But whose grave?
Maybe AKB is really a pseudonym for Ruy Teixeira, who has been very, very busy explaining away the avalanche of polls showing Bush pulling a bit ahead. First, he criticizes the Gallup poll's 7-point "likely voter" Bush lead, preferring the registered voter tables where Bush leads only by two. Then, when subsequent polls (CBS, ABC) indicate a big Bush lead among registered voters, he asks "Why would September 6-8 [CBS, ABC] be a better period for Bush than September 3-5 [Gallup], right after the convention?" Er, maybe because Kerry "seemed to be reeling in retreat," as distinguished nonpartisan analyst Sidney Blumenthal put it. ... Teixeira's argument comes perilously close to "How can this poll be right? It shows Bush gaining!" This is how we build the cocoon. ... P.S.: The scholars at CrushKerry immediately pointed out that the Newsweek and Time polls showed Kerry further behind than he really is. Has Teixeira made a similar admission against his side recently? ... 1:25 A.M.
Here's an attempt by an anti-Kerryite to give a fair summary of the case against Kerry's Vietnam self-portrayal, weeding out the bogus charges. A place to start if you want to figure out what's left of the Swifty attack (and what questions Kerry might face on the issue should he ever again hold a press conference). ... 1:11 A.M.
The Liberal Spin on Ivan! Kyoto Treaty has new appeal to Floridians. (It's not a crazy argument. Something for the new Department of Calmness!) ... 1:05 A.M.
Thursday, September 9, 2004
"Department of Wellness"! Spirit-crushing foolishness from my candidate, John Kerry. The nation is trying to figure out how to fight global terrorism and he's talking about having "not just a Department of Health and Human Services, but a Department of Wellness." How about a Department of F***ing Perspective? If Bush is smart he'll be ridiculing Kerry about this for the rest of the month. ...Thanks, Iowa! P.S.: Was this harmless "Kerrymeandering" or the more ominous "Kerrypandering"? ... [Coinage by Saletan and alert kf reader D.R.] 2:14 A.M.
The Los Angeles Times editorial page--under new management!-- fails to go along with the current Democratic attempt to get all outraged at Dick Cheney's comment that "if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again."
The war on terrorism is the central issue in the campaign, and both parties' candidates have various points to make about it. But the issue boils down to one question: Which candidate would do the best job, as president, of making sure that we don't "get hit again." That is what people really care about.
Sens. Kerry and John Edwards have been criticizing President Bush's performance on terrorism since 9/11 and promising to do a better job at it if given the chance. In doing so, they surely mean to suggest that the risk of another terrorist attack will be greater if Bush and Cheney win the election. A vote for George W. Bush, in other words, is a vote for more terrorism. Or if Kerry and Edwards don't mean that, it's hard to know what they do mean.
Compare and contrast with the huffy fatuities of Gail Collins' New York Times ed page, which declares that Cheney had "stepped across a line" by discussing "the danger" of getting hit--but then feels free to charge that "[t]he danger might be a bit less if the current administration had chosen to spend less on tax cuts for the wealthy and more on protecting our ports." Why can the Times say the administration has increased the danger but Cheney can't make his arguments that the administration has reduced the danger? Isn't that what a discussion of the actual major issue of the campaign looks like?... P.S.: In this increased/decreased argument, I tend to side with Kerry and Edwards--we've now angered enough people around the world that our chances of getting hit will probably be higher if Bush is reelected than if Kerry wins. But it's not an argument in which only Kerry's side is allowed to participate. ... 1:12 A.M.
Wednesday, September 8, 2004
Two major print stories (yesterday, LAT , today NYT) on the possibility that elections might not be held in Fallujah and some other Iraqi towns describe it as yet another lose-lose-setback for U.S. goals. Excluding Sunni areas will "detract from the international legitimacy of the critical votes," says the LA Times. On the other hand,delaying the elections would anger the Shiite majority. But isn't there also a positive, virtuous circle dynamic opened up by the possibility of holding elections only in safe areas, namely that it gives the people in the unsafe areas a strong incentive to get pacified if they want to have a say in the national government? This sort of dynamic was, in fact, the key to proposals for "rolling elections" made earlier this year by my colleague Robert Wright:
The example of democracy—and real sovereignty—in the mainly Shiite and Kurdish parts of Iraq could inspire Sunni support for elections and thus reduce support for insurgents, perhaps carrying it below the insurgency's subsistence level. (Why keep fighting American soldiers once the Shiites have shown that you can just tell them to get lost?) Here the much-feared rivalry among Iraq's ethnicities could become an asset, creating a competitive impetus toward orderly self-government. In fact, the Sunnis' envy of their neighbors' newfound freedom might acquire a productive undercurrent of anxiety as they watched the Shiite region build its militia. A further incentive for Sunni Arabs to join the larger Iraq via elections would be the fact that Iraq's oil lies largely outside the Sunni triangle: Act now, or risk going forever without a chunk of oil revenues.
Photograph of Howard Dean on the Slate home page by Jim Bourg/Reuters.