill battle in all the debates, not just tonight’s. He gives four reasons: One, with the exception of the JFK-Nixon debate, all challengers who have benefitted from debates were governors or ex-governors. Two, Kerry is not personally engaging; the more people see of him the less they like him. Three, because Kerry is behind, he has to prove to voters that he should be elected and in order to do that he has be aggressive. There are dangers here for him. Four, Kerry can no longer expect a sweet media spin in this new world of Fox News and talk radio and blogs. In short, a draw will not be good enough for Kerry. Read the whole thing.
George Will cleverly asserts that Bush should ask Kerry just one question, and give him all the time he needs to respond:
"Everyone in the solar system knows my thinking on Iraq. But no one, probably not even anyone on my opponents campaign plane, knows his thinking, as of now, 9:17 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. So, I invite him to take my time — all of it — and tell a bewildered nation what he thinks, at least tonight, at least between 9 and 10:30 p.m. Specifically, he says we must succeed in Iraq. What would he call success? What is more important, success or meeting his deadline of removing U.S. forces in four years? What, aside from the allure of his personality, makes him think the world will help?" Do read the whole thing.
Morton Kondracke thinks that this is a harsh, if not low, campaign: Each party often unfairly attacks the other. Yet, it is the Democrats who are getting a free pass from the MSM (Mainstream Media), witness the lie about the reinstituting the draft.
Thanks to James Lileks for catching this one. Ive already pointed out here that certain Kerry fans are trying to undermine support for Bush by stirring up fears that he will reimpose the draft if reelected. This is ironic, given that Kerry himself has proposed "a comprehensive service plan that includes requiring mandatory service for high school students and four years of college tuition in exchange for two years of national service."
Note that this page is only available through the The Wayback Machine internet archive. The Kerry campaign has, wisely, taken this little gem down from its official site.
For the first time in its history Fox News "beat the combined competition in primetime during the third quarter of 2004, with major headlines of the summer including the national political conventions and a brutal string of hurricanes. According to Nielsen Media Research, Fox News averaged 1.8 million viewers, while CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and Headline News averaged a combined total of 1.7 million. The quarter ended Sunday." And note: "Fox News third-quarter performance further solidified its dominance in the field of cable news, as well as its increasing strength against even the broadcast nets. During the Republican National Convention in late August, Fox News won out over ABC News, CBS News and NBC News, also a first for a cable news net."
James Glanz and Thom Shanker’s front page article in The New York Times reports that violence in Iraq is "sweeping" and "sprawling" and "widespread." They base their analysis on data compiled by a private security company. The Belmont Club looks at the article and the data and concludes: "The first thing to notice is that 2,139 of the 2,300 attacks took place in 6 of the 18 provinces. In the absence of data for the other provinces, I have assigned a uniform number of 13 attacks to the remainder in order to make up the total of 2,300. The real hotbeds are Baghdad and areas to the northwest -- the Sunni triangle. By far the greatest density of violence is in Baghdad, where 1,000 attacks have taken place in 732 kilometers." Also: "So everything checks out just as the New York Times article reported it. All the facts are individually true, but Prime Minister Allawie’s assertion that most provinces are completely safe and that security prospects are bright are also supported by those same facts. Such is the fog of war." Very informative; nice chart. You should read The Belmont Club every day without being sent there by me!
The AP reports: "On the eve of a foreign policy debate with President Bush, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said in an interview that his explanation of why he voted in favor of additional funding for the war in Iraq before voting against it was one of those inarticulate moments in the campaign." Kerry said: "We should not have gone to war knowing the information that we know today. Knowing there was no imminent threat to America, knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, knowing there was no connection of Saddam Hussein to Al Qaida, I would not have gone to war. Thats plain and simple." Yoall can figure out whether this is line with other of his clarifications, including some recent ones. This is tiring.
Daniel W. Drezner explains why outsourcing is a non-problem. "Now, however, we can add some actual figures to the overheated debate. The Government Accountability Office has issued its first review of the data, and one undeniable conclusion to be drawn from it is that outsourcing is not quite the job-destroying tsunami it’s been made out to be. Of the 1.5 million jobs lost last year in ’mass layoffs’ - that is, when 50 or more workers are let go at once - less than 1 percent were attributed to overseas relocation; that was a decline from the previous year. In 2002, only about 4 percent of the money directly invested by American companies overseas went to the developing countries that are most likely to account for outsourced jobs - and most of that money was concentrated in manufacturing."
"The data did show that from 1997 to 2002, annual imports of business, technical and professional services increased by $16.3 billion. However, during that same half-decade, exports of those services increased by $20.5 billion a year. In 2002 alone, the United States ran a $27 billion trade surplus in business services, the sector in which jobs are most likely to be outsourced. The G.A.O. correctly stressed that it is impossible to compute exactly how many jobs are lost because of outsourcing, but unless its figures are off by several orders of magnitude, there’s no crisis here." Read on.
Jesse Jackson has joined Kerry campaign team. According to the Pew Poll, Kerry’s support among African-Americans has slipped to 78%. (Gore got 90% of the black vote in 2000). Also note this piece in the Boston Globe arguing that many Democrats running for the Senate or House are distancing themselves from the Kerry campaign (and, in some cases like Daschle, actually pretending to embrace Bush). This estrangement will become more obvious over the next few weeks, once the likelyhood of a Kerry loss settles into their (more public) consciousness.
This Los Angeles Times examines the lives and views of the few surviving Japanese kamikaze pilots and considers whether or not they are comparable to todays Islamist suicide bombers. Woorth a read.
Barna Research Group reports that there has been a seismic shift of 22 points among likely Catholic voters to Bush in the last four months. Also note that Bush has lost votes among Protestants. (Also see this story on the survey).
"One of the big stories of the campaign is the seismic shift in preference among Catholic voters. Almost one out of every four likely voters (23%) is Catholic. In May, John Kerry held a small lead over President Bush, 48% to 43%. In the ensuing four months, however, a myriad of events have stimulated a reversal among Catholics. Currently, President Bush holds a commanding 53% to 36% lead over the Massachusetts Senator among Catholics who are likely to vote. That represents a 22-point shift in preference in just four months." But also note this:
"Equally surprising, among Protestants who are likely to vote in November, President Bush has seen his 24-point lead over the challenger cut in half at the same time that his fortunes have reversed among Catholics. Since May, Mr. Kerry has picked up a small degree of support among Protestants (from 35% up to 38%) while President Bush has lost significant ground among Protestants (dropping from 59% to 50%). In total, that’s a 12-point drop in support for the President."
Dick Morris argues that Kerry has a tough line to walk in the debate because of the inherent contradictions in Kerrys position on the issues. Kerry can thank his staff, according to Morris, for putting him in this position. I think that Morris is correct, as far as he goes. But there is one more point that needs emphasis: People dont like John Kerry. There is not one aspect of his personality or character that is seen as good or interesting or noble or even pleasant. In theory he has the opportunity in these debates to get people to think well of him, for some reason or another. I do not think he can do it. All the footage we have seen of him--even back to 1971--he reveals himself to be dour and haughty. He doesnt have conversations with people, he talks at them. He has no sense of humor. I have never seen him laugh at anything in the world, especially himself. I have never seen him reveal any ordinary human trait that citizens find endearing. Even sarcasm or irony would do. Nothing. I have continued to overestimate John Kerry. I have continued to think--despite all the facts--that he is not as boring and inhuman as he seems, that he is no simply one-dimensional, that he may well be conscious of the fact that he at least looks like a grim and severe man and that he has to at least appear to be real. He has not seen this; or, he is incapable of even seeming different. So, while I agree with Morris that he carries an impossible burden in opposing Bushs policies in the war, I think his character (or personality, if you like) is the greatest burden he carries into the vote. This is the main reason that he has alwasy flatlined in the polls; or, arguably, and even less to his advantage, why the more people see of him, the less they like him, so his numbers have even declined. Bush will speak from the position of power and authority, he will be relaxed and pleasant and never condescending, and he will seem ever so human. And he will walk away with it. The situation for Kerry is hopeless, but not yet bad. It will get worse.
Al Gore gives advice to Kerry on the debates in todays New York Times. I miss Al. I wish he were more public during the next few weeks. He would remind people, again, why it is a good thing that he did not get elected president. The advice Gore offers is that Kerry shouldnt underestimate Bush. O.K., thats the spin of the week, and it is good advice. But then Gore says, "notwithstanding the presidents political skills, his performance in office amounts to a catastrophic failure." Right. The absolute condemnation of Bush is the main reason that Kerry has never gotten any traction; it is clearly over the top and those who hold such an opinion reveal that they are out of touch with the public sentiment: only a small minority of folks think this. With the exception of Jimmy Carter no president has been simply a "catastrophic failure." It is not a reasonable axiom upon which to base a campaign. This is a boring op-ed, fully revealing of the authors character. The best line in it is from Jon Stewart.
USA Today reports that Moveon.Org is complaining about the Gallup poll; the poll is biased in favor of President Bush. Yes, certainly, of course. Thats the first thing I would have thought of, bias in favor of Bush! Gallup showed Bush ahead by 8 points among likely voters, and by 11 points among registered voters. In the meantime the Pew Research poll has come out and it shows Bush ahead by 8 points. "George W. Bush has reopened a significant lead over challenger John Kerry over the past week, even as voters express less confidence in the president on Iraq and he continues to trail Kerry on the economy. Two successive nationwide surveys of nearly 1,000 registered voters each show Bush’s margin over Kerry growing steadily since mid-September (Sept. 11-14), when the two men were tied at 46%-46%. Bush’s slight 45%-42% advantage in the Sept. 17-21 survey has grown to 48%-40% in the current poll (Sept. 22-26)." Also this: "Despite Bush’s lukewarm evaluations on the issues, he maintains a significant advantage on most personal traits. Kerry has slipped slightly on some key personal assessments, including honesty and empathy."
Mike Murphy, in brief, predicts that the media will see a surge for Kerry after the first debate.
"A sure bet in this campaign is that the media will write a big October comeback story for John Kerry. It is evitable for three reasons. First, the media works in a pack that is happiest when following a simple narrative. Second, from moribund to miracle campaigner is Kerry’s tiresome myth turned worn-out cliché. Third, this is indeed a tight race and--as with any incumbent seeking reelection--the undecided vote will break heavily against Bush, which will make Kerry look like he is surging late. (Even hapless Michael Dukakis had such a late surge.)
The signs of this pending storyline are already apparent in the coverage of Kerry’s new team of savvy advisors. Their decision to bet the entire Kerry campaign on a debate over the Iraq war--a strategic suicide note in my view--is the required "big move" such stories demand and is being applauded as a masterstroke. This is where narrative and reality truly differ. If President Bush wins this campaign, the decision to focus the entire Kerry campaign on a debate over the war, instead of on domestic issues, will be a key ingredient to the president’s success. Kerry’s mistake is that it is impossible to have a serious campaign-winning political victory over the administration without a serious policy difference between the two. Howard Dean had a policy difference with the Bush administration on Iraq; Kerry essentially does not."
The pajama clad guys at Powerline have been following the plagiarism issue surrounding the great Lawrence Tribe of Harvard. They have the goods and the links, you follow it there if you have the heart, I’m working on Lincoln the rest of the day.
Here is the Washington Post story on the poll. And here are some details. Again, universally bad for Kerry. Bush is ahead 51-45 among likely voters, and 51-44 among registered voters. Bush is ahead 53-41 among men, and 49-46 among women (Gore carried women by 11 points in 2000). 59% approve the way Bush is handling war on terror, 38% disapprove. On Iraq 47% approve, 50% disapprove. But 53% say they trust Bush more to handle the situation in Iraq, and 40% say they dont; 53% say that Bush has a clear plan to handle Iraq, 44% say he doesnt. 58% have a favorable view of Bush, 38% dont.
The New Yorker on-line posts a short and edifying interview of a writer with which I am unfamiliar but whose writings I will soon peruse. In "A Writer’s Time", Marilynne Robinson discusses topics as varied as the Civil War, prayer, and John Calvin (OK, maybe they’re not so varied!). She also explains what she has been doing between her first novel, Housekeeping, and her latest, Kansas, which is excerpted, as well. I will start with her collection of essays, The Death of Adam, which addresses Darwinism, Dietrich Bonheoffer, and the abolitionist subtext of the McGuffey Readers, among other intriguing topics. Anyone familiar with her prose or ideas, do chime in.
USA Today article on the Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll. And this is the detail. The short of it this: Bush leads Kerry by 8 points among likely voters, and 11 points among registered voters. Perhaps mosre important is that in almost every category Bush leads. Examples: Bushs job approval is now 54%; Bush has a 27% edge on handling terrorism; Bush has a 6% edge on handling the economy; a 52% majority says Bush has a clear plan for handling Iraq; a 63% majority says Kerry does not.
No deep thinking is required here. Kerry has run the worst campaign in memory; he is not a candidate who can get the American people to like him or trust him. His only opportunities left are two: Bush has to collapse in the first debate (the second two dont matter, in my view), or the economy or Iraq has to collapse in the next three weeks. The only other event that could work in Kerrys favor is a terror attack before the election. I say it theoretically could work in his favor, but even that wouldnt because Bush is trusted more, and therefore wouldnt be held responsible. One last quick thought. Women. Bush leads Kerry among female voters (by 2 points). This is a massive fact, now starting to be noticed. The so-called gender gap, soccer moms, and all that silliness, is over. War and security is what is on the mind of married women, especially those with children. I think the barbaric attacks on the Russian school nailed it. Women (especially) were appalled. Kerry cant get those voters back. Kerry needs to be remarkable in the first debate. He has to turn people in his direction. I dont think he is capable of doing it. I think what you see is what he is, and he is very limited. It will end in a rout.
Here Christopher Hitchens thinks that the Kerry campaign has put itself in the position of having to root for bad news on every front. "What will it take to convince these people that this is not a year, or a time, to be dicking around? Americans are patrolling a front line in Afghanistan, where it would be impossible with 10 times the troop strength to protect all potential voters on Oct. 9 from Taliban/al-Qaida murder and sabotage. We are invited to believe that these hard-pressed soldiers of ours take time off to keep Osama Bin Laden in a secret cave, ready to uncork him when they get a call from Karl Rove? For shame."
Hogwash. There is nothing "structural" about Ohios fiscal mess. Put simply, this state has suffered through a string of governors and legislatures that spend money like drunken sailors on shore leave.
The states spending grew by 5.8 percent every year from 1992 to 2002. Lawson notes that, if that growth had been limited to the rate of personal income growth over the same period, wed be looking at a budget surplus today.
Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson write an academic piece (detailed and a bit sleepy) on the relationship between the Iranian Revolution in which the Ayatollah Khoemini came to power (twenty five years ago this February) and Michel Foucault. A couple of people sent me this, and it was mentioned by Andrew Sullivan.
The Ashbrook Scholars are encouraged to write essays. They have been doing it on a regular basis for a few years, and they are getting pretty good at it. (They also write theses, but that’s a different issue and, frankly, something easier to comprehend.) Essays are attempts: An essay is something you write to try to figure something out. Along comes
Paul Graham (he is identified as holding a computer science PhD from Harvard). He writes ten perfectly clear pages on what an essay is, and how to write one. I will not steal anything from it to try to give you the flavor of the thing: You should read the whole thing.(Thanks to Raef Major)
This morning flyers were posted all over the building where I work. "Thanks to Bush and His Administration," it began, there’s going to be a "Mandaory [sic] Draft for Boys and Girls (Ages 18-26)." It then listed several web addresses that purport to prove the truth of this statement.
This is, of course, just a paper version of an e-mail that’s been making the rounds among college students. The lie about a Bush-backed conscription bill has been fully debunked. Indeed, I visited the sites listed on the flyer, and they indicate clearly that the sponsor of the draft bill is the left-wing Democrat Charlie Rangel. I guess this is the sort of desperate thrashing about that we’re going to see on the part of the Kerry campaign in these final weeks before Election Day.
William Safire pens a timely and thoughtful op-ed, "The Kidnap Weapon," which argues for more responsible coverage of Zarqawi terrorist kidnappings. A few excerpts:
We know, too, that the kidnap weapon is aimed at the U.S. election. What we do not know is how its heavily publicized use will cut. Will Americans react to all-kidnap-all-the-time by being revolted at the savagery and turn to the candidate determined to wipe out the barbarians? Or will we be so revolted as to think Iraqis are hopelessly uncivilized or beaten down, and turn to the candidate who will get us out of there the fastest?
John Kerry, who has evidently decided to replace Howard Dean as the antiwar candidate, last weekend helped to magnify the terrorists kidnap weapon. In a scheduled commercial Kerry personally approved, just before charging that George Bush had no plan to get us out of Iraq, the Democratic campaign underscored the message Zarqawi has been sending: "Americans," said Kerrys announcer, "are being kidnapped, held hostage, even beheaded."
Its bad enough for some thoughtless media outlets to become an echo chamber for scare propaganda; its worse when the nominee of a major party approves its use to press his antiwar candidacy.
I love reading Mark Steyn (by the way, I know next to nothing about him). The guy is clear and exteremely funny. This piece is entitled "The Kerryness of Kerry," (although I think I have seen an earlier version and put it out, it’s worth seeing it again) and I don’t believe that it could be any funnier than it is. You must read it. A sample: "If it weren’t for the small matter of the war for civilization, I’d find it hard to resist a Kerry Presidency. Groucho Marx once observed that an audience will laugh at an actress playing an old lady pretending to fall downstairs, but, for a professional comic to laugh, it has to be a real old lady. That’s how I feel about the Kerry campaign. For the professional political analyst, watching Mondale or Dukakis or Howard Dean stuck in the part of the guy who falls downstairs is never very satisfying: they’re average, unexceptional fellows whom circumstances have conspired to transform into walking disasters. But Senator Kerry was made for the role, a vain thin-skinned droning blueblood with an indestructible sense of his own status but none at all of his own ridiculousness. If Karl Rove had labored for a decade to produce a walking parody of the contemporary Democratic Party’s remoteness, condescension, sense of entitlement, public evasiveness and tortured relationship with military matters, he couldn’t have improved on John F Kerry."
The thing with Steyn is that he can write a very serious piece with as much ease. The current issue (October) of The Atlantic Monthly has a precious Steyn article (last two pages of the issue, not avaliable on line) on Francis Crick, who, along with Jim Watson, "discovered the secret of life" (DNA), and is the most important biologist of the twentieth century (he died this year). If you think Darwin was off base, think again, for Crick is reductionist in the extreme. This is the guy who "set us on a path to a biotechnological era that may yet be only an intermediate stage to a post human future." Man and chimp share 98.5 percent of their genetic code, but we also share 75 percent of our genetic makeup with the pumpkin. We all evolved from the same soup of chemicals. Steyn: "It turns out there is a fly in my soup--and a chimp and a worm, and a pumpkin." You see the point. (The Churchill story about "I am a gloworm" seems unnecessary). Steyn doesn’t mean to be funny in this one, but you can’t help but smile through it. Crick was a militant atheist. No love, no mind, no free will. No human beings. Just pumpkins. Very clear. Read it.
So the full court press is on. Ted Kennedy " told a national audience yesterday that the Bush administrations Iraq policy has made America less safe because it has been a diversion from the struggle against Al Qaeda and the occupation has been marked by "blunder after blunder," foreshadowing a new election-season speech he is scheduled to deliver today at George Washington University." James Fallows in The Atlantic (the whole, long, article is not available on line) gives the more sophisticated view, while Ted Kennedy--the only great American statesman who has less authority on such matters than John Kerry--gives the practical view. And then Kerry will pick it up in the debates. This is it. This is what will determine whether or not Kerrys latest mode will fly. I say bring it on, bring on even the CIA: Robert Novak reports that the CIA is at war with Bush; and publicly at war! They are no longer willing to call Rumsfeld and the other "ideologues" (i.e., neo-cons), they are going after the president. If this is true--and there are many other reasons to think so--then what you have is an extraordinary (i.e., unique, dangerous) situation wherein the CIA will be used--and has already let itself be used both by leaking the National Intelligent Estimate and by Paul Pillars public speech that Novak recounts--in a political campaign against the sitting chief executive. We will soon find out what Porter Goss is made of, will we not?
