I was listening BBC Radio 4 over the internet this morning and I heard a report on this. At first I wondered whether it was part of a radio drama, rather than news, but it turns out it's true. I think it's the coolest and most surprising thing I've ever heard on the radio:
Skeleton of hobbit-sized cavewoman found in Indonesia...scientists working on a remote Indonesian island say they have uncovered the bones of a human dwarf species marooned for eons while modern man rapidly colonized the rest of the planet.
One tiny specimen, an adult female measuring about 3 feet tall, is described as ``the most extreme'' figure to be included in the extended human family. Certainly, she is the shortest.
This hobbit-sized creature appears to have lived as recently as 18,000 years ago on the island of Flores, a kind of tropical Lost World populated by giant lizards and miniature elephants.
I don't have time to dwell on it (and a good thing, too) but the Guardian's threat to flood the Clark County, OH electorate with hectoring and, quite likely, largely incomprehensible letters continues in the face of not altogether unanimous acclaim. I've already quoted Mrs. Harold Pinter's letter to a Dear Unknown, which is a classic of its type.
The parade of celebrities continues, too. Well, Ken Loach is only a celeb if you collect British Socialist-Realist Artiste trading cards, but among those who do, he's pretty famous. Anyway, he's no Lady Antonia Fraser, but I did appreciate this bit of his winning attempt to sway the hearts and minds of the folks:
You have supported brutal dictators, like Augusto Pinochet, General Suharto and Saddam Hussein, who, over the years, have murdered and tortured with your administration's approval.
Now you have led an invasion in a country which was not a threat to you.
UPDATE: It is over, and I am sad.
Quote of the day, from the winner of a contest for college journalists sponsored by Newsweek and MTV:
I'm getting a vague J. Peterman/Kramer vibe here...
The government agency in charge of airport security spent nearly a half-million dollars on an awards ceremony at a lavish hotel, including $81,000 for plaques and $500 for cheese displays, according to an internal report obtained by The Associated Press.
Awards were presented to 543 Transportation Security Administration employees and 30 organizations, including a "lifetime achievement award" for one worker with the 2-year-old agency.
If you missed Jon Stewart's one-man assault on Crossfire, here it is.
via Ken Layne.
UPDATE: I can't resist pulling this out of the comments. Aaron points out the Washington Post's account:
"You know what's interesting though?" Stewart shot back. "You're as big a [male pride] on your show as you are on any show."
I've read a few reviews of Team America, and the reviewers all seem to be trying pretty hard to persuade themselves that the movie isn't all that funny. Well, I just saw it and here's my review: it is very, very funny. Favorite bits: Susan Sarandon and the song "Pearl Harbor Sucked and I Miss You."
UPDATE: Oh, yeah, and Tim Robbins's speech about The Corporations is pretty great, too, as is the Rent parody.
Because of its graphic (though metaphorical) discussion of human anatomy, I can't quote any of the speech here, but it is one of the more cogent — and, dare I say it, more nuanced — defenses of American military power that I have heard recently.
For me, the greatest moment in Team America is after the speech, when Gary turns to the love interest puppet to make a final plea for her affection and she interrupts, in true, perfect, action movie style: "shh... you had me at..." Well, I won't "give it away" for those who haven't seen it yet.
I have a hard time believing that Roger Ebert and all the other reviewers weren't secretly giggling hysterically along with everyone else. The weird thing is, though, they all seem a little pissed off about that.
UPDATE II: Roger L. Simon liked it, too.
William Gibson adapts a classic Soviet era joke.
If you've got nothing better to do for the next fourteen minutes and forty-nine seconds, this LotR-based Michael Moore parody has its moments.
(via Cold Fury.)
Or, if you prefer, there's this Schoolhouse Rock imitation, "inspired by the writings of Noam Chomsky."
(via Boing Boing.)
My only comment on the debate: the questions were terrible. They should just eliminate the middleman and let Sally Jessy Raphael moderate next time, rather than just feeding her questions to a doddering, tooth-sucking, half-wit "newsman." Or Montel Williams. He would have been good.
The worst was the last one about "strong women." My wife, who is British and still occasionally thunderstruck by the ways of her adopted land, had a hard time believing it when someone told her that in California certain hippie-ish gals will try to become more earthy and ecological by eating their own placentas after giving birth. I clearly remember her repulsed expression, the look that says "I doubt I'll be able to keep my food down from this point forward," upon hearing this - it lasted several weeks. She finally got over it and her face returned to normal. But Bob Jessy Donahue asked the strong woman question, and there it was again. Clearly, a Placenta Helper Moment.
