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Election ’06: another view
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, August 23, 2006

An interesting Investors Business Daily editorial on the upcoming midterms provokes some thoughts on the politics of all of this:
The American people may not be happy with events in Iraq. But they do know, especially after events in Lebanon and the foiled British bomb plot, that we're in a war in which failure is not an option and for which repeating "Bush lied" is not a strategy.

Americans will not put in power a party that accepts the proposition that global warming is a greater threat than terrorism, that thinks Wal-Mart is a plague on the poor and that wants to repeal the job-creating, economy-boosting and deficit-cutting Bush tax cuts.

They will not put in power a party that thinks death is a taxable event and that success should be punished. They will not pass the reins to a party that denies us access to energy reserves offshore and in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and which thinks energy independence means building windmills and hugging caribou.

This is a party that thinks Dunkirk was a British redeployment and that doesn't understand why Bush doesn't just sit down and make nice with nuclear madmen like Korea's Kim Jong-il and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

The Democrats think this year will be their 1994. As voters read the morning papers on their way to vote in November, and decide who should navigate these unsettled waters, the Democrats may well wake up the next day to find the Republicans still in power and Lieberman getting a congratulatory phone call from President Bush.
I think there is some unsettling truth in all of that for Democrats. Whether voters would ever put it all together as IBD has here remains to be seen, but it is a compelling compilation of reasons not to vote for the Dems and one can't help but feel they constitute a perhaps an unstated (until now) theme which has seen voters hesitate to give them the majority. And, according to a recent USA Today poll, the British bomb plot gave the Reps a bit of a boost.

Otoh, Iraq is being spun as a catastrophe, the administration is being characterized as one which breaks the law and the Republican Congress as perpetuating a "culture of corruption". Add to that a disaffected base and you could see a changing of the guard in the wind.

But that brings us back to the points of the IBD editorial. I'd guess most people feel that if the Dems do take power they will attempt to raise taxes, that any chance at energy independence will probably decrease, and that the rhetoric about pulling out of Iraq will increase. The question is, do they feel those are worth giving the Dems power?

And my guess, especially about the latter issue, is that while the public as a whole may now think our incursion into Iraq was ill founded, they're for finishing the job before leaving. In actuality, that majority I'm talking about may be two different ones, but I think it exists. The fact that a majority thinks Iraq was a mistake does not mean that same majority thinks we should immediately leave or would support such a thing.

So I have to wonder, give this is a mid-term election, if perhaps the mood for major change may not manifest itself this time around. One of the things history does teach us is that the public usually doesn't like big change in leadership during a war. Perhaps, instead, the public will defer until '08 any major change given the sure turmoil such a change will bring (and a desire not to have to suffer through it at this time).

But then again, this is all conjecture and thinking out loud. It is too early to tell. And it is probably a mistake to try to ascribe thoughts and characteristics to the "whole" of voters. Most will pay attention to all of this in late October. Most will pick a couple of key issues and themes to base their vote upon. Most will focus on their local congressional race and local issues their congressman or woman has or hasn't delivered upon. And in the end we may or may not see a significant change in Congress.

On the whole, however, I think IBD captures some of the issues and themes with which Republicans will try to keep the public ill at ease with Democrats. Whether they'll be successful is anyone's guess, but I do believe they are and have been a part of the national conversation for some time.

It is these themes that Cokie Roberts describes as "pushing the party to the position from which it traditionally loses." As we enter the full-bore election season it will be interesting to see if the Republicans can successfully use them to their advantage or whether Democrats will be successful in overcoming them or at least minimizing their impact.
 
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Thanks for not running that tired wheeze about divided government around the track one more time.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
"Thanks for not running that tired wheeze about divided government around the track one more time."
Amen. Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Not to worry boys, we still have two months in which to run that "wheeze".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
But then again, this is all conjecture and thinking out loud.
And you know what i think about that;>)
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
McQ wrote:
Not to worry boys, we still have two months in which to run that "wheeze".
Not two months. The duration of the time period in which divided government persists is the time period of interest.

How will you measure the success with which divided government furthers your goals?

And what are your goals? Less gov’t spending than the year before, AFI? Smaller rate of growth in gov’t spending, AFI? The end of certain particularly objectionable gov’t programs?

What are your metrics for the worth of "divided gov’t"?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
I think a lot is going to hinge on three things:

1 - What the situation in Baghdad is in come October. The rest of Iraq seems to be in reasonably good shape, but Baghdad is what gets broadcast into people’s living rooms. The current operations there seem to be having a very desireable effect, with violence trending strongly down. If that continues and Baghdad becomes perceived as a success, then Iraq will be perceived as a success and the Republicans will profit from being the authors of that success. The fly in that particular ointment is Sadr. He’s Iran’s flunky and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him start making noisy trouble ’round about Halloween.

2 - If Round 2 of the Israel-Lebanon War has started by then, and under what circumstances. It’s possible that UNIFIL will not only have a fairly strong mandate (like the proposed one), but will demonstrate heretofore unglimpsed resolve by using it to actually enforce 1701. Even a perennial optimist like myself is skeptical on that score, but hey, I’d love to be pleasantly surprised.