Sundays New York Times carried a front page story on how both parties are registering voters at a good clip. They looked at county by county date and discovered that in traditional Demo counties the registration has increased by 250 percent since January over the same period in 2000. The GOP registration has increased only 25 percent in Republican areas. "While comparable data could not be obtained for other swing states, similar registration drives have been mounted in them as well, and party officials on both sides say record numbers of new voters are being registered nationwide. This largely hidden but deadly earnest battle is widely believed by campaign professionals and political scientists to be potentially decisive in the presidential election." I have been hearing about this massive drive by the Dems from GOP operatives for many months; they are clearly worried about it. The Demos were organized early and threw a lot of money at it, most of it by soft money groups like America Votes, which will spend about $300 million on the project nationwide. As the registration drive winds down, emphasis will be placed on keeping in touch with voters and then making sure they vote. In Franklin County (Columbus) it is claimed that almost all potential voters have been regsited; it had 650,000 registered voters in 2000, and is now up to 800,000.
Victor Davis Hanson reflects on the Rathers problem, and the old medias problem as well. He agrees that there is a revolution taking place. Hanson: "It has taken a lot to end the credibility of the liberal dynasty, inasmuch as there were many prior provocations — Peter Arnett airing a blatantly dishonest 1998 mythodrama on CNN about Americans using Sarin gas in Laos; Dan Rather giving a flawed 1988 account of American grotesqueries in Vietnam (The Wall Within), replete with phony veterans spinning lies about horrific war crimes. But then we have not quite seen anything like the shamelessness of airing forged documents backed by unhinged witnesses and verified by suspect experts — all in a time of war and with the intent of smearing a sitting conservative president."
Paul Berman writes a wonderful essay on Ernesto Che Guevara and the movie, The Motorcycle Diaries, (the executive producer for which, by the way, is Robert Redford). Berman gives a perfect characterization of Che Guevara as an enemy of freedom, his haughty fanaticism, and what mischief he wrought. Berman is not amused that at the Sundance film festival the movie got a standing ovation.
General David H. Petraeus, who commands the Multinational Security Transition Command in Iraq, offers his thoughts on how things are going.
John Zvesper doesnt think that Bushs speech at the UN was for domestic consumption. It was a serious speech, but many journalists, representatives of tyrannies, and even those who claim to represent liberal democracies took offense. Read the whole thing; but a sample paragraph:
What most offended these sophisticated UN delegates was Bush’s rejection of their postmodern pieties, their unwavering faith in the dogmas of pragmatism and moral and cultural relativism. Bush justified his call for the expansion of liberty by asserting that "the dignity of every human life" is "honored by the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, protection of private property, free speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance." Many of these traditional liberal principles have become suspect in pragmatic, "progressive" circles. But especially grating to the postmodern mentality that dominates sophisticated minds in liberal democracies is Bush’s claim that "we know with certainty" that "the desire for freedom resides in every human heart," and that therefore the "bright line between justice and injustice—between right and wrong—is the same in every age, and every culture, and every nation." Recognition of such self-evident truths is completely inadmissible in the postmodern faith, in which the only certainty is that nothing is certain.
British police said Saturday they had arrested four men under anti-terrorism legislation after a tip-off from a newspaper which said the suspects tried to buy explosives for a
The Saudis were prepared to pay $540,600 for a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of "red mercury", a mysterious radioactive substance which is rumored to have been developed by Russian scientists during the Cold War. (Thanks to Little Green Footballs).
Robert Kaplan explains the importance of small tactical units in warfare now and in the future. This is fighting in Indian Country: "you want to whack bad guys quietly and cover your tracks with humanitarian-aid projects." Worth reading the whole op-ed. A piece of it:
"In Indian Country, it is not only the outbreak of a full-scale insurgency that must be avoided, but the arrival in significant numbers of the global media. It would be difficult to fight more cleanly than the Marines did in Fallujah. Yet that still wasnt a high enough standard for independent foreign television voices such as al-Jazeera, whose very existence owes itself to the creeping liberalization in the Arab world for which the U.S. is largely responsible. For the more we succeed in democratizing the world, not only the more security vacuums that will be created, but the more constrained by newly independent local medias our military will be in responding to those vacuums. From a field officers point of view, an age of democracy means an age of restrictive rules of engagement.
The American military now has the most thankless task of any military in the history of warfare: to provide the security armature for an emerging global civilization that, the more it matures--with its own mass media and governing structures--the less credit and sympathy it will grant to the very troops who have risked and, indeed, given their lives for it. And as the thunderous roar of a global cosmopolitan press corps gets louder--demanding the application of abstract principles of universal justice that, sadly, are often neither practical nor necessarily synonymous with American national interest--the smaller and more low-key our deployments will become. In the future, military glory will come down to shadowy, page-three skirmishes around the globe, which the armed services will quietly celebrate among their own subculture."
Real Clear Politics points to a number of very good links on presidential debates (sponsored by The Museum of Broadcast Communications) starting with the first, in 1960, including video, commentary, spin at the time, etc. Very interesting. Recommend you have a look, especially useful, I would think, for teachers.
An AP story: "Beyond the tired cliches and sperm-and-egg basics taught in grade school science class, researchers are discovering that men and women are even more different than anyone realized.
It turns out that major illnesses like heart disease and lung cancer are influenced by gender and that perhaps treatments for women ought to be slightly different from the approach used for men.
These discoveries are part of a quiet but revolutionary change infiltrating U.S. medicine as a growing number of scientists realize there’s more to women’s health than just the anatomy that makes them female, and that the same diseases often affect men and women in different ways.
’Women are different than men, not only psychologically (but) physiologically, and I think we need to understand those differences,’ says Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association."
This is a brief review of Desmond Morris’s book, "The Naked Woman" Morris writes: "Every woman has a beautiful body, beautiful because it is the brilliant end-point of a million years of evolution." The reviewer writes: "Where The Naked Woman falls down, as it were, is on the theory that binds these facts together. It’s the same old argument that Richard Dawkins propagated in The Selfish Gene, secular Britain’s creed: human traits can be explained with reference to how they helped primitive man survive in the wild. Men fancy curvy women because big hips mean easy childbirth. We laugh because apes emit a laugh-like panting sound during group bonding games. That sort of thing.
And while it may well be true that the character and appearance of men and women can be explained by imagining how each trait helped our ancestors survive, the various hypotheses sometimes read like a sophisticated after-dinner game for pop anthropologists. In his chapter on hair, Morris speculates that women have long head hair because when they were aquatic apes, it gave their babies something to hang on to as they swam around. Well OK, but prove it. Find me a remnant of aquatic mummy-ape flippers."
David Brooks has a few thoughts about Darfur and multilateralism. Here is how he starts:
"And so we went the multilateral route.
Confronted with the murder of 50,000 in Sudan, we eschewed all that nasty old unilateralism, all that hegemonic, imperialist, go-it-alone, neocon, empire, coalition-of-the-coerced stuff. Our response to this crisis would be so exquisitely multilateral, meticulously consultative, collegially cooperative and ally-friendly that it would make John Kerry swoon and a million editorialists nod in sage approval.
And so we Americans mustered our outrage at the massacres in Darfur and went to the United Nations. And calls were issued and exhortations were made and platitudes spread like béarnaise. The great hum of diplomacy signaled that the global community was whirring into action.
Meanwhile helicopter gunships were strafing children in Darfur."
The Knight Ridder Washington Bureau has a story reporting that according to the Iraqi Ministry of Health, US and coalition action has killed or injured 66% of the Iraqis killed or injured in the insurgency. It quotes an American military spokesman as saying that “damage will happen.” The spokesman also says that “the insurgents were living in residential areas, sometimes in homes filled with munitions. ‘As long as they continue to do that, they are putting the residents at risk," he said. "We will go after them.’"
James Fallows has an interesting article in the October Atlantic (not available online) presenting all the things we could not or cannot do (the opportunity costs we have incurred) as a result of invading Iraq. The last paragraph reads in part:
The administration’s focus on Iraq “hampered the campaign in Afghanistan before fighting began and wound it down prematurely, along the way losing the chance to capture Osama bin laden. [Because of its focus on Iraq, the administration] turned a blind eye . . . to WMD threats from North Korea and Iran far more serious than any posed by Saddam Hussein . . . It overused and wore out its army in invading Iraq—without committing enough troops for a successful occupation. It saddled the United States with ongoing costs that dwarf its spending for domestic security. . . .”
Mark Steyn, I must say, is a wonderful writer. He reflects on Kerrys comments on Prime Minister Allawi. A sample:
"What a small, graceless man Kerry is. The nature of adversarial politics in a democratic society makes George W. Bush his opponent. But it was entirely Kerrys choice to expand the field, to put himself on the other side of Allawi and the Iraqi people. Given his frequent boasts that he knows how to reach out to Americas allies, its remarkable how often he feels the need to insult them: Britain, Australia, and now free Iraq. But, because this pampered cipher has floundered for 18 months to find any rationale for his candidacy other than his indestructible belief in his own indispensability, Kerry finds himself a month before the election with no platform to run on other than American defeat. He has decided to co-opt the jihadist death-cult, the Baathist dead-enders, the suicide bombers and other misfits and run as the candidate of American failure. This would be shameful if he werent so laughably inept at it."
Bill Kristol begins his thoughts on Kerrys disgraceful behavior last week with the following:
"We really dont know what a President John Kerry would do about Iraq. His flip-flops about the war, his inconsistencies, the ambiguity of his current position (win or withdraw?)--all of these mean we can only guess about a Kerry presidency. He would probably be inclined to get out of Iraq as soon as possible; it might be the case, however, that as president he would nonetheless find himself staying and fighting. Who knows?
What we do know is this: Kerry and his advisers have behaved disgracefully this past week. That behavior is sufficient grounds for concern about his fitness to be president."
I have been busy all day with unimportant meetings (it’s days like this I regret becoming a prof), so I am playing some catch-up. I was struck by both the substance and the rhetoric of Prime Minister Allawi’s speech to Congress, as well as his press conference with President Bush. This is a serious fellow. I was also dumbfounded by John Kerry immediate response. It was shocking! Here is this man--an ally--who is now the head of a country trying to rebuild the Hitlerian/Satlinist mess his suffering country was left, and the Democratic candidate for president attacks him! This may be stupidest thing, the most irresponsible, the most disgraceful thing John Kerry has done in this campaign. I had to find other places on TV where it was played, just to confirm it. Each time I saw it I became angrier, and more fully convinced that this man will never become president. The American people--if they have had any doubt until now--will take this as the last straw. I am sure of it.
Joseph Knippenberg seems to agree with me, and he calmed down enough to write a few coherent paragraphs about the Kerry campaign’s undiplomatic activity, ending with Kerry’s remarks on Allawi. Also note what Joe Lockhart, a senior Kerry advisor, said about Allawi: "The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips." I am amazed.
This New York Times piece considers (in fits) how the Vietnam crossfire has hurt Kerry. There is a comparison throughout to Bushs National Guard service, and or issues (made up or not) surrounding it, but, try as they might, the Times has to admit that the comparison isnt valid. Especially notice this comment from the historian and Kerry biographer (is it hagiographer?) Douglas Brinkley: "Every American now knows that theres something really screwy about George Bush and the National Guard, and they know that John Kerry was not the war hero we thought he was." I think this is true, but do we not know this because Doug Brinkley helped us find out. The guy ought to lose his tenure, as Dan Rather ought to lose his job.
In "The Candidates, Seen From the Classroom", Stanley Fish reports that by a vote of 13-2 his freshman writing class believes President Bush communicates his ideas better than Senator Kerry. Fish told his students, "Put aside whatever preferences you might have for either candidate’s positions . . . just tell me who does a better job of articulating his positions, and why." One student said of Kerry, "He’s kind of ’skippy,’ all over the place." Kind of reminds you of his policy positions.
To the objection, "Doesn’t Mr. Bush’s directness and simplicity of presentation reflect a simplicity of mind and an incapacity for nuance, while Mr. Kerry’s ideas are just too complicated for the rhythms of publicly accessible prose?" Fish replies,
Sorry, but that’s dead wrong. If you can’t explain an idea or a policy plainly in one or two sentences, it’s not yours; and if it’s not yours, no one you speak to will be persuaded of it, or even know what it is, or (and this is the real point) know what you are.
Fish still intends to vote for the Great Obfuscator, but he for one is not hopeful that the coming presidential debates will help Kerry rebound from his plummeting poll numbers.
We all know that polling is an art, not a science, etc. Even those of us who know the political climate, who know the political sense of the people, who feel the pulse of the voters, who are able to read the public sentiment, sometimes refer to polls, if for no other reason than make sure that those who do it for a living dont get too far afield. This site, named Mystery Pollster may be worth looking at from time to time, if you want to take polling seriously. Although a Democrat, his relatively short explanations of the intricacies of polls (e.g., the issue of "weighting") are quite clear and useful. He claims that he is going to be a straight shooter, and not spin any of the polls (thats our job). According to his humble self, he has much experience in both applied polling (for Demo candidates) and in the academic reserach side. He is worth a look, maybe he can teach us something. So far so good.
Glenn C. Altschuler writes a quick review of George Edwards Why the Electoral College is Bad for America (Yale). It is a pretty good characterization of the arguments against the Electoral College (but also see the links here) and I especially like his last paragraph:
"One final objection, and it is a big enchilada, bedevils abolitionists. Direct election of Presidents does promote political equality. But to avoid the possibility of electing a President who has only a plurality in a crowded field, advocates of direct election provide for a runoff if no candidate gets 40 percent of the vote. The runoff, Mr. Edwards acknowledges, has some potential to fragment the party system. He argues, strenuously, that runoffs would be rare and would not destabilize the political system. The provision, however, is fraught with danger. Third-, fourth- and fifth-party candidates—let’s call them Ralph, Ross and Lyndon LaRouche—could enter the first round. Without a winner-take-all in each state, voters might be less likely to think they were wasting their votes on them. These reforms might weaken the already fragile two-party system—which, for all its flaws, has served this country well—and put fringe parties in the driver’s seat, à la Israel. It doesn’t seem worth the risk. Maybe, after all, the Founders were right."
This is a very fine editorial from the Chicago Tribune on Kerrys latest turn on Iraq, on how Kerry is channeling Howard Dean. It is right on the money.
Jayson Blair speaks out on CBSs credibility issues at Rathergate; Rathergate was the first "media" to contact him on this, he says. And then this: "It’s really sad to see what’s happening to Dan Rather and CBS, and no one knows like me what its like to lose their credibility. I would give anything to have it back. If I could turn back time, I would." (Thanks to Instapundit) Keep up with the CBS story at Powerline and Ratherbiased.
Andrew Busch considers what effect the Dan Rather/CBS corruption will have on the election. It has helped Bush in three ways: One, this hurricane has prevented Kerry from getting his latest message through. Two, it has torn the non-partisan mask off the elite media, not just CBS. Three, becaused this represents the biggest dirty trick ever exposed during an election since Watergate, and because the Kerry campaign is perceived to be involved, Kerrys attack on Bush regarding trust is dead in the water.
William Galston considers how the Democratic Party of Kennedy and Johnson differs from today’s party. And James W. Ceaser and Daniel DiSalvol consider the GOP at "the high point of its political strength in the modern era."
"Will Republicans be able to maintain and consolidate their current position, or has the party now reached a peak from which its support will begin to ebb? Electoral analysts generally approach this question by studying voter groups and demographic trends. This method may be effective up to a point, but it ignores the impact of major events—those famous ’tides in the affairs of men’ — that can determine a party’s fortunes. A moment of this kind is now at hand. President Bush has identified the Republican party with a distinct foreign policy, which he has justified by recourse to certain fixed and universal principles — namely that, in his words, liberty is the design of nature and that freedom is the right and the capacity of all mankind. Not since Lincoln has the putative head of the Republican party so actively sought to ground the party in a politics of natural right. This has led his Democratic opponent, John Kerry, to brand the Bush administration the most ’ideological’ of recent times. Victory for President Bush in November will surely vindicate his policies and principles. Defeat will mean, at a minimum, a curtailment of the Bush foreign policy, and will also likely bring an end to his understanding of the Republican party." Both are in The Public Interest and are very much worth reading.
Never mind that I like some poems, or why I like which. Take a few, but aloud, please:
"There is sobbing of the strong,/And a pall upon the land;/But the people in their weeping/Bare the iron hand:/Beware the People weeping/When they bare the iron hand." (Melville)
"And great Odysseus told his wife of all the pains/he had dealt out to other men and all the hardships/he’d endured himself--his story first to last--/and she listened on, enchanted.../Sleep never sealed her eyes till all was told." (Homer)
"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/A stately pleasure-dome decree;/Where Alph, the sacred river, ran/Through caverns measureless to man/Down to a sunless sea." (Coleridge)
Well, it now turns out that some researchers (what we call scientists, no doubt; such are not born under a rhyming planet) have shown that reciting epic poetry(may have to do with hexameter, they say) is good for the heart. No, no, not the way you think. But, rather, "It all has to do with breathing patterns and their relationship to cardiac rhythms." That is, reciting poetry makes an excellent breathing exercise. It has to do with the synchronization of certain cardiorespiratory patterns.
Read it, it’s
short, but not enough.
Bill Safire has a very good column on the meaning of the CBS forgery and what should be done first: Because no ethic requires a journalist to protect a source who lied, the guy should be found and prosecuted.
"Appointing independent reviewers should not be a device to duck all others questions; thats Kofi Annans trick to stonewall his oil-for-food scandal. But lacking the power of a grand jurys subpoena or testimony under oath, victimized CBS cannot put real heat on the perpetrator or conspirators. We have hard evidence of crimes by low-level operatives here - from wire fraud to forgery - as well as the potential of high-level political involvement. Is no prosecutor prepared to enforce the law?"
John Moser’s post below, "What’s up with Universities and Ehrenreich?" leads me to this: For years the incoming Ashbrook Scholars have been sent a book to read over the Summer. They receive Winston Churchill’s My Early Life in June (as they are graduating high school), read it by early August, write an essay on education (the real subject of the book) and have two separate two-hour seminars (one on Saturday on the book, and one on Sunday on the writing); classes start Monday. I have always thought--and the students think--that this is a very good way to get into the college mode. It is a serious book that allows itself to be questioned; we end up having very good conversations as a result. The substance is just fine, and the conversational tone (so unlike high school) sets the stage nicely for their future learning. It is all high minded, slightly removed from the present, slightly foreign, but entirely interesting. They wonder at the man and his world and the good writing. They are struck by his vivacity and courage, note his sweet love for his nanny, marvel at his ambition, watch the man educate himself as he envies the young pups at universities who have teachers to help them navigate uncharted waters. And they note his exhortations to go out into the world and make a mark. These students don’t even know who Barbara Ehrenreich is. They have missed nothing.
Here is the transcript of Kerry’s press conference (the first in over a month). I saw panting reporters explaining how Kerry has found his footing, finally. Their excitement that there may be a real campaign in the offing, after all, was palpable. In fact, Kerry has changed his mind yet again, and now he is determined and settled into full anti-war candidacy. He is taking advantage of what he sees as an ill-wind from Iraq, and he means to ride that wind to election day. This disposition, this mode--this formless political self--is the main reason why Kerry should not be elected president. Whatever happened to Bill Clinton’s advice that he stick to domestic policy? Well, remember that Groucho Marx once said, "These are my principles, if you don’t like them I have others." This applies to Kerry perfectly. He is on the edge of the cliff and any good wind, or a good word breathed by Bush, will blow him over into the void. The fall will be spectacular and my grandchildren will studying his campaign as an exercise in idiocy and futility, a formless man at the helm of a party without a cause.
