Gideon's Blog

In direct contravention of my wife's explicit instructions, herewith I inaugurate my first blog. Long may it prosper.

For some reason, I think I have something to say to you. You think you have something to say to me? Email me at: gideonsblogger -at- yahoo -dot- com

Site Meter This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Friday, August 29, 2003
It's official: John Kerry is melting down.

Why have I taken so long to say this? Well, for a few reasons.

My money has been on Kerry from the beginning. I thought that of the announced candidates he was the most plausible to take the nomination, for three reasons:

First, he's the only candidate acceptable to every wing and interest-group of the party. Gephardt has no base among upscale, white-collar "symbolic analysts" or in the media. Dean has no support among blacks. Lieberman is deeply distrusted by liberals. Edwards and Graham have no support among anybody.

Second, he's a proven winner, most recently in his tough re-election fight against popular Republican governor William Weld. By contrast, Dean is relatively unproven, Gephardt's a proven loser, and Lieberman has been resting on his laurels since his first Senate victory in 1988. Winners win. Losers lose.

Third, he's got the Heinz fortune to get him through a tough fundraising patch.

Of course, he's a terrible candidate. But, remembering Dole in 1996 and Dukakis in 1988, I thought that didn't matter. If you're the only plausible winner in a lousy field, you win, even if you are also lousy. If you are the default choice, and no one comes around to knock you out, you win, even if you don't do much in your own favor. That's why my money was on Kerry.

So why am I wavering?

Well, after the most recent New Hampshire poll, the Kerry contract on the Iowa Electronic Markets has dropped below 25% for the first time since the contract started trading. And the rest-of-field contract (unaccountably, there's still no Dean contract trading) has broken above 50% for the first time.

The rest-of-field contract has been quite volatile, reflecting disenchantment with the field as it stands as much as enthusiasm for Dean or any other alternative candidate. But the Kerry has sat like a rock at 30% since February, through a May-June Gephardt boomlet, through the steady decline in Lieberman's fortunes and the fluctuations in the prospects for a Hillary white-knight candidacy. No longer.

I trust the IEM. They've been a better predictor than any poll - as they should be, because they digest the collective wisdom of all the polls. If they show Kerry in free-fall, he's in free fall.

Here's what the primary schedule looks like:

Jan 19: Iowa Caucus.
Jan 27: New Hampshire Primary
Feb 3: Arizona Primary, Missouri Primary, South Carolina Primary (and others)
Feb 7: Michigan Caucus

After Feb 7, the primary season is basically over unless a white knight comes in and scrambles everything a la RFK in '68.

Edwards and Graham will drop out after New Hampshire if they haven't before then. They will be lucky to get VP nods.

Gephardt will probably stick around through Feb 3, but if he loses Iowa and New Hampshire, he'll know he's toast. No points for winning Missouri as a favorite son, and he's not leading anywhere else. If he wins Iowa, he'll stick around through Michigan trying desperately to stop the Dean juggernaut. But if Dean looks stalled by then, and no front-runner has emerged, the party leaders are going to be banging on HRC's door.

Lieberman will also probably stick around through Feb 3, because his big hope is to win South Carolina and hopefully some of the other states in play that day on the strength of conservative white support plus black support. He's still polling marginally ahead in South Carolina, but we'll see how long that lasts. If he doesn't do very, very well in the conservative states on Feb 3, he's outta there. And he might drop out sooner if the cash runs out.

I think Lieberman is going to come under pressure from the Kerry camp to form a united "Stop Dean" front before the primaries even start. Lieberman clearly believes that a Dean nomination would be a disaster. If it's clear that Lieberman cannot win the nomination (to the extent that isn't already clear) then Kerry can very credibly say: look, Joe, you're out, I'm not, and neither of us wants Dean to win. I need your support to win veterans, more religious voters, and to lock up the black vote. That'll give me the nomination. Whatever cabinet post you want; you pick, it's yours. Joe just might listen to reason. And it might be the best way to save a Kerry candidacy.

If I were a Democrat, would I want Kerry to win at this point? I don't know. If Dean flames out on his own, losing badly in a debate or committing some horrible gaffe or too obviously shifting his positions in response to polls, then much of the party leadership will sigh with relief and move on. But if the establishment gangs up to crush the insurgent, that'll presage disaster in the general election - and a worse disaster in 2008, as the angry left seeks revenge. Think 1968 followed by 1972. So my bet is that, just as Lieberman will get a call from Kerry if Dean continues to surge, Hillary Rodham Clinton will get a calls from a whole bunch of party mandarins: save us from this crazy doctor.

Should she do it? Hard to say. She'd run a more competitive race than any of the alternatives. She'd keep the party united. And she wouldn't necessarily be unable to run in 2008 if she lost. True, Democrats haven't renominated losers in recent years. But they haven't had an obvious, universally agreed-upon standard-bearer since Adlai Stevenson, and they renominated him. Dean's new line is: he's the only one who can beat George Bush because he's the only one who can fire up the base. I have a feeling that line won't work so well with HRC in the race.

Dennis Ross is making sense! This is what advocates of an "imposed solution" or some other strong American intervention need to realize: the obstacle to such a venture is not primarily in Jerusalem but in the Arab League. I am far less confident than Ross, however, that Bush has the leverage to get a Saudi to go to Jerusalem. What, after all, has Bush gotten from the Saudis lately? Not much. And this kind of move would be a big risk at home. They'd far rather see diplomacy fail, and the Palestinian problem fester for another generation. That, after all, has been the default policy of the Arab states for the past two generations. Why mess with failure?

Thursday, August 28, 2003
In response to popular demand (of a sort), I've now added comments. I expect I'm the last blog in the sphere to do so. I'm a real technophobe; sue me.

Anyhow, I hope this works. I'm not planning to monitor comments in detail, so if folks start writing profane or insulting comments, or get into flame-wars, or what-have-you, I'll probably just drop the comments feature. Judging from the email I get from my readership, I don't think I have to worry about this.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003
A correspondent takes me to task for slighting Nixon's support for Israel in 1973. He points out (1) that Nixon forced Israel to allow the Egyptian Third Army to escape only because the Soviet Union threatened direct intervention; (2) that, in the early days of the war, Nixon had Phantoms flown to Israel to replace the lost planes of the Israeli Air Force without Congressional autrhorization, which, given the context of the debate over Presidential war powers and the Vietnam War at the time, was quite a risky thing to do domestically. Points taken in each case, and I should not have slighted Nixon, who may very well have saved the State of Israel in her hour of great need. My larger point, though, was that slighting Bush is truly absurd. There's no question in my mind Bush would have acted as Nixon did in similar circumstances, and I strongly suspect Nixon would be leaning harder on Israel today were he President now. I stand by the assessment of Bush as the best friend of Israel since Truman, and my annoyance at those for whom no friend of Israel is a good enough friend.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Well said, Mr. Cella. Although not about the topic directly, I think you've written a better rebuke to the "neo-conservative persuasion" than any of the fulminations I have read.

