Will the U.N. save the neocons?

Will the U.N. save the neocons?

Will the U.N. save the neocons?

A mostly political Weblog.
July 25 2003 6:10 PM

Huffington Fever Sweeps Brentwood!

Plus: Will the U.N. save the neoconservatives' grand strategy?

The Anti-Panetta Vendetta Begins: Points West blogger Scott Moore, who identifies himself as a California "Dem party activist for over a decade," says "numerous recent conversations with high-placed Democratic party officials" have convinced him that

former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta is all but certain to put his name on the ballot in the recall election.

Moore goes on to make a highly unconvincing argument that Panetta would be "a disaster for California Democrats and for the state in general," citing Panetta's "autocratic White House ways." Was Panetta an autocrat? That would be news to me. ... I suspect Moore's real beef is a Begala-like complaint that Panetta's too centrist. ... P.S.: Panetta's stage-setting op-ed in the LAT this morning is drearily responsible (lots of talk about the "breakdown of trust that is essential to governing ..." etc.) but Panetta's right about the pernicious effect of gerrymandering (and of course about campaign fund-raising'). .... Note to Arianna: Isn't this your platform? So what's your rationale for running against Panetta? He was wrong on the 1996 welfare reform too, remember! .... P.P.S.: It's possible, of course, that at this point Arianna has higher statewide name i.d. than the bland, goo-goo Panetta does. And Moore is--unfortunately--probably right that Panetta's "dreams of being the 'consensus' candidate are nothing short of delusional." ... 1:48 P.M.


Saturday, July 26, 2003 

The first--but not the last-- Democrat has entered the race  to replace California governor Gray Davis. ... 9:46 A.M

Friday, July 25, 2003 

Kf Exclusive Scooplet: Huffington Fever sweeps Brentwood! Kausfiles has learned that Arianna Huffington is seriously thinking about running for governor of California in the upcoming "replacement" election on October 7. At least one brainstorming session has been scheduled for this weekend at her house in Brentwood, California to figure out how to make it happen ... And why shouldn't Arianna consider running? She's too controversial (and left) to win a majority of the vote, but on October 7 she almost certainly won't need a majority to win the "replacement" election and become governor if Davis loses the companion up-down recall vote. This is her best shot, and could make her a more serious contender for future races (i.e. Senate) even if she loses. ... Just by entering the race, Huffington might trigger a stampede of competing Democratic "replacement" candidates that would doom Governor Gray Davis to defeat in the recall vote.  If her entry doesn't prompt such a stampede, she'd have the Democratic side of the ballot all to herself. ... I have mixed feelings about all this. The plus side: a) She's not all that left -- she picks her issues very carefully, attacking the excesses of capitalism (crooks, special-interest lobbyists, overpaid CEOs) but not the basic inequality of income it generates. And  at least very recently she was still a supporter of school choiceb) In part because of this, she has Hillary-like potential to sell out her left supporters. (That's a good thing!). ... On the other hand, she's unsound on welfare, preferring a  Bush-like appeal to private charitable compassion  over an appreciation of the large positive effect of the 1993-96 changes in government welfare payments, work rules and earned income tax credits. ... P.S.: It will be interesting to see if Huffington jettisons her pro-school-choice views, as have other interesting Democrats (such as Robert Reich). Certainly the logic of this election would dictate that she do anything to rally the left-wing base--she doesn't need a majority to win, and thus probably doesn't need the appeal to the center that comes with being interestingly heretical. ... Here's the issues page of the RunAriannaRun.com website. Not much about school choice there! ... . 2:32 P.M.


Attention, geeky connoisseurs of alternative election systems! (Rick Hertzberg, this means you!) Instant Runnoff Voting  (IRV) may have gained a foothold in San Francisco, and "cumulative voting" is now permitted in Illinois county elections. This informative site has more. ... [Link via Hasen.] 12:41 A.M.

Thursday, July 24, 2003 

Catch-2003: The estimable Jill Stewart explains why Davis is in more trouble than the previous item suggests, and reports some revealing incidents from the recall beat. ... But I worry about anyone who relies so heavily on ex-Carter pollster Pat Caddell. The voters are never as angry as he thinks they are. He's projecting! ... P.S.: If Stewart's analysis is correct, the race is currently stuck in a logical rut: Davis' recall poll numbers don't drop through the floor unless there's a Democrat in the race to succeed him, but no Democrat will enter the race to succeed him until his poll numbers drop through the floor. ... I guess this is a logical rut that favors Davis--until some ambitious Democrat can't resist stabbing him in the back by running (whether or not Davis' poll numbers have dropped). Then it'll be Katie bar the door! ... Wild Card: The state Supreme Court may, like its federal counterpart in Bush v. Gore, be unable to resist stepping in to save California from the chaotic mess its laws prescribe in this situation.  ...11:49 P.M.