Then we scanned the post-debate TV pundit-a-thon and everyone was saying things like "wow, all the women are really gonna love this!" and "way to close the Gender Gap!" Mort Kondracke was ecstatic. Others were solemnly analyzing who "did better" in the all-important Say Something Cloying contest. I don't know who did better - the whole thing made me feel faintly nauseous.
I admit, the chicks I know may not be all that representative, but I can't imagine any of them going all Mort Kondracke over this. I'm sure all of their eyes rolled practically all the way out of all their tiny little sockets. As for me, I'd have been quite happy to endorse the guy brave enough to give the Right Response to this asinine question, that response being "what are you, high?" Sadly, neither of them measure up.
Some things that sound too good to be true end up actually being true, though not very often. According to this, this one "checks out."
A guy on Jeopardy was cheated out of $200 when Alex Trebek rejected his response to this item: ""This term for a long-handled gardening tool can also mean an immoral pleasure seeker."
The contestant buzzed in and said "What is a ho?" The correct response was alleged to be "what is a rake?"
Worth a look: Johann Hari on Derrida.
If you live in Clark County, OH, you run a serious risk of receiving unsolicited letters from Guardian readers telling you how to vote. They're handing out names and addresses from the registration rolls. The authors of the four most irritating letters win a prize: a trip to Ohio to harass voters in person. What could go wrong?
UPDATE: The Guardian helps to get the ball rolling with examples of the sort of thing they're talking about, from three Prominent Britons. Judged soley by the standard of what is most amusing to imagine falling out of a mysterious envelope opened by some random person in Ohio, I think Lady Antonia Fraser's is the best. It begins:
Why hast thou not the visage of a sweetie or a cutie ... ?
Why art thou so different from Venus?
And why do thou and I have so few interests in common between us?
These sentiments on the subject of duty, so brilliantly expressed by Ogden Nash, may well be yours, dear Unknown, when I, a national of another country, urge you to do your duty and vote in your coming presidential election...
First the movie stars. Then the rock stars. Now it appears that Kerry/Edwards has the hotly-contested novelist vote all sewn up.
via Roger L. Simon, who happens to be one of the few dissenters.
By the way, if the Amazon.com reviewer on this page is to be believed, someone from Miami named "Inken" has decided to bolster, if ever so slightly, Kerry's electoral chances by giving negative one-star reviews to books by all the Bush-voting novelists. No comment, but that's kind of post-something and meta, innit?
UPDATE: Now some Bush supporters are getting into the act, making their voices heard by giving five-star reviews to Robert Ferigno's The Wake-Up. So far the Kerry One Stars are leading the Bush Five Stars 4:2.
UPDATE II: The new Reason will have a similar feature (though it's not restricted to novelists.) To judge from the excerpts quoted here, it'll definitely be funnier, yet somehow - though this may be partly a matter of taste - unaccountably less vacuous. My favorite, as so often:
P.J. O'Rourke, author-pundit: He's going for Bush because "I don't want Johnnie Cochran on the Supreme Court." He adds that he always votes Republican "because Republicans have fewer ideas. Although, in the case of George W., not fewer enough."
Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About has been on my reading list for awhile now, though I haven't got round to it yet. Somehow it managed to escape me till now that the author, Guardian columnist Mil Millington, has a website called Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About that contains the true life raw material from which the novel was apparently derived. It's basically a list of hilariously-narrated arguments between the author and his German girlfriend. If the book is even half as funny as the website, it's a guaranteed winner. Read it. You will laugh.
If I'm sitting on the sofa reading a book and Margret enters the room she will say this: 'What are you doing?' If I'm peeling potatoes in the kitchen when she happens upon me, or pushing batteries into one of the children's extensive range of screeching toys, or writing on the side of a video cassette I've just pulled out of the recorder, the same thing: 'What are you doing?' I mean, a fellow likes to feel he's a bit enigmatic now and then, a tad mysterious and deep, but how can a person see me, for example, screwing a new bulb into a light fitting and not be able to see immediately and with huge, reverberating, chill clarity precisely what it is that I'm doing? It's like living with Mork.
So, the thing was, I'd cut this picture of PJ Harvey out of a magazine (yes, the 'Lick My Legs' one, of course the 'Lick My Legs' one) and I was framing it to put on my wall here. 'Who's that?' asked First Born.
'That,' I replied, 'is PJ Harvey.'
