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July 05, 2006


Speaking of change, I found this amazing: The earth this week reached its aphelion, the point in its orbit when it is farthest from the sun. Counterintuitively, in the northern hemisphere it is hottest now, when we're farthest away from the sun, due to the way Earth is tilted. But because Earth wobbles on its axis, eventually our northern summer will not come at the aphelion but at the perihelion -- 11,000 years from now. Then, we will be both tilted for summer and closest to the sun at the same time. (If we're here at all.)

I'm drawing on a previous post, or maybe it's one of matt Stoller's posts at MyDD, but do you think that Lieberman's declining support will send a signal to Democrats that it's time (it's long been time) to have "a more imaginative approach" on Iraq? I would hope so, but as you note, a proactive approach to the elections is an anathema to the Dems. They remind me of a conservative football team: there are 6 minutes left, and to protect a 2-point lead, the coach (Democratic consultants) decide to run the ball on offense and play prevent defense. It's a strategy fated to give the other side the ball (initiative back) in time for the opponent to win.

Though Democrats are in very strong position heading into the election, there are pockets of stupidity in the party, stubbornly holding to theories about the 2004 election that unduly affects their approach to 2006.

One is, of course, the mistaken notion (based on that bad exit poll) that 20-odd percent of voters will be casting ballots on "moral values", which leads to the Schumer "don't say anything (esp. about abortion) that might offend someone in Indiana" approach. This view neglects several facts: 1) pollsters now say the "moral values" percentage was actual higher in previous elections, won by Democrats; 2) by "moral values", people don't just mean fundamentalist-right issues -- some, in fact, mean social/civil rights justice; and 3) a truly bad situation in the country -- which we didn't clearly have in '04 but we do clearly have now -- trumps such smaller issues.

The other view that seems like it might incapacitate the party a bit is feeling that Bush was totally beatable, that the Pubs made the election about Kerry and won that way, and that they can do the same this year by demonizing Dems; this leads to the seeming Dem strategy of not getting too far in front on any issue -- of wanting to be beige (particularly on Iraq). I don't doubt the GOP will act on this theory, but I think it's utterly mistaken for Dems to buy into it. For one thing, Bush WASN'T totally beatable in '04: his numbers hovered around 50% most of the second half of the year, and he got help from an improving job market, and a (purposely designed) waning of casualties in Iraq in early Fall. It's tragic that he scored right at the top of his electoral potential -- and that things waited just long enough to truly fall apart -- but ascribing that to Kerry is unfair (though utterly typical of Democratic post-loss aanalysis). Ruy Texeira has done lots of research showing that, in fact, Kerry maximized the anti-Bush vote -- that, short of a charismatic candidate (of the Clinton/Kennedy ilk), there's no reason to assume anyone would have done better. Swift Boats didn't swing the election; that April-June increase in jobs did.

And, finally, the Dem powers-that-be seem unwilling to trust that things are different this year -- that a president with a 35-40% approval (or lower, if pre-Zarqawi levels are regained) is not the same opponent as a 48-51% one; that, in such a situation, you can take chances. DemfromCT is right: Schumer/Emmanuel are playing for the narrow win, where they could be playing for Big Casino (a favorite Ronald Reagan term, and the strategy he employed in 1980 -- during a similarly sinking presidency -- that changed the course of American political history for over two decades). Of course, it's entirely possible they'll win anyway -- that things are so bad, the zeitgeist will give the party a win they haven't fully earned. But they sure seem obtuse enough to make us fear they'll blow it.

It's interesting that war support is highest in the south, since they have paid the least. There is an internet map of American casualties, and the majority come from New England, the central Midwest (Illinois) and the west coast. Hardly scarlet red BubbaLand. But that fits. The south is the most "morally concerned" part of the country, with the highest rates of divorce, domestic violence, and incest. The south is the most "fiscally conservative" part of the country, yet sucks the Federal teat for about a 20% additional return in various varieties of Federal welfare more than they pay in.

But as any southern writer has known for a long, long time, hypocrisy is the national sport of the old Confederacy (going back to an act of treason over the "freedom to have slaves").

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