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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
Andrew Sullivan calls Will Saletan's latest piece nuancing George W. Bush the most persuasive case against Bush he's seen yet. Many have tried to define exactly what Bush's problem is of course, but Saletan's attempt is dead on. An example:
"From foreign to economic to social policy, Bush's record is a lesson in the limits and perils of conviction. He's too confident to consult a map. He's too strong to heed warnings and too steady to turn the wheel when the road bends. He's too certain to admit error, even after plowing through ditches and telephone poles. He's too preoccupied with principle to understand that principle isn't enough. Watching the stars instead of the road, he has wrecked the budget and the war on terror. Now he's heading for the Constitution. It's time to pull him over and take away the keys."
"It's about confronting and coming clean with the American people."
That's David Kay, who led the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq until he determined the search was fruitless. Kay says that the Bush administration needs to admit they were wrong about Saddam's weapons.
"He should say we were mistaken and I am determined to find out why."
Bush come clean? That'll be the day. In the meantime look for Kay's name to be dropped from future Bush speeches about the potential for finding weapons a year later. Something tells me that comments calling for honesty from the White House won't fly in the West Wing. That's unfortunate.
Former Clinton brain and Washington sleezeball Dick Morris thinks John Kerry will be easy pickings for the Bush team this year if they stick to three key themes.
First, label Kerry early on as an uber-liberal. A liberal to define all liberals. A heart bleeding so much that no tourniquet will stop the flow of public funds to those in need. A liberal who is so out of touch with the needs of the common man that - gasp! - he's even a member of a secret Yale organization for up-and-coming Fortunate Sons (wait...).
Frankly I think this line of attack on Kerry won't work. People have seen it before and it is way past its expiration date. Maybe it worked in the glorious Reagan years to define those wimpy pinkos, but these days being a "liberal" doesn't send the center 20% of the country running for the exits. There is plenty of other stuff to pin Kerry on - like his 20 year Senate record. Something as stale as "he's a liberal" will only lead to defeat for Bush and company.
Second, Morris says Bush should play up the war on terror since Bush is, after all, a war president. This too is a weak plan. In all honesty, having to rely on war being prominent in the public's mind shouldn't be a good thing. And what is Bush hiding on the homefront that he doesn't want the public to notice? The 3 million lost jobs? I think the unemployed of America have caught on.
But moreover, Bush can only play dress up on aircraft carriers and be a macho war president - and win with that strategy - if he's actually good at it. Winning in Afghanistan and Iraq isn't impressive. That's the U.S. military that has been doing its job as usual. The part Bush had a part in is how we went about going into those wars. Afghanistan? Sure, he did great! But any president in that situation would have gained the support of the community of nations and taken down an oppressive regime which harbored terrorists. It doesn't take an Einstein to see that.
But soon after the dust cleared and attention shifted away from Afghanistan the administration showed its true inability to translate that overwhelming international support into something more substancial that could be used for good to defeat the international terrorism that threatens America. Bush shunned the international community and his underlying arrogance shone through.
On the home front port security is only minimally more secure than it was prior to September 11. Any day a container ship could deliver death to millions, and we would never see it coming. We need real protection at home. F-16 fly-bys at football games are nice and make people feel just plain neat, but they aren't the most practical instruments of defense when the enemy among us. Just because you're a hammer doesn't make every problem a nail. We need more human intelligence. That is where we will prevent future terror. Bush has failed to provide for that defense. Kerry will.
Thirdly, Morris says Bush needs to get American troops out of Iraq slowly and surely as election day approaches. Hmm. That sure makes it look like we're dedicated to providing real promise to Iraq huh? Pro-warriors love pointing to post-war Germany to demonstrate how long it took for them to get back on their feet, but let's look at Germany one more time. We still have something like two divisions stationed in Germany. We stuck it out and Germany is better for it.
I really don't see Morris' guidelines as anything that will help Bush. In fact, I don't see a lot of things that can help Bush. He has only gone down hill since getting into office. The only thing that matters to the Bush people is how long they can manipulate a politically ignorant public into thinking that times are good. Unfortunately though for Bush, running out the clock on the ignorance of the American public will be a losing strategy.