ìIraqis Start to Exercise Power Even Before Date for Turnover,î by Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times, 13 June, p. A1.
ìRoad for Relief Team Is Gauntlet of Enemy Fire: ëWe canít fix anything if theyíre shooting at us,î by Michale Kamber, NYT, 13 June, p. A16.
ìBehind the Scenes, a Restless and Relentless Kerry,î by Jodi Wilgoren, NYT, 13 June, p. A1.
ìApproval in May,î results Gallup Polls, NYT, 13 June, p. A25.
ìA Nation Divided? Who Says? On gay rights, gun control and abortion, thereís a whole lot of agreeing going on,î by John Tierney, NYT, 13 June, p. WK1.
ìWhy America Sees the Silver Lining: ëSuccess in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control,î by John Leland, NYT, 13 June, p. WK1.
ìAnd Yes, He Was a Great Communicator: A presidentís debt to Jefferson Smith, George Bailey and Tom Joad,î by Geoffrey Nunberg, NYT, 13 June, p. WK5.
The first article gives a great rundown of whatís already changing inside Iraq as the handover date approaches. A good clip:
ìWalid Saleh, planning director for the Water Resources Ministry, said his ministry used to be controlled by a team of six American water experts. Now, Mr. Saleh said, these advisers have become ëconsultants.íU.S. influence in Iraq is described as two-fold: overseeing a reconstruction budget of almost $20 B (the Sys Admin role) and 140k troops struggling to end an insurgency (the Leviathan role). But the big point is: Iraqis are now running the show and making the day-to-day decisions.
ëThey work for us,í Mr. Saleh explained. ëThey are very good technicians and they give us expertise. But we make the decisions.î
Will there be assassinations and casualties ahead? Absolutely, but the number of Americans dying will likely drop dramatically over coming weeks and months, and with Iraqi leaders taking any heat in front of cameras, I think weíll all be surprised what a non-issue Iraq may end up being come November when Americans are stepping into voting booths.
Meanwhile, Kerryís profiles remain stuck in the ìwhatís-he-really-like-in-personî mode, in part because thereís no clear message that heís delivering, other than ìIím not Bush!î And thatís unlikely, in my mind, to sway the middle unless he steps up and delivers a far more positive vision of where he wants to take America.
Bush does have overall approval ratings that suggest a loss (47%), but likewise the highest historical loyalty ratings within his own party (89%). But hereís the good news for Kerry, there is a big mushy middle that agrees on most things, and they want to hear a positive message regarding the futureónot just one worth avoiding (his pitch on four more years of Bush unilateralism) but one worth creating.
Americans are simply built that way. Weíre a nation built by people who came to these shores convinced they could pull off something better on their own if only they could escape the stultifying rule sets and pessimism of the homeland. Thatís why, when polled, two-thirds of Americans stated their belief that success is something determined primarily by their own efforts, not forces beyond their control.
Take that, conspiracy theorists!
But Kerry needs to get beyond his Senate-speak, which is about as non-inclusive as it gets. He needs to generate the intimate tone that Reagan was a master at, and as the last article points out, itís not exactly hard, even if itís a lost art. Itís mostly about speaking directly to people (using the word ìyouî) a lot, and employing lots of ìyesî and ìand.î Itís about immediacy and intimacy and, yes, a sense of personal connection to dreams and desires andóyou knowóthat naÔve optimism that defines the American spirit.