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May 04, 2009

Comments

I thought I'd become accustomed to the use of the word "leftist" to refer to anyone who's not a Republican (even though I'm hard-pressed to find any American elected official who's actually a leftist), but describing Arlen Specter as one does still boggle me.

the exotic conservatism of the white south

Yeah, that's one way to describe it.

Slightly OT: when did Josh discover the HTML code for the tilde? I had no idea his name was tildified.

When Arlen was photographed wearing the Che Guevara t-shirt was the giveaway, I think...

the exotic conservatism of the white south

This is the key phrase. Since the inception of the Southern Strategy under Nixon, southern conservatives have enjoyed great success portraying themselves as quintessentially American, as the exemplars of "American-ness" by which the rest of us are to be judged as more or less "real Americans".

This was a brilliant piece of political jijitsu, enabling the GOP to portray the Dems as somehow exotic, foreign and other, not really true Americans somehow, but it worked only for as long as the GOP was forced to work within a framework of divided govt. Sharing responsibility for events with a Democratic Congress (when the GOP held the WH) or a Democratic President (when the GOP held the majority in Congress), forced the GOP to accept half a loaf so far as policy was concerned, and enabled it to dump some of the blame for policies which failed into the laps of the Dems, while maintaining the fiction that a purer version of their ideology would have worked better than what was actually put into practice.

Winning both the WH (with a president who was culturally a southerner rather than a westerner - Reagan, or a Yankee - GHB) and Congress from 2000-2006, and especially the GOP broad spectrum dominance of US politics after the 2002 elections brought this happy state of affairs to an end. A purer form of GOP southern style conservatism was put into practice unconstrained by a need to even pretend to care what the Dems wanted or thought, or even to pay more than lip service to styles of conservatism which are characteristic of other regions of the country outside the neo-Confederate hearland (for example the anarcho-libertarian conservatism which is popular in the Western US). But as the policies of the Bush WH supported by a compliant media and lockstep GOP votes in Congress conspicuously failed, the rest of the country outside the GOP heartland in the old Confederacy woke up and noticed something which had previously been concealed: there are more not-Southerners in this country than there are Southerners, so the latter have no basis for claiming to be exemplars of "real America". The polarization of the country during the Bush admin. along ideological lines which cleave closely to the regional cultures of the US exposed the myth of the "real American" for the BS that it always was.

The problem for the GOP now is that given that they've reached the terminal endpoint of the Southern Strategy, now they need a Northern strategy, and Eastern strategy, and a Western strategy, if they wish to become a national party again rather than a regional party nursing the wounds and divisions of the Civil War from the margins of our national polity. It is the 1880s to 1900s again politically with the regional affilation of the two political parties reversed. And if the national GOP comes back into power any time soon it will be because the Dems fissure along Blue Dog vs. Progressive lines, just as the GOP fissured along ideological lines back in Teddy Roosevelt's time.

I never know how to react to this sort of thing.

Every so often you read some article by a Muslim trying to claim that "real" Islam doesn't endorse terrorism. I always feel vaguely sympathetic to these articles, and also vaguely embarassed on their behalf. On one hand, I understand where they're coming from. They want to re-link the name of the religion they identify with to the beliefs they hold. On the other hand, its obviously a total crock. There are lots of muslims out there, and the fact that I agree with one particular muslim columnist about the worth of opposing terrorism doesn't mean that he gets to be awarded the official "true muslim" badge.

von's post is basically that guy's post, except for conservatism instead of Islam. I totally get why von wants everyone to believe that conservatism stands for his beliefs, and not for the beliefs of, you know, millions of self identified conservatives. And I'm more sympathetic to von's beliefs than I am to the beliefs of those millions of self identified conservatives. But that doesn't make those people go away, and clever argumentation doesn't make them suddenly stop being "real" conservatives.

This is probably a necessary debate, and this sort of identity politics is probably necessary if conservatism is ever to stop being a malignant pox on the body politic, but that doesn't make it less vaguely embarassing to watch.

@ Slarti:

I'm sure Josh Treviño figured out where to find the n-with-tilde quite a while ago: if you want to follow his lead you can try:

1. Copy-and-Past from Character Map (MS Word)
2. Alt + 0241
3. Insert without spacing into his name.



Umm, Option No. 3 isn't displaying - it's:

"ampersand-number sign-241-semicolon"

Interesting that von sees the differences between Dukakis and Mondale on one hand and Clinton on the other as being primarily differences in degree of liberalism.

I have always thought of Clinton as a natural political genius, one who was bound to end up leading in whatever organization he joined. IMHO, Dukakis and Mondale utterly lacked Clinton's talent and charisma, and this lack, more than policy differences, accounts for the difference in electoral outcome.

Thanks, Jay C, but I know how to do it. I just was completely unaware that the guy previously known as "Trevino" had a tilde in his name.

Of course, I haven't been reading him for a while, which may have something to do with it.

His name has been tildified for at least three years. I remain unconvinced that Von isn't some giant, sophisticated put-on. However, maybe "Treviño offers a characteristically nuanced" is another way of saying he busted out his trusty Thesaurus.

However, maybe "Treviño offers a characteristically nuanced" is another way of saying he busted out his trusty Thesaurus

I opted for a neutral translation: "characteristically nuanced" translates as "having nuance typical of his oeuvre".

The most illustrative comparison would seem to be between the successful tenure of Ronald Reagan, who raised taxes when it was fiscally necessary to do so, who nominated a woman to the Supreme Court in fulfillment of a campaign promise, and who abandoned a military mission in Lebanon when it was obvious that the costs outweighed the benefits of remaining there,

with the disastrous (for his faction) tenure of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who with his terminal intransigence ran his party into the ground, until 9/11 briefly revived the GOP's fortunes. The last point is probably the most important: without 9/11, the reckoning of 2006-2008 would probably have occurred in 2002-2004.

