Final Response to Sandefur on Bush and Kerry

Sandefur has updated his post on my alleged bias, but has continued to oversimplify my position. In fact, I think he is engaging in precisely the kind of false dichotomy that he would recognize immediately were it foisted upon him. In fact, in his follow up he has gone even further than in his initial statement, not only claiming that I give Kerry "every benefit of every doubt", but that I am actually a Kerry supporter! One would think that in order to qualify as a Kerry supporter, one would, at bare minimum, have to be voting for Kerry, which I have made clear I will not be doing. In fact, I would challenge Sandefur to go back in my writings on the subject and find a single positive thing I've said about Kerry (the closest he will find is a comment that he was well coached in the last debate to remember and reference people's names after they asked a question and that is purely a tactical comment). So we've got someone who has continually bashed Kerry on multiple fronts, has publicly declared that he will not vote for him, who has called Kerry spineless and contradictory, yet he pronounces me a "Kerry supporter". Why? Because I've bashed Bush even harder. But that just gets to the root of the false dichotomy, as Bush and Kerry are not the only two choices. It is true, as I said in my last post on the subject, that I am more anti-Bush than I am anti-Kerry, and I explained the reasons why. But that doesn't make me a Kerry supporter by any reasonable definition.

He brings up Michael Moore as an example of someone who has engaged in exactly the kind of campaign to distort Bush's words as I have accused Bush of doing with Kerry's words. And I agree with him. I never said a word about Michael Moore, I was talking about the rival campaign strategies of Bush and Kerry. Moore does indeed do the same thing Bush does, but Moore has also been publicly critical of Kerry for not getting down and playing dirty the way Bush does. And that is exactly my point. The Kerry campaign has simply not engaged in this specific type of dishonesty as a staple campaign strategy the way that Bush has.

I will also say this. Anyone who does not recognize, at this point, that the Bush campaign plays the dirty politics game better than the Kerry campaign either has not been paying attention, or has their perceptions clouded by their own bias. Even by political standards, Karl Rove is vicious and dirty. Has the Kerry campaign ever done anything that even comes close to the race-bait push-polling that the Bush team used against McCain in 2000? If they have, I'm unaware of it. That's about as vile as politics gets. And there is a clear pattern within the administration for the last four years of trying to destroy anyone who bucks the public line they want to sell, and if you don't believe me, ask Valerie Plame, Eric Shinseki or Anthony Zinni about what they're capable of. Even by modern political standards, this is an uncommonly nasty group and I'm hardly the only person to recognize that. My father, who is a lifelong Republican, says this is the most corrupt and vicious administration he's ever seen, and that includes Nixon, who pretty much set the bar for everyone else. Pointing all of that out is not supporting Kerry. They can both be bad without being equally bad in all respects.

I have to confess to being a little disappointed at the uncharitable reading being given to my words, especially by someone I respect so much. There are nuances to my position that are simply being ignored or thrown aside in order to prop up this false dichotomy. When I speak of the tactics of the two campaigns, he conflates that with "the two sides" and throws in everyone opposed to Bush. But I was speaking of campaign strategy, not a general right vs. left battle. Are there people on the left who behave the way the Bush campaign has behaved? Absolutely. But they've been criticizing Kerry for not being that way, which only supports my contention that, as a matter of campaign strategy, the Bush team is far more shameless about distorting the words of their opponent than the Kerry team.

The only example that he could come up with of Kerry distorting Bush's campaign speeches was the argument over whether the administration had claimed Hussein was an "imminent threat". But that's largely a semantic battle. The administration DID sell it as an imminent threat to the US, whether they actually used those words or not. For crying out loud, Condi Rice said outright that if we didn't go after Hussein, the next terrorist attack might be a mushroom cloud over a major city. If that's not selling Hussein as an imminent threat, I don't know what is. The semantic argument is only over how short term the word "imminent" can denote, but that's a case of losing the forest for the trees.

The bottom line, I think, is that he has agreed with me that I'm right in my criticisms of Bush. The problem is that he insists that the fact that I speak more often about Bush's faults than Kerry's faults makes me a "Kerry supporter" and means that I "give him every benefit of every doubt". That is just transparently false. If I gave Kerry every benefit of every doubt, wouldn't I accept something that Kerry says as true? And again, I point out that one can be more anti-Bush than anti-Kerry (as I am, and I've explained why) without being a Kerry supporter, or even without believing any of Kerry's false promises and nonsense (and I don't. How is that "giving every benefit of every doubt"?). At the very least, Sandefur is engaging in rhetorical hyperbole and an uncharitable characterization of my position, and that is disappointing to me. And I think this will be my last word on the subject because I simply don't want the dispute to go any further.

