Tuesday, March 16, 2004

mastering the obvious

Appearances aside, I do believe that debate is a healthy contribution to civil discourse. It is only when an idea so monstruously stupid is adopted without any debate that I feel compelled to smash it into tiny little pieces. Today, it is the astonishingly dumb idea that the "terrorists won" the Spanish elections, which now seems to be conventional wisdom. I will explain this very slowly: the PP lost because they continued to cynically insist that ETA was responsible to the Spanish people, who were very well aware that the attack bore absolutely no resemblance to any of ETA's previous operations. Now, who knows whether the government really had legitimate reasons to suspect ETA, but it was obvious to the people of Spain that they did not. As it was equally obvious (rightly or not) that they were holding back evidence to try to save themselves in the elections. It is not complicated. For people who feel the need to draw a lesson from this, it is: don't lie transparently to your people three days before the election. Unless you are american. Then it probably doesn't matter. (Also, do you think we could give up on the poll numbers? Al Gore had a comparable margin in 2000, and look where that got us).

You need a subscription to read the Spanish papers, but the Times has at least one smoking gun:

Ms. Palacio [the foreign minister] sent directives to all Spanish embassies around the world urging her country's diplomats to stress the ETA connection, European officials said.

'You should use any opportunity to confirm ETA's responsibility for these brutal attacks, thus helping to dissipate any type of doubt that certain interested parties may want to promote,' her memo said, according to the daily El País.

[All of this, and more, was swirling around the whole country in a cell/SMS/internet e-shitstorm -- we even got a text on Sat., 6,000 miles away].

Update Thankfully, it looks like I overreacted: I am not the only person in the US to have figured this out. Although it doesn't change my point that there is nothing useful about having to debate the existance of the obvious instead of what it means). atrios got it, and he has links, including tmw's letter from Spain and some background from Salon, which you will probably need if you're an ignorant american. Not that you care. I don't want you to strain yourself, but you might also find this book helpful. Also, J. corrects me and notes that you can indeed read the rather conservative El Mundo on-line, as well as the Barcelonan (but written in Castilian) La Vanguardia, if you register NYT-style.

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