December 10, 2003
Stop ceding the goddamn debate. Who here thinks Howard Dean can beat Bush? Why Ted, you ignorant slut, Fred Flintstone could take Bush with Barney Rubble as his campaign manager. Wesley Clark should stop saying that he needs to be the nominee because someone needs to be able to match Bush at foreign policy. What Clark should say is that Joey Tribiani could match Bush at foreign policy, though he, Clark, has the most experience. Stop acknowledging that Bush is strong on anything. He’s a big loser. He’s a miserable failure. He’s lost 3 million jobs. He got us into a screwed up war. Our soldiers are being killed by terrorists. The Middle East is a mess. Afghanistan is a mess. OBL is alive. Hussein is alive.Couldn’t have said it better. All this handwringing about who can possibly go up against the dread Bush has a real tendency to make George W. Bush seem like he’s ten feet tall. He’s not. He’s the incumbent, but how important is that? Of the four elections in the last quarter-century in which an incumbent President stood for re-election, they won twice (1984 and 1996) and lost twice (1980 and 1992). Not exactly overwhelming statistical evidence for the irresistable power of incumbency. Meanwhile, as Atrios bracingly reminds us, this particular fearsomely potent incumbent is an incompetent, vainglorious, delusional nincompoop. This makes him dangerous but it doesn’t make him Superman. Why are we having to explain this to supposed grown-ups?
When Ted Koppel asked which of the candidates thought Dean could beat Bush, and only Dean put up his hand, it was a disgrace to the Democratic party. I’d like to see one of the other eight—it can be Lieberman or Sharpton for all I care—come out and say so. In fact a solid majority of the candidates could beat George W. Bush, and even the long-shot candidates could do it given the sort of improbable circumstances that would lead to their getting the nomination. The first candidate to acknowledge this and say that they all should have raised their hands, just as Dean should raise his hand if he’s asked the question about Clark or Edwards or whoever, will get big props from me. No matter which one of them it is.
It would be one thing if the bad guys were waging some kind of brilliant psychological warfare, but these particular head-trips are straight out of high school. If you saw it being done on a TV comedy you’d know it for what it is. If you fall for it you’re an idiot. [05:53 PM]