Mourning In America

A New York Democrat on politics, journalism, and the Mets

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Wednesday, July 02, 2003
"Supporting Our Troops" George Wobbly Bush's swashbuckling cowboy side came back to the surface today, as this Reuters report demonstrates:
"There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there," Bush told reporters at the White House. "My answer is bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation."

Yet again, this president's horrifyingly cavalier attitude towards the sanctity of human life shines through. It would be one thing if the people attacking our troops in Iraq were causing no casualties. Unfortunately, it's not true -- these little grenade attacks are causing injuries daily and deaths far too often.

I'm sure the president meant to say something like, "It's a shame that a small minority of the Iraqi people are devoted to harming others rather than helping us rebuild their country, but their attacks won't stop us from doing what's right."

But "bring them on?" What is that, a dare? His "we have the force necessary to deal with the situation" might be appropriate if there were evidence that we were making headway in stopping the attacks, but there isn't, so that statement can only be translated into: Attack all you want, we'll sacrifice more lives. Simply chilling.

UPDATE: Blog War! Conservative blogger Mike K. takes issue with my previous post, arguing that we should want a little swagger in our leaders. An interesting point, but irrelevant here. "Bring it on" in this context is not the same as Reagan's "you can run, but you can't hide," or Kennedy's "We will pay any price, bear any burden."

Maybe I buried the lede. The key point on this whole issue is that we aren't making headway in stopping these attacks, or establishing a more humane, democratic government, or recovering the dangerous materials we believed to be within Iraq's borders.

Worse, the Bush administration never had a strategy to do these things -- they had a strategy to drive one horrible man from power (and, as Mike correctly notes, were very quick to claim an "end to hostilities" once that was achieved). In that context, "bring it on" seems to be an invitation to a war of attrition -- the one war we can't win.

Mike makes the valid point that the article I linked was a preliminary, incomplete version, and that Bush did come close to saying the words I was looking for when he said:

"Anybody who wants to harm American troops will be found and brought to justice. There are some that feel like if they attack us that we may decide to leave prematurely. They don't understand what they are talking about if that is the case."

Fair enough, but I'm still waiting for the actions to back up those words.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Miami ... The Harvard of the South As a Northeasterner, a Syracuse fan since my Dad bought me a Carrier Dome t-shirt in 1982, and a general supporter of private colleges, the ACC's raid on the Big East sickens me (although, in the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that I wouldn't have a problem had they taken BC and the 'Cuse).

But I'll focus on one element of the story that added insult to injury -- the University of Miami's parting shots, which were repeated without challenge by sports journalists who should have known better, including the New York Times' William C. Rhoden and Charlie Nobles.

In a surprisingly sharp attack on the Big East schools who sought to retain Miami, Rhoden approvingly accepted Miami's insistence that its move had nothing to do with the promise of a higher annual payout from the ACC, but rather was intended to "provide long-term security for the athletic department and the academic prestige the university desperately sought."

Nobles went further, parroting Miami's contention that there are already "similarities between Miami and universities in the A.C.C., particularly academically."

Can't you just see the alumni, faculty, and administrators at Duke, UNC, and UVa cringing?

There are certainly several members of the ACC that boast comparable academics to Miami, but it is a slander against the Big East to argue that the academics at Georgetown, Boston College, Villanova, or Syracuse are inferior to the majority of Miami's new colleagues -- let alone to somehow claim that the Hurricanes were the academic class of the conference.

It is true that public perception of a school's academic strength is often shaped by its performance on the athletic field -- something Miami President Donna Shalala learned as the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, a solid educational institution that rarely merited a second look from the nation's media until its football team (during Shalala's reign) reached the Rose Bowl. That unfortunate reality is why the Big East schools were willing to become associated with the scandal-plagued Miami program in the first place.

But that's no excuse for the NY Times writers and editors to ignore the facts about schools' relative academic quality -- and to allow the Miami partisans to spin that information for their own ends.

Random Odd Observation Chrysler's new "Pacifica" SUV is being promoted, at least in New York, via an ad campaign featuring images of the car crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, interspersed with shots of the Statue of Liberty.

Wouldn't it have seemed fair to expect that the Pacific-a would be more at home on some twisty road at the top of a West Coast cliff?

Perhaps it's just a matter of peer pressure -- commercials featuring SUVs on city streets are all over the airwaves (watch for the ones for Mitsubishi's Outlander and the Nissan Murano. Only the Outlander ad appears to be available online).

If that's the case, then the NYC locale is probably for the best. We all know what happens to lemmings when they get too close to a cliff.