“‘What strikes me now is the degree to which the fairly fiscally irresponsible policies of the last six years have put Democrats in a box,’ Mr. Greenstein said. ‘They’ve got these large tax cuts in place, they have even larger fiscal problems in the coming decades and they have large unmet needs right now, such as 45 million uninsured people. Addressing all three of those things will be very difficult.’” The NYT discusses briefly how the 2008 Dems are planning to approach Dubya’s tax cuts — As you might expect, everyone agrees that the giveaways to the tiny percentage of wealthiest Americans, those with incomes over $200,000, will have to stop. “‘Yes, we’ll have to raise taxes,’ Mr. Edwards declared in February in one of the first statements by a Democratic candidate on the issue.”
“The Committee for the Study of the American Electorate reported yesterday that more than 122 million people voted in the November election, a number that translates into the highest turnout — 60.7 percent — since 1968.” The Dems didn’t do so hot that year, either, but then we had Tet, Chicago, and the murders of both RFK and MLK. How are we going to answer for 2004? Also, “[t]he report noted that although turnout reached new heights, more than 78 million Americans who were eligible to vote stayed home on Election Day. The group estimated that Bush won just 30.8 percent of the total eligible voters.“
From Boing Boing and the AP: “A computer error with a voting machine cartridge gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in a Gahanna [Ohio] precinct. Franklin County’s unofficial results gave Bush 4,258 votes to Democratic challenger John Kerry’s 260 votes in Precinct 1B. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct.” Hmmm…I for one don’t think it’s feasible that the entirety of Dubya’s winning popular vote margin is manufactured. (Right now, I’m more inclined to side with Jane Smiley and the Brits.) But factor in Greg Palast’s discussion of Ohio chads to the equation and, I’ll admit, one starts to wonder.
So, that’s that, then…the Idiot Wind blows anew. The American electorate has spoken and — despite all the shadiness and incompetence of the past four years — has given Dubya and his cronies the imprimatur to go hog-wild. 51-48%…this is pretty much a mandate, folks. (Big of those Red Staters to ensure that we will be woefully unprepared for the next terrorist attack on a Blue State.) Y’know, H.L. Mencken‘s whole Tyranny of the Booboisie schtick has always grated on my lefty sensibilities, but at this point I have to admit he may have been on to something.
Ugh. I’m too young to remember 1984 very well, but I’m curious as to how last night and this morning compared for America’s Left. (I’ve since been reminded by several people I trust that 1968 and 1972 were much more grievous blows.) Thing is, 2004 started out with such promise over here. But, right around the time I ended up on crutches in May, events personal and political took a nasty turn, and the past few months have been some of the most dismal I can remember. Now, it seems, I may just look back on this time as relatively calm and worry-free.
But, ok, enough wallowing…let’s start taking it frame-by-frame. Given the war, the economy, and Dubya’s obvious incompetence, how on Earth did we lose this election? Well, give credit where credit is due…all this exit-talk of “moral values” proves that Karl Rove pulled off his gambit: He got the extra 4 million evangelical votes he was targeting, partly, it seems, by judiciously invoking rampant anti-gay hysteria. Yet, for some reason or another — a lousy ground game, perhaps? — the Dems inexplicably didn’t counter with extra votes of our own.
Where do we go from here? The Dems are facing an ugly Rule of Four…We lost four seats in the Senate, at least four seats in the House, and likely four seats in the Supreme Court. Whatsmore, we now appear officially dead in the water in the South and Midwest. And, with Kerry and Daschle gone, our standard-bearers now appear to be Hillary Clinton (about whom the country has already made up its mind), John Edwards (whom I still admire, but he couldn’t carry his home state), and Barack Obama (who’s probably too inexperienced to make much headway in 2008.)
Obviously, it’s now well past time for the serious party overhaul we should’ve began last cycle, when Al Gore had an election stolen from him that he should have won hands down. Daschle & Gephardt are already in the dustbin of history, and Terry McAuliffe should probably follow them there. I for one don’t think Howard Dean was or is the answer, but he’s one of the only people injecting new blood and enthusiasm into the party right now, so he should have a seat at the table. Right now, I think Edwardsian populism is our strongest ideological card, but as I said, it didn’t seem to make much headway last night.
Silver lining? Yeah, right. Well, as this Washington Monthly forum noted in September, second terms are notoriously scandal-prone (Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica), partly out of press boredom, and Dubya’s ilk seem particularly scandal-worthy…perhaps we’ll finally hear a little more about Halliburton. I’m sure there’ll be no shortage of horrifying policy decisions emanating from this administration that’ll keep lefty blogs like this one in business. And, on a purely selfish note, my likely dissertation topic on the fortunes of progressivism in the twenties is now seeming much more sexy in the wake of last night’s 1928-like cultural divide. Of course, none of these are really any consolation at all.
At any rate, I generally believe that America tends to get the president it deserves. So, God help us, we’ve brought this upon ourselves. And now, for we 48%, the hard work begins…we have to lick our wounds, get our act together, and figure out how we can best combat the rightward drift that’s afflicting our nation. Alas, I fear Dubya will do much of the heavy lifting for us, by running the nation further into the ground over the next four years. Still, we gotta keep on keeping on, y’all. I do not believe this darkness will endure.
