The radio is on. Tavis Smiley is doing his show from the Republican Convention. A couple of Republican African-Americans (tuned in too late to get their names) are seriously pro-Bush and offering statistics showing a swing among "young African-Americans" to the Republican Party. They feel that the Democratic Party has let them down during the past forty years. Of course, the Republican Party has let them down too -- as has most of non-African American America.
But during the past twenty years or so -- the only time I can account for -- it seems clear to me that African-Americans have had an equal hand in letting themselves down. My sense is that many who are turning to the Republicans are doing so because the Republicans present a fantasy of social stability, money and power, just as so many Kansans turned to the Republican Party. (See Thomas Frank's book What's the Matter with Kansas) Neither you nor I nor the average Kansan would smart to believe that either party will solve our problems. The aims of both political parties -- now that campaigning spans the entire presidential term -- is to focus on staying in office no matter what and that means a full four years of money raising. You will be included in their thoughts only if you are a generous contributor. That leaves you and me with the responsibility of solving our own damn problems and, sad to say, that goes for African-Americans no less than the rest of us..
Then Tavis asked his guests what they thought of John McCain's speech at the convention last night. They were uniformly enthusastic, but one went further. John McCain, he said, is a real hero, not like someone who has written dubious stories about himself in a book -- referring presumably to Kerry. Now, you could debate endlessly about who is the better man, but when it comes to heroism, Kerry is way ahead. Shock! But McCain suffered egregiously in a prison camp! Kerry only served in Vietnam for four months and sustained only minor wounds!
True. McCain endured a great horror and survived. His ghastly imprisonment was imposed on him, not a chosen task. His ability to survive shows great endurance and courage. Kerry's heroism was active and not about dramatic rescues under fire. What was really heroic on Kerry's part was to come home a decorated veteran and then, countering all expectations, tell the truth about what he had witnessed, no matter what the outcome might be. His decision to speak out about the war as a veteran showed genuine heroism and he's paid for it many times over. No real heroism seems to go unpunished! Most interesting about Kerry and McCain is that they are firm friends and each regards the other as a man of real courage and decency..
Some of the vets who are angry at Kerry are simply political hacks and the buddies of political hacks. They were given money to make a fuss. But there are many vets who are not hacks and who are angry about Vietnam and those who protested the war. There are similiarities among these vets, African-Americans voters and the people of Kansas. The most obvious similarity is that they find the truth simply too hard to take even though the truth would, in fact, free them.
Juan Cole continues to have a series of bulletins at his website on the subject of the alleged spy in the Pentagon. Don't miss 'em. Laura Rozen at Gadflyer has an update -- she is one of the authors of the article at Washington Monthly (cited below) which broke the story. Josh Marshall , co-author with Rozen and Glastris, has posted today a commentary on how the media are dealing with the issue.
Josh Marshall at Talking Points has an article coming out today or tomorrow on the matter of the alleged spy for Israel in Feith's office at the Pentagon. He writes, at his blog:
I'm told the evidence the FBI has on Franklin -- at least on the narrow facts of the case -- is quite strong and involves wire tap information, though why a career DIA analyst like Franklin would allow himself to get tripped up on a phone call mystifies me.
The main focus thus far has been on the highly sensitive and troubling allegation that an ally, Israel, was spying on the United States or the recipient of classified information from a US government official.
However, I strongly suspect that as this story develops the bigger deal will be less the alleged recipient of the information, Israel, than the country that is the subject of the information, Iran.
I don't mean to imply that it's an either/or. It can very much be both. But the reportage thus far has understated the degree to which this is an Iran story -- it grows out of the simmering and unresolved administration battle over policy toward Iran.
I think he's quite right about this being an Iran story much more than an Israel story. We shall see...
The suspect could have been in a position to influence Bush administration policy toward Iran and Iraq, the senior official said....
CBS News, which first reported the story, said the FBI had developed evidence against the suspect, including photographs and conversations recorded through wiretaps.
The network said the suspect has ties to two senior Pentagon officials: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith.
Multiple sources have told CNN that the investigation is well along, and one government official described the evidence against the suspect as a "slam dunk case" and said "there has been no decision to prosecute the individual."
Update: As I suspected when I first read the above story last night, the matter has considerable depth and breadth which many would just as soon not know about, much less talk about. You probably already know Juan Cole and the extraordinarily helpful reporting and commentary about the Middle East which he posts daily in his weblog. You've probably heard him and seen him on the radio and TV. His take on the Pentagon spy reports today is fascinating and pretty scary.