Thursday, November 04, 2004

One more election post-mortem

I've refrained from posting during the returns and the immediate aftermath. For one thing, I enjoy soaking up all the details; it is a quadrennial treat in which I have indulged for 40 years or more. For another, I felt it prudent to allow the emotional rollercoaster of the last few days to end before commenting.

So, what happened?

#1. In the end, this election merely shows the electorate returning to the slow but steady course first outlined by Kevin Phillips and Ben Wattenberg in their seminal 1970 book, The Emerging Republican Majority. The last Democratic Presidential candidate to win 51% or more of the popular vote was LBJ in 1964. Republicans have won 7 of the 10 elections since, the only exceptions being the narrow loss of the unelected Ford, severely damaged by the Nixon pardon, and the Clinton victories with pluralities. All three Democratic wins in this period were by moderate southern governors.

Thrice it seemed as if the Phillips-Wattenberg projection had been realized for good: after Nixon's landslide in 1972, and Reagan's in 1984, followed by the big Bush win in 1988, and finally after the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994. But Republicans managed, in each case, to give the Democrats renewed life and hope with their self-inflicted wounds. Nixon abetted the Watergate coverup. George H.W. Bush abandoned his pledge not to raise taxes, and paid scant attention to domestic economic concerns, inviting the Perot rebellion. Republican congressional leaders Gingrich and Dole overplayed their hands, and appeared too negative, allowing Clinton's brilliant "triangulation" strategy to give the Democratic Party a new lease on life.

Now, however, the inexorable move to the right by America resumes. It is slow, but sure. Notice that, at a time when our military is in harm's way, the threat of international terror remains elevated, and employment recovery has been slow, the issue most often cited by voters as critical to their decision was moral values.

#2. Truisms are truisms because they are indisputably true. Just as no Republican has ever been elected President without winning Ohio, no Democrat has ever been elected without at least two states of the old south {excluding Florida}. Democrats have put forth candidates since 1796, and the only one to capture the White House without two or more southern states was J.Q. Adams in the "faction" election of 1824 {all the serious candidates were Democrats} which was decided in the House of Representatives - a result repudiated by the electorate as Jackson rolled to victory in the 1828 rematch.

The ONLY Democrat ever elected with as few as two southern states was Clinton; besides him, all have won three or more.

So, when the Democrats began their calculations late last year on how they could assemble an Electoral College majority without the south, they were engaging in an exercise far more futile than William F. Buckley's declaration of purpose in founding his National Review in 1955: "To stand firmly athwart history, yelling 'Stop!'"

The Democratic Party, the Party of Jefferson and the oldest political party in the world, was born in the south, but now seems to have entered a self-imposed exile.

#3. The map of red and blue by county tells all: See it here.

The Democrats hold the urban areas of the northeast and west, the upper Great Lakes, and along the Mississippi River. That's it, beyond a smattering of other urban areas here and there, and some patches in southwest Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. They are rapidly becoming a party which cannot appeal to a broad cross-section of America. FDR's grand coalition has been fractured with the desertion of southern conservatives and the growing competitiveness of the GOP in Catholic and union households.

In this crisis, the Democratic Party is divided along sharp ideological lines. While they were able to unite behind Kerry, the divisions remain. The left wing, represented by Kerry, Kennedy, Dean, and Pelosi, et al, is fighting the center-left faction of Clinton, Lieberman, Daschle, and the DLC for supremacy. Most of the grassroots activists are of the left, so the dilemma is real: if the party moves toward the center to capture more of mainstream America, it could alienate its most fervent supporters.

The sole standing pillar of the FDR coalition, black Americans, are still overwhelmingly loyal to the party. However, when the question turns to issues like abortion, tax cuts, prayer in schools, and gay marriage, blacks are more conservative than whites. While Kerry won 89% of black votes this year, the disconnect between the beliefs and voting habits of this critical group cannot be encouraging in the long term.

While the Democrats are in crisis, conservatives have little cause to celebrate. As the GOP becomes the majority party in America, it is moving toward the center. While some conservative principles have become mainstream positions - tax cutting, strong military, traditional values - federal spending and entitlements are hardly threatened.

#4. "Rock the Vote" - NOT! For the fifth consecutive election, we were told of the impending explosion of influence by young voters 18-25. This year, they were supposedly off the pollsters' radar because of their reliance on cell phones. The Dean surge last year portended, it was claimed, the emergence of a new, energized, and youthful force in American elections.

The 18 - 30 age group comprised 17% of the electorate in 2000. In 2004, they were . . . 17%. They may turn out in droves to hear Springsteen and other rock stars play, but their voting habits remain unchanged.

