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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Second night

First, folks, a few words about irony.  I have employed irony on this site before, back when I was a few miles left of the DemocRATS, that is, a couple of days ago.  But irony is an ill wind that bites the hand that feeds our country’s fashionable liberal cynicism.  So you are now entering the no-irony zone.  You have been warned.

Well, day two at the RNC was a mixed bag.  On the one hand, we showcased our diversity.  We did tolerance and moderation last night, and in so doing, we opened a six-pack of tall-boy whoop-ass on those French-speaking Democrats and their “intimate friends” in the theater industry and the anti-Christian media.  When we do tolerance and moderation, we take no motherlovin’ prisoners!  But tonight it was all about diversity.  Michael Steele himself was incredibly diverse.  The liberal media won’t admit it, but black Republicans are actually much more diverse than black Democrats.  You see, since most African-Americans are Democrats, black Democrats are basically just party-line groupthinkers.  Black Republicans, by contrast, think for themselves in a way that truly diversifies diversity.  And that’s why we put them front and center when we have our conventions-- because, unlike the Rats, we respect them as individuals rather than as members of a group. 

And then the highlight of the night, the man we all came to see, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Schwarzenegger spells “diversity.” For while the Democrats think Hollywood is the heart and soul of America, Republicans know that the heart and soul of America is someplace else, like a small town in a swing state, or in a quiet, modest house in the country where immigrants are working hard to better themselves by farming the land or pumping iron or something.  Arnold Schwarzenegger symbolizes that heart and soul, having risen from humble immigrant iron-pumping origins to fame and success and announcing his candidacy for governor of California on The Tonight Show-- the classic American immigrant’s dream.  And as Arnold put it so eloquently tonight, immigrants don’t have to fear the Republican party-- the Republican party loves them.  And they don’t have to agree with everything in the Republican party, like, for example, the part of the party that doesn’t love immigrants at all, because we “can respectfully disagree and still be good Republicans.” Now that’s diversity-- and tolerance too!

How do you know you’re a Republican, Arnold asked?  If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, instead of the people being accountable to the government, you’re a Republican.  Well, no kidding!  Again, you won’t hear this from the liberal media, but independent studies have proven that the Bush presidency has been the most accountable presidency ever-- and more than twice as accountable as Clinton’s.  In fact, you could say that the “W” in “George W. Bush” stands for “We Have Been Extremely Accountable.”

Also, Arnold said, if you think your family knows how to spend money better than the government does, you’re a Republican.  Damn straight, Kindergarten Cop!  In the past year, my family has initiated a bold new spending program designed to bolster the alternative-rock industry, and next year we’re unveiling our plan to provide health care for all Americans except the ones who don’t live with us.  Also, don’t forget to check out the new Bérubé Turnpike we’ll be building in a town near you.  It’ll be a toll road, so that we can raise the funds for the light rail system we’re working on for 2009.

Some of you might doubt that my family can pull this off.  Well, some of you might just be economic girlie-men!  The kind who get their panties in a bunch about a little deficit here and a little job loss there!  You people don’t have health care?  You can’t afford a visit to the dentist, you say, and you’ve got this inflammation that you’re worried about?  You’re a bunch of fags!!  Why not just go to Hollywood and become DemocRATS, you lily-livered gum-inflamed liberal whiners?

Enough about you.  This night wasn’t about you.  It was about a President who knows how to terminate terrorism.  That’s right, you wanted to know if Arnold would say “terminate,” and you got your answer-- we will terminate terrorism.  Terrorism will come at us in a big truck carrying crude oil or liquid nitrogen or something, and we’ll crush it in a drill press or maybe shoot it and shatter it into a million pieces, but then the terrorists’ metal forearm will survive and provide scientists with the basis for creating a whole new kind of artificial intelligence, or the liquid-metal terrorist will re-form and we’ll have to shoot it with one of those huge exploding bullets and make it fall backwards into a vat of molten steel, and then we’ll have to send ourselves back into the past (that is, the present) to protect ourselves from the terrorists who want to start a global thermonuclear war, but then it’ll turn out that the war happens anyway, which is kind of complicated, because we thought we’d avoided it when we shot the liquid-metal terrorist with the huge exploding bullet and he fell . . . never mind, that’s not the point, the point is that leadership is all about “making decisions you think are right, and then standing behind those decisions.” Even when it looks like your decision to invade Iraq was based on the advice of a notorious kleptomaniac who was possibly serving as a double agent for Iranian mullahs, you stand behind your decision, because leadership is all about making decisions you think are right and then standing behind them.  Um, I said that already.  But that’s all right, because it makes it even more true!!  And I stand firm in repeating what I said about leadership!! 