Take a careful look at what Saul Singer, editorial-page editor of the Jerusalem Post, considers to be the "Plan B" options if (or, rather, when) the Road Map fails:

The *less* radical solution is a U.S. "Mandate" for the areas to eventually constitute a Palestinian state after a suitable period of tutelage and terror-fighting. In other words: an American occupation would replace the Israeli occupation.

The *more* radical solution is a Jordanian-West Bank confederation and the abandonment of the idea of an independent Palestinian state (and Gaza . . . ?).

A few things to note:

1. The right-wing Jerusalem Post is no longer suggesting that Israel can achieve victory in its war. It can, clearly deny the *other* side victory, and have done so. But they can't actually win. If there were any plausible formula by which Israel could achieve decisive victory, the Post would be advocating it. They aren't. There isn't.

2. Singer assumes that America could succeed where Israel failed, but no reason why is given. I actually thought this was a reasonable idea back in 2000; it was clear then that Arafat had to go, and that there could be no Palestinian state, but that a reimposition of an Israeli occupation for a period of years was a non-starter (among other things, the Palestinians simply would not accept "tutelage" from the Israelis). Israel had just done everything America wanted and more - they'd done everything *Europe* had wanted - and gotten a bomb in the face in return from Arafat. A united Western front against Arafat, including NATO intervention, might have worked. It would have been accepted by both sides as the cavalry coming to save them, and both would have settled for half-a-loaf without a peace treaty. But now? America is already occupying Iraq. We have to worry about Iran and, to a lesser extent, Syria. We have to worry about North Korea. We're desperately trying to free up our troops from peacekeeping duty in Iraq to prepare to meet the next threat - and we're going to take on another huge challenge of occupation? And worse - we're going to bail out the Sharon government and eliminate Arafat for him? Remember, there is no direct threat to America festering in Nablus. (A far better case - and I've made it - could be made for intervening in Lebanon, home of Hizbullah.) I think the odds of success of an American occupation of the Palestinian areas has to be rated much lower now than three years ago, the potential risks much higher, and the opportunity costs of tying up American forces in this way much, *much* higher.

3. All roads, as always, lead eventually to Amman. There is room in the old Mandatory Palestine for two states at most. Any third state would necessarily be a practical dependency on one or both of the two larger states. The two states are Israel and Jordan. The Palestinian population centers can be ruled from Jerusalem, which means Israel becomes either an apartheid state where millions of Arabs have no vote (probably an unstable solution) or a bi-national state that will rapidly cease to be the Jewish National Home promised by the Balfour Declaration and which was the original goal of the Jewish return to the Land. Or they can be ruled from Amman, which means the Palestinians would be subjects of a modernizing but still feudal Arab Bedouin monarchy with Western leanings. The latter is probably also an unstable solution, and will eventually lead to a Palestinian state where Jordan currently is, but encompassing the Palestinian areas west of the Jordan. The hopeful scenario has this change happening slowly, without violence; the nightmare scenario is violent revolution. This solution, and the hopeful scenario, is actually more likely in the wake of Iraq, because Jordan has little to fear on its eastern flank, and therefore more flexibility to take on problems to its west. BUT: there's no carrot. What's in it for Amman? Why should they play ball? Singer doesn't say, and nobody else can either. Israelis can fantasize about a Hashemite Iraq or a Hashemite Mecca, but neither is going to happen. Those who are convinced that the Jordan option was and remains the only solution for the Palestinian problem - and I'm one of them - NEED to come up with the carrot to entice Jordan back into the process, otherwise the only solution will remain no solution.

4. And whither Gaza? Gaza is a running sore, a hopeless dead-end zone. It didn't have to be, of course; Singapore is about as densely populated and has comparable natural resources (none), and look what they have done. But it is what it is, and wishing the Gazans were Chinese will not make them so. Would Gaza consent to an Egyptian occupation, even if one were offered? Highly unlikely. Singer has no better idea what to do about Gaza than I do, or than Sharon does. It will be a running sore for another generation, it seems.

5. And what about the "refugees?" Israel embarked on the Oslo process for four reasons. First: the Rabin government, like all Labor governments before it, was convinced that most of the territories seized in 1967 would have to be returned as part of a negotiated peace. They were bargaining chips, never expected to be integrated into Israel proper. Jordan renunciation of claims to the West Bank in 1988, Arafat's equivocal renunciation of terror around the same time, the fall of the Soviet Union, the defeat of Iraq in the first Gulf War, and the rise of Hamas all convinced Rabin that the time was right: Arafat could only rehabilitate himself from obscurity by making peace with Israel, and Israel should seize the opportunity. Rabin was also convinced that the occupation was damaging the readiness and morale of the IDF, and therefore was eroding Israel's conventional deterrent, making conventional war more likely; and Rabin was convinced that peace would pay enormous diplomatic and economic dividends to Israel (which he was right about). But behind all of these considerations was demography: the realization that, even if Israel wanted to absorb the territories, it could not do so without becoming either an apartheid state or by ceasing to be a Jewish state. Physical separation was never enough to ensure Israel's demographic integrity. What was required was an agreement on the part of a recognized, legitimate Palestinian authority that claims to sovereign Israeli territory would be ended. And included among any such claim are claims that millions of "refugees" would have to be repatriated to Israel. It was necessary for the Palestinians' leaders to say: we press no claims for repatriation, only for compensation; and for negotiations to be entered into in order to set that compensation and thereby end the claims. That's why Barak leaned so far out the window to grasp Arafat's hand at Camp David and again at Taba: because an end to the conflict was worth an enormous amount to Israel. And Israel didn't get it. And nothing Singer proposes as "Plan B" involves Israel getting it. A precondition for an American or Jordanian occupation's success, then, is an agreement on the part of the Palestinians that they are abandoning all talk of a "right to return" and limiting their claims to just compensation. In the absence of any recognized Palestinian authority willing to make such a declaration, it is minimally necessary for the Arab League to adopt such a posture. In the absence of such a position, any attempt to "separate the parties" by means of a non-Israeli occupation would amount to a victory for the Palestinians: they would be on the road to their state (albeit with a long detour) without having made any significant diplomatic concession versus their maximal claims against the Jewish state - claims that amount to the denial of that state's legitimacy. So why should Israel agree to this? And why should a *right-wing* Israeli publication like the Post endorse such a "Plan B"?

6. And, to connect points 2 and 5 above: Singer is putting additional pressure on America because of the refugee question. So long as America is not *imposing* a solution, it can maintain its current stance of ambiguity on the question of the refugees, as it does on the territories. To whit: America has never said that there are particular territories that the Palestinians are entitled to or that the Israelis must surrender, other than to say that the Palestinian state must be viable. And America has never said that there is no legitimacy to the demands for repatriation as opposed to compensation, nor has it endorsed the legitimacy of those claims, merely calling (as numerous UN resolutions do as well) for a "just" solution. But once America is in the position of *dictating* a solution - which is what an American occupation would mean - America would necessarily have to dictate on these matters as well. Which means that America would be responsible for the "dispossession" of the Palestinians "refugees." Taking that responsibility in the context of at least some Arab support would be one thing. Taking that responsibility in the *absence* of that support . . . let's just say it's not obvious to me how that would *help* in prosecuting the war on terror. I should think it would be less dangerous for America to simply adopt the Israeli position in negotiations, and declare that the "refugees" are entitled to press for compensation only, not repatriation.

7. Finally: the settlers. Obviously, an imposed solution like an American occupation would mean the repatriation of Israeli settlers - not necessarily all by any means, but certainly those in Hevron and other heavily Palestinian areas, and no one should presume that Ariel or even the Gush are sacrosanct. It's not obvious to me that Middle Israel would view this as a negative aspect of an imposed solution; indeed, while Middle Israelis don't despise the settlers the way the bien pensants of Ha'aretz do, they do recognize that a significant fraction of the settlers - and a bigger fraction of the leadership - is "ultra" and will resist any kind of a deal. And Middle Israel wants an end to the conflict, even at the expense of losing most of Judea and Samaria. So what's interesting is that the editorial-page editor of the Post is saying the *less radical* Plan B alternative to the Road Map is an American occupation, which would unquestionably mean the evacuation not just of illegal outposts but of all the isolated settlements. After all, it's one thing for Israel to spend blood to defend the citizens of Tekoa. But why should America do so? An American occupation could only take place if established settlements are physically removed. Which is why I say it is interesting that Singer should effectively endorse such an alternative.

Israelis should recognize that the road from here comes in various shades of ugly: a seemingly endless war of attrition, or a renewal of the occupation under more brutal conditions, or a strategic retreat behind a barbed-wire fence, or surrender of some of Israel's sovereign right to self-defense to a foreign power (America). There's no happy solution short of victory. And no one in Israel knows what victory looks like. Israelis should look hard and ask themselves whether they really want an American intervention, or whether they still value their sovereignty highly enough to want some greater degree of control over their own destiny.

This settles it: Derb is God.

Monday, August 25, 2003
I've decided: Howard Dean is officially as big a phony as the rest of the Democrats. Which just proves he might win the nomination.

The new spin is that Dean is moving to the center: taking on Saudi Arabia in a talk to Rotarians, flirting with support for tax cuts and generally behaving like a front-runner thinking about the general election. And the spin further suggests that he can do this two-step better than his opponents because his "anger" has won over the left-wing activists of the Democratic Party even though he's made few substantive concessions. Some papers have bought into to this spin sufficiently to believe that Dean is losing real support on the left because of this supposed turn to the right.

This is such garbledigook. Did someone out there actually think Dean was indistinguishable from a lefty lunatic like Kucinich? Does anyone out there really know what Dean stands for, so that we'd know if he's betraying those stands? (Apart from the culture-war shibboleths of gay rights and abortion, I mean.) And does Rich Lowry actually think "this President will not confront the Saudis" is a tough-minded policy statement?

"This President will not confront the Saudis" is to the 2004 campaign what accusing Bush I of having kowtowed to the Chinese was to the 1992 campaign. It's the cheap way to seem hawkish and it's utterly unconvincing. What, after all, is Howard Dean planning to *do* about the Saudis, praytell? How, if I may ask, is he going to prevent our petrodollars from being recycled into Islamist terrorism?

Sorry, I'm going to go on about this for a minute. Dean claims to have supported the first Gulf War and the Afghan campaign. No points for the latter; opposing it would have put him in Kucinich territory. As for the former: could be. Clinton said he would have supported that war for political reasons even though he disagreed with it. Gore voted for it, albeit with grave reservations. Fortunately for Dean, he didn't have to cast a vote. But it's interesting that he says he favored that war but opposed the recent Iraqi campaign. After all, the Gulf War ended with Kuwait liberated but Saddam still firmly in charge in Iraq. And, as a result, it ended with a long-term U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia and a sanctions regime in place that the Left blamed for "millions" of Iraqi deaths (until they belatedly fell in love with sanctions, having discovered that the alternative was war). So: if Dean favored the first Gulf War, did he favor the end-game? And if not, what would he have done differently? And if he wouldn't have done anything differently, does he see any contradiction between his support for that war and his desire to "confront" the Saudis? How would he "confront" the Saudis when American bases in Saudi Arabia were the only thing preventing Saddam from renewing his regional aggression?

But none of this logic matters. This is the same garbledigook the Democrats talked in 1992. Clinton was horrified by Bush's mishandling of the Yugoslav crackup - and then presided over the rape and slaughter of Bosnia. Clinton was disgusted by Bush's kowtowing to the Chinese after Tiananmen Square - and then knowingly took campaign money from CCP-controlled entities. Clinton criticized the Bush I end-game in Iraq - and then did essentially nothing about Saddam Hussein for eight years. The Democrats - and I include the New Republic crowd in this indictment, though they are the best of a bad lot - do not have an alternative foreign policy to the Bush foreign policy; they have a series of carps and gripes. Dean's "maturation" means that instead of empty slogans against the war he's now going to mouth empty slogans criticizing the handling of this or that aspect of the war, some of which will be carefully tailored to seem "hawkish." But it's all garbledigook, and don't you forget it.

