The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bailing on Bush

Bailing on Bush

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 5, 2007; 7:22 AM

Now that the Bush ship has hit its share of icebergs, it's interesting to watch how many conservatives are heading for the lifeboats.

The immigration bill, and the president's aggressive defense of the measure, has really ticked off some of his remaining pundit supporters. But the disaffection on the right has been building for some time, as I've chronicled in this space.

Which raises an interesting question: Let's say you support someone running for the White House, you support him as president, you roundly criticize your ideological opponents for taking potshots at your man and not recognizing his greatness.

Then, you have to admit, he screws up. He makes mistakes. He fails to live up to your high hopes and parts company with you on key issues. You feel betrayed.

If you're intellectually honest and not just a partisan water-carrier, you level with your readers or viewers. But questions arise: Why did it take six years for you to figure this out? Do you owe an apology to those you castigated for making the kind of criticism that you are now echoing? Or do you simply try to airbrush the past?

Salon's Glenn Greenwald accuses conservatives of revisionist history:

"The great fraud being perpetrated in our political discourse is the concerted attempt by movement conservatives, now that the Bush presidency lay irreversibly in ruins, to repudiate George Bush by claiming that he is not, and never has been, a 'real conservative.' This con game is being perpetrated by the very same conservatives who -- when his presidency looked to be an epic success -- glorified George W. Bush, ensured both of his election victories, depicted him as the heroic Second Coming of Ronald Reagan, and celebrated him as the embodiment of True Conservatism.

"This fraud is as transparent as it is dishonest, yet there are signs that the media is nonetheless beginning to adopt this theme that there is some sort of epic and long-standing 'Bush-conservative schism.' But very little effort is required to see what a fraud that storyline is.

"One of the few propositions on which Bush supporters and critics agree is that George Bush does not change and has not changed at all over the last six years. He is exactly the same.

"And none of the supposed grounds for conservative discontent -- especially Bush's immigration position -- is even remotely new. Bush's immigration views have been well-known since before he was first elected in 2000, yet conservatives have devoted to him virtually cult-like loyalty and support."

Among various examples, he offers:

"Jonah Goldberg, May 29, 2007 (Bush approval rating - 32%)

"Bush, The Liberal

"Richard Cohen discovers something some of us on the right have been saying for a while: if you hold your head just so and look at Bush from the right angle, he looks an awful lot like a liberal.

"Jonah Goldberg, November 8, 2003 (Bush approval rating - 60%)

"But it is now clear that Bush's own son takes far more after his father's old boss than he does his own father, at least politically speaking. From tax cuts (and deficits, alas), to his personal conviction on aborrtion (sic), to aligning America with the historical tide of liberty in the world, Georrge (sic) W. Bush has proved that he's a Reaganite, not a 'Bushie.' "

One of the latest to break with the president is Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, who took leave from her job to support Bush in the 2004 campaign:

"What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them. What President Bush is doing, and has been doing for some time, is sundering a great political coalition. This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party but for the American future.

"The White House doesn't need its traditional supporters anymore, because its problems are way beyond being solved by the base. And the people in the administration don't even much like the base. Desperate straits have left them liberated, and they are acting out their disdain. Leading Democrats often think their base is slightly mad but at least their heart is in the right place. This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place.

"For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don't like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don't like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.

"But on immigration it has changed from 'Too bad' to 'You're bad.' . . .

"The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me. For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq.

"What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom."

Give her points for honesty.

Well, the only remaining mystery in the Jefferson case is: What took so long?

"Representative William J. Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat at the center of an investigation that included an F.B.I. raid at his Congressional office and accusations that he hid $90,000 in bribe money in his home freezer, was indicted Monday by a federal grand jury on 16 corruption-related felony counts," reports the New York Times.

I mean, if 90,000 bucks was found in your freezer, do you think you would skate for two years?

Actually, there's another big question: What are the Democrats, who ran against GOP corruption, going to do about their Jefferson problem?

"'The charges in the indictment against Congressman Jefferson are extremely serious,' Ms. Pelosi said in a statement. 'While Mr. Jefferson, just as any other citizen, must be considered innocent until proven guilty, if these charges are proven true, they constitute an egregious and unacceptable abuse of public trust and power.' "

Meanwhile, public approval of the Democratic Congress is down to 39 percent, says this WashPost poll, just barely above Bush's 35. One reason is dissatisfaction among the war's opponents.

Why is this survey different than all the other ones that give Hillary a big lead? Beats me:

"Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are essentially tied for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, the first time that the New York senator hasn't clearly led the field.

"The Illinois senator bests Clinton by a single percentage point, 30%-29%, if the contest includes former vice president Al Gore. Clinton bests Obama by a single point, 37%-36%, if it doesn't include Gore."

On the Republican side, it's Rudy 32, McCain 19.

We're still rehashing the Democratic debate as we gear up for tonight's Republican debate. Slate's John Dickerson says Hillary is fuzzing up the differences:

"The Democrats have now held two debates and for a second time Hurricane Katrina was uttered only in passing. The catastrophe and the issues of poverty and government competency it raised once animated discussions among Democrats, but not Sunday night. Nor was there discussion of other issues Democrats have talked about in the past like pensions, wages, and education. The candidates debated health care at some length, but Iraq and the war on terror dominated much of the evening."

