Better than Java
Michael Ubaldi, December 8, 2003.
The alarm clock flicked on this morning to a Democratic primary report, the announcer mid-sentence in describing Wesley Clark's campaign stop at Cleveland.
One of his aims was, of course, to strip the "richest" Americans - say, the top 10% who shoulder two-thirds of the burden - of their tax cuts. Cue an audio bite from Clark, to the effect of "We've got to teach them that people have to help other people." Wes, son, individual opportunity is what the private sector is for, and the private sector is where all that taxroll-removed income stays.
As if that weren't enough, the announcer dutifully reminded us all of Clark's entry into the American Electoral Car with Square Wheels category. But she didn't call it socialized medicine, CanadaCare, Francapothecary or St. Raphael Waiting List and Centrally Managed Mercy Hospital. No, just "universal healthcare," a euphemism that lifts, for itself, some of the majesty from legitimately noble causes like universal democracy or universal suffrage. Remember, for crying out loud, when Hillary Clinton's socialized plan called for the federal government's strategic apportionment of degrees to doctors? Or the illegality of arbitrary pricing of medical procedures? When few of the public supposedly "want" a Medicare entitlement, why in the world would they vote to surrender everything to Washington?
How any pundit can call the eventual challenger to Bush stiff competition, especially when none of them has adopted Bill Clinton's disciplined centrist platform and no right-of-center third party candidate looks poised to take 20 percent of the 2004 vote, is beyond me. Might a Democrat, campaigning hard for the far left base "move to the center" in the general election? Not when the broadcast triumvirate has lost its monopoly on newsmaking. I'm surprised, Peter Jackson blockbusters notwithstanding, that the Democratic presidential candidates have remained "Dwarves" to hecklers. What about Nāzgul? Ringwraiths? The Nine: Neither totally unserious nor ably electable. John Breaux, Joe Biden, Zell Miller, we hardly knew ye.
PLEASE, CAN IT BE COMPETITIVE?: Glenn Reynolds blogs the latest suggestion by libertarians that November 2004 might be a horserace between Bush and Dean.
The Jonathan Rauch article to which Reynolds links proves a weak intersection. Dean is Clinton, sort-of; minus the charm, the utter lack of typical lefty condescension, the "middle class tax cut" touted far more vocally than health care or public works, the preprimary-manufactured New Democrat centrist image, the ability to "move center" in the final years of an age dominated by broadcast networks that won't challenge such a shift, a feckless opponent with a severely disaffected base, and a third-party candidate looking to glom nearly a fifth of the general election vote (most of it from the incumbent). Every single one of those advantages gave Clinton not even a majority, but a modest plurality. Bush is not Reagan, nor is he like his father. In the same vein, Dean is not Clinton, okay?
Libertarians seem to puff Dean up for two reasons: Bush is not all what they wish he'd be, and Dean is politically novel because of his two or three laissez-faire freckles (the ones he hasn't turned back on yet). By adding Dean to the equation, Bush is at once chastised for being a "national greatness" rightist, and threatened into competing with Dean's (current) views on, say, balanced budgets and gun ownership. But it all comes down to impractical pining. Dean's federalist gestures will, with the right, win him about as many votes as Bush will grab from the left by expanding domestic oversight of the federal government. Bush's gains towards level-headed Democrats and independents have been made, quite simply, through inimitable acts of character and leadership, the kind that allow a rightist like myself to admire FDR, Truman, Wilson and Kennedy despite my coolness towards other aspects of their politics; not by partisan-defined issues. Why don't libertarians just go for broke and make up a pretend candidate, one that combines all their favorite aspects of leadership? Call him "Dush" or "Bean." Dean's not going to happen. As I expressed with my little "hardly knew ye" remark, the Democrats passed up their contenders a long time ago.
CONTINUED: I have more.