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November 03, 2004


Paul Zrimsek

While dropping the cultural scorn is certainly a good idea for Democrats, I don't see the Frank/Kristof plan to replace it with condescension as much of an improvement. "Vote for my health care plan, you racist, homophobic, fundamentalist maroon!" at least pays red-state values the compliment of engaging them head-on, however unconstructively; changing the message to "Quit pretending your silly religious hangups are as important as my health care plan!" isn't going to win many people over. Anyone for the Third Way-- respectful disagreement?


John McCain will be 72 years old in 2008. It does give a reason to question his ability to endure, especially when considering the 6+ years spent as a POW--must have taken years off his life. Reagan was 69 in 1980, and some questioned his age. So I think McCain--his appeal aside-- is very unlikely due to his age.

Frank Kessler

The idea that Hillary can get Republicans to vote for a candidate who they don't really like makes as much sense as the Dems thinking Bush-hating would be enough to get Kerry elected. Karl Rove is right. You have to get the base energized if you want to win.

Major Domo

A lot of us view McCain-Feingold as the single worst piece of legislation in recent years, an outrageous assault on the first amendment whose unfortunate consequences were on display for all to see in this last campaign. Rather than admit what a disaster his pet legislation has proved to be, I expect McCain to now propose even worse restrictions on freedom of speech to "fix" the problems that he helped to create. Sorry, but I just couldn't support nominating McCain, even if he's the best chance to beat Hillary.

If Giuliani could find a way to stake out some pro-family turf to mollify the base, he might be a much more successful moderate Republican candidate. He needs to start working on that now, if that's his plan. Or Arnold, if we can amend the Constitution in time to allow him to run. But I think you're safe to sell those TradeSport McCain contracts short.

Jack Okie

Frank is right. Republicans don't like McCain nearly as much as do the Democrats and MSM. I'm hoping he gets replaced next time he has to run. So-called "campaign finance reform", and his trashing the Swifties are just too much.


You must be in a good mood to let Kristof off that easy.

"To put it another way, Democrats peddle issues, and Republicans sell values. Consider the four G's: God, guns, gays and grizzlies.

One-third of Americans are evangelical Christians, and many of them perceive Democrats as often contemptuous of their faith. And, frankly, they're often right. Some evangelicals take revenge by smiting Democratic candidates."

See, to Kristof (and the people he's trying to educate)values aren't issues. And it's just those vengeful Christians who think it's contemptuous to make God "one of the four G's," right?

"Finally, grizzlies - a metaphor for the way environmentalism is often perceived in the West as high-handed."

Right, Westerners are just being delusional about this. After all, if someone's kid gets mauled by a grizzly bear the government stuck in the neighborhood, that's not Kristof's problem.

"'The Republicans are smarter,' mused Oregon's governor, Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat. 'They've created ... these social issues to get the public to stop looking at what's happening to them economically.'"

Yep, the GOP created these issues. Ithought that was Karl Rove who filed that lawsuit in Massachussetts to legalize gay marriage. And the endless stream of environmental litigation. And the suit about "under God" being in the Pledge of Allegiance. And the lawsuits trying to put gun manufacturers out of business.

Okay, maybe it wasn't Karl Rove in person, but I'm sure he issued the instructions to his flunkies over one of those invisible earpieces he makes Bush wear.


...and I had to return after seeing someone who does not deserve mention refer to the GOP running on "God, Guns and Gays."

There seems to be epidemic amnesia among the Left.

In this campaign, the main issues were the War on Terror and Iraq (as subset thereof or not).

There is no recognition on the Left that just maybe "values" this year meant understanding that there is Good and Evil, that we are the former, that Islamofascists are the latter, and that it is just to preemptively strike at the latter before they kill more innocents. No "root causes" of terror. No "nuance." No "nuisance."

Eric Anondson


Expect the Left to define the Right in its own terms viciously. Lefty condescension forbids them to listen to cultural conservatives the way they listen fawningly to foreign cultures. Lefty condescension for cultural conservatives causes them to smear every fellow countryman that desents from them.

Lefty condescension causes them to be able to spew hate without irony. Lefty condescension forces them to insist others must reach out to them, not vice versa. Do not expect change, although I will be happy to be disproven.


McCain is unelectable. He has no executive experience and too many negatives, not the least of which is his wishy-washiness. Giulliani has executive experience and extremely high approval ratings, stemming from his handling of 9-11 and his refusal to accept a check from an Arab.


