Saturday, November 06, 2004

piss, fuck, diddle: politiblogging

Note: Fuck fucking Blogger. I haven't had much trouble with Blogger, but every now and again it'll seize up at the wrong moment and ruin my day. It's a bit like humping a sheep and having your dick ripped off by a sudden, violent, ovine pelvic spasm. It's always a nuisance to have to stop what you're doing, dig around the sheep's ass, retrieve your dick, sew it back on, and then keep on humping. If anything, you're too pissed off to hump but you feel, bizarrely, that you owe your spectators their money's worth. So you reestablish your rhythm and pray the sheep doesn't rip your dick off a second time.

I'd written a long post earlier today, only to have it sucked into the cosmos's asshole by an "internal server error," followed by a personal message from Bill Gates that read, "Yeah, baby! Whatcha' gonna do about it, huh? Huh? Huh?" What follows is a severely truncated version of what I wrote earlier, pieced together from anguished memory.

The Hairy Chasms has been host to an abnormally large amount of politiblogging lately. I promise to stop, but there are a couple items I'd like to address.

1. Answering the Maximum Leader

Mike wrote a stellar post-election meta-commentary here; I suggest you go read it. He takes issue with a key claim of mine. I wrote:

...I still maintain that we're going to see a Dem backlash in 2008. If it's spearheaded by the likes of Hillary Clinton, it'll fail. But with someone else leading the charge, it'll probably succeed in breaking the GOP's grip on all three branches of government.

Mike's response:
Having said and restated that Hillary Clinton is unelectable as president, the prospect of the Democrats breaking GOP control of all three branches of government in four years (barring some unforeseen occurrence) [is] so small as to be hard to calculate. The possibility of taking the Presidency and the Senate [is] feasible (and depending on the candidates, the political and economic situation, and the "mood" of the country it could be quite possible). But the House will not change hands until 2012 at the earliest; and control of the Judiciary is likely to be molded pretty decisively by President Bush. If the Democrats are smart, they will start focusing on finding good Senate Candidates to start challenging Republicans. And they will focus on retaking State Houses and Governor's mansions around the country. Until they can have a bigger say in the next redistricting process, the House is not likely to change hands. And your Maximum Leader doesn't see why they should waste their money on trying to take control of the House.

I actually agree with the above. Mike's response is based on a misinterpretation of what I meant by my phrase "breaking the GOP's grip on all three branches of government." I don't blame Mike for the misinterpretation; my vague wording is the cause of the problem. To clarify: "all three branches of government" refers to the current state of affairs, not to future Democratic control of all three branches of government. I never meant to suggest that. If a Dem backlash leads to anything, I predict it'll lead to a Democratic president in 2008 (unless the Dems insist on fielding Hillary as their candidate; I agree with Mike that that would be a recipe for continued failure).

2. Will Bush play nice this time around?

I've expressed my fear that a Bush reelection might mean that we attack Iran. Joel presented a good argument for why that probably won't happen. I think Joel's argument has a lot of merit, but I don't think Bush is a flexible thinker. What's more, he's not a slave to public (or international) opinion. Bush named Iran as part of the Axis of Evil; to this day, Iran remains in our sights, and its current bluster isn't ingratiating it to us. If Iran provides this administration with a reason to attack it, I think we'll do so. Iran will probably deserve whatever it gets (just as Saddam deserved to be deposed and humiliated), but this doesn't make that course of action fundamentally wise. Should we attack Iran, I'll be against such a move, just as I was against the 2003 Iraq war.

My buddy Carpemundi emailed me with a StratFor article by George Friedman that deals thematically with what a second Bush term will mean. Friedman agrees with my contention that Bush might continue with the reflexive ball-kicking. He writes:

In general, two-term presidents tend to be less interested in political process than in their place in history. They tend to become more aggressive in trying to complete their perceived missions, and less cautious in the chances they take. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all encountered serious problems in their second terms, most due to their handling of problems they experienced in their first terms. Nixon had Watergate, while Reagan was handling Central American issues and hostages. Clinton wound up impeached for his handling of matters in his second term.


We can expect two things from Bush in general: relentlessness and linkage. Having won the election, Bush is not going to abandon his goal of crushing al Qaeda and pacifying Iraq and, indeed, the region. That is understood. Equally understood is that Bush will reward friends. Bush's test of friendship is simple: support for the United States and, in particular, support for the policies being pursued by his administration in the war. For Bush, active support for the war was a litmus test for good relations with the United States during the first term. The second term will make the first term look gentle.


The re-election of Bush creates a new reality at all levels in the international system. His intransigence, coupled with American power, forces players to think about whether they can hold their positions for at least four years, or whether they must adjust their positions in some way. As the players -- from sheikhs to prime ministers -- reconsider their positions, U.S. power increases, trying to pry them loose. It opens the possibility of negotiations and settlements in unexpected places.

It also opens the door to potential disaster. The danger is that Bush will simultaneously overestimate his power and feel unbearable pressure to act quickly. This has led some previous presidents into massive errors of judgment. Put differently, the pressures and opportunities of the second term caused them to execute policies that appeared to be solutions but that blew up in their faces. None of them knew they would blow up, but in their circumstances, no one was sufficiently cautious.

The road to a Democratic backlash will be paved with "massive errors of judgment." For me, at least, an attack on Iran would be one such massive error. Let's hope Joel is right and Bush takes a closer look at current practical realities.

3. Gay marriage vs. the war on terror

There's a huge debate going on right now about the extent to which this election was a referendum on "morality." I contend that it wasn't: it was, fundamentally, about the war. The argument (recently forwarded by compulsive gambler and arbiter of virtue Bill Bennett) that November 2 voters were more focused on issues like gay marriage than on terrorism is specious. It was Republicans who criticized people like Andrew Sullivan for their fixation on homosexuality-related issues during a time of war. For a conservative like Bennett to get revisionist about recent history is hypocritical on several levels.

Besides, you can't have it both ways. If the exit polls were unreliable re: Kerry data, then they can't be considered a reliable basis for this claim about middle America's suddenly-intense concern with sexual morality. Since those same polls are currently fueling the morality argument, I expect the argument to wither soon enough.

Glenn Reynolds of Satan's Anus agrees with me: it's about the war, stupid. (See here as well.)

A couple other notes: I still maintain that Andrew Sullivan is on to something re: where the country is trending in terms of gay marriage. Conservatives have a point when they say that the present hysteria about impending theocracy is way over the top. But the right shouldn't be too dismissive of the gay lobby: it needs to get ready for what's coming in a few years. As I wrote in an email to the Maximum Leader last night:

I agree that Andrew Sullivan tooted his gay marriage horn too loudly... and I further agree that, as a matter of principle, judicial activism sets dangerous precedents. I think the gay lobby jumped the gun this time around. But what the righties need to remember is that Sullivan is correct to see a huge demographic shift going on. It's simplistic to say merely that "America is conservative," as if that were the end of the story. What counts as "conservative" is always in flux. Well over a century ago, everyone in white America knew it was scandalous for women to expose their ankles. Today, a midriff-exposing, thigh-baring little hottie like Annika represents the righties. Old mores crumble and tumble; change is part of life. The same will be true of gay marriage in due time.

Because only 3-5% of a given human population is homosexual, gay marriage will never become mainstream (which also means that gay marriage is no threat to hetero marriage). But tolerance and affirmation of a gay person's right to marry-- and to receive the legal benefits of marriage-- will become mainstream, probably sooner than many think. If the Dems were unable to see certain realities this time around, I submit that the GOP needs to reconcile itself to the inevitable as well, or risk future marginalization... though not for a few years yet, obviously.

4. Todd Thacker, mad Canadian

Todd Thacker writes for the English-language edition of the Korean lefty rag, OhMyNews. He interviewed me a while back as part of his ongoing series on Koreabloggers. Although Todd is a nice enough gent in person, it's become obvious to me that he's also an extremely cruel individual. This is why he recently emailed me a link to The Borowitz Report.

Todd, I think most of those immigration applications are from white folks who've been looking for an excuse to escape the Black/Hispanic/Asian menace.


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