Right, left, round and round

nationalreview-howarddean.jpgAt the risk of pulling a Hitchens, I find myself–excuse me while I pause to catch my breath–finding some fairly salient points in the latest iteration of the National Review, Jonah Goldberg’s bastion of strident conservatism (the very same publication that used to host Ann Coulter’s mad rantings about the Arab world, e.g. pleading for the U.S. to “invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity”). You can imagine the horrible, haunting shame I feel right now.
Anyway, regarding Howard Dean’s impending, sure-thing nomination as the Democratic candidate in the 2004 Presidential Election, here is the contentious meat of the right-wing argument, courtesy of National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru:

“No word yet from McGovern, Mondale, or Dukakis. . . . Come to think of it, the Ds now have a candidate with McGovern’s foreign policy, Mondale’s domestic policy, Dukakis’s regional background, and Gore’s arrogance. How perfect is that?”

Of course, this is just a nonsensically reactionary bit of conservative giddiness…but it’s that last comparison that threatens to really pass muster. Howard Dean: the perhaps not unelectable, but unlikable candidate? Ponnuru goes into greater detail on this subject in “Can Dean Win?“:

“Will Dean’s personality wear well? Some people have said that he projects too much anger for the general electorate; arrogance may be the deeper problem.”

This seems to be the core issue. Was it really surprising to anyone that Should-Have-Been President Al Gore endorsed Dean yesterday? After all, they’re both aloof, robotic, smirking politicos, except Dean has the “benefit” of coming off as the aloof, robotic, smirking, and thick-necked jock, as opposed to Gore’s aloof, robotic, and smirking policy wonk.
These aren’t just my concerns, though. Listen to Dean’s own campaign staffers (as gleaned from The Note, by way of Howard Kurtz):

“The dirtiest little secret of the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination is that the pros running Dean’s campaign know full well that the criticisms of The Doctor being made by the press and his opponents are often spot on.
“They know he is regularly careless, volcanic, dismissive, self-important, mercurial, hypocritical, patronizing, and politically tone deaf.”

Shades of Dubya, but at least the Governor from Vermont has a so-called liberal heart, which I’ll take any day over number 43’s shameless prevaricating and born-again evangelicalism.

27 replies on “Right, left, round and round”

I don’t think that any non-Republican would doubt that we’d be better off with Dean than Bush. But it is a false choice. The Dems would be better off with someone who is electable, and Gore should know this better than anyone.
Ponnuru is dead on, and I really hate to admit that. Electoral math makes it a mortal lock, Dean has no chance.

wesley clark = electable. kucinich = mister issues-based candidate. and the democratic (pseudo-left) mainstream perceives of dean as being the strong compromise.
compromises rarely work in these cases, though. yecch.
and i really just can’t stand dean’s smirk and all that it indicates, re: affectation, ideology, bush, gore, etc.

nice analogy.
re: smirk
My first position was that I wouldn’t vote for Dean even if he was the nominee. I have been talked back to sense, but I will do it holding my nose and closing my eyes.

while you may dislike arrogance and so-called aloofness (what does that even mean anyway?) in a candidate, do you really need to “hold your nose” to vote for dean? i don’t love the guy either, because i’m way more to the left than he is, but to believe that he is unelectable is just to fall prey to the right-wing wurlitzer.
ponnuru and his racist friends (sorry dinesh) at NR are the ones that start these “meanness” memes, whereas when they speak of bush, they start the “you want to have a beer with him” meme (other notable ones include “brooks is the republican liberals would simply LOVE to have at dinner, dahling” and anything to do with hillary) The fact is, if you read the real in-depth report on gore’s campaign in 2000 in rolling stone, or a myriad of other reports not seen on MSNBC or criticized by troglodyte-at-large fred barnes, you’d have seen journalists — and people — who thought gore was (gasp!) likable, not wooden, and even friendly.
we’re working on a meta level here, people. nobody knows whether dean is nicer or meaner than bush (hello, what about “fucking piece of shit from the washington post” comment or “bring it on” or any other examples from years past about bush’s meanness!?) they just know what those “in the know” tell them. and if enough people believe it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, even though it doesn’t, they’ll believe it is a duck when its really a horse. it’s up to us — as supposedly enlightened consumers of more-than-just mass media — to be above this catfighting.
next thing, you’ll be pissed off at the democrats for being SOOOOOOOOO angry with bush (why won’t they just Shut Up!?)

