How (not) to win friends and influence voters

How (not) to win friends and influence voters

: It wasn’t hard to guess what would happen when I wrote this post yesterday about what I think Bush should have done in his first term and what he could have done to win a landslide this time around.

Keep in mind that I’m a lifelong Democrat talking about how I might have voted

for Bush — even me, even Bush.

You might think that people would come in and convincingly try to push me over the edge. You might think that. But I didn’t.

Some — but not all — of the comments were vituperative and venemous; so were some of the links (get a load of this inane and infantile spit-sputtering).

That, sadly, is what is going on across America in this final week.

Now I’m not exactly an undecided voter, as I’ve made clear, but let me give some advice to both sides:

This is no way to win friends and influence undecideds.

And it is a failing of both sides. Whenever I said anything civil and respectful about Bush or supported the war in Iraq in the last year, I got self-appointed Democratic PC police coming after me with two-by-fours yelling that I wasn’t Democratic enough. Now I dare to say something critical about Bush and the execution of the aftermath in Iraq and I’m getting bashed from the other side.

The biggest lesson of this election — of all elections — is the same lesson for both sides:

Your guy is not perfect. Far from it.

So to defend him as if he were perfect and error-free lacks credibility for you and your side, whichever one that is.

If you think that the state of things in Iraq is good then I don’t trust your definition of “good.”

If you think that that the other guy is a decisive decision maker, then I don’t want to be around you when it’s time to decide what to order from the Chinese restaurant.

No, it’s far more credible and convincing to admit the errors of your guy’s ways and then say how he’s still better. I don’t mean to repeat the theme of my sermon last Sunday, but, heck, even God makes mistakes. So do politicians.

So I’d be much more comfortable if Bush and the Bushies said, yes, we didn’t anticipate the ability of the terrorists (the so-called insurgents, if you prefer) to disrupt Iraq and murder their own people and we need to change our assumptions and increase our resources and force to make sure we get this in hand. I’d be much more comfortable if Kerry and the Kerryites said, yes, we flip-flopped on this war but we’re there now and we need to assure we’ll bring peace and, you’re right, it was pretty damned dumb to say that we’d rely on the French and Germans and that we’d put it to a world test and — while we’re at it — that terrorism could ever be just a “nuisance.”

But instead, this is like an argument between Yankees and Red Sox fans who don’t want to convince the other side, they only want to yell.

And that’s fine for baseball. And it’s fine for blogs and comments and forums.

Except don’t forget: There are people you can convince. You have to try. You have to know how. And spitting in their faces while calling them idiots and insisting that your guy is perfect is no way to win an election.

  • Tom

    Everyone should heed your sensibility. If there are ‘fair & balanced’ voices out there I believe yours is one of them. I just started reading your blog about 2 months ago and thoroughly enjoy the insight of your voice & the fair breakdown of all the insanity that has bombarded everyone in this election season. thanks

  • Sorry, JJ, but I, like probably a lot of your readers, read you because you are intelligent and informed. Your last post seemed jarringly ill-informed. That’s not meant to be an attack, but an expression of disappointment that so much dialogue can go on between sides, yet you offer as definitive deal-busters two party line whoppers: “Bush said one week” and “Bush never compromises”.
    Especially after the call for extensive dialogue on a range of important issues, from education to health care, from energy to foreign policy. And yet, from all this dialogue, you boil it all down to two popular fibs. What good, then, was your insistence on covering those issues?

  • Carson: I’m just telling you what I, as a voter, think and what would have motivated me going into the voting booth. And though you try to do it respectfully (thank you), you still prove the point of this post: You attack. How much stronger it would be if you said, yes, maybe Bush should not have said “Mission Accomplished” with such a flourish and kept his nose to this grindstone … but you have the faith that he will and then you tell me why. That would be a lot more convincing than telling me I’m an idiot because we disagree. Discussion? Yes. Insult? Not helpful. That’s the point. And I say that respectfully in return.

