March 04, 2004

"I Know! George Bush Should Make a Speech!"

Matthew Yglesias is overcome with laughter:

Matthew Yglesias: Hahahahahah: This is really very funny.

OxBlog: Posted 8:36 AM by Josh Chafetz: I THINK... [George W. Bush] should make... [a speech] devoted to... the strategic vision behind the war on terror. I want to hear an hour-long address that does the following things: (1) Discusses the dangers... and why they need to be met with a military response. (2) Defends the Bush Doctrine that regimes that harbor terrorists will be treated as terrorists. (3) Lays out Bush's understanding that despotism and oppression are root causes of terrorism, and explains his vision for international democracy promotion.... (4) Explains how non-military options are also being used to promote these goals.... (5) Explains how the war in Iraq served a number of goals related to the above points.... Saddam was a destabilizing force... brutal... democratization has important cross-border effects.... (6) Is honest about the lack of WMD in Iraq. Promises (and follows up on) a good faith effort to find out why our intelligence was faulty.... (7) Lists the countries that made up our coalition in Iraq. Points out that calling the war "unilateral" is an insult to these allies, many of whom are significant players.... (8) Emphasizes the importance of rebuilding... civil society... not just in Afghanistan and Iraq, but everywhere that seeks to overcome a legacy of despotism and oppression. This is not just the right thing to do, it is also the right way to protect America.

That -- written by Michael Gerson, of course, who is an incredible speechwriter -- is the speech I want to hear. And that kind of bold statement would not only reassure the American people that Bush knows what he's doing (his new ads say that he knows what he wants to do, but they don't tell us), it would also put Kerry on the defensive.

I agree with Yglesias. Josh Chefetz has made a rather large category mistake. Chafetz just wants to hear Bush say that he is doing these things--and when he hears them, he will be happy, for "Michael Gerson... is an incredible speechwriter."

I, by contrast, don't want to hear George W. Bush say he will do these things. I want him to do (some of) these things (and I want him to do somewhat different things). I want to watch him do the following:

  1. Attack the problem of Al-Qaeda and its ilk through a unified response--military, intelligence, law enforcement, and diplomatic.
  2. Not necessarily treat regimes that harbor terrorists as terrorists (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Boston, anyone?), but make them aware that nothing good will happen for them as long as they harbor terrorists, and that invasion is definitely something that we are thinking hard about.
  3. Promote democracy around the world, rather than just pretend to.
  4. Undertake a serious development and global health effort, rather than just pretend to.
  5. Explain the real reasons we attacked Iraq--it wasn't that we failed to realize what Hans Blix's findings meant for the reliability of our intelligence, was it?
  6. Retire the architects of the intelligence debacle--Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, and company. People foolish enough to take exiles' statements at face value don't belong in government.
  7. Apologize to those of our allies who thought that containment and inspections was a successful policy in late 2002 and early 2003.
  8. Put Marshall Plan-scale resources into building civil society in the Middle East, rather than just pretend to.

But there's no chance of any of that, is there? No chance of any real policy change. So all Josh Chafetz dares hope for is a speech.

Posted by DeLong at March 4, 2004 08:42 AM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post

"...written by Michael Gerson, of course, who is an incredible speechwriter..." If he wrote such a speech, he would be an "incredible" speech writer, quite literally.

Posted by: K Harris on March 4, 2004 02:57 PM


Have we already forgotten Bush's SOTU and "Meet The Press" flops?

Why would the Bush campaign risk grand public soliloquies when they can just monopolize television advertising for the next eight months?

Hell, watching "Tested" *I* almost makes me feel like voting for this guy.

Posted by: Adam on March 4, 2004 03:23 PM


I have a dear friend that, for some reason, loves her 'Bushy'. Even _she_ doesn't want to hear him speak.


Posted by: Dano on March 4, 2004 03:42 PM


just plain love how you "agree" with

matt. does he really believes there is a

shot the bushies would allow bush to back down on

the wmd dodge?

Posted by: eugene murphy on March 4, 2004 04:15 PM


"Put Marshall Plan-scale resources into building civil society in the Middle East, rather than just pretend to."

Wow. That must be a pretend $20 billion we are spending on Iraqi infrastructure. Who knew?

