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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Saturday, 29 May 2004

Topic: Iraq

Sisyphus Shrugged

The story hit the wires early this morning.

Here's the opening of the Reuters version in its latest update.

Ex-US Football Star Likely 'Friendly Fire' Victim
Jim Wolf, Saturday May 29, 2004 05:32 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cpl. Patrick Tillman, killed in Afghanistan last month after spurning a $3.6 million football contract to join the special forces, was probably shot by his own comrades in the confusion of battle, the military said on Saturday.

An investigation of the April 22 death of Tillman, 27, an ex-safety for the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals, did not blame any individual.

Previous military statements had suggested Tillman, perhaps the best-known U.S. casualty of the Iraq and Afghan campaigns, had been killed by enemy fire.

"While there was no one specific finding of fault, the investigation results indicate that Cpl. Tillman died as a probable result of friendly fire while his unit was engaged in combat with enemy forces," the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

The term "friendly fire" is used by the military to describe an accidental or mistaken attack on one's own forces or allies.

Tillman's elite Army Ranger platoon was ambushed by 10 to 12 fighters firing small arms and mortars while on patrol at about 7:30 p.m. near Khost, in southeastern Afghanistan, the Army Special Operations Command said in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The ambushers struck from "multiple locations over approximately one kilometer in very severe and constricted terrain with impaired light conditions," the Central Command said.

Tillman left his combat vehicle and, "in support of his unit, moved into position to suppress enemy fire," the command said.

The investigation's findings "in no way diminish the bravery and sacrifice displayed by Cpl. Tillman," the statement said.

"There is an inherent degree of confusion in any firefight, particularly when a unit is ambushed, and especially under difficult light and terrain conditions which produces an environment that increases the likelihood of fratricide," the military said.
Well, then - what to make of this?

You'll find an interesting response at a web log called Sisyphus Shrugged - a site one cannot recommend too highly. And it does have a great name.
There are a few points I'd like to make about this before everybody gets back from the three day weekend which the Army no doubt took into account when choosing when to release this story.

1) Pat Tillman's death seems to me to be tragic because he was willing to give up a great deal to do what he thought was the right thing. The main thing he put on the line was his life. This makes him one of many hundreds of young Americans who gave up their lives to do what they believed to be the right thing.

I find it incredibly distasteful when supporters of the current administration try to shove him up on a pedestal because he could have been rich instead. I haven't found any other area of political discourse where you folks think that it's honorable and righteous and patriotic to consider anything over profits. Certainly none of your political heroes have.

If you think it's un-American to bitch about Halliburton taking a record rakeoff and serving our soldiers rotted food, just leave Pat Tillman's name out of your mouth. He didn't die for your ideology. He died to show it up.

2) Unless you are a member of his family or one of his friends, you did not lose Pat Tillman (just as you didn't lose the people who died in the WTC and the Pentagon). The parents who gave birth to him and/or played catch with him in the back yard lost him. His wife lost him. His friends lost him. The guys in his unit lost him.

America lost a soldier. That should be enough for you. If you have any of those floods of grief left over, spread it over the other 800 soldiers America lost.

3) It seems to me not unlikely that the man's parents and his wife and his friends will be very unhappy about this news. It is possible that they will have something to say about that unhappiness to the media.

If you are a supporter of the war, and if you have been attempting to trick yourself out in Pat Tillman's sacrifice, this will undoubtedly be upsetting to you. As a strategy for coping with this unhappiness, may I suggest that you shut the fuck up.
Good advice.

The man is dead.

And if you feel like avoiding politics and being religious in this matter?

His brother Rich said in his eulogy at the funeral of Patrick Tillman - "Pat isn't with God. He's fucking dead. He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's fucking dead."

Move on.

Posted by Alan at 18:28 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Friday, 28 May 2004

Topic: The Culture

Religion: A Follow-Up on the Unitarians (Texas Theology Revisited)

Readers will find the original items on this matter both on the weekly virtual magazine here and the on daily web log here.

These items noted that Texas grants tax-exempt status to the Church of Scientology, founded by L. Ron Hubbard, who indeed has written more than a few science-fiction novels. But the office of Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn had taken away the tax-exempt status of a particular Unitarian Universalist Church. Yea, the do-gooders who say all religions basically worship the same God, or universal force, or whatever. Carole Keeton Strayhorn says that is not religion, as the organization "does not have one system of belief."