U 2 Can Still B Gov: California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante has backed off his wacky, self-serving interpretation of California election law, and set an October 7 ballot which will have both (a) an election to decide, up or down, if Gov. Gray Davis is recalled, and (b) an election to choose Davis's replacement if he loses (a). ...  Now all the Schwarzenegger-Riordan-Huffington-Issa-Simon free-for-all madness we've been promised can ensue. ... Notice to ambitious California residents: You have only a couple of weeks, as I read the law, to pony up your $3,500 and declare your candidacy. It's cheaper than a week at a spa! ... (Update: The filing deadline appears to be August 9th.)


P.S.: Bustamante comes out of this whole business looking a little foolish--trying for a coup, failing, then denying he'd changed his position while, as Weintraub notes, refusing "to say that stories in the Bee and elsewhere Tuesday reporting otherwise were inaccurate." ...

P.P.S.:  When the pollster for a major pro-recall group says it's "too soon to call the outcome" of the recall-- even if he's a publicity-seeking pollster like Frank Luntz--that means a defeat of the recall by Davis remains a distinct possibility (I'd even say probability). The idea that this will be a low-turnout election, with only Davis opponents showing up, seems a fantasy. This is going to be a huge deal in the press, not some minor school board election that gets ignored by the electorate. ... Caveat: Alert reader B.W. points out that the pro-recall forces (and their pollsters) may have an incentive to make Davis look strong right now in order to prevent a credible Democrat from entering the "replacement" race, which might doom Davis (by providing a palatable post-Davis alternative for Democrats) but would also probably doom the Republican candidates. Recall supporters have to choose, in effect, what they want more: (a) to oust Davis or (b) to oust the Democrats. If they're intentionally playing up Davis' chances until the filing deadline has passed, that suggests they've chosen (b). ...

P.P.P.S: If Davis wins the recall (ballot question (a)) then all those political pros, such as Rep. Issa, who jump into the "replacement" election (ballot question (b)) and act like they are running for governor--only to have the election not count for anything--are going to look even more foolish than Cruz Bustamante, no? ... That's another reason for an unknown with nothing to lose, rather than a big name, to take the plunge. It's why, unless the polls clearly show Davis going down, a dignified figure like Leon Panetta seems unlikely to jump in. ...

More: The presence of Ward Connerly's "racial privacy initiative" on the same ballot seems a significant factor, though I'm not sure which way it cuts. I assume it will draw out opponents, especially among black and Hispanic voters, and thus help Davis. ...  10:48 A.M.


Wednesday, July 23, 2003 

Bustamante Boosts ... Bustamante! A "stunning" development in the California gubernatorial recall--California's Lt. Gov., Cruz Bustamante, who by law sets the date of the recall election, has embraced a quirky legal interpretation that would, just coincidentally, automatically make him governor, without a "replacement" election, should Gov. Gray Davis be voted down. Beeblogger Daniel Weintraub's  conclusion:

Bustamante is making mischief here, at some peril to the state and, I would suggest, at great peril to his own political career.

Election law expert Rick Hasen says Bustamante's wrong too. (It all depends on what the words "if appropriate" mean.) ... Update: Bustamante may or may not be re backing off  his position. After saying that the decision on whether to have a "replacement" election is not his to make, he now declares he will make the decision on the advice of government lawyers. But of course these lawyers could still conveniently endorse the wacky reading of the law that might avoid a "replacement" election and leave Bustamante as governor. ... Bustamante is expected to announce the date of the recall vote at a 10:00 A.M. press conference on Thursday, where he presumably also either will or won't call a companion "replacement" election. ... What happened: He called both elections for an October 7 ballot, while somewhat testily denying to several reporters that he said what they'd said he said  about not calling for a companion "replacement" election. ... 9:36 A.M.


Leap of Feith: If it was ever controversial to  suggest that Donald Rumsfeld's Defense department would shave the number of troops comnitted to Iraq for grand neoconservative geopolitical reasons--i.e., so the U.S. could credibly threaten to fight several other similar wars--it shouldn't be controversial now that Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith has more or less admitted it to Barbara Slavin and Dave Moniz of USA Today, The key USAT graf:

Feith confirmed that the decision to limit the number of troops sent in was ''strategic and goes far beyond Iraq. This is part of his (Rumsfeld's) thinking about defense transformation. It's an old way of thinking to say that the United States should not do anything without hundreds of thousands of troops. That makes our military less usable.'' [Emphasis added.]

P.S.: See also this earlier Knight-Ridder story  on the failures of post-war planning. ...

