Wednesday, November 12, 2003
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Is Howard Dean too extreme to win?
Read the whole post (and this one too) -- he has additional arguments.
Of course, Marshall posted this before the slow-motion implosion of the Kerry Campaign. Which raises the one way in which Marshall could be proven correct -- if a number of the centrist Democrats drop out of the race in rapid fashion, it permits coordination around a challenger to Dean. Clearly, this was one of the rationales underlying Wesley Clark's entry into the race.
However, Bob Graham is the only one to drop out so far, and the others have more money in the bank. So, I guess I'm more sure of Dean than Marshall.
Kristoff, while never mentioning Dean by name, makes a similar argument about his supporters vis-à-vis the general election:
[Hey, you said this two months ago!!--ed. OK, so Drezner gets results from Kristoff... and I'm sure someone else posted on it earlier, getting results from Drezner. Sigh. I think I'm going to have to retire that catchphrase.]posted by Dan on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM
"I think I'm going to have to retire that catchphrase"
Hallelujah!posted by: jason on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Josh Marshall is trying to deceive himself. But who can really blame him? Wouldn't you also wish to avoid an oncoming train wreck? He is insightful enough to realize that a Howard Dean nomination will be a disaster for the Democrat Party. Regardless, Dean pretty well has it all locked up. It’s his to lose. He is leading something like 35-10 going into the 4th quarter. The Democrats rightfully could blame the Internet for this fiasco. It dramatically allowed the lunatic Liberal crazies to dominate the process. Furthermore, if by any chance Howard Dean is defeated in his quest for the nomination---the resulting rage and bitterness of the Governor’s diehard followers will be palpable. The candidate finally left standing will have earned a pyrrhic victory
“Liberals have now become as intemperate as conservatives”
---NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
This is categorically false! The exact opposite is the reality of the situation. The Republican mainstream is pragmatic and eager to marginalize their nutballs. There is no room for a Pat Buchanan in today’s Republican Party.
The Democrat Party currently would not embrace the Bill Clinton of 1992 as its standard bearer. The far left of center is now the Democrat mainstream.posted by: David Thomson on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Bush is in the white house and you tell me the right has marginalized their nutballs ?
IMO Dean will likely get the Democratic nomination for two reasons - (1) his opposition is feeble, and (2) that the internet has permitted Dean's grass-roots support to organize, as described in your archive here:
The latter advantage looks insuperable for the 2004 primary/caucus season. Dean is the only one in the presidential race with this capability.
The Democratic Party nationally might want to change the rules for 2008 given what Dean will bring them in the 2004 general election, but for now Dean is the only candidate _on_ this new playing field.
And IMO Dean is not a bad candidate. It is too early to say that he isn't a good candidate. He only needs to be good enough to get the nomination, and it looks like he has such a structural advantage that he can't be beaten by another candidate. He might beat himself but that is not likely given his electoral record plus the zealotry of his supporters.
The general election will be quite different. IMO Dean will be lucky if he gets more than 60-70 electoral votes, and there is a real possibility he'll carry only Vermont and D.C. There is also a lesser possibility that the Democrats will be so badly blown out that the Republicans will win a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.
The thing to really watch for, though, will be how the Democrats fare in state legislative races in the West. If, allowing for gerrymandered incumbent protection, the Republicans sweep those (possibly as measured by the partisan popular vote for legislators given the incumbent protection), the Democrats will be in deep, deep trouble.
The country is dividing into red and blue zones, and the blue zone is shrinking. If the Democrats become a regional party _and_ cement a reputation for disloyalty to the nation, they risk extinction like the Federalists.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
“And IMO Dean is not a bad candidate. “
Nope, I can’t agree with this assessment. Howard Dean is a very bad national candidate because of his anger persona. He comes across as someone ready to punch you out. Dean needs to take charm lesson from Ronald Reagan.
Angry candidates may be found attractive to hard core ideologues. However, the middle of the road voter is turned off.posted by: David Thomson on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
I think Tom meant that Dean wasn't a bad candidate for the purposes of winning the Democratic primary, not the general election vs. Bush. As you note, those are two very different things.posted by: Sam Barnes on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
I think Tom meant that Dean wasn't a bad candidate for the purposes of winning the Democratic primary, not the general election vs. Bush. As you note, those are two very different things.”
I think you might be right about that. Moreover, I agree with everything else Tom said in his post.
