Sunday, December 7, 2003

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (2)

John Kerry goes ballistic

Now is not the best of times for John Kerry. Mickey Kaus is running a "Kerry Withdrawal Contest." Josh Marshall has a long post about the Democratic nomination with the following on Kerry vs. Dean:

I had lunch today with someone who is not a politician but a fairly prominent Washington Democrat -- certainly not someone from the party's liberal wing. And in the course of answering a question, I said "If it [i.e. the nominee] ends up being Dean ..." At which point, with the rest of my sentence still on deck down in my throat, my friend shot back : "It's Dean."

It was effortless. He wasn't happy or sad about it. He wasn't trying to convince me -- more like letting me in on something I apparently wasn't aware of yet....

I like Kerry -- I find the smarm attacks on him revolting. But, in a situation like this, it's really hard for me to see how you can recover the support of voters that you once had in New Hampshire, but then lost.

What must be monumentally frustrating to Kerry (and Edwards, and Lieberman, etc.) is that he's pretty decent on substance -- earlier this year, I thought his foreign policy positions and rhetoric to be the best among the Democratic candidates. This is in contrast to Dean, who has been having difficulty with country names as of late.

That was then. This is now, and Kerry's in full pander mode. According to Eric Alterman:

Kerry sat down for two hours in Al Franken’s living room with about a dozen and a half journalists, writers and the odd historian, poet and cartoonist. It was all on the record and yet, it was remarkably open, honest and unscripted....

After the meeting broke up, Art Spiegelman tried to tell Kerry that he should just stand up, and in a clear, unmistakable fashion say, “I was wrong to trust President Bush with this war. I thought he would do the things he promised before embarking on this war but I now see I gave him more credit than he deserved. I wish I could have that vote back but I can’t. Now the thing to ask ourselves is where do we go from here and who’s the best person for the job?”

Now let's click over to Kerry's interview in the December 2003 Rolling Stone (NOTE: Kerry said the following before hearing Spiegelman's advice). It would be safe to say that Kerry uses some very strong language to describe President Bush's policy towards Iraq:

RS: Did you feel you were blindsided by Dean's success?

Kerry: Well, not blindsided. I mean, when I voted for the war, I voted for what I thought was best for the country. Did I expect Howard Dean to go off to the left and say, "I'm against everything"? Sure. Did I expect George Bush to fuck it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did.

When informed of the comment, Brookings Institution presidential scholar Stephen Hess told the New York Post, "It's so unnecessary. In a way it's a kind of pandering [by Kerry] to a group he sees as hip . . . I think John Kerry is going to regret saying this." (link via Glenn Reynolds).

Actually, there's another passage of the RS interview that I found to be much more revealing of the tenor of the Democratic primary:

RS: What do you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger becoming governor of California?

Kerry: Well, first of all, Arnold's a friend of mine. I've known him for a long time, and he's a capable guy. I mean, he's smart and capable. I would have preferred that there had been no recall. I went out and campaigned against it. But I understand the anger that existed out there.

RS: Do you think that same anger is propelling Dean's candidacy?

Kerry: Other people have to determine that. I'm not an analyst. I'm running for president based on my vision for the country, and I think I have a longer, stronger, deeper record of fighting against those interests, and representing that anger, than Howard Dean. (emphasis added)

The Democratic primary boils down to "representing that anger." And there's no way at this point that anyone will beat Dean at that game.

The thing is, no matter how you slice and dice the opinion polls, the "anger" is still confined to hard-core Democratic primary voters. And the more that the Democratic candidates appeal to it, the more they risk alienating the rest of the voting spectrum. As Alterman himself observes, "I represent a tiny sliver of the electorate that can’t even elect a mayor of New York City."

If Kerry's behavior is any indication, winning the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination will prove to be a Pyrrhic victory at best.

UPDATE: William Saletan, reporting for Slate from the Florida Democratic Party convention, thinks the Rolling Stone epithet is part of "The New Kerry":

He curses a blue streak. Having used the F-word in Rolling Stone ("Did I expect George Bush to f--- it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did") and complained in New Hampshire about working people "getting screwed by special interests," Kerry tells the Florida audience that FDR invited them to "sit on your ass" and that Bush will "kick your ass." In his Q and A, Kerry swears, "The very first thing I will do is give a damn good inaugural address." Unless, of course, voters tell him to go to hell.

posted by Dan on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM


Nice way for Kerry to add a good dose in incivility into the election. It's shock for shock's sake and just coarsens our culture.

posted by: Sean Hackbarth on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

What's so sad about the Rolling Stone interview is that, as far as the base is concerned, Kerry couldn't out-anger Dean even if he started burning Bush in effigy at campaign stops. (Note to Bob Shrum: not a good idea.) The swearing pander seems so pointless this late in the game.

posted by: Matthew Stinson on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

You know, I listened to a Dean stump speech for the first time in a while today, and I couldn't help that the whole conventional wisdom on anger just might be a tad too facile. For the first, I'm not convinced that attempting to view the coming election through the prism of the past is a great idea. There are too many new things going on here. A certain circumspection on pronouncements on 'how things always word' is more than a bit warranted.

