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Tilting at Windmills

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October 12, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

BUZZWORD WATCH....Matt Yglesias watches Mitt Romney's latest TV ad and is embarrassed by the "rank ignorance" it displays. But Romney isn't ignorant. He's just randomly stringing together the national security buzzwords currently required of any Republican candidate:

  • This century's nightmare: jihadism

  • A single jihadist caliphate

  • Freedom loving nations

  • Strengthen our intelligence services

  • Increase our military

  • Monitor calls

  • Stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons

This is the foreign policy version of what Steven Pearlstein was talking about earlier on economic policy. There are no actual proposals or serious thoughts here. It's just a puerile contest to see who can stuff the most World War IV bullets into a single 30-second spot.

Kevin Drum 2:04 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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[Handle Hijack Deleted]

Posted by: Al on October 12, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Im miffled as to why republican top contenders hasn't embarked on a Nixonian exit plan...

/snarkon

Posted by: Ya Know.... on October 12, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Ya know, Al, war has never been declared on Iraq as insurgents dont really come from Iraq....

Posted by: Ya Know.... on October 12, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

World War IV? Did I miss WW III somewhere?

A.J.

Posted by: AJB on October 12, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Heres a question for you AL, what President, and what party, cut and ran from Iraq in Gulf 1?

Posted by: Ya Know.... on October 12, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

World War IV? Did I miss WW III somewhere?
A.J.

The Al's, the neo-nuts, consider the Cold War a world war, WWIII..somehow. of course they don't exist in the same time/space continuum as the rest of us normal humans.

Posted by: Ya Know.... on October 12, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

As opposed to the Democrat contenders, who compete to see who can surrender in Iraq fastest, and who can Negotiate Al Qeada to Death. Maybe B. Hussein Obama can fight terrorism with The Audacity of Hope!

Uh, where are you getting that from? Your friends on Uranus? Don't type so much, now, Al, it gets you excited-- and it's time to take your megadoses of meds before nap-time.

What would it be like to have a president who's favorite novel is Battleship Earth?

Posted by: Swan on October 12, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin,

In 1992 "It's the economy, stupid" got Clinton elected. In 2008 "It's national security, stupid" will get Romney or another Republican elected.

Americans do not want to confront a nuclear-armed caliphate, and their best hope of avoiding that is to vote Republican.

[Ah, Canadian Al-bot...you give yourself away when you hijack egberts handle and then spell correctly and capitalize the "e" in egbert.]

Posted by: Egbert on October 12, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

A smarter electorate might make this kind of crap less effective.

Posted by: craigie on October 12, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I guess the music will have to do the heavy lifting in his ads, eh? These buzzwords strike me as more and more irrelevant. Only true believers will respond, and the ranks of true believers are thinning.

Posted by: PTate in MN on October 12, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

good rule of thumb: anyone, in any country, of any religion, who non-ironically uses the word "caliphate" is a loon.

Posted by: benjoya on October 12, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

We could have a "puerile contest" about Democratic buzzwords in social spending, taxes, and other standard talking points hit on in every liberal political speech. Which list do you think would be longer?

Posted by: harry on October 12, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

He forgot to include "Double Guantanamo."

Posted by: Grumpy on October 12, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

It's just a puerile contest to see who can stuff the most World War IV bullets into a single 30-second spot.

In a country where Velveeta™ is sold successfully as 'cheese', who's to say they've made the wrong choice?

And 'Double Guantanamo' sounds like something a barista hands you for $4.35....

Harry would have a point, except that the bullet points on the liberal list would have actual referrents in this world, the one we actually live in, as opposed to the list suggested by Mr. Drum.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on October 12, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

harry, you miss the point so I'll explain it to you so you can understand.

Democrats speeches have content. The words they use are common words used in specific policy areas they have to use to describe their substantive policies. Kev's list was of trite phrases designed to "wow" 'em and to have an emotional content. But they don't outline substantive policies, just try to make themselves sound like they will be aggressive militarily or "tough" on terror without describing how they will be better at using our weapons (military, intelligence agencies) than anyone else. So that is why one is a puerile contest, like a pissing contest to see who can use the most sound-bites, while the other is an actual informed discussion, that means something.

Posted by: Swan on October 12, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

harry's 2:39 PM comment is a puerile comment...

Posted by: Swan on October 12, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

This is why we need an H-1b program to being in foreign politicians since we have a critical shortage of qualified candidates. If the top thing we have in the murderers' row of candidates is the cackling, 'regular girl,' power mad Hillary who can turn $1000 into $100,000 in the futures market...well...

Posted by: Luther on October 12, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kind of a wimpy list without Nine Eleven specifically mentioned. Trying to keep from paying royalties to me?

