The week (August 11th): Nobody asked me, but…

With full credit to newspaperman extraordinaire Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but…

IF I HAD TO PUT MONEY ON IT, I’d guess that the primary-day crash of the Joe Lieberman campaign web site ( was caused by hackers in the Left “netroots community,” and not by the Connecticut Senator’s staff choosing a cheap Internet provider. As long as we’ve had homo politicus, we’ve had dirty tricks. Despite the high tech angle, it’s nothing new. Whether the traditional disappearance of campaign signs from front yards, or the nasty phone-jamming of New Hampshire Democrats on election day 2002 (with a Republican operative convicted in the case) or the Lieberman “service denial” attack, it’s what my father, the political reporter, would have called “gutter ball” tactics.

Meanwhile Senator Lieberman raised some eyebrows with his linkage of Iraq and the 8/10 terror plot in an attack on his Democratic opponent, Ned Lamont, which echoed comments from Vice President Dick Cheney. (Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal‘s suggested that the exposure of the plot came at a very bad time for Lamont Democrats, who have been staking all on a rigid and unyielding anti-war position). The New York Times reported thusly:

“If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England,” Mr. Lieberman said at a campaign event in Waterbury, Conn. “It will strengthen them, and they will strike again.”

Tough stuff. Ned Lamont is learning what happens to one-issue candidates–their opponents will try what political operative Dick Morris calls jujitsu politics, turning a perceived strength on its head. The Times editorial board slapped back at Cheney and Lieberman on “The London Plot,” opining: “It comes like a punch to the gut, at times like these, when our leaders blatantly use the nation’s trauma for political gain.”

The question becomes: how linked are Iranian attempts to gain regional power, the civil strife in Iraq, the standoff between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, unrest in Gaza and the West Bank, and the Al Queda campaign against the West? How much of the tension can be traced to Islamic fundamentalism? How much to American policy since 9/11?

Many political observers, including Adam Nagourney, argue that these questions of national security strengthen the hand of Republicans in the upcoming Congressional elections. Some contrarians see a potential edge for the Democrats. I think conventional wisdom is correct: the GOP does better with voters when homeland security is the issue. But all bets are off if we experience another terror attack in the U.S.

SPEAKING OF INTERNET WEIRDNESS, AOL’s accidental publication of the search histories of more than 650,000 of its users, has as C/net reports, “exposed an innumerable number of life stories ranging from the mundane to the illicit and bizarre.” Some of it is plain creepy. The giant in search, Google, says it will continue to store searches, despite concerns by privacy advocates. What if the database of human intentions–what John Battelle has called the billions of aggregated searches–turns out to be quite dark in nature? A confirmation of Original Sin? Or unedited human nature in plain view?

KUDOS TO ALLAN M. SIEGAL, recently retired assistant managing editor for the New York Times, for his well-deserved Ethics in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, recognizing his career-long fight for higher journalistic standards.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS’ ECCENTRIC BRILLIANCE is on full display in his biting review in the Weekly Standard of A.C. Grayling’s Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the World War II Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan. Hitchens has nothing but scorn for Grayling’s attempt to link Hamburg, Hiroshima and 9/11 as examples of “a surprise attack on a civilian population aimed at causing maximum hurt, shock, disruption and terror,” chastising him for joining “today’s other ‘moral equivalence’ ratbags.”

GIVE ME A PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL TEAM to manage and first choice of any field player in the game and (despite living in Boston) I would take Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees. (Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners would be my second pick). Jeter’s durability, fierce competitiveness, natural talent and sportsmanship make him the obvious choice.

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Copyright © 2006 Jefferson Flanders
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