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Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

[ 0 ] November 9, 2006 |

I’m not sure what Atrios is so upset about. Personally, I’m relieved that we’ll finally be able to see John McCain and Joe Lieberman on a Sunday talk show. I never thought I’d see the day! Hopefully for a change they’ll bring in David Broder, Joe Klein and two wingnuts to discuss the tragic election results too…

Frankly,That’s An Issue I’ve Never Considered

[ 0 ] November 9, 2006 |

Shorter Verbatim Dan “How can I be homophobic? I left my gay brother to die alone in a San Francisco flophouse” Riehl: “I’d rather the enemy wore the right uniform. With Chafee, I always had the sense Catholic Schoolgirl was his uniform of choice – for wearing, not chasing.”

Um, gee, that’s fascinating, Dan [backs slowly away...]

When "Character" Was King

[ 0 ] November 9, 2006 |

As Donald Rumsfeld is finally thrown under the bus, it seems appropriate to return to Jon Chait’s recent account of the Rumsfeld-worship of the early Bush era. (The nadir was probably Midge Decter’s book, which seems to have been expanded after Seventeen rejected her initial article because it was too puerile and starry-eyed.) Here’s one characteristic example:

To plunge back into the conservative idealization of Rumsfeld, given what we know today, is a bizarre experience. You enter an upside-down world in which the defense secretary is a thoughtful, fair-minded, eminently reasonable man who has been vindicated by history–and his critics utterly repudiated. The pioneering specimen of the genre was a National Review cover story from December 31, 2001, by Jay Nordlinger, cover-lined “The Stud: Don Rumsfeld, America’s New Pin-up,” with a cartoon portraying the defense secretary as Betty Grable in her iconic World War II image. The central premise of the article was that Rumsfeld epitomized manliness and virility. (This turned out to be a recurring theme in the Rumsfeld iconography.)

Nordlinger’s article consisted mostly of the sort of unprovable, impressionistic personal assessments that are the usual grist of the conservative character industry. As one Rumsfeld friend was quoted as saying, “People look for a different kind of person to run Washington–as far away from the Clinton type as you can get.” (This was largely a continuation of a conservative theme that President Clinton had surrounded himself with wusses–”pear-shaped” men, as conservative author Gary Aldrich described them, or, as Bob Dole put it in his 1996 presidential nomination acceptance speech, “the elite who never grew up, never did anything real, never sacrificed.”)

This kind of silliness makes it doubly appropriate that it was George Allen’s defeat which finally put an end to Republican rule in the Senate. You may recall that the National Review ran a similar hagiography of Allen which said little about his substantive merits but a great deal about the character that could be inferred from his football-throwing and tobacco-chewing abilities. I would like to hope that if the spectacular policy and political flameout of Bushism teaches conservatives anything, it’s that propping up mediocrities and empty suits based on unfalsifiable attributions of “character” is good in the long run for neither the country nor the Republican Party.

[Cross-posted at TAPPED.]

But If Ed Koch Says It, It Must Be True!

[ 0 ] November 9, 2006 |

Shorter Michelle Malkin: The fact that an obscure ex-Congresswoman wrote a book about impeachment provides irrefutable evidence that the Democratic leadership will try to impeach President Bush. Similarly, my book proves that the Bush administration has already rounded up every Muslim in the United States and put them in concentration camps.

Yeah, we’re going to be seeing a lot of this stuff.


[ 0 ] November 8, 2006 |

CNN calls Montana for Tester.

Back to the Clown Show

[ 0 ] November 8, 2006 |

The defeat of South Dakota’s abortion ban is evidently good news on the merits, and will also hopefully put to rest the ideas that abortion criminalization necessarily represents popular majorities. Even in one of the most conservative states, an even minimally consistent (and the South Dakota legislation still flinched when it came to applying legal sanctions to women who were purportedly guilty of a serious crime) pro-life position is a political loser even in on of the most conservative states in the country.

