Saturday, April 12, 2008

Staying in Iraq Forever, Continued

One other noteworthy moment from the latest round of Petraeus Testimony Theatre...

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) asked the General the following question (video)-
"On January 21 of 2009, if you report to a Commander-in-Chief that says that they want a plan for the withdrawal of troops in the next 60 days, what will you advise them?"

Gen. Petraeus' response was very vague and noncommittal. He said that "I would try to back up, and ask what the mission is, what's the desired endstate..." Rep. Tauscher then said the goal would be to keep the security gains of the surge, fix the readiness problems of the military and cut U.S. costs in Iraq, and safely withdraw. Petraeus responded that "My response would be dialogue on what the risks would be. And, again, this is about risk."

Yes, no one defending the war wants to discuss/debate hypotheticals at all (I doubt Petraeus or anyone else debated with Bush on the risks of his escalation plan last year, or the current risks of mediating gang wars from Basra to Baghdad)... unless, of course, it's about planning for a withdrawal from Iraq, in which case they assure us with 110% certainty that it'll be the biggest fucking mistake in the history of the universe.

But there is something more important in this answer. If the next President is a Democrat, they will more likely than not ask the military to come up with some sort of plan to make withdrawal from Iraq-- over a timeline to be determined then-- possible. Gen. Petraeus seems to be indicating that he would not obey this order directly (but clarifies that he does respect the civilian control of the military... phew!), and would instead work to get said President to accept the status quo, because anything else would be too "risky".

The military as a whole--with some noteworthy exceptions-- has refused to stand up to President Bush on many immoral policies (escalating the war, torture, lack of planning, etc), but mention a hypothetical request from a hypothetical Democratic President, and Petraeus is his own man again. Fair enough, but I am reminded that President Truman fired Gen. MacArthur for less than that, though obviously nothing like that would happen here.

Furthermore, keep in mind that the hypothetical here isn't a President Obama ordering his generals to "withdraw us from Iraq by yesterday!!". It's simply the President saying "I want a plan to begin a withdrawal... get together with your people and work out a plan to make that happen safely and successfully." It's frankly something the military should already be thinking about it-- it's called having an exit strategy-- whether or not it's official policy right now.

President Bush's partisan Republican politicization of every aspect of government (see, for instance, this ad accompanying the testimony video) will be the biggest hurdle for the next President to overcome... yes, even in terms of getting the Generals to implement the policy said President was elected to implement, because all the independent and honest ones were fired or have resigned. What a mess.

[Stonewall Petraeus: Testifying before the Senate, the general sticks to the script. (Slate)]

More Odds and Ends

Yes, I'm still here. I know, I should go outside. Soon. First, more news!-

Bad news for a consumer economy in need of proper stimulation... times have forced Americans to be more responsible: "Thirty-five percent said they plan to use the money to pay utility, credit card, housing or other bills... That is up from 27 percent who said so a year ago, in a fresh example of how the ailing economy is affecting many families." Screw that, I'm buying more toys (literally). You're welcome, economy.

Speaking of, in a flip-flop sure to re-piss off many conservatives, Sen. McCain has decided to refine' and 'revise' his plan to deal with the housing mess. What a maverick!

Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias wonders why Democrats aren't doing more to attack McCain. Frankly, I hardly think that's been a problem, it's simply that his teflon armor is pretty thick. But, yes, it is odd that in a country where 80% say they hate the direction we are headed in, the same polls also show McCain-- running on a status quo platform-- within the margin of error in winning the presidency. Oh well, that's what the general election debates will be for.

Of course, with ads like this masterpiece, it's no shock he's doing so well.

Moving on to his likely opponent, Barack Obama does a good job in this new commercial of giving a real-life example of how the corruption/lobbying system of politics affects the average Joe. (Though his commitment to this ethics business may cost him Philadelphia votes given local campaigning practices) And I found a decent, related video from March where he explains to a swing voter what the substantive differences between himself and Sen. Clinton are.

And in a story you'll see beat like a dead horse over the next week, Obama is catching heat for comments he made at a fundraiser-- the latest in a series of hypocritical faux-outrages-- on small town resentments.

Finally, TPM analyzes the recent revelations on how senior administration officials were all involved in crafting the Bush torture policies. On that note, Will Bunch makes the argument that this story is why Obama shouldn't accept a potential Colin Powell endorsement. I disagree... endorsements don't ever mean you 100% agree with everything about the person who gave it, and Powell appears to be on a search for redemption.

