|Attended the company's Code of Ethics meeting this morning. No babysitter available, so Gnat brought her iBook and I gave her my headphones. She played “Candyland,” quietly, never bothering me once. One little head looking down at a capering gingerbread man, 30 heads looking up at a filmstrip warning us not to use inside information for personal benefit. Bottom line: adulthood sucks. Of course, when you’re a kid you can’t buy your own laptop. You have to wait for one to be handed down. And if she’d left it behind at the office? I can’t afford another. Unless I use inside information. Hey, never thought of that.
Of course, I jest. We went back home – the meeting was in mid-morning – and I sent the Newhouse column to the bureau. (Anticipating a busy morning I’d finished both columns the previous night, which meant I went straight from the keyboard to bed. I hate that. Somehow, unless I watch TV and turn it off in the middle of something, I feel as though the TV won. When I don’t watch any at the end of the night, the big blank screen just smirks: can’t handle it, eh? Afraid I’ll suck you in, and you’ll stay up until 3 AM watching The Interchangeable Pharoah Hour on DiscoveryHD? Loser.) The work done for the day, we colored in her Wallace and Grommit book (it had no American price on the back, only British: 2 pounds 99. The clerk sold it to me for $2.99. Thank God it wasn’t Italian, in lira.) We cleaned the house TUESDAY STYLE, which meant emptying a can of Pledge on the woodwork and furniture, using the most helpful Old English Wipes on anything that could possibly collect dust, and Swiffering the floors.
The other day I weighed the merits of the Swiffer wet mop, which apparently hacks out a gob of cleaning fluid at the press of a button. I declined. You have to buy the inserts, the bottles that hold the fluid, and I was horribly burned by that Lysol Toilet Wand that blurted out scrub-juice at the touch of a button. Not literally burned, of course, just metaphorically so. The canisters emptied after a few uses, and if Target still carries them I don’t see them when I shop. It’s possible that I just stopped looking for them, because the item is dead to me. I was led to believe that the cleaning fluid was expelled with sufficient force to make the scrubhead rotate. It did not. The scrubhead was as fixed it its position as Pat Buchanan re: Israel. Anyway. If I’d liked the device, I would have stocked up on insertable canisters, bracing for the day when the Lysol Scrubbing Bubble Crapper Blaster was discontinued. Likewise the Swiffer wet mop. Those things won’t be around forever. You get used to them; you integrate them into your life; then one day it’s oh I’m sorry, we don’t make the inserts anymore, but we do have this new Swiffer Cyclonic Action Wet Spuzmatic 9000, and it uses concentrates stored in gel pacs. You like gel pacs, don’t you? Feel one. It’s pillowy soft, yet alluringly firm. Comes in Fresh Apple, Spring Linen, Morning Orange, Holiday Pine, and Slaughterhouse Disinfectant.
I don’t trust the bastards; no, I don’t.
And that goes for the New York Times, too. Good Lord. Good LORD. (A roundup of your links & info here.)
Uh oh –
Screen en route –
Can’t – STOP – SCREED –
(Note: it’s very late, and I can either edit this for sanity and clarity, or post it and watch some TV. You know where I stand on THAT issue. Bale if you must; I'm extra cranky tonight. Here we go.)
The sun set, the moon rose, the unchilled milk attained room temp, the dog had to pee, the match was struck and guttered out, the earth moved along its prescribed orbit, and Andrew Sullivan endorsed John Kerry. Some notable rationales:
Kerry has said again and again that he will not hesitate to defend this country and go on the offensive against Al Qaeda. I see no reason whatsoever why he shouldn't.
This would be a reasonable statement if Sen. Kerry had just popped fully-formed from Zeus’ brow, howling for justice, but there’s the inconvenient matter of three decades of public pronouncements that makes one wonder how he defines “defend(ing) this country,” and what he consider to be an offensive. No? Or am I being unfair? Perhaps.
You know, I don’t want to be unfair; here’s the big chunk I’m chewing:
Does Kerry believe in this war? Skeptics say he doesn't. They don't believe he has understood the significance of September 11. They rightly point to the antiwar and anti-Western attitudes of some in his base--the Michael Moores and Noam Chomskys who will celebrate a Kerry victory. I understand their worries. But they should listen to what Kerry has said. The convention was a remarkable event in that it pivoted the Democratic Party toward an uncomplicated embrace of the war on terror. Kerry has said again and again that he will not hesitate to defend this country and go on the offensive against Al Qaeda. I see no reason whatsoever why he shouldn't. What is there to gain from failure in this task? He knows that if he lets his guard down and if terrorists strike or succeed anywhere, he runs the risk of discrediting the Democrats as a party of national security for a generation. He has said quite clearly that he will not "cut and run" in Iraq. And the truth is: He cannot. There is no alternative to seeing the war through in Iraq. And Kerry's new mandate and fresh administration will increase the options available to us for winning. He has every incentive to be tough enough but far more leeway to be flexible than the incumbent.
Besides, the Democratic Party needs to be forced to take responsibility for the security of the country that is as much theirs as anyone's. The greatest weakness of the war effort so far has been the way it has become a partisan affair. This is the fault of both sides: the Rove-like opportunists on the right and the Moore-like haters on the left. But in wartime, a president bears the greater responsibility for keeping the country united. And this president has fundamentally failed in this respect. I want this war to be as bipartisan as the cold war, to bring both parties to the supreme task in front of us, to offer differing tactics and arguments and personnel in pursuit of the same cause. This is not, should not be, and one day cannot be, Bush's war. And the more it is, the more America loses, and our enemies gain.
Okay, chew it up.
The greatest weakness of the war effort so far has been the way it has become a partisan affair. This is the fault of both sides: the Rove-like opportunists on the right and the Moore-like haters on the left
Laff? Cry? Coin-toss. Yes, it’s somehow become a partisan affair, thanks to a strange, unknowable alchemic reaction between the Rove-like and the Moore-like, some odd love-child with Eloi and Moorlock DNA. Because we all remember those vast demos in Europe, arranged by the Rovian right, to whip up anti-Taliban sentiment before the Afghan campaign. We all recall the Rove-like movies made by the Rove-like directors and the Rove-like newspaper editorials demanding that the dusky scum kneel before the bright Christian banners we bear aloft. Everyone’s equally guilty here. Six of one, four-hundred-thousand dozen of the other.
And let us shed a tear for those who believed it was necessary after 9/11 to knock off Saddam and establish a beachhead in the region ‘twixt Iran and Syria, but later ran away shrieking like freshly skinned rabbits because it had somehow, by some odd turn of events, turned into a partisan affair. What scared them off? Who knows? Just happened, I guess. Somewhere between the brutal Afghan winter, the interminable quagmire of the operational pause en route to Baghdad – all 72 hours of it - and the devastating supposition that the turkey Bush presented on Thanksgiving may not have been the actual fowl consumed by the troops, we realized that the war was all failure and lies and failed lies about lying failures, and we can’t do anything and the Plan was wrong and Mission Accomplished, yeah right. Oh, and We Support the Troops.
Who gets more media traction in this heated media-saturated climate? Rove-like Opportunists, or Moore-like Haters?
But in wartime, a president bears the greater responsibility for keeping the country united. And this president has fundamentally failed in this respect.
Oh, surely. But maybe - just maybe - many people did not want the country to be united if it meant being united behind Bush. He is a much more potent and immediate threat, after all. Who’s heard from Osama lately? Meanwhile Bush is out there every day handling snakes and speaking in tongues and supergluing parapalegics to wheelchairs, because his weird-beard God loves suffering and commands him – via text-messaging, for all we know – to kill them oily rag-heads. I mean, today I was behind a car whose bumpersticker had a picture of Bush with the slogan "American Terrorist." I know that driver was so behind Bush before he failed - in a fundamental way - to convince the driver he was not equivalent to Abu Nidal. Probably because he misprounced "Nuclear." Farking moron.
Keeping the country united? Good luck. Imagine FDR running a war with a press composed of cynical snickerers who derided the president as a rich old cripple who thought the best way to defeat Tojo was a war in North Africa and preached defeat every day through the hard slog of the Pacific theater. Imagine running a war with an entertainment industry that declined to make a single movie about the conflict - why, imagine a "Casablanca" where Rick and Sam argue about whether America started it all because they didn’t support the League of Nations. Imagine a popular radio drama running through the early 40s about a smart, charismatic, oh-so-intellectual Republican president whose bourbon baritone mocked FDR’s patrician whine, a leader who took no guff from Stalin OR Hitler! Lux Soap brings you, The West Wing of the White House! Imagine Thomas Dewey’s wife in 1944 callling the WW2 a war for oil; imagine former vice presidents insisting that FDR had played on our fears after Pearl Harbor. Imagine all that.
