September 8th, 2004

The Truth Conditions on Counterfactual Subjunctives

While I find John Kerry's difficulty solidifying positions as frustrating as the next Republican-hater -- we want to win, after all -- I'm pretty sure that his so-called "flip-flopping" derives not only from a sense of political expediency but an unwillingness to seem as situationally stupid as his conservative counterparts. Maybe Kerry needs to spend less time maintaining his intellectual superiority and practice sounding like a fool, American style.

In that vein, check out this absurd editorial by The Weekly Standard's editor William Kristol:
It is possible to disagree with the judgment that it was right to remove Saddam. It is irresponsible to denounce that "wrong choice," and the actions that followed from it, without addressing the consequences that would have followed from not going to war.
Somebody enroll this man in a philosophy course!

Then again, if he can skip cheerily down the road of consequences that, "would have followed from not going to war," I suppose I can use the same logic to frolic in Walter Mondale's second term. Why doesn't someone in the Democratic Party put the Vice President's husband on house arrest so he stops making his wife and her boss look bad?

There's no point in taking drugs when you can get high on counter-history.
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War Across the Gulf

I agree with Kim: this is the most fucked up thing the Bush team has done yet.

(Unless, that is, they had better intelligence prior to 9/11/01 than they have so far admitted.)

Could Cheney's fear-mongering backfire? I'd like to think so. But there are so many dumb Americans -- and I don't mean natively dumb so much as dumbed down -- that the chances aren't too good.

Still, there's some call for hope. Read through this Netscape NewsForum in which ordinary Americans give feedback on Cheney's comments. There are plenty of idiotic statements, to be sure, but also some encouragingly perceptive ones, like #9:
No question Cheney crossed the line. And I agree with Edwards, who said that what he's saying is that if Americans vote in Kerry then it's their fault if they get attacked. If Cheney thinks we're so safe now, why does the administration keep issuing its terror warnings and claiming an elevated risk (always at politically opportune times)? I'm making a prediction here -- about a week to three days before the election the administration is going to announce that new evidence has come in that the terrorists are planning a major attack around, say, Thanksgiving. Subsequent to the election we'll hear that the terrorist plot was disrupted by the government's quick action, or if confronted by the lack of evidence, that it "misread" the evidence or was seeking to err on the side of caution. We've already seen the administration claim an elevated risk based on evidence that turned out to be years old.
It's the sad reality of our times, I'm afraid, that "encouragingly perceptive" statements usually convey discouraging content.

What seems clear from back-and-forth of this nature is that the political gulf in the United States is widening at an alarming rate. Everyone's courting the so-called "moderate" portion of the electorate, but it's becoming a mighty thin slice of pie.

I know my devotion to the United States might not survive another Bush Administration.
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Superstar

This just in: Karl Rove has found a black Republican superstar (and another dude who wasn't that super, actually):
Dear Charlie,

Riding on the momentum they helped drive at the Republican National Convention last week, two key Bush-Cheney '04 surrogates come online to chat with you.  Both members of the BC '04 "African Americans for Bush" steering committee and stellar athletes, NFL Hall of Famer Lynn Swann and former Congressman J.C. Watts, bring an experienced viewpoint to the importance of principled leadership.  Swann and Watts, superstars in their own right, will be teaming up with you to discuss their careers and why President Bush is the man who upholds the ideals of all Americans, regardless of race or background.   

Lynn Swann, Thursday, September 9, 11:00 - 11:30 am EDT


NFL Hall of Famer Lynn Swann will take your questions about his experience as a fitness advisor and friend of President Bush.  Swann, who led the first meeting of "African Americans for Bush" in July, will also discuss why African Americans, who traditionally vote Democrat, should cast their vote to re-elect the President this year.


Congressman J.C. Watts, Friday, September 10, 2:00 - 3:00 pm EDT

Former Congressman J.C. Watts, BC '04 National African American Steering Committee Chair, takes your questions about the campaign's grassroots efforts being pioneered by African Americans and other minority groups and discusses President Bush's record of accomplishment and forward-looking agenda for Americans in diverse communities.
Where's Jack Tatum when you need him?
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On Natively Naïve Grounds

They may not be natively dumb, but the Americans generating the poll numbers cited in articles like this one have done a wonderful job of learning how to play dumb. Put a fork in them and plop them on a squishy white bun.
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No Shame

It's always a treat when I get two messages from the Bush team in a single day. This one had my mouth drooping open for so long that a bird flew in and left some interior decoration:
September 8, 2004

To: Bush-Cheney '04 Grassroots Team
From: Ed Gillespie, Republican National Committee Chairman
Subject: Brace Yourselves

In response to President Bush's Agenda for America's Future and a critique of his policies and Senate record, Senator Kerry's campaign is implementing a strategy of vicious personal attacks against the President and Vice President.

The campaign is bringing in a bevy of former Clinton henchmen, including CNN commentators James Carville and Paul Begala.  In August alone, Begala called President Bush a "gutless wonder," said he has a "lack of intelligence," and called Vice President Cheney a "dirt bag."  Carville said the President is "ignorant big time" and said "George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are a couple of nobodies."

It's not like Bob Shrum needed encouragement to engage in personal attacks. At a Kerry rally Friday morning in Ohio, campaign surrogate John Glenn compared the Republican Convention to a Nazi rally, and Kerry called the President unfit to lead our nation and once again sought to divide the country by who served and how 35 years ago.

Of course, the President was called a "cheap thug," a "killer" and a "liar" at a Kerry-Edwards campaign event in New York, Mrs. Kerry has called the President's policies "unpatriotic" and "immoral" and DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe falsely accused the President of being AWOL.

Democratic strategist Susan Estrich outlined the strategy last Wednesday in a column warning Republicans to "watch out." "I'm not promising pretty," she wrote before going on to call President Bush and Vice President Cheney alcoholics, then ask "is any alcoholic ever really cured?"  ("I can see the ad now.")  She deems the President's service as a National Guard fighter pilot "draft dodging," and says, "a forthcoming book by Kitty Kelly raises questions about whether the President has practiced what he preaches on the issue of abortion." (Interestingly, the New York Daily News reported back in February that the Kerry campaign intended to spread such a rumor in pro-life chat rooms late in the campaign.)

So the former Dukakis campaign manager has an advance copy of Democrat donor Kitty Kelly's book, which promises to throw unsubstantiated gossip at President Bush in the same way she falsely maligned the late President Reagan as a date rapist who paid for a girlfriend's abortion and wrongly castigated Nancy Reagan as an adulterer who had an affair with Frank Sinatra.  A recent story says Kelly's book alleges President Bush used cocaine at Camp David while his father was President, which is as credible as her story that then Governor and Nancy Reagan smoked marijuana with Jack Benny and George and Gracie Burns.

And tonight on CBS, longtime Democratic operative Ben Barnes-a friend of, major contributor to and Nantucket neighbor of Senator Kerry's and vice chair of the Kerry Campaign--will repudiate his statement under oath that he had no contact with the Bush family concerning the President's National Guard service.  (Anyone surprised that Barnes would contradict a statement he made under oath probably doesn't know his long history of political scandal and financial misdealings.)

So brace yourselves.  Any mention of John Kerry's votes for higher taxes and against vital weapons programs will be met with the worst kind of personal attacks.  Such desperation is unbecoming of American Presidential politics, and Senator Kerry will pay a price for it at the polls as we stay focused on policies to continue growing our economy and winning the War on Terror.
I'm bracing myself, Ed. I really am.
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