McCain Vs. Paul

Saturday, March 9, AD 2013

Not everyone was enamored with Rand Paul after his filibuster this past Wednesday in the Senate. Senator John McCain railed against Rand Paul on the Senate floor on Thursday. If you missed it, here’s a shot of the Senator’s performance:

Grandpa Simpson

 

McCain was joined by his Sith apprentice fellow Senator Lindsey Graham in denouncing Paul’s filibuster. I wish the camera had panned to see if McCain’s mouth was moving as Graham spoke.

McCain wasn’t done criticizing Paul, offering some choice pull quotes to various media outlets, summarized at Hot Air. This one in particular is my favorite:

“They were elected, nobody believes that there was a corrupt election, anything else,” McCain said. “But I also think that when, you know, it’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone.”

John McCain just said that it’s always the “whacko birds”” who get the media megaphone. Let that sink in for a moment. The same guy who hasn’t turned down a Sunday talk show appearance in thirteen years is implying that only kooks get the media spotlight. If you say so John.

Rand Paul couldn’t have asked for a better angry old man to scowl after him, as Jay Anderson explains.

John McCain railing against Rand Paul’s appeal to “impressionable” kids in dorm rooms is so politically tone deaf and out of touch that it makes Clint Eastwood look like a breath of fresh air by comparison. Yesterday, in a textbook example of EVERYTHING that is wrong about John McCain, just after scolding Paul on the Senate floor, McCain lamented the retirement announcement of 78-year-old Democrat Sen. Carl. Levin who has been in the Senate FOR 35 YEARS since the Carter Administration.

McCain’s world: young upstarts inspiring people to take our liberties seriously and challenging the perpetual war establishment … bad; crusty old farts clinging to power and enriching themselves on the public teet until they’re octogenarians … good.

There’s more to this dust-up than just an old guard versus new guard standoff. McCain and Paul represent two wildly divergent wings foreign policy wings of the Republican Party. Whether you want to call McCain a neocon, a hawk, an interventionist, or some other term that will be invented over the next few years, he certainly has a more expansive view of America’s role in the world. Rand Paul is a bit more of a mystery. While he clearly wishes to narrow the scope of America’s role as global policeman, for lack of a better term, he doesn’t seem to quite share his father’s even narrower vision. Some have speculated that he’s merely toning down his rhetoric in the hopes of being a more palatable alternative in the Republican presidential primaries than his father ever was, though I suspect that’s an overstatement.

Whatever the case may be, Paul and McCain are at opposite poles at least in the Senate’s GOP caucus. Ace of Spades does a good job of explaining why McCain should dial it back if he wants the more interventionist wing to have any credibility. First he explains that he’s not as hawkish as he was after 9/11, yet McCain (and his mini-me, Graham) are still pushing a “super-hawk” line that the public has widely rejected.

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43 Responses to McCain Vs. Paul

  • History will remember McCain for two things: heroically surviving seven years in a Hanoi POW hell and losing the 2008 election to the worst president in US history.

    I would have said worst president in World history, but Obama is fifth (behind Pol Pot, Lenin, Mao, and Stalin). Hugo Chavez is sixth.

  • Mr. McCain has his virtues, but he has long been known as somewhat choleric and impetuous in his inter-personal dealings (“wacko birds” does not rhyme with “brother trucker”, but some of McCain’s Senate colleagues have been called something that does, to their face, rather loudly). Some of us might hope that Rand Paul will formulate a reconstituted isolationism – one free of the often grotesque silliness ambient in palaeoworld (including his father’s utterances).

  • I am far closer to McCain’s views on foreign policy than I am as to what I suspect are Rand Paul’s views on foreign policy although he has cagily left those views unclear. That having been said, McCain’s reaction to the Paul filibuster was absurd. First, because it was the first clear win for the Republicans over Obama since the election. Second, because Paul’s reason for the filibuster was very reasonable: use of drones against American citizens on American soil should be bound by the same restrictions imposed whenever the military is used in police activity domestically.

    In regard to McCain, other than foreign policy he is far from a favorite of mine. In 2008 my wife and I voted for McCain only in order to vote for Palin. Any Republican would have lost in 2008 after the economic melt down, but McCain with his eagerness to suspend his campaign and his desire apparently to win the title of Miss Congeniality, threw any chance he had away. McCain has always been tough on his fellow Republicans and soft on Democrats. In 2010 he won a tough primary race by running as a born again conservative and promptly went back to his old ways after he was safely back in for another six years. I honor the courage McCain showed in the Hanoi Hilton, but that is the only honorable thing about the man.

    In regard to the term “neo-con” I find that hilarious. I was a conservative long before many of the self-described paleocons. My views are by and large the views of Ronald Reagan and if he is called a “neo-con” then the term is devoid of meaning.

  • am far closer to McCain’s views on forein policy than I am on what I suspect are Rand Paul’s views on foreign policy

    In the balance I’m probably a bit closer to McCain, though I think both sides represent flawed thinking in some way. That was my single point of departure from Santorum last year.

    As for the term neo-con, it has been widely misused. I think my favorite use of the term was when it was applied to William Buckley. That said, it does represent an actual strain of right-wing thinking, but it’s just not nearly as prevalent as some paleocons would have you believe. Then again, they seemingly apply it to every right-leaning person who strays even a hint from their way of thinking, particularly on foreign policy. They seem to be more forgiving on economic and social issues.

  • They seem to be more forgiving on economic and social issues.

    Actually, the mask is slipping over at The American Conservative on those subjects.

  • John McCain is IMHO everything wrong with politics. He is a career politician and he is a complete meely mouth in dealing with the opposition. When dealing with his own party he is meaner than a wolfpack hunting down prey.

    McCain will likely be done after the 2016 election. I hope so. Arizona has foistered him on the rest of us for too long.

  • It is a matter of principle. It is an anti-Constitutional act and an immoral act to kill an American citizen not actually engaged in combat against the United States. By the way, ask Obama and Holder if they favor the death penalty.

  • I agree with Don’s comment pretty much word for word. If we had “likes” or “+1s” here, I’d use one.

    John McCain has been posturing in the Senate for so long that the moment he saw someone taking a stand, he assumed it was posturing. His DC guidebook said that Rand Paul is a Republican, so he immediately started shouting him down, never bothering to notice that Paul was objecting to something objectionable. The thing is, this is exactly the kind of issue that McCain would normally be out-front on. McCain’s not a blithering hawk; he’s more than happy to leverage his military experience in exchange for something like closing Guantanamo Bay.

    Everyone else in Washington has to check himself to keep from putting party over principle. McCain puts bashing his own party over principle.

  • As already established, I definitely tilt towards the “realist” school of IR, and find the idea of artificially manufacturing a “world safe for democracy” to be unpalatable, let alone impossible.

    I think the filibuster was important, not only for what was said but for what it showed. The majority of what Rand Paul had to say is common sense, barebone fact, that any reasonable person could accept with only minor disagreement. The fact that McCain, Graham, and Co. feel the need to so forcefully and vehemently attack Paul makes it perfectly evident how far out of touch with reality the “war wing” of the GOP is. The GOP’s foreign policy may not look like Paul’s, but after this eye opening event, it will hopefully begin to look less and less like McCain’s.

  • my main issue with Paul, which isn’t relevant to the narrower point he was making, is that he seems to share his father’s “blowback” theory of U.S. foreign policy. i got this impression from comments he made during the Kerry confirmation hearings.

    understanding why certain people hate you is of course different from sympathizing with their reasons, and worthwhile just as far as general knowledge. but when it comes to drones abroad, the blowback talk makes the potential secondary effect (it will enflame Muslim populations against us) the main point of concern, when to be blunt, if there’s a terrorist we’re unable to apprehend normally, i wouldn’t want someone dwelling much on unintended consequences.

  • There’s a reason they call him McLame.

    In all seriousness, Rand Paul is all over the map when it comes to foreign policy. He isn’t his father, that’s for certain. Most of you appreciate that. I find it unfortunate.

    I’m willing to accept that the US has to remain engaged in world affairs, but I certainly reject the whole project of remaking the Middle East in a Wilsonian democratic fantasy as well as the encirclement of Russia. I can’t even call this a neo-con policy, since our social democrats seem to be even more enthusiastic about it at times. It was Obama, Hillary and Susan Rice who pushed for regime change in Libya, one of the more irrational foreign policy adventures of the 21st century.

    No, there is the establishment/political class consensus on foreign policy, with perhaps minor strategic and tactical differences between the neo-cons and social democrats, and a growing consensus on the margins that is slowly becoming a force at higher levels through men such as Rand Paul. The “marginal” consensus is unclear, beyond a vague desire to dial it back.

    I say let Japan pay for its own army, stop thumbing Russia in the eye, and forget about democracy in the Middle East, forever. Let Europe reap the jihad it deserves for its apostasy and decadence, and put our troops on the Southern border.

    As for the term “neo-con”, well, its convenient at this point. Its out there. If it is offensive I can go with “interventionist.” But when will I ever be paid the courtesy of being called a non-interventionist as opposed to an “isolationist” (i.e. someone who rejects free trade and virtually all diplomacy, like, say, Kim Jong Un)?

  • ” if there’s a terrorist we’re unable to apprehend normally, i wouldn’t want someone dwelling much on unintended consequences.”

    Yes, why think about consequences? Just act, and let everyone else pick up the pieces. Even if those pieces are body parts strewn about a city street.

  • “understanding why certain people hate you is of course different from sympathizing with their reasons, and worthwhile just as far as general knowledge.”

    No, it’s worthwhile for more than just general knowledge purposes–it’s certainly relevant to how policy is crafted and implemented.

    “when to be blunt, if there’s a terrorist we’re unable to apprehend normally, i wouldn’t want someone dwelling much on unintended consequences.”

    Yah, when this type of thinking underlies the entire rationale of the drone program, it’s a big problem. You more or less just said that the attempt to eliminate a terrorist can justify any unintended consequences. I’m sure drone handlers feel the same way, thus the disturbing number of unconfirmed combatants killed, though they fudge the books in order to claim close to 0% civilian causalities. Easy to do when you “count all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.”

    Excuse me, but BARF.

    I’ll side with Robert George on this one: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2012/06/18/catholics-should-criticize-indiscriminate-drone-use/

  • “Yah, when this type of thinking underlies the entire rationale of the drone program, it’s a big problem. You more or less just said that the attempt to eliminate a terrorist can justify any unintended consequences. I’m sure drone handlers feel the same way, thus the disturbing number of unconfirmed combatants killed, though they fudge the books in order to claim close to 0% civilian causalities.”

    How does the use of a drone attack differ from the use of an air strike? Would you feel better if we sent troops in to risk their lives to attempt to capture those waging war against this country in areas they control? Our adversaries routinely conduct their opertations in civilian areas. Should that give them immunity?

    When Rand Paul worries about the use of drones in the United States against civilian targets I share his concern. If he wishes us not to use drones to attack those waging war against us, I part company from him.

  • “How does the use of a drone attack differ from the use of an air strike?”

    In theory it doesn’t. But in practice, the advantages of drones (unmanned, lessened fuel restraints, more discreet) allow them to be used in a way that planes never have been. Drones lack many of the restrictions and costs associated with planes; as a result, they are used more indiscriminately.

    “Would you feel better if we sent troops in to risk their lives to attempt to capture those waging war against this country in areas they control?”

    Yes, I would rather put our trained military in harm’s way than innocent goat herders and children. I’m sure this will be a “controversial” claim on these forums, but as a Catholic, I really don’t think there’s any other way to look at it.

    “Our adversaries routinely conduct their operations in civilian areas. Should that give them immunity?”

    George:
    The use of drones is not, in my opinion, inherently immoral in otherwise justifiable military operations; but the risk of death and other grave harms to noncombatants are substantial and certainly complicate the picture for any policy maker who is serious about the moral requirements for the justified use of military force. Having a valid military target is in itself not a sufficient justification for the use of weapons such as predator drones. Sometimes considerations of justice to noncombatants forbid their use, even if that means that grave risks must be endured by our own forces in the prosecution of a war.

    The wholesale and indiscriminate use of drones cannot be justified, and should be criticized. This is something that Catholic intellectuals across the spectrum ought, it seems to me, to agree about. If we don’t speak, who will?

  • “But in practice, the advantages of drones (unmanned, lessened fuel restraints, more discreet) allow them to be used in a way that planes never have been.”

    The barn door has been open in regard to that for some time. We have had cruise missle technology since the eighties and cruise missle strikes tended to be used in operations that we now use drones for. The difference with drones is that we have greater control over them and can target them more precisely than we ever could with cruise missles.

    “Yes, I would rather put our trained military in harm’s way than innocent goat herders and children.”

    Your tender concern for those who go in harm’s way for us is duly noted, along with your falacious assumption that a fire fight with our troops and those shooting at them would not involve civilian casualties. If your main concern is minimizing civilian casualties than the advance of drone technology should be cheered by you.

    “The wholesale and indiscriminate use of drones cannot be justified,”

    That formulation has no intellectual content since terms like “wholesale” and “indiscriminate” are very much in the eye of the beholder. In the type of war we are currently engaged in I view the use of drones as an unmixed blessing as it deprives those who operate terrorist networks of their main defenses which are intermingling with civilians and operation in areas sympathetic to them. They do lessen enemy civilian casualties which I view as a good. Like all military technology it is not a panacea and countermeasures will eventually lessen their utility, but for now they give us an edge. I suspect that those complaining about drones are normally not in sympathy with the war against Middle Eastern extremist groups and that is where the real debate lies and not over a piece of military technology that will inevitably be used in any conflict that arises until the technology is no longer useful.

  • “The barn door has been open in regard to that for some time. We have had cruise missle technology since the eighties and cruise missle strikes tended to be used in operations that we now use drones for. The difference with drones is that we have greater control over them and can target them more precisely than we ever could with cruise missles.”

    Certainly. And that greater control has led to more widespread use, probably in situations and with regards to targets that we previously wouldn’t have considered important enough to vaporize.

    “Your tender concern for those who go in harm’s way for us is duly noted, along with your falacious assumption that a fire fight with our troops and those shooting at them would not involve civilian casualties.”

    I contend that if putting troops in harms way were necessary, a majority of the threats we eliminate would be considered far less “imminent.” Sure, some drone strikes have yielded high profile targets, I’m not going to for a second deny that. Drones are legitimate military technology, and I’m not advocating a ban on them, wholesale. But the ease with which a drone strike can be carried out has decreased our threshold for what constitutes a “positive ID,” while also expanding who we consider to be “enemy combatants” worthy of extermination.

    “They do lessen enemy civilian casualties…”
    While greatly increasing the incidences in which citizens are at risk. Better than the odd cruise missile that kills 30 bystanders, but hardly an “unmixed blessing.”

    Also, you say, “enemy civilian casualties.” I’m not sure how terrorist groups can have “civilians.” Seems you’re either a terrorist or you’re not, and deserve no association with such groups. Perhaps this difference in perspective is the source of our disagreement.

    “I suspect that those complaining about drones are normally not in sympathy with the war against Middle Eastern extremist groups and that is where the real debate lies and not over a piece of military technology that will inevitably be used in any conflict that arises until the technology is no longer useful.”

    Both/and. I have very little sympathy for our campaigns in Yemen, Pakistan, etc, but even if I condoned our involvement therein, as it seems Mr. George does, I’d have grievances with how drones are being used.

  • I suspect that those complaining about drones are normally not in sympathy with the war against Middle Eastern extremist groups and that is where the real debate lies and not over a piece of military technology that will inevitably be used in any conflict that arises until the technology is no longer useful.

    Agreed. Political arguments of this sort tend to be shot-through with humbug.

  • “Yes, why think about consequences? Just act, and let everyone else pick up the pieces. Even if those pieces are body parts strewn about a city street.”

    it must be very easy to take the moral high ground when you don’t accept any level of threat exists/if it does, it’s ultimately the U.S.’s fault for provoking it.

  • JDP, enough with the false dichotomies. There are a vast array of nuanced stances between your position of “I don’t care about unintended consequences” and the straw-man you’ve constructed.

  • “Also, you say, “enemy civilian casualties.” I’m not sure how terrorist groups can have “civilians.” ”

    Considering the support that the terrorists enjoy throughout the Middle East I think it is a fair conclusion to consider those civilians supporting the terrorists to be enemies, just as much as if they were citizens of a state the terrorists controlled.

  • They told me if I voted (holding my nose) for McCain, America would assassinate people all over the globe. And, they were correct.

    He’s a media darling.

    McCain no longer needs to open his mouth, i.e., provide additional evidence. We all know he is a superannuated imbecile.

    Obama’s praetorian media love McCain. He makes the GOP look stupid.

  • but I certainly reject the whole project of remaking the Middle East in a Wilsonian democratic fantasy

    Just to point out it has been attempted in two (2) countries that we were occupying for reasons of state. The alternative suggested to erecting an elected government in Iraq was to appoint Ayad Alawi dictator and leave. That was suggested by Daniel Pipes, whose personal associates are remarkably similar to those of Norman Podhoretz. It is hard to see how that plan was supposed to work. The alternative to attempting that in Afghanistan – laissez-faire – was the policy from 1989 to 2001. The results were deficient in some respects….

  • And that greater control has led to more widespread use, probably in situations and with regards to targets that we previously wouldn’t have considered important enough to vaporize.

    “Important enough” or “enough of a priority”? Do you have any numbers or a list of criteria employed before or after the introduction of this technology?

  • and forget about democracy in the Middle East, forever.

    Assez silly.

  • As already established, I definitely tilt towards the “realist” school of IR, and find the idea of artificially manufacturing a “world safe for democracy” to be unpalatable, let alone impossible.

    IR theorists have long had a common problem, which was distinguishing between the descriptive and the prescriptive in their writings. Realism purporting to be a descriptive account of the dynamics of international politics does not incorporate within it evaluative criteria which tolerably instruct the actor which costs are worth paying and which are not.