Same goes for domestic policy. Howard Dean has not suddenly been imbued with the Spirit of '86 (tax reform, that is). His gesture in favor of tax reform is purely Clintonian: let's "reform" the code by putting more money in the hands of "those most likely to spend it." Earth to Dean: the '86 reform closed loopholes and *lowered top marginal rates* to 28%. It eliminated most of the tax brackets, too. This was "broadening the base" and it's a great idea - a better idea than Bush's tax cuts, which are full of inefficient loopholes. But Dean isn't advocating that. He's advocating cutting income tax rates for people who pay a diminishing share of the income tax - in other words, narrowing the base and raising top rates. Some reform. And I'd love to understand how it'll help the economy. Hey Howard: if "priming the pump" is what it takes, why don't we just take cash from rich people as they walk by and hand it out on street corners? It's only a shame that Bush has encouraged this kind of economic foolishness by falsely advertising his own tax cuts as Keyensian (when, in fact, they are a mix of supply side ideas, social engineering and idea-less pork barrel).

Talk of using the veto to cut spending is also cheap. Clinton did much the same in 1992, and talked a different game once in office; *his* spending was vetoed by Newt Gingrinch, before the GOP cottoned on to the beauty of pork-barrel spending. Overwhelmingly, Clinton's spending cuts were on the military side of the ledger. Dean now claims Bush is short-changing the military - so presumably we're to believe he'd increase military spending. So, Howard, what will you cut? Farm subsidies, maybe? Care to tell us before the Iowa caucus? Hey, while we're at it: what's your position on the Northeast Dairy compact?

Howard Dean was the governor of one of the smallest, whitest, most politically homogeneous states in the Union. The middle item on that list tells us the main reason he's still not really the front-runner: he has no base - none - among blacks, which is like a Republican having no credibility among white evangelicals (which, come to think of it, was why John McCain crashed and burned in South Carolina, the place where Howard Dean is also likely to meet his Waterloo). His record tells us nothing and we have no real idea what he'd do as President. We don't even really know what he *wants* to do. He's nobody's Great White Hope - he's a politician. He's obviously smarter politically than the entire rest of the field, which is why I think there's now a real chance he'll take the nomination (though my money is still on Kerry). He is no Bruce Babbit/Paul Tsongas. He just might be Jimmy Carter. But there is nothing there. He wasn't a hard-left candidate before. He isn't moving to the center now. He's just changing his campaign schtick very slightly to move the story - successfully - in the media. Just like a good candidate should.

Friday, August 22, 2003
Small aside on Iraq: everyone's noticed how supporters of the Iraq war have stopped talking about WMD and are spending all their time talking about the awfulness of Saddam's tyranny and the prospects for Arab democracy. Well, once upon a time the darling of the democratizers was Ahmad Chalabi, "President in waiting." We haven't heard much about him lately, of course; I expect we'll see him turn up one of these days on Hollywood Squares, but not before. He turned out to have about as much credibility in Iraq as I said he would: namely, none.

Now, one theory about the missing WMD that I basically buy is that Iraq fooled us. They wanted us to believe that they had these weapons because they thought they would deter us from attacking; Saddam believed they deterred us, in fact in 1991 from continuing the war beyond Kuwait. They were keeping their various programs on ice, waiting for sanctions to be lifted, and in the meantime they were bluffing, and their bluff backfired.

But here's my question: before the war, those most supportive of an aggressive threat-assessment of Iraq were the folks in the Pentagon and the Office of the Vice President. And these are the same folks who were championing Chalabi. So what I want to know is: were we bluffed two ways, both by Saddam and by Chalabi?

There were a lot of reasons to support war with Iraq, and I supported it myself, strongly. I was bluffed as well on the WMD question, but the threat from Iraq was never limited to that, and besides, Saddam was *fair game* having tried to assassinate the last President Bush, having violated the terms of the 1991 cease-fire in numerous ways, and so forth.

But we shouldn't be letting ourselves get talked into things. This is a region filled with people looking for someone to solve their problems for them. (As you may have noticed from my last two posts, I worry that Israel has absorbed this tendency over time.) It is filled as well with very good liars. We can't allow ourselves to be put in the position again - as I suspect we were in part in the run-up to the Iraq war - of having bought the merchandise being hawked in the souk, even if the merchant claims to be a friend of ours (which merchant doesn't?). If the more aggressive threat-assessments coming out of the Pentagon depended on intelligence from the likes of Chalabi, Rumsfeld and Cheney - and Bush - need to know that, and take appropriate action. This is our war, being waged in defense of our country. We can't let it get hijacked.

And here's Ze'ev Sternhell taking the easy way out from the left.

Now, I've argued in favor of an imposed solution in the past. In *diplomatic* terms, I think there is a rough equivalence to the Palestinians' claim of a "right to return" and the Israeli claim of the right to settle the territories seized in 1967. Implicit in both claims is the assertion of a sovereign claim to the entire land between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. There is some logic, therefore, to having some God-like power come in from the outside and say: for any other compromise to work, you must each surrender this claim. You Israelis must accept our judgement that the settlements are illegal, as the Palestinians are sovereign in the territories seized in 1967, and you can only live there with their permission, which they are unlikely to grant; you Palestinians must accept our judgement that Israel is sovereign within the 1949 cease-fire lines, and therefore you will only be allowed to settle within those lines as an immigrant, with Israel's permission, which she is unlikely to grant.

But there are a few problems with this eminently logical script.

After all, Ehud Barak offered a compromise pretty close to this only a few years ago. He offered the Palestinians a state on the overwhelming majority of the territories, offered to divide Jerusalem and to share sovereignty over the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. But more than this, he offered to admit over 100,000 Palestinians into Israel proper and to provide monetary compensation (understood to really be provided by the USA) to permanently settle the remaining Palestinians in their new state, implicitly recognizing some Palestinian refugee claims vis-a-vis Israel and the need for compensation. And more than this: he offered territorial compensation from the Negev - within the Green Line - to expand the Palestinian territory around overcrowded Gaza, as compensation for their "lost" territory in the Gush, east of the Sharon region, etc. This implicitly recognized the pre-1967 borders as the basis for negotiation. All he asked for in exchange was for a declaration that this was THE END. That this compromise was the end of the conflict. He was answered with bombs and bullets.

Now our Ha'aretz correspondent wants the USA and Europe to impose some similar solution. Wonderful: and when Yasser Arafat, or Sheikh Yassir, or Sheik Nasrullah or whoever claims to speak for the Palestinian people refuses to accept the imposed solution, then what?