I’m not falling prey to anything other than electoral math. I can count to 270, and Dean supporters can’t. NR is racist, great, but they can be right at times.
I’m not mad at the Dems for being angry, I’m mad at them for not beng more productive. The Dems in congress should be ashamed of themselves, and the dems who are dean backers should take the lesson that being angry isn’t enough.
Your point about “knowing” vs “meta” is of little matter. No candidate can meet everyone, and people vote for people they don’t know personally. They either make it a popularity contest, or they read up on positions and records. That’s how it goes.

when i speak of roboticism, and aloofness, and distance, i speak of the manner in which these chaps carry themselves physically, on television, in conversation.
for those of us who watch debates rigorously, we know that this “look and feel” cosmetic behavior can be very important to the average non-reading nightly news-watching americans, joe and jane middleclass.
in this sense, bush, sharpton, and, dare i say it, clark, possess that certain “connection” with an audience, either in person or projected through a television screen. so “likeability” in this context can only be addressed in that limited sphere. i that KNOW gore is a funny guy, and likely way more fun to hang out with than bushie, but that doesn’t project, and it never did. and that’s the issue.
you watch dean at the debates, you see him smirk and shake his head and scowl. you see him take a few milliseconds to ponder what his next ‘attack-dog’ statement will be.
you watch sharpton, and you see a really engaging, witty speaker. a true orator with a fairly cogent grasp of the issues and how to address them in voter/layman’s terms, unlike kerry and gephardt etc.
you watch dennis, and you see a little guy with the best set of beliefs i’ve ever seen in a mainstream candidate, packaged in a staccato-speaking, rhetoric-lacking mouse of a character.
clark, meanwhile, has the ability to know when to “yell” and how to do it an a calculatedly stirring fashion; so calculated that it comes off as stirringly authentic, at times. i’ve seen him on fox news and at the debates, and he, too, is a good orator, though a little less magical than reverend al.
ideally, then, you’d have the dream candidate: the fire and passion of al, the ideas of kucinich, the passion and seeming-conviction of clark….and we get dean, a weird mish-mash of all of the above, but in muted tones.
and i fear, deep down, that muted tones won’t suit the average voter come november 2004. but we have to make do, cos we can’t scientifically combine all those traits which i listed above.
then you’d have a liberal bill clinton.

ok, i agree with the fact that NR’s being racist and whatever else doesn’t mean they aren’t right — i’m just saying that ramesh ponnuru’s “homespun wisdom” is often part of a well-coordinated mimetic campaign that has no factual bearing, but joe and jane punchclock end up believing it soleley based on ramesh and all the other lemmings repeating it.
jean-paul: re your last paragraph: made me laugh loudly… BUT i don’t think that dean is as off-putting as you say he is. sure, he snarls here and there and comes off souding secure, but isn’t that what the pollsters tell us resonate with Jim Q. Killdeer? isn’t it nice that somebody isn’t meek and librarian-esque when it comes to political grandstanding, and instead has a real look of confidence — arrogance is never good, but this is politics after all — and knowing (and further, this confidence is somewhat grounded in reality, what with all the trumpeting about his Energized Youth Base and so forth)?

joe and jane punchclock have and will never read NR, Weekly Standard or anything else (their circulation is anemic at best, and does not reach beyond the beltway). The racism gets really watered down by the time it reaches joe and jane via their home town evening news. which is where most people still get their news from.

hey yoni…i think we concur on nearly everything re: the spreading of the consevrative gospel through repetition, and the origins of ‘meanness’ etc.
what i know, though, is that i have the same visceral reaction i had in 1999 watching gore speak, whenever he spoke, that i have watching dean speak, whenever he speaks. it’s a sort of discomfort and unease, and i’m one of those who are on their side and they needn’t worry about recruiting to the team.
so these memories of 99 instill great fear in me, since i dread all those maxims about history repeating itself.
so, history’s out. now if only science could step up and merge these chumps.

Al Gore circa 2003 clearly has the worst political instincts since Al Gore circa 1999, and this is reason enough not to vote for the gorendorsed Dean in the primaries (in which nary a single official vote has been cast, by the way). cashilini need not engage in the holding of noses just yet…

cashilini would love to not have to hold his nose. but the press will be calling a winner before the first vote is cast, and turnout will be confined to dean supporters and the elderly. lowest primary voter participation in decades. bet.

I am Dean supporter. I can do electoral Math. It’s easy. Check it out:
States Gore carried in 2000 + NH and one of following (Nevada,W. Virginia, Ohio,Florida,Arizona) = Victory!!!!
Here’s a math assignment for you woe-is-me-this-election-is-lost crowd. Add Gore + 1/2*Nader in 2000 and see what you get in the above states.
And I think Dean is cuddly.

re: lowest turnout:
we already knew that would be the case a few years back when terry “i love money” mcauliffe et al pushed to have the entire primary season condensed to this 60-day period or whatever it is now. my understanding is that it used to draw out, to some extent, right up through the convention or thereabouts, but terry and his gang wanted to ensure that whomever the victor was would emerge from the primaries less battered by his peers than he would over a drawn-out setup.
it would be wrong to call the condensed primary system undemocratic, though, right? almost like calling the anointing of dean by the press last year likewise?
seriously, did anyone who has followed politics closely over the past few years ever doubt dean would NOT emerge as the favorite son, what with his early comparisons to mccain and that sort of spirit? i think clark’s sudden emergence was the only thing that threw any semblance of a surprise into the mix.
imagine what a hillary entrance in dec 2003 would have done.
where is the leftist karl rove? where are our backgrounds behind speeches? where is our on-message mastermind?