The items reviewed the history and beliefs of the Unitarians. This made no sense. And now the decision has been reversed.


See Denison church's tax-exempt status granted
Jay Root, Dallas Fort-Worth Star-Telegram (Austin Bureau) - Posted on Mon, May. 24, 2004

The head of the item -
Reversing an earlier decision, state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn announced Monday that a Unitarian church in Denison would get its tax-exempt status after all.

The decision came after the Star-Telegram reported on May 18 that the comptroller's office had ruled the Red River Unitarian Universalist Church was not a religious organization for tax purposes.

The status was denied, the state said, because the church "does not have one system of belief."
Stunned church officials said it was the first time in U.S. history that any state had denied tax exempt status to the Unitarians because of their religious philosophy. Father-and-son presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams are among past adherents of the Unitarian church.

Jesse Ancira, the comptroller's general counsel, sent a letter Monday to Dan Althoff, board president of the Denison church, informing him of the change.

"Comptroller Strayhorn asked that I review the file on your congregation's application for tax exemption," Ancira wrote. "After reviewing the submitted application ... it is my opinion that the Red River Unitarian Universalist Church is an organization created for religious purposes and should be granted the requested tax exemption." ...
Oh good.

Previously from the Star-Telegram (on the 22nd) this was posted:
... "She's either abysmally ignorant of the law or a religious bigot," said Robert London, spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Washington, D.C. "She's acting like a grand inquisitor in deciding what should be a religion."

Jesse Ancira, general counsel for the comptroller's office, said Strayhorn is no bigot and isn't prejudiced toward any religion. He said that other Unitarian Universalist church groups have been granted tax exemptions but that each case is evaluated separately.

"In this case, we didn't think they met the test of religious worship," he said this week. "We know they have a common belief in moral and ethical principles, but there is no one statement of faith. It's a free and open belief in several religions, including those that believe in a higher power."
Ah, that is curious. It was just this ONE church seemed a bit too free and easy in its beliefs for the State of Texas. But, what the heck, let it go.

A most curious reversal.

One analysis of this all from deep in Texas is offered by Charles Kuffner over at Off the Kuff and it goes like this -
Now then. In surveying the many, many blog posts and comments on the original story, one theme I saw was the belief that Strayhorn was attempting to court the fundamentalist bloc as part of her plan to challenge Rick Perry for Governor in 2006. This makes no sense to me on several levels - for one thing, Perry has that constituency very tightly locked up (why else would he have taken that secret trip to the Bahamas to discuss school finance "reform" with the likes of Grover Norquist and James Leininger?), and for another, Strayhorn has largely criticized Perry from the left as of late.

Frankly, other than her public expression of distaste for strippers, I can't think of any other recent examples of her pushing a religious conservative agenda item. Finally ... there are still rumors that Strayhorn may switch parties before making her run for the Governor's mansion.
So it might have been that electoral politics was behind this all? Who would have thought such a thing?

But as Kuffner points out, "never attribute to malice that which can be chalked up to stupidity."

Well, sometimes they are hard to distinguish from each other. And sometimes they are the same thing.

Posted by Alan at 15:30 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Thursday, 27 May 2004

Topic: Iraq

Disagreements About The Nature of Leadership: What Do You Owe Your Subordinates?

Last weekend in What the former commanders are saying these days... you will find a discussion of the comments of retired Marine General Anthony Zinni. He appeared on the CBS 60 Minutes show flogging his new book - and I quoted some of the CBS press release -
Accusing top Pentagon officials of "dereliction of duty," retired Marine General Anthony Zinni says staying the course in Iraq isn't a reasonable option. "The course is headed over Niagara Falls. I think it's time to change course a little bit or at least hold somebody responsible for putting you on this course," he tells Steve Kroft in an interview to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, May 23 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

The current situation in Iraq was destined to happen, says Zinni, because planning for the war and its aftermath has been flawed all along. "There has been poor strategic thinking in this...poor operational planning and execution on the ground," says Zinni, who served as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000.

