Bob's Links and Rants
Saturday, March 20, 2004

From Mike Thompson.
Ann Arbor Still Says No To War!
Unfortunately, the weather stopped us from getting the great picture this year, grounding our aerial photographer. Hopefully I'll have some pictures later. If you're wondering where I've been today, that was it.
Friday, March 19, 2004
More from Pat Buchanan
Okay, I read this article from Pat which attacks Kerry from about the same point of view as Tom DeLay or Dick Cheney would, so I'm already less un-repulsed by Buchanan than I was in the previous post (below). What's disappointing in that article is not so much that he operates from different assumptions and positions, but that it is so full of the same kind of meaningless rhetoric that you hear from almost all of the candidates ("John Kerry, by his voting record over two decades, is outside the American mainstream." -- I mean, wo what?)

Still, Pat's got some good things to say, and he says them well. Moving on to Pat's article previous to that one, and he's attacking the Republicrats "free trade" policy, and doing it well:

North Carolina welcomed Sen. John Edwards home after his unsuccessful campaign as a hero. Why? At the end, Edwards was a fiery adversary of the Bush-Clinton trade deals, a denunciator of NAFTA, a champion of workers. Indeed, just as almost all the Democrats ended up the campaign sounding like Howard Dean on Iraq, on trade they had all begun to sound like Dennis Kucinich.
The trade deals the U.S. government then negotiated, at the behest of U.S. corporations, were not really trade deals at all, but enabling acts. U.S. corporations were told: You can now shut your U.S. factories, shed your U.S. workers, build your new plants in Mexico, China and India, and bring your finished goods back to the United States, free of charge. Go for it!
Republican free-trade dogma inhibits action to protect U.S. jobs. The GOP is hogtied and hamstrung by its ideology in dealing with the crisis. Its only response is to mutter with Dr. Pangloss that it is all for the best.

The GOP is fortunate its opponent in 2004 is John F. Kerry, who is as clueless as they are on the new world economy that has been designed, and is operating, to loot America of her patrimony.

Who is the real opposition party?

The pResident gave another dumb speech today, demonstrating once again that he learns nothing from experience. Tax cuts cause job losses? More tax cuts will fix it! Wars cause terrorism? More wars will fix it! Being incomprehensibly stupid and arrogant makes you the laughing stock of the world? Be even more stupid and arrogant! Here's a part of his speech today:

The war on terror is not a figure of speech. It is an inescapable calling of our generation. The terrorists are offended not merely by our policies -- they are offended by our existence as free nations. No concession will appease their hatred. No accommodation will satisfy their endless demands. Their ultimate ambitions are to control the peoples of the Middle East, and to blackmail the rest of the world with weapons of mass terror. There can be no separate peace with the terrorist enemy. Any sign of weakness or retreat simply validates terrorist violence, and invites more violence for all nations. The only certain way to protect our people is by early, united, and decisive action.

Here are two selections covering the same subject, one from a speech, the other from a magazine column, both from two days ago (3/17). Which one do you think offers the clearest, most sensible alternative to Bush's "war on terrorism?"

1. And while we should seek allies, we must never give anyone else a veto over our national security. At this decisive time in our history, when we confront ongoing challenges in Afghanistan as well as Iraq - and the mortal challenge of those that would use terror as a weapon and religion as a shield, there is no greater imperative for a President than the Constitution's command to provide for the common defense. If I am President of the United States, we will do whatever it takes to ensure that the 21st century American military is the strongest in the world. I will not hesitate to use force when it is needed to wage and win the War on Terror.

2. What is Nagasaki ? the atomic bombing of a defenseless city of a defeated nation ? other than an act of slaughter, killing 40,000 men, women and children in minutes to force Japan's warlords to submit to America's will?

But that was war, we say, and Japan was the aggressor. Does that also justify Dresden? Is air terror permissible in a just war if a nation can demonstrate it was the victim of aggression?

Saddam's Iraq did not threaten us, did not attack us, did not want war with us, did not have weapons of mass destruction. Yet, we attacked, invaded and occupied Iraq. And when Iraqis attack our troops, we call it terror and we call them terrorists.

Is terrorism, then, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder?

John Brown murdered men in Kansas in reprisal for the killing of Northerners and killed civilians in his raid on Harper's Ferry to ignite a slave revolt. Brown was hanged as a terrorist. Yet the 1920s epic poem on the Civil War written by Stephen Vincent Benet would be titled, "John Brown's Body." And the first lines of the fighting song of the Union army were: "John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave, but his soul goes marching on. Glory, glory halleluiah."

