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February 03, 2006

Comments

;The environment is an issue that Democrats could use to pick up moderate or Republican votes, although the Demo leadership is too locked up in conventional unwisdoms to see it. Schweitzer in Montana got votes from NRC groups by pointing out that there will be no animals to hunt is habitat isn't preserved for them. Right now the intermountain West is full of potential Democratic voters because of the way the Bush administration has allowed rampant natural gas drilling to abuse both public and private lands.

Another thing--it is a persistant tactical error on the part of the Demo leadership to think they can win elelctions by "moderating" their positions. There is a critical percentage ov voters in this country who vote for the candidate they think is honest, straight-forward and trustworthy without regard to the issues. That kind of voter is perfectly willing to vote for someone who is the opposite on the issues if they think the candidate is a says-what-he-means- and-means -what -he says person. Democrats are much better off and more likely to win elelctions by being clear straightshooters on the issues than by being what they think independents will consider moderate.
Paul Hackett is my hero!

Here's what I think.

So to speak.

Lily: "Schweitzer in Montana got votes from NRC groups...."

Is that "National Resource Council" or "National Republican Committee" or a typo for "NRA" (National Rifle Association), or yet something else?

"Right now the intermountain West is full of potential Democratic voters because of the way the Bush administration has allowed rampant natural gas drilling to abuse both public and private lands."

We just elected the first Democratic Senator in Colorado for the first time in umpty years. We just elected a Democratic State Senate and State House for the first time in decades, and the first time in decades for either. We're poised to elect a Democratic Governor for the first time since Richard Lamm, if we don't blow it.

I have high hopes of tossing the f-tard Wayne Allard in 2008, if we don't blow it like last time, when we let good guy Tom Strickland be painted as a "liberal lawyer-lobbyist who will take direction from Washington Beltway Democrats and outsiders."

The West is quite ripe for more Democrats, and for sending electoral votes for a Democrat.

If we stay focused, and don't blow it, and y'know what? If we don't listen overly to Democratic people back east and from elsewhere who insist that they know better what's right for our states' politics than we do, or that they don't give a damn about that.

Just noting.

Oh, and: ""Right now the intermountain West is full of potential Democratic voters because of the way the Bush administration has allowed rampant natural gas drilling to abuse both public and private lands."

Won't speak for any other states. Not an issue in Colorado. Water is. Lots of things are. Not gas drilling, particularly. Don't recall seeing a single article about it, or single Democrat mention it, yet, here, though I may easily have just missed it. But it's definitely not a big deal. Sorry. Maybe some other Western state, to be sure.

"That kind of voter is perfectly willing to vote for someone who is the opposite on the issues if they think the candidate is a says-what-he-means- and-means -what -he says person."

This is how Russ Feingold is a Senator. It's how Paul Wellstone was a Senator. But local conditions always apply, and there are few generally applicable rules.

"Paul Hackett is my hero!"

He'll only be my hero if he gets elected.

I meant National Rifle Association and I should have spelled it out.
The natural gas situation isn't a case of Easterners telling Westerners what to do. The problem is that the drilling rights on both private and federal lands have been thrown open with little or no control over the environmental degradation resulting from the driling. This has caused wells to be poisoned, cattle and wildlife to be killed, and ranch owners to have their businesses ruined. Utah and Wyoming are the areas most affected. I don't think the Front Range counts as intermountain.
I also think Easterners or Southerners or Northerners, since they are also stakeholders, have as much right to influence the management of federal lands as the people living ajacent to a particular piece of federal land, particularly if the person living ajacent is a special interest parasite exploiting the land for private gains while demanding subsidies. And no I would not express that thought so forthrightly if I was running for office out there--but I would stand up for public interest regulations on the public's land.
Westerners, of course, also should have a say in the management of federal lands outside the West since it theirs, too.

lily: "if they think the candidate is a says-what-he-means- and-means -what -he says person."

The operative word is "think". One of Bush's frequent lines in 2004 was "You may not agree with me, but you know where I stand." In actuality, surveys showed people seldom knew where he stood on issues, possibly because he changed his mind so often, but they believed that he was the type of person you described.

Gary's most important point may well be the one about local issues applying, specially in the upcoming elections. A lot of the rabid base, specially in the East, sometimes forget this.

I think one of Dean's biggest accomplishments has been building up the party in both the individual states and more local areas. This means they are not as beholden to establishment and can be more driven by the local issues.

I agree that it is important not to sell our soul by giving up on our basic avlues as a party, but it is important to recognize that winning is important in order to be in a position to implement those values.

And that means supporting someone at times who is not 100% behind what the base, whatever that really is, thinks is important.