I do have two quibbles with Arnold’s speech.  One, he said, “you don’t reason with terrorists, you defeat them.” Maybe this is one of those moments where he’s respectfully disagreeing with the President, who recently told us (and I’m paraphrasing from memory here) that we can’t win a war on terrorism in a way that winnably defeats terrorists because this is a different kind of conflict than the kind of conflict in which you win a war, but that doesn’t mean we won’t win.  But I think Schwarzenegger should have consulted the President about this.  And two, he said that “we do not fight for imperialism, we fight for human rights.” I know I’ve only been a Republican for 24 hours now, but I have to press the “respectful disagreement” button here.  Screw human rights-- I’m in it for the imperialism.  You may be happy right where you are in Sacramento, Arnold, but me, I want one of those no-bid contracts.

Next up were the twins, Barbara and Jenna.  And here, I think, is where my new party revealed a genius I didn’t know it had.  For years, progressive-left literary types like me used to taunt Republicans: “nyah nyah, nyah nyah,” we suggested, “you don’t know anything about surrealism, nyah nyah, never heard of the European avant-garde, la la la la la la.” We thought we were the last word in urbane sophistication, and that Republicans could not begin to comprehend-- or even catch-- our allusions to figures like Bréton and Bataille.  But then along come the Bush twins, and ooh la la, surrealism is born anew!  “My Dad already had a chief of staff-- and his name is Andy!” said Jenna.  It is beyond humor, it is beyond your petty-ironic Democrat understanding.  “Our parents’ favorite term of endearment for each other is Bushy,” they said, following this with “we had a hamster too, but our hamster didn’t make it.” What does this mean? you ask.  Foolish liberal Democrats, fretting about “what does this mean, this strange talk of bushes and lost hamsters.” It is not about meaning.  It is about the irruption of the unconscious into the very fabric of everyday life, where the eye becomes an egg and the hamster disappears into the bushy undergrowth, there to be transformed into the heart and soul of America.  Hah!  Now we find that Republican diversity is even more diverse than Michael Steele and Arnold Schwarzenegger-- it extends even to the domain of live performance art, where Barbara and Jenna Bush evoke Bréton and Bataille and Beavis and Butthead in an intertextual performance that leaves you girlie-men cultural-studies Democrats gasping for air.  I especially liked the bit about how their parents taught them to respect everyone.  Except the people we run against-- them we slime! Heh.  Heh heh.  Heh. 

After Arnold and the twins, Laura was a serious letdown, I have to say.  She was not very diverse, and she was not very surrealist either.  She did manage to point out that her husband was the very first president to support stem cell research, slapping down that liberal-media Big Lie about how Clinton authorized the research and Bush declared a moratorium on it, and she did manage to be strong and emphatic, not at all shrill and smug like Hitlery, but why did she have to go and mention Vaclav Havel?  He’s a foreign leader, and as Rudy G. told us last night, foreign leaders suck eggs.  “Democracy requires the participation of everyone,” Havel told Laura.  Screw that participatory shit! We have an election to win here.  No wonder nobody clapped at that line!  Diebold their lame asses, I say, and if there’s a black DemocRAT in Florida who wants to vote, he (or she!) better be ready to recite the Constitution backwards and prove that his (or her!) grandfather wasn’t a Democrat (or a felon, assuming you make the distinction!).  And then we have to hear about the President shedding tears as he’s hugged families who’ve lost loved ones?  What the hell is this, Oprah?  First of all, George Bush would have to have really long arms to hug entire families.  And second of all, let’s leave this sensitive, family-hugging crap to John Kerry, whose campaign is based entirely on hugging, nuancing, and reasoning with terrorists.  From my leaders I want to hear more about terminating terrorism with huge exploding bullets and time travel, and that’s why I can’t wait to hear Dick Cheney speak tomorrow night.

America moves ahead!  And this blog will follow.

Posted by Michael on 08/31 at 06:22 PM
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Monday, August 30, 2004

First night

In all honesty, I have to say I’m impressed. 