P.P.S.: The UN Saves the Neocons?  Note that if other member countries of the United Nations supply the peacekeeping troops that are now missing in Rumsfeld's plan, the U.N. may perversely be saving the grand neocon military strategy from failure more than it's saving the Iraq invasion from collapse. The U.S. might be perfectly able to stabilize Iraq by sending in a lot more American troops, after all--but that would save Iraq at the expense of the neocon's "usability." We couldn't fight many other wars if we had to commit a huge portion of our army to peacekeeping after each one. But if we can fight the war with a small U.S. combat force (as in Iraq) and then send in U.N. troops to do the cleanup and policing--even ifthat means giving the U.N. more control over reconstruction--we can repeat the process again and again without tying up all our divisions of fighters. ... Who knew the don't-tie-us-down neocons would wind up relying on the United Nations they scorn? 

P.P.P.S.: This logic is surely not lost on the other nations in the U.N.. If they send troops they're not just legitimating a bold recent use of U.S. military power. They are, in a very practical, non-precedential sense, enabling future bold, semi-unilateral uses of U.S. military power. ... 1:13 A.M.

Pssst! This is not the week to rely on BBC scoops: Bill Adams catches the L.A. Times giving credence to a BBC story about Jessica Lynch (claiming that the Iraqi hospital staff had tried to return her in an ambulance before her rescue) even though the BBC account was mostly discredited by NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof. ... 12:25 A.M.

Monday, July 21, 2003 

" Report: FBI Informant knew 9/11 Hijackers": This is not news. It was reported in Newsweek's September, 16, 2002 issue. (See  here for kf's earlier discussion.) ... 11:35 P.M.

U 2 Can B Gov, Part III: The Panetta Possibility grows in the California gubernatorial recall race, according to the S.F. Chronicle. ... There's also more Arianna groundswelling on the left. Do they know about her history of supporting school choice? ... The California Teachers Association surely knows. They've been "quietly polling voters" for Panetta, the Chronicle reports, with allegedly "very favorable" results. ... [Thanks to reader J.H. and Weintraub.]12:47 A.M.

Friday, July 18, 2003 

Slate's annual retreat is this weekend. They are probably going to try to make us think outside the box again, when all I want to do is curl up inside the box and go to sleep. ... Everyone is thinking outside the box these days. What takes real boldness and originality is to refuse to go along with the free-thinking herd! Inside the box is the new outside the box! That's the ticket. We'll see if they buy it ... 11:50 P.M.

Dean's Cheap Date: The anti-anti-Dean backlash backlash appears to be in full swing. TNR's annoyingly anonymous blogger  helps puncture last month's Dean-as-McGovern op-ed campaign  by pointing out that the Vermont governor has managed to capture his party's left with mere anger, rather than with actual policy concessions. That will make the necessary move back to the center, when the time comes, easier for Dean than someone "electable" like Gephardt, who has been forced to woo the left mainly with substance (e.g. his policy stand on trade). ... Caveat: As Daniel Drezner points out in his accompanying Dean half-defense, Dean has made anti-free-trade noises too. But maybe the point is that, even there, Dean--unlike Gephardt--can get away with mere noises. ... P.S.: One advantage George W. Bush had in the 2000 campaign, as Peggy Noonan pointed out at the time, is that he emotionally bonded with his party's right wing early on, during the Bob Jones University controversy in South Carolina. That freed him to make liberalish substantive moves during the rest of the campaign without fear of losing his base. Dean may now enjoy a mirror-image advantage. ...Subtext: Anyway, we should all be nice to Dean until he fulfills his historic mission in New Hampshire--saving the nation from John Kerry. ... P.P.S.: See also Terry Neal's excellent column on the efforts of four Democratic candidates who voted for the war to suddenly get very Dean-like and angry. Not surprisingly, Kerry ("yeah, I'm actually, I'm really shocked and I am angry") is the most transparently insecure and coarsely calculating in trying to have it both ways (taking credit for voting for the war while denouncing Bush for the intelligence that convinced Kerry to vote for the war).. 5:22 P.M.

One of these men looks silly:

"Israel Isn't the Issue"

--headline of Norman Podhoretz's op-ed in the WSJ, September 20, 2001

I want to be very plain. This terrorism will not be defeated without peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine. (Applause.) Here it is that the poison is incubated. Here it is that the extremist is able to confuse in the mind of a frighteningly large number of people the case for a Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel, and to translate this, moreover, into a battle between East and West, Muslim, Jew and Christian.

--Prime Minister Tony Blair, address to Congress, July 17, 2003.

5:00 P.M.



Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--Escapee from American Prospect. Salon--Better click fast! Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Calmer Times--Registration required.  NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare!  Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog.  Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko's MediaNews--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central.. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh --Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna--A hybrid vehicle. TomPaine.com--Web-lib populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog.  B-Log--Blog of spirituality!  Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk.]