The key is to respond forcefully, dramatically, and some would argue, unfairly against Republican attacks. John Kerry should have placed the blame for Swiftboating squarely in George Bush's lap. It is not actually true that Bush was behind Swiftboats, but that's entirely beside the point. The point is to create a narrative.
I agree that it is an open question whether Obama will fight back hard enough against these attacks. But my opinion is that it all matters who the campaign handlers are. They will tell the candidate how to respond. There is a chance that since Obama is an outsider, his handlers may actually see these sorts of attacks more clearly.
Clinton is the ultimate insider's candidate. I suspect (and please tell me if I'm mistaken) that the vanilla responses from Democrats we saw in 2000,2002 and 2004 were the work of the McAuliffe-Clinton wing of the party. If those are the folks telling Clinton how to respond, we are in serious doo-doo.
I don't know the answer to that. It may have been lazy of me to use Hitler and Stalin as models to compare to Chavez, but I think the point remains: Dictators often begin as wildly popular figures who promise (and deliver) change. The problems arise when they overstay their time in power. Hopefully this will not be the case with Chavez. The fact that he is accepting the voting results is a good sign to me though.
Hey Cleveland John, I'm not disagreeing with you on what Castro has accomplished, nor on the shithole Cuba would be today if Batista was left in power. I'm really just saying that Cuba could've been better with some new blood and some new ideas after Castro. I guess my fear is that the Leftist revolution in South America will turn into a Soviet-style parody of itself without some give-and-take on the part of Leftist leaders there.
Well, looks like we accomplished an increasingly rare feat here: We exchanged opinions on a blog with differing points of view and ended without name calling or personal attacks. I'm not touching the Hillary-Obama debate raging here.
Good point re: Cuba, but this is a place where at one time something like 2% of the population was locked up for being "political enemies" of Castro. The economic point is perhaps more a bit more correct. However, Castro also pushed for record sugar harvests in the 1970s which proved environmentally disastrous and curtailed the sugar production in Cuba for some time after that. The problem with Castro is that he's a control freak. He needs to have his hands in absolutely everything, whether he understands them or not.
I see this as a pitfall for Chavez as well. It is difficult to see a person withstanding the ego boost that comes with being elected over and over again to lead a country. If polling etc. showed a race to be close, it is not difficult to imagine Chavez pulling some crap like throwing people in jail or making voting difficult in places where he has lots of enemies. That even happens here, for goodness sake. By having term limits, you give a nation the chance for renewal. This is ultimately good for the nation. I'd hate to see Chavez' progress marred by turning Venezuela into a one-pony act.
I hope you're wrong about the abolition of term limits (see my post below).
I'm not proud to admit that when Bush said a few years back that he thought the best way to rule a country is through "benign dictatorship", I tended to agree with him. But if Bush has taught us anything it is that people, anybody, can be vastly incorrect and not even know it. The problem with abolishing term limits, and with consolidating too much executive power, in any government, is that if (and when) the leader becomes vastly incorrect, there is no effective way to counter them.
I often think about Castro and how good of a cause he fought for initially, but his inability to give up the reins when it was time turned Cuba into a backward, repressive state. It didn't have to be that way. I would hate to see the same future for Venezuela - especially after all of the progress they've made there.
You know, I'm too young to know much about the public sentiments behind the rise of other dictators such as Hitler and Stalin, but I have to imagine that they were very popular and seemingly benign at the time of their rise. Chavez is similar in a lot of ways, I believe, to other dictators: wildly popular, optimistic, paradoxical, misunderstood, and power hungry. Perhaps most importantly, he is a figure onto which people project their own hopes and fears.
In another era, it seems that Chavez may have gotten what he wanted from the electorate. I think this would have been bad for Venezuela and for the South American Leftist movement. Then it really would have looked like other failed dictatorships in the past.
I am greatly relieved that Venezuela said no to Chavez' most recent request and it gives me great hope for the future of Leftism. Who knows, maybe in another few decades, the U.S. may even turn slightly Left.
I'm not sure I believe it though. Dukakis was ahead by 17 pts nationally until the Willy Horton deal. It's all about Republican dirty tricks and who can respond to them. As far as that goes, I have no ability to predict who would be better. But I see the main questions as this:
1) "What will the Republicans dig out of Hillary's past?" I have no worries about her toughness and her strength is that there couldn't possibly be too much more dirty laundry. Then again, campaign tricks almost never depend upon truth. Anything can be said as long as it evokes the right response from voters.
2) "Can Obama be tough when he needs to be?" If he gets the nod, the attacks are coming. It's just a matter of when and how dirty. He can't play nice guy to these attacks. Kerry could have stopped the Swiftboat thing by blaming Bush squarely and pointing out his failings as a member of the National Guard. There is no high ground.
That will be an interesting dynamic. I've always thought that people underestimated the anti-corporate sentiment running among certain segments of Republican voters. If it becomes a Clinton-Huckabee race, the corporate types may actually be on Clinton's side. At this point my head will explode. Fair warning.
Seriously, Huckabee scares me precisely because of the lukewarm responses he gets even on websites like MYDD. Imagine what a real swing voter will think.
Powell has absolutely no cache with me. It was his job to stop this. In some ways he's worse than Bush and Cheney b/c he knew it was wrong and allowed himself to be steamrolled. We out here in the reality-based world can't honestly do anything to affect policy. We have constitutional officers for that.
Actually, only a few states changed in 2000 vs. 2004. And remember that was after "9/11 changed everything". Iowa, New Hampshire and maybe New Mexico if I remember correctly. And all of these were darn close in 2000. I don't see the major swings occurring that anyone talks about. The states to watch this time are Colorado, Nevada, Missouri, Ohio and just maybe Virginia. If it's a route for the Dems I suppose there's an outside chance they could win Tennessee or Arkansas, but I'm not holding my breath. New York, Texas, Florida and California are completely off of the table as far as I can see.
A larger concern of mine though is that about 10 months from now, we're all gonna go "A women or a black guy, what the hell were we thinking?" I'd love to think America is ready, but who knows.
I agree that SteveM and you make a pretty convincing arguments.
But would you agree that the polarization has gotten worse lately? (this is a real question)
I mean, the judges Bush appoints are really only the most extreme. He and his surrogates have politicized everything from science to the judiciary. The Iraq War reconstruction effort, or whatever you call that debacle, was basically a "neocons only" party. And Bush has defied his party on only several occasions throughout his entire tenure while vetoing nearly every spending bill passed by Democrats this year.
This style of leadership is part of the reason that his numbers remain in the toilet. I think that's where the conventional wisdom about people wanting bipartisanship comes from.
Then again, I understand the concerns about Obama. We've seen what compromise gets you these days (Tom Daschle anyone?).
So do you think Bush really is like any other President? Is this just the reality of American politics?
Obama also has very strong support among young voters. I think these are the people most likely to doubt that Social Security will be there for them and least likely to read Paul Krugman columns on a regular basis. And if they do, they don't necessarily believe that all is well with Social Security.
I think when you spend a lot of time thinking and figuring on Social Security, it's hard to remember that the vast majority of people just don't know, let alone believe, the math of this. They are not going to be brushed aside easily and just swallow whatever Krugman says. They want someone to address their fears. I think this is Obama's strategy. Then again, I thought John Kerry was going to stop talking about Vietnam at some point too.
I guess you could argue that Obama's strategy on this is cynical, but let's just remember all of the cynical things politicians do for a moment....oh boy, now I'm going to be sick.