Pod the polymath
NRO contributor and film critic extraordinaire John Podhoretz shows off his mad historical and fashion sensibilty skillz:
KATIE COURIC… [John Podhoretz]
…who knows nothing about anything, including how to dress, just suggested to John McCain that Tony Blair might suffer politically because of the attacks. McCain replied calmly, as if speaking to a child, that he expected Blair’s popularity to grow as a result, which is, indeed, what always happens in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. (It was Jose Maria Aznar’s weird refusal to acknowledge for 24 hours that the Madrid 3/11 attack was Al Qaeda and not a Basque assault that helped do him in.) Katie Couric makes $16 million a year. Maybe she should spend some of it getting a clue.
First off…The Pod has no business talking style.
Secondly, about the Madrid bombing:
The bodies were barely cold from the attacks of “11-M” in Madrid, the ballots from Sunday’s national election barely counted, but American pundits were already competing furiously to heap insult upon injury. The unexpected victory of the Partido Socialista Obrero EspaÃ±ol (PSOE) over the more conservative Partido Popular (PP), which had backed the war in Iraq, was widely and roundly denounced as a clear case of capitulation to terror.
“What is the Spanish word for appeasement?” asked David Brooks rhetorically, before delivering a tongue-clucking lecture to the Spanish electorate. Iberian political expert David Frum quickly dubbed the result a “swift and abject surrender to the attackers,” while muy macho Mark Steyn decried “an exercise in mass self-gelding.”
Now, perhaps Americans possessed of “moral clarity” in the war on terror also have a special insight into Iberian political psychologyâ€”even if many of them do think AragÃ³n is a character from The Lord of the Rings. But this facile, if morally satisfying, reading seems to elide some of the peculiar details of the Spanish elections.
The PP was indeed projected to win a majority in the Spanish Parliament in all the major polls before the March 11 terrorist attacks, which killed over 200 Spaniards and injured more than 1,600. But they were also clearly, already, losing ground relative to their vote totals in 2000, a shift largely attributed to Prime Minister JosÃ© MarÃa Aznar’s support for a war in Iraq opposed by as many as 90 percent of Spaniards. The same polls that showed a likely PP victory also showed that over 60 percent of Spanish voters were uneasy with the prospect of the party, regarded even by some supporters as arrogant and unwilling to compromise with others in Parliament, securing an absolute majority. The PP’s relatively strongâ€”though still depressedâ€”showing in May’s municipal elections relied on the predominance in the public mind of the local, domestic economic issues that are the PP’s unquestionable strength. With some 30 percent of Spanish voters polling undecided or refusing to give a preference as of early March, the PP advantage was already somewhat shaky.
So what happened on March 14? A point seldom noted is that, in terms of absolute votes, the PP did only slightly worse than in 2000, when it won 10.3 million ballots. The 9.6 million votes it earned this year would still have been enough, in 2000, to give it the majority. The difference this time around was a massive increase in turnout, an unsurprising response grounded in a sense of national solidarity following the attacks. This meant millions of young voters, overwhelmingly PSOE-sympathizers, turned out who might otherwise have stayed home. It’s also worth noting that the PSOE seems to have bled several percentage points away from the far-left Izquierda Unida party.
More from the Cato Institue here
Aznar was on the downhill side of popularity because of his support for the Iraqi invasion. Failure to admit the obvious was just the final nail. If Blair ever used the “We fight them there so we won’t have to fight them here” © (copyright Bushco, LLC) tagline, this could come back to bite him on the butt.