The Echo Chamber
Thursday, November 14, 2002
  9:57 AM

Who Da Man?

Time Magazine has a gift for understatement:

After securing control of both houses of Congress and then winning unanimous approval for a new Security Council resolution against Iraq, Bush has the potential to become the most powerful American politician since Ronald Reagan.
There have only been two intervening Presidents between Reagan and W. Bush - H.W. Bush and Clinton. H.W. was always in the shadow of Reagan. Even the triumph of Gulf War I pales in comparison to Reagan’s bloodless defeat of the Soviet Union. And the necessity of Gulf War II does nothing to bolster the standing of H.W. Few have forgotten the broken “read my lips” promise.

Bush’s defeat in 1992 is a lesson in how not to get reelected. H.W. Bush was a moderate who tried to campaign from the middle. This failed to energize the Republican base, and so Clinton was easily elected by Democrats across the political spectrum.

Clinton tends to get a lot of credit for the economy of the 90s. I would say that in the short run he did nothing that caused great damage to the economy he inherited. He did sign NAFTA. But from beginning to end Clinton’s Presidency was marred by corruption. Time and again Clinton showed himself to be morally unsuitable for high office. Men with far less baggage than Clinton have had the good taste to disqualify themselves from the Presidency. Clinton’s election and reelection was a triumph of chutzpa. His administration was a blight on the Presidency and on the nation as a whole.

Assuming that the most powerful American politician is the President (a safe assumption at least since the advent of mass media), that’s it. That’s the competition that Bush has for being “the most powerful American politician since Ronald Reagan.”

A more interesting argument could be made that in some ways, Bush is the most powerful politician of all time.

Certainly there are many politicians that have more absolute power within their countries. Saddam Hussein leaps to mind. And if hedonism is your thing, forget Hugh Hefner, be a Saudi royal.

But the power of those countries is negligible by comparison to the United States. The U.S. is the most powerful country in the history of the world. An important reason for U.S. strength is that the powers of its leaders are limited.

So, with limited powers, Bush is the leader of the most powerful country in the history of the world. Now, Bush’s party also controls the Congress, and the Supreme Court. Bush has just been given a unanimous resolution by the U.N. Security Council that it would not have made without pressure from Bush.

The biggest danger facing a man of this stature is arrogance. The initial reaction from the White House after the mid-terms is encouraging – “no gloating.” 


Monday, November 11, 2002
  8:50 PM

Miss World Pageant Seems an Obvious Terrorist Target

Call me paranoid, but I’m concerned about the Miss World beauty pageant being held in Abuja, Nigeria.

Of course the Western world can’t live in fear of Muslim fundamentalism. But I wonder how organizers can possibly guarantee the safety of these women for over a month as they travel, sometimes separately, around the surrounding countryside.

Nigeria is 50% Muslim. There has been a flare-up of Muslim violence in recent years, as the northwest region of the country pushed to establish Sharia. Hundreds have been killed. Many Christians have been displaced and churches have been destroyed. On this map you’ll notice that the Abuja is centrally located – making it close to the Muslim dominated North.

Nigerian Muslims have already begun organizing their outrage:

“Beauty contest is nudity and debases womanhood. It promotes sexism and HIV/AIDS, it is dangerous. Save humanity, stop beauty contest."
[from poster/tract]
In other news, Saudi Arabian dignitaries were provided with a large group of prostitutes while on vacation in Spain. The three requirements: they had to be young, blond, and replaced every 15 days.



 


  3:23 PM

Iraqi Parliament “Debating” (in effect) Saddam Ouster Timetable

Since the passage of the U.N. Security Council resolution late last week, most pundits (including me) predicted that Iraq would play their normal game of initially accepting the resolution, only to tack on conditions and limitations later. But apparently under the delusion that Iraq has some choice in the matter, a "parliamentary official recommended on Monday parliament should reject a new U.N. resolution on disarmament."

Strike that - the parliamentary official is not delusional at all. He realizes that his personal survival requires that he continue to be a mouthpiece for Saddam. Since the Iraqi people tend to do things unanimously, this early recommendation will likely be the final position of the parliament.

Time to warm up the B-52s. 


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