This and This and This and That

John Kerry: You know, a quip that requires a half hour of set up and 72 hours of explanation–it ain’t a quip. Please: Go away, dismal man. Let us remember you as you were in your finest hour: Conceding defeat.

Cruz Bustamante: It’s flattering to California voters that the first words out of your mouth in your campaign spots are, “I was really fat.” Yes, if you don’t live here, you’re missing a real treat: A career pol–he’s a Democrat, for the record–term limited out of his spot at the trough (lieutenant governor) and snuffling and snarfling his way toward another (state insurance commissioner). How ironic to compare him to a swine swilling down slops, because he’s basing his appeal to voters on the fact he went on a diet and lost 70 pounds. It all connects with his hunger to serve the public because he says he promised his family he’d lose the weight, and he did; and now, he’s promising to help us all get cheaper insurance–and he’ll keep that promise, too. If the Republican in the race–Steve Poizner–is not a serial murderer, I may vote for him. (One of the Bustamante ads, on YouTube, is below).

And then there’s David Brooks: His op-ed column in today’s New York Times (you’ve got to be a paid subscriber to get it online, so no link). This former gung-ho Iraq war supporter decides, three years, 7 months, and 14 days into the enterprise (not that anyone’s counting) that it might be a good idea to study up on the history of Iraq to see whether it offers any clues about the challenges the project poses. And–zounds!–it does:

“Policy makers are again considering fundamental chnges in our Iraq poliicy, but as they do I hope they read Elie Dedourie’s essay, ‘The Kingdom of Iraq: A Retrospect.’

“Kedourie, a Baghdad-born Jew, published the essay in 1970. It’s a history of the regime the British helped establish over 80 years ago, but it captures an idea that is truer now than ever: Disorder is endemic to Iraq. Today’s crisis is not three years old. It’s worse now, but the crisis is perpetual. This is a bomb of a nation.”

Later, Brooks quotes Kedourie’s view of the nation’s political future: “‘Either the country would be plunged into chaos or its population should become universally the clients and dependents of an omnipotent but capricious and unstable government.’ There is, he wrote, no third alternative.”

“An omnipotent but capricious and unstable government.” Saddam, anyone?

Despite the finality of Kedourie’s view, Brooks complacently describes the alternatives he sees open to the United States now. Make one last effort to pacify Baghdad–thus, he apparently believes, pouring oil on the restive countryside. Acknowledging that probably won’t pan out, he says Iraq ought to cease to exist.

“It will be time to effectively end Iraq, with a remaining fig-leaf central government or not. It will be time to radically diffuse authority down to the only communities that are viable–the clan, tribe or sect.”

But guess what? Brooks says we’ll still be there–apparently forever. Our “muscular presence” will be needed to “nurture civilized democratic societies that reject extremism and terror.” Uh, yeah, just what the doctor ordered: Having the troops referee the contest among the clans, tribes and sects. Someone needs to give Brooks something else to read to give him a clue about how that’s turning out.

(He might start in his own paper, which features a front-page story today on a combat medic and one of his patients, “Tending a Fallen Marine, with Skill, Prayer and Fury.”

“Petty Officer [Dustin] Kirby, 22, is a Navy corpsman, the trauma medic assigned to Second Mobile Assault Platoon of Weapons Company, Second Battalion, Eighth Marines. Everyone calls him Doc. He had just finished treating a marine who had been shot by an Iraqi sniper.

“ ‘It was 7.62 millimeter,’ he continued. ‘Armor piercing.’

“He reached into his pocket and retrieved the bullet, which he had found. ‘The impact with the Kevlar stopped most of it,’ he said. ‘But it tore through, hit his head, went through and came out.’

“He put the bullet in his breast pocket, to give to an intelligence team later. Sweat kept rolling off his face, mixed with tears. His voice was almost cracking, but he managed to control it and keep it deep. ‘When I got there, there wasn’t much I could do,’ he said.

“Then he nodded. He seemed to be talking to himself. ‘I kept him breathing,’ he said.”

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Bush, Then and Now

So now that the election is over and our country is healed of its silly divisions, it’s interesting to compare Bush’s acceptance speech today with the one he gave after he finally got his way in 2000. Not that they’re identical, but there are a few familiar phrases. I’d say the 2000 speech had a couple moments of real grace — for instance, when mentioning Jefferson’s 1800 election. It’s odd to read his calls for courtesy and civility and bipartisanship now (especially when they were delivered from the Texas state house, the scene of his allies’ more recent attempt to cripple the Democrats by gerrymandering them to death). Today’s talk was brief and pragmatic, except for the sort of odd reference to Texas at the end. It’s a little early for him to be talking retirement.

In any case, if you’re looking for signs of reconciliation (yeah, he got a record number of votes, as Cheney said; he also had a record number votes against him) his words are less than convincing, ’cause we’ve heard this spiel before and we’ve seen where that led.


Earlier today, Senator Kerry called with his congratulations. We had a really good phone call. He was very gracious. Senator Kerry waged a spirited campaign, and he and his supporters can be proud of their efforts. Laura and I wish Senator Kerry and Teresa and their whole family all our best wishes.


This evening I received a gracious call from … Vice President [Gore]. We agreed to meet early next week in Washington and we agreed to do our best to heal our country after this hard-fought contest. Tonight I want to thank all the thousands of volunteers and campaign workers who worked so hard on my behalf. I also salute the vice president and his supports for waging a spirited campaign. And I thank him for a call that I know was difficult to make. Laura and I wish the vice president and Senator Lieberman and their families the very best. “



Today I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust. A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. We have one country, one Constitution, and one future that binds us.


I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation. The president of the United States is the president of every single American, of every race and every background. Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interests and I will work to earn your respect.



We will continue our economic progress. We’ll reform our outdated tax code. We’ll strengthen the Social Security for the next generation. We’ll make public schools all they can be. And we will uphold our deepest values of family and faith.


Together, we will work to make all our public schools excellent, teaching every student of every background and every accent, so that no child is left behind. Together we will save Social Security and renew its promise of a secure retirement for generations to come. Together we will strengthen Medicare and offer prescription drug coverage to all of our seniors. Together we will give Americans the broad, fair and fiscally responsible tax relief they deserve. Together we’ll have a bipartisan foreign policy true to our values and true to our friends, and we will have a military equal to every challenge and superior to every adversary. Together we will address some of society’s deepest problems one person at a time, by encouraging and empowering the good hearts and good works of the American people.