Did Bush make the grade with readers?

Did Bush make the grade with readers?

Did Bush make the grade with readers?

What's happening in our readers' forum.
Feb. 8 2004 7:02 PM

A Very Special Meet the Press

Did Bush make the grade with readers? 

Sunday Afternoon Quarterback: How did Bush do opposite Tim Russert on Meet the Press? Locdog's "first impressions" were that "Bush could have done a lot better, but he could have done a lot worse." Where did he miss an opportunity?

on the status of prewar intelligence as it pertains to his decision making process. russert must have asked fifty questions presupposing our prewar intelligence was in err, questions that began with phrases like "knowing what you know now," or "since saddam apparently had no weapons," or "don't we need iron-clad, 100% certain intelligence to ..."

what bush needed to do--and needs to do in his coming campaign--is establish the absurdity such thinking. a president cannot monday morning quarterback national policy. he's got to make decisions based on the information he has available to him at the time, not on hypotheticals and whatifs. that's what leadership is…

in the real world, intelligence comes in shades of probability.

Though he "does not support reelection of the President," PubliusToo

thought the President hit the ball out of the park on the foreign policy issues. [He] left a clear, unmistakable impression that he based his decision to invade Iraq on the best intelligence available, the same intelligence and conclusions held by the prior administration … I thought he was very credible and very persuasive.

To find where PT thought the president was weak and an exegesis on the "silly" obsession of the political right on media bias, click here.

Where else did Bush succeed? According to echoguy here:

He deflected the AWOL charge quite effectively. Before Russert could follow-up with a more probing query, Bush had already made it a conversation about whether National Guardsmen were true servicemen. Bush essentially charged his opponents with questioning the legitimacy of NG service.

In effect, Bush took Kerry's more-lieutenants-than-generals comeback and applied it against Kerry.

Where else did Bush succeed?

"I'm a wartime President" lends him a certain largeness that should come with incumbency. The more he reminds the electorate that we're at war, the less comfortable voters are going to be changing horses midstream.

Bush perched himself above "politics" on numerous occasions -- and he did it without that little smirk he usually can't help but display.

Zinya was considerably less generous. Here, she refers to the president's "tellingly most-repeated four-word phrase," and here she describes Bush as "a rabbit whose foot is trapped." DallasNE provides a full transcript of the interview notated with some critical commentary here, including:

In my judgment, when the United States says there will be serious consequences, and if there isn't serious consequences, it creates adverse consequences. People look at us and say, they don't mean what they say, they are not willing to follow through. [But nobody has questioned the need for the threat of serious consequences. The use of these serious consequences should be limited to non-compliance. Earlier non-compliance does not count. Blix had said that Saddam was complying but that he needed more time in order to certify full compliance. Even the missiles that Saddam offered up were being destroyed. The threat of serious consequences was working. There was no evidence to the contrary. War was not justified under these circumstances. Earlier Bush said you can't change his mind. This certainly proves it. DallasNE]

Department of Astral Affairs: Iron_Lungfish, JimmytheCelt and Montfort enter the galaxy, though Montfort has renounced his star. Please note that while star-refusal is all fine and good, Fray Editor will not pay for return postage … KA 3:55 p.m.

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Thursday, February 5, 2004

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IVFfy: "Biology, sometimes, really is destiny, and women's groups are going to have to figure out how to accommodate that fact," writes Liza Mundy in Culturebox ("Hazy Conceptions: Pro-choice activists are flummoxed by the high-tech baby-making industry"). Mundy discusses the impacts of advanced fertility methods on the traditional choice-life paradigm. Fenbeast2, "a woman adamantly pro-choice who is having a pretty tough time conceiving," is grappling with this new reality. Fenbeast2 here:

A woman going through IVF is of necessity as much pro-choice as she is, by definition, pro-life. She's choosing to get pregnant, just as she's choosing to see her pregnancy through to the end, and believe me, having just gone through an HSG, it's not something entered into lightly.

F2 then describes having undergone Hysterosalpingogram (HSG),

they slide you under an x-ray machine, put an ICE COLD speculum into your cervix and dilate it, and yes, this HURTS no matter what the @#$*&%($# leaflet says about "cramping"; they then shoot a thick contrast dye up into your fallopian tubes…

The challenge of infertility brings up an important moral delineation:

if I value having a baby of my own this much, how can I then place a lower value on embryos that allows them to be discarded because the parents don't want to use them, or because the mother is too irresponsible to continue the pregnancy and would rather just flush her fetus than accept the consequences of her behavior?