He blames the poor planning on the civilian policymakers in the administration known as neoconservatives who saw the invasion as a way to stabilize the region and support Israel. He believes these people, who include Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense, have hijacked U.S. foreign policy. "They promoted it and pushed [the war]...even to the point of creating their own intelligence to match their needs. Then they should bear the responsibility," Zinni tells Kroft.

In his upcoming book, Battle Ready, written with Tom Clancy, Zinni writes of the poor planning in harsh terms. "In the lead-up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw, at minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility; at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption," he writes. Zinni explains to Kroft, "I think there was dereliction in insufficient forces being put on the ground and [in not] fully understanding the military dimensions of the plan."
The man is not a happy camper.

But the real story, developing during the week, centers around his co-author and ghost writer, Tom Clancy. That Clancy got in on this is the really odd thing. The two have appeared together now on all the talk shows, and Clancy is as unhappy with the Bush team as Zinni.


See this from CNN -

Tom Clancy wrestles with Iraq war
New book co-written with war critic Gen. Anthony Zinni
Wednesday, May 26, 2004 Posted: 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)
NEW YORK (AP) -- A brand name author with many admirers in the military criticized the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, citing it as proof that "good men make mistakes."

That same writer said he almost "came to blows" with a leading war supporter, former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle.

The author is Tom Clancy.

The hawkish master of such million-selling thrillers as "Patriot Games" and "The Hunt for Red October" now finds himself adding to the criticism of the Iraq war, and not only through his own comments.

... In an interview Monday with The Associated Press, Clancy and Zinni sat side by side in a hotel conference room in midtown Manhattan, mutual admirers who said they agreed on most issues, despite "one or two" spirited "discussions" during the book's planning.

Zinni has openly attacked the war, but Clancy reluctantly acknowledged his own concerns. He declined repeatedly to comment on the war, before saying that it lacked a "casus belli," or suitable provocation.

"It troubles me greatly to say that, because I've met President Bush," Clancy said. "He's a good guy. ... I think he's well-grounded, both morally and philosophically. But good men make mistakes."

'These are good guys'
Yeah, but Clancy thinks they are a bunch of bumbling idiots, it seems. Nice guys. But idiots.

Well, that's too broad. Clancy thinks the Bush crew doesn't exactly know what real leadership is.

This all is a direct claim that Bush and his crew are unqualified to lead us. There's no ambiguity. Clancy has left the building, so to speak.

Golly, when you lose Tom Clancy you may be in deep trouble. Bush is probably not happy. Clancy dedicated "The Hunt for Red October" to Ronald Reagan, after all. Things are changing.

And the other hand, Bush doesn't read much, so he might not even know who Tom Clancy is.

So, what's up with this?

Here's Clancy explaining -
"In the movies, military leaders are all drunken Nazis," said Clancy, who has worked on books about retired Gen. Chuck Horner, who led U.S. Central Command Air Forces during the Gulf War, and retired Gen. Carl Stiner, whose missions included the capture of Panama leader Manuel Noriega.

"In fact, these are very bright people who regard the soldiers and Marines under them as their own kids. I thought the people needed to know about that. These are good guys, and smart guys."
And that's the problem.

To a military leader, those who follow your command are your responsibility. You have their lives in your hands. They become your family, and yes, maybe like you own kids. You don't use them as game pieces.

That is exactly why Clancy likes Zinni. Zinni knows that. They both know that.
... even as an envoy, Zinni spoke out against invading Iraq, regarding it as disastrous for Middle East peace and a distraction from the war against terrorism. On Monday, he said getting rid of Saddam Hussein was not worth the price.

"He's a bad guy. He's a terrible guy and he should go," Zinni said. "But I don't think it's worth 800 troops dead, 4,500 wounded -- some of them terribly -- $200 billion of our treasury and counting, and our reputation and our image in the world, particularly in that region, shattered."
In short? This was a stupid war, with awful consequences.

And the real sin (if that is the right word) is not taking care of our guys.

This week, in many places, Clancy is relating a prewar encounter in Washington during which he "almost came to blows" with Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser at the time and a longtime advocate of the invasion.
"He was saying how (Secretary of State) Colin Powell was being a wuss because he was overly concerned with the lives of the troops," Clancy said. "And I said, 'Look ..., he's supposed to think that way!' And Perle didn't agree with me on that. People like that worry me."
They should.

Posted by Alan at 22:21 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 27 May 2004 22:30 PDT home

Topic: In these times...

