Sunday, 12 September 2004

The patriotism canard

David Adesnik of OxBlog makes a rather curious statement in a parenthetical aside in his discussion of Dick Cheney’s charge that John Kerry isn’t serious about the War on Terror:

… Cheney did come perilously close to attacking John Kerry’s patriotism.

It strikes me that Cheney attacked (perhaps somewhat unfairly) John Kerry’s alleged position on the relative merits of the use of military force versus other techniques for dealing with al-Qaeda and other international terror organizations. That seems like an attack on Kerry’s competence, or his worldview, or (if you don’t believe the statement David quotes from Kerry) his sincerity—but I’m not sure at all that it’s an attack on Kerry’s patriotism. Indeed, this account of the January 29, 2004, debate among Democratic presidential hopefuls in Greenville, S.C., has Kerry stating, in response to a question from Tom Brokaw:

The war on terror is less-it is occasionally military, and it will be, and it will continue to be for a long time, and we will need the best trained and the most well equipped and the most capable military, such as we have today.

But it’s primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world, the very thing this administration is worst at. I will renew our alliances. I will rejoin the community of nations. I will build the kind of cooperative effort that we need in order to be able to win and, most importantly, the war on terror is also an engagement in the Middle East economically, socially, culturally, in a way that we haven’t embraced because otherwise we’re inviting the clash of civilizations, and I think this administration’s arrogant and ideological policy is taking America down a more dangerous path. I will make America safer than they are.

Is that statement congruent with Cheney’s (implied) charge that Kerry shares “the pre-9/11 mind-set, if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts and that we are not really at war”? It’s certainly closer to that viewpoint than Kerry’s DNC speech.

Calling Cheney’s statement “un-American,” as John Edwards did, would be an attack on someone’s patriotism, as would hypothetical statements such as “John Kerry hates America,” “John Kerry wants the terrorists to win,” or “John Kerry materially aided the North Vietnamese regime against the United States in the early 1970s.” Of course, Cheney made none of these statements or expressed similar sentiments, so I’m a bit mystified as to how what he did say constitutes an attack on Kerry’s patriotism.

Speaking just for myself, I don’t question Kerry’s patriotism—I think he genuinely believes that the policies that he and his fellow Democrats espouse are the ones that are best for America—but I think there are legitimate questions to be raised about whether Kerry’s proposals for greater international cooperation are simply papering over pathological problems with the transatlantic alliance (incidentally, Stephen Bainbridge has penned an interesting take on the future role of the United States as the leader of the international system).

King of Mississippi

Two of the three “local” ads during half-time of the Giants-Eagles game here in Jackson featured Eli Manning (including a cringe-inducing ad for BankPlus that also had Archie in it).

Football in the time of cholera

My thoughts on the 0–2 performance of the Ole Miss Rebels (originally posted here):

I think Cutcliffe has a four-year contract that was renewed over the summer (the state government doesn’t permit contracts for more than four years). No idea what the buy-out is.

That said, Cut will have to really screw up—i.e. get nailed by the NCAA or not be bowl-eligible for two straight seasons—to be fired. Realistically, Ole Miss is a 7 or 8-win program on average, and he’s never done worse than seven wins. I can see the coordinator (Latina) getting the boot, or even a Tuberville-style mass slaughter of the coaching staff, but not during the season. Plus, I think the prestige bump from last year’s 10–3 season won’t translate on the field until 2005 when this year’s recruits are off the scout team.

Besides, who are you going to bring in to rebuild? Petrino has a better shot at a BCS bowl in Louisville (once they enter the Big East) than he would ever have in Oxford. More than likely you’d have to bring in someone for a first head-coaching job (cherry-pick someone off Saban’s staff at LSU, for example), and there’s no guarantee that will work better than Cutcliffe.

I think a lot of what we’re seeing is the result of Cutcliffe not playing Spurlock enough last season—I don’t think Spurlock saw a single snap in an SEC game until Saturday—and some of it is growing pains with working with what Spurlock’s strengths are. Flatt, who does a lot of the same stuff Manning did (not to mention having another half-foot on Spurlock), is actually a better fit in the playcalling “package.”

One thing’s for sure: Spurlock’s leash is pretty short by now, and if the Rebels aren’t pounding Vanderbilt by halftime this coming week, he may never see the field again in an Ole Miss uniform.

The last part is probably hyperbole, but if Spurlock can’t figure out how to settle down and complete passes in a game, he’s not going to be on the field much.