Last year Ashland Universitys "Introduction to University Life" program solicited suggestions from the faculty regarding books that might be profitably assigned to all first-year students and used as a basis for class discussions. I think I suggested Neil Postmans Amusing Ourselves to Death, hardly a conservative book. In any case, does anyone think theres a shortage of important, substantive books out there with which to challenge students?
Well, it turns out that IUL decided to go with Barbara Ehrenreichs Nickel and Dimed. I suppose I shouldnt be surprised; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been using it as "expected" (meaning required) reading for a few years now, much to the consternation of North Carolinas conservative state legislature. Now Ive learned that my alma mater, Ohio University, has adopted the book as part of its Common Reading Project. Perhaps there are other schools doing this as well; if so, Id like to hear about it.
So whats going on here? Are faculty members making these decisions unaware of the huge menu of important and challenging works available on a variety of subjects? Why are these schools so set on using a third-rate book as a means of introducing 18-year-olds to the rigors of university life? Is "Nickel and Dimed" now to be considered one of the Great Books?
I watched some of Chris Matthews last night and he said something stupid about bloggers, once again: "Even a broken clock is right twice a day." Thanks, Chris, that is revealing. Foolish, thoughtless, the insight of a true lightweight. Keep yelling at people, you are making a great contribution to our way of life. Bloggers in their pajamas have broken a huge story, have brought down a major source of power in the establishment media, have helped clarify the relationship between CBS and the Kerry campaign, and you scoff. Keep fiddling while your unfounded edifice is burning.
"Well, last week, the insurrectionary pajama people—dubbed pajamahadeen by some Web nuts—successfully scaled one more citadel of the mainstream media, CBS News. One of the biggest, baddest media stars, Dan Rather, is now clinging, white-knuckled, to his job. Not bad for a bunch of slackers in their nightclothes.
You have to ask: Is this a media revolution? In some respects, sure. The Web has done one revolutionary thing to journalism: it has made the price of entry into the media market minimal. In days gone by, you needed a small fortune to start up a simple magazine or newspaper. Now you need a laptop and a modem."
Here is the Presidents speech to the United Nations. It is a good speech, entirely within the highest traditions of American presidental rhetoric. A few passages I like:
"The United Nations and my country share the deepest commitments. Both the American Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaim the equal value and dignity of every human life. That dignity is honored by the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, protection of private property, free speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance. That dignity is dishonored by oppression, corruption, tyranny, bigotry, terrorism and all violence against the innocent. And both of our founding documents affirm that this bright line between justice and injustice -- between right and wrong -- is the same in every age, and every culture, and every nation."
"In this young century, our world needs a new definition of security. Our security is not merely found in spheres of influence, or some balance of power. The security of our world is found in the advancing rights of mankind."
"Because we believe in human dignity, peaceful nations must stand for the advance of democracy. No other system of government has done more to protect minorities, to secure the rights of labor, to raise the status of women, or to channel human energy to the pursuits of peace. Weve witnessed the rise of democratic governments in predominantly Hindu and Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish and Christian cultures. Democratic institutions have taken root in modern societies, and in traditional societies. When it comes to the desire for liberty and justice, there is no clash of civilizations. People everywhere are capable of freedom, and worthy of freedom."
"Finding the full promise of representative government takes time, as America has found in two centuries of debate and struggle. Nor is there any -- only one form of representative government -- because democracies, by definition, take on the unique character of the peoples that create them. Yet this much we know with certainty: The desire for freedom resides in every human heart. And that desire cannot be contained forever by prison walls, or martial laws, or secret police. Over time, and across the Earth, freedom will find a way."
Scott Johnson (of Powerline) finds himself on the cover of Time magazine. And the Christian Science Monitor
considers the value of bloggers; Johnson also appears. Bloggers and the internet will continue to be the topics of conversation for a while, of course. Understandable. They’re giant killers. Also see this for some pajama talk.
Quinnipiac University Poll reports that in New Jersey it is a 48-48 tie among registered voters, and Kerry is ahead 47-43 among registered voters. The Ohio Poll (University of Cincinnatis Institute for Policy Research) shows Bush-Kerry at 54-43 among likely voters; last month it was too close to call.
This is John Kerry’s speech on Iraq at NYU yesterday. James S. Robbins analyzes it and concludes that what he recommends is what Bush is doing. Brain Terminal considers Kerry’s many and contradictory positions on Iraq. And here is what Rich Lowry thinks:
"I think he has to keep hammering away at Iraq like this because it’s his best chance at eroding Bush’s advantage on national security. The critique portion of it (almost all of it) had some power. But as Jim Robbins points out today on the homepage, when he gets to his solutions the speech trails off into irrelevance or vague agreement with Bush: the international help he talks about is not going to be forthcoming; training Iraqi forces is crucial, but we’re already trying to do it; spending money faster on construction projects is also something we are trying to do. In my column today I offer some Iraq advice to Kerry that I realize is mostly fanciful. But I believe Bush’s conduct of the war is open to a fairly scathing Jacksonian Zell Miller-style “win this thing or not” critique. If Kerry ever were to stumble onto it--and flip-flop into making it--he might get somewhere on Iraq."
This is Lowry’s NRO article.
Powerline continues the best coverage for those of you who want to spend more time than you should on the details. Note the many questions Powerline poses to CBS, so far unanswered. Also note that there is a serious connection being revealed between CBS and the Kerry campaign, which connection is not being denied by the parties (Lockhart, Burkett, and CBS Betsy West, senior CBS News vice president. (See USA Todays front page story, bottom, "CBS had source talk to Kerry aide." (I cant get to it on line, for some reason.) Details aside for the moment, it is perfectly clear that this story is far from being played out. Rather and CBS are not forthcoming, they still seem to believe that the papers and the story have merit and--perhaps most important--the apparent collusion between CBS and the Kerry campaign is being looked into by about ten thousand reporters. Things will happen, more things will be revealed. It may well put the last nail in the dying Kerry campaigns coffin. And just when they thought things couldnt get worse.
Here is Dan Rathers apology. This is CBSs statement on the memos. And this is the CBS story on its own story. "Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report," said the statement by CBS News President Andrew Heyward. "We should not have used them. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret."
Howard Kurtz of the WaPo recounts how the blogs ran with the specious CBS story based on the forged memos. There is nothing that you dont already know in this, but I think it is significant because it is the start of a new regime in reporting and journalism, and this new regime is now being recognized by the ancien regime, which is acting as historians of their own death. All honor to Powerline and the other worthies. May the ancient regime Rest in Peace.
The new order will depend on the ability of the people to recognize the difference between the false and the true. Dan Rather and the other self-appointed guardians of the ancien regime are not amused and are afraid because a massive fact--formerly thought to be a self-evident--has been revealed to one and all: The people will not click their heals and salute just because Dan Rather and his guardians tell us to. The rational wrath of citizens against their media elites and tormentors is now seen to be consequential. It is the citizens who have courage, it is the citizens who can govern themselves without Dan Rathers biases or his approval. We govern ourselves and we think this is good. We just proved it and we will wait and see if the CBS announcement scheduled for later today recognizes this massive fact. Even if it doesnt, the candid world does.
Clearly, John Fund is not the only one who thinks that the Kerry campaign is Dukakis II, but he gives a nice overview of this now settled opinion. But what I find most interesting in the piece is the opinion--by no means held only by Fund--that the Democratic Party will have a lot of soul-searching to do after their defeat in November. Yet, I dont think it will happen because of the Hillary (read Bill and Hillary) factor: She is poised to take over the party, and she will attempt to be a moderate (like Bill), but without the ability of affecting the soul of the party (if it still has one). She will, in short, make the party her personal property and will neither reflect a deep moderate position within the party (because there isnt one), nor be able to shape the party toward a principled position that will outlast her tenure as leader of the once-great Democratic Party.
The Oxford historian Robin Lane Fox conducts an interview with Archeology on the movie Alexander (an Oliver Stone preduction) to which he served as an advisor. A sample from the interview:
"For people in antiquity and today the life of Alexander has a legendary, heroic quality to it. But Alexander was autocratic and at times cruel, and his armies killed thousands upon thousands. When does glorification of Alexander, without reference to the less admirable aspects of his career (like the death of his cousin, and potential rival, Amyntas), become mythmaking? Does the movie avoid that?
Military conquest of thousands of ’barbarian’ peoples and lands was widely considered glorious--nobody at the time is known to have attacked Alexander for killing ’enemy’ Indians whom he invaded! ’Imperial conquest’ of the barbarian world was certainly incorporated in Aristotle’s political and ethical theories. And by Romans later, Pompey or Caesar, hundreds of tribes and cities, if captured, were proudly recorded and paraded. If people surrendered to Alexander, they were spared and their leaders were often reinstated. Often, he himself was received as a ’liberator,’ replacing a Persian Empire which was not exactly loved by one and all.
When he sacked whole cities who opposed him--Thebes or Tyre--his ferocity shocks us, but it was not outside the conduct of war by other contemporaries: his father Philip did the same, and Greek cities in the past had urged the total destruction, even, of Athens. In India, it was he who invaded an ’innocent’ land, and then killed women, children, and fugitives of peoples who refused to surrender. But here, too, he was being guided, or used, by other Indian leaders who wanted to do down their enemies--and in his vast army, no more than a fifth would have been Macedonians, while more than half were Orientals, including many Indian recruits, fighting with him. When he arrived, Indian chiefs were fighting one another, or were bitter enemies. When he left, these internal wars were ended--at least until his unforeseen early death.
Historians with our distaste for unprovoked war and killing now cast Alexander as increasingly murderous and exceptionally savage. Their older contemporaries remember Hitler or Stalin. My generation, and later, have also grown up in a post-colonial world: explicitly, at least, Americans never had an empire, anyway. In antiquity, Alexander came to be credited with taming or civilizing barbarian peoples, not least by his many Alexandrias. He was believed to have had plans for an inclusive, "harmonious" kingdom where Macedonians and Iranians would share as a ruling class. He even made the two nobilities [Macedonian and Persian] inter-marry.
There are modern historians, deploring ’imperialism,’ who try to brush these moves away as ’pragmatic’ or very limited. I think their modern prejudices mislead them, as do many others. Alexander was born a king--he did not overthrow a constitution, like a Hitler. He had no idea of ethnic or racial cleansing. He wanted to include conquered peoples in his new kingdom, Alexander’s own, while their fellows, of course, paid tribute and could not rebel. Oliver’s film credits Alexander himself with these aims, in my view rightly. But through his friends, fellow-officers, and Ptolemy himself, it also gives us the viewpoints of those who disbelieved him. In real life, Alexander drank long and hard: he killed without much scruple; he must have had a taste for war. Oliver’s film shows all these sides, including aspects which even historians in antiquity tried to omit or explain away. Alexander made, and cultivated, his own myth in his lifetime. Oliver shows it, but he himself sees the doom which it brought."
(Thanks to Arts & Letters Daily)
The younger Kerry sister was in Australia: "John Kerry’s campaign has warned Australians that the Howard Government’s support for the US in Iraq has made them a bigger target for international terrorists." I don’t get this. She is in Australia to campaign for her father (she heads something called Americans Overseas for Kerry) and against the current PM, who is supportive of our policies? Doesn’t anyone think this is odd or improper? Isn’t there an election coming up in Australia? Weird.
Arthur Chrenkoff considers the good news from Afghanistan, and there is plenty of it. This is long with many useful links.
"voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment Saturday banning same-sex marriages and civil unions, one of up to 12 such measures on the ballot around the country this year.
With 95 percent of precincts reporting, the amendment was winning approval with 79 percent of the vote and support for it was evident statewide. Only in New Orleans, home to a politically strong gay community, did the race appear to be close, and even there the amendment was passing by a small margin."
Iraqi Airways resumed international flights for the first time in 14 years, with a plane taking off Saturday from neighboring Jordan for Baghdad and another leaving the Iraqi capital for Damascus, Syria.
Ernest Miller has put together a good timeline of the CBS/Rather affair. Useful, clear, with good links. (Thanks to The American Thinker). Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times categorically condemns CBS and Rather. Powerline continues to keep on eye on it all. And Jonathan V. Last considers the role that blogs have had on breaking the story for the Weekly Standard.
Mac Owens considers the great battle that took place on September 17, 1862 at Antietam, near Sharpsburg, Maryland. Over 6,000 Americans died, and 19,000 were wounded or went missing.
Wall Street Journal has some useful graphs showing the post convention bounce of candidates since 1984. "A review by Gallup of pre- and post-convention polls back to 1964 shows a tendency toward larger convention bounces among Democrats over Republicans and challengers over incumbents, and the candidate whose party holds its convention first also tends to get a slightly larger boost. Interestingly, in four of the last six elections, the winning candidate was the man who had the smaller bounce in post-convention polls -- meaning either he was far enough ahead to ward off his charging opponent, or he came from behind to win in the months between the conventions and Election Day."
The Los Angeles Times runs this front-page article on Thursday: "Long a Republican Bulwark, a Growing Arizona is in Play." O.K., that may be possible. It talks about how the state has grown, how many Californians, and Hispanics, have moved to the state, etc. But somewhere in the middle of this disengeneuous piece you discover that Bush that according to the latest poll is ahead by 16 points! Patterico says this: "Bush leads Kerry by 16 points, and the headline says a ’Republican bulwark’ is ’in play.’
I got news for you, L.A. Times. In California, a recent Rassmussen poll shows Kerry leading Bush, 50% to 42%. That’s a mere eight-point difference -- half the spread between Bush and Kerry in Arizona.
I look forward to your front-page article tomorrow: ’Long a Democratic Bulwark, a Growing California Is in Play.’"
I think this is wonderful writing by David Brooks. Read it yourself, and you might want to do so aloud, to get the full flavor. It is a consideration of the 600 or so people in the inner ring of Kerrys campaign, and why this vast empire that is trying to craft Kerrys creed is failing. Even Michaelangelos cant sculpt "the melted marshmallow of Kerrys core."
Kane Webb reflects on Kerry’s "Hail Mary" shakeup:
"On the surface, the return engagement of Carville-Begala "for one show only!" smacks of political desperation. A Hail Mary heave of a staff shakeup. What with this being football season and Arkansas being football country long before it was Clinton Country, let’s continue the gridiron analogy: It’s like a head football coach changing offensive coordinators a week before the opener. Never a good sign.
Dick Morris has speculated that the Clinton troops have infiltrated Camp Kerry as a way to assure defeat and clear the debris for Hillary’s inevitable ’08 run. But having watched the Clinton campaign up close and too personal, I think something else is going on here: ego. The Clintonoids can’t help themselves. They remember the good old days of ’92 and ’96. They saw Al Gore make a Florida of things in 2000. And they can’t sit on the sidelines again. They’re kind of like Joe Gibbs coming back to the Redskins. They see the team making so many mistakes, and they know how to win. Plus, it’s a free shot." Later, Webb has someone say, "They need wit. Very badly. Those guys [Begala, Carville, et al] have it." Webb consludes: "But even the world’s greatest gag writer needs a front man who can deliver the lines. Because a celebrity political consultant can’t be a celebrity unless his client can be, too."
CBS is reporting that the president has widened his lead over Kerry since its last poll, which was taken immediately after the Republican National Convention. Bush now enjoys a nine-point lead over the challenger.
The breakdown of voters is particularly interesting. It seems that a full 20 percent of self-described liberals are supporting Bush, as are 39 percent of union members. Women favor Bush over Kerry by 49 to 42 percent, and independents favor the president by roughly the same margin.
Democrats enthusiasm for their candidate continues to fade. Only 40 percent claim that they "strongly favor" Kerry, down from 54 percent in July. By contrast, 63 percent of Republicans "strongly favor" Bush--this, too, however, is down from July, when 70 percent claimed to do so.
Terrorism continues to be the presidents strong suit. Half of those surveyed expressed "a lot" of confidence in his ability to protect the country from another terror attack, compared to only 26 percent for Kerry. 54 percent continue to believe that the Iraq war was the "right thing" to do, up from 49% in August. The same percentage believe that U.S. forces should remain in Iraq "as long as it takes" to create a stable environment there.
What is perhaps most striking is overall voter assessments of the candidates. Kerry has only a 31 percent favorable rating, compared to 47 percent for Bush. The unfavorables are closer--Kerry 42 percent, Bush 38. But a solid majority (60 percent) are uneasy about how the Democrat would handle an international crisis, and only 30 percent think that Kerry says what he believes (compared to 55 percent for Bush). Fifty-seven percent say they have no clear picture of what the Senator intends to do if elected president, while only 44 percent say the same of the president.
The New York Times reports on its poll showing that Bush maintains his lead, 51-42% among likely voters, and 50-42% among registered voters. Bush has gained one point and Kerry lost one from their poll of a week ago. Note that this figure appears in the middle of the story. But, also note this: "In one particularly troublesome sign for Mr. Kerry, a majority of voters said he was spending too much time attacking Mr. Bush and talking about the past, rather than explaining what he would do as president. In contrast, half of the registered voters said Mr. Bush had offered a clear vision of what he wanted to do in a second term.
That finding, combined with an rising unfavorable view of Mr. Kerry, underlines the complicated challenge the senator confronts as he tries to attack Mr. Bush without alienating voters put off by negative campaigning."
This is the CBS report on the poll. Note this: "Voters in 18 battleground states favor Bush over Kerry by 53 percent to 39 percent." Also this: "There is further evidence that John Kerry’s support may be softening." In July 54% strongly favored Kerry, last week it was 45%, and in this poll it is 40%. There is more, most of it massively to Kerrys disadvantage; read it yourself. The CBS story is better and more detailed, but you can get the whole poll through the New York Times.
I am gone for the rest of the day, Hadley Arkes is giving our Constitution Day talk tonight. You can listen to it live by clicking here. It starts at 7:30 PM (Eastern).
Although there has been no shakeup in the John Kerry campaign, the WaPo makes clear that Bob Shrum has lost influence. Well, I guess maybe there was a shakeup.
The Belmont Club has more on Iraq, including how the order of battle has changed. Long and serious.
Lucas Morel brings the Iowa Electronic Markets to our attention. Says Lucas: "For what it’s (literally) worth, check out the graph of the 2004 US Presidential Election Winner Takes All Market. This on-line political futures market is run by the faculty at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business. Anyone can play this market with real money, buying and selling contracts tied to real-world events--the presidential election being one of them. The aforementioned graph shows the history of bid amounts for contract payoffs to be determined by the popular vote cast (not electoral colege outcome) in the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election. After the election, a holder of a contract for Kerry/Edwards will receive $1 if the Democratic Party nominee receives the most popular votes in the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, $0 otherwise. Ditto for Bush/Cheney contracts. As of yesterday, the closing price for a Kerry contract (DEMO4) was $0.402, compared with $0.597 for Bush (REP04). For more info, see the Iowa Electronic Market." And here is the graph he mentions.
But this Pew Poll has them almost even among registered voters, with Bush ahead, 47-46%, with polling done Sept 11-14. Bush was ahead, 54-38%, with polling conducted Sept 8-10.
Rasmussen tracking has Bush ahead by 4 points, 49-45%. "Today’s results match the President’s largest lead since the spring. Senator Kerry has not been ahead in the Tracking Poll since August 23." You figure it out.
Andrew Busch explains that Kerry has a problem in the way he talks about Iraq, and a choice to make: "With seven weeks to go until election day, John Kerry remains unsure of how to respond to George W. Bush’s lead. Looking for an issue with which to gain traction, Kerry has begun arguing that the Iraq war has drained national resources away from pressing domestic concerns.
He is tapping into a potential source of real discontent, the concern by many Americans over the deficit and the ever-higher financial cost of the war. However, it is not clear that Kerry’s message will overcome the muddle in his campaign thus far.
Kerry faces two key questions. He must decide whether to continue and sharpen this line of attack or drop it and try something else. If he decides to continue, he must decide whether to emphasize that war money could have been spent on domestic programs or that it ballooned the deficit."
