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January 26, 2005

Conventional Wisdom

By Nathan Nance

Conventional Wisdom about President Bush holds that like him or hate him, at least you know where he stands. That image is one of the many things Democrats have had to come to terms with, along with our recent candidate's inability to be decisive.

Like so often before, conventional wisdom may be wrong.

A recent PIPA poll (I know, are we trusting polls now?) shows that many of President Bush's supporters don't actually know where he stands on a wide range of issues.

Bush supporters also have numerous misperceptions about Bush's international policy positions. Majorities incorrectly assume that Bush supports multilateral approaches to various international issues--the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the treaty banning land mines (72%)--and for addressing the problem of global warming: 51% incorrectly assume he favors US participation in the Kyoto treaty. After he denounced the International Criminal Court in the debates, the perception that he favored it dropped from 66%, but still 53% continue to believe that he favors it. An overwhelming 74% incorrectly assumes that he favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. In all these cases, majorities of Bush supporters favor the positions they impute to Bush. Kerry supporters are much more accurate in their perceptions of his positions on these issues.

Say what you will about Kerry being too nuanced or, dare I say, flip-floppish, but at least his supporters correctly knew where he stood on the issues.

This poll was conducted in September and October, so I think we can correctly assume that these numbers reflect the minds of the voters in November. That's actually a little bit heartening. The next to last line in that graf says that Bush supporters favored the stances that they incorrectly attributed to him. In other words, they favored our positions. This is just one poll, but we need to think about this and we need to conduct our own.

It also means that the future isn't as bleak as some people think for the Democratic party. We may not have to fundamentally alter our positions. This may be as simple as learning how to market ourselves better. Part of that marketing is going to come from making clear and concise statements about what we are for and against. "This is what I, a Democrat stands for. This is what my Republican opponent stands for." This is obviously pretty simplistic, but an effective blueprint, and I think Sen. Harry Reid understands this, which is I applaud his efforts with laying out our own agenda.

So there is hope. Hat tip to Digby.

Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

January 22, 2005

Nuke the Pinkos

By Jim Dallas

Sometimes, yes, the ISO folks are a little dippy, sometimes downright frustrating, and often treading on the road to sedition (not like that's a crime or anything). I'm sure they think the same thing about me. (Although for what it's worth, I've also come to the opinion that a lot of the ISO folks are good people.)

But really, is there any justification for this?

No, what I needed to counter this speaker was not a Democrat like me who might argue that elections were, in fact, important. What I needed was a Republican like Arnold who would walk up to him and punch him in the face.

These weren't harmless lefties. I didn't want Nancy Pelosi talking sense to them; I wanted John Ashcroft to come busting through the wall with a submachine gun to round everyone up for an immediate trip to Gitmo, with Charles Graner on hand for interrogation.

Maybe sometimes you just want to be on the side of whoever is more likely to take a bunker buster to Arundhati Roy.

Really, it shouldn't be necessary to advocate violence - three times! - to note that you really disagree with the far left.

The New Republic, of course, probably won't do anything to censure Tom Frank's vicious red-baiting.

Fetch me a coffee and a beignet, Dubya.

By Jim Dallas

Normally, I'd presume that the American people will always tell pollsters (by large margins) that they oppose partisan bickering and support "compromise" and bi-partisanship as a general principle.

Ruy Teixeira prattles off a list of recent poll results, two of which stick out:

[WSJ Poll] How should the Democrats conduct themselves in Congress? By 57-33, the public thinks Democrats should provide a balance so Bush and the Republicans don't go too far, rather than work in a bipartisan fashion to pass Bush's legislative priorities.

[L.A. Times Poll] By an overwhelming 71-25 margin the public believes Bush should compromise with Democrats on his issues, rather than proceed as if he has a mandate to push through his agenda.

So, presuming these samples are accurate reflections of current public opinion, a large majority of Americans think that the President and the Republican majority they just elected by larger margins should cave in to the Democratic minority - and the Democrats are not being encouraged to reciprocate the favor. That is truly weird, especially considering the conventional wisdom that Democrats like us are now tainted with "loser" status.