Well, fuck. Here we go again. At 3:10am, Ohio is still up in the air, and may well be for days, as we wait for the provisional ballots to be counted. Right now, Dubya’s up by 140,000 votes with 99% reporting, which means Kerry has to run the table with those 175,000 provisionals to go over the top. Doable, sure, but we’re definitely running really low on ammo at this point.
I’ll save the real post-mortem for when the winner’s declared (and I’m less tired), but obviously both my earlier confidence and most of today’s exit polls were, um, somewhat off. So, more tomorrow. For now, I’m off to bed, where I’m going to try not to dwell on the future of the Supreme Court.
Update: 3:49am…Oof, there went Daschle. I think it’s safe to say at this point that our party is in disarray. Still, given that 51% of the electorate signed off on four more years of Dubya tonight, despite the arrogance and incompetence displayed by this White House since January 2001…well, perhaps we Dems are destined to remain a minority party for some time to come.
[Scroll down this post for exit poll updates.] The 2pm exit polls should be out now…I’ll post ‘em as soon as I find ‘em (or when Jack Shafer of Slate divulges them.) Right now, Drudge is leading with the following: “KERRY CAMPAIGN FINDS COMFORT IN FIRST BATCH OF EXIT POLLS. Election 2004 has been rocked with first wave of exit polls which show Kerry competitive in key states, campaign and media sources tell DRUDGE. National Election Pool — representing six major news organizations — shows Kerry in striking distance — with small lead — in Florida and Ohio.” Sounds like music to my ears, but what’s this talk of striking distance? Drudge makes it sound as if Kerry was expected to lose. Update: Ok, here they are, courtesy of dKos. Apparently, they ratio was skewed 59-41 women to men, for what it’s worth:
Arizona: Bush 55, Kerry 45
Colorado: Bush 51, Kerry 48
Florida: Kerry 51, Bush 48
Iowa: Tied at 49
Louisiana: Bush 57, Kerry 42
Michigan: Kerry 51, Bush 47
Minnesota: Kerry 58, Bush 40
New Hampshire: Kerry 57, Bush 41
New Mexico: Kerry 50, Bush 48
Ohio: Kerry 52, Bush 48
Pennsylvania: Kerry 60, Bush 40
Wisconsin: Kerry 52, Bush 43
So, as of right now, Kerry’s up in all three prongs of the trifecta (Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida), and doing well in Michigan, New Mexico, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire. Iowa’s tied, and Dubya’s got Arizona and Louisiana locked up with Colorado in play. Hey, it’s early yet, but so far, so good. Let’s get those 4pm numbers!
Update 2: More from Drudge on the Senate Races: “Senate races: Thune +4 Castor +3 Burr +6 Bunning +6 Coburn +6 Demint +4 Salazar +4…” Thune (SD, v. Daschle), Burr (NC, v. Bowles), Bunning (KY, v. Mongiardo), Coburn (OK, v. Carson ), and Demint (SC, v. Tenenbaum) are GOP. Castor (FL, v. Martinez) and Salazar (CO, v. Coors) are Dems.
Update 3: Slate‘s Shafer has somewhat different morning numbers. His (that differ) are below. New states in bold:
Colorado: Bush 56, Kerry 43
Florida: Kerry 50, Bush 49
Nevada: Bush 50, Kerry 48
North Carolina: Bush 51, Kerry 49
Ohio: Kerry 50, Bush 49
Pennsylvania: Kerry 54, Bush 45
Wisconsin: Kerry 51, Bush 46
So, I don’t know what’s going on over there in Edwards Country, but otherwise, these are better numbers for Bush…he’s pulling away in Colorado and closing the gap in the Trifecta and Wisconsin. Phew…and more numbers in 15-30 minutes…if I can find them!
Update 4: Some good news on Florida, via MyDD: Hispanics in Florida are voting 53-46 for Bush (The Cuban breakdown is 68-32). This is significantly better for Kerry than the 2000 numbers: 65-35 and 83-17 for Dubya respectively.
Update 5: A friend of mine in the program alerted me to Wonkette’s numbers, which are also slightly different…I don’t know if these are the 4pm numbers or not, so I’ll just go ahead and post them, new states in bold. Update 6: These are confirmed as the 4pm numbers:
Arkansas: Bush 54, Kerry 45
Colorado: Bush 50, Kerry 49
Florida: Kerry 52, Bush 48
Iowa: Kerry 50, Bush 48 (This was a tie earlier.)
