What a slugfest that was in South Carolina -- the best East Texas campaign I've seen in years. Open thuggery! John McCain accused Bush of being like Bill Clinton (horror of horrors), while Bush's supporters were accusing McCain of being gay, a womanizer, having a Jewish campaign chairman, a black daughter and a drug-addict wife. Boy, that was some goin' there. The Bushies must be proud of that one.
The great mystery at this point is why so many Republicans are still voting for Bush on the theory that he's their strongest candidate. One can see why the big-money Republicans are still for him -- McCain actually threatens to do something about big money in politics. But what about the rest of the R's?
The D's have had this figured out for weeks. McCain is their worst nightmare -- there goes every independent vote in the country. Unless the R's decide to vote for Al Gore, McCain is your heavy favorite.
Bush is so certain that McCain is the stronger candidate, he's busy turning himself into McCain. The last few weeks have been the ultimate morph ad, as Dubya started adopting all McCain's themes and tactics. "The real reformer," "a reformer with results" and (most priceless of all) "in favor of campaign finance reform."
What a wheeze. Bush is the most status quo, establishment candidate imaginable. But South Carolina certainly proves that some people will believe anything.
Was Molly right? Was McCain the democrat's worst nightmare? That was before the nightmare of Florida, 2000.
Was Bush the most establishment candidate? Oh, ABSOLUTELY. Follow the money. But what might McCain have done differently is he had been in office on 11 September, 2001?
Not worth while to play that what if game.
Well, political campaign coverage - the ultimate in "that silly season" so much like so-called "reality TV." So contrived, so scripted, such tired worn out narrative - boiling down to nothing more than winners and loser.
How about some more subtance from that same Molly Ivins column.
The trouble with this presidential campaign is what is not being talked about by the pols or the media. Just for example: "Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War" (Atlantic Monthly Press) by Mark Bowden is the most gripping true story I've read in years.
In all that sad, tangled history of good intentions gone awry, of our utter failure to understand the culture and the politics of the place, are some deep, gonging warning bells about the American military. As Bowden keeps reminding us, "the greatest military power on earth" was simply overwhelmed by huge mobs of furious Third World people armed with nothing more than rifles and old Soviet rocket-propelled grenades. Wave after wave after wave of them. And all our vaunted high-tech, super-duper, zillion-dollar weapons couldn't stand up to the RPGs.
Now the question arises: Do we keep doing the same thing we already know doesn't work? Do we keep letting the defense industry convince us to pay for ever-higher-tech weapons (on which they make huge profits) that are of no use in Third World situations where we are trying to keep peace or deliver help?
We have no enemies with remotely equivalent high-tech weaponry to fight. All we have is pitiable places like Congo, now in hideous strife, with cries for help mounting.
So, it's still the military-industrial-congressional-infortainment-prison complex calling the shots. And they (and their surrogates MSM voices) will SCREAM like harpies should their funding be threatened.
No question about it. We continue to wage an arms race against ourselves. Guns or butter? And this choice becomes very real. The guns are not about to give up.
But what's the point in having the world's most technologically advanced military weapons systems if you're not going to USE them once in a while? For to fail to wage war with such expensive weaponry would be ultimately to call the price being paid to produce it into serious question.
As Jeff Huber has so eloquently said - "We already won World War II and the Cold War, and we already lost Vietnam. We don't need to do those things again.
"It's time to move on to new business."