Sunday, September 7. 2008
Sarah Vowell: Party Guy. One of the maddening things about presidential campaigns is the near certain knowledge that you'll never fully anticipate what you'll get once a candidate is elected. Moreover, the risks of those bets keep increasing, as the executive branch concentrates more and more power, especially the power to bull into insane, hapless wars. As Vowell points out, this is nothing new.
Then there was George W. Bush, the guy who wanted America to assume a more modest foreign policy:
With Bush we might have been able to read the tea leaves a bit more carefully, especially if the media, or for that matter Bush's opponent, had bothered to ask some tough questions. There's plenty of reason to suspect the worst from McCain, but he still gets a pass from way too many people.
A persistent theme in Republican attacks against Obama is that you [the voter] don't know what he'll do once he gets into power. All you can tell now is that he says now, but most likely he's just saying that to get you to vote for him, so he can get into power and do whatever it is he really wants to do, whatever that is -- surely something awful bad. Like many effective smears, this is based on a half-truth, which is that nobody ever knows how the future is going to play out. On the other hand, the Republicans have bound themselves together so tightly that their range, for any semi-loyal party guy, looks to be limited to continuing the slow decay as we deny all the problems that are accumulating to driving full-speed into one disaster after another. At least with Obama we have a guy who says he can see potholes and seems to be smart enough and attentive enough to occasionally hit the brakes and/or swerve out of the way (or, as the derogatory term puts it, "change course").
There are few things in life I hate more than betting, but this one seems pretty clear cut.
The last page of the New York Times Week in Review section was filled by a full-page ad for Thomas L. Friedman's new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution -- and How It Can Renew America. Looking forward to the Matt Taibbi review. (For last time, see here.) For a whiff, see Friedman's op-ed today ("Georgia on My Mind"). Last two paragraphs:
There are almost ten serious errors in those two sentences -- a really remarkable density of denseness. About the only thing he did get right is that the Republicans are morons, but how tough a call is that? The idea that innovation is the answer to all our problems is cornucopian gospel, something the Republicans are quite happy with, even if they'd preface it by claiming that the way to innovate is to stop taxing businesses and profits, as opposed to, like, public investment in education and science. And we're not serious about stopping Putin/Putinism -- we need the enemies to keep us focused on guns (not butter). The oil business has been good to Russia, but Russia's a global power because they're a big country with lots of smart people -- at least if you consider figuring out how to blow up half the earth a sign of brains. They've been called "Upper Volta with missiles," but that doesn't mean that if you'd just (somehow) take away the missiles they'd just be Upper Volta. Moreover, even if you wanted to take away their oil business, you can't, for the simple reason that they got the oil and you don't. Nor is a paltry $1 billion investment anywhere going to invent "an alternative to oil" -- let alone Georgia Tech, who'd probably plow it into football anyway. And so on. Nobody else manages to turn gibberish into cliché more efficiently than Friedman.
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