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Michael Ubaldi, December 15, 2003.
Conventional wisdom holds, of course, that Saddam's capture will provide an unrestrained surge of confidence in markets. Me, I believe that investors have many more reasons to become and stay optimistic about the economy, military successes abroad notwithstanding. Let's be careful not to overemphasize single events and diminish the importance of slow, steady, universal improvements like America's economic rebound and Iraq's liberalization, yes?
Nevertheless, we can watch the Dow Jones do the jitterbug from right here.
DOW DOWN: The experts were wrong. I had a hunch. The important story here is a third day's closing above 10,000, held steady by post-recession economic forces - themselves enlivened by pro-market policies.
Michael Ubaldi, December 12, 2003.
Dean, Clinton and Clark are the talk of the Corner. Stanley Kurtz's remark about a Jeb Bush run for the White House - which I'd very strongly oppose, he's not made out for it - motivated me to lay out the long-term prediction that's been flitting around in my mind since July.
If you want to scratch at the crystal ball while everyone's spinning conspiracy theories about Democratic infighting, consider this, about a third each of logic, intuition and fact: Hillary runs in 2008 on an even more centrist campaign (superficially, of course) than her husband in 1992. Many of the same people who voted for Nader in 2004 to sink a politically indistinguishable Dean, having lost their leftist guy (be who he may) in the primaries, turn again to a Green candidate. It's more of a protest vote than a platform thing this time around. Hillary loses decisively to Condoleezza Rice. She bides her time, and then decides to run one more time in 2012. Far from disappearing, moderates following the Democratic Leadership Council will have become as tired of leftists in the party as the leftists will have of them. Think Joe Lieberman's warning times one thousand. The primaries and convention will make 1968 and 1972 look like a tidy City Council meeting; we might even see the anti-globalist thug crowd hustled in. Hillary, now of full stateswoman-like venerability, will run on an agenda even more centrist than 2008 or 1992 - think a JFK, 1960 right-flanking. She will be vocally, aggressively backed by moderates. She'll win the nomination, barely, and lose to Rice a second time.
Michael Ubaldi, December 10, 2003.
Jonah Goldberg ponders the best response to Ralph Nader's inter-party challenge:
From PoliticsNH.com:Nader explained that he is waiting for the Democratic and Republican National Committees to formally respond to a 25-page agenda that he proposed to them in recent weeks. He will make the agenda public when he gets a response, he said. Nader said he is expecting a reply from both organizations sometime in mid-December. "Iím going to get a response," he said. "The question is: whatís the quality."
Michael Ubaldi, December 9, 2003.
Those who argue that Dean will be a more formidable candidate than expected point to his Vermont record as a fiscal moderate and to the comparative modesty of his health-insurance plan, which is way less generous than that offered by the other major Democratic candidates. But Deanís combination of weakness in foreign policy, ultra-permissiveness in social policy, and stinginess in fiscal policy isnít "centrism": Itís the politics of the dinner parties of Brentwood and East Hampton, of people who read Vanity Fair and don't need an SUV because their grocer delivers. Look at this election from the point of view of a swing voter: say the assistant manager of an Ace hardware in suburban Nashville. Heís patriotic in foreign affairs, moderate to conservative on social issues Ė but worried about how heís going to pay his motherís nursing home bills. What is Dean offering him? Nothing but contempt. Iíll bet a box of Canadian doughnuts that if Dean is the Democratic nominee, Bush will win Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania Ė all states that Gore carried in 2000.
Neither would I. Bush was within the margin of error in a Gallup poll that happened to represent California some time ago.
Michael Ubaldi, December 9, 2003.
Wall Street just passed 10,000. We're probably bound to see the DJIA skim this mark from both directions over the next week or so, but there's no mistaking a distinct upward trend.
Michael Ubaldi, December 9, 2003.
Here's Dean's secret weapon in the general election: He's an angry jerk. Okay, he's not always a jerk, but he has his angry, jerky side. And that poses risks to his campaign that have been analyzed elsewhere.
Search me where this is going. Will Dean transform into a hawk as he walks over the Oval Office threshold?
Finally, Dean won't be running against a man regarded as a wimp - even by his detractors. The pro-dictatorship protesters' puppets of the Bush administration tell all.
WHAT WE WANT AND WHAT WE'LL RECEIVE: My confidence in Bush's victory over Dean (and Dean's unfitness for office) is based on reason and intuition - not partisan emotion. I hope that my strong statements in discounting Dean's chances as the Democratic nominee aren't taken as lockstep party-line pronouncements. Quite simply, they're not.
Take Dennis Kucinich (please!). I would love to see him yanked out of the House of Representatives. Two of his potential challengers - to whose websites I've linked in my right-hand column - are intelligent, visionary, brave young men. They would do well for Ohio's 10th District, far better than Dennis. As much as I want to see him defeated, however, I understand that campaigning against Dennis will not be an easy victory. The Republican nominee will need to overcome an enormous amount of calcified local support, union support, and name recognition. Can it be done? I hope, and can't think of better candidates than fellows like Herman and Cobbeldick. But I consider myself realistic about the challenge.
Therein lies the difference between a desire and an assessed objective. Dennis Kucinich will be difficult to unseat. So will George W. Bush, especially by Howard Dean.
THE PONNURUPHONE'S RINGING: Ramesh has more.
KRISTOL-CLEAR: Bill Kristol's warning to Bush and Republicans of Dean's potential found its way onto Instapundit's growing post. Personally, I find Kristol's domestic opinions to be less reliable than those on foreign policy - I recall him eagerly dismissing Schwarzenegger when the candidate was on a temporary plateau.
