In case I don’t get published

/ 16 September 2008

I usually end up in conversation with like minds, people I more or less agree with. I find it harder and harder to find civil conversation with folks who disagree. Better than reading the rest of this post might be reading this summary of issues for undecideds at Daily Kos. (Thanks, Mary!)

Over the past few weeks an email thread started by my brother-in-law has brought me into contact with someone who supports Bush and McCain, and this has forced me to hone my arguments in a whole new way. We’ve been going at it for weeks, so the thread is getting very long. It’s also long because neither of us is exactly terse! In any case, for the record and in case anyone else is interested, I’m going to copy portions of this thread below, just read on to see one conversation between R and D in this campaign.

Eric

Please forgive me for bothering you all, but I value this email conversation because it seems it brings together some folks who don’t all think alike, and I like that. Many of the other places I get to are lefty like minded zones, so this is a bit of a reality check. I’m sorry, I was in DC (!) when you all asked for an intro: I’m Lou’s brother in law via his wife Susan’s sister Mary who made the amazing decision to marry me twenty years ago. I’m a librarian, technologist, Mac-using, Prius-driving, contentious-objecting, liberal progressive feminist. I’m left of left, so I can get pretty out of touch. JF, I think you are good for me.

Here’s something I saw today that scares me. It scares me because I have been frightened by Bush’s style of decision making: minimal consulting, quick deciding, full steam ahead, never reconsidering. I fear that is how we got into a war with a country that was not an active threat to us and why we stayed in it so long. When McCain made his VP pick after only meeting Palin once, with minimal vetting, I began to see the same dynamic in his decision making process and I quake in my boots (well, sandals, actually). Then Palin answered a question for Charlie Gibson last night about her own process when considering the offer for the ticket to seek the second-highest office in the land…

GIBSON: And you didn’t say to yourself, “Am I experienced enough? Am I ready? Do I know enough about international affairs? Do I — will I feel comfortable enough on the national stage to do this?”

PALIN: I didn’t hesitate, no.

GIBSON: Didn’t that take some hubris?

PALIN: I — I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can’t blink.

So I didn’t blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.

Is anyone else frightened by leaders who are “wired in a way” that they “can’t blink”. Who charge ahead without making sure they have some basic grasp of the lay of the land? Did you catch her answer on the “Bush Doctrine”? Here was a vice presidential candidate who didn’t even know that her current president had articulated a dramatic new foreign policy doctrine that justifies preemptive war. The doctrine that was the foundation of the war in Iraq, the “mission that we’re on,” and she had no clue.

Is anyone else afraid of what this impulsive decision making style will do if given another four years to become our calling card around the world?

Sure, Obama is deliberative to a fault sometimes. But he has demonstrated such a great ability to assemble good minds around him. McCain mocks his consulting “three hundred experts” before making a decision, but this kind of consultation and open process, one that allows a picture of the real world to emerge before decisions are made based on false assumptions, this is what I feel is so vital for our country today.

JF

The Bush Doctrine is a phrase that was invented by the media, specifically, Charles Krauthammer in 2001.

It’s an attempt to summarize the idea that “preemptive war” is justifiable and that the United States will actively support the spread of democracy as part of the strategy to combat terrorism. Hardly a major revelation or something that I would put on a pop quiz.

Eric

How comfortable are you, JF, with the fact that you know so much more about this topic than the potential president of the United States? You know what the Bush Doctrine is, I know what it is, of course the term was invented by the “media” (most such terms in the course of history are). But the fact remains that she was without a clue.

I wasn’t talking about a middle-school pop-quiz. This was an interview with the vice-presidential candidate of a major party. Really? You don’t expect your potential president to know these things? You didn’t wince, just a little?

JF

Frankly, I’m not as much concerned about the labels that are placed on a concept as I am about the content and the implementation.

I have no reason to be uncomfortable with Sarah or McCain.

I would rather spend my time on discovering what they would do when confronted with a serious threat and their plans for the economy and healthcare and the infrastructure.