I think the triangulation issue is important. The key thing about Kaine giving the Democratic response is that he does represent a background of values and faith which resonates with a lot of the public.

I think by presenting ourselves as strong on national security, and by pointing out the incompetence of the current administration, supported by many in Congress, we can build our strength.

Gary pointed out at HoCB that his biggest concern is the gerrymandering that has taken effect in many areas.

Although it is a concern, Hackett's race for Congress in an extremely Republican district showed that it can be done, even though he lost.

There are many districts that are considered Republican but not with that kind of dominance that, if campaigned right, can be taken over without selling our souls to the devil.

I still think Dean would've beat Bush had he been nominated. Screw polite. The public would stand up I think and praise the honesty, the emotions. Kerry was just a nightmare of arbitrary stands, milktoast and inoffensive. I vote the person. Dean had guts.

McCain has the quality of appearing to be the straight-talking trustworthy guy. NPR had some interviews with Democratic voters in Wisconsin who said they's vote for him. That quality of brave trustworthy integrity, or the perception of that quality, is very important, and I am very frustrated at the failure of the DNC etc. to notice its value. The Republican leadership is fully aware that elections can be won by appealing to the base and the non-issue voter--that's why they keep nominating fakes like Bush and actors like Reagan. I'm not suggesting that our candidates be fakes or actors, but I do think that, when it comes to national office, we should look for a candidate who not only is trustworthy but is able to project the quality of trustworthiness. This is exactly why it would be fatal to nominate Hillary Clinton. Regardless of her real qualities, the image she projects is one of a politician who gets her opinions from the opinion polls.

Excellent, hilzoy. I want the same thing for Democrats. I also want the same thing for Republicans. And Independents.

And for me, just to be clear. Life gets to be a swirl, sometimes, and getting things unswirled requires clear thinking that sort of demands that one bootstrap oneself out of the swirl to achieve. What's it like up there?

"Gary's most important point may well be the one about local issues applying, specially in the upcoming elections. A lot of the rabid base, specially in the East, sometimes forget this."

I gotta run out the door for a couple of hours of errands, and moreover it's looking like snow again (and so said the forecast), so just a quick note to emphasize that one of the biggest, and longest-standing uber-political issues -- and everyone likely is aware of this, but it can't be over-stated -- in the Western States, and including at least Washington State and Oregon, as well, to varying degrees, is resentment of the East, and feeling largely ignored by the Bos-Wash cultural/political corridor culture.

As we know, I'm a born-and-bred Brooklynite/New Yorker, but I lived in Seattle for eight years, and more than four years here in Colorado, and this thread of resentment of Easterners/outsiders, and being ignored and taken for granted, just underlies almost every political issue, except where it overlays it.

Even as an immigrant, I've picked up a bit of it myself.

It hasn't gotten any better since the West went for Reagan. But Democrats in Colorado have succeeded, finally, this past year, after decades of frustration and powerlessness, and that's why not blowing it is so crucial to the success or failure of Democrats here for decades to come. Right now, the general public is taking the Democrats on a test drive. (We're still a minority in the Congressional delegation, and Governor Owens is about to appoint a new state Supreme Court Justice, picking from one of three extreme conservatives, one of whom clerked for Clarence Thomas.)

We can blow it incredibly easily. Incredibly easily. Democratic credibility is at stake here for the next generation.

Which is why Ken Salazar didn't vote for a futile filibuster. (There are, of course, local Democratic analysts and bloggers who will disagree with my take, and many know more about Colorado politics than I do.) But my own attitude is that non-Colorado Democrats who don't like that he didn't can take it and stick it. They don't have to live here.

I suspect it's not all that different in Montana and some of the other states where Democratic Senators didn't support a pointless filibuster that would only have been a symbolic gesture of futility, or even voted "yes" in a handful of cases.

Okay, end of my looking backwards at the filibuster, I hope, and laser-like focus on November.

Gotta run.

Gary: agreed (speaking as an east coast person who has lived in the West -- and if you'd like to really experience resentment of the East Coast in all its splendor, just try being a Harvard philosophy PhD student working at a biker bar. I double dare ya.) (I set myself the task of defusing it. It wouldn't have worked if they had known about, um, my family, but I did manage it.)

Which brings me to one of my pet thingos: we must, must, MUST ditch the NH primary, if for no other reason than that it gives a built-in advantage to candidates from Massachusetts. I can't tell you how my heart sank when I realized we were going to nominate Kerry -- not really for any policy reasons, but just because the man has the charisma of a toadstool. It was even worse than the experience it reminded me most of: my sinking feeling when we nominated Dukakis.

