« July 2004 | Main | September 2004 »

August 31, 2004

The not too subtle message

David Brooks has an interesting column in today's NYT about why the Republicans have chosen McCain, Giuliani and Schwarzenegger to lead the charge at the convention:

...they are here in New York to say that George Bush is fighting the war against radical Islam with their sort of tenacity, their sort of constancy. For ultimately, they are suggesting that whatever mistakes he has made, he has the courage that is required, and his opponent does not.

If Sept. 11 had not happened, I doubt McCain, Giuliani and Schwarzenegger would be as intertwined with George Bush as they have been. But it did happen. And whatever their cultural and personal differences, they do see eye to eye on the global conflict with radical Islam.

The coming weeks will be so tough because the essential contest - of which the Swift boat stuff was only a start - will be over who really has courage, who really has resolve, and who is just a fraud with a manly bearing.

I think he has a point.   While you can argue about whether Bush, et al. have made mistakes in Iraq, done the right thing on gay marriage or stem cell research, etc., it is clear that he has been steadfast in his determination to take the war to the terrorists.   Not just in military terms, but in the political and social spheres as well, including the mideast democracy initiative and the US-sponsored Arabic satellite network.   For me, personally, this is enough to ensure my support for Dubya, come November.  Kerry's a decent guy and all, but aside from my distrust of his liberal desire to increase the role of government in our lives, I think his "nuance" would be disastrous in the war against Islamist terror.   There is a time for nuance, and multilateral consensus, but not when the other guy in the fight wants to either kill you or convert you to their intolerant, extremist view of the one, true religion.

August 31, 2004 at 12:34 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Allah on the case

Allahpundit has a great wrap-up of last night's events at the convention.   I highly recommend taking a look, particularly if you missed watching events live last night.   (He's got some good links to C-SPAN's convention video.)

August 31, 2004 at 10:33 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Wow.

Is Karl Rove a genius or what?  This was only the first night, but the combination of John McCain and Rudy Giuliani -- supplemented by first hand testimony from 9/11 family members and a kick-ass acapella rendition of Amazing Grace -- blew at least this observer away.   (Daniel Rodriguez, a former NYC police officer, did the singing.)

We'll see how the "mainstream" press spins this tomorrow, but I was impressed by the centrist, bipartisan appeal to the sensible American middle.   The proceedings were a bit too liberal (if you'll pardon the use of this term) with the use of the lord's name for my taste, but I'm sure that this appealed to the religious base.

A couple of favorite moments:

  • Giuliani saying that he respected Kerry for his military service, and the delegates endorsing this view by applauding.

  • Giuliani making the point that there are substantive differences between Kerry and Bush on the terrorism issue.   Bush believes that terrorism is an unalloyed evil that we must confront and defeat, regardless of the short-term political cost, whereas Kerry believes, well, no one is quite sure what, depending on who asks the question and in front of what particular audience.

  • Also, Giuliani's point that the choice viz a viz Saddam was not between a stable status quo of containment and a "war of choice".   He was quite correct in saying that if the US had not acted to remove Saddam, it would have been only a matter of years before sanctions were lifted and he was free to rearm.   This point was also reinforced by McCain, who said:
    Our choice wasn't between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war. It was between war and a graver threat. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Not our critics abroad. Not our political opponents.

    And certainly not a disingenuous film maker who would have us believe that Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of peace when in fact it was a place of indescribable cruelty, torture chambers, mass graves and prisons that destroyed the lives of the small children held inside their walls.   [Of course, Michael Moore just loved the resulting boos and catcalls from the assembled delegates.]

  • McCain's heartfelt appeal for all Americans, including his Democratic friends, to stand together to defy and defeat Islamist terror.
All in all, I was very impressed by both the tone and content.   I imagine that there are lot of folks on the Upper West Side of Manhattan who are feeling a bit queasy this evening -- assuming that any of them bothered to watch the proceedings.

August 31, 2004 at 02:48 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 30, 2004

But we are your friends!

According to an article in today's LAT, the French are upset that their appeasement of the Arab world does not seem to be working.   Evidently, they had hoped that France's stalwart defence of Saddam Hussein and hostility towards Israel would have protected French citizens from the threat of being taken hostage by cranky extremists.

The hostage ordeal [two French journalists have been kidnapped in Iraq and threatened with execution unless France lifts its ban on Muslim head scarves in schools] has hit France hard. It is a gloomy rebuttal of the theory held by some-though not by most French government officials or those knowledgeable about Islam-that France's anti-war, pro-Arab policies had inoculated the country against such aggressions.
Reality can be such a bummer.

August 30, 2004 at 09:16 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

You think your job stinks?

...well, Mexico City sewer diver Carlos Barrios Orta just loves his job.

August 30, 2004 at 08:56 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Tee hee...

More evidence that the Kerry campaign has lost its collective mind:
Web of Connections?!

August 30, 2004 at 10:36 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 26, 2004

Petard hoisting 101

John Kerry and his campaign just don't get it.   As Deborah Orin observes in today's NY Post, attempting to discredit the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth by alleging that they are nefariously linked to the Bush campaign is a losing strategy.

And the latest poll in today's LAT seems to suggest that this losing strategy is working.   Here is how the LAT's Ronald Brownstein describes the impact of the Swift boat controversy:

The country divides mostly along predictable partisan lines on the exchanges between Kerry and the group that has attacked his Vietnam record over the past month, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. But by several measures, the struggle appears to be drawing some blood from Kerry.