  • I guess that for once, I agree with Paul. But at the same time, I do hate young people…a lot.

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  • “the straw-man you’ve constructed.”

    i was responding to one person, and in this particular instance it’s not a strawman

    truthfully though i don’t see a ton of nuance. do we have the right to capture/kill terrorists operating internationally (AKA, themselves rendering the sovereignty arguments moot) if we’re unable to apprehend them normally, or do we hamstring ourselves cuz of “unintended consequences” handwringing, as though secondary effects are the main thing we should be worried about?

  • “between your position of “I don’t care about unintended consequences””

    i said “dwell on”

  • So you “care” about innocent people killed in such attacks, but you don’t “dwell” on their deaths? How disproportional of a non-confirmed combatant to combatant ratio would have to exist before you “dwelled” on the deaths of innocent civilians?

  • “Considering the support that the terrorists enjoy throughout the Middle East I think it is a fair conclusion to consider those civilians supporting the terrorists to be enemies, just as much as if they were citizens of a state the terrorists controlled.”

    Donald, what constitutes “support for terrorists?” Cheering for terrorist attacks? That seems like an absurdly low threshold.

  • “Cheering for terrorist attacks? That seems like an absurdly low threshold.”
    What else would they have to do JL, apply for membership cards? Yeah I regard those ghouls cheering when the twin towers came down to be supporters of the terrorists, just as Germans who thought that the Jews had it coming in the extermination camps I would regard as supporters of the Nazis.

  • ” “Important enough” or “enough of a priority”?

    Seem interchangeable to me. We wouldn’t be using cruise missiles to take out Al Qaeda peons, just like we wouldn’t have authorized the assassination of a Nazi page boy. The alleged “precision” and ease of usability of drones has increased the number of hit-listesque strikes, to the point where I think it’s pretty clear that we’re killing people that fall below “imminent threat” criteria. Makes sense and has precedent– you need some kind of metric to justify continued support for a program. “Suspected combatants killed” is to the drone programs in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia what the “neutralization quotas” were for the Phoenix Program in Vietnam.

  • “How disproportional of a non-confirmed combatant to combatant ratio would have to exist before you “dwelled” on the deaths of innocent civilians?”

    well you could ask the people who decide to operate in these regions

  • Seem interchangeable to me.

    They are not interchangeable. You are lost in the distinction between negligible utility and utility cancelled by costs.

    I think it’s pretty clear that we’re killing people that fall below “imminent threat” criteria.

    You really should not pretend to granular knowledge about that sort of thing.

    The burden of your argument is that the utility of the technology makes it a bad thing because you disapprove of its uses a priori. That is not the most compelling of arguments.

  • JL, I think he is suggesting you pose the question to people who do this what criteria and metrics they are using, instead of just winging off the top of your head (betwixt and between suggesting that the military fire at targets because they have the ammunition).

  • (are my comments being deleted? if so, that’s pretty pathetic, too)

    You’ve confounded Tito Edwards with Mark Shea and Rod Dreher.

  • “Pass the moral decency buck to the Islamic extremist. Bravo, Mr. American Catholic.”

    lol. i didn’t say the fact that al Qaeda exists means we get to wantonly bomb places for kicks, but we aren’t doing that are we

    i just don’t really see what the argument is? either some people are a threat or they aren’t. if we can capture them regularly with cooperation from friendly governments in the region, OK, but it’s not always that simple, and in the case they evade authorities/are out of their reach what should we do

  • also to clarify — i was saying terrorists operating in remote regions place people around them at risk of getting caught in one of these strikes. i wasn’t playing the “they’re worse” card.

  • JL, I deleted your last two comments since you chose to lower yourself to petty insults against another commenter. That is not what this blog is here for. I am placing you on moderation for the time being.

    If you wish to continue to comment here, you might wish to read my post on moderation and banning linked below:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/09/05/why-i-am-friends-with-moderation-and-ban/

  • Interesting, Donald. I’ve been called a jack ass before, but I’m sure my interlocutors were treated accordingly.

  • JL, I am certain that it will come as a shock to you, but I do not spend all my time minding this blog. I have a 60 hour plus a week legal practice, along with my family responsibilities. When I view anything that I regard as a breach of blog decorum I act upon it. I am more likely to see something if it happens in the comboxes of one of my posts or on a post by someone else that I have commented upon. (Not always even then, since days can go by during the work week when I have little time for the blog depending upon how busy I get at work.) I have placed on moderation and banned commenters of all stripes of political beliefs. T.Shaw, who I have on permanent moderation, tends to have similar views to me on most issues and I find him amusing. Nonetheless, because he does not obey the blog rules, he is a permanent guest of House Moderation on this blog.

Political Miscellania 5/12/10

Wednesday, May 12, AD 2010

A wrap-up of various items of political interest.

1.  The video that heads this post is one of the reasons why my vote for McCain in 2008 was a two handed vote, with one hand holding my nose.  McCain has long been an ardent supporter of amnesty and open borders.  Now that he is in a tough primary race with J.D. Hayworth, he is a born again believer in locking down the border against illegal aliens.  I certainly favor in making it tougher for illegals to get across the border, but I do not favor politicians who embrace positions simply to save their political skin.  I hope that the voters in Arizona will finally bring McCain’s political career to a screeching halt  by voting for his opponent in the primary.

2.  It looks like Hawaii will soon have a new Republican Congressman.  The Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee is pulling out of Hawaii 1 and basically conceding that Republican Charles Djou will win the special election on May 22. The Democrats have two candidates running who are splitting the vote and thus allowing the Republicans to take a Congressional seat that has been in Democrat hands for two decades.

3.  The tea party movement claimed another scalp by causing the defeat of Republican Senator Bob Bennett at the Utah Gop Convention in his attempt to get the Republican nomination for a fourth term in the Senate. This should be a warning for all politicians:  this year is different, no re-nomination or re-election can be taken for granted.

4.  Faithful readers of this blog will know that I have quite a bit of respect for blogger Mickey Kaus who is taking on Senator Barbara Boxer in the Democrat primary in California.   Shockingly last week the LA Times refused to endorse Boxer:

On the Democratic side, we find that we’re no fans of incumbent Barbara Boxer. She displays less intellectual firepower or leadership than she could. We appreciate the challenge brought by Robert “Mickey” Kaus, even though he’s not a realistic contender, because he asks pertinent questions about Boxer’s “lockstep liberalism” on labor, immigration and other matters. But we can’t endorse him, because he gives no indication that he would step up to the job and away from his Democratic-gadfly persona.

To have the LA Times refuse to endorse Boxer is a strong indication of just how weak she is this election year.  She is probably strong enough to defeat Kaus (sorry Mickey!) in the primary, but there is blood in the water for the general election.

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5 Responses to Political Miscellania 5/12/10

  • Bob Bennett is a bit of an outlier. The Utah Republican party is becoming VERY VERY conservative, and there was an organized effort to push him out because of TARP and his Appropriations Committee role. It began two years ago when Jason Chaffetz beat Chris Cannon for his Congressional seat. While there may be a grassroots movement to “throw the bums out” Utah’s movement has been going on a bit longer.

  • Newsweek was put up for sale by the Washington Post last week. Last year the news magazine adopted a strategy of serving as an opinion journal of the Left. The decision has proven a disaster in the marketplace, although to be fair Newsweek has been losing money for quite a while.

    And a strange decision it was. The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New Yorker are about the only publications directed at that sort of audience which have been aught but philanthropic concerns during the lifetime of Newsweek‘s current editor, and the latter two are leavened with considerable reportage and fiction and offer little straightforward commentary. Comparing Newsweek to The New Republic also demonstrates that their is an art to producing an opinion magazine that not every collecting pool of journalists has; there would not be much point in a patron like Arthur Carter or Mortimer Zuckerman employing this crew.

  • The Hawaii election is very special to me.

    Having been raised the majority of my life in the Aloha State, we have never had a Republican elected to Honolulu’s 1st congressional district.

    Inouye’s “pre-selected” appointee, Hanabasu, is power hungry and feels entitled to that position held by the granola-eating Abercrombie.

    Case also feels a sense of entitlement, but then again, many Punahou School grads feel they are entitled to many things in life (Case is AOL founder Steve Case’s cousin; Punahou is the elite private school that silver spooned Obama attended as well).

    GOP Djou needs all the support he can get to rip that seat from the most powerful Democratic machine in the nation!

  • Re: #3… Here in WA, the state GOP (executive board) is looking at automatically endorsing whomever the GOP incumbent may be, even in the presence of a stronger, more conservative challenger… even if the PCO’s overwhelming support the challenger. It will be up to the voters both in the primary and the caucuses to decapitate weak incumbents.

