And I’d be more than happy to vote for John Edwards over George Bush.
Brian Smith, where do you find all this right-wing propaganda? Everyone knows the Village Voice is just a shrill for Bush, Halliburton, the John Birth Society, and the Masons…
Er, or perhaps they are liberals who realize they will be getting another 4 years of Bush with Kerry as the nominee and are voicing their frustrations. Poor almost-Dean voters that they are…
I don’t know how the subject line got to be “Politics,”
But anyway, I personally think the most optimistic scenario (indeed, insanely optimistic) is that the delegates at the convention rebel and choose Edwards. If Kerry really looks like a loser by then, and Bush is walking all over him, then the Democrats at the convention might throw their pride away and say “What have we got to lose?”
Either that, or furiously pursue increasing voter turnout and smearing the Bush administration among the uninformed new voters.
Bush or Kerry, Left or Right what is the big deal? What is really going to change depending on the result? Nothing.
The are two faces to the same coin, with only superficial differences that give the illusion of choice.
I like that bluey, I feel the same way. I have not noticed a major difference in the whole of america from presidency to presidency. Some presidents are good some not so good, The party they hold does not determine that, that is for sure.
You guys don’t notice a difference between Republican and Democrat presidents?
Maybe you aren’t paying attention.
Vote for Bush if
-you want to continue to get more air and water pollution,
-you want to end women’s freedom of choice on abortion,
-you want to continue to lower the world’s opinion of us because of Bush’s utter failure as a diplomat,
-you want to see additional increases in tuition,
-you want to continue to run up a huge deficit (highest ever under Bush, without one single spending veto)
-you do NOT want universal health care as a choice
-you want additional Middle East wars based on Arab distrust and hatred of Bush,
-you don’t care that Bush still has NO PLAN for post-war Iraq
-you don’t care that Bush has lied to Congress about WMD
-you don’t care that under Bush, the US government is now the most secretive in our history
-you don’t want an energy plan, you want to continue our dependence on oil
ALL of those things would be DIFFERENT with Kerry in office.
Oh yeah, vote for Bush if you think Donald Trump and Bill Gates to get more huge tax cuts, that your kids will pay for.
To Brian Smith
I don’t see any point in second-guessing John Kerry as the presumptive nominee. The time to advocate John Edwards has passed. Anyway, John Edwards does not have the experience to be president. Look at what Bush’s lack of experience in national and international politics has yielded.
Thanks Lumpy. I will still vote for Bush regardless of all the bullshit propaganda you spit out of your hole. How about “Vote for Bush” if you want a president that actually backs up what he says he is going to do. To hell with world opinion. We could do nothing but nice things and the world will still hate us. And yeah, things would be DIFFERENT with Kerrey in office: This country would get walked all over by some shitty third world country. RLTW
“Vote for Bush if
-you want to continue to get more air and water pollution,”
The EPA acts under a granting of power from Congress. If the parties really wanted to do something, they could make the EPA do it. To put this all on the President is wrong.
“-you want to end women’s freedom of choice on abortion,”
Clearly you do not understand how the abortion decision goes. You would need to overturn Roe v. Wade, which would mean that you would need the right justices to retire. Even if it were, that would only put the decision back in the hands of the states. Each state could then decide what they wanted to do re: abortion, leaving a large number of states where abotion would be legal.
-you want to continue to lower the world’s opinion of us because of Bush’s utter failure as a diplomat,
The world’s opinion of us isn’t low because of the president. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have had terrorist attacks until 2000. The world is pissed at us because we’re rich, influence everything, and (in the Middle East) defend Israel. Guess what, that has nothing to do with Bush.
-you want to see additional increases in tuition,
WHAT? How do you figure? Tuition is going up because of the higher demands of students. Tuition propbably went up more during the Clinton years than at any point in our history.
“-you want to continue to run up a huge deficit (highest ever under Bush, without one single spending veto)”
This is one of these “this is bad, therefore the other is good” fallacies. Kerry’s proposed budget plans dwarfed Bush’s spending plans. Furthermore, the key to revenues is an increased economy. Raising taxes will only slow the economy…only worsening the situation.
