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Andy Card

The Boston Globe has an AP piece on Andy Card's "tight ship." In many ways, Card embodies the loyalty fetish typical of Bushism. The Washington Post published a personal look at Card back on January 5th, focusing on his memory devices and his organizational tactics.

Kennedy and Gonzales

Ted Kennedy, remaining true to his comments of a week ago, is "leaning against" confirming Al Gonzales. Said Kennedy: "This nominee is the principal architect, it appears, for the development of the changes in the Geneva Convention, and torture. And he has an opportunity in response to these questions to explain it. I don't think he did."


The Post manages to use Rice's failures to show that she is "really charming," in Brent Scowcroft's words. I heard, from some "bigs" at Steve Clemons' event a couple of weeks ago, the opposite, to say the least. The news of Zoellick's ascension had just broken, and people were wondering how State would work with two "rude" people at the helm. Many of their friends would probably agree that both Rice and Zoellick have brusque, abrasive personalities. In the midst of another fairly hagiographic piece, the NYT reports that Rice intends to restore "diplomacy" to the center of the Bush international agenda. All the evidence, though, points to Rice embracing public relations, rather than diplomacy, as her job - she wants to "restore America's reputation;" Bush wants her to "explain our motives and explains our intentions," "to do a better job of explaining what America is all about." The world doesn't want to be explained to, though - it wants to be listened to.

Private Military

Employees at some of the private contractors in Iraq don't fare so well, as shown in the story of Allen Petty, former KBR truckdriver. The stress and risk was great, the reward minimal. I would have liked to know what Mr. Petty thought about George W. Bush. His wife thinks KBR is to blame, he thinks the military is - but who really decided to invade with inadequate troop levels and an unrealistic strategic assessment, only to fill the gaps with private military forces?

Jim Wallis

Wallis, of Sojourners, met with Congressional and Senate Democrats to talk about faith. It would be nice if he could fill a Michael Gerson-like role, enabling Democrats to make clear that their positions are compatible with, or animated, by faith. We do not need someone to repeat the tired, ridiculous tripe that Democrats are hostile to religion. "Moral values" are a public relations issue, not a substantive issue: we are already the party of moral values. The most interesting part of the NYT's reporting, though, is the commnetary by Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention, who "argued that Mr. Wallis misunderstood conservative evangelical voters because he conflated the moral issue of alleviating poverty with the practical issue of whether Democratic policies are the way to do it," claiming "that the debate is over, based on the 30-year experiment, about whether big government or free markets work better at producing wealth for everybody." Land is wrong as a matter of policy, but he shows the extent of interpenetration between free-market ideology and evangelicalism, the bizarre epistemological underpinnings of pseudo-conservatism.

Nick Confessore and Grover Norquist

That interpenetration, reflected in pseudo-conservative economics, is the central topic of Confessore's NYT article on Grover Nroquist and Bush's reactionary tax agenda. Pseudo-conservatives ardently believe in the inefficiency of taxing wealth, with no rationale but their moral sentiments.


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