Tuesday, October 08, 2002

In some respects, it was a pretty good day for the Democrats yesterday. First, of course, is the news that the Supreme Court will not be hearing the N.J. case, which means that Lautenberg is pretty much a lock for the N.J. Senate seat; if not a lock, then certainly as strong a contender as the Democrats could hope for. (It doesn't hurt that Forrester has subconsciously given the impression that he can't handle the competition, either, thanks to the legal challenge.)

Second is the news that Americans are interested in more of a focus on discussion of domestic economic issues instead of merely Iraq. Most Democrats think will help their situation, especially considering that economic figures are dropping like stones. Not exactly a nice thing to contemplate, but it undercuts Republican efforts to say that there's a recovery going on, and helps Democrats in the charge that the Republicans aren't exactly competent economic stewards. (Paging Dr. Krugman...) Indeed, this new poll might demonstrate that there's been more of a focus on economics all along than many had previously thought, although it might not necessarily benefit the Democrats as much as they think it will. (Depends on whether or not the Republicans get associated with those figures. If this continues they undoubtedly will in 2004, but right now it's a tough call.)

There is, however, a third factor entering into all of this that's less positive towards the Dems: the new Bush speech tonight, which was obviously aimed at convincing the American public that this is the way to go. I didn't get a chance to watch the speech myself, but most of the media reports on it I read imply that it didn't really impart any new information- it just summarized and restated what arguments already exist. That's useful, of course, but most Americans would probably already be familiar with these arguments from any number of pro-war pundits and commentators, and therefore I doubt they'll be any more swayed than they were beforehand. Less, actually, if that new poll that says that support has dropped to nearly fifty percent holds steady after the speech.

Edit: I doubt it'll make much difference at all. Apparently only Fox and its affiliates (and, I suppose, CNN) actually carried the speech. Unless they consciously tuned in (which is doubtful), a large part of the American public didn't even watch the speech. They'll get the gist of it from the media, but judging by the reporting by the NY Times, Washington Post, and to a lesser extent CNN, even the positive reactions are going to be variations of "he strenuously stated what he already knew". That will work for direct viewers, but probably not in after-the-fact news reports.

(There's no doubt it also reinforced the international perception that there's no way that Iraq could possibly avoid the invasion. Austrio-Hungary prior to WWI and the drafters of the Versailles Treaty would be envious of Bush's terms. This may cause some issues, but again, they're probably not issues that don't already exist.)

The big question here is, of course, what will happen in the Security Council. I've talked to several people who think that the U.S. is going to horse-trade its way into compliance by China, Russia, and France, but I'm still not convinced that that's going to happen; they stand to lose a lot more than some petrodollars if the Bush doctrine eliminates the concept of national security and sovereignty. Remember, according to that unearthed think-tank document, China's a candidate for regime change. There's no doubt they know that. There's no doubt they know that this will make that easier. The only doubt is whether or not the Bushies are dumb enough to go for China. Considering that they wrote that paper in the first place... I wouldn't put it past them.

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