2004 November 03 Wednesday
Democrats Blew A Huge Opportunity In Ohio

Imagine the Democrats had chosen a popular politician from Ohio as their Vice Presidential nominee. That might have swung enough votes for the Democrats in Ohio to cost Bush a defeat in the Electoral College.

Are any of Ohio's Democrats in Congress popular and at all charismatic?

Of course, the Democrats had a more fundamental problem: John Kerry at the top of the ticket. The Democrats nominated a liberal from Massachusetts who has a lifetime American Conservative Union voting score of 5 out of a possible 100. Great for energizing the Democratic base (though hatred of Bush was the real energizer of the Demos). But not great for winning swing voters in Middle America.

If you are bummed at Bush's apparent victory (and I'm more bummed that either Bush or Kerry had to win than that Bush in particular seems to have won) then perhaps Noah Millman's fairly subdued endorsement of Bush might provide some silver lining to your cloud of gloom. Noah says he understands that Bush doesn't deserve reelection (which is an important point to understand) but Noah still thinks Bush is a better choice than Kerry.

I'm not convinced by Noah's reasoning though. Even if one posits that Bush will be better than Kerry would have been that does not strike me as a decisive reason to vote for Bush. The reason is simple: punishment of Bush by defeat would have been an important lesson to future Republican Presidential wannabes. Bush betrayed his base on spending, racial preferences, immigration, and enough other topics that punishment was needed. But it now looks like he got away with it. Bush reminds me of Clinton. They are both baby boomer politicians who got away with too much.

On the bright side a President in his second term doesn't have the incentive to spend money to pay off voting groups to get himself reelected. So Bush might be more fiscally responsible in his second term. Though part of the fiscal damage Bush did was through entitlement program expansion that will be politically impossible to roll back. Since initial reports are that Bush gained more of 60+ years old crowd he and Rove made a good decision for Bush (though not for America) in locking in a new entitlement that will become increasingly more expensive.

Update: I just came across a pre-election endorsement of George W. Bush over John Kerry written by Jane Galt of Asymmetrical Information. She covers a great deal of ground (go read the whole thing) on Bush and Kerry on a large number of issues and along the way makes an important point on health care that I think I agree with: a candidate who is going to support more government take-over of health care is essentially supporting policies that will cause large numbers of deaths.

Ultimately, I've decided to take the advice of a friend's grandmother, who told me, on her wedding day, that I should never, ever marry a man thinking he'd change. "If you can't live with him exactly the way he is," she told me, "then don't marry him, because he'll say he's going to change, and he might even try to change, but it's one in a million that he actually will."

Kerry's record for the first fifteen years in the senate, before he knew what he needed to say in order to get elected, is not the record of anyone I want within spitting distance of the White House war room. Combine that with his deficits on domestic policy -- Kerry's health care plan would, in my opinon, kill far more people, and cost more, than the Iraq war ever will -- and it's finally clear. For all the administration's screw -ups -- and there have been many -- I'm sticking with the devil I know. George Bush in 2004.

Is Kerry worse than Bush from a rational and well-informed right-wing perspective? Probably. But the value of a Bush defeat would not have been its effect on the next 4 years of governance. The value would have come from a message that the Republican base will punish poor performance by a Republican elected official. Unfortunately that message has not been delivered and this bodes poorly for the Republican base in the longer run.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 November 03 01:32 AM  Politics American Domestic

John S Bolton said at November 3, 2004 2:00 AM:

The most striking feature of this election is the huge margins for Bush in the states which were known to be supporting him beforehand. In spite of the attempted news blackout on Osama's offer to not attack the states which voted as demanded; it needs to be found out if this implicit threat against the 'red states' did not cause a defiant surge of voting in the other direction. It should be inquired into; whether the greatest margins for Bush are not correlated with the areas where media coverage of Osama's offer to pass over those states which did not oppose him with their votes, was locally greatest. If this explains the results seen, then the administration appears to have some strong support for homeland defense and war with the enemies like Osama and his adulators.

Fabian Hammer said at November 3, 2004 6:53 AM:

Congratulations on the US political process coping with so many more people actually keen to vote.

