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Joan Didion Remembers Democracy


bluenix
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If a liberal Democrat had done everything exactly as Bush has, the Democrats would be hailing him as the greatest man since Kennedy. The world is a complex, messy place, and all we can hope for is, not that our leaders will be perfect, but that they be honest and use good judgment most of the time. The fact that things do not work out as planned, does not prove that the judgment was wrong, but merely that there are always more factors at work than anyone can know or take into account. The weatherman uses science and all the best information available, honestly and with no ideology or bias, and without an opposing party jipping at his heels. Even so, his best judgment does not always work out. Stock market and economic predictors are not even that good. Political leaders work in a much less scientifically predictable environment, encountering hostility at home and abroad at every step. Given all that, I believe the Bush Administration has done an acceptable job, as good as we could have hoped for, and a far better job than Gore or Kerry would have done, or is likely to do.

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Funny you should mention science, because that's an area where the administration clearly evades evidence--whether it's missle defense (a failure), condoms (they do prevent HIV and many other diseases), global warming (it's real), etc. Bush's public appearances are all stage manged (only followers get to attend; fewer and more controlled news conferences than any modern president. You offer no evidence suggesting what Gore would have done worse or the same. Ditto Kerry. If Bush really believes in democracy, it's beginning to look like he'll be out on his ass in the very near future. It won't be a moment too soon.

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Clinton, Gore and Kerry have all been luke warm on the war on terror. It is clear that they would prefer to concentrate on their domestic agendas and regard foreign affairs and the war on terror as distractions. So, they prefer to regard terrorist attacks as being criminal acts for law enforcment officials to take care of, leaving the President free to pursue more important matter.s

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>If a liberal Democrat had done everything exactly as Bush

>has, the Democrats would be hailing him as the greatest man

>since Kennedy.

 

Lyndon Johnson, who was the most liberal President of modern times (remember the Great Society?) took the U.S. into Vietnam based on lies. Democrats by the hundreds of thousands marched and protested against the senseless war he led us into, and Johnson was forced into not seeking re-election. Vietnam divided this nation and, as we have seen in the current election, it has yet to heal even after that war ended more than 30 years ago. Without the Vietnam War, Johnson would have been considered one of the greatest Presidents of all times. Instead, his legacy is forever marred.

 

And life in the U.S. would be better if Republicans would stop THEIR lying and their constant reinvention of history to suit their warped world view that the planet is just a warm, wonderful Disneyland now that their barroom cowboy has gotten Saddam Hussein.

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The Vietnam opposition sprang almost entirely from the draft. In opposing the draft, students opposed the war itself, and the liberals joined them. Without the draft, the Democrats would have continuted to support the war.

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>If a liberal Democrat had done everything exactly as Bush

>has, the Democrats would be hailing him as the greatest man

>since Kennedy.

 

Al Gore would have done everything that Dubya did in the wake od September 11th, except that instead of invade Iraq on false pretenses, Al Gore would have stayed the course in Afghanistan, captured Osama bin Laden and destroyed Al Qaeda. The US would be safer and the remaining terrorists groups would not have their #1 recruitment tool: George W. Bush.

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>Al Gore would have done everything that Dubya did in the wake

>od September 11th, except that instead of invade Iraq on false

>pretenses, Al Gore would have stayed the course in

>Afghanistan, captured Osama bin Laden and destroyed Al Qaeda.

>The US would be safer and the remaining terrorists groups

>would not have their #1 recruitment tool: George W. Bush.

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>Al Gore would have done everything that Dubya did in the wake

>od September 11th, except that instead of invade Iraq on false

>pretenses, Al Gore would have stayed the course in

>Afghanistan, captured Osama bin Laden and destroyed Al Qaeda.

>The US would be safer and the remaining terrorists groups

>would not have their #1 recruitment tool: George W. Bush.

 

Boy, I wish I had your imagination. And I am glad that you know the answer to "what if". I think it would be far more appropriate if you used "in my humble opinion". And I do mean humble...

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Osama bil Laden is probably in Pakistan, if he is alive at all. Pakistan is a nuclear power and is clearly not willing to allow us to conduct searches there, but is searching for bin Laden there. We have continued to search in Afghanisn and have never stopped looking. But, we don't know that OBL is alive. So the assertion that Gore would looked for him and found him is just a boast with no foundation in fact.

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Democracy In America

 

Apparently, nearly all the of the people who commented on this thread failed to acctually click on the link provided by BlueNix and actually read the words of Joan Didion. Personally, I believe she could have (and please - especially you, Lucky - no comments) have used a good editor. She raised a lot of issues, went to a lot of places, not all of which necessarily made her point, a summit which required some slogging to reach.

 

If I had to read that many words, I would have far more enjoyed a good summary of Alexis de Toqueville's Democracy in America or even a good discussion of it, in context of this, or any other U.S. election. One such interesting essay can be found here: http://www.zeek.net/politics_0404.shtml

 

With respect to the quote at the start of the thread, which is what most people have chosen to comment on, I am reminded on an interesting article the Los Angeles Times published about four to six weeks ago, about the state of Oklahoma. It has suffered job losses related directly to outsourcing, including well paying, technological sector jobs which were supposed to be a buffer and opportunity for a better life in Oklahoma when the state worked to pursue them just a few years ago. It also has suffered economically in many other ways and in other respects, also has elements affecting its voters in ways that might make a reasonable politician believe that these voters could be inclined, or at least be readily persuaded to vote for an opponent of the current administration. However, in Oklahome, the incumbent has a comfortable lead and neither he nor Mr. Kerry has spent nor will spend any resources, including personal appearances, in persuit of its electoral votes. A lot of this has to do with another fact of current life in Oklahoma: it is a highly religious state where many voters feel that Mr. Bush shares their social values, that he is a decent and deeply religious man (unlike Bill Clinton), and that (also unlike Mr. Clinton), that Bush is a deeply moral man who makes decisions guided by both his faith and his morality. These factors, and these factors alone, made the decision to support his election in 2004 the only possible choice.