Ed Koch’s endorsement of Bush was amazingly powerful.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ed, he’s the guy who ran for Mayor of New York in 1977 on the slogan, “Westway Must Never Be Built,” and then, within minutes of taking his hand off the Bible, realized that Westway kicked ass and should definitely be built-- while the city went about the important business of closing a couple of municipal hospitals in Harlem.  Not every politician would have had the courage of his convictions on this-- most ordinary New York Democrat machine pols would’ve stuck with the platform that got them in.  But not Koch-- he bucked the system in ‘77, man, and he’s still buckin’ today.  For a quarter century, the name “Ed Koch” has been synonymous with integrity and rectitude.  He’s a beacon of sanity and light in dark times.  If he says George Bush is our man, I think Democrats should sit up straight and listen.

And then McCain.  What is there to say about McCain?  McCain is McCain.  The quintessential maverick, quintessentially mavericking all those other sucker-quintessential pseudo-mavericks who try to bring that weak shit to the hole.  When he called Michael Moore a “disingenuous filmmaker,” I realized that my own piddling critiques of Moore were so much dust in the wind.  As McCain explained in his post-game interview with CNBC, Michael Moore’s film suggested that Iraq under Saddam was some kind of Biblical paradise, and that’s so wrong it’s just . . . just . . . disingenuous, is what it is.  Isn’t it weird that Democrats won’t say anything bad about Saddam?  Rock on, John.  The disingenuous must die!!  Die, disingenuous Democrats, die!!

And then, listening to the testimonies and watching the montages after McCain’s speech, I began to think about my own prejudices as a liberal-left blogger.  Seriously, the last time I had a substantial debate with one of my liberal-leftist colleagues about the Bush presidency, it was at an American Studies panel at Tiny Elite Liberal University titled, “Republicans-- Do They Merely Give Voice to the Vilest Elements of American Society, or Are They Themselves the Vilest Elements of American Society?” At the time, I argued strenuously in favor of either the former or latter position, but now that I’ve finally seen some actual Republicans up close on TV, I’ve had to reconsider.  These people really seem very nice, once you get to meet them.  They’re not wild-eyed ideologues-- they’re just ordinary folks, sitting there in Madison Square Garden, trying to have a good time.  They’re as sensible as you or your grandmother, and all they want is for people to love one another, inclusively, in a big tent that is inclusive.  They love their country, and you should too.

And then . . . Rudy G.

Now, I’ve spent most of my life hanging around with effete English department liberal faculty, and as a result, I’ve always imagined Republicans as evil trolls who file their teeth at night and spend their spare time trying to figure out how to pass tax cuts for their ultrawealthy friends while passing the costs along to widows, orphans, and gay men with disabilities.  Tonight, I came face to face with those caricatures, and the caricatures won.  I’m not ashamed to admit it.  Rudy was great, and great Americans loved Rudy.

Rudy G. channeled Fafblog, declaring that George Bush can “see beyond today and tomorrow-- he can see into the future.” Then Rudy G. channeled Peggy N., declaring that Bush “has already earned a place in history as a great American president,” based on his resolve and his firm hardness in those first few goat-petting hours.  And then Rudy G. did this great segue to how the Germans set those 1972 Olympics terrorists free.  Also that evil Abu Nidal guy on the Achille Lauro:  he showed that terrorists would be met with appeasement, accommodation, and compromise.  Not by Reagan, who was president at the time and who was amazingly hard and firm when it came to terrorists-- no, no, Abu Nidal was set free by Europeans.  The very same Europeans who continue to live in Europe today! And you know what else Rudy said?  We’re gonna play offense, not just defense.  We’re gonna lead and not just follow.  Hell, yes!  As a hockey player, and as a blogger, I have to say this makes sense to me.

And John Kerry?  Kerry would try to appease those “foreign leaders” who opposed the removal of Saddam.  Boo!  Boo Kerry!  Boo bad foreign leaders!  But right here at home, it turns out, a construction worker hugged Bush really hard, and a Secret Service agent said to Guiliani, “if this guy hurts the President, you’re finished.” It’s hard to argue with that.