I have to wonder what the artificial paradigm for a surge in the youth vote will be in 2008, but I expect it will prove as empty as those from preceding elections.

In conclusion: This election represents less of a personal victory for George W. Bush than a reaffirmation of long term trends.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Continuous election returns online


Bookmark Megapundit's Election Tally Board to see live updates of returns as they come in.

Each state has its own box on the board showing Bush and Kerry % and % of precincts reporting. Once any major outlet calls a state, its box will turn red or blue and the EC votes will be added into the national total at the bottom of the screen.

It all fits on one screen, so there is no scrolling to find the state desired, and no waiting for the media to get around to each state in turn.

Hat tip to Wizbang for the pointer.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Osama sues for peace?

An important point about bin Laden's latest video, from The Belmont Club's wretchard:

It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out.

Read the rest HERE.

Hat tip to Michael Totten, subbing for Glenn at Instapundit for the pointer.

Osama: a signal?

I have to admit I was shocked to see Osama bin Laden alive and on television. I had presumed him dead, given the length of time since we had last verifiably heard from him.

I wasn't surprised to hear him repeating Kerry and Michael Moore talking points.

The real question is: why now? Is he so stupid as to think he can influence our elections, or is it a signal for a prearranged attack?

I don't think it could be a signal. The only way such a signal would be necessary is if there were a deeply imbedded terror cell with no other way to communicate, and instructions to act when bin Laden released a new tape. That strains credulity. Osama is the world's most wanted man, in his 60s, and on dialysis. It wouldn't make any sense to have a signaler who might not be alive or able to communicate at some point in the future.

Also, there are too many ways to communicate. Check an anonymous web email account at a public library, for example.

Finally, bin Laden has no history of issuing warnings. Most of his videos have been Al Qaeda recruitment films. He typically has not even directly taken credit for the many terrorist acts which can be traced to him.

It seems most likely the latest release, while proving he is alive, are a sign of weakness, not of strength. Americans know better than to pay attention to the rantings of our most hated enemy, and in fact may backlash against him, but in the Arab world his stature would be enhanced if his statement appears to have an effect on our election.

He is a man in hiding and in fear. Notice the neutral backdrop of his indoor message, in contrast to the outdoor setting for most earlier tapes. Osama cannot even risk that US experts can decipher his location from the terrain.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

John Kerry: lying once more

John Kerry has insulted our military by delaring them incompetent for not finding the powdered explosives at Al Qaqa, south of Baghdad. He is trying to blame Bush for this "growing scandal." Maybe he should talk to his foreign policy advisers every once in a while.

Top Kerry experts Richard Holbrooke and Jamie Rubin, both experienced hands from the Clinton Administration, have both said publicly this week that "we don't have the facts" [Holbrooke] and "we don't know the truth" [Rubin]. It hasn't seemed to deter Kerry from trying to make political hay out of the reports.

But the New York Times story was shoddy journalism at best. They ignored reports filed in 2003 that show the site was searched, and no IAEA seals were found, indicating the 377 "missing" tons of HMX/RDX explosives were moved before the war started. For instance, CBS News still has this one on their site.

Bill Gertz of the Washington Times is reporting tonight that Russian troops may have moved the cargo before the war. {The story was linked by Drudge, so the site is jammed now, but the link is HERE. According to Wizbang, FoxNews' Brett Baier is reporting that we have satellite video of truck convoys in the area at the time in question, AND he has located a copy of the Jan 2004 "Action Report" from the IAEA, which contradicts what Mohamad Albardi told the UN Security Council. Read about it at their site.

The story, once scrutinized for a couple of days by responsible journalists, has collapsed like a house of cards. The New York Times has become a bad joke.

And so has John Kerry.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Kerry: another whopper

Joel Mowbray breaks the story in the WASHINGTON TIMES HERE

U.N. ambassadors from several nations are disputing assertions by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he met for hours with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

An investigation by The Washington Times reveals that while the candidate did talk for an unspecified period to at least a few members of the panel, no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred.

At the second presidential debate earlier this month, Mr. Kerry said he was more attuned to international concerns on Iraq than President Bush, citing his meeting with the entire Security Council.

"This president hasn't listened. I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them, to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable," Mr. Kerry said of the Iraqi dictator.

Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York in December 2003, Mr. Kerry explained that he understood the "real readiness" of the United Nations to "take this seriously" because he met "with the entire Security Council, and we spent a couple of hours talking about what they saw as the path to a united front in order to be able to deal with Saddam Hussein."

