‘You can’t beat something with nothing’

‘You can’t beat something with nothing’
: Micah Sifry is hitting gong regarding Iraq and the election that’s resonating true. He started it here and continued it at Tom Paine:

Last night, President Bush made a forceful case for staying the course in Iraq and boldly tied that goal to his own re-election….

So far, Bush has the upper hand in this argument. Even as he and John Kerry muddle toward an awkward role for the United Nations in Iraq, Bush is doing so while maintaining the appearance of certitude about his course. Meanwhile Kerry hasn’t figured out how to define a clear alternative. Unlike his bold (but all too brief) call to honor the democratic process in Haiti, Kerry is trying to have it every which way but sideways on Iraq. Unfortunately, that sliver of Americans in the confused middle on this election are more likely to be swayed by certitude than caution. And you can’t beat something with nothing.

That should be the it’s-the-economy-stupid of this election: You can’t beat something with nothing.

Iraq could defeat Bush if Kerry has a strong alternative. But with nothing, Bush wins.

Micah analyzes polls on Iraq and sees a more complex picture than some: We do want to do right there:

There’s a deeper pattern at work here, in my view. Many Americans believe that the United States can be a positive force in the world. It’s part of our founding mythology

  • http://www.rogerlsimon.com Roger L. Simon

    But what?
    Here’s what I would I do. I would say that Bush is basically right about the War on Terror and I would follow in his direction. But that he is wrong on domestic social issues from gay marriage to censorship and I would change that. Unfortunately… although Kerry may agree with me (and I wouldn’t be surprised if, deep down, he does), I doubt he has the cojones to face down the looneys in his party and do it. But this is not all a bad thing. A man sin cojones is the last thing we want in the White House right now. I can promise you that.

  • Chuck

    Problem is, I wouldn’t believe Kerry even if he did offer a strong alternative. The guy has no credibility with me.

  • http://dougkenline.blogspot.com/ Doug Kenline

    Libertarian cadidate Aaron Russo has a blog…
    http://www.russoforpresident.com/batm/
    .

  • Jerr

    Bush has to give us a clear and strong strategy on Iraq.
    Bush has to give us a clear and strong straegy on terrorism.
    He’s the one who’s acutally in command now – why is he exempt from having a plan?

  • http://www.needlenose.com Swopa

    Jerr, it’s because Messrs. Jarvis and Simon have a mental block that prevents them from criticizing Bush’s conduct of the war.
    In their world, Bush is the great anti-terrorist Wizard of Oz. September 11th transported them to a dangerous and frightening land (in Jeff’s case, it was a legitimately traumatizing experience), and they cope by believing that the Wizard of Oz can get them back to their emotionally secure homes.
    Even though the curtain’s been pulled aside any number of times now, they cannot accept that the “Wizard” is just a two-dimensional projection repeating empty, blustering words.
    They need the Wizard to be real. Otherwise, how will they ever get home?

  • http://www.thecricketcage.com Syl

    Ah, Swopa, the intellectual who just knows, I tell you, just KNOWS, that Bush is making all this up and fooling everyone.

  • http://www.needlenose.com Swopa

    Oh, I wouldn’t say he’s fooling everyone, Syl.
    Just those who desperately want to be fooled.

  • Reid

    You can argue that Bush doesn’t have a good plan if you like but, saying he has no is just downright silly and not doing you guys any good.
    This is the way libs think and argue, though. It isn’t enough merely to paint their opponents as wrongheaded. They must be rapacious, hatemongering knaves who never had a decent thought. The only thing that motivates them is profit, and screwing the little guy. They don’t just have a difference of opinion, they are morons with double-digit IQ’s. And, if the facts do not jibe, the libs will simply manufacture them.

  • http://www.needlenose.com Swopa

    Gee, Reid, you got so carried away with your little rant there that you forgot to tell us what Bush’s plan is.
    Since he hasn’t seen fit to share it with the American people, perhaps you could?

