Fox News' Half-Hour Comedy Hour proved once again that comedy and conservatism aren't the most natural fit. Nonetheless, Republican politicians unwisely chose to challenge Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert this past week.
But I've Played the Game Risk a Buncha Times
On Wednesday, Mitt Romney challenged the foreign policy experience of his Democratic opponents.
Yes, you heard that right. Romney is asserting that being the governor of Massachusetts for one term — and a world-class panderer — makes him more qualified than them. The man who one week said catching bin Laden wasn't worth the time and money, and the next week told a conservative audience he'd catch and kill him, will lead us to glory.
Romney is probably the biggest snake oil salesman of all the candidates (since Newt Gingrich hasn't declared, but Romney would still probably have the edge). Perhaps he can argue that his constant flip-flopping has required him to become very knowledgeable about different foreign policy positions.
I Used to Be So Poor I Drank My Wine Out of a Box
Rick Perlstein notes that prominent conservative Grover Norquist has argued that the rich are discriminated against. Furthermore, Norquist argues that fighting for a flat tax to help out the
That's rather unconscionable and fantastical, even from a man infamous for saying, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." Norquist is, after all, a key player in a political party that fought, and still fights, against civil rights.
To be fair to Norquist, he isn't necessarily as reactionary on racial and gay issues as some of his fellows, nor necessarily as intent on voter suppression as his good buddy Karl Rove. But as I wrote over at Perlstein's blog, one of the defining characteristics of conservatism is that, despite its PR, it opposes meritocracy in favor of entrenched, unearned privilege. Many conservatives also believe (or pretend to believer) that the poor are poor from lack of character rather than an accident of birth. Norquist's laughable lament is just another example of class warfare waged by the rich and powerful on average citizens. It's shameless, tasteless, and he deserves to be mocked for it.
Our Monumental Failure Is a Sure Sign of Our Success
Still, Romney and Norquist just can't compete with the frat-boy comedic stylings of their leader, President George W. Bush, who delivered a primetime speech on Thursday. As Fred Kaplan wrote at Slate:
President Bush's TV address tonight was the worst speech he's ever given on the war in Iraq, and that's saying a lot. Every premise, every proposal, nearly every substantive point was sheer fiction. The only question is whether he was being deceptive or delusional.
Silly Kaplan! A man of Bush's immense gifts can be both deceptive and delusional. After reading Kaplan, just check out Glenn Kessler fact-checking Bush. Or Dan Froomkin's splendid round-up of dissections. Or analysis from Hilzoy and Publius (and Hilzoy's examination of all those Anbar claims).
Really, Bush's speech was really just channeling Chris Crocker to Leave General Petraeus Alone!
A Symbolic Coalition of the Dozens
Perhaps Bush's most comical assertions in his speech were those about his imaginary friends. As Fred Kaplan noted:
Oddly, [Bush] thanked "the 36 nations who have troops on the ground in Iraq." At the peak of the "coalition," back in the fall of 2004, only 31 countries besides the United States had any troops in Iraq. They amounted to 24,000—fewer than one-fifth of America's numbers—and one-third of those were contributed by Britain. Now, according to the most recent official report (dated Aug. 30, 2007), just 25 countries have troops there; they number fewer than 12,000 (an average of fewer than 500 per nation), and more and more, including Britain, are leaving every month.
Yes, even by Bush's own standards, his math doesn't hold up (but then, the Bush administration has never been good at math).
Oh, but it gets better. David Kurtz reports for Talking Points Memo:
It just about epitomizes the President's speech last night. One of the purported 36 coalition nations is Iceland, whose "contingent" to Iraq consists of a single soldier in Baghdad whose primary responsibility is as a media representative. To NATO's disappointment, Iceland is pulling that one soldier as of October 1. You can't make this stuff up.
We still haven't managed to figure out how the President's math gets him to 36 nations in the coalition. But whatever the number, it will be minus one when a single Icelander heads home in a couple of weeks.
Late Update: TPM Reader EF points out that Iceland doesn't even have a formally constituted military, which the CIA World Fact Book confirms. The lone Icelander is a member of the Icelandic Crisis Response Unit. Calling him a soldier may be overstating matters.
Ah, but that Icelandic non-warrior is a plucky fellow!
(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)