Republicanism is one long tedious case of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

Two word-usage notes:
1. You and McCain and Trevino were malcontents. A "discontent" is not a term for a person.

2. Mondale and Dukakis were not liberals. They were left-of-center on hot-button social issues, which cost them, but were otherwise utterly middle-of-the-road. The Democrats nominated a liberal in 1972 and have never dared do such a thing again.

Republicanism is one long tedious case of the No True Scotsman fallacy.
The Democrats nominated a liberal in 1972 and have never dared do such a thing again.

Amusing counterpoint, there.

Patrick, I'm not a conservative. I'm a classic liberal, if anything.

Voxpoptart, the second definition of "discontent[, a]" (n) is "One who is discontented." (see http://www.thefreedictionary.com/discontents)

His name has been tildified for at least three years. I remain unconvinced that Von isn't some giant, sophisticated put-on. However, maybe "Treviño offers a characteristically nuanced" is another way of saying he busted out his trusty Thesaurus.

I am a giant, sophisticated put-on ..... but only with regard to you.

If only I had an authentic liberal stalwart as my standard bearer, the argument went back then, a majority of the country would elect us because a majority of the country likes liberal ideas. This thinking produced Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis.

I agree with the first sentence here, Von. And the part about Mondale might even be true. But during the 1988 primary season, nobody was confusing Dukakis with an authentic liberal stalwart. Rather, he was seen as a center-left technocrat, carving out the same territory that Clinton would revisit in 1992. We thought we could win with Dukakis because he wasn't a liberal stalwart.

The reasons Clinton was successful and Dukakis wasn't (the 1991 recession, Willie Horton, Lee Atwater, Clinton's political gifts, Dukakis' lack thereof, Dukakis' letting his opponents define him, Clinton's 'rapid-response' team, etc.) have nothing to do with anyone's authenticity, or lack thereof, as a liberal.

I realize this is a pretty minor point, but I wanted to correct the record.

"The reasons Clinton was successful and Dukakis wasn't (the 1991 recession, Willie Horton, Lee Atwater, Clinton's political gifts, Dukakis' lack thereof, Dukakis' letting his opponents define him, Clinton's 'rapid-response' team, etc.) have nothing to do with anyone's authenticity, or lack thereof, as a liberal."

And also don't forget Ross Perot.

Slartibartfast @1:10: That would be clever, if Democrats at the time had called their nominees liberal heroes, and then turned around and said they weren't real liberals after they failed. The way I remember it (at least for Dukakis, Clinton, and Kerry; Mondale was before my time) is exactly like low-tech cyclist said: they picked those guys partly because they were considered moderates by everyone except the lunatic right. It didn't help much because, except for Clinton, they had no idea what to do when the Atwater/Rove operators managed to stick a big flaming L on their foreheads anyway.

Bill Clinton shows what a false equivalency that is in another way: he was the popular, successful one, and yet there are plenty of self-identified liberals and progressives today (and there were back then, too) who either hate his guts or at least feel he was a huge compromise. If the D's practiced the kind of extreme revisionism the R's are currently fond of, they'd be claiming that cutting people off welfare and passing draconian anti-terrorism laws are core liberal values.

I'm not a conservative. I'm a classic liberal, if anything.

Your second sentence directly contradicts your first. (Who is it who predominantly describes themselves as "classical liberals" these days, von? It ain't Democrats/progressives/lefties.)

I'm not a conservative. I'm a classic liberal, if anything.

Your second sentence directly contradicts your first. (Who is it who predominantly describes themselves as "classical liberals" these days, von? It ain't Democrats/progressives/lefties.)

Oy. I realize that there is a human tendency to separate into us/them, tribe/outsider, civilization/barbarian, etc. -- but that doesn't make it so. Just because one is not a Democrat (or progressive, or lefty) doesn't mean that one has to be a conservative.

If you think that being a "classic liberal" is the same as being a conservative, however, I'm not going to spend much time trying to convince you otherwise; my time is too valuable. I will note that folks who, unlike me, do call themselves conservatives will be careful to point out that I'm not a conservative -- and, in a sense, that's the only standard that matters.

risible weakness

Trevino used "risible"! Drink!

I'm just disappointed von's blockquote doesn't include "make no mistake".

If you think that being a "classic liberal" is the same as being a conservative, however, I'm not going to spend much time trying to convince you otherwise; my time is too valuable. I will note that folks who, unlike me, do call themselves conservatives will be careful to point out that I'm not a conservative -- and, in a sense, that's the only standard that matters.

Make up your mind: do you want to be prescriptivist or descriptivist? My point is that there are people out there right now who call themselves "classical liberals"... and guess what, those people are, well, conservatives.

And also don't forget Ross Perot.

I don't think we can thank him for Clinton. In 1992, the popular vote split was 43 percent Clinton (44,909,806 votes), 37 percent Bush (39,104,550 votes), and 19 percent Perot (19,743,821 votes). And according to polls, Perot's support was split pretty evenly. 20 percent self-described liberals, 27 percent self-described conservatives, and 53 percent self-described moderates. If you assume that the moderates would split perfectly down the middle if they had to choose between Clinton and Bush, then the popular vote would have been 53,991,964 votes for Clinton (52 percent) and 49,766,213 votes for Bush (48 percent). And that's not even taking the electoral college into account.

Clinton won, fair and square. Perot probably had nothing to do with it, except to the extent that he made it more of a media circus or whatever.

You're going to have to identify "those people," Josh, if this is going to work.

This said, Specter’s party switch is the latest in a long trend of ideological party-sorting, in which the Republicans get the conservatives, and the Democrats get the leftists.

The ONLY reason Specter switched is because that was the only way he could retain his Senate seat. Everthing else is narsistic preening by the good Senator.

Cyrus, I don't think you can do the analysis that way. If Perot hadn't been running, the entire campaign would have been different. One important difference would be that there wouldn't have been a third candidate on stage at the debates and being covered extensively by the media who was spending most of his rhetoric on trashing Bush.

