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A Message To Howard Fineman

In case Noam's post over here isn't clear enough, here's a hint for folks writing about John Kerry's Iraq policy. In the universe I know it, there is a thing known as "time." At different points in time, objects in the world are arranged in different configurations. As a result, some things are a good idea at certain times, but not at other times. To take a brief example, four weeks ago, I did not favor heading over to the 9:30 Club to see the Walkmen and Metric play, because neither the Walkmen nor Metric were in the 9:30 Club at the time. Some days later, the bands in question were there, and going to see them made sense. Tonight, again, this would be a bad idea, since they aren't there. This is not a "flip-flop" on the desirability of going to see shows at the 9:30 Club. Rather, the wisdom of so doing depends, in part, on which bands are playing there at which times. When the Faint and TV On The Radio show up in a couple of weeks, I'll be there. But I won't be there tomorrow.

Using force against the terrorist elements in Falluja is a good idea now because terrorist elements are in there. In February of 2003, using force against the terrorist elements in Falluja was a bad idea because the people weren't there. See, in 1996 I thought we should re-elect the president. Now I think we shouldn't re-elect the president. Was that a flip-flop? Or did a different person take office? Ah, yes, now I see....

October 8, 2004 | Permalink


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» Flip Flopping May Save Kerry from Outside The Beltway
Howard Fineman makes an obvious point in a somewhat unusual way: George Bush's real political enemy now isn't so much John Kerry as it is the flow of the news. Not long ago, Kerry's decision to attack the president as commander in chief (remember... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 8, 2004 3:28:03 PM

» Always Consistent from Pandagon
Matt's a shrill, French flip-flopper. And Howard Fineman is slow. Like job creation from Bush's tax cuts slow. This is actually something that all those wonderful "fact check" services have utterly failed to in any way fact check. It's not... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 8, 2004 4:15:30 PM


That was pretty funny.

Posted by: Ugh | Oct 8, 2004 2:31:59 PM

Isn't Fineman's little talking point taken straight out of Bush's mouth? I think one of the things Bush said in his attack speech yesterday was that Kerry was a flip-flopper for arguing that the Iraq war was a diversion from fighting terror, while also arguing that we need to fight terrorists in Fallujah. Well, gee, how much of a terrorist problem did the US have in Fallujah before March '03...

Posted by: Haggai | Oct 8, 2004 2:38:34 PM

You are so mean.

Posted by: praktike | Oct 8, 2004 2:39:35 PM

Jumping into the river was a very bad idea. But now that we're in the water, I'm in favor of swimming.

That's how I understand Kerry's position on Iraq, and it seems pretty reasonable to me.

Posted by: synykyl | Oct 8, 2004 2:59:22 PM

Jeez, Matt, time isn't a thing...

Posted by: hilzoy | Oct 8, 2004 3:09:02 PM

there is a thing known as "time."

Good God man, stop with the over-intellectual nuanced explanations! Don't you know that America needs a resolute, unflinching leader who neither knows of nor cares about your so-called "time".

Posted by: Scott Pauls | Oct 8, 2004 3:09:42 PM

Well, a more accurate analogy would be: Jumping into the river was a good idea when I thought there was a bear following us in the woods. When it became clear that there was no such bear, it became clear to me that it was not a good idea to jump into the river. However, since we are in the river now, it would be a good idea to swim, regardless of the presence or lack thereof of a bear in the woods. Further, pretending that we enjoy being in the river and that we needed to jump in despite being mistaken regarding the presence of a bear in the woods would be foolish indeed, and only makes us appear to be be blowhards in the eyes of other travellers in the woods (who might assist our egress from the river, if we conduct ourselves in a manner which does not incline them to let us get out of our own mess).

Posted by: Davon | Oct 8, 2004 3:13:00 PM

(That was, in case of confusion, directed at synykyl).

Posted by: Davon | Oct 8, 2004 3:14:19 PM

So changing your mind when your understanding of the facts changes doesn't mean that you have no principles? This revelation could change the course of the election.

Posted by: washerdreyer | Oct 8, 2004 3:16:43 PM

Someone suggested a bumper sticker for KE- (forgive my googlaziness in not sourcing)

"Kerry/Edwards - We won't treat you like idiots."

Posted by: Chance the Gardener | Oct 8, 2004 3:17:47 PM

It seems that the "mainstream" media, particularly the cable networks think that alternating between two extreme points of bias respresents a form of "balance".