Quick Notes: Oddities in the News Today...

Yeah, yeah, you may not be able to see Moore's new film that excoriates George Bush, at least before the November election. For each of the last twenty-seven days Disney and Miramax have said they are "close" to a deal for Miramax to buy the distribution rights, but Disney is now saying there are hang-ups with intellectual property questions. They own the film but are now thinking that they may not have the legal authority to sell the distribution rights to anyone else? Whatever.

But note Viacom is in the process from protecting our youth from another subversive film.

See 'Super Size Me' Gets Downsized by MTV
Wednesday, May 26, 2004 7:14 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Film documentary "Super Size Me," a critical look at the health impact of a fast-food only diet, has been downsized at cable network MTV which has refused to air advertisements for the film, its distributors said on Wednesday.

Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films said in a statement the cable TV channel targeted to young audiences has told them the ads are "disparaging to fast food restaurants."

The distributors said MTV sister network VH1 was planning to use clips from the movie in a program called "Best Week Ever," but the clips were pulled before the show aired.

An MTV spokeswoman was not immediately available to comment. MTV and VH1 are owned by media giant Viacom Inc, which depends on advertising for a major portion of revenues. ...
Can't have folks disparaging to fast food restaurants, can we?

And as a follow up to A whole Lott of love here... from Tuesday in which Trent Lott argues our torture of minor civilian prisoners is justified - because wimps unwilling to torture even these randomly detained and probably useless bystanders, for the greater good, endanger us all. The possible information to be obtained matters more far more than any foolish moral scruples or legal niceties. This is war, as he says.

Except we are now admitting that, well, it doesn't exactly work, as the New York Times now (May 27) reports:
"The questioning of hundreds of Iraqi prisoners last fall in the newly established interrogation center at Abu Ghraib prison yielded very little valuable intelligence, according to civilian and military officials.

... [C]ivilian and military intelligence officials, as well as top commanders with access to intelligence reports, now say they learned little about the insurgency from questioning inmates at the prison. Most of the prisoners held in the special cellblock that became the setting for the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib apparently were not linked to the insurgency, they said.

All of the prisoners sent to Abu Ghraib had already been questioned by the troops who captured them for urgent information about roadside bombs, imminent attacks and the like."
Oh well. Wrong guys. They were just useless bystanders. Sorry about that.

But Trent is a man of hope. One of these randomly selected hapless and exceptionally unlucky detainees one day, maybe, might scream out something tangentially useful - if enough pain and humiliation is applied, cautiously. You never know. Trent is an optimist.

And the trouble with the wimps on the left is they are too negative.

Posted by Alan at 09:05 PDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink

Wednesday, 26 May 2004

Topic: Election Notes

Back from the dead...

Back from the dead?

That would be Al Gore, who gave a speech today that got some press.

Here's the start of the Associated Press item:

Gore: Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet Should Resign
Sara Kugler, Wednesday, May 26, 2004
NEW YORK - Al Gore delivered a blistering denunciation Wednesday of the Bush administration's "twisted values and atrocious policies" in Iraq and demanded the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and CIA director George Tenet.

Raising his voice to a yell in a speech at New York University, Gore said: "How dare they subject us to such dishonor and disgrace! How dare they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison!"

The Democratic former vice president said the situation in Iraq is spinning out of control.
"I am calling today for Republicans as well as Democrats to join me in asking for the immediate resignations of those immediately below George Bush and Dick Cheney, who are most responsible for creating the catastrophe we are facing in Iraq," Gore said, drawing strong applause from the partisan crowd. ...
And it goes on in some detail.

Here's the official reaction from the Republican National Committee:

RNC Communications Director Statement on Al Gore's Comments Today at Rally
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Al Gore served as Vice President of this country for eight years. During that time, Osama Bin Laden declared war on the United States five times and terrorists killed US citizens on at least four different occasions including the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the attacks on Khobar Towers, our embassies in East Africa, and the USS Cole.

Al Gore's attacks on the President today demonstrate that he either does not understand the threat of global terror, or he has amnesia.
Maybe so.

Ah well. We didn't want him as president. He didn't get elected.

Anyway, Gore called for lots of resignations. He summed up the last year or two. The right, Fox News and such, will spend the ensuing news cycle ripping this all to shreds of course.