If you assume that the moderates would split perfectly down the middle if they had to choose between Clinton and Bush

That is a very big IF, which ignores the specific ideological and cultural flavor of the Perot campaign. Perot ran on a mix of protectionist economic populism and budget deficit hawking, and the tenor of his campaign rallies in 1992 bears some comparison with the teabagging protests today. The Clinton campaign might have been able to split the self-described moderates with GHB in Perot's absence, but it is equally possible that enough of them would have gravitated to the GOP to make the 1992 contest a nailbiter. If GHB had been able to pull a 60/40 split vs. Clinton from the approx 10 million "moderate" Perot voters, that plus the 7 percent delta between conservative vs. liberal Perot voters would have been enough to tie the popular vote.

The other point about 1992 is that Perot's run reinforced the anti-incumbent tenor of that campaign while making harder for GHB to claim ownership of "real American" values. Perot shifted the media narrative in way which disrupted the standard Lee Atwater template for using cultural issues to place the Democratic candidate at a disadvantage. GHB's campaign spent less time and effort creating a disadvantageous frame to hang around Clinton's neck than was the case in either 1988 or in 2000 (with GWB/Rove), because of the distractions created by the Perot campaign.

This is not to say that the other factors you listed were not important, probably more important than Perot's run, just that an account of the 1992 race is not complete without mentioning that you'd have to go back to 1968 to find a campaign in which a third party candidate had an equally large impact. Such campaigns are moderately rare and need to be recognized as somewhat idiosyncratic compared with simple binary contests, particularly if we are going to cite electoral results as evidence of ideological shifts in the voting population.

You're going to have to identify "those people," Josh, if this is going to work.

"[T]he fascist label was projected onto the right by a complex sleight of hand. In fact, conservatives are the more authentic classical liberals, while many so-called liberals are 'friendly' fascists." ... from this masterwork. Just to start.

I think Trevino misses the point. The Republicans are not so much "getting the conservatives" -- because that happened with Nixon's Southern Strategy. Neither are the Democrats currently getting the liberals -- they have had them for a couple of decades.

What is actually happening currently is that the Democrats are getting the moderates. Which, if you think about it, means that the Democratic Party is not, on average, getting more liberal; rather it is getting more moderate.

For someone who persists in believing that the Silent Majority of Americans are super-conservatives, that's fine -- it is the path to success for Republicans. For anyone who cares to look at the numbers, it is a path to irrelevance.

But that isn't the end of the story. Because, as they continue on their current course, the Republicans are going to manage to lose not only the moderates, but also the moderate conservatives. The only up side for those who will remain is that they can talk to people who agree with them on everything, without having to put up with differing opinions. Or even even pesky things like reality.

In Political Science I learned,

Classical Liberals would be the Libertarians and small-government types.

Modern Liberals would be the Progressive/New Deal types.

With the formation of the New Right, in the 1970s, the social conservatives (I believe) lumped ALL liberals into the same bag (especially since abortion rights and gay rights can find their roots in classical liberal arguments) and for some freaked up reason there was no push back from the Libertarians.

Very brief and un-nuanced definition.

Modern Liberal and Leftists may overlap, but they are not the same.

My recollection tallies w/ hob's & low-tech cyclist's: Dukakis and Mondale were not liberal standard-bearers, we thought we had nominated moderate pragmatists. And we were right: they lost because they lacked passion and daring.

But I agree in part with von that the public didn't want liberals. Mondale invoked the old liberal shibboleths, and the public yawned. Dukakis did the same even more cautiously, same result. They offered nothing new and nothing that really connected to current problems.

I am not content to blame their lack of appeal on their personalities or voter cynicism. Yes, they were dull. But 'dull' means either unenthusiastic, unwilling to get to the point, or unrelated to any concern of the listener. Thus the cry for 'real' liberals.

The 2008 Republican platform had a similar problem - tired bromides about high taxes and government waste obviously would not solve the economic crisis. But it seems to me that an alleged liberal party that refuses to propose real change, has a bigger structural problem than an alleged conservative party that refuses to do real reform.

There is always a disconnect between ideology and practical politics. 'Real' liberalism, like 'real' conservatism (or, for that matter, 'real' Islam) is radical --and most people most of the time do not want radical change. Both parties weed out real radicals early on, and spend the general campaign on low-key demagoguery on side issues like sex and jingoism. The party more closely allied with big business managed to grab the more popular side of those issues, or perhaps cause and effect ran the other way.

But the point of liberalism is change. If we're not offering it - and we have not been - then except in perfect storm situations like 2008, we'll keep getting beat by unabashed conservatives. They're more consistent, and they don't have to offer nearly as many 'nuanced' explanations for halfway policy choices.

"the exotic conservatism of the white south"

Jeff Sessions (R-AL) will apparently be replacing Specter on the Judiciary committee.

When in doubt, double down!!

Dukakis and Mondale were not liberal standard-bearers, we thought we had nominated moderate pragmatists. And we were right: they lost because they lacked passion and daring.

Not to mention drawl, y'all.

Carter won the whole South but VA. The South was the base of his winning coalition.

Then the South reached the tipping point and started realigning. No Dem who didn't speak like Bubba Clinton had much of a chance until the realignment was complete.

Slartibartfast @1:10: That would be clever, if Democrats at the time had called their nominees liberal heroes, and then turned around and said they weren't real liberals after they failed.

I wasn't going for clever; I was going for amused.

Still, I'm curious who the conservative heroes are in the flipside of your statement, and who was framing them as such.

Slarti,

One of the benefits of writing a blog in which I focus largely on Latin America is the committing to memory of the codes for pretty much all of the diacritical marks for Spanish and Portuguese words and names: tilde, grave, acute, cedilla, circumflex, etc.

Fixed: "Conservative Republicans backed Bush over intramural critics of his Iraq war policy, who were chided as discontents unpatriotic or liberals traitors or both..."

