Skip to comments.The last refuge of the defeated
Posted on 01/08/2004 7:02:01 AM PST by Snake65
Mark Steyn says the Democrats are gearing up for their inevitable humiliation by calling Bush-supporters stupid. Its the S factor in the presidential election New Hampshire
The other morning I woke up, leapt out of bed, pulled the curtains and discovered what appeared to be a total eclipse outside. I leapt in my rig, drove a couple miles down the road and discovered the cause: the worlds biggest John Kerry For President sign had mysteriously appeared in my neighbour Lauras front yard, blocking out all sunlight for miles around. Its also the only John Kerry sign for miles around. Every other Democratic household in my neck of the woods has the same dinky little Howard Dean placard in the yard.
Howlin Howard, the angry doctor and former governor of Vermont, is the Democratic presidential front-runner. You may have glimpsed him in the midst of a Democratic election debate as youre flipping along the dial to get to the lesbian wrestling on channel 112. Hes the pugnacious little guy with his sleeves rolled up. He does this because his image consultant told him it communicates authenticity. He seems to roll em up another inch for every percentage point poll increase. Hes now so far ahead in New Hampshire that the sleeves are up past his armpits and coming down the other side. Granite State Democrats love him and long ago decided his was the sign they wanted plunked in their snowbanks.
Come to think of it, Laura had also had a little Howard sign in her snowbank until the construction crew moved in and poured the foundation for the John Kerry For President skyscraper. What was going on? Well, Laura sits on one of the big Democratic party state committees here in New Hampshire. And, driving around that morning, I couldnt help noticing a strange pattern: gazillions of Howard Dean mini-signs punctuated every 30 or 40 miles or so by a humungous John Kerry sign outside the home of some Democratic party functionary. It seems the states Democratic establishment has decided a Dean victory will spell disaster for the party and its time to stop the Mad Doctor and rally around the unDean.
The trouble is the unDean is different everywhere you look. In the Granite State, Laura and co. reckon the unDean is Kerry. In Iowa, its Dick Gephardt, the soporific 1970s union throwback. In Arizona, its General Wesley Clark, the pantomime stalking-horse entered by the Clintons. In South Carolina, it seems to be the Revd Al Sharpton, the distinguished race-baiter. And all these states are voting in the next month, which means, no matter how well he does, each unDean could be undone by some other unDean a couple of days later.
Even so, Lauras unDean is by far the longest of the long shots. John Kerry is the tall, aloof Vietnam veteran who enjoys saying that George W. Bush went into Iraq without a plan. Au contraire, Kerry went into New Hampshire without a plan. Hes been here longer than the Third Infantry Divisions been in Iraq and hes bogged down in a Vietnam-style quagmire without an exit strategy, surrounded by a local population thats increasingly hostile. Well, okay, increasingly indifferent. His principal contribution to the campaign is that hes the only candidate to use the f-word on the record, in reference to the President f-ing things up. He likes to draw attention to the fact that he has the same initials as another patrician Massachusetts Democrat: JFK. Few of us knew what Kerrys F stood for, but it turns out it stands for J F**K and not, as Id assumed, John Finishing-school Kerry (he went to one in Switzerland).
Its hardly my place to recommend to my Democratic neighbours which loser they nosedive into the briny with, but I have to say Kerry is by far the worst of the unDeans. When the White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, hilariously demanded that Kerry apologise to the American people for his undeleted expletive, the senators spokesperson, Stephanie Cutter, responded, John Kerry saw combat up close and he doesnt mince words when it comes to politicians who put ideological recklessness ahead of American troops. In other words, f*** you. Kerrys four-letter vocabulary works out in Oklahoma at two letters per polling point (hes at 2 per cent). Why would he use such a word? Why would General Clark threaten to beat the shit out of somebody? I forget who though, if I were Clark, Id beat the shit out of my tailor: he has the worst suit of any candidate; it hangs off him like its six sizes too large. Either that, or the supposed white knight of the Democratic party is shrinking before our eyes literally and not just metaphorically.
