January 27, 2004

NE Speaking

Though it's not all of New England, New Hampshire is at east part of New England, and so we see New England getting its first chance to speak about who it would like to see as the next president. That person appears to be John Kerry. He's a New Englander, as is Howard Dean, but New Hampshire appears to have taken to Kerry more, primarily on the basis of electability. According to USA Today (via Absit Invidia), Democrats have an unusually strong hankering to oust Bush. They're fired up about it enough to create a Howard Dean. Nevertheless, a majority of them polled in NH think that Kerry gives them the best chance to go the distance.

It is, perhaps, the case that Dean has provided Kerry with a bit of cover up to this point. righties have spent a lot of time attacking Dean, making light of him, and are struggling to play catch-up since Kerry started commanding a poll lead. The Dean yell proved too good to pass up for them, but once they cleared their heads, they realized Kerry had run away from the pack.

Predictably, there is increased noise about Kerry. The lame (IMHO) "He mentions Viet Nam too much" has been replaced with "He threw his medals away" and such. I, of course, have had criticisms of him as the Democratic candidate, but I realize that I'm a minority within the country and I'm liberal but not a registered Democrat. So most people aren't going to agree with me, which means I have to decide how unhappy to be if Kerry wins the nomination. And I must admit, if Kerry wins the nomination in a shape that makes it looks like he's going to give Bush a real fight (not a Dukakis fight) I'll have a lot of trouble complaining.

And if he wins the general election... you won't hear much complaining at all from me.

Here's what I'm wondering, though.

I criticize Bush for dividing the country. Even in his state of the union address, he attacks divisive issues with vigor, trying to make the most political hay possible with his base. I will probably call for the next liberal president to try to bring the country together.

However, it's my opinion that Clinton did a good job bringing the country together. And I think that is part of the reason some Republicans hated him so much. It's worse if your opponent is insidiously popular.

So, is it better for a politician to ignore the opposition and plat to his base, or should a president be a uniter, rather than a divider?

Posted by James at January 27, 2004 3:15 PM
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It's better for a politician to try to decide what the right thing is, and then implement it and sell it. Clinton didn't do a perfect job on nearly anything, but he tried to find solutions that would do more good or cause the least harm. And he was good at the sale.

The current administration doesn't worry too much about doing good or avoiding harm, as long as they can please one very wealthy group of people. I'm not sure how they've managed to sell anyone else on their ideas, but apparently some people can find it in their hearts to love them even when they're being screwed.

Kerry is an opportunist. He says whatever he thinks people want to hear at the moment, and he votes that way too. He claims to oppose same-sex marriage, but he also voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. He voted to let Bush bomb the shit out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but voted against funds to help rebuild Iraq after the damage was done. At any given time, I never know where he really stands on anything. And I don't care much either, because it doesn't seem to have anything to do with his choices.

Kerry didn't throw his own medals away (though he did throw away his own ribbons). His medals are in a safe deposit box. Those were someone else's medals who couldn't be there to participate and asked him to throw away the medals for him. I don't really have an opinion as to whether he should or should not have thrown them away, but it seems to me like this was another case of doing something he wasn't really into, just to look good for the cameras.

Not terribly unlike putting on a flight suit and landing on an aircraft carrier.

I'll vote for this guy in November if I have to. But it will be the most reluctant vote I've ever cast.

Posted by: julie at January 27, 2004 3:37 PM

I hear you, Jules.

It's still a long campaign ahead, and a lot can happen.

I'm interested in whether or not it looks like Kerry can lead.

And while I understand your "reluctant vote" I will be ecstatic if Bush loses. Clinton turned out to be, IMHO, a better president than he sounded at first. I didn't like him, but the country loved him enough to elect him twice. So I'm gunshy about trusting my instincts on these things.

But I know what I really don't like.

Posted by: James at January 27, 2004 4:03 PM

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