December 31, 2003

Un-Predictions

In my newest piece for the American Spectator Online, I've tweaked the New Year's prediction formula by examining a number of unlikely scenarios for 2004, examining the possibility of each.

(If you're interested in actual predictions, National Review Online had its annual symposium yesterday, and Bill Safire makes his predictions today.)

Posted by John Tabin at 01:56 AM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2003

Baby Wolff

Michael Wolff styles himself as a connoisseur of the "joie de vivre of ridicule and verbal abuse," declaring that "what some of us like most to do is make fun of people. We just have a certain misanthropy and bile and cruelty in our hearts—which is one antidote to the sanctimony and complacency and humorlessness of acceptable discourse."

On the other hand, he also writes that "I’ve always regarded myself as an impatient-with-politics centrist and dedicated no-winger" in the same column where he calls a slanderous portrayal of an enourmously well-admired Republican "ordinary and inoffensive," so perhaps it's unwise to trust Wolff's powers of self-evaluation. His column is headlined "Mean and Proud," but a better description of Wolff might be "thin-skinned and shrill."

Consider: After Wolff made an appearance on C-SPAN recently, my father sent him the following email, quoted in full:

Mr. Wolff:

You were discussing media objectivity on C-Span with Charles Lamb and you made a comment which I almost must think I misheard. You stated that the NYTimes made every possible attempt to be objective. Nothing could be further from the truth and I honestly don't believe that someone like you could not know this. In fact the Times is SO unobjective that I am not sure they are really a newspaper anymore. Their headlines about Bush administration accomplishments give no credit to Bush, wheras their headlines about the accomplishments of the Clinton administration gave total credit to Clinton. They don't have a single Republican columnist unless you count Safire who voted for Clinton. The Times has not endorsed a Republican president for over 50 years and they have some of the most extreme left wing columnists in the country like Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd whose arguments are filled with insult, inaccuracies, and personal invective. The bias of the NYTimes on Israel is particularly extreme as they are unable to recognize a moral distinction between a democracy fighting for tis life and a brutal dictatorship whose leader is only responsible to its security forces.

A caller phoned and tried to show how the Limbaugh bias is different than the Rather bias because Limbaugh is a COMMENTATOR. I don't think he expressed himself as well as he could have but the fact is that Rather deliberately tries to influence his audience by indirection, inuendo and particularly omission. When the economy grew last quarter at a record pace Rather focused on the lagging job creation. Had Clinton been in office he would not have done that. Also, Rather said that the WSJ was right wing and the NYTimes middle of the road.

Surely, I am not telling you anything you don't know. I think your own bias is playing into your conclusions. Is it possible you don't know that?

Best,

Lee Tabin

Whatever you think of the old man's argument, it's entirely civil; anyone who writes publicly and has an email address should be so used to obscenity-laden hatemail that polite disagreement ought to be refreshing. Yet here is Wolff's response, also quoted in full:

I rather think you are a bonehead.

One might argue that it's Wolff who's the bonehead, if it were clear that his soft spot had even closed yet.

Posted by John Tabin at 10:19 AM | Comments (28)

December 23, 2003

Hiatus (Announced, for a Change)

Don't expect anything more here until next week at the earliest.

Posted by John Tabin at 11:36 AM | Comments (1)

Cutters, Wranglers, and Accountants

Howard Dean, Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush, Milton Friedman-- noted fiscal conservatives all. How can that be? What, if anything, does "fiscal conservative" even mean? I attempt to untangle it in my newest piece for the American Spectator Online.

Posted by John Tabin at 12:37 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2003

The Battlefield

I have some quibbles with this analysis of the primary season-- given the unprecedented dynamics this year, third place in New Hampshire may very well matter, for the right candidate-- but it's basically sound, and worth a look for political junkies. Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias looks at the role of the superdelegates.

(Interesting content in The American Prospect? Bob Kuttner must surely be working overtime to scuttle this disturbing trend.)

Posted by John Tabin at 10:02 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2003

Exit Stage Center

Macher of the Middleground John Breaux's retirement paves the way for a competitive race in Louisiana next year. It's not clear from early reports whether Breaux intends to finish his term or not; he may resign and let Kathleen Blanco (who will be swown in next month) appoint a Democrat, probably Rep. Chris John, to finish his term. Either way, John is expected to run; he'll likely face Republican Rep. David Vitter. There's been speculation about Bobby Jindal entering the race; we'll see if there's anything to that.

This won't be a slam dunk for the Republicans by any means. Bush is very popular in Lousiana, but his coattails shouldn't be overstated; thanks to the open-primary system, Bayou Staters have little party loyalty, and as we've seen the past two years, toss-ups in Lousiana still tend to break to the Democrats.

Posted by John Tabin at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

And Speaking of the Spectator...

I skipped over the reactions of the Democratic candidates in today's round-up simply because Jed Babbin's column was already touching on it. Kerry does confirm Brandon Crocker's diagnosis from last week, doesn't he?

Rounding out the Spectator's coverage of Saddam's capture is a Prowler report on the Dean camp and a Jeremy Lott column that features the phrase "walk of cake," which has never been used before now on any webpage catalogued by Google. (It's a "cross between cake walk and piece of cake," Jeremy explains via email.)

Posted by John Tabin at 02:05 AM | Comments (0)

The Mother of All Capture-Reaction Round-Ups

My newest piece, a look at the reactions to Saddam's capture, is now up at the American Spectator Online.

Posted by John Tabin at 02:01 AM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2003

Shiny Happy People

For a taste of joy, check out Iraqi bloggers' reactions to the capture of Saddam Hussein. I won't quote, just go read them:

The Messopotamian

Sam of Hammorabi

Omar of Iraq the Model

Ays of Iraq at a Glance

Posted by John Tabin at 12:23 PM | Comments (1)

December 10, 2003

The Gore-Dean Knot

Between Andrew Sullivan, &c., John Ellis, and The Prowler, among others, there's not a whole lot left to say-- but regarding the Gore vs. Clinton angle, it is worth noting that if you have either a copy of the July 2001 Vanity Fair or The Best American Political Writing 2002, you can find an excellent article by Marjorie Williams on just how far back the Gores' and Clintons' mutual disdain goes. Witness Hillary's not-so-subtle dig at Gore.

Posted by John Tabin at 03:24 AM | Comments (0)