March 08, 2004

Free Advice

Pejman gives some advice to the Democrats and tells them how they could win. He's right, but they wont listen or understand.

Maybe next time.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 8, 2004 10:11 PM
Comments

pejman is a moron, you don't have to be a moron too.

pejman says the dems should court the neocon vote, but every single link that pejman offers (including jonah's TWO part article that pejman links to three times and calls a THREE part article) indicates that neocons are a very small group of individuals that have leadership in today's conservative movement.

pejman's links do not claim there is some silent majority, some nascar dads, some largish group of neocon voters just itching to get back into the dem party, the links show a group of a few dozen individuals.

so why should the dems court the idiots that (by their own admission) thought they needed to lie to the american people (wolfowitz) and thought the invasion of iraq was a criminal (perle)?

pejboi, the lawyer, has the acuity of a magoo.

Posted by: anne.elk at March 8, 2004 10:52 PM

Except that there are probably less than 1,000 neocons out there; they're generals without an Army, an elite group of hawkish intellectuals at the top of a party ruled by religious fundamentalists.

As such, who cares about them?

The smarter thing to do would be to peel off social conservatives who are economically liberal, sometimes known as the NASCAR crowd.

But, based on today's poll numbers, we're probably doing just fine at peeling those guys off...

Posted by: praktike at March 8, 2004 11:06 PM

True neo-conservatives occupy a tiny tiny portion of the electorate. We need neo-cons, blah. And their Iraq policy has gone almost as well as the anticipated, not. (I think i should dig up some quotes from Cheney and Rummy to prove my point...)

Totten would never support a Dem in 04 because he knows he'd lose a good percentage of his readership. Liberal gone wild would be no more.

Posted by: andrew R at March 8, 2004 11:40 PM

Andrew R: Totten would never support a Dem in 04 because he knows he'd lose a good percentage of his readership.

I built my readership easily. I could do it again just as easily.

After (that's after) Nick Shulz hired me at TCS, he said "You're a Democrat, right?" Actually, I wasn't a Democrat any longer, but he would not have cared if I said yes. As long as I'm more or less in the middle.

Since your mind-reading skills are demonstrably useless, I recommend you not try using them again in the future, with me or anyone else.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 8, 2004 11:48 PM

I can name two who are acting on pejman's suggestion to remind folks about the unpopular social policy consequences (theraputic cloning restrictions, anti-gay marriage amendment, etc) of the Bush administration: Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan. Oh, and some guy from Orygun named Michael Totten... funny, these are the folks getting attacked from the left as repugnik stooges...

Posted by: lewy14 at March 9, 2004 12:23 AM

PRAKTIKE...

Sigh. You suggest the Democrats try and peel off the blue-collar-populist types as if it's never been tried before. I got a news flash for ya, buddy: Democrats have already been trying to pull this one off for decades and it's never truly worked. Clinton made a dent, but the Reagan Democrats are going to keep voting for Republicans come hell or high water.

What you're getting at is what Howard Dean was getting at with his "confederate flags in pickup trucks" line, as if he were the first to of thought it up...that if we only talked about jobs and health care more and God-guns-and-gays less we'd naturally win over the average joe.

Truth is, Democrats have been trying like hell to pull that off for years and it simply hasn't worked for the simple reason that culturally conservative southerners care more about God, guns, and gays than they do health coverage. I'd be the first to argue that it makes no sense, but who the hell am I?

The NASCAR DAD populist strategy sucks. At best, in the short term, it will only manage to pick off a few border states when and only if the Dem nominee is a pure-centrist moderate and from the South. And what does that get us, I ask you? It gets us a Democrat President totally unwilling to move on God, guns, and gays: Which is truly nothing if you're at all concerned about the liberal end of the social spectrum. Running as a culturally conservative Democrat wins you a culturally conservative Administration in the White House so I say fuck it.

A better strategy is to straight up tell the Reagan Democrats to stick it where the sun don't shine and actually differentiate yourself from your Bible-thumping Republican foe. The Reagan Democrats are old, they're gonna start dying off soon enough. My generation is pretty disgusted with the Religious Right and dying for a Party to at least give lip service to our social values. We're not voting in very large numbers for a reason...BECAUSE ALL THAT THE POLITICIANS SEEM TO WANT TO TALK ABOUT IS PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, SOCIAL SECURITY, AND MEDICARE!!! (Skyrocketing Tuition Costs and the Rights of our Gay and Lesbian Friends Be Damned)

In terms of Social Security, if anyone's getting a raw deal it's the average young person having to pay into a system that won't exist in 10 or 20 years...not my fucking grandmother. Am I proposing a strategy that will help the Democrats have a shot at winning the next couple of elections? Not at all. But I'm proposing that if they were to maybe grow some balls and throw us a bone for a change, we might just start to identify with a Party that listens to what we have to say.

