Suskind, Heroes, and Polls – Oh My!

Today’s Salon features an interview with Ron Suskind, who authored the NY Times piece that launched a thousand responses from the reality-based community:
Fair enough. You seem to have luck with Republican sources, and specifically with those from Bush's faith-based community and his advisors. Do you think they're among the most disillusioned?

Absolutely. They're among the most disillusioned because it comes from a direct, personal experience with the president of the United States.

So they thought there was a connection with Bush. They thought there would be a follow-through, that he meant what he said during the 2000 campaign?

They thought a whole variety of things, and then they saw what "is" is. And some of them were troubled by it, and some of them have been, frankly, frightened by it. These are Republicans who in significant numbers have been coming to my office. One of the jokes is that my office is now the government in exile for Republicans. They come because they're concerned -- not as members of a political party but as American citizens. That's what they say over and over. And they take not insubstantial risks to come.
Republicans in significant numbers are, at best, troubled and, at worst, frightened by the actions of the current administration, so why is it that I can count the Republicans who have publicly spoken out against this administration on one hand? Suskind says they take ‘not insubstantial’ risks to come to his office, but I wonder – is it not worth it to these concerned American citizens to perhaps incur some real risk to protect the very future of this country? After all, it’s risk to their political careers we’re talking about, isn’t it? It’s not exactly the risk that the men and women who are serving in Afghanistan and Iraq are taking, which is substantial, to put it mildly.

I find it incredibly distasteful that these spineless pricks weren’t willing to (possibly) risk their careers in order to prevent the troops from (definitely) risking their very lives. (The same goes for the Democrats – I’m none too happy with their willingness to play dead on that one, either.)

Is there any such thing as a Republican hero in this country, or is every last one of them willing to trade in not only his own credibility but also the nation’s reputation to avoid substantial risk? I suppose one has to be handed his walking papers (see John O’Neill et al) before one speaks out, because the inner sanctum seems inexhaustibly populated with men and women whose own asses are more precious to them than the good of the nation.

Evidently, Colin Powell and John McCain have forgotten that isn’t the code by which men who serve are supposed to live.

Suskind was then asked by Salon who he believes is going to win the election:

My betting line right now is, and has been since midsummer, to stick with Bush. There was something very interesting from that [September] luncheon, where Bush spoke for 65 minutes in a very open and freewheeling way to his top contributors. He said, "I'll be criticized and there will be a lot of who won, who lost. And just prepare yourself for [the fact that] I will not necessarily be at my best. But after that, during the final three weeks, that's when the real campaign will resume." That means an extraordinary electoral machine targeted at energizing the base, largely the faith-based core of the base. And that machine is kicking up now, and I think you're seeing it in the poll data.

It's like two great machines racing across the horizon. I think the Bush machine, with its support from the powers of the executive, is a machine that's hard to beat. Having said that, I think the Kerry machine is certainly the most forceful, energetic and well-running machine the Democrats have ever created. But the Republican machine is also best of breed for Republicans. At the end of the day, it's not just the man but the machine he sits on, and I think Bush sits on a slightly more pointed and efficient machine -- one that Karl Rove has been building and oiling and calibrating the gears on for four years. That's why, right now, it looks to me at least, like Bush.

I can only hope with every fiber of my being (and my vote) that Suskind is wrong. According to some recent polling, he just may be. DailyKos has some notable info on the polls you should check out, and even Slate’s Election Scorecard, which, as recently as last Friday, showed Bush ahead, is now showing Kerry as the likely winner. I also recommend checking out the electoral vote breakdown here and here, the latter of which offers an interesting map that represents the states’ sizes using their shares of the electoral votes. For those of us always used to seeing such a vast swath of red, it’s a nice image.

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