Only in dreams

Things that would demonstrate the weakness/incompetence/wimpiness/out-of-touch-ness/elite effeminism, etc., of the president of the United States were he a Democrat:

1) Gas prices

2) The dollar

3) Iran thumbing its nose at the international community

4) North Korea thumbing its nose at the international community

5) What used to be Burma thumbing its nose at the international community

6) The deficit

7) The housing crisis

8) Hamas winning the Palestinian elections and taking over Gaza following a failed, U.S.-directed coup

9) Israel building more settlements

10) Bin Laden, still partying like it's September 10, 2001

11) The Taliban, ditto

12) Pakistan, cutting deals with the above, saying “screw democracy”

13) Failure to pass a presidentially supported immigration bill

14) Failure to pass the Colombia free-trade bill

15) Russia thumbing its nose at the international community

16) China refusing to cooperate in Darfur, North Korea, wherever the hell else it doesn't feel like cooperating

17) Record-setting vacation time

18) Vice president actually running country

19) Botched prosecutions of a supposed terror cell in Miami, of Jose Padilla, etc.

20) Add your own here ...

John Edwards by Francis Bacon, $4.5 million.

I'm about a year late on this, but did you know that, as part of the same affirmative action program that brought you Cathy Young and Jeff Jacoby, the Boston Globe editorial page is making itself available for free personal ads from gay conservatives? We're happy to help out here at Altercation as well. Please send all responses to Kirchick/Peretz, The New Republic, Boston , MA ...

Eric Boehlert writes: John McCain's all-around maverick-ness is being elevated by the media into an iconic brand status, right alongside Ford and Nike. Read more here.

George Zornick adds: More details are emerging about the Pentagon's “message force multipliers” program exposed by The New York Times, where retired military officers were used by the Bush administration as “a kind of media Trojan horse -- an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.” (Read our recent Think Again column for more.)

Media Matters has done an impact study that demolishes any remaining justification major media outlets may have been clinging to in not commenting on the story: The military officials appeared more than 4,500 times on ABC, ABC News Now, CBS, CBS Radio Network, NBC, CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, and NPR. The scope of this coordinated propaganda program is stunning -- and any shred of an excuse the aforementioned outlets may have for not covering the story extensively and disclosing their own role is gone. Many of them haven't given it a single word.

This lamentation from Donald Rumsfeld, contained in the “document dump” associated with the program, is also eye-catching:

DELONG: Politically, what are the challenges because you're not going to have a lot of sympathetic ears up there.

RUMSFELD: That's what I was just going to say. This President's pretty much a victim of success. We haven't had an attack in five years. The perception of the threat is so low in this society that it's not surprising that the behavior pattern reflects a low threat assessment. The same thing's in Europe, there's a low threat perception. The correction for that, I suppose, is an attack. And when that happens, then everyone gets energized for another [inaudible] and it's a shame we don't have the maturity to recognize the seriousness of the threats...the lethality, the carnage, that can be imposed on our society is so real and so present and so serious that you'd think we'd be able to understand it, but as a society, the longer you get away from 9/11, the less...the less...

I won't say there's any wistfulness on the part of Rumsfeld there, it just looks like a candid assessment, but didn't it occur to him there may be a relation between the lack of an attack and the actual level of the threat? Also, President Bush will be called a lot of things in the coming years, but “a victim of success” surely ain't one of them.

Also: you can see here that Zubaz pants are part of the official clothing line of the 2008 Republican National Convention. As the proud owner of said apparel -- along with, I think, a majority of Buffalo Bills fans -- I have to say, it's a shocking choice. There is nothing conservative about Zubaz pants.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Rajesh
Hometown: Cherry Hill, NJ

George Bush in an interview today about the sacrifice he made for the war:

“US President George W. Bush said in an interview out Tuesday that he quit playing golf in 2003 out of respect for the families of US soldiers killed in the conflict in Iraq, now in its sixth year.”

When in 2003?

“The US president traced his decision to the August 19, 2003 bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad, which killed the world body's top official in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.”

Interestingly enough, he played golf 3 months later:

“Bush's last round of golf as president dates back to October 13, 2003, according to meticulous records kept by CBS news.”

The decision was tough that he made his decision in August 2003 and continued to play until October 2003. Now, that, that's sacrifice.

Name: Beth Harrison
Hometown: Arlington, VA

Mark from Dover: you just DON'T GET IT. Once again, we get the “we just didn't anticipate the number of soldiers that would be cremated” (or need psychological care, or prostheses, or body armor, or armored vehicles, or car bombs, or the insurgency,or clean water, etc., etc., etc.). If you aren't outraged by this, YOU AREN'T PAYING ATTENTION. This sort of thing has been going on now for FIVE YEARS. Did you not read Dana Priest's Pulitzer-winning series about outpatient care at Walter Reed? Frankly, nothing surprises me anymore about what the government is doing in Iraq. All I see is the further embarrassment and disgrace of the United States around the world.

Thanks Ralph!!!

Name: Robert Bateman
Hometown: Washington, DC

Dear Mark D,

Please send your mailing address, as I will now need psychological counseling of the deepest and most profound sort, and as you are the cause, you can foot the bill. There is not enough single malt in all of Scotland to solve this problem.

He may be my running mate and all, but, “it is amusing to contemplate: Pierce and provocative attire” is entirely beyond the pale.

(Ahhhh, good lord, get it out of my head, Pierce on a Victoria's Secret runway... awwrghhgggg...GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD! GET IT OUT!! Aaaaaggggghhhh...)