"HIS AMBITION HAS MADE HIM A COWARD." I like how you put that, Charlie. I know that ambition corrupts, and absolute ambition corrupts absolutely, but I'm still a bit shocked and awed at the depths to which McCain has dropped. Put aside his faux-ideological independence, his disheartening ability to pass off traditional conservatism as modern centrism. The one thing McCain always retained, and always seemed serious about, was an elevated expectation for politics. He seemed to believe that campaigns should be about something more than decontextualized votes and misleading attacks.
YOU'VE GOTTA LOVE POWERPOINT. A fun slide from a presentation at Central Command finds its way to the New York Times, upshot being that the situation is worse now than it ever has been before. The presentation was given to President Bush and SecDef Rumsfeld on October 18; maybe it helped spur the "We are not stay the course, we have never been stay the course" charade?
A PROPOSAL. If we're going to play by Mark Halperin's rules of mindless balance, then every news item about John Kerry's hamfisted way with humor should be followed by a sentence something like this: "This is not the first time an important politician has been caught in what observers say is an act of disrespect for our troops." Which would then be followed by a description (in print) or the actual footage (on TV) of this.
FEVERED. Someone please show me a single act of public political courage undertaken by John McCain since he won the New Hampshire primary in 2000 that he hasn't hedged, trimmed, or walked back completely. The Bush campaign trashed his wife and daughter, and he's spent the years since trying to get a job as the pool boy in Crawford. He gave a brave speech about the danger of political preachers, but he'd walk on his knees across broken glass to get himself blessed by Jerry Falwell's direct-mail people. But yesterday might well be the purest day of opportunistic sycophancy in the history of the Straight Talk Express.
I have railed in the past about the uselessness of the consumer confidence index. It basically gives us a measure of where the economy is today and tells nothing about where it will be tomorrow. For this reason, I was not especially impressed by the news that the index had fallen slightly last month. It is worth noting that the drop was driven by a substantial decline in the current conditions index, from 128.3 to 124.7. This component, which does tell us about how people are feeling today, tells us that people are becoming more pessimistic, in spite of the drop in gas prices.
MILITARY DEMOS CONTINUED.Brad Plumer writes in to point me to this Heritage Foundation analysis showing that, due to the post-9/11 enlistment boost, the army is both a bit richer and more educated than the population as a whole. So there you have it. While on the subject, you've really got to check out The Corner's obsession with Kerry's comment. By my count, they've put up 32 posts on the gaffe. Grasping at straws doesn't even begin to cover it.
HUMAN CAPITAL.Ezra, I think that the lower middle class is more or less the correct answer, although I don't have ready statistics on the socioeconomic backgrounds of military personnel, either. The military still provides a ready avenue for upward mobility, which means that people on lower economic rungs will find it correspondingly more attractive.
FL-GOV: TWO-WAY CONTEST BECOMES THREE-WAY DEBATE. The suddenly-interesting gubernatorial race in Florida took a surprising turn last night, when self-financed independent Max Linn won a court order 20 minutes before the final gubernatorial debate and joined state Attorney General Charlie Crist (R) and Rep. Jim Davis (D) on the stage. As the Palm Beach Postreported today, the last-minute entry "shook up the night and, possibly, the race itself."