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Friday, February 06, 2004
The Most Liberal State in the Nation

It seems like hardly a day goes by that I don't hear that California is the most liberal state in the nation, or Massachusetts, or Vermont....

So I thought I'd take a hard look at the question today. I started by looking at the last three presidential elections, and the percentage of the vote that the Democratic contender got. For 2000, I added together the Gore and Nader vote.

The results were not terribly surprising.

In 2000, the states with the highest percentage of Gore & Nader voters were as follows: Rhode Island (67%), Massachusetts (66%), New York (64%), Hawaii (62%), and Connecticut (60%).

In 1996, the states giving the highest percentages to Bill Clinton were as follows: Massachusetts (61%), Rhode Island (60%), New York (59%), Hawaii (57%) and Illinois (54%).

In 1992, the states giving the highest percentages to Bill Clinton were as follows: Arkansas (53%), Maryland (50%), New York (50%), Illinois (49%) and West Virginia (48%).

If we average each state's ranking for the three elections, we find that the five most liberal states are: New York (3), Massachusetts (3.3), Rhode Island (4), Hawaii (4.7) and Maryland (4.7). It is a pretty sharp drop from there to Illinois, whose average ranking was 6.7 in terms of support to the Democratic candidates.
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Campaign as Therapy?

Great post by a Dean fan on why the campaign failed. I highly recommend reading it all, but I was struck by this:

"These passages, I want to emphasize, are from a piece that presents Dean as an all but certain winner, and yet the description now sends another message entirely: Less about Howard Dean than about James Moore, less like a political meeting than a support group, not so much about pushing Dean as they are about engaging people in conversation…"

This was definitely the part of the Dean phenomenon that impressed itself upon me. So many of the stories seemed to focus on the volunteers and not on the candidate. And when you focused on the volunteers, the message you got was that they all had the big L in the middle of their foreheads. The stories (and I'm willing to admit that they may have been unfair or unrepresentative) seemed inevitably to be of those who were either drifting through life or found themselves cast adrift. The sad part is that they are about to be cast adrift again.
About Those Polls

Kerry is doing well against Bush in the polls according to Gallup. But if you look at the graph that Polling Report has on their front page, you'll note that Bush improves against Edwards, beats Clark, and beats Dean handily.

What's going on? It's obvious that Kerry is benefiting from being seen as a winner. Edwards is #2, Clark is #3 and Dean is the year's big disappointment. In other words, these polls don't reflect anything other than current perceptions of the Democratic candidates. Kerry will come down to earth pretty soon.
And Another Thing!

Over on the former Lt. Smash's (now Citizen Smash's) blog, an anti-war vet tried another tack:

"I'm a Gulf War vet, my dad, a Vietnam vet, my grandfathers both WWII vets. It rankles me considerably when people tell me I'm full of crap (as some of you in this forum have) because I support our troops but not this war. I think a better question of our candidates (and our President, for that matter!) is "Would you send YOUR children to be shot or blown to bits on the field of battle or tortured, starved and raped in a POW camp?" If the answer is no, then I don't see how our leaders can ask any *other* parents to make that sacrifice."

I responded ironically: "Let me get this straight; only people who would send their children to be "tortured, starved and raped in a POW camp" can send our military to war?"

He replied quite civilly:

"I wasn't clear - only those who would send their kids away to the field of battle *for that specific cause* should be allowed to make that decision for someone else. At the very least, considering one's own children would give a little pause before volunteering someone else's kids for horrible duty."

Of course if you're smart enough to be reading my blog, you can see a couple holes in that one, right away. First of all, much like the chickenhawk formulation, it restricts the presidency, this time to people with children of military age and fitness. Childless? You can't run for President because you don't have any kids to send to any wars you want to wage.

But I chose a different line of attack: "What about the wishes of the kids? Do Jenna and Barbara get a choice in the matter? Or does W say, well I'm sending other parents' kids into battle, so you've got to go, too?"

He didn't seem to get it:

"My concern is that whoever makes the choice *fully* absorbs the ramifications of what he or she is doing, including putting a very real face on the effects of battle on American soldiers and their families. As so many of our politicians come from privileged backgrounds (in stark contrast to most of our fighting forces, who come from very poor upbringings), it oftentimes seems that our leaders volunteer "the other half" for duty they wouldn't - and infrequently ever - volunteer their own families for."