 

While this is not a sentiment I would personally agree with and not one I would share, I would respect and support the right of any Oklahoman to make such a personal decision as who is both the head of the U.S. government as well as the head of the U.S. state on what that voter considers to be a reasoned and considered analysis (albeit, I also do not believe it to be either reasoned or considered). This is the hallmark of democracy.

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RE: Democracy In America

 

Since she is not among the people whom she choses to describe, she is not in the best position to understand them. Religion has much less to do with it than you think. These same people supported Eisenhower, Nixon, Bob Dole and many others who said very little about religion. An important part of political dynamics, which is seldom mentioned, is what might be called the "team" aspect of politics. These same people support to Oklahoma football team--or Oklahoma State. They support them in good times and bad, and share in the teams "thrill of victory or agony of defeat". They do not change team loyalty just because this years team is not too good. In short, they identify with the team. So it is with political parties for probably a majority of people, but certainly not all. The Dems call their members Yellow Dog Democrats. Republicans don't have a colorful name but they also have the people. The lies and nastiness, from both sides, solidify this identification. When they lie about my candidate or my party or say mean things, I feel it as though they said it about me. Both sides tend to give their guys a pass on mistakes and pounce on those of the other side. For this reason, nastiness is often or usually a serious mistake. It makes it harder for persons on the other side to vote outside his party.

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RE: Democracy In America

 

>Since she is not among the people whom she choses to

>describe, she is not in the best position to understand them.

>Religion has much less to do with it than you think.

 

Bullshit. Bush is the only president I can recall who has actually stood in front of the White House and stated that the beliefs of some of the churches and synagogues in America -- those that are quite willing to sanctify same-sex marriages, of which there are hundreds if not thousands -- are wrong, while the beliefs of the other churches and synagogues are right. Anyone who has trouble with the notion that a government official should tell people which religious beliefs are right and which are wrong should have trouble voting for Bush.

 

> For this

>reason, nastiness is often or usually a serious mistake.

 

If so, it is a mistake that you make constantly on this board.

 

Frankly, I can forgive Bush for having a face like a baboon and a perpetual smirk that makes him look as though he is recovering from a stroke with partial paralysis of the facial muscles. I can forgive him for pretending to be a typical Nascar- watching good ol' boy when he is actually the son of a millionaire who owes everthing he has ever achieved to his family's money and connections.

 

What I cannot forgive is his manifest incompetence. Comparing him to a weatherman who gets a prediction wrong is among the most puerile of all the nonsense I have ever read on this board. The fact is that this Iraq war was entirely his idea -- he was under no pressure from the voters to make war on Iraq, and had he chosen to continue with the sanctions instead, as was originally the position of his administration when he took office, he would not have suffered politically at all. Rather than take the safer course, as nine of ten people in his place would have done, he chose to take an enormous gamble with the blood and treasure of his fellow countrymen by starting a war on the risky and unproven theory that we could turn Iraq into a showplace of democracy and prosperity and so undermine the Islamist movement. His actions are like those of a man who takes his mortgage payment to the track and bets on a longshot. If he wins, he's in good shape. If he loses, he may lose his house. In either case, he has no one to blame for the outcome but himself. Because he knew or should have known from the outset that the odds were very much against his winning -- that's why it's called a 'longshot.'

 

To my mind, neither Gore nor Kerry is a genius when it comes to foreign policy. But both have one quality that would have served our nation much better than Bush's recklessness. Both men have long been part of and long been comfortable with the world's foreign policy establishment. Neither would have taken an action so likely to fracture the consensus among that establishment as what Bush did. Under either man, many who died would not have died and vast moneys would not have been expended to coerce another country into adopting our values when its people clearly do not share them.

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RE: Democracy In America

 

Yeah, what Woodlawn said.

 

As to Franco's opinion that Didion needs a good editor, I'm going to comment even though he asked us not to.

 

I acknowledge that her style is difficult, an acquired taste, and even that she is past her writing prime. But over the years I have developed a loyalty, because she has such an interesting (albeit eccentric) mind. From The White Album and Play It as It Lays to Democracy and Remembering Henry, plus of course her political writing for the NY Review of Books and, earlier, The New Yorker, the Didion corpus puts her, to my mind, in the front ranks of contemporary American writers.

 

Her sentences may be a trainwreck to read, but diagram them and you will discover composition elevated to perfection.

 

No, really.

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He Said, He Said

 

>Yeah, what Woodlawn said.

>

>As to Franco's opinion that Didion needs a good editor, I'm

>going to comment even though he asked us not to.

 

En Fait, I meant to forestall people on this board from commenting that I should not be one to criticize another for, for example, meandaring, long, complex or convulated writing. I happen to like much that Joan Didion has written and agree with you that it can be both interesting and enlightening, once you work through it.

 

Finally, shock of shocks, this is the third time within twelve months that I find myself in complete agreement with one of Woody's post. Wonders never cease....

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