Thursday, November 02, 2006

The View From Across The Pond

Just thinking about this Kerry/Joke issue makes my blood boil, so I won't likely post too much more on it. But Rob's dad forwarded this Telegraph piece about Kerry's shortcomings, at least from a particular British perspective.

Though somewhat tangential to the thrust of the piece, these lines gave me greater pause than any others:

Kerry has long had a reputation as a haughty Boston Brahmin, a privileged, elitist, condescending careerist who cannot relate to ordinary Americans.

In contrast, on the stump this week Bush has shown that whatever his faults – and there are many – that he still has that indispensable political gift of speaking simply to ordinary people rather than talking down to them.
Is that it? Or is it just the New American Condescension? It isn't new at all. Reagan donned a cowboy hat first, didn't he? Everyone wants to claim Lincoln's humble log-splitting beginnings, right? Wait, Lincoln was a self educated man who took pride in his intellect.

I don't recall ever hearing that the Lincoln-Douglas debates were a battle of who could sound stupider.

You can be an arrogant prick about pretty much anything. For George W. Bush, it's arrogance over who is more common. Who needs less hoity-toity book-learnin'. Is Kerry also an arrogant prick? Oh hell, probably, but at least he takes pride in smarts and not idiocy.

I have little respect for people who dumb themselves down to look cool. Bush strikes me as the kind of guy who'd smirk and say "guys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses" as he shoved the chess club president and his girlfriend off their tandem unicycle. Yeah, he's That Guy. He'd taunt people with "four-eyes" and "smarty pants" while discreetly shoving his Yale diploma under the latest People Magazine.


doughnut70 said...

I just can't resist repeating something I said in an earlier post which was basically that incidents like this give people an excuse to do what they were going to do anyway which is express their doubts about Democrats ability to do the job of protecting America.

Polls continue to show most Americans don't like the war in Iraq, but don't trust Democrats to keep us safe and whether we like that fact or not, we don't move anyone by just talking about how messed up Iraq is. We also don't gain anything by that being the only issue being discussed because the people who agree with us strongly are already on our side. The fight is over those that are not sure we can do the job if we have the chance and I must say when I see the paniced reaction over Kerry's comments, I can understand the concern.

The biggest failure in this election and it may cost us the house even in what should be a great year is the failure of Democratic campaigns to force some discussion of domestic issues onto the table for discussion. As an example, a few days ago there was a story on the wire services about Karl Rove putting in a tremendous amount of effort into making sure that areas with contested congressional races got needed government projects. In yesterdays LA Times a woman wrote in to ask why the current Administration couldn't do as much for the people of New Orleans and numerous other disaster areas that still haven't received promised.

Do you think if Nancy Pelosi had said the same thing a few tunes in a stump speech, that it might have stuck in some people's minds and maybe moved them our way? Not only that, but it would have reinforced the whole competency issue.

But that isn't happening at all. One of the basics to running a political campaign is that you don't let the media control the agenda completely. You try and push the discussion into areas that favor you, especially things that have not been previously discussed so that you not only get the discussion on favorable issues, you also get credit for leadership on an issue that no one was previously talking about. Democrats haven't done that at all and the Republicans in what should be a very down year for them are quite content to keep the focus on an issue that they believe in the end will wind up splitting 50/50 and let them keep control of Congress.

It will be a shame if they are correct but unless things change, they have a very real chance of hanging on.

doughnut70 said...

I should add because I am now on one of my rants, that I don't mean to be too critical, because Nancy Pelosi has been more on top of this election than our leadership in the past and that is helping Democrats throughout the country. For example Zbigniew Brzenski (who is generally considered a hawk by insiders and was praised by Lech Walesa for his role in helping Poland attain its freedom) has put together a committee that released a very good Democratic alternative plan for Iraq which got a lot of praise from foreign policy experts as a realistic workable plan and on domestic issues, I thought the whole flap over the Michael J. Fox commercial was good for Democrats, but with my natural pessimism, I worry that we are not doing enough and that none of it is getting through to average voters.

When the year started I thought Republican reapportionment in other states would actually wind up helping us because our margin nationally was going to be so large that we would win a lot of districts that otherwise we couldn't take but now I worry that the few points Republicans are gaining may make the difference that keeps us short overall. I hope not though.