Here's the speech in full:

Remarks by Al Gore
May 26, 2004 As Prepared

A strong opening:
George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world.

He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.

Honor? He decided not to honor the Geneva Convention. Just as he would not honor the United Nations, international treaties, the opinions of our allies, the role of Congress and the courts, or what Jefferson described as "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind."
He did not honor the advice, experience and judgment of our military leaders in designing his invasion of Iraq. And now he will not honor our fallen dead by attending any funerals or even by permitting photos of their flag-draped coffins.

How did we get from September 12th , 2001, when a leading French newspaper ran a giant headline with the words "We Are All Americans Now" and when we had the good will and empathy of all the world -- to the horror that we all felt in witnessing the pictures of torture in Abu Ghraib.
Yeah, well, there is a lot the follows to answer that question.

The abuse of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib flowed directly from the abuse of the truth that characterized the Administration's march to war and the abuse of the trust that had been placed in President Bush by the American people in the aftermath of September 11th.

There was then, there is now and there would have been regardless of what Bush did, a threat of terrorism that we would have to deal with. But instead of making it better, he has made it infinitely worse. We are less safe because of his policies. He has created more anger and righteous indignation against us as Americans than any leader of our country in the 228 years of our existence as a nation -- because of his attitude of contempt for any person, institution or nation who disagrees with him.

He has exposed Americans abroad and Americans in every U.S. town and city to a greater danger of attack by terrorists because of his arrogance, willfulness, and bungling at stirring up hornet's nests that pose no threat whatsoever to us. And by then insulting the religion and culture and tradition of people in other countries. And by pursuing policies that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children, all of it done in our name.
Well, that's pretty direct.

Well, the counterargument is that, in a dangerous world, you need to show just who is the top dog. It's a matter of tone.

Al doesn't like George's tone:
President Bush set the tone for our attitude for suspects in his State of the Union address. He noted that more than 3,000 "suspected terrorists" had been arrested in many countries and then he added, "and many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: they are no longer a problem to the United States and our allies."

George Bush promised to change the tone in Washington. And indeed he did. As many as 37 prisoners may have been murdered while in captivity, though the numbers are difficult to rely upon because in many cases involving violent death, there were no autopsies.

How dare they blame their misdeeds on enlisted personnel from a Reserve unit in upstate New York. President Bush owes more than one apology. On the list of those he let down are the young soldiers who are themselves apparently culpable, but who were clearly put into a moral cesspool. The perpetrators as well as the victims were both placed in their relationship to one another by the policies of George W. Bush.

How dare the incompetent and willful members of this Bush/Cheney Administration humiliate our nation and our people in the eyes of the world and in the conscience of our own people. How dare they subject us to such dishonor and disgrace. How dare they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison.
How dare they? Otherwise we'd seem weak? Something like that....

Gore goes on about a need to be dominant - as if that's the major character flaw in the president, and in those who lead and control him. It's as if we are told safety and security comes from humiliating and dominating others. Gore doesn't like the concept:
The same dark spirit of domination has led them to - for the first time in American history - imprison American citizens with no charges, no right to see a lawyer, no right to notify their family, no right to know of what they are accused, and no right to gain access to any court to present an appeal of any sort. The Bush Administration has even acquired the power to compel librarians to tell them what any American is reading, and to compel them to keep silent about the request - or else the librarians themselves can also be imprisoned.

They have launched an unprecedented assault on civil liberties, on the right of the courts to review their actions, on the right of the Congress to have information to how they are spending the public's money and the right of the news media to have information about the policies they are pursuing.

The same pattern characterizes virtually all of their policies. They resent any constraint as an insult to their will to dominate and exercise power. Their appetite for power is astonishing. It has led them to introduce a new level of viciousness in partisan politics. It is that viciousness that led them to attack as unpatriotic, Senator Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in combat during the Vietnam War.

The president episodically poses as a healer and "uniter". If he president really has any desire to play that role, then I call upon him to condemn Rush Limbaugh - perhaps his strongest political supporter - who said that the torture in Abu Ghraib was a "brilliant maneuver" and that the photos were "good old American pornography," and that the actions portrayed were simply those of "people having a good time and needing to blow off steam."
Rush Limbaugh?

