Our family is heading down to Orlando, Florida on Friday. Amy’s high school dance team is competing in the Universal Dance Association’s nationals. If you tune in to ESPN or ESPN2 at 8:30 Saturday morning, you'll see my kid and her team. You’ve never seen 13 teen-age girls more nervous and excited than these kids. This is what they have been working toward all year.
As for Ken and me, we are just looking forward to getting out of the cold and snow for a few days. If I can find an Internet café somewhere in the resort, I will try to blog from Florida. (Is it worth lugging the laptop along in case there is a connection in the room?) This is the first time I’ve been to Disney World since sometime in the mid-70s. I think it’s probably tripled in size since then.
This week’s issue of Time magazine had a lengthy article about the new face of Christian colleges and universities. The example they used was Azusa Pacific University. If I remember correctly, that is where Telford Work taught before he moved to Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Telford is taking a bit of a hiatus from the blog.) But check out the article. Christian higher education ain't what it used to be.
It seems a little late in the game to be reorganizing campaign management. Of course, earlier in the season, the Kerry campaign was all but written off because of his management reshuffling. Maybe Dean can pull this off, but ever since his loss in Iowa, he has been moving farther away from his scrappy, grass-roots, Washington outsider image and more toward the white-bread center. The Trippi resignation will either help Dean reinvent his image or it will doom him with the Deaniacs who’ve supported him from the beginning. Then again, it could do both. The article states:
It was Mr. Trippi who revolutionized the use of the Internet in fund-raising and political organizing. Mr. Trippi was the reason hundreds of volunteers and interns fled their homes to move to Burlington or Des Moines or Manchester and join the campaign. He was the critical player in securing endorsements of three major unions.
It was also Mr. Trippi who suggested that Dr. Dean give a rousing, fired-up speech after his crushing third-place finish in Iowa, a speech — and screech — that may have led to his undoing in New Hampshire.
Trippi drove Dean's "Washington outsider" message. Now that Dean is toning down that message, he needs to quickly stake out a position. Waffling around and constantly reinventing himself as a candidate is only going to doom him with the majority of Democratic voters. Remember Al Gore in 2000?
Like most issues, reality isn’t black or white: Iraq never had WMD or Iraq had large stockpiles of WMD aimed right at the heart of Peoria, Illinois. It’s much more complex than that.
Actually, the NRO piece by Clifford D. May makes many of the same points as a piece I heard last night on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” An intelligence expert was discussing how our direct pipeline to Iraq was severely curtailed when the U.N. weapons inspectors left the country. Satellite pictures can't tell you as much as people on the ground. Plus, our intelligence community tends to interpret the information by assuming Saddam was acting rationally -- not that he was writing novels as war loomed, nor that the Iraqi scientists were lying to Saddam about developing programs in order to steal the money. (A commenter at Josh’s calls that an old wives’ tale — I thought we learned that as we questioned Iraqi scientists. Why would they lie about a thing like that?)
The important question is this: Given what we did and did not know before invading Iraq, what was the acceptable level of risk to our country's security?
But buried in the analysis are some interesting survey results that may explain why Dean isn’t doing better with voters:
As was the case in Iowa last week, surveys of voters leaving the polls here suggested that they chose Mr. Kerry more for his electability than for his compatibility, with 46 percent of his supporters saying they voted for him because he was the best candidate to beat Mr. Bush, compared with 42 percent who said he shared their views on the issues.
One in five voters said electability was the quality most important to them, and 60 percent of those chose Mr. Kerry. The most important quality, cited by about 30 percent of voters over all, was a candidate's standing up for his beliefs, and of those only about one-fifth picked Mr. Kerry.
Among the voters who said the most important quality was a candidate’s standing up for his beliefs, I’d like to know how many voted for Dean. Dean’s supporters seem to hang with him because they like his feisty spirit and agree with his ideology, especially his opposition to the war in Iraq.
But when undecided Democratic voters start asking themselves whether he can beat Bush, they aren’t so confident. If electability is the Dems’ primary criteria (“Anybody But Bush”), then they are likely to end up with a candidate that is not as different from Bush policy-wise as they might like. As tightly as a hypothetical Bush vs. Kerry race is polling right now, does “the electability factor” improve Dems’ chances of winning the swing voter?
… Ken and I were married. We’re celebrating with dinner out tonight at our traditional anniversary dinner spot, Wood-Ruff’s Supper Club in Royal Oak. Great food, romantic atmosphere, valet parking -- what more could we want? Honey, I’m glad that you’re my husband!
So I’m sitting here on a frigid Sunday night, typing up my 2003 Christmas card list and trying to track down new addresses for people who have moved. Ken’s gone out of town on business and Amy’s out with some friends, so I’m a little puzzled when the doorbell rings.
But I go check it out, and it’s my neighbor from across the street. He’s about mid-30s, single, lives with his grandmother, and right now he has a big cast on his left foot. Standing there on his crutches. Let’s call him Sam, although that’s not his real name.
Sam asks me if I’ve noticed anything out of the ordinary going on today. Didn’t it seem to me like there weren’t very many people around? (Other than the fact that the temperatures are in single digits and about half the people on our street are in their 80s and I don’t usually see any of them until spring thaw?)
“Do you know about the Mark of the Beast?” he asks me. “You know, 666? Have you been able to use your credit cards?”
I assure him that I haven’t had any trouble with my credit cards, since Ken and I paid for dinner last night with plastic. And I’m thinking, “This poor man has been reading way too many of those ‘Left Behind’ books.”
Sam says, “You go to church, don’t you? Did you go this morning? Were, like, most of the people there?”
As best I could, I tried to assure Sam that, indeed, the church was full of all the people who were usually there on a Sunday morning. I told him I was a born-again Christian and that I felt confident that if the Rapture occurred I would certainly not be around talking to him.
He seemed satisfied, and hobbled back across the street to his house. I said a silent prayer that the Lord would reassure him and give him some peace. I wish I would have tried to find out more about where he is with the Lord, but I hesitated to invite him in since I was alone. And frankly, he freaked me out a little.
Is there something else I should have said to this man? What could I say to him, or give him to read that would help him? How can I open up a dialogue with him in which we would both feel safe?
Tonight is a rare occasion — Ken and I are being wined and dined by one of his company’s suppliers. This guy does a lot of the heating and cooling work for Ken’s projects, so … he and his wife are taking us to dinner at their country club. (Woo hoo! A bit rich for my blood!) Which means I get to wear a fancy dress and high heels. (Am I nuts?! It’s going to be about 5 above zero tonight! Guess that’s why they invented valet parking.) This makes up for the lack of a company Christmas party last year, which is my only annual excuse to get all dolled up.