"his refusal to accept a check from an Arab."

I feel the need to elaborate on this. He was, and I'm quite sure would be willing to accept a check from an Arab. It was the particular Arab, who was trying to lay blame for 9-11 on America, who he would not accept a check from. And yes, it does redound very much to his credit.

Jim Glass

I don't think McCain.

If you look at the exit polls Colin Powell is the Democrats' nightmare -- run him with someone who appeals to the Republican right base and he might send the Dems the way of the Whigs. And if he wants the nomination and goes working for it, it's probably his to lose, so to speak. But I don't know if he does.

As for Hillary, I doubt if she'll be getting any free passes. There are a lot of liberal Dems who really don't like the idea of her in an executive office (see Brad DeLong). Edwards has made himself a player and he's got four years to add some substance to very good style. Dean is still out there with a base and has four years to recover the balance he once had. Every other Dem who ever thought of making a run will be sharpening a knife to stick in someone else. Shrill is a virtue for them know, you know.

And Bill's reign will be four more years in the past. Maybe with the extra distance more Dems will look at the almanac and see that while his eight years were good for him and Hillary, under their leadership *the rest* of the party lost the Senate and House (Bill's greatest lasting achievement!) seemingly permanently, couldn't get Gore elected at the height of one of the great economic booms of history, and went from being the majority to dwindling minority in controlling governorships and state legislatures. Could be it will seem less like Camelot II with less to endorse the idea of President Guinevere.

Hillary as Guinevere?? Apologies, I pushed that too far.


I don't know if Giuliani could get elected. He's pro-choice and has a history of not being a family values type of guy what with the mistress and all.

Jimmy's Attack Rabbit

Another thought to consider about Hillary v. McCain '08 is how McCain's true base, the MSM, would react. I'm sure there'd be deep contemplations of the great service McCain could provide by contradicting other Republicans for 4 years but his true base would finally conclude Hillary's "good intentions" factor would win out in a landslide.

Jim Glass

"... for Democrats, I don't see the Frank/Kristof plan to replace it with condescension as much of an improvement."

Their problem is that's about all they have left. What other choice do they have?

The issues that once were attractive for them have all gone sour -- civil rights becomes racial quotas, being for reproductive rights has become defending partial birth abortion, being for free speech becomes imposing speech codes, being for school choice to free poor kids from segregated schools becomes being anti-school choice to keep poor kids in failing schools, supporting modest programs to help the elderly poor becomes defending bust-the-budget programs that make transfers to Warren Buffett from his employees at Dairy Queen etc., etc. Diminishing returns in pushing political issues.

All they have left is what DeLong's site now reeks of -- we're *morally* superior and *smarter*, and we really really believe it because we once upon a time stood for those attractive issues above, conveniently forgetting what we actually stand for now. Which leads to what's driven Krugman mad -- we're morally superior and smarter too and we're keep *losing* to these evil dumbasses! AACCHHH!

Make all the criticisms you want about the Republican core program and message, at least they *have* one.

The Dems just don't have one any more, other than defending the residuals above and saying Repubs are bad.

I mean, e.g., if a serious Democratic candidate for anything today actually walked the talk on caring about Social Security, he'd propse a serious plan to close the funding gap with benefit cuts and/or tax increases. But if he did that, he'd be savaged by his own party.

So all he can say is, "I'm *better* than those bad Repubs on SS, no I won't say *how*, just trust me, and if you don't you're dumb." Which is pretty much patronizing condescension of the voters -- but what else could he do??

Which is *exactly* what Kerry did on Iraq in this last election.

Woodward goes to him: Bush answered all my questions, will you answer my questions about what you'd do differently?? The reply...

"The senator and his campaign have since decided not to do the interview, though his advisers say Kerry would have *strong and compelling* answers..." !! ;-)

But what else could he do -- actually *answer* them?? Whatever he said, he'd have split his support.

So we get, "You really should be smart enough to know that my positions would be *strong and compelling* if I gave them to you, which I won't, so you'd better vote for me, if you are smart." And that was his core campaign issue for crying out loud -- nothing but condescension.

It's the trap the Dems are in, and they are going to keep losing as long as they are in it. I'll believe they out of it when a major Democratic politician actually puts forth a real, serious proposal to close the SS funding gap and survives.

