Sunday, May 30, 2004Sunday, May 30, 2004
Just got done watching Russert. First of all, I find it fascinating that they included one rep from NBC (Andrea Mitchell, who HATED Bill Clinton), Roger Simon from Time, Joe Klein (US News), and some wacky dude from the Weekly Standard. Why isn't there someone on the panel from one of the liberal mags (Prospect, Nation, Progressive). It reminds me a little of FOX.
Secondly, there was a great deal of discussion of Kerry's problems with Iraq and lack of enthusiasm. The show left you with the impression that Kerry is having trouble because the Democratic base is in favor of unilateral withdrawal, and Bush's movement to Kerry's position is creating problems with that base. Leaving aside the substance of any withdrawal, I think the basic argument from Kerry should be: Bush CANNOT fix this problem, because he needs international support, which is going to take a new President. Franken has made this point several times, and I think he's right. This would return the debate to whether we should have gone in and Bush's lies, where I think we are stronger, and underlines Bush's incompetence and create more daylight.
As far as enthusiasm goes, I really doubt how much enthusiasm there ever is for a challenger who is a moderate. Kennedy in 1960 didn't have a great deal of fervent support, nor did Clinton in 1992, and neither did Bush in 2000. In the last election, the focus of Republicans was on defeating Bill Clinton (by way of his surrogate, Al Gore), much like defeating Bush is for liberals this year. Kerry doesn't really need to evince a great deal of personal support to get the left to turn out- they're pretty well mobilized as it is.
This doesn't mean that Kerry doesn't deserve our emotional support, though. Much of the "boring" tag is a self-reinforcing media perception. I saw Kerry speak a few months ago, and I felt fired up. He's not Robert Kennedy or Mario Cuomo, but who is, really? He's been committed for years to protecting women's rights and the environment, two big liberal issues, and has been very mature on foreign policy, which we need very much right now.
And I really fail to see what was so radical about Gore's speech. It was very critical of Bush, but that doesn't mean it was extremely liberal. A lot of moderates could have given a very similar speech. It was the passion that people have objected to, not the case Gore is making. For some reason passion is now a bad thing. But even if Gore had been boring (wait, I thought he was....), there still has been absolutely no public discussion over the merits of Gore's arguments, only some half-baked analysis of their political impact. Typical reporting by the lazy press.