I was wondering out loud in my Congress class Friday when the Democratic leadership and the president would get around to actually hammering out a supplemental instead of the kabuki theater approach that seems to have prevailed in D.C. until this point.
The president’s poll numbers appear to be recovering as of late, and there are two major competing theories to explain the change. Charles Franklin appears to attribute the change to the new PR pushback from the White House, which we might term the Feaver-Gelpi thesis (see also Sunday’s NYT), while Glenn Reynolds says it’s the gas prices and the Mystery Pollster suggests good economic news in general.
It may be the most simplistic thesis, but I think the “pump price” explanation is probably the most plausible; unlike other information, gasoline prices are unavoidable information for most voters and not subject to partisan spin, unlike the presidential pushback on Iraq and news of the general economic recovery—both of which can be spun negatively in a way that falling gasoline prices really can’t. In a noise-filled informational environment, I suspect clear “pocketbook” signals like gasoline prices are much stronger cues for presidential support than the world of competing, ideologically-based claims over Iraq and interest rates.
Update: Al Qaeda appears to put some stock in the pump price explanation as well.
W comes out in favor of teaching Intelligent Design (a.k.a. Creationism with the serial numbers filed off) in public schools. Someone really needs to tell the president he can’t run for reelection, and thus no longer needs to behave like an idiot to gain votes. I take it all back—although, in my defense, I was discussing Congress and not the executive branch.
Unfortunately, the Democrats will fail to extract the correct lesson from this: teachers*, not politicians, should decide what should be taught, and the only way to stop politicians from deciding what gets taught is to get the government completely out of the education business. Instead, they will attempt to back evolutionary theory ad nauseum and further alienate the crowd in Kansas (and the rest of rural and suburban America) which they can’t figure out what’s the matter with.
Update: Alex Knapp is sharing my wavelength today.
* I pointedly use the word teacher and not parent; mind you, absent the advantage for public schools conferred by taxpayer subsidies, parents would be free to choose among available schools and teachers on a level playing field.
You know, I’d be stunned by this lead graf—at least, if it were written about the CIA:
Seven months before the invasion of Iraq, the head of British foreign intelligence reported to Prime Minister Tony Blair that President Bush wanted to topple Saddam Hussein by military action and warned that in Washington intelligence was “being fixed around the policy,” according to notes of a July 23, 2002, meeting with Blair at No. 10 Downing Street.
Accurate intelligence about something everyone in the whole world already knew at the time delivered by a Western intelligence service? Who’d have thunk it? Give them a cookie. (þ: memeorandum)
Long-lost blogger Jacob Levy returns to The New Republic Online with a strong defense of President Bush’s condemnation of the Yalta agreement (and, I suppose, by extension, the Tehran agreement that preceded it) between Britain, the Soviets, and the United States during World War II. Money quote:
Yalta may not be a reference that excites many Americans but it's hardly a forgotten word in Eastern Europe or the Baltics. The historical chords struck by the word "Yalta"—in a week that was, after all, mainly about striking 60-year-old historical chords—continue to evoke for many in Eastern Europe the West's betrayal of their freedom. Twenty years ago, Zbigniew Brzezinski, hardly a right-wing nutcase, wrote in Foreign Affairs that the symbolic, as opposed to the historical, meaning of Yalta had come to serve as "the synonym for betrayal." This may be an obscure thought in America. It is certainly not in Poland or the Baltics.
Levy’s argument strikes me as rather more convincing than the dopey “coded slam at FDR” nonsense peddled by David Greenburg and others. Then again, one wonders how Levy managed to write the phrase “Bush’s skillful diplomacy” with a straight face—even I got a chuckle out of that one, although in this case he’s right.
(þ: Will Baude and Pejman Yousefzadeh)