It is not hard to craft reasonable compromises. It is hard to get the Palestinians to agree to them. They have much less to lose than Israel; that's why you can, sometimes, pressure Israel successfully. Simply asserting that the "only solution" is to have the US and Europe "impose one" is to assume the can-opener.

That is why my despairing comments from earlier are couched in the terms they are. I don't despair of a solution. Solutions are easy to imagine; compromise between hypothetical Palestinians and Israelis is easy to design, and Barak and Clinton did a pretty good job of designing it, whatever anyone's particular quibbles with the deal. And I don't despair for Israel; Israel will survive, even thrive, as she has thriven under harsh conditions in the past.

But I despair for *victory.* I don't know, and no one in Israel knows, what victory would look like. And victory is what is needed. Where I agree with Mr. Sternhell is that the next turn of the wheel will be very ugly. The security fence will surround Jerusalem; this will trap tens of thousands of Palestinians in a legal no-man's land on the Israeli side of the wall. The security fence either will or won't encompass Ariel; either way, Ariel will be the most exposed point for terrorists to attack. For Israel to "crush" Hamas and Jihad Islami means the full reoccupation of Area A, which will be terrible for the Palestinians and terrible for the IDF's readiness and morale - and terrible for Israelis' morale as well, because this time there will be no end in sight. The alternative is to simply take more hits, and wage a low-intensity war in the P.A. territories, without a full re-occupation and without recognizing the P.A. as a sort of sovereign authority in these areas. That alternative will be even uglier from a diplomatic perspective, and would probably cost more in Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives, but it would probably be better for the IDF. But none of this is victory, but merely an escalation of the conflict.

Israel has already taken the first, small steps towards this escalation. They have targeted key enemy leaders, moved the army into place for bigger operations, and has declared a policy of direct response to terrorist groups rather than hitting the P.A. The latter, previous policy was premised on the notion that the P.A. was like any other Arab country, and was therefore responsible for hostile activity coming from its territory. For Israel to take the war directly to Hamas and Jihad Islami means on the one hand that Israel no longer recognizes the P.A. as such an authority. On the other hand, it means that any victory against terrorism means nothing for the viability of the P.A. as a subsequent peace partner. Mahmoud Abbas, after all, will not have bloodied his hands with the work of preparing his people for compromise. Rather than fight a Palestinian civil war, he will have let the Israelis fight the war for him. How much credibility will he have at the end? Not much.

And in the end, that does matter, because victory for Israel - for everyone in Israel except the extreme far right - means an *agreement.* Israel is fighting for peace, not for land or for honor or even for justice. Peace comes when the other side says: enough; we would rather compromise than continue to wage war. Israel could kill a generation of terrorists, but if after all this the Palestinians still say: we demand the right to take over your country, what will have been accomplished is not peace but, at most, quiet.

Sorry Mark, but blaming Bush is the easy way out, and sheds no light on Israel's situation.

I'm going to ask again what I always ask of right-wing Jewish critics of this administration: what, precisely, do you want Bush to do? Bush has cooperated in Israel's policy of isolating Yasser Arafat. Bush has been very clear that terrorism is not acceptable. Bush's support for a Palestinian state is not an innovation; Clinton supported one first. And Clinton was only following Israel's lead; Ehud Barak made it very clear in his campaign for Prime Minister that he favored a Palestinian state (he was disingenuous on the subject of Jerusalem), and Sharon has continued to voice support for such a state as a goal - just as Netanyahu ultimately affirmed Rabin's Oslo process. And even a right-winger like Natan Sharansky - my favorite Israeli politician - has said he thinks the Palestinians should get their own state (albeit only after they have proven their democratic and anti-terrorist credentials). Folks like Mark Levin want Bush to be more of a Likudnik than Sharon. And that's ridiculous.

And meanwhile, what precisely does he want *Sharon* to do? Other than look Bush in the eye and say that Israel is now "going it alone." Levin refers to Israel "toppling" the governments of Iran and Syria. What planet is Levin living on? Israel has *never* toppled an enemy regime. They did not topple the government of Syria in '73, or of Lebanon in '82. They haven't even toppled the P.A. Iran is hundreds of miles away and has a population more than 10 times Israel's, and a land area 80 times Israel's. What does Levin think - Israel can send in the Mossad and knock off a handful of the mullahs and the country will fall, and suddenly be friendly? Israel might conceivably use preemptive air strikes to knock out Iran's nuclear program, though the collateral diplomatic damage would be enormous and it's not clear that the strikes would even succeed (the Iranians have learned from 1981). But "topple" the regime? What on earth is Levin talking about?

In the days of Barak's premiership, I commented that the problem with many Israelis on the left - including many Generals - is that they think they live in California. They think that because Israel is rich and smart and sophisticated that it can take the kinds of risks that America can afford to take. And it's not true. Israel is a small, vulnerable country, and a wild gamble like Oslo can - and did - have terrible consequences. Well, there's an analogous problem on the right: Israelis (and American Jewish supporters thereof) who think not that Israel has America's safety margin but that Israel has America's might. It doesn't. And it can't behave as if it does.

I'm going to say it again: no one in Israeli politics has a clear idea of how to solve the Palestinian problem, and no one really knows what victory would look like. Israel scored a massive victory in 1967, essentially eliminating all of its enemies' armed forces and establishing substantial strategic depth in the Golan, the Sinai and Judea and Samaria. That victory did not prevent war in 1973, and it did not end the Palestinian problem. Avigdor Liberman and the rest of the far right want Israel to reconquer and annex the territories, expel or execute Arafat, and . . . then what? Presumably, they want to rule over more than 3 million Palestinian non-citizens indefinitely. They make noises about the Palestinians becoming citizens of Jordan. Has Jordan shown any interest in collaborating in such a scheme? Or do they plan to "topple" that regime as well and replace it with a more favorable one? And then they whine about the unfairness of the situation. Who are they whining to? Who do these "go it alone" types expect will give them what they think they deserve? Do they expect God Himself to intervene?

That does appear to be the view of Sharon's religious-right partners. Their attitude is admirable in its way: don't think about the consequences, just do right and refuse to surrender what is rightfully yours. But that was not the attitude of the prophet Jeremiah. It is fundamentally wrong to count on a miracle, and if you can't articulate how you are going to achieve your goals, then you are counting on a miracle.