  • Jesse

    Hear hear. Man that last thread got very nasty very quickly.

  • Brian Perry

    Jeff, I think that the forcefulness on both sides is not just because people want to yell- it is because many people actually feel something is at stake in the election for a change.
    For me, it comes down to this. I feel terrorism is the largest threat we face right now, and that Bush will do the best job of meeting that threat. I feel a win by Kerry means we will attack terrorists less effectively- so his potential election is a direct threat to me. I fear it, frankly.
    Thus, the strong feeling and blunt words at times. I just don’t understand how to argument can be made that Kerry will go after terrorists more effectively than Bush, and therefore, I can’t see how anyone who thinks we must fight terror can vote for him.
    Thanks for having a comments section. At times the argumentation may seem like sport, but in reality the issues are very serious.

  • Jeff, my post in the previous thread probably got lost in the noise, so I’ll say it again: I don’t object to people who argue from a partisan standpoint (that’s what political parties are for, after all), but it really irks me when so-called “centrists” throw off their robes close to any election and show their partisan Democratic plumage for all to see.
    Politics, as some have said before, is a contact sport. In this election as never before in my life, the character and philosophy of the president matters. I am not inclined to do a lot of parlor-room debating while the world is igniting all around us. I am not going to argue about gay marriage and welfare when we have a hot war going on.
    George W. Bush is far from perfect, but he’s the right man for this time and place. Kerry, as should be glaringly obvious, is not. That’s all there really is to it.

  • MB

    Personally, I’m just going to be really relieved when this whole election is over. I know who I’m voting for and why (Bush), and should he win I will accept responsibility for any consequences associated with the policies and actions of his administration. And should Kerry win I will accept the result and initially give him the benefit of the doubt until such time, if ever, that he acts in a way contradictory to that promised in his campaign.

  • Andy Freeman

    One problem with Jarvis “if only” posting is that it isn’t consistent with what he’s been posting for the last year or so.
    Jarvis really wants to believe that 9/11 is one of his important issues, but he likes his “not one of those Republicans” self-image more. He was looking for an excuse to vote “not Bush”, but the fact that he picked those two doesn’t mean that others wouldn’t have done the job.

  • A Jon Stewartism comes to mind: “I’m not going to be your monkey.”

  • It sounds a little strange, but I want to say that “people and politics don’t mix.” Of course, that can’t be 100 percent true, but I stay away from politics in my own blogs, precisely because people get so nasty about the election.
    Neither candidate is even approaching perfect, and that’s why there are so many undecideds, and people crossing party lines (even NY, which most people think of as being solidly Democratic, I think is a swing state this year). When camps are insistently pro-Kerry or pro-Bush without acknowledging the human error that goes with their candidate’s humanity, I think it works against them.
    Your analogy to the rabid fandom of professional sports rivalries is apt. I’m tired of the yelling. I cannot wait until this election is over.

  • Ernie

    I feel that President Bush is not always right. I support President Bush, even when my daughter had to go to Iraq for 10 months. The real problem is Kerry! You have a guy that will lie just to make him self look better than he is. When you are in the military and you talk with the enemy during a war is Very Wrong! When you try to get Purple hearts, you are not a real patriot. The people I know that had Purple Hearts, never talked about them, you only found out they had them was when they were in dress uniform. As a retired Navy chief, I could never vote for a man like Kerry.