Terrence Moore reflects on C.S. Lewis Abolition of Man: "In my frequent encounters with teenagers, I very often find that the most moral ones find themselves on the defensive in our anything goes culture. Moral philosophy is therefore perhaps more needed today than it ever has been. Yet the standard way of studying philosophy does not necessarily meliorate today’s moral predicament. The method of reading one philosopher after another and identifying their various schools of thought (Stoicism, Epicureanism, Utilitarianism, etc.) only seems to support the relativists’ claim that even philosophers cannot agree on standards of virtue and vice.
This Mason-Dixon poll of Minnesota shows that Bush is ahead, 46-44%. And this Los Angeles Times story on the Minnesota race reveals that this was "once Kerry territory," and it doesn’t even consider the Mason Dixon poll. The last Republican to take Minnesota was Nixon in 1972 (51% to McGovern’s 46%). NOTE: I edited (5:30 PM the original post in which I had made two mistakes, one stupid, one a misread of a figure. Thanks to readers Travis and Gary for pointing them out. Very sorry.
Tony Coelho says there is a "civil war" within the Kerry campaign. "There is nobody in charge and you have these two teams that are generally not talking to each other." And: "If [Sasso] is in charge then Goddammit, say it and stop having the speculation of whos in charge because that’s worse. It also starts to impact in regard to the whole image of leadership. If someone can’t control a message in a presidential campaign, how are you going to be a good president?" There is plenty more, including a bit about money; but read the whole thing. Also see
The Washington Times. And note this Democrats opinion on how money is spent by the Kerry camp. He reflects on this comment from Coelho: "In the Democratic Party the consultants get paid for the creation and the placement of [advertising]. Republicans only pay you for the creation." Kos is angry, I gather. "Do you want a punchline? Shrum (and his firms partners) will be getting a $5 million cut for Kerrys media buys (another $3 million will go to other media firms used by the campaign). While some of that is undoubtedly expenses for creating new ads, the vast majority is not.
The lions share of $5 million of your own contributions going not to defeat Bush, but to line Shrums pockets. Does that feel right to you? And dont forget that if Coelho is right, Bush can direct more of his dollars to bash Kerry and the Democrats."
This Ken Auletta, not exactly a Bush supporter, interview in the New Yorker is related to his long story in the current issue (not available on line, its title is "Kerrys Brain") on the Kerry campaign, focusing on Bob Shrum. Both should be read to figure out what is going on in the Kerry campaign, or, if you prefer, why it has collapsed. Note how tight and secretive the Kerry campaign is:
"But where he’s [Bob Shrum] probably wrong, I think, is that he’s done what generals often do: he’s repeated the same strategy for one war without realizing there’s a different war. When the Swift-boat attacks came, in early August, the Kerry campaign waited before fully responding to them. Shrum’s philosophy was that, post-9/11, people didn’t have the kind of tolerance for negative personal attacks. That has been proved false, because Kerry’s poll numbers, as they related to that topic, dropped. I think the Kerry camp misunderstood the nature of the modern campaign, where you have the Internet dovetailing with twenty-four-hour cable news, creating this kind of echo chamber."
"But actually, by contrast, the Bush campaign was, in some ways, more open to me in answering questions than the Kerry campaign was. For instance, I asked the Kerry campaign how many employees they had. They refused to answer, like it was a state secret, and the Bush campaign was totally open about it. It was quite stunning. I think that the Bush people are very shrewd politically. I’m not saying that a lot of the Kerry people are not, but the Bush people understood that if they continued with Fortress Bush going into a Presidential campaign, if they were not more accessible to the press—whom they need now, but didn’t in the first three years of Bush’s Presidency—they would be hurt by it, and people would be talking about the secretive Bush White House. So they tried to change that story line; if you ask the Bush people now how many real volunteers they have, they answer exactly. It’s like pulling teeth to get that out of the Kerry campaign."
I almost forgot to mention this very important story: Kofi Annan says that the U.S. war in Iraq was "illegal." And this: "I think in the end everybodys concluded its best to work together with our allies and through the UN. I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time - without UN approval and much broader support from the international community." Thank you Mr. Secretary General, thank you. Thats another 100,000 votes for Mr. Bush.
Jonah Goldbergs has a few precious paragraphs on the meaning of the conversation between Dan Rather and Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post.
The Belmont Club considers the apparent rise in fighting and American casualties in Iraq. He notes that many in the media are giving the impression that the place is falling into chaos. Not so, he argues by way considering both the number of casulaties and their pattern. Detailed, thoughtful. He will have more to say in the days ahead. Worth marking.
This is a good George Will column that explains in about eight hundred words why Kerry will not be elected president. It would be unfair to try to summarize it. It is a well crafted work of art that works as a whole. Just note a couple of pregnant phrases. For example, Kerry is "a casualty of the Dean Effect," and "Kerry also is a casualty of nuance-itis, which is a kind of house mold prevalent in the north wing of the Capitol."
Here is Andrew Sullivans opinion, a Kerry supporter, of the CBS statement: "I have to say that the risible statement given by CBS News last night finally did it for me. Who do these people think they are? They have failed to find a single expert who will back the authenticity of the memos; their own experts say they warned CBS not to go with the story; Killians secretary thinks theyre fakes ... and yet Rather and Heyward say they stand by their story and will continue to investigate the provenance and dubiousness of the forgeries! This beggars belief. How do I put this to Rather: it doesnt matter if the underlying story is true. All that matters is that CBSs evidence is fake. Get it? End of story. For what its worth: I believe Bush got into the Guard because of his dads connections. I believe he probably didnt perform his duties adequately in his final two years. When I first read the CBS story, I thought the docs were "devastating." Im not backing this president for re-election. But all that is completely beside the frigging point. Journalists are supposed to provide accurate evidence for their claims. CBS didnt. And its response to the critics is to stonewall and try and change the subject. The correct response - the one theyd teach you in kindergarten journalism class - is immediately to check the authenticity of the documents as best you can, and if the doubts persist, to apologize immediately and yank the story. Can you imagine what CBS News would do if a government official found to be peddling fake documents refused to acknowledge it? And kept repeating his story nonetheless? Theyd be all over it. But, you see, they are above politicians. They are above criticism. And they are stratospheres above bloggers who caught them red-handed."
Ratherbiased carries all the information you need on the CBS story; follow the links, which includes CBS’s statement. Also see Powerline. Hindrocket at Powerline says this: "Here is my theory. The documents are forged; we know it, CBS knows it, everyone knows it. So that is the context in which CBS is trying to figure out its next move. The general direction seems clear--they want to say that the documents may not be authentic, but the sentiments they reflect are true. So what they have ’redoubled,’ in Heyward’s words, is their longstanding effort to get the goods on President Bush’s National Guard service. In short, they are going to retroactively try to create the story that they wanted, but couldn’t get, and therefore settled for the forgeries."
"Will it work? Yes, in the sense that they will be able to do something other than admit guilt, apologize, and fire Dan Rather. No, in that everyone will know that CBS prostituted itself to try to help John Kerry, and on one--that is, no one who is not already a virulent Bush hater--cares about Bush’s National Guard service, especially given that 1) he flew fighter aircraft, which everyone admires, and 2) he completed his service and was honorably discharged."
Don’t forget to note the Washington Post story on Kinko’s in Abiline. I expect more statements from CBS. And here is a Rassmussen poll on the Rathergate issue. Many interesting facts, but just note these: 27% believe the CBS documents are authentic; 56% believe they are forgeries; 42% of voters have a favorable opinion of Dan Rather, about the same percentage that Kerry will get in November.
Good morning! In a local CBS poll in Illinois, Kerry leads Bush by only 4 points, 49-45%. "The turn in this election tide could set up a political stunner. Illinois is a Democratic powerhouse in national elections, and John Kerry does maintain a small lead in our exclusive CBS 2 poll, but President Bush appears to be gaining support among voters.
Illinois no longer looks like a sure thing for Democrat John Kerry. His once 13 percentage point lead is now down to four points. Thats exactly our surveys margin of accuracy, meaning the contest could be a dead-heat."
And in New Jersey, it seems that Bush might be ahead by 4 points, 49-45%. No comment.
"Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution and the one which, united with that of personal liberty, has contributed more to the growth of civilization than any other institution established by the human race."
Here is his Dollar Diplomacy Speech, 1912.
Ratherbiased thinks that CBS (theyre supposed to make an announcement at 5 p.m. today) will stick with its story.
"While the release is being carefully crafted with the assistance of the Viacom legal department, Dan Rather and his associates are directing members of the media to an interview which Rather did with the highly influential New York Observer media columnist Joe Hagan in which the 72-year-old anchor blasts his critics in no uncertain terms.
I think the public, even decent people who may be well-disposed toward President Bush, understand that powerful and extremely well-financed forces are concentrating on questions about the documents because they cant deny the fundamental truth of the story, Rather told the paper. If you cant deny the information, then attack and seek to destroy the credibility of the messenger, the bearer of the information. And in this case, its change the subject from the truth of the information to the truth of the documents.
This is your basic fogging machine, which is set up to cloud the issue, to obscure the truth, he said."
Here is the Joe Hagan article mentioned.
Rome - A leading Vatican cardinal said on Tuesday that terrorism was a new world war and fighting it may involve the loss of some civil liberties.
"We have entered the Fourth World War," said Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vaticans Council for Justice and Peace, saying he believed that the Cold War was World War 3.
"I believe that we are in the midst of another world war," he said in comments published in Italian newspapers on Tuesday.
"And it involves absolutely everyone because we dont know what will happen when we leave a hotel, when we get on a bus, when we go into a coffee bar. War itself is sitting down right next to each and every one of us," he said. (Thanks to
Peter Kirsanow says there are a bunch of questions reporters should be asking of Kerry. One example. Question: You now state that Iraq was "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time," yet just a few weeks ago you stated that knowing what you know now you’d still authorize the war. Why would you still vote for a war that is wrong?
a. If the war was wrong, do you maintain Saddam should still be in power? If not, how would you remove him?
b. Which of the following is your primary objection to the Iraq war:
(1) that it shouldn’t have been fought?
(2) that it was in the wrong location?
(3) that the timing was bad?
c. If your answer’s either (2) or (3) above, where should the war have been fought and when?
Kerry talked with Imus this morning. I heard a bit of it. Very unimpressive. Later, another reporter asked Imus what Kerry said in response to Imus’ questions on Iraq. Imus said: "I don’t know." Imus still supports Kerry. It is not clear if he knows why.
According to Agence France-Press "Syria tested chemical weapons on civilians in Sudans troubled western Darfur region in June and killed dozens of people.
The German daily Die Welt newspaper, in an advance release of its Wednesday edition, citing unnamed western security sources, said that injuries apparently caused by chemical arms were found on the bodies of the victims."
ABC News has more, a lot more, on CBS.
"Two of the document experts hired by CBS News say the network ignored concerns they raised prior to the broadcast of a report citing documents that questioned George W. Bushs service in the National Guard during the Vietnam War." I have heard that CBS was to make some sort of announcement sometime today. It will not be pretty.
Sullivan nails it:
"This new story seems to me to show reckless indifference to the truth in the pursuit of political pay-dirt. Honestly, you cant make this stuff up. If a couple of years back, someone had predicted that a) Howell Raines would be brought down by a fabricating affirmative action hire; b) the BBC would lose its director-general because of shoddy anti-war propaganda tarted up as journalism; and c) that Dan Rather would flame out over forged documents designed to wreak revenge on the Bush family; then I would think it was Brent Bozell having a wet dream. But its all true. Bernie Goldberg, pour yourself a drink. Eric Alterman, just go home and cry."
Someone the other day predicted that this is exactly what would happen. The documents would be proven fake, yet their content would still be held true. Hence this
New York Times headline: "Memos on Bush Are Fake but Accurate, Typist Says." Perfect. The first two paragraphs:
The secretary for the squadron commander purported to be the author of now-disputed memorandums questioning President Bushs service in the Texas Air National Guard said Tuesday that she never typed the documents and believed that they are fakes.
But she also said they accurately reflect the thoughts of the commander, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, and other memorandums she typed for him about Mr. Bush. "The information in them is correct," the woman, Marian Carr Knox, now 86, said in an interview at her home here. "But I doubt, she said, pausing, "its not anything that I wrote because there are terms in there that are not used by Guards, the format wasnt the way we did it. It looks like someone may have read the originals and put that together."
Andrew Sullivan is on the affair dRather, and he is very harsh on CBS and Rather. As far as he is concerned Rather has already resigned. And, he is also very clear on what journalism is, and what bloggers do.
"Journalism is not a profession as such. Its a craft. You get better at it by doing it; and there are very few ground rules. By and large, anyone with a mind, a modem, a telephone, and a conscience can be a journalist. The only criterion that matters is that you get stuff right; and if you get stuff wrong (and you will), you correct yourself as soon as possible. The blogosphere is threatening to some professional journalists because it exposes these simple truths. It demystifies the craft. It makes it seem easy--because, in essence, it often is.
Bloggings comparative advantage has nothing to do with the alleged superior skills of bloggers or their higher intelligence, quicker wit, or more fabulous physiques. The blogosphere is a media improvement because the sheer number of blogs, and the speed of response, make errors hard to sustain for very long. The collective mind is also a corrective mind. Transparency is all. And the essence of journalistic trust is not simply the ability to get things right and to present views or ideas or facts clearly and entertainingly. It is also the capacity to admit error, suck it up, and correct what youve gotten wrong. Take it from me. Ive both corrected and been corrected. When you screw up, it hurts. But in the long run, its a good hurt, because it takes you down a peg or two and reminds you what youre supposed to be doing in the first place. Any journalist who starts mistaking himself for an oracle needs to be reminded who he is from time to time."
Tom Raum of AP writes a piece that will cause the Kerry campaign folks to lose much sleep. The piece is relatively carefully written, but is still too revealing and Kerry’s decline is now an entirely public matter. The conversation, the news, the matter of politics from now on until the election is that the Kerry campaign is crippled, or hobbling, or finished. Raum states this: Bush has put some states that everyone for many months--in hushed quasi-religious tones--had been saying were part of the battleground states out of play. Max, there are only ten battleground states left to fight over, and some of those are already out of play, in my opinion. They include: Ohio, Florida, Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, Louisiana, North Carolina, Washington, Maine, New Hampshire. Bush is now focusing on Michigan, Pennsylavnia, Minnesota, New Mexico. Kerry is now worried about the so-called second tier of battleground states, and within two weeks he will be worried about California and Oregon, and such, imho. Terrible campaign, terrible candidate. TV ads like this aren’t going to help Kerry. Amazing.
Unsurprisingly, I find the Belmont Club analysis of the Rathergate issue very good. See sections, "The End," and "The Truth Shall Set You Free." Of course, the links are worthy. He doesnt think that CBS can maintain the truth of their story one day longer. Good paragraph:
"Viewed from this angle, it is easy to see the role the alternative media has played in the conservative movement. As a mouthpiece or propaganda organ the Internet is, as Stanely Kurtz points out, still largely inferior to the Mainstream Media. But as an organ of accurately understanding the world, it is vastly superior. This has allowed conservatives to outmaneuver liberals time and again, to understand, for example, that neither Afghanistan nor Iraq were Vietnam; to see that the United Nations was a sham, among other things. In many ways the Mainstream Media is a liability to the liberal cause, a profoundly effective way of deceiving themselves. The Killian memos are fakes. And thats part of our world."
Scott Johnson of Powerline will be on Britt Hume tonight at 6 p.m. (Eastern) to discuss Rathergate. He says that he will not wear his pajamas.
Strategic Vision has Bush ahead in Ohio by 10 points (52-42), and has Kerry up by 4 only points in New Jersey. The Boston Globe reports that the Kerry campaign is looking more and more toward Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota, and less and less toward Ohio, for example. In short, they are conceding Ohio, in my opinion. Or, to put it more dcelicately: "In short, Kerry is no longer expanding into Republican turf as much as he is defending his own." Also note that the AP is reporting: "Sen. John Kerry on Tuesday hired Bill Clinton’s former press secretary, Mike McCurry, adding yet another adviser who worked for the two-time Democratic presidential winner." Oh, and one more thing: Gallup has Bush up in Wisconsin by 4 points, 49-45%. And then there is yet one more. In Pennsylvania Rassmussen has Bush up by 1 point, 49-48. That’s a shift of 5 points.
Eric Claeys’s post yesterday about Cass Sunstein’s critique of blogs brought to mind a column from last week’s Washington Post, brought to my attention by E. Frank Stephenson over at Division of Labour. The subject is a new book by Swarthmore University psychologist Barry Schwartz, in which the author claims that as the number of choices available to people increases, the less likely they are to be pleased with the choices they make.
A fair point, admits Stephenson. After all, wouldn’t shopping at Wal-Mart be a lot more pleasant for me if the shelves weren’t full of items I’m not interested in? But the problem emerges in determining what choices should be eliminated from the menu.
Even if by dumb luck the person or agency deciding on what products would no longer be available managed to correctly eliminate the infernal sweet potato from my choice set, some unlucky sweet potato lover would be worse off. Ultimately, we’re better off allowing consumers as wide an array of choices as their purchasing habits make it worthwhile for stores to provide.
Thune is leading Daschle, 50-47%. I also heard that the GOP is about throw big money into the race. It dont look none too good for Daschle, do it?
This might be worth noting. Israel has sent intelligence officers to Russia and is hosting at least two senior Russian officers in Tel Aviv.
The historian Lance Banning demolishes Gary Wills "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power.
Gallup find that Bush is ahead in Wisconsin by 8 points among likely voters, and 4 points among registered voters. His lead has widened from the last poll just before the GOP convention when Bush led by 3 points among likely voters.
It seems that the ordinary media is catching up with the bloggers; note this from the Washington Post (title: "Expert Cited by CBS Says He Didn’t Authenticate Papers"). It will open the floodgates. Also see John Podhoretz. I am told that Dan Rather defended himself both last night and this morning. But Newsweek and others are already working on the story. Although they have been pushed into it--a little late--but they are now in it. It’s over for Dan and whatever moral authority he once had, thanks to the guys in pajamas.
I guess he is in Arizona today. The local GOP calls it his "farewell tour." This may not be too inaccurate given that Arizona went for Bush by 6% in 2000, and the polls have him ahead by 16 points, and Kerry has pulled his campaign ads. But Edwards is working on it. Where should he go next? North Carolina?
Evelyn Nieves writes a longish piece on what Teresa Heinz Kerry is doing with herself, or rather, what the campaign is doing with her. It turns out that--unsurprisngly--she is kept to small events; they are attempting to tamp down her profile; it is a balancing act, because she is a cause of "some concern" to the campaign. This ever-so-thoughtful, deep, exotic, but tempestuous woman who likes to talk about her third-world origins, speaks (whispers, really) about health care and womens issues to the already converted. Isnt she great, as this husband used to say, that is, before the chaos set in. We are now promised that she will soon, once again, speak to larger audiences, more publicly. We wait.
USA Today recounts the issues and questions surrounding the question whether or not the National Guard documents are forged. John Fund praises the guys in pajamas and says that CBS is stonewalling. Bill Safire recounts the whole messy episode, says there is a preponderance of doubt about the documents and suggests that CBS investigate. He recommends courage to Dan Rather. The pajama guys at Powerline continue to follow it all, of course. And Elihu Grant brings Madison, Jefferson and even Dante into it. Clever.
Andrew C. McCarthy takes apart John Kerrys position on the 9/11 Commissions recommendations. He thinks it is outrageous that Kerry wants the Commissions recommendations adopted tout de suite without elaborating. And, no one is asking him to. "After two decades in the Senate, Kerry is bereft of notable lawmaking accomplishments. Nonetheless, he has touted his membership on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 1993 to early 2001 as a powerful presidential credential. But that stance could not be more at odds with the 9/11 commissions findings."
I had missed this Mark Helprin piece from 9/10 in the WSJ. A hard opinion:
"Three years after September 11, where do we stand?