'Who's PJ Harvey?' he said. (Bless.)
'She's a singer and a songwriter,' I explained. Adding, as I'm sure most people would, 'I used to go out with her. You know - years before Mama and I met.'
Now, you'll never guess what happened next. Incredibly, Margret goes through the roof. No, I'm not kidding - she goes through the roof and starts ranting that I shouldn't say I used to got out with PJ Harvey. Can you believe that? I mean, for one thing, I don't tell her that she can't watch gardening shows on the TV or go swimming or whatever, so how come I can't tell people that I used to go out with PJ Harvey? There has to be give and take in a relationship, right? The main issue, though, is why on earth she should object in the first place. Surely, if anyone is well placed to take issue with my going around saying that I used to go out with PJ Harvey, then who is that person? Damn right. It's PJ Harvey. And her record company, maybe. Also, possibly her legal representatives have good grounds to intervene, perhaps in a manner that leads, ultimately, to some kind of court order against me. So, yes, all those people seem to be perfectly justified in stepping in - but my girlfriend? God - it's getting so I can't do anything.
The Guardian editors celebrate "Our Debt to Derrida."
UPDATE: I like this Derrida anecdote.
I'm talking about that guy that pops up every two and half minutes to tell you to stop weighing yourself and how you think you're losing fat when all you've lost is meaningless weight. He got on my last nerve months ago. Now my hatred for him and his accursed product has begun to poison my increasingly shallow well of goodwill along with my dwindling reserve of sanity. For God's sake, can't something be done about him?
This quote from this interview piece seems like something of a disaster for the Kerry campaign. Democratic partisans will downplay it, and the Bush campaign may well end up over-playing it, but there's still a fair chance that it could lose the election for him.
Eugene Volokh: "it strikes me as a singularly inapt analogy to make, an analogy that ought to make one question its user's underlying thinking about the problem."
It's easier to find cute baggy overalls than it is to find jeans that aren't low. So think about looking for overalls or a jumpsuit of some type...
Also don't miss the "send us your modest prom dress pic" promotion. A sari worn over a long-sleeved T-shirt does the trick.
(In other news, till now, I was unaware of this, which looks pretty great.)
According to ABC's post-debate poll, 85% of Kerry supporters thought their guy won, 2% thought Bush won, and 12% thought it was a tie. Among Bush supporters, it was Bush 84%, Kerry 1%, Tie 13%.
So in-between the pre-game show and After Hours, there was this debate, and it was, if nothing else, great television. It was high drama, with a lot of yelling, interpersonal tension, and a twist to separate Act I from Act II. The ending was a let-down, but it was a let-down of the "to be continued" kind. Each side left the field believing they had won - at this point only the audience realizes that it could still go either way. It's like an episode of The Practice.
Kerry's strategy was to try to goad the president into ill-temper, to try to spark a replay of the peevish demeanor of the first debate. It totally worked, and then some, in the first half. Bush seemed angry, almost hysterical at times. He was angry at Kerry. He was angry at Charles Gibson. He was angry at the folks who asked the questions. I once saw a lady trying to return a vacuum cleaner without a receipt at the Payless; and I once had an argument with a credit card customer service agent who claimed they had never received a payment when the check had been cashed weeks earlier; and in the movie Rosemary's Baby, there's this scene where Mia Farrow has just been told that her baby had been born dead and she starts screaming "you're lying! You're lying! It didn't die! You took it! You took it! You witches! You witches!" George Bush, the vacuum cleaner lady, Mia Farrow and I all had pretty much the same kind of tone and delivery. If you want to return a vacuum cleaner or sort out your credit card bill or get to the bottom of a plot by a coven of elderly Satanists to arrange for the Devil to impregnate you to produce a half-human/half-Devil baby, then it's pretty much the right way to go. And it's probably the right way to go if you want to impress Hugh Hewitt, too. But I'm not sure it's the best strategy to win over the skittish center, who are looking for something, anything, to persuade them to detest either of these guys just a little less than the other.
My friend Tris emailed me saying "have I gone insane or is Bush massively choking?" I had to agree: it was either one or the other.
Then, suddenly, George Bush calmed down and started acting normal. He started clowning around, doing that "likeable" schtick. Stopped looking like he was going to bite the head off a bat or an audience member (though he still seemed pissed off at Charles Gibson for some reason - maybe that'll be explained in the final episode.) Now it was the droning, monotonous Kerry who looked like the weirdo. Or at least, they seemed equally weird, but Bush seemed more human. Voters like that. A human president, I mean. Bush's closing was better; Kerry's personality-deficit had set in by that time. As far as I could tell, anyway: I admit, my attention had wandered a bit by then.
