Posts Tagged ‘John Kerry’
To summarize, Graham et al. seem set to explode the fragile consensus formed around ACES in favor of a piece of legislation that will cost more. They’ll lose the coal utilities but are unlikely to pick up Big Oil. The broad range of recipients of pollution allowances under ACES, who were set to receive a steady, predictable income over decades, now face a future patchwork of subsidies dependent on the whims of legislators—just the kind of meddling and favoritism carbon pricing was supposed to transcend. Via Kevin Drum.
* How do you define recovery? Krugman says 300,000 jobs a month.
* Perhaps contrary to expectations, Howard Dean has embraced the latest health care compromise.
* And io9 considers the real crises: Are We Falling Behind China In Weather-Control Technology?
* Ted Kennedy may be gone, but John Kerry still won’t support the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound.
For the time being, however, Prince contends that his plans are far more modest. “I’m going to teach high school,” he says, straight-faced. “History and economics. I may even coach wrestling. Hey, Indiana Jones taught school, too.”
* New Jersey to pave million-year-old dinosaur footprints to put up parking lot. Okay, actually condos.
This finding casts into doubt the science fictional notion that human beings can survive in zero gravity or in the microgravity environment of large asteroids.
* Could a super-advanced civilization live inside the acretion disk, the super-dense area around the black hole at the center of a galaxy?
* The headline reads, “Prostitutes Offer Free Climate Summit Sex.”
Copenhagen Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard sent postcards to city hotels warning summit guests not to patronize Danish sex workers during the upcoming conference. Now, the prostitutes have struck back, offering free sex to anyone who produces one of the warnings.
The other thing that struck me about her interview was her contention that she didn’t go after Obama enough during the election, and namely, that avoiding the birther thing was a mistake. I suppose she could have gone completely off the deep end during the campaign, and certainly it seems she wanted to but was held back by McCain, but good god, who in their right mind thinks she wasn’t enough on the attack? She accused Obama, through implication, of being a terrorist. She did so in a way that maximized the anti-Muslim insinuation, even though neither Barack Obama nor Bill Ayers (who is the excuse for this rumor-mongering) is Muslim, making the whole thing not only racist but incoherent. She went out of her way to imply that anyone who was not white or lived in a city was not a Real American. She red-baited Obama. She did everything but tell jokes about his mom. Her entire campaign strategy was to attack Obama. I fail to see how she could have done more, honestly. There aren’t enough hours in the day.
* And science proves Rousseau was right: God created man in his own image and man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.
Besides Howard Dean, the other “John the Baptist” figure for this landslide progressive victory is John Kerry, whose selection of Barack Obama as the DNC keynote speaker in 2004 catapulted him to national prominence. Now rumors are swirling that Kerry is “actively seeking” an appointment as Secretary of State.
How strange it is to contemplate an administration that isn’t manned by moral monsters.
Kevin Drum has gotten a lot of people talking with his suggestion that the Left is better off having lost with Kerry in 2004 if it meant going on to win with Obama in 2008.
Back in 2004, I remember at least a few bloggers and pundits arguing that liberals would be better off if John Kerry lost. I never really bought this, but the arguments were pretty reasonable. Leaving George Bush in power meant that he’d retain responsibility and blame for the Iraq war. (Despite the surge, that’s exactly what happened.) Four more years of Republican control would turn the American public firmly against conservative misrule. (Actually, it only took two years.) If we waited, a better candidate than Kerry would come along. (Arguably, both Hillary Clinton and Obama were better candidates.)
Conversely, it’s unlikely that John Kerry could have gotten much done with a razor-thin victory and a Congress still controlled by the GOP. What’s more, there’s a good chance that the 2006 midterm rebellion against congressional Republicans wouldn’t have happened if Kerry had gotten elected. By waiting, we’ve gotten a strong, charismatic candidate who’s likely to win convincingly and have huge Democratic majorities in Congress behind him. If he’s willing to fully use the power of his office, Obama could very well be a transformational president.
Dana at The Edge of the American West and Hilzoy both make arguments that this is something a political partisan must never allow themselves to consider—you have to fight to win, every time, as hard as you can, because the future is uncertain and unknowable and the present is immediate. And yet it seems to me that Kevin is obviously right that the horrific Bush victory in 2004 could in fact turn out to have been better than a Kerry victory, given a successful Obama presidency and a long-enough time horizon. It depends what Obama does once he takes office, if he turns out to be the transformational president I have long believed he will be, and to what extent the disastrous policies of the last four years can be “undone” through wise policy in the next eight.
