De – ni – al / n.

Glenn Reynolds makes a list of six reasons the Republicans are going to get creamed in November, and omits the War in Iraq. Say what?

I’m delighted to see Glenn Reynolds writing a “pre-mortem” on the Republicans’ election fate; may the words pass directly from his keyboard to God’s browser. Also, the post speaks well for Glenn’s willingness to call ’em as he sees ’em, at least sometimes. Perversely, I’m also glad that Honorary Republican House Member (Class of 1974) Rush Limbaugh is giving Glenn a taste of the Limbaugh treatment Glenn never seems to object to when it’s used on someone else. (How unlikely is it that Limbabble is really too whacked to know that Glenn’s blog is called InstaPundit? But pretending not to know belittles Glenn, and Rushbo is the master belittler of our era.)

But no one (that I’ve seen) has commented on the most surprising &#8212 one might almost say clinically significant &#8212 feature of the “pre-mortem.” Glenn provides a list of six reasons the GOP is likely to get creamed: Schiavo, Harriet Miers Dubai Ports, immigration, William Jefferson (i.e., Hastert’s objection to the FBI search), and Foleygate. Do you notice something missing from that list?

That invading Iraq looked like a reasonable option on the information available in March of 2003 is still arguable (though I’d distinguish between the information available to the public and the information available to the Administration). It seems to me obvious that the decision was wrong in retrospect and that the situation in Iraq is going from bad to worse, but if Glenn wants to argue those points I won’t call him crazy.

By contrast, the question of what’s killing the Republicans this year is partly answerable from available data. No one who has looked at the polls or talked to the pols doubts that Iraq is the great anchor dragging the Republicans down. A list of reasons the GOP is losing that omits Iraq is like a list of oceans that omits the Pacific. And there’s no political cost to the Republicans in admitting that; they can and do claim that the war policy is right but unpopular, and blame its unpopularity on (variously) a biased press, carping Democrats, and the lack of fortitude of their fellow-citizens (though they don’t usually make the last point that bluntly).

So I can only conclude that Glenn genuinely doesn’t believe that his pet war has been a political disaster for the party that sponsored it. Bizarre.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

11 thoughts on “De – ni – al / n.”

  1. Re: "I can only conclude that Glenn genuinely doesn't believe that his pet war has been a political disaster…"
    Mark – There is another possibility: Double-think. Glenn simultaneously does and does not believe that the war is a disaster for the Rethugs. And he believes that saying so will make it so. This is consistent with his past behavior and that of his party, and their deep attachment to the idea that what we say is more important than what is.
    I think you underestimate Glenn's intelligence – and Orwellian commitment to The Cause.

  2. The whole list is incredibly bizarre. Harriet Meirs? The thousand or so people who would be concerned about her are so involved in politics in general that they have more important reasons for making their decisions. Much the same about Jefferson. (Who he mentions, but doesn't mention Abramoff, DeLay, or Ney.) Hastert will be far more of a symbol, both regarding Foley and the other corruptions. The war will be important, but so will the questions of torture and there are — I devoutedly hope — still people who love the Constitution enough to hate the trampling of it.
    I think the 'social issues' will be more of a plus for the Democrats than is assumed, simply because the antis are getting tired of them, and the Republicans talk but no action on them — the Kuo book and his appearences on tv will affect that — and the pro-choice, pro-gays who, in the past didn't take the attacks seriously, by now will.
    And finally there is the personality of GWB. A lot of people have simply gotten tired of him, have seen through him and realized that 'deep down he's as shallow as he looks.'
    These are the issues, and the local ones, that will give Democrats a major gain — I think 30 seats may be underestimating it, and wouldn't be surprised to see Hastert go, and Kyl in the Senate. Not the Dubai ports, by now a forgotten non-issue, or immigration, which cuts both ways (and is the one thing that Bush did that was admirable in his entire administration), and even Terry Schiavo will be only a minor factor, though strong in certain areas.