As for "substance," well, who knows? Both made good points, both left a lot hanging. I still have no earthly idea what Kerry really has planned for Iraq/Iran/the World. And Bush would gain a good deal of credibility if he could bring himself to concede that it's possible that he and his administration may have ever been in error on anything concerning the Iraq war. Maybe that wouldn't be smart politically, as the sound-bite would have been misleadingly played over and over till election day. But avoiding the question, unfair though it may have been, lends a bit of credence to Kerry's theme of a loss of touch with reality. Even, perhaps, for some of those who are still basically on board about the overall regime change strategy. (He's lucky Kerry is content to repeat the phrase blandly rather than going for the kill on it. I get the feeling that he doesn't skewer Bush more effectively on his weaknesses because he only partially understands why they're weaknesses.)
Kerry, on the other hand, has no clear response to the accusation that his position, to the degree that it can be determined, boils down to arguing that Saddam should have been left in power. (There's an argument to made there, though I disagree with it - he should really decide whether or not he wants to make it. "Not necessarily" was Kerry's weakest moment, edging out "hey, don't forget folks: I'm a lawyer too.") And the only hope for those who'd like to return to fiscal sanity is that maybe if Bush wins, he'll be a bit less likely to try to bribe narrowly-determined constituencies with federal subsidies and entitlements now that he no longer has to worry about his own re-election.
My vote is moot, as California is going to Kerry no matter what. But I've got to say, I'm going to be just about equally disappointed when either of these guys wins. Unless the final episode has a new twist that suddenly puts it all in perspective and reveals The Clear Choice. That sort of thing does happen on TV.
Has anyone else noticed how much the pre-debate coverage on all the cable news shows kind of resembles MTV's TRL?
UPDATE: Now I'm watching MSNBC Debate After Hours and it's reminding me of a PBS pledge break...
Like a lot of people, I've always vaguely disapproved of parents giving their kids pretentious first names. No one I've known who has been saddled with one has ever liked it much. It reflects poorly on the parents - it's like they're showing off at the kid's expense. Or so it seems to me.
However, making it illegal seems a bit much. But that is indeed what they have done in Denmark, and in the other Scandinavian countries, according to this. The history of the law, and the procedure that narcissistic parents have to go through to get the funny names approved by several tiers of bureaucracy, are pretty interesting.
Here, off the top of my head, is a list of people I have known, met or observed whose parents decided to grant them the gift of uniqueness: Liberty, Mustard, Yukon, Heaven, Biko, Karak, Mitchelle, Solace, Chablis, Evenstar, Arwen (Tolkien), Rainbeau, Afrique, Elbereth (Tolkien again), Silver, Tree, Stone, Trinity, Precious, Brady, Deja Vette, Tennyson, Canada, Lorien (I think that's a Tolkien abbreviation), Rand (not Tolkien, but still kind of sad), Stevenson (a girl), and Meadow. I know there are others, too.
(NB: I'm not including punk names, nor the cases where girls' names are unintentionally porn-star-ized - that is, deliberately misspelled, often with lots of "y"s - though they are legion, since many of these are self-inflicted.)
Item: the city of Livermore suddenly realizes that the mural-style floor mosaic they commissioned from a Miami artist for the public library misspells the names of eleven famous people, including Eistein, Van Gough, Michaelangelo, and Shakespere. Artist blames the city for noticing, and demands an apology.
I have to admit, there's a perverse part of me that loves the idea of erecting a Celebration of Misspelling at a public library. I love misspelled tattoos, too. In both situations, I think it's a mistake to throw good money after bad to correct the errors. Let them stand as hilarious monuments to human frailty.
A favorite quote from the artist: "People that really love art, they wouldn't even have noticed it if they hadn't pointed it out."
Another favorite: "The people that are into humanities, and are into Blake's concept of enlightenment, they are not looking at the words," she said. "In their mind, the words register correctly."
The artist is a "former teacher," which is good to hear. In the sense that she's not a current teacher, I mean.
A load of typical America drivel, that lacks any historical and cultural awareness. Instead it is dressed up in pseudo-arguments and references to the constitution, that pile of mumbo-jumbo.
According to PopBitch:
Al-Jazeera is going through a big re-branding exercise in an effort to become a CNN-like global news network.