“Bush is in the white house and you tell me the right has marginalized their nutballs ?”
I will simply point out that there are no polls whatsoever suggesting that the majority of American voters perceive President George W. Bush as a far right wing nut. Your comment, though, provides me with an excellent opportunity to remark upon George Soros. He is making a terrible mistake comparing Bush to Adolph Hitler. I predict that every single dollar Soros spends will inadvertently assist in the reelection of the current White House resident! Gosh, could George Soros even be a secret Republican?posted by: David Thomson on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Sam & David,
My definition of "candidate" pertains to a "content-neutral" campaign-specific skill set, one which is independent of ideology or "message". As examples, Wesley Clark is basically clueless here, if only from inexperience, while Kerry can't stick with his strategy. This qualifies both as at least "not good" candidates, and possibly "poor".
Bill Clinton was the best "candidate" in recent memory using my definition of "campaign-specific" skills.
IMO Governor Dean at least knows how to sell the product - himself. Many don't like his message. I don't.
In my Democratic days, I despised then-Governor Ronald Reagan for what I regarded as reckless irresponsibility in office, but I also recognized that he was excellent as a candidate and in convincing the public of the worth of his ideas. I didn't like Reagan's ideas then either.
That I don't like a given politician doesn't mean that I can't be objective about them. You may recall my praise for Clinton's Balkan policy, and even said he deserved a Nobel Peace Prize for saving the Bosnians and Kosovars from genocide over the opposition of just about everyone but the victims.
Also bear in mind that I've managed a few county campaigns, including one county presidential primary campaign. I was good enough at it to have made a career as a professional campaign consultant, but learned early enough that I didn't have the belly for it. My perspective on "candidates" here is first as a technician, and second as a political scientist.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Jeff Jarvis has some links to other bloggers saying the same thing as Marshall. After reading all the posts and some of the comments, I think I can come up with something definitive: all the Dean supporters think he's electable. Most of the other liberals think he's not. And to bias it toward my position that he's not, I'll point out that a lot of Dean supporters think Jessie Jackson Jr. as Dean's veep is a good idea (this was at Kos Monday).
Tom - we all better hope that the blue zone does not shrink because blue states bear the financial burden of this country. Currently, the blue states receive less from the federal government than they pay in taxes, whereas, ironically enough, the more independent, "anti-government" reds receive more than they pay in taxes. The blues are also the states that have the greatest number of new, high-tech business start-ups, and offer the best educational opportunities in the U.S.
As a New England Yankee, I resent the 'disloyalty to the nation' remark. Lots of families in blue New England states can boast of ancesters serving in every conflict from the French/Indian War to Gulf War II. There is a deep sense of pride, history, and ownership here. Rather than disappear like the federalists (sorry, John) we shall simply wait you out like we did the Know-Nothings and the McCarthy-ites.posted by: Cali on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
“I resent the 'disloyalty to the nation' remark. Lots of families in blue New England states can boast of ancestors serving in every conflict from the French/Indian War to Gulf War II. “
Is someone perhaps living in the past? I am far more concerned with the present day decedents who seem to feel far more comfortable with the leadership of the French government than their own. The spoiled children of the wealthy New England snobbish elite are to be taken with a huge grain of salt. They might be guilt tripped liberal knee jerkers who refuse to think clearly about the issues. This often happens when one is handed everything on a silver platter. Inevitably, they are very susceptible to the siren call of the radical intelligentsia.posted by: David Thomson on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Interesting...that wasn't what I thought your point was, but it makes more sense now.
How would you square Dean as a "good candidate" with his recent comments on the South? I actually agree with his point--that the Democratic party is out of touch with Southern culture, and this is a problem for the party--but I think his ham-handed presentation was definitely not Clintonian in its smoothness.
The irony is that Dean sees that the Democratic party needs the South to be in play in order to succeed nationally, but Dean himself is fundamentally incapable of accomplishing this. The responses of the other Democratic candidates only deepen this divide, as they beat up Dean for his presentation while ignoring his valid point.posted by: Sam Barnes on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
"Bush is in the white house and you tell me the right has marginalized their nutballs ?
Yes, Bush. Not Buchanan, not Gary Bauer, not even Alan Keyes. Bush. A Dean candidacy, however, is the equivalent of running Buchanan.posted by: HH on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
"A Dean candidacy, however, is the equivalent of running Buchanan."