FDR won the 1944 election 25,602,504 votes to Dewey’s 22,006,285. And this was almost two million votes less than he got in 1940. Did he fail to unify the country, if half the voters wanted someone else? Or is that just how we always are, more or less?
I want this war to be as bipartisan as the cold war, to bring both parties to the supreme task in front of us, to offer differing tactics and arguments and personnel in pursuit of the same cause.
"Bipartisan as the cold war?" At the start, perhaps, but not after Vietnam. Not after Nixon. The cold war was no longer us v. them, good v. evil, but us v. the future, clueless patriotism v. post-nationalist utopia. It wasn't a difference of "tactics and arguments," but a difference of perspectives and objectives. Rewind the calendar to the 80s; there were two different approaches to the Soviet threat:
Coexistance, whereby we sign pieces of paper that outlaw six classes of missiles, permit development of three others, lay out frameworks for future talks on reducing expansion of experimental tests for another class, accept Soviet client states in our neighbodhood, and oh, we exchange circuses and ballet troops. Peace!
Up Yours, Ivan, whereby we push back against any attempt to plant the hammer and sickle in our hemisphere, fund those who resist your imperialism, match you rocket-for-rocket in Europe’s front yard and spent eleventy billion dollars on stuff you can neither invent nor afford. War!
But peace, in the end. To repeat:
He knows that if he lets his guard down and if terrorists strike or succeed anywhere, he runs the risk of discrediting the Democrats as a party of national security for a generation
Is it instructive to note which side Sen. Kerry instinctively inhabited in the 80s? Apparently not. Because now he knows that if terrorists strike, he runs the risk of discrediting his party. Got that? Runs the risk. Of discrediting his party. Of all that the theats he might face, apparently that's the one that seals the deal. Look: The guy voted against the first Gulf War. What else do you need to know? UN thumbs up, global test, allies coming out the wazoo, and he voted no. Because that’s who he is. There are lots of Democrats with hard-core pro-defense no-nonsense smite-the-fascist records. He ain't one of them. One might reasonably assume he would only commit US forces unless they were under the command of the Vulcans, and only then if the Federation High Council had given up on the Organians coming in and making everyone’s guns disappear in their hands. If they don't? Back the Sandinistas and hope for the best.
He has said quite clearly that he will not "cut and run" in Iraq. And the truth is: He cannot.
Because that would lead to helicopters on the roof and boat people and reeducation camps and mass deaths, and God knows the world has never seen anything like that.
This is not, should not be, and one day cannot be, Bush's war. And the more it is, the more America loses, and our enemies gain.
And this argument is not, should not be, and one day cannot be, and dasn’t be, and at the end of the day might not be, convincing. This is like saying vote McClellan, lest the war against secession and slavery be seen as Lincon’s war. Our enemies gain when America aligns itself with the nations and institutions disinclined to see America win. They don't want us to lose, necessarily, but our clear triumphs are so damnably inconvenient. In any case, it’s not Bush’s war if he wins the election, is it? And if the French and moo-lahs and disaffected café-sitters in Cairo still think it’s Bush’s war after he wins 40 states, who gives a tin merde? Kerry can buy five minutes of good will by putting the screws to Israel, and reap the accolades of those who cannot wait for the inevitable flowering of liberal democracy in Arafat’s Instant Sea-Monkey Paradise (just add statehood!) but once those five minutes are up, and the Arab press starts pointing out Kerry’s Jewish roots, and the bombs go off again in Tel Aviv, does anyone think France will petition the Security Council to bomb Hezbollah camps in Syria?
I admit. I have a fantasy. Kerry wins. He’s having a summit with Tony Blair. In the middle of the conversation, Chirac calls up; Kerry excuses himself and has a brief chat about a new resolution to let French oil companies bid on reconstruction projects, and they have an amiable conversation in French. Kerry hangs up.
“Your predecessor,” Blair says, “spoke to him in English.”
“I know,” says President Kerry. “He couldn’t speak French.”
“He didn’t have to,” Blair notes. He gives a tight smile. And sighs. And gets down to explaining what now must be done.
If Tony B. ran against Kerry in this country, I wonder who'd win? I'd vote for him. Everything else aside, he gets it. He always has.