Just one question

Just one question
: My colleague Peter Hauck wants just one question asked at the next debate, just one:

Do you believe we are at war?

And he means the war on us, not the war in Iraq.

One candidate would answer yes: Joe Lieberman.

I fear the rest would not.

That means to me that they don’t know what’s happening in the world right now — or in the electorate.

Howard Stern has been escalating his advice to Democratic candidates. This morning, he said that a winning Democrat would say that we are at war on terrorism and that Bush is doing a bad job and that I, Democratic saviour, will be even tougher. That person will win.

  • Dave Schuler

    Dear Mr. Jarvis:
    I, for one, would vote for such a candidate. I didn’t vote for GWB in 2000. I don’t look forward to voting for him in 2004. I have read every platform and position paper for all of the Democratic candidates. Of the remaining Democratic candidates only Lieberman has done anything other than equivocate (try not to take a position) or promise to “internationalize” which is a code word for gaining the support of France. Anyone who believes there are conditions under which we can gain the support of France for pretty much anything has allowed hope to triumph over experience.
    I want another alternative!

  • http://duckseason.blogspot.com Hei Lun Chan

    So Stern thinks Lieberman is the winning Democrat?

  • http://youngcurmudgeon.typepad.com Eric Deamer

    That’s some pretty bad advice from Stern. Doesn’t virtually every poll show that most Americans, even majorities of independents and Democrats, think that Bush is basically doing a good job in the war, even if they don’t think so about anything else? And, not a single one of the Democrats, other than possibly Lieberman, could credibly say that they would do better or be tougher. He’s right that it would be a good first step to acknowledge that we are at war. No Democrat, other than Lieberman, thinks that that’s the case. Some of the other mainstream candidates might believe that internally but they know if they admit that they’ll be ceding the one issue to Bush on which he’s polling well universally.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Eric: He’s just saying that a smart Democrat will out-Bush Bush.

  • http://timblair.spleenville.com tim

    My colleague at The Bulletin, Patrick Cook, uses that question as his standard intelligence test.

  • Sandy P.

    At the risk of not being PC – is this the time we should be electing a Jewish pres, if Joe grew some?

  • Doctor Slack

    If out-Bushing Bush means the Dem candidate should look at what Bush has actually done versus what he claimed to be doing, Stern might have a point. There are troubling indicators that Bush has been far too interested in preset agendas and political theatre, and far too little interested in the real vulnerabilities that led to 9-11 or how to address them. So yes, it’s easy enough to argue for a “war on terror” — this meme seems universal enough that I’m frankly incredulous that anyone expects a Dem candidate to deny it — and certainly any candidate should be interested in how it has, or hasn’t, been fought. And of course, in whether or not this “war” gives governments the same kinds of emergency powers that previous wars with actual states have done.
    But I have a feeling that “out Bush-ing Bush” is really a reference to doing more of what Bush has done (PATRIOT Acts, foreign adventures and all), only moreso. That, of course, is a losing strategy. If someone wants more of what Bush has done, and if the Bush-iness of anti-terror campaigns is really a dealbreaker for them, all they have to do is vote Bush.

  • angell

    We are at war. Fanatic Islam is at war with the world–we just choose not to see.Fanatic Islam declared war on us many times, but Clinton turned the other cheek and they just got braver and the attacks more ambitious–America was too chicken to fight back and the leftists blamed the US (policy) for every attack so o wonder they kept coming. So after The 1993 truck bombing of the World Trade Center was inspired by the Egyptian cleric Sheikh Abdel Rahman…a mere dress rehearsal for the calamity of September 11, 2001. Two bombings in Saudi Arabia [24 Americans murdered], one in Riyadh in Nov. 1995, and the other one (Khobar Towers near Dhahran) in June 1996; bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998; the daring attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in Oct. 2000.
    We had war declared on us a long time ago–Bush finally had the backbone to retaliate.

  • Doctor Slack

    Fanatic Islam is at war with the world (blah blah blah) Bush finally had the backbone to retaliate . . .
    To put my point more precisely, someone who wants to out-Bush Bush will have to have to courage to question whether Bush’s actions amounted to being duped and manipulated by his enemy rather than showing backbone, and will need the courage to go head-on with Islamophobic fanatics who appear to be “getting off” on bloviating about the conflict with al-Qaeda as indicative of the clash between a Good Civilization and an Evil Civilization. They’ll have to come to peace with the fact that the angells of the world will be likely voting Bush come hell or high water, and regardless of the actual content of his policies.