But of the five ambassadors on the Security Council in 2002 who were reached directly for comment, four said they had never met Mr. Kerry. The four also said that no one who worked for their countries' U.N. missions had met with Mr. Kerry either.

[more on link above]

Although Kerry lied about meeting "all" the UNSC members, even meeting with any is highly questionable. Foreign policy is the sole and exclusive province of the executive, and typically congressional committees coordinate their meetings with foreign officials with the State Department.

Of the permanent members, Kerry met with France, and allegedly Britain. He also met with Germany of the rotating members. What the heck was he thinking?

Oh, yeah, he was thinking of running for President, and wanted to appear as if he were a consequential member of the Senate, instead of just a show pony who only shows up for photo ops . . .


Thanks to INDC Journal for the pointer to this story.

UPDATE: Bill at INDC also gives a link to this Daily Recycler VIDEO. It's on-site video, nothing to download, from the second debate. Watch Bush's face as he hears Kerry's whopper. . .

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Spin this!!!

If you hate the "spin alley" after debates as much as I do, you need to watch this Quicktime movie starring Triumph the Comic Dog. He skewers both sides, and breaks through the spin.

Triumph was there, live and in the stinking flesh, asking direct and pointed questions of the spinmeisters until they sputtered, stammered, and turned away.

You need free Quicktime, and the file is about 15 MB, but well worth downloading, a barrel of laughs. It was originally broadcast on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and comes to us courtesy of Rooftop Report. Download it HERE.

Hat tip to Southern Appeal for the link!

Kerry: Mum's the word

It probably isn't breaking news that John Kerry declines to be specific, so I am not shocked that he is dodging Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, with whom President Bush agreed to an extensive interview on Iraq:

At the end of last year, during 3 1/2 hours of interviews over two days, I asked President Bush hundreds of detailed questions about his actions and decisions during the 16-month run-up to the war in Iraq. His answers were published in my book “Plan of Attack.” Beginning on June 16, I had discussions and meetings with Sen. John Kerry’s senior foreign policy, communications and political advisers about interviewing the senator to find out how he might have acted on Iraq – to ask him what he would have done at certain key points. Senior Kerry advisers initially seemed positive about such an interview. One aide told me, “The short answer is yes, it’s going to happen.”

In August, I was talking with Kerry’s scheduler about possible dates. On Sept. 1, Kerry began his intense criticism of Bush’s decisions in the Iraq war, saying “I would’ve done almost everything differently.” A few days later, I provided the Kerry campaign with a list of 22 possible questions based entirely on Bush’s actions leading up to the war and how Kerry might have responded in the same situations. The senator and his campaign have since decided not to do the interview, though his advisers say Kerry would have strong and compelling answers.

Because the interview did not occur, it is not possible to do the side-by-side comparison of Bush's record and Kerry's answers that I had envisioned. But it seems to me that the questions themselves offer a useful framework for thinking about the role of a president who must decide whether to go to war.

Here are the 22 questions, edited only for clarity:

Click link above for the full article, which simply lays out the questions Woodward posed. Wonder why Kerry wouldn't bother to answer them?

Oh well, he won't release his wife's full tax returns, his medical records, or his full military records, either, so it's not much of a surprise. Only those with blind faith in his "secret plans" will be voting for him anyway . . .

Hat tip to Polilpundit for the pointer.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Heavenly cheers

Time out from politics for a brief moment.

I have to salute the Boston Red Sox for doing what no major league baseball team has ever done: come back from losing the first three games in a seven game series to win. They showed grit and determination, earmarks of a champion.

No predictions, as the Cardinals were pretty clearly the best team in baseball for most of the season, but St. Louis is facing some questions on starting pitching, due to injuries and late-season swoons. Should be a dandy Series.

But I have to tip my hat to my late Mother, who was born in Lynn, then just a bedroom community of Boston, and was a lifelong Sox fan. For years, she even shopped for stuff at Sears even when WalMart was cheaper, because Ted Williams had been a Sears spokesman for decades.

There could be a mystique for Boston this year, since they are leaving one of the great ballparks, Fenway, with so much history. Tris Speaker, the centerfielder who started more double plays than any outfielder in history {mainly by playing shallow and throwing out the lead runner at second}, Bobby Doerr, Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Williams, Yaz, Carlton Fisk, Jim Lonborg, Roger Clemens . . . and one of Mom's old quirky favorites, Jimmy Piersall, played there. And they have at least one friend in high places . . .

Good luck, Sox. Mom's cheering from above.