Folks, I’ll level with you on the level-- I did not know any of this.  I did not know that Kerry said he would have voted before against the $87 billion after he did not vote for it.  I did not know that President Bush stayed with those 9/11 construction workers “much longer than was planned.” Thanks to the liberal media and the hyper-liberal campus by which I am surrounded, I have been contributing to the left-wing blogosphere echo-chamber without once questioning my assumptions about the Republican party.  But today’s GOP really is a remarkable bunch.  “The best speech I’ve seen at a convention,” said William Kristol of Rudy Guiliani’s performance.  “He knew what he wanted to say.  The Wednesday and the Thursday and the Friday, and the construction worker hugging Bush, and all the other things he said,” said Fred Barnes.  How can you argue against someone who knew what he wanted to say?  You can’t, is the answer, and that is why, after only one evening of this convention, I’m willing to bet that this land is Bush land, where people know that they say what they say in the way that they just said it.

More tomorrow!  (Tomorrow) We’re Gonna Rock You Tomorrow!!! 

UPDATE:  Readers ask, “did Fred Barnes really say that?” Yes, readers, he really said that.  I watched the Fox wrapup, typing away on my spiffy new laptop, and Fred Barnes really said that.  We don’t make stuff up on this blog-- we’re not that imaginative.

Posted by Michael on 08/30 at 06:04 PM
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Reporting for duty

Hello again, everyone.  I’m back in town at last, having dropped Nick off at college.  Six days, two thousand miles round trip (plus a side adventure for Janet and Jamie to Champaign, Illinois so that Janet could conduct a dissertation defense and Jamie could visit his place of birth while I attended all the parent-orientation meetings down in St. Louis), and one lousy, hurried meal after another.  We’re exhausted.  But Jamie got a big kick out of visiting Nick’s new home (three guys living in a walk-in closet, more or less) and kept telling everyone that his big brother was going to college.

I didn’t have Internet access in St. Louis, so I came home to a raft of emails and the stuff of academic nightmares, namely, a course whose assigned room is clearly too small for the number of students in the class and whose syllabus is still in flux.  Why didn’t I have Internet access, you ask?  Because Janet booked the hotel, that’s why.  And so my dear wife and I had the following conversation at some point between Thursday and Sunday:

“I thought you said, after we got back from Paris, that we’d ‘learned our lesson,’ and that we wouldn’t travel discount any more.”

“I didn’t say that when we got back from Paris.”

“Uh, actually, you said it as we were detaching ourselves from the bungee cords that strapped us to the outside of the fuselage of the Air India flight from Paris as it touched down in Newark this past June, so yeah, you did say it when we got back from Paris.”

“Well, I meant that we weren’t going to travel discount any more except the very next time, then.  And besides, we didn’t even get a discount.”

OK, so the conversation didn’t go exactly like that.  But you get the idea.  Anyway, everything seems to have gone well, except that certain items seem to have been damaged or lost or damaged and then lost in shipping.  Janet did the traditional last-minute maternal-burst-into-tears, and Nick and I did the traditional father-son farewell knife-fight in the parking lot outside the dorm.  Much fun!  He has really learned to toss that knife from hand to hand with élan.  We love him and wish him well.  Send him telepathic support when you get a moment.

Now back to work:  RNC blogging!  You asked for it-- so it begins tonight.  Thanks to everyone who sent bourbon.  I will not fail you.

Posted by Michael on 08/30 at 09:23 AM
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Breaking news

Janet and I just got back from Philadelphia, City of Bloggerly Love, where we saw Prince play the best show ever played by anyone.  Curious-- the two Big Things I saw this summer were Prince at the Wachovia Center and Elvis Costello at Lincoln Center.  Talk about a study in contrasts.  But more on that later.  And no, I haven’t forgotten my promise to file a report on Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas? It looks like I’m going to have to break that report into parts, but we’ll see.

Anyway, that’s not the breaking news.  The breaking news is that we’re packing up and driving Nick to college, woo woo.  I’ll be back in a week, at which point I’ll call the official press conference, but in the meantime I wanted to announce to all my faithful readers the big news:  in order to pay Nick’s tuition, I have agreed to accept the position of Director of Homeland Security.

Like I say, it’s not official yet, so don’t go talking to the media.  But entre nous, I’d be really grateful if you could suggest (a) new colors for terror alerts and (b) names of Democrats who should be put on the no-fly list.  Thanks much, and I’ll be back soon.

