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Monday, October 25, 2004

Political bingo

Meandering musings tonight.

As it happens, I've done more research into, and reading about, the respective backgrounds of Sen. John F. Kerry and Pres. George W. Bush during the past few months than I'd done in all past presidential elections combined — and I've been voting since 1976.  I've known since at least 9/11 that I'd be voting for Dubya again this year, so I can't claim to have ever been an "undecided voter."  Of course, that's colored everything I've learned as I've learned it, and affected my selection of sources.  The pre-existing biases in my blogging are obvious to anyone who skims my sidebar or reads any two or three of my posts on politics at random.

This troubles me not at all.  I've been justly accused of many things, but being indecisive isn't one of them.  And as a trial lawyer picking juries, one of the first things I learned — long before I got my license, in fact — was that it's absolutely impossible to assemble an "unbiased jury."  The best one can ever hope for is to assemble a jury whose pre-existing biases won't blind them to the evidence, the arguments of counsel, and the court's instructions, and whose members will do their best to follow their solemn oaths to try to decide the case on the basis of those things, instead of on the basis of their biases.  This is something I've talked about during jury selection in every case I've tried over the last 24 years.  There are many apt parallels between the jury system and our system of republican representative democracy, and although I've seen both run amok on occasions, I nevertheless honor and trust in both systems.

Which brings me in round-about fashion to today's news report (about which I blogged briefly last night) of Sen. Kerry's latest credibility problems — his repeated, and now demonstratedly false, claims that he'd met with the entire U.N. Security Council before casting his vote to authorize the Iraq War. 

The report was absolutely unsurprising to me — I've long since pegged Sen. Kerry as, to put it most kindly, a compulsive serial exaggerator.  And I thought when I first heard those specific claims about meeting with the U.N. Security Council that he was almost certainly exaggerating them then.  As it happens, my own vote had already been cast in early balloting before this story broke, but it would have had absolutely no impact on my decision-making process; in my judgment, that cake already has an 8-foot-thick layer of icing on it.

Whether they've spent hours reading candidates' biographies and news accounts, their websites and their military records, their speeches and their campaign papers and their debates — or not — by now most American voters, or prospective voters, have likewise probably long since made up their minds about this election.  A few minds that were previously "made up" have probably changed during the last few weeks; quite a few minds that were undecided have certainly dropped out of that category and landed on one side of the fence or the other.  So how big a deal can a story like this one be?

The answer came to me this morning in the shower, and the answer is:  Bingo!

Metaphorically speaking, we each of us construct tables or matrices whose entries are bits of information, with plus or minus variables, about candidates and campaign issues.  A single issue voter — one who is so adamantly "pro-choice" or "pro-life," for example, that a candidate's position on abortion trumps all other concerns — has a 1x1 matrix.  But most of us have larger matrices, of varying sizes, with the data points given varying weights in the mental spreadsheet that cranks through them and produces an ultimate voting decision.  And patterns in those matrices matter, just like the mathematical formulae that can be defined for different cells in computer spreadsheets.

For some number of undecided voters, or wavering voters, the breaking news story that Sen. Kerry repeatedly exaggerated his claim to have met with U.N. Security Council representatives (including the German ones — Germany not being a permanent member, nor for some time even a temporary member) — will fill in a previously empty space.  And, hypothetically, reading across that row of data points, or down the column, or diagonally or whatever, some number of voters will say to themselves: 

Christmas in Cambodia ... 1st Purple Heart ... American soldiers committing atrocities as "not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command" ... in Safwan when the Gulf War ceasefire was signed ... met with all the members of the U.N. Security Council before Iraq War — BINGO!

That's the point at which they'll have completed a row or a column in their mental table and have then concluded, "Yup, what this man says can't be trusted."

Is the U.N. Securitiy Council story a "Bingo moment" for very many voters?  I don't know.  Every voter not only sets up, but scores, his or her own bingo card, and they all look different.  But my guess is that for some percentage of the undecided or swayable voters, it was or will be.  And even if it's not, it's another data point — another square filled in — on their cards.