“-you do NOT want universal health care as a choice”
You have it as a choice. You could garner support for it and then vote for it. Right now, we have used our choice - and we have chosen to not impliment it. I love how chosing univesal healthcare is a “choice,” but chosing not to impliment it is preventing a “choice.” Oh, I get it, it’s only a choice if you support it.
“-you want additional Middle East wars based on Arab distrust and hatred of Bush,”
What are you talking about? 1.) We have not made any threat of action on any other country. 2.) That would suggest that we have already had a war based on “Arab distrust and hatred of Bush,” which we haven’t.
“-you don’t care that Bush still has NO PLAN for post-war Iraq”
First of all, we do have a plan, you just don’t agree with it. We plan on giving back power on June 30th and continue to work with the interim government. That is a plan. If you want to debate the merits of it, do so, but it is a plan.
“-you don’t care that Bush has lied to Congress about WMD”
If the GAO told him that we raised X Billion in a certain act, and he repeated this to Congress, and then it turns out that they were wrong, would that be lying to Congress? In one way yes, in one way no. We clearly did have reports of WMD in that country. Even if it were wrong, this does not mean that Bush was told that it was wrong. It’s clear that we needed better info, but this does not mean that Bush lied as you are using the term.
-you don’t care that under Bush, the US government is now the most secretive in our history
First, this is highly debatable. Second, governments are going to continue to get secretive because of the increase prying eyes looking in. Each year this contry gets more secretive and that will continue far into the future.
“-you don’t want an energy plan, you want to continue our dependence on oil”
What do you propose Lumpy? You are full of criticisms, but what about an answer? First, since any meaningful reduction in oil use would cost trillions and would take years to complete, we would need to use our oil in the mean time. Guess where that would need to come from? Alaska. So, we have the option of reducing our dependency on foreign oil, but unless you’re willing to face the real consequences of that, then shut up.
Lumpy, your posts continue to be poorly thought out, use tenuous logic and assumptions, fail to offer any alternative courses of action (which are also well thought out, considering all of the various consequences), and do nothing more than show you marching in line with every other liberal out there.
Anyone will tell you that I am by NO means a big defender for Bush. I think there are a number of better candidates out there. But I also recognize that, while some policies may not lead to the best situation, it is still often better than the other option.
Your posts continue to show that you simply spew out the same rhetoric designed to appeal to gut emotions and fears rather than thinking out the positions, their true causes and their true consequences.
Please, never take any job where you have any effect on public policy.
“And yeah, things would be DIFFERENT with Kerrey in office: This country would get walked all over by some shitty third world country.”
Kerry and Lieberman (or whoever?) are pretty much as hawkish (if not more so) as Bush and Cheney aren?t they?
I use to get pretty upset over politics the state of the world etc. When I realised that there is nothing I can do except to look after myself things got a lot less stressful. Give it a go?
Hey Lumpy, since you seem to know shit that even the greatest minds this nation has to offer does not know, maybe you should run for president…but maybe you wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure that forces the government of today to make such decisions that you see on CNN. RLTW
Per usual, I don’t have time for all your baseless claims, but I thought I might deal quickly with a few of the more egregious from my files:
First, your environmental claim:
ANOTHER OVERSTATED NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE STORY: “Up in Smoke: The Bush Administration, the Big Power Companies and the Undoing of 30 Years of Clean Air Policy.” So blares the cover of yesterday’s New York Times Magazine. Author Bruce Barcott isn’t responsible for the headline, but might not it have occurred to some editor somewhere at the Times Magazine that there is nothing in the 13-page article that supports a claim of “undoing” clean air policy? All pollution regulated by the Clean Air Act is declining, has been declining for years, and continues to decline under George W. Bush. That’s not mentioned in the 13 pages, since it would more or less spoil the entire premise of the story and the dramatic cover. No factual statement in the Times Magazine piece appears wrong, but the article systematically ignores counter-arguments and counter-facts in order to create a picture that is, overall, inaccurate.
