The Kerry-Over Effect

How long are the senator’s legs?

Everyone Loves a Horserace? Not The_Slasher-8 who insists that, “What must NOT happen now, however, is that the process drags on right up to the Convention.” Slasher adds here,

The next step is to see how Kerry plays vs. Clark and/or Edwards in the South. I’m of two minds on it. One is to write off the South as Bush Country even in a best case scenario and to say that the key is a candidate who can win Gore’s states plus FL or OH. The other is to think that although that may be true, a candidate who has no legs in the South is going to have serious trouble carrying FL (which is, after all, a Southern state, though not the usual kind) or OH (which is, south of Akron, pretty much the same as Tennessee). Frankly, if Kerry cannot get more than 15% there, Clark might be a better bet.
The_Bell comes into Ballot Box Fray with his own analysis, rebutting William Saletan’s contention that “by advertising [his rejecting of electoral spending caps], Kerry risks drawing attention to his extravagant wealth and his circumvention of campaign reform, creating an impression that he’s trying to buy the nomination.” The_Bell writes
I think it was an effective strategy even within a solely Democratic forum for two reasons. First, it shows his pragmatism. After all, he argues, the only reason I need to do this is because the Republican incumbent has already made it clear that he is not going to abide by such laws. It goes to the heart of electability, which is manifestly forefront in the mind of many Democratic voters. Second, and perhaps most shrewdly, was his observation that he is the only Democrat besides Dean to make this decision. For months now, Dean has hammered Kerry and set himself apart from a detrimental issue by pointing out that Kerry voted for the Iraq War Resolution with others in Congress while he had always opposed the war. Now Kerry takes an equally negative issue and happily shows how Dean is just “one of the boys” with him on it.
On the matter of Dean-as-hair-band-front-man, The_Bell defies conventional wisdom and “did not see anything so terribly damning about Dean’s Iowa concession speech besides the bizarre half-whoop at the end of it. The man had just suffered a huge and disappointing loss and was trying to motivate his supporters that all was not beyond hope. If Mr. Suellentrop is correct and Mr. and Mrs. Dean could lose simply because they are not willing to quit being “just ordinary folks,” then I think that is a far more damning comment on the shallowness of the modern American electorate than them.” Joe_JP offers up a similar defense here, while MHaag draws the McCain-Dean comparison here. Snowball’s Chance in Hell: A chilly Zathras, here, thinks that the White Mountain powder has clouded Jacob Weisberg’s impression of John Edwards’ candidacy:
Other things being equal I would rather have a President with some foreign policy background than one who can persuade Jacob Weisberg that he has an affinity for ordinary people…He’s running against other Democrats as a slicker version of Howard Dean, without the anger or ideology or even the experience of running the government of a tiny state – the outsider uncontaminated by Washington, in touch with “the real world.” In an age of terrorism, nuclear proliferation and other international challenges made much more difficult by the election of two successive American Presidents who came to office with no experience and scant knowledge of foreign affairs, why would we elect another one?

In Jacob Weisberg’s case the answer is simple. John Edwards makes him feel good.
The official Fray New Hampshire Crystal Ball contest can be found here, the winner to receive the vaunted Fray 2003 Holiday CD.  Deadline for submission is Sunday, 3pm PST … KA10:30 a.m.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Field of Screams: “This may surprise you people,” Fray conservative locdog writes …

but i like howard dean. i really do. i like him because he’s got that whole michael keaton thing working—you know, the thing where he’s tripping the light fantastic on a dental floss tight rope stretched over the pit of madness. i dig that. i dig presidential candidates who look like they could pull out an M-16 and pepper the crowd with hot death at any given moment.
Locdog’s political roundup, including a critique of President Bush’s immigration policy, can be found  here.   Adam_Masin may have abandoned “Worst of the Slate,” but his BOTF-based analysis in recent days reads like a parallel Ballot Box—or an alternate minority response to that of the phlegmatic Nancy Pelosi and Tom Daschle. AM breaks down the State of the Union here. Some samplings:
Summing Up:

America is Confident and Strong in the face of killing that continues all over the world, outlaw regimes, terrorists constantly training, plotting ambitious plans, hiding in cities and caves, enemies that will do all in power to spread violence and fear and shake our will, and the fact that we are living in the shadow of serious continuing danger, because we have people looking at airline passenger lists, 1600 patrols a week and 180 raids a night in Iraq, armored charges, midnight raids, Bulgaria on our side and the Patriot Act! Good thing we are so beloved!

