Word Parsing 101

Tom Maguire reminds me of this truly outstanding quote from John Kerry yesterday during Meet The Press. I had intended to blog it, but forgot to with everything else going on. At any rate, check out this beauty:

MR. RUSSERT: Well, we’ll see if he runs it–“We have a generational responsibility to fix them.”

And then in 2003, you said–“Declaring `I am blessed to be wealthy,’ Senator John F. Kerry said that, if elected president, he would consider some form of means-testing for rich Americans as part of a broader review of ideas to shore up the Social Security system.” … But “`Rich people are getting checks from poor people well beyond what they put in the system,’ said Kerry. …Another idea Kerry said he would consider is raising the cut-off point after which people no longer pay into the system. …`Maybe people ought to pay up to $100,000 or $120,000, I don’t know,’ the senator said.”

Specifically, Senator, do you still agree with yourself? Should we raise the retirement age or consider it? Should we raise the cap on income level that people pay payroll tax?

SEN. KERRY: Precisely what I said in 1996 is “We should consider” a number of these things. We did consider them. I considered them. Others did. I rejected them.

Move over Bill Clinton- thar’s a new sheriff in town. And the best is Kerry said it with a straight face!

*** Update ***

Jim Geraghty catches this gem:

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe that Iraq is less a terrorist threat to the United States now than it was two years ago?

SEN. KERRY: No, it’s more. And, in fact, I believe the world is less safe today than it was two and a half years ago.

Then, a few seconds later:

MR. RUSSERT: Is the United States safer with the newly elected Iraqi government than we would have been with Saddam Hussein?

SEN. KERRY: Sure. And I’m glad Saddam Hussein is gone, and I’ve said that a hundred times. But we’ve missed opportunity after opportunity along the way, Tim, to really make America safe and to bring the world to the cause.

Geraghty remarks:

Consistent as ever. We’re less safe because of what we’ve done in Iraq, and yet more safe at the same time.

It’s nuanced.


The Question of The Hour

Jim Henley takes me to ask in the comments section of this earlier post:

John, maybe by “gloating” Matt means that this site and others would become an orgy of “find the most disagreeable things our opponents have to say” items, ignoring more thoughtful and even positive items on places like Crooked Timber, Thomas L. Knapp’s site, The Agitator and Political Animal, to name a few. At least Chrenkoff and Vincent are able to devote the bulk of their energy to expressing their enthusiasm for the event itself. All you seem to manage is carping about your enemies. Can’t YOU take any more pleasure in events than your betes-noires? Is the extra sleep doing you so little good?

A fair question- here is my response.

Because when I woke up this morning and found out that the elections had gone off as good as or better than I had ever expected, I was ecstatic. Granted, it was horrible that 33 people were killed (for wanting to vote- that makes it pretty clear the scum we are dealing with), but the event itself eclipses their deaths.

I didn’t and don’t view this election as a complete vindication of the Bush doctrine, I didn’t and don’t think this election mean that we can withdraw are troops tomorrow (which we can all agree is a chief long-term goal), and I didn’t and don’t think Iraq is going to be New Hampshire tomorrow. I viewed the election as a very positive step in the right direction, and I felt relief and happiness.

I felt like we dodged a bullet, and I felt happy for all those who were able to vote. And then I started reading the left wing blogs, starting with Matt, who had nothing but a snotty post up dismissing the elections. Then I went around to the other lefty sites, and rather than celebrating along with everyone else, I saw snotty post after snotty post by people either dismissing the election, struggling desparately for a way to dismiss them, or in Oliver’s case, just being a jerk.

Add to that the mainstream media attempts to frame this election prior as a failure prior to one vote being cast, and I got pissed. I started to wonder- when did the Democrats become the Dick Tuck Society for Sore Losers (“The people have spoken, the bastards.”)? How do you possibly frame this election in a negative light?

But they did, and I blogged about their disgusting transgressions. If my documenting their behavior counts as ‘gloating,’ then we have redefined the term and I am guilty of some major league gloating. My apologies.