F2 reasons that

Ultimately it comes down to control: who gets to have control over women's reproduction? The very idea of someone other than me deciding if I can't (or can?) have children makes me shudder. Much as I dislike the idea of women having abortions as a form of birth control and treating fetuses---the very thing I want more than anything right now---as medical waste, the consequences of taking reproductive rights away from women are far, far worse ...

What I do know is, you can't impose personal growth upon a person; you can only impose oppression.

Biologist AdamMorgan contributes here on the larger implications of the Kass commission, to which John_McG takes issue here with Churchillian defiance.

Keeping Abreast of the Situation: Fraywatch's final—and only—word on this matter comes from starterkit here:

The self-righteous condemnation of Janet's breast is, like so much self-righteousness, morally obtuse. For one, I hear no talk of the sexual AGGRESSION, just the fact that, OH!, we saw a booby. They admit the stunt was staged, but deny the breast was supposed to make an appearance. Well, if it was a mistake, that was because of the violent nature of the move Timberlake was trying to pull off (no pun int.).

And what of this MoveOn.Org ad that CBS refused to air? What inner corruption allows such garbage as the horse fart commercial to air, but not an award winning political commentary on the state of our nation, and does so ON PRINCIPLE(!!!!), that principle being CBS' policy of not airing controversial ads.

Well, one, among many, problems with this paper-thin 'principle' is that the kind of material the networks air itself has everything to do with whether it is controversial: if people see it, if it the standard of the corporate media to show it, people habituate to it…

The irony, or rather A irony, is that none of THIS is controversial. So the F.C.C investigates CBS' abuse of its charter by showing a breast, but not for quarantining Americans in the sick sterility of fart jokes and boner commercials.

I'm experiencing a growing urge to show America my ASS.

As of today's filing, the Fray is not equipped for .jpegs … KA 7:05 p.m.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Sooner or Later: Did you catch laocoon on the tube at the Clark viewing party in Oklahoma City? He "was the gray haired tall fellow in a tweed overcoat"—the only such outerwear known to exist in the Southern Plains. In Kausfiles Fray, laocoon paints the milieu here, including a confession that

no one EVER talks about because it's sexist and a bunch of other bad stuff is the number of good looking women in the crowds. I'm serious. The higher the attraction quotient of women in the crowds, the better the candidate will do in the polls, in my unscientific, anecdotal personal experience.

Laocoon also offers this firsthand testimony from the "Clintonistas" working the campaign:

Clark staffers also saw Edwards as their biggest obstacle, not Kerry, which I thought was odd.

... Not if you ask William Saletan.

Con Joe-lenscenes: While Saletan authored a playful Joebituary, The_Slasher-8's eulogy is far less generous:

[I]sn't it kind of ridiculous to pretend that the over 90% of the Democratic Party that voted against Joe Lieberman last night doesn't understand the realities of trying to beat Bush? I mean, yeah, the Democrats have an ideologically and often self-deluding wing. In my district they're backing Kucinich; in other places they worked hard for Dean. It is now quite clear that they are as tiny a minority as ... well, the Democrats who support Lieberman …

If it is indeed true that Bush is unstoppable (a fact which the polls deny more every day), then why on Earth would Lieberman, who cannot even beat Al Sharpton in South Carolina, do any better? Lieberman's national stature is, it's now clear, almost entirely a product of one man's vote—Al Gore. And as Howard Dean can tell you, that ain't worth much.

Though BML "never cared for his moralizing on Hollywood or video games, or his ties to the security industry," Lieberman "deserved a better send off than [Saletan's] stupid series of puns." Read BML's beef here.

Hey is for Horses: More pundit backlash, this time from Publius, here:

at some point one has to ask whether any of these guys would make a good President in a time of unusual peril (Bush is right about one thing that dems must not forget: we do face a grave and gathering danger and may for a decade or more). In this light, I find it hard to worry about John Kerry's long face or whether he sounds enough like William Jennings Bryan to merit being called a "populist" (I defy anyone to provide a truly accurate description of what this word means in 2004 even though it's used in almost every political "analysis").

Publius proceeds to answer his own questioning, determining that

Kerry is simply better qualified to be President than any of the rest of this lot—by a mile.