Both times I was working for Southwesterners, now that I think of it: Babbitt in 88, Clark in 04. Maybe I should conclude that I'm cursed, and root for the MA candidate next time.

Kennedy in '08!

Ok, just kidding.

Thomas Nephew comments here, and asks what Hilzoy is on about; explains again that: "We need more Feingolds, Kennedys, Deans and Durbins -- the Durbin who leads filibusters, that is, not the one who snivels an apology on the Senate floor for telling the truth. If getting one of those in one part of the country costs you a Salazar in the West, fine. After all, so what: it's just a Salazar -- an empty suit who could actually cooperate with getting Alito to the Supreme Court."

I again recommended he read the piece and discussion here.

Thomas' excellent left/liberal blog Newsrack lives there; he does much fine writing on various issues, such as Wal-mart, torture, and other important left/liberal causes. Well-written, thoughtful, with good links, it's a blog that deserves more attention and readers.

"...just try being a Harvard philosophy PhD student working at a biker bar. I double dare ya."

An interesting proposition, and a tough offer to turn down. But I think I'd need an undergrad degree first, and at the least, financial aid, and I don't think a philosophy degree is what I'd want to pursue, should I pursue a formal degree. I'd also probably not be the best fit for a biker bar.

But it's a an interesting challenge, without doubt.

:-)

Kagro X on Impeachment

A duplicate link from the preceding post.

I have difficulty with posts and threads like this, I suppose because of differing starting premises. I think we are in uncharted territory, and policy/politics/law as usual is directly counterproductive. That history is no guide, because the conservative gang that came out of the Nixon/post Nixon years is uniquely dangerous, unprecedented in the history of the country.

I think elections, budget battles, SCOTUS fights, most of the topics that would be appropriate ten or thirty years ago are now simply distractions. Those who care must go meta:must imagine a complete restructuring of the nation and must contemplate the extra-legal means (peaceful examples are impeachment or a constitutional convention;perhaps secession or alliances with outside hostile powers) or reversing direction.

I actually hope I am wrong.

I am never sure whether or not to say that I hold moderate political views. I think of myself that way, but the political spectrum has shifted so far to the right that I think that just be staying put, I have ended up farther to the left than when I started.

Hilzoy, would you consider the possibility that your original positions, what you thought to be moderate, were actually left, and that the political landscape shifting underfoot is merely moving back to center?

bains: with respect, no. I cannot imagine in what possible world I would think that our current political landscape is centered on, well, the center. I draw some support from the fact that in the terms of most other comparable countries ( = developed countries), our left is their center, or possibly center-left.

bains,
not meaning to tag team on you here, but the notion of 'returning to the center' implies that the movement that has been made (which I think of as social progress) is mistaken. This is not to claim that you are opposed to Loving v. Virginia or something like that, but something like that seems, at least to me, to inhere in your claim.

"...and that the political landscape shifting underfoot is merely moving back to center?"

What year or period of years would you point to an example of a time that the center, as you understand it, was in the ascendency?

Which three pre-1980 U.S. would you point to as exemplifying said center?

"...that the movement that has been made (which I think of as social progress)...."

I suspect this is far too vague to be very useful. There has been an awful lot of movement in an awful lot of directions, and you've not even defined which time period you are using as a baseline. 1900? 1800? 1700? 1950? 1965? 1980? Or what?

Drat. This: "Which three pre-1980 U.S. would you point to as exemplifying said center?"

Should be: "Which three pre-1980 U.S. politicians would you point to as exemplifying said center?"

Apologies.

We just elected the first Democratic Senator in Colorado for the first time in umpty years. We just elected a Democratic State Senate and State House for the first time in decades, and the first time in decades for either. We're poised to elect a Democratic Governor for the first time since Richard Lamm, if we don't blow it.

oh come on Gary, you know damn well Sen. Cambell started off Democrat switching parties during the 'Reagen Revolution' but never really buckling to GOP interests when it did not serve. Ben has always been DINO or RINO depending upon circumstances. And before Allard who did we have? Tim Wirth and Gary Hart. And let's not forget the wonderfully hypocritical Rep. Pat Schroeder who hated all things military... until it came to perpetual funding for Fitzsimons et al.

This is, and will for the forseeable future, be a purple state. Which is good - it demands, for statewide and federal offices - that our representitive accomidate, represent, and honor our collective, and I think centrist, will.

I suspect this is far too vague to be very useful.

