Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Three Pillars of Rudyism

Obviously, Rudy Giuliani's campaign is still developing. However, it looks to me that Giuliani is making an argument that goes far beyond the fluff of being "America's Mayor" and having the "right stuff" to deal with 9-11. Liberal bloggers like Matt Yglesias are focusing too much on Giuliani fluff and are missing out on the practical strategies through which he's appealing to consevative opinion.

So far, Giuliani's campaign rests on three pillars.

1. Applying the American racial model to global terrorism. Much of Giuliani's foreign policy argument is that he would be just as tough with countries like Iran as he was with blacks in New York City. While mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani launched a ferocious and largely successful campaign against black crime. He enforced the smallest possible regulations against minorities, authorized police to stop and frisk young black men without probable cause, and refused to meet with black community leaders. Much of Giuliani's foreign policy appeal is the idea that he would be just as aggressive with the contentious non-whites of Syria and Iran. Likewise, Giuliani is indicating that he would treat liberal leaders with the same contempt that he treated black leaders while mayor. No compromising with Nancy Pelosi or Cindy Sheehan for Rudy.

2. Pledging Ignorance. In an interview with the New York Times printed today, Giuliani was emphatic about the lack of distinction between al-Qaida Sunnis and Iranian Shiites. For Giuliani, "they [both] hate America." Here Giuliani is trumpeting ignorance as a virtue. He refuses to think about any cultural differences between Shiite and Sunni, border disputes between Iran and Iraq, the traditional interests of Iran in relation to its neighbors or any other issues like that. George Bush cared little; Rudy Giuliani promises to care even less. It's not necessary to learn, analyze, negotiate, or compromise. All you need to think is that everyone who doesn't explicitly support us is an enemy who "hates us."

The key thing that links pledging ignorance with applying American racial models is Giuliani's commitment to basing decisions on right-wing stereotypes rather than knowledge. It's only by pledging ignorance that someone can continue to apply the racial stereotypes of the segregation eral to issues in the Middle East. But this is what the American right demands and its what Giuliani is going to deliver.

3. Being a Regular Guy. According to John Dickerson of Slate, Rudy Giuliani has a gift for entertaining everyone sitting around bar and hotel lounges with his stories of the campaign trail and being Mayor of New York. Raising an old Bush theme, Dickerson suggested that Rudy was the kind of candidate people (read "men") would want to have a beer with and think of as a regular guy. Of course, the exact opposite of true. Giuliani is high strung, volatile, and intolerant of any dissent but his ability to appear easy-going on camera cements the cultural identification Giuliani as "one of us" rather than someone from the "left." What Giuliani wants is for conservatives in the Red States to identify him as "one of us" despite his positions on abortion, gay rights, and gun control.

I don't think it will work beyond the first round of negative advertising from Mitt Romney. But the Rudy scam on Republicans is even more sophisticated than the Bush scam in 2000. More twists in the Rudy machinations as they develop.

RSI Hits Nine Months

Today is the nine month anniversary of Red State Impressions. I'm the only person blogging at RSI and I'm posting about twice a day. Currently, Red State Impressions is eclectic. What characterizes this blog is original political analysis, some discourse on love and moral themes, an occasional whimsical post, and material on race and gender. I'd like to recruit another blogger or two (you know who you are) for straight political posting so that the blog has a stronger mix of politics in relation to my other themes.

Interest in Red State Impressions has grown from about 14 hits a day in December to about 50 hits a day this week. Obvious that's still extremely modest, but interest has begun to expand outside my circle of Morehead State students, friends, and colleagues. A post on the white racism underlying Rudy Giuliani's appeal was listed in the Racialicious carnival of posts on race and attracted some links and the blog is attracting some attention as a result of cross posting on MyDD and Slate's fray.

In other words, things are good at RSI even though I would like to see the readership grow. When the number of hits climbed to 40 per day, my daughter asked me how many I wanted and I said something more like 40,000.

Well, I might as well think big.

Was Reagan More Christian Than Jesus?

I'm Shocked! Shocked! that no religious conservative has defended Nancy Pelosi's trip to Syria. Didn't Jesus declare in the Sermon on the Mount that "Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God."

If Jesus himself blessed peacemaking in such strong terms, I can't understand why James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, and Tom DeLay have not fallen over themselves to endorse Pelosi's peace initiative.

