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The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Quotes

“The budget surplus he inherited is now a deficit, the fiscal hole in America’s retiree programmes is bigger than ever, the tax system is an unstable, patched-up mess. It is not all his fault. But for the most part, good policy repeatedly took a back seat to Mr Bush’s overweening political ambition. Both the country and, ultimately, the Republican Party are left the worse for it.” The Economist


“This document is the literary correlative to ‘Mission Accomplished.’ Bush kept America safe (provided his presidency began Sept. 12, 2001). He gave America record economic growth (provided his presidency ended December 2007). He vanquished all the leading Qaeda terrorists (if you don’t count the leaders bin Laden and al-Zawahri). He gave Afghanistan a thriving ‘market economy’ (if you count its skyrocketing opium trade) and a ‘democratically elected president’ (presiding over one of the world’s most corrupt governments). He supported elections in Pakistan (after propping up Pervez Musharraf past the point of no return). He ‘led the world in providing food aid and natural disaster relief’ (if you leave out Brownie and Katrina). If this is the best case that even Bush and his handlers can make for his achievements, you wonder why they bothered.” Frank Rich


“It’s important to note that we made even more mistakes in Afghanistan than we did in Iraq. We were far slower to react, but in both cases we were unprepared for stability operations; we had totally unrealistic goals for nation building; at a political level we were in a state of denial about the seriousness of popular anger and resistance, about the rise of the insurgency, about the need for host-country support and forces; and we had a singularly unfortunate combination of a secretary of defense and a vice president who tried to win through ideology rather than realism and a secretary of state who essentially stood aside from many of the issues involved. And in fairness, rather than blame subordinates, you had a president who basically took until late 2006 to understand how much trouble he was in in Iraq and seems to have taken till late 2008 to understand how much trouble he was in in Afghanistan.” Anthony Cordesman


“The Cheney team had, for example, technological supremacy over the National Security Council staff. That is to say, they could read their e-mails. I remember one particular member of the N.S.C. staff wouldn’t use e-mail because he knew they were reading it. He did a test case, kind of like the Midway battle, when we’d broken the Japanese code. He thought he’’ broken the code, so he sent a test e-mail out that he knew would rile Scooter [Libby], and within an hour Scooter was in his office.” Lawrence Wilkerson


“The number-one reason foreign fighters gave for coming to Iraq to fight is the torture and abuse that occurred at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. The majority of suicide bombings are carried out by foreign fighters who volunteered and came to Iraq with this motivation. Consequently it is clear that at least hundreds but more likely thousands of American lives (not to count Iraqi civilian deaths) are linked directly to the policy decision to introduce the torture and abuse of prisoners as accepted tactics. Americans have died from terrorist attacks since 9/11; those Americans just happen to be American soldiers. This is not simply my view — it is widely held among senior officers in the U.S. military today […] We owe it to our troops to protect them from terrorist attacks by not conducting torture and we owe it to our forefathers to uphold the American principles that they passed down to us.” Major Matthew Alexander


“The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.” Winston Churchill


“We need to invade Michigan and rebuild the state from the ground up. We will be greeted as liberators, we have clear supply lines, and we can easily rebuild the auto industry with the kind of money we spend on other countries we invade. Hell, our new Secretary of State, Hillary of Clinton, spent the better part of the past year fighting for the rights of average folks from Michigan, so think of the good will we have with the public. This is very doable. Just tell Congress we will give KBR no-bid contracts to fix Detroit.” John Cole


“When Michelle Malkin is the voice of reason talking you down, you are so far out on the lunatic fringe that you’ve built a condo out there.” Ed Brayton


“Let us bend over and kiss our ass goodbye. Our 28-year conservative opportunity to fix the moral and practical boundaries of government is gone — gone with the bear market and the Bear Stearns and the bear that’s headed off to do you-know-what in the woods on our philosophy. An entire generation has been born, grown up, and had families of its own since Ronald Reagan was elected. And where is the world we promised these children of the Conservative Age? Where is this land of freedom and responsibility, knowledge, opportunity, accomplishment, honor, truth, trust, and one boring hour each week spent in itchy clothes at church, synagogue, or mosque? It lies in ruins at our feet, as well it might, since we ourselves kicked the shining city upon a hill into dust and rubble.” P.J. O’Rourke