Tyranny Or Terrorism?

A week ago, Sen. Clinton had the chutzpah to say of Sen. Obama, "I started criticizing the war in Iraq before he did." While the basic facts alone make this insulting enough, it's also false to imply that in the time that they've both been in the Senate that she has been a strong critic of the war, let alone stronger than him.

To the extent that Clinton has been critical of the war, it is merely a criticism of the execution of the war. The idea of the war itself, the occupation, is something she has never stated that she disagrees with. Obama, on the other hand, has not only been critical of the execution, but has primarily attacked the mindset that got us into the war in the first place.

On that note, kudos to the Jed Report for digging up video of Obama questioning Condoleeza Rice during her confirmation hearings for Secretary of State. This is in January of 2005, just two weeks after he became a member of the U.S. Senate. Watch as he chastises her on the "conflation of tyranny and terror" and the administration's "mixed signals" and "ambiguity" (to say the least) on both.

To quote Stephen Colbert, he is an it-getter. This is someone I would trust to be President.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Olympic Politics

The Washington Note's Steve Clemons insists that Hillary Clinton's calls for President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games are "way wrong-headed." That, he states, would be "reckless when calling for the weight of the presidency to be used to punish another nation at an event which is drawing China into the blue chip end of the international order, into global institution building and stakeholding, and which is stroking China's national pride at a key point in its ascendancy as a self-realized important power."

But how do you work to get the Chinese government on the right side of "global institution building and stakeholding" if you don't take any action that puts a spotlight on their actions?

It's not like people are being irrational and suggesting getting all Hulk-smashy toward the nation of China (okay, okay, the neocons were prior to 9/11). Nor is anyone suggesting keeping our athletes at home or not participating in the Olympics at all... but rather a simple boycott of the opening ceremonies to make clear that the world will not turn a blind eye to their abuses. What's being suggested here is more Martin Luther King than Malcolm X, contrary to the horrors of Mr. Clemons. And you cannot find a better venue to take such a stand than an international institution like the Olympics.

We now know that Prime Minister Brown-- among other prominent leaders-- will be boycotting the opening ceremonies. Is he "reckless" and "wrong-headed"? Hardly. And I am happy here to agree with Sen. Clinton that we should join him.

John McCain's 100 Years in Iraq

As Josh Marshall points out-- and as I have noticed from watching cable news in the past week-- the Republican establishment is beginning a major pushback against criticism of Sen. McCain's now infamous "100 years" remark in regards to staying in Iraq. It has been widely blown out of context, they insist.

No, it hasn't. Josh Marshall dissects the remark and notes it's been presented accurately-

The big hedge seems to be a McCain clarification, in one instance, that we can stay for 100 years "as long as our soldiers are not being wounded or maimed or killed." Which Marshall translates into "a military presence or occupation where no one ever gets killed and everybody is happy and nothing ever goes wrong."

The fact of the matter is that, as long as the U.S. military is in Iraq, our soldiers will be getting wounded, maimed, and killed. And that is why the way that his quote has been presented is accurate. 100 years in Iraq is 100 years of war. Period.

The Middle East isn't like Korea or Japan... as long as we are occupying that country, we will be fighting that war. Osama bin Laden has said that the reason he attacked us on 9/11 was because he was way jealous of our freedoms we put permanent bases in the 'holy land' of Saudi Arabia. And now we are cheerily throwing billion$ into the shredder to prepare to do a larger version of the same thing in war-torn Iraq. And John McCain is happy to continue this forever, because he is under the delusion that we can just stay there and tell the Iraqis to continue killing each other, but please leave us alone.

After all, this is the man who once told a private gathering of GOP donors that "One of the things I would do if I were president would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, 'Stop the bullshit,'" so he's clearly got some brilliant plans.

John McCain's dangerous position on Iraq has been fairly represented. If the GOP wants to debate it, bring it on.

Supporting The Troops

Okay, look, I get why certain issues-- economics, etc-- have such a strong partisan divide because of differences in political philosophy, but the GOP's hardline stances on most issues (that to my brain seem... well, no-brainers) baffle the shit out of me. Take for instance, the GI Bill.

