Words Worth Noting
Saturday, November 06, 2004
A lot has been written about the youth vote, much of it conflicting. They showed up. They didn't show up. Here are the hopefully definitive numbers:
"Early on election day, exit polling data suggested that young voters were not turning out in the numbers activists had expected.
But once the votes were tallied, the research group CIRCLE found that almost 21 million Americans under 30 had voted � 4.6 million more than in 2000.
The turnout among young voters rose from about 42 percent to 51 percent, according to CIRCLE, which is based at the University of Maryland."
"The crowd went wild, and they went wild again when the president finally arrived and gave his stump speech. There were Bush's periodic stumbles and gaffes, but for the followers of the faith-based president, that was just fine. They got it -- and ''it'' was the faith.
And for those who don't get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me.
''You think he's an idiot, don't you?'' I said, no, I didn't. ''No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence.
"They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!''
"In this instance, the final ''you,'' of course, meant the entire reality-based community.
"...In the end, Bush doesn't have to say he's ordained by God. After a day of speeches by Hardy Billington and others, it goes without saying.
To me, I just believe God controls everything, and God uses the president to keep evil down, to see the darkness and protect this nation,'' Billington told me, voicing an idea shared by millions of Bush supporters. ''Other people will not protect us. God gives people choices to make. God gave us this president to be the man to protect the nation at this time.'' "
Read "Without a Doubt."
Friday, November 05, 2004
Heidi Julavits - novelist and co-editor of the Believer:
"To be honest, I didn't really care much about the feelings of that 51 percent -- I far more cared about rectifying our terribly tarnished image throughout the world...Now, however, I realize that we have to treat our own country as a foreign country, with whom our relations are strained beyond the point of communication...
I cannot -- cannot -- understand why 51 percent of the people in this country voted for George Bush -- and that is a problem. We need to understand why, and if we understand why, then perhaps our attempts at communication will be more effective."
Thursday, November 04, 2004
"Some people think you cannot break a dog that has got in the habit of killin' chickens, but my friend John Henry always claimed you could. He said the way to do it is to take one of the chickens the dog has killed and wire the thing around the dog's neck, good and strong. And leave it there until that dead chicken stinks so bad that no other dog or person will even go near that poor beast. Thing'll smell so bad the dog won't be able to stand himself. You leave it on there until the last little bit of flesh rots and falls off, and that dog won't kill chickens again.
The Bush administration is going to be wired around the neck of the American people for four more years, long enough for the stench to sicken everybody. It should cure the country of electing Republicans."
"City residents talked about this chasm between outlooks with characteristic New York bluntness. Dr. Joseph, a bearded, broad-shouldered man with silken gray hair, was sharing coffee and cigarettes with his fellow dog walker, Roberta Kimmel Cohn, at an outdoor table outside the hole-in-the-wall Breadsoul Cafe near Lincoln Center.... 'I'm saddened by what I feel is the obtuseness and shortsightedness of a good part of the country - the heartland,' Dr. Joseph said. 'This kind of redneck, shoot-from-the-hip mentality and a very concrete interpretation of religion is prevalent in Bush country - in the heartland.' 'New Yorkers are more sophisticated and at a level of consciousness where we realize we have to think of globalization, of one mankind, that what's going to injure masses of people is not good for us,' he said."
His friend, Ms. Cohn, a native of Wisconsin who deals in art, contended that New Yorkers were not as fooled by Mr. Bush's statements as other Americans might be. "New Yorkers are savvy," she said. "We have street smarts. Whereas people in the Midwest are more influenced by what their friends say." "They're very 1950's," she said of Midwesterners. "When I go back there, I feel I'm in a time warp."
Yup. that's the way to win friends and influence people. Perhaps we Dems could begin to regroup by not contemptuously disparaging our fellow Americans no matter how justified one feels.
"Indeed, even close observers of Ohio politics might have missed the Bush campaign's emphasis on social values because much of its outreach efforts occurred away from the mass media. While the two campaigns slugged it out on big-city TV stations with commercials about the war and the economy, Bush's Ohio campaign used targeted mailings, phone calls and doorstep visits to talk about values, said John C. Green, a University of Akron professor who studies religion and politics. Green described one piece of mail from the Bush campaign that featured a beautiful church and a traditional nuclear family. It was headlined, 'George W. Bush shares your values. Marriage. Life. Faith.' 'It could not have been clearer if it had quoted from the Bible,' Green said. "
"Some New Yorkers, like Meredith Hackett, a 25-year-old barmaid in Brooklyn, said they didn't even know any people who had voted for President Bush. (In both Manhattan and the Bronx, Mr. Bush received 16.7 percent of the vote.) Others spoke of a feeling of isolation from their fellow Americans, a sense that perhaps Middle America doesn't care as much about New York and its animating concerns as it seemed to in the weeks immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center.
