The Snarky High Ground

The Teenager just linked to a NYT piece by David Brooks explaining that voters are silly to vote on the basis of “electability”, because if they all do that, then voter A will vote for a candidate because he thinks that the candidate is electable, thus making the candidate look stronger and causing voter B to vote for him for the same reason, and so on — with positive feedback loops leading to a sort of bubble craze which, however, will collapse instantaneously in the same way if the candidate suddenly starts to seem less electable for any reason.

This doesn’t seem like much of a point. By now we’re dealing with candidates who are all pretty much the same. Gephardt is out, Lieberman soon will be, and support for Kucinich and Sharpton is stable at 1% or 2%. So what we’re looking at is really Coke versus Pepsi, and consumer choices of that type are famous for being volatile.

What’s really happening is that the core Democratic voters, even the simple Iowa folk, have learned to play the meta-politics game of “electability”. So now the pundits have had to try to regain their edge by playing meta-meta-politics: “Aren’t those people out there fools, thinking about electability like that?” By doing this, they hope to maintain control of the all-important High Snarky Ground.

As is his wont, Brooks is just throwing a little monkey-wrench into the Democratic works — no surprise there. Yglesias’ case is a bit more complicated. Doesn’t he belong to the moderate branch of the party, which has been promoting the swing-voter “electability” strategy and slagging on the odious Democratic Core Constituency ever since Matt was in diapers?

Since approximately 1965 I’ve had to live with the fact that most Americans don’t agree with me about politics, and whatever changes there have been in my own opinions during that period have not changed the situation much. Between you and me (PC aside), the famous White Southern Male the Democrats are supposed to be trying to appeal to seems to be quite the jerk (as do his many Northern brothers). But if I choose to think about his response to a candidate when I vote in a primary — as people have been nagging me to do for twenty years or more — couldn’t I be cut a little slack?

Of course, my real gripe against the New Dem types (the ones who’ve been pushing the swing voter strategy the hardest) is that I doubt that they would support an Old Democrat even if he were electable. (Consider Matt’s insane drivellings about the ethanol subsidy and Gephardt, for example, or the way many of them turned on Gore because they thought he had gone populist on them.) The big difference between the people who helped Dukakis lose and the ones who helped Gore lose — I don’t mean Matt here — is that Susan Estrich is “out”, whereas Martin Peretz still isn’t.

More here.

Revisions for style

Blog Hero Award

The cherished STF Blog Hero Award goes to Cup O’ Joe for his post They Brought It On Themselves! about Southern Whites.

“Nothing I can say will convince them that their outlook on life is harmful to them, or that the people they are trusting to protect and to guide them are more than likely just using them to further their own causes, whatever they may be. To them, I’m just an interfering Yankee (never mind that I’ve lived in Atlanta for a decade) who doesn’t know anything about life (despite the fact that I have lived in more places than some of these people have even heard of). Things are the way they are and that’s the way it will always be. It’s an argument you would expect to hear from a slave or a feudal peasant, not a citizen of a free nation.”

Go read, it’s good. Other good stuff there, too. Scroll around.

Kerry Guy Getting Creamed

I’m watching Crossfire, and a Kerry “Senior Advisor” is on, and is just getting creamed about the Iraq war and the WMD question. I mean eaten alive. Begala is stepping in to try to help him. The right-winter guys are bringing up old Kerry quotes about how Iraq had WMD and how we must act… the Kerry guy is being nice, doesn’t know the issues, isn’t prepared to argue the points, seems surprised that the right-wingers would say the things they are saying… Reminds me of Kerry before his makeover. “Pathetic” is the word coming to mind.

In a way it reminds me of Leiberman saying the Bush people should go ahead and count absentee ballots, even if they are not properly postmarked — which might be the one event that stands out for me as exemplifying the problems of the old-style “Washington” Democrats.

I’ve been thinking that if Kerry can continue to be the tough, focused, fighting guy he has been for the last few weeks — since he took on the Dean persona — maybe he can win. It didn’t occur to me that a campaign is more than just the guy at the top. It’s also all the old-style Democrats that we have been so tired of. They’re still there.

Voting Machines

Test of Electronic Balloting System Finds Major Security Flaws:

“Electronic voting machines from Diebold Inc. have computer security and physical security problems that might allow corrupt insiders or determined outsiders to disrupt or even steal an election, according to a report presented yesterday to Maryland state legislators.”