3 - How high gas prices are and whether they’ve risen or declined sharply shortly before the election.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Otoh, Iraq is being spun as a catastrophe, the administration is being characterized as one which breaks the law and the Republican Congress as perpetuating a "culture of corruption". Add to that a disaffected base and you could see a changing of the guard in the wind.
Actually it doesn’t take any spin to portray Iraq as a catastrophe, Bush as a lawbreaker or the Republican congress as a "culture of corruption".

The first and last are not a "slam dunk" so to say but are definately the opinion of the majority of American voters. And the second has already been decided and, until overruled is not disputable.
The current operations there seem to be having a very desireable effect, with violence trending strongly down.
However, claiming that the bloodiest month in the history of the occupation represents "the violence trending strongly down".....

Well let’s just say convincing anyone other than perhaps an Oklahoma senator or Ralph Peters of that fact is going to require more spin than most could muster.


 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
That’s July, Davebo. Check your calendar, we’re in August now.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Yes, we are in august now.

Rooftop snipers and mortars killed 20 people and injured 300 others as they walked through religiously mixed neighborhoods in Baghdad today to

Seven Iraqi civilians were killed at least and 20 others injured as a result of an a bomb explosion planted near a hospital in the capital Baghdad. ...

Dozens of Iraqis were killed or injured after five bombs exploded Tuesday morning in central Baghdad, security sources said

57 Iraqis Killed by 5 Bombings in Baghdad

35 Iraqis killed in bombing near key Shiite mosque

Six Iraqis killed, 20 injured during violent attacks in Baghdad ...

Just a sampling of August, and it’s not over yet. Of course, we don’t keep an accurate count of Iraqi civilian casualties but still...

As I said, sell it to Peters, I’m not interested.
 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
One more note that’s relevent here.
On the whole, however, I think IBD captures some of the issues and themes with which Republicans will try to keep the public ill at ease with Democrats.
That’s putting it mildly considering this.
Last night, Bill O’Reilly and Tom McArdle of Investor’s Business Daily took turns slamming the federal judge who recently ruled against the NSA’s domestic eavesdropping program as a "liberal activist" who may want "Americans to die" or "wish ill will on our forces."

"You see, I don’t understand Judge Taylor," O’Reilly began the conversation, "maybe you can help me."

"Does she want Americans to die?" O’Reilly asked.

McArdle sidestepped O’Reilly’s question (which was pronounced twice by the FOX News host), but said that the judge has a "long history as a left-leaning political operative."

But O’Reilly persisted with his line of inquiry.

"But say she is a - and I do believe this...I know her background - she is a activist, far left jurist," said O’Reilly. "Okay. Say that’s true. Does she want dead people in the street here in America?"

Finally, McArdle agreed.

"That’s right," said McArdle. "I don’t have a crystal ball and none of us do as far as looking into this woman’s mind and seeing what her motivation is."

"Does she really wish ill will on our forces or is it some kind of pacificistic naivete?" asked McArdle.
But hey, it’s a business magazine, not a political magazine. Right?

 
Written By: davebo
URL: http://
In politics the substance of your position is often less important than the tone in which you express it, and on the issue of terrorism the Democrats are tone deaf.

There are a lot of us out here, maybe a majority, who believe that the virulent spread of radical jihadist ideology is an urgent danger to our civilization. I personally believe that, even as I type this, fantically committed people are working very hard at preparing what they hope will be apocalyptic attacks on this country and our Western allies.

So, when I hear people in power, in the administration, talking about the dangers of terrorism I feel a little sense of reassurance that they "get it", and they share my priorities and my sense of urgency about this issue.

And then, in response, from the Democrats, a chorus of voices usually rises up to denounce the administration for "fear mongering". I don’t know what this buzz-phrase means exactly. Are they saying that the administration’s concerns about terrorism are baseless? Or that the administration is making too big a fuss over something that really is not a big deal? Whatever they mean, the signal that I get is that they do not share my concern about terrorism. They seem to think that terrorism is a phoney issue that Republicans have invented to keep themselves in power.

Naturally, too, given my belief that this issue must be the highest priority for the Federal government at this time, I am very interested to know how the Democrats will address it. Often, it seems, Democrats answer questions about counter-terrorism tactics with little lectures about reducing dependence on foreign oil and platitudes about not giving up our liberties. Once again, I am not sensing any urgency or concern. In fact, I sense almost a willful REFUSAL to engage the issue.

