That last, boldfaced argument seems powerful. ... P.S.: Isn't the ubiquitous Web discussion of Chris Anderson's Long Tail book itself a small refutation of the common-culture-is-dead thesis? ... Update: Here's Anderson himself declaring that "hits aren't dead"-- which would seem to save the sphere of shared culture. Whew! ... 6:52 P.M. link
What you mean "we," Sen. Clinton? When I read in the NYT that Hillary Clinton had
chastised Democrats Saturday for taking on issues that arouse conservatives and turn out Republican voters rather than finding consensus on mainstream subjects
I thought for one giddy moment that she had actually said something interesting! I should have known better. Media Matters for America argues that the NYT misreported Hillary's comments--she was really criticizing Republicans when she said
You know, we do things that are controversial. We do things that try to inflame their base so they can turn people out and vote for their candidates. I think we are wasting time.
While Hillary clearly uses "we" in the previous paragraph to mean "we Democrats," she's almost certainly shifted its meaning in this sentence to mean "we Senators." (Listen for yourself here.) Hillary's most dramatic statement of centrist independence turns out to be a case of crappy syntax. ... P.S.: Media Matters didn't act quickly enough to stop non-centrist lefties from taking umbrage. ... Advice to Hillary: Go with it! The NYT is trying to steer you in the winning direction. Dems are so victory-oriented this year it's not enough to bash the available Souljahs--they're in hiding. You have to actively goad the Souljahs to come out of the woodwork to be bashed! ... 12:42 P.M.
Rear-wheel drive, on the march: How do we know? We have stats. ... [Thanks to reader S.R.] 12:20 P.M.
Mystery Pollster vs. Kos: On bogus charges of Lieberman "push polls."12:50 A.M.
Monday, July 17, 2006
"Progressive Realism": My colleague Robert Wright's bigthink foreign policy op-ed is currently #4 on the NYT's most e-mailed list, and gaining on Shamu! Here are some questions I hope to take up with Wright on bloggingheads.tv tomorrow:
1. Isn't it crude and unfair to accuse President Bush of failing to understand "the perspective of the other," including "why some people hate America, and why terorists kill"? As E.J. Dionne notes, one premise of the neocon "Big Bang" theory on which Bush acted in Iraq was precisely that "authoritarian regimes bred opposition movements rebelling against the conditions under which too many people lived." Sounds like empathy to me!
2. Wright discounts the short-term costs --in terms of frustrated aspirations and resentment--of delaying the introduction of democracy while we wait for its inevitable natural triumph in the wake of free markets and free trade. But Wright gives great weight to the short-term costs of military action, in terms of potential terrorists angered by the Iraq invasion. Some sort of double accounting standard is being applied here, no? Maybe the anger produced by the Iraq war can realistically be discounted because (like authoritarianism) it will disappear by the time the "bioweapons most plausibly available to terrorists" become "effective weapons of truly mass destruction."
3. A global regime based on "highly intrusive inspections" for WMDs may be necessary, but it sounds almost as "wearying" as a regime based on invasion and regime-change--a constant backdrop of cheating and retreating, accompanied by the threat (or the attempt to prod the Security Council into making the threat) of international sanction or military punishment. Think the winter of 2002 made permanent. Is that an appealing future? ...
4. Wright claims that if we wait for "authoritarianism's demise" rather than trying to force the pace thgrough "invasion or American-backed coups d'etat" the result will be "more indigenous, more culturally authentic paths to democracy." Sounds right. But is the messy attempt at democracy now being undertaken by the Iraqis not "culturally authentic"? If anything it seems too authentic--authentically Shiite vs. authentically Sunni. ...
5. If advances in "information technology" and "munitions technology" establish an "alarming principle" under which "grass-roots hatred and resentment of American may be converted into the death of Americans with growing efficiency," how can we possibly reduce hatred enough to save our skins? If, eventually, any 12 angry men--assuming they're reasonably well-educated--will be able to cook up a devastating attack, isn't it hopeless? We'll never lower the number of angry anti-Americans to single digits.