Lieberman for President

Thanks to my dad for sending along this excellent New Republic article explaining convincingly why Joe Lieberman is the best Democratic candidate for president. I would excerpt it, but I’d end up quoting the entire article. Just read the whole thing, okay? :)

I like Lieberman; I have all along. Yes, I’m slightly uncomfortable with his censor-ish tendencies, but honestly, what’s he going to do if elected that’s so worrisome? Personally rip up the First Amendment and order all the studios to clean up their act or else? Joe and Hollywood don’t get along, that’s for sure, but really, I just don’t see him as some great threat to freedom. (Howard Dean is a much greater threat to freedom, in the sense that his nomination would virtually ensure four more years of Bush and Ashcroft.)

Anyway, Lieberman’s positive qualities are overwhelming, especially as compared to his competitors. TNR elucidates wonderfully. For me, the central question is simply whether Joe will survive as a credible candidate long enough to get my vote. If he’s still alive and kicking when Connecticut and 12 other states vote on March 2 (yes, I’m voting absentee in CT — I missed the deadline to register in AZ), then I will very likely vote for him. If not, I will probably vote for whatever “anti-Dean” has emerged by then (Wesley Clark is my tentative favorite after Lieberman).

32 Responses to “Lieberman for President”

  1. Sean Vivier says:

    Lieberman is the least willing candidate to recognize that he’s running for an opposition party. The kind of people who like Lieberman tend to be the kind of people who are going to vote for Bush anyways. Case in point, his endorsement from The New Republic. His propensity for censorship may be less threatening than Ashcroft, but still more threatening than any of the other Democratic contenders. You haven’t actually explained that Dean is a threat to freedom. You’ve argued that he is because the Bush Administration is, which just plain doesn’t make sense. As Mexican essayist Jorge Ibargüengoitia said, an election is not a horse race. You’re not betting on the winner. You’re voting for who best represents your views. And as Dennis Kucinich put it, “I’m electable if you vote for me!” But hey, if you really only want to talk chances, polls show Dean with the best chance in a head-to-head with Bush.

    Dean had the cojones to point out that Saddam’s capture didn’t stop the attacks on our troops or keep us from going to orange alert. He dared suggest that criminals should stand trial in the US, and Osama bin Laden, being a criminal, should be tried. He’s willing to go after alQaeda instead of wasting our time with little adventures on the side. The man has more charm than in Bush’s skewed eyebrows, and his charm comes from actually knowing what he’s talking about. He’s the kind of man I could respect and follow. (And before Andrew starts, polls show that only 40% of soldiers trust Bush’s leadership.) So he doesn’t know much about religion. He’s running for President, not Pope. He’s a secularist. Good. He might manage to keep Church and State separate. He’s going to “raise taxes,” which really means he’s going to bring them back to normal. Look, I don’t like taxes, either. But the more the government spends, the higher its taxes must be. If taxes are cut, services must be cut. Bush doesn’t understand this. Dean does. (Imagine. The Democrats, the party of fiscal responsibility.)

    Now, with that all said… Gary Nolan, Libertarian for President!

  2. Joe Loy says:

    Well argued, both of you, as usual.

    B, with the backing of you, me, and TNR, Saint Joe is In like Flynn. :) I’m not greedy, I’ll settle for Chairman of the FEC. You go replace that O’Keefe boyo over at NASA so we can Do The Other Things before the end of thish deCADE. Yes, it’s to be You & the Moon. You wear a Necktie so they’ll Know ya. :)

    Sean, you principled slut. “… an election is not a horse race…” Yessh well uh, I doan’wannasayanythingbut in this one the Republicans are again riding the North end of a Horse going South.

    “…You’re not betting on the winner. You’re voting for who best represents your views…”

    Yeah yeah. In theory, sure. In a Gnostic world with the Kingdom Come (sorry for the Highwall Breach, baby :) a Kucinich-Nolan ticket has as Good of a Chance as the Next guy. But, “It’s not Theoretical, it’s not Hypothetical, it’s REAL!” – Captain Jean-Luc Picard. This is not a *betting* matter; it’s vastly more important than Gambling. (“Is this a game o’ chance?” “Not the way I play it, nooooo…” – WC Fields :) Still even a Good citizen is allowed to Calculate. It is not antithetical to democracy for me to pick that candidate who could, conceivably, best represent my views IN THE WHITE HOUSE.

    “…But hey, if you really only want to talk chances, polls show Dean with the best chance in a head-to-head with Bush.” What polls? Not the ones *I’ve* seen lately with Dumbya v. the Doc. Lookin’ like 1972, here. (“We shall mount up with wings of eagles / We shall run and not be weary…” – the Prophet McGovern. Yeahright.)

    But hey, electable or not (“Not”), Doctor Howard the Duck (“Quack. Quack.” :) is not “who best represents” *Brendan’s*, nor my, views anyway. Now if Dean best embodies *yours* (well, apart from that libertine, Garyan the Librarian :), fine & dandy I (and B I’m sure) respect that.

    “[Dean’s] charm comes from actually knowing what he’s talking about.” That’s not Charm, that’s merely Brains. :) Which Bush’s Eyebrow-Skew & Swagger will, unfortunately, trump.

    “…the more the government spends, the higher its taxes must be.” True. Looky there, we Agree! But: “If taxes are cut, services must be cut. Bush doesn’t understand this.” OHHHH, yes he does, friend. That’s the POINT! See? Just STARVE the New Deal away! Boys & Girls, can you say “Privatization”? (No? Well then how about, “Halliburton”?)

    “The kind of people who like Lieberman tend to be the kind of people who are going to vote for Bush anyways.”

    Now what’s with this doublebarreled “kind of people” business? O so it’s you know *our* Kind, izzit! Psst! It’s THOSE People… “ONE of your ownnnnn Kind, STICK to your OWNNNN KIIINNND!” – Anita, West Side Story :)

    OKOK. *Some* closet Bushies, sure. *Not Mee*. Nor a lot of the *other* Liebermaniacs, neither. I just polled all 8 of ’em. :) Loyal bluedog-tie-dyed-in-the-wool Democrats. (By the way we need one more to make up a minyan, could yez help us out Vivier? We’ll show you how to Daven. WAW haw haw, Infidels are too easy to tease…the Atheist at his Wake: all dressed up & no Place to go..hee hee :)

    And anyway: going over to Bush need not be an Option. If we all *vote* for Saint Joe, he’s Nominatable. :)

  3. Sean Vivier says:

    What’s a dyslexic insomniac agnostic? Somebody who stays up all night wondering if there is a dog. Waw haw haw!