Not Von, but other bright lights in the Republican party "chided" in such a manner, if memory serves.

Theo, Reagan & Bush I also weren't Southern. Al Gore was, and that didn't help much. Edwards too. We can't draw too many conclusions from Clinton's 'success' - he only managed a plurality.

The problem wasn't that we lost the South, it was that we lost the South, the Southwest, the Rust Belt, the Plains, the Rockies, and had to fight hard in the Northeast & West Coast. The public did not like what they heard, and I don't think it was just the accent.

Slartibartfast: Odd as it may seem, George W. Bush was treated as a heroic standard-bearer of movement conservatism within living memory.

Not by every conservative, or every Republican. I can't offer any statistics. I can only say that a considerable number of people from a wide variety of right-wing flavors -- fundie, libertarian, militarist -- talked about that corrupt, ineffectual idiot as if he were the answer to their bilious prayers, right up until some time last year. As his complete lack of qualities became more apparent, the tone of the hero-worship changed: less hopeful, more like "he must be my guy because you libs hate him so much." But up until some time last year, it really wasn't hard to find people on the Internet, the TV, the newspaper, and even in real life, who would call George W. Bush a conservative leader and mean that as a good thing. Now, suddenly they are harder to find. I don't think it's necessary to point to specific people and try to prove that they changed their position; the sheer volume of the earlier cries for loyalty, followed by the current scattered golf claps, tells the story pretty well.

@Crafty Arthropod

I think by 2000 Gore had largely lost (both with friend and foe) the Southern cultural valence that he carried e.g. in his 1988 run (and which probably would have helped him a fair amount had he won the nomination in 1988), though at the moment I can't think of how to quantify and test that hypothesis.

Otherwise I mostly agree with your points.

I find it remarkable that the description of Bush by certain condervatives changed (flip-flop-ed actually) from 'true conservative' to 'unashamed liberal' the moment he was seen as a net negative. I actually expected that they would try to claim that he was actually a Demonrat (the way Faux Noise 'accidently' switched R to D for GOPsters involved in sex scandals).
Maybe the GOP consists now mainly of non-sober Scotsmean of doubtful parentage ;-)

I think it made a big difference that calling yourself a "conservative" was actually politically beneficial, while being called a "liberal" was something Democrats felt they had to run away from. "The L word."

The result is that anybody who wants to get anywhere in national Republican politics has to call themselves a "conservative", even if they're not, even if they can't bear to apply the term to themselves without hyphenating it in such a way as to validate liberal attacks on conservatives. And the machine Republicans go along with the gag, knowing that it's politically necessary.

Anyway, I don't believe Gore's problem was running from Clinton. A presidential candidate who can't carry his own home state obviously has bigger issues.

A presidential candidate who can't carry his own home state obviously has bigger issues.

Such big issues that he won the popular vote. And Mitt Romney, for example, was ridiculous for Republicans to advance as a candidate, since he wouldn't have been able to take Massachusetts.

What exactly is Typepad doing with the HTML nowadays? The first paragraph was, of course, supposed to be a blockquote.

One 'issue' with Gore was the simply overwhelming stream of lies from the 'liberal media'. It had already killed the Son of Cain in the primaries. He also had no chance winning on issues alone against an opposition with no inhibition to simply make their own 'facts' and having them distributed by the MSM and appealing to the 'knowledge is arrogant elitism' masses. Gore still won by votes but lost to SCOTUS*.
Also noone 'serious' questioned Bush's 'compassionate' smokescreen.
Personally I think that the only true conservatives left in the GOP are the religious ones (and even they are only a part of the actual religious right), the rest are power-mad plutocrats, power-mad religious hypocrites and a significanr number of simpletons. We can only hope that the actual non-hyper-religious conservatives will come up with their own party (or join with the Blue-Dog Party).

*I think the Dems would not have gained the WH even in 2008 with anyone but Obama running (and the gains in Congress would have been smaller).

"Such big issues that he won the popular vote."

You know, I am so tired of Democrats bringing that up, as though it were significant.

Both Bush and Gore were perfectly aware of the fact that they needed to win the Electoral college to become President. Both Bush and Gore were trying to win the electoral college, not the popular vote. Bush succeeded at what they were BOTH trying to do.

If, hypothetically, they'd both been trying to win the popular vote, they'd have both run different campaigns, and who's to say Bush wouldn't still have been the one to succeed?

Odd as it may seem, George W. Bush was treated as a heroic standard-bearer of movement conservatism within living memory

By whom? I've certainly never been happy with his steadfast and enduring avoidance of the veto pen.

I've certainly never been happy with his steadfast and enduring avoidance of the veto pen.

are you a Movement Conservative ™ ?

Then there's the Medicaid drug benefit, pushed through with more Democratic votes than Republican. The attempted illegal alien amnesty... And that promise of his to sign a renewal of the '94 'assault weapon' ban, if Congress could just get it to his desk.

I've long maintained that if Democrats hadn't been so pissed off about FL 2000, they'd have been able to accomplish a lot working with Bush; On some topics he was more comfortable with the Democratic position than the Republican.

I've long maintained that if Democrats hadn't been so pissed off about FL 2000, they'd have been able to accomplish a lot working with Bush;

Somebody owes me a new laptop.

"I've long maintained that if Democrats hadn't been so pissed off about FL 2000, they'd have been able to accomplish a lot working with Bush"

Hey, good times!

Those were the days, weren't they?

Both Bush and Gore were perfectly aware of the fact that they needed to win the Electoral college to become President. Both Bush and Gore were trying to win the electoral college, not the popular vote. Bush succeeded at what they were BOTH trying to do.

There was only one vote that mattered in 2000, and Bush won it 5-4. Norm Coleman is angling to win that same contest this year.