I'll believe they are trying to start to get out of it when Krugman or DeLong actually makes a real proposal to close the SS funding gap, instead of just trashing everybody else who does.

RTO Trainer

I've posted my predictions on my blog. I'll link back to the excellent analysis here.


"...at the height of one of the great economic booms of history"

I have to take issue with you there, Jim. In retrospect, it was a bubble economy, and it was already heading South almost a full year before Bush was inaugurated. The treasuries yield curve inverted in March of 2000, almost always a harbinger of impending recession.


Forget Hillary, for every democrat that likes her there's another that doesn't. I don't think she'd make it out of the primaries. The person I think to watch really is Obama. He's much more comfortable talking about his faith than most democrats, and is a hawk. If he manages to make a name for himself in the Senate in the next three years, I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see him as the nominee in 2008. If it were Clinton vs. McCain, I think I would have to vote McCain. Don't think that will happen, though. And it would take some serious Bush failures in the next four years for the GOP to run with someone as centrist as Guiliani. Plus he blamed the troops on TV.


All this talk of left condescension is so cute. It's funny how gay marriage being the moral issue of this election is only mentioned in passing. I wait for the the enlightened here to explain to me the value of banning gay marriage and/or civil unions. Or using it as a wedge issue. I must say, in retrospect, it was probably a very bad idea to pull this gambit this election year. Very bad. But the left, unlike the right, doesn't get its orders from the top. So there isn't much you can do about that.


Troops personally witnessed looting, claim not enough troops in Iraq to prevent it.

Of course its all a part of the vast liberal conspiracy to thward the president. Nevermind the control of all three branches of govt is solid Red + talk radio.

Cecil Turner

"It's funny how gay marriage being the moral issue of this election is only mentioned in passing."

It's funnier that the Dems cast about for red herrings rather than admit the lack of a coherent national defense strategy cost them this election.

"I wait for the the enlightened here to explain to me the value of banning gay marriage and/or civil unions."

To the extent I think about gay rights (not much), it's to be generally sympathetic to those who might not be treated equally under the law. But I'm not too thrilled with redefining "marriage" (or any other commonly used English words) to match the PC dictionary version. And if those definitions must change to accomodate changes in society, they should be written into new laws in the legislatures. Activist judges legislating are undemocratic. (Though you'd think a remedy short of a constitutional amendment would be possible.)

"Troops personally witnessed looting, claim not enough troops in Iraq to prevent it."

And not one of them proud enough of his viewpoint to use his name?

Patrick R. Sullivan

Harold Ford, if he can find a way to get elected governor of Tennessee, would be the Dem's best hope.


Wow - I didn't expect much love for McCain, but he really draews fire, doesn't he?

Giuliani - left unmentioned is that, prior to 9/11, the Dem spin was that under Rudy's police, NYC was a racist gulag.

so, a headscratcher - I am not sure who that hurts. Dems may not want to run against NY's Finest in 2008, but Al Sharpton may force them to. Rudy as a wedge issue!

Harold Ford - he was the Dem's shining hope at some earlier convention, but was passed over for House Minority Loser in favor of Nacny Pelosi - how do Dem strategists heep a straight face when they cash their paychecks?

It's too early for Obama (maybe as VP?), but I agree with Patrick - Ford needs to get out of his protected district and show state-wide appeal. The country prefers to elect Southern Governors but... Bill Frist is up for re-election in 2006. Ford would get huge street cred if he won that fight (which may be a stupid fight for him, I don't know about Tennessee).


Having never read Kristof, I wasn't sure what to expect based on your reference. What I found was someone largely out of touch with reality. This is, in my opinion, a symptom common on the left. For example, his assertion that "factory workers and waitresses who ended up voting - utterly against their own interests - for Republican candidates" shows just how little he understands about economics (or, at the very least, it shows how little he thinks we understand).

This is the common cry of the modern liberal: the right only wants to help the wealthy. For this to be true, all conservatives would have to be either wealthy or stupid (he might argue that the latter always applies). I think that is where modern liberalism falls short: underestimating the intelligence of the masses. While I’d be the first to argue that the average American ain’t too bright, that doesn’t mean that the average American can’t make a moderately reasonable decision when presented with fact.