  • bk

    Amen, Jeff.
    Brian, I’m not a supporter of either guy, and I live in state where the outcome is already determined, so I’m writing in McCain.
    I find that there are quite a few of us (centrists and independents) who feel that many Bush supporters come close to assuming that “aggressively” and “effectively” mean the same thing.
    I don’t doubt Bush’s resolve. Nor do I dismiss the idea that post 9/11 an overwhelming show of force was reasonable. I simply have serious doubts as to
    1) whether we’ve conducted the war in Iraq especially competently so far
    2)whether we have the resources to continue this battle over the long term with the same emphasis on military force
    Regarding the use of diplomacy and the idea of negotiating plans with allies, I’m not naive. But it feels to me like many Bush supporters dismiss the idea out of hand. I don’t feel it’s a panacea, but I do feel that a true understanding of diplomacy and allies includes the realization that allies don’t go along with you because they are your trustworthy buddies, they go along with you on the basis of an understanding of shared interests, despite mixed motives.
    And you can’t recognize this latter and also try to have it both ways when defending your guy, not if you’re at all honest.
    I agree with the idea that Kerry is less likely to see things in black and white, insist on having it exactly our way, and rely on military force. He might have been poorly placed as President on 9/11. But from this point forward, he might be a better choice if, as is very possible, we can’t continue to achieve our objectives through military might, and we need to conduct ourselves diplomatically and hope for some good will and trust from those with whom our relations have not been so swell lately.
    In other words, bad cop-good cop.

  • Being a moderate liberal in Alabama has been a growth experience for me, and helped define the way I now discuss politics. I find the most effective approach is to combine humor with a few salient, well-reasoned points. Not that I expect anyone’s mind to be changed, but I think it’s important to show the other side that it can be about passion, not anger.
    I recently sat in on a local radio talk show, one that’s very conservative (and the station is owned by a religious broadcaster). While we did get a few angry calls, at the end of the day, everyone was entertained, I got my points across, and many people commented how they were surprised at how enjoyable the experience had been to listen to.
    Somewhere along the line, we’ve let the Ann Coulters and Michael Moores of the world define the way we have a political discussion. It’s easy to scream and rant. It’s a lot harder to talk.

  • Tiny

    Brandon are you listening?

  • Brian Perry

    I see the choice like this.
    Bush = Diplomacy + Whatever force may be needed
    Kerry= Diplomacy + Possibly whatever force may be needed
    I want a president that keeps all the options on the table. This is imperative when confronting an enemy, and ironically, it’s a big part of diplomacy as well. We always talk with an adversary first, but when an adversary knows you have the force to back up your talk and a willingness to use that force if necessary, then talk may actually accomplish something.
    We went after Saddam because after years of talk, it became necessary to use the force we had always threatened, or essentially prove ourselves to be liars, bluffers, weak, or all three. Saddam would have been handed the largest victory he could ever hope for with not one drop of blood spilled.
    What if Kerry continues to telegraph, as he has repeatedly, that he is reluctant to use force? Or, that he may in fact have a strong aversion to using force? This is the situation I fear the most.
    As to the post-invasion and current situation in Iraq, I believe we’re just doing the best we can with the situation we were dealt. It’s messy and painful, but it’s necessary to follow through. Of course mistakes were made- they always are. I think though, that we have learned to be not just aggressive, but effective as well.

  • JJ, I honestly don’t think I attacked you or called you an idiot in any of my last posts. My apologies if anything came off that way.
    I think you may be confusing critique with attack. It’s not my place to change your mind, because you are not an undecided voter. You have never asked for a “shining white knight”, as another blogger has done, to ride in and solve your “who shall I vote for?” dilemma. I don’t think you’re being fair in expecting us to treat you that way.
    You are a Kerry supporter, and for the most part, one of the few reasonable and persuasive of the lot. But while you fault us for not being reasonable enough in trying to change your mind, you are doing so in the context of failing to provide reasonable arguments against Bush in the first place.
    This is apparently just a difference of opinion, though, on the validity of those two charges. I understand your arguments on those two charges, but to come to the conclusions that you come to, it seems that you have to purposefully ignore and reject much more information. For instance, I know that Bush landed on that carrier and made that speech; but I also know that Tommy Franks asked for the President to make that speech for strategic reasons, for the benefit of some of the allies. You have to ignore that last information, or pretend that Franks is lying, in order to come to the anti-Bush conclusion.
    My only point is not to attack, but to register some frustration that the pro-Kerry line isn’t something stronger, or that at least the anti-Bush line was a little more convincing.