I called "Bingo!" months ago, and cast my vote accordingly two nights ago.  Now, like the rest of America, I'm just waiting to see the results of the big contest.

Posted by Beldar at 06:44 PM in Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Political bingo and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Bingo Moment from Anticipatory Retaliation

Tracked on Oct 25, 2004 10:36:37 PM


(1) Maxim made the following comment | Oct 25, 2004 8:11:31 PM | Permalink

I was considering not voting at all, because I was unhappy with several of Bush's policies. After hearing Kerry dissemble, I knew I had to vote for Bush.

(2) Roofer made the following comment | Oct 25, 2004 8:18:08 PM | Permalink

Beldar, I don't believe that your point survives contact with an enemy: the media. This election cycle has been a major source of disillusion for me, not only because about half of the American people believe that John Kerry is fit to be CinC, but, perhaps moreso, because of the media's role in failing to critically examine Kerry's claims and record. The candidate who cites his heroic service in Vietname has largely gotten a pass on all his activities during that era, while the one whose military service is just one more line item on a resume has been compelled to dig up every scrap of paper relating to those days more than 30 years ago. Remember Scott McClellan's 37-minute grueling by the national media on Bush's TANG records back in February? Kerry has had to face nothing remotely like any of that.

My own point, having come to it in a long-winded (long-fingered?) way, is that Kerry's serial overstatements have gone largely unremarked upon in the mainstream media, and there's been absolutely no investigation or discussion of whether a man so prone to exaggeration saying things so demonstrably at variance with the facts should be trusted to command our sons and daughters, direct the executive branch, and have access to the "football."

(3) DRJ made the following comment | Oct 25, 2004 8:47:06 PM | Permalink

B-I-N-G-O, Beldar.

I don't know if this Washington Times "tile" will decide any undecided voters. (I know there are undecided voters out there, but I can't fathom why they are undecided. This is clearest ideological choice for President I've seen in my 50+ years.) But I couldn't agree more with your Bingo analogy. I, too, accumulate data and errata until I reach that magic point - like obscenity, I can't define it but I know it when I get there - and decide how I'm going to vote. That defining moment came for me when Michael Moore and Howard Dean were celebrated as heroes by the Democratic party.

(4) Boger made the following comment | Oct 25, 2004 9:23:38 PM | Permalink

I am glad you did that personal summary. The 'fantasies' have been piling up for me also. Here is another grouping that has crystallized in my psyche.

Bay Hap River 13 Mar 69 underwater mine incident. Kerry has claimed a second mine went off. Correct me if I am mistaken, but nobody has corroborated that. Yes, it is mentioned in the After Action Report. But Kerry wrote that.

Dong Cung River 28 Feb 69 ambush incident. Kerry has claimed the second the second ambush was initiated with a B-40 grenade attack. It is in both the After Action Report and the Citation for his Silver Star. Correct me if I am wrong, but nobody has corroborated that. William Rood of the Chicago Tribune wrote, "I remember seeing a loaded B-40 launcher pointed at the boats. It wasn't fired as two men jumped up from their spider holes."

Dong Cung River 28 Feb 69 ambush incident. Kerry won a Silver Star here, predicated primarily on his pursing and killing a B-40 man. Mr. Rood wrote, "...I heard gunfire nearby ...not long after that, Kerry returned, reporting that he had killed the man he chased behind the hooch. He also had picked up a loaded B-40 rocker launcher..." Mr. Rood in his article did not witness the killing, nor did he mention anyone else who did. All of the accounts report only one B-40 guy, and he was hit initially in the counter-ambush. If he had gotten his rocket off, I guess he hauled his shot-up ass back to a bunker where he was conveniently able to reload his launcher. KoppelNightline interviewed the hamlet villagers and concluded their version of events supported the Silver Star. But the villagers could not report a 6' 3" GI (or any GI) dispatching the wounded B-40 man. Please, I am begging you, correct me if I am wrong but there are no eye witnesses to this valorous act.

In civilian life I was a corporate recruiter for 20 years. I am very sensitive to resume padding. I have not read everything about this man. If I have missed credible reporting that debunks any of the above, I hope you will point me in the right direction.

