Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter has just come out with a new book: WHAT WE’VE LOST: How the Bush Administration Has Curtailed Our Freedoms, Mortgaged Our Economy, Ravaged Our Environment, and Damaged Our Standing in the World.

Careful you’re not caught carrying it outside a free speech zone.*

*This is what’s known as a cheap shot. But sometimes, cheap shots are irresistible.


This election is turning a lot of us into copy writers. One of you sent me this proposed script:


[Kerry speaking directly to the camera:]

My fellow Americans, George Bush has had a lot of fun attacking me over how I voted on his 87 billion dollar spending request for the Iraq War. He thinks it’s a big laugh line. But he’s laughing all the way to the bank, with YOUR grandchildren’s money.

My position has been perfectly clear all along:

No. 1: I support spending whatever it takes to get the job done in Iraq.

No. 2: I DEMAND that we pay for it honestly by asking the wealthiest Americans to give back just SOME of the enormous tax breaks Bush gave them.

That’s why I voted the way I did. Bush, by contrast, just ran up the deficit another 87 billion dollars. Instead of asking his wealthiest supporters to make ANY sacrifice at all, he favored dumping the debt burden on all of our grandchildren.

I support spending what we need, but I OPPOSE Bush’s refusal to pay for it honestly. He calls that a flip-flop. I call it common sense. You be the judge.


☞ A good script? Bad script? You be the judge.


Another of you – a well known prize-winning author who prefers to remain nameless (which leaves me all but desperate to tell you my ‘rename maneless’ pun, but like Strangelove wrestling his arm to his side, I resist) – offers this advice:

‘Kerry’s No. 1 message for the next 60 days should be this:

Bush let 9/11 happen. It’s his fault. It is his greatest shame.

He was warned, and he did nothing but continue his vacation. Then for two years he tried to keep secret the fact that he was warned. But now we know (cite President’s Daily Briefing, roll tape of Condi revealing its title). And then? He did nothing. Mr. President, what actions did you take to protect America?

Insert here: Elizabeth Drew’s piece in the New York Review of Books and Bill Maher’s rant from HBO:

New Rule: You can’t run on a mistake. Franklin Roosevelt didn’t run for re-election claiming Pearl Harbor was his finest hour. Abe Lincoln was a great president, but the high point of his second term wasn’t theater security. 9/11 wasn’t a triumph of the human spirit. It was a screw-up by a guy on vacation. Now, don’t get me wrong, Mr. President. I’m not blaming you for 9/11. We have blue-ribbon commissions to do that.

‘It has the virtue of being true, and the related virtue of being plausible. People already half know it, but they need to hear it from the candidate.’

☞ I’m not sure it should come from the candidate, because as Paul Krugman argued chillingly in Monday‘s New York Times, ‘once war psychology takes hold, the public desperately wants to believe in its leadership.’ And even if it didn’t, blaming Bush for 9/11 is strong. I would settle for recognizing that it’s a myth he did as much as anyone could. (As early as January 7, 2001, he was told by the CIA that bin Laden represented a ‘tremendous’ and ‘immediate’ threat to the United States – and instead of building on the ongoing initiatives to take him out, Bush shut those initiatives down.) He did nothing. He should have done much more. That didn’t cause 9/11, but it might have prevented it.

You really should take the time to read the Krugman column, if you can.

Tomorrow (I hope): Your Taxes


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