But, the second thing I want to point out is the relation of anger and passion. Sure, a lot of people are angry -- I certainly am -- but lots of other candidates have put in angry airs, too, to only marginal avail. Dean projects passion. If you listen to his speeches, it's not about negativity. It's more of a vision of restoration of greatness of America.

Passion, of course, is a delicate balancing act. Too much passion, so goes the conventional wisdom, will scare middle America, and whatever the currently identified group of ephemera some deranged pollster has identified this week as the key to the election. I think Dean's calculus is that he can bring in as many as he might drive away. The conventional wisdom is, of course, that this never works. Could be, but new things are afoot this cycle.

The final thing is that Dean's no dummy. He knows he's not as left as some would make him out. He references his support for past wars in his speeches. He makes an issue out of veteran's treatment. He's no Kucinich, and he knows by now that he can rile up the base without turning into him. Most importantly, he's made it abundantly clear that he's not going to cede any ground to the right on issues of defense. That he's not willing to cede defense, security and patriotism to the right -- that he does not approach them from a defensive stance -- can help him avoid Clelandizaion and is certainly, I think, a major portion of his appeal.

All of which is not to say that he's my favorite candidate. He's not. I don't like his position on trade, primarily (but who out there is good on this on either side of the aisle?). I don't like his tendency towards being overly glib. And other things, too. But, what I don't think is that he's obviously toast come the general election. A lot of people just might get a lot surprised.

I can only hope (if Dean is the nominee), one of those people is Karl Rove.

posted by: Aaron on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]


You might want to cool it with the clear, accurate explanations of how Dean is succeeding.

The longer Bush-supporters don't truly understand Dean's strategy and appeal, the better for Dean and the worse for them.

Of course, they'll probably willfully ignore you anyway, so it's not that big a deal. :)

posted by: V from VJ on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

So, like, Dean's proposals to raise taxes and reregulate most major industries are a simple misunderstanding...?

I think the Right understands Dean's "appeal" just fine.

posted by: Michael H. on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

No doubt Michael H. doesn't think that taxes need to be raised. I wonder whether Michael H. still has any functioning credit cards. Maybe he pays them off on the "run up the maximum charge and declare bankruptcy" plan.

posted by: Rich Puchalsky on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

In this column: Jon Rauch claims that Dean isn't as liberal as his supporters think. Hmmmn, Rauch seems to go to great lengths to find obscure phrases from old speeches to justify his point. I think it's easier to listen to Dean each time he speaks.

He wants to raise taxes on everyone Oh, you can twist and say he is just repealing the Bush tax cuts...but it is a major, across the board tax increase. And, of course, the Dems complained that Bush's tax cuts went only to the wealthy, but wait for the ads demonstrating how a family of 4 on $40K will have their taxes raised.

Re-regulating American business and breaking up the media? Is a national industrial policy and four year plan or Great Leap Forward next?

He would have voted against the war and the $87B. He will apologise the France and the UN. He supports past wars that we won. And he didn't, uh, fight in Viet Nam. Last I checked, the Governor of Vermont does not have his name on a chair in the Situation Room. My 22 year old son has as much foreign policy credibility. And his views on Iraq are clearly motivated by politics and positioning...not by actual experience or responsibility.

And he has created an incoherently angry and confrontational style that plays horribly on Tim Russert, and will surely alienate the 75% of Americans who are not rabidly anti-Bush.

posted by: Jack M on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

So, Kerry says above, "...I'm running for president based on my vision for the country, and I think I have a longer, stronger, deeper record...". He could have just stopped there. As a member of the Dparty he represents the same and the Dparty represents his "longer, stronger, deeper record...". If something got "fucked up" he only needs a mirror to resolve.

posted by: billy on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Are you guys really offended by Kerry's use of the f word? I mean, sitting senators can play stoners on SNL, almost presidents can make homoerotic jokes in a hottub on same, candidates for all offices now need to go on late shows and MTV explaining their choice in underwear--and Kerry, who's reputed to be a good guy but is generally perceived as uptight (understatement) can't let rip with the "F" word in Rolling Stone? Gimme a break. JK--you go boy.

As for the Deanster, I agree that he has it locked up now (look at the polls--up in all early states and rising, talk about mo). I'm with Dan here, Kerry looked so good on paper, and somewhere in me there's a tiny spark of hope that he will emerge from the well he jumped into 6 months ago. Personally I think his face is his downfall. Reconstructive surgery may be in the offing. Or maybe he could spend an hour every morning on an inversion table, to alleviate the melting crayon look.