They're currently recruiting a big name presenter for their new flagship nightly news show.
Among the applicants for the job is... Trevor MacDonald!
My favorite assessment of the VP debate comes from Matt Welch:
I'll fourth the emerging consensus that tonight was basically a split decision, with Cheney getting the slight nod mostly because he's much more credible on reminding me of my Dad.
The traditional "how are you going to pay for it?" Republican taunt has a ludicrous ring to it these days. I'd have thought it wise for Bush not to "go there," as they say, if he could help it. But he did go there, briefly, in the debate of course:
BUSH: I don't think we want to get to how he's going to pay for all these promises. It's like a huge tax gap. Anyway, that's for another debate.
(via Andrew Sullivan.)
Kerry's line about passing the "global test" was a gaffe. As soon as he said it, everyone watching instantly thought, "wow, the Republicans are really going to have a great time with that one." Even George Bush, whose bulb has rarely been quite as dim as it was that night, picked up on it. I may have been imagining it, but I even thought I noticed Kerry wincing while he said it, as though he realized it as well just as soon as the words were out of his mouth.
Obviously, he was searching for another way to phrase his major theme of the need to foster a greater degree of international cooperation on security matters, and came up with a bad sound bite. It happens. While I don't share Kerry's apparently uncomplicated faith in the UN, I have to assume he's not insane enough to have intentionally advocated, on national television, ceding sovereignty to foreign countries and promising to check with France every time a decision needs to be made, as the Republican spinners suggest.
However, he's probably going to have to figure out a better way to explain what he did mean. Other than this, I mean:
the test that I was talking about was a test of legitimacy, not just in the globe, but elsewhere.
This long review by Paul Berman has actually bumped Philip Roth's new novel up a few spots on my "to do" list. I can't remember the last time that happened. The end seems to have been chopped off, though.
I haven't seen the Metallica Get in Touch with Their Feelings movie yet, but it sounds like a hoot, judging from the quotes contained in this flippant comparison of this film to the Spinal Tap one.
"I'm used to hearing the drummer do the ... beat part."
(via The Philosophical Cowboy.)
It's a funny old world, where domestic tranquility can be shattered by the Hutton Inquiry, only to be made whole again by a healing distaste for Ralph Reed.
According to this, one of the Beslan terrorists is a British citizen, who, along with two Algerians who were "based in London until recently," attended the Finsbury Park mosque.
Gene over at Harry's Place came across this one.
"Someone should alert the Dems or the folks who run the debates. A scanning receiver in the building should pick up the signal. I assume the signal is coming in from outside, otherwise, the audience would notice someone talking into a microphone."
"he day after the debates on the campaign trail in New Hamshire, I noticed Bush bashing Kerry again. If you notice carefully, Bush was constantly looking down at the podium; clearly reading scripted remarks."
"I sure hope someone is going to really watch for this trick in the next debates between Kerry and Bush. An earpiece is the only rational explanation for Bush being able to repeat the names of world leaders when in the past he was unable t"o do so."
"The bulges under his jacket are likely receiver/repeaters that pick up the transmitted(and encrypted?) signals from the handlers and transmit them, at very low power, to the earpiece."
"Anybody know much about jamming technology? or getting on the same frequency? is this do-able? give bush an october surprise...."
"technology is awesome as to what can be done with tiny chips or whatever....I would love to see this exposed..."
"If you watch the tape at the end of the debate, as Jim Lehrer is doing his closing comments, Bush picks something small and shiny up from the podium with his left hand and slips it in his coat pocket. Was it a watch? A timer? A signalling device?"
"Why not tell the Democratic party? You should be able to cancel it out with a focused beam signal of some kind."
"Thanks for pointing this out, now I know I wasn't paranoid after all."
UPDATE: Sadly, the NYC Indymedia thread from which the above quotes were pulled is no longer loading. Database error? That's what they want you to think. For those interested, there is further discussion here. But by a strange coincidence, all references to awesome, focused, encrypted low-power energy beam transmitters appear to have been mysteriously suppressed.
Good column from Aaronovitch, on the debate and keeping your eye on the ball:
And this takes me to what was the most worrying part of Kerry's thinking, as revealed in Miami. 'You know, the President's father did not go into Iraq, into Baghdad, beyond Basra,' Kerry told viewers approvingly. 'And the reason he didn't is because there was no viable exit strategy. And he said our troops would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land. That's exactly where we find ourselves today.'