I hold no particular love for Brent Scowcroft, but he's not the President. There are certainly those in America's foreign policy establishment who quietly - or not so quietly - wish Israel would just go away, wish that Harry Truman would not have taken a moral stand and recognized the Jewish state. To pretend that Bush - or even Powell - are in that camp is ludicrous. And to pretend that Nixon - whose support for Israel was driven entirely by the Cold War calculus, and who leaned on Israel fully as much as many other Presidents, including forcing Israel not to destroy the Egyptian Third Army at the end of the October War, thus allowing Egypt to snatch diplomatic victory from military defeat - was a better friend to Israel than Bush is just bad history.

Israel's problems are not the work of the American President. President Bush has done more to improve Israel's strategic and diplomatic situation than any President since Truman - Johnson and Nixon included. There are plenty of things I don't like about the Road Map - I think it was, in fact, a great coup by the Palestinians - but it is a logical consequence not of Bush's policies but of Sharon's. It is up to Israel to decide what victory looks like and how to achieve it. I have no doubt that, if they can convincingly do so, the Bush Administration will back them up.

(Just to be clear, by the way, I think Sharon has been doing a generally excellent job. He's boxed the Palestinians in militarily and, to a large extent, diplomatically in a way that would have been hard to conceive two years ago. You can only lose a war of attrition by surrendering, and Sharon has not surrendered, and has made it clear that Israel will not surrender. That's much more than half the battle. But the other half is much harder, and this myth that someone - whether Bush or someone else - is holding Israel back and preventing her from achieving complete victory is in no way productive.)

Thursday, August 21, 2003
Hard to dispute this piece about how Bush has re-inaugurated the era of Big Government. I don't even know that there's any real dispute about this question.

The Cato-oids are the only part of the Republican coalition decidedly on the outs in this administration. (Well, the paleos are on the outs, too, but I'm not sure the paleos are really part of the Republican coalition, not since Buchanan's revolt.) Bush may not have done everything the Christian Right wants, but he has made the courts an issue, he appointed Ashcroft AG, and he's been using the bully pulpit. Bush has been aggressively pro-business, supporting investment-friendly tax cuts but also indulging in protectionism and more frequently indulging in corporate-welfarism through both tax loopholes and spending. The neo-cons can certainly applaud Bush's prosecution of the War on Terror. Who's out in the cold? The limited-government types. They're against the corporate welfare, against the increasing complication of the tax code (and the use of said code to micro-manage both the economy and social policy), against government entanglement with religious groups (a likely consequence of using them to deliver government services), and, not infrequently, against the war (on the grounds that we could better defend ourselves by withdrawing from the world).

What would have kept the limited-government types inside the tent was some serious effort to rein in entitlements. Such an effort was very prominently part of Bush's 2000 campaign: Bush promised to reform Medicare and partially privatize Social Security. Those would be enormous achievements that any limited-government conservative would applaud. But they have been dropped entirely from the agenda. I don't think this is because of the war, though certainly the war must be Bush's top priority. I think it's because, for better or worse, Bush does not believe that he's got the votes to do anything about spending, and his approach to domestic matters has been very politically-driven rather than policy-driven. Bush surrendered on the education bill before the war began, and his retreat on Medicare reform (unlike, say, the federalization of airport security) isn't at all war-related.

Mainstream conservatives should worry about this, for all the reasons outlined in Taylor and Vandoren's piece above. But Republicans should also worry about it for political reasons. Limited-government conservatives are a meaningful slice of the electorate. Anyone in that slice who was against the Iraq war (and I suspect that covers a bunch of people) will have little reason to support the GOP in '04, and could easily defect to a credible Libertarian alternative. If the election is close (and, with the right Democrat candidate and a lousy economy, it could be) those defections could make the difference. And even if they don't make the difference in the Presidential election, they could make the difference in close Senate or gubernatorial contests. A big party has to be pragmatic, and not make the perfect the enemy of the good. But you can't have a core ideological constituency wondering whether the party has abandoned its core beliefs.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Here's my question: if the ball is now "entirely" in Mahmoud Abbas' court to "fight terror" - what if he drops the ball?

What, precisely, is the grave consequence that the Sharon government is holding back if Abbas refuses to fight a civil war with Hamas and Islamic Jihad - and, for that matter, the Al Aqsa Martyrs of Fatah?

I don't know what to make of stories like this one. Israel's defense and intelligence establishment began warning that mass-casualty terrorism was going to start up again several weeks ago. They've been saying for months that it's not acceptable for Abbas to say he's against violence but unwilling to forcibly disarm the Palestinian murder gangs. So - what are they going to do about it if Abbas "sticks to his guns" and refuses to fight?

The Palestinians have figured out a pretty good angle, it seems to me. The Vietnamese mastered the art of negotiating while fighting. Well, the Palestinians have done them one better: they will have a titular leader who espouses non-violence, while terror groups continue their murderous activities with impunity. What, precisely, are the Israelis to do? If they knew how to eliminate the terror threat, why didn't they do so a year ago, unilaterally? If they do not, then what is the point of retaliation - to punish Abbas? But they want Abbas to succeed, don't they?

Ariel Sharon, I fear, has made the same mistake twice. Twice he has allowed Yasser Arafat to escape his just reward. It will not do to blame the United States for either decision; even if America leaned strongly on Israel, it was Israel's decision that Arafat's head was not worth angering the United States. I don't want to hear from people blaming the Bush Administration for Israel's dilemma. Israel's dilemma is that while she has shown she can fight, and endure, a war of attrition, and cannot be broken by terror, she had not shown that she can win a decisive victory in such a war. Indeed, it is not possible to do so, by the very nature of wars of attrition. Decisive victory cannot be achieved; it can only transpire because of the other side's collapse. The other side has, once again, cleverly avoided utter collapse.

So the tanks will roll into Ramallah again. Operations will be conducted that will degrade the terrorists' capabilities. Palestinian civilians will suffer more, unfortunately, and hopefully Israeli civilians will suffer less, for a while. But there will be no victory, because Sharon - and everyone else in Israel, included Bibi, including even Avigdor Liberman and his ilk - do not know what a decisive victory would look like.

Sorry; I'm getting depressed.

