That's right -- he doesn't think the election was about health care. Watch them walk off the cliff...
Join me now for some unconventional wisdom: Why not John Kasich for vice president. From Ohio, the swing state of swing states. Son of a milk man. Dynamic. Smart. Media savvy. Not gaffe prone. A friend of John McCain. Capable of inspiration. Knowledgeable about domestic policy. Favorite of movement conservatives from the days when there was a movement.
I think we've found our guy.
Today's Hotline reports the following:
While answering questions at a campaign event in Newton, IA, 6/9, McCain was asked about terrorists crossing the U.S. border. McCain: "I think we have our heads in the sand being so politically correct and being more worried about Paris Hilton ... than real issues." After pausing, McCain: "Well, actually I think most of us stayed awake most of the night last night worrying about [Hilton]. ... I sure hope she gets out soon, don't you?" (Schulte, Des Moines Register, 6/9).
This, in its own way, is instructive. John McCain knows that the nation is focused on Paris Hilton because he's seen CNN talking about it. He knows she is in jail. But he is totally out of touch. He doesn't understand that nobody hopes she gets out soon. We had a national coming together on Friday, not quite on the scale of the Bronco Chase, but close. And we had as close as we get these days to a national consensus: Paris should have been sent back to jail. She should not have been released. Her release made people all over the country genuinely angry. Maybe he's too old or too insulated, but John McCain just doesn't get it.
1987 was the last time that a Republican president was heading toward the completion of his second term. I was heading toward my Bar Mitzvah, but I remember.
I remember that in 1987, there was serious doubt that Ronald Reagan could survive to the end of his second term. I remember that there was still talk in the air of impeachment and resignation. I remember that Gary Hart was the easy favorite to defeat the Republican nominee next fall.
I remember that in November 1988, everything seemed a whole lot different than it had in April 1987. The point is: There's a long way to go. Everybody calm down.
WSJ columnist John Fund was talking very loudly on his cell phone this morning on his way to the Rosslyn Metro.
He spoke of Mitt Romney: "Looks good, gives a great speech... But he's terrible in a crisis. Look at the Massachusetts health care plan."
Romney can't be counted out, according to Fund. Neither can Fred Thompson.
Congratulations to Francis Fukuyama, who becomes the first mainstream commentator I've seen make the obvious point I wrote about below:
"But we seem not to have noticed that the civil war engulfing Iraq involves two anti-American, radical Islamist groups that are increasingly interested in fighting one another rather than the U.S. This does not absolve Washington from moral culpability for bringing this situation about, but it does mean there are self-equilibrating forces in the region that will limit the damage that conflict will represent to U.S. interests once we disengage.
So Rep. Joe Baca called Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez "a whore," reports Politico. I guess now the cat's out of the bag. Why is she so offended? Here in the Federal City, it has long been known that Sanchez is, well, perhaps not a whore, in that she doesn't charge, but rather loosely moralled. It goes back to the congressional retreat after the 1996 election when she didn't show up to breakfast because she was in a tent and a sleeping bag with Rep. Colin Peterson. And all the ass-pinching of the male staffers and interns. This is all quite well known. Why not publish it?
The main reason I have pretty much stopped contributing to Unconventional Wisdom is that I had nothing to say that somebody else wasn't saying. There are so many voices in the Blogosphere, many excellent, that saying something new and interesting is a challenge -- and something that is not new and interesting isn't worth saying.
Three years ago, when blogging campaign 2004 in the early stages, it was novel to predict the rise of Howard Dean. No one else was saying it. But now I can't even devote this blog to making fun of Chuck Hagel, because others are already doing so, and anyway, is he worth the space?
But I do have something to say that, to my amazement, no one else is saying. And the best part is: It's Unconventional Wisdom.
Iraq is turning into a success. Not an unqualified success, not ideal, not perfection, but a success. We went to war in Iraq because of September 11, 2001. From the attacks of that day, some of us learned that bad people who want to kill us cannot be allowed to acquire the means to do so on a massive scale. (Fortunately, some of the people who learned this were in power in the Government, and those who didn't and never well were in the minority -- then.) We believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. That turned out to be wrong. We also believed that once Saddam Hussein was gone, we could make Iraq a democracy that would serve as a beacon to the people of the middle east, which in turn would enable moderation to triumph over extremism within Islam. That turned out to be wrong too, or so it seemed.
But ultimately, we believed that going to war in Iraq would make us safer here at home. I believe that is turning out to be right -- more right, in fact, than I ever imagined.