Actually, I think Dean is the Democrats' Goldwater.posted by: nc on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
"I actually agree with his point--that the Democratic party is out of touch with Southern culture"
The Democratic Party fails to realize how much the Old South has changed. This is the new reality:
Bobby Jindal For Governor - 2003posted by: David Thomson on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Probably the worst thing to happen to Dean lately was the self-inflicted wounds suffered by the Kerry campaign.
Dean has had a distinctive message, while the other candidates have struggled to gain the public's attention partly because there are so many of them. Dean's odds of getting the nomination are worst in a race against just one other Democrat, best in a race with over half a dozen. It's also true that Dean's strength is probably greatest in the first two primary states, Iowa and New Hampshire. If one or more major opponents are left standing after the opening contests Dean will have a hard time sustaining his momentum.
As to whether Dean can beat Bush: look, incumbent Presidents generally win reelection unless one of two things happens -- the economy tanks within 18 months of the election or the country gets involved in foreign situations that look as if they are getting worse as the election nears. Bush could face both conditions at this time next year, and if he does he could lose no matter who the Democrats nominate. If the economy is doing well and the Iraq/terrorism situation is too, it's unlikely any Democrat will be able to beat him, and a candidate like Dean could turn a competitive election into a Bush landslide. Apart from that it is doubtful that anything that happens in the primary campaign -- including who emerges from it as the nominee -- will be the most important factor influencing whether Bush gets reelected or not.posted by: Zathras on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
I really appreciate the sympathy you Republicans have for the impending marginalization of the Democratic Party under Howard Dean. I assure you, I had the same sorrowful regrets about the GOP when unelectable hard-conservative Ronald Reagan defeated moderate Gerald Ford.posted by: Andrew Lazarus on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Bottom line, I disagree. Dean could clean Bush's clock in a sec.
A quick question: Have those of you saying that Dean comes across as angry actually watched him for a full debate or are you parroting the media's little mantra on Dean ? Most of you clearly don't like his message, but then I don't see any of you guys voting for any of the Dem candidates anyway, so what the hoot.posted by: ch2 on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
ch2 emits And a debate between the chimp and Dean ? It'll be a hoot !
Thanks for rebutting the notion that the right is as abusive as the left. I don't recall the even far-right referring to Clinton as a "chimp."
I would also point out that the Dems though Gore would mop the floor with Bush in the debates, and somehow the opposite happened.
we all better hope that the blue zone does not shrink because blue states bear the financial burden of this country.
Umm, I think the blue zones can change their political leanings without changing their economies. This is like saying I shoudn't buy a red car, because my current car is painted blue and gets me everywhere.
Zathras, I don't know what economic numbers you are looking at, but every indicator I see is pointing north, not south.posted by: R C Dean on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Dean is a dead duck the first time you see this ad:
Great platform, total winner. Especially when ANSWER shows up at all his campaign rallies in force. Im sure having BUSH IS HITLER posters in every shot of Dean campaigning will go over great with middle America.posted by: Mark Buehner on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
I suggest that unless you have more evidence than your fevered imagination, that you stop the slurs regarding those living in blue states being disloyal or somehow valuing French leadership over Americans. It is not only uncalled for, but baiting at a very derogatory and stupid level. No one here has committed treason to my knowledge, and unless you have something more substantial than your sneering swagger then I suggest you shut up about it. For the record, was born and raised in a very conservative area and live in the Midwest.posted by: Oldman on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
"A quick question: Have those of you saying that Dean comes across as angry actually watched him for a full debate or are you parroting the media's little mantra on Dean?"
I'm not the person who made those comments, but I have watched several of the Democratic debates. Sometimes he comes across as angry, and sometimes not. I sense that he feels constrained by the debate format, and yearns for a chance to break into more of his stump speech and explain himself more fully.
I think that fits into an overall pattern for him. Namely, he's better in a long format -- his stump speech, where he gets to rail against Bush and also offer a hopeful, positive message. But he's worse in a short format -- interviews, sound bites, or debates where each answer is forced into a 60-second straitjacket.
I would also observe that almost all modern campaigning is "short format". Only a very tiny portion of the electorate ever hears a candidate's stump speech. The little snippets that appear on the nightly news are much more important.
But none of that really reflects what I think is the basic problem with the Dean campaign -- message. He's quite a talented candidate in the sense of believing what he says, presenting it forcefully, and responding to attacks. Where he has stumbled is in building a reasonable and electable basic message.
