September 15, 2004

Don't blame me, I would have voted for Dean if the primary system didn't render my state meaningless

I think this would be a good opportunity to remind y'all that I supported Howard Dean in the Democratic primaries (with Edwards a second choice). Dean may not have been ideal, but the whole rationale for Kerry never made a jot of sense to me. The problem with picking someone solely because he is electable is that if it turns out (ahem) that he is not, what are you left with? I'm not saying Dean could have defeated Bush. Honesty, he probably couldn't (Edwards had a better shot). But you can be sure that right now we'd be having a real national debate about the issues, and that Howard Dean would be setting the terms of that debate. Kerry has been playing defense from day one because nobody knows what he really believes, other than that he was a war hero (and I'll bet even he's not so sure about that anymore).

The sad irony is that one of the factors that supposedly made Kerry electable is that he supported the Iraq war. Even better, he did so in a way that would allow him to say that he didn't really if it all fell apart. Well of course it did, but his deniability turned out to be not so plausible. Dean would be hitting Bush hard on Iraq, and it would be a winning issue for him, partly because he'd keep the focus on what's going on there. Because John Kerry can't really talk about it forcefully, most of the media isn't focusing on the carnage and catastrophe the way they should be, and the public is only vaguely aware that things aren't going so well.

Meanwhile, there's this memo shit. Numerous lefty bloggers are trying to make the case that what's really important is that what the memos said is undenably true, even if they were forged. That someone framed a guilty man. But Bush's National Guard fiasco, as pathetic as it was, can't possibly be an issue in this campaign for one reason: the man has already been president for four years. The only reason to dig into a candidate's past is to get clues about what he'll be like in office. What are we trying to say by making this an issue, really? "You see, he's an untrustworthy weasel with an overarching sense of class privilage." Um, no shit. We don't need to go back to 1972 to prove that.

Believe me, I hope Kerry digs himself out of this hole. But he's gonna need a better issue than electability to do it.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


If people are only getting a vague idea that things aren't going well in Iraq, then it would follow that a lot of poeple don't know about Whatshisface's national guard record. I don't think it's irrelevant. But it certainly shouldn't be the only issue.
"Weasel" is right! Whatever Kerry's rationale, how leaderly is it to vote to give the president authority? Wouldn't it be more impressive to say "Hey, I want some say in this!"?

But Daniel, what would be the point of setting the terms of the debate if the Dems still couldn't win. Bush has momentum right now (and I'm not ready to say it's irreversible) because the Republicans, even Republicans like McCain who can't stand him, have been united in their desire to win with him. Too many Dems, meanwhile, have been hedging their support for Kerry. That might be intellectually honest, but it's no way to win an election.

I think Kerry is a strong candidate. I think he'd make an excellent president. Dems are constantly touting his understanding of the complexities of the issues in comparison with Bush, but it's his understanding of the complexities of the events that led to war that progressives now criticize him for. "Anybody But Bush" seemed like a good rallying cry in the primaries but it doesn't play with undecided voters and worse, it leaves Kerry's strengths completely out of the debate.

The way the primaries are structured represents
one of many profoundly undemocratic problems in our
system. Kerry was trailing Dean in the polls
before the Iowa caucus (was that the first one?)
rendered the entire primary system moot. There
are probably more Democrats in Brooklyn alone than there
are PEOPLE in the entire state of Iowa. And
yet Iowa picks the candidate?

If all of the primaries & caucuses (caucii?) had
been held on the same day, the results might have
been completely different.

I personally think that the primary and Iowa's power is absolutely disgusting. The first round in the primaries should be at least 10 states.

Dean or Kerry wasn't the guy to beat Bush, Gephardt was the man that could've beat Bush. Minimally, Gephardt should've been the VP candidate! As a Republican and at the time, I was worried that he would pick Gephardt because that would've been the election. Gephardt's International Minimum Wage idea and the trust blue collar American workers have in him, would've been huge in this economy.

Though I appreciate Kevin's comments, I can't buy it. I think you're conflating two issues. The Dem power structure is every bit as united behind Kerry as the GOP power structure (McCain, et al) is around Bush. That's necessary, welcome, and a bit of a surprise. But what you're really talking about is the unity and support of voters. Bush supporters are united and enthusiastic because they genuinely like him, not because they think it's the way to win an election. I don't think it's possible for Kerry voters to falsely project enthusiasm as a tactic, and I doubt it would work even if it were possible.

