How Dean Could Win . . .

Discussion in 'Politics' started by ARogueTrader, Dec 9, 2003.

  1. How Dean Could Win . . .

    By William Kristol
    Tuesday, December 9, 2003; Page A27

    Going into the final day of the college football regular season, Oklahoma was undefeated and ranked No. 1. The Sooners had the best defense in the nation, had outscored their opponents by an average of 35 points and had a nine-game winning streak against ranked teams. "OU: Among best ever?" USA Today asked (rhetorically) on Friday. Kansas State, by contrast, had three losses, and had never won a Big 12 championship. Oklahoma was favored by two touchdowns. Kansas State, of course, won, 35-7.

    For the next 11 months, Republicans, conservatives and Bush campaign operatives should, on arising, immediately following their morning prayers, repeat that score aloud 10 times. Underdogs do sometimes win. Howard Dean could beat President Bush. Saying you're not overconfident (as the OU players repeatedly did) is no substitute for really not being overconfident. And if Bush loses next November, it's over. There's no BCS computer to give him another shot at the national championship in the Sugar Bowl.

    Could Dean really win? Unfortunately, yes. The Democratic presidential candidate has, alas, won the popular presidential vote three times in a row -- twice, admittedly, under the guidance of the skilled Bill Clinton, but most recently with the hapless Al Gore at the helm. And demographic trends (particularly the growth in Hispanic voters) tend to favor the Democrats going into 2004.

    But surely the fact that Bush is now a proven president running for reelection changes everything? Sort of. Bush is also likely to be the first president since Herbert Hoover under whom there will have been no net job creation, and the first since Lyndon Johnson whose core justification for sending U.S. soldiers to war could be widely (if unfairly) judged to have been misleading.

    And President Bush will be running for reelection after a two-year period in which his party has controlled both houses of Congress. The last two times the American people confronted a president and a Congress controlled by the same party were in 1980 and 1994. The voters decided in both cases to restore what they have consistently preferred for the last two generations: divided government. Since continued GOP control of at least the House of Representatives seems ensured, the easiest way for voters to re-divide government would be to replace President Bush in 2004. And with a plurality of voters believing the country is on the wrong track, why shouldn't they boot out the incumbent president?

    But is Dean a credible alternative? Was Kansas State? Dean has run a terrific primary campaign, the most impressive since Carter in 1976. It's true that, unlike Carter (and Clinton), Dean is a Northeastern liberal. But he's no Dukakis. Does anyone expect Dean to be a patsy for a Bush assault, as the Massachusetts governor was?

    And how liberal is Dean anyway? He governed as a centrist in Vermont, and will certainly pivot to the center the moment he has the nomination. And one underestimates, at this point when we are all caught up in the primary season, how much of an opportunity the party's nominee has to define or redefine himself once he gets the nomination.

    Thus, on domestic policy, Dean will characterize Bush as the deficit-expanding, Social Security-threatening, Constitution-amending (on marriage) radical, while positioning himself as a hard-headed, budget-balancing, federalism-respecting compassionate moderate. And on foreign and defense policy, look for Dean to say that he was and remains anti-Iraq war (as, he will point out, were lots of traditional centrist foreign policy types). But Dean will emphasize that he has never ruled out the use of force (including unilaterally). Indeed, he will say, he believes in military strength so strongly that he thinks we should increase the size of the Army by a division or two. It's Bush, Dean will point out, who's trying to deal with the new, post-Sept. 11 world with a pre-Sept. 11 military.

    But what about Sept. 11? Surely Bush's response to the attacks, and his overall leadership in the war on terrorism, remain compelling reasons to keep him in office. They do for me. But while Bush is committed to victory in that war, his secretary of state seems committed to diplomatic compromise, and his secretary of defense to an odd kind of muscle-flexing-disengagement. And when Bush's chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., said on Sunday with regard to Iraq, "We're going to get out of there as quickly as we can, but not before we finish the mission at hand," one wonders: Wouldn't Howard Dean agree with that formulation? Indeed, doesn't the first half of that sentence suggest that even the most senior of Bush's subordinates haven't really internalized the president's view of the fundamental character of this war? If they haven't, will the American people grasp the need for Bush's continued leadership on Nov. 2? If not, prepare for President Dean.
  2. Aaron



    Transfers Nod to Bush in 5-4 Decision

    Just moments after former Vice President Al Gore endorsed former Vermont Governor Howard Dean for President in Harlem yesterday, the Supreme Court overturned his endorsement by a 5-4 margin.

    The Court, finding the former Vice President's endorsement of Mr. Dean unconstitutional, transferred his endorsement to President George W. Bush instead.