  • McCain has proven he works for the people that voted him to office. The media would say this is flip flopping, I would say, any politician that thought one thing and turned around when hearing what his constituents believed, is exactly what govt is about. As for JD, well that is a long story that should not even be an issue. JD is as bad as they come…JD cannot find an endorsement, I am sure he will start paying people to say they like him! JD leaves us with many great memories, whether it be Abramoff, losing his seat to a democrat, ethical issues, issues about his lack of intelligence, being a huge blowhard, being a huge boozer, being a continuous egomaniac who does not have the experience needed to succeed in Washington (and he has already proven that to us!) I had decided JD was far too inexperienced, immature, egotistical and unethical to vote for him. McCain is the third most fiscally conservative member in Senate and that along with his integrity, we have a solid Senator.

George Weigel on Narratives & 'Bush Derangement Syndrome'

Wednesday, February 18, AD 2009

In an essay entitled A Campaign of Narratives in the March issue of First Things (currently behind a firewall for non-subscribers), George Weigel writes:

Yet it is also true that the 2008 campaign, which actually began in the late fall of 2006, was a disturbing one—not because it coincided with what is usually described in the hyperbole of our day as “the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression” but because of how it revealed some serious flaws in our political culture. Prominent among those flaws is our seeming inability to discuss, publicly, the transformation of American liberalism into an amalgam of lifestyle libertinism, moral relativism, and soft multilateralism, all flavored by the identity politics of race and gender. Why can’t we talk sensibly about these things? For the past eight years, no small part of the reason why had to do with what my friend Charles Krauthammer, in a nod to his former incarnation as a psychiatrist, famously dubbed “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”

Raising this point is not a matter of electoral sour grapes. Given an unpopular war that had been misreported from the beginning, plus President Bush’s unwillingness to use the presidential bully pulpit to help the American people comprehend the stakes in Iraq, plus conservative aggravation over a spendthrift Republican Congress and administration, plus that administration’s failure to enforce discipline on its putative congressional allies, plus public exhaustion with a familiar cast of characters after seven years in office, plus an economic meltdown—well, given all that, it seems unlikely that any Republican candidate could have beaten any Democrat in 2008. Indeed, the surprise at the presidential level may have been that Obama didn’t enjoy a success of the magnitude of Eisenhower’s in 1952, Johnson’s in 1964, Nixon’s in 1972, or Reagan’s in 1984.

Still, I would argue that the basic dynamics of the 2008 campaign, evident in the passions that drove Obama supporters to seize control of the Democratic party and then of the presidency, were not set in motion by the failures and missed opportunities of the previous seven years but by Bush Derangement Syndrome, which emerged as a powerful force in American public life on December 12, 2000: the day American liberalism’s preferred instrument of social and political change, the Supreme Court, determined that George W. Bush (the candidate with fewer popular votes nationally) had, in fact, won Florida and with it a narrow majority in the Electoral College. Here was the cup dashed from the lips—and by a court assumed to be primed to deliver the expected and desired liberal result yet again. Here was the beginning of a new, millennial politics of emotivism (displayed in an astonishing degree of publicly manifested loathing for a sitting president) and hysteria (fed by the new demands of a 24/7 news cycle).

[Emphasis Mine]

I think this analysis gets things exactly backwards.

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35 Responses to George Weigel on Narratives & 'Bush Derangement Syndrome'

  • Good post. Ultimately, this defeat may in fact be the best thing for the Republican Party as it embarks on a return to principles and examines what led to the public’s dissatisfaction.

    On a tangential note, your observation that “the press embarked on what was, in my view, a credibility-shattering love affair with the Obama campaign; it became difficult for me to separate the official Obama campaign spokesmen from the unofficial, honorary spokesmen at our major newspapers,” ABC’s Jake Tapper blogged an interesting story on former-journalists-turned-Obama-appointments.

  • John Henry,

    good post. I’m not sure about this though:

    In short, the polling data suggests events, rather than a mysterious political pathology, were responsible for Bush’s unpopularity.

    If we examine the actual events which led to his popularity drop, many of them really are not justified. The liberal media’s hatchet jobs had their intended effect. That is not to say there weren’t PR and real blunders, but not anywhere near what could legitimize the rage.

    Look at the “One’s” blunders in his first weeks, and yet nary a peep of rage at him… Harriet Meiers may have been unqualified as a SC justice, she at least, as far as we know, paid her taxes.

  • Poor Weigel.

  • Spot on by Prof. Dr. Weigel. But would go back further to that ghastly Tuesday night in November 2004 when both Houses of Congress went into hands of Wascally Wepublicans. Unhinged the Dems big time- power as a matter of their sheer force of righteousness. Setting stage for hanging chads nonsense with led to Bush Derangement Syndrome. Which will account for the rushrushrush to move Porkapalooza Bill down assembly line. In fact may be release of pent up energy building up far back as 1965- Great Society, War on Poverty, etc. Perhaps even waaay back to 1933. Note that when Messiah of Hope and Change signed Porkapalooza into law, among casualties was that grabbag of regulations known as Welfare Reform. Agreed to by Slick Willie in summer of 96 before boarding plane to Chi-Town Convention. Gone gone gone. More lifetime serfs dependant on Federal subsidies for very existence. Took some cold logical thinking in the midst of BDS to insert those clauses into Porkapalooza.

  • Chris,

    Thanks for pointing out that story; I hadn’t seen it. Given the financial state (and the politics) of the journalism industry, I suppose it’s not very surprising (although I wonder why anyone would want to work as part of Joe Biden’s communications team).

    Matt,

    I think it’s true that Bush received harsher coverage than a similarly-situated Democratic President would receive. At the same time, I think that type of thing moves the approval rating from 50% to 46-47%, rather than from 50% to 30%. Bush, after all, was re-elected in 2004. Events drove the difference in perception between 2004 and 2008.

    Gerard,

    Your comments almost invariably make me laugh; I think we have to agree to disagree here. I certainly acknowledge that something akin to ‘Bush Derangement Syndrome’ exists; what I dispute is that ‘the basic dynamics of the campaign’ were set in motion by it rather than Bush’s (very real) mistakes.

  • events drove the difference in perception between 2004 and 2008.

    Of course without any events it would have been much harder to drive the perception, but that does not explain it without a massive and misleading campaign by the liberal media.

  • Major correction- big time derangement since 1994 congressional election- revenge inflicted in part with Porkapalooza.

  • I cannot believe George Weigel is still defending the Iraq war, and his infamous “charism of political discernment” (“Bush’s unwillingness to use the presidential bully pulpit to help the American people comprehend the stakes in Iraq”). Shame of Weigel for going against the Church on this from the beginning, and even bigger shame on him for not repenting his earlier mistake.

    Plus, he’s a good friend of notorious torture defender Charles Krauthammer????

  • I’m not clear why defending the Iraq War now would be less tenable now than it was four years ago. From a just war perspective, it was either just or it wasn’t in the first place. Some Catholics such as Weigel (and I) thought and continue to think that removing Hussein from power was a worthy and just cause of war. Some, such as you and apparently John Paul II and Benedict XVI, did not think the war was justified.

    But there’s not a specific position of the Church as a whole on the topic, and I’m not clear why the passage of time would necessarily make Weigel’s position any different than it was in the first place.

  • Plus, he’s a good friend of notorious torture defender Charles Krauthammer????

    “Morning’s Minion” — Honestly, I think I’d be more understanding if you voiced similar outrage about somebody’s being a good friend of “notorious defenders of” Roe v. Wade.

  • Or, for that matter, voting for “notorious defenders” of Roe v. Wade.

  • methinks M.M. can be right about the warmongers and sadists…AND still not vote for or support either them or the “notorious defenders” [i.e., abortion had NOTHING to do with M.M.’s comment]

  • Darwin:

    Many who supported the Iraq war did so because: (i) they believed Saddam presented an imminent threat, based on his WMDs; (ii) they believed the war would be quick and costless, as the Iraqis would welcome the invasion. For a Catholic, (i) would take care of the “last resort” criterion and (ii) would address “proportionality” from a just war perspective. I would argue (and did argue) with these interpretations but there was at least the semblence of an argument there. And, honestly, given the lies and obfuscation of the last regime, I can understand why somebody would fall for (i)– unaccustomed to being told lies of this magnitude, I believed it myself at first.

    But we now know that both (i) and (ii) proved false, and that the war has been a disaster– up to a million Iraqi deaths, a quarter of the population displaced, God hows how many future terrorists nurtured on the killing fields of Iraq. So, yes, I would expect Mr. Weigel and others who take just war teaching seriously to show just a little remorse and humility. Is that really too much to ask for?

  • And, honestly, given the lies and obfuscation of the last regime, I can understand why somebody would fall for (i)– unaccustomed to being told lies of this magnitude, I believed it myself at first.

    I guess I’m a little confused by this, since as a war supporter I did not at all think that Hussein and his potential weapons presented an imminent threat to the US. Nor did I think that the administration presented a very strong case that he did. The case that I did and do think was strong was that Hussein was an illegitimate ruler who had already invaded several of his neighbors, who did not abide by the treaty that ended the Gulf War (which should unquestionably have gone all the way go Bagdad) and who had been almost unimaginably cruel to his people. He had also made it clear he was unwilling to leave power of moderate his tyranny, thus making it obvious that nothing short of a war would remove him from power. So clearly, war was a last resort when it came to removing Hussein from power.

