Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Remember how the Bush Administration dealt with the Chinese after an American spy plane collided with a Chinese fighter and was forced down on Hainan Island in the South China Sea in 2001? How Cheney made ominous noises, Bush refused to apologize for the incident, and it seemed for a few days as if the new administration was actively trying to poison relations with China? Then came 9/11 and China moved to the back page. Now it's up front again--or it should be, except this story doesn't seem to be getting much play. In the Los Angeles Times, Chalmers Johnson writes today that the U.S. is sending seven carrier groups on joint military exercises with Taiwan off the Taiwanese coast this month and next. Seven--enough to make the Chinese wonder if they're going to be attacked, if not now, then sometime. (We only have 12 carrier groups altogether.) So China is embarking on a crash program to build up their military force so it's sufficient to fight off a seven-headed enemy within the next 10 years. They say they could take on one or two carrier groups now--making clear they could lob a few missiles our way this summer if they wanted to.

You can guess who's behind this. And you gotta hand it to the neocons--once they get an idea in their heads, there's no shifting it. And this idea goes way back, to the post-World War II intellectual forefathers of today's neocons, who walked around asking, "Who lost China?" after the revolution of 1949. (Implicit answer: commie appeasers in the Truman Administraton.) Johnson wonders if this might be the neocons' last chance to poke China with a stick, since it's almost inevitably going to evolve economically and politically in the direction of South Korea and Taiwan itself--and it won't be any fun to mess with them then. (I can't rule out the whole October Surprise thing either. How about another war to bring the electorate into line?) 

Recommended Reading: I complained last summer how Kerry and Edwards (and others in the Democratic field) were neutered on Iraq because they voted for the damn war. The Los Angeles Times fears they might still be neutered. How can they criticize Bush for getting our soldiers killed over there when they voted for the very idea to begin with? Howard Dean alluded to this conundrum when I heard him speak in Madison during the waning days of his campaign. Dean imagined Bush ticking off a list of his initiatives--Iraq, No Child Left Behind, and others--and asking Kerry to explain why he'd voted for them then if they were such bad ideas now. It's not a pretty thing to imagine--by the time Kerry got done with the nuances and the footnotes, it would be Christmas. A Times editorial sorts out the box Kerry and Edwards are in.

And speaking of Dean, his campaign manager, Joe Trippi, is out with his book, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Alternet has an excerpt. Key moment: It's December 2003, and the campaign is in trouble. In a meeting with staffers, Dean has just refused to release his papers from his term as governor of Vermont.

My office is in the corner of the third floor, a long narrow gash of a room--a crash site of paper, CD cases, and empty Diet Pepsi cans. Howard Dean is standing against the wall, his back to me. He's shaking.

"You made this too easy," he manages to say.

"What?" I ask.

"This. I never thought it would go this far. I was going to raise my profile, raise health care as an issue, shake up the Democratic Party. Help change the country. But I never thought this would happen. Don't you understand?" He turns and faces me. "I never thought I could actually win. I wanted to . . . but I never really thought it could happen."
Trippi believes the Dean campaign will go down in history as a profound shift in the balance of power from the few to the many. But we can't be sure that's going to happen either--not yet.
This afternoon on The Hits Just Keep On Comin': Burning Love.

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