And here's a tip for the outlyers from lefty chatrooms who have "infiltrated" Drezner's site--most of the regulars here are pretty skeptical of Bush (I realize you have a hard time distinguishing between "rightwingers" and libertarian types, you'll just have to stretch here). But we are, for the most part, appalled at the thought of a President Howie, and will not be late switchers to his cause. You guys have sunk the Democrats. I hope you can live with yourselves next November when Bush wins 40 states.

I saw in the WaPo this morning that San Francisco is about to get a Green mayor. The Dems are livid. Let's read the signs, shall we: Dean is pulling the party to the left, just as that part of the spectrum is hiving off. We in the center have nowhere to go but the Republican camp. Maybe if enough of us jump over there we can take it back from the righties. That's probably the best anyone can hope for now.

posted by: Kelli on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Rich - balancing the budget at the cost of economic growth is penny wise and pound foolish, and smacks of Hoovernomics. Growth in the economy is far more beneficial than paying off money borrowed at less than 4% interest. If my credit cards allowed me to borrow at that rate, I'd be leveraged to the hilts.

This is something a lot of people, in their facile understanding of national economics, fail to understand. The deficit is just money, which is to say, a claim on wealth. Real wealth is goods and services. A society that can provide more goods and services as a whole is wealthier.

When you have a debt, there are two ways to mitigate it. One is to scrimp and save and pay it off. The other is to use the extra funds to improve your earnings capability. Not only are you then better able to pay off your debts but, those payments themselves become insignificant.

Everyone knows the baby boomers are about to retire and, that is going to break the bank Social Security-wise. With a finite pool of goods and services, there is no way to support that system, no matter what financial gaimes you play. We have to expand real wealth in order to do that.

posted by: Reid on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Yep. There's no use fighting it - Dean is the smartest, bestest, brightest hope for restoring America's greatness since the founding fathers. Why, you can just look at his supporters and see that's so true - aren't they the smartest, bestest, brightest Americans? Of course they are! Why, they've even invented a whole new way of multiplying political power through the Internet. They are so, so, smart. We're lucky we even have them.

After all, Dean has a plan, a plan that the Bushies are far too stupid to ever understand, a plan to defend America, a plan to unleash economic growth, a plan to make politics a noble expression of America's promise and destiny.

You see, he's liberal, but he's not. He opposes the war on terrorism but he'll defend America. He'll create jobs for everyone but raise taxes, expand regulations and abuse anti-trust laws. Watch for the coming “Dean Sweep” - when all of America votes "Blue" in November 2004 - from the creators of "The West Wing."

Too funny. I can hardly wait for all the smartest, bestest, brightest people to wonder how Bush handed their *sses to them. His post-election grin will drive them to the asylum. Too funny.

posted by: Tim on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]


You have it in principle, but not in actual practice. As a moderate democrat for many years, I also see myself voting republican rather than cede the party to a president who views the office as a podium for following, not leading.

The political spectrum is just that, a spectrum. There are no easily discernable boundary points where one can say that position is far left and that one just next to it only left. The transition across the spectrum is smooth, and the categorizations necessarily vague at the boundaries, and only absolute at the edges.

The moderate democrats of my acquaintance are moving towards a neo-conservative outlook. If I extrapolate the trend using this admittedly small sample, I see the moderate democrats and south park republicans mixing and then settling out into new democrat and new republican 'loyal oppositions' with similar values and vision but dissimilar approaches on realizing them. The far left and far right fringes will not adapt and end up with no relevance in the political arena and fade into culture clubs.

Then the process will start again with the outer edges of the new democrats and the new republicans slowly polarizing into the new far right and far left.

posted by: Gary on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Nice way for Kerry to add a good dose in incivility into the election. It's shock for shock's sake and just coarsens our culture.

Yeah. Too bad Adam Clymer wasn't there. Perhaps he could have called him a "major-league a--hole."

posted by: Randy Paul on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

I've got to admit that I can't get excited about Kerry saying "F---" ... "f---", oh hell Dan, if you say it in the article can we say it in the comments?

(And if one more adult talks about the "F bomb" to me, I swear I'm going to throw up. On them.)

But, cripes, the guy is ex-Navy, a SEAL; did someone think he'd forgotten the word? I'll grant that he's probably enough in control of his own level of diction to say that this was purposeful, but as a pander I could find things Kerry has said about which I'd get more exercised. (Say, pretty much anything Kerry's said about the War in Iraq.)

posted by: Charlie on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Reid - Your right that so long as you can increase your earnings capability debts become much less significant. But that assumes that real wealth, i.e. goods and services will continue to increase. Right now the economy is doing amazingly well, growth and productivity are growing hugely. But if the economy takes a hit from some source then those deficits will become much more difficult to deal with.