The original GI Bill was passed after WWII. According to Wikipedia, it "provided for college or vocational education for returning World War II veterans (commonly referred to as GIs or G.I.s) as well as one year of unemployment compensation. It also provided loans for returning veterans to buy homes and start businesses." Seems the least one could do for them, no? As Princeton professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell argued on Bill Maher's show last month, this bill-- along with other late New Deal-era legislation-- is what helped create the post-war middle class boom.

Now, granted, things are a bit different now (smaller wars, less soldiers in the army, etc), but the same general notion of paying our soldiers back in this way should still remain, right? Well if you're a conservative Republican, you apparently disagree. Sens. Webb and Hagel (and others) have been leading the fight for over a year now for a new GI Bill, and have received little help in moving this along from the White House or the Senate minority leadership.

Particularly absent from this fight is GOP presidential candidate, and military man, John McCain... who said just this week that, in response to a question on the great strain the military faces these days, "one of the things we ought to do is provide them significant educational benefits in return for serving. Americans will always serve their country. Americans will, if they’re motivated to do so." And yet he continues to refuse to sign on to the bill that would do just that. As it stands now, existing policy works to deny soldiers any benefits they are due.

But why? The Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum has got the answer nailed: "the Department of Defense [is] afraid that updating GI benefits will hurt retention rates as soldiers leave the service to go to college. Charming, no? And of course, it would cost too much. Can't have that when it comes to programs that involve actual help for actual people. Apparently we're better off spending money on sugar subsidies and mediating gang wars in Iraq than we are helping vets get an education."

Yep, that sounds about right to me. Time to slap some more ribbon magnets on the car and forget about this.

Odds and Ends

Apparently, the Pope has come to America. I hope he brought that cool car. Here's news...

Alan Greenspan comes out of hiding... mentions the dreaded 'r' word.

Paul Krugman has a very good column on the growing world food crisis.

America's crumbling infrastructure has been in and out of the news for the past few years, but has yet to actually become a priority for anyone. It is on this note that Popular Mechanics looks at 'The 10 Pieces of U.S. Infrastructure We Must Fix Now'. Is part of your state on the verge of destruction? Find out now!

Speaking of infrastructure, American Airlines seriously and totally sucks hard.

Speaker Pelosi's not gonna let the President push her around on the Colombia trade deal.

Here's an interesting story... Atheist activist Rob Sherman was testifying to the llinois state legislature about the Governor's plan to donate tax money to a local church, when State Rep. Monique Davis flipped out on him. She stated that "What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous... to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!" Yes, it is so horrifying how oppressed and endangered our nation's Christians are. Take some meds, ma'am.

Speaking of religion, even Fox News pans Ben Stein's new intelligent design documentary.

Glenn Greenwald continues to investigate AG Mukasey's lies on FISA and 9/11.

Finally, is Yahoo selling itself to Microsoft? Google? News Corp??! It's a big mess right now.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Obama and the Gays

It appears that gay people are mad at Barack Obama this week, and as a member in (relatively) good standing of the gay community, I feel obligated to weigh in. It seems that this story was a slap in the face to many-
Barack Obama says if elected president he won't require that his appointees to the Joint Chiefs of Staff support allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

The Democratic presidential front-runner favors repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays, which was instituted during the Clinton administration. He said his priority for the Joint Chiefs will be that they make decisions to strengthen the military and keep the country safe, not their position on the policy.

"I would never make this a litmus test for the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Obama said in an interview with The Advocate, a gay newsmagazine.

A member at LJDemocrats rants that "he intends on throwing the Queer community under the bus and just like Bill Clinton he intends on doing it in such a way that we'll smile and ask for more."

That may be the case, that may not be the case. We just don't know yet. Look, my feelings regarding Obama on this issue are the same as my feelings on most Democratic politicians on this issue. I am sure they are personally committed to the issue of gay rights, but I also know they aren't going to go out of their way to use their political capital on us. Do I like that? No. But hey, there it is.

What's the alternative? Oh, that's right... a party that tried to amend the Constitution to prevent the 'threat' of gay marriage, as part of a (successful) effort to use homophobia as a wedge issue in an otherwise important presidential election. Now that's throwing us under the fucking bus.

For the record, the article continues-
"But I think there's increasing recognition within the Armed Forces that this is a counterproductive strategy," he said. "We're spending large sums of money to kick highly qualified gays or lesbians out of our military, some of whom possess specialties like Arab-language capabilities that we desperately need. That doesn't make us more safe."

See? World of difference there.