I'm not criticizing Kerry's understanding of complexities in the run up to war. I'm criticizing his politics. I think he probably had grave doubts about the war, but cast a vote to support it (and don't tell me now that he or anyone else honestly thought that Bush might use that vote to avoid war) out of political cowardice. That same cowardice (playing it safe, it's sometimes called) kept him from condemning the war when it was seemingly going well, which in turn is what is preventing him from making the war an issue now that it's not (that and his inability to outline a policy significantly different from Bush's).

I agree that Anybody But Bush is not a good rallying cry now, but Kerry was the ultimate ABB candidate. That's what it meant that he was electable: he can beat Bush and it doesn't matter what his ideology or platform is. A candidate like Dean or Edwards who had a genuine sense of mission could have been more than an ABB.

Anyway, polls are tightening again, so watch me to say I was supporting Kerry all along in a week from now. :)

I really think the Democratic Party has a winning problem. They act like Cubs fans--as soon as Kerry pulls a little hamstring they start talking about losing the big one and who's to blame and what they should have done differently and on and on.

Kerry might have been the ultimate ABB candidate, but once he was the nominee Dems needed to line up enthusiastically behind them and they haven't. I said in The Morning News last week I thought that if the 100,000 people who had gone to New York to protest the Bush administration had gone instead to Boston to rally in support of Kerry, they would have had ten times the impact. It never would have happened, of course, but THAT would have been a statement.

You and I have had this conversation before, but I don't agree that Kerry's vote for the Iraq war resolution was an act of cowardice. Many in Congress, including Dems, voted for that resolution because they saw the choice between war and peace as a false one. They believed the choice was between a messy and bloody war now and a messier and bloodier war later. I still believe that was most likely true, and I believe Kerry's statement that he still would have voted for the resolution reflects his understanding. I agree that his other explanation ("I was misled by the President because I didn't believe he meant what he said") was an attempt to pander to the Democratic base and not one of his finest moments..

Edwards was my candidate during the primaries, but I like Kerry a lot. Dean might have been more than an ABB candidate but I also believe he would have been a disaster for the Dems on multiple fronts. Alan Keyes will be "setting the terms of debate" in the Illinois Senate race and then he's going to lose to Obama by 40 points. There are some on the far right who will see that as a victory of sorts, but I think the GOP will be bloodied around here when its over.

Sorry, but I can't buy the argument that if Dean had been on the ticket, we'd now be talking about the issues. The Republicans would have done to Dean what they're trying to do to Kerry. Dean's position on Iraq would not have stopped a smear campaign against him. I like Dean a lot, but he had his own faults as a campainger and during during the primary he was already starting to wilt under the media spotlight. I guarantee that if Dean had won the nomination and had slipped a point or two in the polls, we would have a bunch of Dems wringing their hands bemoaning their decision and wishing they had nominated Kerry.

Aaargh! Kerry didn't support the war. Why are you repeating Republican knee-jerk BS?

Sorry, Rob. But Kerry did support the war. Maybe not in the sense of actually believing it was the right thing to do, but unquestionably in the sense of greenlighting Bush's invasion.

I know that's not what he says now. I've parsed his excuses previously: http://www.radosh.net/archive/000873.html

I think it's worth saying that Kerry's strategy re the Iraq war placed him well within the mainstream of the Democratic Party leadership position of the time. I also think his loyalty to that cautious and possibly gutless party position ultimately made him the candidate. It was a decision I did not care for at the time, but we should remember that Kerry was not alone in hedging his bets on Iraq. To this day, more than 40% of the electorate believes Saddam was involved in 8/11, and Rumsfeld still confuses Saddam with Osama in public remarks. It would be suicidal to directly assault that kind of irrationality. As we are seeing, the crap seems to stick to the good guys way better than it does to the villains.

It is too easily forgotten that Dean entered the race primarily to fight for reform of heath care financing. He was some accidentally turned into the anti-war candidate, which galvanized a large segment of the Democratic base. But the war is was then and is still now very, very devisive among Democrats. Some hate the Iraq war. Some supported the invasion. Any Democrat was going to have a very difficult time holding that base together for this election. If Bush had looked this weak a year ago -- even 10 months ago -- we would have had other candidates, and most likely, another candidate.

If Dean had become the candidate, we might be talking more about Iraq, but we would also be stewing inHarry & Louise commercials over whatever health-care reforms he would proposed, and the gay-marriage, civil-union issue would have been more central.

I too wore a Dean button. I thank him for re-energizing the party base. But I just do not see him as a winner in the country today. We need, I'm sad to admit, an avowedly religious person from the South, a border state like Kentucky, or the Southwest who loves guns (but tolerates gun-control) and who hates abortion (but accepts the woman's right to choose).

Maybe the guy from New Mexico.

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