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Even some of us who do plan to vote for Kerry would not want to be termed "Kerry supporters." Once Bush is safely out of office--and Kerry is safely in office--you'll see me attack him with all due savagery. But not a moment before.

For what it's worth: It's always been perfectly obvious to me that you oppose both Kerry and Bush. I think it's also natural to focus more criticism on an incumbent, especially one who started a questionable war. I too criticize Bush more heavily than Kerry, but I fully expect to criticize Kerry more heavily if he becomes President. This is perfectly natural. And I think you've been perfectly clear and judicious about where you stand.

By Perry Willis (not verified) on 12 Oct 2004 #permalink

Just out of curiousity Ed, who are you leaning toward voting for?

I'm going to vote for Badnarik, while holding my nose. I'm taking the same long-term view I've always taken, that voting libertarian, even when the candidate is a certifiable wingnut, helps get attention for libertarian ideas and eventually will help us influence policy choices.

"It is true, as I said in my last post on the subject, that I am more anti-Bush than I am anti-Kerry, and I explained the reasons why. But that doesn't make me a Kerry supporter by any reasonable definition."

Not only does it make you a Kerry Supporter, it also means that you Hate America and Want the Terrorists to Win.

I think that maybe you simply need to get the latest update to your NewSpeak dictionary installed on your computer. Then you and he will be speaking the same language again.

I think that maybe you simply need to get the latest update to your NewSpeak dictionary installed on your computer. Then you and he will be speaking the same language again.
No, that's completely unfair to pin on Timothy. There are people out there dumb enough to say such things; he is certainly not among them.

Ed, I have to say that your position on this topic ("dirty tricks" by both campaigns) would be a lot more convincing if you didn't have this unfortunate habit of picking what are actually Democrat dirty tricks as your examples of Republican dirty tricks. For example, the Plame affair is far from clear -- no one has yet admitted who leaked her name, or when, or why. Certainly no one has offered any indication that it was on direct orders from Bush or any of his inner circle. And as far as I can tell, General Shinseki retired as he had already planned to do; he was not forced out over his position on Iraq or any other subject. Both of these represent incidents where the Democrats took a very thin set of facts, embroidered them with hints and speculation and the occasional outright lie, spun the result into a claim of "dirty tricks" by Bush, and presented it to the public as proven fact.

You asked, "Has the Kerry campaign ever done anything that even comes close to the race-bait push-polling that the Bush team used against McCain in 2000?" The answer to the question is "yes:" they and their friends in the media have done it on several different occasions. If you stretch your mind back, you might recall an ad in the 2000 campaign that implied Bush secretly approved of the "dragging" murder of a black man in Texas by three racist whites. You might also recall an ad that implied under a Bush Justice Department, racist arsonists would have a free hand to burn down black churches in the South.

In this campaign, the controversy over Bush's Air Force/Air National Guard service is the prime example, but there are many others. I would point you to the way that David Kay and Chris Duelfer's respective reports on Saddam's WMD programs have been spun, vs what the reports actually said, and that spin has been used to charge Bush with completely fabricating the case for war. See also the way that some mainstream-media outlets are now equating the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth with the forged documents that CBS tried to use to smear Bush. You may not believe the Swifties' charges, but to claim that every one of them is intentionally lying about not only Kerry's war record but their own as well is beyond scurrilous.
Then there's the reprehensible way Edwards tried to use the stem-cell issue yesterday. And the way the Democrats have adroitly spread the lie that if he's re-elected Bush will reinstate the military draft.
As you say, neither side can claim clean hands on this. Yes, Bush's side has pulled a lot of dirty tricks, including some that go beyond what I find acceptable. I wish he hadn't done that. I think less of him because of it. But to claim that Kerry isn't in it just as deep is so contrary to the facts as to leave the impression that you are indeed a Kerry supporter.
-- JSW

Ed, I have to say that your position on this topic ("dirty tricks" by both campaigns) would be a lot more convincing if you didn't have this unfortunate habit of picking what are actually Democrat dirty tricks as your examples of Republican dirty tricks. For example, the Plame affair is far from clear -- no one has yet admitted who leaked her name, or when, or why.
Well here are the things we can be pretty certain of. First, the leak came from a senior administation official (Novak said so, as did several other news agencies who were given the information but didn't use it). We also know that they must have been very senior because that's not the sort of information that would have been known outside of those with top security clearances, and probably only some of those. We also know that there can't possibly be any legitimate reason to have leaked that information to the press. If you can think of a good reason, be my guest. Which means it had to be malicious in intent - there simply is no alternative. Now, how on earth you have managed to turn that into a Democratic dirty trick is, well, quite beyond my comprenension. And frankly, I think it exposes your biases, not mine.
And as far as I can tell, General Shinseki retired as he had already planned to do; he was not forced out over his position on Iraq or any other subject.
And I never claimed otherwise. Kerry did, in fact, exaggerate during the debate when he said that they had "retired" him. But it's only a slight exaggeration. As I've mentioned here many times, with links to original sources, Shinseki was quickly moved out of power, and not only publicly dressed down but privately was the victim of a whispering campaign in the press (that is exactly how dirty tricks campaigns are done, I certainly hope you aren't naive enough to think that's not SOP). Rumsfeld named his successor (not even the real successor, as the one that was named ended up not taking the job permanently) over a year before his planned retirement, which was an unprecedented move, and he did so solely to undermine his authority and put people in place that would not buck the public story he was telling. All of this obviously is exactly what I said it was, a nasty little campaign against someone who dared to tell the truth when that truth was inconvenient for the administration. And best of all, Shinseki turned out to be dead on in his assessments. Again, how this could possibly be a Democratic dirty trick is beyond me, but since you managed to turn Bush's string pulling to get into the national guard into the conclusion that he was trying to get IN to combat, I can't say I'm surprised.
You asked, "Has the Kerry campaign ever done anything that even comes close to the race-bait push-polling that the Bush team used against McCain in 2000?" The answer to the question is "yes:" they and their friends in the media have done it on several different occasions. If you stretch your mind back, you might recall an ad in the 2000 campaign that implied Bush secretly approved of the "dragging" murder of a black man in Texas by three racist whites. You might also recall an ad that implied under a Bush Justice Department, racist arsonists would have a free hand to burn down black churches in the South.
Okay, maybe my memory is failing me, but I don't believe Kerry ran against Bush in 2000. In trying to find some equivalent dirty trick, you have to go back not only to another election, but to an entirely different candidate?
In this campaign, the controversy over Bush's Air Force/Air National Guard service is the prime example, but there are many others. I would point you to the way that David Kay and Chris Duelfer's respective reports on Saddam's WMD programs have been spun, vs what the reports actually said, and that spin has been used to charge Bush with completely fabricating the case for war. See also the way that some mainstream-media outlets are now equating the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth with the forged documents that CBS tried to use to smear Bush. You may not believe the Swifties' charges, but to claim that every one of them is intentionally lying about not only Kerry's war record but their own as well is beyond scurrilous.
I noticed you don't get specific about any of those because, I assume, you know that you can't make an equivalent claim. Yes, Kerry has exaggerated facts against Bush, and he has told some lies. But recall the specific subject of this post. The specific subject was the calculated campaign by the Bush team to distort Kerry's words during the campaign to say something other than what they do. You have not addressed that issue at all, preferring instead to talk about what other people did in past elections. I'm not surprised by this, because there's just no reality to back you up on it.
Then there's the reprehensible way Edwards tried to use the stem-cell issue yesterday.
Again, an example of rhetorical exaggeration of the type that both sides engage in quite regularly, in fact all campaigns do. But it's not an example of what this post was addressing, which was deliberate distortion of the opponent's words to pretend he's said the opposite of what he has. And at any rate, there is an absolutely legitimate issue there on stem cells. Bush's ridiculous restrictions on funding for stem cell research IS slowing down the rate at which such research can progress, and there is no reason for the slowdown other than his desire to appeal to a bunch of know-nothings who actually think that people are aborting babies to get stem cells. Those restrictions may well mean that advances are pushed back in the future. That is a legitimate issue and he deserves to take the consequences for it.
And the way the Democrats have adroitly spread the lie that if he's re-elected Bush will reinstate the military draft.
The draft issue is entirely legitimate. The argument that Bush's stated foreign policy will require a draft to cover the troop needs is hardly off limits. Even if Bush absolutely denies that he'll allow one, the circumstances brought about by his foreign policy may well require it. That is an entirely legitimate campaign issue. And the substance of that argument has been supported far and wide, by many conservatives as well. David Hackworth says it's inevitable the way we're going.
Now, I happen to agree with Bush on this one, and one of his policies that I support is the reallocation of troops from around the world. It should have begun a long time ago and I'm glad he's finally starting the process. Having 70,000 troops in Germany to protect them against no one is a waste of money and resources. But it's still a legitimate campaign issue and I haven't seen Kerry say anything dishonest about it (you may disagree with the argument that it will become necessary, but that's not a lie, it's a disagreement).

I could care less about Bush's Guard service JSW with the one exception that supporting a war while volunteering to not fight in it is somewhat abysmal in terms of fortitude.

But on a [paraphrasing] ' Democratic spinning the Dulfer report', you have got to be sniffing glue pal. I honestly don't understand where that kind of shit comes form, but you're not among cozy Bush supporters who will lap up anything you say as the God's Honest Truth.

