Wednesday, November 03, 2004

THE AFTERMATH. I just watched Kerry's concession speech on a little while ago. It was a good, strong message from a good, strong candidate. Judging from the margin by which he lost - 3.5 million votes - I'd say it was never there for him, and probably wouldn't have been there for any other Democrat either.

Should Kerry have thrown in the towel? Absolutely. There was no way he was going to pull it out in Ohio. Let's remember the dynamics of 2000: Gore had moral standing to keep fighting because he'd won the popular vote; Bush had moral standing to keep fighting because he always held the lead in Florida, regardless of how questionable that lead may have been. By contrast, Kerry was way behind in Ohio, and he would have put himself in the impossible position of trying to use the Electoral College to unseat the first presidential candidate to win an outright majority of the popular vote in 16 years.

Was there unreported ugliness? Hmmm ... an intriguing question. Already, Media Log has heard from readers who wonder whether the exit polls look worse in areas that used those fancy new voting machines. The idea is that maybe the exit polls were right, and that it's the machines that screwed things up. Of course, the conspiracy-theory possibilities here are endless, and I don't want to chase a rabbit down that hole without real evidence.

Anti-Bush blogger Jeff Jarvis has gotten quite a bit of attention with his "post-election peace pledge." CNN's Aaron Brown emerged from his undisclosed location last night just long enough to give it a plug. It reads:

I promise to... Support the President, even if I didn't vote for him..... Criticize the President, even if I did vote for him..... Uphold standards of civilized discourse in blogs and in media while pushing both to be better.... Unite as a nation, putting country over party, even as we work together to make America better.

Will Media Log take The Pledge? In a limited kind of way, yes, sort of. Obviously Bush now has legitimacy that he had lacked up to this point. Nearly four years into his presidency, he has finally won an election for president. We do have to respect that.

But I'll tell you one thing that's really bothering me. In keeping with The Pledge, I want to make it clear that I'm sure this wasn't deliberate on Bush's part, and that he agonizes over the war he started just like any other human being would. Still, I can't help but think one of the reasons he won was that voters were understandably reluctant to reject an incumbent president during wartime. And this war was so unnecessary that you could argue he created the disaster that made his election possible.

One thing I'm not going to do is start praising the wisdom of the electorate and bowing to its judgment. The outcome of this election is bad news for anyone who cares about a more just, equitable, peaceful, and diverse society. It's bad news for gays and lesbians, poor people, scared single women who need an abortion, soldiers, you name it. It's good news if you make more than $200,000 a year.

But, unlike four years ago, Bush has earned the right to be president for the next four years. That is bound to change the tone of political discourse. For that matter, it should.

Bush is speaking in a few minutes. Which means I might break The Pledge before sunset!


Anonymous said...

First, I have never appreciated Massachusetts more than I do today. That as a prelude to saying that I will not be taking The Pledge. The "criticize" and the "civilized discourse" parts I can surely manage, but I will not "unite" with any state (13 and counting) or person supporting constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage. (Sexual) politics do indeed make strange bedfellows -- I feel closer to Andrew Sullivan today, who uses words like "devastated" and "terrified" to describe what it must be like to be gay in the hate states, than Jeff Jarvis and more than a few on the Left (Et tu, Dan?), who are asking us to make nice with the fundamentalist steamroller coming our (not their) way. No way.

Anonymous said...

I really liked Al Sharpton's speech at the DNC when he said, "This president is more concerned with what happens in your bedroom when there is no food on the table in the kitchen." I think he really nails the fact that things that are truly important in this election were over looked and outright ignored.

Several European journalists on CNN this morning were using the terms like "redneckery" and "concealed hatred". Two words I would like to see more of in the next four years.

Steve said...

Sorry, Dan, no pledge for me.

I think it's time for Democrats to start behaving like Republicans in 1992. Hunt the president! Use the new left-wing radio, and left-wing media outlets to start a drumbeat of scandal against the president and against the Congress. Start spreading Soros and MoveOn money around Texas and generate some court cases. Convict DeLay, at least in the court of public opinion. Win the 2006 mid-terms and take control of the House. Impeach Bush in 2007 for lying us into the war.

