Thursday, February 28, 2008

Items of Interest

-- There's a nice analysis job in this article: Who's the Better Closer?

-- George Will takes a hit at McCain:

-- Then there's this item from David Ignatius.

Politicians who talk about the terrorism threat -- and it's already clear that this will be a polarizing issue in the 2008 campaign -- should be required to read a new book by a former CIA officer named Marc Sageman. It stands what you think you know about terrorism on its head and helps you see the topic in a different light.

What distinguishes his new book, "Leaderless Jihad," is that it peels away the emotional, reflexive responses to terrorism that have grown up since Sept. 11, 2001, and looks instead at scientific data Sageman has collected on more than 500 Islamic terrorists -- to understand who they are, why they attack and how to stop them.

The heart of Sageman's message is that we have been scaring ourselves into exaggerating the terrorism threat -- and then by our unwise actions in Iraq making the problem worse. He attacks head-on the central thesis of the Bush administration, echoed increasingly by Republican presidential candidate John McCain, that, as McCain's Web site puts it, the United States is facing "a dangerous, relentless enemy in the War against Islamic Extremists" spawned by al-Qaeda.

I'm adding another book to my list to read.

-- Daniel Henninger of the WSJ has an interesting analysis piece on Hillary in "Hillary's Close-Up". He gives credit to Howard Dean and the netroots.

A year ago, Hillary Clinton assumed the effort would bring her the prize. Instead, it has brought her to the precipice. What happened? What was supposed to be triumph has turned to tragedy. Who rewrote the plot?

The first revision came at the hand of Howard Dean. The Vermont governor's quixotic 2004 presidential run did one big thing: It let the netroots out. It empowered the Democratic Left. Web-based "progressives" proved they could raise lots of political money and bring pressure, especially when allied with labor unions.

They didn't defeat centrist Joe Lieberman in 2006, but they drove him out of the party. They pushed the party's Iraq policy under Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi into total, rejectionist opposition. In this world, the Petraeus surge is a failure, period. Thus, Obama calmly gives the surge little or no credit. Also in this world, trade and Nafta are anathema, as seen in the House refusal to pass the trade agreement with Colombia, the U.S.'s strongest ally in South America.

What the netroots has done is bunch up the party ideologically. While the Republican Party slices conservative ideology as thinly as aged prosciutto, the Democrats, in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail, are all swinging a populist anvil -- with the left hand.

I don't believe he meant it as a positive compliment but I'll take it that way and I know a few friends who will do so as well.


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