Sheesh. You know, I actually agree that the Supreme court shouldn't have intervened; If the Florida Supreme court was going to try to steal the election by recounting over and over until Gore managed to win, it was the legislature's job to rein them in, or the House's job to smack them down if the FL legislature didn't see fit to. There wasn't any role for the Supreme court in that process.

But that doesn't mean that the Supreme court appointed Bush President. That kind of ignores all those counts Bush won, and Gore was trying to get supplanted.

Slartibartfast: If you're seriously asking me "By whom?", I have to conclude that either you didn't read what I wrote - where I said I don't have statistics and can't point to individual people for you, but that it's obvious we saw a huge amount of uncritical Bush-boosting in the last 8 years - or that you actually think such a statement needs to be backed up with citations. Or we're just living in very different worlds. In any case, I don't see the point in arguing with you about it.

I suppose it's too much to ask that you substantiate, Hob. I'm not asking for statistics, I'm asking for examples.

Well, statistics would be nice. I've heard this batted around here before, that Bush was widely regarded and praised as a conservative, but I can't for the life of me remember that. In fact, my recollection of the consensus was something more like "not all that conservative".

I've got no statistics to back that up, though.

Sheesh. You know, I actually agree that the Supreme court shouldn't have intervened; If the Florida Supreme court was going to try to steal the election by recounting over and over until Gore managed to win, it was the legislature's job to rein them in, or the House's job to smack them down if the FL legislature didn't see fit to. There wasn't any role for the Supreme court in that process.

But that doesn't mean that the Supreme court appointed Bush President. That kind of ignores all those counts Bush won, and Gore was trying to get supplanted.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore

Sigh. You are aware that the best, nonpartisan recount we have shows that more people voted for Gore than for Bush, right? And that this had nothing to do with finagling chads or somesuch nonsense:

Rather than dimples or not-dimples, the deciding factor in the recount was inclusion of all ballots or only a subset of ballots. And the deciding line was very simple – if all of the ballots were counted there were enough potential Al Gore votes to give him a victory, but any smaller subset of ballots would retain or even enlarge George W. Bush’s margin.

Table 1
Candidate Outcomes Based on Potential Recounts in Florida Presidential Election 2000
Review of All Ballots Statewide (Never Undertaken)
Review Method Winner Margin of Victory

Standard as set by each county Canvassing Board during their survey Gore 171 votes
Fully punched chads and limited marks on optical ballots Gore 115 votes
Any dimples or optical mark Gore 107 votes
One corner of chad detached or optical mark Gore 60 votes

Review of Limited Sets of Ballots (Initiated But Never Completed)
Review Method Winner Margin of Victory
Gore request for recounts of all ballots in Broward,
Miami-Dade, Palm Beach andVolusia counties
Bush 225 votes
Florida Supreme Court of all undervotes
statewide
Bush 430 votes
Florida Supreme Court as being implemented
by the counties, some of whom refused and
some counted overvotes as well as
undervotes
Bush 493 votes
Certified Result (Official Final Count)
Recounts included from Volusia and
Broward only Bush 537

Or how about this:

More than 2,100 Florida voters who wanted Al Gore to become president tried to make doubly sure of their choice. So did more than 1,300 voters who backed George W. Bush.

They marked a ballot for their candidate and then wrote in his name for president, too. Or they circled the name, or tried to scratch out a mistake, or otherwise made a second mark to emphasize their choice.

Those votes could have turned the election for Gore. But the extra emphasis ensured they wouldn't count.

Instead, the ballots were labeled as overvotes, or ballots which machines read as having marks for more than one candidate and were never recounted by hand. Had election officials looked at them, the intent of these voters would have been abundantly clear.

The ballots were unearthed in an analysis of 113,820 overvotes for the St. Petersburg Times and other media companies.

Why weren't they counted last year?

Most elections supervisors interpreted state law to say that a vote would be invalidated if a voter marked a ballot more than once in a contest. That meant if a voter punched out a chad for a candidate and then wrote in the candidate's name or circled the name on the ballot, for example, it would be labeled an overvote and rejected -- never to be seen again, even in a manual recount. At least 705 voters filled out the oval or punched the chad for Gore, then also wrote in his name as a write-in selection. At least 515 did the same for Bush. None of those votes counted, even though every voter's intent was obvious.

Florida's new election law mandates new voting equipment that should dramatically reduce overvotes. The law also ensures that votes like the 3,500 tossed out last year would be reviewed in a manual recount.

For Gore, the changes came too late.

Gore could have picked up 2,182 votes last November on overvotes where voter intent is clear, and Bush would have gained 1,309 votes, the media companies' analysis shows. That difference would have enabled Gore to defeat Bush in any statewide recount that included overvotes, regardless of what statewide standard for counting undervotes was used.

Them's just the facts.

You know, I am so tired of Democrats bringing [the popular vote in 2000] up, as though it were significant.
If Republicans would stop trying to convince people that Bush won a mandate in either of his Presidential campaign, there wouldn't be the same kind of need to keep pointing out the fact that he didn't have one via the matter of the popular vote.
Odd as it may seem, George W. Bush was treated as a heroic standard-bearer of movement conservatism within living memory

By whom? I've certainly never been happy with his steadfast and enduring avoidance of the veto pen.

Posted by: Slartibartfast

Do you have any posts from, say, 2003 or thereabouts where you were critical of Bush's conservative creds?

Moreover, what are you looking for in the way of proof? Everyone from Peggy Noonan to Megan Mcardle was saying that Bush was a good conservative, so it seems to me that really, the burden of proof is on you.

So whaddaya got?

In fact, my recollection of the consensus was something more like "not all that conservative".

This may be so, slarti, but I have to say that, whatever their opinion of his true conservative bona fides, Bush as president received extremely broad and largely uncritical support from conservatives.

The only exceptions I can think of are the hard-core paleo types, Buchanan and (in less toxic form) the folks at places like The American Conservative.

