Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Auld Acquaintance Not Forgot
Before we go boldly toward the challenges of 2004, I suppose I should weigh in with my own 2003-in-review piece, but I've run out of time to put it together. I have, however, linked to several worthwhile ones in the last few days, all of which I recommend. I do have time to quote a few of my favorite earlier entries from this blog. (Alas, all of my pre-October entries are currently unavailable, so until they are, this sampler will have to do.)

March 11: "The Bush Administration continues its futile push for passage of a second UN resolution giving it a fig leaf to wage preemptive war on Iraq. After its representatives made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, the administration seemed focused on getting nine of the 15 Security Council members to vote in favor, all the while acknowledging that a veto is likely, if not quite a done deal. Colin Powell bleated Sunday that the French had not actually used the word 'veto,' thus holding out the hope that they might simply abstain from the vote rather than tossing a big Gallic fuck-you into Uncle Sam's face. Then on Monday Jacques Chirac did indeed flip Powell the bird. (Why is Powell putting himself through this? My guess is that Mrs. Powell is now shaving him every morning, because the poor bastard must be unable to look at himself in the mirror anymore.)"

March 17: "It is said that the summer weather in 1939 Europe was unspeakably beautiful, that no one could remember finer weather. And then came September 1. Today, too, was a beautiful day here in Wisconsin. It must have felt exactly like this in late August of 1939, when the nations of Europe wearily waited for the inevitable. The difference is that this time, we're the Germans."

April 23: "The Democratic candidates, such as they are, seem to be pinning their hopes, such as they are, on the economy still being in the tank come Election Day. But unless it's spectacularly in the tank--and it will have to be a whole lot worse than it is now--that won't be enough. In fact, the economy might not even get noticed, what with all the flag-waving and hymn-singing that will be going on. In what is both a masterful political stroke and the epitome of political poor taste, the Bush campaign will kick off around the third anniversary of the September 11 attacks. And if the campaign should come on the heels of another star-spangled blitzkrieg in the Middle East (Syria, maybe, or will we have done them and moved on to Iran by then?), the Democrats would have to dig up FDR to win. And even then, Bush's $200 million campaign war chest would be more than adequate to portray him as a tax-and-spend liberal who cheats on his wife. Plus, he's soft on defense--remember, the Nazis and the Japanese ran rampant on his watch."

April 25: "[T]here's more today about Rick Santorum's anti-gay comments in which, among other things, he tried to distinguish between disapproval of homosexual acts and disapproval of homosexuals. Ari Fleischer has taken pains today to stress that President Bush believes Santorum is 'an inclusive man.' Of course this is the same president who called Ariel Sharon 'a man of peace.' Any day now, Ari is going to stand up in front of the press corps and announce that the president believes that two plus two equals five."

May 29: "I am convinced that one of the key reasons why the Republicans can get away with cutting taxes like drunken teenagers on an unsupervised bender is not just that people like to have more money in their pockets--although that's certainly a part of human nature that helps. It's that there's a hard nut out there in the electorate that thinks taxes are always bad, tax increases are even worse, tax cuts are always good, and is unwilling to consider any evidence to the contrary. While some of these folks are honest philosophical libertarians, many more are people with a vague notion that every tax increase means thousands and thousands of additional dollars sucked out of their individual pockets and into the government maw, where it is spent mostly on hookers, booze, and gold-plated bathroom fixtures."

June 16: "Being a good liberal, I am congenitally required to see nuance and acknowledge ambiguity, so I can't be 100 percent certain the DLC is wrong in their contention that a candidate who is strongly anti-Bush and clearly anti-war will get the party badly beaten in 2004. But I still believe that we need a high-stakes throwdown between competing visions; I still have little stomach for triangulating pro-war Bush-lite Democrats. As we used to say back on the farm, if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it's a duck. And if it walks like an endorsement… The only duck who's shown a real taste for George W. Junebug is Howard Dean."

July 9: "It was reported last week that Bush told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that God told him to strike Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. If this were any other Republican politician, we might pass it off as a ham-fisted attempt to communicate with a zealot in terms the zealot might understand. (Never mind that Palestinian zealots are largely secular zealots.) But Bush clearly believes it… If Bush is the best God can do, the quality of his work is slipping. I'd have saved Lincoln for these times, but that's just me."

July 21: "Sometimes headlines say more than they mean to, like this one from 7:30 this morning--"Wolfowitz Warns Foreigners Keep Out of Iraq." At mid-morning, however, somebody at Reuters must have caught it--the headline was changed to read "Wolfowitz Warns Iraq’s Neighbors Not to Interfere." Too bad--the ironic subtext in the original headline is the closest anyone has come to admitting that for all practical purposes, Iraq is now the 51st state."

August 6: "George W. Bush, the Great Liberator of the Oppressed and Champion of Downtrodden Peoples, stopped cutting brush on the ranch long enough today to send soldiers into Liberia to join the peacekeepers, as Liberia struggles through a civil war which has featured an Evil Dictator Who Killed His Own People. If you are an Evil Dictator Who Killed His Own People and Is Sitting on an Ocean of Oil, you get 150,000 troops. Members of Evil Dictators Who Kill Their Own People, Oil Free Division, apparently merit seven."

September 14: "Dick Gephardt told CNN that when he's the nominee, he will be proud to have Bill Clinton standing by his side. I felt almost physically stabbed by the remark--Dick Gephardt the nominee? Kill me now."

September 21: "Last week I caught a syndicated repeat [of NYPD Blue] that was so amazing I had to take notes. Two detectives were interviewing a suspected rape-murderer who had a porn fetish. In the line, 'You took a collar for dickie-waving last year,' the word 'dickie' was bleeped. But in a later scene, 'dickhead' went unbleeped, as did 'dick' when used as a synonym for the word 'nothing,' as when a suspect tells a detective there's no evidence he committed a crime by saying 'You ain't got dick.' So you might guess that modifiers are fine, but nouns referring to the male unit are forbidden . But you would be wrong. In the interview scene, 'chubby,' 'pecker,' and 'johnson' remained intact, as did the even-more-colorful 'whip your skippy' and 'flog your dummy.' And people say TV is a visual medium where language hardly matters anymore."

October 20: "As the daughter of a congressman and the sister of one of the most well-connected lobbyists in Washington, not to mention a star political reporter for ABC News, [Morning Edition commentator Cokie Roberts is] far more likely to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted than to do the opposite, which is supposed to be journalism's great credo. Why try to understand the Dean phenomenon, let alone explain it, when you can fall back on one of those things everybody knows is true? Surely nobody she knows will dispute it. I would die a happy man if Bob Edwards were ever to say, in that mellifluous NPR burr, 'But Cokie, that sounds like bullshit. Get the hell off my show.'"

I am glad to see this cursed year of 2003 go. May 2004 be no worse.

This is most likely my last blog post until Sunday or Monday, but in the interim, please click any or all of the links shown on the right side of this blog page. Or don't. Watch football all weekend instead. I know I will.

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