  • Richard Aubrey

    It would be easier to accept JJ’s second post on this matter if it weren’t for the first.
    The first shows such a limited grasp of reality that we have to wonder why a smart guy like JJ is pitching it.
    Either he doesn’t know better, in which case we have to wonder. Or he knows better and so we have to wonder something else.
    He ought to read Tommy Franks’ book, in addition to really, really getting right with the concept that “amateurs talk tactics and professionals talk logistics”.
    The question is whether the war will be fought with occasional setbacks–which any moron will recall are part of war except JJ insists that any setback in this one means he can’t vote for Bush–or whether the war will be fought at all.
    JJ will, for whatever reason he really thinks, but can’t afford to tell us so he comes up with this nonsense including the instantly bogus missing explosives story, vote for the guy who will in all probability lose the war.
    It is, after all, what he did last time he had a shot at it.
    This is different why?

  • Chuck

    Here goes the thread again, slipping away from civilized discussion into “your guy sucks because…”

  • keith

    It sounds like you are whinning to me.
    I know what I am getting by voting for Bush. Can you honestly say what you are going to get with Kerry. No you cannot?
    John Kerry is the definition of a bad politican and you’re voting for him.
    Just admit that you are NOT voting for John Kerry, but voting AGAINST Bush and I think you will feel better. That would be a more honest position instead of trying to justify your vote for Kerry.
    In fact I would say the vast majority of Kerry voters are voting anyone but Bush. It is a shame you guys have no reason to vote for Kerry and you are still voting for him.

  • Mike

    The thread isn’t slipping away, not yet at least. The reason the last thread was slipped away is because people who read this blog consider Jeff to be an intelligent and insightful person. A liberal who isn’t going to constantly bellow the latest DNC talking points.
    I think people were surprised to read your reasons you won’t be voting for Bush because 1) they didn’t seem well thougth out, 2) after some intelligent posts about issues facing the country you list 1 petty reason and another misleading reason for not voting for Bush, 3) you decided to say why you wouldn’t vote for Bush instead of explaining why you are going to vote for Kerry.
    I always figured you would explain why Kerry is better than Bush when it comes to the issues that matter to you the most. But hey, it’s not my blog.

  • I agree with Carson Jeff – the last post just didn’t seem to fit with the rest of your blog. Basically what it amounted to is taking one additional step in a direction – which is fine for you to do on your blog as we approach election day. This is your soapbox, feel free to use it as you see fit. I’ll still keep coming back b/c I respect your opinion etc.
    However, what was weird about *that* post was just that it lacked the simple *sense* of the rest of your blog. I don’t know how else to say that. It came across (to a sensitive conservative) as you “pulling a last-minute Sullivan”. *shrugs* Again, note the hyper-sensitivity this close to the election.
    Again though, your soap box – but I’m assuming the comment fields are here for a reason. :)

  • Also just thought I should chime in, FWIW, Buzzmachine, Kaus and J. Marshall are the only “liberal” blogs I read. So, take my criticizm with a rather large grain of salt, you ARE doing a good job, but like all of us, some posts are better than others. :)

  • Hiram

    I have no problem voting for Kerry solely on the basis that he is not George Bush. There, I said it, bring on the flames. Call it ignorant, call it what you will, but I’m tired of it. And if Carrot Top was running against Bush, I’d vote for him as well.
    The bullshit (and the bodies) have piled up too high. Bush messes up, then lies to cover his ass over and over again. Why did he pick and choose his evidence to justify invading Iraq? Why is his presidency is the most secretive in history? How has he managed to turn a tidy surplus into a jaw-dropping debt? Why do huge pharmaceutical corps make a fortune under his policies? Why is the nation almost as divided as it was during the Civil War? Time to give someone else a chance.
    That said, I’ve grown to like Kerry and what he stands for during the past month. More importantly, I ACTUALLY TRUST HIM. I don’t trust the president as far as I could throw him. So there it is.