The Times Magazine piece http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/04/magazine/04BUSH.html is about Bush administration changes in the “new source review” regulation that mainly governs old, coal-fired power plants in the Ohio Valley, upwind of New York Times customers. The article begins by calling changes to the new-source rule “among the least noticed” of Bush regulatory actions, a puzzling claim since new-source review has repeatedly been on The New York Times’ front page and editorial page in the last two years. Set that aside. The article goes on to describe how new-source review was created in 1977 to sometimes but not always require old power plants to install modern anti-pollution equipment; that the rule is complicated and hard for power companies to understand (the “sometimes but not always” part); that some utilities evaded or defied the rule; that late in the Clinton administration, EPA administrator Carol Browner decided to make the rule stricter; that the Bush White House relaxed Browner’s stricter rule, returning new-source review standards to approximately what they had been before Clinton tightened them.
That much is well-detailed by Barcott’s article. Where the distortion enters is in what’s not said. First, the impression is given is that new-source review is the guts of the Clean Air Act, when in fact it’s a secondary provision, governing only a small fraction of total air emission sources. Second and much more important, trends involving pollutants governed by the Clean Air Act are positive and have continued to be positive under George W. Bush. (Greenhouse gases, where trends are negative, are not governed by the Clean Air Act or by any law.) Aggregate air emissions, everything rolled into one, have declined 25 percent since 1970 (see figure 1 here http://www.epa.gov/indicators/roe/html/tsd/tsdAir.htm), though the population has risen 39 percent in the same period. The Times Magazine cover and article give the impression that air pollution is getting worse when in fact it’s in significant decline: about half as much, per capita, as in 1970.
More specifically, the Times Magazine article correctly notes that recent health studies have shown that “particulates” (fine industrial soot), acid rain, and nitrogen oxides, all forms of pollution emitted by the power plants impacted by the new-source rule, can damage health. But what the article doesn’t add is that these forms of pollution, too, are in decline. Particulate emissions have declined 14 percent in the last decade–see page 11 http://www.epa.gov/indicators/roe/pdf/tdAir1-1.pdf. Acid rain emissions from power plants have fallen 41 percent since 1980–see figure 1 of this report http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/cmprpt/arp02/2002report.pdf–and have fallen 9 percent since Bush’s election. Nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants have declined 33 percent since 1990.
So The New York Times Magazine proclaims the “undoing” of clean air policy but skips over the complication that air pollution is declining, and, yes, declining under George W. Bush. This deceives the reader, creating a doomsday impression that makes for a good magazine cover and gives Barcott’s article urgency, but does not hold up if you know what the article doesn’t tell you. Barcott writes that he “conducted months of extensive interviews” on Bush clean-air policy. In those months did he never ask anyone, “Say, is air quality getting worse or better?” Maybe he did ask and kept the answer to himself, since the answer undercuts his story.
If the latter, the Times Magazine author is not alone, as for two years The New York Times’ front page and editorial page both have featured articles expressing outrage about Bush changes in new-source review, yet rarely, if ever, mentioned that pollution is declining. Here, figures 11 through 22 http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/cmprpt/arp02/2002report.pdf graphically display trends in pollution blowing from the Ohio Valley to the Northeast in the last decade–a big decline in acid rain and a moderate decline in nitrogen oxides. Most of this decline came under the version of the new-source rule that Bush just put back into effect, since the tightened Clinton version only was around a couple of years. That is to say, Midwest power-plant pollution went down under the old regulation whose restoration by Bush is now depicted as a disaster.
Elliot Spitzer, Senator James Jeffords, and others who make extravagant claims about the Bush new-source rule change never mention the complication that actual trends in air pollution are so inconveniently positive. True, trends might be even more positive had the Clinton-written rule remained in effect. Clinton’s version of the rule was a good job and could have been left to stand; Browner, a very level-headed and reasonable person, put an awful lot of work into her rule and wanted it to be fair to utilities. (Power companies exaggerate the costs of new-source compliance just as enviros exaggerate the degree of emissions.) But the worst-case scenario for Bush’s rule is that it will slow the future rate of pollution decline–which hardly sounds like the undoing of 30 years of clean-air policy, does it?
