Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Friends in High Places

So I just got off the phone with Congressman Mike Thompson, a Blue Dog and a Ways and Means Democrat. Nice fella, we go a ways back. I've got stories from a Chilean junket that would make your head spin. Anyway, he and I got to talking about last night's State of the Union and he noted that the speech was nowhere near the ballpark of "cutting-edge" and was instead a "repackage of things" from Democratic movements, like alternative energy, and failed Republican efforts, like "disingenous" calls for bipartisanship. Well said, Mike. Glad we agree.

I'd also like to direct eyeballs to this piece from Slate's Fred Kaplan as he doubles up on a point that I made in my blog from earlier today (which I just edited to correct my grammar -- am I allowed to do that?) Does the president view the Iraqi War with a black-and-white, head-in-the-sand mentality? Fred, take it away.

"Instead of openly confronting these unpleasant realities, as he will have to do at some point soon, Bush tried to reframe the debate, warning several times that we cannot "surrender to evil" or "retreat from our duties" or embrace "the false comfort of isolationism." To which one can only respond: What? Who, in any mainstream party or movement or school of thought in this country, is proposing anything remotely like isolationism? Clearly Bush was implying (though never stating explicitly, keeping the charge deniable) that the Democrats want to go this route, that withdrawing from Iraq is the same as withdrawing from the world."

Fred continues: "This is a standard Rovian ploy: presenting the world in the starkest terms—good vs. evil, responsible engagement vs. irresponsible complacency—with Bush spearheading the former and his opponents (by dint of the fact that they are opponents) aligned with the latter."

Bingo, my good man. All the pretty words that Harry loves to slobber over are nice to put on the mantle, but they ring hollow for me and many others. Harry noted that "basically everything he said, I agree with" -- which is fine, but like Mr. Kaplan eloquently states, I don't think anybody disagrees with it. Harry may take comfort in a foreign policy stance that amounts to little more than a masturbatory half-truth -- "We are in this fight to win, and we are winning" -- but it's not that simple, everything is not fine and thus we might consider thinking of this saga differently.


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