  • keith

    “I’ve grown to like Kerry and what he stands for during the past month.”
    That is funny. Could you now list what you like about Kerry. Could you also list what he stands for that he has not stood against.
    Hey if what you said in you above post gets you through the day, then more power to ya brother. Sounds like you are happy living in your Bizzaro World.
    Say hello to Jeff for me want you.

  • Hiram

    Watch the debates, pick up a paper… Not going to list Kerry’s stances here, no time for that. And this world is reality-based, unlike the world of this administration.
    “Say hello to Jeff for me want you” — I dont what you said there.

  • John

    Ok, here are my reasons for voting for Bush: Iraq, Iraq, and Iraq. The reasoning goes like this.
    Say what you want to about whether or not we should be there, the way we got there, or the way the war has been prosecuted to date, the fact remains that we are where we are in Iraq. The worst possible outcome is to leave Iraq too soon, with the result being that it becomes an Iranian-style theocracy. There’s no guarantee that it won’t happen with another four years of Bush, but I think the risk is far less with Bush than Kerry.
    Several months ago Bush and Kerry had the same “official” position on Iraq, i.e., we’ll stay as long as the Iraqi government wants us to stay. Let’s assume for the moment that elections take place in January and go reasonably well (see Afghanistan), and that the newly elected Iraqi government doesn’t just kick us to the curb day one. In that case our withdrawal from Iraq is going to be negotiated. With a President Kerry, our negotiating position is going to be something like “Hey Iraqis, aren’t you guys about ready to take over your own security? Tell you what, say yes and let us start drawing down our troops and we’ll give you x billions of dollars in reconstruction aid.” The Bush negotiating position is going to be more like “Hey Iraqis, are you sure you’re ready for that? Don’t you think it would be better if we stuck around a little longer just in case? Tell you what, let us keep most of our folks around for a little longer and help you get things stabilized a little better, and we’ll give you x billions of dollars in reconstruction aid.”
    Things _might_ work out ok with Kerry’s approach, but chances for success (defined as a sustainable democratic government in Iraq) are much much better with the Bush approach. Looking 10, 15, or 20 years out, the potential upside if we succeed vs. the potential downside if we don’t makes the choice pretty clear.
    And, as someone else pointed out somewhere, the things we worry about with Bush – packing the Supreme Court with right-wingers, ruining Social Security, the Federal Marriage Amendment, etc. – aren’t things he can do on his own. He needs Congress to do those things, and the Republican majorities just aren’t going to be big enough to do too much damage. On the other hand, Kerry could abandon Iraq any time it seems politically expedient.

  • Jesse

    Whoever wins is going to have a REALLY hard time getting anything accomplished — the parties are more bitterly divided than ever, and getting something passed is going to be extremely difficult.

  • Guys, after reading Hirams posts I’m going to have to say that I’m changing my vote to Kerry. I mean, how can you argue with his opening line:

    I have no problem voting for Kerry solely on the basis that he is not George Bush

    I mean, honestly, if there was ever a pitch to be made, that was it. So eloquent, so simple yet so nuanced, it actually makes my head spin.

  • ———
    Tiny –
    Yeah. I’m “listening” …I’m trying out a whole bunch of new anger management methods, and this is the gym I prefer to practice in.
    (That’s a purposeful compliment, dude, to your riff on “anger” yesterday. Got a chuckle out of me, at least. I also liked the “speed and keyboards” bit, of Angel’ …but his immediate follow-through was a wasted opportunity.)
    So fire away …I’ll keep my eyes occasionally open for incoming.
    But I’m too busy to respond right now …for one, I’m working on a long, boring, dry-as-burnt-toast comment (but an exceptionally polite comment, as this is JJ’s sandbox after all) to the “mission accomplished” issue, which I admit that I actually do care about (it got me started yesterday) …and can be rationally informative on.
    Hey, who knows, if I can get the comment out with the “new tone”, maybe it will change a mind or two? -Nah.
    When I’m done, and if it’s not too late – and as I’m being polite, thorough, AND comprehensive (sources, history, links, …footnotes and annotations …yeah, you’re right: “as boring as all h*ll” …it’s practically unreadable already), it’s going to take awhile – I’d certainly be up to trading a few insults for awhile though.