But what both Clark and Kerry are trying to do is tap into the most successful aspect of Deans campaign: its tonal quality. Either because hes a doctor or the son of Park Avenue toffs, Dean was always arrogant as governor of Vermont. But he was never quite so steamed as he is these days. Whether consciously or not, he seemed to figure out that the shrewdest way to tap into the Democrats anti-Bush anger was by using anti-war anger as a cover. Let me expand on that: whether or not most Dems are genuinely anti-war is neither here nor there. What matters is that theyre genuinely anti-Bush, and an anti-war position is the least insane garb to dress it up in. It would be hard to do all that Bush is Hitler!!!! stuff over his No Child Left Behind Education Act or his prescription-drug plan for seniors: the Dems would come over as even loopier than they already do. Thus, an anti-war anger is necessary to license their anti-Bush anger. Dean understood that.
The trouble is the unDeans dont. Dick Gephardt has been consistently pro-war. John Kerry has been consistently inconsistent in whether hes pro-war or anti-war according to which way the winds blowing: if you point this out to him, he says something like, I saw combat up close and I dont mince words when it comes to having the courage not to have any courage (I quote from memory). General Clarks general position is that, as a general, hes above most positions. Ask him whether hes pro-war or anti-war and he replies, as he did to the New York Times, I think thats too simple a question. But, if you can find a way to rephrase the question more complicatedly, broadly speaking he used to be pro-war but hec getting more and more dementedly anti-war with each new setback (Saddams capture, the decline in insurgent activity, etc.). Or, as he puts it, Ive said it both ways because, when you get into this, what happens is you have to put yourself in a position. Exactly. But you can get some idea of what a Clark victory would look like in this war from his tremendous victory in the last one: at New Year, a few days after the General said he was the only candidate to have faced down a dictator from the witness box in The Hague, Slobodan Milosevic got elected to the Serbian parliament.
And then theres Joe Lieberman, whos the only candidate who seemed to take any real pleasure in the arrest of Saddam. Alas, that makes Lieberman unelectable in a Democratic primary. Increasingly, he seems to be running less for president than for the advertising account for the Republican attack campaign on Dean this summer. When the churlish governor sneered that seizing Saddam hadnt made America safer, Lieberman responded that Dean had climbed into his own spider-hole of denial. He said if Dean had been president, Saddam would still be in power. Americans will be seeing a lot of those clips.
Lieberman seems to be toying with the idea of doing a Scoop Jackson. Thirty years ago, Jackson, a Democrat but a doughty Cold Warrior, lost the nomination to George McGovern, and then turned on him in order to save his partys credibility on national security. He certainly helped destroy McGovern, though the credibility-saving thing is more dubious. And in the early 21st century its not clear whether anyone in the partys base wants it to have credibility on anything as beastly and macho as national security. Lieberman is, in effect, trying to decide whether to launch the partys post-election civil war ten months early.
I think the people deserve a choice on the war: Bush vs Lieberman doesnt give them one; Bush vs Kerry or Clark or some other pretzel gives them a sort of choice but its so nuanced up the wazoo no one has a clue what it is. Bush vs Dean makes it plain: a guy who wants to take the war to the terrorists and the states who sponsor, harbour and train them versus a guy who thinks its about, if anything, liaising with Interpol and serving injunctions. I think we know which candidate Saddam, Mullah Omar, Boy Assad and the Pyongyang nutjob would vote for.
Not that were talking wipe-out. Its hard to do a Nixon 72-size landslide or a Reagan 84 whumperoo these days. Thirty years ago, the American electorate was in flux one party was losing its grip on the south and the other was moving in. Nowadays, the genuinely floating voter is hard to find, and the genuinely floating geographically concentrated group of voters even harder. Nonetheless, in a years time George W. Bush will be celebrating the best presidential result of the last two decades. Furthermore, Election Day 2004 will confirm the Republicans overwhelming dominance of the male vote, and the Democrats weakness in the white male vote in particular. The President will win a majority of women, a significant majority of younger women, and a big chunk of the Hispanic vote. Bush will also have coat tails or, more to the point, the Democratic candidate will have negative coat tails: he will be metaphorically campaigning in what I believe the British lads, apropos Frankie Laines jacket back in his Hit Parade days, used to call a bum-freezer. The Republicans will make important gains in the Senate, just a few in the House of Representatives, and give Bush enough of a legislative majority to spend the first half of his second term on some major domestic reforms.