Needless to say, the last thing that the religious right cares about is anything that Jesus said on issues like turning the other cheek or sacrificing oneself for the good of others. Following their most important saint, Ronald Reagan, the right might still think that "peacemaker" is a good name for a missile.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Cheney Standard Lie

The name "Dick Cheney" has become as synonymous with lying as the name "George Bush" is with stupidity. Of course, Cheney's best known lies were that American troops would be welcomed as "liberators" and that the insurgency was in its "last throes." But Cheney does not employ the Gonzales Standard Lying technique of issuing universal denials with the expectation that the opposition won't be able to come up with contrary information. As an experienced Washington player, Cheney has his own special lying technique. The Cheney approach to lying is to create false impressions through manipulating single bits of information or disinformation. Yesterday, for example, Cheney justified the Saddam/Al-Qaeda link by referring to Abu Masab al-Zarqawi's presence in Iraq before the U. S. invasion.

“He took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq, organized the al-Qaida operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June.”

In Cheney's statement, there is one indisputable fact. Al-Zarqawi indeed was operating in Iraq before the American invasion in March 2003. That's when Cheney begins manipulating his one fact into a lie. It is well-known that Zarqawi was operating in Kurdish rather than Saddam-controlled territory before the invasion. Consequently, there was no link to Saddam. Moreover, Zarqawi did not become affiliated with al-Qaeda until well after the invasion. Therefore Cheney was lying when he claimed that Zarqawi "organized the al-Qaida operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene . . ."

Altogether, Cheney took one fact (Zarqawi's presence in Iraq) and dressed it up with a couple of lies to create a phony scenario of al-Qaida involvement in Iraq to justify the bigger lie that there was a link between Saddam and al-Qaeda.

Cheney did the same kind of thing when he was talking about mobile bio-weapon labs, Saddam's purported nuclear weapons capability, and other elements in the campaign of deception through which the Bush administration justified the invasion. But why does Dick Cheney still lie in this kind of transparent, easily detectable, fashion when he knows that nobody believes him outside the shrinking universe of Bush die-hards and that the media will refute the lie within an hour of his making it? That's easy. For Republican fund-raising audiences, conservative talk radio, and Bush die-hards in general, the idea that Saddam was linked to al-Qaeda is as incontrovertible a truth as the story of Noah's Ark in the Bible. Because there was a Pentagon inspector general report forthcoming that denied any connection between Saddam and al-Qaida, Cheney was defending a right-wing "truth" against what the right views as the lies of the "government bureaucracy" and "the media." The fact that Cheney was dishonestly manipulating one fact to justify his position was beside the point to the right.

It's also important to remember, however, that Cheney's lying was also beside the point with the broader public until the Bush administration began losing the war.

RSI's Hillary Endorsement

Earlier this week, I posted on this week's ups and downs on political credibility.

Well, I'm about to give up any political street cred I myself ever had in the left blogosphere.

I'm endorsing Hillary.

I've always opposed the war and my economic views would put me on the left-wing of a social democratic party.

All the same, I support Hillary for the Democratic nomination.

In my opinion, Hillary Clinton is the best person for effectively dealing with the Bush disaster in Iraq, the War on Terror, a likely early recession, and the right-wing attack media. Any Democrat in the White House would have to be very strong-minded, enduring, realistic, and skilled in dealing with the present political landscape. I believe Hillary Clinton fits this bill better than Obama or Edwards.

I understand the policy objections to a Hillary presidency. She was wrong to support the initial authorization for the war and wrong not to apologize for her vote. In general, Hillary is more defense oriented and pro-Israel than I would like. But, I also believe that Hillary's defense and foreign policy orientation will be more defensible in the face of sustained right-wing assault than those of Obama and Edwards.

Hillary Clinton is also more pro-business than the other two major Democratic candidates and her domestic policies would involve a broad set of business/labor/consumer compromises that tended to favor business. Yet, I also believe that Hillary will get a better deal for labor and consumer perspectives because she is more likely to get her policies enacted in the face of business opposition than the others.

My best guess is that 2008-2012 is going to be a very tough time in which much of the focus will be on cleaning up the Bush/Cheney mess.

I support Hillary for president because I think she's the best person for such times.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Rudy and Advanced Pandering

Given his comments on upholding Roe v Wade today, it's pretty evident that Rudy Giuliani's time as a Republican front-runner might be limited if he can't get his pandering game on track.

A couple of days ago when Rudy spoke favorably about government funding for abortion, I wrote that he was taking a pandering break.

I still think that's the case.

But it's also time for Step 3 in my Rudy analysis.

Step 1: Rudy as the candidate of white racism promising to apply the same tough tactics to global non-whites that he developed in New York.