  • Hiram

    I take a statistical view:
    There is a low statistical probability that a Kerry administration could have more 1) Screw ups and 2) Lies/cover-ups/deceptions than the current administration. The numbers are against it. So there it is.

  • Mike

    There what is? Screw-ups and lies? According ot whom? Maybe if you reference a number too you can add a little perspective to your post. And what sort of statistical analysis are you using? Could be the most inane analysis I’ve ever seen.

  • Hiram

    See JJ’s latest post “lesser of 2 evils”, which further illuminates my point. Both candidates suck, Kerry will most likely suck less.
    You ask what screwups and lies, have you not picked up a paper or watched the news in the past 2 years? Won’t go into it here.
    I’m getting a vision here.. Apple’s famous commercial “1984”. Tromp! Tromp! Tromp! The Bush supporters march in unison, slackjawed and brainwashed. The face on the screen is Dubya: “We WILL achieve victory in Iraq, as our perfectly laid out plan comes to fruition… WE SHALL PREVAIL!” Then John Kerry comes running up short shorts + a tank top… Eeeewwwwww, nevermind.

  • dick

    What I find distressing is that you and the rest of the Kerry voters think Bush should have known going in that the “insurgents” specifically would attack and he should have said that the “insurgents” would attack and he would do thus and so about it. He said going in that this would not be a short-term war, the initial fighting would be short but the whole WOT would be a long term effort. What part of that did you not understand? He obviously did not stutter by saying that the WOT would be a short one. The “war” per se in Iraq was over quickly. The peace, which would be the result of winning the WOT on terror, would take a lot longer.
    I still cannot believe that you would accept the word of a man who has a 30+ year history of being against the military and the intelligence community and who has no backing in the military and think he would make a good C-in-C. To select him because you think he might be changing his stripes seems to me to be very short-sighted and then to couple that with his backup of a senator who has done nothing in his first ever term of public office is even more ludicrous.

  • jack

    And again the point is missed. Jeff has no real reason–he pushed himself back before Iraq with that ‘unvictory’ line. What he’s saying is that he can’t bring himself to vote for Bush, no matter what’s on the table.
    A lot of 9/11 Democrats/liberals will do the same thing. They may have talked tough, suffered being called a ‘chickenhawk’, felt the wrath of the left, but in the end the rut is too deep, the vote has to go back to the Party, to Orthodoxy…
    In the end the comforting fantasy is easier than the harsh truth.
    And there’s a plus side, you get your old friends back, you’re welcome at all the places that turned their backs on you when you supported the war… get, as I said before, a taste of the old 9/10 life, back when Chimpy McShrub stole the election and the biggest news story was Chandra Levy.
    I’d like to go back, too. But you can’t, you can only go forward. You can only try to fix it, to see that it can’t happen again. Then, maybe, just maybe, you can build a new peace.

  • You ask what screwups and lies, have you not picked up a paper or watched the news in the past 2 years?

    You’re joking, right? Check the headline on drudge – in the now infamous words of Josh Marshall, “I question the timing” (but of the Democrats, of course).

  • Hiram

    Drudge, now THERE’s a reliable source — his headlines are emailed to him from the Republican Convention.

  • If this were a comment thread on my blog, I’d close it after Hiram’s contribution, because it’s just perfect. [/ABSOLUTELYNOSARCASMATALLISWEARWOULDILIETOYOU?]