In saying we-Dems-are-all-against-the-war, writes Dickerson, "Clinton, like Giuliani, wasn't just switching the subject but trying to behave like the leader of the party as if the general election were already under way. Good thing for her she was able to pull it off. She made almost no mistakes and looked in command. She rebutted John Edwards' claim that the 'war on terror' is just a bumper sticker, making a forceful case for why jihadists must be confronted. She didn't exactly risk anything, but then she doesn't have to. She was the front-runner coming in, and she still is.

"Obama and Edwards fought but Hillary stayed above the fray. Afterward her aides said this was proof of her presidential temperament. Those lesser candidates had to squabble because they were scraping for second place--the one slot to be the Hillary alternative."

Walter Shapiro uses the P-word, as I did, in characterizing the action:

"Make no mistake, this was still a mostly polite debate, not a political blood bath designed to prime voters for the next-to-the-last episode of 'The Sopranos.' Nothing that occurred on the stage at Saint Anselm College on this late spring night is apt to be specifically remembered when New Hampshire voters go to the polls in the dead of winter. There were no devastating one-liners, no breakthrough emotional moments nor candidate meltdowns.

"But what the debate did underscore was the unfair nature of the 2008 Democratic contest. From the not-so-random positioning of Edwards, Clinton and Obama at the center of the stage to the flexible time clock when any of the trio were speaking, this debate highlighted the reality that while all candidates are equal, three of them are more equal than the others.

"CNN, which hosted the debate with local TV station WMUR, clearly made a decision that the emphasis of the debate should reflect the pre-primary polls and fundraising numbers. This decision may not have been equitable, but it is journalistically defensible, unless you happen to believe that former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel (who has not held office since the Reagan administration) has as good a chance of being the Democratic nominee as Hillary Clinton."

National Review's Jim Geraghty is lukewarm on Hillary:

"Well, that was abysmal.

"You need a microscope to measure the policy differences with this crowd, so it may turn out that the most important measuring sticks are presence, charisma and personality.

"Obama remains likeable (not quite as good as his usual speech-mode). I'd crown him the winner, or at least the one who I think the Democrats watching liked the most.

"I thought it was a not-that-great performance by Hillary tonight. She sounded like a whiner complaining about the hypothetical questions. She certainly seemed on top of the issues, and interestingly, she was left on the sidelines when Edwards and Obama went at it on Iraq early on. She seemed eager to turn the guns on Republicans, and while the audience seemed okay with it, it seems a bit early. She's acting like she's closed the deal, and while she's the frontrunner, I'm not sure if she's not moving a little early on Republican-bashing."

The Nation's David Corn deconstructs the HRC strategy:

"The positions staked out by the leading candidates were--no shocker here--obvious. Clinton wants to play down the fact that until recently she was out of step with Democratic primary voters concerning the war, for she had (a) voted to grant George W. Bush the authority to attack Iraq and then (b) more or less defended the war for several years before she (c) announced her campaign for presidency and starting calling (and voting) for an end to the war. So on the stage she pointed out that ' we all believe we need to end the war.' . . .

"It was a typical frontrunner's performance. Focus not on the rivals in your own party but on the other side. After all, Clinton doesn't want to encourage Democratic voters to compare the Democratic contenders on the Iraq war . . .

"Bottom-line (for those keeping score at home): it was a good night for the former First Lady. Anytime she makes it through a debate without being clobbered, she's the winner."

Talk about spoiling our fun! The New York Sun's Ryan Sager makes an attempt:

"Here's a little secret that drama-craving political reporters are reluctant to let you in on: Hillary Clinton will be the nominee of the Democratic Party for president in 2008 (barring an unforeseen entry into the race by Al Gore or Martin Sheen)."

Well, I guess I can take the next six months off.

How are the GOP candidates dealing with the terror issue? Not very well says Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria:

"More troubling than any of Bush's rhetoric is that of the Republicans who wish to succeed him. 'They hate you!' says Rudy Giuliani in his new role as fearmonger in chief, relentlessly reminding audiences of all the nasty people out there. 'They don't want you to be in this college!' he recently warned an audience at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. 'Or you, or you, or you,' he said, reportedly jabbing his finger at students. In the first Republican debate he warned, 'We are facing an enemy that is planning all over this world, and it turns out planning inside our country, to come here and kill us.' On the campaign trail, Giuliani plays a man exasperated by the inability of Americans to see the danger staring them in the face. 'This is reality, ma'am,' he told a startled woman at Oglethorpe. 'You've got to clear your head.'

"The notion that the United States today is in grave danger of sitting back and going on the defensive is bizarre. In the last five and a half years, with bipartisan support, Washington has invaded two countries and sent troops around the world from Somalia to the Philippines to fight Islamic militants. It has ramped up defense spending by $187 billion--more than the combined military budgets of China, Russia, India and Britain. It has created a Department of Homeland Security that now spends more than $40 billion a year. It has set up secret prisons in Europe and a legal black hole in Guantánamo, to hold, interrogate and--by some definitions--torture prisoners. How would Giuliani really go on the offensive? Invade a couple of more countries?"

Finally, a court puts the F back in FCC.


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