It's now been more than 5 years since America was successfully attacked by Jihidists, either at home or abroad. Before that, there was the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, the 1996 Saudi embassy bombing, the 1998 African bombings, the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, and of course 9/11. So now that five years have passed, the question of why we haven't been hit again is critical. It's been too long to just be coincidence. Perhaps our forces really have kept al Qaeda on the run. Perhaps they have no money. Perhaps counterintelligence overseas is working. Perhaps all the really bad guys have been captured or killed.
But maybe there's another answer, one we see on the news every night. Perhaps our enemies are too busy killing each other than killing us. The Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq hate us, and want to kill us. Instead, our war has led to them killing each other. And not just the Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis, but foreign fighters. Those who used to go to Afganistan to train in terrorist camps are now going to Iraq to fight. They are killing many Iraqis, but not so many Americans -- only as many in the entire war as they managed to kill on one sunny September day five years ago. It's not so much, "Fight them there so we don't have to fight them over here." Rather, it's "Watch them fight each other over there -- and kill each other over there -- so they can't even think about coming here."
The likes of Joe Biden love to hear themselves talk about a political solution in Iraq that protects the interests of Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. But the Kurds are not really part of this; they're content to have their autonomy up in the north. This is between the Shiites and the Sunnis, and the Shiites have a huge numerical advantage. Their leaders think they already have a solution: Kill the Sunnis.
This total chaos that will happen if we don't "succeed" in Iraq apparently involves the Shiites letting loose on the Sunnis. This could lead to a wider war, of course, because the Sunnis, who are the minority in Iraq, are the majority in the Muslim world. The Iraqi Sunnis might be aided by Saudi Arabia (home of bin Laden), or Jordan (home of Zarqawi), or Egypt (home of Zawahiri). Maybe those countries would intervene. More likely, their most extreme citizens would. That might antagonize the Iranians (Shiites) and the Syrians (pseudo-Shiites) and the leadership of Lebannon (puppet Shiites). And then you've got a regional conflaguration. A regional war.
O the hand-wringing! Look at what Bush's policy has wrought! A regional war! Oh, how foolish -- if only we could go back to 2002, before the invasion, when Iraq was "stable," when Saddam was in power, when all of the middle east was free to focus on the Palestian uprising and their hatred for us!
But maybe not. Maybe as long as they are killing each other, they are not focused on killing us. Maybe there will be terrible consequences of the Iraq war for the middle east. Maybe there will even be terrible consequences for "U.S. interests." Certainly there will be the harmful consequence of making us relunctant to go to war again in the future, against Iran; it is now apparent, as our enemies can see, that we don't have the stomach for it. But those who spent a decade devoting their energies to hitting us are now focused elsewhere and may soon be dead. And yes, maybe images of the war did create "a million bin Ladens" -- though this would only show the irrationality of the ememy -- but most of those million have neither the skill nor the guts nor the resources to act on their inclinations, and those that do can die in Iraq or the larger regional war.
The primary rationale for reelecting President Bush was that he would do his best to prevent us from being attacked again. In Iraq, that rationale is being vindicated. Not as Bill Kristol would like. Not as President Bush himself would like. But it is being vindicated nonetheless.
A plan for victory in Iraq? That's too much to ask. We've already won.
Barack Obama used cocaine, according to his memoir. Not just experimented with it, but used it whenever he could afford it.
Fine. When he was young and foolish, he was young and foolish. That's why Tom Bevan says, anyway.
But before this is entirely dismissed, let's remember that in August of 1999, the question of George W. Bush's possible cocaine use (not "alleged," because no one ever came forward to say they had seen Bush use cocaine) was the political story. It was a classic feeding frenzy.
Why no feeding frenzy now? It's not as simple as, Bush is a Republican and Obama is a Democrat. It's that it is newsworthy when Republicans have been drug users because that is hypocrisy. Democrats are somehow not guilty of hypocrisy. Why? It is because of the implicit view that Democrats have no problem with drug use, including campaign use. They may say they do, but reporters know, or think they know, that Democrats don't really oppose cocaine use, so it's not hypocritical when they use cocaine.
A month is an eternity in politics. Eighteen days is an eternity in politics. A week is an eternity in politics. A day is an eternity in politics. Then, suddenly, the election is over.
The favorite comment of Republican pundits right now is that however much time between now and the election is an eternity. That is true if eternity is denied, as it is by Dictionary.com, as "a period of time that seems very long, esp. on account of being tedious and annoying." But as these pundits mean eternity, there surely is a time when that will cease to be true. When it becomes too late. Then the election really is lost.