Maine: Kerry 55, Bush 44
Michigan: Kerry 51, Bush 48
Minnesota: Kerry 57, Bush 42
Ohio: Kerry 52, Bush 47
New Hampshire Kerry 58, Bush 41
New Mexico: Tied at 49 (Kerry was up before)
Nevada: Bush 49, Kerry 48
North Carolina: Bush 53, Kerry 47
Pennsylvania: Kerry 58, Bush 42
Wisconsin: Kerry 53, Bush 47
Update 7: Late numbers via Wonkette:
Colorado: Bush 50, Kerry 48
Florida: Kerry 51, Bush 49
Iowa: Kerry 50 Bush 49
Michigan: Kerry 51 Bush 47
Minnesota: Kerry 54, Bush 44
Nevada: Tied (Bush up at 4pm)
New Hampshire: Kerry 53, Bush 45
New Jersey: Kerry 54, Bush 44
New Mexico Kerry 50, Bush 48
Ohio Kerry 51, Bush 49
Pennsylvania: Kerry 53, Bush 46
Wisconsin: Kerry 51, Bush 48
Update 8: Ok, one last batch from dKos, and then I’m off to the local grad student watering hole to watch the real numbers come in. All in all, it’s looking pretty good for Kerry — he’s still leading in the Trifecta, the Michigan-Wisconsin axis, and New Mexico. But let’s keep our fingers crossed that there isn’t a Diebold surprise in the works. Here they are — I’ll see y’all on the flip-side:
Arkansas: Bush 53, Kerry 47
Ok, I can now guarantee at least one vote for the Kerry-Edwards ticket in New York. (Of course, the guy in front of me picked Nader, so it’s neck-and-neck in the Empire State in the early going…)
Well, if nothing else, it should be a lively evening, and I for one am eagerly anticipating Dubya’s Rove-penned concession speech. So, until tomorrow, vote early, vote often, and vote Kerry-Edwards!
until the American people crawl out of the television set and kick this godawful administration to the curb. I know Dubya is up ever so slightly in the polls, but ties generally go to the challenger, and, at this point I still feel pretty confident that Kerry is going to win next Tuesday. (Then again, I’ve felt that way since the primaries ended, which probably has more to do with my inability to conceive of this nation actually choosing Dubya than anything else.) And, with Big Bill back in the game to help close the deal in swing states (something Gore should have considered more seriously in 2000), I think we’re good to go. Hope is on the way, y’all.
Just in case anybody needed it spelled out, Rehnquist’s recent health problems make it explicit: next week’s vote will in fact determine the Supreme Court. It’d be hard to find a judge more Right-Wing than the Chief here, but I’m sure a second Dubya administration would do its damnedest to find one nevertheless.
In a Nickelodeon online poll, nearly 400,000 American children pick Kerry over Dubya 57%-43%. “Nickelodeon has held a “Kids’ Vote” every election year since 1988, and kids have correctly predicted the winner of the general elections for the last four U.S. presidential campaigns.”
Well, to my partisan eye, Dick Cheney proved time and time again in tonight’s sole veep debate that he’s not only an inveterate liar but a major-league asshole. (Yeah, big time.) Iraq (“It’s going great!”), Osama (“We never stopped going after him!”), the homefront (“Things are looking up!”), you name it…the guy just seems to have no compunction about dissembling flat-out to the American people. Said the veep early on, “The senator has got his facts wrong. I have not suggested there’s a connection between Iraq and 9/11.” Really, Dick? How were we supposed to take Saddam “had long-established ties with Al Qaeda” then? Similarly, the audacity of Dick Cheney attacking John Kerry for voting against weapons systems he himself opposed is simply staggering.
From lies to misdirection. How did Cheney try to explain away Halliburton’s sweetheart no-bid Iraq contracts, and the subsequent looking askance at their egregious overbilling of the American people? “Um, John, I’ve never seen you around the Senate before.” (Not true, of course, but nice of Dick to send voters to the Soros-run FactCheck.com rather than FactCheck.org, though.) And, when Edwards skewered the veep with his own voting record from back in the day — no to Head Start, Meals on Wheels, and the Education Dept, no to MLK Day and to condemning apartheid(?!) — what was Cheney’s answer? “Oh, I think his record speaks for itself.” You’re damn right it does, as does yours.
All that being said, I thought Edwards missed a few chances to put the hurt on Cheney in the early going, and should have responded harder to the ridiculous “facing-up-to-Howard Dean” riff. And he didn’t really hit his stride until the domestic-policy-oriented second half, when less-interested swing voters out there had probably started tuning out. (Conversely, I thought Cheney self-destructed for awhile there, mumbling about No Child Left Behind in a question about jobs.) So, while my gut (and the insta-polling) say Edwards took this one, I’m guessing the numbers in the next few days will show a draw, if only because Cheney seemed at least somewhat cognizant of the world around him, unlike his running mate. Next stop: Friday.
Well, well, look who’s back. Kerry closes the gap over the weekend, setting the stage for this week’s debate double (Dubya?) dip (beginning tomorrow with Edwards v. Cheney.) Maybe now Dubya is finally beginning to realize: going mano-a-mano with Kerry is hard work.
Are you sitting down? Time Magazine is reporting that Dubya’s now up 11 on Kerry, 52%-41%. Phew, that’s ugly…but we are post-convention now, and, various October surprises notwithstanding, I really can’t see how Dubya goes anywhere but down. Plus, we already know both Kerry and Edwards are solid closers. Still, the GOP and their corporate cronies have gotten away with misrepresenting John Kerry for far too long. For the sake of our republic, it’s time to push these lying bastards back. Update: A new Newsweek poll shows basically the same spread. Grr.