  • Reid

    Swopa… maybe.. if.. I.. type… real… slow… you.. can… grasp… it.
    1) Depose… Saddam. Elimate… threat… of… collusion… between… crazy… aggressive… bastard… and… terrorists… trying…. to… do… us… harm.
    2) Free… Iraqis… from… sanctions… that… served… to… provide… a… rich… recruiting… environment… for… Al… Qaeda… and… thanks… to… our… “allies”… such… as… the… French… and… Germans… were… crumbling… anyway.
    3) Introduce… democratic… ideals… into… the… region… to… end… the… breeding… ground… for… terrorists… once… and… for… all
    I better stop there or your head, which I’m sure is already throbbing, might explode.

  • syn

    What makes people believe John Kerry, as President of the United States, would allow gay marriage, control the FCC and would decrease the deficit?

  • hen

    why Syn it’s because….well due to JFK saying…LOOK BABY WOLF!! (ducks away).

  • megapotamus

    Kerry may in fact have the cojones or whatever to prosecute the war “better” than Bush… though I have seen no evidence of that. The problem for him is that, as the anti-war heckler demonstrated the other day, a significant fraction of his base is reflexively anti-war if not outright pacifist. Even his mealy and contradictory positions elicit vitriol and demonstrations from this segment. Can he write off 10-15% of his pocketed voters? And MORE than make it up in Iraqi Freedom supporters? Well, maybe, but it is getting late in the day to get religion and convince the choir of your sincerity. Prediction; Kerry tries to get to Bush’s right on the war but indecisively, alienates the pax vote, fails to rally the Democrat war vote and evaporates like a soap bubble shortly after the Dem primary under the weight of positive Middel East news.

  • James Stephenson

    I disagree. Kerry can support the war and still get the hardcore anti-war. Who are they going to vote for Kucinich. No. Nader, No.
    The only problem could be them staying home on election day. Otherwise they are ABB people.

  • James Stephenson

    With the Anti War Protester. He should have attacked the guys position on the war. Made him out to be an idiot.
    Easy to do. Just say, “Are we supposed to leave Iraq to Civil War? For millions to die, for the downtrodden to be strode upon again. For the Fascists to win again?”
    The guy would have shut the hell up. Grab thy balls John Kerry. I will not vote for ya, but at least then I could respect you if you became my President.

  • Anti-Idiot

    “Kerry has to give us a clear and strong strategy on terrorism.”
    Heh, Kerry first has to mention terrorism.

  • Jerry

    Mr. Nuance and his on-the-other-hand waffling do not recommend themselves to any but the hand-wringing nellies who think like the Spanish that if we make nice and do nothing the mean guys will let us alone. Tell me again how many days passed before another bomb was found on the railroad tracks?

  • http://www.needlenose.com Swopa

    Reid, what you described are goals, not a plan.
    We all know what Bush says he wants to accomplish, but none of us has any idea of how he plans to get there — mainly because no one in his administration has any idea, either.
    As a result, a substantial portion of those goals simply aren’t being achieved. For example, we appear to be creating “a rich recruiting environment for al Qaeda,” not eliminating one.
    Believe it or not, simply repeating slogans at a problem doesn’t make it go away.
    So, would you like to try again explaining Bush’s plan for Iraq — specifically, how he intends to avoid a national public uprising within the next six months that will force us to withdraw? ‘Cause that’s where the current course is headed.

  • Anti-Idiot

    People still don’t know the Bush plan to fight terrorism?? It’s only a ‘secret’ if you’re not paying attention…
    1) Enforce rule of law for rogue states with ties to terrorists — the decade-long vacation is over. If the UN can’t do it, the US will. (See: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya).
    2) Alter the backwards, hate-filled culture of the Mideast by injecting freedom and democracy into the region. (See: Afghanistan, Iraq).
    Now, you might not like the Bush strategy, but to criticise this strategy, you have to first come up with a better alternative.

  • JorgXMcKie

    Well, if its not _my_ plan, it must be no plan by definition. Thus, even if Kerry has no plan, its at least as good. Not having to think makes life so much easier.