Finally, the Times Magazine story ignores or buries the really inconvenient complication that the Bush White House has taken some steps to make air pollution regulation more strict. Bush has put into force three powerful new pollution-reduction rules, one written by Browner and the others composed under Bush. One new rule mandates that diesel engines of trucks and buses be much cleaner; a second new rule mandates that “off road” power plants such as outboard motors and construction-machine engines be much cleaner; a third requires refineries to reduce the inherent pollution content of diesel fuel, this last rule enacted over the howls of Bush’s core constituency, the oil boys. Taken together, these three new rules are the most important anti-pollution initiative since the 1991 Clean Air Act amendments that cracked down on acid rain. And because studies show that diesel fumes are bad for public health, Bush’s new rules should produce at least as much public-health gain as the strictest interpretation of the new-source standard. Yet not a word of this in the Times Magazine article, since mention would undercut the premise.
And in January the Bush EPA promulgated a new set of rules http://www.epa.gov/interstateairquality intended to force power plants to make another round of reductions in acid rain and nitrogen oxides. Grudgingly, on the last of its 13 pages, the Times Magazine article allows that Bush’s January regulations might accomplish the goals of the Clinton new-source standard anyway, though doing so at lower cost. Poof! The entire story just disappeared. But how many people read all the way to the third-to-last paragraph, versus how many saw the doomsday cover?
posted 08:09 a.m. <easterbrook.mhtml?pid=1529>
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POLLUTED COVERAGE (PART THREE): This new study from the National Research Council http://www4.nationalacademies.org/news.nsf/isbn/0309089328?OpenDocument, a division of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that while air pollution is declining, the reduction could be accelerated by a “multi-state, multi-pollutant” approach that sets broad overall reduction targets, then allows industrial facilities to trade reduction permits with each other. (Current Clean Air Act rules generally require cumbersome site-by-site, pollutant-by-pollutant litigation.) It’s, um, a scientific study, and so perhaps The New York Times might have been forgiven for reporting it in a short article on page A11, while The Washington Post might have been forgiven for according the study but three grafs under “Washington in Brief.” Here’s what was missing from the coverage. The “multi-state, multi-pollutant” approach just endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences is exactly what the Bush administration has proposed to adopt under its Clear Skies initiative.
The ill-named Clear Skies plan would replace the Clean Air Act’s cumbersome site-by-site litigation formula with a new system that sets broad overall reduction targets, then allows industrial facilities to trade reduction permits with each other. The Clear Skies plan has been roundly condemned by Democrats, especially in the Senate–among the president contenders, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman have been withering in their denunciations of Clear Skies–and mocked by editorial writers. As this space noted in December </easterbrook.mhtml?pid=1074>, Democrats are fighting Clear Skies exactly because they know it would reduce air pollution: They want to deny George W. Bush a progressive victory going into the 2004 election. But the official reason Democrats, and editorial writers, have derided Clear Skies is their claim it wouldn’t work.
Comes now the National Academy of Sciences to say the Clear Skies approach is desirable, and the big papers bury that inconvenient development. The Times story does note, though not “up high,” that the study backs the president’s proposal; the Post sniglet says nothing about the connection, simply presenting the study as a disembodied research finding. New York Times and Washington Post editors both have placed denunciations of the Clear Skies proposal one the front page; but when the plan receives very prominent expert support, that’s not news. Some studies from the same organization, studies that discomfit the Bush White House, have gone directly to page one–for instance, a National Research Council finding that the fuel economy of SUVs and pickup trucks could be increased was (deservedly) a headline story. But a major scientific study backing a controversial Bush position is quietly buried. Now, what’s the word I am looking for?
Washington Post hypocrisy update! It’s now up to six weeks since the Danish author and environmental optimist Bjorn Lomborg was exonerated, by the Danish Ministry of Science, of a charge of false use of statistics. As Easterblogg has previously pointed out </easterbrook.mhtml?pid=1149>, while The Washington Post last year ran a prominent article reporting the accusation against Lomborg, it has yet to say a word about his vindication. The New York Times, which also reported the accusations against Lomborg, promptly and prominently reported his vindication. But we’re up to six weeks and The Washington Post remains silent.
