Suzanne Nossel tries her hand at advice to progressive candidates. I think it’s pretty good. Forthcoming in the Prospect I have a piece where we tried a bit of a gimmick — instead of an article about what a candidate ought to say, just write out a speech a candidate ought to give. I’ll provide a link when it’s available.
- “[T]he more we learn about the war’s conduct, the more we learn that the administration didn’t just make the normal sorts of mistakes that inevitably occur in wartime; it was almost criminally negligent.” In other words, Bush was really inept.
- “When the authority of government dissolves, people retreat to the safety of tribal solidarity, and under such conditions they can do savage things of which they never thought themselves capable. Once the expectation of chaos sets in, it can spiral out of control.” In other words, the sectarian divisions now plaguing the country are the consequence of poor initial management, and not the cause of problems.
- Last, the conclusion: “The funny thing is that, in other contexts, liberals don’t dispute the notion that Bush administration incompetence caused otherwise preventable catastrophes. Almost no liberal believes otherwise when it comes to, say, the response to Hurricane Katrina. If Bush could have bungled Katrina this badly, isn’t it just possible he could have done the same thing in Iraq?”
I think Katrina is a useful example to bring up in this regard. What I would say about it is that, clearly, the Bush administration badly mishandled that situation and, as a result, things became much worse than they might have been. On the other hand, though, it’s not Bush’s fault that a hurricane hit New Orleans. There was nothing FEMA possibly could have done that would have made a levy-breaching hurricane hit on New Orleans somehow non-catastrophic; Bush took a bad thing and made it worse, he didn’t take a benign occurence and make it bad.