    As to proportionality — anyone who thinks any war will be quick and costless is not only a fool, but a dangerous fool. If someone thought such a I thing, I think he was very wrong to. But at the same time, it seems to me that your approach to proportionality here is rather flawed. The decision to overthrow Hussein’s regime pretty clearly did not directly result in all the civilian deaths and displacement that occurred. (I think the numbers you’re citing are incorrect, but it’s not a numbers game so that’s irrelevant.) Most of that death and displacement was caused by attacks on the Americans and especially on the general population made by factions within Iraq that were unhappy with the sort of government that came into being after the invasion. It was (as I recall you pointed out on more than one occasion) a civil war. Now I think that many in the DOD and administration were very much to blame for the fact that things became sufficiently destabilized after the invasion to get to that point, but one can hardly cite the methods of civil war factions within Iraq as reasons why the original decision to get rid of Hussein via an invasion was disproportionate.

    I could certainly see supporters of the war wishing that it had been run better, and bitterly regretting the amount of unnecessary destruction which resulted from poor planning for the post invasion period. But I really can’t see why you’d think this would change one’s assessment of whether the invasion itself was just. (Though it might make people more inclined to be realistic about the capabilities of military power, which is always a good thing.)

  • Now I’m confused, Darwin. If that is the reason you supported the removal of the pesident of Iraq by force, then I could probably come up with maybe 20 equally odious regimes that nobody would miss. Do you really want to go down that road?

    As for proportionality, I think you are missing the point. I never said the US was directly responsible for the carnage that ensued. But by storming into this tempest, without heed for history, culture or context, it bears responsibility for what happened in the aftermath. And there were many voices warning that this was going to happen (including from the Vatican), but they were ignore.

  • Now I’m confused, Darwin. If that is the reason you supported the removal of the pesident of Iraq by force, then I could probably come up with maybe 20 equally odious regimes that nobody would miss. Do you really want to go down that road?

    I’d have to hear the examples, but I might well consider it to be entirely just for one to wage a war to remove any one of those regimes. The fact that it would be just certainly does not mean that one absolutely must do it. (Or at least, I would assume that you don’t argue that simply because it would be just to wage a war in a given circumstance, that it would thus be immoral _not_ to.)

    For example, I would consider it entirely just for the US to intervene in Darfur in order to protect civilians from government backed militias — but the fact that one would be justified in doing so does not necessarily mean that one _must_ or that it would be evil not to.

    As for proportionality, I think you are missing the point. I never said the US was directly responsible for the carnage that ensued. But by storming into this tempest, without heed for history, culture or context, it bears responsibility for what happened in the aftermath. And there were many voices warning that this was going to happen (including from the Vatican), but they were ignore.

    The just war criteria is that the wrong being addressed must be proportionate to the evils that inevitably result from war. That’s different from the instigators of the war being responsible for every possible resulting occurrence.

    Also, I think you’re eliding the fact that simply removing Hussein did not necessarily have to result in nearly the problems that did in fact happen. The incredibly bad decisions made by Gen. Tommy Franks and Ambassador Bremmer (among others — and of course Rumsfeld and Bush in that they approved those decisions and picked those decision makers) make things far, far worse than they need have been. For that I do have a lot of regret, but it’s not regret that the war took place at all, but rather than the follow through was so poor.

  • I guess I’m a little confused by this, since as a war supporter I did not at all think that Hussein and his potential weapons presented an imminent threat to the US.

    I may have misunderstood Just War theory, and the Catechism is necessarily a simplification, but it says that “governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed,” and when it sets forth the conditions, it says “The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration…” If you don’t believe the U.S. had a legitimate claim to acting in self-defense (as I didn’t), doesn’t that preclude the invasion regardless of proportionality?

    For example, I would consider it entirely just for the US to intervene in Darfur in order to protect civilians from government backed militias

    I think there is a distinction between a humanitarian intervention to protect citizens within a country, and a situation like Iraq, where it was frequently argued that Iraq was a military threat to the United States. There was some language about humanitarian intervention in the run-up to Iraq, but my recollection is that this consideration was a distant second or third to other objectives. I do not think it is accurate to characterize the invasion of Iraq as motivated primarily by humanitarian concerns, and I didn’t think the U.S. had a strong case for self-defense.

  • John Henry,

    you don’t believe the U.S. had a legitimate claim to acting in self-defense (as I didn’t), doesn’t that preclude the invasion regardless of proportionality?

    Legitimate defense can apply to the defense of others, including the population of the country itself. I don’t believe anyone argued that Iraq was a direct military threat to the US. They were in no means capable of attacking the continental US, and nobody argued it. What was argued (irrefutably), was that Iraq was a threat to it’s neighbors and by extension to legitimate US security interests. It’s apparent attempt to develop WMD only heightened the level of that threat.

    do not think it is accurate to characterize the invasion of Iraq as motivated primarily by humanitarian concerns

    correct, but this justification doesn’t require us to have this primary motivation as the primary goal (provided the end itself is not immoral).

    I didn’t think the U.S. had a strong case for self-defense

    How many National Security briefings were you privy to? The same number as the Holy Father, and the USCCB? I’m not saying you don’t have a right to your opinion and voice, we all do, and must express them. At the end of the day, we are not aware of much of the information that the president has. Even conservative commentators have stated that Bush was no longer best equipped to make such judgments the day after he took office.

  • What was argued (irrefutably), was that Iraq was a threat to it’s neighbors and by extension to legitimate US security interests. It’s apparent attempt to develop WMD only heightened the level of that threat.

    Well, part of the difficulty with Just war theory is that the standards are unavoidably ambiguous. At a high level of generality I suppose Iraq was a threat to its neighbors in the same way Iran is a threat to Israel, and Israel, Iran; the same way India is to Pakistan and Pakistan is to Israel; and the same way that Russia is to its former satellites. But my interpretation is that the threat should be more imminent than the general threat that exists any time countries have long-standing animosities and military capability, otherwise Just War theory is basically a green light to attack whenever you feel ‘threatened’ in some sense. To me Iraq was not sufficiently distinguishable as an imminent threat, and this rendered our response illegitimate. It’s hard to argue it was in ‘self-defense’ or even defense when no attack was imminent.

    How many National Security briefings were you privy to? The same number as the Holy Father, and the USCCB?

    Judging by the reliability of some of the pre-war intelligence, one may have been better off not being in those briefings…

  • “I don’t believe anyone argued that Iraq was a direct military threat to the US.”

    What world were you living in during 2002-03?

  • John Henry,
    Well, part of the difficulty with Just war theory is that the standards are unavoidably ambiguous. At a high level of generality I suppose Iraq was a threat to its neighbors in the same way Iran is a threat to Israel

    Generality? So training and funding terrorists to blow up school buses and markets is just a “general” threat? You’re joking right?

    and Israel, Iran

    Israel is only a threat to Iran because of it’s own attacks by proxy against Israel. The threat is by no means “general”… if Iran gets to close to it’s bomb, Israel will attack, be assured of that.

    the same way India is to Pakistan

    It’s a different situation there, far different, and not “general” either. There is a threat though, and under the right theoretical circumstances either party may be justified in attacking, of course those circumstances couldn’t exist because of proportionality.

    It’s hard to argue it was in ’self-defense’ or even defense when no attack was imminent.

    Aside from the attacks which were ongoing against our aircraft performing a legitimate humanitarian and security function?

    I think part of your problem here, is that you are trying to deal with all of the justifications in isolation from the other, that is not giving you the whole picture. Iraq was violating the terms of the truce, the whole purpose of a truce is that it prevents the offender from being able re-arm and pursue it’s agenda again.

    How many National Security briefings were you privy to? The same number as the Holy Father, and the USCCB?

    Judging by the reliability of some of the pre-war intelligence, one may have been better off not being in those briefings.

    You and I are STILL not in a good position to know everything the president knew, nor do either of us know if Syria is now in possesion of Iraqi WMD materials or technology. Even IF the intelligence was as bad as you might think, it doesn’t change the the moral justification if it was reasonably believed to be accurate.

    Mark D,

    did you think that Iraq had missiles, bombers or warships capable of attacking US soil? I never heard anyone claim such, but maybe you have different sources than I.

  • While I don’t necessarily agree with every detail of what Matt said above, I think he’s pretty clearly right that no one serious claimed that Iraq was a direct military threat to the US back in the lead up to the war. There was a lot of discussion of Iraq’s potential to cause trouble for us in Afghanistan or to provide aid to terrorists who would in turn attack us directly, but aside from shooting at our planes in the No Fly Zone, Iraq wasn’t really capable of being a direct military threat to us.

    Thus, if one takes just war as only applying in situation which are directly self defensive in nature, than I would see a pretty clear argument that the way isn’t just. It doesn’t seem to me, however, that just war must always be defensive. I already pointed out the possibility of “humanitarian” wars, and I would tend to consider removing a manifestly aggressive and oppressive regime that was destablizing the region as a reasonable casus belli in certain situations.