Did you notice the similarities between the US Bush victory and the Australian election won by John W Howard ... including mainstream media hysteria, opposition soft on WOT, prepolls not picking up on the continuing working class shift to "conservative" parties (jobs! health! education! security!) and the overall increased primary vote plus control of House and Senate in both countries?

Is there an Anglosphere trend?

Fabian Hammer, www.fabianhammer.com

Derek Copold said at November 3, 2004 7:42 AM:

Jeez, did I call this one wrong or what?

Kudos have to go out to Rove for keeping his man in power through an unprecedented turn-out drive. He utterly up-ended conventional wisdom.

Still, there are silver linings:

1. It's pretty obvious that the GOP lives and dies by the white vote. That means they have a powerful incentive to oppose any new amnesties from a lame-duck president. Nobody has to worry about re-electing their leader, only themselves. Remember, too, that Tom Coburn in OK started winning when he ran ads directly addressing illegal immigration.

2. It's also obvious that Bush won despite his foreign policy, not because of it. Without Iraq, Bush would have seen near Reaganesque numbers in the popular vote and far wider electoral margin. As it is, he was saved by an amendment banning "gay marriage" in Ohio and losing by a less than expected margin in Cleveland.

3. With a stronger GOP Senate in place, perhaps we will see the promised "conservative" appointees finally swing the court into sanity--but I'm not holding my breath.

Randall Parker said at November 3, 2004 10:53 AM:

Fabian, John Howard won with opposition to low skill immigration. Bush won in spite of embracing low skill immigration.

Derek, Yes, Bush won by getting out the vote of lower middle class Protestant fundamentalists. His appeal to Hispanics failed as could easily be predicted.

I thought that Bush was going to win all the time. Bush has managed to tap into working class white anger in spite of his screwing them over with immgration policy. Of course Kerry is bad on immigration too. So Bush could get away with it.

Supreme Court: He'll probably appoint Alberto Gonzales to replace Sandra Day O'Connor and he will vote as liberal as she does now. But his second appointment will probably be more conservative. Though that'll probably replace Rehnquist and so that won't shift anything either. Unless Bush replaces a liberal on the court I do not expect him to shift it at all.

Invisible Intellect said at November 3, 2004 11:36 AM:

One thing Democrats and Kerry could have done, was to accuse the Republicans of
impeding a national alternative energy program. At least Kerry could have accused the
Republicans of being in collusion with the oil industry. At least Kerry could have
mumbled some ideas about a certain energy independence project.

Sal said at November 3, 2004 3:48 PM:

The Iraq war fiasco will be harder to end. Bush and the neocons will intensify the conflict in a vain effort to win the war.

Invisible Intellect said at November 3, 2004 6:01 PM:

I agree fully... The Iraq war was the trap of the century, and it can be argued that even the September 11
event was part of the trap to draw the US into a guerilla war where we cannot win. But all of this is due
to the dependence of the US on foreign trade deficit, before the invasion of Iraq, Saddam and Osama were
independently talking about pricing the Iraqi and Saudi oil in euros instead of dollars. The reason the world
sends cheap goods to the US in exchange for a surplus ($500 billion annually these days) is not just because they
want to keep their industries operational, but more importantly, all the raw materials are priced in dollars in general,
and they need the US currency to buy raw materials. And the US imports all raw materials as well as goods and services
essentially for free, by using printed money. This was one of the reasons, one of the main reasons, Bush invaded Iraq
to prevent Islam from gaining control of the Middle Eastern oil and also to challenge the supremacy of the dollar.

And simultaneously, because the deflation is gaining ground in all areas except in some select raw materials, the
war economy is an environment where deficit spending (a form of printing money) is justified, and because this
counters deflation, the war economy is also becoming unconscious national policy.

If the US were more self-sufficient in trade like before WW II, we would not have been so badly trapped. It was
possible to get out of Viet Nam, but this time it is very difficult to get out of Iraq.

John S Bolton said at November 3, 2004 8:22 PM:

The war seems to have affected the outcome most notably in the locales with greatest military influence in the population. Kerry was sunk by the Swift Boats at the margin, perhaps. Around the military bases, Bush's totals went over 70% in many such counties. Kerry needed a student rabble incited by a leftist professoriate to match those percentages outside the hard-core alternative-welfare dependent districts.

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