Daiblog A Fair and Balanced daily discussion of Democratic politics, ideas, strategy, and news
Saturday, April 26, 2003
The Presidential Difference
In answer to Amanda's question regarding what a Democratic candidate needs in order to be elected in 2004, I offer the following:
Security - The next Democrat must be seen as a tough guy who will react appropriately to the threats we currently face. If there are elections in which doves can win, I do not think that this is one. That's not to say that the next Democratic president has to continue stomping heavily while carrying a big stick, but I do think that in a still newly post-9/11 world, the next President must be viewed as someone who will react swiftly and convincingly to terrorism and other threats around the world.
Confidence - The next president must inspire the country to confidence in the economy. The stock market is an exercise in group-think - it reacts to how most people feel about the world. Generally speaking, it goes up when everyone's happy, but goes down when there are natural disasters, wars, or questions about the future of the country. Inasmuch as Governor Bush largely campaigned us into a recession and finished the job when elected, I think that the next Democratic candidate must be able to show that the economy stinks now because of Republicans and inspire the country into positive growth as a result of Democrats.
Clarity of vision - Finally, I will return to my earlier post about the need to communicate how the lofty ideals of our party translate into how ordinary Americans' lives will improve if the vision is implemented. Idealism coupled with pragmatism should be the governing mantra of the next Democratic candidate. If I were running, I would tell my strategists that every idea suggested must have a corresponding demonstrable improvement in people's everyday lives.
I think all this adds up to a moderate candidate.
posted by Joshua
Dowd is good today, but the Democratic hand-wringing over Rove's proposed Flagapalooza strikes me as unproductive. Of course Rove chose NYC in order to link Bush to 9/11. Of course Bush will receive a boost from being there. Of course, at election time, no one except a handful will remember or care about this week's flap.
The bigger problem is that Terry McAuliffe totally flubbed this. He took $50 million from Boston and ran. Nothing against Boston, but half of Bush's shtick is symbolism, and the Democrats handed him the biggest and most resonant symbol of 2004: Manhattan.
These neocon guys are just plain scary. It is very disturbing to me that Bush is essentially getting a pass to make the world a scarier, might-makes-right place to be. What scares me even more is that Gingrich has surfaced again to beat up on Powell. My favorite bit from this article is Gingrich's contrast of the State Department's view of the world with Bush's: "The State Department, Gingrich said, 'is a worldview of process, politeness and accommodation,' while Bush's world view is one of 'facts, values and outcomes.'" I think I know which one I like better.
posted by Joshua
Maureen Dowd this morning blasted Karl Rove for the timing of the Republican National Convention, which is being held later than it ever has been to put it in New York in September. ("Mr. Rove envisions merging the Madison Square Garden party with the 9/11 anniversary commemorations into one big national security lollapalooza. Perhaps President Bush should just skip the pretense of the Garden and give his acceptance speech at ground zero.") Apparently, the late date could keep Bush from appearing on the ballot in Alabama, which requires candidates to be certified by August 31 (CNN story here). It's hard to imagine that the Alabama presidential ballot will ultimately be Republican-free, but gosh, it would be funny. (Alabamans, by the way, have voted for the Repubican presidential candidate for the last six elections.)
posted by Amanda
As the pre-primary season gets rolling, I've been thinking about the qualities that make a politician an election-winner. There are some obvious ones; Clinton's charisma, Reagan's likableness, Churchill's statesmanship. But given the current context--sagging economy, global instability, etc., what qualities does a Democratic candidate absolutely have to have to be a winner in '04?
posted by Amanda
It may be simpler than either of those explanations; it may simply be that people will never be convinced that there weren't/aren't WMD somewhere in Iraq--and that theory apparently has at least some support. Anyone trying to make hay about the absence of WMD will have to prove the same negative that the Iraqis couldn't, and would have to buy into the theory that a real goal of the war was to drum up business for White House-friendly businesses, something that requires that requires a level of cynicism that can't possibly be healthy in a democracy.
posted by Amanda