Imagine, for example, that he opposed part of Bush's tax package, but kept the cuts for the middle class.
Imagine, too, that he opposed the Iraq war strongly, but was so intent that we should "win it now that we're in it" and that we should "support the troops" that he publicly supported the $87 billion reconstruction package.
What you would have, then, is a candidate intent on making himself sound reasonable to the average joe out there. Dean could sweep away all these accusations of being a left-winger by adopting more nuanced and balanced positions on a couple key issues. The two listed above -- taxes and the war -- are the most obvious and attractive where he could have done that.
Since he hasn't, he has set himself up nicely to win the nomination but to lose a battle to redefine himself as a moderate in the general election.
The sad thing is, he would lose very little support from the left for taking those two positions. They're both pretty easily understandable. When Gephardt made his plea at the debate on behalf of "supporting the troops", no Democrat that I'm aware of questioned his sentiment or his actions.posted by: William Swann on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
“The sad thing is, he would lose very little support from the left for taking those two positions. They're both pretty easily understandable. “
You fail to distinguish between the moderate Left---and the hard core extremists. The latter will accept nothing less than America’s defeat. They despise their own country . And they are for all practical purposes, traitors. What is the percentage of these people within Howard Dean’s campaign? I suspect that it’s at least 25%! Thus, Dean could not have gotten to first base unless he capitulated to their *anti-(American) war demands.
“When Gephardt made his plea at the debate on behalf of ‘supporting the troops,’no Democrat that I'm aware of questioned his sentiment or his actions.”
No Democrats whatsoever? Also, how do you define “supporting our troops?” Some Democrats interpret this to mean that we should immediately withdraw our soldiers from Iraq.
PS: Please note my emphasis concerning the anti-(American) war demands. Let’s get something straight right here and now---most of these folks are not pacifists! They are all for “wars of liberation against the capitalist masters!” Their calls for anti-war are severely limited to the United States and its allies willing to defend the values of Western Civilization.posted by: David Thomson on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
You asked how I could say that it’s too early to say whether Dean is or is not a good candidate, using my definition of campaign-specific skills as opposed to message, given his recent unfortunate comments about the South.
First, the real campaign hasn’t started. I repeat that it is too early to tell.
Second, a candidate has to really screw up to earn my definition of “not good” aka poor or maybe mediocre. At the presidential level the yo-yo’s have usually been already weeded out. The worst I’ve said about Wesley Clark is that he has been clueless so far. He should have run for the U.S. Senate first and gotten some campaign experience. Right now he’s a newbie and so #1 on the list of candidates most likely to do something amazing in public.
I find Dean most interesting here in that he has sat on his professional campaign consultants and forced them to keep their hands off his volunteer campaign. The pros tend to be paranoid control freaks who shut down spontaneity from sheer terror of novelty. Dean’s campaign is doing something new, which is rare, and incredibly effective which is almost unbelievable. Dead is responsible for all of this. Right now he has shown many indications of being a great candidate.
Sure the Confederate flag comment was dumb. It wasn’t dumber. For that you should look at 2000’s race to the bottom. Karl Rove’s decision to spend millions of dollars in California in the last three weeks, instead of states like Florida, was arguably the most bone-headed presidential campaign call since Nixon debated John Kennedy. But Rove’s stupidity was overshadowed by Gore’s unprecedented loss of his home state. You have no idea how amazing that was. Gore would be President today if he had carried Tennessee. He is the first major party nominee I know of to ever lose his home state.
Worse, Gore had no idea what was coming at him. World Net Daily, an almost nutty right-wing website heavy on homophobia, did a devastatingly effective investigation of the ties of Al Gore’s father to Tennessee organized crime and somehow got the word out concerning that in Tennessee. I read how thousands of copies of the few newspapers to report World Net Daily’ investigation were distributed in Tennessee to avid audiences, and polls shoed that was what cost Gore Tennessee and the White House.
Joe Farah of World Net Daily did what Matt Drudge didn’t – tip a Presidential election. That’s right – an internet site was the decisive factor in a Presidential race.
Now Howard Dean seems about to win a major party Presidential nomination due largely to the spontaneous organization of grass-roots activists made possible by the internet. Dean is on the verge of becoming one of America’s great campaign innovators.
The internet has made electoral politics a lot more interesting.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
I suggest that unless you have more evidence than your fevered imagination, that you stop the slurs regarding those living in blue states being disloyal or somehow valuing French leadership over Americans.”
