the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

January 11, 2008

Thursday Night Notes


As always, many good discussions from the back room of Timberlake’s. Before I forget there were a couple of links I wanted to pass on.

The first regards voter suppression. It’s ironic that while Republicans are trying to suppress votes among the elderly, handicapped, and students through voter ID laws, and through techniques such as caging, Jonah Goldberg of NRO writes a book called Liberal Fascism. Fortunately, the always delightful David Niewert, writing at the American Prospect gives us this thorough take-down of Goldberg’s “opus”:

Goldberg, who has no credentials beyond the right-wing nepotism that has enabled his career as a pundit, has drawn a kind of history in absurdly broad and comically wrongheaded strokes. It is not just history done badly, or mere revisionism. It’s a caricature of reality, like something from a comic-book alternative universe: Bizarro history.

Goldberg responds:

Neiwert, what with all of his credentials and seriousness might want to explain how a dogmatic individualist can be a totalitarian, since totalitarian in the academic literature he so esteems defines totalitarianism as anti-individualism. Totalitarianism is about trying to define the lives of others through state power. Individualists might be bad or wrong or selfish, but they aren’t any of those things because, again, they’re frick’n individualists!


We also had a lively discussion on whether Charlie Gibson’s question last Saturday on The Surge was essentially a frame of Republican talking points. I’ll let you be the judge. Here’s Gibson:

We started the surge early this year. You all opposed it. But there are real signs it has worked. So from background, our man in Baghdad for ABC, Terry McCarthy.


TERRY MCCARTHY, ABC BAGHDAD CORRESPONDENT: It has been a tough 12 months in Iraq, with more U.S. troops killed than in any previous year of the war. But overall, the addition of an extra 30,000 troops has helped to reduce violence substantially. Civilian killings are down 65 percent in the last six months. U.S. deaths are down from 126 in May to 23 in December.

MCCARTHY: General Petraeus has repeatedly said the solution in Iraq must be political, not military. So far, political progress has been frustratingly slow.

But a year ago, many Americans, and the Iraqis, too, thought the country was a lost cause. Today, with improved security, life is returning to the streets of Baghdad.

Nobody yet says the war is over. But Iraqis are finally able to hope that things might be getting better.



GIBSON: So, I want to ask all of you: Are any of you ready to say that the surge has worked?

[Richardson and Clinton both refute the premise of the question.]

GIBSON: I’m going to take this to Senator Obama and to Senator Edwards.

But — and I’m not here to debate — the parliament meets, an oil law is under consideration, de-Baathification has progressed to some extent, and were it not for the surge, instead of counting votes, we’d be counting bodies in the streets.

RICHARDSON: But this has been going on for years, Charlie.

GIBSON: And all of you — all of you wanted the troops out last year.

RICHARDSON: There is no serious progress.

GIBSON: Would you have seen this kind of greater security in Iraq if we had followed your recommendations to pull the troops out last year, Senator Obama?

It seems to me like Gibson is saying: We worked the surge, and the… (wait for the downbeat) Surge worked. Still, I can see how you could say that he’s just testing their mettle, seeing if anyone will eat their words.

Just for fun I brought up this exchange from the 2004 primary debates. Here’s Peter Jennings (emphasis mine):

General Clark, a lot of people say they don’t know you well, so this is really a simple question about knowing a man by his friends. The other day you had a rally here and one of the men who stood up to endorse you was the controversial filmmaker Michael Moore. You said you were delighted with him. At one point Mr. Moore said in front of you, was saying that he would like to see a debate between you, the general, and president Bush, who he called a deserter. Now, that’s a reckless charge, not supported by the facts, and I was curious to know why you didn’t contradict him, and whether or not you think it was—would have been a better example of ethical behavior to have done so.

While Michael Moore’s comments could be called hyperbolic, in that Bush merely went missing for a period of time, and that may not satisfy the technical requirement for being a deserter, it’s still not way off the mark. I just thought it was interesting that Jennings was so determined to knock this Democratic talking point down while Gibson is perfectly okay with introducing a Republican talking point into the debates.

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