Out of fear and confusion we have hesitated to name the enemy. We proceed as if we are fighting disparate criminals united by coincidence, rather than the vanguard of militant Islam, united by ideology, sentiment, doctrine, and practice, its partisans drawn from Morocco to the Philippines, Chechnya to the Sudan, a vast swath of the earth that, in regard to the elemental beliefs that fuel jihad, is as homogeneous as Denmark.
Too timid to admit to a clash of civilizations even as it occurs, we failed to declare the war, thus forfeiting clarity of intent and the unambiguous consent of the American people. This was a sure way, as in the Vietnam era, to divide the country and prolong the battle."
I received an updated Worldwide Caution statement from the US Consular office in Baghdad, which was issued by the State Department. Included in the message was the following:
The Department of State remains concerned by indications that al-Qaida and affiliated groups continue to prepare to strike U.S. interests abroad. Al-Qaida and its associated organizations have struck in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Future al-Qaida attacks could possibly involve non-conventional weapons such as chemical or biological agents as well as conventional weapons of terror, to include explosive devices.
This message supercedes a previous warning issued on April 29, 2004. I checked quickly on the State Department’s web site, but I could not find the old warning message, and therefore I could not confirm whether the prior message included the WMD language.
Too many of you are hitting me for saying a favorable word about the poet Ted Kooser for me to ignore. And John Derbyshire at NRO doesn’t hold back either:
I don’t want to rain on Ted Kooser’s parade, but that poem you posted was -- how should I say it? -- cringe-inducingly awful. Quite apart from the fact that it employs not one -- not one! -- of the huge inventory of tricks and techniques that English-langiage poets have so painstakingly built up this past 1500 years, it fails quite basic tests of grammar -- unintentionally, so far as I can tell.
Look at this, for instance: "her hair still damp at the neck / from washing it." Grammatically, this means that the lady’s hair washed her neck. I suppose that could be made to work as a poetic conceit, but there is no sign Kooser is trying to accomplish that (or could if he tried). The signs are, that he does not have a very good grasp of English grammar. Similarly with "a raincoat, an old one, dirty / from not having money enough for the cleaners," whose meaning is that the raincoat did not have enough money for the cleaners. Oy oy oy. This man is the representative of American poetry for the next twelve months? The Muse weeps.
Apparently, it was only about a year ago that scientists discovered how insects (water skimmers) walk on water; they’re not heavy enough to break the surface tension of water. Water striders move by pushing down on the surface of water enough to create valleys but not enough to break the surface. The water then bounces back like a trampoline to push the insect forward.
Now scientists have created a robot that walks on water: "With inspiration from nature and some help from research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a research team led by Carnegie Mellon engineering assistant professor Metin Sitti has built a tiny robot that can walk on water, much like insects known as water skimmers, water skaters, pond skaters or Jesus bugs." See this AP story.
A short interview with Ted Kooser of Nebraska, the new poet laureate. I like him. After making clear that he doesnt read much European poetry, he is asked this question: "As poet laureate, don’t you think you should be better acquainted with European poetry?" Kooser: "Think of all the European poetry I could have read if we hadn’t spent all this time on this interview." Here is one his poems, "Flying at Night."
Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.
R.W. Apple, Jr. writes in the New York Times
of Kerry’s problems in Ohio. He quotes Gerald Austen, long-time Cleveland Demo consultant: "I smell the same New England genius that I smelled in the Dukakis campaign in 1988. Kerry wants to run as a man of the people, and where do they put him for photo opportunities? Snowboarding in Sun Valley, shooting skeet in the Ohio valley, and windsurfing off that great working-class vacation paradise, Nantucket. Democrats - at least Ohio Democrats - play softball and touch football." Also notice Michael F. Curtin’s comment (publisher of the Columbus Dispatch) regarding whether or not Ohio is a bellweather state:
"Since 1948, Ohio has slowly become less of a barometer. On average, it has voted 1.7 points more Republican than the country has. The last Democrat to run stronger here than he did nationally was Lyndon Johnson in 1964."
Glenn Reynolds thinks comments like Austens may indicate that the Demo establishment is giving up on Kerry.
Mark Leibovich writes in the WaPo that Bob Shrum (Kerrys campaign chief), and his supporters--if he has any--are hoping to reverse the curse: Shrum is 0 for 7 in campaigns. Kerrys campaign is in chaos. If you give enough Maureens a typewriter, eventually they come up with a good essay; Maureen Dowd may have this time. "Its a remarkable feat, but teeter-tottering John Kerry is even managing to land on both sides of the ambition issue." And thats just the first line.
Tom Rosenstiel thinks, correctly, that network news has lost its authority. Powerline agrees but gives some deeper reasons: "We believe that the networks are still spinning and that the end of the era is the result of (1) the depths to which they are willing to sink and (2) the emergence of rival sources of information to point out these depths." I think these two points are essentially right. And I think the latter point--emergence of rival sources of information--is the most significant. We have known for a long while--remember Dan Rather in the ’80s claiming each and every night that the economy is going to collapse and that Reagan was in trouble?--that network news was badly slanted, but it is only in the last few years that rival sources of information (not only cable, but the internet) have emerged. Note how the latest mischief by CBS on the National Guard documents was immediately called into question by Powerline, Hugh Hewitt, and other bloggers. They can’t hide anymore. Here is Los Angeles Times’ recounting of how bloggers--less than an hour after the "60 Minutes" broadcast was off the air--ran with the story. But, of course, to get the L.A. Times story exactly right, you had better check with an authority like Powerline for clarifications and necessary additions. More, and with elegance, at the Belmont Club. "After all, mounted cavalry was the aristocratic weapon and the longbow that of the despised yeomen, the medieval equivalent of bloggers in their pajamas. It took Crecy, Poitiers and finally Agincourt to bring home the fact that the longbow threat was real."
How did Shakespeare become Shakespeare? Stephen Greenblatt thinks he knows, even though the ordinary biographical evidence is vague, to say the least. Although there are great dangers to doing what Greenblatt attempts, it is still irresistable reading. A sample: "After patiently sifting through most of the available biographical traces, readers rarely feel closer to understanding how the playwright’s achievements came about. If anything, Shakespeare often seems a drabber, duller person, and the inward springs of his art seem more obscure than ever. The work is so astonishing, so luminous, that it seems to have come from a god and not a mortal, let alone a mortal of provincial origins and modest education.
And yet one of the prime characteristics of Shakespeare’s art is the touch of the real. Even before a gifted actor makes Shakespeare’s words come alive, those words contain the vivid presence of actual, lived experience."
Greenblatt has a new book out, Will in the World, which Adam Gopnik considers favorably for The New Yorker. Also a good read. We are seeing Measure for Measure tonight with the Jane Austen Society, by the way. More on this later.
Here is Michael Barone’s short take on the Democrat’s real problem: Kerry’s change of positions.
Matthew Scully thinks that Clinton’s example (not his operatives) is what Kerry should use to re-group. "Bill Clinton - to offer a few comforting words for the patient - never gave the impression that the presidency was his by right. He never displayed that air of entitlement you sense sometimes in Kerry supporters - so full of loathing for Mr. Bush, and so surprised and indignant when others don’t share it." Even
Dan Balz admits that Kerry has a problem; Kerry has "a smaller battlefield upon which to contest the presidential election and a potentially more difficult route to an electoral college victory than his advisers envisioned a few months ago." He outlines Kerry’s problem; the numbers of battleground states have shrunk for him (that’s why they have pulled ads from Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, and Arizona.
Of course, its now common knowledge that there is mounting evidence that the memos CBS used to challenge the presidents Air National Guard record were clumsy forgeries. Instead of trying to rebut that evidence--a difficult task, I admit--some Bush-haters are choosing the ad hominem route by attacking the credibility of Sandra Ramsey Lines. Lines is an accomplished forensic scientist, a fellow of the American Association of Forensic Scientists; in fact, she is editor of a scholarly journal put out by the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (yes, there is such an organization). Surely she is qualified to offer a judgment on the authenticity of the documents in question.
But wait! It turns out that Sandra Ramsey Lines has also donated money to a Republican organization called the WISH List. Aha, the left-wing blogosphere has exclaimed, Lines is a Republican, and therefore cannot be considered an independent expert. This is just another part of the vast right-wing conspiracy, right?
Well, not so fast. There is evidence that she has given money--$345, to be precise--to the WISH list. But is this some ultra-right-wing group, dedicated to God, guns, guts, and runnin out th librels? Hardly. At its website it bills itself as "Americas largest fundraising network for pro-choice Republican women candidates." And have a look at the list of contributors--it includes Planned Parenthood of Arizona.
Damn, Ill be glad when this election is over. My blood pressure cant handle much more of this.
Peter has enjoined us to not dispute today how we make war on our enemies but he has also advised us that our proper anger be directed into trying to prevent a recurrence of an attack such as that we suffered on 9/11. It seems to me that there is an opening between the injunction and the advice and I will pass through it to post the following.
Eric Claeys recommends below that we read both Podhoretz and Codevilla to understand the war on terrorism. He should add Helprin, also in the Claremont Review, to the list because all three authors agree on the same fundamental and mistaken point. All three believe that states are at the core of the war on terrorism.
The attack on 9/11 did not require state support. In the future, if not already, devastating attacks on the United States with weapons of mass destruction will be possible without state support. Donations, the principle way al Qaeda financed itself, or the drug trade, which finances many terrorist groups, supply more than enough financial resources. The principal arguments and advice offered by Podhoretz, Codevilla and Helprin are irrelevant to the real fight. They are the rhetorical equivalent of ceremonial cannon fire.
To a degree that neither Codevilla nor Helprin will admit, the Bush administration’s strategy also assumes that destroying states will destroy terrorism. The Bush administration’s approach makes sense only to the degree that destroying regimes leads to democracy and democracy leads to an end to terrorism. The connections here are so uncertain in general and with regard to Islamist terrorism in particular that the administration’s strategy must be considered a gamble of historic proportions. To say the least, it is not the only way the war could be fought.
A new Newsweek Poll shows Bushs lead "slowly deflating." Bush now leads Kerry, 49-43% among registered voters. (A week ago it was 52-41).
Al Jazeera runs this story on how Kerry is closing the "religion gap." First paragraph: "A majority of Americans still give the Republican Party the advantage on the issue of religion, but John Kerry may be gaining ground on President Bush, according to a Pew Research Center poll." It gets better.
New Time Poll finds "no signs of Bush erosion" so far, he still leads 52-41% among likely voters. And Kerry’s standing on all key issues has slipped. Bush’s favorability is up to 54%, Kerry’s unfavorability has gone up to 42%, from 29% in early August. There is nothing but bad news for Kerry in the rest of it. Tom Curry of MSNBC has a good, clear, and relatively short, wrap on Kerrys horrible week and shows how extremely difficult it is going to be for Kerry to pull the inside straight he will need to win (note especially his comments on Missouri and Ohio). This isnt rocket science, but it is clear. Note the emphasis that is becoming near universal that the only chance Kerry has to pull this off is in the debates. But he will lose that too.
It’s been three years. We awoke as if from a deep dream. The post-Cold War petty issues of the Clinton years turned into dust, as did many human bones in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Life became serious again when we realized that there were people out there willing to attack and kill us because of who we are. Perhaps we should have realized that earlier, perhaps we should have even noted it after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Never mind that for now. We do know it now and we know it because of what happened on September 11, 2001. The horror, the blood and dust, and death. And then the heroism and then the calculated response. Do not let the current politics, the current disgareement over means in the war against terror, allow this massive fact to be made less clear. Let us dispute how we make war on our enemies tomorrow. Today let us remember the event, and let our proper anger be channelled into trying mightily to prevent its recurrence. Let us renew our faith that right makes might and rededicate ourselves to the great task before us, that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth. And may the honored dead rest in peace.
AP-Ipsos-Public Affairs poll also shows a hefty Bush lead among most likely voters: 51-46 (and 51-43 among all registered voters). Also note a few tidbits:
"Seven weeks before Election Day, the Republican is considered significantly more decisive, strong and likable than Kerry, and he has strengthened his position on virtually every issue important to voters, from the war in Iraq (news - web sites) and creating jobs — two sources of criticism — to matters of national security and values."
"Since the Democratic National Convention ended in late July, the president has erased any gains Kerry had achieved while reshaping the political landscape in his favor: Nearly two-thirds of voters think protecting the country is more important than creating jobs, and Bush is favored over Kerry by a whopping 23 percentage points on who would keep the United States safe."
"For the first time since Kerry wrapped up the nomination, the AP-Ipsos poll suggests that a majority of voters approve of the president’s job performance — 52 percent. The lifts him out of the danger zone for incumbents."
It goes on, with not one piece of bad news for Bush. Even the Democracy Corps (Carville-Greenberg) [PDF file] agree that Bush is ahead, 48-45.
"U.S. troops maintain databases of who they are fighting, the better to pick targets for raids or surveillance. ... Daily, the smart bombs blow apart houses used by the gangs for housing, headquarters or ammo dumps. The gangs have become very paranoid, believing there are spies everywhere. They are correct, but some of the most revealing spies are unreachable. Above Fallujah, U.S. warplanes and UAVs circle constantly, able to clearly view what is below, day or night. The telescopic bomb sights allow pilots to see what kind of weapon people are carrying, or whether women and children are in a crowd. The gangs have learned to never gather in large groups, at least not without plenty of women and children nearby for protection. But that doesn’t always work, for the AC-130 gunships can kill a man without harming someone ten feet away. The gangs fear that the American troops are coming back to Fallujah, and they are right. The not-so-secret plan is to go back in before the end of the year, kill all gang members that can be found, and then turn the city over to Iraqi troops, composed mostly of Shia and Kurds."
Ratherbiased is also following the Rather mischief. They note that CBS claims they are standing by the story, and quote Bernard Goldberg, the former CBS correspondent: "Assuming that at least some of the documents are indeed forgeries as they now seem. This is what happens when a news organziation operates in a bubble--a comfy liberal elite bubble. They WANTED the story to be true, so they apparently minimized or ignored any information that contradicted their pre-conceived notions."
This may be as good an understanding of the election as any I have seen.
I can only imagine the understated British manner of the English policeman (as reported by a friend):
"I like Bush because he is affable and if he says hes going to bomb you he is as good as his word and I think that counts for a lot in politicians today. Articulate he is not but he seems to get by.
"I never could warm to Clinton because he fudged everything which probably means he was a pretty good politician. He will always be remembered for his poor judgement where women were concerned.
"As for Kerry he seems blessed with neither charm, determination nor political savvy.
"I think the Bush dynasty is safe."
I haven’t blogged much this summer because I’ve been busy with academic deadlines; apologies in advance if I make it all up in one posting.
This presidential campaign has taken some strange turns -- who’d have thunk we’d need to know about the design of 1970s-vintage typewriters to decide how to vote -- but when it’s all said and done the most important issue in the election is how well the Bush Administration is prosecuting the war on terror. From that perspective, I think the most useful document to read before the election is an article to which Peter directed everyone’s attention a few weeks ago -- this article by Norman Podhoretz. Podhoretz’s article, though long, is probably the best justification of and apology for the Bush approach available in article-length form.
As of now, it doesn’t seem as if the Democrats are going to propose a serious response to the "Bush doctrine." So, I want to ask here whether the Bush doctrine can be outflanked on the right. In my judgment, the most serious rival has been set forth in a series of articles by Angelo Codevilla in the Claremont Review of Books -- particularly the first in the series, "Victory: What It Will Take to Win." Let me spell out some of the differences.
Podhoretz and Codevilla diagnose the same symptoms. Tyrants in the Arab world started using terror against the West as a standard tool of policy in the 1970s. The West didn’t respond for 3 decades, in part because it was focused on the Soviet Union, and in part because foreign-policy elites in Western countries are ideologically blinded to the fact that Islamicists really do hate the West and want to kill Westerners. That said, Podhoretz & Codevilla differ about the cure. Podhoretz takes a more Wilsonian approach -- use the promise of liberal democracy as an ideological weapon to take the fight into the heart of Islamism. Codevilla takes a more Machiavellian approach -- the best way to win the war on terror is not to democratize, but rather to kill the tyrants and regimes that support anti-US terrorism and make it clear to their replacements that they will receive the same treatment if they resort to terror themselves.
I think it’s really worthwhile to read both articles and ask which is right. Too bad we’re not having a campaign in which the following questions are being asked: First, how much of America is opposed to prosecuting the war on terror vigorously? Podhoretz paints a really vivid picture showing that the radical left has mobilized against the Iraq war much faster than it mobilized against Vietnam. For Codevilla, though, the "left" --the segment of America that is unreliable -- is far broader. It includes CIA and State Department types and university talking heads who subscribe to Wilsonian internationalist commitments. Those commitments, Codevilla believes, virtually guarantee that the U.S. will bungle occupations like the Iraq occupation.
Second, how much is American warmaking tied down by domestic disagreements? Podhoretz seems to say that the Republicans must win in 2004 to guarantee that we will see Iraq through. Codevilla would probably say, however, that the Bush approach is bad military strategy. It is easy to maintain public support while fighting an army in battle, much harder to sustain support for an occupation. Better to follow a strategy that frees the military to hit and run -- to focus on tyrant killing and not nation building.
Finally, how much can the US do to create a liberal democracy in the Middle East by active intervention? Podhoretz thinks it likely enough to make the risks worth taking. Codevilla is more pessimistic. For instance, he wonders with what right and on what basis America would presume to remake Iraq as one single country. After all, the country is less than 80 years old. That’s as old as the US was as of the Civil War, and our differences then weren’t nearly as intractable as the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites’ are now.
Yesterday was my daughters second day of kindergarten (where I am working as an aide) and my sons first day of pre-school (where he will go two days each week to allow me to work as an aide). During our morning drive to these schools I was listening to Laura Ingrahams radio program. She was talking about Beslans legacy and why we should absolutely expect something like that here. Needless to say, this only added to my anxiety. While my daughters school is in a private home, the pre-school is a large, Christian school on a major thoroughfare in Southern California. I found myself checking out all the exits and entrances in the school. "Does the security system work?" I found myself asking. My son had a great day and loved his teacher, but I cant wait until January when he can join us at the kingdergarten!
Although CBS is being talked about for "Rathergate" more than anything else at the moment, I should bring this new CBS Poll to your attention. Bush leads 49% to 42%. Basic confirmation of all other polls continues, in short. Also note that "The Bush ticket’s four point gain in support after the Convention comes in part from some weakening of Kerry support among Democrats, but especially from gains with independent voters. In this poll, for the first time since last spring, Bush holds a clear lead with Independents." Among Independent Bush leads Kerry, 48-39. Bush also has a 5 point edge over Kerry among women, and his lead with men is 15 points. Also note this: "Bush retains a clear advantage over his opponent in the strength of his support. 64 percent of Bush voters say they strongly support their candidate, compared to 43 percent of Kerry voters who say the same."
Every poll has Bush leading and having picked up substantial support in almost every category of voters. This is devastating news for Kerry’s prospects. Kerry is unable to become a serious candidate, it would seem. I have talked to a few people about this; I’m still trying to understand what his campaign is doing, what they are thinking, and what they are planning to do. As far as I can tell there is no thinking going on. They are beyond panic. Gloom has settled in. They understand that they have: (1) an inferior candidate, (2) they have no themes or issues that Kerry can address with any authority. No one is listening to him. Do you understand how serious and how weird this is? Look, everyone (I mean the Democrats) in Washington has always known that Kerry is an unserious person. (He also happens to be haughty, cold, and lazy). They now think they got this candidate by mistake: they were too focused on the nuances brought about by events in the primary season; would Iraq fall apart, would the economy slide, could the maniac Dean get the nomination, and Kerry was left standing. They knew even then that this was very problematic, but they thought it might work because since Kerry didn’t have any opinions of his own about anything or anyone, all the party leaders (read: Clinton and his people) thought they could influence him. And they did, on everything. He places Edwards on the ticket because he was told to, he talks about this and that because he was told to; he talks to Clinton the night before the surgery, and Clinton makes sure the world knows what advice he has given him, etc. Kerry puts up with it all. He does what he is told. Many in the party are now thinking that this may be a long term plan of the Clintons. Lose this election, what the Hell; even Hillary couldn’t have won it. And now--they are left hoping--that Kerry will not lose in a landslide. It is best for Hillary that he loses a close election. But, alas, everything is now confirming their worst suspicions: Kerry will lose in a landslide. Hence the gloom. Pay attention to polls from states like New Jersey, California, even New York. Once they start going South, (Kerry dropped 6 points in New Jersey, for example) honest and public despair will set in. Never mind the effect of the forged documents! It will take some effort to rebuild this moribund party, thats for sure; unless you just want to leave it as a plaything for the Clintons for the next decade or two.