Step 2: Rudy as getting weary of pandering to other people rather than having others suck up to him.

Step 3: Refining the pandering theme. In his own mind, Rudy seems to still be pandering to New York voters who believe in controlling minorities but like abortion rights, feel comfortable with gays, and arent' that big on Jesus. He hasn't quite realized that Republican voters in South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia have very different pandering needs. As a result, there's just something missing in Rudy's current pandering arsenal that leads him to make such non-pandering remarks on abortion before Republican audience. Maybe Rudy doesn't have the kind of pandering commitment that Mitt Romnew brings to the table. Maybe Rudy's running out of energy like John McCain. Or maybe Rudy's doesn't yet have the pandering expertise needed to succeed as a Republican presidential candidate.

If expertise is the problem, I have the answer. I'm sure Newt Gingrich would be glad to give Rudy advanced pandering lessons in exchange for a humble vice-presidential nomination.

Nobody panders like Newt. And he's so humble about it.

Green-Eyed Lady

The best part of going to Lexington was hearing "Green-Eyed Lady" by the Denver band, Sugarloaf. A great sound and interesting keyboard work which I'm paying attention to now that I'm taking piano lessons.

When "Green-Eyed Lady" came out in 1972, I was a senior in high school and not paying that much attention to music. Sorry I missed it.

Speaking of piano, I just started working on my first Level 4 song out of the Faber songbooks, "Take the A Train" by Billy Strayhorn. It's all part of my uberplot to play keyboards in a geezer band by the time I turn 70.

Only 17 more years of lessons left.

The Trip to the Big Burb

In Eastern Kentucky, a trip to the "big city" means getting on Interstate 64 to Lexington, KY, the home of the University of Kentucky, Keenland Race Track, and Hamburg Place, an enormous, bizarrely ugly, and spectacularly successful shopping plaza.

Not really a city at all, Lexington is a suburban area of about 200,000 that has no urban center--in other words the quintessential "suburb of nowhere."

Indeed, if Lexington has a spiritual center, it's Hamburg Place where the money cascades like waterfalls from the credit cards of customers before flowing out to the world headquarters of the various chains.

It's all very pleasant and easy 21st century Americana. Indeed, there's something almost natural about Lexington to me. It's like I'm comfortable with the artifice of it all.

That's one of the reasons why I go to Lexington for therapy in relation to growing up in an abusive family. It has an odd kind of healthiness about it.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rudy Takes a Pandering Break

The contest between the top three declared Republican candidates--Giuliani, McCain, and Romney--is already shaping up as a long-running "panderthon" in which the candidates deny much of their political past for the sake of social conservative votes.

But sucking up can be hard when you're used to having people suck up to you and Rudy Giuliani seems to have reached his limit for today. Perhaps that's why Rudy responded to a question by claiming that he still supported public funding of abortion for poor women.

That couldn't have made James Dobson or Gary Bauer happy. But it probably felt good to Giuliani to get some momentary relief from the constant humiliation of sucking up his way to a potential Republican nomination.

That's because Rudy will certainly have to backtrack tomorrow before returning to his sucking up routine on Friday.

But nobody said being president was easy. Or uplifting.

Dems Should Push Negotiation

I have a more comprehensive "why the Dems can win" the Iraq funding showdown in mind. But one key is for the Democrats to emphasize President Bush's intransigence and their own willingness to negotiate and compromise.

Here an example from Slate of Hillary Clinton saying something that sounded highly mature and appropriate compared to President Bush.

"I saw a lot of what happened when my husband had a Republican Congress . . . We would stake out one position, they would stake out one position. And then people would begin to try to figure out how to narrow the difference. That's what should be happening here."

President Bush wants to play chicken with troop funding and face down the Congressional Democrats. Needless to say, the Democrats have to play the game if Bush insists. However, they should follow Hillary's example and stress that they would rather play the negotiation and compromise game.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What's At Stake in the Iraq Funding Showdown

Neither the media nor the liberal blogs have picked up on the extent to which Nancy Pelosi and the House leadership are becoming a "shadow presidency" in the sense of forming both an alternative center of power in foreign and domestic policy. The significance of Pelosi's leaderhship has not escaped some on the right though. In a TownHall column today, conservatie think-tank warrior Thomas Sowell quotes Rep. Tom Lantos (chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs) as claiming that the Democrats "have an alternative Democratic foreign policy." According to Sowell, the Democrats are also "creating their own military policy on troop deployment" as well as attempting to dictate how the Bush administration is going to handle personnel matters like the hiring and firing of federal prosecutors.

