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Michael Ubaldi, December 2, 2002.
I'd heard it circulated by some pundits that George W. Bush despises the age-old practice of vendetta-ridden-or-else-simply-attention-starved staffers leaking information to the press - particularly when exercised inside his administration. Paul Bedard offers us a more substantive glimpse of exactly how little Bush tolerates this sort of passive-aggressive insubordination:
Quite a calculating fellow as opposed to the halfwit presented to us by the mainstream media, don't you think? Bush boasts a steely resolve that, while ever-more-apparently a dominant factor in his personality and management cadence, has been kept carefully tucked away from the incurious public view. It's ironic - seeing as how such obscurity only encourages lazy, curiously red-eyed pseudojournalists like Maureen Dowd to write newspaper-sanctioned hate mail - that Bush wouldn't flourish his street smarts. We instead discover that he prefers to endure libel, maintaining a humbly mild public composure and then working to quietly defeat his detractors through a series of patient, unyielding political tidal waves.
So he waits, politely works his own agenda and watches his enemies undo themselves. It takes a big man - and a confident man - to play that league of political Little-Ball.
Michael Ubaldi, November 21, 2002.
Retiring editor for The Wall Street Journal, Robert L. Bartley, speaks of his 30-year tenure. A must read; for me, I was able to sit back upon completion and frame my life and goals in one picture. I've been reading the Journal's editorial page daily for the better part of two years, now, and the only aspect I could possibly enjoy more than the page's wit is its optimism and faith in humanity. Bartley, obviously a driving force towards that accomplishment, makes optimism a centerpiece in his valedictory.
I would have made a link yesterday when the article ran, but for Opinion Journal's preference that incentive for their newspaper's purchase continue to exist.
Michael Ubaldi, November 20, 2002.
Michael Ubaldi, November 13, 2002.
Okay, there are liberals and then there are angry liberals. Tom Brazaitis is a strange character; a former Washington Bureau chief for my hometown paper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer who no longer holds the authoritative position or a definitive rank within the paper, but continues to send political commentary, with all the mannered grace of C-4, from D.C. as if nothing happened. For whatever high-minded suggestions he casts like origami swans into the river of printed words, Mr. Brazaitis' temperament strikes me quite clearly: he believes he loves humanity, and is absolutely confident of his hatred for people. Read one or more of his jewels and you've just been painted a self-portrait of a man who presumably scowls at babies and spits on puppies. I once made the mistake of reading a more provocative column of his one Sunday morning; I scribbled the most outraged letter and sent it off. He footnoted it in his following column--leaving out the more blistering insults I'd hurled at him--long after I'd begun to feel guilt for such a loss of control.
But then, the day before Bush's historic State of the Union address this past February, old Brazaitis presented Cleveland readers with enough coffee-spewing cat-calls at our commander-in-chief to varnish a tabletop. It was awful, particularly in light of the transcendential quality of Bush's speech the next evening. I didn't feel so bad about the letter afterwards.
The ever-talented Danny O'Brien gave me a heads'-up on Brazaitis' latest profile in carnage. Whew. So, in honor of our mad-as-hell favorite we love to lampoon...
Michael Ubaldi, November 11, 2002.
Later today or early tomorrow I'll post my formal expression of gratitude to American war veterans, today being their special rememberance. Until then, for those to whom I haven't talked directly (and who have always humbly brushed aside my words for a sobering "oh, no, it's alright; we did what we had to do"): thank you.
Michael Ubaldi, November 8, 2002.
Nancy Pelosi looks to be the new House Minority Leader. Now, some conservative thinkers are worried that such a saturation of liberal ideal will be a danger to Washington. But really, when have the Democrats not been as left as left can be? The only difference between the 108th and the 107th is that Democrats' ambitions will be naked for the informed eye to see--if the Republicans can draw attention to the detachment from America and reality that the Democrats appear willing to execute, 2004 will be an absolute rout.
Michael Ubaldi, November 7, 2002.
Byron York reports on possible voting irregularities in South Dakota--exactly the spot where an ongoing investigation abutted with Election Day. To no one's surprise, the Republicans are handling the matter--investigations, recounts and lawsuits (oh my!)--with a detached grace, a manner they assumed in 2000 to the possible Bush gains of Iowa and Wisonsin, or the possible (read: likely) Ashcroft retention of Missouri's Senate seat. Two years ago, the GOP let go, well aware that those prizes were not election-winning; instead, they were more fodder for pride--and a bane to public relations.
I trust Thune when he says that only conspicuous activities will draw his attention.
Michael Ubaldi, November 7, 2002.
That Dick Gephardt is stepping down from his charge as House Minority Leader shows that the Democrats are still lost at sea. What will undergo change to any appreciable depth from within? Or will a glossy, new shell be fit to the same chassis? For this latest defeat that cost him his rank, Gephardt was never formulating any strategy--he was simply a point man following orders, presumably executing the will of Clinton and the party bosses. His removal, of course, will not change the direction of the Democrats. In all likelihood, unless McAuliffe is canned and Clinton recedes further back from his position as Man Behind the Curtain--the latter about as statistically probable as Kim Jong Il stepping down, dissolving his party and inviting the United States to occupy and democratize North Korea--the media's radar will continue to be bombarded with the same, shallow, DNC rubbish. Perhaps charges of arsenic increases in oil and e-coli found on the surface of guided bombs, to provide a certain rhetorical freshness this time around?
So, no: no rudder likely to be applied, simply a different face. Even so, Gephardt would seem the more logical public vanguard for the Democrats' presence in the House. America, we must continually remind ourselves, is nowhere near straight-liberal. Gephardt knows this and has successfully maintained the same hometown-D.C. ideological dichotemy popularized by Clinton, Tom Daschle and pre-2000 Al Gore:
HOMETOWN APPEAL FOR DEMOCRATS, GAINING: When your home state is arguably conservative, you must mask your liberal bent and translate it into working-class populism for the consumption of your constituents. Keep pushing their perceptions closer to "F.D.R." and further from "McGovern." When, regrettably, political push comes to shove, lean to the right, move with the majority, and capitalize on the "eh, he's not such a bad fellow after all" sentiment (that would arise from such decisions as, say, supporting the liberation of Iraq). Toss in a splash of Clintonesque split-tongue talking--managing to simultaneously support and oppose a resolution, all under a gossamer film of critically indistinct rationale--and your flanks are covered, your escape routes clear.
Gephardt was the face of America--or at least, the best face the Democrats could doll up for prime-time television. So what to make of Nancy Pelosi, the unapologetic liberal, apparently moving forward to the vanguard? None of her political career, by virtue of beginning in California, has been spent cultivating a façade of normalcy; instead, she's built up a fairly conspicuous history of sponsoring goofy, far-left legislation that would make Berkeley proud. She can't relate to ordinary people because her politics are utterly tangential to them. With any luck, she'll bring the Democrats back to where they stood in 1984 and 1988: a spineless mess of bureaucrats with long-since failed plans in their suitcase. A complete alienation, really; if anything, she'll simply daily expose the Democrats' liberal principal figures for what they are.
And if Gephardt is making a lateral shift for the sake of a presidential run--oh my! He'll fit nicely in a photograph with Humphrey, McGovern, Carter, Mondale and Dukakis.
Michael Ubaldi, November 6, 2002.
Q. As a jealous foreign government, how do you react to America's government having finally united behind a powerful, popular president?
A. Sneak your last jabs in through cooperative media outlets and scurry into crevices before the hammer comes a-swingin'.
Leni Riefenstahl, move over: the United Press International is here to stay and put anti-Americanism up in lights. A rousing little clutch of many second-rate-rest-of-the-world's reaction to the election results unintentionally helps to paint these pipsqueak back-benchers as the self-effacing cowards and cold-blooded autocrat oppressors they are, as the case may be. Two exceptions, thankfully. Some elucidating highlights:
"We are dealing with a power that has no limit in its dealing with foreign issues," said Mohammed Shaker, head of the Egyptian Council on Foreign Relations, whose wariness of a Bush administration unrestrained by any other branch of government was widely shared beyond U.S. shores.
Egypt: hit its peak 6,000 years ago. Jails dissidents, endorses anti-Semitic libel, consumes those who risk level-headed thinking like Anwar Safat, bites the teat from which it feeds to the tune of a few billion. Thank you, Egypt. Next!
"My guess is that one of the losers of this election campaign might be (Secretary of State) Colin Powell, who has been seen by most foreign governments as a voice of caution and of wisdom in an administration that otherwise seems largely filled with hawks," commented one senior NATO diplomat based in Washington.
Since when did the absolute opposition to war become the only alternative to dangerous international situations? Powell's a great guy. If you've ever seen him in a candid moment, he reminds you of one of your humble, goldhearted cutup buddies. But Powell's seen war, the wrong wars, and too much of them; sort of like a Jack Kevorkian in reverse, he has become so allergic to the thought of violence employed as a defense for the free that he seems to have begun to believe that mass death occurs only in warzones (as opposed to peaceful metropolis skyscrapers or tourist locales). He seems to have become a liaison-hero for the Nonexistent Ancillary Timid Obstipation and an honorary nominee to the Neville Chamberlain Official Society of Diplomats Who Wouldn't Know Evil if It Shook Hands and Offered Up Its Business Card. One would hope that Powell might move away from affording Appeasers even the appearance of acting as their proxy. Okay, next!
"If there were much hope for any American compromises on international issues like the Kyoto Protocol (on global warming) and the International Criminal Court, this election result probably knocks all that on the head," commented one European ambassador. "This might not be an easy administration to work with in the sense of finding agreed solutions. I suspect we might hear rather more 'take it or leave it.'"
Damn! A whole slew of recondite, impractical initiatives based on the recondite, impractical games that diplomats play - rejected! A decade of ambassadorial twiddling shattered. Oh, the humanity! European elites, while you're waiting for 2004, why don't you write up another Munich Agreement? It'll look so smashing in the newspaper headlines. Next!
"In terms of foreign policy, Mr. Bush would gain much more leeway in dealing with the war on terrorism and the Iraq threat," said Singapore's Straits Times.
One point to Singapore for staring the obvious right in the face. Hey, at least they're not delusional. Next!
"The prospect of waging war on Iraq looks to be increased," Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV said Wednesday.
Another brilliant assertion, plucked from the situations as of late through the most refined insight. Perhaps not delusional either, let's take it a step further. Could you, Al-Jazeera, save the United States military some time and paint target crosshairs on your buildings? No, we don't enjoy your family programming. Next!
"The big loser of these elections, apart from the democrats, is none other than Saddam Hussein," commented the left-wing French daily Liberation. "An election setback for Bush would have been inevitably interpreted as a rejection by the American people of his threatening rhetoric against 'the axis of evil' whose pivot lies in Baghdad. Bush can thus henceforth claim a strong mandate of popular support for his politics of enforced disarmament of Iraq, and also in his dealing with the U.N."
France. France, France, France. Oh, dear France. Two words: Maginot Line. Sit down, preferrably with your ally Saddam, France. Go ahead and button your lip. Thank you. Next!
Only in Israel did there seem to be little new deference to the Bush administration and its striking new mandate. Israel's new Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marked his own return to government by asserting the Bush administration's latest "roadmap for peace" was "not on the agenda."
Next to Britain (most of the time), one of our only friends; though American wrangling with hate-filled Arabs does seem to push our Jewish brothers into a teensy bit of sarcasm from time to time. Er, second place!
"The results staggered many pundits who saw Bush as a dimwit who had become president through good fortune and a court-managed technicality," said The Times of India Wednesday. "The president appeared to have erased that stigma. Pundits and pollsters saw the results as an affirmation of the American people's faith in George Bush in the face of the challenges he is facing. They also surmised that the events of 9/11 had a profound effect on America despite previews suggesting the elections would be based on local issues."
Well, then! I think we have a winner. You've got to love the Indians.
Thank the Lord George W. Bush isn't anything like his father. If any loggerheads could be anticipated to be so enjoyable, this is it. These next two years are going to be tonic for the human spirit, governmental liberation - and the soul of humor and wit.
Michael Ubaldi, November 6, 2002.
It's been proven!
In fact, the Democrats are lifeless, directionless and utterly incapable of even the barest semblance of the conviction of statesmen. What's unbelievable is how transparent the Democrats' battle-cry became: Vote Democrat...Just Because. No rationale, no solid party platform--they haven't had one since 1980, of course, but this November the Clintonesque tricks didn't catch the American voting public off guard. Name (Townsend) lost. Stature (Mondale) lost. Misplaced sympathy (Carnahan) lost. Liberals-in-Con-Clothing (Cleland) lost. Lockstep propagandizing from the Democratic leadership(McAuliffe) tanked. It's amazing that the use of unattended issues for political gain, election after election, managed to work for so long; the Nineties will keep records for moral ambivalence. But yesterday people went to the polls and, this time, voted their conscience, turning towards the party offering them solutions to the issues at hand. Not a novel concept--unless a country has just emerged from a decade of blindness. As I said before, September 11th was a brutal awakening to the realities of good and evil--a moral purge literally wiping away the little things. "Lockbox" who? $9 billion deficit from a $10 trillion budget? Those platitudes are ancient history and will continue to be so as long as America keeps her common sense nearby.
Because if she does, the Democratic Party will meet its death knell in 2004.