American security is in the hands of Poland! The Netherlands has their hands in the dike of terrorism!Moral lessons from Republicans:
We want to drug test all kids because we love you!
Bad pro sports players! Get rid of steroids!
STDs are bad!
Sex is bad!
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is bad!
Activist judges are bad!
Hey Ashley Pearson, listen to you mom or dad, but not your two moms or dads!

… among others.  Zinya, a stalwart John Kerry supporter, came in to the Fray yesterday to comment on Kerry’s auspicious performance in Iowa.  Zinya here on Kerry’s quietly effective internet organization, as well as the Chris Lehane saga. Antidisestablishmentarianism: Over in Poems Fray, rob_said_that gets the award for the longest contiguous word in a subject heading for “Unhip-popotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia” — the hyphen notwithstanding—in response to Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s poem “Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia,” winner of said award in the Longest Contiguous Headline category. Nezhukumatathil’s poem conveys the trials of dealing with a classroom of kids who’d wish she’d buy a vowel for her serpentine last name. An unsympathetic rob writes:
Well, glad you got that off your chest, Aimee. I promise not to make fun of your name anymore. That goes for any of the confusing, foreign-sounding names that wash up on our shores, carried by swarthy or dusky foreigners with different ideas about sex or religion or food. I used to persecute these people horribly. After reading this, though, I have seen the light! It’s all good, brothers and sisters! Aimee Nezhukumawhateverthefuck has taught me that cruelty and intolerance are wrong! America is a rainbow! [Insert smiley face here.]… This is a tiny little didactic exercise. I could appreciate the language had it aspired to anything else—even just the sheer beauty of words without any particular meaning. But this is nothing more than a tiny little didactic exercise—a diversity pamphlet in poem’s clothing.
Apparently, the demise of BOTF hearings have bled over into PF. Montfort here, in response to rob, in a post titled “The reign of hopelessness on the Poetry Fray”:
it’s beyond disliking or even hating, beyond dismay, it’s worse than that, it’s moved into ennui, it’s like, who cares? it doesn’t make any difference. read and post poems you like, or surrender to ennui.

oh, is it Tuesday? again?
RyckNelson, who estimates that “about a third of the TA’s were international grad or PHD (maybe) students” at the University of Minnesota, appreciates the poem. His take is hereTaken to Task: NoStar’s indignation is duly noted by FrEd, who has carelessly omitted the Annual Fray Limerick Contest from Fraywatch mention.  NoStar has posted the winners here, among which is a tribute to the tenuous relationship between yours truly and the Fray antihero, the mysterious Fearless Pat Lillis. Newcomers be advised, this anthology falls into the “inside baseball” substance of the Fray … KA 7:55 a.m. 

Monday, January 19, 2004

For C-Spuds and political junkies, Monday night was like the first round of the NCAA Final Four tourney minus the office-pool brackets. Perhaps a better analogy would be the Golden Globe Awards (the Iowa Caucus as harbinger to New Hampshire and Super Tuesday—the Oscars of presidential politics). Either way, more than a few Fraysters were glued to the set, alternating between C-SPAN and the yakfests on the news outlets. John Kerry emerged as the Florida Marlins of the Democratic field. After being left for dead in early November, Kerry cleaned house—giving Jim Jordan and Chris Lehane their walking papers in favor of Mary Beth Cahill—and managed to resuscitate his campaign, roaring past Howard Dean and burying Dick Gephardt in Iowa’s 1,993 precincts. The Fray, in light trading this evening, had some preliminary chatter. Outstanding Spin by a Deaniac: BeverlyMann in On the Trail Fray, here:

When all is said and done—that is, when a year from tomorrow, the ultimate Democratic nominee will be the one taking the presidential oath of office—it will be Howard Dean, more than anyone else other than George W. Bush, who will have responsible for that victory.

