I am watching the White House press briefing with the incomparable Tony Snow, and I am just amazed at how unaware the White House press corps is that they come across like a pathetic pack of starving but toothless hyenas. Again and again they ask about Dick Cheney's "dunking" comments and insisting that the Veep is endorsing waterboarding (not, as Seinfeld would say, that there's anything wrong with that), and again and again Tony keeps his humor and repeats the rest of the Veep's answer, immediately thereafter, that he does NOT endorse torture. After a while, the viewer is left with this thought: Who the $#&^&*@ cares? I wish all Americans were forced to watch this nonsense. Americans care about providing for their families and making sure they are protected from criminals and terrorists. They don't care whether a "dunk" in the water is the same as or different than a technique called "waterboarding," when the dunkee is a suspected terrorist. Yeah, they don't want anybody subjected to the sorts of painful treatment, the actual torture, that John McCain suffered from in Vietnam -- but they aren't too concerned about bad guys getting wet.
The Spectacle Blog
In my column of a couple of weeks ago, I wondered which way the political and ethnic tribes of Massachusetts would vote in the gubernatorial election between Devel Patrick, a Democrat and a black man, and Kerry Healey, the Republican Lieutenant Governor, and a woman. The polls have apparently revealed the result.
The tribes have done what they do best, which is get a really good hate on -- for Healey. They're going to show that persnickety Beacon Hill WASP bee-eye-itch,and hand her a 25-point loss. This place! There's a joke about Venezuela, where somebody says to God that he's given Venezuelans everything, resources, mountains, forests, fertile land, the sea, and God says, yes, but I made it up by giving the country Venezuelans. It's kind of like that in Massachusetts, one of the loveliest states in the union, populated some of the grouchiest, nastiest, most narrow-minded people in the country. Who will cut off their noses to spite their faces over and over again.
Phillip, I can only assume you haven't read James Webb's novels. I long ago read and admired every one. He started out as a kind of clumsy tough-guy military writer, and advanced in skill to profound effectiveness, in The Emperor's General. In many respects, his fiction-writing career parallels Joseph Wambaugh's, in whose books you will find many similar images. Why? Because both men were in settings where such things happened, and were said. Nowhere in the criticism of Webb has it been mentioned that almost all the scenes -- especially the ones most emphasized -- take place in third world countries, among third world peoples. These "revelations" show more about the profound illiteracy of most Americans than they do anything else. You want to ask these complainers, "Ever read Last Exit to Brooklyn? Tropic of Cancer? Fear of Flying, for Pete's sake?"
I suppose the novel excerpts may put the last nails in the coffin of the Webb candidacy, but I think it's silly.
In his Washington Post column today, Charles Krauthammer joins those pundits giving political advice to Barack Obama. The big question, of course, is should Obama run in 2008, or wait another four years so he isn't such a novice? Krauthammer says he should run to gain more experience, even though he'll ultimately lose.
Sorry I've not been posting as regularly as I should. Lots of SGO.
I'll be on CNBC tonight "On the Money" about 1930 EDT talking about China and Friday night on Kudlow (CNBC) about 1730 talking about Rumsfeld and how the war in Iraq is going. Hope you can catch both.
From Arnold Kling's latest:
We have to expect mediocrity from political leaders. They are selected by a very unreliable process. In general, I try to avoid contact with narcissists who spend their time pleading for money. Those are hardly the intellectual and emotional characteristics that make someone admirable, yet they are the traits of people who go into politics.
Along with other liberals, Josh Marshall is in a tizzy over an RNC ad against Harold Ford Jr. that he calls the "uppity negro ad." But after watching it several times, it's hard to see what he sees. The one part of the ad that has drawn criticism from liberals when a bimbo says she met Ford at a Playboy party and at the end of the ad winks and says, "Harold, call me." The bit is just one part of the ad that also criticizes his positions on wiretapping, gun control and estate taxes. However, to Marshall:
If you watch the ad closely it is clear that the racist appeal -- about Harold Ford having sex with white women -- is the centerpiece, the entire point of the ad.