"Movement conservatives", by which I mean pretty much anyone holding public office with an 'R' after their name, anyone working at or speaking for the prominent conservative think tanks, anyone opining for a living on the conservative side, loved the man and supported him wholeheartedly. Even when he did things that, IMO, ought to have given conservatives nightmares.

So, I agree that many conservatives might have given Bush middling marks for conservative purity, but they also gave him nearly unqualified support in spite of that.

That's my memory of it.

Everyone from Peggy Noonan to Megan Mcardle was saying that Bush was a good conservative, so it seems to me that really, the burden of proof is on you.

You do understand this whole burden-of-proof concept, don't you?

Er, no, actually, you seem to be playing the game "If you can't make me say I'm wrong I win."

Given that so many conservatives, prominent conservatives, were heaping praise upon Bush, and given that the reasonable presumption is that you know all about these people, that's all you're really doing. Or are you really trying to claim you've never heard any of these people? That just doesn't pass the smell test.

So yes, I'd say the burden of proof is on you[1]. I'm also waiting to see those posts circa 2003 where you were so critical of Bush.

[1]Here's a few for ya: "even when I'm wrong I'm right Megan Mcardle.

Or how about this little collection of quotes:

• The Wall Street Journal: "The voters did [decide the election] -- including millions of conservative first-timers whom the exit polls and media missed -- emerging from the pews and exurban driveways to give President Bush what by any measure is a decisive mandate for a second term. ... Just because an election is close doesn't mean it isn't decisive. ... We do already know ... that Mr. Bush has been given the kind of mandate that few politicians are ever fortunate enough to receive." [Wall Street Journal editorial, "The Bush Mandate," 11/4/04]

• William J. Bennett, conservative author and nationally syndicated radio host: "Having restored decency to the White House, President Bush now has a mandate to affect policy that will promote a more decent society, through both politics and law. His supporters want that, and have given him a mandate in their popular and electoral votes to see to it." [National Review Online, "The Great Relearning," 11/3/04]

• CNN host Tucker Carlson, co-host of CNN's Crossfire: "[N]obody has done it since 1988. The president wins reelection with a majority of the vote. It is a mandate. What will he do with it now? [CNN, Crossfire, 11/3/04]

• The New York Sun: "[I]t was hard, at 3:35 a.m., when these words were written, to see much point to the quest that Senator Kerry has undertaken in Ohio other than to indulge a certain kind of bitterness, to poison American politics for the coming term, and to seek to dilute the extraordinary mandate Mr. Bush, if not yet in the Electoral College, has received among Americans from coast to coast." [The New York Sun editorial, "The Popular Vote," 11/3/04]

• Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal contributing editor: "He [Bush] has, I would argue, a mandate now. You can bet he's going forward boldly. He announced it today in his victory speech. He said, 'Honey, I'm not just going to lower your taxes. I am transforming the tax system.'" [FOX News Channel, Hannity & Colmes, 11/3/04]

• Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst: "There's no doubt about it, this was a vote against, by the red-state folks who gave the victory to George Bush, it was a rejection of blue-state America. It was a rejection of their values, their attacks on the president. ... And the idea, it seems to me, that somehow the folks who won should now surrender part of whatever mandate they have to the folks who lost -- I can tell you, what we're hearing on this panel, people out there in red-state America are finding it very offensive." [MSNBC, Hardball with Chris Matthews, 11/3/04]

• William Kristol, Weekly Standard executive editor: "The hair-pullers and teeth-gnashers won't like it, of course, but we're nevertheless inclined to call this a Mandate. Indeed, in one sense, we think it an even larger and clearer mandate than those won in the landslide reelection campaigns of Nixon in 1972, Reagan in 1984, and Clinton in 1996." [The Weekly Standard, "Misunderestimated," 11/15/04 issue]

SofV, I was refering to counts conducted under state law. I'm quite willing to believe that more people went into their polling places intending to vote for Gore, than for Bush. If they couldn't be bothered to fill out their ballots properly, that hardly matters.

Perhaps the Democratic party could start running seminars on how to fill out a ballot.

Sorry, Brett, but state law has provisions for voter intent. Writing Gore's name in as well as darkening the oval next to his name counts as a legal vote. And the facts of the matter are that more people legally voted for Gore than Bush in Florida.

Here's something from Glen Greenwald from a little while ago:

The great right-wing fraud to repudiate George W. Bush

(updated below)

The great fraud being perpetrated in our political discourse is the concerted attempt by movement conservatives, now that the Bush presidency lay irreversibly in ruins, to repudiate George Bush by claiming that he is not, and never has been, a "real conservative." This con game is being perpetrated by the very same conservatives who -- when his presidency looked to be an epic success -- glorified George W. Bush, ensured both of his election victories, depicted him as the heroic Second Coming of Ronald Reagan, and celebrated him as the embodiment of True Conservatism.

So much for the lede; here are a few examples he cites:

Whereas Bush was a wildly popular leader then, which made conservatives eager to claim him as their Standard-Bearer, he is now one of the most despised presidents in U.S. history, and conservatives are thus desperate to disassociate themselves from the President for whom they are solely responsible. It is painfully obvious there is nothing noble, substantive or principled driving this right-wing outburst; it is a pure act of self-preservation.

Any doubts about that ought to be easily resolved by the following:

Jonah Goldberg, May 29, 2007 (Bush approval rating - 32%)

Bush, The Liberal [Jonah Goldberg]

Richard Cohen discovers something some of us on the right have been saying for a while: if you hold your head just so and look at Bush from the right angle, he looks an awful lot like a liberal.

Jonah Goldberg, November 8, 2003 (Bush approval rating - 60%)

But it is now clear that Bush's own son takes far more after his father's old boss than he does his own father, at least politically speaking. From tax cuts (and deficits, alas), to his personal conviction on aborrtion (sic), to aligning America with the historical tide of liberty in the world, Georrge (sic) W. Bush has proved that he's a Reaganite, not a "Bushie." He may not be a natural heir to Reagan, but that's the point. The party is all Reaganite now. What better sign that this is now truly and totally the Gipper's Party than the obvious conversion of George Bush's own son?

