Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘1980


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News at noon.

* Domestic terrorism at a Dayton mosque. More at BeliefNet.

* Now McCain will (apparently) show up to vote on the bailout after all. But will he suspend his campaign beforehand?

* Is this a ‘victory’? Peter Galbraith takes a sober look at Iraq in the New York Review of Books. Via MeFi.

* Nancy Gibbs in Time tries to puzzle out whether the problem is Sarah Palin’s handlers or Sarah Palin herself, while Howard Kurtz says that CBS is still sitting on even more damaging footage from the interview with Katie Couric. (UPDATE: CBS says they’re not. 2ND UPDATE: The footage Kurtz was referring to is actually from a different interview.)

* All this comes at a time when the McCain camp is increasingly, visibly concerned about Palin’s ability to perform in the debates, even taking the highly unusual step of trying to lower expectations for her opponent.

* And the evidence continues to suggest that Obama’s debate performance was better than even I thought at the time. James Fallows has received a bunch of links for this post comparing the debate to 1960, 1980, and 1992:

In each of those cases, a fresh, new candidate (although chronologically older in Reagan’s case) had been gathering momentum at a time of general dissatisfaction with the “four more years” option of sticking with the incumbent party. The question was whether the challenger could stand as an equal with the more experienced, tested, and familiar figure. In each of those cases, the challenger passed the test — not necessarily by “winning” the debate, either on logical points or in immediate audience or polling reactions, but by subtly reassuring doubters on the basic issue of whether he was a plausible occupant of the White House and commander in chief.

Steve Benen elaborates with a round-up of polling data and analysis supporting this basic claim. For high information voters, Obama may have seemed to merely draw (though I thought at the time and still think he won on the merits)—but for lower information voters expectations were significantly lower for Obama than McCain, and so Obama seemed to those viewers to be much more clearly the winner.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 29, 2008 at 4:01 pm

The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die

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As Democrats we recognize that each generation of Americans has a rendezvous with a different reality. The answers of one generation become the questions of the next generation. But there is a guiding star in the American firmament. It is as old as the revolutionary belief that all people are created equal, and as clear as the contemporary condition of Liberty City and the South Bronx. Again and again Democratic leaders have followed that star and they have given new meaning to the old values of liberty and justice for all.

We are the party—We are the party of the New Freedom, the New Deal, and the New Frontier. We have always been the party of hope. So this year let us offer new hope, new hope to an America uncertain about the present, but unsurpassed in its potential for the future.

Ted Kennedy’s concession speech at the Democratic National Convention, 1980. Here’s YouTube. (Via.)

Written by gerrycanavan

January 27, 2008 at 4:59 pm

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The Big Dog, Betrayal, Principles, Narcissism, and 1976

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In the comments from last night’s “Ugh” post, Mike Young makes a point I wanted to follow up on:

I’d vote Mccain before Clinton. A lot of my under 30 friends would probably vote an independent Ron Paul ticket or Bloomberg before Clinton. I’ve never met any passionate political participant who grew up in the 90s–liberal, conservative, religious, agnostic, blonde, or tall–who likes or even doesn’t despise Hillary Clinton. She’d probably still win the general (they’re the Clintons, dummy) but she’d do it by setting fire to the future of the Democratic Party.

I’ve think I may have met a few here and there, but it’s definitely not the overwhelming sentiment. I was thinking about this today in connection with reports that even party bigwigs like Ted Kennedy and Rahm Emanuel are now calling on Bill to reign it in. Of course he won’t. When has he ever been persuaded to reign any of his excess in?

