Monday, September 13, 2004

Politics: Krugman Thinks Kerry Should Fire Clinton,

According to his NYT op-ed column, Krugman declares that Kerry should fire Clinton. Really.

"If Senator John Kerry really has advisers telling him not to attack Mr. Bush on national security, he should dump them. When Dick Cheney is saying vote Bush or die, responding with speeches about jobs and health care doesn't cut it."

Except of course, that it was Clinton himself who told Kerry to talk domestic issues and don't go negative on Bush. And he's got his aides and staffers pushing the idea too. No Democrat I've talked to denies that this is highly uncharacteristic advice from the Clinton team, the team of red-meat Carville and others.

Of course Krugman doesn't want to piss off a lot of Democrats who form his public support base, so he uses the canard "really has advisers". We all know which advisers are telling him that - the Clinton crew. We know it cause it's been widely reported and Krugman must have read the same reports. So Krugman is saying "fire them," and I for one agree. If John Kerry doesn't know his real friends, the people who are almost desperate to get him elected, and puts his trust in an obvious jedi-mind trick then he's doomed.


At September 14, 2004 at 2:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The connection to Clinton strikes me as unsubstantiated. The Clinton crew -- well, what does that mean. Don't get me wrong, I don't in any way intend to defend Clinton. He brought Republican policies disguised in the Democratic sheepskin to the nation.

-- cm

At September 14, 2004 at 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No. This is entirely characteristic of the Clinton team, if you consider how Clinton actually ran his campaigns. Clinton, and the rest of the DLC will always prioritize domestic issues, especially economic ones. This has the added advantage of making the purple-heart-band-aid people look even sillier, since they are then beside the point.

The problem with this analysis is that it
1. ignores the changing nature of raw material available for meme-making (i.e., what little the public knows)
2. ignores that campaigns are NOT won by winning arguments, they're won by mobilizing demographics.

Let me explain.

A week ago, we didn't have this kind of bad news out of Iraq to work with. If Krugman had written that article any time in the last month, he could not have gotten such a reaction on it. Yes, Krugman's idea is a good one ... NOW. Before the GOP convention, it would have been suicide!

It's the NDN who're out there looking for any angle. They're panicking because of Bush's effective transformation of his shocking failure on 9/11 into a political strength, renewed through the convention and the anniversary. But bad news out of Iraq, which has broken through the "occupation is over" fairy-tale only in the last few days, has led to a lot of 20/20 hindsight on this issue by Kerry's numberless would-be advisors.

Simple strategic thinking would indicate that, as the election approaches, the chances of something actually going right for a change in Iraq diminish, and with it the risk of criticizing Bush's feckless Iraq policy. Only now can we see the whites of their eyes.

More interesting in Krugman's piece was his taking to task of the media for their double standard on Iraqi policy. They're tougher on the challenger than on the proven failure. Then again, the political press are as managed as the economic press.

Meanwhile, Kerry has already combined these two lines of criticism, so this zero-sum analysis not only ignores the actual (rather than supposed) tendencies of the players, it is also behind on the data. Also, and once again, going negative depresses voter turnout, which would be suicide for the Dem.'s in a close election, since that favors the more conservative candidate.

Bush's strategy of going negative on Kerry not only compesates for the fact that Bush has the kind of record you have to run from, rather than on, it also attacks Kerry's strategy of GOTV. Attack your enemy's strategy, saith Sun Tzu. I think Kerry is doing exactly that. (Also remember Sun Tzu's distinction between ordinary and extraordinary force). Bush's strategy also took advantage of campaign finance laws, attacking Kerry when his funds were more restricted than Bush's.

But let me admit my bias. I simply don't buy this AM Radio style conspiracy-theory that Clinton is sabotaging Kerry so that Hitlery can take power and usher in the Apocalypse, any more than I do the "Clinton Body Count List," which relies on falsifying NTSB information, among a thousand other logical and factual crimes. This model has all the earmarks of superstitious thinking, in that it is impervious to actual, changing situations and relies only on the audience's predisposition to characterize the main players in soap-opera fashion.

At September 14, 2004 at 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This also provides cover.

At September 14, 2004 at 9:29 AM, Blogger Oldman said...

Grand Moff Texan,

I like ya but your whole argument is based on a false dichotomy. Just exactly how DO you mobilize or expand your political base? By attacking your opponent's arguments and your opponent - or at least that's one time tested and proven way to do so.

The rise of the entire modern Repubican movement is based upon attack politics on wedge issues. Their success at expanding their appeal into demographics normally dominated by Democrats - soccer moms on security, NASCAR dads on culture issues - proves historically that it does work.

Furthermore more while Clinton always did like to promote domestic issues, he was never unwilling to use negative attacks whenever convenient. Witness the WH attack dog tactics on Lewinsky. To suggest that there must be a split between the two, that is the false dichotomy.

It's not the focus on domestic issues that is the problem, it is the hesitance to go offensive on national security issues.

Now whether or not Bill is doing this to promote Hillary's cause in 2008, that is speculation without substantiation. Though at the very least it does suggests a conflict of interest.

The rest however is facs, history, and analysis. I'm sorry if this violates your idea of how things work GMT but in this case, I am right. Furthermore I'm not being petty - these political forays of mine aren't random.