He [Saddam] retained the knowledge, the materials, the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction, and he could have passed that knowledge onto our terrorist enemies," -George Bush on the Duefler Report.

That was the gist of Bush's response to the Duefler Report. I suppose we could get into some long winded discussion about what the Duefler Report really says. We could split out WMD's into Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical categories and discuss each one point by point. Then we could compare it to the Presidential quote above. And then perhaps, I and others might laboriously drag you kicking and screaming to the conclusion that that quote is a bald-faced lie. We could quibble over what the President really meant by ' means' to the point that Bill Clinton would be proud. We could talk it to death. But we know what he means. He means he's hopelessly screwed and he's reduced to pitching utter nonsense. That's the kind of thing folks who are holding a busted rationale hope for. To refer to a big hairy document and bury the damming evidence of their deceit in the details. But it's a whopper. And as we'll see, one easily taken apart by the logic a ten year old could follow.

We don't have to do any legwork this time to realize George Bush was lying, or spinning, when he said that (Or even more chilling; there is the possibility that it makes sense to him, egad). All we have to do is apply a little freaking common sense. Typically, if I have the means for something, and I have the materials to make that something, and I have the intent of making that something, and I have the knowledge to make that something; then I have that something. Did everyone follow that? Let's try again.

The President would apparently have us believe that the Duefler Report was stating that Saddam Hussein, one of the all time most ruthless modern dictators, had the capacity to produce WMD's, because after all he had the means and the knowledge and the materials, and that even though he desperately wanted WMD's; he did not have them.

That doesn't make a lick of sense does it JSW?. Not so much as a smidge. It's so non sequitor it's cartoonish. And it's starting to creep me out that so many Bloggers and commentators like yourself could even try to argue that it does make sense after they've had a chance to let it stew in their noodle for a while. Good Lord, if he had the intent, the means, the knowledge, and the material to produce WMD's, why the hell didn't he have any? Is the utter absurdity of the President's defensive statement unclear to anyone? This is indeed logic a ten year old could follow. Bush played you for a loop if you even considered that his statement above or others like it are based on the tiniest sliver of rationale.

Back to reality. Saddam obviously lacked one or more of the means, materials, knowledge, or intent, or he would have had the WMD's. We know he had the intent, we have plausible reason to accept he had some knowledge....so...what's left?
The report states that didn't have the means or the materials, both. That's what the report concludes. The President flat out lied-or he is truly more out of touch with reality and reason than I had heretofore imagined in my worst fears-when he stated that the report concluded that Saddam had the means, materials, knowledge, and intent. Or, if you prefer the term spinnig to lying, the President imparted the angular momentum of a super massive black hole.

Saddam had some scientific knowledge in his employ about producing and weaponizing gas such as VX and Sarin, and maybe a few others, and a little about weaponizing bio, which I'm sure the terrorist we've attracted to Iraq are happy to pay top dollar for using the proceeds from the newly reestablished and robust opium trade in Afghanistan as incentive to the scientists we've liberated from Saddam's control and put out of a job to unload their deadly intellectual cargo into the hands of our sworn enemies. The good news for Al Qaeda is those WMD techies are probably broke as hell with no food and no electricity squatting in their sweltering mud brick homes hiding from flying bullets and baking like bread in the heat, hating the US right now, so it might only be a matter of time till that one comes back to bite us on the ass.
Meanwhile; Saddam had the intent? I for one am shocked, shocked I tell you! Let's take a quick poll: Is there anyone out there, anyone at all who supported this War, that was under the impression that Saddam did not want WMD"s? Come on now. Don't be shy. Step up to the plate?

But he did not have all of those four factors working, or he would have had the freaking WMD's. It's really that excruciatingly simple JSW. So come on. Don't try to blow smoke up my arse and everyone else's.

You asked, "Has the Kerry campaign ever done anything that even comes close to the race-bait push-polling that the Bush team used against McCain in 2000?" The answer to the question is "yes:" they and their friends in the media have done it on several different occasions. If you stretch your mind back, you might recall an ad in the 2000 campaign that implied Bush secretly approved of the "dragging" murder of a black man in Texas by three racist whites. ...

Okay, maybe my memory is failing me, but I don't believe Kerry ran against Bush in 2000. In trying to find some equivalent dirty trick, you have to go back not only to another election, but to an entirely different candidate?

Was this ad even put out by a democratic candidate, let alone Kerry? I thought it was put out by the NAACP and it's National Voter Fund. For the record, I think the ad was unfair and a low-blow.

But what the heck does it have to do with the question asked? Unless anything that is or was anti-Bush is pro-Kerry.

