Mourning In America

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

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Saturday, June 19, 2004
A Blowout ... But Who Won? The nation's bishops voted 183-6 on Friday to approve a statement that says politicians who do not oppose abortion are "cooperating in evil," and leaves the door open for bishops who wish to penalize those politicians by denying them communion (led by Bishop Michael Sheridan in Colorado Springs and Joseph Galante in Newark).

Despite the large margin and hard-line tone, the New York Times' coverage quotes several bishop-watchers who conclude that this is actually a conciliatory statement, because it also includes language hailing the value of "teaching and dialogue" with these politicians.

Frankly, I think those who see conciliation are accentuating the positive. At best, it's a mixed message, and it's hard to see what good that does.

Which brings us to this explanation, apparently from someone in the room:

"We were under the gun," said one bishop ... "Not to respond would have given an indication we didn't know what we were doing."

Perhaps the bishops who felt pressure to say something should acquaint themselves with the words of Abraham Lincoln:
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool then to speak out and remove all doubt.

Friday, June 18, 2004
Can't Make This Stuff Up Some Democrats have been criticized for coarsening the nation's discourse by referring to Republicans as fascists.

I wonder where they get this stuff. Certainly not from places like the JerseyGOP home page:

What happened in Spain’s election was almost enough to make one feel nostalgic for General Franco (who is, unfortunately, still dead). Whatever other flaws he had (and they were both serious and numerous) at least he’d have made sure that Spain dealt harshly with Islamic terrorists and their allies.

Click here for the complete article, which gets better.

There is no inherent legitimacy in democratic decisions.

And the clincher:
If John Kerry were to be elected President this November then the terrorists will have won or, at the very least, set us back a decade or more. A vote for John Kerry is an act of moral cowardice, of unbridled stupidity, of wanton immorality, and, indeed, of treason against all that is good and decent in the world.

UPDATE: Oh, darn. Turns out JerseyGOP isn't the party's official site -- that's And they are much more responsible over there.

Thursday, June 17, 2004
Kerry's Rope-a-Dope Strategy Howard Fineman does the job I had been meaning to do for a while -- explaining why it's smart for Kerry to be keeping a low profile right now. At its core, the argument refutes the GOP agitators' calls for Kerry to campaign as a clearer "alternative" to Bush by pointing out that he'll have plenty of time to do that in the Fall.

Despite the GOP apparatus' efforts to claim that Kerry's relative silence on Iraq shows that he is not a viable alternative, the real message he's sending to the public is that he's a responsible leader: He knows our nation has few good choices in Iraq, and he isn't going to play political games with the lives of our men and women on the ground.

As the evidence mounts that this administration badly misinterpreted the threats posed by both pre-war Iraq (overstated) and post-war insurgents (understated), the Kerry alternative will only get clearer and more attractive, even in the absence of policy differences (i.e., Kerry's been calling for more NATO troops. Fine, Bush said, so will I. But NATO leaders rebuffed him last week). Rational voters can, and I think will, conclude that the same policy, in Kerry's hands, might work out differently (and better!). Slate blogger (and general Kerry-hater) Mickey Kaus has termed this "rebranding," and despite himself, he thinks it could be a powerful rationale for Kerry's candidacy.

All these arguments aside, the real reason for Kerry to resist the GOP advice is that it's a set-up: they hope he'll say something that they can misrepresent as a gaffe or unpatriotic. To this point, their campaign has been based almost exclusively on negative attacks, but as Bush's decision to suspend his TV advertising illustrates, the ammunition for those volleys is running low.

If He's Lost Fineman... As an aside, it's interesting that this piece comes from Fineman, who's been pretty (some would say absurdly) supportive of Bush until now. He now joins the ranks of Tom Friedman and Andrew Sullivan: Pundits who once supported the White House wholeheartedly, and still have a soft spot for Bush's allegedly strong committment to the spread of democracy, but who have been appalled by the ineptitude with which that vision is executed (and, in Sullivan's case, the increasingly strident right-wing tone of the administration's approach to social issues).

Who's the next inductee? Tucker Carlson sounds like he's close...