Rush Limbaugh, November 8, 2006 (Bush approval rating -- 31%):

Liberalism didn't win anything yesterday; Republicanism lost. Conservatism was nowhere to be found except on the Democratic side. . . . Conservatism did not lose, Republicanism lost last night. Republicanism, being a political party first, rather than an ideological movement, is what lost last night.

Rush Limbaugh, July 7, 2004 (Bush approval rating -- 55%):

Reagan was right just as George W. Bush is today, and I really believe that if Reagan had been able he would have put his hand on Bush's shoulder and say to him, "Stay the course, George." I really believe that.

Bob Novak, March 26, 2007 (Bush approval rating - 32%):

With nearly two years remaining in his presidency, Bush is alone. In half a century, I have not seen a president so isolated from his own party in Congress -- not Jimmy Carter, not even Richard Nixon as he faced impeachment.

Bob Novak, March 24, 2003 -- (Bush approval rating - 65%):

[Bush is] a president who may be more basically conservative than Ronald Reagan.

National Review's Rich Lowry, January 28, 2007 (Bush approval rating - 33%):

It is, in all seriousness, it is a distressing and depressing time to be a conservative. I'm reminded of the old saying by Mao -- things are always darkest before they go completely black.

In recent years, we have watched a Republican Congress disgrace itself with its association with scandal, with its willful lack of fiscal discipline, and with its utter disinterest in the reforms that America needs. And at the same time, we watched a Republican President abet or passively accept the excesses of his Congressional party and, more importantly, fail to take the steps - until perhaps now - fail to take the steps to win a major foreign war. . . .

National Review Editorial, Rich Lowry Editor, October 22, 2004 (Bush approval rating - 52%):

In his bid for reelection, George W. Bush deserves the support of conservatives. . . . Bush has shown evidence of being able to learn from his mistakes. We have made political strides in Iraq. . . . Bush deserves conservative support, as well, on domestic issues. . . It has been a long and difficult four years, largely as a result of events not of Bush's making. For conservatives, however, backing Bush's reelection should be an easy decision.

Novak opining that Bush is more conservative than Reagan? Lowry advising conservatives that Bush deserves their support?

Slarti, this stuff isn't hard to find, in fact, as I said, is very widely known. For you to attempt in any way to claim that this isn't good enough does indeed put the burden of proof on you.

Patrick wrote--

"Every so often you read some article by a Muslim trying to claim that "real" Islam doesn't endorse terrorism. I always feel vaguely sympathetic to these articles, and also vaguely embarassed on their behalf. On one hand, I understand where they're coming from. They want to re-link the name of the religion they identify with to the beliefs they hold. On the other hand, its obviously a total crock. There are lots of muslims out there, and the fact that I agree with one particular muslim columnist about the worth of opposing terrorism doesn't mean that he gets to be awarded the official "true muslim" badge."

I was annoyed by this yesterday but didn't have time to express it. Yes, Patrick, there are lots of Muslims out there--over a billion, in fact--and the vast majority are no more bloodthirsty and terrorist-supporting than, say, liberal Americans. I seem to recall that there are generally some American liberals who support American wars, no matter how stupid and unjustified the war may be. So if one American liberal writes a column saying that liberalism doesn't mean one supports imperialist wars, we should sympathize, but nonetheless perceive the article as a crock, because there are lots of American liberals and one who writes an antiwar column doesn't get to be awarded the true American liberal badge.

Okay, annoyance expressed. Back to lurking.

As Greenwald points out, there's an effort for conservatives to pretend Bush wasn't conservative. Much of this has to do with finding a single point of blame rather than looking at the GOP's policies for the party's declining prospects.

Conservative support for Bush

Much like TickyTacky's Arlen Specter foolishness, there is a strong sense of denial among conservatives. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they continue to maintain the message is right while the messenger may be imperfect.

I'm not sure if this is what Patrick was trying to get at, but I do think there's a difference between saying "most of the world's billion odd Muslims are not like that" and saying "the bad people are simply not Muslims/motivated by Islam".

The first is true and worth pointing out. The second is just no-true-scotsmanism.

And I think there's a tendency in those sorts of apologetics, especially those from a religious point of view, to juxtapose the two to certain degree. Which is why they're sympathetic, and true on some levels, but simultaneously tend to undermine themselves.

Yeah, it's the old dolschtosslegende all over again: 'conservatism' can never fail; it can only be failed. I put 'conservative' in quotes, because AFAICT, I'm really a conservative. Also, 'liberals'/'leftists' are moderates, and 'conservatives' are radical reactionaries.

I'm really surprised at Slarti's behaviour, btw; I didn't really expect this sort of thing from him.

Er, no, actually, you seem to be playing the game "If you can't make me say I'm wrong I win."

Actually, it's more like "show me you're right and I might believe you."

Here's a few for ya: "even when I'm wrong I'm right Megan Mcardle.

Your McArdle link goes to the whole month of October. Which article were you pointing to? None of them say much about Bush being conservative.

The rest talks about mandates. Which is crap, but it is about mandates, not to what degree (or not) Bush is conservative.

Greenwald, he does like to cherry-pick. If you go back in NR archives, you'll note that NR is editorially rather lukewarm on Bush's conservatism (Goldberg, back in September of 2000, noted that ideologically he preferred McCain. For what that's worth), but is rather decidedly stating that Bush is more conservative than Gore, and, later, Kerry.

Which says not much, really.

Novak is an ass. Limbaugh didn't say that Bush was conservative; he in fact said very little about Bush, other than Reagan would have told him to stay the course. He doesn't even say what course Reagan would have him stay. Honestly, it's an essay more than 5k words long, and Bush gets two sentences, neither of which are really about him so much as about Reagan. Goldberg's point is more that GWB has broken out of the isolationist-Republican mold his father holds to, and gone more Reagan.