Enjoying the nuanced shades of Southern France, John Zvesper continues to follow more serious affairs. His short op-ed on the Globespan opinion survey is worth a read. He thinks that those being surveyed may know more than the surveyors.
I don’t have anything civil to say about the possibility of these frogeries that John Moser references, but you can follow the whole thing with, of course, great links, over at Instapundit and Powerline, who--it would seem--may be responsible for breaking the story.
Drudge claims that CBS is launching an internal investigation and Dan Rather is mighty upset.
I can’t help noticing that some Demos are claiming that if this is a forgery than Karl Rove is responsible. This guy Rove is really something isn’t he. What a genius! What virtu!
John Zvesper points out that the Belmont Club has a good post on the CSIS "Progress or Peril" Report on Iraq. Note: "If anyone is hoping Iraq will become an infamous, unmitigated catastrophe, don’t hold your breath. This report does not predict it. If anyone is hoping that America will be able to leave Iraq in a couple of years to the tune of brass bands marching over a carpet of strewn flowers, don’t hold your breath either."
One of this weeks big news stories was CBSs procurement of documents purporting to show that the president, during his time in the Air National Guard, had been stripped of his pilot status for failing to meet performance standards. Now, it appears that these documents are forgeries, and fairly clumsy ones at that.
Independent document examiner Sandra Ramsey Lines said the memos looked like they had been produced on a computer using Microsoft Word software. Lines, a document expert and fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, pointed to a superscript -- a smaller, raised "th" in "111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron" -- as evidence indicating forgery.
"Im virtually certain these were computer generated," Lines said after reviewing copies of the documents at her office in Paradise Valley, Ariz. She produced a nearly identical document using her computers Microsoft Word software.
Wow. If you were going to all that trouble to forge a document from 1973, wouldnt you at least do it on a typewriter?
From the print version of the Atlantic comes this amusing story:
"Each election year since 1992 the presidential candidates wives have submitted cookie recipes to Family Circle magazine, whose readers then voted for a favorite. So far the cook-of winner has always been the next First Lady. Laura Bushs recipe this year is for oatmeal chocolate-chunk cookies, Teresa Heinz Kerrys for pumpkin spice. But the predictive effect of the cook-off may not hold this time, because Teresa recently revealed that she doesnt even like pumpkin-spice cookies; a panicked staffer submitted the recipe on her behalf after Family Circle determined that Teresas first recipe (for Yummy Wonders) simply didnt work."
"Yummy Wonders." I love that. Do you think that might have been a favorite back in her native Mozambique?
The Washington Post/ABC News has Bush at 52% and Kerry at 43%, among likely voters. It is 50-44 among registered voters. "President Bush emerged from his New York convention with a solid lead over Democratic challenger John F. Kerry, strengthening his position on virtually every important issue in the campaign and opening up a clear advantage on many of the personal characteristics that influence voters in presidential elections, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
For the first time in a Post-ABC News poll this year, a majority of probable voters say they plan to vote for Bush." And this:
"Among a smaller sample in 19 battleground states, where strategists believe the election will be decided, Bush holds a narrower lead among likely voters, 50 percent to 46 percent. Among all voters in these states, the two candidates are running even."
This is the Center for International and Strategic Studies study, called Progress or Peril: Measuring Iraqs Reconstruction, just published. I have only read into it. It is critical of the progress of our efforts.
George Will explains why even the bad news from Iraq or on the economy is bad news for Kerry. To be perfectly clear, there is no good news for Kerry; he is more of a hostage to events than is Bush. Will explains. The article by Jim Ceasar he notes in the Public Interest is not yet on line, it will be worth reading.
Realclearpolitics has the state polls up, easiest access (on the right). Bush up by nine in Ohio, fourteen in Arizona, six in Missorui, one in Pennsylvania, etc.
Here is John Kerrys speech in Cincinnati. It was tauted as a serious statement on foreign policy. You be the judge. I say this will not do, Mr. Kerry. Say something, say anything interesting. Say something that I disagree with, thats O.K. But, please make a point, preferably one that differs from the president, especially on matters having to do with peace and war. Maybe its just that you are so sophisticated that I am incapable of picking up the thrust of your argument. Im trying and Im waiting. But this will not do.
This is amusing. Drudge linked to this article from AFP on a World Poll. It turns out that a majority of people in 30 of 35 countries want Kerry to win the election. Many little tidbits in here (as if they mattered), including these:
"The only countries where Bush was preferred in the poll covering a total of 34,330 people and conducted in July and August were the Philippines, Nigeria and Poland." And "India and Thailand were divided." Canada prefers Kerry, 61% to 16% for Bush, and "Strongest negative views on US foreign policy were held in Germany, with 83 percent of those polled saying "worse" followed by France (81 percent), Mexico (78 percent), China (72 percent)..." Enough said. You get the point.
AFP runs this non-story about how Muslims in America are being discriminated against and are drifting toward Kerry (if not running). The whole thing is worth reading (to get your juices flowing for the day) but I especially like this: "Today, Muslims and Arabs are second-class citizens in the United States.
The parallels between the experiences of black Americans and Muslim Americans have not been lost on ordinary Muslims like computer engineers Suhl Kahn and Badar Hussain.
Blacks werent really Americans until 9/11, noted Kahn, in a wry observation on mainstream Americas shifting perceptions of us and them in the wake of the terror attacks on New York and Washington." Blacks werent Americans until 9/11! Did you get that.
I got my copy of the Claremont Review of Books yesterday and the first thing I read was a piece on Empire by
Carnes Lord. He reviews three books on the theme; worthy. I also read Algis Valiunas essay on Beethoven (not on line yet). Tremendous essay. Read it when you can. Here is the table of contents for the new issue.
Busy day today, will not be able to blog until this evening. Robert Alt is talking on Iraq today. You can listen to it live (click on his name). It should be good. By the way, I saw Madelline Albright (remember her, the secretary of state who ran after Arafat to beg him to return to a meeting that he left in a tizzy?) being interviewed this morning on Kerrys policy on Iraq and she was completely and utterly incomprehensible. It was embarrasing. I know, I know. Why am I surprised?
Christopher Hitchens has some insights on how some on the left ("Fellow travellers with fascism") are on the verge of justifying terrorist acts like the latest in Russia. His condemnation of the left-wing Nation is especially good. And Youssef M. Ibrahim asks, where are the Muslim condemnations of such terror as took place in Russia?
Congratulations to this month’s winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:
Donald R. Klotz, Jr.
Thanks to all who entered. An email has been sent to the winners. If you are listed as a winner and did not receive an email, contact Ben Kunkel. If you didn’t win this month, enter September’s drawing.
If you have the interest (and the time) you might want to see the Windsofchange for some good insights into the relationship between Chechnya and al Qaeda terrorism. There is a lot more at stake here than merely Chechnya, or North Ossetia. Long, but worthy, with many good links (at bottom).
NLT readers may recall that I predicted last week that if Kerry loses, liberals in full meltdown mode will compare the Swift Boat ads to the Williw Horton ads of 1988.
Prediction verified in todays Washington Post.
Just dont ask me for any stock tips, or look back at my New Years even predctions last December, some of which dont look very good right now (like certain dem nominee Howard Dean), though a couple of others are closer to the mark, such as media rumors about Dick Cheneys health and his tenuous place on the ticket.
The International Herald Tribune runs this op-ed on the recent terrorists action in Russia. "The recent wave of terrorist attacks in Russia has been remarkably brutal, aimed even at children. There was, however, another detail regularly picked up by commentators and analysts: the prominent role played by women." And this: "All this amounts to a major shift in the operational modus operandi of Islamic terrorists. The events in Russia suggest that women are now the preferred tool with which to carry out ’martyrdom operations.’ If sustained, this would be a truly remarkable development." Why women? The points are considered. One is practical; everyone expects young Islamic men to be terrorists, so use women. The second is more interesting: Given that women have an inferior role in Islamic societies, and have no role to play in public, why have them play the role of "heroic martyr"?
The authors respond: "Symbolically, their participation sends a powerful message, blurring the distinction between perpetrator and victim. Even among progressive Westerners, the notion that women are the ’weaker sex,’ and that their inclination is to create and protect life rather than destroy it, remains widespread. If women decide to violate all established norms about the sanctity of human life, they do so only as a last resort. The scholar Clara Beyler, who analyzed public reactions to suicide bombings, found that ’female kamikazes’ tended to be portrayed as ’the symbols of utter despair ... rather than the cold-blooded murderers of civilians.’ If a woman was involved, the media focused on ’what made her do it,’ not on the carnage that she had created. In other words, if the attacker was a woman, it was the bomber who became the victim, and whose grievances needed to be addressed."
The Boston Globe runs this long article on how Kerry (and his campaign) made Vietnam into an issue. Very interesting--Douglas Brinkley is omnipresent in the story--and slightly weird. You are given the impression that it all came about by chance, Brinkleys book, Rasmussen (the guy Kerry saved) reading the book, calling Kerry (whom he hadnt talked to since 1969) then the campaign taking it over, etc. Note the last paragraph (notice the Brinkley comment): "Whether this counterassault will put Vietnam squarely back in the win column for the Kerry campaign will become clear in the next eight weeks. Democrats, including advisers to Kerry, remain wary and uncertain, just as the candidate once was about telling his Vietnam story. Kerry decided to make Vietnam the centerpiece of his campaign for one clear reason: Imagine him without his military record -- he would just be another liberal from Taxachusetts, Brinkley said. With Vietnam, he could challenge Republicans on their strongest position -- standing with the military and with the American flag. Now youre seeing the negative effects of that."
The horror of the massacre at Beslan, Russia, (over 300 dead, 100 still missing) forces David Brooks to reflect on terrorism as the cult of death. There are no causes here, but pleasure taken in killing and dying. Along the way he chastizes those who do not understand this.
I find this irresistible from The Corner. Richard Brookhiser reports: "On C-SPAN yesterday, Harry Evans, the Brit-born publisher, said that when he revived the Modern Library imprint for Random House, the big sellers were Jane Austen and Nietzsche. I mentioned this to a clever friend, who had these thoughts: Ubermenschfield Park, Pride and Ressentiment, Also Sprach Emma Wodehouse,
and, my favorite:
If there were any truth universally acknowledged, it would be that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a transformation of all values."
I thought John Kerry was advised by Clinton to stick to the economy and domestic policy? The AP reports: "Democrat John Kerry accused President Bush on Monday of sending U.S. troops to the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time and said hed try to bring them all home in four years. Bush rebuked him for taking yet another new position on the war." Bush: "After voting for the war, but against funding it, after saying he would have voted for the war even knowing everything we know today, my opponent woke up this morning with new campaign advisers and yet another new position."
An eight year old threw a basketball at another third grader, was cited for disorderly conduct because he "got out of control and refused to go back to class." He was then handcuffed and put in jail. Lets assume that he did hit another kid with a ball and that he was unruly and behaved altogether badly. Pick the kid up, take him to a room, or even home, or call his parents, even spank him, if necessary, but call the cops on an eight year old, and throw him in the slammer? Amazing, if true.
The USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll has just been published. This is the USA Today story about the poll, and this is the poll. The poll was taken Friday through Sunday, shows Bush at 52%, Kerry at 45% and independent candidate Ralph Nader at 1% among likely voters. Before the convention, Bush led Kerry by 2 percentage in the same poll (Aug 23-25).
A few notable details: Bush’s approval rating is at 52%; it was 49% in the last Gallup poll. 59% said Bush has the personality and leadership qualities to be president, 51% for Kerry. 61% said Bush would handle questions of terrorism better, 34% for Kerry (last month Bush was leading this by only 10 points). 60% said Bush is the strong and decisive leader, while 32% said Kerry was.
The USA Today article concludes: "Bush received a modest bounce from his party’s convention, while Kerry’s standing sagged in the USA TODAY poll after the Democratic convention. The president is driving both sides of the ballot: eight of 10 of his supporters say they are voting for Bush; half of Kerry voters say they are voting against Bush."
Rasmussen reports that "In the sixteen-Battleground States that are likely to determine the winner of Election 2004, President Bush now leads Senator Kerry 48% to 45%.
A week ago, before the Republican National Convention, Kerry was ahead, 47% to 45%. In fact, Kerry has been ahead in the 16-Battleground States for most of the year."
Rasmussen also reports this: "-Fifty-two percent (52%) of Americans now believe that President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney will be re-elected this November. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 38% expect the Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards to emerge victorious.
Those numbers reflect a big change from the last time we asked the question. Following the Democratic Convention, data released to Premium Members showed that 47% of voters expected Kerry to win while 43% took the opposite view." In short, the post convention bounce is beginning to shape up.
About 60% of Iowans think that Bush will win the election. In a similar poll in July only 47% of Iowans thought Bush was going to win. And, perhaps even more significant, about a third of Demos and about two-thirds of the Independents think that Bush will win. David Yepsen, Des Moines political columnist, says this poll should raise a red flag for the Kerry camp here in Iowa. "This is a significant finding because a significant number of people think the president is going to pull this one out. Youll even have Kerry people in here saying hes going to win, so if youre the Democrats you have to get your people pumped up here a little bit."
USA Today considers the possibility of a tie in the Electoral College, thus throwing the election into the House. Its not going to happen, of course. Since Bush will keep his lead (will probably drop down to about 5 points) there will less talk of this perfect storm as the campaign goes on.
Philip Longman argues that fertility rates have something to do with politics, and fertility rates have something to do with religious conviction and with Bush supporters. Utah has the highest fertility rate in the nation. "Utah annually produces 90 children for every 1,000 women of child-bearing age. By comparison, Vermont -- the only state to send a socialist to Congress and the first to embrace gay unions -- produces only 49."
"High fertility also correlates strongly with support for George W. Bush. Of the top 10 most fertile states, all but one voted for Bush in 2000. Among the 17 states that still produce enough children to replace their populations, all but two -- Iowa and Minnesota -- voted for Bush in the last election. Conversely, the least fertile states -- a list that includes Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Connecticut -- went overwhelmingly for Al Gore. Women living in Gore states on average have 12 percent fewer babies than women living in Bush states."
The NY Times describes the "slow motion shakeup" of the Kerry campaign. Notice the irony that Bill Clinton, from his hospital room, (he is in surgery as I write, and I wish him well) has an hour and a half conversation--the night before his surgery--with Kerry in which he tells Kerry what to do in whats left of the campaign. He tells him that he has to make a clear distinction between himself and Bush, he must give people reasons to vote for him! It seems that more of Clintons people (and Hillarys) are being placed on the Kerry team (Sasso, Wolfson, Sosnik, Lokhart, Johnson, Greenberg, et al). Clinton told Kerry to do this, according to the NY Times: "In an expansive conversation, Mr. Clinton, who is awaiting heart surgery, told Mr. Kerry that he should move away from talking about Vietnam, which had been the central theme of his candidacy, and focus instead on drawing contrasts with President Bush on job creation and health care policies, officials with knowledge of the conversation said."
I find all this quite remarkable. But not only in the sense that there is a campaign shake-up; these things do happen when you are behind. What I find amazing is that--as far as I can tell--Kerry has no idea, and never has had an idea, on how to run his campaign. He simple takes suggestions from the Democratic elites, whether a Kennedy or a Clinton. They advise him to make his Vietnam experience an issue, then to take Edwards as his running mate, then not to respond to attacks on his Vietnam and post-Vietnam life, but not talk about his Senate career, then to hold a midnight rally after the GOP convention, then to start talking only about domestic issues, and so on. And everyone has been sucked in by the theory--pushed hard in the media--that there are no swing voters, that the electorate is polarized just like it was back in 2000. Clearly, if you assumed that, you assumed that 9/11 was unimportant, as was Bushs reaction to it. Not possible. The eleven point swing proves it. Does Kerry have any ideas of his own about his own campaign? Does he have any judgment?
Kay S. Hymowitz argues that there is a connection between marriage and self-government, self-reliance, as understood by the American Founders; she calls it republican marriage. Very thoughtful. David L. Tubbs & Robert P. George contend that the redefinition of marriage that the proponents of same sex want will have profound, and ill consequences, especially for women and children. Susan M. Shell, touching on Hymowitz’s argument, contends that the liberal individualism (of, say Locke) demands a limit political and moral limit, proponents of gay marriage to the contrary notwithstanding.
and Kojeves attempt to to establish a "Latin Empire":
"In 1945, Kojève understood that any attempt to rebuild France’s greatness as a nation-state would be delusional, given the hard realities of Anglo-American military supremacy as well as the Soviet fact. The latter decisively pushes Germany itself into the Anglo-American empire as a protection against the risk of absorption by the Soviets. Kojève seeks to convince de Gaulle that this is no reflection on France, since demographic and technological realities are such that no single nation-state in the contemporary world could ensure an adequate base in military power, that is without allying or affiliating itself with other states and peoples. Believing otherwise, according to Kojève, was Hitler’s downfall.
But, Kojève proposes, France can find political purpose and direction in an Anglo-American dominated postwar world by bringing into being and assuming leadership of a Latin Empire.
This empire would be a political and economic union of the Latin Catholic states of Europe, backed by an army — albeit one unable to stand up to Anglo-American military might (and probably not to Soviet strength either) if push came to shove, but formidable enough to establish a sphere of political independence from either the Anglo-American or the Soviet Empire in time of peace." Complex, long, but interesting, and not without policy implication for the EU,
and of our relations toward France and the EU.
John Fonte has a thoughtful note on citizenship in the USA as he worries about the elites trying to deconstruct our idea of citizenship and assimilation. But, he sees signs of a better understanding of citizenship (and the oath taken) in Congress.
In the middle of Richard Brookhiser’s essay on Hamilton in the City Journal we find the following paragraph: "Hamilton played a minor role in the battles for New York in 1776, although he was here. But he played a major role in 9/11, even though he wasn’t. Almost certainly, neither Usama bin Ladin nor Saddam Hussein has ever heard of him. Yet the reason al-Qaida and its helpers and patrons struck the World Trade Center was that the towers symbolized modern America—Hamilton’s America. The United States is the epitome of everything the terrorists and their supporters hate, and New York is the epitome of the epitome. New Yorkers vote; they dream of a reign of virtue, and obey brutes. New Yorkers work; they count their oil revenues, and rail at usury. New Yorkers worship as they will; they recite a Koran they do not understand. New Yorkers of all races are free; they ship the survivors of raids in the Sudan to the kitchens and bedrooms of Arabia. In each of these areas—politics, economics, fundamental law—Hamilton was on the side of liberty, enterprise, and human potential, and against a world of stasis and arbitrary rule."
Schroeder’s Social Democrats take a large hit in elections in the state of Saarland. They lose 14% of the vote; down to 30% from 44%, five years ago. This "was just the latest in a series of state election defeats for the Social Democrats since he won re-election two years ago. In elections to the European Parliament in June, the Social Democrats had their worst showing in a national ballot since World War II." Many fear that Schroeder will backtrack on his promises to cut welfare benefits, thereby plunging the country into a crisis. And note this on the looming crisis in both Germany and France. "With all eyes fixed on the American presidential elections, the scale of the looming crisis in France and Germany has gone largely unremarked. But it may so change the political geography of Europe that British arguments for and against the EU will be made redundant. A pervasive sense of decline in both countries, only partially justified but none the less virulent, is destabilising not just the structures of the EU - but the political systems of France and Germany." It could turn ugly.
