They have just e-mailed me that they hope the 8 1/2 minute (!) segment will air at 5:35 EST on WAMU (88.5) in Washington, DC and no doubt similar times around the country. I will post a link when it is available.
Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that waterboarding “is clearly illegal under domestic and international law.” Yet when Michael Mukasey, President Bush’s nominee for Attorney General, refused to classify the technique as torture, Graham dropped his principles and said he was “heartened” by the non-response. “I think Judge Mukasey did himself some good with this letter,” said Graham, who plans to support Mukasey. “He helped his cause with me.”
Graham, who is launching his ’08 re-election bid, may have capitulated for political reasons. Last week, Graham publicly said he hoped Bush would come to South Carolina and help his campaign:
If he were to come in support of my campaign, it would be very helpful and I would be honored. I look forward to hopefully having him come to South Carolina and stand by my side.
Today, just a few days after Graham dropped his opposition to Mukasey, Bush is indeed in South Carolina to appear at a “high-roller fundraiser” for Graham. When he arrived in the state today, Graham appeared by the President’s side at the airport. Bush lavished praise on Graham, specifically mentioning the senator’s support for Mukasey:
BUSH: I — I’m proud to stand with Senator Lindsey Graham. I’ve gotten to know him well. He deserves to be reelected to the United States Senate in South — from South Carolina. He’s tough, he is smart, he bases his votes on conservative principles. [...]
I’ve had no stronger supporter in the United State Senate than Lindsey Graham for putting good judges on the bench. People of this state have got to understand that when I nominated John Roberts and Sam Alito, there was no better ally than Lindsey Graham to see to it that these two good men were confirmed.
There’s going to be another fight on the Senate floor coming next week. The Senate Judiciary Committee has agreed to vote on the nomination of Michael Mukasey to be the attorney general.
And, Senator Graham, I appreciate your strong support for Mike Mukasey.
Substantively, though, I’m not in love with this particular critique of Clinton precisely because it’s not a substantive critique. All politicians try to “have it both ways” to some extent, and anyone would be acting like this if they were a front runner. Her position on Social Security is the correct position, and there’s no sense in helping Tim Russert portray it as cowardly. But more to the point, Edwards leads off with some revealing Iraq clips.
The correct point to make about Clinton on Iraq, though, isn’t that her positions require too much parsing, the point to make is that her vision of an enduring American training mission in Iraq is a bad idea on the merits. She says we should keep troops in Iraq to train Iraqi security forces. In fact, we shouldn’t do that. Absent political chance in Iraq, the training mission makes things worse. We’re arming and equipping the parties to a civil war, pouring gasoline on the fires of violence. If a pony happens to emerge, it might make sense to re-evaluate the anti-training view, but given the current situation we shouldn’t be doing this training mission. Clinton’s position on this issue is wrong and that’s the problem with it.
Meanwhile, like GFR and Ezra I’m not really sure that Clinton did play the gender card. Anyone who’s ever ridden the, um, “Wellesley College Senate Bus” can tell you that “In so many ways, this all-women’s college prepared me to compete in the all-boys club of presidential politics” is standard-issue Wellesley talking points and not some nefarious piece of political messaging. I think it is true, though, that Clinton is counting, politically, on the fact that people probably subconsciously assume that a woman is less hawkish than an analysis of her policy positions would suggest.
UPDATE: Edwards campaign sources want to emphasize that Edwards did make a policy argument during the debate (though focused more on the idea of “combat missions” than the training farce) but that the MSM isn’t interested in policy arguments.
I should note that not only does Barack Obama have the right allies on foreign policy questions, but he has the right enemies as well. Here, PPI’s Will Marshall stands up for Hillary Clinton on Iran and says that people who criticize her “risk rekindling ancient public doubts about their party’s willingness to confront tough national security challenges.” And of course, it’s precisely Marshall’s poor judgment on the substance of national security policy issues combined with a knee-jerk “left is never right” view of the politics of national security issues that led him to become such a forceful advocate of invading Iraq years ago.
Meanwhile, Ilan Goldenberg also notes Marshall launching a wrongheaded critique of Obama’s understanding of al-Qaeda and complains:
Just check out his bio. There is absolutely nothing in his background that has anything to do with foreign policy. He really doesn’t know all that much about this stuff.
But forget Marshall‘s bio, check out the general PPI staff bios page and you’ll see that unless I’m missing something Marshall runs a think tank that doesn’t employ any foreign policy or national security specialists at all. One might conclude that this means his ideas should be understood primarily as “centrist” political posturing rather than reflecting some deep effort to understand the issues.