  • Inspector Callahan

    what you described are goals, not a plan.
    Fine, Swopa. Say you’re correct here.
    What’s Kerry’s plan? For that matter, what are Kerry’s goals?
    You see, he has neither a plan nor goals. He rides both sides of the issue so he doesn’t have to have either.
    Maybe you’re right Swopa. Maybe Bush didn’t have a plan. At least he had goals and tried to achieve them. JK has neither.
    TV (Harry)

  • growler
  • Kozinski

    Kerry is painting himself into the corner with paint that won’t dry. He said in January that terroism “primarily an intelligence gathering, law enforcement operation.” A stance that the 9/11 commission has already discredited with its public statements. Then Kerry keeps trotting out the UN as the font of all legitimacy in Iraq and the need to reconcile our policy with the French, Germans and Russians. All the while UNSCAM – Oil for Food scandal is blossoming; the UN, the French, Germans, and Russians are all implicated in taking massive amount of money off the top while feeding money to Saddam’s criminal regieme. Bush just has to wait for Kerry to totally identify his campaign with the UN, if he hasn’t already. Then trot out some devastating campaign commercials slamming the UN for the corruption that not only stole from the Iraqi people but fed money to their oppressors, and then show some of Kerry’s turn it over to the UN sound bites.

  • Reid

    Swopa –
    Huh? Try dictionary.com.
    plan – n 1: a series of steps to be carried out or goals to be accomplished; “they drew up a six-step plan”; “they discussed plans for a new bond issue” [syn: program, programme]
    What you are asking for are details, not the plan. These are available to the general public if you do some digging but, you’ve already made up your mind (such as it is) so, what’s the point, really?
    For example, we appear to be creating “a rich recruiting environment for al Qaeda,” not eliminating one.
    Phooey. The sanctions were drawing jihadis to Al Qaeda like flies to dung. Are you even aware of the prominence that bin Laden gave to the sanctions in his speeches as cause to attack the US? I suggest you go look up his 1998 fatwah declaring jihad against the US and see for yourself.

  • http://www.needlenose.com Swopa

    These are available to the general public if you do some digging but, you’ve already made up your mind (such as it is) so, what’s the point, really?
    Gee, why didn’t you just say your dog ate them? That would have been a much more convincing bluff. :-)
    One more try, Reid — how does Bush intend to avoid a national public uprising within the next six months that will force us to withdraw from Iraq? ‘Cause that’s where the current course is headed.
    The sanctions were drawing jihadis to Al Qaeda like flies to dung.
    And a drawn-out war against an Islamic country, with thousands of civilian casualties, isn’t? You really are living in Oz, aren’t you?

  • Jerry

    A cursory glance at the newspapers yields the impression Bush’s plan is to quell the murderers and torturers left over from Saddam’s regime and the foreign fighters trickling in from Syria and other parts of despotic Araby, then turn over things to a duly elected Saudi government. Why is this so hard to understand?

  • http://www.needlenose.com Swopa

    Why is this so hard to understand?
    Overlooking the amusing typo … perhaps the problem is that this “plan” is the same one we had six months ago and a year ago — yet there’s been a noticeable lack of quelling, and somewhat less noticed lack of any preparations for elections.
    Which kind of suggests that we’re being fed generic slogans with no actions behind them, rather than an actual plan.

  • Reid

    how does Bush intend to avoid a national public uprising within the next six months that will force us to withdraw from Iraq? ‘Cause that’s where the current course is headed.
    Yeah, yeah. Words of wisdom from the same people who were saying we were in a quagmire one week after the war began. Grownups never expected this to be easy, Swopa, they just believe it is worth it. There will, of course, be bumps along the road but, really, the troubles to date and in the foreseeable future are trivial compared to past conflicts in which this nation has prevailed. How does Bush intend to avoid it? First, by turning over power to the Iraqis and, second, by keeping US troops on hand to enforce stability, should it become necessary.
    In the real world, Junior, you anticipate troubles as best you can and then you deal with them as they occur. You don’t just run around moping all the time saying all is lost and you’re helpless to do anything about it. What a bunch of wimps you and your cohort are.
    And a drawn-out war against an Islamic country, with thousands of civilian casualties, isn’t? You really are living in Oz, aren’t you?
    No, you are. The sanctions were widely credited, and widely believed, to have killed over 1 million innocent Iraqis. The United Nations itself lent its imprimatur to a study that claimed 500,000 Iraqi children alone had died due to the sanctions. Bin Laden never missed a chance to point it out to his audiences and, jihadis were flocking to his call. Your trumped up charges of civilian casualties in this conflict pale by comparison.
    Read and learn. From bin Laden’s 1998 fatwah:
    The best proof of this is the Americans’ continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, still they are helpless. Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, in excess of 1 million… despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation.