From Gigot's Rove column:
A big debate among Republicans these days is who bears more blame for 2006 — Messrs. Bush and Rove, or the behavior of the GOP Congress. Mr. Rove has no doubt. "The sense of entitlement was there" among Republicans, he says, "and people smelled it."
Does it really matter if congressional Republicans were responsible for 49 or 51 percent of the disaster? My own sense is that Iraq would have cost the Republicans the House by itself, but the (accurate) perception that congressional Republicans were mostly in it for themselves compounded the losses.
Right. In some ways this is pretty obvious. If you look at the roster of Republicans who lost--whether they were incumbents or challengers or new candidates vying for abdicated seats--you don't see a comprehensive list of scandal-plagued right-wing politicians (although you do see plenty of them). What you see instead is a mix of moderate Republicans, deeply pro-war conservatives, and a few people tied to the Abramoff investigations. What this says to me is that the animating forces behind the electoral shift were the Iraq war and generally incompetent Republican leadership alone. Scandal didn't help matters much, and may have handed the Senate to Democrats, but that shouldn't leave anybody with the impression that the country was exactly happy with the way the GOP was running things.
If the country had really waken up to scandal, then I think it's fairly safe to say that both Jack Murtha and my long-time congressman Jerry Lewis would have been out of their jobs years ago.
Also in that edition of Democracy (a journal, you'll note, of ideas) Shadi Hamid calls out Spackerman for this quote--"the United States is insane to promote democratic elections in which the victors proclaim eschatological hostility to it"--that I don't actually have a reference for.
Maybe Spencer can respond in greater detail. But here's Hamid's caveat: "it is worth remembering that the two Middle Eastern countries which are Islamist-led--Turkey and Iraq--are close American allies." I guess the term "Islamist" can be subjected to arbitrary redefining and individual perceptions and so on. But it seems pretty obvious to me that, when arguing for the potential success of "Islamist" governance, it's worth very few debate points to cite the government of Iraq as a good example of this.
On the plane over to Vancouver I was reading a free copy of the journal Democracy (the one "of ideas") and I found within it a fairly compelling essay by Bill Galston. He spends the first half for whatever reason tackling Andrew Sullivan's arguments about conservatism and skeptical doubt. But the second half--wherein he makes the case for about the zillionth time that Reinhold Niebuhr is in fact an appropriate beacon for a progressive foreign policy even if conservatives try at times to appropriate his work--is pretty compelling. It's subscription only, so I'll transcribe a snippet and then recommend you read the rest at a Barnes & Noble of your choosing.
Ultimately, [David] Brooks still wants to deploy Niebuhr in support of some version of the National Greatness Conservatives' intellectual project--namely, the organization of the American public behind a great international adventure. Niebuhr would have resisted this temptation, on moral and religious grounds. Every nation, he argued, has its own form of spiritual pride. Ours is to pretend that our power is exercised by a "peculiarly virtuous nation." As George W. Bush artlessly put it, "I'm amazed that there's such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us...Like most Americans, I just can't believe it. Because I know how good we are." Niebuhr, in contrast, reminds us that "no virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint," a fact that shapes the world's reaction to our words and deeds. In a sentence penned more than a half century ago but that might serve as the current administration's epitaph, Niebuhr noted that "nations, as individuals who are completely innocent in their own esteem, are insufferable in their human contacts."
Illusions of innocence are more than off-putting; they are also dangerous. As Neibuhr put it, "Some of the greatest perils to democracy arise from the fanaticism of moral idealists who are not conscious of the corruption of self-interest."
Anyhow, it's always possible for read whatever one wants into the works of any prolific thinker, and to use selective quotations to reinforce that interpretation. But read the essay. It's better argued than most.
