Political Animal


CRYSTAL BALL GAZING ON WALL STREET….I’ve always been skeptical of the peculiar brand of instant analysis that the business press engages in when it reports on the day’s stock market news. It’s usually something like “The market declined as today’s unemployment report sparked fears that consumer spending will slow down.” Or, if the market went up that day, it’s “The market rose as today’s unemployment report sparked hopes that a weak labor market will keep a lid on wage increases.” It’s basically just astrology.

But now it’s even worse. Here’s the headline in the LA Times today:

Stocks Jump on Speculation That Iraq Crisis Might End Soon

Huh? What planet are these guys living on? As the story itself notes:

But analysts were quick to question whether Wall Street’s rally of the last two days has staying power. They noted that a war with Iraq was still a distinct possibility….

Ya think?

UPDATE: Have you ever noticed the same effect from biographers of famous people, who all seem hellbent on proving that their subject’s personality was molded by their parents? If both parent and offspring were thrifty, for example, then offspring was clearly following the parental example. But if offspring turns out to spend with wild abandon, then he was obviously rebelling against his parents. If you pay attention, you’ll see this in practically every biography you read.


COLIN POWELL AND THE UN….Since Steven Den Beste, Glenn Reynolds, and William Safire all get to engage in weird conspiracy theorizing about the French, can I do the same for the Bush administration?

My question is this: why aren’t we at war yet? Bush’s contempt for the UN is patent, and yet we continue to make Herculean efforts to get Security Council authorization for a war. Why? Here are a few possibilities:

  • Despite his talk, Bush actually believes in the UN. I think we can safely dismiss this one.

  • It’s a sop to Tony Blair. This is the most common theory, and a pretty good one.

  • The loss of Turkish bases and flyover rights is more important than we’ve been lead to believe. This has caused an unavoidable delay in military planning, and as long as we’re delayed anyway there’s no harm in continuing the fight at the UN. This seems plausible, but not convincing. I suspect the military would rather go now even with incomplete planning rather than allow summer to draw ever closer.

  • Colin Powell has threatened to resign if we invade without UN approval.

Obviously I made this list just to get that last item in, because the thought has been bugging me for a while. But Cyrus Vance resigned as secretary of state prior to Jimmy Carter’s effort to rescue the hostages in Iran, so it’s not as if there’s no precedent for this kind of thing.

On the scale of weird ideas this ranks well below the possibility of nuclear war with France, but it’s still a bit out there. On the other hand, the normal explanations for our continuing efforts with the UN don’t quite sound convincing to me and I keep wondering if there’s something else going on behind the scenes.

Or maybe I’m just coming down with blog looniness too. An occupational hazard of spending too much time in front of a computer, perhaps.


PAUL KRUGMAN SHOULD WATCH HIS MOUTH….RealClear Politics on Paul Krugman:

On the eve of war, when we have over 200,000 young men and women about to go into battle and risk their lives for our freedom, Krugman uses his national platform to suggest the Commander in Chief “has lost touch with reality.” This is reckless. This is wrong. And this is a LIE.

Having lost the political debate on the wisdom of the war in the Congress and with the American people, Krugman suggests the President who is about to order our troops in to battle may be insane, a modern day Captain Queeg. Absolutely despicable. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Disagreeing with the wisdom of the war is fine. That is what a free democracy is all about. But after having lost that debate I would hope that all Americans would rally behind our President and our troops and pray for their well being and safety. Instead Paul Krugman puts the word out that the Commander in Chief just may be crazy. It is a disgrace.

I guess I have a stronger stomach than John McIntyre, but can I just point out that the antiwar folks haven’t quite lost the debate yet? I admit the smart money isn’t betting on them, but a lot of things have gone wrong over the past couple of weeks, American support for war without UN approval continues to be shallow, and the Bush administration, despite rhetoric to the contrary, still seems to consider UN authorization important. So it’s not exactly unreasonable ? or disgraceful or unpatriotic ? to keep up the fight.