Winning in the short-term isn't always the most important thing. Being the Party that will inevitably become the favored Party of a new generation is (and "peeling off" the Bible-thumpers ain't gonna cut it).

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 9, 2004 12:32 AM

PS...

And frankly, by the way, I think we've come far enough on Gun Control so let me formally exclude myself from that issue.

What I was simply trying to get at was to say the whole "let's beat up on pop culture and Hollywood and talk about moral decay" cultural strategy of the Lieberman-types is utterly repulsive to young people. It's more about the values than it is the issues, my friend. No one dares try and stand up to the "world's going straight to hell" school of thought despite the fact we really by and in large don't think this way.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 9, 2004 12:44 AM

Grant, get a blog, willya? I'll read it and link it.

In the meantime, please keep leaving comments here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 9, 2004 12:46 AM

Reasons Me Having a Blog Is a Bad Idea...

1. I know diddly-squat about writing code. I'm a poli-sci major, Michael. We know alot about politics and heavy drinking. That's it.

2. Being a full-time student with a 3.7 GPA on top of having a part-time job to pay the bills is a pretty demanding life. It's like 3am here and I'm up finishing a paper which isn't that out of the ordinary. Maintaining a blog takes time. I have none to spare.

3. I might just decide to up and run for office someday. The last thing I really want is for my opponent to be able to pull up comments like "the Reagan Democrats are old and are gonna die soon" to use against me. I have a certain way about me of being able to offend just about every demographic group under the sun because I don't buy into the whole group-think mentality. Give me a blog and I'll blow the possibility of my ever holding public office all to hell.

I could go on but these reasons are pretty sufficient if you ask me. I gotta say though, I'm a little baffled by your response to what I said...

Are you suggesting I get a blog because I'm God's gift to political commentary or because you're getting tired of my occasional manifestos (which have been more than occasional here lately for some reason) clogging up your comments section? If you're starting to feel like I'm overly using your site as a soapbox just let me know and I'll knock it off, no hard feelings. The last thing I ever want to do is to tick you off...clarify what you're getting at if you don't mind.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 9, 2004 01:24 AM

Grant,

I asked you to get a blog because I enjoy reading what you have to say, not because I'm tired of it.

I understand why you thought I might have meant it the other way, though. There's a guy outside my office building who screams at everyone about God every day. One of these days I'm going to go up to him and say get a blog.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 9, 2004 01:48 AM

He's probably already got one.

Posted by: Rick W. at March 9, 2004 04:08 AM

Oh shit Michael. Is that your building?

I'll move.

Posted by: Roark at March 9, 2004 05:37 AM

Grant: Do you really think all Republicans are "bible-thumpers"? And if you do...and if that is a common thread among paritsan Democrats...are you surprised when your Party loses elections?

PS: Your generation is the most conservative in decades (if you are a young person, but maybe you are a dirty, protesting, peace-sign-wearing hypocritial hippie still in grad school. If so, then nuts to you old man)

Posted by: Ex at March 9, 2004 06:03 AM

A candidate combining Lieberman's foreign and trade policy with Dean's fiscal responsibility and social liberalism would win 55% of the vote. If that same candidate looked like Kerry and talked like Edwards, he'd win 60%.

Posted by: markus rose at March 9, 2004 06:54 AM

Grant,
"The last thing I really want is for my opponent to be able to pull up comments like "the Reagan Democrats are old and are gonna die soon" to use against me."

If you wait until their all dead before running then you probably wouldn't lose to many votes.

Posted by: sam at March 9, 2004 07:16 AM
A candidate combining Lieberman's foreign and trade policy with Dean's fiscal responsibility and social liberalism would win 55% of the vote.

"Dean's fiscal responsibility"? You mean when he more than doubled and nearly tripled his State's budget? No thanks, I’d rather have to deal with comparatively smaller increases in spending with an incumbent who is right about the more important fiscal issues (entitlement reform and long-term economic growth) than who whose idea of “fiscal responsibility” is that a balanced budget is more important than the overall cost of government.

Posted by: Thorley Winston at March 9, 2004 09:59 AM

(I think i should dig up some quotes from Cheney and Rummy to prove my point...)

That kind of proves one of Pej's points - Cheney & Rumsfeld are most definitely NOT neocons. Wolfowitz? Yes. Feith? Yes. Perle? Self-interested political hatchet man currently backing the neocons, so I guess he qualifies. Everyone else? No.

I think we're conflating the neocons within the administration with the neocons/liberal hawks in the population. There are few neocons within the Bush administration because they entered with a Realist/Isolationist foreign policy strategy. As a result, most of the neocons backed McCain in 2000, and were subsequently unwelcome within the White House.