I admit that I cant see any real problems that might cause that right now, but it remains a possibility.

posted by: sam on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Al Sharpton is the only candidate who can save America.

posted by: Buster on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Charlie -- Navy yes, SEAL no. He commanded a PBR squadron (Patrol Boat, Riverine) and supported SEALs, but he wasn't one. Perhaps you've confused him with former Senator Bob Kerrey, who lost his leg, and was the first SEAL to be awarded the MOH.

posted by: CGeib on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

First of all, I want to stress that I'm not a Dean supporter. Really. You can check out my long since-abandoned blog if you don't believe me....

Anyways, in response to

> In this column:
> Jon Rauch claims that Dean isn't as liberal as his
> supporters think. Hmmmn, Rauch seems to go to great
> lengths to find obscure phrases from old speeches to
> justify his point. I think it's easier to listen to Dean each
> time he speaks.

and a few other comments, I was just reading Walter Shapiro's book a few weeks ago. At one point, he imagines what would happen if each of the then candidates were in the Oval Office. Here's what he says for Dean:

Winter White House
Burlington, Vermont
March 5, 2005

THE PRESIDENT: As thrilled as I am to be president, I hate to tell you that it's great to be back in Vermont. The fresh air, the beauty, the snow. It's just not the same in Washington. Later today, Judy and I intend to do a little cross-country skiing. I better apologize in advance for any inconvenience tis might cause my neighbors. Now I'll be happy to take your questions.
Q: Mr. President, North Korean radio today called your recent comments warning of aggressive action against their nuclear weapons program a "missile-rattling that could lead to war." Do you rule out using military force against North Korea?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I do not. I am not a pacifist, as some foolishly suggested during the recent campaign. I am deeply concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and have always said that I would move forcefully to prevent it. My standard has always been: Is there an imminent threat to the United States? I fear that the conduct of North Korea is fast approaching that threshold.
Q: Mr. President, I don't know if you've yet seen the full-page advertisement in today's New York Times protesting your policies towards North Korea. It's signed by more than six hundred of your early supporters and it says, and I quote, "President Dead promised to uphold 'the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.' Instead, he is upholding the Bush-Cheney wing." Any comment?
THE PRESIDENT: As a doctor, I must say that they're a little quick to accuse me of malpractice. In all seriousness, I am sure I'll take positions as president that ill disappoint some of my supporters. But I'm not a rubber stamp, I'm the president. Perhaps if they had listened a little more closely to what I said in the campaign, they wouldn't be so surprised now.
The book isn't all that interesting, really, but this was Shapiro's impression of Dean in the early campaign.

The danger I see in Dean's strategy is the difficulty of getting people to change stories. It may be that he can never shake the radical leftist label he has garnered in the primary. Perhaps, the campaign thinks they can use the internet to shake up the storylines a bit, although I would think that would risk losing some of their early supporters. I can't help but think it's a knife's edge they're walking, but it's not an impossible task.

I do worry that he's getting a little to infatuated with the lefty crowds and risking falling into the radical abyss. Maybe the conventional wisdom will be right. One already hears the drumbeat (Kate O'Beirne being the most recent source) that "Dean will give the French a veto on our foreign policy". This will become ubiquitous. It will take a lot of hard work to counter it. But Dean will have money. And he will have a record (at least those parts not sealed in a vault). So, at the very least, I think it'll be interesting.

posted by: Aaron on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Buster, all Reverend Al can do is bring 'em to Jesus; Christ will have to do the saving his own self.

posted by: BarCodeKing on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Sam - you are warning of hypothetical challenges versus guaranteed disaster if we do not do whatever we can to get and keep this economy growing. I may get hit by a bus if I get out of bed tomorrow. Such a dire possibility is not going to keep me barricaded in my home.

posted by: Reid on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Randy, Bush didn't broadcast his remark to a magazine. The comment was intended to be private and was overheard. There is a difference.

posted by: Sean Hackbarth on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

No Sean, you have it wrong. Let me offer the appropriate anti-war Bush-hating liberal perspective:
The fact that someone overheard Clymer being referred to as an Asshole in a private exchange between Bush and Cheney is EXACTLY the same as a U.S. Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate exclaiming in an interview that the President of the United States "Fucked Up" the WoT in Iraq.

See? It's really all about moral equivalence. The fact is that Bush Lied and People Died, It was a War for Enron and Haliburton. Remember - no blood for oil! We've overthrown two peaceful regimes that were never any threat to us, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam in Iraq. Now ask yourself, are the Afghanistanis really better off now that the Taliban are gone? Sure they have free speech, women can leave the house without the threat of being beaten to death, female children can attend schools now, children everywhere learn more than just the koran in school, medical services have improved 100%, the Afghan economy grew over 32% last year, private businesses are flourishing, people can listen to music, read books, watch TV and movies, even fly kites without worrying about the Taliban death squads showing up at their doors...but are they really better off?

