Davos Newbies Home

What Kerry should say 

There is such a tremendous volume of weblogging on the US presidential contest that I usually steer clear of the topic, unless I have something new to add. But two posts today particularly caught my attention.

First, Scott Rosenberg urges Kerry to go on the attack at Thursday’s debate. He’s done a good job of writing the speech:

  “Mr. Bush, after 9/11 your job as president was to protect this nation, and you’ve failed. You didn’t bring the World Trade Center attackers to justice. Bin Laden is still on the loose, and the Taliban still operate in Afghanistan. Instead, you led the nation into a war on Iraq on false grounds. You botched the war, and thousands of Americans and Iraqis have died and are still dying because of your mistakes. In a time when America should have been a beacon of justice to Iraq and to the world, you allowed our troops to torture enemy prisoners. Despite all these mistakes, not a single official in your administration has ever taken real responsibility for them.
  I know what responsibility means, Mr. President. Do you? I didn’t ask my daddy to find me a safe berth away from the fighting in Vietnam. I know what it’s like to have people’s lives depend on my split-second calls. I’ve made the choices that won battles and saved troops’ lives. Have you?
  You’re a failure, Mr. President, and the only way this country can get back on track is by putting you on the unemployment line.”

Sadly, everything I’ve seen about the Kerry campaign so far suggests he’ll be reasoned and cautious, and not go for a knock-out blow. That might be the right percentage call, but I’m doubtful it’s the winning strategy.

At the same time, Brad DeLong points to a Washington Post article by Dan Froomkin:

  So here’s my question of the day: How far does this dislike of expressing regret extend? What would Bush do if at Thursday’s debate, moderator Jim Lehrer asked him about some of the more serious things that opponents have said went wrong during his presidency? For instance, I wonder:
  • Would he, in retrospect, have prepared differently for the occupation?
  • Does he wish he had issued clearer directives against torture in Iraqi prisons?
  • Would he, in hindsight, have been more skeptical of the WMD intelligence?
  • Does he regret not having heeded that pre-9/11 briefing on the threat posed by Osama bin Laden?

Answers heard we none.

The only stores in town 

About a year ago, Frank Leahy started a weblog about his move from Sausalito in Marin county to Cornwall. He’s recently moved from Cornwall, in the far southwest of England, to Leatherhead, in the nowhere of Surrey, south of London.

But he’s also taken time to reflect on some aspects of the US, particularly after a summer holiday on Cape Cod. I’m not as gloomy as Frank about the future of political discourse in the US, but his essay, The 7-11-ification of Politics in America, merits close attention.

“The same two chains – Republicans and Democrats – are the only two stores in town. There’s no longer a place to have a conversation about what matters in America. All the real conversations have been relegated to the far back corner, if you can even find them at all.”

I’ll trade you three Barros for two Krugmans 

A lot of economics weblogs are pointing to the market in Nobel prize winners in economics for this year, where Robert Barro and Paul Krugman are riding high. In fact, the site offers markets in all the Nobel prizes.

Marginal Revolution provides a well-informed analysis of the runners and riders.

My favourite, currently doing pretty well in the physics market, is Anton Zeilinger. Zeilinger gave a talk in Davos on quantum teleportation that is one of my more memorable Davos sessions.

Gilder stripped bare 

PZ Myers thoroughly defenestrates an ignorant piece by George Gilder on so-called intelligent design in the current issue of Wired. A wonderful, heart-warming read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *