:: Bite The Wax Tadpole ::

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:: Friday, March 26, 2004 ::

Keep his day job?

It's entirely possible that President Bush just didn't anticipate the negative reaction his "where are the WMD" routine would get from the chattering classes opinion leaders, but it could well be that his detractors are misunderestimating him once again. It sure looks to me like Bush is happy to keep the issue of WMD's alive without really addressing it. Yet.

I have no idea what form it will take, but I suspect there's another rope-a-dope coming. After all, Bush has a long history of suckering his opponents into overcommitting on shaky ground, even if doing so makes his supporters really nervous.

Note: This is not a paranoid conspiracy theory and I don't think anyone is sitting on a hoard of WMD's (or bin Laden) and waiting for the right moment to announce them.

As his critics work themselves into a frenzy, they lower the bar for Bush. Six months ago finding "only" small stockpiles would have been a disaster, two months ago they would have been a victory. Today, finding anything at all would be a triumph.

In fact, his critics have since made so much noise about his "silence" on the issue (and, now, about "not taking it seriously") that a convincing and straightforward explanation of what went wrong (and right) on the subject of WMD's would end up being enough of a win for the President to take the issue off of the table.

Update: Hmmmm.

Update: Dean Esmay thinks there's a rope-a-dope coming on Condoleeza Rice and the 9-11 commission, too.

Update: Donald Sensing wonders too.

:: Erik | 3/26/2004 10:41:00 PM | | ::
:: Thursday, March 25, 2004 ::
Wolfowitz on Clarke, from the Washington Post transcript of Tuesday's 9-11 hearing:

By the way, I know of at least one other instance of Mr. Clark's creative memory. Shortly after September 11th, as part of his assertion that he had vigorously pursued the possibility of Iraqi involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, he wrote in a memo that, and I am quoting here, "When the bombing happened, he focused on Iraq as the possible culprit because of Iraqi involvement in the attempted assassination of President Bush in Kuwait the same month," unquote.

In fact, the attempted assassination of President Bush happened two months later.

It just seems to be another instance where Mr. Clarke's memory is playing tricks...

I don't think the administration is covering themselves with glory in this whole process, but apart from his carefully scripted "mea culpa but they-a more culpa" Clarke hasn't been doing any better -- when he isn't actively contradicting himself or making statements that are verifiably false, he's going way out on a speculative limb, based on his memory of intangibles like body language. We have ample reason to suspect his memory is less than 100% reliable.

Perhaps that's not fair. Maybe his memory is just 100% reliably guided by whatever narrative he's settled on at any particular point in time.

You wouldn't get that from most of the press coverage, though. Wolfowitz's comment seemed to me like a pretty solid hit on Clarke's credibility, and the folks in the room seem to have had the same reaction. Here's the next questioner:

LEHMAN: Thank you.
Mr. Secretary, I hesitate to cite Mr. Clarke as an authority after the last exchange.


But it seems to have gone completely unreported. I went looking for this snippet because I happened to hear it and was a little surprised (okay, not really) that it didn't even rate a mention amidst the breathless accounts of how "Clarke KO's the Bushies"

Update: Here's a clue: Fred Kaplan (the author of the hit piece cited above) and about 15 other well-known journalists have actively helped Kerry refine his message during the campaign. Is it any wonder that "his" media-crafted message finds purchase with the media?

:: Erik | 3/25/2004 01:14:00 PM | | ::

:: Monday, March 22, 2004 ::
The Daily Stern

Sure, it's fun to wear the mantle of the politically oppressed, especially when you get to do it on hundreds of radio stations in front of millions of listeners.

But if you want to see real political suppression of a Stern, you'll have to go to Brussels, where the Bureau chief for the German news magazine was arrested last week, held incommunicado, and questioned without a lawyer present (all legal under Belgian law). I'm sure that it's the merest coincidence that the Mr. Tillack is best known for reporting on corruption in the EU.

Stern's own article (in German) about the arrest of their Bureau chief is here.
:: Erik | 3/22/2004 12:33:00 PM | | ::

Economic indicators?

We went to a local mall (Bellevue Square) this weekend for the first time since last year, and were stunned to discover how much it has changed.

Last year, store fronts were empty and remaining stores were closing. Parking wasn't a problem, even at Christmas, and the Teddy Bear statue in front of the shuttered FAO Schwartz loomed over empty halls. It was palpably downbeat and a little depressing.

Yesterday, we had to hunt for a parking spot. The sad and looming teddy bear is gone - replaced with a shiny and well-trafficked new "Express" - and the other empty store fronts have all been filled (though some are still under construction). There were a lot more people about than I've seen in a long time.

Anecdotes aren't worth much, but it certainly didn't feel like hard times at the mall this weekend.

:: Erik | 3/22/2004 12:08:00 PM | | ::

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