But the initial hedging there is not the only reason gays are pissed at ol' Barry this week-
The interview comes after Obama was criticized by gay advocates for not speaking to the gay media. The Philadelphia Gay News last week ran a large blank space on its front page next to an interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton to highlight that he did not talk to the publication.

"The gay press may feel like I'm not giving them enough love, but basically all press feels that way at all times," Obama told The Advocate. He said he's frequently spoken out against homophobia and in support of gay rights.

And on that last point, he's absolutely correct. He has hardly been shy about tackling the issue of gay and lesbian rights. How that positive rhetoric translates into reality depends more on (see last entry) the makeup of Congress than it does him.

Finally, Obamaphile Andrew Sullivan gives his say on the matter, and concludes "The sooner this country's leadership shifts generations, the more equality gay and lesbian people will have." And I think that that's the bottom line for me.

Recommended Reading

Newsweek (Markos Moulitsas): A Silver Lining In the Blue Battle--
Hillary's destructive coup attempt: it's a good thing for the Democratic Party.

Yes, amidst all the obsessing over the presidential primary, many Democrats have lost track of one other thing... there is a shitload of Senate seats up for grabs this November, not to mention the usual House reelections. And unless something earth-shattering happens between now and then, the trends point toward the party increasing their majority in both houses of Congress significantly.

This is crucial, because the President can promise voters the moon and more, but unless he/she has a Congress with a strong majority friendly to a progressive agenda, it's gridlock city. There seems to be a real possibility that we'll get the former next year.

Live in an up-for-grabs district and want to make this dream a reality? Learn how.

Iran's Stake in Iraq

One more rehashed thing that we saw come out of this week's hearings is the knee-jerk reflex from many on he right to blame the media Iran for anything bad that has happened in Iraq. These folks choose to ignore that it was Iran which acted as the intermediary in brokering the recent ceasefire. Or that it was our allies in the Iraqi government who rolled out the red carpet just last month when the much-reviled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came for an official state visit.

But also ignored, Matthew Yglesias argues, are the reasons why Iran might be getting itself involved in what is happening in Iraq. After all, the notion that Iran wants a destabilized clusterfuck of a country right next door is illogical. He writes-
"Iran is adjacent to Iraq. The United States has no diplomatic relations with Iran, and the U.S. government has branded Iran a member of the 'axis of evil' and suggested that we are aiming to overthrow the Iranian government. Under the circumstances, it would obviously be hugely irresponsible of Iran to just let us consolidate an Iraqi regime that's to our liking.

This is, simply put, a fight the Iranians can't back down from. It's the difference between us worrying about Iranian influence in Iraq (cause for concern) and us worrying about Iranian influence in Canada (panic!). The Iranians, in short, are never going to stop backing different Iraqi factions and trying to advance their interests there."

A fair point. He concludes that "staying in Iraq in force while also maintaining a hostile relationship with Iran is just a recipe for frustration." Of the many suggestions he has on what to do instead, the one that I see as most productive would be "to attempt a rapprochement with Iran on a higher level, which would lay the groundwork for US-Iranian cooperation in Iraq." This is basically what Sen. Obama has suggested we do, and would, in theory, help to cool tensions amongst all three nations.

Or we could continue to saber-rattle at them while simultaneously siding with their allies in Iraq. Whichever.

Staying in Iraq Forever, Continued

I was watching old episodes of 'Real Time w/ Bill Maher' on YouTube (I was bored), when I came across an episode from October 2004, one month away from the presidential elections.

In this segment, the panel was debating the Iraq war, and the clip is noteworthy for how little the debate over the war has changed-- despite the constantly evolving facts and insights we've gained since-- in four long years. On the panel was Stephen Moore, of countless conservative think-tanks and publications. At about the 4-minute mark, after Maher lambasts the "Enron accounting tricks" used to continue the war, Moore says-
Moore: "Well, we could be out of Iraq within six months to a year..."

Maher: "And how would that happen, Steve?"

Moore: "We'll have an elected government put in. As Bush said, we're training soldiers over there to keep the peace, it could easily happen."

Note that all the things that Moore said were necessary to allow us to "easily" exit Iraq soon after President Bush's reelection have occurred... and yet four years of kicking the can down the road later, and we're still in the same place.

But don't worry, just another six months from now and they'll have it all figured it out. It's amazing how these constant can-kickings stack up until we look back, and we're in year six of the war, with still no end in sight. The intellectual dishonesty of these people is amazing. As I noted on Tuesday, they all know that the war is lost, but pride prohibits them from finding a way to deal with that.

