Sunday, May 20, 2007


If Not in One's Blog, Whence Ought One to be Musing?

Why do reporters insist on describing people who are involved in scandal as "embattled"? I was always taught that journalists ought to eschew un-necessary adjectives. So why describe So-And-So as "So-And-So, the embattled Such-And-Such"? What is wrong with an attitude of res ipsa loquitur when it comes to scandals? All the refusal to adopt that attitude does is provide a bludgeon of evidence of subjectivity to those with an interest in having people see objective journalism as biased.


How many of today's self-described liberal Democrats would have, a little over a century ago, voted for McKinley over Bryan? Bryan may have been something of a bumpkin, especially in his dotage, but being against Evolution, while still a rejection of the Northeastern intellectual establishment meant something different in the days when that establishment was a bulwark of prejudice and facile support for just-so-stories that, when cast as science, benefited the establishment in the same way that the "what's a wookie doing on the planet Endor?" confusionism of "Intelligent Design" benefits that same sort of economic establishment by muddying the waters about what a competitive system can and cannot accomplish?

Not to be an anti-intellectual supporter of tyranny of the majority, but, c.f. Michael Lind, that some many even so-called liberal Democrats look and feel, shall we say, like McKinley Republicans, might explain why liberalism doesn't resonate with people.

If Democrats wish to do well enough in 2008 to survive GOP dirty tricks, and well enough beyond that to survive Bush & CO's mess being blamed on the Democrats following Bush, we need to do better in the war of ideas. And the perception of liberalism is important. And this perception has some basis in a reality we must confront.


Speaking of perceptions of liberalism, the "see, Bush & CO even managed to Cheney the World Bank response to the Wolfowitz scandal gives truth to the lie that we suffer from irrational Bush hatred. True, Wolfowitz did walk gleefully into a conflict of interest trap which he should have been able to avoid. But let us not forget -- that trap was set by people who are not our allies: they are people who are wont to do to the 3rd World what Bush & CO are wont to do to our nation. Wolfowitz did not bestow upon the World Bank the Bush & CO patented reverse Midas touch -- the World Bank, et al., were pretty Cheneyed up to begin with. Blaming Wolfowitz for anything but being stupid enough -- and desperate enough to keep the girlfriend he somehow managed to woo -- to walk into a trap set by some smarty-pants Yurpeans doesn't play well in Peoria, and with good reason.

Don't we liberals remember anymore how the World Bank and IMF work? That too many liberals have suddenly forgotten who it is that is complaining about Wolfowitz being (and admittedly he was, so I'm not crying any tears for him) un-ethical will be seen as evidence that we liberals actually support the machinations of the World Bank (and that our "help the poor" rhetoric is empty hypocrisy) and that we are irrational Bush haters. These are lies of which liberals are accused: do we really wanna be like neo-cons who give truth to anti-Semitic lies and give truth to anti-liberal lies by being too gleeful about Wolfowitz's downfall?


The President says placing a timeline on the war is bad strategy. While Democratic politicians have been challenging the President on this, they've not challenged his fundamental theory that timelines make for bad strategy. Now if we are fighting a bona fide insurgency that wants us out, doesn't telling them that if they get involved with the political process, we will leave -- and we have concrete plans to do so, including a timeline -- help put the air out of the insurgency? And even if the insurgents themselves are really terrorists, telling people we do not plan to be in Iraq forever will deflate their popular support and make it easier for us and/or the Iraqis to defeat them.

So why no timeline? Because it goes against the original PNAC plan of being in Iraq forever? And why all the amnesia about what that plan was?

Anyway, though, smart politics dictates the Dems. should say "ok, we'll take away the timeline, but you need to provide sworn statements as to war progress for the funding to be maintained" (and to give the admin the "they lied under oath" full Clinton treatment if they make any misstatements whatsoever) and also to extract compromises. Alas, the Dems. are talking about "waivable timelines" and such which only make the Dems. look weak and vacillating.

I reckon too many Democrats buy into the GOP spin (after all, that's what you hear on NPR which many people think is liberal -- and hence many Democrats pay attention to it and figure they are getting friendly advice -- because as they repeat the GOP spin, they have sneer in their voice) that it's bad to play politics with war. Aside from how un-American that spin is (and the general, "politicians are wrong to engage in politics" meme -- wtf? Isn't that what politicians are paid to do?) in going against everything the Federalist Papers said about how our government is supposed to work (i.e. based on, um, politics), in taking that sort of advice Dems. end up looking more political, not less so. If Dems. would unify in opposition in a quick and organized manner, nobody would notice the political machinations involved. The GOP is expert at this, and do they look like they are playing politics?

Instead, though, the Dems. are so afraid to look too political that even the bare minimum of political gamesmanship they end up playing, looks too political, because it's obviously political and stands out. Which, of course, makes the Dems. even more afraid of looking political.

It's time we break this vicious cycle. Before we turn into the party of that cream-puff eclair plutocrat McKinley and the media insist on referring to the Congress as "embattled" ...

See, this is one post! I did bring it all together in the end! And y'all wondered where this was going ...

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