(5) Carlos made the following comment | Oct 25, 2004 9:27:29 PM | Permalink

My "Bingo" moment came in the 1976 primary campaign - when I realized I would cast my first vote in a presidential campaign for Ronald Reagan. George Bush is a no brainer because there is no competition.

(6) Twn made the following comment | Oct 25, 2004 9:44:30 PM | Permalink

I'm afraid I concur with Roofer. I don't think enough people are going to hear about this for it to make a difference. You can't cry "Bingo" if you don't hear the number called, and at this point those that are undecided probably haven't been paying much attention to the caller anyway.

(7) Twn made the following comment | Oct 25, 2004 9:45:38 PM | Permalink

Sorry, that was "I concur with Maxim".

(8) Ripper made the following comment | Oct 25, 2004 9:49:12 PM | Permalink

Re Roofers point, CBS and friends also have Bingo cards. Your personal news sources are those places you trust to tell you the news first, fewer and fewer of us look to the old sources first.

(9) wisernow made the following comment | Oct 25, 2004 10:13:56 PM | Permalink

Beldar,I appreciate your thoughtfulness and metaphor. My Bingo moment was Bush's speech on the aftermath of 9/11. I was a liberal for most of my life but slowly changing my matrix. It became markedly conservative at the post 9/11 speech: I knew Bush was the man who truly 'gets' evil and knows how to deal with it.

(10) perfectsense made the following comment | Oct 25, 2004 10:22:10 PM | Permalink

If he did not hold elective office, Kerry would not qualify for a low level security clearance.

(11) Va Jim made the following comment | Oct 25, 2004 10:45:11 PM | Permalink

Roofer - It was Tip O'Neill who said that All politics is local but I'd go farther and say that all politics is personal. There's always been a primitive 'blog' system, just the real blogs are far faster and efficient.

Yes, the MSM is a problem. I recall from an early age (my early age that is) newspapers having large areas devoted to candidate position columns. What Bedlar re-invents as a bingo matrix; he shouldn't have to.

Of course I also remember reporters asking pointed, non-leading questions too. Somewhere, sometime a rot set in and spread; and the political system that single-handedly lit up the world with liberty became the enemy in the media's eyes.

Boger - sometimes (heck, real often) people do things in their youth that demand forgiveness as they mature. Rather than dwell on Kerry's sordid past, look at his voting history in reverse chronological order. Then you can dwell on his entire sordid life!

To use Beldar's analogy, I have a 3-layer matrix. The top layer's a single concern, then a general constitutional layer, and finally an issues layer.

(12) Boger made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 12:19:20 AM | Permalink

Bingo related.

Several weeks ago I watched a Frontline program called Choice. They pitched side by side vignettes on Kerry and Bush. On Vietnam they offered up some things about each candidate that were not flattering. But they tipped it toward Kerry without an examination of his Purple Hearts, the first and third of which are prima facie suspect. I know they are bogus and fault the MSM for not exposing them as such. If Koppel, Rather and company objectively analized the information they would see the problems. This should cause them to editorialize as follows: "Hey Senator, you are applying for the job of Commander in Chief. Your prior military background is job related. The public has a right to know every nanosecond of your service. Your have an absolute charge of transparency and an absolute obligation for full disclosure. Sign the Form 180 or we will conclude that you are hiding relevant facts about your service, i.e. your qualifications to be President." Of course, nothing heard from our fearless fact-finders of last resort.

But then Frontline had a clip of Kerry several weeks before Congress' vote to authorize Bush to use military force. I was amazed at how prescient Kerry was on the problems we would face. He was right on the money; he foretold everything. As I remember it, nowhere in that clip did Kerry indicate support for going to war against Iraq. I voted for Bush in 2000, and was headed in that direction again. But listening to Kerry's considered judgment expressed before the war and comparing it with events, I was persuaded. For about five seconds. Then I remembered that the Senator went ahead and voted for war. The visceral impact was that it was the most unprincipled thing I could imagine. First he is expounding on what he really believes, and then weeks later, he votes the exact opposite.

