Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

April 4, 2004

by J

Kerry People Not Ready for the Internet

Atrios is absolutely right in his response to the Kerry campaign's hysterical over-reaction to Kos. They have demonstrated that they do not understand the Internet. Personally, I don't think they understand or support the broad conceptual underpinnings of the First Amendment, either. I quote him at length, because I think these ideas need to be spread far and wide:
I thought we were all grownups now. Years later, I thought we'd all figured out sort of how this magic new gizmo called the internet worked. I thought we all understood that a linking to website does not hold you responsible for all of the content there. I thought we understood that an ad placed on a media outlet - including blogs and other websites - was not an implicit endorsement of all of the content found on those sites. That isn't to say that there's no association between linker and linkee, or between advertiser and the content on a media outlet, but it's a fairy loose one. Meaning that it's reasonable to associate an advertiser with the overall tone and content of their chosen outlet, without making them responsible for every single word uttered.

[...] People can advertise with or not, and link to or not, any blog they want. But, if we haven't grown up enough to realize that one stupid retracted comment posted by a blogger in the comments section of someone else's diary post on that blog deserves absolutely no official written response by a campaign - no matter how offensive it is - then I don't think we're grown up enough yet to have blog/campaign complementarity. The Kerry campaign is now operating on the standard that they are responsible for the comments made by any blogger they link to, and in fact will allow themselves to be forced into commenting on any transgressions. They're trying to get their guy elected, and they're going to do what they think is necessary (I'll let others judge the wisdom), but it shows they're not ready to really have a blog and interact with the rest of the blog world. They should just pull down all their links.

[...] Obviously, this is going to make doing this much less fun and possibly much less lucrative, but right now I think it's the appropriate thing to do. Dick Cheney goes on the Rush Limbaugh show, all politicians regularly chat with Don Imus and Mike Barnicle, and no one's demanding that they distance themselves from every single utterance they make or, for the most part, demanding they stop appearing with them. Brit Hume and others on the right regularly trivialize the deaths of soldiers in Iraq by (incorrectly) comparing their deaths with domestic crime rates, traffic accidents, etc... But, for some reason there are still different standards for this crazy thing called the internet - and once again we've proven that the Right can create a controversy out of nothing, and sadly much of the Left piles on with them. And, once again we've demonstrated there are different standards for Left and Right - a certain prominent blogger has mocked the deaths of UN workers in Iraq, called for collective punishment for Palestinians, and nudge-nudge wink-wink endorsed terrorism against Europeans. No advertisers yet pulled as far as I can tell.

[...] But, we'll be playing this game once per week until November unless people wise up. I'd hope that eventually our team will realize that once they cave into the Right's fake outrage-of-the-week, they'll just keep coming back, but until they do....
This was my biggest beef with the Kerry campaign's actions -- once you start reacting like that, where does it end? As Atrios said, the Kerry people have now made it open season. All anyone has to do to harass them is to troll through the blogs they've linked to, find something "offensive", and throw a massive right-wing-wacko hissy fit. If the Kerry people won't be mature and tell the wackos to back the f*** off, then I agree with Atrios, they should pull all of their external links. They're not ready to be on the Internet, yet.
Posted by J at April 4, 2004 04:53 PM

By the way, in case it's not clear -- the more I think about this (and all of its implications), the more furious I become. It was a stupid boneheaded move that illustrates some of the worst of what I feared about Kerry as the nominee.

Posted by: J at April 4, 2004 05:07 PM

Unfortunately this is not a problem limited to the internet. Democrats in general have become hyper-sensitive to being associated with people who have at one time or another espoused "questionable" attitudes. So, in order to avoid that problem, they jettison them at the first sign of a controversy.

The problem is that there is no one who is immune to making "questionable" comments like Kos did. So, by adopting this sensitivity, Democrats have repeatedly cut off their own hands in order to not be criticized for some dirt under one of their fingers.

Republicans, in the meantime, are RARELY held to account for associating with people who have said things equally as outrageous as what Kos said. It's because they have learned that you can embrace a person without having to embrace EVERYTHING that that person stands for. And they don't get criticism for it, in the most part, because they don't allow the criticism to cause them to change course.