'Everybody seems to hate us these days,' said Zito Joseph, a 63-year-old retired psychiatrist. 'None of the people who are likely to be hit by a terrorist attack voted for Bush. But the heartland people seemed to be saying, 'We're not affected by it if there would be another terrorist attack.' "
Bill Clinton intuitively understood the challenge, and John Edwards seems to as well, perhaps because of their own working-class origins. But the party as a whole is mostly in denial.
To appeal to middle America, Democratic leaders don't need to carry guns to church services and shoot grizzlies on the way. But a starting point would be to shed their inhibitions about talking about faith, and to work more with religious groups.
Otherwise, the Democratic Party's efforts to improve the lives of working-class Americans in the long run will be blocked by the very people the Democrats aim to help. "
The election results reaffirmed that. Despite an utterly incompetent war performance in Iraq and a stagnant economy, Mr. Bush held onto the same basic core of states that he won four years ago - as if nothing had happened. It seemed as if people were not voting on his performance. It seemed as if they were voting for what team they were on.
This was not an election. This was station identification. I'd bet anything that if the election ballots hadn't had the names Bush and Kerry on them but simply asked instead, 'Do you watch Fox TV or read The New York Times?' the Electoral College would have broken the exact same way."
"Just as Zell Miller was so over the top at the G.O.P. convention that he made Mr. Cheney seem reasonable, so several new members of Congress will make W. seem moderate.
Tom Coburn, the new senator from Oklahoma, has advocated the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions and warned that 'the gay agenda' would undermine the country. He also characterized his race as a choice between 'good and evil' and said he had heard there was 'rampant lesbianism' in Oklahoma schools.
Jim DeMint, the new senator from South Carolina, said during his campaign that he supported a state G.O.P. platform plank banning gays from teaching in public schools. He explained, 'I would have given the same answer when asked if a single woman who was pregnant and living with her boyfriend should be hired to teach my third-grade children.'
John Thune, who toppled Tom Daschle, is an anti-abortion Christian conservative - or 'servant leader,' as he was hailed in a campaign ad - who supports constitutional amendments banning flag burning and gay marriage. "
"on the GOP Base: Per my piece from this morning and my previous post, here's an extremely telling piece of exit polling data from yesterday: Not only did Kerry win by an 86-13 margin among self-described liberals, he also won by a 55-45 margin among self-described moderates. So how'd Bush pull it off? He won 84-15 among self described conservatives, and, more importantly, he made sure conservatives comprised a much bigger chunk of the electorate than they did in 2000. (Conservatives comprised about 34 percent of the electorate yesterday, versus 29 percent in 2000--a huge shift, raw numbers-wise.) Anyone anticipating a conciliatory second Bush term should stop and consider how much Bush owes his base."
Ok, today I gotta give major credit to Maureen Dowd, who came out swinging:
"With the Democratic Party splattered at his feet in little blue puddles, John Kerry told the crushed crowd at Faneuil Hall in Boston about his concession call to President Bush.
'We had a good conversation,' the senator said. 'And we talked about the danger of division in our country and the need, the desperate need, for unity, for finding the common ground, coming together. Today I hope that we can begin the healing.'
Democrat: Heal thyself.
W. doesn't see division as a danger. He sees it as a wingman.
The president got re-elected by dividing the country along fault lines of fear, intolerance, ignorance and religious rule. He doesn't want to heal rifts; he wants to bring any riffraff who disagree to heel."
"In Ohio, 24 percent of those surveyed identified themselves as 'white evangelical/born-again Christians.'
Gay marriage was a key part of Karl Rove's turnout strategy, and stood out as one of the cultural fault lines dividing the two Americas. Overwhelmingly, Americans say they oppose same-sex marriage, yet favor civil unions and other rights for gay couples. But the issue became a catchall for the concerns of Christian conservatives, who were already fed up with the many restrictions "activist" judges had imposed on them: rulings protecting abortion, banning school prayer and limiting religious displays in public buildings."
Then there's the candidate who needs but one name: Hillary. She has no peer in fund-raising prowess, name recognition and sheer star power. And she put her own ambitions on hold to campaign hard for Kerry. But she's also the most divisive Democratic figure in the country, and she revs up the GOP base as much as the Democratic faithful.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
1. Democrats need to move right.
2. Democrats need to move left.
3. Democrats should sit tight and await the inevitable demographic shift that will put them on top again.
They're all wrong. Let's take them one at a time."
Hate to point this out (no, actually, I don't--I've been saying this for a while now), but the "huge fundamentalist Christian revival" took place about thirty years ago, not last month, and it has always been explictly political. If I may condense a few decades of history into one sentence, the perfect storm that led to what we now call the Christian Right was this combination:
Angry reaction by conservative evangelicals to court rulings on school prayer, Bible-reading in public schools, and abortion motivating them to enter the political realm for the first time
Outrage among Catholics, who had previously kept kind of quiet while focusing on assimilating amid anti-Catholicism, after Roe v. Wade, mobilizing them into a politically active force
The realization by Republican strategists that they need to form a cohesive electoral block and that their best bet for winning the South was partnering with white church leaders, since those institutions were the last acceptable bastion of racism
Rock-solid coalition of Christian Right and Republican Party.
