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December 01, 2003

Comments

<heh> Very cool.

Especially foreign policy: you're going to do twice as much work to look half as good on the subject, thanks to unfair stereotyping, so I suggest that you get started on that, well, yesterday.

"[U]nfair stereotyping" is why the Democrats must run to the right of Bush on foreign policy. If they run to the left, they'll never overcome their natural disadvantage.

Moe,

That is very good advice. Especially about slapping down their extremists. I disagree about wasting resources in the South. It's a Bush lock. They've got to spend it all on the Gore states plus Florida and New Hampshire. They've got to try to win every one of those states and concede the rest. Chances the Dems will do anything of the sort? Zero.

Step 0: Okay, we want to win, we really want to win. Check.
Step 1: I'm conflicted about this. Picking one guy, etc. reeks not of the back room, well it sorta does, but of every last one of the interminable election cycles that were each in their very special way devoid of drama. However. An Open Convention will provide something completely new to most voters. It will get by far the most media attention. It will draw the best television ratings of any recent convention. (Unless the luxury liner sinks in the Hudson.) And it will therefore provide the very best platform for the eventual nominee. Back to the future!!
Step 2 & 3: I will personally help to stamp the Greens into the ground. I suspect others will volunteer as well.
Step 4: Blow it out your pie hole!!!
Step 5: Well okay, if you insist. The party will provide, I'm assuming, the usual detailed policy positions that most voters will never become familiar with beyond the headline. (Same for the Repubs, so it's a battle of headlines, not substance.) As to the war in Iraq, it's a double job. First blame Bush for diverting precious resources to Iraq that should've been used in the war against AQ (I know you don't believe this, yet, but the latter is the horse Clark will ride for a very long time). Second, thieve the best parts of the many plans offered on the Tacitus site in order to come up with a decent post-war proposal.
Step 6: If Bush felt certain re electoral votes there would be no steel tariffs. His numbers are 'decent', which is a nice way of admitting they have been falling at a rather steady pace. He's lost the momentum on what could have been a big Medicare triumph (the story could have been Hey, Nice Meaty Triumph, instead it's Angry Seniors Wonder Where The Medicine Went). And if recent events are any indication of the post-war plan for Iraq, well, that's going to be a problem. Just ask Tac.

Aha--once again, I am on to you. You are secretly trying to craft a Democratic Party that you might actually consider voting for. Well, we're too smart for that! :)

Nice post.

BTW, are you suggesting that all nine candidates can't win together? Seems terribly unfair.

von, tho' I shudder to think what it entails, please advise what 'running to the right' of Bush means with regards to foreign policy. We can't piss off* any more allies. We could invade NK, but that might seem a little boisterous. We could violate even more international treaties, but I'm not sure there's enuf left to make much of an impression. Ahh. We could bring back the draft, increase troop levels, root out the guerillas wherever we find them, win the hearts and minds of the people, prop up leaders who lack broad public support in-country -- oh, wait, the Dems already did that once with decidedly mixed results.

*word usage approved by OW posting rules.

Spc67 said,

I disagree about wasting resources in the South. It's a Bush lock. They've got to spend it all on the Gore states plus Florida and New Hampshire. They've got to try to win every one of those states and concede the rest.

Strategically, this may be true, but I have no desire to be a member of a regional party. The Democrats need to maintain contact with the Red states in order to work back from the current estrangement. If, as you suggest, the cost is the election, it still beats the risk of increasing irrelevance to a large part of the country, which I fear could lead to the eventual demise of the party as an entity in any meaningful sense and further polarization of the citizenry across regional lines.

Two points that I feel like commenting on (note that failure to comment does not denote agreement, except in the 'agree to disagree' sense):

1) In my opinion, the Democrats do not need drama right now. They do not need drama in the form of a brokered convention where half the candidates were picked under the 15% Rule and the other half are superdelegates who walked into the convention with the candidate already picked, especially if said candidate is not named Howard Dean. They really don't need said drama televised.

2) As to steadily dropping numbers - it depends on perception, really. Some people see this and see a President at about the right level of popularity before his re-election; some see little acorns turning into the mighty oaks of Upset. We'll see in eleven months. :)

"which I fear could lead to the eventual demise of the party as an entity in any meaningful sense"

Avert the omen: just so we're all clear, here, losing the Democratic Party would be bad.