Post, what’s going on? It is that your environmental coverage is just stenography for the enviro lobby? (Enviros were delirious when Lomborg was accused and have zipped their lips on his exoneration; a structural problem of environmental reporting is that some on this beat simply write whatever the enviros tell them to write.) Or perhaps there is a larger Washington Post-culture problem here–perhaps nasty stories accusing people of wicked things are liked by Post writers and editors, while favorable stories that reflect well on people were discouraged. What’s the deal, Washington Post–you can sling mud but you can’t wash it off?
posted 10:38 a.m. <easterbrook.mhtml?pid=1276>
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Also, generally, please explain how you criticize Bush for spending too much, then criticize him for now wanting to spend more on some fictitious “tuition spending” plan and universal health coverage (when existing medicare benefits are already projecting bankruptcy without hugely increased spending), to name just the two boondoggle spending plans you propose in your critique?
Finally, on the “Bush lied to Congress re: WMD”:
The Wall Street Journal
‘A Slam-Dunk Case’
April 28, 2004; Page A16
A funny thing has happened to the accusation that President Bush “lied” or “misled” Americans about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bob Woodward’s new book, “Plan of Attack,” blows the charge away, not that you’ve read about that in many other places.
Instead, we’ve all heard mostly about the book’s report that Colin Powell wasn’t keen on going to war. This we already knew. The real news is what Mr. Woodward tells us about the President’s state of mind concerning Iraq’s weapons when he ordered American troops into battle: His Director of Central Intelligence had assured him that the WMD case was a “slam dunk.”
Mr. Woodward describes a December 2002 Oval Office meeting in which CIA Director George Tenet and a deputy brief the President, Vice President, National Security Adviser and White House Chief of Staff on the status of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. According to the Woodward account, so far undisputed, Mr. Bush responded to the presentation by calling it a “nice try” but “not something that Joe Public would understand or would gain a lot of confidence from.”
The President continued, “I’ve been told all this intelligence about having WMD and this is the best we’ve got?” At which point Mr. Tenet is said to have thrown his hands in the air and remarked, “It’s a slam-dunk case!” Mr. Bush pressed again, “George, how confident are you?” Mr. Tenet: “Don’t worry, it’s a slam dunk!”
It isn’t a shock, of course, that the CIA believed Iraq possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. The Clinton Administration bombed Iraq for four days in December 1998 based on that assessment. Every other major intelligence agency in the world believed the same. What is new in the Woodward account is the extent to which Mr. Bush appears to have been a thoughtful and critical consumer of such intelligence. The President reportedly told Mr. Tenet several times, “Make sure no one stretches to make our case.”
All of which puts the “Bush lied” crowd in a rather awkward spot. “He misled every one of us,” John Kerry has said. “He lied to me personally.” Ted Kennedy: “Week after week after week after week, we were told lie after lie after lie after lie.”
The fact that the Massachusetts Senators didn’t have the benefit of Mr. Woodward’s account when making such serious allegations isn’t much of an excuse for these false claims, since as Hillary Rodham Clinton has recently attested, “The consensus was the same, from the Clinton Administration to the Bush Administration.” New York’s Junior Senator may owe Mr. Bush a little apology herself for suggesting he wasn’t “intellectually curious” enough on this matter to seek out “contrary points of view.”
We suppose Mr. Bush can be faulted for his continuing loyalty to Mr. Tenet in the face of faulty U.S. intelligence, but that’s a subject for another day.
The bottom line is that Mr. Woodward has revealed the campaign to accuse Mr. Bush of lying about Iraq to be false. Let’s be generous and say Messrs. Kennedy and Kerry and their media friends were themselves only “misleading” Americans about their accusation based on faulty information. But if they make the charge again we’ll know that they are the ones who are lying.
Just curious, you as a Ranger, a Warrior, how do you feel about the President sending men off to die when he had the opportunity to taste combat, but ducked it.
Because come on lets face it, if he was not connected to money and political power, he would have been slogging in the rice paddy’s with the rest of the infantry ducking bullets instead of taking year long vacations from the Guard.
