Many in the Bush administration were eager to invade Iraq immediately following the September 11 attacks, regardless of who was later deemed to be responsible. This is well-known. What's gotten less attention are claims, made by Wesley Clark in 2003, that Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and possibly Lebanon were on the hit list as well. New credence has now been given to these claims -- credence that comes from examining passages in Douglas Feith's recent book War and Decision. In the book, Feith wrote of the September 30, 2001, memo from Rumsfeld to President Bush advocating "new regimes" in some states -- in quoting from the document, Feith mentions Afghanistan but deleted the rest of the list, putting "some other states" in brackets, seemingly as an irrelevant aside.
So the enterprising historian Gareth Porter did what, apparently, nobody deigned to do: he simply asked Feith what other states the Secretary of Defense proposed invading. Feith declined to say, for national security reasons, what the states were -- but the wily Porter pressed on, asking Feith what countries on Clark's list were in the document. Feith acknowledged, "All of them." (And this guy had a security clearance?)
Rumsfeld's proposal called explicitly for postponing indefinitely U.S. airstrikes and the use of ground forces in support of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in order to try to catch bin Laden. Instead the Rumsfeld paper argued that the U.S. should target states which had supported anti-Israel forces such as Hezbollah and Hamas. It urged that the United States "[c]apitalize on our strong suit, which is not finding a few hundred terrorists in caves in Afghanistan, but in the vastness of our military and humanitarian resources, which can strengthen the opposition forces in terrorist-supporting states."
Porter reports that the plan seemed to have full support of the uniformed military leadership, but obviously, was never approved in the Oval Office. But the question is: What if Iraq had gone well?
Intrepid reporter that I am, I decided on this crucial day of democracy to go after the big media story of the day -- make that the year: the continued imperialistic domination of the Yankees over the New York Times sports pages as if the Mets were chopped liver. Here's what our team discovered.
You aren't the first baseball fan to send me this complaint. Last season, I asked Tom Jolly, the sports editor, why The Times covers the Yankees with greater prominence. Here's what he had to say.
I sent Tom your message and reminded him that a lot has changed since last season -- neither team made the World Series, Torre and George Steinbrenner are gone, the Mets, after a monumental collapse at the end of the season, got baseball's best pitcher and made other moves to strengthen the team.
Tom replied that the Yankees are still the bigger reader draw -- an international brand -- but that coverage so far this season has actually been pretty close to even. The Yankees have been on the sports front 20 times, the Mets 18 times.
George Zornick writes: The Project for Excellence in Journalism has quantified the media feeding frenzy over the Reverend Wright controversy: in the week following Wright's appearance on Bill Moyers and at two public events, there were more stories just on Wright's relationship with Obama (42 percent of coverage) than there was about Hillary Clinton (41 percent) or John McCain (14 percent). Obama was the significant or dominant newsmaker in 69 percent of the stories.
What effect did this actually have on the elections? That's not easily told. The cable news networks would have us believe that there was quite an effect indeed - I risked my sanity last night and tuned into some coverage of the election, and hosts across the three channels were crowing an exit poll saying that half of voters "said the focus on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was a major factor in deciding whom to back." What I never heard, though, was any other facts that would actually make that a useful poll number. A "major factor?" Was it because it made them skeptical of Obama? Or was Obama's denunciation of Wright what they found important? Were these late-deciding voters, and did it change their vote? Were they mainly voters who already had been backing Hillary? Who knows? Not Brit Hume or Wolf Blitzer.
Another test of sanity is watching Karl Rove commenting on elections for Fox News on election nights (and, well, anytime). Think Progress is running a Rove Watch clock, currently sitting at 91 days and counting, measuring the time since it was revealed that Rove has donated money to, and is advising, the campaign of Senator John McCain. Fox still hasn't disclosed this to viewers. Of course, anyone who thinks Rove is an objective analyst anyway probably just moved here from Madagascar, but it would still be good journalistic form to let people know about Rove's connections to McCain.
McCain Suck-Up Watch: "On Special Report, Carl Cameron reported that on the issue of immigration, Sen. John McCain "announced that if elected, in January he'll begin finalizing border security, then immediately launch the guest worker program and path to citizenship that many in his party oppose." But Cameron did not note that McCain's current position that border security must be addressed first is at odds with his prior assertion that border security could not be disaggregated from other aspects of comprehensive immigration reform without being rendered ineffective."
Name: Jon Weiner
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Hey Eric. I saw your book at the UMD book store on display a couple weeks ago and after spanning a couple pages of it I decided I had to buy it. I really enjoyed it and I wish you good luck in continuing to defend liberalism. Also, taking a point from your book, I've noticed lately that Sen. Hillary Clinton has been accusing Sen. Obama of being elitist. It's sadly funny that Clinton is following a key Republican strategy.
To answer Mr. Sherman, and many others who wonder why the Presidential Debates are not sanctioned by the League of Women Voters: I believe the LWV handles "Presidential" debates. The debates we have seen thus far are debates during the primaries. Thus, not handled by the League of Women Voters
If you haven't heard Dave Frischberg do "Van Lingle Mungo" or "Dodger Blue," you owe it to yourself to give him a listen.
Also, since Bull Durham, I can't hear "Sixty-Minute Man" without thinking of baseball.
Your list left out "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio" ('We want you on our team') by Les Brown and His Orchestra . . . Is that an anti-Yankees thing? Also Dave Frishberg's classic "Van Lingle Mungo."
I guess Dizzy Dean's oft-sung versions of "The Wabash Cannonball" don't count, though his rendition associated it forever as a baseball song for me . . .
Eric replies: See above.
Are you familiar with Kenny Rogers' "The Baseball Song?" I know it is a product of the Gambler and thus a little on the hokey side, but it's a solid song nonetheless.
"Right Field" by Peter, Paul and Mary. For all of us former failed Little Leaguers out there ...