It’s Dean who, single-handedly, finally cut the Dems’ puppet strings to the Republican Party—who by virtue of sheer belief and energy proved that the Dems, if they are to capture the White House, must stop being the Me-Too Party and start being the Aggressive Opposition Party. Apparently, Edwards (alone among the candidates) has yet to learn that lesson, though, which is why I hope with all my heart that he isn’t the eventual nominee.
Outstanding Consumption of Humble Pie by an Ensemble Cast: historyguy, accepting for all, “BOTF dumber than a bag of rocks“:
There are four candidates. How hard would it be to guess which finish in the top two? The bag of rocks, having no insight into politics, would have a 25% chance of guessing the correct two names, and a 75% chance of guessing at least one of the top two. If you asked eight bags of rocks, on average two would get both names right and four more would get one name right.

A thread with eight predictions, from only last week appears here []. One got both right, one arguably got one right, and six of us—including me—got both wrong. Overall, we suck.
Outstanding Portrayal of a Professional Pundit: Solid analysis from Clark supporter, Adam_Masin, in anticipation of New Hampshire:
Although 75% of Iowa Dems opposed the war, about 80% of the caucus vote went to candidates who supported the Iraq war. This rather unexpected result is terrible news for Dean and, to a lesser degree, Clark, the most prominent anti-war candidates. Bush will spin it as an affirmation of the war.

Al Gore is totally meaningless. Gore’s early endorsement carried no weight, delivered nothing, and seemed to be off-putting to many Dems who thought it presumptuous. The open question is whether any endorsements matter.

If Clark should learn anything from Iowa, it should be that going negative against Dean or Kerry would be a Dean/Gephardt-like mistake. Positivity, positivity, positivity. Clark becomes the anti-war Kerry instead of the Dean alternative. Kerry-Clark? Clark-Kerry? Since Dems have been a little vauge on the war, wouldn’t that figure about right?Winner: DLC, Loser: Deaniacs. Dean’s huge loss gives serious pause to the supposed excitement of an internet based campaign …

Like me, wonder if Bush/Rove are secretly most afraid of one John Edwards???
Here, Geoff takes AM’s cue and pulls out his crystal ball for the Granite State primary. And PresterJohn answers AM point for point here. Fraywatch expects a busy Tuesday morning, and eagerly awaits comment from the Fray’s unofficial Kerry precinct captain, zinyaKA10:45 p.m.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Ornithology, Final Exam: After a week of back-and-forths from Slate’s stable of liberal notables, Sissyfuss1 deftly summarizes the weekly dialogue here (a measurable elaboration from his Wednesday summary). A snippet from today’s post:

To sum up, Weisberg, Kaplan and Packer have changed their minds; the rest of the liberal hawks are still comfortable in their feathers. Given that the rationale of a proximate security threat (Saddam’s WMDs) has now been completely discredited, the hawks had two kinds of arguments to fall back on: (a) a proximate humanitarian argument (immediate liberation of the Iraqi people) (b) a more far reaching humanitarian and/or security argument, broader in scope both in space and time.