What this means, alas, is a return to silly, unprincipled abortion regulation that attempts to roll back abortion access through the back door. Appropriately enough, today the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Gonzales cases, which concern the constitutionality of federal legislation banning so-called “partial birth” abortions. Nothing represents the extent to which the American “pro-life” movement is reduced to empty symbolism and intellectual dishonesty than these ridiculous laws. I will have a longer piece about this in the near future, but in the meantime Judge Posner explained the nature of the laws well in his dissent in Hope Clinic v. Doyle:

The wave of “partial birth” abortion statutes that broke over the nation after a description of the D & X procedure was publicized–does not exhibit the legislative process at its best, whatever one thinks of abortion rights. Whipped up by activists who wanted to dramatize the ugliness of abortions and deter physicians from performing them, the public support for the laws was also based–as is implicit in Judge Manion’s defense of the laws– on sheer ignorance of the medical realities of late-term abortion. The uninformed thought the D & X procedure gratuitously cruel, akin to infanticide; they didn’t realize that the only difference between it and the methods of late-term abortion that are conceded all round to be constitutionally privileged is which way the fetus’s feet are pointing. Opposition to the bills that became these laws was at first muted not only by ignorance of the character of a late-term abortion but also by the fact that few women are likely to be affected by the laws. Circumstances conspired, as it were, to produce a set of laws that can fairly be described as irrational. [my emphasis; cites removed.]

The bad news is that this ludicrously arbitrary legislation–which doesn’t protect fetal life even in theory, although it may force women to use procedures that are less safe–is almost certain to be upheld by the Supreme Court, which may well lead to the gutting of Roe‘s health exemption. The difference is Alito replacing O’Connor, which should emphasize both the importance of the two outstanding Senate seats and the election in 2008.

And It Wasn’t Even K-Lo

[ 0 ] November 8, 2006 |

Shorter Verbatim Hugh Hewitt: “Senator Santorum is now available for a seat on the SCOTUS should one become available.”

I think this is the definition of a situation in which commentary is superfluous.

Open Thread The Second

[ 0 ] November 8, 2006 |

A Dem House–expected, but even six months ago I wouldn’t have predicted it. Great news, and with VA heading to recount the Senate is very much in play. (Bill Kristol has claimed that most outstanding votes in MO are in St. Louis and Kansas City, and Talent’s lead has steadily narrowed. Looks like +5 at worst.)

And as It points out, the South Dakota abortion law has been defeated. And Ezra makes a great point–I think all analogies of Karl Rove to Mark Hanna are officially null.

this is exactly right. Webb should declare victory tonight. The most crucial aspect of Florida 2000 wasn’t the litigation but the perception that Gore was trying to “steal” Bush’s “victory.” Admittedly, I somehow doubt that the media will keep telling Allen to get over it, but Webb has to take the initiative here.

…”The Votes Are In And We Won.” Attaboy, Jim!

…Hayworth done.

Classic predictive work from Hugh Hewitt’s lickspittle.

…McCaskill claims victory!

Party Like It’s 1964!

[ 0 ] November 7, 2006 |

Woo-hoo! With 0% of precincts reporting, Harold Ford jumps out to a commanding 700 vote lead! It’s a landslide!

Earlier this week I was lamenting having to teach at 8:25 tonight, but it’s probably for the best to let results collect for an hour so I’m not checking obsessively for virtually meaningless data. Plus, it’s my American Government class and I have interweb capability in class, so should be fun…

I declare this an Election Open Thread. Play Nice! And if things start going sour, you’d better be packing whiskey.

…I will feel a lot better if Missouri started tightening up a bit.

…Crazy Curt Weldon goes down–Atrios will be happy.

…Sherwood the Choker and Nancy Johnson also go down.

…Sweeney goes down! Yay upstate.

