Condi v. Hillary

According to a new book Dick Morris wrote with Eileen McGann, the only way Hillary Clinton will be defeated in the 2008 presidential race is if the Republicans nominate Condoleezza Rice. (Morris acknowledges that Rudy Giuliani could win a general election, but says that the Republicans will never nominate him). In an interview about the book on National Review Online, Morris says:

(Condi) would take away a third to a half of the black vote and would stop Hillary from gaining among white women. White men are a given. They will vote against Hillary by 2-1 as they voted against Gore and against Kerry. But blacks and white women are the moving pieces of this electoral puzzle.

I have to take anything Morris says with a grain of salt, especially since he’s made a career of fueling conservative paranoia about the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency. The Condi Rice angle will help to sell books, I’m sure.

I admire Rice and would give her a fair hearing should she run for president, but I would be surprised if she did run. She strikes me as more of a scholar than a politician. It would seem more likely that after her stint as Secretary of State she would go back to academia, join a think tank and/or write books. But let’s say she does run. She has no campaign experience and her views on many issues are unknown. Her candidacy could turn into a Wesley Clark type situation. There was a brief period when the idea of nominating a an anti-war former general to take on Bush excited many Democrats. But his appeal quickly fizzled after a short time on the campaign trail. Don’t get me wrong, Rice may well turn out to be a stellar candidate and she is certainly one person who I would never want to count out. I’m just not ready to say that she would definitely win the presidency because of the demographic benefits of being a black female conservative candidate.

Saddam Dreamin’

I had a dream last night that I was back in school and we took a class trip to visit Saddam Hussein. We met him in a giant boardroom with a balcony. He fielded questions while we ate some sort of soup (which I refused to eat for fear that it was poisoned). I eventually got into an argument with him about the nature of the insurgency in Iraq, and he became very irate. I wish there were a better conclusion, but being that this was a dream, as far as I can remember the scene shifted soon after. I’m not sure what to make if it. I suppose under the Freudian method of dream analysis, the dream means that on some unconscious level I want to meet Saddam. Under the Jungian theory, it means that, on some level, I am Saddam. Imagine that!

Giuliani in ’08: Fantasy or Inevitability?

In comments, Karol says I’m in living in Fantasyland because I think that Giuliani has a chance of winning the presidency in 2008. “?Primaries are very contentious, and there’s no way Giuliani is getting out of one,” she writes. There’s no doubt that Giuliani faces obstacles to winning the presidency. But those who dismiss his chances as pure fantasy are severely underestimating the man, and misreading history.

Let me pose a question. Can you think of another politician who was ever discussed seriously as a presidential candidate whose primary political experience was being a mayor? Normally vice-presidents, senators, representatives or military leaders are mentioned as presidential timber, but I cannot recall a mayor’s name being tossed around so earnestly. Even though it’s early, even the biggest doubter of Giuliani has to admit that it’s highly unusual for a former mayor to be leading in polls both for his party’s nomination and for the general election itself. A Giuliani doubter may argue that his popularity will erode in a rough primary. But let us focus on the source of his popularity. I think it goes without saying that the popularity is a result of his leadership on Sept. 11. With that one event, Giuliani rose from being a lameduck mayor to a presidential contender. This gets to the heart of my point. I think Giuliani will win in 2008, because history is moving in that direction.

As Mark Helprin once wrote, “?History is in motion, and those moving with it are so caught up that they cannot always see its broad outlines.” I believe that those people who dismiss Giuliani’s chances are too caught up within the motion of history (the politics of abortion, gay rights, etc.) and are missing the broad outlines of our age. I’m sure that many of Giuliani’s doubters would acknowledge that terrorism is the defining issue of our time. I would go further to argue that not only is the fight against terrorism the defining issue of our time, but that it represents an epic event in the history of Western Civilization. When the history of this period is written, the politics of abortion and gay rights will be a mere footnote, but the battle against terrorism will take a prominent place. I believe that Giuliani is the best leader we have available to fight the terrorist threat, which is why I think that the course of history points toward Giuliani being president.

Winston Churchill was viewed as a washed-up laughingstock in the 1930s when he spoke of the Nazi menace. But history took its inevitable course, and by 1940 Churchill had ascended to the role of Prime Minister, because nobody else had the necessary guts and grit to lead the fight against Nazism. When we think about Churchill today, we think primarily of his leadership during World War II. We do not talk much about how he supported increasing taxes as a young member of parliament.

Like Churchill, Giuliani is a survivor and a man of tremendous will. As a prosecutor, Giuliani took down the mob and went after Wall Street’s power brokers. He lost a close bid for election in 1989, but fought back to a victory in 1993, even though Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 5 to 1 margin in New York City. (Sure, Bloomberg did this too, but ran on Giuliani’s legacy and endorsement in 2001). Giuliani’s crimefighting and his transformation of New York City was the stuff of legend even before Sept. 11 catapulted him onto the national scene.