Kerry takes a sizable hit in the polls that extends to swing states, thanks largely to the Swift lies still being bandied about as news. Chris over at Do You Feel Loved ably summed up my thoughts on the controversy. I’m a cynical fellow relatively wise to “politics ain’t beanbag”-type shenanigans, but the sheer corruption of this whole GOP enterprise is somewhat staggering. What we have going on here is akin to the Kerry campaign funding a spate of backdoor ads declaring Dubya a serial wife-beater, and having the national news media ponder the charges despite all evidence to the contrary. Wait…is there evidence to the contrary? Did I mention I saw Dubya swing madly at Laura while he was on a three-day drunk in 1978? Well, yes, I was only four in 1978, but why should that matter? Dubya’s a wife-beater.
Say what you will about the Dem ticket, but at least they understand the importance of protecting our precious bodily fluids from terrorist and Communist impurifications. This October, John Edwards will introduce Dr. Strangelove for Turner Classic Movies. (By way of Quiddity.) For the rest of the “Party Politics and the Movies” series, John McCain chose Paths of Glory, Joe Biden picked Dead Poets Society, and Orrin Hatch took To Kill a Mockingbird.
“The president — highly intelligent, personally flawed, detested by many, a man who was first elected in a narrow three-way race and then reelected easily — had faced impeachment. In the following election, his vice president, a decent man with decades on Capitol Hill, was beaten by an inexperienced governor from the South. Four years passed. The economy weakened and oil prices soared. Crises in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan eroded our national confidence. Clearly the president was in trouble. Yet many were not comfortable with his opponent. Yes, he was effective on television. But was he a steady hand? Was he trustworthy? Would the country be safe in his hands? The year was, of course, 1980.” James K. Galbraith makes the case for a decisive Kerry-Edwards victory in November.
So did Kerry-Edwards get a post-convention bounce or not? Depends on how you spin it, it seems. I’m not too concerned, frankly…I think most people know how they’re going to vote at this point (including the Kerry Republicans.)
Well, other than the over-the-top salute at the very beginning of his remarks, I’d say Kerry knocked it out of the park last night. It was definitely the best speech I’ve ever heard of him give, and one surprisingly full of red meat to lob back at the Bushies. As a result, Kerry seemed energetic and self-assured and, well, presidential throughout. All in all, I thought it a very impressive performance, and one that should help him a great deal in the time between now and the debates, bounce or no.
As for Edwards the night before, I actually thought his speech, despite the nice “Hope is on the Way” refrain, was a bit of a letdown after Obama’s rousing keynote. Edwards seemed to stumble a few times in the middle going, and I found the tone a bit too conversational to produce any really memorable turns of phrase. Still, any other year, I think the Senator’s speech would’ve been one of the highlights of the convention. The fact that it loses some luster when compared to those of Clinton, Obama, and Kerry speaks very highly of the overall quality of this year’s proceedings in Boston.
Speaking of which, I’d say the GOP will be extremely hard-pressed to match the Democrats’ unity, optimism, and energy in a month, particularly with the legions of embittered conservatives in attendance at the Garden. Well, even if they do muster up a fine three-ring circus at the end of August, John Kerry, John Edwards, and the Democrats have proven this week they’re ready for the fight. So bring it on.
Speaking of Dubya and “shared values,” I neglected to post this earlier, so the links are kinda stale now. (Compounding my bad form, I also forgot where I saw them originally.) Nevertheless, much to the chagrin of many pastors and theologians, the Dubya campaign is leaning heavily on churchgoers to join an ecclesiastical voting army this November. “Even Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics and religious liberty commission and a prominent Bush supporter, recoiled at the idea of churches becoming directly involved in a political campaign. ‘I am appalled,’ Land said in a statement. ‘I suspect that this will rub a lot of pastors’ fur the wrong way…It’s one thing for a church member motivated by exhortations to exercise his Christian citizenship to go out and decide to work on the Bush campaign or the Kerry campaign. It’s another, and totally inappropriate for a political campaign, to ask workers who may be church members to provide church member information through…directories.” Will Karl’s Crusade against Kerry-Edwards falter before it’s even begun?
In his first riposte against his new Dem adversary, Dubya questions Edwards’s qualifications for the Presidency. Good God, man, we let you take the position (although admittedly it did take some prodding by the Supreme Court.) For the Dems’ part, Kerry had a pretty solid response: “He was right that Dick Cheney was ready to take over on Day One, and did, and he has been ever since, folks.“
Apparently, the Bushies are also keying in on “shared values” as their answer to the threat of Kerry-Edwards. Shared values? Puh-leeze. Playing bait-and-switch on the American people? Wading neck deep in corporate cronyism? Handing the rich tax-cut candy at the expense of everyone else? Those ain’t my values, bub.
The wait is over, and, in a very good decision by the Kerry team, John Edwards joins the Democratic ticket. This seems like a very smart call (although also a bit of a no-brainer…is there a single person in America who would’ve voted for Kerry because Gephardt was veep? Heck, even Nader knew the right choice) Edwards not only balances Kerry nicely (Southerner/son of a mill worker), but should seem an order of magnitude more appealing than the disgruntled and curmudgeonly Big Time in the debates. Plus, his optimism and good humor will be an enormous asset when the real mud starts flying in the fall.