Bush's recent re-elects -- I knew you'd respond to that part -- were 38 for Shrub, 42 for that unknown Dem guy.

This is fun, if only becuz these numbers are identical to another President at about the same time in his first term.

Awww. It's his Dad!!

(And don't underestimate Drama. The networks don't want to air the usual commercials anymore, whether it be the pious Dem coronations or the Repub minstrel show. Again, the one thing no one ever sees coming is a paradigm shift. This might apply to political conventions as well.)

The Democrats need to maintain contact with the Red states in order to work back from the current estrangement. If, as you suggest, the cost is the election, it still beats the risk of increasing irrelevance to a large part of the country, which I fear could lead to the eventual demise of the party as an entity in any meaningful sense and further polarization of the citizenry across regional lines.

I think it is a loser for you in 2004, but longer term you have a good point.

Moe, re 2), see this graph and this from the partisan but data-driven Pollkatz page.

#1 I don't think we need one candidate right now. It's more important to get the right guy. Also, our two leading candidates are inexperienced on a national stage and their skills need to improve before the real fight begins. And they've improved noticeably already. I do think it would behoove us to have a nominee by say, early March. A brokered convention could be very bad. Once it's clear who the nominee is, we all need to get behind him, stop kvetching, and actually work for him. So no more snide memos if it's Dean, Bruce and Al and friends, and no vows to stay home if it's not, fellow Dean supporters.

#2 Ignore the Greens. Moe may be trying to trick you into starting circular firing squad #82743 or he may just want Ralph Nader to shut up; either way, a left-on-left faction fight is not necessary as we're now reasonably united by our pathological/irrational/ frightening/pick-your-adjective hatred of Bush.

#3 See above

#4 Anger can work fine, as long as you don't do anything stupid and aren't only angry. Calling up any real emotion is much better than whining to, deceiving, or patronizing voters, which are all too common. But if you can only appeal to anger and not to other emotions, you're going to have some problems.

#5 In March, or whenever we find out who it is, the nominee needs to have detailed plans on everything, especially foreign policy, and unveil them in a series of brilliantly crafted speeches. (Preferably written by me.) I'd like the detailed plans now, but the press won't pay any attention--they've ignored how many so far?--and will use them to play gotcha as situations change, so I can understand the relative lack. The Sister Souljah Moment with ANSWER will get 10x as much play as the detailed, brilliant plan for Iraq reconstruction. But you still need the plan, and just as important: you need it as part of a larger vision. The democratic party hasn't lacked for plans in recent years; the side of the road is littered with lockboxes and real prescription drug benefits and energy independence plans and the rest. What we've lacked is a larger vision.

#6 Too much is made of the South as the South. If the electorate is split 50-50, Bush is as screwed in the Northeast and West coast as you are in the South. If the electorate is not 50-50, you have bigger problems. This is politics, not rocket science: You would be stupid to only campaign in states you absolutely must win. You would also be stupid to spend too much time and money in states you absolutely cannot win. Focus on swing states, Bush leaning states, and on shoring up the states you'll probably but not necessarily win, in that order.

"Bush's recent re-elects -- I knew you'd respond to that part -- were 38 for Shrub, 42 for that unknown Dem guy."

Alas, Unknown Dem Guy didn't file in time for the primaries.

"This is fun, if only becuz these numbers are identical to another President at about the same time in his first term."

Yup. Harley, mad props for ya, but I've already done my bipartisan part tonight and my other major online hobby is calling to me: I'll let you figure out for yourself the three different ways that Bush the Son's situation is better than Bush the Dad's. :)

"Moe may be trying to trick you into starting circular firing squad #82743"

Actually, no: I was playing this one straight and in my experience neither side particularly needs any help in setting up circular firing squads anyway.