I’m reminded of a pair of columns I wrote back as a undergrad for the student newspaper in January and February of 2001. The first one tried to come to peace with Clinton, with whom I always had a rocky love-hate relationship with while he was president. It starts, “I like Bill Clinton. I haven’t always,” and goes on to talk in generally pro-Clinton terms about my conflicted feelings about the Lewinsky scandal. Just two weeks later, I was moved to write this fiery excoriation after yet another indignity and betrayal—the pardon scandals, remember those? We’ll get the mother of all replays exactly one year from today—from the man who was a master of the form:

Conservatives are falling over themselves to point out the “hypocrisy” in Democrats; you loved him while he was president, they ask, so why don’t you love him now? The answer is that this infraction is of a darker character than the other scandals — and the answer is also that this is the last straw. We could forgive the man for Whitewater, for Monica, for all the petty and insignificant scandals trumped-up by Clinton’s enemies in the right wing. We could forgive the man for causing embarrassment to the Democratic Party and to the country, for allowing his own personal foibles to overshadow the governing of a nation, and for failing to back up his acclaimed status as “Best Politician Ever” with substantive reforms and meaningful acts. We were content to look back with a wry smile on the Clinton years and wonder what might have been, as George Stephanopoulous does in his memoir, “if the President had been a better man.” Clinton may never have been remembered as a great president, but he probably could have been remembered as a good one.

The pardons change all that. The pardons are a parting shot at everyone who ever supported him during the trumped-up impeachment and years of Republican-sponsored scandals. The eleventh-hour abuse of the pardon power, for no reason that he could readily cite, to benefit a man who has indirectly pumped a significant sum of money into Clinton’s hands, is more than just the latest in a series of scandals; it is the definitive scandal. It is the final proof that William Jefferson Clinton cares about no one but himself and no thing but his own immediate advantage. It is the abuse of power for its own sake.

It’s over, Bill. Pack up your things, leave your key on the table, and get out of my house. I don’t want to see you anymore.

The possibility that the Clintons will return to the White House and inflict their narcissism and neuroses on the country and on the left for another 4-8 years is still too much to contemplate. It’s honestly hard for me to say—and I say this as someone who more than once in the past has railed against not voting for the Democratic candidate, whoever it is—whether a return to Clintonism would really be better for the left in the long run than four years of McCain followed by the election of an actual progressive (Obama! Gore!) in 2012. Maybe I’m right and Obama is the Democratic Party’s Reagan, but it’s 1976, not 1980; maybe things still have to get even worse before people finally wise up.

At least there’s only a few more weeks of this before I know whether or not I’m going to be knocking on doors or holding my nose come November.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 20, 2008 at 3:19 pm

Obama Republicans

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I’d thought I’d explicitly compared Obama to Reagan in this post on the morning of the Iowa caucus, but it turns out I merely referred obliquely to “the left’s best chance for transformative political realignment in over a generation.” But this is precisely what I’ve been talking about for the last month: what Obama (and to a much lesser extent Edwards) offer is the possibility of a political reconfiguation like the one that Reagan accomplished in 1980, only this time to the left. It can happen, but it can’t happen with Hillary Clinton as our nominee, who is loathed by fully half the country and will be lucky if she’s able to eke out a narrow victory in a three-way race.

I bring this up only because today Obama has finally made this case for his campaign directly:

(Here’s the full video.)

Predictably, Clinton supporters are already falling over themselves in an effort to mischaracterize what he has said, in much the same way that people confuse the claim that a terrorist is brave with the assertion that a terrorist is morally good. Obama is saying here that Reagan radically altered the political landscape in this country in a way Clinton simply did not—and I don’t any way in which that claim can possibly be debated. Obama supporters correctly see in Obama the chance for a similar swing back to the left—to not only reclaim the Reagan Democrats but create “Obama Republicans” from people who are not and will never be “Clinton Republicans”—and it is this singular opportunity that is at the core of my support for him.

I’m certain Americans are smart enough to see what Obama’s saying here, despite what will surely be heroic efforts from the Clinton camp to muddy these waters.* I think it’s a gutsy move, but one that will pay off.

By the way, he’s just opened up a lead on Clinton in North Carolina, so that’s a good sign…

* Note: I am not actually certain of this.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 16, 2008 at 10:53 pm