Other Democrats, like marylb here, seem to feel that disfavor of Kerry has nothing to do with OTB and more to do with positioning the party for a November win ... which is the goal in the first place. Her only question is:

Will Edwards stop looking like a reluctant candidate and finally put up a fight to prove he wants this job? That is the only unanswered question to date.

There's grist for the mill boy. Will he use it?

Cash and Prizes:JimmytheCelt wins the New Hampshire Primary Crystal Ball Contest, and, with it, the 2003 official Fray holiday CD. Jimmy predicted:

Kerry, 39%.
Dean, 23%
Clark, 15%
Edwards, 13%
Lieberman, 8%
Kucinich, 2%

coming closest to the actual result of 38/26/12/12/9/1. Jimmy, please drop me a line with your name and address to fray_editor@yahoo.com to orchestrate the exchange. Second and Third place went to President_Bush and QuiTam respectively. They win nothing. … KA12:05 p.m.

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Monday, February 2, 2004

Just Because it's a GTTDPACS, Doesn't Mean it's VA: A special Super Bowl ad roundup from Rudie_can-t_fail, who did a bang-up job last year. In the interest of efficiency, Rudie provides the following abbreviations for his reviews:

IL: I liked
HC: hot chick
VA: visually appealing
GTTDPACS: GOOD THING THAT DOESN'T PROMOTE ANY CULTURAL STEREOTYPES (IRONIC)
HDD: Hoe de doe- an extreme example of GTTDPACS

Among Rudie's favorites and not-so-favorites:

Pepsi: 2 bears raid fridge, steal ID, walk upright, and confuse Eskimo shopkeepers, because, as you know, If you are Eskimo, Aleutian, or Tkinglet, all white people look alike. 4

For good measure, Rudie did some "cable channel scrolling menu for 5pm PST" to see what sort of televised competition the big game faced in the triple-digit Nederland of his dish:

253 LMN: This deserves to be transcribed, in full, without editing: "Touched by Evil" Drama, (1997) Paula Abdul, A divorcee struggles to rebuild her life following rape, falls for a guy with a secret.

This is absolutely delish. Checked it out, saw only one commercial, it was a movie promo for "Family Ties" mom as an alky. I am guessing the "L" in "LMN" is Lifetime. Paula Abdul was a Cosby kid, no?

300 NIK2: Hey Arnold. I thought it would be kids asking questions of the California governor at a photo op. I was wrong, very wrong.

BML, here, was particularly fond of the Sicilian Staples ad:

C'mon, Seth, that was one of funniest spots of the evening. "Half a danish, half a folder" would be in the American lexicon this morning, if not for Janet Jackson's nip slip.

Seth Stevenson isn't a loyal viewer of American Chopper, otherwise—like SalsaShark—he would've "LIKED the Orange County Chopper/AOL 9.0 ads."  Shark elaborates:

The real payoff for me was the commercials' self-parody. Brother Paulie has a corny voiceover about the AOL technology's speed while cranky father Big Paul looks on with his arms crossed, perhaps making a caustic remark about his son's work ethic, shoddy craftsmanship, perpetual tardiness, etc. Brother Mikey, clueless to the very real danger in store for him, naively volunteers to test-drive the contraption, to hilarious effect. The overall tone is terrific: Big Paul, Paulie and Mikey are note-perfect in the re-enactment of their own interaction on the show. They are their own straight men. AOL could easily have gone over the top with this sort of concept, but instead the stuck to a very straight-faced send-up, and kudos to the Teutle boys for being so willing to poke fun at themselves. The drawback, as you say, is that you have to be in on the joke … to get it.

Sarvis adds a couple of observations here, most notably that more of the ads this year were retreads. "Is it just me, or were there fewer debuts than usual?" Finally, omnibus1reader gets the final blast in at the FCC's Michael Powell here. … KA2:50 p.m.

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Thursday, January 29, 2004

Are the Democrats in the Fray ready to anoint Kerry and get down to the business of ousting the administration, or do they want to see how Kerry plays in the Sun Belt? 

Subject: "Yearning for the 'Foregone Conclusion'"
Re:        "Never Say Die: Candidates who aren't conceding anything."
From:     JimmytheCelt
Date:     Thu Jan 29 2004 0900h

Nice to see some MK drollery, especially when he pricks media bloviators in the last paragraph. [Did you notice how it took Wolf Blitzer about two hours Tuesday (post-8:00 Eastern) to change his description of the same percentages from "a very tight race" to a "solid, double-digit victory?"]

