Friday, October 01, 2004

Not A Crossroads

Yesterday's post was a bit over the top, no?

I really expected the day's news to have an impact on the evening's Bush/Kerry debate. (I wonder if one of the many rules of engagement the two campaigns agreed to said anything about using late-breaking news?) Maybe the innocent-unsuspecting-kid aspect of yesterday's attacks got to me sentimentally, but I think on any other day it would have been a much, much bigger story. And it does get at the central question about Iraq: as every day brings new reports of vicious insurgent attacks, how do you respond: with stubborn resolve not to be driven out of the country? Or with deepening understanding that the US armed forces will never, never be able to achieve a non-catastrophic outcome?

Nobody is eager to admit failure in the face of terrorist violence, but failure is the fact of the matter. We screwed up terribly. The terrorist insurgency may be the final straw, but it wasn't the original problem; the original problem was Bush's reckless adventurism. A military force under the United States brand name cannot pacify Iraq; we have no credibility or good will there. We need some kind of international coalition to bail our pitiful asses out. Maybe no American leader can get that coalition, but it's for damn sure that the Bush government can't; it has no credibility or good will in the world.

I don't have too much brilliant insight about the presidential debate last night to add to what's already out there. I was yelling at my TV for Kerry to lambaste Bush about the International Criminal Court (how can any American respect a President so alienated from core American values that he won't sign on to a promise not to commit torture and genocide?). But Kerry done good, and my spirits are a lot better now than 24 hours ago.

It still boggles my mind that anybody can support Bush after seeing him on a stage alongside a competent politician. I know it's bad strategy to call him an outright dummy, but at times Bush hems and haws and wracks his brain for even a merely appropriate answer, to questions the assistant White House pastry chef could have told him to expect. I get embarrassed for him. At times he throws out facts that are only marginally relevant, just to fill dead air and give the impression he knows something about something. What was the point of name-checking Poland or the US ambassador to Sudan, other than to show that G.W. Bush does too have a couple of pieces of knowledge lodged in his brainpan?

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