The new Harry Potter is here!

What's happening in our readers' forum.
Nov. 8 2002 3:53 PM

The New Harry Potter Is Here!

Plus, readers give the Democrats advice.

Suellentropology: Chris Suellentrop discovers  that Harry Potter is a hero straight out of American naturalism—always finding himself doing things (instead of doing them), discovering abilities (not cultivating them). But it's funnier to think of Harry as a little George W. Bush.James offers the following sequels (complete with plot summaries I can't blog here):

Mr. Suellentrop derides Harry Potter as a "glory hog who unfairly receives credit for the accomplishments of others and who skates through school by taking advantage of his inherited wealth and his establishment connections." As history shows us, however, Harry Potter has an auspicious life ahead of him. Watch for the following best-sellers!

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Budweiser"…

"Harry Potter and the Corporate Boardroom of Secrets" …

"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Rove" …

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Malapropism" …

Max Fischer Players saw this coming here, and thinks Slate's contrarianism is "trite and boring." Thanks! Early posts have the best chance of a good read—once this hits the msn homepage over the weekend, expect a deluge of Potterphiles … 12:50 p.m.

24 hour party people: What should the Democrats do? Move left, center, or serpentine? There is debate all over the Fray, and the posts below usually have good threads attached. William Saletan thinks it's obvious that "there's no reason to vote Democratic if the Democratic candidate is identical to the Republican" The Slasher—a non-Dem—disagrees. And his main reason is Republican party discipline. For example,

Are you pro-choice and that's your dealbreaker issue? If so, you would be NUTS to vote for a pro-choice Republican Senator over a pro-choice Democrat, because you can never be SURE the Rep will not vote for an activist anti-choice judge for the Supreme Court. He'll be under enormous pressure not to reject the candidate of a Republican President. It's even worse in the House …

The fact is that Democrats AS A GROUP are way to the left of Republicans AS THEY VOTE, and it's silly for them to do other than to emphasize this difference. If the things the Reps are doing work out well, nobody is going to give credit to the Dems if they "me too" on it. Go where you CAN win, not where you can't.

(W.V. Micko envies that discipline here.) …

Kerry on: And where can the Democrats win? Quasi-neocon Abre los ojos (who was yesterday's Hillary booster) thinks  Kerry's eco-defense mix could be attractive:

I remember a few months ago getting excited about Kerry's proclaimed vision of a several year, large-scale national program toward alternative energy sources. Kerry proposed this strategy as an integral component of a strong national response toward gaining a further measure of independence from volatile regions of fossil fuel resources … Indeed, I remember hoping for something of this sort of vision from President Bush, but it never came.

(Even more con Shelia hopes  the Democrats run Hillary, and shudders at the thought of Kerry vs. Bush.)But even Alo sees the problem with Kerry: mobilizing the Democratic base …

Move the center: Doodahman has a suggestion  (that sounds very James Carville circa-1992 to me):

Saletan is correct: the Dems must stay in the center. What he is omits is this: the drift over the last twenty years, where the policy spectrum has lurched so far to the right that center positions [on health care, tax reform and education—J.D.] are deemed leftist, is what must be corrected. It's not a crime to advocate that the gov't use resources to help just plain folks, damnit. It's smart policy. It's time that the Dems and their supporters stopped apologizing for populist programs, and stopped tolerating their mischaracterization as leftist policies.

(Adam Masin has a similarly aggressive plan for the middle here.)

The souls of plants, II: The Dear Prudence letter that has elicited the most response comes from a man whose wife's newfound vegan radicalism threatens their marriage. Should he give up meat? Is this a deal-breaker? Is meat even the issue? (MOH here.) There are several other good long discussions, begun by Tina's here, Joe here, and EE here. (Looking for "Souls of Plants, I"? Here.) 11:00 a.m.

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Thursday, Nov. 7, 2002

Wonks and wives: Chatterbox asks whether Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost the gubernatorial race in Maryland because "soccer moms" were angry with Parris Glendening for dumping his wife. Baltimore Aureole has half-a-dozen other reasons why KKT deserved to lose here. One reason:

as the only kennedy without charisma, her policy-wonk persona should count more than it did. but voters rejected wonkism with ("lieutenant president") gore also, didn't they?

Red tide: It's hard to pick the best Kausfiles Fray posts these days, but The Slasher has a more convincing argument about the change of Senate control than I've seen elsewhere. He sees no major shift in the electorate. Instead, he emphasizes the electoral map:

The situation in which a Census reapportionment occurs between the election of a new President and an off-year election happens only every 20 years. In all other cases, the off-year election uses the same electoral map as the Presidential one which preceded it …

Bush won in 2000 for the same reason Southerner Bill Clinton did in 1992 and 1996 -- the electoral map was moving in his direction and that, in combination with other base areas, carried him over the top. It moved even more so in 2002. If Bush carries ONLY those states in 2004 that he won in 2000, the resulting electoral college victory will represent an increase about the same as that in the House this year -- even if not a single vote changes …

Jimmy the Celt does his own Diary Fray editing here, and sticks up for Anthony Lane. Kinda:

So let me just say that I really enjoy most of Lane's movie reviews, and that it must be tough publishing a public diary when one's life external to one's writing is as profoundly unremarkable as Tony Lane's. I'd have booked passage to Patagonia.