Of course, it's not unusual for there to be multiple centers of power in American government. Congress also has a long history of interfering in the executive branch personnel matters, most recently by blocking John Bolton's nomination to be ambassador to the UN. The Constitution almost guarantees that there will be several centers of power through the system of institutional checks and balances.

But Pelosi is doing something different. She is seeking to displace the Bush administration as the primary center of leadership in this country and substitute herself for President Bush as the main spokesperson and symbol of the American people. It's a dangerous but necessary gambit. Because of their arrogance and incompetence, the Bush administration has forfeited the confidence of the American public. Not only did the Republican lose their majorities in Congress, but polls show that large majorities disapprove of Bush's conduct of the Iraq War, favor efforts to limit presidential discretion in handling troops, and support deadlines for withdrawing the bulk of American troops from Iraq. Faced with the loss of public support in the 2006 elections, the Bush administration responded by adapting a "surge" policy that was even more unwelcome to the American public than previous war strategies. It's not quite "Bush to America: Drop Dead!" But it's close.

In a very real sense, the Bush administration has abandoned the "representative" function of representative government and is now functioning as a renegade administration. In this context, Democratic initiatives in the House of Representatives are seeking to weaken the presidency as Sowell argues, they are seeking to provide a large majority of the American public with genuinely representative government in a time of war. With the 100 hours package, Pelosi was annoucing to the American public that the Democrats in the House of Representatives were going to enact long-needed legislation with broad public support like minimum wage increases. The same is true of the Congressional investigations that are spotlighting Bush administration's efforts to defy traditional standards of honesty and impartiality in American government. The point is to govern according to broadly accepted American standards.

This is why the fight over the Iraq funding legislation is so important. If President Bush goes ahead and signs the legislation, he will be acknowledging that he and his administration have lost control over the war to the Democratic leadership and the broader public. In a sense, he would be accepting the claim that Nancy Pelosi is more significant as a shadow president than he is as a president. For that reason, there is every reason to believe that President Bush will carry through on his veto threat. However, President Bush's campaign against the troop withdrawal deadlines in the current funding bill is not just about upholding his veto. Instead, the Bush administration is attempting to regain public support for Bush's claim that it is the president's prerogative to formulate war strategy as Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Public opinion is running 59%-34% in favor of mandating troop withdrawal at present. If President Bush can swing public opinion back around to his position, he can then claim to be the country's legitimate voice in conducting foreign and military policy.

There is considerable danger in the position of the Democratic leadership. Given that the Democrats have an "alternative" military and foreign policy favored by a large majority of the public, their status as the authentic bearers of representative government is now at risk in the battle over Iraq funding legislation. Illinois Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama has claimed that the Democrats will respond to a veto by giving the president the "clean bill" of Iraq war funding without withdrawal deadlines that Bush wants. If Democrats give Bush what he wants while almost 60% of the public wants a troop withdrawal deadline, the Democrats also will be abandoning just as much as the Bush administration and will giving up their own claim to represent the American people. That would be disastrous for the Democrats because it would confirm suspicions that the Democrats do not have the poltical courage needed for effective leadership. It would also be disastrous for American democracy because neither the administration nor the Democratic opposition would be representing the broad public opposition to the war in Iraq.

The long-range good of American democracy requires that the Democrats contest a Bush veto by either holding out for negotiations leading to a compromise or refusing to pass any bill that does not include a deadline for withdrawal. If President Bush were able to swing public opinion in his favor, he would win the battle over war funding and once again be a fully legitimate representative of the American people. However, if public opinion remains on the side of the Democratic position on troop withdrawals, the Democrats need to maintain their position until the Bush administration surrenders to public opinion and accepts severe constraints on the conduct of the war.

Once Nancy Pelosi decided to pose the Democrats as the "real" representatives of the American people, she committed the Democrats to seeing that the will of the people was enacted in Iraq policy. Anything less would mean that the entire government was abandoning representative democracy.

Political Street Cred

Reid Rising: With his defensive leadership style and refusal make his own proposals, Democratic Senator Harry Reid used to scrape the credibility bottom. Like Nancy Pelosi though, Reid has proven to be a tough leader now that he's working with a majority. Reid gained even more credibility yesterday by responding to Bush's veto threat on the Iraq funding bill by moving for a March 1, 2008 fund cut-off altogether.