Really, there might be what you're looking for, out there.

I'm really surprised at Slarti's behaviour, btw; I didn't really expect this sort of thing from him.

I completely didn't expect that kind of comment from you, SoV.

I'm not sure if this is what Patrick was trying to get at, but I do think there's a difference between saying "most of the world's billion odd Muslims are not like that" and saying "the bad people are simply not Muslims/motivated by Islam".

The first is true and worth pointing out. The second is just no-true-scotsmanism.

Maybe. I read Patrick as implying that he believes Islam does endorse terrorism. I emphatically disagree with that proposition. That's just as wrong (or just as right) as saying Christianity or Judaism endorses slavery. And just as subject to the 'no-true-Scotsman' critique.

I'm really surprised at Slarti's behaviour, btw; I didn't really expect this sort of thing from him.

I completely didn't expect that kind of comment from you, SoV.

Posted by: Slartibartfast

What, calling a spade a spade? Let's track the sequence down, shall we:

Odd as it may seem, George W. Bush was treated as a heroic standard-bearer of movement conservatism within living memory

By whom? I've certainly never been happy with his steadfast and enduring avoidance of the veto pen.

Posted by: Slartibartfast

And then:

Bob Novak, March 24, 2003 -- (Bush approval rating - 65%):

[Bush is] a president who may be more basically conservative than Ronald Reagan.

Back to Slartibartfast:

Novak is an ass.

IOW, I was exactly correct; you're playing a little game wherein no matter what's offered to you as proof, you'll claim that it's not, really. And that you 'win', since we couldn't get you to say you were wrong.

If you're so worried about my opinion of you, I suggest you correct it: first, offer up some of that criticism you say you made, circa 2003. Then tell us, what, exactly, you would consider proof, how it has to be worded, etc. If you're not worried about my opinion of you, that's fine by me, as your behaviour right here makes me disinclined to value yours at all. You are guilty at the very least of sloppy thinking. So sayeth Mentor.

Yeah, it's the old dolschtosslegende all over again: 'conservatism' can never fail; it can only be failed.

I haven't been following every post in this thread, but SoV is surely aware that the dolschstosslegende only very slightly connects to the idea of "X cannot fail; it can only be failed", and while it's true that an imputation that someone's statement can be translated to the latter phrase (or the similar no-true-Scotsman meme) is deliberately disrepectful and suggestive of unseriousness or bad faith, such an allegation has nowhere near the incendiary qualities of comparing your interlocutor to those who perpetuated the dolchstosslegend; I believe the technical term is Godwin.

Slarti - this is kind of a long comment for you, are you feeling okay?

""most of the world's billion odd Muslims are not like that" and saying "the bad people are simply not Muslims/motivated by Islam".


Patrick said a little more than that, but he can clarify if he reads this and wants to do so. I'll accept he didn't mean it the way I took it if he says so--I just didn't like how it came out.

As for the distinction you make, I sympathize with the moderate Muslim who conflates the two messages. Presumably a moderate Muslim thinks the radicals who justify the murder of civilians in the name of Islam are guilty of both murder and sacrilege (or blasphemy or whatever).

I'm sympathetic to the "no true Scotsman" argument coming from any believer in this or that ideology, so long as they denounce the people who using their beloved religion/ideology as an excuse for murdering people and don't then go on hypocritically denouncing some other religion because it is inherently bloodthirsty. I'm much more worried about this sort of argument--"No true Scotsman would do such a terrible thing, but almost any Englishman would do it because it's in their nature." I have an Islamophobic Christian friend who uses the "no true Scotsman" argument or the related "Well, we're all sinners" argument when I point out that some Christians support killing or oppression in the name of our religion, but he has no compunction about claiming that support for terrorism is inherent in Islam.

Slart: Novak is an ass

Well then there you go, we were just looking at different data sets. I was including asses, of which there's no shortage. Seems to me that on a subject like this, excluding asses might be assuming too much.

Okay, seriously, discussing Florida in 2000 without mentioning things like the "felon" purge of tens of thousands of people, the blatant conflicts of interest for the Secretary of State (and the governor, who at least had the slight sense to stay out of things in public), the manufactured "riot", the Bush team starting lawsuits to prevent any recounts, and all the rest of the craziness and flim-flam to claim that George W. Bush (R) won in any fair or honest sense is absurd.

Florida was stolen in 2000. They may not have needed to, if all the votes had been counted and cast as they should have been, but they weren't, through actions that should have been criminal, and then the Supreme Court handed it to Bush.

Ok, seriously, discussing the FL 2000 felon 'purge' list, without acknowledging that it was a list of names for local elections officials to check, not purge, is absurd.

Some of those officials just went ahead and purged without checking. A far greater went ahead and didn't purge without checking. Both were forms of malfeasance in office, as purging the voter lists is one of the duties of elections officials.

Since (As documented by the Miami Herald) a fair number of those non-purged genuine felons went on to vote, I think it's an interesting question which way the election was thrown by the malfeasance of local elections officials. But let's be clear about where the blame should actually be placed.

"Every so often you read some article by a Muslim trying to claim that 'real' Islam doesn't endorse terrorism. I always feel vaguely sympathetic to these articles, and also vaguely embarassed on their behalf. On one hand, I understand where they're coming from. They want to re-link the name of the religion they identify with to the beliefs they hold. On the other hand, its obviously a total crock. There are lots of muslims out there, and the fact that I agree with one particular muslim columnist about the worth of opposing terrorism doesn't mean that he gets to be awarded the official 'true muslim' badge."

There are approximately 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. Those who committ terrorism number, at most, a few tens of thousands.

Demonstrably the overwhelming majority of Muslims are the "true" Muslims, and demonstrably they practice a peaceful religion. It's mathematical fact.

Anecdotally, I've met plenty of Muslims, and have yet to meet one who is a terrorist. They're not outliers.

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