Likewise in Iraq, I mean sure we anti-war "Bush-Hating" liberals predicted as many as 250,000 Iraqi casualties from a war, more if the Iraqi resistance at the battle of Baghdad was as bad as we hoped, er, feared. And imagine if Saddam had used the nukes we all knew he had (but only because we were lied to) it could have gone as high as four million people! The fact that the best count we can come up with now is about 8,000 doesn't mean we were wrong - after all, Saddam was never a threat to us, just his own people. And are the Iraqis really better off without him? I mean sure there are no more mass executions, torture chambers, death squads, rape squads, children's prisons (which we all know was actually an orphanage - the bars and armed guards? Hey, a two year old can be vicious...), and mass graves. Sure there are now more newspapers and magazines with freedom of the press where the editors don't worry about a knock on the door at night. Likewise people can have free speech without worrying if it will cost them their tongues - literally. Just look at the ecological damage the war caused, I mean it restored thousands of square miles of the great marshes in southern Iraq! Isn't that terrible?

Think about it people: is anyone really better off because the American Chimp-in-Chief deposed Saddam and Mullah Omar? After all the only reason the Arabs hate America is because of our support for Israel, and we all know how those Zionazis treat the poor impoverished Palestinians who have no choice but to resort to bombing innocent women and children to fight back against the war criminal Sharon. This just goes to prove that if only Bushitler would have signed the Kyoto treaty and the ICC accords, Islamic "militants" wouldn't have killed 3,000+ people on September 11th - and by the way, can't we all just get over that? It's not as if we didn't have it coming...

posted by: Robert Modean on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

In 1968, angry leftists deserted Hubert Humphrey (for whom I voted) and we got Nixon. In 1972, angry leftists nominated McGovern and we got Nixon (for whom I voted). I haven't voted for a majority party candidate since then. If angry leftists nominate Dean, I guess I'll swallow hard and vote for Bush. See a pattern here? It's not Dean so much as the people propelling the campaign who don't seem to care about anything but some sort of ideological purity. Give it a break.

Our system was never designed to produce ideologically pure outputs or majority rule. It was designed to force compromise while avoiding tyranny. When we compromise it does a pretty fair job of avoiding tyranny (check the French over the past 200 years for the ideological purity trial). *IF* we attempt to avoid compromise, we tend to get either what we have now (one side mostly refusing to compromise wherever possible and stuff like the Patriot Act) or lopsided blowouts like 1964, 1972, and 1984. Jeez.

Bush is not, I repeat, not, evil incarnate. Figure out where to compromise, build your coalition, and make things happen. Give up the anger, get a better compromise.

posted by: JorgXMcKie on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

All of you who will not vote for Dean despite dissatisfaction with Bush: which Democratic candidates would you have voted for? How sure are you that you'd have voted for them?

posted by: Katherine on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Rich - I'm not saying that the government shouldnt do whatever they can to keep the economy growing. I'm just saying that at some point people are going to have do deal with the deficit. This should be done with the minimum harm to economic growth.

Do you have any ideas how this could be done? I'm not being snarky I really would like to know.

posted by: sam on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

A fair question deserves a straight answer. Here's my scorecard (party of one): almost certainly Gephardt or Kerry, based on record and stated positions, domestic and foreign; mebbe, Lieberman (if he proved capable of toning down the holy roller aura) and Edwards (if he stopped looking so damn much like a Ken doll, the image of which he frankly has begun to shed, though a bit late). But then again, I live inside the beltway, so I actually think some of our politicians are worth their salt and not everyone is out to screw Americans. What do I know?

posted by: Kelli on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

I take your point but have to say it raises a big question in my mind. To whit, how much can any of us "influence" politics from outside the political structure? I never wanted to call myself an "independent" like nearly a third of my fellow citizens do, because I think you've got to stand with one or another party if you are to have any hope of having your voice heard. Yeah, everyone courts the independent voter, but who the hell even knows what we want? One year we're soccer moms, the next Nascar dads--it's like they can only care about a few of us at a time.

So, Gary, when people ask you what you are politically, what do you say? We sound pretty similar in our trajectory of late, and I know I have been told flat out any number of times that I am NOT a Democrat (like my body's been snatched and I'm now a menace to my former brethren). I doubt the Republicans want to claim me as their own. No wonder people don't vote.

In short, should Dean walk off with the nomination, I'll trade in my Democratic card for one with the elephant on it, and then I'll be just as big a pain in the ass to them as I've been to the Dems these past 15 voting years. And that's a promise.

posted by: Kelli on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

To R Modean

You better watch out; you'll be accused of plagiarism!

BTW, You forgot the "Display Turkey" (no, not A. Gore) & the plane radio mixup on Bush's Iraq trip.

