Friday, September 24, 2004

Yet Another Strategic Blunder From Kerry

Quick note, and speaking only strategically:

Kerry's strategy to basically project gloom & doom about Iraq and other issues strikes me as myopic, more something born of desperation than inspiration. It's okay to criticize things where you see problems, especially if you were more like Howard Dean, and opposed this whole thing from the beginning. Kerry would probably find more success if he were to acknowledge the successes in Iraq as well as the failures, and focus more on a sunny, preferable (and halfway coherent) alternative that he can offer. It's a question of emphasis and attitude. I don't think voters are going to be all that enthusiastic about about a candidate who projects hopelessness and despair. They will be, though, about a candidate who is optimistic, or at least halfway confident. Again, it's not a question of policies - it's a question of emphasis. You'd think Kerry might have learned a few lessons from the Kennedy campaign of 1960 (Eisenhower did a few good things, but here's how things could be even better), and Carter vs Reagan in 1980 - hope vs pessimism personified.

PS - I was just finishing writing this, and noticed Boffo aka Nifty McNiftington made a similar observation. He puts it a lot more humorously and directly than I do.

4 Comments:

Blogger Thad said...

Kerry's strategy to basically project gloom & doom about Iraq and other issues strikes me as myopicMore myopic than this?

President Bush said he had no regrets about donning a flight suit to give his "Mission Accomplished" speech on Iraq in May 2003 and would do it all over again if he had the chance, according to excerpts from an television interview released on Sunday.

When asked by Fox News if he still would have put on a flight suit to declare major combat operations in Iraq over, Bush replied, "Absolutely."
http://tinyurl.com/6l8ct

You know, there's sunny optimism and then there's willful blindness. I'd like to think most Americans are savvy enough to know the difference.

BTW, Kerry's response is great:

"I will never be a president who just says 'mission accomplished.' I will get the mission accomplished," said the Massachusetts senator. "That's the difference."http://tinyurl.com/4bt8o

Sunday, September 26, 2004 7:10:00 PM  
Blogger Moon God said...

Thad, I'm disappointed in you. I realize that that a comment on a blog is hardly the same thing as a formal philosophy paper, but honestly, a Fallacy Ad Hominem Tu Quoque? I was just making a comment about Kerry primarily - Bush has his own issues independent of whatever may be right or wrong about Kerry.

You also missed one of my main points - or perhaps I simply wasn't clear enough about it - that there's a difference between sunny optimism of the Pollyanna-ish variety and a stubborn confidence to succeed whatever the obstacles. Bush and friends have never said things in Iraq were going to be hunky dory - merely that they'd be better than the previous status quo of dictatorship.

As for the battleship, I can't believe you and so many others have such a Michael Moore-esque obsession with it. Who cares? A) It was the battleship's sign, not the White House's. Moreover, B) It was quite accurate on two counts. That ship's mission was, in fact, accomplished. It was bound for home. Second, the first component of the war, the mission to dislodge Saddam's regime, was indisputably accomplished. That government was eliminated.

There's so much more substantial you could say about why the war was a bad idea, why the war was botched, or why the Bush administration is wretched by your lights. (As a rule of thumb, you should ask how fatal a given controversy really is to the viablity of the candidate, or do some counterfactuals. Would you be any less anti-Bush if the Navy guys didn't foist up that "Mission Accomplished" sign? I doubt it...) If I actually believed government bureaucrats to be smart or competent enough to do it, I'd half believe that that the trivial obsessions of the anti-Bush league - the Mission Accomplished sign, Bush's National Guard service, the 7 or 8 minutes Bush waited in the school after being told of the 9/11 attacks - were all the most successful political rope-a-dopes in modern history. To borrow from an argument you no doubt endorse - "You're spending all this time going after this inconsequential stuff (Iraq), and fouling it up at that, that you've diverted attention and resources from the bigger battle on weightier matters (al-Qaeda/Afghanistan)."

Anyway. As you know, free time for blogging is a rare commodity for me anymore, but if I have enough time by the end of the week, I should have something up about "things in Iraq are improving/really smelly" debate. There's something I think is very wrong about that whole debate, and while my comments will certainly burn the Kerry doom & gloom meme, it's potentially even more fatal to the very basis of the Iraq War, so it may be an even worse flaw for the Bushies.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger Thad said...

Kraorh,

Turnabout is fair play. You criticized Kerry's "pessimism" on Iraq, so it's entirely reasonable and relevant for me to point out that his opponent's delusional "optimism" is what got us into this mess in the first place, and therefore, perhaps a little pessimism is warranted given that the insurgency keeps getting stronger, US casualties continue to mount, the population is becoming increasingly hostile to the occupation, and that according to the latest National Intelligence Estimate, the *absolute best-case* scenario is that things don't keep getting worse.

"You also missed one of my main points - or perhaps I simply wasn't clear enough about it - that there's a difference between sunny optimism of the Pollyanna-ish variety and a stubborn confidence to succeed whatever the obstacles." 

 

Nope, I got it just fine. It's just that the Bush administration belongs squarely in Pollyanna-land.

[I mean, seriously: if you believe otherwise, please describe Bush's plan for success in Iraq, and why you think it's working. Don't give me the usual right-wing crap about the schools, etc. -- tell me how Bush plans to stabilize the country, defeat the insurgents, extend government control to insurgent-held cities (ideally without massive civilian casualties), and ensure free and fair elections. Bonus points: explain how the installation of a CIA puppet as Iraqi PM helps us win Iraqi hearts and minds.]

"Bush and friends have never said things in Iraq were going to be hunky dory" 

 

That is categorically false.

Dick Cheney said there was "no question" that the Iraqis "will welcome as liberators the United States." Paul Wolfowitz said the Iraqis would "welcome us with chocolates and flowers." He also said that the war would "pay for itself" out of Iraqi oil revenue. Richard Perle said Iraq was a "house of cards." Ken Adelman even said it would be a "cakewalk."

Are you really not aware of this stuff? These statements are not isolated remarks, they are entirely in keeping with the administration's pre-war message.

On the other hand, nobody in the administration ever said anything even remotely like "Defeating Saddam will only be the beginning -- Americans need to steel themselves for the possibility of a bloody post-invasion insurgency that could last for years, and cost us hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of coalition lives."

"A) It was the battleship's sign, not the White House's" 

 

Again, this is absolutely false. The White House made the sign:

Link.As for your subsequent remarks, well, I too expect better from you than that sort of transparent equivocation. What impression do you think that particular flashy, heavily-promoted PR stunt was intended to convey? Merely that the *ship's* mission was accomplished?

[If you believe that, well, there's a real beaut of a bridge in our neighborhood... I can getcha a real good deal on it, too... ]

"There's so much more substantial you could say about why the war was a bad idea, why the war was botched, or why the Bush administration is wretched by your lights. " 

 


Well, yes, and I do, elsewhere. But that wasn't especially relevant to your original post, which was entirely about a "strategic blunder." You wanna talk policy instead, sure -- let's talk policy.

"I should have something up about "things in Iraq are improving/really smelly" debate." 

 

Okay, looking forward to it...

Cheers,

- Thad

Wednesday, September 29, 2004 12:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're right on track and not many people are willing to admit that they share your views. matthew fox is an AWESOME place to discuss LOST.

Saturday, October 29, 2005 4:07:00 AM  

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