Shifts in the electoral college give bush states an extra 7 votes. NH might happen, but even without the steel tariffs, OH and WV go to Bush, and I’m guessing you haven’t seen how bush is polling the the other states you mentioned…
Just because Gore endorsed Dean does not mean that Dean can carry all the states Gore did. This is a different country in case you hadn’t heard.

Let’s throw Terry Mac over the edge. I don’t want to wait until Jan 05, so let’s do it now.
The leftist Roves are on CNN’s crossfire, praying that Dean doesn”t win so they can work on another campaign.
Watching Hillary on Sunday was a study in how to run shit. So many skills.
I am our on-message mastermind.

chinlinie: randy and sally budlite obviously don’t read NR, but the tv news (and by extennsion, faux and msnbc and so forth) “legitimize” their reports by quotations from Experts in the NR. arguing that NR doesn’t have have a strong effect is disingenous.
i think that kerry was annointed last year, btw, and the press was caught off guard and rushed to annoint dean. plus i honestly think gore has more cachet than is generally acknowledged, especially when it comes to people who aren’t really involved in politics, but still remember the theft in 2000.

I know all about the extra 7 electoral votes, but it’s also true that shifts in population have given the dems advantages in some states particularly the southwestern ones I mentioned above: Arizona and Nevada and some states like PA that should be easier to keep this time around.
I don’t think Gore can wave a magic wand and deliver the states he won in 2000 but I find it hard to believe someone who voted Gore in 2000 is going to vote Bush in ’04. Doesn’t everybody who voted for Gore feel gypped? (my apologies to the gypsies on this board).
I haven’t seen state-by-state polls for Bush but the national ones I see are right around pre-Sept 11th levels.
I don’t think the country has changed so much. If you peaked your head out every so often instead of cowering under the covers every time you watch fox news you might agree.
Sam and Sara Lunchbox aren’t paying much attention but they do know that Bush is a fool.

It’s not about Gore voters switching to Bush (although more will than you seem to think), it’s about Gore voters staying home on election day. Been to PA recently? I have and it is amazing how many people there are planning to vote for Bush even though it is against their interest. Fear is a powerful motivational tool, and anyone who thinks that this administration won’t use it to win is mistaken.

Hey, look nobody’s saying it’s going to be easy. I’m just taking issue with the “Dean has no chance” comment. The electoral shifts don’t make it so, Karl Rove don’t make it so, the SCLM don’t make it so. Quit your whining and get out and work to win this next election. Any of the major nominees can beat this idiot boy. He HAS to run on his record which is: job-losing, expensive war making, deficit growing, bad medicare-bill passing, public misleading stupidness.
Or would you rather stay home having convinced yourself that it is all hopeless?

Dean: Less of a chance than the other major candidates.
Someone wrote the other day that given that 30% of the country is Dem, and that 30% (I say 20%) of them are backing dean, what do we have? More of an uphill battle than is necessary.
I would not work for a Dean campaign, but I have already signed up with Clark, and would also work for Kerry if it came to that.
No chance I’d stay home, I’ve voted in every election since ’92.
I’d love for someone who is in love with (or thinks dean is cuddly) to shed some light on what makes a small percentage of people like him so much. Is it a single issue thing? all war all the time? that should age well.
He repulses me.

Um, and what % of Dems are backing Clark or Kerry?
The cuddly remark was irony.
But basically you’re saying that you’d rather have your prophecy of Dean losing fulfilled than work to defeat Bush and risk being wrong. Pathetic.
If you renounce this defeatist position I’ll give you my best, why-I-like-Dean and think he can win pitch.

As long as more dems are undecided than want dean in the face of the SCLM all but calling the nomination…
Do you even read polls? Dean and Clark are even in almost all national polls.
How is it defeatist? I don’t agree with dean on many issues, how in good faith could I work to enact his policies when i think he is off base and focusing on issues that are good for riling people up rather than good for this country. The war happened. stop looking backwards, stop looking for a gotcha, and lay out a plan for governing like Clark and others have. Even Kucinich has a more comprehensive message.
Dean’s grimmaces in the debates show that he’s not ready for prime time. he lacks the maturity to get this done, and the press will end up eating him alive just as they have created his buzz.
So i have to beg?

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