Lately I’ve been reading where Democrats are SHOCKED! and outraged that anyone would for an instant imagine that they would pursue the war against terrorism any less agressively than Republicans. And then they point to their substantive proposals, such as hiring more people to check containers at the ports, and developing alternative fuel sources. Combined with the often dismissive tone that they use when discussing terrorism, these types of proposals just do not convey reassure me that the Dems are serious about fighting.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
My opinion on the ’06 election is that will hinge on accountabiity. I cannot believe that there are any politically aware Americans who have not seen something done by this administration that they do not believe it had the power to do, and they are slowly realizing that there is nothing to stop them. Honest conservatives would have to be blind, deaf, and stupid not to see that actual conservative values have been turned upside down in a spending and growth spree that does everything EXCEPT what people who actually want bigger government would want. Libertarians (big and small L) are positively fuming at the rolling back of basic rights. And of course anyone left of Lincoln Chafee is just stunned by the Republican abuse of the majority that Democrats never had a tight enough coalition within their own party to accomplish (and they never will). Hawks are apalled at the incompetence of the prosecution of a war that they theoretically supported.

So while every single voting American has reason to vote the current bums out of office, a relatively small majority of them will actually do it.

The most meaningful polling data I have seen is the local polling, Congressional District by Congressional District, which shows that even on a local level, Americans at this moment are prepared to dump the Republicans. Of course we have over two months of big spending and Swift Boating, so we’ll just have to wait to see who’s right.

Oh, and the BID article was pure hacksmanship. One example; whether you like estate taxes or not, most Americans favor taxing the transfer of assets when it is over several million dollars. But it is a good soundbite when you say "they think death is a taxable event".

Democrats are not really any better than Republicans, but because Democrats are more fractured internally, they actually have to debate and deliberate and negotiate to get legislation done, and that has a much better chance of arriving at better government than rubber stamping the politically driven policies of George Bush and his brains. Not to mention the accountabilyt that comes with the opposition party having subpoena power. Oops, is that too close to suggesting a balance of power?

Cap

 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic (yeah, that one)
URL: http://
CAP!

Where have you been, my friend!

Glad to see your name again and tickled to death to see you commenting.

Nothing has changed as to the absolute nonsense you spout, but hey, can’t have everything.

Good to see you still pontificating no matter how absurdly.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Not to mention the accountabilyt that comes with the opposition party having subpoena power. Oops, is that too close to suggesting a balance of power?
Man, I’ve been pushing for that for quite some time as a temporary stop-gap measure, but to mixed reaction. Generally, I find that the libertarians approve of the idea, while the die-hard Republicans think less of it.

And welcome to the blog! Man, I’ve missed corresponding with you.

For readers still checking comments to this post, Cap is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful Democrats I’ve ever debated.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
I have missed our exchanges as well and look forward to resuming the debate.

As to the absudity of my pontifications, we could go back to our discussions in 2003 and find that everything I said about Iraq has turned out to be correct.

It’s tough being right all the time.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
I general, I would readily admit that you were more right than wrong on Iraq. (though, I recall some oil-motivation speculation that you made that was, I think, unfounded)

I’ve been agnostic on the outcome of the Iraq war for quite some time. I believe it can still end moderately well if we figure out a good extraction plan that gets the US military out of there while still supporting either the current government, or — if things fall apart — the optimal Shiite regime. But I’m far from sure that we’re doing that.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
I know that "oil for blood" was a popular anti-war mantra back then, and even today, but I don’t recall making that argument. I was more inclined to make the argument that Iraq was not a threat, was not associated with al Qaeda, that we had no hard evidence that they even possessed WMD’s, and that the motivation for the war was clearly spelled out in the words of Dick Cheney et al, in the Project for the New American Century documents. Invade Iraq, knock out Saddam, tear down the Baath party government, be received with sweets and roses, build an American style democracy, watch it blossom and see every other Arab nation follow suit and shed their dictatorial violent means of government. Oh, and the main reason I opposed the invasion was that we had an actual enemy to deal with, and the invasion would jsut swell their ranks.

But if I ever did suggest that Bush’s motivation was about actually getting access to the oil for the purpose of someone’s enrichment, I would agree that would have been an inaccurate characterization.

Cap

 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
I know that "oil for blood" was a popular anti-war mantra back then, and even today, but I don’t recall making that argument.
It may be that I’ve mistaken you for somebody else. If so, my apologies.
the motivation for the war was clearly spelled out in the words of Dick Cheney et al, in the Project for the New American Century documents. Invade Iraq, knock out Saddam, tear down the Baath party government, be received with sweets and roses, build an American style democracy, watch it blossom and see every other Arab nation follow suit and shed their dictatorial violent means of government.
I don’t believe the PNAC argument for toppling the Hussein regime was as simplistic as that, but I do believe that they seriously underestimated the internal dynamics that would obtain after Saddam left.
But if I ever did suggest that Bush’s motivation was about actually getting access to the oil for the purpose of someone’s enrichment, I would agree that would have been an inaccurate characterization.
I believe one lesson the anti-war crowd really should take to heart is that conspiracy theories about "war for oil", "finishing his Dad’s business", "getting revenge for the assassination attempt on his father", "keeping oil sales in US dollars" and others almost certainly do more to harm to their cause than to help it. Apart from making opponents of war look like raving lunatics (or, rather, demonstrating that many of them are raving lunatics and coloring the rest by association), it sucks the ogygen out of the room for serious practical and strategic considerations.

As with the pro-war side, though, the simplistic, populist messages are easier to tout than the complicated ones.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net

 
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