Thursday, January 31, 2008

Most Bizarrest Election 2008 Debate Moments Thus Far

3. Last night's semi-constant sycophantic fawning over Ronald Reagan.

Jebus, folks. You gotta squint to even make him a decent prez...and a great one he just ain't. I know Republicans desperately, passionately want their own FDR, but this Reagan crap is just...embarrassing. Even by contemporary GOP standards. Here's an idea: find a truly great nominee sometime in the relatively near future and get an actually great president instead of one whose primary qualification is his ability to read the teleprompter fetchingly. (Who knows? McCain seems to have the right stuff for genuine presidential greatness...too bad the GOP hates him...)

P.s. Anybody count how many times they said 'Reagan' last night? Jeez, how many times did just Romney say 'Reagan'? Maybe they should have just gotten up and said "RonaldReaganRonaldReaganRonaldReagan..." But not in front of a mirror in a darkened room! Else he might come back and sell more weapons to the Mullahs... Though it'd be o.k. if he did it! Again.

2. Democrats flailing about trying to explain why the surge was STILL a bad idea...

...even though it worked. Man, it was like that scene in Airplane when the stewardess asks whether anybody knows how to fly a plane...everybody running around, screaming, hanging form the ceiling... See, even Bushies admit that reducing violence was only a means to achieve political progress...and political progress in Iraq is only a means to democracy in the Mideast...and that's only a means to eradicating World Eeevil. So if there's any evil left in the world, then the surge has FAILED! Get it? The surge cannot succeed, no matter what!!!

(And I say this not because I supported the surge, but just because of how nauseatingly irrational and dishonest it was.)

And the number one most bizarrest debate moment thus far:

1. All the other Republican candidates (except Paul, if he counts...) pretending like they have absolutely no idea what Huckabee could be thinking by saying that the Bush administration has had an "arrogant, bunker mentality."

Now, we all realize that they're going to bullshit on this one. But the truly bizarre thing is that they all acted like they could not for the life of them understand where Huckabee got this wacko idea. It was as if he had written "Bush needs to stop wearing that water buffalo on his head all the time." Realize that I'm not even saying that they ought to recognize Huckabee's claim as true (despite the fact that it is, well, obviously true). What I'm marveling at is the fact that they were all acting as if they simply could not fathom how anyone could think such a thing. As if he had just pulled the damndest thing right out of thin air. It really was one of the freakin' nuttiest things I've ever seen in politics. And that, my friends, is really saying something.

And, to make a kind of point of which I'm fairly fond: remember, the less scary possibility here is that they're just that good at bullshitting/pandering. The truly scary possibility is that they really are that clueless.

I'm sure we'll have lots more to add to this list as time goes on...though that #1 is going to be hard to beat.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I wouldn't be so quick to say the surge *worked*. It's obvious that as measured by frequency of daily violence, things have improved in Iraq. However, the reasons for that are definitely debatable, and the strategic goals of the surge still have not been met (e.g. political reconciliation, passage of beneficial Iraqi legislation etc.). In addition, the long-term implications of what appears to be the true key to the reduction in violence are pretty disconcerting.

Here is some analysis:

""The real debate, in my mind ... (is) not whether things are better in Iraq — they are unquestionably like night and day, (the) change in the level of violence. The real question is what caused it," McCaffrey said.

What caused it is open to debate.

"Improvements in security are a result of the greater number of coalition and Iraqi security forces and the strategy that guides the operations we conduct," Petraeus says.

But some current and former military officers with whom NPR spoke disagree.

Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, whose own son, a Marine, served in Iraq before the surge was implemented, is one of the dissenters.

"My son was there fighting in Ramadi when the situation began to turn around, and I don't believe that it would be appropriate for people to say that that was even part of the surge," says Webb.



Once Insurgents, Now Allies

If it wasn't just the surge, how did it happen?

It could be, in part, exhaustion among Sunnis, tired of fighting and dying. Or also, in part, a cease-fire declared by the largest Shiite militia, others say.

But another part, and possibly the most significant, can be traced to the end of last May. That month, 126 U.S. troops died; it was the second deadliest month for U.S. forces during the war. Petraeus was under pressure to reduce those casualties.

"Petraeus seems to have concluded that it was essential to cut deals with the Sunni insurgents if he was going to succeed in reducing U.S. casualties," Macgregor says.

The military now calls those "deals" the Concerned Local Citizens program or simply, CLCs.

It's a somewhat abstract euphemism. The CLC program turns groups of former insurgents, including fighters for al-Qaida in Iraq, into paid, temporary allies of the U.S. military.

McCaffrey just got back from a five-day trip to Iraq where, he says, he "went to a couple of these CLCs, you know, five awkward-looking guys with their own AKs standing at a road junction with two magazines of ammunition — and they're there as early warning to protect their families in that village. I think that that's good.""

(emphasis mine)

Read the whole thing:

12:51 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, Republicans [and some independents, even the occasional Democrat] think that Reagan was a great president, and that's all that matters, I reckon.

By contrast, no Democrat has ever attempted to seize the mantle of Jimmy Carter, whom you think was a great president.

Just sayin'. ;-D

6:59 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, if you think that one can be a great president by being rather a dope but reading the teleprompter well, and by breaking American laws and supporting terrorists so long as something good happens during your term in office, then by all means, RR was a great president.

God knows it's important to have an avuncular dimwit standing up and telling us that it's morning in America. Far more important than having someone who tells us straight what was going on.

Personally, I'd rather be Jimmy Carter--who did the right things but had bad luck and got shat on for it all--than RR who did the wrong things but was fairly lucky and celebrated for it.

Carter was right in his "malaise" speech...and he's praiseworthy for being so insightful and direct. Who knew that Americans couldn't take the truth--even the truth about their own malaise? And who knew that they'd respond better to the "morning in America" bullshit?

Well, Reagan did. Maybe that's part of what it is to be a great leader--knowing when to bullshit instead of telling the truth. I think that's probably right...though what shocked me was that we Americans seemed incapable of handling the most obvious and innocuous truths. I knew humans needed a little bullshit, but I had no idea we needed so MUCH of it...

The situation is slightly more complex than I make it out to be--RR might have had some minor roll in hastening the fall of the USSR, and if so then he deserves more credit than I routinely give him. Actually, Carter probably did more by supporting the Mujahadin in Afghanistan, but that argument won't be settled here. (Incidentally, Reagan botched Carter's strategy by widening the program and selling not only to fairly reliable Afghan resistance fighters, but also to kooks. Like OBL. And then there was blowback...)

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'd like to add an addendum to my earlier comment.

I would say that even though, per the article I posted, the surge is not the main cause of improvement in Iraq that still does not mean that it wasn't a *good idea* or *right*.

So I guess I only take issue with the narrower point that the decrease in countrywide violence is because the surge "worked". One could make the argument that it contributed to improvement, although I find McCaffrey's conclusion that it's not the factor mostly responsible for improvement persuasive.

And of course there's the more general point of the overall strategic goals of the surge not being achieved.

12:44 PM  

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