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October 30, 2003

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Julia Grey

This is just beautiful. NYT, Slate, Marshall, all the outlets that you'd think would be natural allies for a viable Dem candidate are out there bleating that Clark is DOOOOOMED!

Thereby making sure of it.

TM

Welcome back, Ms. Grey. I actually quoted myself agreeing with you in a post about Luskin (titled "Groan"), and now I am agreeing with you again.

Let's watch the Dems prepare the circular firing squad.

HH

There are so many quotes of Clark supporting the war (with or without reservations), it's utterly embarrassing to see him tell such a whopper in the debate. Nice to see that the likes of Marshall are turning on him (but of course not for being dishonest).

Julia Grey

Clark: Nuanced position turned into black-and-white "flip-flop" by press, denied = blatant LIE of terminal importance.

Bush: "He didn't let the inspectors in," "My people didn't have anything to do with that sign," "We found 'em (WMD)," etc. = unimportant blunders, nothing to see here, move along.

Fascinating.

TM

It is fascinating - my theory is that this is the dark side of liberal media bias. After a while, the press runs out of ways to say "Bush is a moron", and gets bored with it.

But finding that there are Dems who actually do not walk on water always seems to come as a newsworthy surprise.

And with Bush, the explanation is easy - he is stupid, or a liar. But since Kerry and Clark are geniuses, there must be a deeper explanation, and the press must probe relentlessly to find it.

Julia Grey

I don't see any "relentless probing," because then they might just stumble upon some semblance of reality here and there.

I agree that Democrats crumple into a heap of dismayed disbelief when their candidates turn up with the slightest dent or scratch. Republicans can make long strings of stupid (or even venal) mistakes and be instantly forgiven and relentlessly defended, but Democrats have to be to be pure and perfect.

Thus every decrease in energy, misstep, minor blunder (or even APPARENT blunder) on the part of a Democrat becomes a Total Betrayal Of The Cause and will be followed by public handwringing and frantic flagellation.

Stoning at 11.

I'm also growing a bit dismayed by the mushrooming of the "flip-flop" meme, which seems to be putting about the idea that it is a Terrible Thing to ever change one's mind about anything under any circumstances. I do wish we wouldn't buy that particular sack of groceries.

Julia Grey

I wasn't referring to the General's supposed "flip-flop" (which *I* don't believe really is one). I was talking about how so many of the accusations flying about these days between the Dem candidates seem to be accusations about having said something in the past that is not the same thing they are saying today. Gephardt vs. Dean on Medicare cost control, for example.

I just think it's very dangerous for us to start acting as if the WORST thing a man could ever do was change his mind. While we should value consistency, we don't want to value it over common sense or in defiance of new information.

I wouldn't want us to be still "consistently" claiming that the earth was flat.

TM

Hmm, it's not?

Actually, I have a theory for the Rep side. We liked Ike, and love Reagan, both of whom presented the image of a genial, out of touch delegator. Personally, I think Bush is a bit young to play that role convincingly, but the fact is, Reps aren't looking for Mr. Detail.

Dems, on the other hand, will never get over JFK. Consequently, all Dems must be charismatic, amusing, and smart as a whip, or give the appearance. In the endless audition for the part of "The Answer Man" (or, come 2008, "Answer Chick"), we get the sort of silliness we see now.

Kerry can't articulate a simple position on Iraq? Well, it's a complicated issue. But if a candidate says, "it's complicated", the buzzer rings, and they are ushered off - nothing can ever be complicated for "The Answer Man! I am remembering Al Gore as I write this, and shuddering.

Next March, the Dems will have a candidate who has been beaten up by everybody; we will have a candidate who has all the money; and we will see what happens.

But, uhh, have a nice weekend.

Julia Grey

Next March, the Dems will have a candidate who has been beaten up by everybody; we will have a candidate who has all the money; and we will see what happens.

I think you and I already know what happens.

Ain't democracy ducky?

Julia Grey

I almost forgot:

or, come 2008, "Answer Chick"

Please gaud, NOOOOOOOOOO.

Cecil Turner

I was re-reading some of Clark’s contemporary war views, especially the piece in Salon. This exchange is similar to the London Times article in tone, and seemed typical of the General’s problem:

Tapper: How long do you think the fighting will last?

Clark: Well, I said two to three weeks. But that was all premised on our having our force there and being ready to go at the outset. Of course we weren't . . .

Tapper: Does this mean you'll change your prediction from two to three weeks?

Clark: It may be longer than that, but it's still early. So I'm not changing my prediction at this point.

I agree it’s not a flip-flop, but trying to be on all sides of the issue. (I suppose if you were a staunch supporter you could call it “nuanced,” but I prefer Sullivan’s “incoherent.”) It also seems to be the product of an incredibly cluttered thought process, or his purported tendency to tell people what they want to hear. (That was his reputation among military contemporaries—and apparently the reason for being relieved early at NATO.)

In any event, it seems to me his main attraction was that he neutralized some of the Democrats’ traditional weakness on national defense, and increased chances of building a winning ticket. But when he talks about the war on terror, he either cheerleads for the current administration or blithers. I suspect he broadly agrees with the current approach, but doesn’t want to offend the (majority?) Dems who oppose the war. And while that may be okay for a VP candidate, I doubt the electorate would accept it from a prospective president.

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