The Threat Defined Down

Inspired by a comment from someone calling themselves “CranialRectalLoopback” (January 11, 2008 12:25 PM) on a Talking Points Memo article about the Iranian speedboat “situation” earlier this week, some modified remarks from the White House.

From President Bush abd Russian President Putin Participate in Press Availability:

Q Have you discussed proliferation of speedboats, and what are the results of your talks?

PRESIDENT BUSH: We sure have. We talked about our concerns about Iran developing a speedboat, or Iran having the capacity to make a speedboat, and we talked about North Korea. And the results of our talks are that we agree that we’ve got to work together to send a common message to both that there is a better way forward for these leaders.

From Remarks by the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney at a Town Hall Meeting:

We’ve already imposed unilateral economic sanctions ourselves. But the next step, in effect, cutting off trade for them with the outside world would be, obviously, a pretty heavy blow. And we’d like to try to resolve it peacefully, diplomatically if we can. We think that’s preferable. But nobody is very interested in having an Iran sitting in its location where it does under this government equipped with speedboats. So it’s a priority for us. I say, we’re trying to work it diplomatically. And that obviously would be a priority for us in the second term. (Applause.)

From President Bush Addresses the 89th Annual National Convention of the American Legion:

I want our fellow citizens to consider what would happen if these forces of radicalism and extremism are allowed to drive us out of the Middle East. The region would be dramatically transformed in a way that could imperil the civilized world. Extremists of all strains would be emboldened by the knowledge that they forced America to retreat. Terrorists could have more safe havens to conduct attacks on Americans and our friends and allies. Iran could conclude that we were weak — and could not stop them from gaining speedboats. And once Iran had speedboats, it would set off a speedboat race in the region.

The Timing Couldn’t Be Better

From CBS News

President Bush said Friday that he would return to the Mideast in May to mark ally Israel’s 60th anniversary and to continue pushing for a peace pact between Israel and the Palestinians, an indication that Bush intends to put a personal stamp on peacemaking efforts that could crown his final year in office.

Yes, that pretty much does put his “personal stamp” on it.


In a “Post Politics Hour” online discussion the morning of the New Hampshire primary, Washington Post White House reporter Michael Abramowitz was asked a question about the amount of time media organizations spend handicapping the politcal horserace as opposed to discussions of candidate positions on issues:


b>Anonymous: I am saddened by the fact that the media are focusing attention so much on personalities and who-is-ahead-this-minute in the primary races that we are hearing so little about the candidates¿ positions. Obama is described as inspiring, but what are his beliefs/positions? I do not know. Huckabee is described as affable, and his gaffes make news, and when he says he wants to get rid of the IRS he gets applause, but I have not read his explanation of the increased sales tax he wants to replace the income tax (I have seen estimates of the new sales tax needing to be as high as 50 percent to offset lost revenue, but the absolutely staggering impact of such a sales tax increase is not the subject of any analysis I have seen). Wait, Hillary may have cried — now that is important. Criticism Aside, ‘FairTax’ Boosts Huckabee Campaign (Post, Dec. 28)

Michael Abramowitz: This is a traditional and, in my view, fair criticism of the way the media covers elections. We do write about the candidates’ positions and their biographies, but much less than we do about the process of the race. We still have 10 months to go to election day, however, and I am sure the nominees of both parties will be vetted properly by the news media and others. I certainly hope so!

Now, I was under the impression that sometime between now and “election day” in ten months there were these things called “primaries” and “caucuses”, then “conventions”, in which the parties selected the nominees who would appear as the representatives of their party on the general election ballot. It seems like Abramowitz is saying that all that boring issues stuff isn’t needed before, say, Super Duper Tuesday — less than a month off — when some 40% of the delagates to each party will be selected.

Wouldn’t it be a good idea to give voters the chance to hear the issues of all of the potential nominees and vet them before the convention? I sure hope so!

Edwards Swiftboats Kerry

2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry came out and endorsed Barack Obama and people are buzzing about a falling out after the 2004 election caused by his vice presidential choice John Edwards’s unsuccessful attempt to convince Kerry to contest the Ohio election results.

Of course, there’s another theory, which is that the falling out resulted from earlier events, which The New York Times reported in a November story about how Kerry and Edwards didn’t always get along:

And there was the overshadowing issue of Iraq, a debate that brought out everything Mr. Edwards found most maddening about Mr. Kerry.

Both men had voted for the 2002 resolution authorizing President Bush to go to war with Iraq; Mr. Edwards had sponsored it with Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut. In 2004, they found themselves in an impossible position: antiwar Democrats were pushing Mr. Kerry to say he would pull out troops, while Republicans were calling him a flip-flopper whenever he tried to attack Mr. Bush on the war.