The Bush doctrine flap is akin to Obama’s 57 states. This election has more serious concerns.

Eric

The Bush doctrine flap is akin to Obama’s 57 states. This election has more serious concerns.

Hm. That’s seems a bit of a willful delusion. You know that Obama knows there are 50 states, you know he was just tired. I know you know that.

But watch the interview. It is clear she did not know what the Bush Doctrine was. It would not have mattered how awake she was or how much time Charlie Gibson gave her.

This election certainly has more serious concerns than 57 states. But the doctrine that brought us into a disastrous war is certainly one of the most serious concerns of this election for me (toped only by healthcare and followed by the state of the economy, if you must know my agenda).

In fact, it seems to me that Palin really has no idea how to make a foreign policy decision. Who would she consult? How would she decide? She’s just heads down, don’t blink, do what we said we’d do, fulfill God’s mission. That scares me.

Obama has made it clear he knows how to think and consult and decide. In August 2007 Obama proposed raids against al-Qaeda in Pakistan. He was called naive by McCain and many pundits, how could we possibly conduct raids into the territory of a helpful ally? A year later it is clear that this was a reasonable, even prescient, approach. Obama has been calling for a shift of troops to Afghanistan, for a timeline for withdrawal for Iraq, all before these became policies of this administration. Obama knows how to consult, consider, and combat the threats we face.

Palin is having a hard time understanding the job description much less doing the job.

I have a hard time believing that someone who knows who Charles Krauthammer is can’t distinguish the difference.

JF

GIBSON: And you didn’t say to yourself, “Am I experienced enough? Am I ready? Do I know enough about international affairs? Do I — will I feel comfortable enough on the national stage to do this?”

PALIN: I didn’t hesitate, no.

GIBSON: Didn’t that take some hubris?

Palin was informed a year ago that she could be on the short list. Her name has been bounced around as a possible VP candidate for most of 2008. It’s not like it was a huge surprise just because some people were surprised.

Eric

Informed a year ago? That almost qualifies as truth given the quantity of lie that is being spewed around these days. Seven months is almost a year. Here’s the official chronology from McCain’s communications director Jill Hazelbaker at the end of August:

The “tick-tock” from McCain communications director Jill Hazelbaker:

John McCain first met Governor Sarah Palin at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington in February of 2008 and came away extraordinarily impressed. John McCain followed her career and admired her tenacity and her many accomplishments. She was scheduled for a high profile speaking role at our convention and included in the VP selection process because of his admiration for her strong reform credentials. Last Sunday, Governor Palin and John McCain had a conversation over the phone. Governor Palin was at the Alaska State Fair, and John McCain was at his home at Phoenix. Previously, Rick Davis, John McCain’s campaign manager, had also been in regular contact with the Governor as part of the on-going selection process. This past week, Governor Palin arrived with Kris Perry in Flagstaff, Arizona, on Wednesday evening. Upon arrival, Governor Palin and her longtime aide Kris Perry met with Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter of the McCain campaign at Mr. Bob Delgado’s home in Flagstaff. Mr. Delgado is the CEO of the Hensley corporation, which is Mrs. Cindy McCain’s family business. On Thursday morning, Governor Palin and staff were joined by Mrs. Cindy McCain and later joined by John McCain at the McCain family home in Sedona, Arizona. At approximately 11:00 a.m. Thursday August 28, 2008, John McCain formally invited Governor Sarah Palin to join the Republican ticket as the vice presidential nominee on the deck of the McCain family home.

February to August: 7 months. One meeting in person before the offer. One phone call between McCain and Palin before the offer. McCain was widely reported to be seriously considering Lieberman and Ridge, but could not beat back the party objections to those two maverick picks. Think of how much time he spent with Lieberman, with Pawlenty, with Ridge. He knew those guys, and I’m sure they were well vetted. Now, read the above again: between February’s first contact and August McCain never spoke with Palin. At all.

Now he puts her a “heartbeat away”? A 72-year-old heartbeat away?