It truly is amazing. In the primaries, Dean is making some noise. He is honest and clear about his opposition to Bush's decision to oust Saddam. And that was counter to public opinion at the time. That brilliant political genius, Al Gore, endorsed him, citing concurrence with Dean's principled stand against the war. What happens next? Kerry, sensing the fulcrum issue is pro-Iraq, goes to Iowa (hope I have the state right) and drapes himself in pro-war rhetoric, imports some Vietnam vets to sing his praises, etc, etc. The rest is history. The dems in Iowa were fundamentally pro war, Kerry resonated, and Dean went south big time. Kerry found his 'ticket' and has been riding an Iraq yes-no nuanced wave ever since.

Kerry voted for war because he calculated that he could not be on the wrong side of this issue a second time and have any Presidential aspirations. Pure, simple, unprincipled political calculus.

(13) Iceman 1955 made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 5:43:16 AM | Permalink

I have been waiting for him to claim he had invented the internet...

Kerry reminds me of the "know it all" that is in every bar... has the answers to everything and nothing he hasnt done...

(14) Roy Lofquist made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 6:29:45 AM | Permalink

Gore's biggest mistake - he got the whole world typing www.....

There is a universally disliked archetype: "The man with a plan".

I have been aware of and extremely interested in politics since 1952. I have also been well aware that you have to dig really deep to come close to what is actually going on. The last few years have witnessed an explosion of information. But much more significantly this information is subject to criticism. Prior criticism of the commonwealth as described by the legacy media existed in a vacuum. There was no way to determine the validity of assertions. Times are changing. Hooray!

(15) MD made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 9:32:06 AM | Permalink

In a vacuum, it's no big deal, just another politician puffing himself up.

Then, there's Christmas in Cambodia, repeated on the floor of the Senate, in which Kerry claimed Nixon was president in 1968.

Then, that light-speed appearance at Safwan.

The clincher for me was Kerry's claim to be at the 6th game of the 86 World Series, the "Bill Buckner game," which was played at Shea. Kerry was at a fundraiser in Boston that night, as widely reported by the local media.

The interesting thing about all these stories is how easily they are disproved; it's as if Kerry can't fathom that his stories about himself would ever be questioned. This suggests that Kerry actually believes his own fantasies, that he is not fully conscious of what he is doing.

Roger Simon asks (and I don't know if he meant the question seriously) if Kerry is a sociopath. He clearly manufactures his own past to fit present circumstances. If some event is, in retrospect, viewed as important, then Kerry creates an alternative past for himself to aggrandize his own "participation."

At the least, Kerry is a fundamentally insecure personality.

(16) MD made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 9:41:31 AM | Permalink

I forgot one other incident that I remember vividly.

Kerry's claim that he ran in, and completed, the Boston Marathon.

Of course, there are no records of, and no witnesses to, his "participation."

(17) ed made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 10:52:39 AM | Permalink


I have a severe distaste for President Bush. I am very conservative, though not a member of the Religious Right, in both fiscal and social ways.
I object to Bush's free spending irresponsibility.
I object to Bush's complete lack of leadership on illegal immigration which is costing each American citizen, man, woman and child, at least $700 USD per person/per year.
I object to spending $200+ billion dollars on a WoT and then leaving our borders completely unsecured for any potential terrorists.
I object to definite mis-management in the post-war Iraq. An administration with a clue would have immediately constructed an Arabic regional TV news network, operated by the Coalition, and openly funded a couple more, operated by independents, to provide competition to Al-Jazeera.
I object to Bush giving billions of foreign aid to Turkey after that country stabbed us, it's best ally, right in the kidneys.

But GODDAMNIT! Kerry is just such a frigging ass-hat that there's no possible way I could vote for that twit. What I'm really angry about is the f-ing Democrats selecting a twit that couldn't operate a f-ing lemonade stand. The absolute, and endless, irresponsibility shown by Kerry just makes it impossible for me to make a choice other than Bush.

I want to vote against Bush. I NEED to vote against Bush.

But if the choice is between Bush and a 6' jackass from Boston, it has to be Bush. Man I wonder how many other conservatives feel the same way?