  3. Mark
    – Limbaugh gets the web url (blog) wrong, calling it 'Instant Pundit':
    – it's clever to diminish your enemy by making fun of their name, company name, address etc– the lowest form of trick, but it works
    – no one hearing Rush is going to be able to rush off and link to it? Why give Glenn instant web traffic?
    (update: I googled Instant Pundit, and indeed instapundit was the first link. So if Rush listeners are interested enough to google…)

  4. Shorter Glenn Reynolds: If they'd only listened to the blogs! The blogs!!! The bloooooooooogs!
    That's why he's mum on the war, and focused on stuff most people have forgotten (Miers, Jefferson). He even throws in a brief reference to the "Porkbusters."
    At the end of the day, Glenn can't believe that his all powerful blogs have had near zero effect on the country as a whole.

  5. JeffL
    At least on the liberal side, the blogs have become very powerful.
    DailyKos has had an extraordinary effect in mobilising the grassroots.
    TalkingPointsMemo brought down Trent Lott by keeping the Confederacy story alive. And it was instrumental in organising resistance to Social Security Reform (the GWB plan).
    Whether the blogs influence policy I don't know, but as a way of channeling supporters and keeping stories live and circulating, they have become very important.

  6. This is just pre-emptive propaganda. He's trying to influence conventional wisdom so that the upcoming losses are blamed on the policy decisions that *he disagreed with*. As usual, he's calling it as he wishes it was, and hoping others follow.

  7. "It seems to me obvious that the decision was wrong in retrospect"
    Arguable, yes, but I don't punish people at the polls for being wrong in retrospect. Being wrong in retrospect is pretty hard to avoid unless you avoid all difficult decisions. And I don't elect people to avoid all difficult decisions.
    OTOH, I'm only to glad to punish them for things which were obviously wrong at the time they did 'em, and Glenn's list shares that character.

  8. As someone who has made a host of errors based on public information (indifference to the property markets after the '97 tax change, buying puts early in '99, going long Yen/$ two weeks ago, ad nauseam), I feel it is worth repeating: when you consider arguable "invading Iraq looked like a reasonable option on the information available in March of 2003," what you are really saying is, "mea maxima culpa."
    Learn from your mistakes.

  9. "
    That invading Iraq looked like a reasonable option on the information available in March of 2003 is still arguable (though I'd distinguish between the information available to the public and the information available to the Administration).
    "
    Uh, not it is not.
    Noam Chomsky, whatever you may think about him, has occasional useful things to say, and one of them that I think we might all want to take to heart is that when considering the application of force, the burden of proof should be on those who want to apply force, not on those who oppose it.
    Or, for a more simple argument we have Daniel Davies' immortal words at the time:
    D-squared Digest — FOR bigger pies and shorter hours and AGAINST more or less everything else: I find myself with a few spare minutes and make the mistake of reading Thomas Friedman again. His conclusion after a long, dull and witless ramble about the introduction of "democracy" to Iraq (just what the Gulf region needs, more puppet states) reads "If [it is] done right, the Middle East will never be the same. If done wrong, the world will never be the same". There's not much you can say to that except "shut up you silly man". But it does inspire in me the desire for a competition; can anyone, particularly the rather more Bush-friendly recent arrivals to the board, give me one single example of something with the following three characteristics:
    * It is a policy initiative of the current Bush administration
    * It was significant enough in scale that I'd have heard of it (at a pinch, that I should have heard of it)
    * It wasn't in some important way completely fucked up during the execution.
    It's just that I literally can't think what possible evidence Friedman might be going on in his tacit assumption that the introduction of democracy to Iraq (if it is attempted at all) will be executed well rather than badly. Worst piece of counterfactual speculation by Friedman since the day he pondered the question "If I grew a moustache well, I would look distinguished and stylish; if I grew one badly, I'd look like a pillock".

  10. Mark-
    Reynolds whole list of republican misery fails to list the other enormous elephant that shat in the GOP caucus room: Katrina. Let's face it, that's still the most visible, but not quite on-top-of-the consciousness disaster these fools have mis-managed outside of Mess O'Potamia. Whether InstaHack left that off by omission or oversight, we'll never know. But it certainly demonstrates incompetance of planning, execution and follow-through in a way that everyone saw and continues to see.
    my 2cents, FWIW.

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