And Palin doesn’t hesitate? Seven months without a word from him, only a few calls from his staff, and she’s ready to jump on board?

I don’t understand how either of them think, I just know I don’t want that kind of thinking or “process” anywhere near the White House. I want cabinet officers, secretaries of state, secretaries of defense, and supreme court justices selected with more deliberation and consideration. I want all of them to hesitate just a bit and consider the weight of the tasks they are about to shoulder for our country. If McCain and Palin treat the office of vice president so cavalierly, I know I can’t trust them to be any more considerate for the rest of their administration.

Heck, it would probably be populated with the lobbyists McCain has hired to run his campaign.

JF

The Bush doctrine flap is akin to Obama’s 57 states. This election has more serious concerns.

Hm. That’s seems a bit of a willful delusion. You know that Obama knows there are 50 states, you know he was just tired. I know you know that.

But watch the interview. It is clear she did not know what the Bush Doctrine was. It would not have mattered how awake she was or how much time Charlie Gibson gave her.

This election certainly has more serious concerns than 57 states. But the doctrine that brought us into a disastrous war is certainly one of the most serious concerns of this election for me (toped only by healthcare and followed by the state of the economy, if you must know my agenda).

Similarly, I know that Sarah Palin understands the concept of pre-emptive strike. Its not a big secret.

The Bush doctrine is just a label. I don’t want to focus on the label and lose the message. We are not talking about the Monroe Doctrine. We are talking about, or we should be talking about how a president acts in the face of imminent danger to our nation. Should we wait to absorb a first strike like we did in Pearl harbor? The world is much different today and the technology of weapons makes absorbing a first strike unacceptable. I support the idea of pre-emptive strike and I support the idea of helping to spread democracy anywhere we can as part of the War on Terror.

JF

And Palin doesn’t hesitate? Seven months without a word from him, only a few calls from his staff, and she’s ready to jump on board?

I guess that no matter what she said, it would not be good enough. If she hesitated, she would be excoriated for being indecisive. Let’s be honest, no matter who McCain picked, you would find fault. That’s OK.

Eric

I guess that no matter what she said, it would not be good enough. If she hesitated, she would be excoriated for being indecisive. Let’s be honest, no matter who McCain picked, you would find fault. That’s OK.

Perhaps, I must admit he had mighty slim pickings. I’m glad he didn’t pick my governor who still fought an increased transportation budget after our bridge fell into the river for lack of proper maintenance. Then there’s the ex-Dem who I could barely stand when I voted for him. The manager of a poor olympics. Yeah, I’d probably have found fault with them all. True.

But I don’t think any of the rest would have put McCain in as poor a light as Palin from my never-would-have-voted-for-him-anyway perspective. I at least respected McCain before this. Now I just see him as a tool of his party. Sad actually. He was (IMHO) the best candidate the Republicans could have put forward this year. I like a good contest, not to mention I thought he had very strong credentials, so I was rooting for him. He was, and has proven to be, the most formidable opponent we Dems could face, partly because he faced down his own rabid right repeatedly. Well, not any more. Not on Iraq, not on torture, not on energy, not on his own vice presidential pick. I went from respectfully not voting for him to feeling very little respect for him at all. I don’t think any of the other VP alternatives would have brought that about.

He really thinks she’d make a good president? You really think she’d make a good president?

Honestly?

JF

But I don’t think any of the rest would have put McCain in as poor a light as Palin from my never-would-have-voted-for-him-anyway perspective.

I believe that you are honest in saying that you would never vote for McCain anyway.

You questioned McCain’s decisionmaking in picking Sarah Palin. I could just as easily question Obama’s decisionmaking in shunning Hillary who made 18 million cracks in the ceiling and who also happened to win the big states. What the heck was he thinking in picking Biden who got a ridiculously low number of votes. Obama won the Democratic primary mainly because his party can’t walk and chew gum. They disenfranchised Florida and Michigan. They use the threat of “super” delegates to possibly overturn the result of their own election. He won states like Iowa that he will not win in the general election anyway.

When Obama loses this election he will have the luxury of knowing that there is one more thing that is above his pay grade, picking a running mate.

Eric

You questioned McCain’s decisionmaking in picking Sarah Palin. I could just as easily question Obama’s decisionmaking in shunning Hillary who made 18 million cracks in the ceiling and who also happened to win the big states. What the heck was he thinking in picking Biden who got a ridiculously low number of votes.

Actually, Obama showed great maturity and wisdom in not going with Hillary. There was a lot of party pressure to do just that. I have no inside track on his thinking, and up until the last two months or so of the primary I would have happily supported Hillary if she had won (I wanted to vote for her back in 1992!). But by the time the campaign ended, it was clear that she had burned too many bridges. A White House with Bill lurking in the halls would not have been workable. Clinton and Obama would not be likely to develop a close enough working relationship to make for the kind of transformative administration Obama is aiming for. I’m kind of proud that he looked beyond what would win the election to what kind of government he wanted to preside over. Clinton would have made winning easier, she would have made governing harder.

Biden may not have gotten many votes, but he clearly has had a good chemistry with Obama over many months of campaigning (not to mention earlier work in the Senate together), and he brings a depth of knowledge and advice to a future Obama administration that complements Obama’s strengths rather than echos them. He could step into the presidency any time and be fully prepared for the task, but he would be a very different sort of president.

Obama won the Democratic primary mainly because his party can’t walk and chew gum. They disenfranchised Florida and Michigan. They use the threat of “super” delegates to possibly overturn the result of their own election.

I won’t go into this in great detail. Suffice it to say, this is nonsense. The process the Dems used to run the primary may be flawed, but it was clearly defined from the outset and they didn’t change anything midstream. Things like “superdelegates” have a decades long history in the Democratic primaries, nothing new there, though you can bet there will be plenty of hand-wringing about how to reform it. But nobody overturned anything. Obama won, won fair, won a solid if narrow victory. You witnessed how hard the Clintons fought and you know they would not have conceded if they had a leg to stand on. In fact, his victory in such a hard-fought primary is a demonstration of his metal, Obama’s steadiness, and his ability to run a superb organization.

When Obama loses this election he will have the luxury of knowing that there is one more thing that is above his pay grade, picking a running mate.

I’m sorry. I’m not sure I can parse that sentence. It seems to be making a reference to Obama’s struggle with answering the question of when life begins.

Do you know when life begins? What moment is that? What makes you qualified to answer that question? How important is Obama’s specific answer or belief in that regard to his ability to lead this nation? Granted, abortion is an issue many feel strongly about. We all share the desire to see that there are fewer, even no, abortions. We have disagreements about the methods of getting to that goal and the urgency of that agenda versus others (remember my agenda: healthcare, peace, prosperity, in my case abortion falls further down the list, partly because I think dealing with 1 & 3 will make a big dent in A anyway).

I sincerely hope Obama won’t lose this election. I sincerely hope you and others who have enough vision to see what is really going on in the Republican party, wake up the the fact that McCain is no longer running that show and the abuses of power of the past eight years will only grow worse if we allow the same troupe to stay in town for another four. That town needs desperately to be aired out. We need your help to make that happen.

Please, seriously, consider the past two weeks. We have had no other VP candidate in modern times–none, not even Eagleton–avoid giving a press conference for as long as Palin has avoided it. I know, the “media” is some evil cabal. Really? How else can you know anything about people in public life? Who else has any chance of informing you about your government? The media is far from perfect, but it is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you really want to operate in the dark, to not be able to tell truth from fiction? The Bush administration has lied about vital matters. Now the McCain campaign is rolling out a new set of lies over something as basic as their VP’s record, continuing to voice the lies even after they’ve been well documented, and assuming that you and others don’t care about that.

