Monday, September 19, 2005

KEVIN DRUM IS WONDERING about the blogosphere's sounds of silence regarding the tentative nuclear arms agreement with North Korea.

Are conservative bloggers avoiding the story because they don't want to admit that Bush caved in on issues he said he would never cave in on? Are liberal bloggers avoiding it because, after all, it will be a considerable success for the Bush administration if it pans out?

Where's the chatter?

I think that may be part of it, but not all. For one thing, I doubt that conservative bloggers would hesitate to jump on Bush for caving on a critical issue. They've certainly been all over him for "giving in to public pressure" (as they see it) on Katrina relief. Bush has been taking a lot of heat in those quarters lately for (supposedly) "[ing] what he always does when he feels political heat. Spend, baby. Spend like the wind."

My feeling is, the explanation may actually be the opposite: People aren't sure what to make of this breakthrough with North Korea. Is it a victory for our side or their side? We polibloggers are accustomed to cheering or booing; cautious optimism is not a position that comes easily to us -- or maybe I should speak for myself and say it doesn't come easily to me.

Another thing: Political blogging is not just about strong opinion (this is great! this is terrible!); it's also about analysis. Why is this happening? What exactly is happening? What is motivating the players? What does it mean?

I know that I have been hesitating to write about what appears to be a triumph for the Bush administration and a huge leap forward for arms control because I can't figure out what to make of it. I'm not sure what it means. My first thought was astonishment at what seemed to be some major concessions by Pres. Bush that he was never willing to make before. In fact, the U.S. hasn't been willing to make any concessions up until now. It's been the usual "our way or the highway" approach.

So my second response was to second-guess myself. Maybe I wasn't understanding this right. Maybe there was something else going on here that I wasn't seeing.

I think, though, that it may be what it appears to be: The U.S. has agreed, in principle, to give North Korea economic aid and security guarantees, and permission to use nuclear power for electricity in return for giving up its nuclear weapons program. If that is the case, then the Bush administration does deserve credit for being finally willing, however reluctantly, to compromise.

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