The Spectacle Blog
Fineman. Broder. The entire news and editorial desks at the Washington Post, New York Times etc.... All are convinced and giddy at what they perceive to be a fissure in the conservative movement (and the supposedly excellent chances the Democrats have to regain power in '06). As usual, they mistake principled public discussions of policy and politics within the conservative camp as the beginning of the end.
The left-leaning media has always been impressed with the so-called "discipline" exhibited by the Ds -- see the Clinton years -- in the face of intra-party struggles. So what that the Dems rarely air their dirty laundry? This discipline has produced a steadily increasing Republican majority across the country. It has allowed the left wing of an already left-wing party exhibit dominance in the form of funding threats. That dominance by the George Soros, Al Franken, Michael Moore, Barbra Streisand wing of the party has also left the Democrats ideologically stagnant -- incapable of offering any interesting policy ideas. They think "We hate Bush" is a platform.
The Qatari foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad, said today that the Middle East has troubles enough and that any problems between Syria and the United States should be handled diplomatically. In an interview in al-Jazeera, Hamad said the "last thing this region needs is another crisis." Like so many of the other old-line Arab leaders, Hamad refuses to recognize that there's one big crisis, and he's either part of the problem or part of the solution. He chooses the former by taking the ostrich position common among his peers.
One big way he chooses to do that is to equate the Israeli nuclear program with that of Iran. Again, he wants to deal with the Iranian issue by peaceful means without "any more escalation of tensions." Change is hard in the Middle East, and instability is something the old-line leaders find hard to address. Which means that the more there is among the terrorist supporting nations, the better it is for civilization. Qatar is not a supporter of terrorists. But its leaders are in denial about Iran.
So elation that Amtrak would be spinning off its Northeast Corridor operations was premature. The change only means that the Northeast Corridor will be operated by an Amtrak subsidiary, but with its own president and management. In other words, for now, another layer of bureaucracy. This is a first step toward privatization, but it looks like an ugly solution without the timeline of the next step.
As one might glean from my column today, I think a scuttling of the Miers nomination is more likely now than I thought it was when I posted here on the topic last week. But it still depends in part on what the Democrats do.
Ironically, if you agree with RET that stopping Miers would be too costly, then it makes sense from the Democrats' perspective to oppose her. And if you agree with me that it's better for our side to stop Miers, then it makes sense for Democrats to vote to confirm. Thus, if one is trying to build a bipartisan coalition in the Senate -- whether pro-Miers or anti-Miers -- the task is to convince each side to read the political landscape differently.
Ya gotta love the Al-Qaeda denial of the Zawahiri-Zarqawi letter. They say that it is the product of the imagination of the "Black House and their slaves." This communique certainly has all the earmarks of the favored literary style in those parts, what we Americans usually abandon after the 7th Grade: "Your Mama wears combat boots."
Black House, hahaha. White House, Black House, get it?
The BBC says that neither the original letter nor the denial can be confirmed. In other words, the word of the U.S. Department of Defense is considered of equal trustworthiness as the word of the Arab kid with the walleye -- who brings in a note and says that the man handed him a dinar and told him to deliver the Al Qaeda denial to the BBC reporter getting sozzled at the hotel bar somewhere on the quieter side of Baghdad.
"White House officials are privately bracing for the possibility that Rove or other officials could be indicted in the next two weeks," Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker report in Friday's Washington Post -- the same paper in which liberal columnist Richard Cohen on Thursday urged special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to close up shop and go back to Chicago and, if I may capture Cohen's essential point, put an end to the chronic criminalization of politics in Washington.
Al-Qaeda announced earlier today that the Zawahiri letter, in which OBL's #2 waves a tin cup at Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Q chief in Iraq, is a fake. (The Beeb is reporting the denial, of course, as big breaking news.) In that letter, Zawahiri asked Zarqawi to send him $100,000. Another senior DoD official told me the Defense Department is "absolutely standing by the authenticity" of the letter. Above which there is no higher endorsement.
Sounds like the world's most wanted terrorist is very afraid that his followers and supporters will burrow back into the sand when they realize how weakened he really is. And don't look for this bit of news on BBC tonight, or in Le Monde tomorrow.
Earlier this afternoon I spoke with a senior Defense Department official who would only talk on background. He has a tough but hopeful forecast for the Iraq constitutional referendum this weekend.
First -- and this isn't news -- he said he expected a lot of violence leading up to, and probably on, the date of the election. Suicide bombers -- mostly Saudis and some from North Africa -- are expected to make their attacks and will likely kill a lot of people.
Second, despite the terrorist activity, he expects the referendum to succeed and be ratified even in the Sunni provinces. This, he said, should put Iraq on track to elect a new government in December. We'll see.
If I had spilled my sentences across the page in the disorderly way Ramesh responds to them, I suppose I would agree with his one-liners. But my argument proceeded more solidly. Yet from the jumble he assembles I would make one observation. My argument is for depoliticizing court nominations in as much as that is possible. That does not seem to be his wish. He is for the politics of the moment. I am for the enduring usefulness of the Constitution.