And as a result, for a good twenty years now, people have assumed that if you're religious, you're a Republican and that if you're a Democrat, you can't possibly be religious. We know that isn't true. What's more, John Kerry's campaign (particularly in the last stretch of October) made great strides toward knocking down that mistaken belief. But unfortunately, it's going to take more time until perceptions match reality.
I gotta say, it doesn't help much when exit polls and sloppy reporting use terms like "moral values" and "moral issues" as shorthand for very narrow, divisive issues like abortion and gay marriage, feeding into twenty years of Republican rhetoric. Opposition to the war in Iraq is a moral issue. The alleviation of poverty is a moral issue. Concern about abortion is a moral value, yes, but you can stay at the level of empty rhetoric about a "culture of life" or you can talk about how to actually reduce abortion rates, which is what most people care about more. (Did you hear once during this election season that abortion rates have risen under W. after they fell dramatically during Clinton's eight years in office?)
"Religious" does not mean Republican. And "moral" does not been conservative. There's going to be a lot of discussion about all of this over the coming weeks and months, and it's incredibly important to make sure we're neither sloppy about our terms nor overly broad in how we characterize "the faithful."
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Yes, it is. I always get a little choked up when I go to the local school to cast my vote. The humbleness of the surroundings only emphasizes the majesty of the process: this is democracy, America's great gift to the world, in action.
But over the last few days I've been seeing pictures from Florida that are even more majestic. They show long lines of voters, snaking through buildings and on down the sidewalk: citizens patiently waiting to do their civic duty. Those people still believe in American democracy; and because they do, so do I."
The long lines could pose a problem for John Kerry, who needs to do very well among minorities in heavily Democratic South Florida in order to offset Bush's margins in the state's Republican regions to the north. So far, he's been doing just that. But can working people afford to take off six hours from the job on Tuesday? So far, anecdotal evidence suggests that few voters have ended up ducking out of long voting lines. But will that remain true on Election Day? "
It is no secret that there have been a lot of moments in my life when I have been embarrassed at the positions assumed and actions taken by that incredibly amorphous and uncoordinated thing called the Democratic Party.
Not tonight. And not this fall.
The Democratic Party has (a very few ventures into demagoguery on "outsourcing" and employment numbers aside) conducted itself with honor and courage. It has told the truth about its political opponents. It has put forward an alternate vision of America--one that values our allies and builds the Grand Alliance without which the War on Terror will be long and bitter indeed, one that levels with the American people rather than pulling the wool over their eyes with phony intelligence and specious reasons for actions, one that values our soldiers and their lives not to send them into combat in insufficient numbers with inadequate materiel. The Democratic Party has argued for concern with the future of America--while our adversaries argue for the creation of enormous fiscal messes for future generations to clean up. The Democratic Party has argued for equality of opportunity--while our adversaries argue for the great principle that society should be arranged so that the children of the wealthy and the powerful automatically grasp wealth and power themselves. The Democratic Party has argued for effective government--while our adversaries have presented an example of governmental fecklessness and incompetence that I do not believe has been matched anytime in American history.
This year's political campaigns have been conducted against an incumbent, in a time of national danger, with Ralph Nader (once again) spotting the Republicans a point or two of the vote. It ought to be a blowout: it is very difficult to beat an incumbent in America today. The fact that it is not a blowout but is at the moment close is testimony to the truth of the Democratic message, to the wisdom of the American people, and to the skill of the Democratic Party's activists.
Tonight, I'm very proud to be a Democrat. And so all Democrats should be.
Monday, November 01, 2004
A carefully worded statement released by his office shortly before the other eight justices began hearing arguments gave no indication when, or whether, the 80-year-old chief justice might return to the bench.
That silence invited immediate speculation that he would soon retire."
Sunday, October 31, 2004
I think it's officially time for us to take a deep breath and take it down a notch:
"Last week an 18-year-old Marine recruit in West Palm Beach, Fla., was arrested for threatening to stab his girlfriend, partly, the authorities said, because she planned to vote for Senator John Kerry."
Let's hope this thing gets resolved on Tuesday.
“THE law has no business in the private bedrooms of consenting adults, such as homosexuals and prostitutes, former attorney-general and justice minister, Dr Oswald Harding is insisting.
HARDING. some things are just not the law's business
Harding remains unconvinced by the argument that the law should be used to enforce moral codes, and argued that the private activities of consenting homosexuals and prostitutes should not be criminalised.”
“He further posited that the Wolfden Committee's report reflected those of noted philosopher John Stuart Mill in his Essay on Liberty to the effect that the function of the law "is to preserve public order and decency, to protect the citizen from what is offensive or injurious, and to provide sufficient safeguards against exploitation or corruption of others, particularly those who are vulnerable because they are young, weak in body or mind or inexperienced". “
To my mind this is an important and courageous stance. Hope for us yet.