Ed,
"how you manage to turn [these] into Democrat dirty tricks is beyond me."
OK, I'll say it in simple words: in both cases, the Democrats and their willing allies in the press have taken a number of disjoint facts with no clear connections, speculated that such connections exist, and then present the speculations to the public as proven fact. It is a fact that someone in the administration gave Plame's name to Novak. But it is not a fact that her name was given out under orders from Bush for the direct purpose of discrediting her husband. Likewise, it is a fact that Shinseki was shabbily treated, but it is not a fact that this was directly due to his ideas on the Iraq operation. It is entirely within your or my rights to decide for ourselves whether those claims are true, but it is not within the press or the Kerry campaign's rights to present speculation as if it was proven fact. Especially not the press, whose job is supposed to be to simply report the news, not invent it.

"I noticed you don't get specific about any of those because" I find this environment quite ill-suited to writing the kind of long and carefully reasoned posts I once did on CIS. And because I rather doubt that it's worth the time and effort it would take.
"Okay, maybe my memory is failing me, but I don't believe Kerry ran against Bush in 2000."
You first mentioned the 2000 campaign: Bush vs McCain in the 2000 primaries.
"The specific subject was the calculated campaign by the Bush team to distort Kerry's words during the campaign to say something other than what they do."
And your claim that the Democrats aren;t dong the same to Bush. They are, and the fact that you don't seem to see it is a blow to your credibility on this entire topic. For example:

"Iraq was an imminent threat." Bush never said or even implied that. Tony Blair apparently did, for reasons I don't know, but Bush is not Blair and Blair is not Bush. Those of us who listened to what Bush did say, instead of simply assuming he was lying, understood precisely what he meant: in spring 2002 Saddam's Iraq was not yet an imminent threat to the security of the United States, but it would be if the existing situation was allowed to continue. And in the post-9/11 world, that was not permissible.

What about the entirely manufactured controversy over the "yellowcake from Niger" that Bush allegedly mentioned in the State of the Union speech? The truth is that Bush never once claimed Saddam was trying to buy yellowcake specifically from Niger. He said that the British Secret Service had evidence that Saddam was trying to buy uranium from some nation in Africa. Even allowing for the average American's gross and abysmal ignorance of world geography, it should not be hard to figure out that there's more to Africa than Niger.

See also what happened when a handful of documents from Bush's TANG service record unexpectedly turned up in the wrong place a couple of months ago. Bush ordered that all his service records be released years ago. Some office clerk found a few pieces of paper that were misfiled thirty years ago, and within hours Democrat operatives were telling the press that these new documents prove Bush lied and has been deliberately withholding parts of his files. Anyone who knows squat about the military's filing system will tell you that paperwork snafus and misfilings are commonplace, and there's nothing anybody can do to stop them. All the available evidence says that Bush acted in good faith when he ordered his records released, and he's as mad as anybody about the way new bits and pieces keep trickling out. Yet the press and the Democrats insist on claiming that Bush is deliberately hiding something, and that he therefore lied when he said "all my service records have been released," and presenting that claim as proven fact.

I fail to see how any rational observer could not conclude that these are examples of the Democrats doing to Bush exactly what you are complaining about Bush doing to Kerry. And in light of this, your relentless attempts to paint Bush as somehow more nasty than Kerry and his media allies do not hold up under close scrutiny.

-- JSW

To paraphrase the Daily Show: "The facts are biased against The Bush Administration."

So unfair.

By TikiGod666 (not verified) on 12 Oct 2004 #permalink

"No, that's completely unfair to pin on Timothy. There are people out there dumb enough to say such things; he is certainly not among them."

Whereas his conclusion that you are a *Kerry supporter* is a sign of his quick thinking and wisdom? To be clear, I didn't mean to suggest that he would *really* say such things and I have a lot of respect for some of the things TS has written. However, I don't think that "those things" are *any dumber* than what he *did* say.

My point was to underscore just how silly his actual statements were by comparing them to things just as dumb, but not likely to be said.

Cf. the logic of:

Anyone who knows squat about the military's filing system will tell you that paperwork snafus and misfilings are commonplace...

and

All the available evidence says that Bush acted in good faith...

with the logic of:

It is a fact that someone in the administration gave Plame's name to Novak. But it is not a fact that her name was given out under orders from Bush for the direct purpose of discrediting her husband. Likewise, it is a fact that Shinseki was shabbily treated, but it is not a fact that this was directly due to his ideas on the Iraq operation.

OK. Now I get it. It's allright to draw conclusions from the evidence as long as they're conclusions with which you happen to agree, jwoolf. Sorry, but that registers a zero on the credibility meter. One pictures jwoolf sitting with his eyes tightly closed and his fingers in his ears, screaming at the top of his voice "I can't hear you! I can't hear you!"