As it stands, alongside what evil he has done, Bush has nearly singlehandedly destroyed both the Republican Party and conservatism as an ideology. Republicans were driven from Congress in historic proportions in 2006, with 2008 looking to surpass it. Obama, the most progressive candidate for president in my lifetime, will nominate at least two, and possibly more, judges to the Supreme Court, while (again, in the best-case scenario) implementing environmental and social reforms that could come to redefine American capitalism in much the same way as the New Deal. 2008 could realign the country politically, in our favor, for decades.
Does a Kerry presidency match this? As much as I like Kerry and as hard as I worked to get him elected, this counterhistory seems much less successful. A Kerry who wins 2004 in a squeaker in Ohio still faces the disastrous consequences of the first Bush term, as well as Katrina and perhaps even, to some extent or another, this year’s bottoming-out of the post-Fordist culture of debt. In that universe we might well be watching Kerry go down to a nail-biter against Romney, a fight I’m not at all sure we’d win. Likewise, Republicans weren’t forced out from Congress in 2006, and don’t face crushing losses in 2008. The country, though spared four very bad years, has not been transformed.
The point is this: taking a longer view than the four-year election cycle, a very successful Obama presidency will have been better for both the Left and the country as a whole than the weak, “caretaker” Kerry presidency we likely would have gotten out of 2004. If Obama lives up to the hype, historically speaking it might have all been worth it. Let’s hope.
Above is a chart from Chris Bowers by way of Matt Yglesias charting the comparative advantages of Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Al Gore over the course of the campaign season. This is an important charts for Democrats who are about to be confronted with something that has long seemed impossible: not just a victory but what looks to be a blowout. For the last fifty days of election 2004, we were never ahead, according to the polls—we just thought we were, having mystified the polls and made faulty assumptions about turnout and the undecided break.
Obama’s situation is quite different, with a nine-point lead in the final NBC/WSJ poll and between nine and eleven points in Gallup. Those numbers would have McCain underperforming Dukakis, and if you believe in Nate Silver’s cellphone effect, the margin could be even larger. This same movement is reflected in the tracking polls—despite persistent claims that “the polls are narrowing,” there’s no real evidence of this.
And Obama has already locked down good margins in the early vote, to all appearances: over 2.5 million people have already voted in North Carolina, including almost half of the state’s African-American population and 44% of registered Democrats. In Colorado and New Mexico in particular, the margins may already be too great to overcome.
What I’m saying is, though there’s still work to be done, this time I really think we actually win.
Friday evening links.
* Joe the Plumber…for Congress?
* New Jersey’s Star-Ledger cuts it newsroom staff by half.
[W]hen asked by The Advocate if Palin is ready to be president from day one, Lieberman said “thank God she’s not going to have to be president from day one. McCain’s going to be alive and well.”
* And Barack Obama is well ahead of both Kerry and Gore, eleven days out.
1. No candidate this far back two weeks out has ever won.
2. Early voting is going strong and even if something big happens, those votes are already cast.
3. The Democrats have a 10% advantage in party registration; in 2004 it was even.
4. Obama is outspending McCain 4 to 1 in many states.
5. There is no evidence for the so-called Bradley effect in the past 15 years.
6. Obama is safe in all the Kerry states and ahead in half a dozen states Bush won.
I remember the glorious afternoon and heartbreaking evening of November 2, 2004, well enough to know not to count America’s chickens before they come home to roost.
Barack Obama has attracted the support of nearly three times as many newspapers as John McCain, according to a round-up from Editor and Publisher, as the endorsement season hits a frenzied pitch.
Obama picked up the backing of several major dailies on Friday, including the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, which has never endorsed a Democratic nominee for president.
In 2004, these numbers were much closer, roughly 50-50, due to the high prevalence of right-leaning local papers.
The big endorsement right now, though, looks to be Colin Powell’s, who is again rumored to be making a bid to restore his reputation by endorsing Obama this weekend on Meet the Press.
* The NSA has been shamelessly spying on people they knew had nothing to do with terrorism. More at Washington Monthly. Why is nobody in jail over this?
* Matt has a flashback back to 2004 to argue that thinking we would win back them is nothing like thinking we’re going to win now.