I do believe Limbaugh taps into half of the country that understands winning anything requires stripping your adversary of his will to fight - breaking his spirit and humiliating him. Thus taunts in the football field and basketball court are effective. The events of September almost three years ago made Bush a hero - he was going to kick some ass and show who was the alpha male in this international world. And folks didn't much care whose ass got kicked. That wasn't the point really. Afghanistan? Iraq? Anyone would do. The point was, well, making a point. Lots of folks felt this way, and still do. Other nations, other people, other religions had to be sent a message of dominance. The alternative was...?

By the way, Rush Limbaugh, on air today, responds to Gore here - and it is quite long.

The gist of it is this from Limbaugh:
He has succeeded in giving our adversaries in Europe and our enemies in the caves of Afghanistan and the allies of Iraq a message that they'll take to heart, and that is that we are not a united nation, that we do not have the will to win this war, and that we are weak and indecisive. That's the message that Gore sends today, and it's the wrong message, because it's a lie, and beyond that it is an outrage.

I don't think anything of this kind has ever been done by a former vice president during a war, but our adversaries and our enemies would be badly mistaken if they actually believe that Gore speaks for this nation, because he doesn't.

I speak for more of this nation than Al Gore does, and I will say it on this program.
Okay, choose sides.

Ah well, over at the New York Post John Podhoretz is more more succinct:
It is now clear that Al Gore is insane. I don't mean that his policy ideas are insane, though many of them are. I mean that based on his behavior, conduct, mien and tone over the past two days, there is every reason to believe that Albert Gore Jr., desperately needs help. I think he needs medication, and I think that if he is already on medication, his doctors need to adjust it or change it entirely."
And then there is James Taranto writing is the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web Today (Thursday, May 27, 2004 2:25 p.m. EDT)

Taranto is the deeper psychologist, or claims to be:
We've got a better theory: Gore, in our view, has cracked under a crushing burden of guilt.

To explain why, it helps to remember that a desperate anger pervades Gore's entire party at the moment. That's not surprising. For the first time in half a century, the Democrats are out of the White House and have a majority in neither house of Congress. A decisive GOP victory in November would leave the Dems a minority party for a very long time.

Oh, they put on a brave face, noting excitedly every Bush swoon in the polls. They say the president is manifestly incompetent and John Kerry will beat him easily. Maybe they'll even turn out to be right. Who knows? Certainly some Republicans are spooked about Bush's re-election prospects. But the shrillness and hysteria of the Democrats' rhetoric tells us they are far from confident.

Still, the immoderation of Gore's words, combined with the fury of his tone, puts him in a class by himself, or very nearly so, even among angry Dems. And while political candidates routinely engage in hyperbole in order to stir up the party faithful, Gore isn't running for anything. Dick Gephardt stopped ranting about Bush's being a "miserable failure" when he left the presidential race. Gore has nothing to gain by sacrificing his dignity in this way.

How did the Dems come to such a pass? In large part, it's Gore's fault. The Democrats held the White House in 2000, at a time of apparent peace and prosperity. They should have won the election that year, and they surely would have had they only had a decent candidate. But instead they had Al Gore. Even he came close enough to winning that he was tempted to try to steal the election.

... it was Al Gore, more than anyone else, who assured the election of George W. Bush as president. And if Gore actually believes all the paranoid nonsense he utters about "global warming," "an unprecedented assault on civil liberties," the "American gulag," the "catastrophe" in Iraq and so on, he let down not only his party but his country and the world, which will soon be destroyed thanks to Bush's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto treaty.

That's more guilt than anyone should be forced to endure.
Well, it's theory.

Since Podhoretz, Taranto and Rush Limbaugh really do speak for half the nation, the half that simply trusts the president and KNOWS we are doing right, because that's, well, what we do - of course that half will say Gore is full of irrational hate, hate that has no basis in fact, and that Bush is doing just fine.

Come the middle of the second week in November (unless we need to go to court again) 49.9% percent of the nation is going to be quite unhappy.

No one knows which half that will be - the trusting optimists with the positive attitude, or the angry folks who feel there are any number of things going badly wrong and want them fixed.

John Kerry has a television ad running now that ends with him saying we are a nation of optimists. Oh no!

Posted by Alan at 20:55 PDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 27 May 2004 14:02 PDT home

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