Obama Falling: Barack Obama made a real gaffe when he claimed that the Senate would give Bush what he wanted on Iraq funding in the event of a veto. Obama's statement that members of Congress don't want "to play chicken with our troops" was highly unfortunate. Democrats don't want a confrontation over Iraq funding, but Bush has set up a game of chicken with his no-negotiation stance and the Democrats need to play if they want to maintain credibility.

In fact, standing up to Bush on the Iraq funding issue is crucial if the Democrats want to demonstrate that they are tough enough to lead the government through these difficult times. Harry Reid seems to understand this better than Obama.

McCain Ridiculous. John McCain managed a two-fer on the losing credibility front. His stroll down a Baghdad street to demonstate "better security" was such a super-blunder that both he and the war lost credibility. Given that McCain wore a flak jacket, had a hundred troops with him, had helicopters flying overhead, and that the area had been swept beforehand, the only thing that McCain's walk demonstrated was McCain's longing for a photo op. McCain got his picture, but he looked surreal, absurd, and stupid. TPM is right in claiming that McCain looked just as iconically ridiculous in Baghdad as Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis looked riding a tank in 1988.

The Dick Cheney Follies. Of course, Dick Cheney has more credibility as a break-dancer or safe hunter than he has as Vice-President. Cheney's speech yesterday at a fund-raising luncheon for Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama had several cringe-inducing moments. Especially notable was Cheney's statement that "it's time the self-appointed strategists on Capitol Hill understood a very simple concept: You cannot win a war if you tell the enemy you're going to quit."

Unfortunately for Cheney, he's never been able to understand the "very simple concept" that the war is already lost.

But that's how Cheney lost all his credibility. After completely screwing up the war, Cheney is still pretending that "victory" is just within our reach if we only have the will enough to grasp it. That kind of attitude works at GOP fundraisers but the rest of the American population is beyond disgusted with the phony bravado, lies, half-truths, overselling, and evasions. Maybe Cheney needs to take some more of his friends on a hunting trip.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Fox Gives Mitt a Subtle Boost

The Fox web site reports Mitt Romney as leading the Republican money race with $23 mill and then gives ol' Mitt a subtle little boost by claiming that Mitt is running third to Giuliani and McCain.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, Mitt is tied for fifth with Sam Brownback behind Giuliani, McCain, Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson.

For some reason beyond my ability to discern, media outlets like Fox have decided that Mitt Romney is a "first tier" candidate. But the poll numbers have never backed it up and Romney is now stuck in third tier status.

The Republican First Tier:

The Republican Second Tier:
Fred Thompson

The Republican Third Tier:
Mitt Romney
Sam Brownback
Tommy Thompson
Tom Tancredo
Duncan Hunter
Mike Huckabee
James Gilmore
Duke Cunningham

If Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich actually run, all the third tier candidates are sunk because both Thompson and Gingrich are media hounds.

After that, the big question will be who survives the tsunami of negative advertising that will be descending on the Republican primary.

If I had $50 bucks, I would bet $25 on McCain, $15 on Gingrich, and $10 on Giuliani. Because he lacks both early speed and a big finish, I don't see Mitt Romney as finishing in the money.

More on Matthew Dowd's Phony Apostasy

James Moore has a trenchant essay on Matthew Dowd's departure from the Bush camp at Huffington Post. Moore's main argument is that what Matthew Dowd loved about George Bush was the thought that Bush would serve as Dowd's own vehicle to power. In my opinion, Bush looked like an attractive blank slate for people like Matthew Dowd, Mark MacKinnon (Bush's other chief pollster for 2000, now working for John McCain), Dick Cheney, and Condoleeza Rice to write on. As a result, they all hitched their ambitions onto their love of George Bush.

My main thought about Dowd, however, is that his phony apostasy from Bush is a reflection of the renewed power of liberal narratives in American political life. Sensing that he was on the losing side of the moral debate and political struggle, Dowd decided to bolt back to the liberal side.

As far as I'm concerned, Bush can have him.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Ignorance Pledge

Jonathan Chait of the LA Times is mistaken to think that Republicans in Congress have become more sceptical about global warming because of the association of global warming with the hated figure of Al Gore. To illustrate increasingly Republican scepticism, Chait cites a survey by the National Journal showing that support for scientific conclusions that the "Earth is warming because of man-made problems" has shrunk from 23% in 2006 to 13% this year.