To go deconstructionist just for a moment, can we interpret MK's lampooning of reporters who resist "foregone conclusions" as a manifestation of a tacit desire to get the primaries over with, anoint Kerry, and move quickly to the serious business of unseating W? [I don't say this as derogatory, by the way. It's how a lot of Dems feel, me included.] If so, I wonder: What does MK think of the idea that Kerry should concentrate on South Carolina over the next five days? Kill the Edwards candidacy (and help Edwards resign himself to the VP slot); wound the Kerry-can't-win-in-the-South assumption; and thus build an irresistable momentum that would allow him to concentrate on uniting the party and re-building the Dem base in the lower-middle-class.

Of course, were he to concentrate on South Carolina and lose...

[Find this post here.]


Subject: "To the Bone"
Re:        "Break Through or Die: The fallout from New Hampshire."
From:     The_Bell
Date:     Wed Jan 28 2004 1114h

When Howard Dean was the Democratic frontrunner, it became de rigueur for pundits everywhere to play up his weaknesses and deride his strengths as illusionary. Now that John Kerry has assumed the mantle, Mr. Sullentrop, Mr. Saletan, and Mr. Kaus have been busy questioning the success of someone they see as so underwhelming a politician. Today, Mr. Saletan finally moves from the self-interrogative and warns that Democratic voters, "should ask what they're getting in Kerry." Saletan's conclusion is that Kerry lacks the political charisma to put up a good fight against President Bush and this more than makes up for this political experience and policy chops.

I empathize with such an analysis. Back in June, I posted [fray.slate.msn.com] about how much I liked Kerry's message but wondered then if he was the best Democrat to act as messenger…

I watched Kerry's victory speech last night and just as I did not see Dean's Iowa concession speech as the much-anticipated meltdown/implosion that so many have characterized it, neither did I see Kerry as the stiff, awkward figure that Mr. Saletan describes. To me, he appeared relaxed, jovial, and at home…

I think what the voters of Iowa began and those of New Hampshire have now confirmed is that Democrats are less concerned about what they are getting in Kerry and more interested in who they are getting with him as their nominee. As Mr. Saletan pointed out just the other day, it is the Dean campaign that was focused on what voters were getting – "a campaign about itself…"

Kerry is not perfect but it is the blemishes and not the beauty upon which real character is built. It is precisely because his message rises beyond his faults – especially on economic and other domestic issues – that I think many Democrats have begun turning to him as someone real enough to stand up against the President. A perfect ideal sounds great but in the real world you need someone you can respect as a real person. In the end, I think Kerry's years of experience and intelligent message are providing a satisfying fill for voters that Dean's anger/energy left wanting…

It is possible that as Mr. Suellentrop maintains, Kerry will "wear poorly on voters" but I am not so sure. Mr. Saletan's lament that supporters at a Kerry rally "were there to inspire him" rather than vice versa may be the whole secret of his appeal. It plays to the energy of a Dean-like "campaign about itself" but trades that off with real solidity in the object of the crowd's adoration. And Saletan's counter that internal beauty inevitably translates to ugliness kind of depends on how superficially you think people fall in love and/or vote. Maybe voters deserve more credit than the pundits are willing to extend. To put it another way, Kerry supporters may see electability as skin deep but authenticity as going clear to the bone.

Maybe that is why Democrats seem to be increasingly content that by nominating Kerry, "you just get him." And maybe that is what the pundits just don't get about him…

[Find this post in its entirety here.]

Political Roundups: From the right, locdog offers his take on John Kerry and David Kay here; AdamMasin's analysis of New Hampshire's geographical lines is here

Red Carpetbagging: While Fraywatch was filing its last installment, lamenting the lack of Oscar handicapping, MaxFischerPlayers was simultaneously posing The Small Question on said subject.  Here it is:

Your task is to come up with the ultimate UberOscar film by combining the following Oscar contenders:

Lord of the Rings
Lost in Translation
Seabiscuit
Pirates of the Caribbean
Cold Mountain
Mystic River
Master and Commander
In America
Monster
Girl with the Pearl Earring

Come up with the new title, recast if necessary, and a short plot summary.

Variety reports that Tobey Maguire has placed a call to Charlize Theron's agents at UTA.  He wants his thirty pounds back … KA2:45 p.m.