The Swift boat group, which has received funding from several of Bush's supporters and advice from some veteran Republican operatives, has made only relatively small purchases of television time in a few battleground states for its two ads, the first charging that Kerry did not deserve some of the five medals he won in Vietnam and the second criticizing his antiwar testimony before the Senate in 1971.

But with the controversy attracting intense media attention, especially on talk radio and cable television, the ads have achieved extraordinary visibility among voters. Fully 48% of those polled said they had seen the ad accusing Kerry of lying to win his medals; an additional 20% said they had heard about it. Similarly, 44% said they had seen the ad criticizing Kerry's Senate testimony; another 17% said they had heard about it.

At the same time, 18% of those surveyed said they "believe that Kerry misrepresented his war record and does not deserve his war medals," while 58% said Kerry "fought honorably and does deserve" the medals.

Attitudes on that question divided along party lines. As many Republicans said they believed Kerry was lying as believed he fought honorably. By nearly 10 to 1, Democrats said Kerry served honorably.

Independents sided with Kerry in the dispute by more than 5 to 1. Among them was Monika Schiel, a retiree in Gardena, Calif. "You have all the people that were on Kerry's boat—not somewhere downstream or upstream—confirming what he said," said Schiel. "This is some typical smear stuff; it seems mostly done by Republicans."

When voters were asked whether Kerry's protest against the war when he returned from Vietnam would influence their vote, 20% said it made them more likely to support him, while 26% said it reduced the chance they would back him, and 52% said it made no difference.

But if Kerry showed relatively few bruises on these questions directly measuring reactions to the veterans' charges against him, indirect measures suggested he had suffered more damage.

Asked how Kerry's overall military experience would affect their vote, 23% said it made them more likely to vote for him, while 21% said it made them less likely; the remaining 53% said it would make no difference. That has to be a disappointment for the Kerry camp after a Democratic convention last month that placed Kerry's Vietnam service at the top of the marquee.

Two other key questions produced even more troubling results for Kerry.

In the July Times poll, 53% of voters said Kerry had demonstrated in his Vietnam combat missions the "qualities America needs in a president," while 32% said that by "protesting the war in Vietnam, John Kerry demonstrated a judgment and belief that is inappropriate in a president."

In the August survey, that balance nudged away from Kerry, with 48% saying he had demonstrated the right qualities and 37% saying he had exhibited poor judgment.

Likewise, the share of voters saying they lacked confidence in Kerry as a potential commander in chief edged up from 39% in July to 43% now; the percentage that said they were confident in him slipped from 57% to 55%. Both changes were within the poll's margin of error, yet both tracked with the poll's general pattern of slight Kerry slippage.

Similar trends were evident on voters' assessments of the two men's personal qualities. Compared with July, Bush slightly widened his advantage over Kerry when voters were asked which was a strong leader and which had the honesty and integrity to serve as president.

Personally, I found the TV ads prepared by the Swifties pretty compelling; especially their first one which begins with John Edwards asking "If you have any questions about what John Kerry's made of, just spend three minutes with the men who served with him thirty years ago."   Their answer is not the one that Edwards, et al. had been hoping to hear.

August 26, 2004 at 12:41 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 25, 2004

Ha!

Today's NYT editorial on Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:

Senator Kerry invited debate on his war service by making it a keystone of his campaign. But that means fair debate. Some of the veterans in the ads criticizing Mr. Kerry have praised his courage in the past.  No one has offered evidence to contradict the record.[Emphasis added.]
I guess these guys only read their own paper.   If they had read Michael Dobbs' investigative report in last Sunday's WaPo, perhaps they would be calling on Kerry to finally resolve these issues by releasing his complete military record as well as his own wartime diary.   (Just kidding.)

August 25, 2004 at 11:43 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Sick of reading about politicians and their medals yet?

No?!   Then read this report about LBJ and his Silver Star "for gallantry in action".

(Via Instapundit.)

August 25, 2004 at 01:13 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 23, 2004

The view from above the front-lines in Iraq

USMC Major Glen Butler, who is flying close air support missions in a AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter over Najaf, has an excellent OpEd piece in today's NYT (of all unlikely places).   It is worth reading in its entirety, but here is the punchline:

When critics of the war say their advocacy is on behalf of those of us risking our lives here, it's a type of false patriotism. I believe that when Americans say they "support our troops," it should include supporting our mission, not just sending us care packages. They don't have to believe in the cause as I do; but they should not denigrate it. That only aids the enemy in defeating us strategically.

Michael Moore recently asked Bill O'Reilly if he would sacrifice his son for Falluja. A clever rhetorical device, but it's the wrong question: this war is about Des Moines, not Falluja. This country is breeding and attracting militants who are all eager to grab box cutters, dirty bombs, suicide vests or biological weapons, and then come fight us in Chicago, Santa Monica or Long Island. Falluja, in fact, was very close to becoming a city our forces could have controlled, and then given new schools and sewers and hospitals, before we pulled back in the spring. Now, essentially ignored, it has become a Taliban-like state of Islamic extremism, a terrorist safe haven. We must not let the same fate befall Najaf or Ramadi or the rest of Iraq.

August 23, 2004 at 12:19 PM | Permalink | TrackBack