Kristol has a few interesting points, illustrating a gambit that relies on Dean living two political lives; one for the primary and a second for the general election. "Pivot" is the word Kristol uses, but I question if policy redirection that borders on dishonesty - Dean the Antiwar Candidate tries to come off as Dean the Somewhat Antiwar but Actually Nuanced Partially Pro-War Candidate with Qualifications - can actually work. If Gore, who never strayed too far left in the 2000 campaign, had successfully "pivoted," he would have been beaten Bush by a couple hundred electoral votes.
That didn't happen. Dean as Democratic nominee would carry quite a lot more baggage - and I suspect that news media in 2004, including weblogs, will allow far less spin to succeed. What's interesting is that while downplaying statements and promises he's made in the past year, Howard Dean as nominee would be drawing heavily on his governorship in order to "pivot." Will his record as governor dispel his off-putting, piecemeal nanny-state agenda? Only if he can actually demonstrate a real change in policy; if functionally distant political stances intruded into present time, we'd still consider Dick Gephardt pro-life and George W. Bush a foreign retractionist. But Dean can't have it both ways - and it looks like his substance will always remain on the left.
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 N‚zgul? 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.
Michael Ubaldi, December 4, 2003.
This morning, IP has begun a roundup of rebuttals to this attempt at a scandal, including two photos of Bush handing off turkey to American troops who, according to the Post's own snide caption, "were served from steam trays." Note the stream trays approximately ten inches below Bush's hands in the two Yahoo photos. (Blogosphere 2, Drudge 1.)
Even if the turkey was primped, the idea of using a centerpiece - especially at this level of politics - is about as culinarily innocuous as throwing away the vegetables simmering with viscera to make gravy. What about the parsley? The parsley! Was it for eating, or looking? The horror! Next we'll hear about how politicians have complexion-and-feature-enhancing makeup applied to their faces for television appearances.
Speaking of would-be scandals, as I said to OX over e-mail yesterday: "Did you hear that? It was the sound of Joe Wilson's credibility, and his little frog-march scandal, going 'poof.'" It's a poignant sight to see vanity culminate in myopia.
CULINARILY INNOCUOUS: John Cole is giving the story a good broadside. But a little below his post is a commenter with military identification who pounds this rubbish into the ground like a tent peg:
Greetings from LSA Anaconda at Balad, Iraq. I too ate in a military dining facility on Thanksgiving and surprise of surprise, we also had a fully stuffed turkey on a table that was not meant for consumption. It was simply there to grace a table that was made to look like home. As JC roughly said surely there must be better grist for the leftie scandal mill than this. Keep trying though, it is so very entertaining.
GIVE ME A BREAK: I didn't even need to look further than the Allen column itself to read the military angle:
[Officials] said the bird was not placed there in anticipation of Bush's stealthy visit, and military sources said a trophy turkey is a standard feature of holiday chow lines.
ANOTHER HELPING?: The Corner weighs in with some more military perspective.
A NATIONAL TRADITION SHATTERED (SNICKER): I feel as though the moon and all the stars and all the planets have fallen upon me.
Michael Ubaldi, December 2, 2003.
The classic children's book icon, Grandfather Twilight, broke twenty years of silence to endorse Congressman Dennis Kucinich for President in 2004. "In these extraordinary times we must act with extraordinary sincerity," he said.
There is a brave, truth-telling man from Ohio. His name is Dennis Kucinich, a Congressman who is running for President. As you know, I tend to be a calm old man, but when I heard Dennis speak, I got excited. He plans to create a Department of Peace. At last! Why has no one done it before? This is exactly how a wise President should think, what a good President should do! (GT thumped a gentle fist on the table.)
Creatures of Forest Sign on for Kucinich
Expect Dennis' poll numbers to jump (though not necessarily upwards). [Or maybe they'll stay real, real low.] As Danny puts it, "this is beyond parody."
UPDATE: There's an extremely lame, extremely small disclaimer at the very bottom of the page. It reads, somewhat cryptically, "This is a freedom of speech individual citizen's endorsement. It does not reflect the opinions of any organization."
Too little, too late. Kucinich campaign, have any of you ever heard of "guilt by association"? Or, at the very least, "selective editing"?
OH, NO: James Cromwell has a one-way ticket on the Kucinich train. Well, as long as it doesn't interfere with his work...
Michael Ubaldi, December 2, 2003.
Matt Drudge has put up a bulletin on comments made by Dean on Chris Matthews' Hardball. Not surprisingly, Dean dislikes successful corporate media entities:
MATTHEWS: Are you going to break up the giant media enterprises in this country?
WRONG SIDE OF THE ATLANTIC AND THE AISLE: Steve Verdon concludes that Dean, by virtue of his own statements, is a socialist (Via IP). Call Dean a "fiscal conservative" and you might as well call hot "cold." Getting labeled as a liberal is a kiss of death in and of itself, but the S-word breaks into the McGovern realm of American electoral rejection - a fact surely not lost on the Bush camp. Even if Clinton's prizewinning spin team weren't aligned against Dean - which they are - repackaging old Howard as a centrist in the general election would be impossible. Forget the overused, "Sister Souljah" escape hatch: if it were Constitutionally allowed, Dean's prospects for an ideologically consistent vice president could easily include Lionel Jospin.
DID I SAY "JOSPIN"? I MEANT NIKOLAI LENIN: Andrew Sullivan caught wind of a Dean quote from the same Hardball interview, re-aired (at least) on Limbaugh's radio show today. This is none other than weird:
Also, we have less-fewer levers much the key, I believe, to Iran is pressure through the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is supplying much of the equipment that Iran, I believe, most likely is using to set itself along the path of developing nuclear weapons. We need to use that leverage with the Soviet Union and it may require us to buying the equipment the Soviet Union was ultimately going to sell to Iran to prevent Iran from them developing nuclear weapons.