Perhaps, but I am under the impression that in terms of social tolerance, now is better than then. Also, absent any more precise definitions, the whole thrust of 'moving back' is that things were better back in the day. Perhaps they were for particular groups, but I took from Bains that the argument wasn't from a particular group's point of view but from an overall view. I also assume that bains is between the ages of 30 and 60, and so is only talking about periods of time that were experienced rather than ones that were studied thru history.

Hilzoy, I did not ask whether you thought our nation "centered" now, just whether you've considered the possibility that your perspective started not moderate, but left.

bains: minor clarifications: I should have made my time-frame clear, but I didn't. Since I was in college, I think I've been center-left, in my terms, but I suppose I would now count as left. That's also when I meant that the country was shifting: starting with (say) Reagan.

"Tim Wirth and Gary Hart."

Both of whom I thought very well of, incidentally, although I didn't move to Colorado until December, 2001.

I was a Hart supporter in both of his tries at the Democratic Presidential nomination, and was elected delegate from my downtown Seattle (Denny Regrade, 420 Vine St., for the record) precinct to the county convention in '84 (and wound up with my picture, with several others from our precinct meeting, on the front page of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer the morning after the precinct caucuses, because our precinct was just a couple of blocks from the P-I building, so we were the Examples Of People Caucusing).

Although in 1980, I was momentarily a Republican casting a Republican caucus vote (Seattle, Capitol Hill) for John Anderson (and me and my sweetie were the editorial cartoon by Dave Horsey in the Seattle Times the next day, since he was in our precinct and did the same, and the other members of our caucus were all classic blue-haired, little old Republican ladies; the cartoon was a caricature, grossly exaggerating our hippiesh looks, giving me a fringed jacket I didn't have, and my sweetie an earring she didn't have -- but utterly clearly us -- being asked by a prune-faced Republican old lady with a clipboard to sign in, and captioned with us saying "why, yes, we're life-long Republicans!").

I have no explanation for why for two Presidential elections in a row I wound up on either the front page or the editorial page of Seattle's two newspapers. It's a strange world.

But I really liked both Hart and Wirth. Still do.

I'd still be interested if you might answer the two simple questions I asked you, bains. They are not trick questions.

Simple questions? They were oblique, Gary. Ask a simple question, hell ask a hard question; just don’t bury it in minutiae.

bains, I don't see how there can be any argument that the "center" is far more rightward than it was, say, 20 years ago; particularly in terms of economics, law enforcement, and the role of the public sector in addressing social needs.

In the last 20 years, conventional wisdom has shifted from disapproving of monopolies because they're anti-competitive to supporting monopolies because they're "efficient."

In the last 20 years, conventional wisdom has shifted from extolling the virtues of upward mobility for all to a resigned acceptance of more wealth in fewer hands; along with a peculiar acceptance of stagnant wages for most workers coupled with stratospheric salaries for top corporate officers.

In the last 20 years, conventional wisdom has shifted from excoriating Democratic President Jimmy Carter for running $77 billion dollar deficits per year to an astonishing indifference in the face of Republican President George Bush's $500 billion dollar deficits per year.

In the last 20 years, we've seen the "War on Drugs" become wholely punitive, with rehab and treatment all but abandoned in favor of more and longer jail sentences; public funding of drug prevention programs long gone; property confiscation carried out against people who had nothing to do with the drug-related crime justifying the seizure; and a growing acceptance of unlimited law enforcement powers and intrusiveness. (We've also seen how the WoD disregard for Constitutional rights and legal norms has leaked over into the WoT. It's hard to believe the nation would have countenanced the extra-legal and illegal authority the Bush Admin has abrogated to itself if we hadn't been softened up to accept all that by the the WoD.)

In 20 years, we've seen the idea of rehabilitating criminals die out completely, in favor of longer jail sentences, and more death penalties for more crimes. We've also seen the end of the idea that "punishment = time served": we now want to ostracize, isolate, and penalize a felon for the rest of his/her life.

In the past 20 years, the notion that government can and should provide basic social services, from education to public health facilities, in order to lift people out of poverty and keep the elderly from falling into it, has all but faded from sight, along with the funding to provide those services. (The Medicare Rx Drug Plan is a particularly cruel joke, crafted to funnel taxpayer dollars to insurance companies and Big Pharma, while sticking the elderly with confusing and contradictory drug plans that don't cover the meds they need.)

In the past 20 years, we've gone from considering torture an atrocity to legitimizing it; from regarding "pre-emptive" war as contrary to American values to making it the centerpeice of our defense strategy; from being suspicious of overarching Presidential power to supporting the idea that the President need follow no laws at all.

Society as a whole has grown more accepting of gay/transgender issues in the past 20 years - but that's the only area I can think of where the general discourse has shifted at all "leftward." Everything else has been a double-time march rightward.

