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Archive for August, 2004

The Man in the Mirror.

If they question Kerry’s medals, they question everybody’s medals…We’ve got to get that garbage off the air as soon as we can.” So says John McCain of the Swift Smear in private, and to his credit, he at least hasn’t lied about his personal stance as brazenly as Bob “Democrat War” Dole. But, Senator McCain, if you’re so “nauseated” by the Swifties, one would think you could leverage your vaunted (and quickly deteriorating) prestige a bit more mightily. You had the ear of the political world last night, and you chose to spend your time unabashedly conflating 9/11 and Iraq to benefit Team Dubya, the author of those ads. For shame.

Double-Talk Dubya.

So, Dubya, are we going to win the war on terror or not? Short answer: Not with you in the saddle we won’t. (I liked the Kerry campaign’s riposte — “Bush: Against Winning the War on Terror Before He Was for It.”)

Gertie 2.0.

Uh-oh. Dakota Fanning is cast as the daughter of Tom Cruise (soon to reunite with Michael Mann for a Battle of Britain film) in the upcoming War of the Worlds remake. It’s nothing against Fanning — she actually seems like a relatively talented child actress. But the combination of cute kids and Spielberg have been a recipe for real schmaltzy trouble in the past.

Love Dubya, Love America.

I often run cold on Will Saletan, but I thought his summary of last night’s GOP speeches was dead on. On the subtext of John McCain’s remarks: “Forget the tax cuts. Forget the outsourcing. Forget the dividend tax breaks and the estate tax repeal. Pay no attention to the hand in your pocket. Close your eyes and think of America.” On Giuliani’s fib-filled suck-up to Dubya: “[T]he most important characteristic of a great speaker — contrary to the view of my colleagues who are raving about Giuliani’s speech — is being honest. Bush wasn’t right, and Giuliani isn’t honest, and no amount of bullheadedness can make up for that.”

Whatsmore, Saletan has kept his current streak going with today’s piece on the problem with Dubya’s so-called courage: “Pardon me for asking, but where exactly is the heroism in this story? Where, indeed, is the heroism in anything Bush has done before 9/11 or since?…This is Bush’s heroism? Showing up three days later, ‘remaining in the area,’ and enduring a hug?”

Another Gotham Invader.

The cast of PJ’s King Kong convene in New Zealand to begin shooting on the great ape epic. Can we take Kong over Cheney? I’ll say this for the big fella…at least Kong was brought to New York against his will.

Zell Hath No Fury.

As a Democrat, Miller is an entertaining man-bites-dog story, and a minor celebrity in GOP circles. As a Republican he’s just another partisan hack.” On the eve of the Senator’s biggest sellout yet, Slate examines the strange case of the incredible shrinking Zell.

Bobos on Progressivism.

Interrupting my usual enjoyment of the Sunday NYT crossword this past week was the magazine’s cover story, in which conservative media darling David Brooks tried to outline a new “progressive conservatism” for 2008. Given my interest, historical and otherwise, in reviving progressivism in any form, I applaud Brooks for giving it the ole college try here. But this piece suffers from a couple of serious problems.

For one, there’s not much “new” here. Writers like Michael Sandel have already thoroughly outlined this project, the case for a Hamiltonian revival was done better in Michael Lind’s Hamilton’s Republic, and even George Will anticipated much of Brooks’s argument on government, culture, and fostering independence twenty years ago with Statecraft as Soulcraft.

More problematic, Brooks seems totally unacquainted with his own party. “[A]lmost every leading official acknowledges that we should have as much of a welfare state as we can afford.Oh, really? On education, “[m]ore and more conservatives understand that local control means local monopolies and local mediocrity.Coulda fooled me. “Most Republicans, happily or not, have embraced a significant federal role in education.” Well, somebody should tell these guys.

I don’t want to harsh on Brooks too much, because at least he’s trying to make the case for something close to a progressive resurgence (“But through much of American history there has always been a third tradition, now dormant, which believes in limited but energetic government in the name of social mobility and national union.”) But first he’s gotta realize that he’s standing on the shoulders of giants here, and should say as much. And, more importantly, if we really wants to see a return to progressivism, he’s probably looking in the wrong party. As Bill Moyers recently and eloquently restated, progressivism was ultimately a reaction against the corporate domination of politics that afflicted the Gilded Age, and somehow that doesn’t seem to bother the current GOP too much. Dubya and Rove apparently aspire to be William McKinley and Mark Hanna respectively, and the closest thing the GOP had to a TR is now gleefully prostrating himself before his corporate overlords. So, we’re probably going to have to search elsewhere for our Teddys, Woodrows, and Crolys these days.

Monsoon Wizards.

From Bollywood to Bogwarts? Vanity Fair director Mira Nair is offered Harry Potter V. It’s probably a better choice than Mike “Goblet of Fire” Newell.

The Green Party.

Of course, there are some New Yorkers happy to see the GOP here, namely the finance types. “[T]he firms, which lean Republican in their political giving, are eager to show their gratitude to President Bush and GOP lawmakers for enacting legislation providing billions of dollars in tax and other benefits to their industry and for Bush’s pledge to seek even deeper tax cuts.” Yeah, I bet they are. Well, at least the GOP does in fact support their corporate “values”…In fact, Wall Street may be one of the few groups of self-professed Republicans around the country that aren’t being lied to constantly by the Bushies.

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