It's never too early, I guess, to officially kick the left-blogosphere's biennial ritual of making ridiculously over-optimistic projections about Democratic performance in the next election, so here it is:

We are so totally going to own you in 2006! LOL 2 TEH MAX!

January 17, 2005

Everyone Loves Hillary

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

MyDD has a post over a recent rumor that has popped up on the net today about Hillary Clinton running in '08 for sure.

I've been pretty silent on the issue, but I seem to feel that the conventional wisdom is right in assuming that she wouldn't be able to win. I've never been really sure why I think that, but I do.

Chris' post basically is a takedown of the conventional wisdom, offering a new sort of view of the junior senator from New York than most of us would think of.

And I would also like it if we stopped being so hypocritical about demanding that our leadership fight hard against Republicans but grow squeamish at the thought of their most hated figure being our standard bearer. Quite frankly, I really like anyone who can piss off Republicans as much as Hillary does.

Chris isn't endorsing her candidacy just yet, though. He admits he doesn't want Hillary to be the nominee. After reading this, I felt like reassessing my views on the Clintons and I've come to the conclusion that I don't want her to be the nominee, either.

This isn't from conventional wisdom, either. As progressive as her senate voting record may be, she does represent that third way brand of politics. It seems to me that is going by the wayside as we younger Democrats begin moving up through the party with different ideas about how to do things. That will inevitably cause friction and presidential campaigns are already tough enough without a media fight between different groups within our party. I just don't see her getting broad-based support, even if it is just people buying into the conventional wisdom and not supporting her when they otherwise might.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

January 11, 2005

Tuesday's with Tucker Carlson: Minor complaints on a rather well-run PBS show

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I don't know if it's because I'm excited about seeing Tucker with his own hour-long show on MSNBC or because I'm too pissed about other things, but I've been letting Tucker off easy lately with his PBS show. So this is going to be another post of just mild complaints about a conservative commentator that I consider my arch-enemy.

Tucker's First Up segment featured former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. I've read Suskind's Price of Loyalty too many times to not like O'Neill, but he is in favor of private accounts (and he was CEO of Alcoa, a very bad thing if you're a Texan). He and Bow Tie Boy had a five-minute discussion about what kind of private account system O'Neill would like to see. They talked about guaranteed million dollar annuities for everybody and all too soon time was up. I say too soon because they never got around to addressing the actual debate over whether or not to go with some half-assed partial plan like Bush wants or to keep the old system solvent. It was just a really long discussion of "wouldn't it be great if everyone had a million dollars when they retire?"

His Plus 2 segment wasn't any better. To discuss Gonzales' confirmation as AG, Tucker brought in nut-job extraordinaire David Frum and Katrina vanden Heuval. Frum did something that Gonzales was criticized for not doing, defending torture in certain circumstances. My liberalism won't let me get passed moral absolutism on certain things, like "torture is wrong". But Frum's conservatism does no such thing. But my main beef is not with Frum. He makes himself irrelevant very easily. Vanden Heuval is my problem. I've seen her go on two different shows the past week and call Alberto Gonzales "Antonio Gonzales". Each time there is an awkward silence by the other people because they don't want to be rude and point out she has no idea who she's even talking about.

Katrina is just a bad spokesperson for the Left. She always seems like she doesn't have a full grasp of whatever it is she is supposed to be discussing. Plus, me being a fairly liberal person, I always feel llike she might be taking things a bit too far. When she is explaining something, I really don't think she is speaking for the majority of us in the Democratic party.

Tucker, you have got to get some better people on the show. Heck, I'll go on the show to discuss things with you. Just quit putting vanden Heuval in for the liberals. I don't want her representing us anymore than you would want a crazy guy like David "I invented axis of evil" Frum representing your views.