The neocons & liberal hawks in the public, however, are a substantial minority. These are the people who feebly lean towards Bush on the sole basis of his foreign policy, but are willing to be persuaded to the Dems IFF they put up a credibly hawkish foreign policy. In other words, these are the mythic 'swing voters' that supposedly decide elections.

I say supposedly because the fact is, centrists obsessed with foreign policy don't matter in most elections. But this is shaping up to be another close election, with foreign policy at center stage. While small in numbers, the neocons/liberal hawks constitute very probably voters, and are up for grabs by either side. Two or three points here and there could add up to big electoral gains.

Then again, this might all be just self-flattery.

Posted by: Independent George at March 9, 2004 10:17 AM

Independent George,

I think you nailed it. This election could easily be decided by one percentage point or less. The liberal hawks and reluctant neocons count.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 9, 2004 11:18 AM

EX...

I'm getting a little sick and tired of all the cheap shots. You've had plenty of time around here to read a thing or two I've said so you should know better than to think me a "dirty hippie" "partisan" anything. Read what I actually have to say once in a while and you'd know enough to know that I'm pretty seriously considering voting for Bush and about 99% in line with Totten, politically.

I really don't give two shits what you think of me. I think you're a joke. I'm just saying knock it off.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 9, 2004 11:19 AM

Answering anne.elk, the trouble isn't the institutional denigration of neocons, it's the institutional denigration of what neocons stand for. As Pejman points out, that can be a slippery subject, but if the true swing voters out there think the neocons have good ideas (and there's a lot of overlap with the policies of Bill Clinton -- who got a lot of the bubba vote, remember?) those bubba Democrats will react badly to the bashing, even if they themselves don't self-identify as neocons.

The flip side is the whole marriage amendment fiasco. Let's face it, the gay vote wasn't going for Bush this time anyway. But Bush is alienating a lot of us voters who don't like the general principals behind the move. anne, maybe you don't see it analogously, but I do. In both cases the people directly affected are small minorities, but those of us without dogs in the hunt still care about the principals shown.

As to why certain democrats demonize the neocons (and people like Michael Totten) I think it's simply a case of "burn the heretics" fever. Lots of True Believers seem to fall victim to it.

Posted by: Mark at March 9, 2004 12:57 PM

Thorley --
I never read that Dean doubled or tripled spending in Vermont. It would have been tough to do, especially after he insisted on NOT renewing the tax increase on wealthy Vermonters that his predecessor had passed.

I supported Dean on fiscal policy because he was the only politician besides John McCain with the balls to stay that all of Bush's tax cuts should be repealed, without also coming out with hugh new spending proposals like Gephardt did. The majority of today's taxpayers are the same babyboomers who as retirees will be such a tremendous burden on working people for the next forty years or so. The idea that on top of this they deserve a tax break during their prime earning years IS MADNESS.

I'm open to the idea of some Social Security reform, but if you've studied the issue, you'll know that there are huge transition costs in moving to a different system, unless one plans to do it on the backs of the poorest seniors in the form of benefit cuts during the transition years.

Posted by: Markus Rose at March 9, 2004 01:51 PM

Markus: I never read that Dean doubled or tripled spending in Vermont.

He didn't. Just more right-wing bullshit. There's a lot more of that than usual right now.

Howard Dean balanced the Vermont budget, which is obviously beyond Bush's level of competence.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 9, 2004 02:18 PM

A candidate combining Lieberman's foreign and trade policy with Dean's fiscal responsibility and social liberalism would win 55% of the vote.

Uh... wouldn't Leiberman have combined Leiberman's foreign & trade policy with Dean's fiscal responsibility and social liberalism? Well, ok, maybe not social liberalism, but his social centrism should actually increase his appeal. Too late now, I suppose...

Posted by: Independent George at March 9, 2004 03:20 PM

Markus Rose wrote:

I never read that Dean doubled or tripled spending in Vermont.

Under Howard Dean, Vermont’s budget increased from $662 million in 1991 to $1.8 billion in 2002 which more than doubled and nearly tripled from where it started.

It would have been tough to do, especially after he insisted on NOT renewing the tax increase on wealthy Vermonters that his predecessor had passed.

Dean agreed with the temporary tax hike while he was Lt. Governor but did let the tax hike expire as scheduled (although he latter dishonestly tried to claim it as a “tax cut”). Dean’s tax increases though included raising the State’s sales tax from 4 to 5 percent, pushing for a $.67 a pack cigarette tax increase (although I believe he got less) as well as increases in property, corporate, hotel, and meal taxes.

I supported Dean on fiscal policy because he was the only politician besides John McCain with the balls to stay that all of Bush's tax cuts should be repealed, without also coming out with hugh new spending proposals like Gephardt did.

Actually, Dean proposed an additional $222.9 billion in spending while disavowing any sort of entitlement reform besides a tax increase (both raising the payroll tax rate as well as the amount of taxable income). That’s of course only if you believe that his health care plan was as cheap as he claimed it would be (health care costs are notoriously difficult to predict accurately).

