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Monday, September 27, 2004

Blog rolling

A couple of selections from the Bush Wars blog:
On the wild fluctuations in polls:
In other words, the trouble with the polls this time involves a fundamental problem of definition. Electoral polls always depend on a set of assumptions about who is and who isn’t a “likely voter.” But this year--owing to the near-unfathomable combination of a widely despised president who threatens to draw out enormous numbers of people who don’t usually vote, and a challenger who seems intent on convincing them to stay home--no one has any clear idea of who’s going to show up on November 2.
On the Kerry campaign "strategy:"
The question was never whether this election would be a referendum on Bush--that was bound to be the case--but whether John Kerry and the Democrats would be the ones telling that story to the people. Here is a summary of Kerry's line on the Bush scandals:
  • Tax cuts: I am not a tax-and-spend liberal!
  • Economy: Not too good. Everyone can see that, right? But there is this offshore tax break I'd eliminate...
  • Iraq: I would conduct needless and immoral foreign invasions more responsibly.
  • Cronyism: Huh?
It's impossible to see how diehard partisans of the Democrats can endure this campaign without learning a thing or two, but they seem to be holding up thus far. Their collective wailings and gnashings fall along two main lines: Kerry is regrettably timid, or Kerry is hewing to the "middle" to woo those fabled centrist swing voters. Indeed, some true-blue Dems (the clinically delusional ones) still rise to defend Kerry's craven non-strategy of standing back in the weeds while Bush, theoretically, sinks Bush.

There's just one trouble with all three critiques: They assume that the men and women charting the course of the Democratic party are some of the dumbest people on earth. Can they not see that this election offers dramatic and even unprecedented potential for galvanizing anti-Republican reaction and bringing new voters out of the woodwork?

Of course they can see this. They refuse to act on it because new blood would mean new demands of a very old sort on a political machine that has spent the past generation trying to rid itself of public association with "special interests," in this case meaning the people. Who needs the headache of taking them back aboard? Better to keep on flouting them and hope they will vote for you anyway, out of desperation. The voters that Democrats thereby leave on the table are their traditional base. But no more.

But they could win so easily. Yes. So what? Given the choice between winning what might prove an unruly victory and running yet another me-too campaign that will likely lose (but without upsetting their real base, which consists largely of the same funding sources as the Republicans), they take the second path every time. The Democrats are not stupid. They are cynical. They have no interest in changing the rules of the game, and toward that end they are even more loath than Republicans to invite new people into the "process."