Casey, I'm not disputing that the country has moved to the right, I'm just positing traditional centrist America may not be what you think.

I've e-mailed both Tim Burke and Hilzoy to mention that I've added an addendum to my post I linked above pointing to this post of Tim's, which strikes me as having interesting things of relevance to say in the context of Hilzoy's post. So I'm mentioning that here, as well.

It's a quite long post by Tim, and apt to not be to everyone's taste, to be sure, but others may find it of some interest.

"Simple questions? They were oblique, Gary."

""Which three pre-1980 U.S. politicians would you point to as exemplifying said center?" and "What year or period of years would you point to an example of a time that the center, as you understand it, was in the ascendency?" are "oblique"?

I don't know what to say to that. (I'm striking "would you prefer 'if you were a tree, which tree would you be?'" as unhelpful.)

I don't know how, just now, to ask more simply what your baseline year/example for "the center" is.

You subsequently say "...I'm just positing traditional centrist America may not be what you think."

I'm just trying to get a clue as to what you regard as "traditional centrist America."

Maybe you think it's obvious to all, but it isn't to me, at least. Maybe it's obvious to everyone else, though that would surprise me.

When did we have that traditional centrism? Who exemplified it? When did it peak? How can we know what we're supposed to move back to if you can't point to it?

I assume you can point to it. I don't know -- and I'm not being coy here, I mean I don't know -- why these wouldn't be simple questions, or what's "oblique" in the least about them. They're entirely straight-forward, so far as I can see. As I said, they're not trick questions.

If it helps, here's an answer I'd offer from my perspective: I'd point to 1958-1962, and splitting the difference between Eisenhower Republicanism and JFK Democraticness, as a period of "traditional centrism" in my lifetime, and I'm conciously excluding the racist (then particularly exemplified by Southern Democrats, although also present in more, though not deeply, subtle form in many pale-skinned people of the North) portion of America from said "centrism."

See? Not hard to answer at all. But I'd like to know your opinion, not mine.

I'd say that the country then moved, in schizophrenic fashion, somewhat leftward and rightward through 1968-1972, with arguably a general overall trend a bit towards the left, and then started moving right from 1980 on, although again with a fair degree of schizophrenia (in the colloquial, not clinical, sense, of course). This is extremely loosely speaking, of course, and a vast and overwhelming generalization, but I wasn't asking for anything more. (And it was merely an error that in my last comment I asked for a "year," but didn't include "period of time," which I had meant to, but accidentally left out.)

Again, this is not a difficult observation to make, but I'd like to know your opinion, not mine. I already know mine.

Ok I read Burke and his commenters. I will read it again.

As far as I am concerned Burke and hilzoy and Farber are to the present political circumstances as Friedman and Beinart and Pollack were to the buildup to the Iraq war.
Misplaced optimism, good intentions, and magnanimity will be rewarded by no one.

Liberal proceduralism is a luxury of peacetime.

I was wondering if the person who wrote this comment was the same person who was on about the US being a country with limited immigration at a recent thread here.

Which three pre-1980 U.S. politicians would you point to as exemplifying said center?

Lyndon Johnson
Hubert Humphrey
Richard Nixon

What year or period of years would you point to an example of a time that the center, as you understand it, was in the ascendency?

1954-1966
1988-1992


Correction: 1988-1996

Thanks, Dave! (See, it's easy! Everyone can play!) (I wouldn't argue with your choices, either, so long as we can exclude Nixon's opinions that "when the President does it, it isn't illegal" and that he had the right to bug opponents, etc., although the latter also applies to LBJ, and to a lesser degree to JFK, as well.)

There are many examples of Republicans and conservative being out of control, and while certainly hilzoy and others here do a creditable job of pointing those out, there are quite a few criticisms of the Bush Admin (still no vetos) and the Republican Congress (spending like a drunken sailor). For instance National Review and Instapundit can often be quite critical.

The problem for liberals is that they have dropped the ball in several cases.

Farm subsidies reward corporate farming and punish the small farmers.

The labor unions, trade unions specifically, have discouraged black membership because of cronyism and wage protection. On a Chicago local radio show, I heard black conservatives complain about this specific problem.

The pitch for social welfare has been made in terms of middle-class entitlements, rather than where it is really needed. (I understand the need to attract voters, already).

I certainly see the need for a Post New-Left, I just don't see it happening, and I don't see who will lead this. Strongly agree with hilzoy that it cannot be led by wealthy MA Senators.