Get back in here! (Chinatown): F.L. Ashow follows up on David Edelstein's review of Zagat's movie guide here:

The question remains though, 'hungry for more in an hour?"8:00 a.m.

Whatcha really, really want:Max Weber describes politicians as switchmen on the railroad of history; William Saletan offers a theory  of politicians as "right place, right time" candidates. Not many in the BallotBox Fray want to debate the idea of "elections you want to win." Over in MoneyBox, though, Dilan Esper fleshes out Daniel Gross's lamentation on the loss of fiscal discipline here. His "silver lining" is at odds with Saletan's prognostication:

So what is in store the next two years? Gross' picture is pretty accurate-- big tax cuts, uncontrolled spending growth, and probably the largest deficits in history. And these deficits will drive up interest rates during a time when we desperately need businesses to start investing again. This could very well plunge the economy into a very serious slump. I like the Democrats' chances very much in 2004.

The subsequent thread is solid, and Qui Tam's point—that things won't be "really, really bad" by 2004—might make that an election you don't want to win …

Tone ponies: In the horserace post-mortem, Kurl starts a thread blaming the Democrats' loss on their nasty tone (BD agrees that Americans hate snotty pols—remember Republican defeats in the 90's?) …

Hi-ho, hi-ho … : Abre los ojos—self-proclaimed "quasi-neocon"—starts the draft Hillary movement here. After rejecting the like Democratic "dwarves" as "pale, stale…and male," he

Bush put his prestige on the line by campaigning vigorously in the runup to these elections; he rolled the dice, and came up huge. If you ask me,it's time for the Dems to go for it, to take some risks. It's time to annoint a distinctive, charsimatic, newsworthy, electric public figure with the "star" quality to compete with Bush, and to lead and set the tone for the party toward 2004. There's only one figure: Snow White and Evil Queen in one, Hillary Clinton …

The left's last rites: Sarvis sounds the death knell here6:35 a.m.

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Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2002

50-50 or fight: Kaus may be retreating from his "50-50 Forever" theory, but frankly0 is not. The least wound-licking bit of analysis I've found today:

Did the GOP takeover of the Senate represent some sort of sea change? In terms of numbers, clearly not. The decisive races in the Senate, in Missouri, Minnesota, and South Dakota, would all have gone to Democrats had only 1 person in 100 shifted votes. ...

Rove, having succeeded in his cynical manipulation of the election, will now see to it that the result is spun that Bush will be perceived to have a mandate. All things right wing will descend on the American people, no matter which part of the 50-50 split they may occupy.

Exit strategy: Zathras doesn't miss the VNS exit polls here:

I thought it was kind of nice to wait a little longer for the actual votes to come in. Filling up time with interviews—even Larry King interviews with party types still spinning like mad even though the polls had closed—was more informative than watching a bunch of media talking heads give their instant analysis of someone else's polling work.

VNS ought to tell its coders to take their time. We really won't need them in 2004.

1, 2, 3, OK, recount's done: Elmer Fudd and Don are pondering the likely South Dakota recount here. (Ballot Box is moving extremely fast today; let's hope they come back.)

However, this race is a real slap in the face to Daschle and his Senate strategy no matter how this one ends up. The people have spoken—obstructionist politics ain't gonna work!

Poor Thune—he wanted only to run for governor, a position he would have probably won easily. Bush twisted his arm a bit to get him in the Senate race.

Pitt beef: The early CW on Pitt's resignation is that it is more evidence of the Bush team's political savvy this election cycle. Doubter here refers to the election as a "weapon of mass distraction." (His original coinage is here.) Carolyn here and W.V. Micko here are also on board. No one has yet suggested that Pitt might have hung on if only he had known of the impending Republican takeover, so I will. He misses the exit polls. ...

Only one man, but a very, very big man: History guy notes that despite Daniel Gross' argument that the market rallies when Republicans win (or Democrats die), the market was down early today (it is still slipping around). Mfbenson answers that Harvey Pitt's departure outweighs the new Republican majority in the Senate.

They eat their own: Democratic self-loathing is all over the Fray. Marylb gives Terry McAuliffe the Dumb and Dumber award here; Loree blames her party here (well, after blaming stupid Americans here last night).

Whatever floats your gloat: Tom has the best Democrat zinger here  "Political rally turns into Funeral. Ironic, huh?" ... 8:30 a.m. 

