45 – 43 IN SOUTH CAROLINA

That’s Bush’s advantage over a generic Democrat in one of the most conservative states in the country. Not encouraging for the White House.

TAKING THE TEST: So I took Dan Drezner’s cue and went to the Presidential Match Guide, which asks various questions about public policy and then determines whom you should vote for. I was a little taken aback. It’s probably my liberal instincts on things like the death penalty, gay rights, and immigration, but George W. Bush ended up my last choice – after every single Democrat. He’s behind Al Sharpton! Of course, they didn’t have a question like: do you think a race-baiting demagogue would be a good president? Or: does the mental stability of former generals play a role in your decision? Still, I’m struck that I turn out to be such a Democrat on the issues. For the record: my computer-generated preferences were in descending order: Lieberman 100 percent, Kerry 95, Clark 90, Edwards 88, Sharpton 86, Dean 83, Kucinich 76, Bush 61. I think this basically debunks the entire exercise. Or else it’s more evidence that I am one conflicted political animal. But then you knew that already.

PICKING A NIT: I’ve wrestled for a few days with whether I should post a correction about my comments on Josh Marshall’s recent review essay on American “imperialism.” A few readers have pointed out that, despite my assertion to the contrary, there is too a mention of 9/11 in Marshall’s essay. He refers to it once at the beginning of the piece, and incidentally once thereafter – so I’m an idiot. Can I read? Nyah, nyah, nyah, etc. Of course, I am aware that there is a single chronological mention of the date in an essay of several thousand words. I wasn’t engaged in linguistic computer analysis of the piece. My point was and is that the event plays no role whatever in Marshall’s analysis. It might as well not have happened. You can make your own mind up about the piece, which is why I provided a link. But my reading, I think, is a completely cogent one. Now technically speaking, there is one direct mention of 9/11 in a piece of several thousand words. For the record, I feel bound to correct that. I also made a dumber error that I do not proffer as an excuse, just an explanation: I intended “nary” to mean “barely.” My original version of the item – on my draft document sheet – says simply ‘not.’ Realizing that was technically not true, I changed it to “nary” on the blog, thinking that would cover it. Not according to the dictionary. My bad. Here endeth the penance. My nit is hereby picked.

TWO NEW POSTS

My interview with Front Page and my Time magazine piece on Bush’s penchant for micro-managing people’s lives are now posted opposite.

THE FUNDAMENTAL DIVIDE

Here’s the choice we may face in November. It’s how John Kerry understands the threat of terrorism:

The war on terror is less — it is occasionally military, and it will be, and it will continue to be for a long time. And we will need the best-trained and the most well-equipped and the most capable military, such as we have today.
But it’s primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world – the very thing this administration is worst at. And most importantly, the war on terror is also an engagement in the Middle East economically, socially, culturally, in a way that we haven’t embraced, because otherwise we’re inviting a clash of civilizations.
And I think this administration’s arrogant and ideological policy is taking America down a more dangerous path. I will make America safer than they are.

Back to the 1990s or post-9/11 Bush. Law enforcement versus war. It’s a clear and important distinction. Let’s put it at the center of this debate, where it belongs.

GALLOWAY GOT $9.5 MILLION? ABC News, hardly a pro-war outlet, details <a href = http

//abcnews.go.com/sections/WNT/Investigation/saddam_oil_vouchers_040129-1.html target = _blank>Saddam’s bribes.

CONFRONTING BIGOTS

Good for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The very idea that gay people are trying to tear down marriage is nonsense; heterosexual people are doing quite fine on their own in that regard and hardly need the assistance of others. Gay people have not caused the divorce rate to soar. Gay people haven’t caused the rise in single-parent families. To make gay people the scapegoat for the problems that plague modern marriage is absurd on its face.

In fact, to the degree that gay Americans wish to join in marriage, it ought to be seen as an endorsement of the institution, as a recognition that the civilizing merits and rich emotional rewards of marriage appeal not just to people of all cultures, races and ages, but to people of all sexual preference as well.

The interest of gay Americans in getting married is a celebration, a validation of marriage. It is not a threat.

Ten, 20, 30 years from now, we’re going to have to go back into the Georgia Constitution to pull this hateful language out. And some of the very politicians who today will vote in favor of that language will no doubt be there when it is repealed, sheepishly trying to explain how it wasn’t really about hate and discrimination, how back then they were just worried about protecting marriage and the family.

And you know what? Nobody will believe them. Nor should they.

I sure won’t.

THE BUSH COCOON

Even in New Hampshire.

HOW TO RUN AGAINST KERRY

All the signs are that the Republicans plan to disinter the old “l-word” campaign against Kerry. Liberal, liberal, liberal. To which the best response is: dated, dated, dated. The Finklestein strategy is very tired. Like an ad campaign that has lost its punch, it might backfire badly – making it look as if the Republicans are simply negative and still living in the past. A much smarter move, it seems to me, would be to paint Kerry as simply all over the map. Show not just how liberal he has been – but how conservative he has tried to seem in the past as well. Use his war votes – against the Gulf War in 1991 (but for it in letters to constituents) and for the Saddam War in 2003 (but against the $87 billion to make it work) – to cast doubt on whether he really is decisive enough to be president at a time of war. Make him look weak and vacillating rather than extreme and liberal. That makes the case for Bush’s war-leadership indirectly – and therefore more effectively.