The vast majority of people living in the blue states are indeed loyal Americans. Nonetheless, there are still people like Edward Kennedy and John Kerry who definitely have no hesitation to suck up to our Old European “allies.” These two men are liberal wealthy snobs who wish to be perceived as “enlightened” and “forward thinking. “ They should make your skin crawl just about every time they open their mouth. And please don’t remind me that Kerry fought in Vietnam and the courage of the Kennedy brothers, John and Joe,Jr., during WWII. That is simply living in the past. It’s today we should be concerned with. When push comes to shove---Kennedy and Kerry have far more respect for France’s political leadership than America’s leaders. Receiving the adulation of Europe’s so-called elites is their prime motive in life.
I might add that I have some very strong criticism regarding Ann Coulter’s “Traitors.” She simply lacks the ability to make the proper distinctions and present a nuanced argument. Still, she has at least half a valid point.posted by: David thomson on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
David -- I'm referring to the fact that all the candidates were asked at one of the debates about their positions on the $87 billion reconstruction package.
Only two of them favored it -- Lieberman and Gephardt -- and Gephardt gave a nice little empassioned speech about needing to support the troops.
Taking that position led to no level of discomfort that I'm aware of among Democrats with respect to Gephardt. I don't sense that anyone think's it's "not respectable" or that it wasn't a reasonable thing to say.
I agree, on the one hand, that there are "cut and run" Democrats, and I suspect they make up a sizeable faction within the activist core. I don't agree that they're all "traitors", or that opposing the war necessarily means opposing America.
I personally consider it to be against America's real interests to take that position right now. But I acknowledge that folks in that camp evaluate the situation differently and that they believe they're favoring America's interests when they take that position.
And, finally, I think Dean could have gotten away with supporting the reconstruction funds. He would've sounded just like Gephardt did when he defended it, and it would have backed up Dean's earlier rhetoric about the need to stay and "win the war, now that we're in it".posted by: William Swann on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
“Right now he (Howard Dean) has shown many indications of being a great candidate.”
You are correct in giving credit to Howard Dean for embracing the power of the Internet. Paradoxically, however, the Internet is his achilles heel. He attracted far too many extremist that now cannot be marginalized. These folks are very anti-American. Can Dean be “a great candidate?” Absolutely! Heck, he proved that by being elected governor of Vermont. But we should not be overly impressed by this feat. Vermont is a very small state (Population, 2001 estimate, 613,090) with a lot of ultraliberal weirdos. The rest of the nation is far more middle of the road.
George W. Bush is sufficiently moderate to attract my support. I am for drug decriminalization, a theological Unitarian-Universalist, and applaud the Alabama Supreme Court for earlier today removing Judge Roy Moore from office. My contempt towards the National Rifle Association is unrelenting. I also favor sensible affirmative action policies. In other words, I am not a member of the Radical Right---and I will almost certainly vote for the President in 2004.posted by: David Thomson on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Getting back to the subject as defined by Dan, i.e., "Is Dean Too Extreme To Win?", I suggest we consider whether the phrasing of Dan's question is proper.
We don't select one single person to make ALL the calls in electing a President, rather we select a whole party because the country is too big for one man, alone, to govern. Presidents always staff the government with at least their own major faction within their party, and almost always also most or all the non-nutball factions of their party. Many Presidents also appoint members of the opposing party to major office within their Administrations. Bush II has Norman Mineta. Clinton had William Cohen.
Parties matter in electing Presidents based upon public perceptions of prospective presidential appointments and the conduct of their administrations. This is a lot more than party activity during the election.
Consider whether Dan's initial thread subject should be rephrased, "Does the public perceive Howard Dean's Democratic base as so extreme that he can't win the general election?"posted by: Tom Holsinger on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
“Taking that position led to no level of discomfort that I'm aware of among Democrats with respect to Gephardt. I don't sense that anyone think's it's "not respectable" or that it wasn't a reasonable thing to say.”
My point is that the minority of Democrats who are discomforted probably numbers somewhere at least in the 10% range. They don’t need to be in the majority to destroy the Democrats. Have we already forgotten the fact that George Soros will amply fund their efforts? They will be getting their message out to the masses. By the way, Soros is a quintessential example of an American who prefers the allegedly enlightened ways of the Old Europeans. He is also a self hating Jew, but let's leave that for another discussion.