I'd love to be wrong, but I'd say that point came when the Foley story broke. At that point, there were about six weeks left, and Republicans needed all of that six week eternity to turn the election around. Foley cost two weeks and destroyed the Bush-comeback meme. Now there's only three weeks. Not an eternity for Rick Santorum or Conrad Burns or Mike Dewine. And not an eternity for the national Republican party, which is faces a 1994-like head-win that it must overcome, lest all the pre-election polls seem understated.
The Democrats do come out to vote. They did in the 1998 midterm debacle. Republicans do stay home when demoralized by the media; again, see 1998.
Corker and Allen may be ahead, but they need to pull ahead significantly or they will lose. Chafee will lose. New Jersey -- well, New Jersey offers hope, but that is so often true, and we are so often disappointed.
Here in the Federal City, the Republican mood is gloom. Ken Mehlman, obcessed with metrics, is reported to be feeling "confident." I can tell you that those close to him, however, are not, and they shouldn't be.
On the plus sign, Joe Lieberman will win. Which is a pretty weak plus side.
There's a story out there today that the Republicans least concerned about the coming election are George Bush and Karl Rove, both of whom purportedly believe that Republicans will be in control of both houses of Congress come January. Other sources wonder, do they know something we don't know, or are they just out of touch?
I think it's the latter. It's not just them. Last night, on the charity circuit here in the federal city, I ran into a fundraiser for the NRSC. He's been at the committee for three years, and he told me his mood, and the Committee's mood, was not gloomy. Why? There is a hugh disconnect, he said, between the Beltway media and the rest of the country, especially those who vote. The people smart enought to actually vote this year will vote Republican. But what about the polls? The likely voter models, he suggested, are all wrong. His example -- Rick Santorum. Santorum has down by this much in 1994, and he won. And Jim Talent was down by four points in the last poll in 2002, and he won.
Of course I'd like to believe all this, but I don't. It's not 1994 for Rick Santorum, because the wave is coming against him, not for him. And he isn't the young-turk Rick Santorum of 1994; he's the guy who probably would have lost in 2000 if the Democrats could have found a decent candidate. The Talent example works better, because it's easier to believe that Talent could pull it out, but again, there was no wave working against him.
In the final weeks of October, there may be a small Republican comeback in the polls. Loyal Republicans will come home. People may seem to wake up (a little) to the prospect to Nancy Pelosi. But this phenomenon happens in many elections -- Dukakis's surge in the final weeks against Bush 41 before losing 40 states, Bob Dole moving to within one point in the Gallup poll of likely voters, Bush 41's late surge against Clinton in 1992, cut short on the final Friday by Lawrence Walsh. Most memorably, though, this occurred in 1994, when the Democrats appeared to come back in late October when they finally got negative and focused on the Contract with America. This come-back will not really manifest itself at the polls. There is a wave out there. It is among independents, and it will drown out Republicans coming home. It began with Katrina, rose on gas prices, and relief came too late. And the Democrats did not do something stupid like the Contract of America (which I believe actually cost Republicans seats in 1994). They ran a negative campaign, devoid of substance, and in some environments, that works.
So, don't believe the tightening of the polls. It's too late. Dark times are ahead.
Following up on yesterday's post, Fred Barnes reports the following regarding the President's meeting with reporters yesterday:
Bush said the price of gasoline, which has been falling rapidly, is one of the "interesting indicators" that the press should watch carefully. "Just giving you a heads up," he added.
And we're back.
In December we noted what was coming in time for the November elections: Declining gas prices and a stock market hitting all time highs. Today, the headline of the Drudge Report all day was: "Gas prices fall to $2.05 a gallon in Iowa." That stealthy Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 11498, about 200 points below its all-time high. These are the two forces that can conspire to mute Democratic gains in November. Because it is all about gas prices and the economy, and it has been for the last three years.
Calista Flockhart is going to play a conservative pundit in an ABC series this fall with an otherwise great cast (Ron Rifkin, Patricia Wettig, Sally Field).
She won't be like Anne Coulter, though. According to writer Jon Robin Baitz: "I think she's a thoughtful conservative. She's ideologically, in some respects, very much in mind with the older parts of the party, the sort of Eisenhower Republican, the William Buckley conservative. She's also a humanist."
Eisenhower Republican. William Buckley conservative. That's the same thing, right? And Buckley's pretty much a humanist, right?
It is possible for a conservative woman pundit to be wonderful written. But not by Jon Robin Baitz, apparently.
I'll still tune in for Ron Rifkin.
Okay, I really shouldn't read Daily Kos, because it drives me crazy. It's not the Bush bashing, or the anger. It's that Kos and his friends never stop patting themselves on the back, without cause. And for the last month, it's been about the "people powered Army." Kos is leading a "people powered army." In Connecticut, Ned Lamont is being pushed by a "people powered Army."
