Wednesday, October 27, 2004

It's not healthy to get too worried about newspaper endorsements (at least they provide thought-out arguments, which are rare this time of year), but here's the full roundup from Editor & Publisher. Here in Chicago, the Tribune endorsed the Republican presidential candidate for the 287th time (prompting this rebuttal from ex-die-hard Republican Steve Chapman), but did give the nod to Democratic Senate candidate Barack Obama. Here's the WP for Kerry (also: Slate and Nykr). The Cleveland P-D, which endorsed Bush in 2000, wants to back Kerry this time, but its tax-cut-loving publisher is standing in its way. Why not go the route of the Republican-friendly Detroit News, and decline an endorsement? (Update: It did.)

Here's the New Yorker on Kerry and Iraq and how Bush changed between Texas and Washington (more).

Meanwhile, nearly as important as the presidential race is the balance of the Senate, Daily Kos has a roundup. Just in case, ABC's The Note has a list of excuses ready for whichever presidential candidate loses.

Egad! An article about issues less than a week before the election! USA Today on stem cells.

Despite these links, I really am getting sick of politics--promise. I need some political humor to lighten the load. Sojourners saw a bumper sticker that said: "Bush/Cheney '04: Because you don't change horsemen mid-apocalypse."

Other moments of political pithy:

Vote for the man who promises least. He'll be the least disappointing. -- Bernard Baruch (1870-1965)

I never vote for anyone. I always vote against. -- W.C. Fields (1879-1946)

It doesn't matter who you vote for, the Government always gets in. -- graffito in London, 1970s

Q: Where does one find dual air bags? A: At a political debate. -- Johnny Hart

One last thing, on Bush's metaphysical ruminations, via Slate:

A "senior adviser to Bush," Suskind reports, says to him that "guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.' ...

The problem with this now-famous anecdote is that it has nothing to do with certainty based on religious faith or with the tension "between fact and faith" that Suskind claims to find in the Bush White House. The aide isn't talking about ignoring reality and living in some spiritual dream world, he's talking about changing reality through worldly action (e.g. war). His point is less Christian than Marxist, a vulgar Bush corrolary to Marx's famous Theses on Feuerbach , the last of which is carved into his tombstone: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it." The press and much of Washington studies the existing world in various ways, the "senior advisor" seems to be saying. "Meanwhile we're changing the world in ways that make your studies obsolete."

OK, maybe one more thing, on political journalism: I wrote here in my college paper about the overabundance of sports metaphors in political coverage. This headline is a classic case: "Kerry Returns Bush Volley On Health Care" As I said earlier, Geoff Nunberg noted that the most apt sports metaphor for the debates is figure skating: "a quadrennial competition that nobody has any idea how to score unless one of the competitors actually falls down."

Finally, even worse than a biased media is a banal media. When reporters bend over backwards to be artificially neutral (Daily Kos says coverage of the veep debate was "Both Sides Mislead: Cheney Erroneously Claims Not To Have Repeatedly Linked Iraq to 9/11, While Edwards Overestimates US Spending on Iraq Reconstruction by Less Than 1%") they get stiff. Is anyone informed or illumined by this lead of David Broder's story on the final debate?

Reprising policy battles that Republicans and Democrats have contested for decades, President Bush and challenger John F. Kerry sharpened their differences on social and domestic issues last night, with each candidate comfortably articulating the positions his most loyal supporters wanted to hear.

Update: More on Bush's certainty an NYT op-ed.

As I've written--and let me again disclose I'm fervent about my Christian faith--faith isn't faith without a healthy dose of doubt, without the tension between a sense of credulity and incredulity. Certainty is a form of denial of the complexity of the world. So it's fatuous of the media to necessarily equate spiritual belief with single-mindedness, but it's also fatuous of Bush to treat his morning devotions as a pep talk rather than as spiritual reflection, as he reportedly does.

Another update:

"[A] political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief." President Bush, Oct. 27

Couldn't have said it better myself. I have just one question about this election, and this is the absolutely last thing I'm going to get off my chest. Whatever your beef with Kerry (and I have many), what more does a president have to do in his first term to lose re-election? On what basis will you ever vote against an incumbent in the future if you vote for this one? What more will that incumbent have to do, and will the country be able to survive it?

Update: Relief in the form of Onion humor:


Election Day tips:

The new electronic voting machines are complicated. But don't worry: Octogenarians will be on hand to troubleshoot any technological problems that might arise.

Don't wear dress shoes. They leave black scuff marks on gymnasium floors.

If you are black and a resident of Florida, work out two or three alternate routes to your polling place to avoid police checkpoints.

If you live in Florida, for Christ's sake, look at the ballot very, very carefully this time.

Keep in mind that the name of every person who votes against George Bush is going to be read aloud on television the next time we're attacked by terrorists.

- Other headlines:

Republicans Urge Minorities To Get Out And Vote On Nov. 3 x

Study: 100 Percent Of Americans Lead Secret Lives x

Assistant Uses Cake To Smuggle Cake-Decorating Set To Martha Stewart x

Op-ed: Converting to the Metric System Starts With the Individual x

Street poll on bringing back the draft: x
"If I get drafted, I hope they put me on one of the swift boats. From what I gather, those guys are never in any danger."

Well, okay. As long as it's only a small draft and then they promise to stop."

That's it. I'm voting for the candidate who would flip-flop on sending my son to die, rather than the one who'd do it without hesitation."

- What do do about the flu vaccine shortage x

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