On debt and deficits

The costs of two presidencies, juxtaposedJames Fallows of The Atlantic calls it, “The Chart That Should Accompany All Discussions of the Debt Ceiling“:

It’s based on data from the Congressional Budget Office and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Its significance is not partisan (who’s “to blame” for the deficit) but intellectual. It demonstrates the utter incoherence of being very concerned about a structural federal deficit but ruling out of consideration the policy that was largest single contributor to that deficit, namely the Bush-era tax cuts.

An additional significance of the chart: it identifies policy changes, the things over which Congress and Administration have some control, as opposed to largely external shocks — like the repercussions of the 9/11 attacks or the deep worldwide recession following the 2008 financial crisis. Those external events make a big difference in the deficit, and they are the major reason why deficits have increased faster in absolute terms during Obama’s first two years than during the last two under Bush. (In a recession, tax revenues plunge, and government spending goes up – partly because of automatic programs like unemployment insurance, and partly in a deliberate attempt to keep the recession from getting worse.) If you want, you could even put the spending for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in this category: those were policy choices, but right or wrong they came in response to an external shock.

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National disaster

Just a little sad humor for those still looking with hopeful eyes to November and January:

Hold on, America. We’re almost there. And I hope we’ve learned our lesson this time.

What? One can dream, right?

(Thanks of course to the good folks at The Onion, and a tip of the hat to Kelly O. at Slog.)

The Bush success

There is something to be said for the obvious, although we can be sure there is somewhere an economist, politician, or pundit willing to explain why the prescription suggested by Michael T. Klare, writing for the Toronto Star would not be a particularly effective palliative for the spiraling costs of oil:

… the Bush administration’s greatest contribution to rising oil prices is its steady stream of threats to attack Iran, if it does not back down on the nuclear issue. The Iranians have made it plain that they would retaliate by attempting to block the flow of Gulf oil and otherwise cause turmoil in the energy market. Most analysts assume, therefore, that an encounter will produce a global oil shortage and prices well over $200 per barrel. It is not surprising, then, that every threat by Bush/Cheney (or their counterparts in Israel) has triggered a sharp rise in prices. This is where speculators enter the picture. Believing that a U.S.-Iranian clash is at least 50 per cent likely, some investors are buying futures in oil at $140, $150 or more per barrel, thinking they’ll make a killing if there’s an attack and prices zoom past $200.

It follows, then, that while the hike in prices is due largely to ever-increasing demand chasing insufficiently expanding supply, the Bush administration’s energy policies have greatly intensified the problem. By seeking to preserve an oil-based energy system at any cost, and by adding to the “fear factor” in international speculation through its bungled invasion of Iraq and bellicose statements on Iran, it has made a bad problem much worse ….

…. And if this administration truly wanted to spare Americans further pain at the pump, there is one thing it could do that would have an immediate effect: declare that military force is not an acceptable option in the struggle with Iran. Such a declaration would take the wind out of the sails of speculators and set the course for a drop in prices.

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Empowering the monkey-man

We know that the American political arena is a difficult one. And while shutting off microphones in an attempt to silence opposition is not a tactic confined merely to the FOX News crowd, what is the Beltway equivalent of covering one’s ears, shutting the eyes tightly, and singing “La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la Mary had a little lamb little lamb little lamb!”

Welcome to the Bush White House. (What? Like you didn’t see that one coming?)

The White House in December refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, telling agency officials that an e-mail message containing the document would not be opened, senior E.P.A. officials said last week.

The document, which ended up in e-mail limbo, without official status, was the E.P.A.’s answer to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that required it to determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment, the officials said.

This week, more than six months later, the E.P.A. is set to respond to that order by releasing a watered-down version of the original proposal that offers no conclusion. Instead, the document reviews the legal and economic issues presented by declaring greenhouse gases a pollutant.

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An open letter to Mr. Tim Rutten

Mr. Rutten:

Your June 18, 2008 opinion column, published by the Los Angeles Times, is untenable. Your attempt to reduce Bush administration collusion to license the torture of terrorism suspects to mere politics is a disservice to the people of the United States of America, and an insult to our neighbors around the world.

