Desperate Housewives: Mark Penn makes the badly-needed point that there are too plenty of swing voters, but he thinks the way to get them is to pivot to domestic issues in an appeal to "modern moms." I tend to be pro-swing, anti-pivot, mainly for the reason given below by Noam Scheiber. And if Kerry beats Bush on national security it's all over, no? Plus, I fear Kerry will be most ... er, Kerryesque talking about domestic concerns, where his tendency to pander will be maximized (given his historically insecure relationship with the Democratic base--especially African Americans). Penn says voters want "ideas," but Kerry doesn't dare bring up his ballsiest "ideas," like means-testing Social Security or questioning affirmative action and teacher tenure. ... P.S.: Penn accidentally stabs his own "pivot" argument to death in paragraph #9, declaring
We might all learn a lesson from Bill Clinton in 1992. He won by making the Persian Gulf War irrelevant to the election.
Right. The Gulf War was long over by the 1992 election. Iraq isn't. The larger fight against terrror isn't. Kerry isn't going to 'make them irrelevant.' ... 1:41 P.M.
It turns out Joe Lockhart is not universally beloved in the Kerry campaign. One knowledgeable Democratic insider recently described ithe campaign to me in familiar Hollywood terms: "Mary Beth Cahill is the producer; Shrum is the director, Kerry is the star, and Lockhart is the publicist and hem-straightener." ... 12:30 A.M.
Monday, October 4, 2004
Michael Massing consults George Orwell and decides he can be "more effective" if he hides from readers that he strongly supports Bush in this "absolutely critical election." Did I get that right? ... P.S.: I do think there are steps a journalist (even an opinion journalist) can take that invest his ego in a political cause in a way that discourages honest reporting--the classic case is when you write a speech for a candidate. Or when you publicly predict a particular candidate will win or lose. But just stating your preference, or giving a candidate money, isn't all that compromising, in my experience--it doesn't in itself discourage you from acknowledging new facts that might cause you to change your mind (the way, say, publicly anticipating a humiliating Kerry defeat might discourage you from recognizing new pro-Kerry facts). ... After all, if you endorse a candidate and then change your mind you can get another column out of it! ... 3:29 P.M.
Now I Bore You With Democratic Interest-Group BS Again, Yes? Noam Scheiber articulates what was kf's half-formed thought--why, exactly, should Kerry "pivot" to domestic issues when he's effectively beating Bush up on Iraq and the war on terror?
The point isn't that Kerry had to establish credibility on Iraq. The point is that Bush is much more vulnerable on Iraq than the economy--particularly since the current economic data just aren't that bad.
Or is Kerry's heavily-telegraphed "pivot" misdirection by his camp designed to throw Bush's strategy off? ... 2:50 P.M.
Sunday, October 3, 2004
TODAY IN SLATE
Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man
The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.
Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.
Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution
Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show
Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada
Now, journalists can't even say her name.
Lena Dunham, the Book
More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.