Stephen M. Barr, uses Richard Dawkins latest book (A Devils Chaplain) to not only take apart his atheism and materialims, but to raise the fundamental questions that Darwinism cannot answer. He calls the quality of Dawkins thinking far from impressive: "To call it low-grade intellectual poodling would perhaps be too harsh; but it is certainly not high-grade." Barr is especially clear on the moral implications of Darwinism, and reflects on the right questions: free will, religion, God.
Newsweek surmises that Powell will stay on for a second term: Bush needs him, he will have more authority, he is worried that his reputation is at a nadir, etc. Notice the anti Bush slant in this short piece.
The king of Swaziland wants a 16 year old beauty queen to be his 13th wife. Life expectancy is 40, and about 40% of the adults are infected with AIDS. This is the CIA Factbook on Swaziland. The IMF has criticized Swaziland for luxury expenditures, but the king continues to build palaces for his wives.
NRO prints an e-mail from a reader who was at the Kerry rally in Steubenville; worth noting in full.
John Kerry came to Steubenville yesterday and quickly realized he was in the wrong city. Steubenville is a city where there are 6 Democrats for every 1 Republican, and the Steelworkers unions are alive and active. You would think this was solid John Kerry territory. The mob used to control Steubenville and now the unions think they do. Well, they are wrong.
The Kerry campaign first scheduled a visit to Steubenville two weeks ago but "scheduling conflicts" came up at the last minute. Oh, and did I mention that Kerry wanted to use a local gun range as a campaign stop, but the owner turned him down? And that the Fire Department Union President told the Kerry campaign that not only would he not organize the union to support Kerry at the rally, but that he was supporting President Bush! The Kerry campaign took for granted that this area was sown up. Mistake number one. So they rescheduled the campaign trip when Franciscan University was back in session. Mistake number two.
Before Kerry arrived there was a huge pro-life march led by Franciscan University students, 500 strong. "You cant be Catholic and pro-abortion", read some of their signs. Students and members of local Catholic parishes were full of energy and FoxNews reported that this was the largest protest against Kerry outside of the Democratic Convention. Just picture 500 pro-lifers marching from their college campus to meet Kerry. Where else but in Steubenville, Ohio! Though the Franciscan University did not organize the event, it is well known for its orthodox Catholic education which encourages students to put their faith into action. These students simply cherish their Catholic faith and could not stand to let Kerry use their faith as a political prop. I am proud of my alma mater.
The Kerry campaign not only made a mistake in their timing, but they also chose to hold the rally in a public park which should be open to all the public. Mistake number three. The police chief, sheriff, and mayor all agreed with me that protesters and their signs would be allowed inside the Kerry rally site. Freedom of speech is alive and well here in Ohio. The Kerry campaign flipped out!
So, now add another 500 local Bush supporters to the Kerry rally. They tried to turn up the music but they could not drown us out. According to the Herald Star (local press), "The crowd, estimated by officials as 3,500 strong, was almost split in half with people for and against the Massachusetts senator." John Kerry must know he has a problem when over 15% of his audience was booing him. We were respectful and did not heckle him - but upon arrival and when he sought our applause he got something he didnt expect. As the press arrived a feisty nine year old little girl began shouting, "We want Bush!", and we all chanted along. The campaign staff was beside themselves. This is history in the making! Even places like Steubenville are not supporting John Kerry. He is in serious trouble.
My friends, John Kerry will not be coming back to Steubenville. Kerry was visibly shaken when he received boos from the audience.....
There is much talk in the Kerry camp about what should be done. Massive confusion rules the day. Whatever confidence they had a month ago, has dissapeared. They now know that if the election turns on the war, Kerry cant win (unless, as I have always maintained, Iraq falls into a civil war); his attempt to have his convention showcase his record and heroism in Vietnam--to make him acceptable as commnder in chief-- didnt work. They are now thinking about 1) either focusing all their attention on domestic policies, especially the economy; 2) having Kerry replace Howard Dean the anti-war candidate and call for an immediate troop pullout from Iraq; 3) or, somehow combining #s 1 and 2 by not only being critical of Bushs Iraq policy (especially post-war), but by trying to show that Bushs war on terror has suffered because of Iraq. This is the only possible route; number 1 and 2 will not work. Stuart Rothenberg sees something of the problem and thinks that Kerry has to emphasize domestic issues. "He still has to argue that he has a record that shows he can protect this country. But for a while, its been nothing but that. They have to get back to their strengths. If the election is about the war and terrorism and Bushs leadership, John Kerry is going to lose." Adam Naguerneys report in todays New York Times indicates something of this problem; he interviewed many Democrats (Graham, Rendell, Dodd, et al) and the comments are revealing; all of them, one way or another state that Kerry has lost control of the ball, he has to get tough, etc. I thought Grahams remark was especially insightful: "Its become a referendum on the challenger." Some fix.
Los Angeles Times, one of the great Liberal dailies in the country, is not shy about being unbalanced. After both Newsweek and Time show Bush up by eleven points after the GOP convention, the Times entitles the newstory this way: "In the Home Stretch, Its Bush by a Neck." And the first paragraph: "President Bush appears to have won at least a modest surge from the Republican National Convention this week. But as the campaign shifts into high gear at its traditional Labor Day starting line, Bush also faces a new challenge: an angry, energized Kerry who said he was taking off the gloves and punching back."
Compare this to their report on Aug 3, just after the Demo Convention, when Kerry
showed "at best a modest uptick" (at best a one or two point gain in polls). The Times explained then that because the number of swing voters was so small no real gain was to be expected. So, what happened to the lack of swing voters after the GOP convention?
Martha Nussbaum does not approve of shame, but Roger Kimball does. Good essay from The New Criterion. "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself."
Flash news! The Archbishop of Canterbury calls the terrorist acts in Russia "evil." He recommends that terrorists, when caught, be given life sentences because “they were performing perhaps the most evil kind of action that we can imagine.” And he says that his faith has been tested.
Stephen Hayes thinks that Kerrys midnight speech in Ohio, just after Bush convention speech is worth looking at very carefully: "Kerry sought to portray himself as an aggrieved but righteous politician, the innocent target of vicious Republican attacks. This is a substantial rewriting of history. Kerry and his campaign staff have been every bit as biting in their criticism--having, prior to this, called Vice President Cheney unfit for office and accused President Bush of using family connections to avoid serving in Vietnam. But the gamble for Kerry is not that reporters will point out the many harsh attacks his campaign has leveled at the Bush administration. The media wouldnt be so inconsiderate. The risk for Kerry is that in a campaign devoted largely to convincing voters of his strength, assuming the mantle of victim does little to inspire confidence.
For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and my fitness to serve as commander in chief, Kerry complained.
He later added:
Worst of all, George Bush misled America when he took us to war in Iraq.
That last line may have been the most significant one in the speech because it indicates that Kerry has veered sharply back to the Howard Dean/Al Gore/Michael Moore wing of the Democratic party."
John Kerry made a campiagn stop in Mansfield last night (about fifteen miles from here). A reader who was there writes:
"I was at the game last nite when Kerry showed up. I was in the stadium guarding a block of seats so I didn’t go out to see him. Neither did too many others. It was an amazing lack of response. When I finally climbed to the top of the stadium to see what was going on, there were about as many staff around Kerry as there were local residents. Most of the people coming into the game were ignoring him.
This link from the paper shows Kerry giving some pointers to the Tygers. The home team went on to loose 7 to 34."
Kerry also stopped at nearby Bellville. About 2,000 people were there.
I missed this one from a few days ago. It is irresistible, perhaps even worse than Mario Cuomo trying to argue that Lincoln would support Kerry. Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times thinks that Shakespeare would be a Kerry supporter: "The paramount lesson in Shakespeares plays is that the world is full of nuances and uncertainties, and that leaders self-destruct when they are too rigid, too sure of themselves or - Mr. President, lend me your ears - too intoxicated by moral clarity." Read the whole thing. I just have to say that this is remarkably stupid stuff, Kristoff should be embarrassed.
Yesterday afternoon I mentioned the Time poll that showed Bush with 52% to Kerry’s 41% (You should look at the details within the poll, all to Bush’s advantage). The pro-Democratic talking heads (and some news anchors, of course), were downplaying the Time Poll, saying it could be a fluke, and so on. Well, das ist alles, baby. Now a Newsweek poll has been released that confirms the lead. Newsweek has Bush ahead 52 to 41 (without Nader it is Bush 54 to 43). But it gets even better for Bush: "The poll was taken over two nights, both before and after Bush’s acceptance speech. Respondents who were queried only on Friday, after Bush’s speech, gave the Republican a 16-point lead over Kerry." That’s a sixteen point lead. But sticking with the 52-41 lead that is an 11 point bounce. I was wrong in predicgting something between 5 and 7. Sorry, my pessimism got the best of me, temporarily. It won’t happen again.
"The poll shows that Bush and Cheney have gained ground, and now lead, on almost all key election issues: The president’s approval rating is back over the halfway mark (52 percent, with 41 percent disapproving) after having slipped to 45 percent in July; his favorability ratings (55 percent favorable versus 40 percent unfavorable) are the highest they have been all year, after having fallen to 48 percent unfavorable in the poll at the end of the DNC. And with perceptions of the president climbing back from a low over last month, more registered voters say they would like to see Bush reelected than not (53 percent versus 43 percent)—the most favorable ratio he has had since July, 2003."
And there is more: "As Bush’s numbers climb, those of his challenger appear to have sunk to their lowest point this year. Solid majorities of registered voters now view the president as personally likeable (67 percent), someone who ’says what he believes and not just want people want to hear’ (66 percent), as a strong leader (65 percent) and someone who cares about people (53 percent)—which is significant for the ’compassionate conservative’ who had previously been struggling to appear empathetic."
This is what we used to call the THE BIG MO.
I have been seeing bits and pieces of the reporting of barbarism in Beslan. Shocking. I cried. A thousand hostages taken by about thirty terrorists, hundreds of them children. It is not clear exactly what happened at the end, but one reporter said he thought that some children were attempting to get away and bombs attached to the roof of the gymnasium blew and hell arrived. Over 300 people died, about half of them children. Here is a report on the terror. I also noticed that, at least the first day or so, CNN continued to refer to the evil-doers as "activists." Here is another story, and another. I want to write something pithy and moving about this, to talk about the darkness of it all. I can’t do it. My wet eyes won’t let me. Look to the Belmont Club for insight and eloquence. Note he points out that the European Union has requested from Russia an explanation of how such a huge loss of life could have happened. The EU foreign minister said he
"would like to know from the Russian authorities how this tragedy could have happened."
Glenn Reynolds (for MSNBC) has a few thoughts on the inept Kerry campaign. The piece is entitled, "John Forbes Dukakis." And this piece by Susan Estrich (she had something to do with the Dukakis campiagn, didnt she) proves Reynolds point. Estrich is mad as a wet hen, wants all other Demos to get as mad as she is, wants to fight "fire with fire, mud with mud, dirt with dirt." The trouble with Democrats, she maintain, is that "we arent mean enough." She wants a meaner campaign. Yup, that will do it. Sure. Mark Steyn looks at Kerys midnight speech argues that Kerry just cant take the heat: "The way things are going, Democrats seem likely to be launching the post-election catastrophic-defeat vicious-recriminations phase of the campaign round about Sept. 12."
Richard Brookhiser writes a very thoughtful piece on Kerry and focuses on the Vietnam (and after) experience question, but not the way it has ordinarily been addressed. The title reflects the point, "Kerrys Murky Past, Our Uncertain Future." He concludes: "Mr. Kerry was sickened by his Vietnam experiences—if he really had them. He was a raging leftist—though he now runs as a warrior. He says he would see the struggle in Iraq—which he has, at different times, supported and opposed—through to the end, and we may believe him. No President comes in with a clean slate; half the job is serving the drinks your predecessor mixed.
Yet Iraq is only phase two of a war that will have many phases. If Mr. Kerry had some clear vision of its future, we could debate that. If he had some clear vision of his Vietnam past, we could debate that, too. The Terror War will have to be fought by Democrats as well as Republicans. Is John Kerry the way to begin that experiment?"
I have a question that I hope someone around here can answer. When a relative handful of folks--mostly anti-abortion activists--showed up to protest the Democratic National Convention in Boston they were confined to a small area surrounded by chain-link fence and razor wire. The threat of terrorism was cited as the reason for this, and I heard nary a peep--except from the protesters themselves--about this being a denial of constitutional rights. But a month later, of course, radicals of every shade traveled from all over the country to New York City to protest the Republican National Convention, and not only were they permitted to march, but they were able to hover outside the convention hall and harass GOP delegates.
Has anyone made an issue of the obvious disparity in the way the two groups were treated? Why hasnt there been more of an outcry over this?
I had dinner with some friends in Zanesville last night, watched the President’s speech at the convention, then taped a panel discussion this morning on the convention for ONN for Sunday’s broadcast. Just got back to the office. Lot of driving, lot of thinking (with the help of my trusty satellite radio). The Democratic consultant (Why am I not a consultant, these guys all dress better?) who was my opponent on the show revealed a couple of things about how this campaign is going. Wouldn’t one normally say that the campaign is starting now, after the second convention? Rather, I think I’m going to argue that it is the start of the end of the campaign. Let me explain. This Demo consultant was in a tither. He was perspiring and nervous and ill at ease in this political world. I tried to engage him in pleasant small talk to get him to relax, and he wouldn’t have it. He was utterly incapable of saying anything interesting or analytical about what is going on with Bush and Kerry. He could only talk about the personal relationship between bin Laden and the Bush family and that’s why Bush didn’t mention bin Laden by name last night. Oil, money, Halliburton, deep, deep conspiracies. I was amazed because he did this both in public and in private. We are talking about black helicopters here folks! I noted this more quickly than I may have otherwise because I had heard pieces of Kerry’s midnight speech
in Springfield, Ohio (just down the road) on the radio, and also saw a bit of it on TV this morning. This is the talk in which Kerry--not even having heard Bush’s talk at the convention, I venture to suggest--says that Bush is not fit to command, and in which Kerry says something like, "All hat and no cattle." I have learned that recognizing extreme folly is often very difficult because it is (somehow) inexplicable; entirely unreasonable. Both Kerry and the Democratic consultant fall into this mode. Madness is surprising and you are inclined to say it ain’t so when you think you glimpse it. I kept saying it ain’t so when I heard Kerry, and said the same as I was sitting next to the Demo in Columbus. What is going on here? Maybe it is as simple as Mark Steyn’s understanding in the current paper National Review when he says that Kerry is a parody of himself: "Groucho Marx once observed that an audience will laugh at an actress playing an old lady pretending to fall downstairs, but for a professional comic to laugh, it has to be a real old lady." That is the Kerry campaign. Steyn says that watching Mondale or Dukakis fall down is not completely satisfying. These guys are average. But not John Kerry. He was made for the role: "a vain thin-skinned droning blueblood with an indestructible sense of his own status but none at all of his own ridiculousness." Bingo. The campaign is over, the outcome is a given. I kind of regret this because I was looking forward to it. By the way, I thought Bush’s speech was perfect. And one more thing, note this Time magazine poll. Time says that there is now a "clear leader" in the campaign. It shows that Bush has opened a double digit lead, Bush has 52% to Kerrys 41%. Im going home.
One notes this morning the furious amount of "ventriloquist journalism" (wherein reporters find people to give quotes to back up their preferred story line) still going on over the Zell Miller speech. I have lost count of all the stories, but note that the ventriloquists favorite sock-puppet, John McCain, has been enlisted in the cause of running down Zell.
I just finished listening to President Bush’s speech, and I think that it was quite powerful. The beginning was a laundry list of domestic policy. This needed to be done, but was quite frankly less important than what came after it. As much as the Democratic strategists continue to talk about medicare and social security--issues about which they traditionally have an electoral edge--those are back burner issues this year. This is a war-time election. The Democrats know this, which is why they nominated Kerry--who despite his weaknesses is the strongest candidate they could find on national security. And so, the second half of the President’s speech was a soliloquy by a Commander in Chief describing his vision for foreign policy.
And the President’s vision is bold. Here is a taste:
Others understand the historic importance of our work. The terrorists know. They know that a vibrant, successful democracy at the heart of the Middle East will discredit their radical ideology of hate. They know that men and women with hope, and purpose, and dignity do not strap bombs on their bodies and kill the innocent. The terrorists are fighting freedom with all their cunning and cruelty because freedom is their greatest fear -- and they should be afraid, because freedom is on the march.
I believe in the transformational power of liberty: The wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom. As the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq seize the moment, their example will send a message of hope throughout a vital region. Palestinians will hear the message that democracy and reform are within their reach, and so is peace with our good friend Israel. Young women across the Middle East will hear the message that their day of equality and justice is coming. Young men will hear the message that national progress and dignity are found in liberty, not tyranny and terror. Reformers, and political prisoners, and exiles will hear the message that their dream of freedom cannot be denied forever. And as freedom advances -- heart by heart, and nation by nation -- America will be more secure and the world more peaceful.
But the most moving part of the speech came in the last few minutes, as Bush described meeting with the families of the fallen:
These four years have brought moments I could not foresee and will not forget. I have tried to comfort Americans who lost the most on September 11th -- people who showed me a picture or told me a story, so I would know how much was taken from them. I have learned first-hand that ordering Americans into battle is the hardest decision, even when it is right. I have returned the salute of wounded soldiers, some with a very tough road ahead, who say they were just doing their job. I’ve held the children of the fallen, who are told their dad or mom is a hero, but would rather just have their dad or mom.
And I have met with parents and wives and husbands who have received a folded flag, and said a final goodbye to a soldier they loved. I am awed that so many have used those meetings to say that I am in their prayers to offer encouragement to me. Where does strength like that come from? How can people so burdened with sorrow also feel such pride? It is because they know their loved one was last seen doing good. Because they know that liberty was precious to the one they lost. And in those military families, I have seen the character of a great nation: decent, and idealistic, and strong.
As he said these words, he visibly choked back the tears, and many viewers undoubtedly did the same.
The speech did exactly what it needed to do: it showed the President as a resolute Commander in Chief at a time when security is the election issue. Its one failing was that the less interesting policy details may have caused viewers to tune out before Bush got to the more interesting and important foreign policy section of the speech. For those who missed it, however, the latter lines will inevitably be replayed and quoted. Now that the speech is done, all that is left is confirmation of the post-Convention bounce.
Rod Drehers opinion at The Corner on the Zeller speech is worth noting: "For the record, I dont think there will be a more compelling speech given this fall on Bushs behalf than the one Zell Miller delivered last night. He would surely resent the comparison, but Zell blitzkrieged Kerry like Sherman did Atlanta. I kept thinking last night: this is like listening to my dad in 1979, when the rage and contempt we Southerners felt toward Jimmy Carter for his weakness, which brought on national humiliation, drove so many Democrats to the Reagan camp. If you ask me, I think Zell just dug up the stinking corpse of the effete Carter presidency, and rubbed it all over John Kerry. On the national security issue, and to a lesser extent the God thing, Zell reminded Reagan Democrats why they became GOP voters in the first place. If the Republicans are smart, theyd turn Zell loose this fall in Ohio, Pennsylvania and other battleground states where there were a lot of Reagan Democrats a generation ago."
Joseph Knippenberg reflects on this: "This past Sunday, on the eve of the Republican National Convention, Bill Clinton preached a sermon from the pulpit of New York’s Riverside Church, long a leading pillar of liberal Protestantism. It was classic Clinton, and I’m sure the audience was moved. The sermon was part of a campaign—long urged by former Clinton aides Mike McCurry and John Podesta, and taken up by Riverside Church—for the Democrats and religious progressives to reclaim the language of faith from conservatives. Clinton always was, and still is, better at this than John Kerry. He knows his Bible—Old and New Testaments—and, unlike Howard Dean, he knows which is which." There is much more, read it.