The show ended with a piece on animals who ran away to higher ground just before the tsunami hit the coast of the Indian Ocean. I'm sure psychic animals is interesting to someone, but I really didn't feel like learning some stupid, inane fact about Indian elephants. So I turned the channel.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk for the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

December 29, 2004

Musical chairs

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Jerome over at MyDD is keeping us up to date on the horse race for the DNC chair.

According to him, Dean still has the best chance of winning. Dean has popular support, something relatively unheard of in a race for the chair, and he is the Reform candidate, which is what everyone but the leadership wants. It is most definitely his race to lose, and right now, no news is good news.

The Anybody But Dean vote, if you want to look at it like that, seems to be split between Simon Rosenberg and Donnie Fowler. At this point any kind of reform-minded person would probably be choosing between these three candidates with the lion's share going to Dean. I've mentioned before that I think Rosenberg would make a pretty good chair. Fowler is much the same. But Dean brings an actual sense of outside the Beltway reform that I just don't think Rosenberg can compete with. I think we need to get someone who is not DC to be our spokesman and to be making strategy until the next election cycle. It doesn't hurt that Dean understands netroots activism as well as any of the other reform candidates.

Tim Roemer is something of an enigma to me. I don't understand why he has as much support as he does since he's pretty much an establishment candidate. The DLC says something needs to change, the Deaniacs say something needs to change, why would anyone want the same old same old? Unless of course you're aready in power, which explains why Pelosi and Reid are backing him.

Not so good for the candidates from Texas, either. Martin Frost and Ron Kirk both seem to be nowhere in the race, no real support outside the state and no real platform to stand on. I have to ask, why even bother?

That about sums up the race to date. Dean's way out in front and the DNC ignores him at their own risk. I mean, do you really want thousands upon thousands of Deaniacs to just not give you money? They'll contribute at DFA's site instead, because they think Dean is the man to lead us out of the desert. It's his to lose but I guess we'll see in a month where it goes.

This is a guest post by Nathan Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco-Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

December 20, 2004

Tuesdays with Tucker Carlson: Is prime time ready for bow ties?

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Where was I? You would think that I would hear something about my archnemesis sooner than this. Word is that MSNBC is offering Bow Tie Boy his own show during Norville's current time slot, meaning he would compete against Hannity for ratings. Would Tucker leave his feces-flinging job at Crossfire and say goodbye to the strangeness that now pervades CNN? I imagine he would.

Though I may hate his guts... and his bow tie, I hope he inks a good deal for himself. I'll be sure to tune in if only to have more fodder for these columns.

All this via TV Newser and Wonkette.

This is a guest post by Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com

December 11, 2004

Tuesday's with Tucker Carlson: going where no bow tie has gone before

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Tucker had a special edition of his PBS show last night. On Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered he had an extended interview with Robert D. Kaplan, a regular contributor for The Atlantic Monthly, and they were talking about embedding reporters and whether or not it was a good idea.

Tucker did an actual interview where he asked salient questions (a rarity for him) and there were things I agreed with and disagreed with. I think a global media with no national attachment is agood thing, but I also think he was right when he said that politicians sometimes have to make deals with countries that otherwise have poor human rights records and are considered disdainful. Kaplan gave Uzbekistan as an example and Tucker followed with Pakistan when they were discussing the war with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Kaplan said that more progress was being made in the area of human rights under General Musharraf than under the democratically elected regime he overthrew. I don't know how right he is, and I think history shows we get problems later down the line by supporting military dictators (Saudi Arabia, Nicaragua, etc.)

But they both agreed on this one bit that I just have to quote:

Kaplan: Last week, Rumsfeld gave an interview to Bill O'Reilly which was very revealing. He was asked about, didn't you think of an insurgency, didn't you think this was going to happen. He said, we thought about a lot of thing, chemical attack, refugee migration, all the things he said he worried about were things that could go wrong in the invasion, not what would go wrong after the invasion. After the invasion, there's only two things that can go wrong, chaos and insurgency. Everything else, bringing in electricity, water, police, are all designed to prevent those two things. So if you're going to invade a country, and then not prepare for insurgency or chaos afterwards, you haven't done your planning. Because they did not do their planning, you know, they're left a year, 18 months later with 150,000 troops, and then everything else is shortchanged. There's not enough steel for the uparmored Humvees, not enough glass, you know, all kinds of shortages because none of this, they didn't expect to need 150,000 troops 18 months later in the first place.