OK, I'll say it in simple words: in both cases, the Democrats and their willing allies in the press have taken a number of disjoint facts with no clear connections, speculated that such connections exist, and then present the speculations to the public as proven fact.
Jon, do you have any idea how much you sound like a creationist right now? Replace "democrats and their willing allies in the press" with "atheistic scientists and their dupes in the media" and that could have been said by Duane Gish. What's going on here is exactly what Dan nailed you for above - when it comes to any claims of impropriety on the part of Bush, you demand absolute, metaphysical certainty. For accusations against Kerry, the mere appearance is enough.
It is a fact that someone in the administration gave Plame's name to Novak. But it is not a fact that her name was given out under orders from Bush for the direct purpose of discrediting her husband.
Notice how you skipped over all of the substantive argument that I gave so that you could just say "someone" in the administration revealed her identity for some unknown reason. But you're skipping over all of the logic I supplied. We also know that it had to be someone very high up in the administration, both because Novak and the other reporters used the phrase "senior administration officials" and because only someone very high up would have known her identity (they don't hand out lists of the names of undercover CIA operatives to interns and low-level political flaks). And I didn't say it was done to discredit her husband. In fact, I think it was done to scare off her husband, and any other potential whistleblowers out there, to send the message "you buck the line, we take you down". Do you have another possible reason? Do you really think it's reasonable to claim that it just happened to come up in casual conversation with half a dozen reporters all within a 24 hour period? For crying out loud, those same "senior administration officials" called a whole bunch of media sources, including Novak, all within a 24 hour period, all immediately after Wilson wrote an article blowing the whistle on an important administration claim that was false, and all of them saying, "Hey, we'll give you this information, but you reveal our identities". Only Novak was slimy enough to actually print it. Now, can you come up with another explanation for this other than the one I've given? Of course you can't. It's not only a logical and reasonable conclusion from the evidence we have, it's the ONLY logical and reasonable conclusion from the evidence we have. But like the creationists that you and I have spent years fighting against, you are playing the standards game - if it's something you don't want to believe is true, you demand a metaphysical level of certainty. You want to see an actual videotape of it happening, with subtitles identifying who did it. Sorry, that's just nonsense, and I think you know it.
Likewise, it is a fact that Shinseki was shabbily treated, but it is not a fact that this was directly due to his ideas on the Iraq operation.
See reply above. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were telling the media and Congress that the entire rebuilding effort would be easy because they would greet us as liberators and cheap because they could pay for their own reconstruction. Shinseki, who unlike Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, has actually planned military operations and been in battle, goes before Congress and puts the lie to this little fantasy story they've been selling. He details all of the difficulties we will face upon winning the war, how much manpower it will take to secure the borders and the munitions dumps and keep the peace in a nation in which we will be the only source of authority because all of the previous legal, law enforcement and military institutions will have disappeared. And he says that this will take far more troops to do effectively than his higher ups are admitting, and will cost well over $100 billion, while they were previously being told that it would pay for itself. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz then call a press conference to denounce Shinseki and declare that he is "wildly off the mark". And immediately, they begin a whispering campaign to the media, with more anonymous sources calling up folks in the press to spread nasty rumors about him and undermine his credibility. And Rumsfeld then quickly, and in an unprecedented move, names a successor to Shinseki, who was going to retire a year and a half later, and puts that successor into the position so that Shinseki is effectively removed from authority and neutered. Again, we have a situation where this is not only a reasonable conclusion, it's the only reasonable one. But again, like creationists, rather than attempting to supply a better explanation for the evidence, you simply declare that the conclusion that you don't want to be true must meet some extraordinary standard of certainty before it is believable. And, also like creationists, you go so far as to declare that anyone who does believe that explanation is engaging in "dirty tricks" to pretend that it's a "proven fact" to the public. On any other subject, Jon, you would laugh at the kind of logic you are engaging in. On this one subject, for some reason, you seem to lose all objectivity.
ME: "I noticed you don't get specific about any of those because"
I find this environment quite ill-suited to writing the kind of long and carefully reasoned posts I once did on CIS. And because I rather doubt that it's worth the time and effort it would take.
So you find it well suited to making illogical statements, you just don't find it well suited to actually supporting those statements and giving either evidence or substantive argument to defend them. Then why bother in the first place?
ME: "Okay, maybe my memory is failing me, but I don't believe Kerry ran against Bush in 2000."
You first mentioned the 2000 campaign: Bush vs McCain in the 2000 primaries.
Yes, I did, because the subject was the nastiness of Bush campaign strategy. That was ONE example of how vicious Rove is as a campaign strategist. The comparison I made - and I have now said this about a dozen times, but it apparently is not sinking in - between the tactics of the Bush campaign and the tactics of the Kerry campaign. The fact that you had to go back to an entirely different candidate in an entirely different election to find anything even remotely comparable (and in point of fact, the ads you spoke of were not put out by the Gore campaign either) is powerful evidence that my position is correct.
And by the way, I'm hardly the only one saying this. Rove is legendary for dirty campaigns, and it didn't start with Bush. One of my best friends is a Republican campaign consultant, and you should hear him talk about Rove. He says Rove makes Lee Atwater seem like a teddy bear by comparison, that he is known in the business as the most ruthless and vicious consultant in the business.
"Iraq was an imminent threat." Bush never said or even implied that. Tony Blair apparently did, for reasons I don't know, but Bush is not Blair and Blair is not Bush. Those of us who listened to what Bush did say, instead of simply assuming he was lying, understood precisely what he meant: in spring 2002 Saddam's Iraq was not yet an imminent threat to the security of the United States, but it would be if the existing situation was allowed to continue.
Look at the link that Adam provided above, it shows innumerable quotes. In at least two cases, Bush spokesmen were asked pointblank if Iraq was an "imminent threat" and both answered yes. The administration oversold the threat from Hussein in a thousand different ways. The only argument is over whether Bush himself used the precise phrase "imminent threat" or not. But they were out there claiming that if we didn't invade Iraq, there would be mushroom clouds over New York, for crying out loud.
What about the entirely manufactured controversy over the "yellowcake from Niger" that Bush allegedly mentioned in the State of the Union speech? The truth is that Bush never once claimed Saddam was trying to buy yellowcake specifically from Niger. He said that the British Secret Service had evidence that Saddam was trying to buy uranium from some nation in Africa. Even allowing for the average American's gross and abysmal ignorance of world geography, it should not be hard to figure out that there's more to Africa than Niger.
Oh for crying out loud, Jon. Do you have some super secret evidence that no one, including the CIA or the Bush administration, has ever even claimed to have that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from some African country other than Niger? That was the country that the CIA had received the forged documents on. That was the country that Cheney asked the CIA to send someone to investigate about. Do you really want to claim that it was really some other country? Were they on double secret probation too?
And by the way, the one who is ignorant of African geography and confuses nations with continents is Bush. In October of 2001, in a speech, he said, "Vice President mentioned Nigeria is a fledgling democracy. We have to work with Nigeria. That's an important continent." As ignorant as the American public is about geography, Bush is even worse.