“I agree, on the one hand, that there are "cut and run" Democrats, and I suspect they make up a sizeable faction within the activist core. I don't agree that they're all "traitors", or that opposing the war necessarily means opposing America. “
I most certainly do not believe that everyone opposing the war is anti-American. But I strongly argue that many of these people are objectively traitors---even if they refuse to admit this to themselves. It is not our problem if some individuals prefer indulging in self deceit. Once again, their numbers are large enough to severely damage the national viability of the Democrat Party.posted by: David Thomson on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Holsinger has a good point. Is Dean's base too extreme to win general population support? It's a question I asked myself of Bush II - to me he wasn't so terrible but his coterie looked god-awful and hell-bent on foolishness. History has proven me correct so far, and seems about to bear me out even more so.
The question about Dean is one I will ask myself at a scheduled upcoming town-hall meeting Mr. Howard Dean is holding that a female (Democrat) friend of mine scored for us recently. His base may be too off-balance. Ain't gonna do the country too much good to lurch from being too heavy in one ideological fanatical bunch to another one on the other end of the spectrum.posted by: Oldman on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Thank you for clarifying that you were not making a broadside accusation against the citizens of the blue-states! However your rhetoric still smells a little off. Who are these traitors whom you keep on referring to? Or are we supposed to fear them lurking around us, like witches?
Personally, my opinion is that allot of the withdraw American troops sentiment is fed by either naivete and the liberal version of Isolationism in foreign affairs. It doesn't as far as I can tell center on some sort of acknowledge or unackowledged actions that somehow betray the national interest. Instead, it merely seems ignorant short-sightedness and parochial naievete about what constitutes national interests - "bring our boys home now,".
However two things can be clearly stated. The President has failed to unify the country on the issue of Iraq, losing not only the extreme pacifist left but also increasingly the middle about both American motivations and current American planning there.
The second very clear thing is that we cannot call the leftist ideological firebrands traitors without also calling the ones on the right so. Clearly, they too are guilty of short-sighted ideological intemperance that is damaging the national interest. This is not merely a view of the left, or even the middle, but also increasingly of the intellectual right considering the series of editorials Bill Kristol and Kagan have written on the issue, the WaPo criticism, and increasing public contradiction of the Admin public line by military leaders.
We don't want to put lefty fools in power to replace rightist fools, but we gotta get out of the bind where it's damned if we do and damned if we don't.posted by: Oldman on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Consider how lily-white Dean's support is, his statement on Confederate flags and pickup trucks, and his need for a large black turnout in the general election.
Right now I don't see how Dean can get a large enough vote from Philadelphia to counter the GOP vote for Bush in western Pennsylvania. Any Democratic nominee would need a big black turnout in Philadelphia.
And Pennsylvania is just one example.
It's not just that Dean's supporters are too extreme on national security issues - it's that they are too one-dimensional. One tends to go with the other. Those are flip sides of the same coin.
This is why I predicted that Dean's nomination may result in a general Democratic blow-out. The Democratic general election base is not just whites.
Take a look at Shelby Steele's op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal, here:
The politics Dean expounds tends to lead to his Confederate flag gaffe. That bears as much consideration, in terms of his personal base's extremism, as its national security positions.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
“Right now I don't see how Dean can get a large enough vote from Philadelphia to counter the GOP vote for Bush in western Pennsylvania. Any Democratic nominee would need a big black turnout in Philadelphia.”
I also strongly believe that Al Sharpton will become a Third Party candidate. If I turn out to be right, this will make it even more difficult for Howard Dean. Sharpton will remain within the Democrat fold only if the general election seems winnable. A perceived inevitable George W. Bush landslide will entice him to save his own rear end.posted by: David Thomson on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
You may well be right. I've got doubts myself about Dean's viability, despite his moderate supporter's statements about his supposed generally moderate views. That's not the perception, and perception counts when people are picking winners and losers. He also strikes me as you suppose as not exactly exciting the minority vote.
However, the issue that has been shaping up so far if you connect the dots is that the election seems to be shaping up as a referendum on GW Bush's tenure. It may come down to the fact of how comfortable they feel with GW's management style, how much they feel he contributed to the ongoing economic pick-up, and how much of a mad dog this Iraq situation becomes. At that point, it'll all come down to turn outs between blue-dog and yellow-dog and how the people open to changing their minds feel about giving Bush a pink slip rather than ra-ra about Dean.
