The answer is not in the stars

'I know it's controversial to say it, but don't think for one second that if George Bush gets re—elected and we have some other conflict in some other theater of the world, we're going to have to reinstitute the draft.' Read the sentence again, this time very slowly. There are no typos. All right, it's perfectly clear: the speaker is offering assurance that George Bush will not contemplate a draft even if America is faced with a new conflict. Except, the speaker is the ineffable Terry McAuliffe, who is conjuring up the specter of conscription to frighten students at Washington University in St.Louis and, by extension, voters everywhere else. Confused? Well, so is Terry, but that natural state for him has never provoked discomforting second thoughts, or, manifestly, thoughts of any kind.

In the wake of the Duelfer report, McAuliffe has reiterated his charge that George Bush lied to the American people about Iraq's weapons programs, adding a new wrinkle: the President needs to apologize so we can get on with the business of withdrawing our troops. As chairman of the Democratic National Committee, McAuliffe presumably speaks ex cathedra. This, then, is the official position of the party. The question to be resolved now is, has the Democratic candidate for President heard the news or will he read about it in the papers like the rest of us?

And the funny thing is, it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference. The election is less than a month away, and there isn't a living soul in the entire country capable of stating, in two or three declarative sentences, John Kerry's position on Iraq. More and more, it appears as though he will never be brought to book.

A second face—to—face confrontation between the men vying to lead the struggle against Islamofascism has come and gone. President Bush, for reasons that cannot be guessed—that utterly resist comprehension, did not get around to mentioning his opponent's vote against the first Gulf War. Conservatives have been counting every minute since the first debate, breathlessly anticipating the glorious moment when Long John would at last be confronted with the purest application of his own global test. It was exactly that: a large and diverse coalition of nations in complete agreement on the justice of reversing Saddam Hussein's conquest of a sovereign state; a shared burden, with several of those nations contributing to the costs; an unequivocal blessing from that infallible arbiter of morality, the U.N.  Really, what more could the guy want?!

Somehow, John Kerry managed to oppose that war. A terrible suspicion is beginning to crystallize that, just maybe, the Republicans think this is too juicy to waste—they're saving it for Kerry's 2008 re—election campaign. Cynical thoughts, but what is a better explanation?

Republican positions are not always models of clarity and consistency, and they are not—heaven knows—articulated especially well. It must be conceded, however, that Republicans do actually hold the positions they espouse. Moreover, there is no GOP counterpart in sheer fakery to the Democrats' quadrennial  (dating back to 1964) hue and cry against bogus threats to Social Security benefits. For the past ten years, Democrats have been raising a new false alarm: the notion that Republicans attempt to 'suppress' black turnout. No evidence is ever presented—there is none—but the ploy serves a dual purpose: 1) black voters are made angry and wary, thus more reluctant to leave the plantation; 2) genuine vote fraud, such as the well—documented theft of a South Dakota Senate seat in 2002 (see Byron York's exhaustive study in National review), goes unchallenged, for fear of inciting the reflexive charge of racism.

Oh, there was a debate last night.

An air of insanity pervades Spin Alley as the pundits scramble to be heard over the braying of the spinners and hacks. Nothing on display there can match the grotesque spectacle of liberals attempting to deflect criticism of their candidate's perceived weaknesses on defense spending and related issues. He doesn't vote that way—it's a mirage. Talk about Kerry's consistent record of opposing proposed weapons systems and his votes to gut intelligence services, and an Alan Colmes will deny, deny, deny: Kerry voted FOR increased defense spending; he voted FOR a $200 million intelligence appropriations bill; he... 

Stop, Alan: if he did those things in reality, you wouldn't support him. Strange, that nobody thinks to inquire how Kerry earned the distinction of being the Senate's premier liberal if he votes for things liberals hate. You don't win Democratic primaries by being tough on defense. Today's climate is slightly inconvenient for someone who has made a career of demonizing the intelligence community, but it's nothing a few artful mythmakers can't handle.

All in all, George Bush performed better than he did a week ago (Quick, what arguments made by Bush in that alleged debacle were refuted?). Kerry will, of course, be proclaimed the winner by the mainstream media: that is the Democrat's birthright. What, if anything, will be the effect on the outcome of the election?

You could, of course, dial the Psychic Hotline and, for a grand or so, learn that you are a caring and sensitive person who sometimes gets taken advantage of. But neither the stars, the tarot, nor the tea leaves will reveal John Kerry's intentions if he proposes preemptive action and Jacques Chirac doesn't approve.