[PS- Also note the silly Dixie Chicks joke Moore makes toward the end. Ahh, good ol' 2004.]

"We Do Not Torture"

No seriously, we don't. Why do people keep on saying that?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Humor Break

Stephen Colbert is raising money online for Pennsylvania public schools. In return, elementary school students from the state are sending him their drawings of the three presidential candidates. They are hysterically adorable.


Okay, so there was one noteworthy moment in yesterday's hearings... Sen. Biden getting Ambassador Crocker to admit that the war in Iraq is basically a distraction from the real 'war on terror' that is being ignored on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. Not that it changes anything, but nice to see Ryan admit what a joke the policy he was there to defend is.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Staying in Iraq Forever, Continued

I never really planned to do a big writeup on the Petraeus testimony this week, even before I decided to take a few days away from the blog. No one will remember what happened on Capitol Hill today by the end of this month, let alone by the end of this year.

Time magazine's Ana Marie Cox interrupted the campaign chatter on their blog by calling the hearings the elephant in the room, but the real elephant that everyone was ignoring was what a masturbatory affair the whole thing was. The Senators asked him updated versions of the same questions they asked of him last September. And he gave the exact same answers, except better rehearsed in parts. It was theatre. And everyone knew it.

Those in Congress who know that the war is an unsustainable disaster also know that they lack the power to end it, unless they cut the funding, which is seen as political suicide. And those who still support the war with a passion (the Liebermans, the McCains) and those who support it out of partisan loyalty (85% of the Republicans in the Senate) know that running out the clock has been the real success of the surge all along, and they're happy to continue as long as the media is still barred from showing the flag-draped coffins returning home.

Our foreign policy is in limbo until January 2009, and everyone knows it. But no one wants to say that, so they hold some hearings to look productive.

In the meantime, things in Iraq continue to be a mess. And with Petraeus stating that he's pausing troop drawdowns that never actually began in the first place, it's time to come clean on something else. This is not a surge... it's an escalation. A surge-- by dictionary definition-- is something temporary. The troop increase has been in place for over a year now; it's permanent. It's been an escalation, period, and ol' Bush got the political/media establishment to accept it hook, line, and sinker. If he governed as well as well as he dodges accountability for his actions, this country would be on easy street right now.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a series of hearings on the status of the Vietnam war in January 1966... over half a decade after the original commitment of forces to aid in that country's war. Administration officials and military officials and foreign diplomats gave testimony to reassure skeptical Senators that not only were we winning the war, but that we were just there in an assistance capacity to the South Vietnamese fighters (both lies). The war, of course, would go on for another 9 years, even though everyone-- from President Johnson to Sec. of Defense McNamara and other officials-- would later admit that they knew the war was already lost at this point. The problem was that pride prohibited them from finding a way to deal with that. And, to this day, there is a dedicated group of dead-enders whose complaint about that war is that we left too soon.

That is where we find ourselves now and pretending that any hearing is going to change that is delusional.

[As Petraeus testifies, Baghdad teeters on edge of erupting (McClatchy News)]

The Surge Is Working!

Hey, look who's back (hint: it's me)! I'll have more thoughts on this Iraq business before I head to bed, but first this MSNBC video from Monday is a solid look at where things stand in Iraq now. In the second, debate-oriented part of the video, it is almost sad how the guy from the conservative Vets For Freedom organization's talking points get smacked down so easily. Facts are pesky things.

(The BBC on Monday also had an excellent report on the Maliki-Sadr battle for Iraq)

Finally, some recommending reading on this subject on this subject...

The Guardian: Secret US plan for military future in Iraq-- Document outlines powers but sets no time limit on troop presence

Salon: The Iran boogeyman is back-- Gen. Petraeus is reportedly going to blame Iran for why we need to stay in Iraq. If he does, it'll be destructive propaganda.

Think Progress: McCain repeats false claim ‘Sadr declared the ceasefire.’

Think Progress: Tony Snow: The ‘Bad Guys Backed Down’ In Basra ‘Because They Were Getting Crushed’

Monday, April 07, 2008

Checking In

There was an article in yesterday's NY Times about what a stressful job blogging is. It seems to me to be an excellent job to get (it's fun, flexible hours, etc). I do this for free as a hobby on top of my real job, so yea it does get a bit tiring. On that note, I think I'll take a day or two off as a mental health break.