Mr. Kerry had increasing doubts about the war. But Mr. Edwards argued that they should not renounce their votes — they had to show conviction and consistency.

Mr. Kerry yielded to his running mate after Mr. Bush issued a challenge in early August: would Mr. Kerry still vote the same way, knowing now that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction? Mr. Kerry told reporters he would have voted the same, but done everything else about the war differently.

The Republicans delighted in another flip-flop. Six weeks later, Mr. Kerry gave a speech at New York University declaring that he would not have voted for the war, calling it a “profound diversion” from the real threat, Osama bin Laden. Mr. Edwards had argued against the speech in a conference call into the early morning hours. While Mr. Kerry was hailed for showing resolve, the campaign never fully recovered from the accusation that the Democratic presidential candidate — unlike Mr. Bush — did not know what he stood for.

The same article mentions Edwards’s reluctance to play the attack dog for the ticket (in addition to Kerry’s refusal to contest Ohio). The “yielding” mentioned in the article took place in early August. Attack ads from the Swiftboat Veterans and POWs for Truth began in the middle of the month. From the same article:

At the Democratic convention in late July, Mr. Kerry’s advisers encouraged Mr. Edwards to reprise his theme of the primaries, a pledge to bridge the gap between two Americas, one rich, one struggling. Preaching “the politics of hope,” Mr. Edwards mocked the negative campaigning the Republicans were sure to deliver: “Don’t you just hate it?”

But the convention was barely over when the attacks began, starting with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth accusing Mr. Kerry of lying about his military record. Kerry aides complained that Mr. Edwards would resist or try to tone down language when they asked him to deliver negative lines — “pundit lines,” as one of Mr. Edwards’s aides scoffed. He argued it was more important to talk about what the Democrats would do differently rather than what the Republicans had done wrong.

He objected to anything more than the most generic attacks on the Bush administration. After weeks of battering by the Swift boat group, he called only for the president to “stop these ads.” When Mr. Cheney said voting for the Democrats would invite a terror attack, Mr. Edwards called it “un-American.”

Now, if it was me, I might not want to endorse the guy I’d let talk me into staying the course on Iraq while I was trying to win an election. Particularly if that guy renounced the Iraq war himself a year later. It’s an old story. George McGovern actually voted for Gerald Ford and Bob Dole over Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, four years after Carter had been involved with efforts to thwart what should have been a settled nomination at the 1972 Democratic convention (although he says it was because he knew Ford better).

Personally, I’m still waiting to hear an answer to my question for Edwards.

Groundhog Day

My alma mater is observing Black History Month — in this year where one of the presidential nominees may very well be a bit darker-skinned than anyone behind the desk in the Oval Office in all of American history — with events celebrating “Politics Activism Art”. They’ve got Mary Frances Berry, who served on the US Commission on Civil Rights through the Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Reagan years. They’ve got artist/activist Faith Ringgold.

But they’re kicking it off on Groundhog Day (okay, that’s always during Black History Month) with a lecture featuring Harold Ford, Jr. Harold Ford, Jr.? The head of the DLC, Harold Ford, Jr.?

It’s a joke that practically writes itself.

Email to Wolf Blitzer

I’m curious why, when you have Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State and one of the top Democratic voices on foreign affairs, on The Situation Room to talk about whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton is more experienced in national defense matters, you didn’t ask her why she thought Clinton voted against the majority of Democrats in Congress to support the war in Iraq, and why Albright herself thought it was a good idea, given that everything the administration said about the imminent threat Saddam posed was false, just like the people who voted against the AUMF (and the UN weapons inspectors) said they were. Can you enlighten me?


North Vietnamese T-54 crashing through the gates of the Independence Palace in Saigon

Wow. It’s been a long time since I saw “The Beverley Hillbillies”, but I thought I’d seen more or less all of them as a kid in reruns in the afternoons. This is’s summary of episode 174(!) from season 6, called “Greetings From the President” which aired on 11 October 1967, which I surely don’t remember.

Just as the Clampetts are preparing to go home to the hills, Jethro receives a draft notice from the President. The women go ahead without them, and Jethro gets a few uniforms from the movie studio, one of a Prussian Field Marshall and one for General Patton. Jethro buys a tank and hopes for a crew, employing Drysdale as it in a Prussian Field Marshall uniform. While in Griffith Park, the park ranger reports what he saw, and two cops come down to investigate. During target practice, one of the cops, Charley, questions Drysdale, realizing he was the man who was the reason he was captured during WWII. An upset Jethro arrives at the mansion, and Jed asks if he will take him to the Sheriff’s office because Drysdale needs bail money and money to repay Charley, or else he may get shot.

Bring on the funny! The day after it aired, Secretary of State Dean Rusk said Congressional proposals to exit Vietnam would “subject this country to mortal danger.”