I'm open to the idea of some Social Security reform, but if you've studied the issue, you'll know that there are huge transition costs in moving to a different system, unless one plans to do it on the backs of the poorest seniors in the form of benefit cuts during the transition years.

Actually I have studied the problem which is why I know that the “transition costs” while a challenge are far less than the cost of not moving to a system of personal retirement accounts. The question then is not whether we are going to reduce spending on Social Security but whether we are going to adopt a personal retirement account option and therefore have to make less cuts.

Posted by: Thorley Winston at March 9, 2004 04:23 PM

Neo-Cons are NOT "liberal" on domestic issues. Read Commentary magazine. There is no "liberal" position on domestic issues. Today's Democratic party simply marches to the tune of its assorted interest groups. It has no coherent philosophy. Just see the current campaign. Clinton spent 8 years promoting his "third way". He would promote aggressive free trade and proivde government programs to help displaced workers. At no time did he promote protectionism. Yet today's Democrats all play the protectionist card. Neo-Cons oppose affirmative action as a divisive program more harmful to its own constituency than helpful. Neo-Cons aggressively support welfare and education reform. There is no place for neo-conservatism inside today's Democratic party on any issue. Recall that Pat Moynahan was the original Deomcratic neo-con and the first Democrat ostracized by the liberal establishment for speaking truths they didn't want to hear. The foreign policy is just the beginning of it. The reason neo-cons are not numerous is because they do not fit in with the social conservatives or the movement conservatives who make up most of the party. BTW, most of the country can in no way be called fiscally conservative. They neither want their cherished programs cut nor the tax increases necessary to pay for them. This is a problem.

Posted by: Doug at March 9, 2004 06:38 PM

A candidate combining Lieberman's foreign and trade policy with Dean's fiscal responsibility and social liberalism would win 55% of the vote.

I agree that such a candidate would win handily, but this hypothetical candidate would not win many Democratic votes, and certainly could not win the Democratic nomination. Social liberalism is nice and all, but combine it with an America-first foreign policy and tight purse strings and you have a candidate that the power brokers and pressure groups in the Dem party will not tolerate.

Posted by: R C Dean at March 10, 2004 04:48 AM

Doug - I do read Commentary, and I'd say that the Neocons really don't have a coherent domestic policy, either - and by coherent, I mean unified by a binding, motivating ideology. This only makes sense - foreign policy, after all, is what originally defined the neocons. On the domestic side, what you have is more of an attitude of 'whatever works' than anything else. This is not necessarily a bad thing - in fact, it pretty much matches my own leanings - but there is no ideological framework for a neocon domestic policy, nor should there be.

Posted by: Independent George at March 10, 2004 06:38 AM

Grant, I think Clinton and Carter are examples of Democrats who managed to woo the NASCAR dad crowd, and guess what? They are the only two Democratic Presidents since Johnson.

Posted by: praktike at March 10, 2004 07:22 AM

PRAKTIKE...

Eh, are you sure you REALLY want to hold up Carter and Clinton as being great Democrat presidents? It only kind of goes to prove my point, doesn't it...

That they're dead-moderate (culturally conservative) centrists from the South and that's the only reasons they could pull it off. And that, hey, just what exactly did they manange to pull off in terms of pushing the liberal agenda on social issues? Nothing. They hardly even tried...Clinton touched the gays-in-the-military issue and it almost sunk his presidency. Again, I ask, what's the point?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 10, 2004 09:28 AM

Yeah...but woo-hoo for Clinton and Carter! Two of the greatest Presidents who ever lived! If only more Presidents could be like them, what with the scandals and hostage-situation boondoggles. Wouldn't that be great?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 10, 2004 09:30 AM

um, my point was simply that they won.

And I do think Clinton, on balance, did a good job.

Posted by: praktike at March 10, 2004 09:57 AM

Never thought I'd be saying this, but I think Clinton was a pretty good president. Weak response to terrorism? Yes, but I don't recall the Republicans calling for an all-out hunt for Bin Laden in '98, or for an invasion of Iraq when the UN inspectors were forced out. (and if he did, you can bet the Republicans would have accused him of trying to divert attention from the Blewinsky scandal). If he was soft on terrorism, we all were. One can argue he was too indecisive and wavering during the Kosovo campaign, but even that worked out in the end.

On the other hand, he went against his party to sign welfare reform, and actively pushed NAFTA through. Those are two major accomplishments for a peacetime president.

Posted by: Independent George at March 10, 2004 10:32 AM

Yeah, in terms of the economy, having a Democrat President and a Republican Congress seemed to work out pretty damn well. People like divided government. Most the time, I'm kinda glad they do.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at March 10, 2004 04:39 PM



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