…Looks like Dem takeover of the House is official (sound the bugles.) Time to turn to Fox…ah, Hume seems to be whining about Virginia not being called yet…

…at worst, looks like a recount in VA.

…Webb takes the lead, as intrepid commneter MJD called.

Well, One of These Arguments Is Embarrassing

[ 0 ] November 7, 2006 |

The sad decline of Michael Kinsley continues with this bit of vacuous contrarianism, which has been understandably picked up by jingoist Republican bloggers like Glenn “more rubble, less trouble” Reynolds. According to Kinsley, the statements about Iraq in the Democratic platform are an “embarrassment”:

For national security in general, the Democrats’ plan is so according-to-type that you cringe with embarrassment: It’s mostly about new cash benefits for veterans. Regarding Iraq specifically, the Democrats’ plan has two parts. First, they want Iraqis to take on “primary responsibility for securing and governing their country.” Then they want “responsible redeployment” (great euphemism) of American forces.

Older readers may recognize this formula. It’s Vietnamization — the Nixon-Kissinger plan for extracting us from a previous mistake. But Vietnamization was not a plan for victory. It was a plan for what was called “peace with honor” and is now known as “defeat.”

It really is quite remarkable to use Nixon and Kissinger to attack Pelosi–is Kinsley actually claiming that Vietnam would have turned out better if we had kept more troops there longer? Is this supposed to be a serious argument? Kinsley doesn’t design to share with us what a non-embarrassing plan would look like, but merely implies that a pullout is likely to be followed by bad consequences in Iraq. Which is true enough. But since things are getting worse, simply staying–particularly since Bush has made it clear that his strategy will be to keep trying the same failed approach and magically hope that it will make things better instead of worse (and a pony!)–does absolutely nothing to prevent this “defeat.” If Kinsley is saying that we should try to change things by greatly increasing our commitment of troops, this would be irresponsible for three reasons: 1)it’s exceptionally unlikely to work at this late date, 2)the troops don’t exist, and 3)the people actually in charge of executing the war don’t want to do anything differently even if it were possible.

The real Nixon/Kissinger analogy here, of course, is that the Bush administration is going to do everything possible to blame other people rather than the people actually responsible for the Iraq fiasco. Kinsley demonstrates that any number of Sensible Centrists (TM) will be happy to do so, making the specious argument that if the Democrats don’t develop a plan (about which Kinsley, needless to say, has absolutely nothing useful to contribute) to salvage the unsalvageable then a bad outcome in Iraq is somehow their fault. Whatever its demerits, the Democratic platform is infinitely more honest and less embarrassing than Kinsley’s Nixonian critique. It’s the least bad option for a situation they didn’t create.

Or, of course, there’s the least charitable (but probably, alas, most accurate) reading: that Kinsley completely agrees with the Democratic Party, but thinks that the Democratic platform should say “if elected, we will immediately cut and run to ensure that the United States will lose the Iraq War.” I would prefer to think that he can’t possibly be arguing that parties have a responsibility to frame substantive policies in terms so politically unpalatable they could never be elected to enact these policies, but if he is, well…I think it’s self-refuting.

Drum notes the same silliness elsewhere in the article.

Reasons For Optimism?

[ 0 ] November 7, 2006 |

My predictions for the election outcome are up at TAPPED. You’ll see that, despite a fairly generous appraisal of the Democrats’ chances in the Senate, I was skeptical of Webb’s chances. For whatever it’s worth, a recent poll shows Webb ahead. And Sabato has the Dems +6 in the Senate and +29 in the House. I certainly hope that’s about right, but I still can’t quite see everything breaking that well.

Meanwhile, Roxanne provides about 3,000 reasons to hope for a repudiation of the Party of Torture tomorrow.

Amanda speak, you listen.

"More Rubble, Less Trouble."

[ 0 ] November 7, 2006 |

Glenn Reynolds is a “racist.” This isn’t my judgment, mind you, but the judgment of the Libertarian Jacksonian Whig himself.

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