Posted by Michael on 08/24 at 08:17 AM
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Sunday, August 22, 2004

Of Swift Boat Vets and Bay City Rollers

Richard Yeselson of Washington, D.C., writes:

As much attention as the Swift Boat liars controversy is now receiving, I don’t think the media or even Kerry yet understands or acknowledges how pernicious and relatively unprecedented it is. The term “McCarthyism” has been so overused in American politics that we have lost our moorings to its original intent, as it were. But this is, I believe, one of those rare occasions where the term fits, i.e. baseless charges impugning an individual’s patriotism, but, more specifically, depicting the individual as a member of a decadent intellectual elite that deceitfully sapped the nation’s martial spirit in its struggle against the Communist enemy (we can substitute other enemies going forward, e.g. Islamic terrorists, but, historically, of course, beginning in the Weimar era, the charge is linked to communism). 

In the modern era of American politics, i.e. since, say, the New Deal (I’m not talking about the 19th century, when candidates were always accusing each other of fathering children with baboons, or whatever) I don’t think-- and I’m happy to stand corrected if wrong-- that a major party candidate for president has been assaulted by a per se defamatory attack on his character and personal history.  We have seen such attacks at a lower level of the political food chain, e.g. Nixon vs. Helen Gahagan Douglas, and we have seen inflammatory, yet vague accusations, e.g. conservatives labeling FDR a “class traitor” or even wacky charges against Ike by the John Birch Society, and we have seen grotesque distortions of positions that candidates have taken, or public policies that they have been associated with, e.g. the daisy picking atomic bomb commercial of LBJ’s vs. Goldwater, the Willie Horton and pledge of allegiance controversies used by Bush I vs. Dukakis.  Even the attacks on Clinton, while hysterical, don’t fit the model for a whole host of reasons-- they do not address the betrayal of the nation charge, except tangentially going back to Clinton’s sixties activism, and they do not in wholesale fashion, invent Clinton’s history-- he really is a legendary horndog.

But I’m pretty certain that swift boat is unique:  a systematic, coordinated effort both to create an Orwellian (or Marcusean, if you prefer) counter-narrative-- not to a presidential candidate’s political record, but to his copiously documented biography-- combined with, essentially, an accusation of treason and betrayal of the nation’s military by a head-up-his-ass intellectual (one charge these guys have leveled against Kerry is that he wasted precious poundage in his gear bag with his typewriter, with which he could weirdly be found writing stuff, as the rest of the soldiers hung out together). Whether Bush’s surrogates actually ok’d it is not the point (I think Kerry makes a mistake by overly focusing on Bush/Rove’s explicit involvement)-- I very much doubt they did.  But, until the president forcefully denounces what is being done on his behalf, the effect is all the same, and greatly appreciated by the president and his supporters.

This really is, to use another lazily overused term, the Big Lie.  Kerry should literally ask Bush whether “he has no shame, at long last has he no shame”?  For once, the evocation is precise and just.

Readers of this here little blog will know that I agree with most of this, of course, and that’s why Richard’s letter is today’s discussion item.  I think the question of Bush/Rove involvement is a crucial one, and that Kerry made no mistake in taking the case directly to the top, but otherwise, this seems entirely right to me-- the Swift Boat ads really are unprecedented.  People keep citing the Willie Horton ad in 1988, but the Willie Horton ad was a model of probity compared to this stuff:  after all, Massachusetts really did have a weekend furlough program (though it was not unique in this respect, and though Dukakis didn’t initiate it), and Willie Horton really did take one of those weekends to assault Clifford Barnes and rape his fianc?.  Yep, it was Atwaterian race-baiting, no question, but it did not rest entirely on a string of lies.  By contrast, the first Swift Boat ad is a fraud-- and I do mean that in the legal sense-- from start to finish.  It isn’t even plausibly protected by the First Amendment, quite apart from its violations of modern campaign ethics.

But calling the Swift Boat Vets “McCarthyite” won’t work, for the very reasons Yeselson mentions above:  the term has become completely de-referentialized thanks to its long service in the PC wars, during which conservatives denounced everything from campus sexual-assault codes to AIDS Awareness ribbons (real examples, folks!  not made up!) as indices of a “new McCarthyism,” more virulent and powerful than the “old” version.  (Surely you remember the thousands of moderate and conservative faculty members who were fired for not wearing those AIDS ribbons.) So I’d like to shift the focus for a moment, to a secondary matter.