BoB M: the day I start apologizing for Bush's policies, or say that I'm with him because some fictional Bush in my mind shares my views, or say that he had the right idea but alas implemented it ineptly, is the day I will accept a comparison to Friedman.

Also, I am not expecting any reward, so the fact that none will be forthcoming is of no concern to me.

I might be in the wrong thread, but I read that Tristero post about cutting the New Left loose and I was a little bothered by it. Well, more by Barbara at Mahablog and her comments than by Tristero.
Barbara seems to judge the far left by its actual sins and the centrist liberals by some alleged set of ideals that they don't actually seem to follow in practice. Case in point--the Vietnam War. I didn't think there was any doubt that American involvement in Vietnam (which started in a big way, IMO, with JFK and the bombing of South Vietnamese villages by American pilots) began under liberal American Presidents following what most of us lefties would now call a misguided version of liberal anticommunism. (Anticommunism is okay, if it isn't accompanied by anticommunist bloodbaths, coups, torture, etc...) But to Barbara, the actions of liberal Presidents and their liberal supporters are not to be charged to the liberal account. No, it was all the fault of the evil conservatives who pressured them to do it. But on the other hand, when far lefties started waving North Vietnamese flags, it can't be passed off as the understandable overreaction of mostly young people outraged by a terrible war. Nope, those far lefties have to be cut loose.

This revisit of the Vietnam era is relevant, I think, because we're in more or less the same boat now. There are people on the far left who romanticize the Iraqi "resistance". And there are "liberals" like Kerry and Clinton who've been Bush's enablers in going into Iraq. So do we cut loose the liberals or the lefties? How about neither? How about cutting loose the idea that you cut people loose, and just criticize people when they say or do stupid things, and side with them when you happen to agree with them?

But what do I know about practical politics? Not much.

"I didn't think there was any doubt that American involvement in Vietnam (which started in a big way, IMO, with JFK and the bombing of South Vietnamese villages by American pilots) began under liberal American Presidents following what most of us lefties would now call a misguided version of liberal anticommunism."

Just to be technical, it "began" under Eisenhower, whom I wouldn't call a "liberal."

I agree with your characterization of "which started in a big way IMO, with JFK...."

JFK gets full responsibility for involving American troops, and LBJ full responsibility for escalating them to numbers in the hundreds of thousands.

But they didn't "begin" it; that goes back to what Eisenhower authorized John Foster Dulles to do at the 1954 Geneva conference, and our beginning to supply the French with massive amounts of money and weapons and diplomatic support and so on. And our refusal to abide by what we agreed to at the Conference as regards abiding by free elections in Vietnam.

(One could make a case for FDR's not recognizing Ho in 1945, and then Truman doing the same, as the "beginning" of American involvement, and our couple of OSS guys there during late WWII, but I don't consider a lack of action to be a true "beginning.")

This is entirely tangential to your primary point, of course, but I'm a nit for the details, as we know.

Strongly agree with hilzoy that it cannot be led by wealthy MA Senators.

It could well be led by wealthy MA Senators, it's just unlikely to be led by Kerry. There's a major distinction between the two.

Anarch: we MA folk have such an enormous disadvantage going in that I would oppose any MA senator, unless Feingold, Durbin, or Obama decide to relocate. Honestly, it's just not worth relearning that particular lesson over and over, like Charlie Brown with the football.

"Anarch: we MA folk have such an enormous disadvantage going in that I would oppose any MA senator, unless Feingold, Durbin, or Obama decide to relocate."

Consider the irony if somehow Mitt Romney should gain the Republican nomination, and by whatever happenstance, win the Presidency.

"Anarch: we MA folk have such an enormous disadvantage going in that I would oppose any MA senator, unless Feingold, Durbin, or Obama decide to relocate."

Assuming you're still talking about the creation of a Post New-Left here, I'm not convinced that the left (or anyone, tbh) should cavil before the... classism? geographicalism? whatever the hatred of the East Coast in general, or Massachussetts in particular, is called. So while I certainly agree that such endeavours would be easier if they came from a different geographic source, I completely disagree that this "lesson" is worth learning, or even respecting -- since by doing so, you've essentially legitimized the otherwise irrational hatred/derision/dismissal (call it what you will) of a large swathe of Americans.

Anarch: maybe I'm just having a hard time getting over the experience of watching us nominate Kerry and Dukakis. Kerry was worse, possibility of winning-wise, but I had more experience with Dukakis, having worked in the State House while he was governor. He was smart, and for all I know may have mellowed or something, but he was a real prig, with the political instincts of a lump of granite. For a while, his evil twin, John Sasso, compensated for this, doing all the things Dukakis didn't want to know about, but then Sasso was discovered to have leaked something unflattering about one of D's opponents to a reporter (I never could see what the problem with this was -- the unflattering thing was widely acknowledged to be true), and had to resign, leaving D. without his evil twin, and thus without a clue.