It is interesting that practically all the contributors who remain hawkish preferred the more ambitious and sweeping vision of (b).
What else did S1 learn from the discussion?
[T]he term “neocon” is rather misleading today. It may be apt in identifying a certain conservative clique, but the foreign policy view it is supposed to represent above all is not revolutionary any more—it has a wider acceptance, even among those who are socially or economically liberal.
Have Leo Strauss’ progeny already become superfluous to the new geopolitical lexicon?Arthurian Legend? Not one to be taken in by historical hypotheticals, DilanEsper lays it on David Greenberg (“Tax Cuts in Camelot?“) in History Lesson Fray for a special brand of revisionism utilized by historians for presidents who leave office prematurely. DE writes:
It’s really easy to say what a dead president “would” have done. Dead presidents’ policies don’t have to pass Congress, dead presidents don’t have to raise funds for their next campaign, dead presidents aren’t lobbied by anyone. And Kennedy-lovers are very good at taking this or that thing that he may have said and turning it into national policy, if only he hadn’t have been shot.
JFK, according to DE:
The truth is, John Kennedy was a conservative President. He dragged his feet on civil rights, pursued a foreign policy that focused on militaristic confrontations with communism in the Bay of Pigs, and cut taxes for the rich while doing little to fight the social problems which were about to explode in America’s inner cities later in the decade.
Here, run75441 and Don spar on the Bush tax cut. Run assails the cut as unnecessarily top-heavy, while Don retorts that “31% of the 2003 tax break go to the group that pays 33.9% of those taxes.”  And while we’re rounding off to the nearest tenth, fans of campaign arcana may enjoy this exchange on poll sampling between gtomkins1 and WatchfulBabbler over in KF Fray …  KA5:25 p.m.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Taxonomy, Part Two: Back in June, Geoff composed a study in BOTF of prominent pundits and their evolutionary theology on the war in Iraq. Geoff posted the results here, including diagnoses of Fareed Zakaria and Thomas Friedman—both participants in this week’s forum of “liberal hawks.” In Politics Fray, Geoff tackles Paul Berman’s notion of totalitarianism and its four guiding principles: “paranoid conspiracy, cult of death, apocalypticism, and tyrannical plan.”  Geoff asks:

[D]oes the specifically TOTALITARIAN ethos of these instantiations of the (admittedly noxious) ideologies of Islamism and Baathism mean that they are unified in some sort of independently motive totalitarian “movement”? Does al-Qaeda Islamism in its contemporary form flourish on the inherently despotic dream of a renewed Islam? Or does it fall into a specifically totalitarian vision when it places the charismatic of Bin Laden UPON THE THRONE of the imagined caliphate? Each of these “totalitarianism” is built around the personal appeal of a single man… albeit men with vastly differing orbits (Bin Laden’s being a truly pan-Islamic cult of personality, whereas Saddam’s seemed more a militarily enforced dream of personal godhood which stopped at the Iraqi border).

What I mean to say, is that are Islamism and Baathism united in some “totalitarian impulse”? Or are they simply united by the fact that the IDEOLOGIES ARE INSTRUMENTS both in the service of totalitarian charismatics?
To JumboBurrito here, “Berman’s theory is concocted”:
He worked backward from the result he wanted to attain, supporting the Iraq war, to a theory that attempts to unify historical enemies, Islamism and Arab nationalism.
Here, JB points to George Packer’s comments in the forum in support. In contrast, Zathras “admires much about Packer’s perspective on Iraq,” but takes issue with his framing of totalitarianism, as well as his underestimation of the “idea of decoupling democracy from America.”  Z’s strong post can be found here, with a counterpoint from MHaag here. Department of Self-Promotion: Thanks to doodahman for pointing out that Fraywatch made the Christian Science Monitor’s review of the Slate liberal hawk dialogue — or more specifically, its comment on Kenneth Pollack’s about-face in said dialogue. Doodahman thrashes FrEd for giving Publius’s outline on the positive attributes of the invasion too much copy.  Both doodahman here and Iron_Lungfish mock the inspiration derived by Berman at seeing Poland  participate in the campaign.  I_L here:
Well, holy hell, I’m blown away! Pass out the cake and party hats, because Poland is All Grown Up Now and pitching in with the peacekeeping! What is this, a war or a pep rally?
Woody Allen says that he can’t listen to too much Wagner, or he gets the urge to invade Poland. This, of course, prompts the question—what do Poles listen to before they invade Iraq? … KA11:30 a.m.