Tom Com

PS Modean! Are you the love child of Mo Dowd & Howard Dean?

posted by: TomCom on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Randy, Bush didn't broadcast his remark to a magazine. The comment was intended to be private and was overheard. There is a difference.


Oh please! Using an excrement-referencing term to describe someone in front of a microphone is no different, especially not when one is running for president with the intention of "restoring dignity to the White House."

My point is this: if you're going to castigate Kerry for using the f-word, while rationalizing the circumstances in which your man uses an epithet to call someone a name, then you're in a glass house with a stone in your hand.

posted by: Randy Paul on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Dear Kelli,

Having been in the same room as Mr. Dean and close enough to read his facial expressions while he addressed the crowd, I have to say that he came off as much less "angry" than he does during Democratic debates. In fact, he came off as being slightly impish and tongue in cheek. Both me and my Democratic friend agreed however that some of his policies had rather big holes in him.

If the elections were held today, then most likely Bush would win. However, do not discount the possibility of Dean pulling a Bush. Yes, Dean to out-Bush Bush! As of right now, this is really the only hope for the Democrats.

By that, I mean play to the party base in the primaries and then switch to Centrist policies in the main election. To cover up lack of policy substance by saying one will rule modestly with the advice of good advisors, and to get a VP (say like Clark) who is politically not a threat but with the military experience that one lacks (Dean went skiing in the Colorado on a medical deferrment, but then again Bush was AWOL on his national guard assisngment). Like Bush, Dean is a governor from a small state running against an incumbent.

And like Bush, he can win. If he plays his cards right. And if he should win, it would only serve my fellow conservatives right. We got a lemon in the White House, and it wouldn't do to underestimate the anti-Bush sentiment. For instance, lo and behold who should I find also at that Dean rally but another Republican friend of mine - a man whose family has voted Republican since the days of FDR. Many of us old-time conservatives are more upset with Bush than we let on. Upset enough to cross party ranks for the first time in our lives.

posted by: Oldman on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]


> All of you who will not vote for Dean
> despite dissatisfaction with Bush:
> which Democratic candidates would you
> have voted for?

Alas, nobody who's actually running. I'd definitely consider voting for Zell Miller, were he to run, and I could also have considered the pre-2000-campaign Lieberman. But one he pandered away all his principles, why should he be trusted again?

posted by: Kirk Parker on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]


More quality discourse from the president, and let's not forget this or this.

posted by: Randy Paul on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Hi Oldman,

Sounds like a lot of heads are going to be banging next November on the way to greener pastures! I applaud you for going to a Dean rally and appreciate the perspective you bring. Of course, no one's mind should be completely made up at this point. That said, however, I have to tell you that Dean has not put forth one single policy or statement with which I concur. That's really saying something, since I can't say it about Al Sharpton even (though I can about Kucinich, thank God). He'll promise to get good advisors, you say. Like the FP advisor who writes prep materials talking about "the Soviet Union?" I'm skeptical that he can dig fast enough to get out of the hole he's in already with disillusioned voters like me. It'll all come out in the wash.

posted by: Kelli on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Tom Com,

What, the party without a single original idea accuse someone of plagiarism, nah, nit likely. Heck, you know how skiddish the Dems are about even bringing up the topic of plagiarism, since it usually is in reference to one of them. :)

Sorry about forgetting the "Display Turkey" thing, honestly, they have so many memes in rotation it's hard to keep track.

And NO! I am not the love child of MoDo and Howard Dean - perish the thought. Besides, I thought MoDo was saving herself for her one true love...juan gato.

posted by: Robert Modean on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

The 2004 Presidential Election will feature the grownups against the angry children.

In dangerous times such as these, I have to cast my lot with the grownups.

posted by: John on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Very Nicely Done, Robbie, I think that just about does it.

Said someone else:

"That'll do, pig...That'll do."

posted by: TommyG on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

That's ballistic?

As Rumsfeld might say: "Golly"

Those who profess to be "shocked, shocked" need to spend some time in the real world.

Seems to me that Drezner's hysterical headline is more intemperate than Kerry's (studied) attempt at the vernacular.

posted by: M.Croche on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Hi Kelli,

You're absolutely right on the paucity of substance regarding Dean's policy proposals. Even my hard-core Dem friend turned to me and said, "I wonder how he is going to pay for that." This I think is his major weak point, rather than this silly angry leftist rift that people have been going on superficially about. There is still plenty of time for Dean to go for the middle after he wins the nomination - don't count Clark out yet at least as #2 man - but it won't matter unless he's got something worth saying. This is where a smart Dem like him could pick up a smart thinker like the oldman to spice up his campaign. The great danger is that people will perceive Dean as lacking vision, as simply being the "I'm-not-Bush-guy". He's got to be more than that, to win the Presidency.

posted by: Oldman on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

ok, look. Do people honestly think that Howard Dean is unaware that the Soviet Union ceased to exist over a decade ago because he read a badly written briefing memo to that effect? Honestly? Or do you think he made a verbal slip?