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Or so it would seem.

The first one is John Kerry two days ago. The second one is Pat Buchanan. I'll confess that I haven't fully researched Buchanan. Generally if you mention his name you get a shudder or a scream in response. I know he was a speechwriter for Nixon, not a plus on the resume as far as I'm concerned, and he has been accused of being a fascist, although I think that is more based on a (real or perceived) anti-Jewish position than on a totalitarian point of view, because I think Pat is quite libertarian in outlook. But when I read his articles or hear him talk on TV, I find myself agreeing with him most of the time. I get the feeling that like Kucinich on the left, Buchanan has been shunned by the right for pretty much the same reason: he threatens business as usual. There are huge bucks being made from continual war, and anyone who threatens it, whether from an internationalist point of view like Kucinich or an isolationist point of view like Buchanan, is usually ignored and occasionally ridiculed. But as far as foreign policy goes, I'll take Buchanan's approach any day over Bush's or Kerry's. He's willing to talk sense while Bush and Kerry are merely trying to out-patriot each other.

[Update] I've read a few more of Pat's columns, and he is pretty scary on the domestic agenda. So take Kerry's domestic agenda (if you can figure out what it is) and combine it with Buchanan's far less belligerent approach to foreign policy, and you'd have just about the perfect candidate! (Kucinich, that is.)
Kerry asked Spain not to pull troops from Iraq
Apparently, anyway. I can only find articles on Zapatero's rejection:

Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero tonight rejected US Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry’s call for him to reconsider plans to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.

Zapatero, the Socialist who won Sunday’s general election, noted that he had campaigned on a pledge to withdraw those 1,300 troops unless the United Nations takes charge in Iraq, and did not devise the plan simply because of last week’s terrorist bombings in Madrid.

“My commitment is my commitment,” Zapatero said in a television interview.

He added that he wanted “the best relations with the United States”.

Kerry yesterday joined other politicians in the US in expressing alarm over Zapatero’s insistence on bringing home the troops by June 30 when their mandate runs out unless the UN steps in.

Some Americans said Spain would be appeasing terrorists if it went ahead with the plan.

“Maybe John Kerry does not know – but I am happy to explain it to him – that my commitment to withdraw the troops goes back before the tragic, dramatic terrorist attack,” Zapatero said.

“If the United Nations does not take over the situation and there is not a rethinking of this chaotic occupation we are living through, in which there are more dead in the occupation than in the war phase, the Spanish troops are going to return to Spain”, Zapatero said.

I've googled and Yahooed to find a direct quote from Kerry; his statement doesn't appear to exist in American media or on his web site. I found the above article from the Scotsman, and just this article from the Jerusalem Post, which says:

US Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry asked Spain's incoming Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to reconsider his decision to withdraw Spanish troops stationed in Iraq.

Kerry said that the international community has a responsibility to bring stability to Iraq.

Our bloodthirsty pResident, with the support of our bloodthirsty Congress, including Kerry, got Spain's government to join us in a brutal crime against the will of the Spanish people. Spain apparently being a lot more of a democracy than the U.S., the people there rejected that government. The people of Spain don't have any responsibility to "bring stability" to Iraq, even if having troops there had anything to do with that.

Since I can't find any direct quote from Kerry, I won't rip into him--too much. But I think that anyone who expects U.S. foreign policy to improve significantly in a Kerry administration is in for a very rude shock--and awe.

Donald in Lala-land
The Secretary of Offense wrote an op-ed for the NY Times today. He again tries to pretend that somehow the war in Iraq is fighting terrorism, and then goes on to this donsense:

Today, in a world of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and states that sponsor the former and pursue the latter, defending freedom means we must confront dangers before it is too late. In Iraq, for 12 years, through 17 United Nations Security Council resolutions, the world gave Saddam Hussein every opportunity to avoid war. He was being held to a simple standard: live up to your agreement at the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf war; disarm and prove you have done so. Instead of disarming — as Kazakhstan, South Africa and Ukraine did, and as Libya is doing today — Saddam Hussein chose deception and defiance.

So now it's "prove you have done so." He had already disarmed. He prepared 11,000 pages of documentation, let the inspectors back in. And, of course, if Don and his buddies in the Reagan and Bush I administration hadn't spent ten years supplying Saddam with all those nasty weapons...