    Ahem. Yes. Getting off my atheism and back to politics…

    I wasn’t meaning to refer to you. Obviously you’d vote Joe over Dubya. I was trying to point to the absurdity of any bunch of Republicans (eg TNR) endorsing any Democratic candidate.

    The polls I refer to come from Atrios and Hesiod. I didn’t say he won in the polls. I said he did best. As in Lieberman did worse. (Clark came in a close second.)

    Of course, by the logic of only voting for a more likely candidate, I must vote for the most likely candidate, and therefore must abandon all principle and vote Bush. After all, he’s winning in the polls. But alas, it’s not enough for me that Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter righteously proclaim that Bush shall triumph. In my mind, voting for a losing candidate can never be a wasted vote. The only wasted vote is in voting for someone you do not want as your leader.

    And the only reason I brought it up is because of Brendan’s argument that seemed to suggest a vote for Dean is a vote for Bush. I was trying to say that if you’re a Deaniac, vote Dean. I did not mean to argue that you must not vote Lieberman if you’re a Liebermaniac. (Say, that works a lot better…)

    Which brings me to a stray thought: no, I don’t think Bush gets it. If he were only strangling the social programs, it might be convincing. But he wants to cut taxes, continue to fund Medicare, create even more bureaucracy for Education, expand military spending, AND go to not one, but two dead rocks in space.

    Which brings us back to the original point, Lieberman. I’m sorry, but he still strikes me as a warmongering censor. If this becomes a Bush v. Lieberman race, I will cry for America.

  4. Brendan says:

    “Of course, by the logic of only voting for a more likely candidate, I must vote for the most likely candidate, and therefore must abandon all principle and vote Bush. After all, he’s winning in the polls.”

    Sean, I think you’re deliberately obfuscating the issue here. No one is saying that the object of the game is to jump on the winner’s bandwagon, regardless of who the person is. That’s obviously absurd. But there is a principled argument to be made — whether you happen to agree with the argument or not, it is perfectly rational and ethical — that voting for a less-than-ideal candidate who has a chance to beat Bush, rather than for your favorite candidate who has virtually no chance, is the better choice.

    Now I’m speaking in the abstract here: clearly for you, Lieberman isn’t just less than ideal, he’s totally unpalatable; and clearly for me, Dean isn’t my favorite anyway (by a long shot); and also, as you say, it is by no means an obvious point that Lieberman has a better chance than Dean of beating Bush. Those are all debatable issues. Regardless of the specifices, however, you have to acknowledge that it is not totally, radically unethical to vote for someone you like okay who has a chance to beat someone you hate, over someone you like better but who has virtually no chance to beat the one you hate.

    Dean is not the best example here, but Kucinich is an excellent example. In point of fact, statistically and demographically speaking, Dennis Kucinich is dead wrong; he, in truth, has no chance of ever becoming president. Therefore one can construct a very good argument that a vote for Dennis Kucinich is indeed a wasted vote. Now, I’m not saying that voting on pure principle is necessarily always wrong. Indeed, I myself have espoused the Kucinich Thesis before: you may recall that The Living Room Times endorsed Eunice Groark for governor in 1994, noting in an editorial that she was only unelectable if people don’t vote for her. Of course, those votes for Groark did, in the end, help elect the lovely governor whom we are about to impeach… just as a few hundred Nader supporters are the statistical reason Bush won Florida… but I digress. The point is, this is a tough issue that a reasonable person can go back and forth on, depending on the circumstances, and I respect that you disagree with my A-Vote-For-Dean-Is-A-Vote-For-Bush theory in this case. But more than just saying that voting on pure principle is OK, you seem to be saying that it’s absolutely the only way to go, and that’s just bulls**t.

  5. Andrew says:

    Sean, please direct me to where I can see that poll that purports to show that less than 41% of servicemen have faith in their commander-in-chief.

    Brendan, I think Dean is less dangerous than Clark. While Dean’s pandering to the Angry Left bugs the hell out of me, I see enough brilliance behind his strategy that I can square it with his past “New Democrat” moderation as governor of Vermont (really, see some of the things he has said as a pundit in the past, before he had presidential aspirations) and peg him as someone who I will never ever vote for but I at least trust is not ideologically blinded no matter how much of an idiot he is currently making himself out to be. I contrast this with wannabe president Clark, about whom after reading quotes and links from Andrew Sullivan and Jay Nordlinger (of NRO), among others, I cannot help but come to the conclusion is a supreme jackass of the highest order.

  6. Mike says:

    To continue my role as, well, me, it’s time to nitpick two very small matters.

    1) Joe: don’t most people riding a horse going south ride on the North end? Call me crazy, but it makes more sense to me to sit on the horse’s rear than on it’s head.

    2) Brendan: I respect that you feel that someone voting for Dean as opposed to another Democrat is increasing the likelihood that Bush will win. I’m not sure whether or not I agree with that position or not. But, as part of your common refrain, “words have meanings.” Therefore, a vote for Dean is NOT a vote for Bush. It’s a vote for Dean. It only increases the chance of Bush winning if the vote would otherwise have gone to someone else opposed to Bush with a higher probability of winning. And even then, it’s not the same as voting for Bush, as that vote doesn’t count in Bush’s tally of who voted for him. It could be argued that the vote is wasted, but then again it can be argued that the vote of each person who didn’t side with the plurality of their electoral college district/state was therefore a wasted vote. Or, under Sean’s criteria, many of the votes that I’ve cast in my life have been wasted, as I often didn’t want any of the options in office, but made do with what I considered to be the best possible outcome from among the poor choices presented.

    (I had this same issue last time around when people said either that a vote for Nader was a vote for Bush or that a vote for Nader was a protest against the two party system. It was, instead, a vote for Nader, and all that came with him. This is why that despite my dislike of the two party system, and my dissatisfaction with either of the major candidates, I did not vote for Nader. Fundamentally, I didn’t agree with his positions more than I agreed with those of some other candidates, and I’m not one to assume that my vote will have symbolic meaning.)

