Thursday, November 04, 2004

Thumbing through the Times

I realize I have nothing new to say today, but I am struck by some rather useful insights in the New York Times, especially in the piece by the ever-judicious and historically informed Todd Purdum.

First, he notes Bush strategist Matthew Dowd's comment that "Mr. Bush had become the first incumbent Republican president to win a presidential race with majorities in the House and Senate since Calvin Coolidge in 1924, and the first president of either party since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936 to be re-elected while gaining seats in both houses." That's a sobering fact.

Second, he hints at an issue that will make many progressives uncomfortable when he cites former Clinton aide, Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL): "Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter got elected because they were comfortable with their faith. What happened was that a part of the electorate came open to what Clinton and Carter had to say on everything else - health care, the environment, whatever - because they were very comfortable that Clinton and Carter did not disdain the way these people lived their lives, but respected them."

Elsewhere, on the editorial pages, we're treated to some great analysis -- still no game plan, however -- from several mainstays:
  • Thomas Friedman says it feels like two different Americas now exist, such that "it felt as if we were rewriting the Constitution, not electing a president."
  • Maureen Dowd is scathing and pessimistic: The president says he's "humbled" and wants to reach out to the whole country. What humbug. The Bushes are always gracious until they don't get their way. If W. didn't reach out after the last election, which he barely grabbed, why would he reach out now that he has what Dick Cheney calls a "broad, nationwide victory"?
  • Garry Wills says that, in America's counter-Enlightenment, we are most closely resembling our putative enemies: "Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it in the Muslim world, in Al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists."
I hate to provide proof of anything that Tom Friedman has to say, but when he writes that the election could just as well have been between those who watch Fox News and those who read the New York Times, I guess it's clear which side I come down on.

P.S. The Washington Post has a good story that seeks to explain why Kerry lost Ohio.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess John Kerry went into the primary without a plan to win the election. The Democrats threw everything they had at this election. They ran a phony Vietnam War hero and a phony Southerner. They had middle-aged women executives at MTV hawking "Rock the Vote" to entice the most uninformed young people to vote for Kerry. They had Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews and New York Times darling Eminem. They had documentaries, books, the universities, Hollywood (and the French!) on their side.

They had liberal thugs ransacking Bush-Cheney headquarters, stealing Bush-Cheney signs and slashing the tires of Bush-Cheney get-out-the-vote vans on Election Day. In Colorado, they traded voter registrations for crack cocaine. In Ohio, they registered Mary Poppins and Dick Tracy. In South Carolina, Emily's List called Republican households and gave them incorrect information about the location of polling places.

The media campaigned heavily for Kerry with endless Abu Ghraib coverage, phony National Guard documents and, days before the election, false news reports that hundreds of tons of munitions had been looted in Iraq.

The Democrats' cheating never stopped. The big story of this election is the fraudulent exit polling on Election Day. Strange as it seems to me, it is well acknowledged that people are more likely to come out and vote for a winner. Early exit polls showing Kerry the clear winner could be expected to depress the vote for Bush.

Stunningly inaccurate exit polls released around noon on Election Day convinced news anchors, talking heads and even the campaigns that Kerry would win walking away. But at 9 p.m., when the first actual results began to come in, the election flipped to Bush . It was the first Kerry flip-flop that actually served the national interest.

The exit polls were absurd: They showed Kerry winning Pennsylvania by 20 points and Bush tied with Kerry in Mississippi. Only monkey business can explain the wildly pro-Kerry exit polls--admittedly hard to believe with a party that has behaved so honorably throughout this campaign. Michael Barone speculates that the sites of exit polling were leaked to the Democrats, and Democrats sent large numbers of voters to those polls to take exit polls and throw the results.

But for all their chicanery, vote-stealing, Hollywood starlets, fake polls and faux patriotism, the Democrats were wiped out on Election Day.

Bush won the largest popular vote in history with a 3.5 million margin. Indeed, simply by getting a majority of the country to vote for him--the left's most hated politician since Richard Nixon--Bush did something "rock star" Bill Clinton never did. Bush maintained or increased his vote in every state but Vermont. Republicans picked up seats in the House and Senate, and continue to dominate state governorships. Also making history of a sort, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle lost his election, marking the first time in half a century a Senate leader has been defeated.

To Michael Moore, George Soros, Terry McAuliffe, Dan Rather, Al Franken and the whole gang at Air America Radio--you were great, guys! Thanks for the help! We couldn't have done it without you!

Of course, we could have done it a lot earlier on election night but for "Boy Genius" Karl Rove. It's absurd that the election was as close as it was. The nation is at war, Bush is a magnificent wartime leader, and the night before the election we didn't know if a liberal tax-and-spend, Vietnam War-protesting senator from Massachusetts would beat him. If Rove is "the architect"--as Bush called him in his acceptance speech--then he is the architect of high TV ratings, not a Republican victory. By keeping the race so tight, Rove ensured that a race that should have been a runaway Bush victory would not be over until the wee hours of the morning.

As we now know, the most important issue to voters was not terrorism, but moral values. Marriage amendments won by lopsided majorities in all 11 states where they were on the ballot. Even in Oregon, the state targeted by gay marriage advocates as their best shot of defeating a marriage amendment, the amendment passed with 57%--a figure noticeable for being larger than the percentage of votes cast for Bush in Oregon. In the great state of Mississippi, the marriage amendment passed with 86% of the vote.

Seventy to 80% of Americans oppose gay marriage and partial-birth abortion. Far from appealing exclusively to a narrow Republican base, opposition to gay marriage is strongest among the Democratic base: blacks, Hispanics, blue-collar workers and the elderly. There were marriage amendments on the ballot in Michigan and Ohio. Bush won Ohio narrowly and lost Michigan by only 2 points. How different might that have been if Bush hadn't run from the issue.

But Rove concluded Bush should stay mum on gay marriage and partial-birth abortion--contravening the politicians' rule of thumb: Talk about your positions that are wildly popular with voters. "Boy Genius" Rove decided Bush shouldn't even run radio ads on gay marriage, and, at the last minute, Bush started claiming he was in favor of civil unions, just like John Kerry.

Amazingly, it was the Democrats--the ones who support gay marriage--who used the gay issue for political advantage, most famously when Kerry gay-baited Mary Cheney during the third debate.

The one toss-up Senate seat lost by the Republicans was Pete Coors in Colorado, where the Democrats did not hesitate to run commercials of a bacchanalian gay festival in Canada sponsored by Coors Brewing Co. The most narrow Republican win in a toss-up Senate race was in Alaska, where the Republican candidate was another "progressive" on the social issues.

When contemplating a former New York mayor as their next presidential candidate, Republicans should remember: This election should have been over sometime in August, not 1 a.m. election night.