Oh, Don, we used to be such good friends! Why did you turn on me?
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Is It Safe?
Not when Dick "Zell" Cheney, the Halliburton Man, is around. Billmon noticed the uncanny resemblance between the Veep from the Deep and the evil Nazi dentist (triple redundancy?) Christian Zell from the movie "Marathon Man." As I recall, in that movie pretty much everyone with a speaking part except Dustin Hoffman ends up dead. Hopefully this movie ends up somewhat better. Having Fearmaster Cheney more than a pacemaker beat away from the presidency would be a good start.

You do change horses in midstream...
...when the horse you're on already has you up to your eyeballs in cold water and is determined to head for an even deeper part of the stream. The Spanish know this; will Americans? Unfortunately, the closest horse to jump to is also looking longingly towards the deep water. Do you risk drowning completely while looking for a truly suitable mount, or just jump on the nearest one and hope for the best? That is THE question of 2004.

Josh Marshall has a more colorful analogy.
Juan Cole, an Ann Arbor blogger who really knows what he's talking about, has a great post about the Socialist victory in Spain. He says of course it isn't a victory for al Qaeda, but it sure is a defeat for Bush.
The New Pravda strikes again
From a supposed news article from the NY Times:

At the same time, the White House and its allies tried to halt any notion that other nations might be tempted to follow Spain's example of bending to terrorists.

Spain had an open democratic election. The government that the Bushies liked but the Spanish hated was replaced. And the NY Times, without qualifiers, says that Spain set an example of bending to terrorists.

They voted. The warmongers lost. Get over it, and stop lying about it!
Scum of the Earth
The Repugs, that is.

"Here is a country that stood against terrorism, and had a huge terrorist act within their country, and they chose to change their government and to in a sense appease terrorists," House Speaker Dennis Hastert said.

Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican, said, "If we follow the example of the new Spanish government and we accept failure in Iraq and permit the victory of the terrorists, there there will no counting the number of people around the world who will suffer the consequences."

Gee, Dennis, attacking Iraq was an act of terrorism, not standing against it. And Tom, with you bloodthirsty warmongers there is no counting the number of people who have already suffered the consequences of your illegal war on Iraq.

Hurray for Spain!

Wednesday, March 17, 2004
War on Terror Continues
After the big success in the WOT in Madrid, a followup from Baghdad. CNN has a new poll up: "Do terror attacks in Iraq make you more resolved to help establish democracy in the nation?" Do they mean Iraq or the U.S.?

Meanwhile, Howard Dean is trying to help Kerry find a spine, but Kerry prefers to take his orders from the Bush team:

The chairman of Bush's re-election campaign called on Kerry to repudiate the comment that Dean made during a conference call arranged by the Kerry campaign.

"The president was the one who dragged our troops to Iraq, which apparently has been a factor in the death of 200 Spaniards over the weekend,'' Dean said as he defended Kerry from a Bush television ad that accused Kerry of turning his back on U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq.

Asked about the comment on his campaign plane Wednesday, Kerry said, "It's not our position.''

And obviously it can't be, because Kerry helped Bush to drag our troops to Iraq.

I lost my program--someone please explain
MoveOn has a clip from Sunday's "Face the Nation" showing Donald Rumsfeld being contradicted by Iraq-hawk Thomas Friedman, of all people, about whether anyone in the administration said that Iraq was an "imminent" or "immediate" threat. Rummy claims that nobody did, and Friedman hits him with two of his own quotes; in the first one Rummy uses "imminent" (albeit in a double-negative kind of way that could be argued out of), and in the second he says "immediate."

What I'm confused about is why Rummy would be arguing that nobody in the administration claimed Iraq was an imminent or immediate threat. Isn't he therefore arguing against the main reason used to justify the war? Let him say it! That's what most people who opposed the war said before it started--that Iraq wasn't a threat. And Rummy is arguing that same point! Is he covering up for the lies about WMD's by insisting that we went to war for no reason?

And Congressional Repugs want to CONGRATULATE Bush for this murderous, expensive boondoggle. Call your representative today and tell him or her that Bush needs to be censured (and impeached!), not congratulated (800-839-5276).

My dream photo? Bush in an orange jumpsuit, in a cage at Guantanamo Bay, with a sign over his head reading "Mission Accomplished."
Online Poll
CNN asks: "Whose position do you support on Iraq?" The choices are Zapatero (Spanish PM-elect), or Bush and Blair.

Spain's prime minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has rejected an appeal from President George W. Bush to stand by the United States and has reiterated his threat to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.

"My position is the same. I have explained it throughout the election campaign," Zapatero told Onda Cero radio in an interview quoted by Reuters.

