Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Double Gee

I've said it before. Just read Glenn Greenwald... every day.

Re: McCain's freefall:
It is not support for the Iraq war which dooms a GOP presidential candidacy, but the opposite: any real questioning of the wisdom of the war or any agitating for withdrawal or opposition to Bush's commitment would immediately and single-handedly destroy the viability of a GOP candidacy.

[...]

The war in Iraq remains popular with the GOP base. They want to stay and keep waging war. They would immediately turn against anyone who advocated withdrawal or even questioned the wisdom of staying. The Republican Party continues to be the Party of the Iraq War, and -- directly contrary to the conventional wisdom that is arising -- loyal support for the Iraq War is an absolute pre-requisite for winning the nomination.

[...]

To claim that McCain's unapologetic support of the Iraq War is what destroyed his candidacy is to misapprehend completely the nature of the Republican Party base. What they demand, first and foremost, is unwavering loyalty to the Cause, and that Cause is shaped predominantly by Middle East militarism, beginning with Iraq.

[...]

Those who want to claim -- based on "impressions" and anecdotes and "feelings" -- that the rank-and-file of the Republican Party has turned against the war must confront actual empirical evidence proving the opposite. It is hard to overstate the distance between the views of the Republican Party on George Bush and the Iraq war and the rest of the country.

From the CBS News poll (.pdf) released at the end of June (Republican responses in yellow):

Republicans overwhelmingly approve of the job Bush is doing (66-23%):

They even overwhelmingly support the way Bush is handling Iraq (59-33%):

There is a huge gap between Republicans who think the surge is working and those who think it is not working (42-5%, with 41% believing it has had no impact):

And the vast majority of Republicans favors either keeping the current troop levels in Iraq or increasing troops levels (60-32%):

Whatever else is true, the Republican Party is not a party where a candidate's pro-war, pro-Bush position will doom the candidacy. Exactly the opposite is true. The GOP remains the Party of Bush and the Party of the Iraq War.

Haircuts... again.

UPDATE II: On his Atlantic Monthly blog, Marc Ambinder makes a common argument that I find completely bewildering -- namely, that the Edwards hair story was a legitimate news story because "the centerpiece of Edwards's campaign is his anti-poverty efforts" and "[h]is credibility as a messenger comes into question when he spends money ostentatiously." I hope Ambinder or anyone else who believes this will address the following.

Many of our nation's greatest advocates for the poor -- including Robert Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt -- were born wealthy and lived rich lifestyles from infancy onward. Was their "credibility" as poverty advocates undermined as a result? By contrast, Edwards lived most of his early life in extreme poverty. Doesn't it stand to reason that he understands those issues and has an authentic commitment to them as a result of his own personal experiences, even if he ended up financially successful, solely as a result of his own efforts, later in life?

Beyond that, every politician claims to understand and be devoted to the plight of the "working family." Mitt Romney and George Bush, born to great wealth, certainly make those claims, even though they haven't been anywhere near "working families" since the day they were born. Ronald Reagan was endlessly held up as the fighter for "working families" despite his personal wealth. If Edwards' wealth makes him so suspect when he claims to be devoted to the poor, why doesn't the in-born, unearned wealth of Bush and Romney -- and every other non-poor politician -- make them equally suspect as advocates for "America's working families"?

Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson have made millions of dollars over the last several years. When they prattle on about America's middle-class, should we start digging into the luxury items they have purchased and the exorbitant fees they pay for a whole litany of services as proof that they are insincere?

Worse still, the claim that there is something "hypocritical" about Edwards' wealth -- now a pervasive premise of Conventional Wisdom -- is premised on a complete misunderstanding of "hypocrisy." The attribute of "hypocrisy" is one who advocates "Principle X" and then acts contrary to that principle (as in: "I believe in Traditional Marriage and I'd like you to meet my third wife," or "I believe in Traditional Marriage and I'm in a rush to make my appointment at the escort agency/to meet my young aide and mistress/to consult with my divorce lawyer").

John Edwards isn't advocating for the elimination of private property or for prohibitions on personal wealth, so his personal wealth isn't remotely "hypocritical." He is advocating for government policies designed to address the plight of America's poor. His own personal wealth -- just as was true for Robert Kennedy or Franklin Roosevelt or even Lyndon Johnson -- is irrelevant and not even remotely "hypocritical" for those who understand that term.

UPDATE III: Unsurprisingly, Think Progress is able to unearth this quote from the endlessly pandering Mitt Romney, who previously responded to the Edwards haircut story by boasting that "he pays $50 for a hair cut including the tip" and then snidely added:

You know I think John Edwards was right. There are two Americas. There is the America where people pay $400 for a haircut and then there is everybody else.
Take note, Marc Ambinder: that -- Romney's scornfully mocking Edwards for paying unusually large amounts for beauty care while concealing the fact that he does so himself -- is an actual case of "hypocrisy."

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