Amen, Brother

Krugman, Where’s the Apology?:

“Still, the big story isn’t about Mr. Bush; it’s about what’s happening to America. Other presidents would have liked to bully the C.I.A., stonewall investigations and give huge contracts to their friends without oversight. They knew, however, that they couldn’t. What has gone wrong with our country that allows this president to get away with such things?”

Political Blog Ads

One of the topics on the blogs today is inexpensive blog advertising vs. expensive TV advertising. I think there is no question that inexpensive POLITICAL blog ads reach the informed person most likely to get involved and/or contribute. Compared to the cost of TV advertising there shouldn’t be any question that a campaign should be putting part of its money – particularly early money – into weblog ads.

I’ve accepted an ad for Chandler for Congress, over there on the right. Let me know what you think. And click on the ad to visit the site, see what you think about it, and send a message that politicians would do well to pay attention to us blogers and blog readers.

The South

Erskine Blogs: Stop treating the South like a foreign land:

“I am not an oracle on Southern politics. But I know one thing. Pundits and Democrats need to stop treating the South like it is some sort of uncouth uncle who is easier to ignore than confront.

Certainly there are more differences between New York and Newfound Gap than weather. But as a world traveler, I feel confident enough in my understanding of American politics to say that they have more in common than they have differences. “

Coulter Fails to Slime Kerry

Despite my lifelong interest in slimy creatures, I don’t normally do Ann Coulter. However, a line I saw in Diana Moon’s fisking of Coulter caught my eye.

Coulter writes: “”Kerry’s life experience consists of living off other men’s money by marrying their wives and daughters”.

To begin with, that’s pretty misleading. Like George Washington, Kerry is a war hero who married a rich widow with a taste for classy guys– and not someone else’s wife, the way Neil Bush just did. (Apparently Coulter thinks that Theresa Heinz should have remained alone forever, the way Coulter probably will).

But here’s my main point: what’s this shit about “marrying other men’s daughters?”

What other options are there? By law he can’t marry other men’s sons, nor can he marry his own daughters. Marrying other men’s daughters is where the action is in the marriage biz. Does Coulter think Kerry should have remained single forever too?

It sort of seems that Coulter, at her age, is still not completely comfortable with what Mommy and Daddy do in bed and where babies come from. Isn’t it about time for someone to take her aside and give her The Talk?

Edit: Neil Bush, I mean, not Jeb. Can’t tell the felons without a scorecard.


Sometimes it is a good idea to wait a bit before saying anything. I think I’m glad that I had decided this week is one of those times. And the news today that his campaign is flat out of money make today another one of those times… I think I’ll wait a bit longer to decide what I think about all of this.

Don’t you wish the professional pundits would keep their mouths shut when they don’t really have anything worth saying? Blogging is great — you don’t live and die by deadlines. Of course, you also don’t get paid.

"A Certain Amount of Baldness"

Recently the New York Times posted a story with the too-tactful headline “Less Certainty in White House on Iraq’s Arms”. Brad Delong objected that the White House is not “less certain” now; it is now certain that it had earlier been wrong.

Mecki commented (slightly revised):

“I was reminded of a story by Ephraim Kishon, in which he describes his loss of hair. When he’s down to 3 hairs (and two have fallen out) he writes ‘I guess I have to own up to having a certain amount of baldness’ .

This is the Bush White House: When every one else has realised that there are no WMDs and there were no WMDs, they say ‘Well, maybe not QUITE as many as we thought.'”

This sounds like a brand name for the whole Bush administration: “A Certain Amount of Baldness”. It describes the economic plan pretty well too.

Edited for style


Wire story from Moon’s UPI, printed in Moon’s Washington Times, Iraqi govt. papers: Saddam bribed Chirac – (United Press International):

Documents from Saddam Hussein’s oil ministry reveal he used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

This is almost certainly right-wing propaganda against France, planted in an Iraqi paper for the purpose of being picked up by US media.

And this,

A senior Bush administration official said Washington was aware of the reports but refused further comment.

This is White House assistance in this smear job.

Here is some background on the right-wing’s campaign against France. These wingnuts REALLY ARE talking with increasing hostility toward France, with some discussion of military action! FRANCE!