The great flaw
The great flaw
In another world, Tom DeLay would be committed to an insane asylum. They would hook him up, shock his brain, and pump him full of thorazine and lithium. He's depicting Dean as an extremist and that's going to come back to haunt them like Marley's ghost. Doctors, by their nature, are not extremists. And when people realize that Dean is talking about social justice and fiscal conservatism, this "Dean is Crazy" theme will hammer them.
If the great flaw of the Democratic Party is an unending appetite for infighting, the GOP's is blind followers. A rational party would take one look at Bush and worry. He's a weak canddiate who's reelection hangs on a successful conclusion to a war where the enemy teaches their children that zionists and Americans are still their enemies. His manner, which some people call folksy, turns smug and brittle when challenged. They rally around the president reflexsively and then demonize the opposition. But that isn't going to work.
When I say that I think Bush will lose by a landslide, I'm not talking about hope. Nor am I listening to the pundits. I'm looking at three things which haven't broken his way in over a year:
We're not just losing jobs, we're losing high wage, high value jobs, which are never coming back. What is being created is low wage work. Wal-Mart is the largest and one of the worst employers in America. I don't care how much propeganda they air. It's not that there are low wage jobs, but low wage jobs minus benefits. People are working and remaining poor. Increasingly, education is not the way up, but a way to a highly educated freelance life, where every job requires bidding and negotiation, with little security.
Bush has lost 3m jobs. That is a staggering number of jobs to lose in the economy. And they aren't coming back. Zippy the Pinhead could run on "are you better off than you were four years ago". Who could say yes? As Paul Krugman so adroitly points out, people are moving backwards and social mobility is stagnating. Underemployment is nearly as bad. Yet, the Bush solution is to rob Social Security and toss it into the marketplace. Until there is an incentive to make sure American employers keep jobs in the US when possible, and allow labor to actually protect workers, this won't change. The market is inefficient at best. Asking millions of Americans to invest their life savings in the market, money which they cannot lose, is desperately stupid at best and will provoke a bitter reaction from millions of people.
2) Iraq and Afghanistan
The war is not going well. US troops have no feeling or respect for Iraq or it's people. The CPA is simply unable to manage the country in any rational way and there is a head of steam building towards a nationalist rebellion. The lines are being dug deeper every day. You can see the harshness of the US reaction. The GOP tries to spin this as success, but we've already had 11,000 casualities from Iraq. That's not a number you see too often, but when you add up the illnesses on top of the combat injuries, we've lost 10 percent of the invasion force. That's a staggering number. Most military forces start to collapse when you reach those numbers. Another thing that is going to be clear over the next year is the inability to control Iraqi cities.
It is amazing that no one associates the daily shootings in Iraq with the utter and complete inability of the US Army to control Iraqi cities. In most places, you have standoffs. The ONLY thing saving the US Army is the wariness most Iraqis had approached the resistance. Although, privately, it has always had widespread support. The fact that the US is still chasing ghosts eight months later indicates Operational Security is a joke. We don't know who we're fighting and even our snitches can't tell us. I wonder why? Someone suggested that the list of agents Saddam was caught with was a plant and given the fact that he had no need to know who the spies were, nor any reason to carry the list of them, you have to wonder why he had it. The US will probably tear up CPA headquarters, interrogate a few unlucky souls and then purge the wrong people. I would estimate that most of the Iraqi CPA staff is loyal to some outside force, be it one of the parties, the resistance, or both. It's the perfect place to plant spies.
Afghanistan is back in the heroin business in a major way and it looks like Al Qaeda is using it to finance their war. The refusal of the US to allow garrisons outside Kabul to provide internal security, and not putting in enough force to deal with the Taliban is coming back to haunt the US. US troops are engaged in daily combat, the Taliban is resurgent in their old stomping grounds, and the dope trade has exploded. Of course, women have no rights and the country remains at war.
In short, most Americans have been told that they have been victorious in these wars and they are anything but. That cannot last. The resistance will score a major hit at some point and then we're going to have our very own Tet moment. And it seems the resitance has just begun their Operation Pointblank, the war on Iraqi oil pipelines and gasoline.
3) The rules have changed
2004 will be a drastically different campaign than has taken place in the past. Not only has the internet changed the rules, the introduction of 527 groups has as well. They will have millions to spend to go after Bush. I don't think Rove and his minions get that they won't be able to unload on Howard Dean as they have done so in the past. That they go into a real fight in terms of the available cash. David Brooks, on the News Hour, said that only 22 percent of voters hated Bush. He thought that was low. I thought that was high myself. A quarter of all voters hate the President? That's a lot of people. I mean most people wouldn't admit that to a pollster. I wouldn't answer yes to that question. So this "hate Bush" stuff won't work is the line.
I think that's dead wrong and here's why: at the height of the Clinton scandal, people who hated Clinton were widely regarded as crackpots with an agenda. The people alleged to hate Bush are across a far wider spectrum of people. Look at the support for Dean and Clark, millions of dollars coming from people who don't give to campaigns. That's a warning sign. Bush has not significantly broadened his base of support from 2001. The war boost ended a year ago. He's become far more polarizing over time. Yet, the pool of non-voters and new voters are gravitating towards the Dems. Also, Bush is frighteningly our of touch with the lives of average Americans. No scanners or questions about the price of milk for him. He usually appears before canned audiences as well.
No President since Harry Truman has faced going into an election with a bad economy and unpopular war and had a chance to win. Republicans are willfully ignorant of the chances of Bush because they still think Iraq will work. As it starts to fall apart and Iraqis reject US sponsored elections, the GOP will be left holding a bag o' crap. Bush's popularity isn't really climbing, the war bounce was a few points, and his opponents will have tons of money to play with.
I think, by the time of the debates, GOP congressional candidates will be looking for a way to save themselves.
posted by Steve @ 12:25:00 PM