Thursday, August 14, 2003
You know, I've been thinking more about The New Republic's big Dean debate. The New Republic has an amazing track record of picking losers. In an effort to combat relentless negativity, they once launched a feature called "Nice Guys" to highlight pols who they actually approved of. The first - and, I believe, only - recipient of their "Nice Guy" award was Tom Foley, the useless and ineffectual Washington Rep who made history by losing the House of Representatives after four decades of Democrat rule and by losing his own seat to George Nethercutt while sitting as Speaker of the House, an unheard-of indignity. Other folks they reviewed positively were Gray Davis (contrasted positively with his multi-millionaire opponents in the primary, and heralded as the hero of old-fashioned, centrist Democrat politics as against the politics of celebrity and Perotist populism), Jim Florio, and, of course, the mother of all TNR beloveds, Al Gore. They kind of like Republican losers, too. Most notably, they loved McCain even before he completed his transformation into a Joe Lieberman clone (foreign policy hawk, domestic liberal of the goo-goo variety). But they had a bit of a soft spot for Bob Dole

Power is now out in New York City, northern New Jersey, Albany, Cleveland and Detroit. Anyone out there have any idea what's going on? I've still got 'Net access; this building is now on the generator.

Why I am a Republican, Reason #3. The perfidity of public-sector unions is almost impossible to exaggerate. One of the many bad things about Gray Davis is that his governorship has been so horrible in this regard that it's made New York look sane by comparison.

(For those who care, Reason #1 was anti-Communism and Reason #2 was the astonishing crime-fighting success of Rudy Giuliani's mayoralty.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Monday, August 11, 2003
Okay, I've been channelling Jonah Goldberg a little and came up with an angle on the whole Arnold business.

Terminator II was this massive, huge, mega hit action movie. But it was an action movie with the heart of a chick-flick. Sarah Connor has nightmares about nuclear war blowing up the playground. When T1 finally does come back into her life, he's the good guy. And, per young John Connor's instructions, he isn't allowed to kill anybody. There's that ludicrous scene at the lab where all the guards are limping away clutching their legs because Arnold has shot them in the kneecaps.

Now, I didn't like T2 as much as a lot of people did, but I don't want to knock it completely. The scene where Schwarzenegger reappears for the first time in the mental hospital where Sarah Connor has been held is wonderful. The liquid-metal T2 was silly, but a very effective special effect. The suggestion that the entire Terminator saga is a closed-loop in time - the only reason intelligent machines were ever built is because the Terminator was sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor, and left his spare parts behind . . . but the only reason the Terminator existed in the first place was because of the rise of intelligent machines . . . and anyhow now that Arnie has sacrificed himself in the molten metal, there won't be any rise of intelligent machines, which means there's no father for John Connor, and therefore nobody to save Sarah Connor from the Terminator in the first place . . . anyhow, all that was fun.

But T2 was a landmark in 1990s refusal to accept "hard choices." Arnold wanted to be a good guy. If he's a good guy, then he can't kill people. Ergo, from no on, the Terminator will be victorious - over a more powerful enemy - without killing people. (He'll destroy lots of property, because that's fun, but no one will actually be killed thereby.)

It was also a landmark in Schwarzenegger's management of his career. He'd done a few comic hero roles (Twins, Kindergarden Cop) but T2 marked the completion of his transformation from villain to hero. This was a good career move; heros make more money, generally, than do villains. But it was also a good political move. Arnold wanted to be lionized and idolized, and he didn't want anything to complicate an idolizable image. An actor might have relished playing villains, but Arnold wanted to be a hero.

So, here's my question: if Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes the Governator, which are we going to get? The Arnold of T1, who cannot be stopped, who feels no pity, who doesn't care if he is hated so long as he is feared? Or the Arnold of T2, who is forbidden by "the children" (okay, a single child) from "terminating" anyone, and who arranges the script carefully to avoid having to make ugly choices that might cause someone to hate him?

California, if it votes for Scharzenegger, will be voting for the Arnold of T2: the good monster who never hurts people and outfights the slippery, sinister, liquid-metal Gray Davis with one hand tied behind his back. But the state needs the Arnold of T1, because the permanent government in Sacramento needs to feel fear. To cut spending enough to make a difference, and to rebalance (and cut) the tax burden will cause short-term pain. Ronald Reagan was not popular in 1982, but he was very popular by 1984 when the combination of disinflation and growth-oriented tax cuts kicked in to revive the economy. Let's hope the Governator is willing to be as unpopular in 2005 as Reagan was in 1982. Otherwise California is going to have a long, hard climb out of the ditch Gray Davis dug.

Thursday, August 07, 2003
By contrast, I haven't commented on the latest fracas over Israel's security fence because . . . it's complicated.

People should realize two things. First, this spat is quite limited; the U.S. has a longstanding policy of opposing Israel's settlement policy, and has deducted spending on settlements from our loan guarantees for a while as well. All this spat is about in money terms is whether the fence will be counted as spending on settlements for this purpose. American objections are not going to stop the fence going up, and I doubt they'll significantly affect its contours. The American position is *not* that Israel has no legitimate claim to the territories, but rather that Israel should not prejudice the outcome of negotiations by creating "facts on the ground" through settlements. Ditto for the fence: America has no inherent objection to the fence, but objects to putting the fence on the other side of the Green Line to keep Israeli settlements on the inside, protected, rather than on the outside, and vulnerable.

Second, the whole business about where the fence goes and objections thereto really boils down to two places: Ariel and the Jordan Valley. The Jordan Valley has only a small number of people living in it, Jews or Arabs; the reason Israel needs a presence there is twofold: to deter attack from the East (from Jordan or, historically more likely, from Iraq through Jordan) and to protect *Jordan* from the Palestinians. The first reason is less pressing than it used to be, but it's still early innings; in the context of an actual peace with Iraq (and Syria) it would be much less pressing, but right now it's appropriate for Israel to hedge her bets. The second reason is much more problematic; Jordan officially says it wants no such protection, but Jordan has not been terribly helpful in dealing with the Palestinians in the context of the Oslo war, so it's hard to know what to make of their official stance. I have long maintained that there is no solution to the Palestinian problem without the very active participation of Jordan, and therefore ultimately a fence between Jordan and the Palestinian entity, whatever it turns out to be, is counterproductive; we want the Jordanians involved, not walled off. But they have to agree to get involved, which they haven't. So, like I said, this aspect is problematic.