I don’t think we should spend too much energy being outraged by right-wing attack dogs.  Right-wing attack dogs are . . . well, right-wing attack dogs.  They do what they do.  The only thing to remember about them is that you shouldn’t take them home, not even if they follow you and beg for food.  Remember the story of what happened to the “liberal” journalist in the PC wars:  one day in 1991 he came across a right-wing attack dog who was nosing around the dumpsters in the back of the American Enterprise Institute, barking about all this crazy deconstruction and radical feminism that leftist professors were foisting on unsuspecting American undergraduates.  “Gee, I hate deconstruction and radical feminism too,” thought the liberal journalist.  “This right-wing attack dog doesn’t seem so bad.” So he brought the dog home, gave him a big, ten-thousand-word spread in the Atlantic Monthly, a regular spot on a half-hour cable “opinion” show, and a plate of leftover steak scraps.  “I’ll call him ‘Fluffy,’” said the liberal journalist.  But imagine the journalist’s surprise a few days later, when his dog Fluffy began barking that liberal journalists were “traitorous scum”!  “But I fed you and gave you a home,” said the liberal journalist, mortally wounded.  “Yeah,” replied Fluffy, “but what did you expect?  Come on-- I’m a right-wing attack dog.” Granted, John O’Neill and Roy Hoffmann are rabid, whereas Fluffy was merely nasty.  But they’re all dangerous in the end, and they do what they do.

Instead, let’s think for a moment about all the people, from the Tennessee law professor to the Townhall regulars to the Slate columnist to the bear-with-the-ecosystem, who’ve looked at the Swift Boat Vet ad and said, “you know, this is very powerful stuff here-- it could really spell trouble for Kerry!” And these folks haven’t been too guarded about their endorsements, either; it’s not like they’ve protected themselves with qualifying clauses like, “I think this is over the line, but” or “I can’t speak to the merits of the case myself, but.” No, they’ve looked at a fraudulent, defamatory campaign ad and they’ve bought the whole thing.  Even worse, they’ve promoted it as legitimate political speech.  Sometimes, as in the case of the law professor, they’ve defended themselves with arguments so stupid that their mere utterance sucks all the oxygen out of the room:  Kerry brought this on himself by harping on his Vietnam service-- and that means that now anyone can lie about him! Or, following the GOP talking points more closely, they’ve argued that the 527s are to blame, even though there’s only one libelous ad at issue here:  we’ll stop lying about Kerry if MoveOn will stop saying true things about Bush!

But whatever their rationale, these people have demonstrated a quality of judgment more often associated with the Looney Tunes characters to whom Mel Blanc gave life in lines like, “which way did he go, George, which way did he go.” To get a sense of just how bad their judgment is, you have to imagine a Kaus or a Reynolds poring over the words of a group of people whose current accounts of Kerry’s wartime conduct are contradicted not only by an extensive documentary record but also by their own previous accounts, then turning to the camera and saying, “duuuhhheyy, Thurlow now says he didn’t deserve his medal either because Kerry probably wrote up the papers awarding it to him, uhh, duuuhhheyy, that sounds logical.

Or, if that pop-culture reference is too dated (Warner Brothers shut down its seven-minute animation shop in 1964, I believe), think instead of some of the feather-haired people you knew in 1975 who bought up all the Bay City Rollers merchandise they could get their hands on, on the grounds that these guys were going to be even bigger than the Beatles.  I know, it seems too innocuous an analogy-- after all, the Bay City Rollers never (to my knowledge) put together any fraudulent and libelous campaign ads.  But the important thing here is to point out that the Swifties’ enablers have really, really lousy judgment.  Ludicrously, embarrassingly bad.  The kind of judgment that simply gets you laughed out of any discussion in which there are people who know what they’re talking about.  And it really wouldn’t hurt to laugh them out:  if we get any more outraged by this nonsense-- or by Marc Racicot barking about how Kerry’s eloquent response was actually “wild-eyed” (though I have to say that “Marc Racicot” sounds like an effete French name to me, and though I don’t want to sound Kausian about this, I’ve heard that some people who know reliable sources in certain circles can credibly vouch for the possibility that Racicot may have been stinking drunk when he said it)-- we’ll forget that the best way to deal with ridiculously foolish people is to reveal them as the ridiculously foolish people they are.