Quite so. So, instead, he allowed the Shia and Kurdish rebellions to be crushed and the result was 12 years of crippling sanctions, of bombings to enforce the no-fly zones, of non-compliance with UN resolutions and, of course, of Saddamite state terror. Of course, there were no cameras there, except when the Baath command wanted there to be, no visitors except when Saddam allowed in his tame Galloways. Was that, as Kerry was never asked, good policy, because no US troops died, though hundreds of thousands of Iraqis did? And what did that stoke up for the future?
There are a thousand reasons for hoping that John Kerry wins the election in November, not least because of the chance of cooling the Anti-American fever in much of the world. But I will also want to know that he sees the same hard ball flying through the air that I see.
I admit, I found zefrank's emotive reading of a 419 spam message way funnier than I probably should have.
via Hit and Run
Harry over at Harry's Place provides an astute Brit's-eye-view of the debate, concluding:
Of course American voters, who after all are who matter in all of this, have a whole range of domestic issues facing them as well and on those Kerry is clearly the choice for left-wing Americans. But as someone whose major interest in this election is in the arena of foreign policy I was left still rather uneasy and unsure about what John Kerry really is trying to tell us.
UPDATE: Check out "one woman's opinion of what went down," from my esteemed comrade Tristin, who I'm glad to say has finally started her own blog, just as God always intended. Excerpt:
he [Kerry] fails spectacularly to make the point he should be making: that the failed reconstruction effort is endangering us, that it is intensifying hatred of America. That if we fail to establish a peaceful democracy, our war effort will merely have contributed to the confusion and hatred in what Condoleeza Rice loves to call "the most dangerous country in the most dangerous part of the world."
UPDATE 2: Ben says "Bush clearly won" the debate, and he makes a good case:
When it comes to the war there are two camps of voters: those who believe that the world changed on 9/11, and those who don’t. Many of the former would love to have a reason to vote for Kerry; they are the ones who can swing this election in his favor. Yet Kerry continues to deny these voters what they need: a president who “gets it.” George W. Bush gets it but that’s virtually all he has going for him; how can you not decimate him in the debates, shame him in the polls and thrash him soundly in the election?
Of course he needs to point out the flaws in the decision, but the meat of the argument is what’s been going on since we took Baghdad. Kerry’s inability to target and exploit that point is indeed mystifying. Bush has blown his chance; virtually any Democratic nominee should be able to cream him. That Kerry hasn’t seems to point to an utter lack of awareness of our position, needs and responsibilities in this new world. Kerry has an effective jab but Bush is a slugger. He stumbles around like an oaf and misses big most of the time but when he connects it is devastating. If this continues, Kerry will be left crippled in a pool of his own blood and we’ll all suffer the consequences.
I don't feel up to attempting a full post mortem on the debate last night, but I will say I was shocked by how well Kerry came off. He didn't "win," by any means. But I had expected a train wreck. For the first time, I found I could almost picture him as the leader of something, maybe even as the President. I imagine that his improved deportment alone will have picked up some "undecideds." (He didn't quite pick me up, I have to say, but I'm still listening - I still can't quite summon the conviction that either of these guys really deserves to be elected.)
Bush isn't much of an orator, and fortunately for him no one expects him to be. Even so, he wasn't at his best. He seemed to run out of material half way through. He didn't "blow it," though, despite what appeared to be some moments of ill temper and distraction. Outside of "the enclaves," where few people seem able to see beyond the platitude that he is something like the Devil incarnate, people tend to like Bush and give him the benefit of the doubt. His awkward moments and verbal infelicities come off as charming and human, even among those who are disinclined to vote for him. I'm sorry, folks, but it's true. Misusing the word "vociferously" will not cost him a single vote. I don't think he lost any ground on account of his "performance." But his campaign has suffered a set-back in that his opponent has suddenly managed to present himself as something other than a joke.
Yet despite the improved presentation, Kerry's Iraq spiel is as incoherent and confusing as ever. It is mystifying to me that he continues to harp on the propriety and manner of the decision to go to war in the first place, rather than to press Bush on the inept conduct and poor results of the reconstruction. That's certainly the more pertinent issue. The most pressing issue, of course, is what to do now. And on that score, neither of these guys is very persuasive. Kerry's notion that it's all a matter of convening the proper number of summits is laughable; but Bush's assertion that things aren't as bad as they seem and are going to get better in unspecified ways and through unspecified means is hardly more convincing. I hope he's right, of course. But he's lucky Kerry doesn't have a coherent, credible counter-argument on offer.