Please, care! Please help us put this fragile, imperfect, courageous man in office to at least open the windows of Washington and let a little fresh air in. You won’t like everything the breeze brings in, but trust that he has the best intentions for this country, that he will seek wise counsel, and that he will tell you the truth about what he sees. Trust that much. Because we desperately need you and every single vote we can get.

I’m not as easily satisfied as Louie, because if all you do is pull Obama’s lever in the booth while dissing him for the next six weeks to the people around you, we will lose. Yes, Obama will lose just like you envision above. But that loss won’t have anything to do with his pay grade, it will have to do with yours and mine. Voting in the best interest of our country is well within our pay grades. We are blessed to be educated, to have our eyes wide open, to be able to make up our own minds about the events we see unfolding.

Open your eyes. See what is in front of us now. Earn your pay.

Eric

Similarly, I know that Sarah Palin understands the concept of pre-emptive strike. Its not a big secret. The Bush doctrine is just a label.

FYI, Krauthammer himself has chimmed in on this conversation today…

His point…

There is no single meaning of the Bush doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration — and the one Charlie Gibson cited is not the one in common usage today. It is utterly different.

Yes, Sarah Palin didn’t know what it is. But neither does Charlie Gibson. And at least she didn’t pretend to know — while he looked down his nose and over his glasses with weary disdain, sighing and “sounding like an impatient teacher,” as the Times noted. In doing so, he captured perfectly the establishment snobbery and intellectual condescension that has characterized the chattering classes’ reaction to the mother of five who presumes to play on their stage.

JF

Is anyone else afraid of what this impulsive decision making style will do if given another four years to become our calling card around the world?

No. It does not scare me when someone who is obviously being set up with a battery of trick questions in the sole effort to trap or make that person look bad, answers questions and exudes confidence. She was asked a whole lot of questions that I have not seen asked of anyone else. Was Obama ever asked if he thought he was ready to lead even though he has had no official experience in making executive decisions? The Charles Gibson question is simply stupid and would never be asked by a serious reporter who did not have an ax to grind. How about sticking to issues? Were male candidates ever asked if they had time to serve their country when they had children who needed care? Sarah is wired to lead and people with such wiring better be able to answer whether or not they want to lead.

The Bush Doctrine is not exactly a wondrous revelation and is simply common sense. If you know that a country is about to attack, you would have to be crazy or truly deluded to not attack first. If Obama would agonize over such a decision he is unfit to lead. We are talking about a clear and present danger not some sort of hunches or maybes.

Every president is surrounded by a large array of the best and brightest minds. The president is not omniscient and has to consult experts in all kinds of fields.

We got into an active war in Iraq after many years of deliberating and consideration. As part of the peace accord at the end of the first Gulf War, the onus of proving what he did with his stockpile of WMDs fell squarely on the shoulders of Saddam Hussein. He was to 1) dispose of all weapons, 2) give an accounting of what had been done with all of them.

Saddam continually violated that UN mandate for 10 years.

He made a total mockery of the inspection teams.

If you recall, on numerous occasions, he forbad the inspection teams to inspect certain locations . He threw out the inspectors on more than one occasion. The inspectors only returned after months of threats and negotiations. The inspectors did their thing and time again were obstructed from continuing. The inspection became a sham.

We did have certain facts.

Saddam had a history of having WMDs, and willingness to use WMDs against civilian populations. We already knew that this was not a “nice” man. We knew that he supported terrorists financially.

I have a whole library of speeches by Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Hillary, John Kerry and other Democrat leaders that something had to be done about Saddam because he was definitely a threat to peace, even before GW became president.

Other countries, from Egypt to Russia to France, sounded the alarm that Saddam was about to reconstitute his WMDs program. The CIA provided some evidence that “in retrospect” may have been inaccurate.

Our country had just been hit a devastating blow by Islamic terrorists, 9-11, the likes of which we had never imagined possible. We sent troops to Afghanistan. I think too few. Rumsfeld screwed up big time.

We were wounded and frustrated. Not a good combination.