"or he may just want Ralph Nader to shut up"

That, however, is true - but it's for your sake, not mine. A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush, after all. :)

Ahh, don't go away. Let's see. The economy, sitting here today, is better. (Tho', like all Bushes, he's bleeding jobs like a stuck pig.) That's one. Uhm, two. He doesn't have a moron for a Veep. No wait, Cheney's insane and that's very similar. Let's see. Bush Pere won his war and walked away with his hands clean. Bush Junior won his war and is now knee deep in neo-con delusion. And if Chalabi gets his hands on Iraq, it's only going to get worse. Hmm. Guess that can't be it. I know! Bush wasn't having an affair with his secretary. Okay. That's two. Sorry, pal. I can't get to three. Wait, Bush Junior doesn't have to run against Clinton.

Oh. Maybe he will.

tho' I shudder to think what it entails, please advise what 'running to the right' of Bush means with regards to foreign policy.

It means laying out an argument that, thus far, I've heard no Democrat but Wesley Clark make:

We wouldn't have chosen to invade Iraq. It wasn't in our national interest.* It distracted us from the real war on terror. Now that we're in, however, we must play to win. That calls for sacrifice. We'll not be withdrawing troops anytime soon; we'll not be retreating anytime soon. I'll not be the one who'll promise you that it'll be easy, or that it'll all pay for itself, or that you can have your tax cut, and your cake, and your retirement, and your children's education. Bush did that, and look where we're at.

No, I'll be the candidate that tells you that we're in an awful mess right now, and I'm going to fix it -- not by running scared or reducing troop levels, as Bush says he will, but by winning the war that should have been won six months ago. Bush started it; I'll finish it. And I promise you that I won't make the same miscalculations that Bush will.

Couple that message with a message of fiscal responsibility (preferrably framed in biblical terms -- "Bush is giving you seven years of fat with his tax policies. Well, I'm the one planning for the famine. Because, whether Bush likes it or not, whether his economic team has planned for it or not, the baby boomers are going to retire") and you have a winning message.* But only a select few can pull it off. And Dean isn't one of them.

We can't piss off* any more allies.

And only Nixon could go to China. That is: tough words from a Democrat sound different than tough words from Bush. Smart politicians know this. Dean doesn't.

(I'm not a Dean fan, in case you haven't noticed.)

von

*Well, it'll win with the von electorate. Oh, yeah, and really be for free trade (unlike Bush), please.

Dean can't win with that message or Dean can't give that message?

(Well, Clark didn't actually say any of the foregoing. But he's come close to it.)

Dean can't win with that message or Dean can't give that message?

Dean can't give that message. Or, more bluntly: someone who couldn't serve in Vietnam b/c of a back injury -- and yet somehow managed to spend his winter skiing while non-back-injured kids were dying -- can't give that message.

von

I think he knows about other kids dying in Southeast Asia, and don't ask me how a medical deferment differs from a law school deferment* or a cushy national guard rotation, but if military experience is a prerequisite he's obviously not your guy.

*this is a reference to Joe Lieberman, not to you--I have no idea if you're of the age where that would be an issue, nor would I care what you did if you were.

Katherine, Bush was very close to Gore in Oregon and I think he was in shouting distance of him in Washington(I could be wrong about Washington). Wisconsin was almost close enough for a recount. Minnesota was closer than it should have been. Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania went for Gore but close enough to be in play and with the incumbency advantage Bush probably has the lead there. That leaves you New England, outside of Maine and New Hampshire(all 6 six electorals, whoo-hoo) and California that you can consider to be safely Democratic right now. Bush can count the entire South, all of the plains states and the mountain states. He doesn't even need to visit them to win them right now. The Dems have an uphill battle to keep what they won in 2000, and have to try to win either West Virginia, Tennessee or Arkansas from Bush. Remember that Clinton won in '96 with an electoral landslide, but only 49% of the vote nationwide. Once you get into the state by state electoral count, things start to look grim for how the Dems can get to 270.

*this is a reference to Joe Lieberman, not to you--I have no idea if you're of the age where that would be an issue, nor would I care what you did if you were.

Nope. But I think my father and his eldest broather (both of whom were of age, and opposed the war) had the right idea: My father planned ahead, and did his service in the National Guard. His eldest brother chose instead spent years as a CO in a hellish bedpan-emptying hospital gig.*

von

*The way the story is told, said older brother would have preferred to be on the front lines at the Tet Offensive than repeat his bedpan-emptying gig. IOW, don't think COs got off easy.

"Ahh, don't go away. Let's see."