PS- I see we have some new readers. Thanks. Don't be afraid to say hello, I won't bite.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Staying in Iraq Forever

On KCRW's 'To the Point' last week, they did a show on the Basra battle and Iraq's place in the presidential elections. One of the guests was Shawn Brimley, a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. According to the Wikipedia entry on them, this think tank advocates for "pragmatic" and "principled" national security policies.

What kind of "principled" and "pragmatic" policies did he advocate for in regards to Iraq? Well he said this at about the 20 minute mark-
"The Bush administration and Senator McCain have endorsed a strategy which I would define as 'unconditional engagement' in Iraq. It's essentially a passive approach...

...But I do think people on the other side of the aisle, they're too many on the other side of the aisle who endorse a policy of what I call 'unconditional disengagement', which means we're coming out, it doesn't matter what the Iraqis do or don't do, it's time for our troops to come home. And I think what you're going to see, quite frankly, from the next Commander-in-Chief-- Republican or Democrat, largely on the Democratic side-- is you're going to see a policy of 'conditional engagement'. You know, we will offer to stay to help the Iraqi people consolidate their government, but we'll only do so, we'll make that support conditional on actual political accommodation."

I've always wondered what the qualifications are to be employed by these think tanks, because these people always seem like idiots. Someone should tell Mr. Brimley that his brilliant new idea of 'conditional engagement' was already proposed and tried... it was called "the surge".

After the 2006 elections, the calls for withdrawals were growing louder from all quarters. Desperate to find a way to justify keeping the war going for the remainder of his presidency, ol' Bushie proposed his 'new way forward'. In his January 2007 speech officially announcing the surge, he said "I have made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended." To prove this, the administration said it would be holding the Iraqi government to a series of benchmarks it would have to meet over the course of the year. In short... "conditional engagement".

When it became clear, of course, that none of those benchmarks would be met, the administration and their supporters began the process of redefining victory and spinning away the benchmarks. But that's a separate issue.

My point here is that the super-serious grownups who control our political dialogue will always find an excuse to insist that we can't withdraw from Iraq. Ever. Even if they have to ignore that their next brilliance plan for this war is the exact same thing we just tried and failed at (but they gave it a new name!). Maybe it's Vietnam Syndrome, maybe it's ego, maybe just general stupidity, but they just can't accept the fact that we have to leave at some point.

Victory/withdrawal remains, as always, just over the horizon. Just one hundred more shot, this time they mean it.

[UPDATE: See my response at LJDemocrats for a clarification of what I am saying here.]

Liberal Media <3 Maverick McCain!

The media has been in love with John McCain for years, and there is simply nothing he could say or do to change that. He's their big maverick teddy bear. In this clip, as her MSNBC colleagues continue to verbally fellate him, Rachel Maddow attempts to interject those pesky things called facts...

...Which, of course, is met with confusion and derision by her colleagues.

In a blog post previewing his newest book, 'Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics', Glenn Greenwald sums up this phenomenon-
"The Right has perfected the art of creating mythical cults of personality around their leaders. They are strong, courageous, honor-bound, protective, morally upstanding salt-of-the earth Everyman-warriors -- contemptuous of elitist prerogatives, and oozing traditional masculine virtues and cultural normalcy. As important, if not more so, is the corresponding character demonization of liberals, Democrats and a growing group of miscellaneous right-wing opponents -- those weak, subversive, conniving, appeasing, gender-confused, elitist freaks, whose men are as effeminate and cowardly as their women are angry, threatening and emasculating."

Bingo, that's the narrative in a nutshell. We saw this in 2004 with Bush and Kerry, in 2000 with Bush and Gore, and in many other elections big and small before that going back to the Reagan years, when this new brand of politics emerged. All perpetuated by our good friends in the liberal media.

Compare the McCain love in the above clip with this Chris Matthews clip, discussing the problems that Sen. Obama faces in his campaign-
"[C]an Obama woo more regular voters -- you know, the ones who actually do know how to bowl -- and finish off Clinton for good?


[H]ow's he connect with regular people? Does he? Or does he only appeal to people who come from the African-American community and from the people who have college or advanced degrees?

Regular people = the mythical Joe Sixpack who wanted to have a beer with George Bush rather than stuffy nerdman Al Gore. Black people and people with an education = not regular people. Thanks, Chris!

It's going to be a really long year.