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A Man Needs A Fish Like A Woman Needs a Bicycle
Friday, October 29, 2004
PUTTING ONE'S MONEY WHERE ONE'S MOUTH IS
Well its time to make the prediction. i meant to put this up three months ago, but I will just say it now: Kerry wins by 50 or 60 electoral votes. And, he wins the popular vote. The main reason is not the librul media. Its just that the Iraqi mess has come home to roost, as i have said long, long, ago. Iraq is a 1200 watt stereo amplifier. It has exposed and amplified the President's weaknesses even as it also amplified his strengths. People may complain that Iraq has unfairly dominated the rest of the news cycle, and that it will come back to bite Kerry in the arse. But there is a reason it sucks up all the oxygen in the room. It is a raging fire and no one has put it out yet...
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Friday, October 15, 2004
EXPLAINING THE OUTRAGE OVER MARY CHENEY
The centrist and moderate left blogosphere is having difficulty understanding why the Cheney's and others are "outraged" over the "outing" of their daughter. Josh Marshall and Digby question the coherence of these tactics. Its not that hard, really.

The issue is that the Bush-Cheney campaign understand quite clearly the massive advantage that Kerry gained over the President after the last debate as an exemplar of unity, as I have already made clear in my post yesterday. Trying to paint Kerry as unfeeling or politically expedient would tarnish this impression. It also appeals to the protective instincts of large segments of the population (a "child" is being "abused". It is no accident that Mrs. Cheney used the word "tawdry" as Josh Marshall points out. Its designed to hit that particular button).


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Thursday, October 14, 2004
THE DEAD ZONE, THE PRESIDENT, AND ONE MAN'S POSSIBLE QUEST
Warning: Major Spoilers for a Film, "The Dead Zone" Inside

This recent article explaining the tribulations of a possible would be assassin rang a cultural bell for me. Apparently crazy guy stalking the President (and John Kerry), looking for the opportunity to end the President's (or John Kerry's) life makes for a great story. What caught my eye was this paragraph:

"Ward's ex-wife, Judith Ward, 59, who lives in Connecticut, told the Secret Service she thinks her former husband "is very dangerous and capable of killing someone and/or committing suicide."
She said Ward "is obsessed with weapons, [Oklahoma City bomber] Timothy McVeigh and the book 'The Dead Zone' - a novel about the stalking and attempted assassination of a presidential candidate," according to a Secret Service document."

As anyone who has seen the film (I confess I have not read the book) knows, the protagonist, John Smith, can see into the likely future of any individual he touches. He uses this skill to solve murders and by intervening, he can change the apparent future into something more benign. Thus he saves a senator's son from a drowning he sees in his future by telling him not to go onto the ice and play ice hockey that day.

Anyways, one day, he bumps into Greg Stillson, a presidential candidate. He shakes his hand and has a terrifying vision of Mr. Stillson, elected as President in the future, becoming deranged and launching an unnecessary nuclear war that destroys everything when a diplomatic option that would have saved the world had just been worked out. Mr. Smith decides to stop Mr. Stillson and this possible future, and takes a rifle and attempts to shoot him. Mr. Stillson uses a child as a shield (something seen and photographed by a reporter who subsequently escapes the scene in the confusion); Mr. Smith hesitates, and Mr. Smith is killed by Mr. Stillson's sinister body-guard, Sonny. As Mr. Stillson goes over to Johnny, Johnny grabs his hand, and before dying Johnny sees a new image of Mr. Stillson, distraught with a gun in his hand, looking at a Newsweek cover with him using a child as a human shield with the heading (Something like) "Is this the end for Stillson?" followed by an away shot of Mr. Stillson shooting himself dead with a pistol. "You're finished," is all that Johnny says to Mr. Stillson, in the Now, smiling as he dies. The audience is left with the clear sense that the world has been saved by Jonny's heroic act.

So, even if the papers aren't really talking about motivation, it makes me wonder what is going on in Mr. Ward's head...
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Bob Schieffer Did an Excellent Job; Or, What does Bob Schieffer Think of His Country?

I read with a chuckle, Atrios' claim that:

"Tonight we can expect Furious George to screech that over and over again. We can expect Kerry to pretty much do what he's be doing. And, we can expect moderator Bob Schieffer to direct a volley of "wedge issue" questions at Kerry and a bunch of softballs at Bush."

He is going to be partisan--just you watch!!!! But I think he did a great job, and let me explain why.

As an article in today's Washington Post pointed out:

"The personal tension between the rivals melted at the end, when Schieffer closed with a softball question about the "strong women" Bush and Kerry had married."