    In all fairness, though, I recognize that my own perceptions of the voting process are not universal. I’m a registered Independent, meaning that I don’t get to vote in the primaries for either the Democrats or the Republicans. As I tend to dislike the far wings of both major parties, I have issues with primaries, as they seem to polarize the choices available for the final election. I’ve had the choice in my voting life to be either registered in NY or CA–and in both cases, I’ve been rather convinced that the Democrat will win the election (and, therefore, will ostensibly represent my will) whether or not I want him or her to do so–leading to my overflowing joy at who I have as Senators, for instance. :) Hence, I remain disaffected, firmly opposed to the electoral college, and mildly dissatisfied with the idea of winner-take-all.

  7. Joe Loy says:

    Sean – “If this becomes a Bush v. Lieberman race, I will cry for America.” Well, you can fold away your Hanky then. Not gonna happen.

    WERE it to, however, you say of me “Obviously you’d vote Joe over Dubya.” Obviously. But my point (if any :), re Us of the Lieberman Kind, was that many of us would also vote for, say, Clark (hi Andrew; sorry) or Kerry or Edwards, or Gephardt even. I would. / OKOK, at *this* point I would. Remember I do share genes with Brendan “Options Open” DotCom, and the Last Dog hasn’t been Hung yet. :) /

    Kucinich, no. Too far out, maaan. (I like his oddly Leprechaunish looks & hope he enjoyed the date which that nice policywonky lady won with him; but, No.) The Reverend Sharpster, no. Pulpit-poundingly eloquent & secularly hilarious; but, talk about Unqualified. (Better yet, Connecticet: talk about *Unethical.* Look up “lying panderbear”, see Sharpie Al’s picture.)

    Now I might surprise you. (a) Mosely-Braun, *possibly*. Yes she has ethics Issues too I gather, from her days as the Globetrotting Senator before the Good People of Ellanoy fired her for it; & yes she’s pretty far-lefty also. But, what can I tell ya — I just *like* her. From what I’ve seen of her and heard from her, she seems very *smart* to me. Maybe I’m wrong about that but it’s my impression. I’m Just Sayin’. (What, I can’t be a Stoopid Superficial Voter too? :) / Well I need’t worry about it because she, like Saint Joe, is Not gonna Happen. AAAAND NOW (drumroll): (b) Dean. POSSIBLY. (!)

    Andrew is Right. {My talent for stating the Bloody Obvious…start over…} The Fire-drake of Orange County is correct about the Doctor: there is less Left there than meets the Eye of the Dragon. :) Post-convention, come Autumn times, the Center may take hold. Let us Wait & See.

    But Sean – re My Kind – even if he were up against a Kucinich or a Sharpton (it then being MY turn to Cry, the Beloved Country) — I would not necessarily vote for *Bush*. MAYBE, yeah. But I’d sure have to Think about it. (I HATE when that happens :) // Hey, I can merrily “waste my vote” too y’know. Hell, I voted for a Libertarian for Newington Town Council. So, if it’s Dennis versus Dumbya I’m in Limbo: How Lowwww can you Gooooo? I wouldn’t put it past me: Don’t cry for me, Gary Nolan. :)
    “dyslexic insomniac agnostic…stays up all night wondering if there is a dog. Waw haw haw!”

    WAW INDEED! lol / “Wizard of Id” comicstrip; the WCFieldsian-looking barrister, visiting the dungeon-cell of his client The Lone Haranguer: “I’ve been up all night studying my briefs.” “What have you got?” “Fruit of the Looms.” [Fade to scene of Joe Loy losing sleep over how to vote…]

    “Getting off my atheism and back to politics…”

    How ’bout Backing off yer atheism and Getting off our Backs? NONONONONO :)

  8. Sean Vivier says:

    Andrew, I got the poll from Hesiod. Go to and go to the archives for 12/31/2003. The title of the entry is POLL BEARING. (Sorry, I don’t know how to get just the one entry.)

    I don’t actually accept the Heinleinian notion that only soldiers’ votes count. But by my premise or by your premise, that’s not an argument for a continuation of the Bush reign.

    Mssrs. Loy, I must say that voting for the one you like less still defeats the purpose of voting, especially in a primary. Imagine all the people out there who prefer someone else but don’t vote for him. Imagine what effect that might have if they voted their conscience. So vote for Lieberman in the primary. When he loses the nomination, you can still vote for the Democratic candidate.

    I’ve got no problem debating likelihood, just not as the deciding factor in who to vote for. Besides, even by your own criteria, Lieberman is not the man to vote for. He’s not the most likely to win. Dean is. So you can’t try to convince anyone to vote Lieberman with that argument, which is what you’re trying to do.

  9. Joe Loy says:

    Sean – simultaneous posts! JINX!!! :)

    “When he loses the nomination, you can still vote for the Democratic candidate.” My whole point exactly. / Don’t be so Concise, it’s annoying. :)

    Evidently President Bush doesn’t actually accept the Heinleinian notion that the Moon is a harsh Mistress. / President Clinton did, though…I have only SOME idea wot that means…we’ll give it one Waw…:) / Well speaking of the Moon, I’d better quit while I’m Behind and go Do The Other Things befoaah it gets to be the End of this deCADE. Hi Brendan. :)

  10. Joe Loy says:

    Butt first:

    Andrew Longlake of Erebor, you serpentine slut. Now in Regards to General Clark the Supreme Jackass of NATO, did you happen to notice whether the north end of dat dere donkey was galloping south? You’re being a bit mulish here kid, it’s back down into the burro withyez. :)

    Mike, I can lick the Mick that threw *them* there overalls. :)

    “…time to nitpick…” Well OK if you say so. Not that I wouldn’t never pick the nits off of the knots but:

    “I’m not sure whether or not I agree with that position or not. But, as part of your common refrain, ‘words have meanings.'”

    Indeed. They must have. Somewhere in there. :) I’m not sure whether or not I’ve found them yet or not (or – Not), but like the kid who was convinced there must be a pony somewhere down in that manure pile, I’ll keep digging. / WAW haw haw No no no Hey, I kid etc etc … :)

    A Horse is a Horse, of course, of course: “…it makes more sense to me to sit on the horse’s rear than on its head.” OK ya Got me there. Probably makes more sense to the Horse, too. I’ve heard of the Headless Horseman but this is Ridiculous.