So, that begs the question, why is Donald Rumsfeld still Sec. of Defense? I can't understand it, and frankly, I don't think anyone else on this planet does, either.

If it's something that Bush thinks will show that he thinks he made a mistake in invading Iraq, I think the cat's already out of the bag on that. Everyone knows it was either a mistake to invade in the first place or that the invasion was the right idea at the right time, carried out by the wrong people. If you were pro-invasion, you probably don't think the occupation has been handled too well. If you were anti-war (like me) you probably have said to yourself, "well, they did it anyway. I just hope this all works out and they achieve something." You decided to root for the plan, only to find out there was no plan.

Yet no Republican is really calling for Rumsfeld's resignation... except John McCain. And he's only said he has no confidence in him. WTF?

I'd have to say Tucker wasn't a big dick this week, so I guess that makes him a little dick, which gives us something to talk about until next week.

This is a guest post from Nate Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense (which hasn't been updated in days) a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com

December 08, 2004

You thought "f**k the south" was over?

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

The Gadflyer's Fly Trap has an interesting post today about the Democratic Party's national ambitions. Essentially, it explains that whenever the DLC kvetches about us not being a "national party" like the Republicans, that we give up the south and that's why we lose, they are just being idiots. The GOP is not a national party either, since after all, they totally gave up on campaigning in the Northeast and West.

I get really tired of hearing some of the DLCers moan and groan how we need to be like the Republicans. I've even heard some Democrats saying things like "we should give up abortion, it'll play better to conservatives in the Heartland." and "we need to protect the party from those on the left." Excuse me? I'm Catholic and I hate abortions as much as James Dobson and Jerry Falwell, but the last time I checked, the Supreme Court said it was a right that American women have and I'm going to do my damndest to make sure a woman that wants an abortion can get one. And we are "the left." If you're not even slightly left-of-center, maybe you're in the wrong political party. If everyone else in your party disagrees with you, maybe you're really a Republican and would be happier with them. I mean, look at Zell Miller, he's happier now.

I believe the key to Democratic victory is spending time and money to turn battleground states into blue states. Period. The more of the states we don't have to fight over later, the better. And we can do that by grassroots party building and GOTV efforts by party faithful. Infrastructure people! We don't need to be Republican-lite, which is why I want so desperately for Howard Dean to get the party chairmanship. He may not be as liberal as I am, but he knows he is a Democrat damnit! And he's gonna act like it.

This is a guest post by Nate Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

November 10, 2004

American Conservatism: On the Cusp of Self-Parody

By Jim Dallas

One of the seminal movies in Hollywood history is Star Trek IV, the movie where Kirk goes back in time to save the humpback whales.

Why do I say this? Well, it was at that point that it became tremendously obvious that one of the greatest cultural icons of the 60s and 70s, the Star Trek franchise, was spent. Spock had died and been re-born. The original NCC-1701 Enterprise had been destroyed.

And so Star Trek IV is mostly a series of in-jokes, poking fun at Trek's characters, themes, and the general aura the late 1960s (e.g. the jokes about "LDS" and Berkeley). They weren't just beaming up whales, they were jumping the shark.

So to, it seems, with movement conservatism's quest to paint liberalism as degenerate. When you're not sure whether they're serious or joking (apparently, serious), they've already lost. Probably the only people on earth who will find this funny are self-described liberals who are tired of being pigeon-holed.

Hat tip to Pandagon.

October 06, 2004

Why Stupid Online Polls Matter

By Byron LaMasters

Because in the past twenty minutes or so, MSNBC has repeated about three times that 59% of their over 2+ million online voters thought that John Edwards won. Totally unscientific, yes. But having everyone repeat over and over that their viewers thought Edwards won is a good coup in the spin department.

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