Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

February 11, 2004

by J


I just chatted with my father. He voted for Dubya and is a long-time default Republican -- not particularly politically engaged. I had managed to intrigue both of my parents about Dean. I haven't said much to them about the other Dem candidates at all. Before I could get half a word about Kerry, the rants began: "I was just talking to someone from Massachusetts. He says Kerry's a crook!" And "Why is Kerry digging up all this 30-year-old AWOL stuff?" and so forth.

See, this is why I have long worried about the possibility of Kerry as a nominee -- I've got much less leverage to use to convert Republicans and independents like my parents. I have to go negative against Dubya -- and my dad falls into the 'thinks Bush is a decent guy who's trying to do the right thing' category. How am I supposed to argue for Kerry in this circumstance? The Dean case was easy to make. I really got nothin' for Kerry though. Hellooooo, DNC.... Democrats... help me out here...

After a brief flirtation thinking that Dubya would do himself in, I'm back to a sick feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach.

We may, in fact, be doomed.
Posted by J at February 11, 2004 08:04 PM

Ohh... bingo. Thanks for putting my subconscious into words.

Waay back, I used to think "who are these people" who elected some Republicans. Then I left the Dem party over disgust with its "leaders". But the people had no choice other than the usual Dem leaders. This year, there was a choice... an authentic, principled man with true leadership capability. And now I'm thinking "who the hell are these people" of the Dem electorate.

An outsider in my own country. Lonely.

Posted by: Todd at February 11, 2004 08:41 PM

Yup -- seems to me the best thing that I can do for the Democratic nominee is to do everything that I can to make sure its Dean. If they choose Kerry, lets face it, there's nothing that I can do for them. Its just so frustrating to see the two trains on the same track headed for one another, but not to be able to do anything to stop it.

Posted by: Shooter in AZ at February 11, 2004 09:36 PM

oh mercy....

Why shouldn't Dubya's Guard record be an issue? Kerry's history is an issue. Dean's history is an issue (hell the GOP have raised a total stink about Dean being in Vail, Colorado skiing after a Vietnam deferrment for back problems).

Why is it only bad when Democrats ask questions?

I get so sick and tired of Democrats being on their heels. It's about damn time they started poking back.

Posted by: Carla at February 11, 2004 10:23 PM

It'd probably be easier to sell your folks on issues rather than personalities. And, lord knows, there's plenty of issues on which to find fault with George W. Bush. If your parents can't see 'em, I highly doubt they would have voted Democratic anyway. Of course, I voted against Gore's personality, so what do I know?

Besides, if everyone votes the same way they did last time, Kerry wins. After losing 3 presidential contests in a row, the burden is mainly on the GOP to convert voters. And they're feelin' it, which is why they have Dubya prostrating himself before Russ, etc. etc.

Posted by: Kevin at February 11, 2004 10:33 PM

If your parents can't see 'em, I highly doubt they would have voted Democratic anyway.

Don't think that's true. And I'm not talking just about my parents. There's a reason why a lot of people who liked Dean liked McCain also -- diametrically opposed ideologies aside. There's a multi-factor argument I could make re: Bush v. Dean. It went along the lines of getting them to acknowledge that Bush was kind of a screw-up and that Dean wasn't a typical (in their view) Democrat who'd done the right things by the people of Vermont. But now I'm back to: they acknowledge that Bush is a screw-up, but believe he's trying to do the right thing and that Kerry is a slimey crook, so they'll go with the screw-up with his heart in the right place rather than the Democrat who'll say anything to anybody to get elected. I'm just feeling this out here, but I feel like with Bush v. Dean it was, for at least some of my Republican relatives, a choice between two people of character, one of whom was a screw-up and one who succeeded. That's no longer the choice they see and I don't even believe in John Kerry, so I'm really stuck. An analytical issues-based approach alone won't work. But there are some Democrats these sorts of people would consider voting for, issues aside. John Kerry really isn't one of them, though. And they're in a swing state (with a small number of EC votes, but still...)

Besides, if everyone votes the same way they did last time, Kerry wins.

Is that true? I thought the EC shifted around...

Aside: I recently heard a talk from a senior academic who'd analyzed what happened in Florida. The number thrown around was 30,000. That is, if voter's intent had been registered properly, their study suggests that Gore would have won Florida by 30,000 votes. It is to weep.

Posted by: J at February 12, 2004 10:05 AM

Recommended Reading:

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir
The Politics of Truth... A Diplomat's Memoir

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

LIES by Al Franken
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

The Great Unraveling
The Great Unraveling

The Great Big Book of Tomorrow
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Clinton Wars
The Clinton Wars

Blinded by the Right
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative

Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat

Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture

Living History

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

John Adams

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

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