B After The Fact

Sunday, October 19, 2003

"He did not remember that it is the essence of democratic government that a temporary majority shall not abuse its power, nor shall cardinal changes be forced in national policy except after full and free discussion, and by emphatic assent of the people. These were all at bottom moral considerations, and his apprehension of them was cloudy and limited."

Allen Nevins, Ordeal of the Union, "Part II -- A House Dividing 1852-1857" (Collier Books reprint, 1992) p. 108-109.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Oh no I said too much
I haven't said enough

(That's REM for the benefit of my Dad)

I was going to comment on my own posting from Monday, because I predicted that George Bush is going to have the troops home by Election Day 2004, or put himself in a political position where Democrats will not be able to complain that he he has no plan for bringing the troops back.

Instead, I will just refer you all to Nicholas Kristof's op-ed in today's New York Times.

Monday, October 13, 2003

I'm back. As most of you know, I've been to London, then had our typical busy September at work, Jewish holidays, and then as some of you are aware, I covered the California recall campaign, by analogy, by doing all this research on the Bleeding Kansas elections of the 1850s. Drafts are out to some of you, and I appreciate your comments, both historical and literary.

The problem with Dick Cheney's speech to the Heritage Foundation on Friday is that everything he said could just as easily justify a war with Halliburton's friends in Saudi Arabia. And even if you haven't come to that conclusion, the Saudis look like they have. Today the Saudis announced their first elections since (forever?).

The problem with the Weekly Standard's long article on how the Iraq War had and continues to have the backing of Bill Clinton (which goes a long way in explaining why I back it) is that it leaves out one vital detail. When Clinton was bombing Iraq, and trying to focus the country's attention on Osama, the Impeachment Committee was crying WAG THE DOG. Historians are not going to be kind to my boy Bill for not making a stronger case against Sadman Insane, and they are not going to be kind to Republicans who chose to put their concerns about who remembers what above the needs of the country at a point where a little bipartisanship could have saved a Twin Tower or two later on. Didn't some of these guys get security briefings? Happily, there are a lot of historians, because there's a lot of blame to go around.

A problem with Dubya's Iraq policy which has been underplayed by everyone, both left and right, and I think is a real driving force behind this reorg at NSC, which in turn led to both Rummy's hissy fit, and Cheney's "I-don't-care-what-my-own-President-says-I'm-in-charge-here" speech on Friday, is this:

The President intends to have every single troop home by Election Day 2004 no matter what condition Iraq is in. He will do what they told LBJ to do. He will declare victory and go home. If he is unable to actually do that, he certainly intends to make it impossible for any Democratic candidate, even for the mythical Democratic candidate who wants to sound like John McCain, to say that the President has no plan to get the troops home by Christmas.

Bush will keep saying that we will be in there for as long as it takes, but I think the Foxies -- those good Americans who tried to tell the nice judge in the Al Franken case that the words "fair and balanced" have no real meaning, that they just mean whatever Roger Ailes and Mr. Bill O.R. Factor say they mean --- the Foxies will try to tell their entire half of the country that the words "as long as it takes" actually means until Election Day 2004. And its gonna be OK with the Foxies. Not simply because the Foxies, who like you and me need to make a living, will do or say anything to be on the winning side. But because it's gonna be around Election Day 2004 that it will be apparent that we are not going to be able to stay in Iraq much past Election Day 2004 without a draft.

I am shocked that Wesley Clark has to keep back pedalling about his views on the war. And I'm shocked in my conversations with people who are reading this, and people who don't know I'm writing this, as to how many people were opposed to this war, and you get the sense that if they had found the WMDs back in March, half the country, 100,000,000 people, would have found another reason to be opposed to this war.

Republicans must know this too, and that part of the right wing that is unwilling to spend the final $20 billion on butter for Iraq ($60 billion on guns for our troops is OK, no questions about waste asked) must be looking at the poll numbers.

Nothing but my gut tells me that it will be hard for any candidate, Democrat or Republican, North or South, except the President himself, to win a primary or an election in 2004 by wrapping himself too tightly around the flag . I don't think a strong anti-war stance is going to play well either, but anyone, except the President, who wants to keep fighting terrorism no matter what it takes and no matter where it leads, is going to have a hard time of it, I think. Democrats who can show themselves to be willing to fight sometimes, and make people believe them, are going to be in good position. I don't think that anyone like that, including Wes Clark, will be running for President.

I will let Jonathan Chiat over at the New Republic be on the front lines on Why Democrats Hate Bush. I would tell you what he says, except I don't agree with it. I mean he may have his pulse dead on as to why Democrats hate Bush, but as a person who professes to agree with Joe Lieberman on most issues (including support for the war, although not this botching of the peace), I hate Bush for the following reason:

He lead us into war with Iraq, not because it was the right thing to do (which it was), and not because he wants to show Mommy that he is a better man than Daddy (and any Democrat who claims not to have seen that coming in 2000 was not paying attention), but because he needed the political leverage to cut France and Russia out of the Iraqi oil contracts (and you have no idea how much I like that!), pass the tax cuts and pass the PATRIOT Act. However, after 2004, the war will make it harder, not easier, to pass future tax cuts, and to continue to get us back to where the haves have and the have nots look to the church and big business for salvation, and good luck.

Ronald Reagan, when asked by an ultra-right wing group how he could accept donations from Republican gay rights activists, said "They're on my side. I never said I was on theirs."

Bush will have the troops home by Election Day 2004. And a lot of his current supporters from Dick Chaney, to the Heritage Foundation, to the editors of the Weekly Standard, to Ariel Sharon, are going to find out what Ronald Reagan was talking about. I expect Ann Coulter to remain true to the end.