Still, even I wasn't prepared for what a dreadful candidate he was. -- So maybe it's that that makes me shudder at the thought.

(In all seriousness, I've thought for years that a southern accent or southwest twang is a major electoral asset. Makes a person sound unassuming and folksy.)

"Assuming you're still talking about the creation of a Post New-Left here...."

I thought she was talking about who liberals should support for a Democratic Presidential nomination. I'm fairly sure I'm correct.

Did I miss a comment where Hilzoy wrote anything about a "a Post New-Left," by the way? I see other people talking about it. Hilzoy?

"...but then Sasso was discovered to have leaked something unflattering about one of D's opponents to a reporter...."

Specifically, Joe Biden's plagiarizing a Neil Kinnock speech, my memory says without checking via Google.

Yup.

To clarify, hilzoy, were your remarks solely confined to the selection of a Presidential candidate or were they to be taken in the context of a wider "creation of a Post New-Left"?

Oh -- selection of Presidential candidate. Pure and simple. Never again.

And Gary -- thanks for the memory jog. Like I said, I couldn't see what the problem was then; now, as sins go, it seems downright quaint.

"Like I said, I couldn't see what the problem was then; now, as sins go, it seems downright quaint."

I think the primary sin is that it made Biden look stupid in that he obviously didn't expect to be caught. That is, it made him look stupid, because he did a thing that was stupid.

And plagiarism, of course, is Not Good, though hardly up there with so many other things we can compare it to.

There are far worse people who might be President (or Secretary of State) than Joe Biden. But I think he'd make a lousy candidate; he's got Senate Speech Disease, and I'm reaosonably sure a quite incurable case.

But I also don't expect him to ever get seriously near the nomination, either, for a considerable variety of reasons. Certainly the Base isn't going to support him.

Secretary of State for a Democratic President in 2008 seems entirely possible, if it could be done without hurting Democratic numbers in the Senate. Not that I'm saying that he'd be my own favorite choice, either, and conventional wisdom keeps pointing to Richard Holbrooke as the default in that slot (not that I'd consider that any kind of sure thing), but it seems possible under described conditions.

I found Dukakis losing to Bush 41 in '88 extremely depressing. G. H. W. Bush wasn't a terribly strong candidate, but never underestimate the ability of a Democratic Presidential nominee, and the Party, to throw away an easy opening.

Gary: it wasn't the plagiarism I couldn't see the problem with; it was Sasso's telling a reporter about it. He resigned over that, and I blame a significant share of Bush's electoral victory on that fact. (Asking him to resign is pure Dukakis. The same Dukakis one of whose first acts on being elected governor was to ingratiate himself with the state reps by taking away all their low-number license plates and nice parking spots. He was always doing pointless things that made people hate him.)

"Gary: it wasn't the plagiarism I couldn't see the problem with; it was Sasso's telling a reporter about it."

Well, that was just shockingly mean, after all. We Democrats have Ethics.

Karl Rove was yet unknown to the country.

It does make quite the compare and contrast, absolutely.

Anarch, If you want to win elections you have to learn lessons whether you like them or not. Democrats from the New England can't win national office except on a fluke. It doesn't matter if this is rational or not--it's a fact and it is suicidal to ignore it because it isn't rational.
Hilzoy is right about Democrats needing to have folksy accents to win national office. That goes to my point about the necessity of preceived trustworthiness. In order to win Democrats need base plus people who vote for a style of perceived trustworthiness, and, irratinal as it is, many people perceive that quality in the accents of the West and South. Why do you think Bush changed his speaking style so dramatically after he lost his first race in Texas?
I am not saying that we should run fakes and actors like the Republicans do. I am saying that you win elections with the voters you have, not the voters you wish you had. And that means we need candidates who don't sound like Beltway robots, no New Englanders, no finely polished smoothies, no matter how genuine their merits. We need a good, intelligent, competent person who knows how to act like Bush, Reagan or McCain in terms of style. In terms of STYLE only. Our substance.

I'm hugely disappointed in your (hilzoy's) attitude towards Massachusetts. Two examples, who were bad candidates for other reasons, is evidence of an irrevocable trend; one counterexample is "a fluke"? Boy, that's some impressive statistics there. You could as easily make those generalizations for, say, a Jewish candidate, or a black candidate, or a Senator, or a woman, or....