(As a side note in case anyone else reads this besides CD and a few of her friends, Controlled reapportionment generally means packing all of your opponents into a few super safe districts, while splitting up your own parties voters leaving enough votes for your party in each district to have a consistent majority in a larger number of districts, so that you win more total seats. This is a great tactic unless you get completely blown out, in which case even more seats are in play than normal because you have no "super safe" seats of your own).

Anonymous said...

This burns me up. Who the f do they think they are?

GOPers are EVIL-more vote suppression plans for Nov. 7

I try not to think evil things about them, but when I read crap like makes me want to vomit. Projectile vomit

Anonymous said...

I think this rant is a good illustration of Karl Rove and George W's biggest success: driving otherwise-effective Democratic activists into near-foaming-at-the-mouth fury, which in turn drives the middle-of-the-road voters back toward the Republicans.

Some columnist recently wrote something I found very insightful about the Foley and Kerry implosions: they were important on a national scale not in themselves, but for what they represented. Foley because he represented that the Republicans had completely failed to run the House responsibly; Kerry because his quote evoked memories of decades of anti-military / hopeless peacenik attitudes held by many Democrats.

Tangent: in response to doughnut70's muse about who reads this blog, I remember back to CD's posting about the technical problems on the California Plurality Blog (yes, CD has at least a few Republican readers!), and how that led to those problems being addressed just minutes later.

Anonymous said...

Yeah D'nut, I have - and it shocks even me - small boatloads of readers. I don't have that many friends and my parents are only children, so it's not like I build the readership with family.

Though they Phoblog hey-day has probably passed, I don't feel it overly immodest to take some pride in this niche-blog's reach.

Also - I guarantee you that within my small boatload is a big boatload of Republicans. With a resume like mine, there's no way I wouldn't have ample reeps blurking around here.

It may surprise you, but there was a time when I was frequently accused of being a Republican. I'm still fairly conservative by nature (small c, classical sense). But Bush made me get lefty on some issues. Really lefty. It's a complicated world and I'm a complicated girl, what can I say.

doughnut70 said...

I guess the Rose Institute could confuse some people. JK!

Anonymous said...

Not some people - many people. Hell, my own father wouldn't even enter it during a campus tour before I even applied to CMC.

CMC is generally viewed as a conservative campus - and its government department is also thought of, erroneously, as overwhelmingly conservative. (In reality, its balance more closely reflects national averages, which, compared to most raging lefty campuses, makes it look right by comparison.)

Then there are my friends - many of whom are staunch Reeps.

When I was interning on the Hill, more often than not, when my phone rang, the caller-id read either "Speaker's Office" or "Republican Conference."

Led to some raised eyebrows.

So there's no kidding around when it comes to the Rose, or my background.

Consider it missionary work: you must go work among them as you try to lead them to the light.

Anonymous said...

i may be ranting and foaming..(and vomiting), but im still out there getting solid things done...(voter registration, gotv, etc)..

so, at least for me, not a completely accurate description

Anonymous said...

what's not an accurate description of what?

Anonymous said...

Where to begin? From my side of the pond we are earnestly praying that all good US-ians will finally wake from their long national nightmare, something I tried to assist in two years ago, with limited success.

Mind you I would take any pronouncements from the Tory-graph with a hefty pinch of salt, the news content in the paper is usually contaminant free, but any comment pieces are heftily tinged with true blue (red on your side of the Atlantic obviously). The majority of UK papers are ideolgically suspect to one degree or another.

As for Kerry, an honest,earnest man, but the charisma by-pass and inability to get to the point didn't help. I remember the huge rally in Philly in the lead up to the election, stolen lock stock and barrell by Bill Clinton, Kerry got up to speak, and my enduring memory was a rambling, barely coherent monologue that tried to explain the broad concept of "having someones back"

I'm not American, I've never served, but even I know what it means and I don't need someone wasting 10 minutes to explain to me that as President he would have America's back.

Mind you, despite that I still soldiered on, I occasionally look at that photo of us taken about 30 minutes before the news from Ohio sttarted to break, back when we still believed.

I hope I or you never have to through anything like that ever again. If I don't get the chance to post before Tuesday, best wishes.