    Come to think of it I, too, would much rather sit on my Rear than stand on my Head. Then again as Dorothy Parker has wisely stated, “I’d rather have a bottle in front o’me than a frontol lobotomy.”

    Horsing around as usual, I had Mixed me Metaphors in my modernist-Post, surrealizing my Picassossified imagery by Sauronically throwing in the *Riders*. (Silly of me, notwithstanding that you can’t just Walk into Mordor. :) Reference should have been to the steed alone, riderless.

    You see, my usage here is Nostalgic. My sainted mother Gawd rest her was fond of frequently describing certain individuals, occasionally to include her firstborn son, as the South end of a Horse Going North — only, Mom *did* tend to put it a Bit more concisely. :) Mom was never one to Mince Words. (Nor Pie, for that matter. :)

    But then there was my Dad with his Tale of the Confederate general who declared “Maah Headquarters ahh in the Saddle!” & the private mutters to the next Reb in line, “Ahh wonders wheah his Hindquarters is.”

    And so in conclusion, as the bizarre California reverend W. euGene Scott hath preached, taking for his Biblical text the story of Balaam upon the donkey:

    “Well wouldn’t YOU be surprised too, if *your* ass started talkin’ to YOU?”

    heh heh heh “Yoo talkin’ ta MEE?”

  11. Andrew says:

    Sean, I looked at that poll, and I don’t see those numbers you are referencing. The poll, however, did have some interesting findings. (Note: The poll was taken before the capture of Saddam.)

    1. Only 56% of those polled approved of Bush’s handling of Iraq, while a much smaller 25% disapproved. That’s a lot of wishy-washy people in the middle though, and I don’t think you can so easily assign them to either camp. Of course, soldiers who feel they know better than their commanders are a dime a dozen and always have been, but they nevertheless do their duty and obey. It’s when they break ranks and refuse to obey that you know there is a serious problem. Overall, given that these are the people who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, 56& to 25% is a mark of pretty decent morale.

    2. The troops by and large do support the president. 65% agreed the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over, while ~67% approve of Bush’s job performance. That seems to directly contradict Sean’s citation that 40% of military servicemen don’t trust Bush’s leadership. Indeed, respondents were much more likely to be Republican than their civilian counterparts: 57% versus 33%. I especially loved this tidbit:

    “In dozens of follow-up interviews with men and women who responded to the poll, only one would go on the record with objections to the war in Iraq.” [emphasis mine]

    3. Overall, I think Sean, Hesiod, and others are scraping the bottom of the barrel to find dissatisfaction with Bush in the military ranks. Indeed, I wonder why anyone would even try. Even supposing a president who is a weasely Democrat with no spine like Clinton, and a strongly Republican military, I think the following anecdote would still be largely true:

    “The poll also demonstrates a large obstacle to probing military members’ opinions on controversial political issues: their hesitance to express those opinions publicly, even behind the anonymity of a poll.

    “About one in five Military Times Poll respondents either declined to answer questions about Bush and Iraq or said they had no opinion.

    “‘You just don’t do it,’ Peters said. ‘One of the reasons I retired when I did was I wanted to write about political issues. Expressing political opinions was just unacceptable — and also against regulations.’

    “‘I do what I’m told,’ said Marine Sgt. Edward J. Leslie, a squad leader in the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. ‘I don’t really second-guess the president.'”

    4. The article does say:

    “The 2003 Military Times Poll reveals a military more conservative, more Republican, and one that considers itself to be morally superior to the nation its serves.

    “The figures add fuel to a debate, ongoing since at least the end of the Vietnam War, over whether there is a gap in attitudes between America and its military and whether that is a cause for concern. Especially troubling, some observers say, are indications that military members do not believe the nation’s civilian leadership has their best interests at heart.”

    Indeed, the poll goes on to say that “Respondents were evenly split on the question of whether civilian leaders have their best interests at heart.” Maybe that is where Sean got his 40% number, but it is clear from the article that this number is not a reflection of disagreement with the Bush administration’s particular policies or leadership choices, but is rather a military-civilian split. This has been true for a long time–military people are very distrustful of civilian oversight. Now, obviously that’s one of the fundamental premises of our American democracy, but these attitudes are not new and make perfect sense in context. As the poll notes,

    “Two-thirds said they think military members have higher moral standards than the nation they serve. More than 60 percent called the country’s moral standards only fair or poor.

    “In follow-up interviews, service members repeatedly said the choice to serve, by itself, demonstrates moral quality above most civilians. Once in the military, many said, members are wrapped in a culture that values honor and morality.

    “‘Even if you don’t have it when you enlist, they breed it into you to be a better person,’ said Army Sgt. Kevin Blanchard, a cavalry scout with 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. ‘When you go home you see how you’re different than the people you grew up with.’

    “Many also mentioned what they considered an increase in sex and vulgarity in popular media.”

    With a personal anecdote, I can attest to the accuracy of this. My girlfriend’s brother is a Marine, and he can be quite a punk, but when it comes to settling down and starting a family, he’s decided he wants a good, Bible-reading Christian girl. This is quite surprising, since he grew up nominally Catholic in a family that didn’t often go to church, and he wasn’t particularly religious in high school (unlike, for instance, me). In addition, he’ll make derogatory comments about the Army, higher brass, and people in charge, while at the same time he’s looking forward to going back to Iraq to, as he puts it, “kick some ass.”

    Thus, the impression we should take from this is that military personnel distrust politicians and civilians because they can’t trust their motives and see them as morally hollow and corrupt. I don’t find this surprising at all, and it’s obviously a general attitude towards a lot of people in and out of power, and not specifically directed at Bush or Rumsfeld. It’s not unlike the common poll result when voters say that all politicians and members of Congress are scumbags, but my Representative is a perfect gentleman and a wonderful leader, thank you very much.

    Overall, I think you guys should go read the article yourselves and see what kind of impression you get. Are there problems and issues military men and women are concerned with? Of course, but trust in President Bush is clearly not one of them. The 40% number that Sean cited is quite obviously a misreading of the poll in a deliberate attempt to spin negatively against Bush. Considering I hadn’t seen this poll in the news until Sean brought it up, that tells me that the anti-Bush media didn’t like the poll results and found it too difficult to make their negative spin stick and thus gave up. But thanks for allowing me to clear all this up, Sean.