Posted by: Al on March 4, 2004 04:32 PM


To attack Chafetz for not addressing your concerns unfairly mischaracterizes the purpose of his most recent post, which was to encourage the Bushies to explain their foreign policy to the American public....Nice job attacking straw men.

Also, for those mocking the idea of the President ever making such speeches, please read his November 2003 speech at Whitehall Palace and his speech to the National Endowment for Democracy (also from November 2003). Links can be found at

Posted by: jk on March 4, 2004 05:05 PM


Yo, Al, my main troll - we need to give Iraq $20 billion in fishing lessons, not $20 billion in Halliburton-markup fish.

Posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft on March 4, 2004 05:11 PM


Hey, I caught a typo!

that kind of bold statement would not only reassure the American people that Bush knows what he's doing

Surely Josh meant assure? I haven't felt once that Bush knows what he's doing, at least, not in anything that counts.

Posted by: Michael on March 4, 2004 05:29 PM


"Attack the problem of Al-Qaeda and its ilk through a unified response--military, intelligence, law enforcement, and diplomatic."

But Bush is already going around the country ridiculing the "law enforcement" approach.

Posted by: Bob H on March 4, 2004 05:47 PM


Does Josh Chafetz "Explains how the war in Iraq served a number of goals related to the above points..." sound like weapons of mass destruction related program activities to you ?

You would need a very great speachwriter to convince me that invading Iraq was a useful part of the war on terrorism, or, indeed a part of the war on terrorism at all. Theodore Sorensen couldn't do it. Shakespeare maybe.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on March 4, 2004 06:19 PM


Those two speeches were interesting, especially the second one (which hails Reagan's commitment to democracy), when viewed in the light of Josh's coblogger, David Adesnik's post about David Brooks' "Neo-con Revisionism' (18 Feb 2004), where he said
"Almost inevitably, promoting democracy entails a short-term risk to human rights. A dictatorship in the process of being overthrown often tramples on its subjects. Yet Reagan didn't simply trade off democracy for human rights. Rather, he showed a revolting callousness toward the ramifications of his chosen policies. Most notably, Reagan constantly defended the integrity of the Salvadoran military despite overwhelming and public evidence that it was responsible for tens of thousands of murders. Yet even declassified documents from both the CIA and the State Department show that the relationship between the Salvadoran military and El Salvador's notorious death squads was well-known and well-documented.

Moreover, one cannot even say that Reagan defended the Salvadorans in public out of political necessity. Declassified documents also show that Reagan defended them in private. This should not come as a surprise, however, since Reagan was never a liar. He simply believed the lies that he told. For these reasons, I find Gaddis' description of Reagan to be simply indefensible. More importantly, this oversight in Gaddis' comments points to an important similarity between himself and Brooks: both men want to write Carter out of the history of US foreign relations. Brooks gets rid of Carter by denying his idealism. Gaddis gets rid of Carter by declaring that his idealism was redundant.
I agree with Gaddis that the resemblance between Reagan and Bush is striking, but not always in a good way. Like Reagan, Bush seems to be far better at talking about his ideals than putting them into practice. Hence the troubled occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Thankfully, Bush has done nothing to compromise human rights in the manner of his predecessor. For that reason, I find it far easier to accept Bush than to accept Reagan. Yet when this administration praises the democratic virtues of Vladimir Putin and Pervez Musharraf, I begin to wonder if Bush really understands a damn thing he is talking about. That is why I am a liberal hawk and not a neo-conservative."

I realize that cobloggers don't necessarily share the same views, but if guy you share the blog with feels this way, is it really appropriate to bust MY and BdL for pointing out the same thing?

Posted by: liberal japonicus on March 4, 2004 08:52 PM



apologies for slamming matt. complete misread.

going to bed.

eugene murphy

Posted by: eugene murphy on March 4, 2004 08:56 PM


What the hell did Southie ever do?

DeLong's ass is mine if he ever appears east of Andrew Square, or south of the Fort Point Channel.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on March 4, 2004 09:32 PM


Edit: for 'Andrew Square' read 'Andrews Square'.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on March 4, 2004 09:33 PM


Right the first time.

The f*@# MBTA's budget apparently doesn't run to proofreaders.

May Governor Andrew's ghost wreak savage revenge....

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on March 4, 2004 09:40 PM


"Put Marshall Plan-scale resources into building civil society in the Middle East, rather than just pretend to."