World War IV is simply World War III on IVs to keep it going.

Posted by: Rudy G on October 12, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Comments like luther's re the futures market make me wonder when the resident trolls are going to start asking Who Promoted Peress?

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on October 12, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

al,

you really need better material. seriously.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on October 12, 2007 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

911 was bad, really bad, but I can’t get over how all the Republicans are still going weak in the knees, telling us how we need to tear up the Constitution and declare war on all the foreigners. Get a grip, people. They need to hand out paper bags at the Republican debates so the candidates can deal with their hyperventilating. The most tragic thing is that they are playing right into Osama’s hand, advocating the kind of dumb-ass military intervention Osama hoped for when he was planning 911.

Posted by: fafner1 on October 12, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

And to whom would we be surrendering Al?

We are already surrendering to Oil, Pharmaceuticals, and any and all lobbyist that have $500 for a plate at a fund raiser to bend and incompetent congressional ear, but surrendering to an incompetent foreign policy would be pushing it too far? How's that again?

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on October 12, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

"We could have a 'puerile contest' about Democratic buzzwords in social spending, taxes, and other standard talking points hit on in every liberal political speech. Which list do you think would be longer?"

Bring it on, dear heart. We will, of course, also be looking at the connection to the real world in both sets of messages.

Posted by: PaulB on October 12, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Like presidential candidates have any choice but to run commercials full of sound bites. Many of them do also write out rather lengthy policy statements (as Romney and several others have done), but who reads them? I would be willing to bet that Kevin Drum hasn't read them for example. Otherwise he would be able to comment on something other than soundbites. The media however is rather lazy and is more than willing to pander to the American electorate which is even more lazy.

Posted by: David Glick on October 12, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

"911 was bad, really bad, but I can’t get over how all the Republicans are still going weak in the knees"

What's interesting is how they don't even realize how fear-filled they have become. Instead, they project that on to those who opposed the war -- the so-called "surrender monkeys." They don't even know the difference between real fear and an honest threat assessment.

Posted by: PaulB on October 12, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Like presidential candidates have any choice but to run commercials full of sound bites."

Sure, but this is really about the content of those soundbites and their complete disconnection from reality, not the fact that he's using soundbites.

Posted by: PaulB on October 12, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Spending hundreds of millions of dollars on political campaigns seems a little disconnected from reality as well.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on October 12, 2007 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Yglesias article is a good litmus test. People like him aren't particuarly worried, because it's "a group of at most several thousand people who control almost no territory or valuable military equipment."

On the other hand, people like me are worried, because

-- Radical Islam has substantial support among millions of Moslems throughout the world. That's why countries like Canada, the UK, the US, France, Australia, etc. have seen terrorist attacks or attempted attacks from home-grown groups

-- If radical Islamists could acquire nuclear weapons, they'd have little compunction about using them on civilians. They don't need to control territory to use nukes.

-- There are countries which have nuclear arsenals that might fall into the hands of Islamic terrorists, like Pakistan. Also, there are countries which are developing nuclear arsenals that might fall into the hands of terrorists, like Iran.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 12, 2007 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

**

Posted by: mhr on October 12, 2007 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Americans do not want to confront a nuclear-armed caliphate, and their best hope of avoiding that is to vote Republican.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Kim Jong Il acquired nukes under Republican charge.

Posted by: Ya Know.... on October 12, 2007 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

A single jihadist caliphate of freedom loving nations will monitor calls to inrease our military and strengthen our intelligence. Services? Stop this century's nightmare. Jihadism? I ran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

It changed everything. Any questions?

Posted by: thersites on October 12, 2007 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

There are countries which have nuclear arsenals that might fall into the hands of Islamic terrorists, like Pakistan. -ex-liberal

Eh? According to egbert Muslims countries have no nukes...shhh. We wouldnt want to alarm him.

As far as terrorism goes, the patriot act does not identify Muslims, solely, as terrorists. Besides George just offered/sold a 20 billion dollar arms package to those Muslims in Saudi Arabia.

How does that help our security, exactly?

Posted by: Ya Know.... on October 12, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

That's why countries like Canada, the UK, the US, France, Australia, etc. have seen terrorist attacks or attempted attacks from home-grown groups -Ex-liberal

Its because our media constantly refers to Iraq as a war, which is not helped when people, such as yourself, keep portraying all Muslims as part of the caliphate. By doing so you only feed extremism, such as what the Saudi hijackers were and give Osama more recruits.

Posted by: Ya Know.... on October 12, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Wow! Who knew there could be such a thing as Bush without the ideas?

Posted by: Kenji on October 12, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Did'nt Ivan Pavlov conduct this experiment with dog's?

