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Between the Lines

June 24, 2004

And the winner is

both Bush and Kerry?

Well, the political barometers that pundits use to forecast the outcomes of presidential elections are pointing in both directions, as this piece in USA Today details.

"Of six measurements for predicting the outcome of presidential contests, all with excellent track records, each signals a clear outcome in November," the paper's Susan Page writes. "The problem is, they're pointing in different directions."

Three of the six indicators favor each candidate, making for one confusing election year. In this case, however, confusion is good. We desperately need a reassessment of our national direction and an uncertain electoral outcome is the best short-term hope we have of generating one. It's beginning to look like it might happen -- in the living rooms of America, if not on the campaign trail.

Posted by tbrown at 12:55 PM


'Anonymous' speaks

He's the spook I mentioned here who thinks the only way out of the mess we've blundered into in the Middle East is to turn the Muslim world into one vast parking lot and kill everyone who stands in the way. Today he talked about why he thinks this is necessary in an interview on NPR.

He's also not quite as Anonymous as he was earlier this week. He now has a first name, "Mike." His full identity no doubt will be disclosed shortly, after he squeezes whatever entertainment juice is left from his Anonymous gig.

Update: NBC's Andrea Mitchell has an interview with Anonymous in which he elaborates on why he believes the U.S. is rapidly losing the war on terrorism. Here's a taste:

" ... I would say that damage that the [U.S.] clandestine service has inflicted on al-Qaida would have wiped out any other terrorist group that we've ever known of in the last 30 years, maybe longer. The point I would make is al-Qaida is not a terrorist group. It's more akin to an insurgent organization. It pays tremendous attention to succession, to leadership succession. Were all of those people that were killed or captured important? Absolutely. Did it hurt the organization? Of course it did. But there were successors waiting in the wings; there were understudies. The organization goes on."

Read the text of the interview. The Nightly News video leaves much to be desired.

Posted by tbrown at 12:53 PM


Saving Jack Ryan

Watching the same people who tried to lynch Bill Clinton for his sexual peccadillos as they try to save Illinois GOP Senate candidate Jack Ryan from his is just too, too funny.

William Saletan at Slate lines up the arguments of Ryan and his supporters here.

Juan Cole, the most consistently readable egghead around, has an excellent post dealing with the more substantive questions, such as: Should we care about Ryan's private life? No except to the extent that our knowledge of it informs us about what kind of public servant he'd make:

"Bottom line, the question for the good people of Illinois should not be whether Ryan is kinkier than [his Democratic opponent, Barack] Obama, but a) whether Ryan still uses people instrumentally to get his rocks off and b) whether Ryan could accomplish something for their state that Obama cannot."

And Cole gets to the real heart of the old pot-and-kettle problem here:

"The lesson for the Republicans of all this is that the wages of Puritanism are hypocrisy. Henry Hyde, Newt Gingrich, and many other Republicans who tried to nail Clinton had also tried to nail women not their spouses and were no better than Clinton morally. In fact, no one is better morally than anyone else as a matter of ontology or being. Some deeds are better than others, and some people achieve better deeds more often than others. Some people are capable of higher ethical standards than others. But human beings are not in the nature of the case morally perfect beings. Since that is so, it is crazy for the American public to want its politicians to be saints (they aren't), and the desire merely produces hypocrisy, which in turn corrodes ideals and the moral order."

Unfortunately, this is too elevated a concept for the people most in need of understanding it.

Posted by tbrown at 12:24 PM




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