You're absolutely right, the Dean campaign seems to lack policy depth. They could use some help- like hiring me to tell them what's what! ;-) but more seriously, it may not be about how many people are for Dean as about how many people are against Bush.posted by: Oldman on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Let me see,
I call Bush the chimp, and you call people on the left traitors. Yep, the left sure is as abusive as the right.
Regarding the traitor comment: Dave Thompson, you're an ass.
Go reflect now. Class dismissed.posted by: ch2 on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
"Objectively traitors" -- I think that concept is deeply problemmatic.
Take a few moments to think about the people you bump into every day. Most of them know relatively little about politics. Discuss the most important current national issue -- say, Iraq policy -- and you won't hear an informed and cogent argument from them.
Now, narrow your focus to the set of folks who are really active politically -- largely made up of liberals and conservatives. Have the same conversation with them, and the answers you get are likely to be fairly simplistic.
I watched a detailed, informed, balanced, and sophisticated discussion of Iraq last night on the PBS News Hour. Richard Lugar and Joe Biden did a great job of assessing the situation and laying out the elements of an effective policy. You won't get that level of knowledge and wisdom from the average voter, or even the average activist.
What does that mean? It means people aren't that good at sorting out the issues, most of which are pretty complex. It ultimately means most people are misguided.
Many, no doubt, are misguided in a way that would be detrimental to American interests if their ideas became national policy.
Having bad ideas, or grossly incomplete ideas, doesn't make you a "traitor". It makes you an average citizen in a democracy. Being wrong is really pretty ordinary. Ideas that are bad for America are all around us -- but they're a natural outgrowth of living in an open society.
That's why we have all this tension about this. On the one hand, people are constantly expressing ideas and opinions that might be disasterous, if enacted. On the other hand, that will virtually always be the case in a democracy -- and it's a sign of openness to hear them expressing those ideas.posted by: William Swann on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
I want to add the two cents of a right leaning libertarian since liberal posters seem to think rightists are dishonest in their analyis.
I think Dean the best option of the lot, although this is mostly because of the aforementioned lousy alternatives. The other options are willow trees (Kerry, Clark), or relative unknowns (Edwards, minis). Lieberman can't be elected in a WOT environment, I don't think. Gephardt will run second, but in the end he can't match Dean's policies, enthusiasm, or organization. Dean loses easily in a cycle with better Democrats. In fact, I think if HC enters the primary race she would win easily.
I think the comparison with Bush is strong. I think both are reputed to be much more extreme than is warranted. Other than the Iraq rhetoric, Dean's a fairly mainstream Democrat, and is surprising out of step-right on some issues like gun ownership. But Bush went to great strides to tone down the animosity whereas Dean emphasizes it. I guess they both know their crowd.
Dean's no shoe-in, because moderate Democrats significantly outnumber the activists which support Dean. This group is going to be more skeptical. But I think in the end they'll break for Dean because (a) he'll moderate his approach up to the convention, and (b) they don't have anywhere else to go.
The other Dems currently in the race lose to Bush easily. I suspect Dean loses too, but I see him having a chance to rally support. But he'll have to moderate, because noone's getting elected president by claiming our government is corrupt.posted by: mj on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Recently, Dean tried to use the Confederate flag issue... This may have been an attempt to reach out to a certain part of the electorate, a voter group that Dean is going to need if he is to be successful.
Some people have correctly pointed out that Dean is on the right track in his electoral thinking, but may have chosen the wrong issue with which to attempt to reach out to voters.
But there is another issue that could be the right one for Dean to use to reach out to the working class voters of middle America - this one would appeal to both white and minority voters. I wrote a column, a 'Memo to Howard Dean,' about two months ago, dealing with this issue, and providing advice from conservatives to Dr. Dean... That memo was written in the style that Jude Wanniski uses, and enclosed within it is an article written by Dr. Scott McConnell in a past issue of The American Conservative, on "How Dean Could Win."
posted by: Aakash on 11.12.03 at 03:16 PM [permalink]
Consider how lily-white Dean's support is, his statement on Confederate flags and pickup trucks, and his need for a large black turnout in the general election.
It often amuses me to hear Republicans talk about what black voters will or will not do.
Blacks have seen themselves go from record low unemployment to a terrible job market. They have no time for the elaborate realpolitik rationalizations for the war in Iraq.
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