(18) DocC made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 11:23:22 AM | Permalink

Beldar: Always enjoy your comments and those of your readers. May I go off topic and ask: What impact is the revelation of Hanoi's relationship with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War going to have? Is this "October Surprise" quality material?
Another "Bingo Moment" for some?

Is there not a patriot who will filch Kerry's unreleased records and expose them for all to see? The Left has certainly done this in the past and would not hesitate if the shoe were on the other foot.

(19) Va Jim made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 11:40:57 AM | Permalink

ed - I disagree with your stance on Turkey, a stable, secular Islamic country that's was a staunch ally for 40 years with nary a nod in return. At the end of the Cold War we cast them aside like an old glove[Captain Hook voice]. Turkish drift toward the EU been a very long time coming, and I wouldn't discount French or German pressure on them in this incident. Although I regret Turkey's actions, it's a bed that we made for ourselves.

Unfortunately, you have many other too valid points. Both the parties seem to have lost touch with reality, the America of everyday people.

(20) jackson white made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 12:39:54 PM | Permalink

I used the evidentiary rule of "common pattern or scheme" yesterday to describe Kerry's serial lies, deceptions and exaggerations. It seems to have arisen when he returned home from Vietnam and, when he saw being a vet wouldn't help him, he turned against the war.

And history does matter here. As a personal anecdote, a liberal Democratic friend of mine from New York, although not as hostile to the president as others who fit that description, shocked me this summer when he said he and his wife would vote for Bush because of....Christmas in Cambodia.

It isn't really the flip-flops or inconsistencies that seem to have doomed the Kerry candidacy. It is the complete willingness to say or do anything regardless of the truth. In a time of war that won't work, and it hasn't.

(21) Curtis made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 1:23:12 PM | Permalink

Kerry's entire campaign, not to mention his record, is a series of BINGO's for me. How did such an empty suit get to this level in politics? By speaking out of all sides of his mouth? He's one spooky guy.

(22) Where's The Beef? made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 5:40:13 PM | Permalink

There's a version of Bingo in which BINGO is declared when all of the cells on a player's card has been called. Heh.

There's "Stolen Honor" and now there's "Stolen Words".

Researcher Alleges Potential Plagiarism in 11 Passages of Kerry's Writings

October 26, 2004
New York Sun


"If I had that in a student paper, I'd fail the paper, give them a zero, and make them redo it. On a second offense, I'd fail them for the course," he said. "This kind of plagiarizing, it's really unprofessional."


Oddly, one of Mr. Kerry's closest advisers in his current campaign for the White House, John Sasso, played a key role in exposing one of America's most renowned cases of political plagiarism. In 1987, Senator Biden withdrew from the Democratic presidential primary after it was disclosed that large portions of his closing statement at a debate were nearly identical to portions of speeches delivered earlier by a leader of Britain's Labour Party.

Link via The American Thinker


Someday someone will produce a mockumentary based on Kerry's presidential campaign.

Not to trivialize the big stuff, but it is remarkable that today Kerry has just claimed that the President is remiss by not yet commenting on the story about the 380 tons of explosives that has gone missing in Iraq. This "silence" on the part of the President, according to Kerry, proves that the President rushed to war. The story, however, already has huge holes in it.

Undettered by the need to get his facts straight on a matter of national importance, Kerry has speedily produced a tv ad which coindentally aligns with the New York Times report and the 60-minutes report that CBS planned to air in the final days of the campaign. His updated track record on amplifying falsehoods is like a full BINGO card.

Wonder if either of the three can explain their silence on the long list of Kerry's fibgagulations? Another was added early Monday morning and this evening Kerry is still silent about it.

(23) ed made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 9:11:51 PM | Permalink


"ed - I disagree with your stance on Turkey, a stable, secular Islamic country that's was a staunch ally for 40 years with nary a nod in return."

I understand your point, but I disagree. America has supported Turkey for decades with it's inclusion in NATO, financial and political assistance and a host of other perks. America has worked very hard, through the offices of NATO, to improve the Turkish military. In addition to outright grants of foreign aid money, America has also underwritten and guaranteed numerous loans to Turkey. The list of things that America has done for Turkey is extremely long.