Saddam was smirking. Not a good idea to smirk when a bull is wounded. He was trying to play poker. Not a good idea to listen to France who assured him that the US was not going to attack. GW gave him multiple warnings. Saddam just ignored them. GW obtained the approval of Congress to use force if need be. Who voted against it? Not Obama since he was not in office, though some like to brag that he “voted” against it.

Rumsfeld expected the US to be hailed as liberators and it was, for a while. The Iraqis loved the US. For a while. The infrastructure started to collapse and the Iraqi army and the Baathists became anachronistic and very unhappy about it. The religious leaders felt their power base threatened by the concept of democracy and purple fingers. It takes only a small minority (5%) of the people to turn a country around from one path to another. GW wanted to install a stable democracy in Iraq, . This would be a great accomplishment for the Middle East.

New teams of inspectors went in and could find no evidence of nuclear WMDs. This was trumpeted all over our papers.

Democrats quickly backpedaled as they saw that a victory in Iraq would be a serious blow to their political futures. One by one they disowned the war and tried to lay all blame on GW’s shoulders even though they, including Joe Biden and John Kerry, had exactly the same intel as the president did.

John Murtha and others declared that the war was lost and our efforts in Iraq were doomed even though we had soldiers fighting for their lives over there. I find it ultimately despicable, beneath contempt and just short of outright treason to make those statements during the time of war.

Kerry was defeated and the vitriol increased.

Rumsfeld was fired and rightly so.

A bipartisan committee vetted General Petraeus to head up a strategy of a troop surge. I was happy to see some bipartisanship at last.

The surge was working and the far left wing of the Democrats panicked. They could not admit that the surge worked. Before Petraeus could even make his report he was being villified by Democrats and called, “Betray Us” and called a liar. This is a man who had devoted his entire life to serving his country. I found it truly a sad commentray of the state of political discourse that he was treated so shabbily.

The elections of 2006 showed that the Democrat political strategy was working very well. Their machined was oiled and had more money than one could dream. The pitbulls were chomping. They put all the blame of the failings of the war on GW and Cheney. Cheney is easy to hate because he has a heart condition which requires that he has a certain kind of defibrillator. This defibrillator gives him occasional electric shocks which make him grimace in an almost threatening manner. Cheney is easy to hate because he is rich. Never mind the fact that he does not need the money or the fame. Never mind the fact that he has given many millions to charity. He is easy to hate because he was part of Halliburton. John Kerry told the big lie about Cheney profiting from Halliburton.

“The fact is, Cheney doesn’t gain a penny from Halliburton’s contracts, and almost certainly won’t lose even if Halliburton goes bankrupt. ”

http://www.factcheck.org/kerry_ad_falsely_accuses_cheney_on_halliburton.html

Halliburton is easy to hate because of the media trumpeting, “No bid contracts.” Sounds unfair doesn’t it?

One of my lady friends is very liberal and she works for a company that competes with Halliburton. She is stationed in London and has been promoted to oversee the contruction of much of the Olympic facility for 2012.

I asked her opinion of Halliburton and no bid contracts. I was sure that she, being very left wing and working for a competing company would give me the straight scoop on evil Halliburton.

She said that Halliburton is a great company and has some unique abilities to deliver certain services that no other company can do with the same degree of efficiency and speed. No bid contracts make sense when there are no other companies able to give bids and get the job done.

Elect us and we will stop this unjust war!!! Sound familiar?

What has happened since the Dems took over both houses of Congress 2006? Have they defunded the war? Has the war come to a screeching halt? If the war is so wrong and so evil and so unjust I expect you, if you are a man of your word, to do everything you can to stop it.

If you just sit back and take pot shots at our president and blame him for everything from global warming to the New Orleans mayor not evacuating his city, to Bin Laden not being caught, and all you really want is for our country to lose the war, but protect your own ass from the consequences, I have no respect for your position.

Some Democrats like to ask if we are better off than 4 years ago. I ask, “Are we better off than two years ago when they took office?”