I'm back in passing on my way to bed: you got one out of three, alas. :)

My uncle was a C.O., so I know it was no picnic... If you're saying that you think it may take a draft and Clark is in the best position to make that call, I agree.

The thing is, I have no idea what the situation will be in Iraq in fourteen months. I'm looking, more than any specific plan, for:
1) a worldview not too radically different from mine;
2) someone I trust to put policy over politics in Iraq;
3) someone whose basic competence I trust

Only Clark and Dean pass these tests for me. Lieberman's actually probably next, but he gives me hives for other reasons. Edwards is too much of an unknown quantity. I don't trust Gephardt and Kerry after what I saw from them last fall. Bush fails all three tests with flying colors.

I don't expect to convince you on Dean--as I've said, only he can do that with some specifics on his commitment for Iraq, which he's overdue for.
But I feel honor-bound to defend him.

And Joe: add the Nader votes to the Gore votes in those states, and things look very different indeed. I don't expect the Green party to be a major factor. There are other things that make this an uphill fight for the Democrats, but it's do-able.

My uncle was a C.O., so I know it was no picnic...

Well, then, we gots an uncle in common. Yours isn't named "Jim," is it?

As for the rest: I do like Edwards, even though he and I are from diffent sides of the legal spectrum (you may know -- but non-law students/lawyers may not: not all trial lawyers are trial lawyers. I'm a "trial lawyer," for instance, but I'm the kind that tries cases against the John Edwards of the world.)

And if Bush would make Lugar, Snowe, or McCain his VP, he'd have my vote right now.

von

Katherine, California, Oregon and NE consist of about 122 electoral votes, if I counted right in my head. The south alone consists of over 150, with Republican dominance in the plains and mountains giving another 77 votes.(Once again, all counting went on in my head, I could be off an order of magnitude.) This isn't even counting the midwest states of Indiana, Ohio and Michigan that either go solidly Repub or are in play. If you can't crack into the south, all Bush has to do is hold onto the west and plains, which even Jesus Christ couldn't win as a Democrat, and pick up the three states mentioned above to win. If Bush can focus his war chest on those three battleground states, and ignore two-thirds of the country as already in his pocket you don't have a chance in 2004. You may not recover soon enough for '08.

It just isn't the money, though. When Bush can focus on a few states, he can spend personal time there. His personal charm is such that he can move people motivated to be hostile to him to feelings of respect, if not loyalty as witnessed in his trip to England. Think what he can do with people that are feeling that he hasn't screwed anything up too badly, but not sure if he deserves another term.(Yes, they do exist)

You need to focus on the south. It is not a sure loss for Dems, remember that 55% of the black population of this country lives in the south giving Dems a solid base of support if they so desire. I can't think of a scenario that would see Bush loosing while sweeping the south again.

Alas, Unknown Dem Guy didn't file in time for the primaries.

Heh. Still, given that more people would rather anybody if it's not Bush... I think you guys have an uphill fight on your hands. ;-) And don't worry - I'm not about to offer you advice as to what you should do to win in 2004 - because you'll never take it anyway.

Von says:

"Dean can't give that message. Or, more bluntly: someone who couldn't serve in Vietnam b/c of a back injury -- and yet somehow managed to spend his winter skiing while non-back-injured kids were dying -- can't give that message."

I dunno, von. I don't want to start up the Chickenhawk crap, but there are a lot of Republicans out there who should be disqualified using that criteria.

Easy fix? Make damned sure Wesley Clark is on the ticket, either in the number 1 or 2 positions.

I don't want to start up the Chickenhawk crap, but there are a lot of Republicans out there who should be disqualified using that criteria.

Quite. Starting with both the current President and Vice-President.

Easy fix? Make damned sure Wesley Clark is on the ticket, either in the number 1 or 2 positions.

Agreed.

Not bad.

Certainly an improvement over the usual VRWC advice that the Dems should adopt the GOP platform.

I'd disagree with the notion we need one candidate in the primaries; I'll grant that we'd be better off with 3-4 as opposed to 9. One candidate is not necessarily desirable at this stage; especially when it appears likely the eventual VP candidate will come from this pool.

Step 4 is off-base; anger is a good thing. Passion is needed. Contrary to your opinion that Shrubby likes it when people get angrt at him, the truth is he gets very defensive and pettily vindictive when people are angry at him. Anger actually frustrates and confuses Junior; he's immature and will blindly lash out.