As Fred Siegel does a good job of illustrating in The Prince of the City, Giuliani did not suddenly become concerned with terrorism on Sept. 11. The terrorist threat has concerned him for most of his career. As a U.S. Attorney in the 1980s, Giuliani investigated the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, who was sitting in his wheelchair when he was thrown overboard from the Achilles Lauro cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists. As Siegel notes, Giuliani dedicated a good portion of his 1994 inauguration speech to the first attack on the World Trade Center. When Yasser Arafat visited New York in 1995, on the heels of his Nobel Peace Prize, Giuliani kicked him out of a U.N. event at Lincoln Center, amid widespread criticism. Giuliani was ridiculed as paranoid when he set up an emergency command center in New York City. Yes, the center turned out to be poorly located in 7 World Trade Center, which was destroyed on Sept. 11, but Giuliani must be given credit for thinking of these things far before 9/11.

Some people may cast asside my theory about the intersection of Giuliani and history. But given the man’s record of overcoming long odds, of achieving things that many people once viewed as impossible, I cannot see how anybody can dismiss Giuliani’s chances in 2008, let alone call a possible victory mere fantasy.

N.Y. Subway Threat Hoax

Last week, I expressed skepticism over the alert issued regarding a terrorist threat to the New York City subways. Now it’s being reported that the threat was a hoax.

I’m not going to be hard on Mayor Bloomberg, because I respect his decision to err on the side of caution and assume the worst. With that said, if we have too many situations like this, we run the risk of a “boy who cried wolf” scenario, where people no longer heed security warnings. I have to admit that in the four years since 9/11, I’ve pretty much reached that point. Once a terrorist plan is announced publicly, I pretty much assume that it’s not going to materialize. The Sept. 11 attacks happened without public warning, as did the Madrid bombings, the London bombings and every other major terrorist act against a city that I can recall in the past several years.

A-Rod ain’t no MVP

With the Yankees making an early exit from the playoffs once again, the major source of my anger is Alex Rodriguez. The so-called MVP candidate may have batted .321 with 48 HRs and 130 RBIs during the regular season, but when it came playoff time, the $250 million man once again came up empty, batting .133 with 0 RBIs in the division series, including an 0-4 final game–grounding into a double play in the 9th inning after Derek Jeter hit a leadoff single. Before Rodriguez joined the Yankees, people would always think I was being overly sentimental when I said I’d take Jeter over A-Rod in a heartbeat. This is a perfect example of why. In the division series, Jeter batted .333 with 2 HRs and 5 RBIs, including a 3-4 final game (the one out was a sac fly). Jeter brings his game to a whole new level during the playoffs and his enthusiasm and competitive spirit is unmatched.

Some may say that I’m being too hard on Rodriguez, and contend that anyone can have a bad series and that plenty of other Yankees screwed up. This is all true, and there is plenty blame to go around. But when A-Rod signed his $250 million contract with Texas a few years ago, it was based on the hype that he was the best player in baseball. So, if he were just any other player, I wouldn’t have a problem with him choking. But since he’s anointed himself one of the all-time greats, I think he deserves my wrath.

On the bright side, I think that the Yankees’ failure to win for the fifth straight year underscores that you can’t buy a championship. Critics of the Yankees contend that the championships of 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 were bought. While the high payroll no doubt helped, it’s clear that those teams had a special blend of chemistry and heart that you simply can’t put a price on. This year’s team, with its $200 million plus payroll, may have had more superstars than those teams in the late 1990s, but winning is about more than money.

Chancellor Merkel

I look forward to seeing what type of chancellor Angela Merkel becomes. By all accounts, she’s more pro-American than Gerhard Schroder, although that’s not very difficult. It should be interesting to see how much of an appetite Germans have for free market reforms.

What I find most ironic about U.S. media coverage of the German election is that American liberals are able to see the need for free market reforms in Europe, while still advocating a larger role for government in the U.S. This irony was on full display in a New York Times editorial a day after the vote. The editorial (which I can’t link to), read:

Given Germany’s dismal economic health, there is no alternative to reforms for Germany and for Europe as a whole…

If the two major parties look beyond their rivalries, they could find that they agree on the basics of critically needed economic reforms like lowering employment costs, making labor markets more flexible and simplifying the tax code. And they would certainly have the clout to push a joint program through the Parliament and past the unions. Mr. Schroder called the elections because there was a big job to be done, and the voters agreed.

This is an editorial page that, when writing about the U.S., has argued for higher taxes, a larger government role in health care, more regulation against businesses and stricter labor laws.

To be fair to the NY Times, they are still against a flat tax, no matter the continent. The editorial also read:

Mrs. Merkel seemed to be doing well against Mr. Schroder, a highly skilled candidate, until she blundered by picking Paul Kirchhof, a professor who advocates a flat tax, as her economic spokesman. The idea fell, well, flat.

Oklahoma Student Suicide Bomb

I am starting to get annoyed by the sanctimonious attitude that bloggers have about how the mainstream media (MSM) is not giving more attention to the story of the so-called Oklahoma suicide bomber. This is becoming a situation where bloggers’ active imaginations make them take a given set of facts and draw wild conclusions. I’m glad that the MSM hasn’t jumped on this bandwagon.

