hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Friday, November 12, 2004
comment on winds of change:

I found this post viscerally angering, but when you find yourself angry over something as harmless as political kibbitzing, it's almost always better to bite your tongue, so that's what I'm going to do.

FWIW, my take is that the Democrats have a somewhat better chance on winning in 2004 than 2008. My reasoning is that in 2004 they will be running against George W Bush, with a mediocre record, while in 2008 they will be running against someone like Bill Frist or John Kasich, both of whom are much stronger, more appealing candidates than President Bush.

There have been three successes of this administration:

1) Military victory against the Taliban
2) Military victory against Saddam's regime
3) After 9/11, there has not been a mass-casualty terrorist attack on American soil

I think it's fair to say on everything else, the Bush administration has made an absolute pigs' breakfast: the record ranges from mediocre to indifferent to downright awful.

Let's keep it simple: the Democrats will win if they convince a majority of Americans that either the voter personally, or the country as a whole, will do better if the Democrat gets elected. I'll just state categorically that given this Administration's record, there is plenty of room to make that case.

Of the all-important war on terror, there are three aspects to it:

1) preventing terrorist attacks from happening
2) bringing the perpetrators to justice and avenging our dead
3)reforming the dysfunctional societies which produce these terrorists, and even worse, large swaths of the population who sympathise with terrorists

and a conservative would add a fourth:
4) Restoring the American Aura, so that America & Americans, even if they are resented, are feared and respected throughout the world.

This may evoke howls of outrage from the Right, but as a Democrat I'm quite sure that it is possible for a Democratic administration to do as well or better at the first three of these tasks, and to make that case to the American people. The fourth one is the the real ideological dispute, between those who are obsessed with America being feared, even at the cost of resentment, and those who are obsessed with America being liked, even at the cost of contempt. You can go too far in either direction.

Lastly, on a demographic/sociological note, I would say that if the Democrats are to win, they need to increase their share of the white vote, and in particular white men. I would say that either the parties get close to parity in the white vote, and the Democrat's advantage in the minority vote makes them the majority party, or the Republicans increase their percentage of the white vote, and they become the majority party, and our politics becomes the politics of the South writ large on a National scale.

In terms of issue-terrain, I am optimistic and feel the advantage lies with the Democrats. In terms of demographics/tribal factors, I am pessimistic and feel the advantage lies with the Republicans. We'll see how it plays out.

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