  • Jeremy

    I don’t think that most Americans, at least democrats, do think we’re at war. Most of them think it can be solved by the police.
    So a democrat candidate that said so would turn them off. And it likely wouldn’t impress those who think we are, as most are probably Republicans. They’d never vote for most democratic candidates (the exception being Lieberman)

  • Homer Robinson

    The real question is, can any candidate given the current political climate, be as effective as the current president has been. We are not talking 9/10 anymore. That’s done, period. Get over it. 9/11 is the current political reality.

  • billg

    >>…Clinton turned the other cheek…
    None of the events you mentioned energized and frightened the public enough to allow Clinton to do something on the scale of invading Afghanistan and trying to eradicate the Taliban. Absent 9/11, Bush wouldn’t have been able to do it, either.
    You’ll recall that Clinton was not averse to using cruise missiles and such to attack Saddam and al-Qaeda. Imagine the furor if, instead of those cruise missiles, he put troops on the ground. He couldn’t do it because the country wasn’t ready for that.

  • http://hubrisfortyros.blogspot.com/ Dan Herzlich

    1. I don’t think you can take Howard Stern seriously. His whole premise is to use hyperbole and to shock. He’s pimping politics.
    2. The big issues for this election will be the deficit, unemployment and healthcare. The war against terrorism is a long term concern, and the electable candidate must appear to be acutely aware of the economic problems.
    3. Stern has a small penis, and his other organs including his brain are probably similarly atrophic.

  • Andrew X

    I love Stern, but… please.
    I heard him this morn. He’s absolutely nailed the formula for a Democrat to beat Bush. He’s got it cold. Simply repudiate utterly everything that the Democratic Party has stood for for decades regarding immigrants, national security, the military, spending priorities, foreign relations, and it’s entire kumbaya mentality overall.
    He’s nailed it. Just do the opposite of virtually EVERYTHING the Democratic Party stands for, and that’ll beat Bush.
    Quite true. Quite meaningless. C’mon.
    More power to ya, Howard, but Dick Morris you’re not. (No huge fan of Dick’s, but right or wrong, at least he makes logical political sense.)

  • libertas

    Wow, Mr. Jarvis,
    I was really impressed with your part in last nights radio show and was looking forward to reading your blog. Then I read an empty headed post like this. Just another republican shill. Whatever.

  • http://www.modempool.com/nucleardann/blogspace/blog.htm Dann

    billg-
    1. Such cruise missile attacks were minimal and rarities. The al-Qaeda training camp ended up being empty when the missiles arrived. Yet there were no additional attacks on other such targets.
    2. While I’m willing to give Mr. Clinton a bit of room on this issue (for the same reasons I’m willing to give Mr. Bush room on this issue – our intelligence services are not perfect) I feel that I would be remiss in not pointing out that those attacks occurred curiously close the time when Mr. Clinton was called to testify before a Grand Jury investigating allegations that he had committed perjury and suborned perjury.
    3. Mr. Clinton certainly could have put boots on the ground in Iraq and enjoyed the support of the American people. The problem is that his only opportunity for doing so was when Iraq kicked the inspectors out in the first place.
    4. For reasons that are understandable given the era of his service, I think it is reasonable to say that Mr. Clinton and his staff considered terrorism to be the normal condition in the Middle East.
    All of this is to say that Mr. Clinton did what he thought he could in the region. He made mistakes, but most Presidents do from time to time. We have the benefit of hindsight and ought not judge him too harshly from that advantageous position.
    -Regards

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Libertas, whoever the hell you are: I saw the murder that day. We are at war. Go to the World Trade Center. Look to the sky. And tell me we are not at war. Fight or surrender. Nothing Republican about that. FDR was a Democrat. FDR fought his generation’s Hitler. We must now fight ours.

  • libertas

    Mr. Jarvis,
    Nice tone. Glad I stopped by to check in.
    I never implied that you didn’t see the murder that day. I never implied that you didn’t honestly have powerful feelings that this nation was under attack and that we are at war with a fiendish enemy. I would never do that because that would be ignorant and insulting.
    You, however, implied exactly that about all but one of the candidates competing for the Democratic nomination. That is why your commentary is both ignorant and insulting. You should be ashamed.

  • chris b

    I think Kerry may have it in him to do some of what Dr. Slack might call the good kind of out-Bushing Bush. For example, giving a public lecture that a “Royal family” form of government needs to be reformed in Saudi regardless of what the oil boys at the River Oaks Country Club think. Whether this kind of effort actually comports with US interests is above my pay grade, but in terms of politics, everyone knows the 9/11 hijackers weren’t from Norway.