For those of you who are coming late to the story, Joel Henry Hinrichs, a 21-year old Oklahoma University engineering student, blew himself up last Saturday, about 100 yards from the school’s football stadium, where 84,000 people were watching a game. It was subsequently reported that Hinrichs tried to purchase ammonium nitrate fertilizer last week, which was one of the ingredients used in the Oklahoma City bombings. There were also reports that Hinrichs attended the same mosque as Zacarias Moussaoui, who was to be the 20th 9/11 hijacker. And that bomb-making materials were found in his room, which he shared with a Pakistani Muslim. For those of you interested the type of noise being made, visit Michelle Malkin‘s site. She’s been all over the story.

But there’s a lot we don’t know and, for what it’s worth, the FBI has (at least publicly) said that it was a lone suicide that was not related to terrorism. Also, Hinrichs, according to this story, wasn’t even a Muslim. But even if he did visit the same mosque as Moussaoui, why can’t that just be a coincidence? The mosque was located in Norman, Oklahoma–where Hinrichs lived.

Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of mysterious details in the Oklahoma story that make it interesting, and I have no problem with blogs giving it attention. But speculation on the blogs has gotten more and more outrageous as the days go by. Blogger Mark Tapscott, who was interviewed by Fox News regarding the story, has a post this morning titled, “OU Stadium, NYC Subway Threat: Were These the First Two Planned Attacks in a Ramadan Offensive?” It concludes:

Think about the impact of successful attacks that killed thousands in Norman and hundreds more in New York. Message: We can get you in your heartland and we can get you in the heart of your biggest city.

How, exactly, do two attacks that have not materialized, that we don’t even know were planned, constitute the opening salvos of a coordinated offensive?

I have trouble holding the MSM in contempt on this issue. The MSM always faces a dilemma in situations like this. If they ignore a story and it becomes legitimate, they look like fools. However, if they pursue a story overzealously, and the story turns out to be nothing, they also look like fools. So they have to make a judgment about whether a certain threshold is met, whereby the story has a good chance of being ligit.

Bloggers don’t face this dilemma. Nobody will hold bloggers accountable if this Oklahoma story turns out to be nothing. On the other hand, if bloggers turn out to be right and the Oklahoma student is, indeed, a terrorist, I’m sure there will be plenty of self-congratulatory rhetoric on the blogoshpere and plenty of screeds about how the MSM blew it again. But let’s not forget that bloggers can publish all sorts of speculation that the MSM cannot. Bloggers can throw as much crap as they want against the wall–and eventually some of it will stick.

I think blogs serve a useful role in keeping the MSM in check and focusing on stories that may be ignored by the MSM. But I also think the so-called “gatekeeper” function that the MSM performs is important. I wouldn’t want to be getting my news on terrorism exclusively from armchair FBI agents. In short, I think the two mediums complement each other well.

ElBaradei/IAEA Win Nobel Peace Prize

“The award sends a very strong message: ‘Keep doing what you are doing – be impartial, act with integrity’ – and that is what we intend to do,” Dr ElBaradei told a news conference in Vienna.

Yeah, keep doing what you’re doing. After all, you’ve had great success with Iran and North Korea.

Anyway, congrats on joining past Nobel winners such as peacemaker Yassir Arafat.

On Withdrawing Miers

In today’s column, Charles Krauthammer argues for withdrawing Miers. Apparently Bill Kristol suggested she withdraw herself.

I really don’t think that would help conservatives. Let’s just say that Miers is forced to withdraw, and Bush, to make the base happy this time, picks someone to replace her that is a clear conservative. Such an action would play right into the hands of Democrats who want to portray Bush as someone who is doing the bidding of the far right. It would have taken a battle to confirm a tried and true conservative even if Bush had nominated one initially. So imagine how hard it would be to confirm, say, a Michael Luttig, if he was picked after the more moderate Miers was forced to withdraw under fire from the right.

If Democrats begin to turn sour on Miers and she is forced to pull out under pressure from them, perhaps Bush would get a chance to nominate a true conservative. But I think Democrats realize this, which is why I believe that the Miers nomiation will sail through the Senate with token opposition, ironically coming from the far right and far left.

Social Conservative Case For Giuliani

Lawrence Henry, in an article on the American Spectator’s Website:

I’m a social conservative. I used to think former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani could never be nominated as the Republican candidate for President, given his pro-choice and pro-gay sympathies. Recent circumstances convince me that not only can Giuliani get the nomination, he will. And that, if nominated, he will win election. The giant karmic wheel of political affairs has turned his direction.

A lot can happen between now and 2008, but I’m happy to see more and more people start to wake up, especially social conservatives. Republicans would be doing themselves a great disservice if they nominate a boring, generic, candidate in 2008, who simply toes the party line. Conservatives may not agree with everything Giuliani says, but at least he speaks with unwavering conviction and is a natural leader. Simply put, Giuliani is the man for our time.