True, things could go wrong for Bush in Iraq. But, even then, its hard to see how things going wrong for Bush would necessarily translate into things going right for Dean. The governor might do better to bet on enough stuff going Bushs way in Iraq to make folks forget about wars and foreign policy and turn their attention back to the bike-path micropolitics the Dems would much rather be yakking about.
But I dont think so. Just because of the shifts in population from the north and east to the south and west, if Bush won exactly the same states he won in 2000 his electoral-college majority would be significantly bigger. A couple of additional percentage points and Deans in huge trouble. If Bush pulls over 15 per cent of the black vote, youre looking at meltdown.
In that sense, Dean is the perfect man to drive the party over the cliff. He says Vermont is the way America should be. You mean a land of broken-down farms for the natives and weekend homes for the wealthy? Where everyone in the eastern half drives out of state to shop, work and get medical treatment? Where the only kind of business is boutique mail-order specialities the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Ben and Jerrys Premium Ice Cream, Cold Hollow Apple Cider? Dean seems likely to complete the partys transformation from a mass movement into an upscale niche business. Whenever he talks about the south, he sounds condescending. Likewise, the religious. Likewise, blacks. The Park Avenue populist is the perfect standard-bearer for an upper-middle-class college-town party.
Maybe that explains why the Democrats have begun looking for scapegoats early. In Mondays Seattle Post-Intelligencer Neal Starkman identified the real problem: None of the so-called theories can explain President Bushs popularity, he wrote. Can that many people be enamoured of what he has accomplished in Iraq...? Of how he has bolstered our economy? Of how he has protected our environment...?
Is that likely?
Are you kidding? Neals given the matter a lot of thought and decided the real answer is the Stupid factor, the S factor. Some people sometimes through no fault of their own are just not very bright.... Theyre perplexed by issues comprising more than two sides. They dont have the wherewithal to expand the sources of their information. And above all far above all they dont think.... Sad to say, they comprise a substantial minority perhaps even a majority of the populace.
Why do Democrats lose elections? Its the stupidity, stupid! Thats the trouble with the electorate: Not Our Kind Of People.
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Ive said it both ways because, when you get into this, what happens is you have to put yourself in a position.
Clark really is a wordsmith, isn't he?
Finishing school sounds like a place where you learn oral sex.
Could be that, unlike Dean, you live in a world where the Soviet Union no longer exists, and where an attack that kills thousands of Americans requires a response of something other than an arrest warrant.
Nothing further need be said.
Made all the more so by the fact that Mark does not "write" his columns - he DICTATES them. In so doing, he cedes the luxury of being able to see his words in print - the way a reader will - in order to best massage and polish them for effect. No, he simply speaks the words as they occur to him, forming his thoughts on the fly. Given his facility with history and his fluidity of idea, he is exceedingly brilliant.
And - wonder of wonders - he's right just about every time. What a treasure.
Wow! I'd say "he needs his own TV show" except that he'd probably produce fewer columns, and that would be a loss for all of us.
No, it was the voters who elected a GOP congress in 1994 that threw a temper tantrum. I know because Peter Jennings told me.
ROFLMAO! Steyn is priceless.
ROFLMAO! Steyn is priceless.
I'm just guessing here, but I'd put my money (if I had any) on your master's being in something real - not in Sociology or Urban Studies or some such silliness.
Thanks for the ping, Pokey.
Manliness does seem to be a handicap for Democrats.
I've heard on the radio and you are correct.
I like it.
Steyn is always great.
Come on, that's his one claim to fame besides marrying the Heinz ketchup widow.
The President will win a majority of women, a significant majority of younger women, and a big chunk of the Hispanic vote.
Let us close our eyes and click our ruby slippers together for that one....
Such a professional look, presidential actually. heh heh heh
No, I don't think so. Haven't heard a word about it. You'd think if he had been somebody would have said so...
The "Un-Dean." I'm mad now, Steyn left out my own particular favorite, Dennis Kucinich. He's completely discounting the absentee ballots from the Outer Planets and the nearby Galactic clusters...
Finishing school sounds like a place where you learn oral sex.
For Democratic Presidential hopefuls, that would be 'Finishing Sink'.
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