  • Doctor Slack

    I saw the murder that day. . . Look to the sky. . . Fight or surrender. . . FDR fought his generation’s Hitler. . .
    Libertas set the quality standard for that exchange, so allowances should be made for that. Nevertheless, I’ve seen similar passages like this from you before, with clear implications that the current course is the only way to do things. I find that odd. One would think you would respect that others who saw the tragedy close up or were directly affected by it have come to different conclusions and positions than you. This kind of commentary doesn’t seem to me to leave room for that, but maybe I’m misconstruing your intent.
    At the very least, you should be thinking about why people should be compelled by your politics — given that yours is a clearly political blog. This bizarre story, directly relating to an event you often remark has changed your life and your politics, aired the same day that you were blogging NPR, transit toasters, The Week Opinion Awards, Drudge’s attempt to rewrite Wesley Clark et cetera. It hasn’t shown up since.
    The point is not to dictate to you what you can and can’t write on your own blog. Just pointing out that, if you want the kind of reply you just gave libertas to be compelling, your case is a lot stronger if you’re actually writing about the news relevant to that event.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Libertas: Don’t act all haughty and hurt now. “Empty-headed,” “Republican shill,” very nice way to talk to somebody you’ve just met. What do you think this is, some dive bar? It’s my home. How about a modicum of respect or at least civility and maturity, eh? Nice tone? Yes, nice tone, indeed.

  • http://myblahg.blogspot.com Robert McClelland

    >The problem is that his only opportunity for doing so was when Iraq kicked the inspectors out in the first place.
    I love how you pro war types conveniently forget that the reason Saddam did that was because the US had loaded the inspection teams with spies. Not to defend Saddam, but he did at the time state inspectors would be allowed back in as long as none of them were American. But hey, since that doesn’t support your beliefs why not just dismiss it and go with a lie instead.

  • angell

    I do not know how 3-4 Boeing 747 bombs fired at the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and the detonated bomb in the field in Pennsylvania, can not be considered a declaration of war. What should the US have done? And yes, Dr. Slack, it was all the fault of the US that Saddam never allowed inspectors. Of course it is, US policy, to be exact. What would a good Democrat have done–converted to Islam like Bush was ordered to. If anything Bush’s actions will make the damned terrorists think twice before they bomb America again. Libya is singing already and so is Musharaf. They get strength from our weakness–they laugh at US withdrawal from Somalia and they laughed because Saddam played games. They danced ,cheered and celebrated 911. France may be willing to turn into a sharia state in 25 years or so, you may be, but I am not willing to be lead around by a nose ring while terrorists like Saddam and Osama make threats. I believe Saddam supplied funds to terrorists. General Norman Schwarzkopf had the right perspective when asked if there was any room for forgiveness towards the people who have harboured and abetted the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks on the USA on 11 September 2001. Schwarzkopf’s answer was short and to the point. He said, “I believe that forgiving them is God’s function. Our job is simply to arrange the meeting.”

  • libertas

    Mr. Jarvis,
    I’m neither haughty nor hurt.
    When I stumble across anyone denigrating someone’s patriotism, courage or committment to their country just to further their own personal agenda, I’m going to call them on it.
    If you found that to be impolite, well, you’re probably right, and for my impoliteness, I sincerely apologize. But I don’t retract my disdain for the tack that you’ve taken.

  • Doctor Slack

    Shorter angell: I don’t care what the details are, as long as the policy sounds “tough.”
    No surprises there, and aside from your inability to figure out which poster you’re replying to — and your obvious credulity WRT far right rhetoric (“France may be willing to turn into a sharia state”) — that’s why I don’t really care what you think.

  • chris b

    Robert McClleland:
    Are you suggesting that the UN should have allowed Saddam to determine the composition of the inspection teams? The logical endpoint of making that concession is that the inspectors would all be Syrians, with a Swede thrown in for diversity. But I guess I’m assuming Saddam’s bad faith; I hope that doesn’t thereby make me a “pro war type.”
    If the IRS ever audits my tax returns I wonder if they’d let me determine who does and doesn’t get to work on the audit team.