What’s even more amazing, further parsing his statement, is the arrogance he displays by implying that he knows better what is in the best interests of the masses. Even if his naïve impression of economics were accurate, he seems to think that this is the only issue worth considering in the selection of representation. While this issue might be his chief motivation, it clearly doesn’t encompass the width and breadth of issues driving the electorate.

Lurking Observer


Why is it too early for Obama? In 2008, he'll have been Senator for 4 years. How long has John Edwards been a Senator, before running for President?


Funny, I thought that this election was being run on how Bush lied us into war? Or how the economy was tanking, and the rich were getting all the tax cuts? Or how the War on Terror was mismanaged?

Now, after the election, I find out it was about gay marriage? Who knew?



wait for the the enlightened here to explain to me the value of banning gay marriage and/or civil unions.
Most people don't care what you do in private they just don't want that which has never been legal anywhere at anytime to be decided so at a whim by judges.

Hey I have an idea. Why don't you have same-sex marriage placed onto a ballot somewhere. That way the populace can have a say in the matter rather than having it jammed down their throats.

Oh, wait...that was done across the country and it was defeated. Soundly. Everywhere. A drubbing you might say

Paul Zrimsek

You paint too bleak a picture for the Democrats, O Grinch. Middle-class entitlements are just as popular as ever, and while Bush has shown that Republicans can co-opt and blunt the Democrats' natural advantage there they can never entirely remove it, any more than Democrats can ever entirely remove Republicans' natural advantage on security issues. Voters will always suspect that their heart's not really in it.

There's a great Ann Althouse post (pardon the redundancy) up now that lobs Kristof's argument back to New York with some wicked reverse english on it:

Many who are analyzing the election right now comment on how Bush voters don't know their own real economic interests. If only they'd unscrew their tight focus on moral questions, they would have voted for Kerry! If that sort of reasoning about voting patterns is acceptable, we should also consider whether New Yorkers are failing to perceive their own real security issues, and that they ought to have voted for Bush, but that they did not because they maintained a tight focus on the other side of those same moral issues.

Paul Zrimsek

P.S. As Adam Smith almost said, there is a great deal of ruin in a party.


Cecil, Uh, Dems won on voters who said Iraq was issue #1. They lost voters who thought terrorism was the #1 issue. However, 70% of repubs think that Saddam was responsible for 9/11. Roughly 50% think Saddam had WMD. I wait for you to go spread the truth to your republican friends.

Lurking Observer, The dems got killed on "moral values" -- i.e. gay marriage. That was more important than the economy to most republican voters. If you ask a person in ohio if they are more concerned about not having a job or allowing a gay person to bury their partner -- they chose the latter.

Sando, That's a cute story to tell yourself, how many states have sodomoy laws? How many had them 5 years ago?

Paul, Consider Iraq is fubar'd and this isn't controversial (unless you consider Powell, the CIA, senate republicans, the brits, and kristol all a part of the vast liberal conspiracy to thward the president) -- its hard to make the case that Bush is the best president for our security. A lot of people are saying Iraq made us significantly LESS safer.


BTW, I'd stop choking on the "Activist Judge" kool-aid right about now. The repubilcans have solidified their hold on govt, and I'm sure we are about to see the importance of "activism" when its done by right-wing judges. Just like state-rights is on its way out. Keep up with power-politics.


Actually Sando, please explain why value voters selected a senator who wants to ban gays from even teaching? Hmm, I guess privacy of their own homes isn't enough, if they have a job. Or maybe you'd like to explain how value voters chose a senator who advocated the death penalty for abortion providers and potentially illegally sterilized a patient.

Cecil Turner

"However, 70% of repubs think that Saddam was responsible for 9/11. Roughly 50% think Saddam had WMD. I wait for you to go spread the truth to your republican friends. "

What truth? That Saddam had no (that means zero, BTW) WMDs? Or that he was totally unconnected with 9/11? Care to prove either?

"Iraq is fubar'd and this isn't controversial"

Yeah. Won you an election, didn't it? Oh, that's right, it was all about gay marriage.

"Keep up with power-politics."

At some point, Dems will have to admit the problem lies in the message. Until they do, they'll keep losing elections. (Which is fine with me.)


Maybe you'd like to be a little less cryptic so we'll all know what you're talking about. Maybe you'd like to provide a link.


I like the highlighting of the idea that Democrats are condescending when they argue that people vote Republican because they are too stupid to rank issues in the same way that Democrats do.


What's the matter with Kansas? They think.

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