After all, it worked for the Republicans. Why not for the Democrats?

Anonymous said...

Lemon Pledge

I said 4 years ago ... and 2 years ago ... and I'll keep saying it ... and wearing the button once in a while ...
   ‹‹He's my president, right or wrong.
   But Dammit, he's still WRONG.››

A friend has been signing email with .sig file of
   ‹‹George Bush makes me long for the honesty of Richard Nixon››

-- Bill R

Anonymous said...

I suggest you consider a vacation. Leave Massachusetts and visit, oh I don't know, the US perhaps? Should we ask those UK Guardian readers how they feel about their efforts in Ohio now? Ironic if they helped turn the tide. Also ironic that Marty Meehan, who never met a campaign contributor he didn't like, was the only one to not blow scads of money on ads for a Senate election that never happened.
PS- I'm a Bostonian too.

Anonymous said...

Memo to Democrats:
If you're going to get out the youth vote, don't presume that MTV alone gets you their agreement. Just because they are young doesn't mean they are sheep. Kids are basically a younger version of their parents and usually lean in the same political direction. Why can't the same guys who get them to buys ipods and Reeboks get them to buy into a candidate? Answer: Bob Shrum was on commission, (ad placements). Tell him he only gets paid if his candidate wins. Watch how his efficacy goes up. This guy has killed more shows than Jason Alexander.

Anonymous said...

Re: "Judging from the margin by which he lost - 3.5 million votes - I'd say it was never there for him, and probably wouldn't have been there for any other Democrat either."

Amen, Dan: No 'currently' available Democrat anyway...

The last successful democratic president was able to present his ideas in a manner which did not tend to alienate potential voters; i.e. Kerry’s alienation of "those rich tax-cut benefiting folks" (those who make over 200K per year)in order to strengthen the so-called middle-class.

But the biggest problem which I believe Kerry had was that the "Him No Good – Me Better" campaign strategy works far better when you can layout a plan that seems plausible and is explained in a way that makes sense; as well as offer viable alternatives without alienating those 'potential' voters who might then change their minds.

My general feeling is that relying on the "I hate the Incumbent A; therefore I'll vote for Candidate B" voters - generally only works (Ex: Clinton in ’92) when the Candidate B can generate a pulse - or at least prove that he (or she) has one.

I've lived in Massachusetts all of my life, and I have yet to meet anyone here who can name one major (or even minor) non-Viet Nam war-related accomplishment that John Kerry initiated and carried through on - in all of his years in Mass politics.

It is therefore little wonder to me that the rest of the country had such a hard time backing a man whose 20+ year record was presented to the country at large in such an elusive manner.

Another major debacle for the Kerry/Edwards team was the promise to make affordable health care a right - not a privilege - for every American. Hillary had this noble idea as well back in 1994, with similar problems explaining how this could be accomplished.

While this "right - not a privilege" makes a great sound bite, I'll be damned if I can find a single reference on Mr. Kerry’s website which explains how this is 'prerogative' would be paid for or laying out exactly how this would not become just another bureaucratic entitlement quagmire.

Dave said...

Obviously Bush now has legitimacy that he had lacked up to this point. Nearly four years into his presidency, he has finally won an election for president.And with this quote, you demonstrate that you continue to lack legitimacy as a political pundit.

Anonymous said...

Groovy, has the time come to swear out Loyalty Oath's already? And howsabout a few "Re-education Centers" that we can establish to house the malcontents who refuse to get in line?

Join the Wave, Citizens. Respect your leaders, or else.

Humbug Henry

Anonymous said...

Amen, John. As Mom used to say, what we say about others often tells the world more about us than them...

Anonymous said...

Tough week for the Edwards family:

Elizabeth Edwards has breast cancer. Diagnosed yesterday. (From USA Today)