Saturday, September 25, 2004

Two Americas

My Aunt Alice saved the May 2004 issue of Vanity Fair for me -- not only was there a story on the Kennedy White House, there was also a lengthy article on "The Path to War" that she wanted me to see. It's all there: the Bushies leaning on CIA analysts to corroborate the administration's claims about WMD in Iraq, the whoppers about aluminum tubes and uranium from Niger, all of it.

In reading it, I began thinking about "Fahrenheit 9/11" -- specifically, the scene in which Michael Moore approaches congressmen outside the Capitol building, asking them to enlist their own offspring in the armed forces. Naturally, they can't elude him fast enough.

Of course, Moore was raising a perfectly legitimate question: If these elected officials considered the war in Iraq so necessary -- so essential to our national security -- why wouldn't they send their own children to fight? (It would have been more appropriate for Moore to set up shop outside the White House, but you can't get within shouting distance of that crowd.)

This is a variation on John Edwards's "Two Americas": there's one America that initiates conflict -- secure in the knowledge that their families won't be affected by it -- and another America that does the fighting and the bleeding and the dying.

(And I'm well aware that lots of Democrats, including Kerry and Edwards, voted to authorize Bush to go to war -- BUT they weren't the ones driving out to Langley, forcing CIA analysts to fabricate a case for war.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Kevin Drum frames the choice - in no uncertain terms

Kevin Drum says we have a choice to make -- and he sums it up in terms that anyone should be able to understand. (And if you don't believe Iraq is an ungodly mess, just turn on CNN or MSNBC.)

Pundits have been kvetching for months now that Kerry hasn't produced a gift-wrapped miracle that definitively solves all our problems in Iraq. But that's just not in the cards anymore. Iraq is such a mess that there's nothing left except choosing the least worst of a bunch of bad choices.

In any case, Kerry has now said what he'd do in Iraq, and while it might not be a slam dunk, it's surely better than George Bush's apparent plan to keep doing what he's been doing all along ("stay the course"). What Bush has been doing all along is exactly what got us where we are today, and practically anything would be better than that.

And that's really what this is all about. Iraq is going to be a big problem no matter who's president next year, but the real question is: what happens next? There are certainly going to be serious, unforeseen foreign policy problems during the next four years, and who do you trust to handle them best? The team that brought you Iraq and continues to believe that they've handled it just fine, or someone else?

I'd prefer not to see any more foreign policy crises handled the way Iraq was handled. Unfortunately, common sense tells us that's exactly what we'll get if George Bush is reelected: more Iraqs.

I just hope to God common sense comes into play when people step into the voting booth.

Chinless Ed's inquiring mind

Chinless Ed Gillespie (of the RNC) wants to know whether the Kerry campaign played any role in passing the forged memos to Dan Rather.

No, Ed, those are your tactics. Don't assume the Democrats are willing to sink to the same depths plumbed by Karl Rove.

'What is Bush hiding?'

E.J. Dionne thinks Dubya owes us some answers:

...a guy who is supposed to be so frank and direct turns remarkably Clintonian where the National Guard issue is concerned. "I met my requirements and was honorably discharged" is Bush's stock answer, which does old Bill proud. And am I the only person exasperated by a double standard that treated everything Bill Clinton ever did in his life ("I didn't inhale") as fair game but now insists that we shouldn't sully ourselves with any inconvenient questions about Bush's past?

I'm as weary as you are that our politics veer away from what matters -- Iraq, terrorism, health care, jobs -- and get sidetracked into personal issues manufactured by political consultants and ideological zealots. But the Bush campaign has made clear it wants this election to focus on character and leadership. If character is the issue, the president's life, past and present, matters just as much as John Kerry's.

Dan Rather has answered his critics. Now it is Bush's turn.

Actually, the media should have pursued these character questions back in 2000, when the GOP first nominated Bush -- but as we all know, the so-called "liberal" media gave Bush a free pass. Reporters focused on fictitious RNC talking points about Al Gore's "serial exaggerations" (once and for all, people, the man NEVER claimed that he invented the Internet), while ignoring the very real questions about Bush's character.

It's hard to say "better late than never" when (a) there's no guarantee the media won't drop the ball again (they're already letting Rove play them like a fiddle by making Dan Rather the issue); and (b) I think of what we might have been spared had the media DONE ITS JOB four years ago.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Big John on TV

Tonight: The Late Show with David Letterman, 11:30 EDT, CBS.

Tuesday, September 21: Live with Regis and Kelly (check your local listings).

Wednesday Oct. 6: Dr. Phil (check your local listings).
(As much as I've enjoyed watching Dave Letterman have fun at Phil McGraw's expense, this ought to be good. The discussion will focus on how John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry raised their children and how they are affected by the lessons they learned from their parents. We've all had a good look at the Kerry daughters and the Heinz sons in the course of this campaign -- and it's obvious that John and Teresa know a thing or two about good parenting.)