Monday, April 05, 2004

Some Things That Have Happened Since My Last Blog Entry

  • The story of George W. Bush's spotty and (at best) undistinguished service in the Vietnam-era National Guard temporarily broke wide open, affording the public a brief glimpse of what a coddled, callow and utterly irresponsible young man this must have been (and, strange to say, the scribes of the SCLM, normally so keen to find the roots of abiding character flaws in some youthful indiscretion or other, restrained their analytical passion in this instance, thereby denying us the site of such headlines as "Willingness to Claim Credit, Let Others Do Dirty Work, Began Early for Bush").

  • John Kerry, capitalizing on his come-from-behind upsets in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, quickly secured the Democratic party's presidential nomination, and just as swiftly vaulted into the lead in national polls against George Bush, demolishing once and for all the notion that Bush is unbeatable--or even, indeed, an especially secure incumbent.

  • The Bush campaign unleashed a massive blitz of attack ads in the swing states, relentlessly hammering at several highly deceptive charges, a very costly effort in both the financial and moral senses, but one which succeeded quite well in raising Kerry's negatives and, at least temporarily, staunching the bleeding of Bush's own support.

  • Richard Clarke, career national security bureaucrat and former chief counter-terrorism advisor to both Clinton and Bush, went public with a series of devastating criticisms of the Bush Administration's conduct of the War on Terror: 1) that this Administration did not, prior to 9/11, treat terrorism in general, or al Qaeda in particular, as a top national security priority, despite urgent warnings from outgoing Clinton administration officials, the CIA, Clarke himself, and others that it do so; 2) that 9/11 might have been prevented, had this Administration responded to increased intelligence "chatter" in the summer of 2001 the way the Clinton Administration responded to similar warnings of an imminent attack in December of 1999, thereby foiling the so-called Millennium Plot; and, most importantly, 3) that the decision to speed to war in Iraq has damaged the effort against Al Qaeda.

  • Virtually every top Administration official (with the exception of Colin Powell), and much of the GOP Congressional leadership (with notable dissents by McCain, Hagel and Lugar), utterly abased themselves by responding to Richard Clarke's charges with a (rather ill-)coordinated campaign of character assassination based upon, quite literally, nothing more than lies, distortions and innuendo.

  • Richard Clarke showed that, unlike previous Administration whistleblowers, he is both willing to fight back, and fully prepared to do so, largely as a result of which the 9/11 commission hearings have turned into a major PR disaster for the Bush Administration--one that continues to unfold.

  • An apparently quite genuine and popular Shi'ite uprising took root in Sadr City and points South, adding a second, and potentially far wider front to the Coalition's counter-insurgency struggle, heretofore primarily confined to the battle against the alliance of rump Ba'athists, aggrieved tribals and Wahabbist fanatics in the Sunni Triangle.

  • There have been about 95 more U.S. [update: the word "combat" removed -- amil] fatalities in Iraq, pushing the total well over 600 -- with about 474 of those occurring since President Bush's declaration of "mission accomplished" at his aircraft carrier photo opportunity on May 2nd of 2003.