* Will a reverse Bradley effect benefit Obama? Maybe, but it’s certain that corrupt voter-roll tampering will once again help the Republicans. Why is nobody in jail over this?
* You can only steal a close election. West Virginia is a tossup?
* What are the candidates transition teams like? Did you just say one of them doesn’t have one?
* Obama gives his most direct statement on Ayers yet.
Obama “had assumed” from Bill Ayers’ stature in Chicago, he told the Philadelphia-based Michael Smerconish, that Ayers had been “rehabilitated” since his 1960s crimes.
In the interview, which was taped this afternoon and will air tomorrow, and which you can listen to above, Obama recalled moving back to Chicago after law school, and becoming involved in civic life there.
“The gentleman in question, Bill Ayers, is a college professor, teaches education at the University of Illinois,” he said. “That’s how i met him — working on a school reform project that was funded by an ambassador and very close friend of Ronald Reagan’s” along with “a bunch of conservative businessmen and civic leaders.”
“Ultimately, I ended up learning about the fact that he had engaged in this reprehensible act 40 years ago, but I was eight years old at the time and I assumed that he had been rehabilitated,” Obama said.
* And George Packer, touring rural Ohio in the lead-up to the election, writes up his experiences there in the New Yorker.
Dave Herbert was a stocky, talkative building contractor in an Ohio State athletic jersey. At thirty-eight, he considerably lowered the average age in Bonnie’s. “I’m self-employed,” he said. “I can’t afford to be a Democrat.” Herbert was a devoted viewer of Fox News and talked in fluent sound bites about McCain’s post-Convention “bounce” and Sarah Palin’s “executive experience.” At one point, he had doubted that Obama stood a chance in Glouster. “From Bob and Pete’s generation there are a lot of racists—not out-and-out, but I thought there was so much racism here that Obama’d never win.” Then he heard a man who freely used the “ ‘n’ word” declare his support for Obama: “That blew my theory out of the water.”
A maintenance man at the nearby high school, who declined to give his name, said that he had been undecided until McCain selected Palin to be his running mate, which swung his support to Obama.
“So you’re a sexist more than a racist,” Herbert joked.
“I just think the guy Obama picked would do better if he got assassinated than McCain’s if he died of frickin’ old age in office,” the maintenance man said.
Four women of retirement age were sitting at the next table. All of them spoke warmly of Palin. “She’d fit right in with us,” Greta Jennice said. “We should invite her over.” None had a good word to say about Obama. “I think he’s a radical,” a white-haired woman who wouldn’t give her name said. “The church he went to, the people he associated with. You don’t see the media digging into that.”
“I don’t know anyone who’s for Obama,” said Jennice, a Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton and who won’t vote in November.
“If they are, they don’t say it, because it would be unpopular,” an elderly former teacher named Marcella said. That had not been true of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, or John Kerry, she added.
“I think the party-line Democrats are having a hard time with Obama,” Bobbie Dunham, a retired fourth-grade teacher, told me. When I asked if Obama’s health-care plan wouldn’t be a good thing for people in Glouster, she said, “I’ll believe it when I see it. If it’s actually happening, I’d say that’s good.” But she and the others had far more complaints about locals freeloading off public assistance than about the health-insurance industry and corporations. Dunham declared her intention to write in a vote for either Snoopy or T. Boone Pickens. “I’m not going to vote for a Republican—they’ve had their chance for the last eight years and they’ve screwed it up,” she said. “But I really just don’t trust Obama. He only says half-truths. He calls himself a Christian, but he only became one to run for office. He calls himself a black, but he’s two-thirds Arab.”
I asked where she had learned that.
“On the Internet.”
Why Republicans are better at conventions.
But, to extend a point I raised last night, I don’t think the definition of McCain has been sharp enough. Each speaker seemed to approach the task his/her own separate way (and sometimes not at all), leaving viewers with a kind of mish-mash of objections: too many houses, too unilateralist, too long in Washington, too close to right-wingers, too resistant to energy reform. The one person who distilled the objections into a single, pithy critique was Kerry, with his inspired “Senator McCain” versus “candidate McCain” riff. But I worry it’ll get lost in the whirlwind.
Which brings me to my point: Had the Republicans stumbled onto such a worthy frame, their convention would have played it on a permanent loop. (I’m sure they’ll do that anyway, with less inspired material.) Every no-name speaker would have repeated it, so that, even if you’d barely been paying attention, you’d be mouthing it unconsciously by the end of the week.
