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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Dark days for the Count?

This one's really music to my ears. Last night Charlie Cook moved Rep. Chris Chocola's (R-IN) 2nd District in Indiana from "lean-R" to "toss-up".

We want to follow this race closely. So if you're in the 2nd district, send us your updates for Election Central.

I'm not that surprised by the new Quinnipiac poll out today that shows Joe Lieberman with a sizeable lead over Ned Lamont -- and, very significantly, over the 50% mark. With the nominal GOP nominee drawing close to literally zero support, it makes sense that Republicans and GOP-leaning independents would gravitate to Lieberman. What does surprise me though is that Lieberman didn't take more of a hit from the mere fact of his primary loss.

Politics is all about momentum and perceptions. And beyond all the money and free media, one of the things that makes incumbents so strong is that they are, by definition, winners. And that colors people's perceptions of them. Lose a primary to an unknown and you lose a bit of that sheen. You are a loser.

I thought that would have spread a bit more of the odor of defeat around Joe. But it doesn't seem to be hurting him.

One other issue I'd like to find out more about. It still sticks in my head that Lieberman was out on TV and pretty much everywhere on D-Day+1, +2, etc. He had to be. He had to make absolutely certain everyone realized that as far as he was concerned nothing had changed. Lamont was a lot less visible. And there was that Times piece from a couple days after the election where the reporter had to find him on vacation in Maine to get a quote. Too early to tell. But those first few days may have mattered a lot.

Anyone know where Tennessee senate candidate Bob Corker stands on phasing out Social Security? Let us know what you know.

Puzzled (from the NYT) ...

More generally, the participants said, the president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq, and was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah in Baghdad could draw such a large crowd. “I do think he was frustrated about why 10,000 Shiites would go into the streets and demonstrate against the United States,” said another person who attended.


It's like we just need to be in lock down. How little more damage can we get by with in the next two and a half years?

Everybody and their brother -- at least anyone who has any sense and isn't on the payroll of the GOP -- has been saying for years that our occupation of Iraq has nothing to do with fighting radical Islamists who want to commit mass casualty terrorist attacks in the US and around the world.

'Nothing' is a very big word. Clearly, there is a relationship. Indeed, I think there's a pretty solid argument to be made that our invasion and occupation of Iraq has expanded the pool of terrorist recruits. And in other indirect ways with Iraq and international terrorism, we are all blind men touching different parts of the same elephant. But on the basic ground of 'Is fighting in Iraq helping reduce the threat of terrorism at home?' the answer is clearly 'No'.

And yet, I wonder if this recent terror scare out of London may have actually driven that point home in a new and more resonant way.

Living in a major American city, I take it for granted that my wife and I live under a certain general threat of major terrorist attacks. In that sense I'm not really different from everyone else in the country to this or that degree. Back in late 2001, when I was living in DC and we were in the midst of the Anthrax scare and various reports of sleeper cells in the United States, I remember having moments where I hoped the FBI and CIA were doing everything imaginable to shut these guys down, whatever the constitution might say.

Now, here's the point I want to focus in on. I want to make a basic distinction between the things we might think or feel impulsively when in the grip of fear and things we really think ought to be done. I never thought we should be torturing people or rounding people up. What I am saying is that I remember the atmosphere of those days just after 9/11 and the primal gut instincts that made part of me wish those things were happening.

It now seems that even this London bomb plot may not be all it's cracked up to be. But it did give me a moment of that gut level fear. And in that moment, as much as I've thought what I've thought about Iraq, I'm not sure I ever felt as clearly how completely beside the point Iraq is from the real threat we face of deracinated Islamic radicals (in the Muslim world and sprinkled about the West) trying to perpetrate mass terror attacks.

It hit me like a sort of epiphany even though it was a realization of something I and countless others have been saying for years.

I'm curious to know whether anyone else experienced something similar and even more whether anyone else's mind (about Iraq) actually may have been changed.

Is there anyone in the country who can say honestly, in their heart of hearts, that when that moment of fear hit them after the recent reports out of London, they said to themselves, "God, I'm glad we're in Iraq"?

Anyone?

Over the last few years, there have been several occasions when -- for all my skepticism about the Bush administration's politicization of terror alerts -- I've been surprised at how my skepticism, even cynicism, about terror alerts just can't keep pace with the administration's bad faith.

I'm not ready to say the London bomb plot is another bamboozlement. It at least seems clear the Brits were involved in a serious investigation. But even this case now seems to be turning out to be less than met the eye. And there are real grounds to question whether Bush and Blair jumped the gun for reasons other than counter-terrorism. We'll see.

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