BSmith, I think I already mentioned this in one of your previous threads, but I agree wholeheartedly that Edwards was the FAR superior choice.
He is not a career politico, he is young and still only a " junior" member of Congress, he is Southern which is very important, and frankly, he’s a lot more appealing looks-wise and personality-wise. He also has the human appeal of a person who has lost a child and who has won big setlements for the “underdog” .
I hate to say it, and I said it in that previous thread, that my grandma, who is 84 and more or less a Republican who has been so since she first came to this country, doesn’t like Kerry.
(In fact, I think the only time she voted Democrat was for ex-Gov.Cuomo)
Why do I hate to say it? Well, we were watching the news and Kerry came on the screen and out of nowhere she yelled out “That old ugly!”
(She has nothing against old people-she voted 2x for reagan and also for Bush Sr.)
But even though she doesn’t like BUsh jr, and wants him out of office, I don’t think she will vote Democrat.
There’s just something about Kerry that is unappealing.
Its sad, but how you look does count to a degree, esp to an undecided.
I guess its an emotional thing, youjust get a feeling inside that you don’t like someone based on how they look.
ANd if your candidate looks like Frankenstein, and frankly is not charming or appealing…its bad news.
Good question. I have tasted combat and I have to say it can work 2 ways: 1-It can scar you for life, or 2-I gives life a richer flavor and a greater appreciation. Vietnam was a different conflict and had a different reason. Hell, even some Rangers back then rejected the war. I believe it was a much more controversial war than the one we currently see ourselves in. Vietnam was fought to stop the spread of communism, Iraq is being fought for a multitude of reasons. Like stopping terrorism and kicking anyone’s ass who supported terrorists (remember the state of the union address and the many speaches after 9/11??). Another reason is security in a place that is valuable i.e. oil, but before anyone jumps to any conclusions, stop and think about this: All throughout history, what have wars been fought over? Surely many of them have some B.S. reasons, but the majority of them were fought to gain land that was valuable to the aggresive nation or state. This war is no different. I do not disagree with the Vietnam war whatsoever. We may have lost that “conflict”, but brutal leaders fear the red, white and blue because of what was done. If Bush didn’t want to serve in 'Nam that’s fine. The majority of this nation did not want to. But Bush has great morals and is in office in one of the most difficult times this country has ever seen. He is under the gun constantly. Every one cannot be happy, but I like him because he does great things for the military, and he is kicking ass and taking names simply because they guys he is going after are assholes and need to be ousted from power.
Some people say “Big deal, what good is boosting up the military going to do for me?” Good point, but think about this. Rome fell because it’s military was weakened and no emperor would recognize it. The military protects the common man like you, and upholds the greatest traditions and makes the greatest sacrifices this country has to offer. Bush recognizes this regardless of the fact if he was too scared to serve in the Vietnam conflict. RLTW
Gotta say I disagree with you, but I still respect you brother!
Dan Drezner agrees with your Grandma:
Up Is Down
by Daniel W. Drezner
Most people believe that the state of Iraq come November will largely determine whether George W. Bush is reelected. A stable Iraq, this reasoning goes, helps Bush, while a chaotic, violent Iraq could doom his chances. But that bit of conventional wisdom has looked shaky in recent weeks, as Iraq has gotten worse and Bush’s poll numbers have gotten better. The latest Gallup poll has Bush widening his lead over John Kerry from 4 to 6 points. A Washington Post/ABC News poll shows a 1-point increase in Bush’s approval ratings over the past six weeks. On the question of which candidate can be trusted to handle the situation in Iraq, Bush went from being 1 point down in early March (before the Iraqi insurgency began) to being 11 points up in late April.
At this point, Kerry has to wonder whether he’s in a parallel political universe. It seems neither logical nor fair that problems in Iraq should boost the president who sent U.S. troops there in the first place, while imperiling the challenger who voiced qualms about the invasion before it happened. But odd as this will sound, it’s worth considering the possibility that failure in Iraq is helping Bush’s reelection chances–and that immediate U.S. success in Iraq is Kerry’s only chance to win.
