Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Dems too Cocky?

Toby Harnden in Britain’s Telegraph writes what begins to look like a plausible strategy for Republican candidates in this election cycle: there’s "blood in the water" on the Dem side he argues. They may finish themselves off if Republicans leave them alone. Obama is presenting himself too much as the left-wing anti-war candidate which (as events have proven) has the danger of making him look weak and childish in the mold of McGovern and Dukakis. Hillary’s strength is that she is the safe candidate--like Mondale or like Gore. The problem is that her likability is at least equal to that of Gore or Mondale too. Which is to say that she’s not particularly likable and we all know what happened to Gore and Mondale when they were confronted with likable Republicans. Say whatever you will about all of the Republican front runners--they’re at least likable.

Discussions - 8 Comments

I don't know if America wants another "likable" President. We had 8 years of Clinton, followed by 8 years of Bush.

I think America might just be in the mood for some good old fashioned, ornery competence.

It's just a thought. But I'd like to see some polling on that.

This is the United States, we're not completely soft like the Europeans. It doesn't mean the nation wants a Patton, a LeMay, but it doesn't mean we're looking for more politicians saying "moms and dads" instead of "parents," it shouldn't be thought that we want politicians saying our enemies are "kids," instead of cold-blooded, murderous dirtballs.

I think our country is looking for the anti-Bush candidate. No more Karen Hughes, no more Condi, no more incompetence.

It's obvious that Bush was the lesser of two evils. He hasn't lived up to expectations on the left, right or center. I fear Obama more than Hilary. I'd rather face Clinton Phase II and hope for a do nothing congress. If Bush's bad ideas had been coming from a Democrat the Republican congress could have been in opposition. For now I am hopeful for Thompson, Romney or Giuliani to pull through in 2008.

George Bush is personally likeable, despite a few foibles, to anyone who is fair-minded. Despite an unlikeable and otherwise lousy opponent in John Kerry, despite the generic GOP advantage on national-security issues, and despite a strong economy, Bush came very close to losing re-election in 2004. Also despite his likeability, he has become enormously unpopular as a president, and enormous numbers of Americans personally hate him. Among winners, I doubt that Richard Nixon in 1968, or Al Gore in 2000 (who won the popular vote), sparked warm fuzzies in swing voters on a personal level. If swing voters are determined to punish the incumbent party, or reward the incumbent party, or try the "out" party, personal likeability may no longer be a decisive factor. The Dems are likely to have a massive financial advantage in 2008. They can count on a massive media advantage. These things can easily move even a candidate's likeability: Shrillary's up, Rudy's or any other Republican's down. Shrillary is a very shrewd, disciplined politician. Politically speaking, she has one of the great political talents of all time, "husband" Bill, at her side -- offering advice, running intereference, and standing in when need be. Also, her coldness and arrogance might actually make some voters more, not less, comfortable in voting for a woman president.

Agree that Oprahbama would be a poor risk for the Dems as their nominee. I had figured he was smoother, more able to play moderate while holding the lefties. To date, though, he has blown a lot of the good will for him, across the spectrum, by looking so loosy-goosy McGovernite, and not just ready for the big time. The Republican base would be somewhat less unified against him (charm, racial guilt, none of the Shrillary and Bill scandals). But he has nothing like Shrillary's depth of political experience. He's just a liberal golden boy. However, it's wrong to think the Dems will just spoil it for themselves. While Republicans sometimes to the Democrats' work for them, the reverse happens less frequently. We cannot win this election without a damned good campaign, and some damned good attacks on the Dems. Ages ago, Robert Taft said: The way you deal with an opponent like Truman is to "hit him every time he opens his mouth." Dewey didn't, and I think this went a long way toward losing an election he should have won. Wait until fall of '08? No. Perceptions of a campaign are to a considerable extent set in the year or so before the conventions.
Clinton used this insight, which still seems lost on many Republican professionals, to great effect in 1991-92 and (with Dick Morris) in 1995-96.

There's another possibility here. The sheer scope of illegal immigration, and the massive increase in crime parallel to that, may have opened the door for another "law & order" campaign, just like Nixon ran in '68.

Hardly a week goes by without some horrific rape, some horrific home invasion, some horrific killing, and the perps always seem to be illegals. Americans don't much like it. Giuliani has a well-deserved reputation for being tough on crime. The mood of the wider electorate may be moving towards the type of toughness that Rudy has demonstrated, and demonstrated in the teeth of a hailstorm of criticism, by liberals and the media.

Good point. Rudy has extensive experience in fighting scum, and voters do worry about scum, and they should. Romney has no such experience -- unless Massachusetts Democratic bosses count. (And did Mitt really fight them?)

If the trend of recent criminality continues, and the frequency thereof, come November, '08, "law & order" could become THE issue, after the war. And it would stand to reason, Washington DELIBERTATELY allowed the border to become chaotic, but didn't intend to allow "law & order" to become a serious issue come election time. A typical establishment/elite attitude, exactly what you would expect from the gated community crowd.

But it would take moral courage for a candidate to use that issue, Giuliani has fortitude to spare, he didn't buckle under a criticism that would have broken most politicians.

We'll just have to wait and see.

However, it's wrong to think the Dems will just spoil it for themselves. While Republicans sometimes to the Democrats' work for them, the reverse happens less frequently. Oh, by all means, we should help them along. I'm just a bit cheered by this man's perception that they're making it easier.

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