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Is it the economy, stupid? Or ’extremism’?
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, February 20, 2008

EJ Dionne suggests a strategy Democrats may want to use on John McCain. He bases it on a statement McCain has repeatedly made:
But one of John McCain's favorite lines—his declaration that "the transcendent challenge of the 21st century is radical Islamic extremists," or, as he sometimes says it, "extremism"—could define the 2008 election.

Whether McCain is right or wrong matters to everything the United States will do in the coming years. It's incumbent upon McCain to explain what he really means by "transcendent challenge."
That's the line. Dionne is questioning its validity. Here's the presumption:
Presumably, he's saying that Islamic extremism is more important than everything else—the rise of China and India as global powers, growing resistance to American influence in Europe, the weakening of America's global economic position, the disorder and poverty in large parts of Africa, the alienation of significant parts of Latin America from the United States. Is it in our national interest for all these issues to take a backseat to terrorism?
The attack? Well, it should be fairly obvious:
No doubt the Democrats will say that McCain's openly and frequently confessed lack of interest in economic policy is exactly what the country does not need. For many Americans, the transcendent challenge of 2008 is righting a jittery economy and rolling back extreme inequality. That could well move into a debate about the impact of China on our economy and the structure of global commerce.
I think it is a valid strategy seeing as the top issue, at least among Democrats, is the economy, and I'd assume some of that concern bleeds over to independents as well - and, as is becoming obvious, it is the independents (and moderates of both parties) who may well decide the election.

Essentially McCain has to make the case that "terrorism" or "extremism" is the most compelling problem to be addressed while the Dems have to sell the worsening economy.

If both can put a decent argument out there for their respective side, the race may end up being decided, literally, by an event or events in the interim. If Iraq remains essentially good news (and thus out of the news) while the economy is seen to be going off the rails, Dems win. If, however, there is a terror event of any magnatude, especially if it happens here in the US, McCain is in.

If neither of those things happen, then it will come down to a matter of perception by the swing voters as to which issue is the most important, and that, of course, will come down to who best sells their case.
 
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If, however, there is a terror event of any magnatude, especially if it happens here in the US, McCain is in.
Which suggests that, if the terrorists actually were able to do grand strategy, any of them planning a major terror event would wait until after November when there’s a greater potential of dealing with a Democrat instead of McCain for the next few years. But I’ve seen no evidence that Islamic fanatics tend towards such deep strategies.

And they may have their own internal reasons why they need a big terror event ASAP. Events ranging from the disintegration of al Qaeda in Iraq to the recent setbacks in the Pak elections may be producing some extreme pressures in their leadership to "do something".
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
The idea that the economy will be the biggest electoral issue in this presidential election rests on one weak reed — the 1992 campaign between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. In my opinion the key factor in that campaign was the Ross Perot third party candidacy, not the economy.

It’s true that economic issues got lots of play back then because of a recession and high unemployment. Unemployment was 50% higher than it is today (7.4% vs. 4.9% today). However, the recession had actually ended in 1991. And, in a spectacular gaffe, employment figures were revised upwards (and unemployment was revised downward) in a huge way just a couple of months after the election. Oops.

With the advent of blogs in particular, I think it will be harder for a candidate to spin our current economic condition into a huge negative as did both the Clinton and Perot campaigns.

 
Written By: Kurt Brouwer
URL: http://www.fundmasteryblog.com
So then Johnny Mac should make the case that terrorism will crush the economy more than any cyclical downturn. Why do people think the Dems are better on the economy anyway? Oh, right, the ignorance......
 
Written By: Come on, Please
URL: http://
If the past 7 years has taught us anything, it is that a lie repeated often enough becomes perceived truth. Everywhere you are seeing "Recession’ being talked up throughout the media - MSM, talk radio, blogs, print media, the works.

The classic definition of a recession is: A decline in a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), or negative real economic growth, for two or more successive quarters of a year.

An alternative, less accepted definition of recession is: A downward trend in the rate of actual GDP growth.

Only in the second case can you characterize the current economy as one "in recession" and even that is debatable. But regardless of the reality, the perception is there that we are in a recession. It is in the Democrat’s best interest to push the debate to economics and refer to the glory years of the Clinton economy.

