Nichola Tucker’s put together a collection of The Atlantic‘s coverage of Pakistan, dating back to the country’s origins in the 1940s. Way back in 1946, the magazine took the view that a “land of the pure” for the subcontinent’s Muslims was a bad idea, arguing that the “two nations” theory of the sub-continent was nonsense since “The rice-eating Moslem mopla of Malabar has far more in common with his Hindu neighbors than he has with the wheat-eating Punjabi Moslem” and that under the circumstances “Only the most confused thinking could produce a two-nation theory in India, where there are dozens of distinct races and languages.”
Chris Bowers made an interesting point the other day, observing that whites broke 60-40 in favor of George H.W. Bush in 1988 while they went a basically identical 58-41 in favor of George H.W. Bush in 2004 but despite these similar results among America’s largest racial group the 2004 race was much closer than the 1988 one. Basically, with very little change in candidate performance within major demographic groups, you’ve nevertheless seen a transition from big blowouts to narrow races. And with the white Christian share of the electorate expected to keep falling, you can expect to see Republicans start to play at a disadvantage.
The broad story is, of course, well known but the very, very similar white vote shares are interesting given how much is generally thought to have changed politically from ’88 to ’04.
“Private security companies operate without supervision or accountability in war zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan, and represent a new form of mercenary activity,” according to a new U.N. report. As Spencer Ackerman points out, Blackwater CEO Erik Prince recently said that he didn’t like his employees being called “mercenaries,” which he coined “a slanderous term, kind of an inflammatory word [used] to malign us.”
The U.S. military announced the death of six soldiers yesterday, “taking the number of deaths this year to 851 and making 2007 the deadliest year of the war for American troops.”
While the violence rages in Iraq, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is ready to declare mission accomplished. Yesterday, speaking to an audience who greeted him with “warm applause,” Lieberman declared that the U.S. was turning the corner in Iraq:
“I’m proud to say that the tide has turned in Iraq and we’re winning that war,” Lieberman said. “And if we don’t let down our troops, they’re going to bring home a victory that will protect us here at home from today’s threat — totalitarian terrorist Islamism that’s trying to take our liberty from us.”
In reality, the U.S. is drifting further away from “victory.” In October, civilian deaths increased, according to statistics obtained by the Iraqi government. A recent report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq reconstruction last month found little prospect of “lasting” reconciliation in Iraq.
Lieberman’s prediction is the latest in a line of premature declarations of victory. Throughout the war, he has repeatedly called for staying the course, claiming that we are “winning” the war:
– “Overall, I would say what I see here today is progress, significant progress from the last time I was here in December. And if you can see progress in war that means you’re headed in the right direction.” [5/30/07]
– “The last two weeks…may be seen as a turning point.” [12/17/05]
– “Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do.” [11/29/05]
– “We have to stay the course in Iraq now. … If we do that, we will…have won a victory in the war on terrorism.” [1/4/04]
Lieberman will readily ignore the realities in Iraq in order to push for his goal of unending war in the Middle East.
Ambinder gives me some of my favorite kind of factoids — things that constitute evidence for things I already believed. In today’s edition, my pre-existing belief is that the race for the Democratic nomination is more open than people realize. The evidence is new polling out of New Hampshire which indicates that “a very large 71% of Democrats believe that Hillary Clinton will be their nominee regardless of their own preference . . . most New Hampshire Democrats say they haven’t made up their minds . . . a large majority is leaving open the possibility that they could support someone than Clinton, most believe, in the back of their minds, that Clinton will win anyway.”
To me, at any rate, this indicates that the results in Iowa will have a big impact on people’s thinking. If Clinton loses there, which everyone agrees is very possible, then I think it hurts her aura of inevitability and you’re left with the fact that most voters in the second state haven’t yet made up their minds. As long as Iowa is in play, so is the nomination.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating whether “six prominent televangelist ministries” are “improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to shield lavish lifestyles.” According to CBS News, “letters were sent Monday to the ministries demanding that financial statements and records” by Dec. 6.
I usually like the stories of the Washington Post‘s climate reporter Juliet Eilperin — but why isn’t her article today titled “Climate Is a Risky Issue for Both Parties”? — or even “Climate Is a Risky Issue for Republicans.” So much for the so-called liberal bias of the Post.
She focuses at length on the cost of the climate plans of Clinton, Obama and the other Dems, but hardly talks about the benefits at all — and never mentions the costs of inaction: catastrophic global warming.
She does quote Former House speaker Newt Gingrich who
said either party could face serious consequences if they mishandle the question of climate change. A Democrat running on “litigation and regulation” could alienate voters, he said in an interview. “You can just calculate the costs,” Gingrich said.
“Then, Republican candidates are on the opposite extreme,” he added. “A candidate who’s anti-environment and denies global warming gets killed in the suburbs.”
And she also writes:
“It’s a huge issue. I’ve been stunned by this,” said Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, who found in a May poll that energy independence and global warming were cited as America’s most important domestic challenge by 29 percent of respondents, second only to health care. “I think this is a top-tier voting issue that has crossover appeal,” Greenberg said.
So the piece has the wrong headline and the wrong emphasis and an incomplete argument, leaving readers with the idea that this is a politically riskier area than it in fact is.
I am not saying this is a can’t-lose issue from a political perspective, especially if handled wrong, but it definitely isn’t can’t-win, especially if handled right — as most of the Dems seem to be doing.
The Washington Post needs to do a better and fairer job covering the politics of this top-tier issue.
I probably should say something about Ron Paul’s tremendous financial successes. Mostly, I agree with what Ross says. I also think, though, that the Paul phenomenon and its limits helps highlight a structural problem in America. Ross observes:
When “extreme” figures manage to break through and succeed in this sytem, it’s usually because they aren’t really that extreme at all – see Newt Gingrich, for instance, a center-right futurist whom the press painted (with an assist from his own undisciplined mouth) as a fascist nutjob, or Howard Dean, a moderate liberal who was cast as the second coming of George McGovern because he opposed the Iraq War and acted, well, angry. Whereas Ron Paul actually is an extremist, insofar as he holds positions that are way, way outside the Beltway mainstream.
The trouble, though, is that on top of his out-of-the-mainstream views, Paul is also a huge weirdo who seems a bit crazy. Rebecca Traister made some similar points about Dennis Kucinich. The difficulty is that in a country as big as the United States, it’s easy for a set of views to simultaneously be very unpopular and also be supported by millions of people, but out of those millions of people the folks who decide to enter electoral politics in order to take on a principled, “no compromise with the electorate” approach are going to be the eccentrics. More normal, well-adjusted people with extremist views are going to prefer to do something less frustrated and isolating with their lives.
As a result, views like Kucinich’s social democracy and Paul’s libertarianism wind up represented by eccentric politicians, which winds up making their views seem weirder than they deserve to be.
Photo by Flickr user Jayel Aheram used under a Creative Commons license.
In an address at the University of Texas last night, PBS Newshour host Jim Lehrer warned against “spicing up” the news. “You want to be entertained? Go to the circus, please. Do not watch ‘The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,’” he said. Lehrer added, while increasing numbers of Americans are going online for their news, he’s not worried about the future of traditional media:
“The bloggers are talkers, commentators, not reporters. The talk-show hosts are reactors, commentators, not reporters,” Lehrer said. “The search engines can search but do not report. All of them, every single one of them, have to have the news in order to exist and thrive.”
For months now I’ve been puzzling over the fact that none of the Republican candidates for president could possibly win the nomination. And then it struck me like a bolt of lightning: Brokered convention leads to Jeb Bush nomination.