Jon, do you have any idea how much you sound like a creationist right now?

No more than you or your other commenters do, mining quotes from here and there, carefully editing them, and using them to "prove" that black is white, up is down, Kerry is a decent human being, and Bush is the Dark Side Incarnate.
Ed, the plain fact is this: whatever you think you sound like, to anyone who doesn't already agree with you, you come across as entirely one-sided in your criticism, mindlessly repeating Democrat talking points and hammering Bush and his team for things that are no more than political business as usual, while giving Kerry and his side a complete and total pass on acts and words that are as foul as any I've seen since Tricky Dick sabotaged Ed Muskie's campaign and stole Dan Ellsberg's medical records.
when it comes to any claims of impropriety on the part of Bush, you demand absolute, metaphysical certainty. For accusations against Kerry, the mere appearance is enough.
Wrong. I excuse Dan's stupidity on this because he doesn't know me. You don't get the same consideration. The Plame affair involves a charge of criminal conduct -- yes, revealing the name of an undercover CIA agent is a crime -- and as such it requires proof beyond what I consider a reasonable doubt before I'll accept it. You haven't got that level of proof, and don't pretend that you do.
As for Kerry, I would call your attention to a "story" that came from the NY Sun this morning, which darkly hints that Kerry got something other than an honorable discharge, maybe even a dishonorable discharge, from the Navy. I read it. I also read a rebuttal of that charge posted on another blog. I find the charge unconvincing and the rebuttal reasonable. Or to put that in simple words, on this charge I find Kerry not guilty.
The comparison I made - and I have now said this about a dozen times, but it apparently is not sinking in - between the tactics of the Bush campaign and the tactics of the Kerry campaign.
Indeed, that's not sinking in, because it isn't true. You claimed Bush was using one tactic that you find exceptionally nasty with unusual skill. You dismissed as irrelevant any attempt to point out that both campaigns are being equally vicious, just in different ways and with different tactics. Thus, what is sinking in is that you hold the Bush campaign to a much higher standard than you do the Kerry campaign, and you look for ways to phrase your arguments so that you can justify hammering Bush while giving a pass to Kerry.
Then why bother in the first place?
I had hopes that someone who claimed to be committed to fairness, open-mindedness, and considering all the evidence before making a decision might want to hear from the pro-Bush side. But instead of wondering how someone you know to be reasonable and rational on other subjects could reach the conclusions I have, you simply assumed I was arguing from wrong information and partisan motives, and treated me as just another stupid and illogical righty. I expected better from you, Ed. Now that I see I was wrong, I won't be back.
-- JSW