By reacting to the right-wing campaign against Kos, in a misguided sense of self-protection, the Kerry campaign has made themselves even more vulnerable.

Posted by: Chris Andersen at April 4, 2004 05:22 PM

Aside: As of 9:20 eastern time on Monday, the Kerry campaign has not honored Atrios' request that they remove the link to his site in their sidebar.

Not that I think they're obligated to, mind you; I just find it interesting.

Dori makes a good point: Cam is working for the Kerry campaign now. I've never been a big fan of Cam's (used to read him years ago, but gave up), but, as a long-time weblogger, he should know better than this, too.

Posted by: J at April 5, 2004 09:28 AM

Ya know... it seems to me that there are elements of the leftwing of the Democratic party that are as much in favor of the kind of enforcer mentality that the worst of the Right wing, like Tom DeLay, love to push. It worries me, frankly. Case in point is the absolute hysteria about Nader running again. Some of the stuff that's being said strikes me as being very much opposed to intellectual freedom. It's like they want to take away every alternative choice until the Democratic nominee is the only plausible choice available.

Posted by: Kevin@TIV at April 5, 2004 05:59 PM

Even Howard Dean has asked Nader voters to not support Nader....

Dean Calls on Voters to Reject Nader Bid

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Former Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean warned on Monday that "a vote for Ralph Nader is the same as a vote for George Bush" as Nader sought to qualify for his first state ballot.

Just hours before Nader's appearance in Oregon, Dean urged the state's voters to ignore the independent's presidential bid and stick with presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry. To get on the Oregon presidential ballot, Nader only needs 1,000 registered voters to gather in one place and sign their names on a petition.

"The only way to send President Bush back to Crawford, Texas, is to vote for John Kerry because, unfortunately, a vote for Ralph Nader is the same as a vote for George Bush," Dean said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Dean, the former Vermont governor, had a strong following in Oregon, where supporters threw more fund-raising house parties for him than any other state except California. His plea could have some sway with voters.

In announcing his 2004 bid for the presidency, Nader drew the wrath of Democrats, who blame the consumer advocate for costing Al Gore the election in 2000. They cite the percentage of the vote Nader captured in New Hampshire and Florida, and argue that if it had gone to Gore he would have won. Nader's oft-repeated response is that Gore is to blame for the loss.

In Washington, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry told reporters Monday that he will reach out to Nader backers in hopes of securing their support.

"I respect him. I'm not going to attack him in any way," Kerry said of Nader. "I'm just going to try to talk to his people and point out that we've got to beat George Bush. ... And I hope that by the end of this race I can make it unnecessary for people to feel they need to vote for someone else."

In 2000, Nader made his presence felt in Oregon, garnering 5 percent of the vote in one of the closest presidential contests. Gore edged George Bush by 6,765 votes to win the state. At stake in 2004 are Oregon's seven electoral votes.

In his bid, Nader likely will appear on ballots in all 50 states, said Richard Winger, editor of the nonpartisan newsletter Ballot Access News. "It's not as hard as some people think," Winger said.

If Nader were to accept the nominations of several third parties that have already met state requirements for their nominees to be on state ballots, such as the Green and Reform parties, he would be a candidate in nearly two dozen states, Winger said. Nader's party affiliation does not matter when votes are tabulated, he said.

"After all, it's candidates that get elected, not parties," Winger said.

To be a candidate in what Winger calls the five most difficult states in which to gain ballot access - Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, North Carolina and Indiana - might require Nader to hire people to gather signatures on petitions, Winger said. Each of the five states calls for at least 25,000 petition signatures, he said.

Paid coordinators and unpaid volunteers are active in about 12 states in the effort to get Nader's name on ballots, campaign spokesman Kevin Zeese said. Nader is relying on unpaid volunteers to gather signatures in those states that require petitions, Zeese said.

"He's trying to use the signature gatherers to build a political base," Zeese said. "He sees it as a chance to organize."

Nader's goal is to appear on ballots in all 50 states, Zeese said. It took 13 ways, from petitions to party endorsements, for Nader to appear on ballots in 43 states in 2000, he said.