    At root: I think that getting rid of Hussein’s baathist regime was the right thing to do in 1991, and short of it massively changing its way of behaving (which it clearly hadn’t) I continued to support removing it at any point thereafter.

    It’s perhaps key that the Vatican opposed the original Gulf War as well (which strikes me as odd, in that that struck me as a pretty classic example of a just war) and so I’m hardly surprised that they opposed continuing it to its logical conclusion.

  • It doesn’t seem to me, however, that just war must always be defensive…

    Is this view in tension with Just War theory as it is presented in the Catechism? Granted, the CCC is a starting point rather than the definitive understanding, but it seems to suggest that ‘self-defense’ is the primary consideration, and when it sets forth the Just War conditions it says: ‘the strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force…’.

    I already pointed out the possibility of “humanitarian” wars,

    I think the use of force for humanitarian intervention can be justified under the right circumstances, but I do not think Iraq was understood to be primarily a humanitarian enterprise. This is a different type of ‘defense,’ but it is still defense.

    At root: I think that getting rid of Hussein’s baathist regime was the right thing to do in 1991, and short of it massively changing its way of behaving (which it clearly hadn’t) I continued to support removing it at any point thereafter.

    Well, I guess the point is moot now, but while I think this justification works theoretically, it’s always left me cold. I tend to think there was an end to the hostilities in the original Gulf War, and that the renewal of large-scale military activity required a separate justification. That said, aside from diplomatic considerations (the appearance of Vatican-sanctioned Christians v. Muslims), I’ve always thought the original Gulf War was basically a slam dunk case for military intervention. The U.S. was not directly threatened, but they stepped in, along with much of the international community, to assist in the restoration of Kuwaiti sovereignty. I’ve always been puzzled by the Vatican’s opposition to the original Gulf War.

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  • How can anybody seriously claim that Iraq was bit presented as a direct threat to the US in 2002-2003? Doesn’t anybody remember that the imminent threat of Iraq justified preemptive war?

  • Wj,

    shouldn’t be hard to come up with a citation then.

  • Matt,

    Here’s George Weigel, for example, in January 2003:

    As recently as the Korean War (and, some would argue, the Vietnam War), “defense against aggression” could reasonably be taken to mean a defensive military response to a cross-border military aggression already underway. New weapons capabilities and outlaw or “rogue” states require a development of the concept of “defense against aggression.” To take an obvious current example: it makes little moral sense to suggest that the United States must wait until a North Korea or Iraq or Iran actually launches a ballistic missile tipped with a nuclear, biological, or chemical weapon of mass destruction before we can legitimately do something about it. Can we not say that, in the hands of certain kinds of states, the mere possession of weapons of mass destruction constitutes an aggression—or, at the very least, an aggression waiting to happen?

    This “regime factor” is crucial in the moral analysis, for weapons of mass destruction are clearly not aggressions waiting to happen when they are possessed by stable, law-abiding states…If the “regime factor” is crucial in the moral analysis, then preemptive military action to deny the rogue state that kind of destructive capacity would not, in my judgment, contravene the “defense against aggression” concept of just cause. Indeed, it would do precisely the opposite, by giving the concept of “defense against aggression” real traction in the world we must live in, and transform.

  • John Henry,

    this citation does not suggest that the threat is directly against the US. In fact it’s clear from his use of the Korean War, and Vietnam that Weigel is not necessarily concerned with direct military threats to the US, but also with with threats against neighbors and threats against US interests.

  • It sounds like he was talking about a threat to the U.S. to me…

    “…it makes little moral sense to suggest that the United States must wait until a North Korea or Iraq or Iran…”

  • John Henry,

    “…it makes little moral sense to suggest that the United States must wait until a North Korea to attack South Korea or Japan, or Iraq to invade Kuwait again, or Saudi Arabiaor Iran…” attack Israel.

    Now, the scenarios I listed are all eminently more realistic than the idea that Iraq attacking the US directly. The scenarios are also very real threats to US and world security.

  • John Henry,

    The scenarios are also very real threats to US and world security.

    Exactly the point. It was argued that preemption was necessary to protect against “real threats to US” security.

    Ok, so what do we disagree on? I’m simply arguing that an unrealistic direct attack by Iraq on the US was not the used to justify the invasion, but a very real threat of Iraq attacking other nations in the region causing instability and a serious impact to US security.

    We can disagree on the level of threat or whether it provides sufficient justification, but it has to be based on an acknowledgment of the facts. Iraq was a serious threat to the region and indirectly to the US.

  • Matt,

    It seems to me that Weigel himself suggests that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iraq could constitute a direct threat to the U.S.. I don’t know why you thought it was particularly relevant to alter his phrasing to add other countries; he only mentioned the U.S.

    Here’s Bush in the 2003 State of the Union, suggesting Iraq could provide such weapons to terrorists:

    Our nation and the world must learn the lessons of the Korean Peninsula and not allow an even greater threat to rise up in Iraq. A brutal dictator, with a history of reckless aggression, with ties to terrorism, with great potential wealth will not be permitted to dominate a vital region and threaten the United States….

    And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/onpolitics/transcripts/bushtext_012803.html

    Iraq was described as a threat to the United States, often a direct one, and a preemptive attack was justified on those grounds.

  • John Henry,

    Weigel did not say ““…it makes little moral sense to suggest that the United States must wait until a North Korea or Iraq or Iran…” to attack the US.

    What did he mean? It’s entirely likely he meant attacking neighbors in the region. Which is an indirect attack (as would, say putting a nuclear weapon in the hands of Al Queda).

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American Catholic Election 2008 Coverage

Tuesday, November 4, AD 2008

270 Electoral Votes Needed to Win

McCain/Palin: 155

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming

Obama/Biden: 338 (Obama wins the presidency)

California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin

McCain has conceded and called Obama to congratulate him.  I’m done for the evening.  Another AC contributor can take up the running commentary.

Virginia goes to Obama.  Obama has the election all but wrapped up, barring a major surprise in the evening which none of the pundits, including the McCain campaign, foresee happening.  For now, we probably should begin contemplating an Obama presidency and congratulate him for an excellent campaign.

McCain aides have all but conceded the election to Obama when announcing they see no other pathway to 270 electoral votes.

Ohio goes to Obama.  This election is almost over for McCain.

McCain won the Catholic vote in Pennsylvania 51-49%, but still lost the state to Obama. 

Exit polls are not matching up with actual votes in Indiana, Florida, and North Carolina.  Hence why they haven’t been called yet.  The exit polls favor Obama, but the actual results do not reflect this.

Updated 11:22 PM CST

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45 Responses to American Catholic Election 2008 Coverage

  • Well, we tried…

    Fox called Pennsylvania for Obama with Catholics as the only major demographic which went majority McCain in the state. Catholics make up 30% of the Penn electorate, but we weren’t enough.

  • A bad year for the pro-life cause, but we will have good years in elections to come.

  • There’s still a glimmer of hope, but it doesn’t look good.

  • The constitution of the Supreme Court will now be firmly pro-Roe; the prospects for pro-life legislation are now officially NIL

  • We need to trust in God’s will. Vengence is His.

    People like Michael Ifrate and Policraticus will have to answer to God for their efforts in swaying away votes from a pro-life candidate.

    What we can do is to continue in our faith and persevere.

  • The bad news is that the pro-abort Democrats are in charge. However, that is also the good news. With power comes responsibility. The Republicans have had two elections in a row where they were rejected by the public. Now the Democrats are solely in charge. They will find it somewhat more arduous than being in opposition, especially in what I believe will be very turbulent times. For Republicans it is off to the political wilderness, to lick wounds, learn and gather strength for the next round of elections. Obama has raised expectations to a fever pitch among his followers as to what he can accomplish, and the entire nation will now see if he can meet those expectations. If, actually I think it is when, he fails, the Republicans will have their opportunity. I don’t think many of the voters who cast their ballots for Obama realize how radical he truly is. They are about to learn.

  • Hah. Scapegoating Poli and myself? Please.

    We can either get to the task of fighting whatever pro-abortion legislation comes forward together, or you can keep up the moping and scapegoating. Your choice.

  • We can either get to the task of fighting whatever pro-abortion legislation comes forward together, or you can keep up the moping and scapegoating. Your choice.

    We? You’re the one who was voting to put the pro-aborts in office, Michael. If we get FOCA in return for this, it’s because you asked for it.

    How are you going to “fight” it when you consistently vote for the people who want it?

  • “We can either get to the task of fighting whatever pro-abortion legislation comes forward together, or you can keep up the moping and scapegoating. Your choice.”

    Hard to do that Catholic Anarchist when the Presidency and Congress are now firmly in the hands of pro-abort Democrats. The Republicans in the Senate will do their best, but at this point I am unsure as to whether they will have enough votes to sustain a filibuster after tonight. The forces of the Left have triumphed and that means the pro-aborts have triumphed. I expect several pieces of pro-abort legislation to be rammed through Congress in the next 100 days. The pro-life cause will be spending the next decade at least recovering from the results of tonight.