An example were the tens of millions of dollars spent to improve the port facilities in Turkey, I forget which city, to facilitate the 4th ID's unloading. An improvement that was allowed to be completed by the Turkish government prior to their refusal of permission for the 4th ID to disembark.

As for the relationship between Turkey and the EU, this has been going on for some time because Turkey has sought it. It also has been American policy to encourage the integration of Turkey and the EU. I frankly think that's a really bad idea, as it will greatly increase the speed of Islamicization of Europe, but there you go.

Did France and/or Germany convince Turkey to shank us? Probably yes. But, regardless of what blandishments offered, it was still the government of Turkey that did the deed and they should be punished for it.

America has enough fair-weather allies. What we need to do is weed through those allies that can be relied upon and those that cannot. For those that cannot, there is the door. For those that cannot be trusted, America should announce a new relationship of neutrality, not alliance. So if an untrustworthy nation needs help they'll know not to ask us.

Not very politic, but very fulfilling otherwise.

(24) Boger made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 9:47:02 PM | Permalink

Let me try this again.

In a previous post re Bingo, I rhetorically sought a 'fact check' on three events that heretofore I felt the only corroboration for was based on Kerry documents and say so. Subsequently I found a quote on the SBVT website by one of the sailors on Kerry's boat, PCF 94, one Fred Short. His testimony fully contradicted one of my issues (the firing of a B-40 rocket at the second ambush on the Dong Cung) and at least mitigated another of my issues (an actual eyewitness to Kerry's killing the wounded B-40 man). Until indicated otherwise, Mr. Short has some credibility with me. Since he indicates the dispatch of the B-40 man happened behind a hooch, I conclude he did not actually see it. Nonetheless the account sounds reasonable and persuasive to me--absent other information.

Fred Short: "We beached the boat on a B-40 [rocket] position. I could not bring my 50's to engage him because of the bar on the front of the gun tub that 10 feet from the bow. He turned and ran and the peak tank gunner laced his legs with the M-60. The VC broke left behind a hooch and I was able to lay some rounds in to keep his head down. Mr. Kerry jumped off the boat with his M-16 and the peak tank gunner went to provide cover. Mr. Kerry dispatched him and retrieved the B-40. Now the VC did not point the B-40 at us. I was in the best position to view. He stood up, shocked and booked it. Never even thought of shouldering the weapon. Di Di Mau [Vietnamese for "Get the @#&* out of here"] comes to mind. I am sure it [the B-40] might have been on his shoulder when he had been in the spider hole and he may have even been the gunner that laid one rocket close aboard the 94. How he ran with some several M-16 rounds in the back of his legs had to be pure adrenaline. His legs looked like hamburger. To this day, I can see this incident and his face. He only had on a black loin cloth."

Truth and facts are essential, and it appears I have been under-informed on two events. That having been said, I still subscribe to the thrust of Beldar's Bingo, and remain firmly convinced that two of Kerry's Purple Hearts were gundecked, ie bogus. Also, notwithstanding Short's testimony, I see nothing about Kerry's combat performance on the Dong Cung on 28 Feb 69 that warranted a Silver Star, as I understand the standard for our nation's third highest award for personal combat valor.

(25) Tom Grey - Liberty Dad made the following comment | Oct 27, 2004 5:07:13 AM | Permalink

The Bingo moment for me prolly was the J. Chait article on his hatred for GW Bush: "I hate the way he talks. The way he walks."

I opposed it then, and do so now:

Bush-hatred has become politically correct -- and the PC thought police have been trying to enforce it, against all the important evidence. (Low unemployment, low inflation, low interest rates; but too much deficit. Incompetence!)

Whoever wins this election, and I AM afraid of Dem vote-fraud stealing it, the "culture war" is hopefully going to be more correctly categorized. It is the Moral Superiority War.
And the SwiftVets against Kerry's Lie show this.

The Leftists prefer Peace (and genocide) to the US successfully fighting evil. And claim the moral high ground -- it is THIS that is intolerable. To pro-life anti-evil folk. AND to Leftists who are anti-evil of a different kind, including anti-God.

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