Thursday, March 20, 2008


These days, Dick Morris is generally regarded as being on the right, such as it is.

Every so often, though, he'll come out and say something that reminds you that he was once one of Bill Clinton's inner circle, with all that implies--and that in those regards, he hasn't changed one bit.

The latest example comes from Morris' cynical take on the Barack Obama-Jeremiah Wright scandal:

Wright's rantings are not reflective of Obama's views on anything. Why did he stay in the church? Because he's a black Chicago politician who comes from a mixed marriage and went to Columbia and Harvard. Suspected of not being black enough or sufficiently tied to the minority community, he needed the networking opportunities Wright afforded him in his church to get elected. If he had not risen to the top of Chicago black politics, we would never have heard of him. But obviously, he can't say that. So what should he say?

He needs to get out of this mess with subtlety, the kind Bill Clinton should have used to escape the Monica Lewinsky scandal -- but didn't. As the controversy continues, Americans will gradually realize that Obama stuck by Wright as part of a need to get ahead. They will chalk up to pragmatism why he was so close to such a preacher. As they come to realize that Obama doesn't agree with Wright but used him to get started, they will be more forgiving.

Only someone who has the character to be a part of a Clinton campaign--either one of them--could regard a candidate using a preacher for political gain as something that the American people would understand, condone, or forgive.



Thursday, March 06, 2008

#4 done in by fear of #2

Well, it's been a couple of days.

The shock is starting to fade, and I'm getting to the point where I can accept that Brett Favre has retired and think clearly again.

(I'm not quite there yet, but I'm getting there.)

In the immediate coverage following the announcement, one thing really jumped out at me--a very telling comment from the voice mail Favre left for ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

Favre talked about what the expectations for next season would have been, and that anything less than making the Super Bowl would be a disappointment. Then, he paused for a moment, and added: "And if we did that--and lost--that would almost be worse than anything."

Those are the words of experience talking.

Chalk up one last casualty from the Packers' historic choke-job to the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII. Clearly, at some level, Favre never recovered from that debacle; and as the years passed by, and he grew older and older--and Green Bay never made it back to the Super Bowl--the scar from that wound grew more and more painful.

In retrospect, it looks like once Green Bay got to the conference championship, that was it, win or lose. If they had won it all, it would have been the perfect way to go out--on top; when they lost, the pain of falling short when they had been so close reopened that old wound...and that's what pushed Favre over the edge.

Given that, count me among those who do not expect a comeback, either with the Packers or with another team. No one could guarantee a Super Bowl win if he did, and the only team that would be a better bet than the Packers for Favre to make such a run is currently led by the second coming of Joe Montana, and would neither need nor want him.

The future has me worried, certainly. I first followed the NFL, and the Green Bay Packers, in 1989--the season of the Cardiac Kids, the season Don Majkowski became the "Majik Man"--and it likely spoiled me more than a little bit. When the Packers went back to being the Packers in '90 and '91, it hurt. It gave me a keen appreciation for what a fluke that '89 season was--and all the more appreciation for what we had when Favre appeared on the scene and put those days behind us for at least 16 years.

Still, the future looks much brighter than it did two years ago. Favre knew what he was talking about when he called the 2006 Packers the most talented team he'd ever played with; he had his best supporting cast at the very end, and if Ron Wolf had drafted the way Ted Thompson has, there's little doubt in my mind that Favre would have had more than just the one ring.

If Aaron Rodgers can stay healthy--and that's a big If, considering that in the last two seasons, AS A BACKUP, he's suffered two season-ending injuries (one of them in practice, for Pete's sake!)--then the Packers can, I think, compete and win.

Maybe not win it all--not without exceptional seasons on several fronts--but that's the condition of most NFL teams, year in and year out.

And that's one more way Favre spoiled us.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Same old, same old?

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jonathan Last sees something disturbingly familiar in what he's been hearing from the campaign trail these days:

A Democratic line is emerging about Sen. John McCain that is voiced daily by Sen. Obama (and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton) in the presidential campaign.

"Senator McCain said the other day that we might be mired for 100 years in Iraq," Obama says, "which is reason enough not to give him four years in the White House." Or more directly, as Obama told a Houston audience, McCain "says that he is willing to send our troops into another 100 years of war in Iraq."

Obama's claims are, at best, deliberately misleading. At worst, they are the type of politics-as-usual distortion that the Illinois senator usually decries. No one, in politics or the media, who voices the "100 years" canard is being fair-minded. So let's put it to rest now, once and for all:

On Jan. 3 in Derry, N.H., a voter prefaced a question to McCain by saying, "President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years . . ." Here, McCain cut him off, interjecting, "Make it a hundred."

The voter tried to continue his question, but McCain pressed on: "We've been in . . . Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea 50 years or so. That would be fine with me, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. It's fine with me, I hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where al-Qaeda is training, equipping and recruiting and motivating people every single day."

McCain's analysis is, objectively speaking, exactly correct. Throughout history, U.S. troops have remained in the field long after the conclusion of successful wars.

Note, of course, the key words there: Successful wars. Obama is by far the candidate most closely wed to the idea that Iraq is an irredeemable disaster (though Hillary Clinton has been doing her best to imitate that pose since the war there went bad) and thus, his vehement disagreement with the effect--100 years of troops in Iraq--should hardly be a surprise, since he also vehemently disagrees with the cause--victory in Iraq.

The real question here is whether Obama is:

  • so narrow-minded that he cannot even imagine a reasonable person seeking victory in Iraq, with the ensuing effects
  • trying to entrap McCain with a campaign equivalent of the infamous courtroom question: "When did you stop beating your wife?"

In either case, Last comes to the proper conclusion:

McCain's "100 years" is not a commitment to "100 years of war," as Obama claims. It is simply another sign of McCain's seriousness and understanding of the realities of foreign affairs in general and Iraq in particular.

Obama's distortion of this remark, however, is the first sign that he may not be a serious-minded candidate.

Taken a step further--this calls into question Obama's lofty claims of running a higher campaign...which in turn calls into question Obama's lofty claims of "bringing the country together."

And said claims, as we all know, are the hallmark, trump card, and primary (sole?) selling point of his campaign.