  • With regard to your comment about feeling more comfortable said they didn’t anticipate the insurgency, etc.:
    He did that almost two months ago. Kerry and his spin team had a field day with his “catastrophic success” comment. If you actually read his full comment rather than limiting yourself to Kerry’s Dowdification of it, you’ll see that he clearly states that the military had not anticipated the army melting away without fighting in order to stage an insurgency. With regard to adding troops, Bush has always said that he will respond to requests from the commanders on the ground if they request more troops.
    Before the moonbats strike, I will pre-empt.
    Don’t bring up Shinseki because that’s a Kerry canard which has been debunked a long time ago for anyone who actually cared about the truth: Shinseki had announced his retirement a year before he ever made a comment about “more troops.” He wasn’t fired and he wasn’t retired, he made a publicly announced choice a year before. This is a demonstrable lie by the Kerry campaign, so do your homework before you bring it up.
    Don’t bring up Bremer. He was not, and is not, a military man. He is a civilian with an opinion, and opinions are just like you-know-what. His area of responsibilities never included troop strength.
    Tommy Franks was in charge of the invasion and he assured the president that they had sufficient forces. Whenever asked, the military brass to whom the responsibility falls (as opposed to anonymous sources in hit piece media articles), have always said they have enough forces. So if you have a beef, it’s with the military. And before you try to take on the military with your “obvious” solution, make sure you understand what impacts – both positive *and* negative -sending more troops into Iraq would have. And if you can’t think of the negative ones which are far too many to enumerate here, then you have an insufficient understanding of the situation to have a meaningful opinion.

  • I read your post from yesterday,and going by the “if he’d managed to get the vote of a lieflong Democrat, a Bill Clinton Democrat at that”, I inferred that
    1. you were referring to yourself, since there are several well-known lifelong Democrats out there publically endorsing Bush
    2. you had amde your mind and there’s no need to “try” to convince you, but the post was a nice way to get comments, just as this post is.
    Hence, no need to waste energy “trying”.

  • Lee

    John, good points about the role of Congress in the formation of public policy. Following that, let’s look, too, at the clever separation of powers of the (small r) republican founders: the Executive is Commander-in-Chief, but the Congress must approve the appropriations fo the conduct of a war.
    Still, I simply can’t imagine with the country’s relatively new-found and quite healthy support of troops — irrespective in the agrregate of pro- or anti-war positions, that Congress will fail to appropriate funds while a Pres. is conducting a foreign war. It could be done, but let’s look back to the Congress that shut down much of the federal gov’t in the mid-90’s: the brinkmanship upset folks. I believe it should have: fighting for a principle is important, but running the gov’t is what folks are elected to do.
    But I am not convinced by your argument here:
    “Things _might_ work out ok with Kerry’s approach, but chances for success (defined as a sustainable democratic government in Iraq) are much much better with the Bush approach.”
    This is just assertion. Pres. Bush himself argued (not altogether convincingly, tho) that the “Kerry plan” is the “Bush plan.” Where precisely is there a difference? the nuance about bringing in allies? Bush says he has ’em, and he does to an extent. Kerry says he’ll get more, and there is evidence to suggest he won’t be able to do so.
    This is a trickier issue I believe than having resolve or intent– on either side.
    Whoever wins the election, the War in Iraq must be resolved favorably. I would say “won,” but I am not convinced by either candiadte’s discussion of what that would like that and, more importantly, what effect that will have on the broader WOT.
    The task before us is so serious that I pray that if Bush wins, Dems won’t try to score political points off stories like the missing explosives. If Kerry wins, I pray Republicans won’t wait for their chance to score points off similarly thorny but critical issues.
    I have to say that regardless of who wins, I expect neither of those things to happen.