While indeed these are difficult times marked by sharp political disagreements, the pretense that bad-faith legal advice customized to warrant blatant disregard for the law, the United States Constitution, and the international agreements to which our nation has signed its commitment and prestige is mere political maneuvering does not simply verge on the outrageous, but rather punches through that border and demands a wholesale transcension of the very concept of rule of law.
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Rowson: “I’m still going to miss the dumb son of a bitch”

British editorial cartoonist Martin Rowson (The Guardian) reflects on the Bush era:

In 2004 the re-election of George Bush filled almost every atom of my being with dismay, despair, fear, loathing and disgust, at what this implied about the future of America and the world. I say almost every atom, because deep down in my reptile brain, the cartoonist in me knew that four years of Dubya could never be enough.

This highlights several of the fundamental contradictions contained within satirists. Obviously, if our satire worked and all those creeps we lampoon just stopped, the world would be a perfect place, we’d have nothing left to satirise and I’d be painting kittens in teacups, probably on velvet. But worse than that, quite often cartoonists get caught in a kind of satirical Stockholm syndrome, where we come to love the things we seek to destroy. In other words, Bush was just a joy to draw.

Infuriatingly, Steve Bell established the Bush-as-chimp shtick before any of the rest of us, and it’s considered bad form to nick other cartoonist’s tricks. Even so, Bush still offered more than any caricaturist could dream possible: there’s the eyebrows writhing round his crinkled forehead like demented chinchillas, and beneath them eyes so close together they seem in constant danger of fusing into cyclopism; then there’s the mouth, offering either a dumb, Mad magazine shit-eating grin or elongating into a truly simian pant hoot as he tried to articulate human speech. Add to that his pointy ears and flattened, beaky nose, and even if he’d been a Nobel Peace laureate of impeccable liberal credentials, we’d still have loved drawing and stretching every single feature.

Martin Rowson on Bush, Iraq, and five years of war.
Rowson acknowledges that there is not much Bush can do about his appearance, that he received much criticism via email from the President’s supporters, and even suggests that such direct lampooning “was more than justified by the way he behaved”. And there is a certain merit to this argument. After all, there is a vicious streak in American political tradition, and the British are known to often be raucous about their own affairs. At home in the States, “peanut farmer” is a disparaging term, and while there is a certain distaste about noting Reagan’s senility, he was followed by the shrimp vs. the wimp, Bubba, and the chimp. All in good fun, so to speak.

The challenge facing political cartoonists in this sense seems a difficult one. I’m brought to mind of an old Doonesbury strip, an episode from the travails of the Doctor Whoopee enterprise when recounting the world’s miseries with AIDS and other diseases: Things are looking good? Afraid so. On a Monday before a fateful Tuesday in November, 2004, Daily Show host Jon Stewart pleaded with viewers to make his job more difficult. Certainly, then, we can understand when Rowson writes, “But either way, while honing up on McCain and Obama, in preparation for the delivery of fresh meat, I’m still going to miss the dumb son of a bitch.”

Bombshell? Not really

And while we’re on the subject of Vanity Fair, what of David Rose’s “The Gaza Bombshell“, which details allegations of the Bush administration’s role in bringing about last summer’s escalated violence in Gaza?

In recent months, President Bush has repeatedly stated that the last great ambition of his presidency is to broker a deal that would create a viable Palestinian state and bring peace to the Holy Land. “People say, ‘Do you think it’s possible, during your presidency?’ ” he told an audience in Jerusalem on January 9. “And the answer is: I’m very hopeful.”

The next day, in the West Bank capital of Ramallah, Bush acknowledged that there was a rather large obstacle standing in the way of this goal: Hamas’s complete control of Gaza, home to some 1.5 million Palestinians, where it seized power in a bloody coup d’état in June 2007. Almost every day, militants fire rockets from Gaza into neighboring Israeli towns, and President Abbas is powerless to stop them. His authority is limited to the West Bank.

It’s “a tough situation,” Bush admitted. “I don’t know whether you can solve it in a year or not.” What Bush neglected to mention was his own role in creating this mess.

According to Dahlan, it was Bush who had pushed legislative elections in the Palestinian territories in January 2006, despite warnings that Fatah was not ready. After Hamas—whose 1988 charter committed it to the goal of driving Israel into the sea—won control of the parliament, Bush made another, deadlier miscalculation.

Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by Dahlan, and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.)

But the secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza.

Some sources call the scheme “Iran-contra 2.0,” recalling that Abrams was convicted (and later pardoned) for withholding information from Congress during the original Iran-contra scandal under President Reagan. There are echoes of other past misadventures as well: the C.I.A.’s 1953 ouster of an elected prime minister in Iran, which set the stage for the 1979 Islamic revolution there; the aborted 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, which gave Fidel Castro an excuse to solidify his hold on Cuba; and the contemporary tragedy in Iraq.

Atrocity, egocentrism, ineptitude: So many people have flung so many bitter words at President Bush over the years that it seems at best an exercise in futility. Indeed, what supporters he has left still pretend the criticism is politics as usual or, worse yet, some sort of vapid pop-culture fad. Yet, as Bush has become the public face of the New American Century, we are left to wonder at the pax Americana that seems to demand wars and rumors of wars. The point is not lost even on embittered Fatah extremists such as Khalid Jaberi, who told Rose that “since the takeover, we’ve been trying to enter the brains of Bush and Rice, to figure out their mentality. We can only conclude that having Hamas in control serves their overall strategy, because their policy was so crazy otherwise.

In the end, it’s not really that much of a bombshell. Call it reckless, even stupid. Call it libel and blast the media if it feels better that way. But the one thing we should not call this sordid tale is surprising. This is, after all, the Bush administration.

Slouching toward Tehran

Yesterday I was discussing life, the Universe, and everything with a friend who is a psychologist-turned-mystery novelist. He expressed a theory about the apparent collapse of conventional wisdom regarding Iran in the face of a new National Intelligence Estimate that seems to indicate something about how misplaced the Bush administration’s truculence toward Iran has been. That theory ran, approximately, that the newspapers in more liberal markets would cover the story from the outset, while others would wait and start their coverage with the White House response; the implication, of course, is that the story would only be covered in certain markets once it was framed by the Bush administration. I like his theories. They’re never entirely damning, always relevant and at least partially correct (nobody’s perfect, right?), and amusing in the sense that, as long as we’re stuck trying to figure out what the hell the administration thinks it is doing, we should not let the neck-deep flood of sewage emanating from the White House depress us too much.

Nonetheless, I confess I did not rush home and test that theory. Consider it a personal failing. (After all, I’m overdue following up on a couple of scandalous political stories from the last couple weeks; I look like an idiot leaving them where they are.)

But I did, while picking through headlines, come across Robert Baer’s piece for Time:

Bombing Iran, it seems, is now off the table. There’s no other reasonable take on the latest National Intelligence Estimate that concludes Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

But there is also no doubt that the Bush White House was behind this NIE. While the 16 intelligence agencies that make up the “intelligence community” contribute to each National Intelligence Estimate, you can bet that an explosive, 180-degree turn on Iran like this one was greenlighted by the President.

Naturally, I dropped the link into an email and sent it flying in a matter of seconds.

A couple of questions suggest themselves, and as politely as possible.

The first issue I would ask of Mr. Baer, a former CIA officer with experience in the Middle East, is, “What do we expect that the president green-lit the report? What was he supposed to do, send them back and say, ‘Bring me a report that tells me what I want to hear’?

After all, cooked intelligence seems to be at the heart of the discussion over the propriety and justice of the Iraqi Bush War. See, the thing is that Baer does not seem to be doing a wash job for the administration. He notes how this NIE will not settle well with neocon hawks, who will accuse the intelligence community of incompetence, and also how National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley claims the administration’s diplomatic efforts forced Iran to back down. And Mr. Baer, to his credit, does not buy either notion.

The real story behind this NIE,” wrote Baer, “is that the Bush Administration has finally concluded Iran is a bridge too far.”

What, exactly, does this mean? That the administration has finally realized that extending the Bush Wars to Iran is politically untenable at home and abroad? That it is a bad investment of military resources?

I recognize that we want to believe the best about our leaders, that it hurts us deeply to think that we have invested eight years of our lives in an administration that is either a testament to human stupidity or a new standard in corruption. But what suggestions do we really have that political viability or the general health of our armed services are remotely important to President Bush and his cronies? What bridge is the administration allegedly unwilling to burn? It does not make sense that the administration would come so far only to stop because familiar challenges—especially a lack of credible justification—have returned?

The second question is to wonder if Mr. Baer actually believes that the NIE will bring any significant changes. As Maureen Dowd noted, “ Just because the facts on which he based his white-hot rhetoric about Iran possibly sparking World War III have been debunked, W. said with his usual twisted logic, why should his policy change?

It would seem, also, that Ms. Dowd did not miss Baer’s article:

Even though Sy Hersh claims that the top echelon of the White House has long known of the conclusion that Iran had stopped its nuke program, and that Dick Cheney “has kept his foot on the neck of that report,” the president says he was briefed on it only last week. Others conspiratorially speculate that the president had to have green-lighted the report to take the air out of the hawks’ Iran push.

It would appear that the policy is not changing. Certainly, the helm might make a few corrections, but the ship of state appears to be struggling to keep its original course of a showdown with Iran. Kim Landers reported earlier today for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

Two days after a US intelligence report stated Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program, US President George W Bush is calling on Tehran to come clean about it ….

…. “These countries understand that the Iranian nuclear issue is a problem and continues to be a problem that must be addressed by the international community,” he said ….

…. “They can come clean with the international community about the scope of their nuclear activities and fully accept the longstanding offer to suspend their enrichment program and come to the table and negotiate,” he said.

“Or they can continue on a path of isolation.”

And from Peter Baker and Robin Wright of the Washington Post:

President Bush scrambled yesterday to hold together a fragile international coalition against Iran, declaring that the Islamic republic remains “dangerous” and that “nothing has changed” despite a new intelligence report that Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program four years ago.

While his top diplomats reached out to key counterparts, Bush began calling world leaders and held a White House news conference to argue that the new National Intelligence Estimate only reinforces the need for diplomatic pressure against Iran. Although the report determined that Iran stopped seeking a nuclear bomb in 2003, Bush said Tehran’s secrecy shows it cannot be trusted.

Or we could just go straight to the White House:

Q: Mr. President, thank you. Just to follow, I understand what you’re saying about when you were informed about the NIE. Are you saying at no point while the rhetoric was escalating, as “World War III” was making it into conversation, at no point nobody from your intelligence team or your administration was saying, maybe you want to back it down a little bit?

THE PRESIDENT: No, nobody ever told me that. Having said—having laid that out, I still feel strongly that Iran is a danger. Nothing has changed in this NIE that says, okay, why don’t we just stop worrying about it. Quite the contrary. I think the NIE makes it clear that Iran needs to be taken seriously as a threat to peace. My opinion hasn’t changed.

And I just explained, Jim, that if you want to avoid a really problematic situation in the Middle East, now is the time to continue to work together. That’s our message to our allies, and it’s an important message for them to hear. And here’s the reason why: In order for a nation to develop a nuclear weapons program they must have the materials from which to make a bomb, the know-how on how to take that material and make it explode, and a delivery system.

Now, the Iranians—the most difficult aspect of developing a weapons program, or as some would say, the long pole in the tent, is enriching uranium. This is a nation—Iran is a nation that is testing ballistic missiles. And it is a nation that is trying to enrich uranium. The NIE says this is a country that had a covert nuclear weapons program, which, by the way, they have failed to disclose, even today. They have never admitted the program existed in the first place.

The danger is, is that they can enrich, play like they got a civilian program—or have a civilian program, or claim it’s a civilian program—and pass the knowledge to a covert military program. And then the danger is, is at some point in the future, they show up with a weapon. And my comments are, now is the time to work together to prevent that scenario from taking place. It’s in our interests.

The good news, Mr. Baer wrote, is that “Armageddon is postponed.” How can he tell?

I wouldn’t have noticed, except that you asked

I wasn’t going to touch this one. Really. The “fool me once” gaffe is more sad than it is funny. And my personal favorite–

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

–set such a standard that it’s going to take the mother of all gaffes to top it. So I just chuckled at Bush’s gaffe about Mandela last week and intended to let it go.

And then I came across the conservative response. Let us start with the gaffe itself, in its broader context. Or, at least, within its paragraph from the White House transcript:

Part of the reason why there is not this instant democracy in Iraq is because people are still recovering from Saddam Hussein’s brutal rule. I thought an interesting comment was made when somebody said to me, I heard somebody say, where’s Mandela? Well, Mandela is dead, because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas. He was a brutal tyrant that divided people up and split families, and people are recovering from this. So there’s a psychological recovery that is taking place. And it’s hard work for them. And I understand it’s hard work for them. Having said that, I’m not going the give them a pass when it comes to the central government’s reconciliation efforts.

Now, it’s an interesting statement insofar as the President went out of his way to set up the Mandela line. That, more than anything, is what puzzles me.

As people chuckled and rolled their eyes, and some reminded that Nelson Mandela is, indeed, still alive, and others pointed out that it wasn’t very respectful to imply that the South African icon had died, conservatives threw a frothing fit.

Patrick McIlheran, a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist wrote a blog piece decrying the reaction:

Slow down and read the quote. “…killed all the Mandelas.” Do you presume from this that the president, then, believes the former South African president to have been a whole group of people?

Or could it be possible that Bush was speaking metaphorically? I know, it’s an article of faith on the left that he can’t spell “metaphor” much less use one, but might it not be possible that, when asked “Where’s Mandela?” in an Iraqi context, Bush might have taken it to mean, “Where is the emergent Iraqi national savior who can reconcile warring factions?” I mean, two paragraphs previous, the guy was talking about national reconciliation in Iraq, so it’s reasonable to guess this is how he took it.

And so, having taken “Where’s Mandela?” in that way, might it not be further possible that Bush picked up the metaphor to suggest that Saddam killed all the potential national reconciliators? That Iraq’s potential national reconciliator, its Mandela, so to speak, is lying in a mass grave? I mean, all this has going for it is that it makes sense of what the president said.

Fair enough, sir, but slow down and read the quote again. There are plenty of ways to say it, and this is the one Bush chose. “Mandela is dead,” said the President. McIlheran preferred to take a demeaning attitude toward the criticism, noting that a “flack” from Mandela’s foundation had “chirped” that the Nobel winner was still alive; in this it seems the Journal-Sentinel’s “generally … right wing guy” overlooked reports that South African officials were flooded with calls from viewers of the live news conference who worried that Nelson Mandela actually had died. McIlheran would prefer to make excuses for the President’s crass joke, call the critics deranged, and demean Nelson Mandela. Good show, man.

But McIlheran is not alone in attempting to focus on only one part of the gaffe, and this is where the conservative response gets even more bizarre. Warner Todd Huston, over at Stop The ACLU, blasted Reuters:

Apparently al Reuters doesn’t understand the concept of “context” because they’re idiotically claiming that in his Thursday press conference Bush said that Nelson Mandela is dead ….

…. Heartwarming that Reuters is so concerned over Mandela’s health, isn’t it?

But here’s the problem. During the press conference, Bush was not talking about the actual Nelson Mandela. He was talking about people like Nelson Mandela and speaking metaphorically. And listening to Bush’s entire segment, while not artfully stated, makes it clear that he was not talking about the actual Nelson Mandela ….

Huston, like McIlheran, highlights only the latter part of the gaffe, and asks,

Could it be any more obvious that Bush is saying that there aren’t any Iraqis filling the same sort of role in Iraq that Nelson Mandela filled in South Africa? Could it be any more clear that Bush was saying that Saddam “killed all the Mandelas” of Iraq?

Indeed, sir, you are correct. Except, what about the phrase, “Mandela is dead”? I mean, it would have been just as easy, and considerably less bizarre to say, “There are no Iraqi Mandelas.”