Our people have been attacked time and again by Islamic terrorists. There never seemed to be a shortage of crazies willing commit heinous crimes in the name of Allah. 9-11 was just the most visible and brought the war to our doorstep as never before.

Frankly, I would much rather that we fight the war against Islamic terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan than fight it on our own land.

Finally, I am irritated by those who tell the big lie that McCain will want to keep us in Iraq for 100 years.

You cannot fight any war if you tell the enemy a date certain by which you will stop fighting. You have to make sure that the enemy has no hope and that they think that you will never give up.

Eric

No. It does not scare me when someone who is obviously being set up with a battery of trick questions in the sole effort to trap or make that person look bad, answers questions and exudes confidence.

Sarah Palin was interviewed in the gentlest possible way by Charlie Gibson, one of the softest reporters out there. The other candidates have all been through countless debates, many press conferences, and faced much tougher questions. There was no “trap” being set here, she was being lobbed softballs. Have you watched the interview? It’s a disgrace she has not had a proper press conference and faced a real grilling.

The Bush Doctrine is not exactly a wondrous revelation and is simply common sense. If you know that a country is about to attack, you would have to be crazy or truly deluded to not attack first.

That’s a misunderstanding of what Bush has said. In fact almost every president of modern times, certainly everyone since the cold war, would agree with the statement you made above. If we know we are imminent danger of being attacked, then we have a right to attack preemptively.

What Bush has said is very different. Think about Iraq: even at the time Bush made no claim that we were under imminent threat of attack. The most threatening information he claimed to possess was that the Iraqi regime was developing weapons of mass destruction. There was no claim those could be used to attack the United States any time soon. Still, Bush claimed we had a right to invade even without an imminent threat, just with a vague likely future threat. That’s what set a dangerous president, that’s what broke international law, and even that was a lie, given that the administration chose to ignore plenty of good intelligence that there was not even a real threat of WMD’s.

The Bush Doctrine, whatever you want to call it, is about much more than preemptive attack when facing imminent threat of attack, it is about a right to attack just because someone else has declared us an enemy and is rattling their saber.

Do you support that policy? Do you think it makes us safer? Do you think it is even credible, given the limits of our own military might?

Every president is surrounded by a large array of the best and brightest minds. The president is not omniscient and has to consult experts in all kinds of fields.

I wish this were true. It is now clear that some presidents choose to ignore information coming from their own administration. Bush has repeatedly ignored his own intelligence, military, and scientific advisors. His White House (particularly Cheny) has rewritten reports and covered up internal information to prevent anyone else from even know what information they have had on hand. This has happened not only with regard to the Iraq war, but also on many other issues from domestic disaster prevention and recovery to world climate crisis.

We now know that even a presidential administration can bury its head in the sand. On every front this behavior has damaged our country. It has hurt our standing with allies around the world. It has hurt our citizens at home. McCain now shows evidence of the same style of “leadership.” Leadership by blinders, leadership without doubt, leadership without blinking. Can our country afford four more years of the mistakes that kind of leadership brings about?

Saddam had a history of having WMDs…

We were wounded and frustrated. Not a good combination.

Saddam was smirking.

A smirk is worth the thousands of American lives we’ve lost to wipe it off his face? I think we deserve and administration that can stand up to some smirking, that plays by more than playground rules.

I think you are dead wrong on your analysis of the war with Iraq, but I’m not going to go back and forth on that. I sense eyes glazing over already. Suffice it to say it never should have happened, we had no excuse to go in there, and the buck stops at the president for making that decision, nowhere else, not CIA, not Rumsfeld, not Congress. The president made an awful decision, got priorities wrong (Bin Laden is still out there and his smirk really should be wiped off), and killed a lot of Americans chasing shadows.

I want a better president than that.

Finally, I am irritated by those who tell the big lie that McCain will want to keep us in Iraq for 100 years.

Yeah, that’s an overblown point. I don’t think he meant what he said there. But I think you are wrong about timelines. You will notice that both the Iraqi government and, more recently, the Bush administration have begun to talk timelines. Given the right language around something like that I don’t think it gives the enemy any particular leverage. You just have to be careful about how it is presented and the escape clauses you include.