A couple of observations:
First, I didn't think this was a softball question. Given the past tendency of the media and others aligned with the election of President Bush to paint Teresa Heinz as a "loose cannon" and an "emasculating she-bitch" (Excuse me, I am paraphrasing), this was definitely a danger for Kerry.
Second, I think it reinforced the observation I made below that Kerry showed that he could be more effective as a "uniter not a divider" than the President. How? Look at the last words spoken by either contender in the debate:

"And I'm blessed, as I think the president is blessed, as I said last time. I've watched him with the first lady, who I admire a great deal, and his daughters. He's a great father. And I think we're both very lucky."

Its a humanizing moment; a moment of recognition of George Bush, as a man, by his opponent, and not as a cut out figure. Having been preceded by some good humour on both sides, and what I felt was real sentiment by both men, it enabled the debate to end on a constructive note of agreement. And Kerry was the one who made this possible, by making the overtures.

And I think that those who think that Mr. Schieffer was just being sentimental missed the point. I do not know why Mr. Schieffer ended the debate with the question he did, but I offer a possibility. Mr. Schieffer loves his country. He is old enough to remember the way that this country was ripped apart by Vietnam, and wise enough to recognize that a divided country is a dangerous thing to have in a time of war. He knows he cannot lecture to the two men to "put aside their differences" so he allows them to have the opportunity to show the electorate and each other whether they can actually help unite this divided land. As I have already stated below, I think Kerry took the opportunity with both hands. The President didn't. This moment was extended by that last "softball question"-- a small moment of possible conciliation. The last impression of the three debates is of gentleness, humour, and dare I say it: love. I find that reassuring.

I am sure that this last impression will be buried in the cold blizzard of dirty snow to follow in the last days of this campaign. However, to all things their season. After the snows comes the thaw, the warming sun, and the return of life. Mr. Schieffer planted a little seed that might, with a bit of luck, germinate in the Spring.

My hope is that whoever is President next year will take the opportunity to nurture it...
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Describe the Rock, Rather than Describe Your Thinking About the Rock OK, I saw the debate last night, and listened to the talking heads. I was most struck by David Brooks on PBS. He pontificated that the President had wide themes (liberty on the march, Kerry is a liberal poopy-head, etc), and that Kerry was a factual policy wonk without a core message. To be fair, Mark Shields said the same thing. I thought this was a case of not seeing the forest for the trees.

What do I mean? The illuminating question of the evening was:

"[After 9-11] it seemed to me that the country came together as I've never seen it come together since World War II. But some of that seems to have melted away. I think it's fair to say we've become pretty polarized, perhaps because of the political season. But if you were elected president, or whoever is elected president, will you set a priority in trying to bring the nation back together? Or what would be your attitude on that?"

The President's answer was to basically shake his head in wonderment and plaintatively riff about "losing that loving feeling," blame the entrenched interests, and the "tough" nature of Washington DC (shades of "hard work..."). What I found illuminating is Kerry's reply. Following the dictum of a visual medium to "show rather than explain" I watched as I saw how a Kerry administration would act to get things done in Washington. I was impressed not by his claim that "I can work in a bipartisan manner" but by what he did. He complimented the President on his ability to act as a unifying presence in the days after 9-11.

When two people have become estranged from one another, any rapproachment must begin with the first step of acknowledgement and acceptence of the Other as being like oneself and also as being different to oneself. Kerry's ability to see the good in the President is an example of this principle in action. I could see (via the split screen) that the President was not expecting this, and I felt (and perhaps this was only my projection of things) that the debate softened--just a tad--after this exchange. Kerry helped this lessening of tension by refraining from directly blaming the President for the mess, rather saying that: "I regret to say that the president who called himself a uniter, not a divider, is now presiding over the most divided America in the recent memory of our country. " Kerry showed us that he could actually unite the country. He understands the ethical trajectory of reconciliation. Bush does not.

The President did not have an answer to this fundamental and pressing question. And the commentators I saw last night did not even pick up on what had happened. But my guess is that many undecided voters did--at least subliminally. And whether they articulate it or not, I suspect that many will wake up in a day or three, and say: "Hmm, I am not certain why, but I think Kerry can get the job done."

And what is that job? Safety is part of it. Defeating terrorists and Islamo-facsism is part of it. A sane economic policy is part of it. But the biggest part of it is the will to do what needs to be done. And that will depends on a sustainable unity built on rational emotion to "stay the rational course." Some obscure politician once said in a different context: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." If the country stays divided like this over the running of the "War on Terror" this country will lose. The last debate made this point with absolute clarity--if one had the eyes and ears to see and hear it.

That was Kerry's theme.
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Back from Hiatus: Back on the AIr...
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Thoughts on What One Experiences These Days

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