Monday, October 25, 2004

Miscellaneous stuff of interest 

Most of you have undoubtedly seen the video of MSNBC's "analyst" Lawrence O'Donnell shouting down Swifty John O'Neill on Scarborough Country Friday last. But if you haven't, here's the link. You have to wonder why O'Donnell thought that this outburst helped his candidate's cause.

Not surprisingly, the Washington Post endorsed John Kerry. Surprisingly, the endorsement editorial was arrestingly balanced, and left plenty of room for the WaPo's readers to vote for Bush. Indeed, on national security matters the Post was very supportive of Bush Administration policies, mistakes notwithstanding, and breaks for Kerry largely on domestic issues:
The balancing process begins, as reelection campaigns must, with the incumbent. His record, particularly in foreign affairs, can't be judged with a simple aye or nay. President Bush rallied the nation after Sept. 11, 2001, and reshaped his own world view. His commitment to a long-term struggle to promote freedom in the Arab world reflects an understanding of the deep threat posed by radical Islamic fundamentalism. His actions have not always matched his stirring rhetoric on the subject, and setbacks to democracy in other parts of the world (notably Russia) appear not to have troubled him much.

But Mr. Bush has accomplished more than his critics acknowledge, both in the practical business of forming alliances to track terrorists and in beginning to reshape a Middle East policy too long centered on accommodating friendly dictators. He has promised the large increases in foreign aid, to help poor nations cope with AIDS and for other purposes, that we believe are essential.

The campaign that Mr. Bush led to oust the Taliban from Afghanistan seems easy and obvious in retrospect, but at the time many people warned of imminent quagmire. Mr. Bush wasted valuable time with his initial determination to avoid nation-building after Kabul fell and his drawdown of U.S. forces. But even so, Afghanistan today is far from the failure that Mr. Kerry portrays. Afghans and U.S. security alike are better off thanks to the intervention.

In Iraq, we do not fault Mr. Bush for believing, as President Clinton before him believed, that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. We supported the war and believed that the Iraqi dictator posed a challenge that had to be faced; we continue to believe that the U.S. mission to promote a representative government in Iraq has a chance to leave the United States safer and the Iraqis far better off than they were under their murderous dictator.

We do, however, fault Mr. Bush for exaggerating to the public the intelligence given him privately and for alienating allies unnecessarily. Above all, we fault him for ignoring advice to better prepare for postwar reconstruction. The damage caused by that willful indifference is incalculable. There is no guarantee that Iraq would be more peaceful today if U.S. forces had prevented postwar looting, secured arms depots, welcomed international involvement and transferred authority to Iraqis more quickly. But the chances of success would have been higher.

Read the whole thing.

Bob Woodward, though, may still be on the fence. He has a long list of questions that George Bush was willing to answer on the record, but which John Kerry refuses to answer. They are damned good questions, and Kerry's supporters should forgive us if we wonder why he won't step up with some crisp answers. Woodward's been on Kerry's case about this for weeks. From Meet the Press back in mid-September:
MR. RUSSERT: Bob Woodward, when you talked to the president during the course of writing "Plan of Attack," you asked him about his presidency and how Iraq might affect it. And here is the exchange: "`And if this decision'"--going to war with Iraq--"`costs you the election?'" Woodward asked. "`The presidency - that's just the way it is,' Bush said. `Fully prepared to live with it.'"

He knew then the stakes would be high politically?

MR. WOODWARD: Certainly, and they should be. One of the common themes you find in talking to people in the White House and in the government here at all levels is, if you want to understand Bush, look at this decision. It defines him, and he knows that. What interests me, from the point of view of our business, the news media, is we have not found a way--we know how Bush operated. I mean, to his credit, he was willing to sit for three and a half hours and answer questions about how and why he made these decisions. We have not found a way to go to the political opponent, Senator Kerry, and say, "How would you deal with these things?" Not with sound bites, but in a long, detailed excavation of how John Kerry would be commander in chief. That's the missing piece in this political campaign.

You've probably also read that the Democrats' litigation assault has begun. They sued to overturn a ruling of the Ohio Secretary of State that would have prohibited the casting of provisional ballots anywhere other than in the voter's assigned precinct. After winning at trial, the 6th Circuit reversed. With 10,000 lawyers on the job, though, the Democrats can expect to win more of this litigation than they will lose.

Meanwhile, Spoons and others think that the Cayahoga County (Ohio) ballot has been printed in a way that favors Kerry -- apparently, there's a big arrow pointing to a vote for Kerry, and no such big arrow pointing to Bush's name. The Associated Press has more. There's lots of argument about whether the error is deliberate, inadvertent, or not an error at all. The only thing that is clear is that it will be grist for litigation.

Speaking of voter fraud, somebody tried to disenfranchise a tall glass of milk. Bad idea. My only question: What's the point of stealing votes in California?

Finally, the Boston Red Sox won twice, notwithstanding errors all over the field. My only question: Don't the Boston fans in the stands look like they're from Boston? They look way more like people from Boston than, say, Mets fans look like people from New York. I'm just saying, is all.

UPDATE: And don't miss Arthur Chrenkoff's latest round-up of good news from Iraq.


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