CORRECTION: It’s not on their website, but I’m told that PPI has in fact hired a guy named Jim Arkedis with a background in naval intelligence and a degree from SAIS. They used to have Steve Nider whose work was pretty tightly focused on military transformation issues.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) today announced that he will vote against Michael Mukasey’s attorney general nomination, “potentially derailing his confirmation.” “No American should need a classified briefing to determine whether waterboarding is torture,” said Leahy, who will hold a press conference later in the day. Four other Democrats on the panel have also said they will vote against Mukasey.
UPDATE: From Leahy’s statement:
I am eager to restore strong leadership and independence to the Department of Justice. I like Michael Mukasey. I wish that I could support his nomination. But I cannot. America needs to be certain and confident of the bedrock principle — deeply embedded in our laws and our values — that no one, not even the President, is above the law. Accordingly, when the Judiciary Committee considers this nomination on Tuesday, I must vote no on this nomination.
In an interview with the Midland Reporter-Telegram, former Bush political adviser Karl Rove again predicted that Iraq will not the biggest issue in the 2008 election. The paper writes, “He added that corruption, not Iraq, will be the No. 1 issue.” In July, Rove spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, where he also said Iraq may not be a big issue. Sadly, progressives seem to be abetting the effort to deemphasize Iraq. Read a review of Karl Rove’s failed predictions here.
Paul Krugman notes that Rudy Giuliani’s running around the country saying things about health care policy that aren’t true, and wonders “Why isn’t Mr. Giuliani’s behavior here considered not just a case of bad policy analysis but a character issue?” It’s a good question.
Meanwhile, Joe Conason and Ezra Klein note that he’s also a huge hypocrite — the health insurance Giuliani claims was so superior to government-provided health care was . . . provided by the government.
I went the other day to see the “final cut” of Blade Runner on the giant screen at the Uptown Theater the other day, and if you’re a fan of the movie you should find a theater way it’s playing. I’m too young, of course, to have seen it in theaters in 1982 but it occurs to me that that wouldn’t have been the proper, voiceover-free version anyway and that since it wasn’t especially popular on first release there are probably lots of people who’ve seen it on DVD or TV but never on a large screen. It makes a big difference to such a visually poetic film.
Meanwhile, it’s just so rich and textured, so you notice new things each time. My observations for this go-round, fittingly enough, have to do with the way the movie portrays the climate. I remembered, of course, that the story is set in Los Angeles and that it’s raining constantly, but the striking thing to me on this reviewing is that the LA setting appears to play no other role in the plot. The striking cityscape doesn’t even bare any real resemblance to LA. Meanwhile, not only is it pouring but nobody mentions this as if torrential downpours are a common phenomenon. Just a couple of years ago, I would have overlooked all of this (the LA setting just flashes briefly across the screen at the very beginning and the rain, in part, is just a kind of noir cliché) but in the contemporary context it obviously has a certain resonance and melds with the subtle suggestions (the book is very heavy-handed and clear on this point) that there have been massive die-offs in the animal population.
UPDATE: Brian Beutler whines IRL that I failed to mention that he was present for this afternoon cinematic excursion. This, in turn, raises the question of whether it’s really wise to admit to having been at the movies in the afternoon, but my official position is that since I’m blogging about it right now I was actually working.
Portfolio points to a Wednesday interview with Chris Wallace on WOR radio, in which he criticized media outlets for failing to report on October’s U.S. troop death toll in Iraq:
There is bias in the media…Do you know how many American soldiers were killed either in direct action or even in accidents in Iraq in the month of October? Thirty-four…That story is untold. I haven’t heard it anyplace except Fox News….You don’t see it in The New York Times. You don’t see it in The Washington Post.
But the day of Wallace’s interview — Oct. 31 — wasn’t the end of the month. Thirty-nine U.S. troops actually died last month, a fact reported today by The New York Times and the Washington Post, among other papers.
Not to be outdone by the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic‘s put Andrew Sullivan’s new Barack Obama cover story up for free online. Andrew focuses on something that I think had largely dropped out of view as the campaign proceeds, the meaning of Obama’s relative youth and freshness:
At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a momentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.
I think that’s very true. In the course of highlight this difference between Obama and the others I think Andrew does wind up underplaying the systematic factors separating all the Republicans from all of the Democrats, but it is an important point. I would also add that while I think Andrew’s approach to politician-evaluating is a bit more personality-driven than is wise, his approach is by far the most common one among swing voter types and the fact that independent-minded conservatives can find Obama compelling in a way they don’t feel compelled by Clinton reflects a real virtue of his candidacy.