  • Michael I.,

    You’re the one that voted for Obama.

    You answer to God for your own actions. Don’t blame us for your vote.

  • “I expect several pieces of pro-abort legislation to be rammed through Congress in the next 100 days.” in my above post should have been “I expect several pieces of pro-abort legislation to be rammed through the next Congress in the first 100 days.”

  • Tito – I empathize with your frustration, but, respectfully, could we avoid the ‘you answer to God’ language? Michael is often deliberately irritating – and his comments about FOCA are ridiculous – but that statement seems to imply an unfavorable judgment on him as a person that seems inappropriate to me. Also, since Poli explicitly said he would not vote for Obama, I am not sure it’s entirely fair to criticize him.

  • I second fus01’s comments

  • “We can either get to the task of fighting whatever pro-abortion legislation comes forward together, or you can keep up the moping and scapegoating. Your choice.”

    Well, if we are going to fight together, I’d like some assurance that your new strategy is markedly different than your previous strategy – voting and actively promoting politicians that promise to pass pro-abortion legislation.

  • Also, since Poli explicitly said he would not vote for Obama, I am not sure it’s entirely fair to criticize him.

    Yeah, Poli can be annoying on politics, but he is a man of principle when it comes to not supporting pro-abort politicians.

  • Michael, I still can’t get over the logic that let’s you reason from anarchy to a candidate who supports giant governmental control of every aspect of human life.

  • Poli twists Catholic teaching to push away Catholics from Pro-life causes. He obsfucates and insults good Catholics when he doesn’t get his way.

    As far as ‘answer to God’ language I understand where you’re coming from. I don’t want to push away good Catholics, but in the case of Michael Ifrate and Policraticus, their pride and ego’s prevent them from understanding how wrong they are on many issues.

    As far as Poli being a ‘man of principle’, I respectfully and adamantly disagree. Poli is a man that uses profanity and insults people’s character, even when he’s wrong one to many times for my taste.

    They both will ‘answer to God’ for their actions.

    And I am not bashful using that language considering they’ve already damned every other good Catholic I know (including myself).

  • If we get FOCA in return for this, it’s because you asked for it.

    I didn’t ask for it. I oppose it.

  • I could list off a lot of beefs I have with Policratus — who I think often comes off as quite arrogant and prefers to insult than to argue — but I do have a certain respect that despite the fact that he’s arguably farther left than the average Democrat he does not (unlike many of his co-bloggers) endorse or vote for pro-abortion politicians.

    Not like that will prevent me from smacking him down on other issues. 🙂

  • I didn’t ask for it. I oppose it.

    You say you do, Michael, but the only political voice that you have on the issue is how you cast your vote for congressmen, senators and the president. When you vote for Democrats, you make FOCA happen.

    You just spent your only opportunity for two more years supporting those who want to pass FOCA. We’ll see if it’s too late for you to change your mind two years from now, but I must admit a certain doubt whether you’ll vote GOP even then.

  • Darwin,

    I do acknowledge his excellent knowledge on many things Catholic, especially Philosophy and to some extent Theology. Unfortunately he uses this knowledge as a sledgehammer by twisting it to suite his leftist and Marxist views. You know what Jesus said about people like him and millstones.

    Though he doesn’t vote for pro-abortion, he says enough to discourage others to vote pro-life.

  • Agree with Darwin. Poli is often condescending and/or obtuse, but he should be given credit for his principled condemnation of an otherwise very attractive Democratic candidate.

  • I’ll give Poli that he condemned the Democratic candidate.

    Poli’s a very bright and telegenic man. He, like me and many others, have faults.

  • Poli’s a very bright and telegenic man.

    Oh, I’m not saying we have to be that positive.

    I just don’t want to nail him unjustly.

  • “Though he doesn’t vote for pro-abortion, he says enough to discourage others to vote pro-life.”

    But Tito, Poli genuinely believes that Republicans promote an ideological agenda hostile to Catholic Social Teaching, apart from the abortion issue. He believes that the Republicans use pro-life language as a purely symbolic issue to lure in pro-life voters. I don’t share his premises, but I can see how someone could believe that. I think the most we can ask of such people, in fairness, is that they acknowledge the all-too-obvious failings of the Democratic party, and refuse to vote for the Democrats just as they refuse to vote for Republicans.

    Granted, given my many disagreements with Poli, I think he goes too far sometimes, and I understand how you may have been deeply offended by him. Nevertheless, I think it is good to have people like him around to remind conservatives that there is plenty we should be working to reform in the present Republican party.

  • Sorry, wouldn’t have posted the above comment if I had seen the two that preceded. Have a good night all.

  • FUS01,

    I agree that we need people like Poli to remind conservatives that there is plenty we should be working to reform. I absolutely agree. I just wish he knew the virtue of charity and prudence when he loses his cool.

    But we’re not all perfect, especially me.

  • FUS01 and all others,

    I hope that you all understand that I appreciate and am open to fraternal correction. It’s always appreciated.

  • I broadly second Darwin’s and fus01’s comments… I disagree with Poli in some ways, but I don’t think he’s a Marxist or leftist… he’s just trying to concretely translate CST into policy.

    Michael, I share DC and fus’s puzzlement… it seems that you want to have your cake & eat it too, i.e. vote for (and endorse) pols who support policies you abhor. What am I missing?

  • And I think we see eye to eye at root. Not trying to ride your tale into the ground, Tito.

    Just want to make sure we don’t get hyperbolic — like those who annoy us.

  • Michael, I share DC and fus’s puzzlement… it seems that you want to have your cake & eat it too, i.e. vote for (and endorse) pols who support policies you abhor. What am I missing?

    You voted for Bush, right? Are you then saying that you voted twice for unjust war and torture? Really?

    You just spent your only opportunity for two more years supporting those who want to pass FOCA.

    My only opportunity for being political is voting? Really?

  • You voted for Bush, right? Are you then saying that you voted twice for unjust war and torture? Really?

    Well, we weren’t at war in 2000, so that only leaves once, and — as you know from previous discussions — I didn’t think the war was unjust, or more precisely, I didn’t think it was as clear-cut as opponents thought.

    *Nonetheless*, you have a valid point, at least on torture and the ’04 election.

  • Tito – no worries. I am as guilty as anyone…poli just doesn’t happen to be at the top of my list today. ;-).

  • You voted for Bush, right? Are you then saying that you voted twice for unjust war and torture? Really?

    The Iraq War was certainly an issue in 2004 — though I do not think it was an unjust one — and I certainly am comfortable with it being said that my vote in 2004 supported Bush’s actions in that regard. I’m not comfortable with some of the choices made at Guantanamo, but I am comfortable with having voted for Bush in the face it (to the extent it was even in issue in 2004 — which it wasn’t much.)

    However, outside the fever swamps of internet opinion, the Bush policy on “aggressive interrogation” was shut down as soon as light was shone on it. I don’t think a Bush victory in ’04 was a mandate for “torture” in the way that Obama and the congressional Democrats’ is for FOCA.

    My only opportunity for being political is voting? Really?

    No, but your only chance to strike any significant blow to prevent FOCA from passing was today — and you used that chance to support it.

    You can blather all you like, but the representatives you’ve voted for have no reason to listen to you if they know that you’ll vote for them anyway.

  • I take my lumps with a smile!

    🙂

    I like dialogue and I enjoy reading the comments more than posting columns. All you all have contributed to my better understanding of our beautiful faith. Thanks!

  • I don’t think a Bush victory in ‘04 was a mandate for “torture” in the way that Obama and the congressional Democrats’ is for FOCA.

    Except, of course that torture is and was a REALITY and the FOCA is still simply just an idea. You voted for what was already a reality. I voted for a candidate who simply has an idea.

  • You voted for what was already a reality. I voted for a candidate who simply has an idea.

    Whatever makes you sleep tonight.

  • Ummm. So your argument is that because a Republican president ordered the waterboarding of half a dozen terrorists and then stopped and never did it again, that therefore I was voting “for torture” — whereas when Obama specifically promised to sign the FOCA he “only has an idea”.

    Perhaps you are one of these clever people who believes that one can throw the barn door wide open and then express surprise when the horses get out?

    If Bush had specifically run on a platform of, “If I am re-elected I promise to torture people,” you might have a point, but that is not what happened.

  • Darwin, you are woefully ignorant of this country’s history of torture. Torture is as american as apple pie.

  • But the fact that Bush didn’t run on a platform supporting torture — as Obama has with abortion rights — is relevant, Michael.

    He’s the biggest supporter of abortion rights to hold the office he was just elected to… I know you cannot be surprised if he, well, actually does what he said he would.

    I’m hoping he won’t, but I won’t be surprised if he does.

  • Tito,

    You are rabid this evening.