But there is no people powered army. What there is a gang of freaks with laptops -- social outcasts, or at least political outlets, who now, in one of the Internet's worst consequences, have an outlet. These people have always resented the cool kids, by which I mean not just the popular kids but also the smart ones, the socially functional ones. The cool kids went off to become the Washington, D.C., "establishment," where they have positions of either power or money or both. The "Netroots" professes to hate these people, but really wants to be them. But a blog will never make them cool. And endless self-congratulations about the power of the Netroots will buy a few years worth of annoying news stories -- "no one knows how much power the bloggers will have in 2008" -- but eventually the establishment, which is itself promoting these people, will figure it out. There aren't that many of them. They have no power. They merely have the megaphone we give them by reading their crap. And the more it is read, the more it will be recognized for crap.
Connecticut in 2006 may be the watershed. Not the primary. It really doesn't matter what happens in the primary -- although, God, it would be sweet if Lieberman won it. But what matters is the general, because Lieberman will win, and maybe, just maybe, it will set in that this group of fools can make a lot of trouble but can't make a U.S. Senator.
Today the New York Court of Appeals, that state's highest court, ruled that the New York Constitution does not require the state to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
Howard Dean issued a statement, in which he said in part: "Today's decision by the New York Court of Appeals,
which relies on outdated and bigoted notions about families, is deeply
disappointing, but it does not end the effort to achieve this goal."
The ruling (here in PDF) is not bigoted, nor does it rely on bigoted notions. I say this as a supported of legislatively authorized gay marriage. But Howard Dean should really no better. Because, in the past, Dean had this to say: "The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's what it says." That isn't what it says, actually, but that's the "bigoted notion" he was advancing. When I say "in the past," I mean two months ago! And Dean told Lesbian Life that he opposes same sex marriage. And, of course, in 2004, as the Washington Post reported, Dean opposed same-sex marriage.
But now, it's not only "bigoted" to oppose same-sex marriage -- it's apparently bigoted to believe that the issue ought to be left to legislatures, not courts. So says the Chairman of the Democratic Party.
Have you been reading all this crap that they've been writing over there on the left, about what bad shape Lieberman is in? What a load of nonsense. Lieberman yesterday ensured his reelection. First of all, he is certain to win a three-man race in Connecticut against an unfunded, unknown Republican. If Jodi Rell were running, that would be different. But she isn't. Lieberman will have the support of most registered Democrats, nearly all indepedents, and many Republicans. And, ultimately, Lieberman will have the support of the establishment press and the rest of the Washington establishment in both parties, even if not publicly, because he's fundamentally a good person, and the people beating up on him are fundamentally bad people.
Second, Lieberman is now more likely to win the primary, not less. He's sucked up all of Lamont's oxygen. Whatever the spin on the lefty blogs, it is now assured that Lamont can't win. He can either lose in the primary or the general, but he'll never be a Senator, and he'll never stop Lieberman, so really, what's the point now of working for him or sending him money? There is no point. And what's the point of coming out to vote for Lamont at all? Again, there is no point. He can't win.
Democratic Senators, especially those who aren't running for president, can demonstrate the impotence of the little band of formerly voiceless freaks that is the "netroots" by supporting Lieberman in the general election. When there aren't any consequences for them -- which there won't be -- Kos and his pathetic ilk will lack credibility the next time they issue their silly threats.
In the summer of 1998, gun shots rang out in the Capitol. That day in Washington, it was a very big deal.
This city still revolves around the Capitol. So today, when word came that there had been shots at the Capitol. It was again a very big deal -- the kind of moment when people immediately call each other to ask whether they'd seen the CNN Breaking News e-mail.
But I've become hardened since 1998. I was not moved by the first reports, because I immediately suspected there would be a second one. It just arrived:
"Capitol Police say the apparent gunshots that sparked a Capitol shutdown were likely caused by workers using tools."
And for this, because of that one ideot's incorrect report, the entire complex was shut down all day.
We are now, in this city, incapable of dealing with anything. And that is part of why we're all going to die soon.
Happy Memorial Day.
There's been ample coverage (well, online anyway) on the stupid things Cynthia McKinney and her supporters, including actor Danny Glover, have been saying.
But Speaker Hastert's spokeman Ron Bonjean had a pretty stupid comment of his own: "McKinney is appears with the star of 'Lethal Weapon'? Not exactly the message you want to be sending."
What does that mean? This guy is a spokesman? 'Lethal Weapon,' of course, was a movie about good cops getting bad guys. Glover's character was a good cop, a good husband, and a good father." He compares favorably with, say, the Governor of California's role in the first Terminator film.
If people like this are our spokesmen, we are doomed.