"We too a hard right on that last story so it must be time to take a hard left on the next one."

Rather than a service they have basically just facilitated the worst parts of both extremes.

Posted by: Waffle | Oct 8, 2004 3:18:15 PM


Posted by: Waffle | Oct 8, 2004 3:20:14 PM

But the president, like the Medium Lobster, is a higher being with superior knowledge from beyond space and time.

To your limited perception, he appears to be just another smirking cowboy from Texas. To your limited perception.

Posted by: Brock | Oct 8, 2004 3:25:42 PM


Your analogy is funnier, but I think mine is at least as accurate.

Posted by: synykyl | Oct 8, 2004 3:38:51 PM

I'm confused as to which people Matthew Yglesias seems to think he knows weren't in Fallujah in 2003 but are now.

"the terrorist elements"?

Posted by: Blixa | Oct 8, 2004 3:41:27 PM

Wow. I'm going to go see the Faint/TV on the Radio concert as well. And then, onward to Death Cab! I am resolute and unwavering. Unlike the Bush administration, I might _even_ try to go on the correct nights.

Posted by: Stu | Oct 8, 2004 3:54:26 PM

If time existed, that would mean that change is real. But if change is real, that means that things, which change, are not real, since only eternal things whose natures do not change are real. If things are not real, we can know nothing. But we do know things, so change is not real. For example, we know that we should stay in Iraq. Otherwise, if we did not know this as Truth, the universe would collapse into chaos.

The seven-headed dragon emerging from the sea is a different script, but it is also a valid justification of the Iraq War. Take your pick.

Posted by: Parmenides | Oct 8, 2004 4:09:09 PM

PS: "We will treat the American people like adults" was Mondale. "Competence" was Dukakis.

The Democrats need some new cliches fast.

Posted by: Parmenides | Oct 8, 2004 4:11:26 PM

My, my, my, that was a bit shrill don't you think? Bravo.

Posted by: catalexis | Oct 8, 2004 4:33:48 PM

Yet another idiotic post. If everyone on campus said your favorite band was going to be at that club, the newspapers advertised it, even the band said they would be there.....you could reasonably expect they would be there.

Hey, Matt, try again.

Posted by: Tadfield | Oct 8, 2004 4:39:25 PM

Tadfield has reached some higher form of trolling. He's really outraged by Matt's post, but his outrage has nothing to do with any political point Matt was trying to make. It's dada trolling.

Posted by: Walt Pohl | Oct 8, 2004 4:52:20 PM

Metric is a good band. I like their record.

Posted by: ethan | Oct 8, 2004 5:22:31 PM

Here's another thing that people get mightily confused about: just because you think it's necessary to fix someone else's mistake doesn't mean you can't criticize them for making the mistake, and question whether they should be in a position to make similar mistakes in the future.

For ex., the other day my wife impulsively bought a chest of drawers for our bedroom. The problem is, the stain's the wrong color and the legs are too long. She didn't think about these things before she bought it. Now, I've got a plan to fix it (I'm gonna get my buddy to help me paint it and saw the legs off), but I sure as hell am letting her know that her method of furniture selection was unacceptable. Of course, she thinks she did nothing wrong and everything about the chest is fine, even though the damn thing blocks the light switch. Funny thing is, my friend didn't once ask me "How can you ask your friends to help you fix what you think is a mistake?" Stupid question.

Posted by: Cheney's Third Nipple | Oct 8, 2004 5:40:51 PM

Earlier today I wasn't hungry, and someone said, "Dan, would you like to go get some food?" and I said, No.

But if someone asked me if I wanted to get some food now, I'd probably say "Yes."

I guess you know what that makes me.

Posted by: dstein | Oct 8, 2004 5:57:56 PM

Watching the last debate, what was disturbing was that Bush actually seemed sincere in making his 'mixed messages' and 'flip flop' arguments. It's as if he actually believes his own spin, and is no longer able to make simple logical distinctions of the type Matt layed out in this post.
I don't think Bush is dumb. I just think he's been living in his own echo chamber for so long that he's lost the ability to think critically. One expects such things to happen to kings in old plays, or to Third World dictators. But not to presidents.

By the way, Q & Not U are better than either The Faint or TVOTR, and they're playing the Black Cat tonight!! All the scenesters better realize...

Posted by: RC | Oct 8, 2004 7:18:15 PM

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