I'm testing out and working out responses to peoples' instinctive defenses of the political agenda of the Clinton era, because I'm about to unleash one hell of a criticism on the fundamental basis of the economy during that era. At that moment, the topics of politics which people quaintly asked me to stick to will become a hot political potatoe. In some comments it was already becoming so.

Hence this series of postings focusing on examining politics.

At September 14, 2004 at 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oldman: very much looking forward to the upcoming material you alluded to.

I think we're talking past each other in the way we conceive of and refer to public argument. I do NOT buy that you win elections by attacking your opponent's arguments and your opponent. Not at all. You can argue away from your opponent (imply he's irrelevant), you can attack things he does not say ("Kerry wants to be sensitive toward al Qaeda"), and you can attack things your opponent is not (KERRY IS A SOCIALIST!!!).

None of these things have anything to do with anything, but they all work. None of the examples you cite is present in the conventional wisdom for any reason having to do with practical experience or sound reason. It's all a fairy tale. The 'culture' of NASCAR dads is a cargo cult. That groups knows little about historical Christianity OR our constitution, yet thinks of itself as embodying these things. The bible belt IS the divorce belt, but there's this myth about 'family values.' Soccer moms are also the most swayed by pocketbook issues, but that's not exactly the stereotype, is it?

More stereotypes: Kerry isn't a Christian, even though he is, because he's a Democrat. Bush is strong on defense, even though he isn't, because he's a Republican. If these were ethnicities, rather than parties, it'd be easier to recognize what's going on here.

The battlefield is between the ears of the audience's members. You can argue about something all day, but if they don't know about, you might as well be talking to your dog.

One of my points was that there's new stuff between the ears this week, courtesy of the insurgents Bush doesn't have a plan to deal with. Goodie! New toys in the toybox! Krugman's analysis was diachronically deficient.

This is where I have to fault the analysis of the left blogsphere and your own blog: too often, it assumes rational processes. Post rational politics were already an art form by the mid-19th century. Republicans thrive because they have the funds, from a minority of their constituency, to appeal to the brainstems of the majority of their constituency, all via the mass media that they control by virtue of, you know, actually OWNING IT, and stuff.

As for Lewinsky, the machinery for applying pressure on her simply pales in comparison to that needed to create her in the first place (after Kathleen failed to Play Ball, no less!) and leverage the drooling idiocy of the Rutherford Institute into a constitutional crisis.

THAT is the way that the GOP 'gets it.'

But I didn't say you were being 'petty.' I simply suspected you had Kevin Drum syndrome!

I simply pointed out that Clinton = 'it's the economy, stupid,' and that the situation has changed over the weekend. Again: Kerry going after the Quagmire, prior to the GOP convention, when he was at a disadvantage, would've been stupid.

At September 14, 2004 at 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with Kerry's campaign on tboth fronts is that he's spewing mostly DLC crap that falls flat on working class Americans.

The question is who is feeding him all this shit?

Given that Clinton was a big proponent of the DLC and its GOP-lite policies. I suspect Clinton's advisors are feeding Kerry this nonsense.

Of course these people are probably telling Kerry not to hammer Bush on security or the war in Iraq. So Kerry can't offer a viable alternative to the Bush doctrine nor answer the people how Homeland security could be made to work.


At September 14, 2004 at 1:09 PM, Blogger J Thomas said...

This comment by Grand Moff Texan is central: Republicans thrive because they have the funds, from a minority of their constituency, to appeal to the brainstems of the majority of their constituency, all via the mass media that they control by virtue of, you know, actually OWNING IT, and stuff.To the extent this is true, Kerry would do better to keep quiet.

He can attack Bush on iraq and the media will report "Kerry intends to turn tail and run from iraq!"

He can attack Bush on the economy and the media will report "Kerry intends to raise taxes and cut defense!"

He can attack Bush on morals and lies and the media will report "Kerry desperately attempts negative attacks!"

To the extent the media opposes Kerry, he'd do better to campaign in person for whatever good that does, and hope that enough people will vote for ABB that he wins. The more the media opposes him, the more all of his media attempts become attacks on himself.

At September 14, 2004 at 10:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its not the medias fault Kerry doesn't get a fair shake, he set himself up for a beating by the GOP. He thought they would play fair. Also his campaign managers seem to be complete idiots as well. Nor does he have good representatives that can go on TV and talk radio and deal with the GOP maniacs.

This lack of good campaign organizers and front men for tv and radio is hurting him badly.

I would add his lack of a coherent foreign policy and no plan to reform Homeland security is a serious flaw.

See we don't have any real homeland security and he could beat Bush with this relentlessly if Kerry had a good reform plan.

He screwed himself on Iraq though, the man should have seen Bush was peddling a tar baby as the home coming queen. Kerry's excuse? He trusted Bush. WTF? Please, Bush already established himself as a village idiot and those looney neocons at the Pentagon were a dead giveaway something stank about the whole Iraq invasion.

At September 17, 2004 at 12:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think homeland security is good fodder for making Bush look like a weak idiot.

Why someone doesn't visually demonstrate, in a camera-ready fashion, the pathetic state of our border and port security is beyond me. I think Americans also need a clear visual of the fact that let is letting North Korea and the former Soviet Union become nuclear e-bays.

It would not only rightly embarass him, but could just possibly profoke some actual reforms.


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