Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Reckless Optimism 

speakingcorpse writes:

2,500 registered Republicans WROTE IN the name of a Democratic candidate tonight in New Hampshire. The presidency may be ours for the taking. I sense the media warming to the new story line: "It's time for a change." Now I could be crazy. I may not have much longer to live. Perhaps a psychopharmacologically-induced dementia is setting in. But if I AM right, then it does make sense to think that Kerry should be the one, with Edwards as VP. Because if it's ours for the taking, we don't need to make the race about anything other than "handing off" the presidency from Bush to another trustworthy and experienced leader. If it's ours for the taking, we shouldn't make the race about changing the system, but letting the system work in our favor. I still want Dean to do well. He deserves A LOT of credit for changing the entire race. And I know this entire analysis may be wrong--probably is wrong, probably is demented. If the media is going to treat the nominee, whoever he is, the way they treated Gore, then I think that Dean in the end is our only shot. But if the media learns to like the Kerry/Edwards idea, I think we should gratefully settle for that...

...and from a comment at the Daily Kos:
The spotlight on Dean wasn't because he was the frontrunner, it was because the media wanted to destroy him. There was no frontrunner spotlight on Gore until the general when the media decided to destroy him. Kerry is going to get a free ride until the general. Then it's game over.
I hope it's wrong. But it may be right. I don't know. It is within the realm of possibility that the media, not Bush/Rove, will get bored and decide to destroy Kerry. Not turn against him--destroy him. Perhaps it's likely. If they don't, then, as I said, Kerry makes sense. But if they do decide to whip up several shitstorms, then the "it's best to lose with Dean" line begins to make sense. It's important to remember that the media (and not the RNC, alone) destroyed Gore, and have crippled Dean as well. I don't deny for a second that Dean's support is less widespread than it seemed, and that he made mistakes. I'm not saying that Kerry wouldn't have beaten Dean without the media--people obviously like Kerry. But the media oversaw Dean's collapse--it was the media that invented the gaffes, and the media (and only the media) that was terrorized by the utterly inconsequential Iowa speech. The media hates Dean for all the obvious reasons, starting with the fact that for a long time he was able to run without playing their game. Perhaps they won't treat Kerry as badly. But they can certainly, absolutely, if they wish, do the same thing to him that they did to Dean. Whether they do so or not depends upon a variety of circumstantial factors--the first of which will probably be Kerry taking a big lead in the polls, necessitating a takedown. They won't do this to Bush because they know that Bush is nothing without their ass-kissing--his success makes them feel self-important; Democratic success makes them feel irrelevant. (This is the Clinton principle.)

Dawkins adds:

Let's also give Kerry a little credit. He's proven that he appeals to a lot of people (in two states, sure). Are Iowa and NH not good battlegrounds for Dean? Why did he have those big leads in each state and then lose them? Dean's support is strong, passionate, steadfast... but not as widespread as we'd thought (at least in these two states).

The concept is emerging among voters (yes, voters I've personally spoken to on the phone in those two states) that Dean is cool, Clark is compelling, but Kerry has the best shot at taking on Bush while withstanding the fewest crippling attacks. He's the pragmatic choice.

And there's the concept that I've been pitching which is that people do want change, and to get enough people to want to change, you're going to have to convince them to make that pragmatic change, rather than a sweeping, riskier-seeming one.

For example, why would conservative types want to change from a guy with little governing experience (Bush) to a guy with less (Dean) when they could go to a guy with arguably more (Kerry)? Just like speakingcorpse said.

And this is not a sell-out.

It's only a sell-out if you're a true believer in Dean's purity, and many of us are (I recall speakingcorpse once suggesting that since we're going to lose, it'd be better to lose with Dean), but many of us around the country are not. We'll see within a week how widespread Dean's support is outside of Iowa and NH.

In any event, I've always said I'll support fully the candidate who emerges, while arguing for as long as is germane that Kerry is the best. I think he can do it.

Blicero, in a recent post, expressed concern about Kerry's potential ability to respond to the Bush/Rove attack machine in a general election.

It's a good question. Has anyone proven they can respond to it? No.

But it may be a good sign that Kerry makes specific reference to that point in his boilerplate speech.

If you've not seen it (and I have, about 25 times now), it goes:
"Now George Bush and Karl Rove say that in 2004 they want to run on national security.

Well, I know something about aircraft carriers for real. And if George W. Bush wants to make national security the central issue in this campaign, I have three words for him I know he understands:

Bring it on."
Whether or not you like the rhetoric, I think it's a good sign that he's calling this shot this early on.


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