Zapatero -- swept to power after last week's Madrid train bombings -- has pledged to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq by July 1 if the United Nations does not take charge there.

"The occupation is a fiasco. There have been almost more deaths after the war than during the war," he said. "The occupying forces have not allowed the United Nations to take control of the situation."

Tony Blair welcomes Sr. Zapatero to the world stage by insulting him:
"The idea that if you were to give in over the issue of Iraq that that will be the end of the matter is completely and hopelessly naive," Blair told the House of Commons.

The idea, Tony, you dickhead, is not that getting out of Iraq will be "the end of the matter," but that staying in will undoubtedly make the matter worse. And getting in in the first place is a large part of the reason that there is a "matter" needing ending. Bush and Blair are part of the problem; Zapatero is hopefully part of the solution. (Just in case you didn't no how to vote in the CNN poll!)

BTW, Zapatero currently leads in the poll, 52% to 48%! Go world!

Three weeks from now I'll be on my way to Venezuela
Let's hope it's still there. Michelle has a long post about the latest developments in the sham recall drive in Venezuela. Suffice it to say that without the Bush administration Venezuela would have a lot fewer problems. But that's true of anywhere.
Bush actually going to run on his war record
A year after ordering the invasion of Iraq, President Bush is moving the war to the forefront of his re-election effort with a weeklong barrage of speeches, an orchestrated set of interviews with senior Pentagon officials and a new television advertisement questioning Senator John Kerry's support of the troops. -- NY Times

Both Bush and Kerry failed the troops by sending them to an illegal war with no valid reason. It is such a shame that the Democrats didn't nominate someone who could hammer Bush on this point, instead of the appeaser Kerry (a Bush appeaser, not a Saddam appeaser).

But for Bush to try to run on a record of a war based entirely on lies which has killed thousands and wounded many more? Well, what else has he got? He should do the honorable thing and drop out of the race, like that previous Texan who got us into a quagmire, LBJ. But George W. Bush has never done the honorable thing in his miserable life.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

From Steve Benson.
The terrorists were going to win either way
The execrable David Brooks in the NY Times, many cartoonists, like this particularly obnoxious and racist one, and plenty of other wingnuts are claiming that the victory of the Socialist Party in Spain is a victory for the terrorists.

To which I have many replies, first and foremost of which is: So what? By siding with Bush and Blair in the unnecessary, unprovoked and brutal war against Iraq, Aznar was himself a terrorist. So voting against him, even if it did please al Qaeda, was a better choice than voting for him.

And to follow the wingnut argument to its logical conclusion: Suppose that we knew with absolute certainty, before the election, that al Qaeda had blown up the trains for the express purpose of getting Aznar out of office. Is that supposed to mean that every Spaniard was then supposed to vote for Aznar, no matter what they thought of him? In other words, the bombings were Osama's ENDORSEMENT of Aznar? Millions in Spain opposed the war in Iraq in part because of the potential blowback. When the blowback went from potential to real, is it any surprise that they would reject the warmongering leader who helped to make it real?

I'll go back to my original argument, which I'll confess is highly un-American in the George Bush/John Kerry definition of American. That argument is, so what if the terrorists won? Appeasement, that dirty word, clearly didn't work with Hitler or with George W. Bush, but I think the evidence may point the other way when it comes to terrorism. Hitler and Bush attack because they are insane with power, and the more you give them the more they want, which is why appeasement doesn't work with them. Terrorists attack because they are angry. Make them happy and frequently they stop attacking (see Algerian terrorism against France in the '60's, IRA terrorism against England, and so on--see Pat Buchanan's article What Price the American Empire? for more on this).

And if you define your policy as being "whatever the terrorists don't want," aren't you in effect giving them complete control of your policy? I'm sure that al Qaeda, which considers a bare ankle to be a wardrobe malfunction punishable by death, was in full agreement with Michael Powell and the other wingnuts who were shocked by the Super Bowl halftime show. So shouldn't Bush, Powell and the others be promoting full frontal nudity on all TV because it's not what the terrorists want? It's absurd to let your policy be simply opposing what other people, no matter how horrible, want.

In Spain, I think the issue was fairly clear. Not getting involved in Iraq was clearly the preference of the majority of the country, but Aznar went ahead anyway. This certainly showed the people that he was not responsive to their wishes, which should be a good enough reason to vote him out. If the bombings swayed more people away from him rather than toward him, it just shows that the Spanish are smarter than Americans.