However, let me say it again- I am thrilled about the outcome, although I fully expect a wave of violence in the upcoming weeks and months. More soldiers are going to die. And the country may never see Democracy. But I will wait for that bad news, should it come. Right now is for celebrating, and I wish my friends on the left could get rid of their bitterness and join in.

And in case any Democrats who think this election was all a sham and that things were better off under Saddam Hussein, let me point out one little difference between what is going on in Iraq now as opposed to 3 years ago. We dipped their finger in purple ink after arranging the first free election in 50 years. Saddam Hussein hammered nails into their fingers and hands.

Pissing on The Parade

I have sifted through all the Democratic talking points, and here are the two that are going to get the most play.

1.) As voiced by Jeralynn Merrit on MSNBC and as discussed here: “Just because ballots were cast it doesn’t mean it is going to lead to a democracy.”

Of course ballots don’t translate directly into a democracy. Saddam Hussein did get 99% of the ballots cast in the last election, and I would hardly argue that Iraq was a democracy. I would, however, stipulate that the franchise is a PRE-REQUISITE for democracy. I am curious- when Democrats make a cake, do they put the icing on first?

2.) “What about the WMD? We went in after the WMD.”

We went in for WMD as well as a number of other documented reasons that the left now pretend to forget. But this really isn’t an issue, because what is an issue is the inconsistency even in the “What about the WMD” argument. Am I to assume that our deep thinkers on the left were in favor of going into get the WMD, seizing/destroying them, and then leaving a broken shell of Iraq? Of course not- so even though there were no WMD, we still need to fix Iraq.

Whyat is most annoying about this line of argument is that many on the left were right, and Bush was wrong- we would have to engage in nation-building. But now that Bush and the right have embraced nation building, the left cedes their moral authority and begins screaming to “Bring Home The Troops!” Go figure.

Watch for these- Jeralynn is dialed in, she knows the talking points. The talking heads and the Democrats will try to advance these specious arguments in the next couple of days- if you let them.

Beware the Strawmen

The greatest weapon in the sophist’s arsenal is the strawman argument, and they are out in force today.

Ezra Klein:

Americans, for our part, will spend the morning watching CNN say the same thing a thousand ways. We’ll exult in the mystical power of voting, but next week, it’ll be back to the news ticker’s impersonal body counts. So elections? Count me in, I think they’re great. But with the rebellious, terrified minority that’s driving the insurgency boycotting the polls, let’s not pretend that the Ballot Fairy will sprinkle constitution dust on this razed country and out of the ashes will emerge a stable, pluralistic democracy. Iraq’s task is monumental, and its solutions anything but telegenic.

No one is pretending this is anything but what it was- the first election the Iraqi’s have had in 50 years, and a step in the right direction. Obviously Iraqi’s are thrilled; most normal Americans are as well. Only the professionally dour would and could feel otherwise. No one thinks the future is all of a sudden going to be easy- quite the opposite.

Juan Cole:

Iraq now faces many key issues that could tear the country apart, from the issues of Kirkuk and Mosul to that of religious law. James Zogby on Wolf Blitzer wisely warned the US public against another “Mission Accomplished” moment. Things may gradually get better, but this flawed “election” isn’t a Mardi Gras for Americans and they’ll regret it if that is the way they treat it.

Groan. And now for the obligatory Oliver silliness:

Pardon me if I’ve had enough of these Iraqi “turning points”. I work in Washington, D.C. so I can’t just pretend and make the terrorists go away like the other sheep.

Oliver has worked in DC for a year now. Beware the jaded insider.

The Turn-Out

Still no hard numbers on the turn-out, but I do not think the 72% figure will hold:

The Independent Election Commission of Iraq clarified an earlier estimate of a 72 percent turnout in Sunday’s election, saying that the “figures are only very rough, word-of-mouth estimates gathered informally from the field.”

“It will take some time for the IECI to issue accurate figures on turnout,” the statement said. “What is certainly the case is that turnout has exceeded expectations throughout the country.”

More than 14.2 million Iraqis were registered for the vote. Polls have closed, although voters who were in line at the time of poll closings were being allowed to cast their ballots.

U.N. election organizer Carlos Valezuela told CNN that while he was “happy with the turnout,” it was too early to report numbers.