All in all, as I said when he came to Columbia a few months back, Edwards has a great future in the Democratic party and American politics, and it’s wonderful news that he made the ticket (and has become an instant future contender for the Oval Office.) Go team go.
For their part, the Bushies try to counteract the Edwards pick with a new ad featuring John McCain, which you can watch over at Dubya’s campaign site. Um, is this really the best they could do with a blue chip like McCain? Giving a thousand-yard stare off-camera into the distance, reading from a prepared speech, looking away as Bush simpers on stage, McCain’s tone and body language hardly seems that effusive an endorsement. In fact, I’m surprised he didn’t rattle off his serial number or blink S.O.S during his remarks.
As the Senate GOP tries to schedule embarrassing votes for Johns Kerry and Edwards, Richard Rosendall of Salon remembers the last election cycle the GOP invoked the culture wars so heavily: 1992. Thanks again, Pat Buchanan.
Super Tuesday has arrived, and many pundits are predicting it to be the last stand of John Edwards, who’s got mathematical problems even if he should upset in a few states tonight. Nevertheless, I voted for Edwards this morning (although the machine I used was so Third World that I have to wonder if my vote’ll get counted), not because I prefer him all that much to Kerry in the end — I think either will make a fine candidate this year — but more because (a) he bothered to show up here twice, and (b) with his personal charm and rhetorical focus on poverty, I believe he has a bright future in the Democratic party. If my vote can help suggest that he has a following outside the South, good for it. All that being said, I’m happy with Kerry too, and he can expect my vote in November, if (ok, when) he proves to be the Dem nominee.
As it turns out, I was able to make it to the John Edwards event on campus this morning, and, all in all, I’d give him a B+. He both read and rushed through the first half of his remarks, which involved some new formulation of his trade policy (more on that in a second), and I found his opening lines particularly ham-handed and speechwriterly. “I know y’all have been waiting for a Son of the South to come to NYC…A-Rod,” he said (and I’m paraphrasing.) “Well, I’m not A-Rod, but Wisconsin proved one thing: I can close!” Um, ok, but A-Rod is a shortstop and all, not a closer.
Anyway, nitpicking aside, Edwards improved measurably once he put the paper down and got into the rhythm of his “Two Americas” stump speech, which he’d clearly delivered many times. There were moments, however, when he definitely could have embellished his standard schtick, given the crowd. Edwards talked about how he was a lonely, legal David often going up and winning cases against a Goliath-sized team of corporate lawyers, a biographical stat which probably plays great in the Heartland. It went flat here, though, perhaps because the many law students in the auditorium seemed confused by his remarks: But we want to be those well-paid corporate shills!
Still, Edwards came off extremely polished and personable, and he definitely got the crowd on his side, even when he was blindsided by a sneak “Campaign on AIDS!” protest on the dais behind him. Several members of the VIP crowd unveiled red-ribbon shirts and began chanting right in the middle of his biographical portion (In fact, I could’ve sworn it was right after he gave the “son of a millworker” line, which was a clever signal to choose, if nothing else.) Edwards gave them a moment, asked the crowd to applaud the “activism of these young people,” calmly told a heckler he’d address their point after finishing his bio, and then said a few positive words about fighting AIDS at home and abroad (A critical world issue to be sure, but not a particularly controversial one in this day and age…c’mon, y’all, this isn’t 1988. And why try to derail a candidate who is politically sympathetic to your cause, particularly when Karl Rove is across town?) At any rate, no harm no foul for Team Edwards: He navigated this potentially rocky shoal extremely successfully, although I presume some advance guy or gal was given the serious what-for soon thereafter.
As for the trade stuff, I liked where he was going at first, but he eventually seem to fall back on the fair trade side of the usual dichotomy. As I see it, the problem isn’t free trade itself per se as much as the loss of American jobs, as well as the ugly spectacle of corporations firing tons of US workers only to turn right around and offer up a fat dividend. Edwards obliquely mentioned this formulation, then fell back on tax breaks for “good” corporations and the trouble with NAFTA. My feeling is, if you want to stop this kind of behavior, there needs to be more stick and less carrot. Hit business where it hurts: Tax the heck out of (or even, God forbid, disallow) corporate dividends that occur in the same fiscal year as the downsizing of X number of American jobs. Simply put, if you can’t afford to pay your workers anymore, you damn well shouldn’t be paying dividends to stockholders. Edwards came close to saying thus, but then fell back into the old free trade/fair trade rut, which to my mind is a bit like shouting into the wind. If you want to change corporate behavior, focus on corporate behavior…don’t blame the increasingly irreversible trend of globalization.
At any rate, all in all Edwards came off quite well, although not as inspiring or Clintonesque as I would’ve originally liked. He’s definitely got a great future in the party and in American politics, and he’d no doubt make a solid contender in this election season against the likes of Dubya (or Dick Cheney.)
The good news: The Dems are up big on Bush (Kerry by 12, Edwards by 10). The bad news: A Zogby poll suggests there’s been no movement in the red state/blue state dichotomy quite yet. Hmm…this Zogby poll would be more interesting if it gave state-by-state numbers.