From Don Wright.
Go Hans!
President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair have lost credibility, the world is not safer now that Saddam Hussein is out of power and it was clear 10 months ago that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to Hans Blix, the former U.N. weapons inspector who returned to New York on the one-year anniversary of the war. -- CNN

"It was a reaction to 9/11 that we have to strike some theoretical, hypothetical links between Saddam Hussein and the terrorists. That was wrong. There wasn't anything," he said in an interview with NBC's "Today" show.

And he disagreed that the war had made the world a safer place.

"Sorry to say it doesn't look that way. If the message was to terrorists that we are willing to take you on, then that has not succeeded. In Iraq, it has bred a lot of terrorism and a lot of hatred to the Western world," he told an audience of 1,200 at NYU.

"Disarmament by war and democracy by occupation are difficult prospects."

He was especially critical of the United States and Britain for claiming the war was meant to uphold U.N. resolutions when the rest of the Security Council refused to back the conflict and he said Bush and Blair "oversold" what they knew.

By May I knew there was nothing because the Americans had interrogated so many Iraqis by then and even offered money and still they found nothing.
-- Hans Blix, former U.N. weapons inspector

"The moral of this story was clearly a loss of credibility for the leaders of this war and that they didn't think the council mattered, that was a mistake," Blix said.

Referring to passages from his book, the 75-year-old Swede identified Vice President Dick Cheney as his No. 1 opponent inside the Bush administration.

Cheney is EVERYONE's number one opponent.

Blix said he had been convinced for years that the Iraqis were hiding weapons of mass destruction but began having doubts when intelligence provided by the United States and other countries wasn't producing results. He blamed an over-reliance on defectors and a refusal on the part of the White House to consider the possibility that the intelligence was wrong.

Monday, March 15, 2004
And so it goes
Sixteen US troops, including 12 marines, were injured during a raid on Saturday, when five home made bombs were found and seven insurgents captured, the US Army said.

An army spokeswoman declined to give details on how four Task Force All American soldiers and 12 marines were hurt during the operation on Saturday in Ramadi 100 kilometres (65 miles) west of Baghdad.

In other violence, a US soldier was critical but stable after being stabbed several times by an unknown attacker in the US-led coalition's headquarters in Baghdad early Sunday, a US military official said.

And the body of a policeman from Fallujah, west of Baghdad, who disappeared two days ago, was discovered riddled with bullet holes, a police officer said.
-- AFP

To be fair and balanced, I should point out that while seven American soldiers were killed and dozens wounded over the weekend, approximately 240 Americans were killed on the highways. The soldiers were killed and wounded as part of an effort to keep the highway carnage going for several more years.
Quote du Jour
The war in Iraq was a disaster, the occupation of Iraq is a disaster. -- Spain's prime minister-elect, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Regime change is addictive
Washington has been channelling hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund the political opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez - including those who briefly overthrew the democratically elected leader in a coup two years ago.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that, in 2002, America paid more than a million dollars to those political groups in what it claims is an ongoing effort to build democracy and "strengthen political parties". Mr Chavez has seized on the information, telling Washington to "get its hands off Venezuela".
-- The Independent

Three weeks from Thursday I'll be in Venezuela. I'm guessing Chavez will be a lot harder for Bush to kidnap than Aristide, or maybe even Saddam, was. Let's do everything we can to make sure that Bush doesn't try (again).
Lying Liars at it again!
If you've read any of the exposes of the public relations industry, like Trust Us, We're Experts! from PR Watch or Global Spin, then you are aware that much of what is presented as "news," especially on local news shows, is actually just packaged PR from corporations and lobbying groups. Well, if you see "news" about how wonderful the new Medicare bill is, it probably was paid for by your tax dollars (unless of course you are rich).

The Department of Health and Human Services has prepared video tapes and scripts bragging about the bill:

The videos are intended for use in local television news programs. Several include pictures of President Bush receiving a standing ovation from a crowd cheering as he signed the Medicare law on Dec. 8.

The materials were produced by the Department of Health and Human Services, which called them video news releases, but the source is not identified. Two videos end with the voice of a woman who says, "In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting."
The government also prepared scripts that can be used by news anchors introducing what the administration describes as a made-for-television "story package."

In one script, the administration suggests that anchors use this language: "In December, President Bush signed into law the first-ever prescription drug benefit for people with Medicare. Since then, there have been a lot of questions about how the law will help older Americans and people with disabilities. Reporter Karen Ryan helps sort through the details."