Step 5 is kind of off-base, as well. Step 5 really should have read 'Don't allow the GOP to dictate the battleground.' It's basic common sense. Too often, the Dems allow Rove to issue slogans that 'Dems are soft on terrorism' etc. without forcefully responding.

There's also a Step 7, taken from the GOP 2000 playbook: 'Don't be afraid to use the 'L'-word.' The Dems really need to associate the word "lie" with "Bush."

Dean continues down the McGovern path, calling for the "breakup of media conglomerates."

(It may or may not be a bad idea, I just don't think HE can play Roosevelt breaking up the Trusts).

Back to the Vulcan Proverb "only Nixon could go to China."

Dean continues down the McGovern path, calling for the "breakup of media conglomerates."

That was only the latest of Dean's many, many mistakes.

I dunno, von. I don't want to start up the Chickenhawk crap, but there are a lot of Republicans out there who should be disqualified using that criteria.

Yes, but Republicans start with a natural advantage on defense/toughness issues. The Democrats don't. That's critical -- and why the Republicans can afford to be "chickenhawks," but the Democrats cannot.

I've figured out how to be true to my inner- starry-eyed-Dean-supporter without picking fights with von: one handwritten letter to an early primary state for each anti-Dean comment that I consider unfair or misguided, three for every such post....We hopefully have more than one reader per post, but I figure people who read this blog are much less likely than average to be undecided, so it should balance out.

Damn. This could get time consuming.

Von, consider Saletan on Dean, Bush, and military experience.

Uh oh, stuck in emphasis added land again. Now, the last time I saw this, I was the culprit, and when Macallan tried to fix it, it didn't work, but when I did, it stopped. Let's test to see whether only he/she who broke it can fix it.

If this part is still italicized, we must find the wrongdoer and force him or her to make amends.

Moe? Is there a setting in notepad that automatically shuts off style at the end of a paragraph? I think they have some such thing running on Tacitus and Kos.

Hey, it worked. I have to go find Mac and dance around him in a circle, singing, "I know something you don't know," since this is probably the only opportunity I'll ever have to do so. :)

Moe, they should probably find someone that knows that the Soviet Union isn't likely to be selling much of anything nowadays, although it still might be able to vote in Chicago.

if you want to make this about malapropisms and geographical knowledge, bring. it. on.

cute line about Chicago though.

Wouldn't dream of it. Just thinking that your team may wish to tone down the indignation over Bush's use of the language. When you run as the anti-moron, it isn't helpful to do moronic things.

Thanks for the compliment on Chicago.

Thanks, Rilkefan.*

von

*Notice correct spelling of name. (O.K., O.K., so I cut and pasted it . . . .)

Excellent post, and I second the idea it was much better than saying we should run as Republicans.

Clark has the best white papers on Iraq I've seen, definitely including anything put out by the "oops, what happened" Administration. Unfortunately, if he can't get some excitement behind his campaign, that won't matter. Dean is so well with that—of course, if Dean wins the nomination, he can run Clark as his VP, or pre-announce him for Sec Def or Sec State.

Assuming the race isn't some sort of a blow-out, I don't think anything west of the Sierra Nevada and south of the 49th parallel is in play for Bush, as the Nader vote vanishes. Bush-2000 states in play: NH, OH, WV, FL, NV, AZ, AR (if Clark is on the ticket).

Avert the omen: just so we're all clear, here, losing the Democratic Party would be bad.

For them, maybe. For the country, probably not.

"For the country, probably not."

Consider the alternative.

Consider the alternative.

I have, without a Democratic Party we could finally have:

Social Security and Medicare reform.
More judicial nominees who are strict constructionists.
Tort and Regulatory reform.
Less political pressure for increased spending on social programs and trade protectionism.
An end to government-mandated racial preferences and setasides.

I'm not a VRWCDB but in so far as the Democrats are diametrically opposed to each of these policy reforms and their demise makes them more likely to occur, I see that as a good thing.

We can have two parties in this country, but that does not mean one of them should be the Democrats.

Oh and add school choice and medical savings accounts to the list of reforms that could be implimented as well.

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