Chait tries to be generous to the Republicans by explaining the reduction in support for climate science as a function of hatred for Al Gore than the campaign contributions of the energy industry. He shouldn't have bothered. The difference between Congressional Republicans in 2006 and 2007 is the defeat or retirement of relatively moderate Republicans from states like Connecticut. As a result, there's a higher proportion of right-wing activists and evangelicals like Kentucky's Ron Lewis among Republicans in the House of Representatives. These kinds of Republicans reject any kind of science that contradicts their evangelical beliefs or undermines their extremely conservative views. Their hatred of Al Gore is just a convenient handle for their general anti-intellectualism.

In fact, the anti-intellectualism has gotten so bad that House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio has refused to appoint scientist Congressmen like Reps. Roscoe Bartlett, R. Md. and Vernon Ehlers, R. Mich to seats on the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. According to Chair, another Republican, Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland, was denied a seat on the committee because he refused to "say that humans have not contributed to global warming."

For years, Republicans have been pressured into signing Grover Norquist's pledge not to vote for tax increases. Pretty soon, I'll bet that evangelical Republicans and activist conservatives will start circulating an "Ignorance Pledge" requiring Republicans to deny validity to evolutionary theory, bio-genetics and modern astronomy as well as climate science.

Unfortunately, there will be a lot of Republicans eager to sign.

Matthew Dowd's Failed Homoeroticism

Matthew Dowd, long a part of the White House inner circle and the chief campaign strategist for Bush-Cheney 2004, expressed his disappointment with President Bush in an interview with the New York Times. Dowd originally fell in love with Bush (“It’s almost like you fall in love”) because he envisioned Bush as someone who could bridge the divide between the Republicans and the Democrats in Washington. But love doesn't seem to last forever. Dowd was appalled by Bush's failure to fire Donald Rumsfeld after the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2003, later became disappointed by Bush's "my way or the highway" leadership style, and is now so opposed to the Iraq War that he's been thinking about joining anti-war demonstrations.

Matthew Yglesias doesn't believe it adds up and I don't either. Dowd wasn't just another guy in the Bush White House. He was the co-chief pollster for the 2000 campaign and it was Dowd's interpretation of poll data that justified the Bush administration's whole strategy of scaring up a bare 51% majority by sowing fear and division in 2004. Dowd was the guy who came up with the brilliant idea that most people who identified themselves as "independents" actually voted the party line almost all the time. The consequence of this insight was that Rove and Dowd developed campaign strategies designed to heighten the partisan identifications of Republicans by relentlessly vilifying Democrats.

Given that Dowd himself was at ground zero of the Bush campaign nastiness, his story of souring personally on Bush doesn't sound too plausible. Personally, I wonder about the extent to which Bush himself contributed to Dowds personal drama. Bush may have been growing inflexible and intolerant, but it's hard to believe that the frat-boy atmosphere and hard-core put downs of opponents wasn't there from the beginning. Likewise, it was Rove and Dowd who trumpeted Bush's inflexibility as the heart of political virtue and grand strategy for the Republican Party. Politicians serve as props for the staging tactics, advertising strategies, and speech-writing of their political advisers and consultants. If Dowd soured on somebody, it shouldn't have been George Bush. It should have been Matthew Dowd himself first, then Karl Rove, and finally the rest of the hyper-aggressive and relentlessly partisan White House political office? In fact, Dowd bears more responsibility for Bush-era divisiveness than President Bush himself.

When the history of the Bush inner circle is written, one of the main story-lines is going to be the twisted strands of love among his staff--Condoleeza Rice and Harriet Miers thinking of Bush as husbands, the boy bonds of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove, the shared satisfaction of being really big swinging dicks. Perhaps Bush "principles" retreated to private places to compare penis size like NBA players. Matthew Dowd is somewhat different though in that he does not hesitate to directly express his love for George Bush. Here, Dowd explains how love blinded him to President Bush's shortcomings.

“When you fall in love like that and then you notice some things that don’t exactly go the way you thought, what do you do? Like in a relationship, you say ‘No no, no, it’ll be different.’ ”

Obviously, there's a lot of homoeroticism here. What Dowd seems to have fallen in love with in George W. Bush was his own self-image in the more prestigious form of a President who was following his advice--somewhat like a puppeteer swooning for his more-famous puppet. In falling for the President, Dowd loved a seemingly larger-than-life version of Matthew Dowd himself. Along this line, Dowd gradually fell out of love with the George Bush version of himself when things didn't go "exactly" the way he thought they should.

Too bad, Dowd didn't fall out of love so much with himself because now Dowd's looking for another venue in which he can really love himself, something on another continent. According to Dowd, “I wouldn’t be surprised if I wasn’t walking around in Africa or South America doing something that was like mission work.”

Maybe he can take Ted Haggard with him.