Wednesday, January 28, 2004

New column

By: UnrepentantNewDealer

New Column
Inspired (maybe that isn't the right word) by Michael Akerman's recent addition to the blog of a Thoughts in Brief column, I have decided to embark upon the uncertain prospect of a semi-regular brief column of my own which I hereby christen Random Ramblings. Let the good times roll!

So, How 'Bout Those Panthers?

No really, how 'bout 'em. I am about as far from a sports fanatic as you could get, but even I am getting somewhat excited about this year's Super Bowl (as opposed to the commercials--check out last week's Foxtrot in the comics when Peter asks Jason who he thinks will win).

For a team that was really bad until this year, the Panthers have really turned things around. Now, surprisingly, I really want them to win. Perhaps that's because of my innate sympathy with the underdog, or perhaps it could be chalked up to state loyalty. After all, I'm going off to college next year and I don't want new acquaintances to say "You're from North Carolina? You're football team sucks." So to the Panthers, I say "Don't screw up, don't make North Carolina the punchline of every joke in the nation--again..."

Ah, Politics Is Such Sweet Sorrow...

"Howeird" Dean has done it again. The pundits tell us that his infamous post-Iowa "Dean Scream" combined with John Kerry's first place performance (and Dean's third-place finish) in Iowa narrowed Dean's more than 25-point lead over Kerry in New Hampshire to a loss to Kerry yesterday by more than 10 percentage points. But Dean's loss in Iowa though cannot be neatly explained by his post-Iowa speech. Dean was the front-runner by a wide margin in Iowa and in national polls. The hoarse speech Dean gave in Iowa hurt his image, but that was not the nail in his coffin. The bane of Howard Dean has always been one thing: Electabilty.

Dean was able to convince himself that Democratic primary voters would back him because he was the most liberal candidate. He swung to the left early, because Democratic primary voters are always more liberal than ordinary voters that tip the balance in the general election (vice-versa for the GOP). Dean probably planned to swing back to the center for the general election against Bush. It was the tried and true strategy. But it failed this time because Dean swung so far to the left, he couldn't come back. He played the extreme liberal role to the hilt, so that was the angle taken by the major media and adroitly exploited by his primary opponents: Dean is extremely liberal, Americans have never elected anyone this liberal, therefore Bush will inevitably win if Dean gets the nomination.

The one thing Dean forgot was the very thing that made him the front-runner: anger at Bush. Dean was the angry candidate and that appealed to all true Democrats who are furious at Bush. But Democrats are not just idealists, we are in John Kennedy's praise "Practical Idealists". Democratic voters despise Bush so much that they will vote for the candidate most able to defeat him in November. That is all that matters to the average Democratic voter: "Which candidate is most likely to sweep this crook and his cronies and fellow parasites from the White House?" In this case, Dean came up short, and Kerry was the big winner.

After all, who would you bet on: the Vietnam War veteran with a Purple Heart and years of experience in national security issues or the guy who hid in the Texas Air National Guard rather than be drafted to go to Vietnam, a guy who went AWOL from his Guard unit for two years and has yet to offer an explanation for his unauthorized absence? As Kerry said in a recent speech (this is paraphrased)," If George Bush wants to make this election a debate on national security, I have three words for him that I know he understands: Bring It On!"

It looks like the Democrats might actually choose a candidate who could compete on an even playing field with Bush. I recently overheard a Republican classmate at school worry "I don't know. They're [Democrats] getting smarter. They picked Kerry in Iowa." I don't imagine Karl Rove's been getting much sleep lately....

Whew! I guess I'll stop there for now. What's that you say? I promised a "brief column"? Didn't the word Ramblings in the title tip you off? Well, now you know better than to trust a stream-of-consciousness-style writer to ever be brief.

Until the next "brief" post,

~Michael Smith