They withheld information on the real costs of the bill from Congress, they offered bribes to representatives on the House floor, they kept the vote open for some three hours longer than the customary fifteen minutes so that Bush and his cronies could twist more arms, all to pass this huge giveaway to the drug and insurance companies. Now they have the audacity to try to sell this load of crap to us with our own money, and try to disguise these blatantly political ads as news. And given how fervently most local stations worked to sell the war in Iraq, it seems likely that these scripts will be read and videos shown just as the Repugs want.

Here's more:
Kevin W. Keane, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said there was nothing nefarious about the television materials, which he said had been distributed to stations nationwide. Under federal law, he said, the government is required to inform beneficiaries about changes in Medicare.

"The use of video news releases is a common, routine practice in government and the private sector," Mr. Keane said. "Anyone who has questions about this practice needs to do some research on modern public information tools."

But Democrats disagreed. "These materials are even more disturbing than the Medicare flier and advertisements," said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey. "The distribution of these videos is a covert attempt to manipulate the press."

Actually, they're both right. Anyone who has questions about this practice does need to do some research on PR methods (PR Watch being a great source). Because there are still a lot of people out there who believe that TV news is, well, news, and not government and corporate propaganda. And the sooner they are relieved of that mistaken impression the sooner we can get started on fixing this country.
Sunday, March 14, 2004
The reign in Spain
Is blown up like the trains.

Bush buddy Aznar's support of the Iraq war was apparently blamed for Thursday's bombings, and the Socialist Party is taking over.

The Socialist Equality Party is running Bill Van Auken for president in this country, giving voters an opportunity to reject the two warmongering parties leading this country and world to ruin (along with Nader, the Libertarians, and others). Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans have drunk the two-party Kool-Aid and believe that warmonger Kerry is the only alternative to warmonger Bush. Also unfortunately, we still don't have runoff elections or instant runoff voting which would actually allow people to vote for their favorite candidates without having to worry about helping their least favorite. Anyhow, let's hope that Spain marks the beginning of the end of the pitiful "coalition of the willing."
So sad
I just watched the CNN Presents special on the Dean campaign. (It was shown last night, but I recorded it on the TiVo and watched it tonight.) If you've been reading the blog for a while, you know that I wasn't a fan of Dean's. But to watch that show documenting the dreams of so many Americans being raised sky-high, only to be crushed by the media and party machines, was very depressing.

It's hard for me to fight off the impression that the crushing of the spirit was part of the plan all along. The big-money folks wanted Kerry against Bush all along, since they win either way. But Kerry wouldn't have survived even as long as Dean did if he had been the frontrunner all through last year. Since Dean had a good thing going with the fiery talk and the Internet fundraising and meetups, the media decided to play along. Put him on the cover of the major magazines, get his name on the front pages and on the evening news broadcasts a lot. Get lots of idealistic people, including many of the millions who marched against the war last year, interested and excited about Dean. Let them think that they really were going to change the country. (Also, take them away from the real anti-war candidate, Kucinich, but that's another rant.) A lot of them were young people who hadn't been a part of a campaign before, and they were thrilled to think that they were a part of something big. Give them their big shining moment in early December: President Gore's endorsement, and huge leads in the polls.

From then on, the media and the party turned against Dean. Instead of giving him good press no matter what he did, they gave him bad press. When he said something obviously true, such as that the capture of Saddam Hussein didn't make us safer, the media jumped all over it as though he had pissed on the true cross or something. Kerry, to his eternal shame, jumped all over that comment, saying it showed that Dean wasn't fit to be president (one of the many reasons I can't stand Kerry). The media kept talking about "electability," suggesting without any real reason that Kerry was more "electable" than Dean. And so many people were so media-led that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Iowa caucuses turned into The Match Game, where you win if you pick what most people say. And just in case those results from Iowa weren't enough to finish off Dean, the media picked one film clip from his speech that night and played it over and over and over. The CNN Presents piece showed video of the "Dean scream" from a handheld camera behind the stage--the crowd was cheering, and you couldn't even hear Dean.

CNN focused mostly on Dean's campaign manager, Joe Trippi. From what they showed, I liked Trippi a lot.

Anyhow, I think a lot of people in the Kucinich, Dean and Clark campaigns were hoping that what they were taught in ninth-grade civics might actually be true: that the people can make a difference in choosing who runs the country. The rise and fall of the Dean campaign was, I think, a lesson from the rich and powerful to the rest of us that that just isn't so. They decide who runs the country (and the world). We don't.
Four more soldiers killed
How many more?

Powered by Blogger