Our own David Gale from the tenth floor is made to look ridiculous by Gina Kolata--you see, she didn't tell him that the survey didn't ask about means--about averages--but about medians. Which means that she doesn't know the difference between means and medians. Which is a very bad thing for a science reporter:
"In study after study and in country after country, men report more, often many more, sexual partners than women. One survey, recently reported by the federal government, concluded that men had a median of seven female sex partners. Women had a median of four male sex partners.... But there is just one problem, mathematicians say. It is logically impossible for heterosexual men to have more partners on average than heterosexual women. Those survey results cannot be correct."
There's the contradiction, right there in the lede. But still, either the male/female distributions were very, very different (meaning Yglesias' sluts and virgins theory is correct) or there actually is a tendency to lie on both sides or a bit of both. Perhaps it's a bit of both!
Below the fold, you can read the Richard Viguerie's long statement about the end of Rove. Personally, I think I prefer John Edwards' terse reaction by far.
“Goodbye, good riddance.”
Anyhow, in light of today's events, I want to recall for everybody my favorite Rove moment of all time. Given what's happened since, it's a pretty hilarious bit of hubris.
SIEGEL: We are in the home stretch though and many would consider you on the optimistic end of realism about...
ROVE: Not that you would exhibit a bias, you just making a comment.
SIEGEL: I'm looking at all the same polls that you are looking at.
ROVE: No, you are not. I'm looking at 68 polls a week for candidates for the US House and US Senate, and Governor and you may be looking at 4-5 public polls a week that talk attitudes nationally.
SIEGEL: I don't want to have you to call races...
ROVE: I'm looking at all of these Robert and adding them up. I add up to a Republican Senate and Republican House. You may end up with a different math but you are entitled to your math and I'm entitled to THE math.
SIEGEL: I don't know if we're entitled to a different math but your...
ROVE: I said THE math.
I had wanted to write about this over the weekend, but then it became clear that I was using my weekend to do things--such as fly to Vancouver--that don't really involve blogging, so now it's Monday and the reference point is a bit old, but here we go.
I think Ross is right and Henry Farrell wrong about the best way to interpret the Kristol/Kagan argument for a "Neo-Reaganite" foreign policy -- the argument about this helping the Republican Party is probably offered in a pundit's fallacy spirit. The dark truth is probably closer to what Bykofsky expressed, something like national greatness conservatism icon Teddy Roosevelt's sense that war was, as such, a good thing because of its influence on the national character. Strains of this kind of thinking were definitely discernable post-9/11 on both the right and in the more hawkish precincts of the left -- a kind of genuine enthusiasm for violence, the sense that war is a force that gives us meaning, and that it's only by having giant disasters occur that our true national spirit is revealed.
If you read the Kristol essay, you'll see that what Matt's saying is indeed true. But here's what Henry wrote:
First – the use of the Iraq war and the spread of democracy by force by a particularly unscrupulous crowd of conservative public intellectuals to, as they hoped, establish Republican hegemony. This was never a secret – read Kristol and Kagan’s 1996 Towards a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy for the blueprint – an argument in which the good of the oppressed of the world and the good of the USA inevitably redound to the dominance of the Republican party.
This is, it seems to me, is also self-evidently true. It just happens to be the case that the blueprint was flawed. There's a twisted feedback loop at play here, and it seems to have its origins in the kernel of thinking that Matt's rightly lambasting. But as time has gone on, the establishment of Republican dominance became the other magnifying force in this dynamic. Kristol isn't really all that shy about the fact that he wants to see more war in the world, but that's not what makes him dangerous. What makes him dangerous is that he understood quickly that the way to do this was within the Republican party and that he became extremely influential within their ranks.
The axiom was, "to be a great nation, we must be at war all the time." And so the thinking, at least among that segment of neo-conservative powerbrokers, became "to be at war all the time, we must elevate the Republican party--or hawkish politicians more generally--into a position of fairly permanent dominance, and to do that we must not only argue in favor of every opportunity to go to war, but in favor of just about every other Republican policy on the agenda. And then we will be a great nation." This, of course, resulted in famously muddled thinking on just about every issue of the day, and at some point it became unclear--perhaps even to Kristol himself--where loyalties should be placed and what the whole project was really all about to begin with.
Perhaps it's true, based upon this picture of things, that Kristol supported (and continues to support) the Iraq war, even to the detriment of the GOP, because this all started as a grander war project. But first a couple of things. One, it's pretty apparent that this war has not only damaged the Republican party, but has also damaged the American war machine itself, which makes it a little bit less clear what the Iraq gambit tells us about Kristol himself--other than that he's a short-sighted man with fundamentally incoherent ideas.
What's more important, though, is that--whatever you say about Kristol's core motives--his tactics have always been perfectly clear and perfectly ugly. Here is a man--an academician, and son of a one-time socialist--who has argued loudly against civil liberties, abortion, social security and on and on as a means to completely unrelated ends. It's a bit silly, given this, to quibble about the spinning wheels in Kristol's mind when what's completely evident is that all of the terrible things that have emerged from conservative leadership in this country are connected to the man's broader movement and that movement's underlying lust for war.
I think it's probably safe to say--on the issue of war and Republicanism--that it was never a question of one vs. the other for Kristol. More accurately, it became for him a strong, even psychotic, obsession with both interwoven ideas, and even if we could definitively say whether he valued one a tiny bit more than the other, at the end of the day I'm not really sure why that matters. Anyhow, for more on this, I recommend a BBC documentary called The Power of Nightmares. Give it a looksee.
Ever wonder how that warning not to buy gasoline when it's hot translates into money for oil companies? I assume not. And that's all for the better, because I don't have the full answer. But I'm getting there.
I wasn't able, in 900 words, to touch on a few important things--such as how ATC equipment actually works, and how the payoff here benefits oil companies more than retailers. But I guess I need aces up my sleeve for future articles.
Every survey, study, and poll finds the same thing -- men have more sexual partners than women. Men are relatively promiscuous, women relatively chaste. Gender roles describe real behaviors.
Only one problem: It's a mathematical impossibility for one gender to have more sexual partners than the other.
As evidence, he links to a New York Times article citing expert David Gale--a Berkeley statistician who I believe guest lectured for a class I took way back in 2002--who says:
“By way of dramatization, we change the context slightly and will prove what will be called the High School Prom Theorem. We suppose that on the day after the prom, each girl is asked to give the number of boys she danced with. These numbers are then added up giving a number G. The same information is then obtained from the boys, giving a number B.
Proof: Both G and B are equal to C, the number of couples who danced together at the prom. Q.E.D.”
Well sure, but we're not talking about totals, we're talking about averages. So are Ezra and David correct? As I would like you all to imagine a hypothetical prom called "Prom X(XX)". This prom, for the fairly small High School X(XX), has only 15 guests--10 girls and five boys. Nine of the girls, modeled after the majority of the girls who went to MY prom, don't dance with anybody. One girl, on the other hand, dances with every boy at the prom. At the end of the prom, every boy reports having danced with one girl, while nine girls report having danced with nobody and one girl reports having danced with five boys. The average number of dance partners for the boys is "one". The average number of partners for the girls, though, is "one-half". QED
Of course, in my example, the result was determined by the initial 10:5 imbalance. The fact that there are slightly more women than men on the planet couldn't possibly explain this: "Another study, by British researchers, stated that men had 12.7 heterosexual partners in their lifetimes and women had 6.5."
Anyhow, hooray for statistics!
So Karl Rove set about (and was hired) to create a Bush legacy and a permanent Republican majority, failed at both to catastrophic effect--both for this country and others--and, so, has lost his job. Perplexed? Neither am I.
One of the central mysteries of this administration, though, is the bounds of Bush's loyalty. Bush is famous for not knowing when to cut ties with the cronies who've helped him put his administration in the toilet. What makes almost no sense to me, though, is the logic behind it. Why Rove, but not Gonzales? Why Rumsfeld after 2006, but not Rove? And on and on. I think one plausible answer is that until recently Bush wasn't making those decisions himself, but was instead taking advice from... the now deposed Karl Rove.