Sunday, February 22, 2004

Getting It
Maybe we should start keeping a list--people who get it and people who don't. Paul Krugman got the ball rolling a few months ago when he suggested that Howard Dean and Wesley Clark (may they rest in peace) understood the stakes of the presidential election this fall, but that the other guys didn't. The stakes are nothing less than a choice among futures--actually a three-way choice. Choice one is about real change. It would address the inequalities and structural defects currently inherent in the American way of life. This is where Dean, Clark, and to a certain degree, John Edwards, are coming from. Choice two is change for the sake of change--different nameplates on the office doors but a similar ethos in the boardroom. Nameplate on the Oval Office: John Kerry. And then there's the third one--in which the breathtaking changes of the past three years accelerate, which is what you get if you pull the lever for Bush.

Somebody else who doesn't get it--Tom Daschle, who told a South Dakota audience last week that he thinks the war in Iraq is going just fine, and that he's not particularly upset over the WMD intelligence flap. Say what? This is the leader of the opposition in the United States Senate? He also said that he thinks the war is responsible for the deficit. (That's the kind of razor-sharp political analysis his audience came to hear, I bet.) While I don't want the Repugs to gain any more seats in the Senate, I'd almost like to see Daschle get beat this November just so the Democrats could have the chance to pick a leader with a spine.

Does Ralph Nader get it? Who the hell knows? Nader announced this morning that yes, he's running for president again in 2004. High Democratic officials are greeting this news with rapid breathing and fantods, although Nader is not running as a Green this time, so he'll have a harder time getting on the ballot in all 50 states. Also, it's unlikely he'll find it so easy to make his 2000 schtick stick this time--that there's no difference between the major party candidates for president.

For evidence of the difference, Nader might look back to Friday afternoon. That's when Bush installed Bill Pryor on the federal bench with a recess appointment. This guy is another Scary Wingnut for Jesus. As Alabama attorney general, he defended Roy Moore's Ten Commandments shenanigans. He's argued for government-sponsored prayer, and subscribes to the wingnut doctrine that the United States is a Christian nation and should be governed accordingly. You can interpret the appointment as a nod at the hardcores in Bush's base--"I've done all I can for now on gay marriage [by indicating he'd support a Constitutional amendment against it], but I'm with you, and here's a nice raw steak to prove it."

No Democrat--hell, a lot of Republicans--would ever have appointed a guy like Pryor to the federal appeals court. For all John Kerry's faults, this is the kind of thing we wouldn't see if he were president. So yeah, Ralph, there is a difference. But there's a powerful distaste for politics-as-usual among some Democrats, too. For example, it's easy to picture disaffected some Deaniacs aligning with Nader.

OK, you waited long enough: And now, the blog news I alluded to on Friday. The first blog I ever read regularly was Jerry Bowles' Best of the Blogs, and it's still the one I turn to first each day. I'm happy to have been chosen as BoTB's first guest blogger, and I'll be posting there starting tomorrow. It'll be fun to bloviate to an audience far wider than the one on my own blog--but that's not half as cool as being on the same page with a group of bloggers whose thinking and writing I greatly respect. See you there . . . .

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