Dispatches > The Buzz


Issue: "Isabel's slow march," Sept. 27, 2003

From Gettysburg to Baghdad

The flypaper theory, that American intervention in Iraq is drawing terrorists away from other targets, has gained tremendous support throughout the right side of the blogosphere. For instance, Andrew Sullivan (andrewsullivan.com) posted a letter comparing flypaper to Gettysburg, where the Confederacy was forced to attack the valuable Little Round Top which the Union held. The writer sums up the consensus blog opinion, "I ... am convinced that whoever is behind the 'Flypaper' strategy knows his stuff." But for every consensus there is dissension, coming in this case from blogger Tacitus (tacitus.org), who dismisses the popular Gettysburg comparison. The historical examples that support flypaper, he argues, "are all of geographic positions with specific values in themselves. The enemy forces at Gettysburg ... would have wanted Little Round Top ... even if the Federals ... had not occupied those positions.... The real parallel in military history for 'flypaper' lies in simple, deliberate embrace of attrition: Falkenhayn at Verdun, Navarre at Dien Bien Phu, flypaper fanatics on Iraq today." Overall, however, Tacitus appreciates the Bush effort: "Whatever my criticisms of Bush's anti-terror efforts-and they are many-the fact remains that those efforts vastly outstrip the anemic policies of the Clinton administration. There's a massive qualitative difference between lobbing a few cruise missiles into Afghanistan and invading Afghanistan."

John, Wesley

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With an ex-military leader entering the Democratic presidential race, should candidate John Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, turn tail and run? James Taranto (opinionjournal.com/best) thinks so: "The haughty ... Massachusetts Democrat ... has made his military service his campaign's centerpiece-indeed, its only rationale. Kerry can't be happy that he'll have to compete with another empty uniform." In fact, Mr. Taranto thinks that Wesley Clark could have the muscle to become the "consensus campaign of the Democratic establishment," but the real question still remains: "Can he beat Howard Dean, or will 2004 be the year of the Angry Left?"

Secret weapons?

Joshua Micah Marshall (talkingpointsmemo.com) runs the thinnest blog around, but the fact that he is an actual reporter with D.C. sources makes up for his skinny column widths and his liberal bias. Mr. Marshall turned his attention to the hyped Kay Report, the administration's investigation into Iraq's weapons program. The report is rumored to have failed to provide proof of WMDs, leading to speculation that it may be buried. Mr. Marshall is outraged: "Let's be honest: There's no reason for delaying or refusing to issue this report, save for domestic political concerns in the U.S. and Britain. None."

March madness

Blogwatch has tried to wean itself off of California recall news, but in the face of actual news and truly good punditry, what can one do? The news: A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court has chosen to delay the recall election until March, on the grounds that different voting systems in different counties violate Equal Protection rights under the Bush vs. Gore decision of 2001. The punditry comes from Daniel Weintraub (sacbee.com/static/weblogs/insider/), who evaluated the effects of a delayed reaction: "I predict that the California electorate will be most unhappy with judicial intervention in their election. They might want to take that anger out on the closest institution, which right now would be the governor's office ... the position the candidates take in the legal battle could well end up becoming important in the campaign itself should it resume quickly."

Mickey Kaus (kausfiles.com), whose blog is becoming something of a recall gossip column, doesn't think that the Supreme Court should weigh in: "If I were the U.S. Supreme Court, I would be very reluctant to reverse the 9th Circuit and thus cement a reputation as an unprincipled partisan court that upholds obscure Equal Protection arguments when they throw an election to Republicans (as in Bush vs. Gore) but strikes them down when they would throw the election to the Democrats."


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