ME: Jon, do you have any idea how much you sound like a creationist right now?
No more than you or your other commenters do, mining quotes from here and there, carefully editing them, and using them to "prove" that black is white, up is down, Kerry is a decent human being, and Bush is the Dark Side Incarnate.
If you can find a single example of me "carefully editing" a quote, feel free to bring it up. But you can't. That's why you just make the general accusation and when asked to actually defend it, you just say you don't find this forum conducive to a detailed discussion. Very convenient, but it tends to undermine credibility significantly.
Wrong. I excuse Dan's stupidity on this because he doesn't know me. You don't get the same consideration. The Plame affair involves a charge of criminal conduct -- yes, revealing the name of an undercover CIA agent is a crime -- and as such it requires proof beyond what I consider a reasonable doubt before I'll accept it. You haven't got that level of proof, and don't pretend that you do.
No Jon, you're conflating two entirely different issues. The fact that it involves a crime being committed only means that a criminal conviction must meet the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It doesn't mean that ordinary people can't think logically about the situation and form a conclusion. And notice - for the third time - that you did not even ATTEMPT to critique the logic that leads to my conclusion. I went into great detail, every single premise was true and every conclusion logical. You skipped over it because, I suspect, you know I'm right. We know it came from high up in the administration because it couldn't come from anywhere else. We know it was done in retribution or as a warning to Wilson because there is no possible other reason for it to be done. And we know it was part of a calculated campaign because half a dozen different news agencies were offered the information in a very short period of time, proving that they wanted that information made public very badly. That is all that need be true for my conclusion to not only be logical, but to be the only logical explanation. All of those arguments you have simply ignored, now for the third time. Yet you want us to believe that forming this logical conclusion constitutes some kind of "dirty trick" played on the Bush campaign? Jon, that's not just wrong, it's downright stupid. And you're too smart not to know it.
You claimed Bush was using one tactic that you find exceptionally nasty with unusual skill. You dismissed as irrelevant any attempt to point out that both campaigns are being equally vicious, just in different ways and with different tactics.
Nonsense. Bringing up things done by entirely different people in an entirely different campaign clearly IS irrelevant to the argument, isn't it? You have not come up with a single example to counter my argument. The only one you tried to provide was the "imminent threat" one, and you were supplied with dozens of quotes from administration officials that proved you wrong. Do you admit you were wrong about it? Nope. Do you counter the logic or explain why all of that evidence doesn't lead to the conclusion that your example is false? Nope. You just insist that your conclusions are correct even though you can't be bothered to provide either evidence or logical arguments that lead to them. Because you don't like the forum, or whatever the excuse is. Well I've got a different conclusion about that too. I think you can't provide that evidence or those logical arguments not because you don't find this a conducive forum but because they simply don't exist.
I had hopes that someone who claimed to be committed to fairness, open-mindedness, and considering all the evidence before making a decision might want to hear from the pro-Bush side. But instead of wondering how someone you know to be reasonable and rational on other subjects could reach the conclusions I have, you simply assumed I was arguing from wrong information and partisan motives, and treated me as just another stupid and illogical righty.
Well, much to my shock, your arguments have been consistently stupid and illogical. And no, I've never known you to be that way about any other subject, so it comes as quite a surprise to me. But your arguments here have been so appallingly irrational that one can only conclude that you have a very big blind spot here that is clouding your otherwise lucid judgement. How else can one describe the notion that accepting the only logical conclusion about a situation amounts to a "democratic dirty trick" other than irrational?
Now that I see I was wrong, I won't be back.
Works for me.

I excuse Dan's stupidity on this because he doesn't know me.

It would appear, Mr. Woolf, that you've learned well the lessons of your political heros, Mr. Bush and his cronies. When logic, reason, and persuasion fail, resort to bullying, name-calling, and illogical temper tantrums. I would expect such conduct from a five-year old, but not from someone who Ed knows and for whom he professes respect. Sadly for you, it didn't take much to spot your weak logic and your blindly partisan conclusions. And when called on it, you resort to an ad hominem argument. Very impressive, Mr. Woolf. Now, I picture you laying on the ground pounding your hands and kicking your feet, crying "I'm right! He's just...STUPID!"

In keeping with the spirit of Ed's blog, let me close by noting that the only person who gets to tell me I'm stupid is my wife. The difference there, of course, is that she's always right.