In reality, I think all of those are disadvantages, but every candidate has disadvantages. Without looking specifically at who the candidates are, it is ridiculous to say any one will be decisive. I mean, quick: Michael Capuano, Barbara Boxer or Dennis Kucinich, who's the best candidate?

I was 10 during the 1988 elections, and I thought people who thought Kerry was the most electable candidates were kidding themselves. But only an idiot would make their voting decision based entirely on what state a candidate was from, and I'm sick of the Democratic party forming its entire strategy based on the assumption that most voters are idiots. I am really suprised to see some of you advocate it.

(as far as the New Hampshire primary, states should rotate; it's only fair. It's also never going to happen.

In this case Kerry's victory had as least as much to do with winning in Iowa as being local. He was behind Clark until he won in Iowa.)

"I was 10 during the 1988 elections, and I thought people who thought Kerry was the most electable candidates were kidding themselves."

I assume you mean "Dukakis."

I don't think the Democrats base their strategy on the assumption that the voters are idiots. The Democrats who participate in primaries base their partly choice on the false assumption that all voters decide how to vote the same way activist liberals decide: on the issues. In fact many people decide based on how they react to what they see on TV. This isn't idiotic behavior. They are simmply putting a higher value on personality as they perceive it than on their own opinions on issues. New Englanders and Beltway professionals are not appealing to that kind of voter. The idiocy is with Democrtas who are unwilling to think outside the box of their own decision-making process to try to understand how other people make decsions.
Nobody votes for for against based on state or at least not enough people to matter. However enough people are influenced by style that style DOES matter.

"However enough people are influenced by style that style DOES matter."

I rather think that point has sunk in on at least some of the pros -- obviously not others -- since George Lakoff became the topic of debate on everyone's lips by 2004, if not 2003.

To be sure, last I looked, Harry Reid was still making fun of Lakoff.

GF: JFK gets full responsibility for involving American troops, and LBJ full responsibility for escalating them to numbers in the hundreds of thousands.

But they didn't "begin" it; that goes back to what Eisenhower authorized John Foster Dulles to do at the 1954 Geneva conference, and our beginning to supply the French with massive amounts of money and weapons and diplomatic support and so on. And our refusal to abide by what we agreed to at the Conference as regards abiding by free elections in Vietnam.

(One could make a case for FDR's not recognizing Ho in 1945, and then Truman doing the same, as the "beginning" of American involvement, and our couple of OSS guys there during late WWII, but I don't consider a lack of action to be a true "beginning.")

This is entirely tangential to your primary point, of course, but I'm a nit for the details, as we know.

As a "nit for the details," you may know that some historians* date the effective US involvement in Vietnam from 1950, when we started subsidizing - as opposed to merely encouraging - the French military effort there. The Truman administration was not just guilty of "lack of action"; it took the first major step into the quagmire.

*Note, for example the dates in the full title of one of the most-used college textbooks on the war: George C. Herring, America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam 1950-1975.

PS: I'm not ragging on you, Gary. It's precisely because I know that you are in fact a "nit for the details" - which I admire - that I bother to tweak your history here.

"PS: I'm not ragging on you, Gary. It's precisely because I know that you are in fact a 'nit for the details' - which I admire - that I bother to tweak your history here."

Yup. Thanks. I didn't want to get too much into detail, but you made a perfectly fair (and welcome) point.

Hey, I knew all that. Well, mostly. I didn't know the exact date when we started supporting the French. But the bombing of villages by Americans started with, AFAIK, JFK.

But I don't mind well-intentioned nitpicking.

If I may post on this dead thread... I've been thinking about these center-left-versus-hard-left fights a lot lately. I think the distinction to make is whether a lack of compromise is primarily to make your society and world better, or primarily to prove that you're the best leftist of all and a truer member of the club than all those other posers.

If you give up most of what you're fighting for for tactical reasons, it doesn't do any good. But neither does heaping scorn on your potential allies for not believing all the same things as you (and that could involve rejecting them for being a little too extreme as well as for being not extreme enough).

Worse is the tendency to heap scorn on people for not having always believed the same things as you, even after they've changed their minds. (This is an easy thing to do and I am sometimes guilty of it myself.) Rationally, you should want people to change their minds to your position, not punish them afterward for not having started out there. It isn't a contest to see whose heart is the most pure.

There are some commenters on liberal blogs whose primary theme is rejecting things: they reject the Democratic Party or reject politics or reject American society for not being as pure as they are. It can be an understandable feeling but it's not really very constructive. I think that there are a lot of people in progressive politics who place such a high value on trust and integrity that they easily become suspicious of others. But this is no way to build movements.

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