How would you explain to Iraqis in what sense we are not doing this and also to me as a tax payer coughing up his share of the $87 billion. Granted we could put even more into the effort, but come on, a little credit where it is due.

Posted by: Graham on March 4, 2004 09:46 PM


Your share of the $87 billion is enriching contractors. Did you hear the one about the gas for $2 something a gallon? Don't assume that because we are spending alot that we are getting alot.

Posted by: gsabino on March 5, 2004 05:04 AM


"Did you hear the one about the gas for $2 something a gallon? "


Did you hear the other one? About how ordinary Iraqi citizens are now queued up to buy automobiles for the first time ever?

"According to official statistics, more than 250,000 new cars have entered Iraq in the past 10 months since the US-led coalition forces swept Saddam from power last April."

Hmm. Maybe some of the expert economists around here can help predict what the impact of increasing demand among gasoline consumers -- which follows from the increasing population of automobile owners -- will be on local prices? Hmmm? Anyone?

From the same article:

"The construction of new houses and apartments, which is in full swing in the five-million Iraqi capital, has led the prices of building materials to skyrocket."

Hmm. Skyrocketing prices are bad, right? And all that construction equipment uses fuel, too, I bet. And that has what effect on gasoline pricing? Hmm.

"Baghdad University professor of economics Hisham Al-Shama predicted that the Iraqi GDP (gross domestic product) to grow from its present level of US$25 billion to 250 billions within one decade."

Yeah yeah right right. An economics professor. What does HE know?

"Shama said the market-oriented economic policy adopted in post- war Iraq will have a most beneficial effect on the whole economy and as a result help raise the standard of living of the Iraqi people particularly after rehabilitating the country's war-damaged oil industry."

Another shill for the Shrub, quoted in a right wing conspiracy publication ... oh wait. Shaghai. China. Well, nevermind that last bit.

Anyhow, we all understand that all this booming free-market economy nonsense is just window dressing, right? It's all about inflating shares of Halliburton, right? And if Iraqi oil starts flowing and world oil prices drop boosting the world economy -- that would be BAD, right, on account of, let me see, uhm. uhm. uhm. Or right, Kyoto Greenhousing. Right. So more oil, and especially oil NOT from Saudi Arabia, that's bad. Got it.

Got to keep those talking points straight.

Posted by: Pouncer on March 5, 2004 10:48 AM


"pouncer" sez: "According to official statistics, more than 250,000 new cars have entered Iraq in the past 10 months since the US-led coalition forces swept Saddam from power last April."

I don't know all the details of the U.N. sanctions that were enforced against Iraq from 1992 through 2002, but I suspect that if they couldn't import water-purifying plants they also couldn't mport new automobiles. So what you're seeing there has somewhat less to do with the glorious wonder of the "booming free-market economy" than the obvious, short-term consequence of a decade's pent-up demand.

Say, what the unemployment rate in Iraq these days again? Who do you suppose are buying all those cars? "Ordinary Iraqi citizens," you say? With what money?

Your last two paragraphs insult my intelligence. Rather than stuffing your idiotic straw-man arguments into my mouth, why don't you go ahead and stuff them elsewhere? Thanks.

Posted by: W. Kiernan on March 5, 2004 02:34 PM


Back around Oil Shock II my friend Ted Takeda of Mitsubishi Shoji was plonking down cities of 20,000, cookie-cutter style, all over Saudi, and he asked me to supply the coin laundries for them. I was too busy building coin laundries all over Japan, so I put him off to White-Westinghouse and McGraw-Edison. Big Mistake. Here I am looking at a daughter who plans on sticking me with maybe six years of Harvard Med bills, call it half a million dollars. I could have ysken care of that with a single Saudi parking lot.

Now you guys are telling me I'm making the same mistake in Iraq? What next? Iran? Syria? North Korea?

Posted by: David Lloyd-Jones on March 6, 2004 07:35 AM


With love comes strange currencies.

Posted by: Barzel Tamar on March 17, 2004 06:31 PM


Insanity is forgetting to believe a few lies.

Posted by: Gilland Breena Levasseur on May 2, 2004 01:10 PM


Everyone is born with genius, but most people only keep it a few minutes.

Posted by: Bevington Sarah on May 3, 2004 12:41 AM


Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.

Posted by: Robbin Max on June 30, 2004 06:03 AM

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