When you have candidates pandering to the masses, you gotta go with the perception rather than reality. The best example to date? Watching Hillary and Obama debate their own relative experience for the position of CinC. Do you really expect anything else?
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
If, however, there is a terror event of any magnatude, especially if it happens here in the US, McCain is in.
I understand this sentiment, but I am not sure of its accuracy. Consider this scenario:

A terrorist attack on US soil causes wholesale rejection of the current administration, and anyone remotely associated with it. Further, the American people get so angry at what they perceive to be the wrong course on fighting terror that they jump on board with an Obama who promises "another way". I don’t know the probability of either course, but I think it’s safe to say a terrorist attack would throw a very large wild card into the game.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
My simple way of rebutting this line of attack, "I can walk and chew gum at the same time. Islamic extremism is currently our most serious national security threat, but of course that does not mean I will ignore economic issues."
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I agree with Steverino. I think a terrorist attack would be a serious blow to the Republicans, because it would be seen as proof that 1) the Bush administration can’t protect us at home and 2)its overall strategy is wrong.

And a Democrat in the White House would be under pressure to prove he/she is "strong" on terrorism, so from that point of view, it might be the reverse of Mr. Hollis’s suggestion: McCain would have wiggle room to go soft, if he wanted to, while Obama and Clinton would not.

And finally, while there are some parts of the country where the economy is strong, there are plenty of areas where the economy is not, and most people find themselves in worse financial shape than they were two or three years ago—not because of credit or mortgage splurge, but because prices, taxes (state and local), home insurance, have increased while incomes have not. Most of the people I know would say they are worse off now than they were in 1999. So don’t write off what the MSM says about recession. It may be not be true of the entire country, but it’s true of enough places that a campaign run on the basis of the economy would not be at all stupid.
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
Kishnevi: I did not mean to imply that "a campaign run on the basis of the economy would not be at all stupid." I merely pointed out the effect of pushing a point regardless of the reality of the situation. The fact that "Most of the people I know would say they are worse off now than they were in 1999" does not necessarily translate to a recession. Perception generally trumps reality. I just did a poor job of relaying that point.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
I’d be a little happier with discussions of the economy as the greatest challenge facing us as a country if the solutions being suggested had any likelihood of rectifying the problems that are being identified. It’s easy to identify the problems—stagnant real wages, slow job growth (except in government and government’s handmaiden economic sectors), and so on.

But when solutions are trotted out they’re always a grab bag of the same old Great Society standards. A lot has changed in 40 years and I don’t see how educating more people for jobs that don’t exist (for example) will improve the larger economy.
 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
I’d be a little happier with discussions of the economy as the greatest challenge facing us as a country if the solutions being suggested had any likelihood of rectifying the problems that are being identified. It’s easy to identify the problems—stagnant real wages, slow job growth (except in government and government’s handmaiden economic sectors), and so on.

I agree with dave, but he won’t like my prediction. As globalization intensifies, US voters are going to get less and less happy with their economic situation. There are up and down blips, but that’s the trend in the very long run. The solution will be greater government protection.

Too many people bash the welfare state in Europe without even attempting to understand what the forces acting on Europe were that led to that outcome. The answer is: Europe cut back on market forces after it toppled from its perch as the center of the world economy, based largely on inherent market forces.

The same thing is happening to the US. Capital is fleeing to where labor is cheaper. There’s no solution, but the citizens will demand mitigation. And they’ll get it.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
"As globalization intensifies, US voters are going to get less and less happy with their economic situation. There are up and down blips, but that’s the trend in the very long run. The solution will be greater government protection."

This can only be true for the short to medium term. As poorer countries get richer and their wages increase, everyone will be better off.

Example: today at a Costco in Taichung, Taiwan, I saw New Balance shoes made in the USA on sale. So, the country that dominated shoe making in the 80’s now has shoes made in the USA on sale there.

And I think most people worry about globalization because of several biases they have against foreigners and markets, but also due to its speed. Another example: I visited a sofa factory in China that has been open only 8 years. They are planning to move production to Vietnam. So, where it took 40 years to move production from USA to Taiwan. It took 20 years from Taiwan to China, and now China is moving production to Vietnam within 10 years.

The key will be to educate the populace a bit more. Actually, the blue collar jobs are now safer than the white collar ones, because you can’t outsource plumbers but you sure can outsource coders. (I love that the geeks who made the internet now get their’s.)



 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
"I saw New Balance shoes made in the USA on sale"

Yeah, but the quality sucks. Stick with shoes made in China/Korea/Thailand/Etc.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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