Posts from April 21, 2004

ASNE links

ASNE links
: The good news about today’s session on blogs with editors was that there was a session on blogs with editors. The room was full; they’re curious; they know there’s something happening here that’s worth their attention. They’re still not sure how to relate to blogs and what it means to their business. But there’s something here.

I regret that I could not get bloggers — real bloggers, real people like you and you — invited to the session. It tried. I huffed and I puffed and I blew hot air and nothing happened.

I promised the editors in attendance that I would put up links that were mentioned by me or my fellow panelists. So, editors, click, on the “more” to get those links….


Something for nothing

Something for nothing
: Iraq is turning into a bad campaign issue for both candidates.

The Washington Post editorial page today calls John Kerry on a flop (half a flip-flop) on Iraq. When he was fighting anti-war Howard Dean, Kerry set democracy as the goal in Iraq and now he has lowered that standard. The Post quotes him:

“…I have always said from day one that the goal here . . . is a stable Iraq, not whether or not that’s a full democracy.” …

Where once he named democracy as a task to be completed, and the alternative to “cutting and running” or a “false success,” Mr. Kerry now says democracy is optional. Where once he warned against setting the conditions for an early but irresponsible withdrawal of U.S. forces, now he does so himself by defining the exit standard as “stability,” a term that could describe Saudi Arabia or Iran — or the Iraq of Saddam Hussein.

So Kerry will cut and run to contrast himself with the prowar George Bush.

At today’s ASNE lunch with Bush, Burl Osborne asked — in response to the Post — whether democracy in Iraq is desirable or necessary. You can guess what Bush said. And here’s what the Post said:

There is no question that achieving even a rudimentary democracy in Iraq will be tough, and weakness in administration planning and implementation has made it tougher. At best democracy will take years to consolidate; at worst, it will prove unachievable during the U.S. mission. The past weeks of violence have been, or should have been, sobering to any observer. Yet on goals Mr. Bush is right, not only in a moral sense but from the perspective of U.S. security too. Iraq is a country of diverse communities; if its differences are not arbitrated by some form of democratic politics, then it can be held together only by brute force. The wielder of that force is likely to be hostile to the democratic world and, like Saddam Hussein or the mullahs of neighboring Iran, to seek defense by means of terrorism or weapons of mass destruction.

We believe a successful political outcome is still possible; others disagree. But Mr. Kerry’s shift on such a basic question after just a few months is troubling and mistaken.

As Micah Sifry has said and said again, Kerry “can’t beat something with nothing.” Now he’s offering less than nothing: defeat and desertion and no democracy. For shame.

: But Bush took his blows on the Post op-ed page. Fareed Zakaria echoes a theme from Tom Friedman and others: We need more troops in Iraq. We need to bring order.

Iraq remains unstable and insecure. If this problem isn’t solved, the United Nations can sprinkle all the magic dust it wants and it will not matter.

In fact, things could get worse. After July 1, the United States will have to combat insurgents by working through a sovereign Iraqi government that will have its own constraints….

The blunt truth is that we still need more troops in Iraq. Yes, it would be nice to have foreign troops or to have well-trained Iraqi forces. But for now neither option exists. We have a choice between more American troops and continued instability.

You can’t beat something with less than enough.

The sad truth: Neither side is offering a plan for Iraq.

10-4: Afterwards, I skip the

: Afterwards, I skip the rubber chicken and find the nearest burrito, where I find 10 Secret Service agents grabbing a bite, all in their dark suits with red-star lapel pins and damned ethernet plugs sticking out of their sleeves. I’m iin line ahead of a few of them in my own dark suit (no lapel pin, no ethernet, no gun, but with beard). The lady behind the register asks, “Police?” I laugh. No, I say, I’m not as tough as them and, looking at one, I say, the beard’s a giveaway, eh? He won’t answer. State secret.

Questioning Bush: Now Bush takes

Questioning Bush
: Now Bush takes questions.

In his talk, he has the manner of a high-school principle: utterly sure, lecturing his audience.

Burl Osborne asks what he says to people who fear we will be hit again by terrorists. Bush says, well, people say Madrid and that’s why they believe we will be hit again. Insert Patriot Act renewal plug.

The questions are prepared and are being delivered by Osborne.

After a long-winded answer about terror, Bush says, “Last question.”

Osborne starts to ask about his opponents stance on Iraq. “I’m not going to talk about my opponent here,” says Bush.

Blogging Bush: I’m at the

Blogging Bush
: I’m at the AP lunch for Bush.

The head of the AP offered a toast to the President. (Slight ironic chortle.)

He turns to the dias and greets “the politburo.”

He says he will talk to us about maintaining lasting prosperity “and then I’ll be glad to duck some questions.”

He’s talking about what we need to maintain prosperity: a balanced legal system with tort reform… controlling health care costs in consumer hands…

He pushes again for competitive broadband available to every house by 2007. He says we should not tax access. “The federal government should deny taxation to broadband access.” And we need good regulatory policy, he adds.

“We’re lagging a little bit on broadband technology.”

He lists open trade and an energy plan. “I think we need to open up a full-scale debate… I think we need ‘nulclear’ energy…”

Add job-training programs…

“There needs to be permanency in the tax code… We don’t need to be raising taxes right now.”

“If we can ever get rid of the death tax it’ll get rid of 30 percent of the tax code, they tell me.” Applause on that one.

“My job is to like think beyond the immediate,” he says in conclusion.

Oops, then he adds security. “We’re at war. And it’s a different kind of war… There’s no such thing as innocence or guilt… They attacked today in Basra and Riyadh… In this war against this enemy, we must use all our assets…. We must rely on our alliances. And I’ll tell you the cooperation has been good… Alliances are really important in the war against terror. International bodies can be really important in the war against terror if they’re effective. They’re lousy if they’re not affective. We’re in a results-oriented game now.”

On the terrorists: “These guys are tough and sophisticated and smart. We just have to be smarter.”

“We’re making pretty good progress. If al Qaeda were a board of directors, the chairman and vice chairman are still out there but the middle management is gone.”

Bush plugs the movie Osama. “It’s hard for the American mentality to grasp how barbaric the Taliban was was toward woman… So see the movie. It speaks better than I can speak.”

He replays the Iraq story; nothing new there. “The world is better off for it and so are the people of Iraq… Democracy is growing in the heart of the Middle East.”

“I think everybody needs to be free and I think everyone can self-govern.”

He tells about meeting Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi. He likes Elvis. He likes Gary Cooper. “He comes up to me and says, ‘You like Cooper?’ I say, ‘Yeah, I like Cooper.’ Then I finally figured out what he meant.”

On Iraq: “We’re not going to cut and run if I’m in the Oval Office… I believe freedom in the heart of the Middle East is a historic chance to chance the world.”

On Korea: “Different threats are dealt with different ways.”

“The long-term strategy of this government is to spread freedom across the world.” He says a free Iraq and Palestine will be agents of peace.

On Sharon and the pullout: “In my judgment, the world should have said, ‘Thank you, Ariel.'” One person applauds. Bush notes the silence.

“The Palestinian people have failed their people year after year after year.”