  12. Andrew says:

    A quick addendum: I cited a figure early in my last post that Bush had a ~67% favorability rating among military personnel. I feel obligated to point out by way of comparison that the general population favorability number at that time was only 50%. Our military men and women are strongly behind their president, and any attempt to portray that as untrue is going to laughably fall on its face once the facts have come to light.

  13. Andrew says:

    Speaking of the military-civilian split, I just received a nice email from one of my Aunts. I’ll post it here:

    “I was sitting alone in one of those loud, casual steak houses that you find all over the country. You know the type–a bucket of peanuts on every table, shells littering the floor, and a bunch of perky college kids racing around with longneck beers and sizzling platters.

    “Taking a sip of my iced tea, I studied the crowd over the rim of my glass. My gaze lingered on a group enjoying their meal. They wore no uniform to identify their branch of service, but they were definitely ‘military’; clean shaven, cropped haircut, and that ‘squared away’ look
    that comes with pride.

    “Smiling sadly, I glanced across my table to the empty seat where my husband usually sat. It had only been a few months since we sat in this very booth, talking about his upcoming deployment to the Middle East.

    “That was when he made me promise to get a sitter for the kids, come back to this restaurant once a month and treat myself to a nice steak. In turn he would treasure the thought of me being here, thinking about him until he returned home to me.

    “I fingered the little flag pin I constantly wear and wondered where he was at this very moment. Was he safe and warm? Was his cold any better? Were my letters getting through to him?

    “As I pondered these thoughts, high pitched female voices from the next booth broke into my thoughts. ‘I don’t know what Bush is thinking about. Invading Iraq. You’d think that man would learn from his old man’s mistakes. Good lord! What an idiot! I can’t believe he is even in office. You do know, he stole the election.’

    “I cut into my steak and tried to ignore them, as they began an endless tirade running down our president. I thought about the last night I spent with my husband, as he prepared to deploy. He had just returned from getting his smallpox and anthrax shots. The image of him standing in our kitchen packing his gas mask still gives me chills.

    “Once again the women’s voices invaded my thoughts. ‘It is all about oil, you know. Our soldiers will go in and rape and steal all the oil they can in the name of “freedom”. Hmph! I wonder how many innocent people they’ll kill without giving it a thought? It’s pure greed, you know.’

    “My chest tightened as I stared at my wedding ring. I could still see how handsome my husband looked in his ‘mess dress’ the day he slipped it on my finger. I wondered what he was wearing now. Probably his desert uniform, affectionately dubbed ‘coffee stains’ with a heavy bullet proof vest over it.

    “‘You know, we should just leave Iraq alone. I don’t think they are hiding any weapons. In fact, I bet it’s all a big act just to increase the president’s popularity. That’s all it is, padding the military budget at the expense of our social security and education. And, you know what else? We’re just asking for another 9-ll. I can’t say when it happens again that we didn’t deserve it.’

    “Their words brought to mind the war protesters I had watched gathering outside our base. Did no one appreciate the sacrifice of brave men and women, who leave their homes and family to ensure our freedom? Do they
    even know what ‘freedom’ is?

    “I glanced at the table where the young men were sitting, and saw their courageous faces change. They had stopped eating and looked at each other dejectedly, listening to the women talking.

    “‘Well, I, for one, think it’s just deplorable to invade Iraq, and I am certainly sick of our tax dollars going to train professional baby killers we call a military.’

    “Professional baby killers? I thought about what a wonderful father my husband is, and of how long it would be before he would see our children again.

    “That’s it! Indignation rose up inside me. Normally reserved, pride in my husband gave me a brassy boldness I never realized I had. Tonight one voice will answer on behalf of our military, and let her pride in our troops be known.

    “Sliding out of my booth, I walked around to the adjoining booth and placed my hands flat on their table. Lowering myself to eye level with them, I smilingly said, ‘I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. You see, I’m sitting here trying to enjoy my dinner alone. And, do you know why? Because my husband, whom I love with all my heart, is halfway around the world, defending your right to say rotten things about him.’

    “‘Yes, you have the right to your opinion, and what you think is none of my business. However, what you say in public is something else, and I will not sit by and listen to you ridicule MY country, MY president, MY husband, and all the other fine American men and women who put their lives on the line, just so you can have the “freedom” to complain. Freedom is an expensive commodity, ladies. Don’t let your actions cheapen it.’

    “I must have been louder that I meant to be, because the manager came over to inquire if everything was all right. ‘Yes, thank you,’ I replied. Then turning back to the women, I said, ‘Enjoy the rest of your meal.’

    “As I returned to my booth applause broke out. I was embarrassed for making a scene, and went back to my half-eaten steak. The women picked their check and scurried away.

    “After finishing my meal, and while waiting for my check, the manager returned with a huge apple cobbler ala mode. ‘Compliments of those soldiers,’ he said. He also smiled and said the ladies tried to pay for my dinner, but that another couple had beaten them to it. When I asked who, the manager said they had already left, but that the gentleman was a veteran, and wanted to take care of the wife of ‘one of our boys.’

    “With a lump in my throat, I gratefully turned to the soldiers and thanked them for the cobbler. Grinning from ear to ear, they came over and surrounded the booth. ‘We just wanted to thank you, ma’am. You know we can’t get into confrontations with civilians, so we appreciate what you did.’

    “As I drove home, for the first time since my husband’s deployment, I didn’t feel quite so alone. My heart was filled with the warmth of the other diners who stopped by my table, to relate how they, too, were proud of my husband, and would keep him in their prayers. I knew their flags would fly a little higher the next day.

    “Perhaps they would look for more tangible ways to show their pride in our country, and the military who protect her. And maybe, just maybe, the two women who were railing against our country, would pause for a minute to appreciate all the freedom America offers, and the price it pays to maintain it’s freedom.

    “As for me, I have learned that one voice CAN make a difference. Maybe the next time protesters gather outside the gates of the base where I live, I will proudly stand on the opposite side with a sign of my own. It will simply say, ‘Thank You!’