I think my response nailed it: "How does one volunteer one's family? Isn't that up to the individuals? Or do we bring back the draft, but only for the families of politicians voting in favor of war?"
Chickenhawks Again?

The left seems to love the chickenhawk BS; it comes up all the time. Cheney's a chickenhawk, Bush is a chickenhawk, Rush Limbaugh and George Will are chickenhawks.

What is a chickenhawk? In its simplest formulation, it's somebody who's hawkish on war, but doesn't want to go to war himself (or herself these days). Of course, it's generally a little more complicated than that. Cheney could not go to war if he wanted to; he's too old and has a bad heart, not to mention that he's got a more critical role to play in the chain of command. So liberals have to resort to a little sleight of hand to make him into a chickenhawk. Cheney's a chickenhawk because he supports the war in Iraq even though he himself did not go to Vietnam.

Of course, there is an obvious problem with that; suppose Cheney himself opposed the war in Vietnam but favored the war in Iraq? Suppose he opposed the war in Vietnam as a young man, but later came to see it as necessary? I have seen none of the folks railing on about Cheney as chickenhawk bringing up any statements of his about Vietnam other than the comment that he "had more important things to do at the time".

So let's just take it for granted that liberals think that nobody should send our troops to war who hasn't seen combat himself or herself. I don't agree with it, but it seems to proceed logically from the chickenhawk formulation as applied to Cheney. But follow the logic a step further. If nobody should send our troops to war who hasn't seen combat, then isn't it fair to say that nobody should be President who hasn't seen combat? After all, the President has to have the authority to send troops into combat.

Of course, liberals would be happy to agree to this now, since it appears that they are going to nominate a veteran to run against Bush. The real test will be 2008. I look forward to all the posts from liberals saying that they could never support Hillary for President because she never served.
Primary Totals Last Night

Here's what the Democrat's contenders did last night in all seven primaries combined per CNN (Totals may change slightly):

Kerry: 539,475 votes or 41.3% of the total
Edwards: 354,750 votes or 27.2% of the total
Clark: 215,229 votes or 16.5% of the total
Dean: 114,441 votes or 8.8% of the total
Lieberman: 62,942 votes or 4.8% of the total
Kucinich: 18,200 votes or 1.4% of the total

Note that the percentages shown are the percentage of the total vote for those six candidates combined; I ignored Sharpton, uncommitted, and other non-candidates. Probably should have ignored Kucinich as well.

Comments: It was a worse night for Howard Dean than even the media have made it out to be. His best finish was in New Mexico, where he won 16.6% of the vote (of these six) and took third place. He finished fifth in Oklahoma and South Carolina and overall managed only a little better than half the votes of Wesley Clark and 1/3rd the votes of John Edwards. RCP reports he is down 37-14 to Kerry in Michigan. Say goodnight, Gracie!
Kerry is the winner tonight but it looks like he only KOs Joe Lieberman this evening.

Still Dean has to be considered wobbly now. His fans were very hopeful that they'd get close in New Mexico, but now it looks like they'll finish third behind Kerry and Clark, with only about 1/2 of Kerry's vote total. Assuming Clark's lead holds in Oklahoma, Dean will be the only serious candidate left in the race without a victory.
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
More On Macho Liberals

From an unfortunately-timed article on why Howard Dean was running away with the Democratic nomination:

It's also what attracted the media to Dean. A database search reveals that in December 836 newspaper pieces about him mentioned the a-word. Look beneath the surface of Dean's plucky, peppery attitude and you'll find the underlying reason for his success. He's butch--and many Democrats are convinced that's what it takes to beat George Bush. defines "butch" as "Exhibiting stereotypically or exaggeratedly masculine traits or appearance. Used especially of lesbians and gay men."
The National Review is reporting early exit poll results which indicate that Edwards is winning in South Carolina and Oklahoma, but Kerry is winning elsewhere. Having been burned before (see New Hampshire, which some exit polls indicated was close), I'm going to pass on offering any real analysis other than to point out the obvious. If this is true it's good news for Edwards, bad news for Kerry and devastating news for Clark.


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