After a long, slow, and dismal post-Iowa slide (which, as Chris Suellentrop waggishly put it, wound up “with the leisurely pace of the interminable conclusion of The Return of the King“), Dr. Dean calls it quits, leaving basically a two-man field for the nomination. (Early scuttlebutt had Dean possibly endorsing Edwards, but, although Edwards sent the right signals, Dean instead asked his supporters, strangely enough, to vote his name despite his leaving the race.)
Well, I guess it’ll probably take some time to put Dean’s swift rise and swifter fall in perspective (Is this Goldwater, McCarthy, Muskie, or something altogether new?) To be honest, I was always a bit surprised by the furor surrounding Dean, given that he was neither as lefty nor as populist as many of his followers seemed to think. I know many found him inspiring, but, even after tentatively getting behind him, I never really saw it or felt it…in fact, quite the contrary. So, while it’s always a bit disconcerting to see something that started so well end so badly, I’m can’t say I’m overly aggrieved by this turn of events. As I said before, if the nominee is Kerry, so be it.
Of course, there’s still the matter of John Edwards, whose surprise showing in Wisconsin definitely keeps him viable for at least one more round. Kerry’s overwhelming lead aside, I’ve been quite enthused by the rise of Edwards since Iowa, who seems like the type of fresh and viable new face the Democratic Party’s been needing for some time. Whether or not he has a chance of coming back to win it all this year, I’m inclined to vote for him, if only to show he’s got some legs outside the South. At any rate, he’ll be speaking on campus early this morning so, if all goes well, I may get a chance to see how he comes off in person.
After John Kerry’s two dominant wins in the South, General Clark calls it quits. Ho-hum. Good news for Edwards in the short term, I guess, although it now appears that Dean will stay in the race after Wisconsin, despite the loss of AFCSME and the wavering of Harkin. Well, keeping Dems at the front of the news for a few more weeks can’t hurt the larger goal, but Dean’s revived bashing of “Washington insiders” sounds increasingly hollow and desperate to me. They weren’t a problem when “Boss” Gore came a-runnin’ to the Dean camp, now, were they? As for Kerry being the “lesser of two evils,” I just don’t think Howard Dean would improve that equation all that much.
Seven states across the nation up for grabs last night, and five go to John Kerry. On the flip side, Joe Lieberman finally faced the music and bowed out of the race (So much for that “three-way tie” in NH.)
Well, call me an establishment sellout, but I’m close to putting this one in the fridge. I was glad to see Edwards take my and his home big, but I think Clark’s ekeing out of Oklahoma will hurt Carolina’s Finest on the momentum front. (That being said, Edwards is looking like a grand Veep.) And Dean, well, his 0-7 strategy was a gamble anyway, but I personally don’t believe he’s hitting the right notes to make a comeback anymore. Kerry a Republican? That’s just plain goofy. I’m all for running on campaign finance reform, of course, and I agree with Mark Shields that Dean’s made an enormous contribution in that regard…but I think spinning the “outsider” rhetoric just for the sake of it is lame. (Might as well say “Vote for me! I won’t know what the hell I’m doing for the first two years of my administration!”) Besides, it’s hard to run as the outsider who’ll change the insidious culture of Washington once you’ve nestled the likes of Al Gore to your breast. I’ll still put up Gore’s primary performance last cycle as an order of magnitude more shady than anything that’s gone down this time around.
So, if Kerry’s our horse, I’m ready to circle the wagons. He’s already up ten on Bush according to Gallup. And, having just seen California freak-show Darrell Issa on late-night CNN frantically go the “Dukakis Dukakis Dukakis” route, I’d say we have a real chance to win this thing. Between this and the atrocious State of the Union, I’m starting to get the sense we’ve been grossly overestimating Karl Rove’s political savvy. And, if the Big 47 holds up…it means trouble for the GOP that even Rehnquist, Scalia et al can’t solve this time. Bring it on.
So…New Hampshire has spoken, and John Kerry wins by 12 over fellow New Englander Howard Dean, Clark and Edwards tie for a distant third, and Lieberman falls to fifth. The game now shifts to the South and Midwest, including South Carolina.
Well, while it’s a bit off-putting to put this race in the fridge after only two states have spoken, I say it’s now definitely looking to be John Kerry’s year. That is, barring a strong showing by John Edwards on more favorable terrain, who has to win South Carolina convincingly next week to stay alive. As everyone’s known for months, Lieberman is clearly done, despite his ridiculous talk of a three-way tie for third in NH. (So much for the vote-swinging ability of the New Republic.) Wesley Clark may be able to pick up Oklahoma, but momentum counts for a lot, and he was fading fast all last week. So, barring something crazy happening, I’d say the general is also on his way out.
And Dean? Well, obviously he’s still got a large war chest and the frenzy of the Deaniacs to fall back on…but where does he go from here? The pre-NH polls have him dropping to fourth or fifth in every one of the polled February 3rd states, except New Mexico (and even that’s based on pre-Iowa numbers.) It’d be one thing if he had pulled closer to Kerry in New Hampshire, or even to within ten points, but a twelve-point loss is pretty decisive in terms of being a momentum-killer. (Consider in 2000 that Bradley got to within four points (52%-48%) of Gore in NH, something that was also spun by the pundit class as a “still-kicking” comeback after Iowa, and he got hammered in all 15 states the Tuesday next.) As Chris Suellentrop notes, Dean’s only hope may be to go “underground” for awhile, but it’s hard to see how a hail-mary play like that will have generated much mojo once the big states actually vote. It’s remarkable how Dean and Kerry switched places so quickly, but they did…and just as Kerry would be toast had he not won New Hampshire, the same now looks true for the governor of Vermont.