  • Angell

    Well, you are free to hold your opinons,but I am not blind. France has big problems. I see that the school Aissa Dermouche used to head(muslim appointed by Chirac to some high position),was bombed. Last week his car was blown up. The natives are getting restless. France’s immigration policy will serve to haunt France. Wait and see.
    http://opinion.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2004/01/26/do2601.xml

  • lk

    Many people wax nostalgic at WWII and the Greatest Generation, feeling as if they missed something, thus we are “At War!”. Makes ‘em feel important, like they can tell stories to their Grandkids. No sacrifice at the home front – hell, there has been tax cuts, and nobody is hawking War Bonds. I feel safe here in US, and can travel the world as I could 3 years ago – that does not seem like a war to me. I want the world to oppose and defend against terror, but use of the WAR word is overdone. In the words of the poet – “War, What is it good for? Absolutely nothin'”

  • chris b

    I agree the WAR word is being overdone in the sense that it doesn’t really feel like a mobilization of the country took place.
    The answer to the poet’s question is– the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution.

  • Homer Robinson

    This is the one subject were we comment past each other. You believe we’re at war, or not. It’s that simple. Tempers will flare, personal attacks will go on, and it will change nothing. So I would suggest to everybody to dialed it back a notch here. You will feel better, when you go offline.(I was going to put in a cheap shot. But, what’s the point, it doesn’t matter. We are all locked in to what we believe.)

  • http://myblahg.blogspot.com Robert McClelland

    >Are you suggesting that the UN should have allowed Saddam to determine the composition of the inspection teams?
    Of course not. All I am saying is that the US gave Saddam good reason to want the UN inspectors out by planting spies in the inspection teams and that it is nonsense to bring up his expulsion of the inspectors as a point against him.
    To address a larger issue, this pretty much exemplifies how the pro war side has gone about selling this war. They didn’t want to or couldn’t make a case with the truth and therefore have gone about making stuff up. The expulsion of the inspectors is just one example of where this was done.
    The truth of it is that Saddam expelled them because the US had planted spies in the team. The truth is that Saddam was willing to let the inspectors back in as long as there were no Americans on it. But the pro war side dismisses all that and just says that Saddam kicked out the inspectors, so therefore he’s evil and we must invade Iraq.
    The same can be said with the WMD issue. Bush could have from the very start sold the war on liberating Iraq but he instead chose to exagerate the WMD claims. Bush could have simply told the truth about Saddam’s brutal oppression of his people and would not have even needed to exaggerate one bit of it, but even that has been exaggerated out of proportion (ie. Saddam is worse than Hitler).
    The whole affair has been one big exercise in dishonesty.

  • anne.elk

    Just to point out the obvious angell, not a single 747 hit the twin towers, the pentagon or pennsylvania.
    You may wish to check your facts, and the beliefs you have constructed. You might be wrong about a lot of stuff in your life and not realizing it. Turns out studies have shown that the dumb guys don’t realize they’re the dumb guys.
    Go figure.

  • angell

    Anne.elk–you are wrong about a great many things and you have not yet realized how dumb you are. Go figure.
    I don’t care if they were Boeings or airbuses or arab magic carpets–they were used as bombs. To any sane individual, that was a declaration of war–to dumb people it was what the US deserved.

  • Sandy P.

    –“War, What is it good for? Absolutely nothin'”–
    Well, other than ending slavery, fascistic and communistic states…..

  • Doctor Slack

    you are wrong about a great many things and you have not yet realized how dumb you are.
    Oh, the irony.

  • chris b

    Robert McC:
    Saddam said the US members of the inspection teams were spies, the US said they weren’t. I guess we might agree that both sides in that disagreement have an incentive to lie. But the UN also said they weren’t spies, so I wonder why you apparently choose to believe Saddam rather than the UN.
    In addition, simply calling someone a “spy” doesn’t precisely illuminate what that argument was about, but rather (implicitly) accepts Saddam’s rhetorical formulation. Were the US inspection team members going to brief the CIA about what they saw? No doubt. But all the team members were going to brief the UN about what they saw, and the US was going to get access to that information indirectly in any case.
    What I don’t understand is why you apparently don’t see that allowing Saddam to exclude Americans from the inspection team on the grounds that they would be “spying” would also let him exclude Brits, Poles, and anyone else he wanted, thus ultimately allowing him to control the composition of the inspection teams. This the UN wouldn’t allow for its own institutional reasons, regardless of what the Americans wanted.

  • anne.elk

    chris b,

  • James Stephenson

    I can not believe Clinton Condoned using spies in the UNSCOM teams. Wait a second, what am I saying. I respect him for that. But the Iraqi’s were spying on the teams. So I guess both sides were lying a little eh.