A superpower, a mature country that knows how to use diplomacy as well as military might, should be able to consider a far wider set of options than you seem to think is possible. Don’t be fooled by the bellicose rhetoric of the Bush administration (and unfortunately, more recently, the candidate McCain). They paint the world in black and white, for us / against us terms that are far from successful at capturing the nuance of the real world. It’s a dangerous distortion and it makes things like a war based on lies possible.

The time for lies is over. It is time to make rededicate our country to the truth, to relight our beacon for the rest of the world to respect, to make our choices based on our real interests. I hope this campaign is the last gasp of the big lie. Right now if feels like the lies are crowding out truth, and that leaves me trembling.

JF

The Bush Doctrine, whatever you want to call it, is about much more than preemptive attack when facing imminent threat of attack, it is about a right to attack just because someone else has declared us an enemy and is rattling their saber.

Do you support that policy? Do you think it makes us safer? Do you think it is even credible, given the limits of our own military might?

In my response I was referring only to the Charles Gibson version of the Bush doctrine since that was his definition even though the “Bush Doctrine” as coined by Charles Krauthammer has more meanings than Gibson’s erroneous one of meaning only one thing. The context was discussing the interview with Palin and Gibson’s continual attempts to make her look bad and finally how he, meaning Gibson, really didn’t know what he was talking about when referring to the Bush Doctrine and was arrogantly trying to make Sarah look bad.

My position clarified:

I fully support the idea that in the age of WMDs it would be a big mistake to wait for the enemy to strike first. If we have credible evidence that an enemy who has announced intentions to attack us with WMDs actually acquires those WMDs we would be justified in taking preventive actions.

I think that it does make us safer. It is a great idea that other nations know that we have such a doctrine.

I have no idea what you mean by “credible , given the limits of our own military might?”

Eric

I fully support the idea that in the age of WMDs it would be a big mistake to wait for the enemy to strike first.

I don’t think anyone is arguing with you there, and all recent administrations have supported that position. We don’t have to wait for the enemy to strike first. But many believe we do have to wait for evidence that the enemy actually plans to strike.

We did not wait for such evidence in the case of Iraq. No one ever claimed to have evidence that they were about to strike. Yet the Bush administration attacked anyway.

Do you support attacking countries that are not preparing an imminent attack on the United States?

If we have credible evidence that an enemy who has announced intentions to attack us with WMDs actually acquires those WMDs we would be justified in taking preventive actions.

Note, the most we ever even claimed to have in the case of Iraq was evidence that they were assembling what it takes to construct WMDs. Tubes for refining nuclear material, for example. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Powell: none of them ever actually claimed an attack was imminent. Sure, they made frightening noises about how quickly a rocket could travel from Iraq to hit US interests, but check the transcripts, they never claimed those rockets actually existed. Still, they claimed the US had a right to attack Iraq even so.

Given what Palin has said (not that there is much of that to go on!), it appears she disagrees with the Bush administration on this. From what you say it sounds like you disagree as well. Both of you (and I, and Obama) have argued that preemption is a necessary option when the threat of attack is imminent. I would be uncomfortable arguing for a world where I (or anyone else) had an option to attack under lesser circumstances.

I have no idea what you mean by “credible , given the limits of our own military might?”

I was referring to the fact that our military might is limited, we can only stretch it so far. If we spend it on one mission, it is not credible to our adversaries for us to make belligerent noises about spending it elsewhere, because they and we know we just don’t have the wherewithal. This is part of what makes Iraq such a tragic error. Not only wasting American lives doing something that did not need to be done, but also limiting our option to contain threats elsewhere. Georgia may well be a case of this. We have to be careful about how we scatter our threats. Right now we sound an awful lot like the schoolyard bully threatening to beat up everyone in the yard for staring at them. Not a credible threat.


That’s where this thread stands for now. I’ll try to update this posting if the thread continues.

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