Friday, April 11, 2003

Recent Endorsements...

It's pretty early in the primary season, but the official endorsements are beginning to roll in. Let's take a look...

Much was made of the endorsements Joe Lieberman received from 11 House Democrats this week. I'm not going to bore you with the full list. I'll leave that up to Joe. Interestingly, it only includes two of Joe's fellow Connecticuters.

Meanwhile, over in Missouri, Dick Gephardt has picked up the support of the Ironworkers Union - the first national union to give an endorsement. This will play extremely well with anyone who remembers the Ironworkers heroism on 9/11, responding to the site for rescue efforts before the call even went out. Impressive, but didn't the AFL-CIO request of their member unions that they be allowed to give the sole endorsement to one candidate later on in the process?

Adding their names to the already extensive list of Howard Dean's endorsements are House members Neil Abercrombie and Zoe Lofgren. They join Martin Sheen, Jim Jeffords, Rob Reiner, Steve Grossman, and a whole mess of others in endorsing the good doctor.

posted by Scott | 4/11/2003 | |

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Surprise, surprise - war comes down to politics for Bush

According to Ron Fournier at the AP, the White House is about to turn back to politics full time, using the successes in Iraq as a springboard to victory in 2004.

After weeks of careful planning, the White House hopes to convert postwar political momentum into a string of successes for Bush's domestic agenda -- and ammunition for re-election.

But wait! The actual GOP rhetoric is even better!

"All he's got to do is remind voters that this is a dangerous age and that Democrats, at best, have a lukewarm support for the military," said GOP pollster Whit Ayres.

And the Democratic response? Strong retaliation about the military record of Democrats like John Kerry, Max Cleland, and Wesley Clark? Denouncements of the Brooks Brothers Republicans who never once wore camo? Well...

"Clearly, this president's record on domestic issues will be a major factor in the 2004 election," said Democratic Party chairman Terry McAuliffe.

Terry, Terry, Terry... Did we learn nothing from 2002? It's not enough to just expect voters to look at Enron, Worldcom, Richard Perle, and Halliburton and see "GOP" written all over it. And it's also not enough just to say "Enron, Bush," "Worldcom, Bush," "Perle, Global Crossing," etc. After a while, it loses its punch. Furthermore, it just sounds whiny to voters who don't read Harper's and The Economist on a regular basis.

So am I suggesting that you spell it out for people? Hell no! Guys like Michael Moore and Gore Vidal aren't professional political advisors for a reason.

The answer is VIABLE ALTERNATIVES. Keyword: viable. Keyword: alternative. You can't just say, "no more war." It's not viable. And you can't just say, "tax cut, only smaller." That isn't an alternative so much as it is a capitulation.

That all said, I'm not even sure the war is really going to matter in 2004. A successful candidate needs to go to the American people and give honest, thoughtful reasons why they were for or against the war in Iraq. No hemming and hawing, no ifs, ands, or buts. If you agreed with it, good. But tell the voters why you agreed with it from an ALTERNATIVE perspective.

Howard Dean (of the recently announced "Seven Point Plan for Multilateral Reconstruction of Iraq") and Gary Hart have some real reasons for being antiwar. But Dennis Kucinich? Al Sharpton? Name me a war they wouldn't protest. By the same token, Joe Lieberman and Bob Graham are serious, long-time hawks. The others, though? Why were they for the war, again?

John Edwards' criticism of Bush offers an interesting glimpse of a possible Democratic counter to the Republican war cry. On rebuilding the nations flattened in war since 9/11, Edwards pledges to "hold [Bush] to these commitments," saying that "the president's rhetoric about winning the peace looks more and more like an empty promise."

The Republicans would love to dismiss John Kerry's calls for "regime change" at home in order to save American foreign policy. They know they can't and so they go on the attack. This proves that his rhetoric is biting deep and hard.

The trick for the Democrats now is to stop reacting to the GOP and start acting on their own. New Democratic programs that are initiatives rather than answers to GOP initiatives. Focus the rhetoric on rebuilding hope at home, rebuilding America's image abroad, rebuilding the nations we once called enemies, and rebuilding the long-neglected infrastructure on the homefront.

Fournier's article ends with him spelling out Team W's '04 gameplan.

Their job will be to cast Bush as a leader who tackles tough issues, both at home and abroad. It is a message designed to link Bush's command of a winning military to his work on an ailing economy -- a fusion of politics, policy and war.

Some will say that the Democrats should counter by refuting these points. Fair enough. But no game was ever won by a team that only played defense and never went for the big score on the offense.

posted by Scott | 4/10/2003 | |
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