Given that my European history professor has made the exact same verbal slip, and I've probably done it myself, I know what my answer is.

posted by: Katherine on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

I hope the Professor will come back on the air and explain to us why the nomination is being locked up so early and whether that is producing sub-optimal results.

I am a hard core right winger who voted for Bush in '00 and will, God willing, do so again in '04. But before the Deanies get to high I would suggest reading Nicholas Kristoff in the Saturday 12/6 edition of NYT. His take:

"Watching presidential politics lately, I've been thinking back to when I was 13 years old and had my heart broken for the first time.

It was 1972, and I was antiwar and infatuated with Senator George McGovern. But as I handed out McGovern leaflets in Yamhill County, Ore., I was greeted as if I were the Antichrist. Soon afterward, Mr. McGovern was defeated in a landslide.

As Howard Dean will probably be, if the Democrats nominate him. . . .

Don't get me wrong. I agree with Mr. Dean on many issues, and I admire his willingness to oppose our Iraq invasion from the beginning. But shiny-eyed teenagers who distribute leaflets for him in places like Yamhill County are going to get very cold stares — and end up heartbroken."

Kristoff explains his pucnch line:

"Against the Bush juggernaut, Mr. Dean faces three disadvantages.

First, geography. The only Democrats who have won the popular presidential vote since John Kennedy took office (when the Southern boom started) have all been Southerners. . .

Second, style. Angry bluster rouses the party faithful, but it frightens centrists. . .

Moreover, Mr. Dean is smart, but he knows it. America's heartland oozes suspicion of Eastern elitists, and Mr. Dean's cockiness would exacerbate that suspicion. . . .

You get the feeling that if Mr. Dean and Mr. Bush were stuck together in a small Missouri town, Mr. Dean would lecture farmers about Thomas Paine's writings, while Mr. Bush would have the cafe crowd in stitches by doing impersonations of Mr. Dean.

The third problem is biography. Mr. Dean may be the one Democrat who is even more blue-blooded than Mr. Bush and who has an even lamer excuse for dodging Vietnam. Mr. Dean grew up on Park Avenue in an old aristocratic family, and after getting his medical deferment from the draft, he moved to Aspen to ski. Unlike other politicians, Mr. Dean doesn't even pretend to be particularly religious, and that's a major political weakness in the battleground states."

"It is, of course, the Democrats' privilege to stand on principle, embrace the man they admire most and leap off a cliff together. Political parties have a hoary tradition of committing principled suicide, as the G.O.P. did with Barry Goldwater in 1964 and, most masochistically, the Democrats did three times with William Jennings Bryan from 1896 to 1908.

Yet my guess is that the Democratic faithful are being not so much high-minded as muddle-headed. Many Democrats so despise President Bush that they don't appreciate what a strong candidate he will be in November, and they don't grasp how poorly Mr. Dean is likely to fare in battleground states."

So Kelli, is 40 the over/under?

posted by: Robert Schwartz on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Robert and Randy, not once has President Bush in an interview to a newspaper, magazine, or tv network used an curse word like Kerry did. I didn't write that Kerry cursing was the problem because if that was the case, I'd be a cause of the coarsening of American culture.

There is a time and a place for everything. Bush has used bad words plenty of times, but he has the decency to not intentionally broadcast it to the world.

posted by: Sean Hackbarth on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

I and indded a lot of people might curse in a magazine interview or refer to Russia as the Soviet Union, but I and they are not running for President of the United States. John Kerry is and so he should be held to a higher standard. Since the responsibilities are immense and the temptations are acute, you need a person of exceptional discipline and integrity for the Presidency (a point made in the Federalist Papers by John Adams).

To Robert Modean: That was a good list. You might add that two million refugees (by United Nations and NGO count) have returned to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban. Of course, they're not any better off either, some would undoubtedly argue ...

posted by: Chris on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]


The question is do we want more business or less? Raising the cost of doing business through regulation and taxes means we will have less business.

Is that a good thing?

posted by: M. Simon on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]


I predicted (May 16 Winds of Change guest blog) that the Ds will die and the libertarian center will hive off from the Rs.

I'm with you.

posted by: M. Simon on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Robert Schwartz,

Sorry, I didn't get the over/under 40 question. Are you asking if I think Dean's appeal is limited to young people? If so, I think Oldman would object (though I've no idea how "old" he is). I would love to see young people find their way to the polls, whether for Dean or someone else, but unlike Kristoff I think they'll lose their zeal for their chosen savior long before November. The very act of his moving to the center will demonstrate to them that grups can't be trusted. Once again, they'll stay away in droves.