  • Tiny?
    Sorry dude, but I got busy today. No time to play. I hate leaving the table without giving someone the last opportunity, but ….
    And …Pops went in for surgery today (colon cancer, he’s okay), so the rest of the week is taken up, too.
    And. Finally. I dunno that I’ll be back either (read the latter bit for an explanation). Too bad: I’ve still got TWO comments that I didn’t post here, too.
    I rarely comment (anywhere), but I’m regular on Beldar, Q&O, Roger Simon & a few others …if you’d like a chance to whack back. Do. Heh.
    Jeff? – After the Wolcott & this and the Sullivan post, I finally saw the writer, & the businessman. Snarky. Different face then what I’ve been reading for …what? – three months now, maybe?
    Now, NO complaints here about someone making a buck. Or whatever. (Unless they’re a criminally incompetent used car salesman.)
    (…can’t stand the used car salesmen. H*ll, car salesmen, period.)
    But I REALLY don’t like to be bs’d to (well I don’t mind if it’s all good clean name-calling, like with Tiny …and to a MUCH lesser extent Angelos), and I see I Have Been Had.
    What an appalling lack of sincerity.
    And YOU lecture US on “…people you can convince”? Whoa. Tongue-in-cheeky, aren’t we?
    Not nice at all. Clueless, really.
    “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice …” ya-da, ya-da.
    Fuggidaboutit. Out’a here dude. Too many honest waters to swim in. Wish it had been real.
    …save ya the effort …already read the rejoinder “…won’t be missed. Not one bit”. No prob’.
    Mega-dittos, JJ.

  • Eileen, J. D.

    Say, Jeff?…..
    Are you still planning to vote for Kerry?
    It’s not too late.
    After 25 years in law I became a caterer….nice…….feeding people. Jeff, you and yours (your wife and family) are invited to my home for dinner at the time of your choosing in lovely N. Idaho where hopefully we can DISCUSS this…before November 2nd :)…..and let me feed you well.
    If you (all of you) will study Shariah Islamic Law you will know that all of the Iraqi war issues are subsumed within the very much Greater Jihadist Movement…….i.e., war against all non-Muslims, all infidels. Do you think I’m overly stating the issue? Research it.
    We need to think outside our traditional boxes. We need to know our enemy. And it ain’t gonna happen (only) in terms of our little skirmishes in Iraq.
    Wake up……..wake up, eh? Learn about what we are truly fighting here.
    And Jeff, I hope you will take up my heartfelt offer for a fine meal…….and reconsideration of your political suasion……

  • Franky

    “Whenever I said anything civil and respectful about Bush or supported the war in Iraq in the last year, I got self-appointed Democratic PC police coming after me with two-by-fours yelling that I wasn’t Democratic enough. Now I dare to say something critical about Bush and the execution of the aftermath in Iraq and I’m getting bashed from the other side.”
    Sorry to post a large chunk but it’s important to cite because you weren’t attacked for “not being democratic enough”, but were attacked for being wrong in supporting the war. And I imagine that those pro-war people here would not say they are attacking you for not being “republican enough” but because they think you’re wrong in supporting Kerry. Surely a civil debate includes not misrepresenting your opponents’ point of view as partisan hackery, but taking the often highly detailed critiques on their merits.

  • Norm Geras has a great post on the fact that there is NO good moral argument against the war.
    Bush makes decisions. The decisions have good points and bad points. If, after reality shows the results, the decision would not be changed — where is the mistake? Bush would invade again: and I’d support that. Kerry prolly wouldn’t.
    On OCCUPATION instead of LIBERATION — Bush claims liberation, anti-war folk claim occupation AND claim he doesn’t have enough troops. Well, he prolly doesn’t have, for occupation; but DOES have enough for liberation.
    It’s up to the liberated Iraqis to control how many die after they are liberated. The Left hates letting liberated people be responsible, and letting them make so many bad choices — it wants CONTROL, and supports Occupation to get it.
    It is NOT clear to me that the Bush policies in post-invasion Iraq are wrong, or sub-optimal. I suspect so in some areas (in early looting; the Iraq army) — but I’m not sure. Because I haven’t seen a more successful example.
    I’m pretty annoyed at critics who are so certain that some decisions are terrible, even those I also think are more likely to be wrong, with only an Unreal Perfection as an alternative.
    Bush is so wonderfully competent. Low unemployment; low inflation.
    Democracy in Afghanistan.
    Democracy coming to Iraq.
    Competent real results. Isn’t that most important?