hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Monday, August 12, 2002
the iraqi masses and other people we haven't heard from

suppose we took out saddam with a cruise missile. what would happen?
best case scenario: iraqi's dancing in the streets ala Romanians after Ceauchescu(sp?)
worst case scenario: A) a civil war between those who are loyal to Saddam (eg. Republican guards, people from Saddam's home village/province) and those who aren't B) civil war between the various ethnic and provincial subroups: kurds, arabs, persians, shias, sunnis, christians and other religious minorities, north versus south, urban versus rural, etc.

one might think that after Saddam had led them to needless wars against, Iran, Kuwait and the US, meant only for Saddam's greater glory with no regard for the lives or well-being of his people, the Iraqis would be fed up with the man, but remember that we killed between 100,000 and 200,000 Iraqis in the Gulf War. While Saddam could have avoided that by pulling out of Kuwait, and so he does bear ultimate responsibility, you can't reasonably expect the Iraqis to have warm and fuzzy feelings toward the US.

What this means is that the leader who follows Saddam is vital. He must not be seen to be a pawn America, because offhand I would say that the average non-Kurdish Iraqi hates America (I could be wrong). He must have street cred with the Iraqi people, yet must be an improvement over Saddam from the point of view of America and the world.

where can we find such a person? Who is Iraq's Hamid Karzai? More broadly, who are examples of living Iraqi heroes, who are revered and respected by non-Kurdish Iraqis, and who would endorse the new regime that is created after Saddam is toppled?

Changing the subject, where the *#$%! is Bill Bradley? Perhaps he's not raising money, and says he probably won't run in 2004, but why has he competely disappeared as a public figure, let alone a potential presidential candidate? What does *he* think of the war on terrorism, potential war with Iraq, and the return of deficits? Even as a Presidential candiate, he got 48% in NH and a consistent 20-25% everywhere else, which ain't hay in the context of a multi-candidate primary.

I would rate Bradley as a second tier candidate, behind first tier candidates Gore and Kerry, alongside Gephardt, and ahead of third tier candidates Howard Dean, John Edwards, Bob Kerrey and Dianne Feinstein. As for Joe Lieberman, Tom Daschle, Joe Biden. . .fuhgeddaboutit! I'm tempted to say the same thing about John Edwards, except he does fill a unique niche in the primary landscape, and he does have some impressive people (Bruce Reed, Bob Shrum) behind him.

I find it mystifying why Feinstein doesn't get any buzz as a Presidential candidate. I'm not a big fan of hers, policy-wise (why, oh why did she vote for the Bush tax cut?), but the woman is a tough cookie, who comforted and united SF after the Milk/Moscone murders, has significant executive, legislative and private sector experience, and beat by a whisker in 1994 a free-spending and telegenic Michael Huffington, in a truly treacherous year for Democrats, in the teeth of a fierce Prop 187 campaign. Maybe she doesn't get attention because she's slightly older and dowdier than the Baby Boomer women the press corps usually fawn over.

changing the subject for the last time, why does Bob Shrum continue to say, again and again, "half of the Bush tax cut goes to the top 1%" when it is a hideously ineffective slogan? Isn't it much more persuasive to say "half of the Bush tax cut goes to people making more than 300 grand a year"? David Brooks pointed out somewhere the most interesting poll result of the 2000 election, that 20% of Americans believed they were in the top 1%, and another 20% believed they would be eventually be there someday. "The top 1%" is a phrase that should be banned from the Democratic lexicon, yet people who should know better keep on repeating it like trained seals.

It drives me crazy. How can the Democrat's top political cosultant, of all people, be so obtuse/incompetent when it come to crafting a soundbite? (Another phrase that should be banned is "unskilled labor", or "less-skilled labor" as in "It is true that globalization hurts unskilled and lesser skilled workers, but the solution is not closing our borders, it is new programs in job-training". Speaking for myself, making 50 sandwiches in a day is an intrinsically harder job, requiring more effort, than computer programming. )

the latest DLC-sponsored "New Democrat" buzzwords seem to be "opportunity, responsibility, security". The guiding idea seems to be"everyone who behaves responsibly should have real opportunities and an adequate level of security". Not bad, but I can hardly see enthusiastic campaign volunteers shouting
"Opportunity, Responsibility, Se-CURITY!", nor can I see voters rubbing their chins thoughtfully and saying to themselves: "Opportunity, reponsibility, security? Yeah, that makes sense. Awright, you got my vote this time" "Opportunity" in particular isn't a word people really use in conversation. It's a word that conjures up images of a big shot addressing the little people.

As an alternative, may I humbly suggest something like, oh I don't know. . .er. . ."middle class, common sense, golden rule"?