Wednesday, November 05, 2003

I said there was nothing interesting being written on the blogosphere anymore and that the passion was gone. (That's the post where Bloopy commented 15 times about flip-flops.) Boy was I wrong.

Seems the hot political topic du jour is the potential defection of liberal hawks. The old free-living lefty writer Roger Simon probably started it when he said he was voting for Bush because of what he sees as the leading Dems' weak position on national security. (Actually, that's not exactly what he said, but it went in that direction.) Sullivan throws fuel on the fire by posting a few emails from liberal readers who said they turned pro-Bush after 9/11.

Michael Totten, one of the smartest liberal hawk bloggers, has become one of the go-to points for this, all of which has mysteriously roared to the forefront in the past few days.

Today Totten dropped a bit of a bombshell. He says might actually vote for Howard Dean, the go-to point for everybody who opposed the war from the beginning.

Howard Dean is not a left-wing extremist. He's a centrist who opposed regime-change in Iraq. As wrongheaded as I think that stance was, it's in the past. As for the present and the future, he's a staunch supporter of nation-building and Iraqi reconstruction.
Well then.

It's Agony of the Liberals, Part II. Why now? I guess because things are going worse than expected in Iraq, ergo the Democrat candidates feel, correctly, they should make some noise about it; said noise puts the hackles of the liberal hawks up, because of the unstated implication that the war was a bad idea to begin with. So the liberal hawks are starting to bite back.

Now if you've come here for my opinion, that's pretty easy: I was conflicted about the war from the beginning, so I'm not against a candidate who hasn't taken a hard line. (In the end, I think leaving the inspectors in on a semi-permanent basis -- yes, that means leaving Saddam Hussein in power -- was probably the least bad of numerous bad options.) And on that note, I'd like to speak up for the silent, conflicted majority: Those who saw both sides to the should-we or shouldn't-we debate and got more than a little annoyed with the shrill noises being made by the two camps of conviction.

At the end of the day, Bush can only run on his record, and there's very little he's done right that a more liberal president wouldn't have done equally as well. Afghanistan was a no-brainer. Iraq was and is a major brainer, and Bush has little to show for it. He could theoretically brag that where Clinton let Saddam stare him down, he forced Iraq to accept tough inspections again. But to what end?

And here's where I shoehorn in my prediction of the Great Bush Crack. This is the point in the campaign where his wilier opponent needles him with barbs and wisecracks to the point where he unleashes something so stupid, preposterous and transparently wrong-headed that you'll hear the thud in Australia -- of the nation's collective jaw hitting the floor. I haven't watched a presidential debate since 1992, but you'd better believe I'll be staying up for these ones.

I would love to have the ear of Howard Dean's campaign advisor for the next 12 months, because I honestly believe he could be the next president if he plays his cards right. Totten's right. Don't count him out just because he opposed the war. But it'll take a major mood swing on his part.


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