A reader brough this to my attention, and I thank him. Rasmussen tracking poll has Bush up 49% to 45%.
"This is the first time that Bush has reached the 49% mark in the Tracking Poll since Kerry wrapped up the Democratic nomination on Super Tuesday (March 2). Its also the first time Bush has been up by four points since April 26." Note: "Three-quarters of the interviews for todays report were completed after Mondays Convention speeches by John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Half were completed after the Tuesday speeches by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Laura Bush."
A Zogby Poll notes this: "The convention may be giving the leaners a nudge.
Nearly three-quarters of people who have identified themselves as leaning toward voting for President Bush -- but not yet certain they will -- say they favor him more strongly now, based on what they have seen of or heard about the Republican convention."
The Anneberg Survey finds that Bush’s job approval rating rose in August from July, from 50% to 53%.
The Belmont Club has been considering the meaning of both the recent Russian terror attacks, as well as the issues the French hostage situation in Iraq. He has more than this, just click down, but I like this paragraph:
"In many ways, the Russian policy is exactly the reverse of the American. They are less squeamish about retaliating but lack the Bush doctrine of creating functioning democracies to replace the chaotic sinkholes of Islamism. To a certain extent, the Russian and French policies are identical. They draw a curtain over the putrefaction fermenting in certain societies, dismissing them as a natural state or in terms of cultural relativism, as situations in which civilization -- I use the word consciously -- would be ill advised to interfere. But it has become apparent that terrorism is an externality of rotting societies, an effluent, which if unchecked will poison the whole world. No cologne, not even French perfume, will long prevail against it. Civilization cannot hang back but must step forward, if not for love then for survival.
Liberals, Democrats and critical conservatives may question whether President Bushs forward strategy for freedom has been carried out well or botched; but its conceptual rightness is indisputable and its undertaking long overdue."
Tom Bevan has some comments on Zell Miller’s speech last night. Miller was angry, but not mean, Bevan argues. Yet the Demos will be playing on the anger, "which in addition to being the smart thing to do may be the ONLY thing they can do to try and fend off Miller’s devastating assault last night. Jay Carson, a Democratic spokesman, is quoted in today’s NY Times saying of Miller, ’This angry old man is scaring the children.’" Also this:
"The Dems will get an assist from some members of the mainstream media, many of whom I’m sure were shocked - shocked! -and appalled by what they saw and heard from Miller last night. (Incidentally, Ann Curry from the Today show just reported in her news wrap that Miller suggested John Kerry wanted to arm US soldiers with spit balls and Campbell Brown said Miller called Kerry ’unpatriotic.’ Is that really what he did, ladies?)"
Here is Rich Lowry’s opinion at The Corner: "I could be wrong, but I think the whole thing was too hot. Now it may be that people find that refreshing and that it plays as plain-spoken authenticity (I know most conservatives will find it that way, but I’m thinking of “puruadables”). McCain’s anger for a long time worked to his advantage in 2000 for exaclty this reason. Its just seems a risk for Zell to have taken this route. Why risk having him seem a bit unhinged, and why focus exclusively on national security, when presumably he could have turned on the Southern charm to explain how his party has left him on everything important--foreign policy, taxes, and social issues--by moving too far left? Wouldn’t this have been a better pitch for independents and moderate Democrats, when you have the wonderful opportunity of having a Democrat willing to make your case for you? On the other hand, this was an all-out bid to make Kerry radioactive on national security, and if it has any success at all, it might be worth it. In any case, for better or worse, this will be a long-remembered speech."
Michael Barones first paragraph: "Until Wednesday night, I was under the impression that Andrew Jackson had died in 1845. But on Wednesday night he appeared at the podium of the Republican National Convention under the guise of Georgia Senator and former Governor Zell Miller. In the accents of the mountain South, with a directness that left his sentiments unmistakable, with a hatred for what he considers betrayal of America and out of a fierce love of family and country Miller delivered the keynote for this Republican convention in the same place as he had delivered one of the keynotes for Bill Clinton’s convention in New York 12 years before."
Reuters reports: "The Fox News cable channel made a bit of television history by drawing more viewers than any of the Big Three broadcast networks on the opening night of major coverage of the Republican convention, according to figures issued on Wednesday.
Fox News presentation of Tuesdays speeches by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and first lady Laura Bush drew 5.4 million viewers, more than broadcasters ABC, CBS or NBC.
That marked what is believed to be the first time a cable channel has grabbed the biggest audience for a telecast of a single event covered by all the networks, Fox said.
Combined viewership during the 10 oclock hour in which the Big Three joined cable outlets Fox News, CNN and MSNBC in carrying Tuesdays proceedings totaled nearly 22.2 million, according to Nielsen Media Research.
That was up from the 18.5 million six-network total for the first night of the Democratic convention in July, when former President Bill Clinton addressed the delegates.
NBC was a close second behind Fox with 5.1 million viewers, followed by CBS with 4.4 million and ABC with 4.3 million. NBCs sister cable network, MSNBC, was fifth with 1.6 million viewers, and CNN was dead last with 1.5 million."
You might want to glance at Ratherbiased from time to time. They watch CBS for you "so you dont have to." Useful.
Zell Miller’s speech was something to behold. What do you call such a speech? Stemwinder, barn burner, electrifying? My son Johnny hasn’t been paying much attention to the convention, he was upstairs doing homework (so he says). Five minutes into Zell’s speech I told him to come down and listen. After all, how often does a sixteen year old boy get a chance to listen to a political speech out of the 1820’s or 1830’s? He listened intently, and then said something like "that was the coolest thing I ever heard." (He is a disadvantaged kid, he hasn’t been to enough of my public speeches!) Miller made clear that the election is about the war, and Kerry’s record should make people doubt that he can handle it. It’s that simple. No ribbon tossing, no questioning of purple hearts, just looking at the record. And this, it turned out really made the Liberals (read media) angry. Joe Klien was apoplectic: the GOP is angry, the tone of the GOP convention has changed into beating up on Kerry as a person, they are distorting; he compared this to the "beningn and positive" Democratic convention. Aaron Brown (with Howard Kurtz’s help) was bemoning the fact that no one listens to one another (read the people don’t listen to us anymore). The media is now angry that they are being ignored, the political conversation used to be civil (because the dumb people used to listen to us, we had a soothing and calming effect) but now with radio talk shows and blogs the national conversation is shrinking. There are too many opinions out there. No one is listening to one another. Democrats watch CNN, and Republicans watch FOX; it didn’t used to be that way, they lament. And so on. Quite revealing, all this. It proves that the liberal media is collapsing, and they are beginning to feel the collapse, although not yet fully comprehend it.
But perhaps the most revealing thing was the tet-a-tet between Chris Matthews and Zell Miller. Matthews was livid and wouldn’t let Zell talk. He accused Zell of putting up straw men, of fighting the last war, of participating in the rhetoric of complete destruction. I saw the whole thing. It was amazing. Zell actually said something like this at one point: "I am very sorry that we are no longer in an age of dueling Chris because I would challenge you." Zell insisted that Matthews let him talk. You asked me here as your guest, let me answer your questions; I shouldn’t have come, etc. And then came the focus group with the Frank Luntz swing voters that Hayward refers to below. That was amazing! Even I was surprised by how the vast majority of "swing voters" liked the speech and thought that Zell was right! And they loved Zell when he listed the weapons systems that Kerry had voted against ending in the spitball remark. The graph reached eighty percent. Even Luntz was surprised. Maybe Gallup is wrong when he says that there are only 2% undecided voters. Maybe there aren’t any. Watch the media’s (read Kerry campaign) reactions to all this. It should be fun.
Zell Millers keynote was the studliest political speech I have heard in a long time. The left and the media (but I repeat myself) are doing their best to turn it into Buchanans 1992 speech, calling it "divisive," etc. However, Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit notes the following very significant factoid:
The [Frank] Luntz swing-voter focus group loved Zell Millers speech. They liked it that he was a Democrat and an ex-Marine talking about national security. And the "spitballs" line did well.
Re: Peters post below on Paul Ehrlichs population bomb being a wet firecracker (as I have always called it). I recently taped a PBS episode of "Uncommon Knowledge" with Ehrlich out in California; it is not scheduled to air until November, and Ill try to let NLT readers know when it is on. But several observations on the Great Doomster:
In person Ehrlich is a very nice and engaging man, not at all nasty like his prose sometimes is. He freely admitted that he has made many wrong predictions in the past, and also that he is a Malthusian Doomsayer. Most environmentalists run like scalded dogs from the labels "Doomsayer" or "Malthusian."
I was struck that perhaps this is all a pose to sell books, win prizes cash prizes from idiots like Ted Turner and the MacArthur Foundation (which he has done). But his day has past, even before the NY Times realized it. Keep in mind, back when Peter was in school reading The Population Bomb, Ehrlich was a mega best-selling author with front line publishers like Simon & Schuster; he was a frequent guest on the Tonight Show with Johhny Carson. Today he publishes his alarmist tomes with Island Press, a small environmental press. And have you even seen him on C-SPAN lately? Now he has to slum it with the likes of me on a small syndicated PBS show where he gets smacked around by both me and the host. Its all over for these guys.
Since Im making commercial announcements, I am scheduled to be on CNBC tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 6:50 am (eastern) to debate someone from the League of Conservation Voters on the environment and the election. Should be fun.
You can tell at four months if your child will be a "Clint Eastwood" type, according to Jerome Kagan, a retired Harvard psychologist. His new book ("The Long Shadow of Temperament") is outlined in this Boston Globe story.
"At 4 months old, plop your baby into a bouncy seat and present him with a series of colorful new toys - ones he’s never seen - one after the other, for 20 seconds at a time. Does he cry madly and shake his arms and legs? If yes, be forewarned: Your baby may be at higher risk for ’developing serious anxiety over social interactions’ a decade down the road.
If he screams at 4 months, he’ll be more likely to stay home from junior-high dances. If he screams, he’ll be more likely to answer ’no’ when a psychologist asks, at age 11, ’Are you happy most of the time?’
It won’t really matter if you cuddled your child as an infant or showered him with play dates as a toddler. He’ll probably never be a brash CEO or politician, although he might become a brilliant solitary researcher or a melancholy poet.
On the other hand, if your baby just stares calmly at the toys, he will be calm on dates but also slightly more likely to become a delinquent, because parental threats won’t faze him."
There is a lot more (Pinker, Bowlby’s "attachment theory," etc.)
and the article, although not deep, is just good and long enough to be interesting. It must be said that it is fun watching people limit their thinking by depending on modern science.
This is not the first time I have mentioned such matters, but here it is again, a newstory on the world-wide population decline in The New York Times. Paul Ehrlich was stuffed down our throats in several courses when I was an undergraduate. It was, of course, a political act warning of catastrophe. A few lines from the piece:
"As late as 1970, the world’s median fertility level was 5.4 births per woman; in 2000, it was 2.9. Barring war, famine, epidemic or disaster, a country needs a birthrate of 2.1 children per woman to hold steady.
The best-known example of shrinkage is Italy, whose women were once symbols of fecundity partly because of the country’s peasant traditions and partly because of its Roman Catholicism, which rejects birth control. By 2000, Italy’s fertility rate was Western Europe’s lowest, at 1.2 births per woman. Its population is expected to drop 20 percent by midcentury.
Italy plummeted right past wealthy, liberal, Protestant Denmark, where women got birth control early. Denmark was below population replacement level in 1970, at 2.0 births per woman, and slid to 1.7 by 2001. In Europe’s poorest country, Albania, where rural people still live in armed clan compounds, the 1970 rate of 5.1 births per woman fell to 2.1 in 1999." And:
"Alarmed by the trends, many countries are paying citizens to get pregnant. Estonia pays for a year’s maternity leave. The treasurer of Australia, Peter Costello, introduced $2,000-per-baby subsidies in that country’s 2004 budget. He told his fellow citizens to ’go home and do your patriotic duty tonight.’"
This is the CNN story on the shake-up. "It could be too late," one Democrat is quoted as saying. Not everyone quoted agrees, but you dont have to be an overly careful reader of texts to know that the situation is critical. Donors and elected officials are asking too many questions, are raising too many concerns. Perhaps that explains why Senator Daschles campaign is running ads showing him with President Bush. Thune has 50% while Daschle has 48% in the latest polls, by the way. Also see this Boston Globe piece on how Kerry was in a huddle with advisors in Nantucket yesterday. But, note the caution put out by J. McIntyre at Instapundit. He warns Republicans not to get cocky, the dynamics of the race can chnage very quickly. A couple of lines:
"With the Presidents job approval back around 50% , there is almost no chance Kerry can win the election in a big way. Right now there seem to be roughly three broad options: 1) a big Bush win (4-7 points), 2) Bush in a squeaker or 3) Kerry in a squeaker.
But if this election cycle has taught us anything, it is that the dynamic of this race can change quickly. As one who felt pretty good in December that Howard Dean was the almost certain Democratic nominee it would be a mistake to make too much of two-three week trend change.
Republicans should not become too cocky. Bush has had a good run and there is roughly a 33% chance that the poll bump from this convention and the 9/11 anniversary may be enough to TKO John Kerry. But there is also at least a 50% chance that before the first debate we will be staring at the same 50/50, dead heat race that weve more or less had since Kerry captured the nomination."
Last night, Peter Jennings concluded his broadcast:
[T]he one thing well leave you with tonight was what Giuliani said last night. He being a great New York Yankees fan said the Republican partys future was like the Yankees, maybe a little glib to conclude with but tonight the Yankees got beaten by Cleveland, 22-0. Im Peter Jennings.
Drawing cheers, laughs and even leading a brief "New York, New York" chant, Giuliani reveled in the minute-long standing ovation from the Republicans. "It feels like a Yankee game," he quipped, after chants of "Rudy! Rudy!"
On this tragic day, I must rise to the defense of my beloved Yankees. I was at the Yankee game last week when Cleveland squeaked out a narrow win against NY (after dropping the first two games to the Yankees). Upon leaving the stadium, I was greeted by a Cleveland fan who expressed their opinion about NY. My response to the Cleveland fan then and now is simple: Ill see you in the post-season. But of course I wont, because Cleveland will not make it to the post-season. It is a terrible thing to see ones team beaten the way the Yankees were admittedly pummeled last night, but that is one game in an exceedingly long season. The season is a marathon, and the Yankees are true marathon runners. They will see the end of the race in the post-season--the Indians will not.
Mr. Kajca shows that no one is harder on the Yankees than a Yankee fan. I certainly agree that this team is not as good as Yankee teams in recent years. I do not believe that they will win the series this year, but unlike Mr. Kajca, I have little doubt that they will make it to the post-season. Why? Because they play Boston 6 times this month. Boston is only 3 1/2 games back. The pressure is mounting. There is only one thing for Boston to do--that which they have done so many times before--choke. Boston choking in fall is as much a tradition as school starting or leaves falling. It is something that can be counted on. And so, when I am in New York this weekend sitting in the house that Ruth built, I can be confident that the Yanks will take the AL East, because the curse of the Bambino lives.
Some of you might know that the Indians of
played baseball last night while the Yankees of New York were also on the field. I understand that there were also circa 51,000 Yankee fans as witnesses to this Hegelian augenblick. While I am not the sort of person to rub it in or anything like that, I would like to ask a few of my friends (using the word loosely, if I may) what they thought of this earthshaking event. Does this have anything to with the election? Does the fact that, near the end, all those Yankee fans ended up rooting for the Indians mean anything? At would seem that at a certain point in the battle, even the partisans recognize the excellence of the other side and have to admit--in their hearts and even in public--that the other side should win. There is room for virtue. So, Robert, what do you think?
In case you are wandering why there is a shakeup (meltdown might be better) in the Kerry campaign, see this from Charlie Cook, who weeks ago said that the race was Kerry’s: "Three weeks ago, most political insiders in both parties gave Sen. John Kerry a slight edge over President Bush. Granted, Kerry’s lead appeared to be only 2 or 3 points, but it showed up consistently in the national polls and was corroborated by public and private polling on the state level that showed Kerry ahead in seven or eight of the 10 most competitive battleground states. Experienced Republican operatives, particularly pollsters, were worried. Their Democratic counterparts were
Since then, Kerry appears to have lost a point or two, maybe three, and Bush has picked up a point or two. State polls are showing Bush ahead in five or six of those same 10 battleground states."
Some poll numbers: Florida: Bush 48, Kerry 46. Ohio:, Bush, 49, Kerry 46. Pennsylvania: Bush, 47, Kerry 46.
Wisconsin:, Bush 48, Kerry 47. Also note this interesting piece by Cook that considers the importance of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, that if either Kerry or Bush two out these three states he would win the election. But, even in this reasobale scenario, Cook explains how that’s not really the case for Bush: he still could win with winning only one of the three. Worth reading.
Someone explain to me how Joe Lockhart (and some other Clintonistas) is going to help Kerry out of this hole that he (with the help of his advisors) has dug for himself? More is coming, I am certain.
Grantings has some good comments on Giuliani’s rhetoric. He uses Churchill’s "Scaffolding of Rhetoric" to explain why Rudy gave a great speech. An example from Giuliani: "Frankly, I believed then and I believe now that Saddam Hussein, who supported global terrorism, slaughtered thousands and thousands of his own people, permitted horrific acts of atrocities against women, and used weapons of mass destruction, was himself a weapon of mass destruction."
Churchill: "An apt analogy... appeals to the everyday knowledge of the hearer and invites him to decide the problems that have baffled his powers of reason by the standard of the nursery and the heart.... Whether they translate an established truth into simple language or whether they adventurously aspire to reveal the unknown, they are among the most formidable weapons of the rhetorician."
I noticed that the networks carried last night’s speeches, while they did not carry McCain and Giuiliani. I don’t understand why they didn’t carry Monday’s speakers and I was irritated at first, thinking that last night couldn’t possibly be as effective as Monday. I was wrong. Mrs. Bush gave a nice speech, somehow appropriate and not silly, nor pseudo-sophisticated, nor one that everyone had to apologize for by calling her an independent woman who speaks her own mind. At first I thought she went on too long, but then I noticed myself comparing her to Mrs. Kerry, and the comparison was entirely to Laura’s advantage. Keep talking, I found myself saying. This wife of the president, and mother of the girls who introduced her, this librarian(!) is a great contrast to Marie Antoinette. The girls were cute, silly, and maybe allowed to overindulge in their youth a bit. Yet, they were speaking to their own crowd--what with the obscure references to pop stars and such--references that only someone their own age might understand. I did like the note about the hamster, "ours didn’t make it." Clever. I didn’t really want to envision the pres giving mouth-to-mouth to a rodent; compassionate conservatism should only go so far. Arnold was the rock star. I would say an almost perfect speech for the occassion. Hard, partisan, full of wit, tying the party to being American. Who else could have made a favorable reference to Nixon, and call Humphrey’s ideas socialist? Calling the Demo convention "true lies" was brilliant, as was the reference to "economic grilie-men." Arnold loves America and the things for which we stand, and he’s not shy about telling people why. He told us. Freedom, opportunity, no one caring who your father was. The chance to do what you can with what you have; economic and social mobility, the thing you don’t get in your tribe. This is not a small thing to remind people of, especially when you are a person known by every human being on the planet. Arnold has special resonance with a part of the citizens that should be Republicans by instinct, and these folks are not only immigrants. These are the people the Demos claim are downtrodden, if not oppressed, but Arnold knows they don’t feel that way. They are not victims. They are only open to that kind of Liberal rhetoric because it is often in their interest; Arnold argued that the principle that allows them to be hopeful and optimistic is the most important thing. The Demo mantra of the victim has no home here. I think Arnold’s speech may have the most political effect: those not necessarily inclined to vote Republican will have listened to him, and they’ll think about it. That’s plenty good. In short, I think he answered Lucas post below.