  • It’s extraordinarily silly to suggest that torture and FOCA are similarly situated. Obama has promised that his first priority in office will be to sign FOCA. Bush never campaigned (either in 2004 let alone 2000) saying that his first priority in office would be to torture people. Voting for Bush and then finding out later that a handful of guys got tortured in secret . . . hardly the same thing. But voting for a guy (Obama) whose highest and most sacred priority is something you claim to abhor is, at best, confused.

    I just hope that Michael I., Morning’s Minion, and the other pro-Obama Catholics spend 1/100 the time over the next four years trying to persuade Democrats to be pro-life and pro-marriage, as they have spent over the past year trying to persuade independent and Republican Catholics to vote Democrat. Otherwise, your commitment to Church teachings is just a sham, a cover for your partisan proclivities.

  • I just hope…pro-Obama Catholics spend 1/100 the time over the next four years trying to persuade Democrats to be pro-life and pro-marriage, as they have spent over the past year trying to persuade independent and Republican Catholics to vote Democrat.

    Ain’t gonna happen. I don’t think there’s a will to do so, otherwise they would have been already doing so before and during the election cycle. That’s when it counts most. As it is now the Dems have a mandate for a host of anti-life initiatives and views. They have no reason to listen to pro-life voices within party (if they sincerely exist at all). Their mandate entails preserving and advancing abortion on demand, funding ESCR, promoting gay marriage, and putting personal economics and comfort above morality, justice, and plain old human decency. The only tools a pro-lifer has within a party is his mouth, pocket book, and vote. If a party is assured of the vote regardless of of the other things, there is no reason to change. Coupled with the fact that those who still offer their vote usually end up lending their voice and pocket book come election time, you can be assured of no change.

  • I just hope that Michael I., Morning’s Minion, and the other pro-Obama Catholics spend 1/100 the time over the next four years trying to persuade Democrats to be pro-life and pro-marriage, as they have spent over the past year trying to persuade independent and Republican Catholics to vote Democrat. Otherwise, your commitment to Church teachings is just a sham, a cover for your partisan proclivities.

    Amen to that. One day when our government finally gets the nerve to start putting the screws to the Church for having hospitals that don’t perform abortions, or schools that don’t teach gay marriage, or whatever other doctrine the Left hates about Christianity, I hope these guys get all the heat they deserve for electing their “Messiah.” All because they didn’t like somebody’s health care plan or his foreign policy.

Catholic Vote: 51-38% For Senator McCain

Sunday, November 2, AD 2008

The most accurate poll from the 2004 Election, the Investors Business Daily (IDB) Poll, has been showing a trend of Catholic voters moving away from Senator Obama and into Senator McCain’s camp.  Since I first reported this a little over a week ago I can now say that this trend is real and Catholics are now leaning to McCain as of today.

Again, this is only a snapshot and outside of the IDB and Gallup polls, I don’t put much into any other poll.  But it is interesting to note that the Catholic vote has switched over to McCain, 51-38%.  A solid majority so to speak.

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Catholics Continue Trending Toward McCain

Thursday, October 30, AD 2008

The latest poll* that came out today, the Fox News Poll, show’s that Catholics are still trending away from Senator Obama and towards Senator McCain.  The poll today show’s whiteCatholics are now evenly split, 46-46%, between Senator Obama and Senator McCain.  Previously in the Fox News Poll it showed Senator Obama with an 11 point lead among white Catholic voters over Senator McCain (emphasis mine).

The race has tightened in part because of changes in a couple of important swing voting groups. Independents back Obama by 5 percentage points today, down from a 9-point edge last week. Similarly, among white Catholics, Obama held an 11-point edge over McCain last week and today they split 46-46.

 

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  • I heard an interesting theory today regarding the polls. Currently, the media actively supports Senator Obama. Many Americans don’t want to appear to be against him, so either indicate they are undecided, or perhaps that they support him. Historically, the polls have over counted democrats, both in pre vote polling and in exit polling. It will be curious to see how the actual voting goes this time. Pray for pro-life positions.

  • I heard the same theory except the caveat is that these are democrats that are still upset with Hilary not getting the nod, but tell all their liberal friends and pollsters they’re going to vote for Obama so they won’t get ostracized. But come election day they’re pulling the lever for McCain.

A Huge Switch Among Catholics Towards McCain

Thursday, October 23, AD 2008

The most accurate poll from the 2004 presidential election, the Investors Business Daily (IDB) poll, shows a phenomenal 20 point switch towards Senator McCain among Catholic voters .  In the previous IDB tracking poll Senator Obama once held a commanding 11 point advantage among Catholic voters.  In the latest tracking poll Senator McCain now has a nine (9) point lead among Catholic voters over Senator Obama.  Senator McCain leads Senator Obama among Catholic voters 48% to 39%.

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  • I wouldn’t trust IBD too much. Further down that first screenshot you can see that they have McCain ahead 74-22% among 18-24 year olds. Yeah right. Besides, any time you see a 20 point swing in any demographic it’s got to be exaggerated by polling error.

  • I agree with you. I noted that at the bottom of the my post.

    The point that I was trying to make that there is some sort of shift towards Senator McCain among Catholic voters.

  • When I was driving home today, Huge Hewitt was saying the same thing… about the 20 point shift in the Catholic Vote. He was on CNN with Wolfe Bitlzer and he said what you were saying, and when they left; the CNN commentators were laughing at him.

  • There is a note that says that the 18-24 subsection is not reliable due to the small sample size taken, presumably because most don’t vote, they don’t poll many.

  • A couple of points, the IBD poll is the poll that most insiders closely watch. The young vote for McCain, as noted by Jeremy, receives an asterisk because there weren’t enough young people surveyed. However, keep in mind that despite the mainstream media telling you that every young person is going to vote Obama-Biden, many young people aren’t in the tank for Senator Obama. Finally, check out the 1972 election. Senator McGovern had huge crowds and lots of young people at them. Yet, Senator McGovern lost 49 states and the 18-30 vote.

  • I am so glad to see this trend. Sometimes, I think to myself, ‘What’s wrong with us Catholics?’ Then I see this trend and I see we are voting more and more pro-life. Thank goodness!

    You know, every day, we get bombarded with the MSM telling us that “it’s over” and Obama will win. It can be very depressing, but I believe we must not give up and we must continue to fight for life. I really think McCain has a shot and we cannot give up! I pray the rosary every day and ask God to help this country elect the leader that follows in His ways.

  • My personal opinion is that Senator Obama has a 3-4 point lead. But the undecided’s are leaning towards Senator McCain but still trying to figure out if they see something in Senator Obama that the mainstream media continues to spew out worth voting for.

    It’s going to be a nail-biter and it could go either way. In no way do I believe that Senator Obama is going to win or win in a landslide. If he does win, it’ll be something similar to the 2000 election. Except there won’t be recounts, it’s that the contests in so many states, especially Pennsylvania and Ohio, are going to be so close that the networks won’t announce a winner until the wee hours of the morning of November 5.

  • This is great news; and I agree, the bishops deserve the credit.

  • I can not believe that catholics are swinging for McCain. The republicans have used this issue to get votes from conservative christians. I am against abortion but voting Republican is not going to get rid of it. There are 5 catholic supreme court justices right now and we still have abortion. Abortion is not going to to away and voting for McCain is not going to help it. You have to look at all the issues and see what each candidate going to do but basing your vote on the abortion issue is voting for something that is not going to happen.

  • If Catholics go for McCain, but McCain loses anyway, what will happen to all those media stories about how critical the Catholic vote is?

    It’s common filler for news stories to note how Catholics have gone with the presidential winner in the past X elections. Will the filler change, or will the news stories just stop running?

  • Patrick,

    The Pro-Life movement is fighting an uphill battle. Just because there ‘may’ be 4-5 SCOTUS justices that ‘may’ potentially turn over Roe v. Wade doesn’t mean that it happens automatically. This takes time, but unfortunately we live in a culture where people expect instant gratification.

    That is why prayer and fasting is so critical. This disciplines us in our fortitude for the right to life as well as helps us adjust to changing circumstances, especially if Senator Obama wins, to better cope with.

    Your argument is a straw man. Though your concern is legitimate.

  • I can not believe that catholics are swinging for McCain.

    Yes, I have seen reports saying the exact opposite.

    It’s common filler for news stories to note how Catholics have gone with the presidential winner in the past X elections.

    And really, it’s only filler, considering the almost 50-50 split we had during the last election. Catholics “went with the winner” but by what, 2% or something?

  • 0bama’s stay at the hate church that makes all of Christianity look loony is another item to consider. The swing to McCain should be much larger.

  • Daledog,

    Let’s pray and fast that’s true.

  • Pingback: Catholics Continue Trending Toward McCain « The American Catholic

The Lighter Side

Friday, October 17, AD 2008

I have always admired Al Smith, the Democrat who was the first Catholic to run for President on a major party ticket in 1928.  Each year the Al Smith dinner is held in New York to raise funds for Catholic Charities.  It is traditional each Presidential election year for the major party candidates to appear and give humorous speeches.  Senators McCain and Obama observed the tradition last night and I thought both their speeches were well done.

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