“I would rather until we have much better reporting to be able to come up with figures,” he said.

If the final number drops below 72%, expect some on the left to seize upon this that the election was a fraud, even if the UN and Iraqi’s are satisfied with the vote. This should come as no surprise- after all, these are the same people who can not accept the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections.

Blinded By The Spite

Oliver doesn’t like Geraldo Rivera’s coverage of the elections much. Sayeth the ‘moderate’ Democrat:

Geraldo Rivera and Fox News, a match made in propaganda heaven.

Here is the offending Rivers quote (via Media Bistro via Johnny Dollar):

“They are casting their ballot for the first time. It was so inspiring. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It really is like the Berlin Wall going down in 1989. It really is like the beginning, like the dawn of the civil rights era, when black people could vote for the first time. It is the most amazing sight. Only a hard-bitten cynic, only a person with absolutely no upside to their feeling of optimism, could look askance at what is happening, truly happening today.”

Oliver Willis yesterday:

You know, I really wish Iraq were having an honest, safe, real election. But that isn’t happening, and that’s a shame. Even if you were and are opposed to this war, as I am, you would wish the Bush people would do things right just for the simple reason that it would help our standing in the world. But they can’ even do that.

The Daily Kos, today:

This Election is simply, in my estimation, an exercise in pretty pictures.

Matt Yglesias, today:

It’s time to prepare for three weeks of gloating from the hawks before they realize that nothing has really changed and they return to previous hawk practice of not mentioning Iraq.

Geraldo, meet your hard-bitten cynics.

The Shifting Goalposts

First, critics* said the elections couldn’t/wouldn’t happen.

Then, critics* said they would happen, but they would be wracked with violence and no one would vote because the ballots were too confusing or the security situation would keep people away from the polls.

What happens when you are wrong twice? Why, you continue, undaunted, to make dire predictions:

Looks reasonably successful so far, no mass casualties, turnout low only in a few trouble spots. It’s time to prepare for three weeks of gloating from the hawks before they realize that nothing has really changed and they return to previous hawk practice of not mentioning Iraq. The interesting thing to watch, I think, will be whether or not Shiite political unity starts to break down now that the elections are behind us.

Pessimism masquerading as realism should not be regarded as insight, and you should note the real cause for concern- hawk’s gloating. We aren’t gloating, we are just happy and relieved, and no one thinks this is the final step for our involvement in Iraq. It is, however, an important real and symbolic victory, and everyone should be happy.

Do I think this means we can start shipping soldiers home tomorrow? No.

Do I think this means that Iraq is going to turn into an American/European style Democracy by tomorrow? No.

But was this an important first step? Yes. Why can’t some Democrats embrace this? Why must they constantly position themselves and their party in such a way that they gain politically when things go poorly?

John Kerry, btw, was on Meet The Press this morning, and did everything he could to piss all over the administration and the election. According to him, we need to have a massive outreach to the international community in order to make sure the election is viewed as legitimate. And the Democrats wonder why they are the minority party. “This is the last chance for the President to get it right.” Go fuck yourself.

I am so sick and tired of playing Charlie Brown to their Lucy.

*** Update ***

Matt Yglesias emails:

Pardon me, John, but there’s nothing I hate more than this business of having my views mischaracterized. When did I say elections wouldn’t happen? When did I say turnout would be low? Well, I never said those things. Why should the fact that other people have made bad predictions in any way discredit my prediction? This “they” business is silly. Why are they? Why am I one of “them?”

My apologies. Clearly ‘they’ is any member of the crowd who attempted to or is attempting to delegitimize the elections, before, during, or after. While you may not have been a member of the former two, you are clearly a member of the third group, as this second snotty post from you clearly demonstrates. As to why you are a member of that group, it beats me.

But as maybe you are right, nothing has changed at all. Says Jeff Goldstein:

And by nothing has really changed, Matt of course means besides Iraq having successfully pulled off its first democratic elections in history with a minimum of violence, thus landing a huge body blow to the increasingly scattershot insurgency.

In Matts defense, thought, they do remain Mesopotamian.

*- Posted edited, changing ‘they’ to ‘critics.’