Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘morning in America

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Next President of the United States

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President-Elect Obama takes the stage.

Kerry v. Obama

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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.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 4, 2008 at 3:00 am

Sports Determinism Watch

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Sports Determinism Watch: The Phillies only win the Series during realignment elections. That’s not me talking, that’s science.

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October 30, 2008 at 6:36 pm

‘America, 2008’

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They’re calling this photo “America, 2008.” Not quite, but closer than I might have thought a year ago.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 27, 2008 at 12:32 pm

Landslide Watch

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Obama is weighing broadening a map that already appears big and red into four more states. A top adviser, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, said Obama is considering expanding his active campaign back into North Dakota and Georgia, from which he’d shifted resources, and into the Appalachian heartland of West Virginia and Kentucky.

But if that makes you happy, Obama’s got just two words for you: New Hampshire.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 16, 2008 at 2:45 pm

More Intergenerational Warfare

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More intergenerational warfare: On July 15, 1979, Jimmy Carter gave his famous malaise speech. How much better would the world be today if we—by which I mean they—had just listened to him then?

Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this Nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our Nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.

In little more than two decades we’ve gone from a position of energy independence to one in which almost half the oil we use comes from foreign countries, at prices that are going through the roof. Our excessive dependence on OPEC has already taken a tremendous toll on our economy and our people. This is the direct cause of the long lines which have made millions of you spend aggravating hours waiting for gasoline. It’s a cause of the increased inflation and unemployment that we now face. This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our Nation.

The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them…

Instead we they elected a guy who tore solar panels off the roof of the White House for no reason at all.

Electoral College Watch

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Open Left has a map with Electoral College projections from aggregated state-by-state polling that looks pretty good to me, this far out.

That’s 242 EVs (Obama) to 206 EVs (McCain) with 90 toss-ups. The toss-up states are Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska-02, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. It’s pretty hard to imagine that Michigan won’t go to Obama in the end, so put those 17 EVs in his column. Now he’s at 259, and with Wiconsin a pretty obvious get as well he’s already at 269.

(This is why some people in the media are salivating over the possibility of a 269-269 tie, by the way; it’s not impossible.)

I think there’s actually a fairly sizable chance he could take Nebraska-02, even though that hasn’t ever happened, putting him at exactly 270 and in the White House—but let’s, you know, play it safe and campaign the hell out of Ohio, Missouri, and Virginia all teh same.

I’ve been an Obama-blowout-booster for a while now, and despite the difficulties of the Democratic primary I still am. I think Obama has a decent chance of crossing 300 EVs, including a victory in North Carolina if everything really comes together for us.

Obama’s people, for what it’s worth, agree; he’ll be fielding campaign staff in all fifty states.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 10, 2008 at 7:58 pm