Wednesday, April 28, 2004

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Bizarro politics

My latest TNR Online essay is now up and running. It makes an effort to explain the seeming oddity of why Bush's poll numbers versus Kerry have improved in the last six weeks despite the difficulties in Iraq.

Go check it out!

posted by Dan on 04.28.04 at 07:36 AM


Read your article.

One way I think Kerry can really outflank Bush is on China policy.

For instance, speak out about Human Rights in western China, and about undemocratic activities related to Hong Kong. Argue for a return to visible annual reviews of arms sales and aid to Taiwan. Talk more about currency issues, jobs, etc.

posted by: praktike on 04.28.04 at 07:36 AM [permalink]

And North Korea. Involving China hasn't worked.

posted by: praktike on 04.28.04 at 07:36 AM [permalink]

Then again, I could be wrong.

posted by: praktike on 04.28.04 at 07:36 AM [permalink]

So long as it's leading the news, Iraq screws Kerry. Having called for escalation in Iraq, Kerry's the 2004 version of Hubert Humphrey.

He can't move rightward because Nader, now a single-issue candidate, will bleed him to death on Iraq. He can't reverse direction and move leftward because he already has little credibility as a firm and consistent leader. Kerry's only hope is that events and network news editors conspire to move Iraq off the nightly newscast altogether.

posted by: tombo on 04.28.04 at 07:36 AM [permalink]

Good article. It seems to me that Kerry needs to articulat a coherent overall foreign policy rather than just saying Bush screwed up on Iraq and I would do it better. That's not persuasive. Iraq is not the only foreign policy issue in the world. The Democrats traditionally get trounced on foreign policy because they don't really have a policy that addresses America's position in the world. They always seem to have a bunch of ad hoc position based on whatever is hot in the news. Kerry needs to articulate an approach as Bryzinski (I know I spelled it wrong)did in his book (which I haven't read yet), which apparently spells out an approach to the world. Whether his approach is right or not is not the point. I want to know what Kerry's philosophy and approach to foreign policy is. He could use this to differentiate himself from Bush. Of course, that doesn't help if people don't like his approach, but it at least seems a more promising approach than contorting himself on Iraq.

posted by: MWS on 04.28.04 at 07:36 AM [permalink]

If only I knew machiavelli better, I could find the apposite quote. But managing fear is a well-known practice for maintaining rulership.

posted by: p mac on 04.28.04 at 07:36 AM [permalink]

I am utterly convinced that John Kerry does better when he’s hidden from view. He’s an awful candidate. And yes, part of the reason is due to his basic dishonesty. The man seems incapable of telling the truth. Why does he even have a chance? This is because the major media and intellectual institutions are behind him. They do the dirty work for Kerry. The President remains slightly ahead in the polls solely because of his trustfulness. One may not always agree with him, but Bush comes across as sincere. Americans normally reject flip floppers. This is an unforgivable secular sin.

President Bush has always had the odds in his favor. The economy is improving. It will take a few more months before this fact sinks into the consciousness of the voters---who often have been scared to death by the never ending stories exaggerating the problems. Also, the situation in Iraq is getting better. The Sunni Triangle area should soon be much quieter. The liberal media can only hide the good news for so long. If Kerry is hurting now, what will be the situation by the end of June?

posted by: David Thomson on 04.28.04 at 07:36 AM [permalink]

We can call it Dean's revenge. Ironically without stirring their blood, and forcing the Democrats to step left Nader may not have had much to go on. If he trips up the Democratic party a second time though ... jeez louise ... talk about a bitter old man!

posted by: Oldman on 04.28.04 at 07:36 AM [permalink]

Economy is indeed improving. CEOs of IBM, Dell and SAP all announced yesterday that tech spending is definitely increasing again in the US. All three forecast significant top-line growth this year.

Game over. A blowout may be what the Dems really need. Time for the Dems to regroup and think long and hard about what "progressive" really means in this century.

posted by: tombo on 04.28.04 at 07:36 AM [permalink]

"The President remains slightly ahead in the polls solely because of his trustfulness. One may not always agree with him, but Bush comes across as sincere."

Bush-trustfulness? Are you serious? This guy has dissembled at every step of the way on Iraq, starting with WMD. Look, I'm not one of those that consider Bush evil incarnate and he is certainly not the first President to be less than honest during crises, but lauding him for his trustworthiness is like lauding Clinton for his marital fidelity. Bush may come across as sincere, but only because he also comes off as clueless. And, believe it or not, "Blue America" votes count too.

posted by: MWS on 04.28.04 at 07:36 AM [permalink]


The "trust" issue is RELATIVE, not absolute. I would not disagree that Nader, for example, is more "trustworthy" than either candidate on Iraq, in this sense: if Nader says he'll pull the troops out, then I damn well believe the man intends to pull them out. If Bush says he'll stick it out in Iraq, then it seems likely he'll do so.

But with Kerry, I have no idea what he truly believes regarding Iraq--and I'm a Democrat. He said he voted against the war; in fact he voted for it. He said he voted for the Persian Gulf War; he voted against it. He testified that his and his comrades' actions in Vietnam were criminal, but he offers his service there as heroic. He says we need to bring the allies along with us in the middle east, and then he wholeheartedly endorses Sharon's actions in Gaza despite the allies' bitter condemnation of these actions.

Nader's "trustworthiness" ie, identity of speech and intention, ranks about a 9 on a scale of 1-10. Bush, maybe a 6 or a 7. Kerry ranks close to zero. Bush's word may be somewhat dubious; Kerry's word is worthless. I don't think the man even knows what he believes or intends.

posted by: tombo on 04.28.04 at 07:36 AM [permalink]


Unfortunately, I agree with much of what you say about Kerry, but I don't think it's entirely fair to hold something he said 30 years ago against him.

In terms of trustworthiness, I took David's comment to be more of a general statement that Bush is trustworthy. That I don't agree with. Like many, if not most, presidents he has been seduced by the idea that he knows what is best for the nation and will say anything to advance his agenda. Moreover, his unwillingness to accept any blame or admit any mistakes on anything makes me suspicious of everything he says.

I agree, however, that Kerry is also far from forthright and his unwillingness to take a stand on ANYTHING is extremely frustrating.

posted by: MWS on 04.28.04 at 07:36 AM [permalink]

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