“Until last Tuesday, I felt I had to take arguments made at, say, The Corner somewhat seriously. They were, after all, arguments that were likely to be taken seriously by people in charge of our government, and by some voters. Starting now, though, that changes. I will write about those arguments if they seem to be gaining broader currency, and I can imagine writing a thoughtful post on, say, what’s gone wrong with the conservative movement in which I might quote them. I will also keep reading them, just because I think it’s a good idea to know what other people are saying. But I will not feel any general need to point out when they are wrong. They have no more power. Some of them have gone so far over the edge that they have lost any credibility they might ever have had. I wish them well, but I will not comment on them unless I see some particular reason to do so. I now have the luxury of debating only thoughtful, sane conservatives who argue in good faith, and I intend to enjoy it.” Hilzoy


“What does the Right have to show for eight years of a Republican presidency? I supported George W. Bush in 2000 because I thought he had a conservative bone in his body somewhere. I supported him in 2004 because I thought him the lesser of two evils. At this point, I wouldn’t let the fool park his car in my driveway. Bruce Bartlett was right, every damn word.” John Derbyshire


“If you had told me two years ago that John McCain would end his active national political life perceived by many as the candidate of the special interests tied to lobbyists; that many people considered his campaign dishonorable and focused on small things; that he wasn’t seen as presidential and the right person to have in a crisis; and that the broad center in American politics had turned against him, I would have laughed in your face. That’s not who he is. But that’s the campaign that he chose.” John Weaver


“It was striking to see how Americans responded to the fear-mongering. Obama’s lead over McCain in the polls grew in the face of the economic crisis, but the lead grew even more when McCain and his party tried desperately to scare Americans. The more we were supposed to feel afraid, the more voters responded to Obama’s message. The more intense the smears against him, the higher Obama’s favorability ratings. There were quite a few messages for the political world yesterday, but one came through loud and clear: We don’t want to be afraid anymore.” Steve Benen


“Anyone — on any side of this election fence — who takes a vote so personally that they would dismiss a friendship over it is really not worth the time and patience I give to friendships, anyhow. But it still saddens me to see them go. It saddens me that the political discourse in this country has become so volatile, so divisive that people are afraid to say who they are voting for.” Michele Catalano


“As both a conservative and a Republican, I confess that we deserve to lose this year. We have governed badly and have earned the wrath of voters, who will learn in due course how inadequate the nostrums of liberal Democrats are to the crisis of our times. If I cannot in good faith cast a vote against the Bush years by voting for Obama, I can at least do so by withholding my vote from McCain.” Rod Dreher


“Everything that worked for forty years has suddenly not just stopped working, it has become self-defeating. Republican candidates, strategists, and pundits are like witchdoctors who keep repeating the old incantations over and over, their voices rising in furious shock, to no effect. That’s the sound of an era ending.”George Packer


“No news conferences? Interviews now only with friendly journalists? You can’t be president or vice president and govern in that style, as a sequestered figure. This has been Mr. Bush’s style the past few years, and see where it got us. You must address America in its entirety, not as a sliver or a series of slivers but as a full and whole entity, a great nation trying to hold together. When you don’t, when you play only to your little piece, you contribute to its fracturing.” Peggy Noonan


“Anybody who imagines that an election can be won under these circumstances by banging on about William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright is … to put it mildly … severely under-estimating the electoral importance of pocketbook issues. We conservatives are sending a powerful, inadvertent message with this negative campaign against Barack Obama’s associations and former associations: that we lack a positive agenda of our own and that we don’t care about the economic issues that are worrying American voters.” David Frum


“People need to understand, for moral reasons and the protection of our civil society, the differences with Sen. Obama are ideological, based on clear differences on policy and a lack of experience compared to Sen. McCain. And from a purely practical political vantage point, please find me a swing voter, an undecided independent, or a torn female voter that finds an angry mob mentality attractive.” John Weaver, former McCain strategist


“Can you imagine the reaction of the press corps if [Hillary] Clinton had given the audience a ‘hiya, sailor’ wink?” Richard Cohen


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