I spent the evening at the New Democracy Project conference, and will be going back tomorrow, but here are a few quick notes:

I love that Gary Hart. I wasn't old enough to witness his downfall, but I hope everyone that participated feels really guilty now.

Woodrow Wilson school dean Anne Marie Slaughter got booed when she proffered the conventional wisdom that Democrats who voted for the Iraq war resolution did not debase themselves since, knowing what they knew then, they assumed Bush would do as he said and gather a real coalition and exhaust all diplomatic avenues before resorting to force. This proved 1) New York is a real far ways from Washington these days, where that argument is probably repeated ad nauseum and everyone is cool with it and 2) Democrats need to get their story straight on this point. This explanation is looking increasingly ridiculous, if it didn't already. Bush may have bullied and boxed thoughtful Democrats into voting for the resolution, but they certainly had no reason to think he would do anything less than treat it as a formality. And it looks really pathetic when they try to play "He betrayed us." I knew what Bush was going to do. Everyone I know knew what Bush was going to do. This is not a good long term explanation for U.S. Senators that now need all the mileage they can get out of the gross failure of what Bush did. Jeff Sachs then appeared and gave a rousing speech about how insincere and morally bankrupt our commitment to 'soft power' is in light of Iraq, a speech which should have shamed just about everyone in the room who ever tried to play armchair general. That said, Sachs' vision of America wiping out disease in Africa, etc., does omit many tough questions and he didn't really explain that a cruel fact of life is that soft power is often impotent without hard power backing it up. But no doubt, we don't even have a competition going now.

David Cole is a fantastic speaker. Enemy Aliens: on the reading list.

Chris Edley took Democrats to task for their increasingly hostile attitude towards the No Child Left Behind, saying that the bill does take the unprecedented step of systematically attempting to equalize school quality across race and income lines. I think perhaps Edley is taking election year snipery too seriously. NCLB is an easy target for administration criticizers--its fun to pick on them for passing one of the unfunded mandates they whined about so bad and the testing regime sounds kind of authoritarian if you don't mention any of the good stuff. Still, this bill had bipartisan support, and while Bush is certainly doing a lousy job of selling it and there is initial resistance, a Kerry administration probably wouldn't touch it. The real fact of NCLB's virtues, like many things this year, is another unfortunate casualty of the polarized electoral environment.

Eliot Spitzer is kind of a spaz in person. I still want him to be the next governor of New York (please God, make Pataki go away), but his public manner is not without flaws. Hopefully this will not be used against him when he is compared to lousy ol' Pataki.

Finally, let's just note again how obnoxious Mark Green is. Who thought he would be a good mayoral candidate? No wonder Bloomberg won. I thought he was abrasive sitting in the back of the balcony in a room full of the converted. God knows what he's like in front of people disagreeing with him.

More later...


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