MONSTER SUCCESS. Now that O.J. Simpson is publishing his quasi-confession If I Did It, I'm looking for a forthcoming memoir by former Rep. Mark Foley that ought to be called My Back Pages. It's no longer true that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. The last refuge now is the best-seller list.
CRYSTAL BALL. It's not often that you get a very clear glimpse of the future so, when you do get it, you should pay attention to it. Now, assuming that the McGyver Solution to the Iraq debacle proves ineffective -- watch Jim Baker make a peace plan out of two paper clips and a flashlight! -- and that, one day, C-Plus Augustus will stop listening to Henry Kissinger talking about the importance of "will" (something I had hoped I would never see again in my lifetime and a concept that the president probably should bounce off his hosts in Vietnam this week just for fun), blame is going to get parceled out pretty thickly.
CRUELTY AND SILENCE.The New Republic fired me before it published its Iraq symposium. Oh well -- it had been made clear to me that I wouldn't have been invited to contribute anyway. So now I take up my new role: foul-weather critic of its latest spineless Iraq editorial. (In TNR-speak, a "lede.")
Yes, that is what the NYT headline said about the 0.2 percent decline in sales reported for October. The consensus forecast was a 0.4 percent decline. Of course, September sales were revised down from a drop of 0.4 perrcent to a drop of 0.8 percent. This means that October sales were 0.2 percent below the consensus forecast. This is beating expectations?
A DISAPPOINTING START.Joe Conason is right: The race between Murtha and Hoyer present two astonishingly unappealing options. Murtha is hawkish, corrupt, conservative, and a dear friend to the defense industry -- year after year, he's the top congressional recipient of their donations, and he repays them in full. His brave comments on Iraq were aberrational rather than characteristic, and his emergence as the progressive choice is evidence of some very short Democratic memories. Hoyer, however, is fetishistically centrist, corporatist, and at odds with Pelosi.
HEATH SHULER: ACTUALLY A DEMOCRAT. As the invocations keep coming, I rise to defend Congressman-elect Heath Shuler, who must be getting damned sick and tired of having his marvelous underdog win characterized by the side that got skunked last week as a de facto win for its principles, and even by his own, winning side as a shrewd tactical abandonment of its own. Here's a very good local account of Shuler's win. Shuler didn't win because he was slightly less conservative than Charles Taylor, the Republican he whacked. He won because the party Mr.
THE POPULIST.Jim Webb's Wall Street Journalop-ed today is a full-throated blast of up-with-the-people populism. He spends four paragraphs fiercely decrying "our society's steady drift toward a class-based system," attacking out-of-control CEO pay and decrying the middle class squeeze. But the really fascinating bit comes when he settles into the fight and picks his targets.