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Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2002

Webmasters and ward-heelers: Following Nicholas Thompson's announcement  of 2002 as the year the Internet finally makes a difference in the election, many are expressing their doubts in ergonomic terms. Robert J. Molineaux thinks the Oct. 26 peace rally in Washington is a dry-run for the election here:

Participants were predominantly middle class, white students, academics and church people, while those who will come back in body bags are african-americans, hispanics and rural poor. Very few of these latter participated in the rally. Why? Because it was organized and promoted (albeit in a very short time) via the internet, to which the minorities have limited access. This is not good news for democrats trying to use the internet for election campaigns. There is still no substitute for leg power.

Elbo Ruum sees the net even less accurate than TV news, which has an additional advantage here:

[I]t requires less muscular effort to click a TV remote, than to type "Lie to me" into a search engine. At least you can avoid carpal tunnel syndrome while you have your political inclinations pandered to.

As the blogger turns: Keep a Clear Eye suggests that one consequence of an unlikely Democratic sweep of both houses would be that Mickey Kaus would join the GOP! The thread, with KaCE, Publius, and W.V. Micko, ponders the future of democratic centrism and some eerie Nixonian parallels. ...

Safety stance:Chatterbox notes the absence of issue-oriented details on Mondale's Web site. Most Fraysters say "Give Fritz a break, the campaign is young! (He's bound to have something up by this afternoon. ... " Joe says Chatterbox didn't look hard enough and provides substantive quotes here. ...

Early returns: Amber asks Fraysters to visit Mondale's Web page give their first impressions here. Their impressions are not what the candidate would wish. ...

Results are in: In lieu of other major announcements, we have major Sneetch news. Stars to (in alpha order): Adam Morgan (whose star leaked out; for Mangar-like range from biology to sports to politics, and for the honest questions), Carolyn (for, among other things, the interchange with Judith Harris) doodahman (for his 2 cents and for inspiring Steve Chapman's admiration (little did dood know)), GimmeCoffee (for Dear Prudence service and Kaddish), Omnivorous Reader (for this, among others), pollymath (see the recent posts to Jurisprudence for just one reason), persephone (for meritorious service and a terrific entry in my political nursery rhymes contest here), socalchango (especially for Ad Report Card wisdom, but here is a great Sopranos post). Drop by Best of the Fray Fray to pick them up. … 8:10 a.m.

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Monday, Nov. 4, 2002  

Line up: No sentence in Michael Kinsley's latest Readme provoked more Fray than this: "An embryo has no feelings, no self-awareness, nothing that would give anyone a concern about its welfare except for its potential to develop into something we recognize as human." The Bell thinksthe bright line between embro and fetus is Kinsley's ad hockery:

That President Bush engages in apparently contradictory positions on matters regarding prenatal care and stem cell research are not really what has Mr. Kinsley's dander up but rather that Bush refuses to see things the same way Kinsley does and with the same self-assurance in his own correctness that allows infinite shades of grey to be resolved into a sharply resolved line. Mr. Kinsley would like to damn the President's moral agonizing as "random symbolic thrusts" because if Bush's views can be portrayed as one-sided and obsessive as Kinsley's own, they provide a clear sense of enmity around which both Bush critics and pro-life critics could rally.



The New Snobbery defends Kinsley's line here, saying it

doesn't solve the problem, but it leaves us with two camps: those that believe that very significant changes (in terms of moral responsibilities) occur between conception and birth, and those that don't believe there are any moral changes at all. ...

The problem is, Bush probably is in the first group. But the real debate will only occur when the folks who can't distinguish between genetic heritage and personhood are relegated to the sidelines. This wouldn't be that urgent if there weren't sick people waiting for a cure.

Every Readme has its thorns … : Wakefield Tolbert's defense of an embryo's human potential, Plants will never have souls, Mr. Kinsley, begins, um, floridly—"the problem with many of Michael Kinsley's posts is that sometimes they're like trying to run your hand down a rose without getting snagged on the thorns"—and continues to spin out the implications of the human blueprint while ironically rehabilitating Kinsley's animist straw man.

Monoblog: Monorail fan Steven Bradford thinks it "odd" that Brendan Koerner "missed the fascinating political story of the Seattle monorail." Bradford's version (which is like something out of Virginia Lee Burton):

[Eight] years ago, a cab driver wondered why we didn't just extend the monorail we already had to the four corners of the city. So he wrote an initiative, and to the surprise of the civic establishment which derisively opposed it, it passed handily. Then the city council squashed it. So more people came in to join the cab driver and wrote another initiative that required the city to spend six million coming up with a real plan that the voters could say yeah or nay to. That's what we're voting on Tuesday, and it appears it may pass with an even greater margin than before … [T]hat's the real story here, not the technology.

(Bradford seems to know his monorail stuff. See the rest of the thread.) 12:10 p.m.

J.D. Connor is assistant professor of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard. He is working on a book about neoclassical Hollywood.