    (*Lori Kimble is a 31 year old teacher and proud military wife. A California native, Mrs. Kimble currently lives in Alabama.)

    Now, obviously I can’t vouch for the veracity of this story. In fact, given how the internet and email forwards work, I highly doubt this ever happened. Neverthless, I am quite certain scenes not at all unlike it have happened, all over the country in the past couple of years, and I certainly can vouch for the accuracy of this story’s sentiments! Most of the people Dean is riling up are no different than the ignorant, self-righteous ladies in that booth, chattering on about how dumb our president is, and how wrong we were to go to war against Iraq. And to bring it back to what this post was originally all about, that is why I agree with Brendan and Joe that Lieberman is the best Democrat out there. (I might also add that Gen. Wesley Clark personifies the type of upper brass military commander that a lot of military men and women save their sharpest scorn for, which is a chief reason why he disgusts me even more than Dean.) Of course, coming from me, that’s tantamount to saying that one skunk is the least smelly of the bunch, but take your plaudits where you can get them, a’ight?

  14. Dane says:

    Hmm, lets think about this for a second. Key points:

    • Protecting freedom
    • Knowing what freedom is
    • Unnesesary war
    • Planing to steal the Oil from Iraq
    • Waist of Tax dollars
    • Bush is a mornon
    • Bush’s clam to the presidency is illegitamate
    • Batting terrorists to attack again

    Points not mentioned

    • The president came into office with this plan in mind
    • Bush’s actions are damaging the strength of the US Dollar.
    • Bush’s ability to actually protect the United States from real threats is weak

    Then lets look at the specious words that were placed into the mouths of these girls

    • Solodures are baby killers

    Now, so far as I can tell the only thing that is remotely inaccurate about what was said that soldiers are baby killers.

    Andrew, what I think your Aunt fails to grasp is what this war is about, and that if she did she should be furious that her husband is being mistreated in this way by the Bush administration. Not the least of these actions is cutting the combat pay of our soldiers at the same time he signed his own pay raise.

    Bush came to office with a plan for a war, and in search of an excuses to go to war. There was also a plan to split up the resources. Bush is a disgrace to this country and he is cheapening the actions of all those who have ever worn the uniform.

    In the end, very little of what was said was untrue, and misusing the military in the way that Bush has is invites attacks on the legitimacy of the action.

  15. Andrew says:

    Oy vey, Dane, were you going for a record to see how many spelling errors you could commit in as few words as possible?

    I’m not sure I should spend any time arguing against what you said because everything you listed is so counterfactual it’s not even worth the effort. I do think it’s funny though that you believe Bush is such a “disgrace” and is “cheapening the actions of all those who have ever worn the uniform” when it is the people who currently wear the uniform and those who formerly wore the uniform who are Bush’s biggest supporters. But then I don’t imagine you meet enough of those people at your pro-Dean rallies to realize how wrong you are.

  16. Andrew says:

    There’s no there there:

    MR. LEHRER: — how you would handle Middle East policy. Is there any difference?

    VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I haven’t heard a big difference right — in the last few exchanges.

    GOV. BUSH: Well, I think — it’s hard to tell. I think that — you know, I would hope to be able to convince people I could handle
    the Iraqi situation better. I mean, we don’t —

    MR. LEHRER: With Saddam Hussein, you mean?

    GOV. BUSH: Yes, and —

    MR. LEHRER: You could get him out of there?

    GOV. BUSH: I’d like to, of course, and I presume this
    administration would as well. But we don’t know — there’s no inspectors now in Iraq. The coalition that was in place isn’t as strong as it used to be. He is a danger; we don’t want him fishing in troubled waters in the Middle East. And it’s going to be hard to — it’s going to be important to rebuild that coalition to keep the pressure on him.

    MR. LEHRER: Do you feel that is a failure of the Clinton administration?

    GOV. BUSH: I do.

  17. Brendan says:

    “Besides, even by your own criteria, Lieberman is not the man to vote for. He’s not the most likely to win. Dean is. So you can’t try to convince anyone to vote Lieberman with that argument, which is what you’re trying to do.”

    You may be right about Lieberman’s electability, but I don’t think you’re right that Dean is more electable than all the other candidates. You can’t honestly believe that hypothetical head-to-head scenario general-election polls in January are that accurate. Yes, Dean does better in these polls, but he also has the most name recognition among the Democratic candidates right now because he is dominating the press coverage. I’m betting a large percentage of the general public has no idea who John Kerry, John Edwards, Richard Gephart, etc., are. But if they were to win the nomination, they would obviously get a hell of a lot of attention, and then the public would actually make its judgment. Remember that most people don’t really start paying attention to this stuff until Labor Day. And it’s January. So, sorry, I continue to believe that Howard Dukakis, I mean Dean, is an unelectable disaster waiting to happen for the Dems.

  18. Sean Vivier says:

    Psst… Bush IS the civilian leadership. That’s why the poll is all the more damning. Even with a large bias toward Republicanism and supporting the war in Iraq, they still don’t trust his leadership.

    The rest is just an Appeal to Guilt. It’s not actually an argument. She didn’t say “Actually, you’re wrong because of this, this, and this.” It was “How DARE you?!!!!” It tries to shut down debate through intimidation rather than the use of any kind of reason. I could note all the logical fallacies of these (no doubt fictitious) girls, but it would take longer, and I’m sure you already noted them. Besides, most serious dissenters don’t say any of that, thus turning the whole argument into a Straw Man. You then finish with an Appeal to Style. Is Dane wrong because of a misspelling? No. So don’t bring it up.

    You guys remember the movie Starship Troopers? Well, the book was even worse. Through the course of nuking residential neighborhoods of the Skinnies (who didn’t make the movie cut) and wiping out Bugs (much easier casus belli when they hurl an asteroid at Rio), Heinlein tries to argue that only soldiers have any honor and thus the right to vote. And if you read Ayn Rand, only indistrialists know how to run the country. And if you read Plato, it’s the philosophers. Etc., etc., ad nauseam. That’s why I bring up Heinlein.

  19. Sean Vivier says:

    Ack. I’m not arguing electability any more. My entire point was that it shouldn’t matter in your choice. The fact that the polls might change just furthers that.

  20. Dane says:

    Um, Andrew, you seem to be a bit of a close minded.
    First, lets see, I have not made up my mind who I am going to vote for, I’m not much a fan of any of the candidates.
    Second, that you want to ignore the truth is sad, but there is not much that can be done about that.
    Third, That you think it is beneath you effort to attempt to deal with the truth is vexing.
    Fourth, that people in the military vote for Bush is their prerogative, it however, does not speak to weather or not those policies are in fact good.
    There are additional points, but given my computer is about to run out of batteries it will just have to wait.

  21. Brendan says:

    Sean, I just don’t understand how you can throw pragmatism out the door to such an extent as to contend that electability should never be a factor in one’s vote. We do not live in a vacuum and it does not make sense to vote in a vaccum. Which is more important: nominating the best of a group of candidates with relatively similar views who would probably govern in fairly similar ways… or beating George Bush?

    Case in point: it is a statistical fact that if the Republicans in California had not chosen the most conservative, least-palatable-to-the-general-electorate candidate in the 2002 gubernatorial primary, Gray Davis would have lost and the recall would not have been necessary. Richard Riordan clearly would have beaten Davis; even Bill Jones very well might have. The only reason Davis won is because the GOP nominated Bill Simon. Now, granted it worked out for the Republicans in the end, thanks to the bizarre recall, but bottom line, if I was a Republican in 2002 and I actually wanted to win that election, damn straight I would have voted for an electable candidate, and damn straight I would have been pissed off that my party picked the worst possible candidate to take on Davis.

    Why can’t you admit that it’s possible, just possible, that nominating someone who has a halfway-decent chance of wining might be a good idea if you want to win? There’s a reason that the uber-conservative National Review recently published a cover photo of the Dean with the headline “Please Nominate This Man!” It’s not about polls, it’s about common sense. The public is actually fairly predictable in a lot of ways, and centrism is generally a winning formula whereas angry extremism generally is not.

  22. Andrew says:

    Yes Dane, I am fairly closed-minded in a lot of respects. I’ve always believed the purpose of an open mind is to shut it on something solid.

    Sean, apparently you are an idiot. If Bush has a 67% favorability rating among the troops, and furthermore 65% support his decision to go to war against Iraq, how does that translate into not trusting him? The only way you can rationally make that argument is by insisting that military men and women are dupes of the lowest order, that they’d support and approve of someone they don’t trust. Obviously there is another explanation, and that explanation is what I stated: “all politicians and members of Congress are scumbags, but my Representative is a perfect gentleman and a wonderful leader”; ergo, I trust Bush and Rumsfeld, but in general I don’t think my civilian leaders have my best interest at heart. Is it somewhat contradictory? Yes, and that’s how voters are. What is clear and apparent though, no matter how you slice the pie, is that military personnel are supportive of the president, and your attempt to twist the facts to show otherwise are just plain ludicrous.

    As for the long story from the email, of course there was no argument there–on either side, in fact. It was just statements of opinions and judgments. “Bush is trying to steal the oil”, “The military is full of babykillers”, “My husband is off defending your freedom to complain, so watch what you say”, etc. The point was about sentiments, yeah, I felt the sentiments expressed by the lady in defense of her husband and the president were right on. Those women in the booth represent the voters that Dean is appealing to, and that’s fine, they can have their opinions, but be very afraid if the Democratic Party let alone America has a leader that believes and supports their ignorant statements.

  23. Keri says:

    “The 2003 Military Times Poll reveals a military…that considers itself to be morally superior to the nation its serves.”

    Yeah, my dad (retired AF pilot) once told me that the nicest community I will ever meet is the military. That while there are the egotistical jerks more concerned with their career advancement than anything else, they are easily spotted and far outnumbered. Mostly, pretty nice and courteous people.

    “In addition, he’ll make derogatory comments about the Army,”

    …this actually doesn’t say a bit about his political views – least not if he’s like any other Marine I’ve ever heard of. See, there’s this interservice rivalry (shock and amazement). And while Marines trash the Navy (Marines fight, Sailors sit and drink coffee while Marines fight, etc.) Marines are still part of a Navy-Marine Corps team. The Air Force seems to effectively make fun of itself, between inconsistent uniforms and “weird” pt habits, and I still haven’t figured out what all, but the punch line of “oh yeah, but they’re AIR FORCE” never, EVER fails. The venerable USAF is utterly dismissed. The Army though…the Army is special when it comes to Marine disdain (or faux disdain). Marines can see the Army as the inferior versions of themselves (save of course Rangers, who are infinitely good-to-go and positively outSTANding). Army=wannabe Corps. Just ask any gunny what they think of “the army of one.”


    Far’s politics go, I fall in the would-vote-for-Lieberman were I (shuddering, shadows of disownment and minor-public disgrace dancing in back of head) a demowhachamacallit. Except that I add (at least a smidgeon) of validation to that statement made up there somewhere having to do with those who’d vote for Lieberman twould vote for Bush first.

    …and reading some joke of Brendan’s, I think, I was reminded of my 6-year-old insistence of calling Dukakis “the Bushy-Eyebrowed Man,” spurred by the pictures on the back of the Weekly Reader, and that I still briefly think of bushy eyebrows before the name surfaces.

    Hey, anyone ever notice that if you smile while gritting your teeth most folks can’t tell the difference?

  24. Andrew says:

    Keri, you’re spot on with the interservice rivalry stuff. Some other tidbits to add, just for amusement: MARINES stands for Muscles Are Required, Intelligence Non Essential, ARMY stands for Aren’t Ready for the Marines Yet, and NAVY stands for Never Again Volunteer Yourself. Of course, USAF is left out, but as you say, “Oh yeah, they’re Air Force. [rolls eyes]”

  25. Dane says:

    The 2003 Military Times Poll reveals a military…that considers itself to be morally superior to the nation its serves.

    Ho dear, arguably what lead to the fall of the Roman Republican (and at least a major contributing factor) was the felling on the part of the military that they were superior to the people of the nation. This issue was exacerbated by the rapid emergence of a professional military in the late second century and early first century BCE.

  26. Anonymous says:

    My problem is not in discussing probability. It’s in using that as the only factor for your argument. Your ONLY argument against Dean is that he’ll DEFINITELY lose to Bush. You don’t even try to discuss whether or not he has the qualities of a good President. Poll numbers change, especially if you talk about qualifications to try to convince people that your candidate is the best. You can’t just dismiss them out of hand.

    But even if we do accept your argument, we see that Dean leads the pack. He has the MOST likelihood of winning. I’m not so sure the country is still looking for centrists. Things have become very polarized of late. The most centrist is Lieberman, who basically wants to continue most of Bush’s policies and is really only trailed by Kucinich, Moseley Braun, and Sharpton. That’s not much of a choice. By your own criterion of chances at winning, Lieberman is not the man to vote for.

    But that’s not the line I’m arguing. I say vote for Lieberman in the primary because that’s who best suits your politics. Just realize that he doesn’t actually stand the most chance, so you can’t use that as one of his plusses as you’ve been trying.

    You can even strategize about likeminded folk and their chances, but Dean and Lieberman aren’t likeminded.

    Part of the problem is that you don’t know much about Dean, which you’ve admitted. You say he’s part of the Angry Left. What reason do you have for this? Have you actually seen him angry? I’ve seen him on TV at a rally and at an Iowa debate. He was calm and collected. He met all questions with cool poise and answered them articulately. Furthermore, his record as Governor of Vermont has proven him rather centrist, even fiscally conservative. He’s not even for full-on gay marriage. (Only Kucinich supports that.) What makes him a “radical lefty” is that he didn’t support the war in Iraq, only in Afghanistan. At the same time, he recognizes the commitment to stay in Iraq until they have a functioning democracy. That’s about the most centrist approach around, surrounded by people who either supported both wars or neither. Oh, yeah, and he wants to try bin Laden before he’s punished. He’s insane! Really, I suspect all this prejudice against Dean (dare I call it “irrational Dean-hatred”?) comes from your recent rightward lean. (But now I’m Assuming Motives, so I won’t press the issue.)

    If you want to talk pure probability, the Democratic candidate is going to carry CT. All my state’s electoral votes will go to him, whether or not I even get out of bed. I may as well vote for the Libertarian candidate (who I hope will be Nolan) in hopes it helps the LP come a little bit closer to national recognition, and give them even more chance of one day making federal office.

  27. Sean Vivier says:

    (Whoops, that last blank was me.)

    The 67% is for Bush’s overall performance.

    The 40% is for trust in the civilian leadership to look after their safety. The Bush Administration is the civilian leadership. No other civilian can give them orders. It is possible to like Bush’s domestic policies and his foreign policy, but still distrust how he actually carries them forth. (I know I support the War on Terror, and I mean the real War on Terror, against terrorists, but I still think Bush is incompetent.) Way back when, you said we should ask who the soldiers most trust to wage the War on Terror. There’s your answer.

    And while I’m at it, I may as well question your conflation of religion and honor. Here’s why it doesn’t work:

    Torquemada had religion and no honor.
    Mother Theresa had religion and honor.
    Stalin had no religion and no honor.
    Carl Sagan had no religion and honor.
    Many others follow all four molds.

  28. Andrew says:

    There’s no there there Part II

  29. Andrew says:

    There’s no there there Part III

    What former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and other Bush administration blabbermouths failed to mention when leaking NSC documents and the like for the forthcoming book O’Neill worked on, is that the Clinton administration had many of the same documents prepared laying out plans for a Iraq post-invasion Iraq.

    “We had the same stuff,” says a former senior Clinton Administration aide who worked at the Pentagon. “It would have been irresponsible not to have such planning. We had all kinds of briefing material ready should the president have decided to move on Iraq. In fact, a lot of the material we had prepared was material that the previous Bush administration had left for us. It just isn’t that big a deal. Or shouldn’t be.”

  30. Sean Vivier says:

    So wait. You’re trying to convince us that the Bush Administration wasn’t planning this war all along… because they were planning this war all along? Keep in mind, this is coupled with the fact that Bush demanded plans to invade Iraq right after 9/11. And if Clinton was thinking the same way, then fie on him, too!

  31. Andrew says:

    No, Bush was planning this war all along. The elderberry-smelling Bush apparently had plans lying around after the first Gulf War (remember, we stopped the march to Baghdad very early in that war, and we almost supported the Shi’ite uprising against but later decided against it, something many consider a very poor decision in 20/20 hindsight considering all the Shi’ites who were slaughtered and then became very disillusioned with us when we promised to liberate them again last year). Clinton officials maintain they inherited plans from that Bush, and then tinkered with them so that Clinton had contingency plans should he ever decide to drop the hammer on Saddam, which almost happened in ’98 when Saddam expelled the weapons inspectors, but he backed down. In the debate with Gore, Dubya says clearly that he views Saddam as a threat and would be more proactive in removing him if he were president, and voila, upon election we hear that he had been planning the Iraq war as soon as he got into office, and after 9/11 the administration’s mind was made up: Saddam had to go, no ifs ands or buts. Even the mere possibility of a link between al-Qaeda-like terrorist groups and a hostile regime that was potentially harboring and developing WMDs was unacceptable.

    The point is, there is no there there. This is old news and entirely not controversial. We knew this already–we were told it in the 2000 presidential campaign–so why are the liberals and the media pretending to be shocked and angered by this? It’s ridiculous.

  32. Andrew says:

    There is a fascinating dialogue going on over at Slate this week among members of the unofficially titled “I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-a-Hawk Club”. Andrew Sullivan points out a pretty good quote by liberal hawk Paul Berman:

    What was the reason for the war in Iraq? Sept. 11 was the reason. At least to my mind it was. Sept. 11 showed that totalitarianism in its modern Muslim version was not going to stop at slaughtering millions of Muslims, and hundreds of Israelis, and attacking the Indian government, and blowing up American embassies. The totalitarian manias were rising, and the United States itself was now in danger. A lot of people wanted to respond, as any mayor would do, by rounding up a single Bad Guy, Osama.

    But Sept. 11 did not come from a single Bad Guy—it was a product of the larger totalitarian wave, and the only proper response was to comprehend the size and depth of that larger wave, and find ways to begin rolling it back, militarily and otherwise—mostly otherwise. To roll it back for our own sake, and everyone else’s sake, Muslims’ especially. Iraq, with its somewhat antique variation of the Muslim totalitarian idea, was merely a place to begin, after Afghanistan, with its more modern variation.