With the possibility of Nader getting on the ballot in Oregon, local labor, abortion rights-supporters and environmental activists who once stood behind the independent's candidacy expressed their support for Kerry.

"Like it or not, a vote for Nader could propel George W. Bush into the White House," Caroline Fitchett, executive director for NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, said at a news conference with several local activists.

Jay Ward, conservation director for the Oregon Natural Resources Council, voted for Nader for president in 1996 and 2000, but said this election, "the stakes are just too high to vote for Ralph Nader."

Associated Press Writer Douglass K. Daniel and Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.

Posted by: Carla at April 5, 2004 08:15 PM

There is a fundamental difference between supporting Nader's right to run for President and voting for Nader this year. I don't intend to vote for him this year. But, I absolutely support his right to run this year or any year.

It is, in my honest opinion, anti-democratic to advocate limiting the people's choices in any election. Urging people to vote for/vote against a particular candidate for particular reasons is one thing - and I have no problems with that at all. Trying to pressure a candidate into not running at all for fear that he might alter the election is a very, very different thing, IMHO. That is, IMHO, the crux of the issue.

If, as Al Franken seems to believe, the Bush Inc. Administration is beginning to implode politically and that Kerry will win in a landslide this November... I'll most likely vote for Nader. Not because I want him to be President but rather because I strongly oppose the divide and conquer strategy being played by both the Dems and GOPers to maintain their deathgrip on American politics.

Posted by: Kevin at April 6, 2004 01:21 PM

To my knowledge, noone in any Party including the Democrats has questioned Nader's right to run.

It's a question of "should" he run...if he really wants Bush out as he claims? In my opinion this is a very important distinction.

There is no way to look at this and say "yes", in my opinion. It's hypocritical of Nader to criticize Bush's policies while at the same time running himself..when his votes are much more likely to take votes away from Bush's opponent.

If Nader were really interested in getting rid of Bush, he'd work with Democrats.

Posted by: Carla at April 6, 2004 03:28 PM

Isn't Nader also one of Bush's opponents by definition? How could he be taking votes away from "Bush's opponent" if he himself is also one of Bush's opponents?

LOL you're making my case for me, Carla.


Posted by: Kevin at April 6, 2004 04:02 PM

Nader is "by definition" an opponent...but in reality is he? I don't think even you could say that he is, Kevin.

Posted by: Carla at April 6, 2004 06:04 PM

I agree that the Kerry campaign does not yet fully understand the Internet, and they should not have withdrawn the ad. I am glad that Kos has attacked his original statement, and I am confident that the importance of the Daily Kos and other political blogs will continue to grow in the years ahead.

At some appropriate future time,I expect to be advertising the Daily Kos and other political websites.

Posted by: Rep. Mark B.Cohen at April 6, 2004 07:53 PM

How could he be taking votes away from "Bush's opponent" if he himself is also one of Bush's opponents?

LOL you're making my case for me, Carla.


LOL, you're making the case for being the perfect exemplar of the liberal who is more in love with the theoretical nature of the political process than the reality of it. Who cares if you flush the country down the toilet, as long as your theory is left unsullied, like a mathematical theorem that requires no actual empirical proof or application? Fags and dykes might wind up being rounded up and in camps, but at least your platonic perfect plane is left spotless and untouched.

Posted by: Janis at April 6, 2004 11:30 PM

I'm not a Liberal.

Trying to limit my choices as a means of getting rid of the anti-choice group in the White House is an oxymoronic proposition that only a vapid fool would buy into...

I am curious about one thing you said, though. If it's not too much trouble, could you please explain why Bush's fear tactics in using the imagery of "mushroom clouds" in his 2003 SOTU address is less ethical than your use of "fags and dykes... being rounded up and in camps"?

Posted by: Kevin@TIV at April 7, 2004 01:49 AM

Nader isn't only an opponent by definition. It's not even on the same plane of reality to believe that Nader is an ACTUAL opponent for Bush.

Nader couldn't even get on the ballot in Oregon, a state where he had one of his greatest support bases in 2000. He has no shot at actually taking the White House...which would obviously make him an opponent.

Saying I'm "making your case for you" denies reality. Reality is that the only thing Nader will do is take votes away from Bush's ACTUAL opponent, John Kerry.