    Writing for the majority, Chief Justice William Rehnquist said, "There's really no explanation necessary – we're the Supreme Court, and if you don't like it, you can stick it where the moon don't shine."

    While some Democrats howled that the Court was inappropriately politicizing itself with its controversial decision, Mr. Gore accepted the ruling, saying, "After four minutes of partisan wrangling over this matter, it is time for us to move on."

    Mr. Gore expressed some regret that his endorsement had been transferred from Mr. Dean to Mr. Bush, but added, "It'll be nice to be on the winning side for a change."

    But Mr. Gore's endorsement could turn out to be a mixed blessing for the Bush campaign, as a survey of those who heard Mr. Gore's Harlem speech showed that 55% felt "drowsy" while 40% "lost consciousness altogether."

    In other political news, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) decided today to reinvent his campaign once more, officially positioning himself as "the most potty-mouthed candidate ever to run for President."

    In an interview with Rolling Stone released today, Mr. Kerry said, "If anyone f---ing says that I'm not f---ick qualified to be f---ick president, I'm going to f--- them up."
  3. just sign up for the communist party and start voting.
    so much regulation lately its unbelievable
  4. How Dean could win:
  5. Dean has set himself apart as an angry outsider whose concerns resonate with the party faithful. It is not too big a stretch to compare him to another populist governor with a knack for fiery rhetoric, George Wallace. Until he was shot by an assassin, he was creating huge problems in the primaries of I believe it was '68.

    Dean has managed to create the highly desired bandwagon effect, perhpas best exemplified by the Al Gore endorsement. When that bandwagon starts to pick up speed, it can be tricky getting on board. A guy like Joe Lieberman, who compromised everything he ever claimed to stand for to run with Gore, is dumped faster than a bad habit.

    Now can Dean win? Probably not. The voters have a sense for who is credible and who is not. They have made quirky choices before, see Jimmie Carter, but those choices were made in unusual circumstances, plus they may have learned something from their mistakes. I think Dean's angry tone will turn off a lot of voters who have come to associate Bush with safety.

    I see one big problem for Bush. His platform seems to be "I'm not nearly as bad as any of those Democrats." He has done little to energize his base, eg,the hardcore conservatives, the evangelical community and the opportunity society(low tax, growing economy, investors) crowd. In fact, segments of this base are smoldering in disappointment if not anger at Bush, even as they stifle their criticism because of Iraq.
  6. No one thought Bill Clinton could beat Bush Sr. this time of year either.

    So much can happen. The advantage of Bush is the incumbency.

    The disadvantage for Bush is the incumbency. If the economy stalls, or the war efforts or terrorism control fails, it hurts the incumbent.

    Were you to take out the war and terrorism, and just look at Bush's record on domestic issues, he really has a weak record, and with the support of congress in his pocket, he should have accomplished much more.

    Yes, the government has grown in the area of national security, but in what areas has it been reduced, and where have the cuts been made?

    How many bills has Bush vetoed?

    Take away the distraction of the "War on Terrorism" and you have a mostly muddled adminstration in my opinion.
  7. maxpi


    GW will make a good defense of his actions in Iraq, the economy will be booming and Dean will eat the big one!! You heard it here first on ET baby!!
  8. I tend to agree. But there are important differences. Bush Sr. was respected but never really connected with the voters. He faced one of history's more gifted cmapaigners in Bill Clinton. Dean has nowhere near the charm and charisma that Clinton could direct like a fire hose at the nearest camera. Dean comes across as angry, which a lot of Democrat activists like but the average voter will not. And most voters seem to feel pretty comfortable with Bush. The disputes and arguments are over inside baseball stuff that the average voter doesn't care about.
  9. We will see who the "real" Dean is once he has vanquished his Democratic candidates and has the nomination. He may pull back to a more moderate posture.

    His "angry" posture, may have been an act, and a stroke of genius if it works to get the nomination.

    McGovern et. al were too idealistic, and would not moderate their position to reach voters.

    Let's see how he is when he is one on one with GW, and what kind of politician he really is.

    Running mate is important for both sides. I still think Rudy Giuliani
    is the strongest move GW could make. Dump Cheney, we don't see the fat fuck any more anyway.
  10. Interesting. Rudy G would certainly get some attention at the NYC convention. He is not popular with the conservative base, so there could be complications. Rudy would certainly be a change from Cheney, who has taken "low profile" to absurd lengths. There would be non-stop four years of speculation about a Rudy-Hillary face-off. Bush might not like the idea of being upstaged for his entire final term.
    #10     Dec 10, 2003