Posted by: DonkeyKong on October 12, 2007 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, my worst nightmare is violent Mormon jihadists like Willard Romney. Yeah, America has had all of 19 violent jihadists attack us with boxcutters and you want to spend trillions of dollars more to combat this HUGE threat? No thanks, Willard.

However, Romney does better a striking resemblance to Bryan Ferry, former lead singer for Roxy Music - Don’t you think ? Bryan’s a better dresser, though.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on October 12, 2007 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

'Double Guantanamo' sounds like something a barista hands you for $4.35....

Extra-shot-no-foam, please.

Posted by: Thlayli on October 12, 2007 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

How come after Timothy McVeigh, y'all weren't agitating to bomb Montana?

Posted by: craigie on October 12, 2007 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

Monitor calls

Speaking of which...

10.12.07 -- 9:01PMBy Josh Marshall
Been following the Nacchio/Qwest communications story? More coming this evening.


Kevin Drum was right - Bush was data minning, and NOT for terrorist related issues... or was it?

NSA Domestic Surveillance Began 7 Months Before 9/11, Convicted Qwest CEO ClaimsDid the NSA's massive call records database program pre-date the terrorist attacks of 9/11?

That startling allegation is in court documents released this week which show that former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio -- the head of the only company known to have turned down the NSA's requests for Americans' phone records -- tried, unsuccessfully, to argue just that in his defense against insider trading charges.

Nacchio was sentenced to 6 years in prison in 2007 after being found guilty of illegally selling shares based on insider information that the company's fortunes were declining.

This could be bad for Bush and Cheney - it was reported by NORAD that they were to be on the look out for terrorist that would fly planes into building - before the hi-jack. What did Bush and Cheney know and when did they know - did Bush knowingly allow hi-jackers to do what they did.

Why did Cheney's energy task meeting "divide" up Iraqi oilfield - pre -9/11? Why pay ANY attention to his August 6th briefing?

Who was it that invested so heavely in wall street prior to 9/11? Was it the Bushies?

Something bad is about to happen.


Posted by: Me_again on October 13, 2007 at 3:57 AM | PERMALINK

Ya Know.... : Its [the worldwide series of terror attacks by Islamofascists is] because our media constantly refers to Iraq as a war, which is not helped when people, such as yourself, keep portraying all Muslims as part of the caliphate. By doing so you only feed extremism, such as what the Saudi hijackers were and give Osama more recruits.

This point of view would support the west doing little or nothing to fight Islamists. That's consistent with Yglesias and lots of other people.

My view is that radical Islam isn't going away on its own. I think we must distinguish between the radical Muslims and the rest of the Muslims, and fight the radicals. I think our vigorous opposition to radical Islam will help the great number of other Muslims to resist the radicals within their midst.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 13, 2007 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

1988: Scaree Black People will rape your women
2008: Scaree Brown People will blow up your women

The more things change...

Posted by: Hank Essay on October 13, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, ex-liberal, how is the "vigorous response" working for us, so far?

Not saying it is a bad idea, just wondering if you could give us an update.

-

Posted by: Steve Schwarz on October 13, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

The Romney caliphate ad reminds me that I'm going to try to set the parental controls on my t.v. to block all political ads. The best of them are inane. Some cause brain damage. Most reflect badly on both the campaign and the viewer. Real campaign reform would ban all t.v. campaign ads, require that debates be between no more than two people following real debate format, create a cause of action for saying stupid, inaccurrate things and fine those who repeatedly mangle the english language (gee..who comes to mind?). Swift boating and smear jobs like the one the Bush campaign did on John McCain several years back would be punishable by imprisonment and disinheritance. Politics as usual in America is a public health hazard.

Posted by: W.R. Chambers on October 13, 2007 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

"This point of view would support the west doing little or nothing to fight Islamists."

Well sure, if you're a brain-dead moron, incapable of anything but partisan drivel. To those of us in the real world, there are no contradictions between that point of view and "vigorous opposition" to terrorists.

"That's consistent with Yglesias and lots of other people."

Bullshit, of course, which is why you haven't even bothered to try to support this bit of drivel.

"My view is that radical Islam isn't going away on its own."

No shit, Sherlock.

"I think we must distinguish between the radical Muslims and the rest of the Muslims, and fight the radicals."

No shit, Sherlock. Now if you could pass this message along to Bush, we might actually get somewhere.

"I think our vigorous opposition to radical Islam will help the great number of other Muslims to resist the radicals within their midst."

Since this is directly contradicted by all of the available evidence from the past few years, forgive us if we don't take this unsupported opinion of your any more seriously than we do the rest of your drivel.

Posted by: PaulB on October 14, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK
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