Back in April, Eli Lake argued that Gen. Petraeus could be relied on for an honest report on the surge--he's become so prominent, and the war so unpopular, that if he decided the surge had failed a) Bush couldn't fire him and continue the strategy and b) Petraeus would become a hero to the anti-war half of the country with a bright political future. ... I don't think it's quite that simple--Petraeus would have to admit that it was his strategy that was failing. But it's worth keeping in mind. Careerism doesn't necessarily conflict with honesty in this case, because Petraeus doesn't necessarily need to please Bush or his superiors to continue his career.. ... 1:18 P.M.
He's not really a movie star, more a movie presence, but he is definitely a TV star. Of course a really big movie star in a political campaign can be overwhelming. Fred Thompson is a strong presence in Red October. Sean Connery is a blow-the-doors off presence. I can't imagine someone like Connery running for public office. Even Arnold [Schwarzenegger] with his years of selling restaurants and fitness and all that was still way too hot at times early on, especially when he did his shakedown cruise for a future run in 2002, with his Proposition 49 after-school programs initiative.
Telling a conservative magazine writer that he has "a shitty body," as Schwarzenegger did in that campaign, is generally not a good idea for an aspiring big-time politician. But that was Arnold. Really big movie stars have an air of danger about them, of mystery, be it physical, sexual, psychological. They're compelling up on the big screen. But a regular diet can be too much.
Ronald Reagan was fortunate in that he was not a big movie star. There was nothing scary about his cinematic persona.
1:11 P.M. link
Steve Smith persuasively refutes Richard Blair's argument that the 2005 bankruptcy reform sparked the subprime mortgage crunch by denying debtors a chance to avoid foreclosure. (It turns out the new law doesn't offer fewer anti-foreclosure protections than the old law.) But Smith doesn't address Megan McArdle's scenario, in which the 2005 reform fueled the housing bubble by a) shrinking the credit card market by making it more dangerous and less desirable to run up credit card debt, and b) sending more money into the mortgage lending market precisely because mortgage debtors' remedies were unchanged (and therefore they were still willing to borrow against their homes). ... P.S.: I still suspect that the failure of immigration reform had something to do with the credit crunch--not because it was illegal immigrants defaulting on those mortgages, but because with lower prospective immigration the long-term value of all housing fell, making everyone's collateral worth less and lenders more reluctant to provide money secured by that collateral. How's that wrong?... 12:01 A.M.. link
Thursday, September 6, 2007