Posted by: Carla at April 7, 2004 10:24 AM

Oh please, Carla. We're both from Oregon. You know as well as I do that the method which Nader attempted to use to get on the ballot here is a seldom used, arcane method which was last used nearly 20 years ago. Nader got on the Oregon ballot in 2000 by using the more often used signiture collection method. He can get on the ballot in Oregon this year by the same method. It is, IMHO, dishonest to insinuate that his failure to get the arcane method to work means that he can't or won't get on the Oregon ballot.

"Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud" - Sophocles.

Posted by: Kevin@TIV at April 7, 2004 02:22 PM

The method Nader used to get on the ballot this time might be arcane...but that isn't the point. Nader was able to get thousands of people to show up to hear him speak at the Rose Garden last cycle. This cycle..he couldn't even get a thousand?

I'm not inscinuating that Nader still can't get on the Oregon ballot. He has three months to get 15,000 signatures. But the fact that he couldn't get even 1000 people to show up in a State where he's previously enjoyed very vigorous support is not a good sign for ol Ralph.

That said...you've still completely dodged the point about Nader being an "actual" or "realistic" opponent to Bush...which was the thrust of this debate.

Posted by: Carla at April 8, 2004 06:19 PM

By definition Nader is an actual opponent of Bush, whether anyone likes it or not.

It seems to me that your attempt to parse the word "opponent" here is motivated by the same reasons that Clinton tried to parse the word "is"... you're trying to avoid conceding that what you said was wrong. Why you'd think that attempting to obfuscate the meaning of a word that I understand perfectly well would make any relevant, or even comprehensible point is beyond me...

Posted by: Kevin at April 8, 2004 07:23 PM

Whether Nader has a realistic chance of beating Bush is irrelevant to his right to run without the Dems throwing an infantile tantrum over it. Trying to censure my choices as a citizen is exactly what the NeoCons want to do. Why would Dems willingly go down that same road unless Dems are as big a threat to our collective freedom as the NeoCons are?

Let me make this as simple as I know how - the more that Dems whine about Nader, the less attractive an alternative to the NeoCons that the Dems appear to be. You don't have to like it... Just accept it.

Posted by: Kevin at April 8, 2004 07:31 PM

My showing you that Nader is not an actual opponent of Bush is steeped in reality, not wordsmithy. It seems to me that rather than having to actually concede the point that Nader has absolutely zero chance to become President of the United States this cycle...you're choosing to obfuscate a rather obvious point you should merely concede. This silliness about Nader being an "opponent" of Bush is the obfuscation here.

Once again...the Dems haven't said anywhere that Nader hasn't the right to run. However, Nader doesn't have the right to run without being criticized. He's stuck himself in the public eye...he wasn't forced to do it. Noone has the right to be free from criticism from their actions.

You're also free to make whatever choice you'd like for President. Hell you can write in "Donald Duck" if it makes your day. Noone here is saying you can't. But to be free from criticism? You haven't the right to that.

Let me make this even more simple...Nader takes away votes from Kerry that could be cast to beat Bush. This is a statement of fact. We can parse it out about "rights" or "censure" or whatever...but that simple factual statement remains. If simple and factual statements made by Democrats are found to be offensive by some Independent voters...then we have a problem. I expect Democrats to tell the truth. I don't expect them to duck it to pander to a group of people who can't handle it.

Posted by: at April 8, 2004 08:24 PM

Oh...sorry...I forgot to fill in the name portion for that post before I clicked "post". Sorry about that, guys.

Posted by: Carla at April 8, 2004 08:27 PM

LOL steeped in reality? LOL

Parse it with Merriam-Webster. www.m-w.com

You want simple and factual? Here ya go: In 2000 Nader's polling numbers went UP after Gore and the Dems started attacking him. That is the unvarnished truth that you apparently don't want to deal with. And no amount of pointless parsing or insinuating that Independents are too stupid to understand plain English is going to change it.

If cutting off your nose to spite your face is how Dems get their kicks then have at it. Don't expect this voter to feel sorry for you, though.

Posted by: Kevin@TIV at April 8, 2004 10:53 PM

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
The Great Big Book of Tomorrow

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

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

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