In the midst of the battle for New Hampshire, a glimmer of great news. A new Newsweek poll has Kerry up 3 on Dubya in a head-to-head match-up. And the key stat isn’t Kerry, per se: All four major Dems poll well against the Prez (Clark down 1, Edwards down 3, Dean down 5.) No, what’s cause for cheer here is the breakdown: 47% of voters strongly oppose a second term for Bush (and 52% say they don’t want him back in general.) That’s compared to 37% of voters strongly in the Bush camp. With those kind of strong negatives, much of Dubya’s financial advantage is neutralized — all the money in the world isn’t going to change the minds of people who’ve already decided they hate you. And this means that, state-by-state electoral math notwithstanding, the Dems only have to sway 4% of the electorate between now and November, give or take a percentage point to account for more Florida-type shenanigans by the GOP.
Meanwhile, in NH news, the consistently insufferable Mickey Kaus points the way to Chrisishardcore, a young statistician who’s teased out daily movement from the three-day ARG polls (this is the information the talking heads have when they make their predictions.) At any rate, yesterday’s poll shows a bounce back for Dean, who looks to probably come in second by these numbers. Elsewhere, the Wyeth Wire, a SC political mail-list to which I subscribe, does the same thing for Carolina.
The Dems held one more for the road last night in New Hampshire and, given that a rather bland Kerry didn’t stumble, it’s starting to look dire for Dean, who was subdued and chagrined most of the evening and only now seems to be turning the corner on his Muskie Moment. Edwards did reasonably well despite invoking states’ rights (which never sounds good with a southern accent) to support his convoluted gay marriage position. And I actually liked Clark better than usual, and thought he handled his recent party switch as well as he could.
But, I have to say, I was extraordinarily irritated by the way the whole Dubya Deserter thing played out last night. First Peter Jennings tells Wesley Clark that Michael Moore’s deserter comment was “a reckless charge not supported by the facts” and asks him if it’d have been “a better example of ethical behavior” to contradict him. Clark doesn’t go either way on it, claiming not to know all the facts. (Which is lame — What’s the point of having a General in the running if he’s not going to call out Bush on exactly this question?) Then, once the show’s over, Fox News pulls out Team Bespectacled White Guys (Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes), who both immediately argue that Clark irreparably damaged his candidacy by not refuting this baseless charge, yadda yadda yadda.
Um, am I missing something? It’s been substantiated quite well that Bush seems to have gone AWOL by the Boston Globe and others, and I’m not talking about the six or seven critical hours on September 11 when he was toodling around above the Heartland. While absence of evidence isn’t necessarily evidence of absence, Dubya seems to have disappeared from the Air National Guard for almost a year between 1972-73, conveniently right before a drug test (an offense for which he was grounded), and, to this day, he has never satisfactorily explained where he was. (In fact, as the Straight Dope notes, later reports in The New Republic (by Ryan Lizza, if I remember correctly) even cast doubt on the half-hearted “some recollection” explanation Dubya gave during the 2000 campaign. (By the way, this all happened several years after Bush scored in the underwhelming 25th percentile on the pilot’s aptitude portion of the entrance exam, thus having to rely on his congressman-daddy’s connections to jump the year-long waiting list for the Air National Guard in the first place.)
Does all of this prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Dubya pulled a Cold Mountain? Well, no, but it’s definitely enough to suggest that Bush has some serious explaining to do. (And he revoked any “youthful indiscretion” type-defense when he began parading around in flight gear on the USS Lincoln.) So, I mean, c’mon, now, a baseless charge about Bush? At this point it seems more correct to say that the bases were “Bush-less.” Next thing you’ll know Fox News will be screaming at John Kerry for perpetuating the “vicious rumor” of Dubya’s DUI.
At any rate, regarding other matters, I didn’t see Diane Sawyer or Letterman last night so can’t ascertain how Dean damage control went there, but I did catch the Dallas-Laker game on TNT, and during Inside the NBA EJ, Kenny and Charles must have played the Dean Scream about thirty times…in fact Ernie had it connected to his desk button. “Nash kicks to Dirk, Dirk from the corner…YEEEEEAAAAGH! Sacramento’s up big in the third…YEEEEEAAAGH!” And so on, so on. Pretty much the first political content I’ve ever seen on the show, and, yeah, it was funny every time. Poor Dean.
As a revitalized John Kerry gains traction in New Hampshire and John Edwards shores up the South, Howard Dean plays subdued while his supporters ponder the state of the movement. Update: The Iowa bounce bounces…Kerry’s up 10.
So how do you like them apples? John Kerry comes up big in Iowa (38%), John Edwards places a very viable second (32%)…and the once seemingly-insurmountable Howard Dean falls to a distant third (18%). (For his part, a broken-hearted Gephardt came in fourth (11%) and will drop out tomorrow…so much for Big Union.)