So I’m suggesting we think of this as a way of keeping track of commentators who have such ludicrously bad judgment that they need never be taken seriously again, and who can be laughed out of the room pretty much whenever they open their mouths.  You know, sort of the way I think of Joe Lieberman on moral issues, only with regard to bloggers and journalists.  Let’s just lump these good people in with the kind of speechwriters who speak of the “reasonable assumption” that God commanded dolphins to guide Elian Gonzalez to Florida.

OK, now I’m going to brace myself for a raft of emails from the Bay City Roller Fans for Justice, telling me that “Money Honey” was actually a more technically challenging and innovative song than “I Feel Fine” and that “Saturday Night” marked a musical maturity that leaves Rubber Soul and Revolver in the dust.  To those Bay City Roller fans I say, bring it on.

Posted by Michael on 08/22 at 07:33 AM
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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Kerry throws Bush and the Vets to the ice

Well, not exactly.  In fact, he didn’t even mention hockey once-- the sport’s too furrin, I guess.  He actually opened with “more than thirty years ago, I learned an important lesson-- when you’re under attack, the best thing to do is turn your boat into the attacker. That’s what I intend to do today.” This suggests he’s been reading Kenneth Baer’s timely advice ("as Kerry discovered more than three decades ago, sometimes the only way to survive an attack is to steer straight into enemy fire") rather than mine.  But I suppose that’s all right.  What’s important is the thought.  And it’s a good thought.

More than thirty years ago, I learned an important lesson-- when you’re under attack, the best thing to do is turn your boat into the attacker. That’s what I intend to do today.

Over the last week or so, a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been attacking me. Of course, this group isn’t interested in the truth-- and they’re not telling the truth. They didn’t even exist until I won the nomination for president.

But here’s what you really need to know about them.  They’re funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas. They’re a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the President won’t denounce what they’re up to tells you everything you need to know-- he wants them to do his dirty work.

I like that part.  Now that’s why Kerry denounced moveon’s reply ad, folks-- so that he could take the case directly to Mr. Bush.

Thirty years ago, official Navy reports documented my service in Vietnam and awarded me the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Thirty years ago, this was the plain truth. It still is. And I still carry the shrapnel in my leg from a wound in Vietnam.

As firefighters you risk your lives everyday. You know what it’s like to see the truth in the moment. You’re proud of what you’ve done-- and so am I.

And that’s why I hold Life and Death in my hands like a savage gift . . . no, wait, he didn’t say that.  Sorry.  I got carried away.

Of course, the President keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that. Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: “Bring it on.”

Oh, not “bring it on” again.  But I like the touch of “our service in Vietnam.” That would be a really short debate.  Sort of like a “debate” about how many Senators’ lives “we” saved by using the Heimlich maneuver.

I’m not going to let anyone question my commitment to defending America-- then, now, or ever.  And I’m not going to let anyone attack the sacrifice and courage of the men who saw battle with me.

That was what we wanted to hear, big John.  And remember, George Bush has to wear high heels just to look you directly in the eye.

And let me make this commitment today:  their lies about my record will not stop me from fighting for jobs, health care, and our security? the issues that really matter to the American people.

The situation in Iraq is a mess. That is the President’s responsibility and he owes the American people an answer.

Good, now we’ve moved away from answering hypothetical questions about that ludicrous Senate vote two years ago, and we’re saying direct things about Iraq with simple syntax.  Kerry’s staff really are reading the lefty blogs, aren’t they?  Good for them.

America is on track to lose more jobs than it’s gained under George Bush and he supports a tax code that rewards companies for shipping jobs overseas.  He owes the American people an answer.

Health care costs have exploded out of control. The President has done nothing and he owes the American people an answer.

The middle class is paying a bigger share of America’s tax burden. The President needs to answer to the American people why that is fair.

Unfortunately, those in the White House are coming from a different place than you and I.  They see things a little differently than you and I.  They tell us that today, when it comes to the issues that matter most, we’re getting the job done.

Great.  Now say it again, fifty or sixty times, in Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Colorado, New Mexico, and-- just to keep up the forechecking-- Virginia and Tennessee.

Thanks to Atrios for the link and the heads-up.

ADDENDUM:  Those of you interested more in matters of Kerry’s statecraft than in the hurlyburly of rhetorical posturing are kindly invited to read this timely item by David Sirota and Jonathan Baskin.  On Kerry’s takedown of BCCI, which involved the big guy throwing an entire financial institution to the ice.

Posted by Michael on 08/19 at 07:30 AM
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