Ariel is a different story. Ariel is one of four real, genuine, difficult territorial problems in dealing with any kind of separation. (The four problems are: (1) the Palestinian cities that are "too close" to Israeli cities - Tulkarem, Qalqilyeh and Jenin - and therefore ever-present security risks; (2) Hebron, a large Palestinian city with a tiny Jewish population, each hating the other, and a city with an important holy site to both Judaism and Islam; (3) the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the Islamic holy places on the Temple Mount; (4) Ariel.) Ariel is a problem because it was built - deliberately - deep inside Samaria, and is therefore very difficult to annex to Israel without cutting a swathe out of what Palestinians see as their future state territory. Every proposal from the Israelis - and the Clinton proposal as well - has annexed Ariel to Israel; it is not a subject for serious negotiation on the Israeli side, for two reasons. First, because Ariel is a real city, with over 20,000 citizens; this is not an isolated settlement outpost built recently but a Jewish city of decades. Second, because Ariel's existence provides Israel with strategic depth at close to Israel's narrowest point. It gives Israel a position on the heights of Samaria and makes it far less likely that enemy armies could establish themselves in Samaria before Israel had time to react. Nonetheless, while it's not a topic of serious negotiation on the Israeli side, it's a commonplace on the Palestinian side - and among their sympathizers in Europe and America - that Ariel will be inherited by the Palestinians, not the Jews, and that Israel is therefore foolish for spending any money on the town.

Excluding Ariel from the protection of the separation fence is really a non-starter on the Israeli side. It would amount to a concession that Ariel is "in play" and no one thinks it is. It would topple the government. But including Ariel on the Israeli side of the fence means building the fence deep into Samaria, and does look like the unilateral drawing of a border to include maximal (plausible) Israeli claims.

How's this going to hash out in the end? I think Israel is going to lose some money and build the fence where it wants. Israel is not obliged by the Road Map to cease from building the fence, and Bush is not going to seriously strongarm them over this issue. But he'll cut some money as a geture to the other side that he is genuinely even-handed. Am I pleased? No. Am I worried? Not really. Not about this.

I haven't commented on Arnold Schwarzenegger's announcement yet because . . . I don't really have an opinion. I have no idea if he'd be a good governor. He could hardly be worse than Davis, but California has some deep, fundamental problems that I'm not sure anyone has good answers to - at least not answers that Californians would be willing to put into practice. No one socially conservative is going to get elected governor, so I'm not sure why some conservatives are perseverating about that factor. Schwarzenegger is no more liberal than Rick Riordan, and I was very supportive of his run. I just don't know how any of us know if A.S. is tempermentally fit to be chief executive of the state of California.

Two things I will say. First: you can be tempermentally difficult and, if you have the right ideas and the guts and determination to see them through, you can still make a huge difference. Exhibit A is Rudy Giuliani, who was not, to say the least, the easiest Mayor to work with (ask Bill Bratton about that some time) but who was right about the important things for getting NYC back on its feet: right about crime, (and about crime, and about crime), right about welfare, right about taxes. And he stuck to his guns and did what he said, and saved this city from doom. If Arnie has half the vision and half the guts Rudy did, it won't matter if he's a control freak or otherwise problematic.

Second: a hero riding in on a white horse cannot save a party. New York City is into its second Republican Mayor, and it's a legitimate question if a Democrat can win this city against any viable Republican candidate; the Democratic Party primary process is so disfunctional that it practically guarantees a disastrous nominee (Dinkins, Messinger, Green - there's a pattern). But there is no Republican Party to speak of in NYC. The GOP is just an empty vessel into which you pour the latest candidate with enough money or media presence to get himself elected. So no matter who we wind up electing, much of the city gets run by Democrats, and there are real limits to how much change anyone can impose from the top. Same in California. The California GOP is a mess, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, whether he wins or loses, won't change that. He could do a lot of good while he's there, within limits, but once he's gone it's back to square one.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003
On this one I agree with Stuttaford, 100%.

Monday, August 04, 2003
You know, I'd have thought Disney stock would be down more today on this news: Fritz Hollings announces retirement.

This is, of course, very good news, as Hollings is a particularly odious fossil: a protectionist, an over-regulator, and a lackey for big businesses like Disney against upstart entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, any South Carolina Republican is likely to be just as bad on issues like textile tariffs. But there's at least a chance for something better now.

Add this to the list of real GOP Senate pickup prospects for '04, along with:

* Washington: I wish Jennifer Dunn were running, but in her absence we've got to pull for Nethercutt. Murray is just awful: dumb, lazy and wrong about everything. Time to hang up her tennis shoes.

* Nevada: I don't know too much about Jim Gibbons, but I can't think of anything nice to say about Harry Reid, and he's quite vulnerable based on the closeness of previous races.

* Georgia: whichever Republican wins the primary has got to be favored to take Zell Miller's old seat.

* North-Carolina: I still think John Edwards has zero chance of being the nominee . . . but he'd look great next to John Kerry as the Veep candidate. And he's going to have to choose fairly soon between defending his vulnerable Senate seat and running for national office. I bet he gets the nod, and ditches the seat. If so, Erskine Bowles has a good chance second time around, but this is a mostly Republican state, so the GOP has to be given the edge.

I'd love to throw Barbara Boxer's California seat into the mix, but that's wishful thinking; she stinks, but they love her. It's possible Diane Feinstein will run for Governor of California (I certainly think she should), but the odds are against it, and even if she does, her seat will be tough for the GOP to take. California is just a very, very Democratic state. I think North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Arkansas are all uphill climbs for GOP challengers, though not impossible to scale, and I think Bob Graham will defend his seat in Florida once it becomes clear he's not going anywhere with his Presidential bid. So the five above - SC, GA, NC, NV, WA - are the best shots at GOP pick-ups.

The Dems, meanwhile, have only two really likely prospects: Alaska and Illinois. They're likely to win both. Ben Campbell of Colorado is not going to retire, I don't think, and neither is John McCain, and I don't see Arlen Specter losing his primary battle. Pennsylvania is not New Hampshire, and Specter is not Bob Smith. Karl Rove is going to take no chances, and allowing Toomey to win the primary would be taking an enormous chance. So I really think that's it for likely Democrat pick-ups. If they hold the GOP to a draw in the '04 Senate battles, that'll be a huge victory for the Dems. They should expect to lose at least one seat; if they lose more than that, it's a victory for the GOP.

The weird thing is looking out to 2006. There are just not many vulnerable seats for either party, at least not that are visible from this far out. Yeah, the various Democrat millionaires of the class of 2000 - Mark Dayton, Maria Cantwell, John Corzine, Hillary Clinton - will be up for reelection. But I suspect they'll all be strongly favored for reelection comes the time. (Well, maybe not Mark Dayton.) Best GOP chance in '06 will probably be turncoat Jim Jeffords. All the more reason for them to go all-out in '04.