An interesting evening, all in all, and one that’s in effect limited the Democratic race from eight to four:
First off, I think Howard Dean added insult to injury tonight with his cringeworthy (non-)concession speech — that hoarse, high-pitched yelp at the end of his angry roll of states is going to be played-for-laughs by the punditocracy hundreds of times this week (In fact, it took all of two hours for Drudge to post it as his headline…it’s since been removed.) It was a display that could seriously hurt him among undecideds who’ve never really seen the guy before. That being said, the prognosis for the doctor isn’t necessarily terrible, if he can weather the initial post-Iowa dip. For one, the rise of Kerry and Edwards is going to seriously complicate the anti-Dean question: Both Kerry and Clark will now be vying for veterans, as Clark and Edwards fight over who’s the electable southerner. And Dean’s still got the money and the movement, which isn’t going to just wither away because of a bad night in Des Moines. That being said, Dean’s in for a race now, and if that’s the case, I for one am pleased that the candidates pushing him are as of tonight more likely to be John Edwards and John Kerry than they are Wesley Clark, Joe Lieberman, or the now-defunct Dick Gephardt.
John Edwards is a candidate I’ve been looking to see more from this whole cycle, and, if a long primary haul is our party’s fate, I’m very glad he’ll get a chance to strut his stuff on the main stage. He’s got real populist cred and a trial lawyer’s argumentative savvy, and, well, the Southern accent doesn’t hurt. He definitely looked the best tonight in terms of tone and message. And I think that, not unlike our current president, he’s often “misunderestimated.” Go Edwards.
I’ve been relatively agnostic about John Kerry for awhile (in part because he stumped so blatantly for Gore over Bradley last primary cycle), but I’ve liked him more recently since he lost Chris Lehane and started loosening up. Despite the fears of Dukakis-redux, I think Kerry could make a very strong candidate in the general, given his (perhaps too-overtouted of late) military record and debating skills. If he carries this bounce to a Democratic victory, I won’t be overly disappointed.
As for Wesley Clark…well, let’s just say the bloom is off the rose in these parts. Running a Lehane-style campaign isn’t helping him, but the real problem is, well, he’s not a Democrat. He voted for Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Reagan, and Bush, he’s been a member of the party for less than a year, and he’s on tape praising the Dubya administration at a GOP fundraiser. I really don’t think the Democratic Party should be getting behind a fellow who’s said “I’m very glad we’ve got the great team in office, men like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Paul O’Neill — people I know very well — our President George W. Bush. We need them there, because we’ve got some tough challenges ahead in Europe.” Because, y’know, that particular soundbite would singlehandedly throw the election to Dubya, and we need to make Karl Rove spend at least some of his massive war chest on formulating his own advertisements.
So Clark, Dean, Edwards, and Kerry…the board is set, the pieces are moving.
Just when you think it’s over, Iowa gets crazy, with no less than four candidates — Dean, Gephardt, Kerry, and Edwards — all in a statistical dead heat. Hmmm. While I’m still hoping Dean can nip a protracted primary fight in the bud right here (particularly given the huge GOP bankroll), I’m also glad to see John Edwards entering the top tier of candidates. At any rate, it looks like it’ll all come down to get-out-the-vote on the big day, which should help Dean, who’s got the fervor, and Gephardt, who’s got the unions and a sixteen-year-old organization.
In a week of minor stumbles (among them caucus-dissing — let’s face it, the Iowa caucuses are dominated by special interests. Ethanol subsidies, anyone? — and gubernatorial honoraria), Howard Dean pulls up another key endorsement in Tom Harkin. At this point, I’ll just go ahead and say that I hope the good Doctor takes both Iowa and New Hampshire and ends all the primary shenanigans sooner rather than later. It’s a safe bet to say that I like Howard Dean better than any of the other eight candidates, but that frankly isn’t saying much, and particularly given how Edwards, Clark, and Kerry have all underperformed.
I’ll be honest – I’m much less enthused by Dean than I was by Bradley last cycle. Dean has yet to make any policy proposals that I flat-out love, and I find him neither as progressive nor as inspiring as I’d like. In fact, more often than not, he kinda leaves me cold…But, of the nine, he’s the witch-king, so to speak. His occasional grouchiness and glibness does concern me, but no more so than any of the other candidates’ personality traits (And let’s drop the “unelectable” stuff…c’mon, this country elected George W. Bush. Anyone‘s electable. Oh, wait a minute, we didn’t.) In sum, Dean’s run a great campaign to this point, he’s got money and moxie to spare, and he clearly strikes a chord with many Democratic souls out there, so here’s hoping the party coalesces around him before we bleed ourselves to death solely to satisfy the big dreams of also-rans and the bruised egos of the DLC.
With Iowa and New Hampshire seemingly for Dean, both the Doctor and his rivals continue to hone in on South Carolina as a make-or-break state. As I said earlier, SC is probably the last, best hope for a Clark, Edwards or Gephardt to establish themselves as the Southern anti-Dean. As for Lieberman and Kerry, barring a fantastic upset in New Hampshire, it seems to be all over for the both of them, as their increasingly scorched earth rhetoric attests.