A LIGHT IS FLICKERING.Twelve to eighteen months now, and they can stand up and we can stand down. Maybe. General Casey and Ambassador Khalilzad promised that within that timeframe, the Iraqi government will a) disarm the militias, b) quell the insurgency, and c) reach political compromise on the sectarian divisions that have torn the country apart. No word yet, of course, on whether it will also give every Iraqi a pony.
CENTER OF GRAVITY. The consensus is that Baghdad is the center of gravity for the conflict in Iraq. The military has tried to spin this in a positive way; the battle of Baghdad is where the insurgency can be defeated. But this isn't really what's going on. Baghdad is a center of gravity, but not for the insurgency.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: IT'S THE POLITICS, STUPID.Dana GoldsteinassessesGail Collins' tenure as New York Times editorial page editor and weighs in on the ongoing debate over women's underrepresentation in political punditry. The lack of female pundits isn't the real problem, she says; it's the lack of female politicians.
EXPERIENCE MATTERS. This warning from John Judis is, I think, an apt one for a Democratic Party that may be willing to trample its own better instincts to recapture power:
I wouldn't say that winning a presidential primary contest, or even the general election, is adequate preparation for being president. I'm skeptical about senators without significant foreign policy experience and governors from small states with little national experience or from large states who had little responsibility in office.
THE GREAT RISK SHIFT DEBATE. Sam hasn't done it yet, so allow me to recommend Matt's rejoinder to Jacob Hacker's Great Risk Shift argument. You're already hearing a ton about Hacker's book, but so far, most of the reviews and rundowns I've seen have either been uncritically laudatory or hackishly off-base. Matt's criticism, that Hacker's book marks a perpetuation of the "Third Way" unwillingness to discuss inequality, is the second most perceptive critique I've read of Hacker.
MOLTO MARIO. God bless you, Mario Loyola of National Review. During these dark times, who will stand up to defend the Iraqi experiment in democracy? You will! To wit:
But as bad as the security situation is, I think Americans would feel differently if they knew the tenor of the political debate in Iraq -- how effectively every major issue is getting debated in the legislature, in the government, and in the press. Amidst all the violence, the democratic debate continues, and it is already sinking deep roots into the Iraqi psyche.
YOU'VE DONE NOTHING BUT CAUSE HARM.Matt had Clash-blogging; I'll have Avail-blogging. The latest Mason-Dixon poll has George Allen slightly ahead of Jim Webb, albeit still within the margin of error. No one knows how the race will end up, but one group that had Allen's number way, way before Macaca-gate was the brilliant 1990s Richmond-based punk band Avail. Back on their classic 1996 album 4 a.m. Friday, they penned an anthem, "Governor," about then-Gov. Allen:
WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES...The New York Times is picking up on Chris Bowers' brilliant "Use It Or Lose It" campaign, which seeks to force comfortable Democratic incumbents to donate 30% of their useless war chests in order expand the field of competitive seats. The Times leads with Martin Meehan, a safe, Massachusetts Democrat with $4.8 million in the bank. He's donated $355,000 to the DCCC.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: JAWBONE GEORGE.Mattdoes not think "diplomacy" means what the president thinks it means. Also in this column, Matt assesses the administration's announced plan to achieve unilateral military hegemony over outer space.