And as people argue about what Bush meant, it is curious to note the actual transcript. Those who complain about the criticism would be better served to use the White House transcript. Strangely, and, perhaps, hair-splittingly, one might be able to make an issue out of punctuation. McIlhernan’s quote comes from the White House transcript. Huston’s is unsourced inasmuch as it does not match the Reuters article he linked to. And several other conservative blogs seem to have passed around an AFP transcript. Both the AFP and Huston’s unsourced quotes split the gaffe into two sentences. The White House transcript uses a comma, and the Reuters article in Huston’s crosshairs has no punctuation at all (and also lacks the extraneous apostrophe, but that’s beside the point).

And believe it or not, that difference is important. There is no question, when reviewing the video, that Bush spoke two separate sentences. The first was, “Well, Mandela is dead.” The pause is unmistakable. And this, contrary to McIlhernan, Huston, and other conservatives’ suggestions, is the phrase that is at the heart of the gaffe.

So we’re down to punctuation, on the one hand, while to the other we haven’t even arrived at the truly bizarre part.

Indeed, the strangest part of this is that some conservative bloggers have chosen to lash out after Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show. At the National Review Online, Greg Pollowitz (quoting AFP, for those keeping score), simply sought to clarify the quote, noting, “Since Jon Stewart ended his clip of the President with ‘dead,’ the President looked kind of foolish, as Mr. Mandela is very much alive.”

Over at TownHall, Mary Katharine Ham picked up on Pollowitz’s clarification, and lashed out at The Daily Show:

There’s no way they saw the “Mandela is dead” clip without seeing the context. But the facts got in the way of an easy political joke. And, Stewart has the nerve to get all self-righteous on “Crossfire?” Ha.

Tipping a hat to both Ham and Pollowitz, RedState’s Finrod escalated the absurdity:

Disgusting. Is Jon Stewart getting hints on how to be a newsman from Dan Rather? What’s he going to do for comedy in 16 months when Bush leaves office and he doesn’t have Bush quotes to warp and distort any more?

And to think he had the gall to criticize Crossfire for not being helpful to the political scene.

Okay, if you’re a conservative, pay close attention. If you’re a liberal, join the chorus. I’m only going to say this once:

The Daily Show is not a real news show. It is a comedy show. Jon Stewart is a comedian. Tucker Carlson didn’t seem to understand that during the Crossfire shootout, and for some reason conservatives seem to be having a problem understanding that fact now.

It’s not difficult to understand.

And that’s the thing. In the long run, I probably would have forgotten this whole thing by next week. Bush is known to say some truly bizarre things, and by my measure, this is a minor Bushism. It’s the sort of thing I probably would have chuckled at if someone mentioned it months, or even years down the line, as I remembered it for the first time since it happened. But now, thanks to conservatives, I’ll be remembering this one much more clearly, and not so much for the fact of the President’s gaffe. Rather, I’ll be remembering this episode as another example of conservative dishonesty, another example of conservative stupidity. Because McIlhernan needs to overlook facts in order to feel better about a chirping flack; Huston needs to stoop to silly phrases like “al Reuters”. And both need to snip the quote and pretend part of it doesn’t exist. And then there’s Finrod, Pollowitz, and Ham, who need to pretend Jon Stewart is a real journalist in order to stoke their self-righteous fury.

I’ll tell you my Bushism story. There were two of them that got me. One was the, “Now watch this drive,” quip that was harmless except for its crass timing. Big deal. The other was the “fool me once” disaster. I didn’t actually think I was hearing it. And then I didn’t realize the magnitude of what I had heard. When it blared all over the news that night, I was stunned. I mean, really.

Bushisms are amusing. They wouldn’t be a big deal for the press or anybody else except for their frequency and the pretense of intelligence conservatives attempt to keep about the President. Conservatives need to get over this one. The only thing more pathetic than beating a dead horse is trying to resuscitate its skeleton.

Accept the fact that Bush once again made a fool of himself. He went out of his way to set up what he thought was a catchy line, and it backfired. Really, I would have gone right on by this one, except that I had the misfortune of stumbling across McIlhernan’s angry spew. And then, curious, I was stupid enough to wonder what the rest of the conservative response was. So far, it’s only reinforcing the notion that my conservative neighbors really are morons. After all, I can only go by what you give me to work with, and this is what you’ve given.

Get over it. And get over yourselves.