M. Simon,
Are you predicting a resurrection of the Libertarian Party itself? I wonder...

posted by: Kelli on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

If you are in the "middle", you prefer some aspects of both parties, or prefer to disassociate with aspects from each. That being said, Bush is more Democrat than Dean is Republican. Plain and simple: Bush wins.

posted by: wch on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

"Everyone knows the baby boomers are about to retire and, that is going to break the bank Social Security-wise. With a finite pool of goods and services, there is no way to support that system, no matter what financial gaimes you play."

I see that Reid agrees with the basic philosophy that I suggested earlier for Michael H. -- run up the maximum credit bill and then declare bankruptcy. Except that according to Reid, we are virtuously buying stuff on credit to improve out capability to produce goods and services, not pissing away our savings on crony capitalism and military spending.

You people are living in fantasy land. You assert your political positions as facts -- "there is no way to support that system", when other countries do exactly that -- and you have no idea of how damaging it would be for the U.S. to go bankrupt. I don't know whether its conservative economic illiteracy or the libertarian desire to spend all your money on toys, but you should really grow up.

posted by: Rich Puchalsky on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]


over/under is a bet on a football game that the total number of points scored will be more or less than the over/under.

posted by: Robert Schwartz on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Thanks. I've been meaning to spend more quality time with my bookie!

posted by: Kelli on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Said John:

The 2004 Presidential Election will feature the grownups against the angry children.

In dangerous times such as these, I have to cast my lot with the grownups.

Hey look! Another vote for Dean!

And as far as "angry" goes, I'm reminded of Lincoln's remark about Grant: I cannot spare this man, he fights!

posted by: Doug on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Or should that read "I cannot spare this man, he skis?"

posted by: Kelli on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Bush has used bad words plenty of times, but he has the decency to not intentionally broadcast it to the world.

You're wrong. You should have read the last link in my last post:

Ten years ago, at the 1988 Republican Convention, Hartford Courant associate editor David Fink struck up a conversation with George W. Bush. “When you’re not talking politics,” Fink asked the vice president’s son, “what do you and [your father] talk about?”
“Pussy,” George W. replied. -- “Prodigal son” by Jake Tapper,, April 9, 1999
[my emphasis]

If saying that to an associate editor is "not intentionally broadcast it to the world," then what is?

posted by: Randy Paul on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Way to engage, Rich. Wonder how many people you'll win over by accusing them of "economic illiteracy" and telling them to "grow up." Not many, I'd wager.

posted by: Cosmo on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Randy - be honest with us.

Do you think Kerry's remark was intentional or do you think it was said as a matter of course?

posted by: TommyG on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

It would be hard to tell from a written transcript. If I heard it I could probably tell.

Ultimately though, so what? My point to Sean is his comments about distinguishing between Bush and Kerry's use of obscenities:

Kerry uses an epithet which may very well have been calculated.

Bush uses an epithet to display his macho swagger to Condi Rice.

Bush uses an obscenity to attack a columnist he has a disagreement with in front of the columnist's daughter.

Bush uses an obscenity in a public setting to refer to a reporter he doesn't like (while campaigning to restore dignity to the White House).

Bush uses a obscenity that's degrading to women in a conversation with a newspaper editor.

Yet according to Sean, it's Kerry who's "coarsening our culture."

posted by: Randy Paul on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

"Using an excrement-referencing term to describe someone in front of a microphone is no different"

Yep, journalists and the president are the same thing. Public comments and private comments - same thing! Hey, Howard Dean once said some really nasty things to someone at some point, I'm sure. Same thing! We ought to condemn him too.

posted by: HH on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

1987 and the far more recent 1988! Wow, that's not stretching at all. I'm sure Bush was running for president then, right? Oh, his dad was huh? Oops.

Then he said some mean hurtful things more recently as president (Shock! Horror!)... about a mass-murdering dictator. EXACT SAME THING as attacking the president with obscenities!

posted by: HH on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Now we know what the appearing/disappearing F in JFK means. Kerry stopped the press from using JFK just recently. I wonder?........

posted by: Gary on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Thanks. I've been meaning to spend more quality time with my bookie! -- Kelli

A better education than you will get at Harvard.

posted by: Robert Schwartz on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Or should that read "I cannot spare this man, he skis?"

Nice one, Kelli. I'll put you down in the Dean column, too. The good doctor takes a joke about himself a lot better than George II.

Dean-Clark won't have trouble matching military machismo with anyone.

posted by: Doug on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Close, Randy. You're leaning really close to being honest. But what I asked was what *you* thought: deliberate or not?

Think for a second, this is a very important question. You're about to cross the rubicon.

Said someone else: "ICEBURG, DEAD AHEAD!"

posted by: TommyG on 12.07.03 at 12:25 AM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?