I’m becoming very curious about just what form that “less inspired material” will actually take. What are the smears that the Republicans are going to run with at their convention?
They seem to really like the whole “The One” meme a lot, but that’s not going to take them very far, especially after a sizable chunk of Obama’s highly publicized speech is devoted to praising the hard work of his
disciples volunteers and laying the groundwork for the biggest voter registration drive in history.
After Paris Hilton and Housegate, the celebrity line of attack seems pretty stalled, too, and doesn’t make a lick of sense at a shrine to Ronald Reagan attended by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. (UPDATE: Whoops. Looks like Arnold’s afraid he’ll get his skirt dirty.)
Lots of well-deserved praise on the blogotubes for John Kerry’s speech last night.
But the best is from Jason Zengerle, who writes in The New Republic on “the strange resurrection of John Kerry”:
For those who remember Kerry as a lackluster and ham-fisted presidential candidate, this emergence has come as a surprise. “There’s a wholeheartedness to [Kerry speaking about Obama] and a total lack of hesitancy and calculation that he always seems to have when he’s speaking about himself,” says one Democratic consultant. “A year ago, if you had asked [Obama strategists] David Axelrod and David Plouffe if they thought Kerry would be an important surrogate, they’d have laughed. But he’s been fucking good.” Kerry is even winning compliments from across the aisle. “If Kerry had conducted himself like this four years ago,” says Republican strategist John Weaver, “he might have been elected president.”
Indeed, Obama’s “clean break” from the national past, as Kerry called it in his endorsement speech, seems to be a clean break for Kerry as well. Which is yet another surprise. Given the abuse Kerry took from his party following his defeat, one might have expected him this time around to sit on the sidelines and sulk. Instead he’s done the opposite, looking to Obama as a vehicle for his own rehabilitation. Which leads to the question: In trying to help Obama overcome Clinton and now McCain, will John Kerry at long last be able to overcome himself?
Here is a chart of the RCP Poll of Polls from 2004.
The small, three-point jump for Kerry at the start of August was the Democratic National Convention, accompanied (oddly) by a concurrent small rise in Bush’s numbers.
The five-point jump for Bush at the end of the month was of course the Republican National Convention, accompanied by a three-point drop in Kerry’s numbers. You can see that gap start to narrow again almost immediately, but it was never enough.
Analogies between any two election years are almost always useless—but if I could link to the Three Guys politics blog I was doing in 2004 you would see how impressed I was with the Democratic National Convention, which seemed to quite literally do everything right. I left Boston feeling confident and completely energized, strongly behind a candidate who had been my third choice (at best) in the primary. But we lost, and we lost at least in part because the Republicans went to their convention, wore Purple Heart Band-Aids, and told the world what an asshole John Kerry is over and over again in every speech for four straight days.
The Republican Party may be a cancer in the colon of American democracy, but it knows how to win presidential elections. Democrats really don’t.
2004′s convention gave us Obama and a lot of hope and excitement and a lot of great speeches, but we lost. I think it’s fair to start to wonder whether we’re managing to lose again with an aimless, largely messageless, far too bloodless convention that in every respect but the prime-time speeches was significantly more lackluster than 2004′s. Only last night had any real bite, and even then I still heard in each of the major speeches that John McCain is an American hero we must all deeply admire.
I’ll be the first to admit that whenever I’ve questioned Obama’s strategy in the past he and his people have turned out to be right, or at least right enough—but suffice it to say a whole lot is riding on Obama tonight, and I hope to hell he’s able to deliver.
Tonight was the first night of the Democratic National Convention that was better in its entirety on C-SPAN than abbreviated on the networks. (Too bad I had to miss most of it.) Aside from the big, primetime speeches, the first two nights were fairly disappointing affairs—too much light, not enough heat—but tonight things at last began to come together. Clinton, Biden, and Kerry each in their own ways took the fight to McCain, and all three were extremely effective, and for the first time we finally look like a political party and not a Hatsfield/McCoy reunion.
After two weak nights, I’m feeling better.
Here’s Clinton’s speech. I’ll try and put Biden and Kerry up as they appear on the blogs…
UPDATE: John Kerry—almost certainly the least-watched, but I loved the Senator McCain vs. Candidate McCain stuff. (He had definitely some fun with the “Talk about being for it before you were against it” line.)
It’s almost cliché to ask of Kerry, “Where was this guy four years ago?” but seriously, where was he?