This apparent paradox has more to do with Kerry than Bush. The Post/ABC poll showed that Bush’s disapproval numbers on Iraq (54 percent) and terrorism (35 percent) have been climbing for the last four months, and are currently at their highest levels ever. The problem is not that Bush is unbeatable; the problem is that he seems unbeatable when compared to Kerry.
This is because Kerry is in an impossible box on Iraq. Mainstream Democrats like Kerry may have opposed going into Iraq last year, but now they’re stuck with the proof of purchase. Few Democrats want to see the U.S. pull out of the country. It’s worth remembering that even Howard Dean, the most vocal of the antiwar candidates, said last summer that he wanted to increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. Kerry’s conundrum is that the politically coherent position of opposing the war both before and after the invasion is substantively unappealing. On a normal issue, if a challenger disagrees with an incumbent–and, moreover, if the incumbent’s initiatives are both objectively failing and increasingly unpopular–then the challenger can simply advocate taking the opposite approach. But Iraq isn’t a normal issue; there is no opposite approach (or, at least, no responsible opposite approach). There are also political considerations–Kerry is fighting a decades-old perception that the Democrats are soft on national security issues. So Kerry needs to find a way to oppose Bush on Iraq without advocating a pullout of U.S. troops. Simply reminding everyone about his prewar qualms is not doing the trick.
Kerry’s response over the past month has been to try to marry his criticism on Iraq to a broader point about Bush alienating U.S. allies. For example, on “Meet the Press” last week, Kerry said in response to a question about how he would handle Iraq: “I will immediately reach out to other nations in a very different way from this administration. Within weeks of being inaugurated, I will return to the U.N. and I will literally, formally rejoin the community of nations and turn over a proud new chapter in America’s relationship with the world.” This position sounds faintly familiar–and it should, because it was the Clinton administration’s policy in Somalia after Mogadishu: internationalize the problem to the United Nations as a way to reduce U.S. commitments over the long run. In 1993, the Clinton team thought that staying in Somalia another six months was sufficient to show resolve. A decade later, everyone agrees that the pullout was a mistake–even Richard Clarke pointed this out in Against All Enemies. As a result, this tack isn’t likely to get Kerry very far.
The senator’s remaining option is to run to Bush’s right by demanding that more U.S. troops and firepower be dispatched to Iraq. Andrew Sullivan has suggested that this could be Kerry’s Sister Souljah moment vis-?-vis the antiwar left. The senator has hinted at this position, but can’t make it his full-throated battle cry without enraging segments of his Democratic base, something he can ill afford to do. Put simply: Kerry has no good political options on Iraq; it would be in his political interest for the entire situation to fade from the spotlight. The only way for that to happen is for the situation to improve.
If you think Kerry’s political position is weird, consider the Bush administration’s situation. Ordinarily, presidents are rewarded for doing their jobs well. In Bush’s case, however, quiet in Iraq would allow Americans to focus on their pocketbooks. While the economy–and Bush’s approval numbers on the issue–have rebounded from lows, the president remains far weaker on domestic issues than on international affairs. Democrats can still claim that Bush is the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over a decline in the number of jobs. The latest Gallup poll shows a 54 percent disapproval rating on Bush’s handling of the economy. Bush’s best hope for reelection is for the electorate to focus on his leadership abilities–and one way for that to happen is for there to be trouble in Iraq.
Now, before conspiracy theorists start squealing with delight, this does not mean that it’s in Bush’s interest to purposely fail in Iraq. It’s important to remember that Bush’s best strategy for reelection remains to succeed both in Iraq and on the economy. That’s still a possibility. But just as successes have unintended consequences, so do failures. And it seems more and more likely that one unintended consequence of a failure in Iraq could be a boost for Bush. If so, the conventional wisdom would end up being half right and dead wrong at the same time: Bush’s chances for reelection might very well depend on the state of Iraq come November. Just not in the way everyone thinks.
Links to relevant documentation and further information can be found here.
Daniel W. Drezner is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Sanctions Paradox (Cambridge 1999). He writes regularly at www.danieldrezner.com/blog.
Just curious, what are YOUR thoughts on this? RLTW