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December 17, 2007

Anti-Giuliani-Pro-Huckabee Push Poll
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 05:21 PM * 102 comments

From a robot!

I just got a push-poll with a voice-activated robot-voice recording thingie, asking me if I were going to vote in the Republican primary. It went on from there, asking me if I knew that Giuliani was pro-abortion would it make me less likely to vote for him? And if I knew that Huckabee was for lower taxes would I be more likely to vote for him? And so on. It was all pro-Huckabee, anti-Giuliani.

I answered “yes” or “no” pretty much at random at first, then switched to all “no” answers, just to see where it would go. No human being was involved on the other end of the line. (Hey, Huckabee guys! This kind of nonsense makes it less likely that I’m going to vote for your clown!)

No candidate name was given at the end, revealing who paid for this particular push-poll. It was something like “Paid for by Public Survey 07. 703 378-2990.” (That is the real number the call came from. The area code is Arlington, Virginia.) I believe that failing to reveal the candidate the push-poll favors is illegal under New Hampshire law.


[UPDATE]

This how it went: Phone rings. Caller ID says SP 07.
Me: Hello.
Caller: This is a brief political poll from Public Survey. Are you going to vote in the Republican Primary on January 7th?
Me: Yes.
Caller: Which of these candidates do you favor? [Gives list of Republicans.]
Me: Giuliani [Because I wouldn’t vote for Giuliani if you held a gun to my head and offered me a hundred bucks in cash at the same time].
Caller: If you were to learn that Giuliani [negative thing] would that change your vote?
Me: No.
Caller: If you were to learn that Giuliani [negative thing] would that change your vote? [Iterate many times, with me answering “No” each time (along with making other remarks about push-polls)]
Caller: If you were to learn that Huckabee [positive thing] would that change your vote?
Me: No.
Caller: If you were to learn that Huckabee [positive thing] would that change your vote? [Iterate many times, with me saying “No” each time]
Caller: If the vote were held tomorrow would you vote for Mike Huckabee?
Me: No
Caller: Thank you for participating in this poll. Paid for by Public Survey 07. 703 378-2990

That was it. I expect that there was a script worked out for every candidate mentioned at the start. I’m pretty sure they didn’t say “Tancredo” or “Paul,” since I might have used one of them if they had—y’all already know my opinion on both those gentlemen. I’m also pretty sure that Huckabee wasn’t in the initial Republican roll-call, the only major who wasn’t mentioned.

As to who really paid for it, who knows? It was plainly pro-Huckabee. Pity that a Baptist Minister has to resort to dirty tricks to slime his opponents.


[UPDATE 2]
The group was apparently something called “Common Sense on the Issues.” Who’s funding them, I don’t know. But it does look like dirty tricks from Huckabee. Unless it’s Tancredo playing a deep game….
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Comments on Anti-Giuliani-Pro-Huckabee Push Poll:
#1 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 05:36 PM:

Maybe it was from the Giuliani side, trying to get you pissed off at Huckabee.

#2 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 05:45 PM:

The 703 area code is for Northern Virginia. The 378 exchange appears to be in Herndon, according to: http://www.thedirectory.org/pref/

#3 ::: NC Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 05:48 PM:

I keep getting the Ron Paul robo-calls. They drive me nuts. What? They can't afford volunteers? Plus, what are they doing calling a phone number of a registered Democrat (came in on the line that is mine, rather than the one listed under Elric, who is registered Independent, so he gets calls from everyone -- yes, we pay attention to that in New Hampshire). Not impressive, Dr. Ron Paul.

#4 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 05:48 PM:

Maybe it was the Huckabee side reckoning you'd think it was the Guliani camp trying to get you angry at the Huckabee campaign.

#5 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 05:59 PM:

They can't afford volunteers?

Things you can't buy, or don't have to pay for, tend to be the most expensive of all.

Or why a cut-off cat's head happens to be the most valuable thing in the world... at least it used to be before ebay. :/
Old zen parables sure need an update.

#6 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 06:11 PM:

The other day I was accosted by a fratboy-looking guy with a clipboard who asked me if I was registered to vote in Rhode Island. I said yes, and he started talking to me about Huckabee. I said I wasn't interested, and started to walk away, and he got very angry indeed and started yelling, "What, you don't like Huckabee?" Even aside from the flashbacks to high school, it didn't strike me as a particularly good strategy.

#7 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 06:19 PM:

Xopher #1

I believe Karl Rove has admitted doing that sort of thing (with flyers rather than phone polls) attacking his own candidate.


#8 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 06:25 PM:

Well, if Rove's done it, then it's now standard Republican strategy.

#9 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 06:50 PM:

Huckabee/Paul--two great tastes in one!

(Might as well laugh at them; crying doesn't help.)

#10 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 07:13 PM:

There's a game to play: coming up with the worst prez/vp combo evar. heh.

Say, is B. Clinton technically eligible to be named H. Clinton's VP? Whee! After Hillary is impeached for her part in the Travelgate scandal, Bill ascends to the Oval Office, the stock market soars, and I get hired as a six-figure computer consultant! Twenty-Fifth Amendment Bingo!

For the record, I find myself unable to endorse any of the available candidates of any party.

#11 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 07:54 PM:

#10 -- For the record, I find myself unable to endorse any of the available candidates of any party.

Yup. The Repub side (except for Paul) is an orgy of pandering to the worst elements of the right wing, while the Dems try to avoid saying anything that might offend somebody.

The only one who has shown anything resembling leadership is Dodd, and he don't get no respect.

Leadership is simple -- grab a flag and get out in front. Nobody (except Dodd) seems to understand this.

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 07:55 PM:

Earl Cooley III: Bill Clinton is not eligible to serve as vice president.* That's because the qualifications for both offices are the same, and Bill is not re-eligible for the presidency.


*Although one could see the Republican jokesters calling him the 'president of vice'.

#13 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 07:56 PM:

I got my third survey from the Republican National Committee this cycle today. I've never registered Republican in my life.

If it was like the others (I circular-filed it) it wanted a $12.75 "donation" when I returned the survey to cover the costs. Shouldn't the RNC be paying me?

#14 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 07:56 PM:

Plus, the presidential and vice presidential candidates must be residents of different states.

#15 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 08:13 PM:

Well, Fragano, that obviously doesn't count, because Bill could always "move to New Jersey" right before the election.

Wait, it's Democrats doing it. They'll be crucified. I forgot.

#16 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 08:15 PM:

Fragano @ 12&14:

My reading of the US Constitution is that Bill Clinton is in fact eligible to be VP; the 12th amendment deals with qualifications for holding the office, not for being elected to the office. The 22nd amendment, which attempts to prevent 3-term presidencies, speaks only of the office of the President and speaks only of the process of electing a president, not of inheriting the position.

Additionally, the not-from-the-state rule, from the 12th A, isn't actually a restriction on the condidates; it's a restriction on the electors. And it doesn't forbid the electors from voting for two people from the same state, just from voting for two people from the same state as themselves; thus, the only state which would be affected in this case is New York. If a Clinton/Clinton ticket could win with a large enough margin to not need New York's electoral votes, it would be fine, even without making Bill pretend to live somewhere else (viz Cheney's claiming Wyoming residency).

Of course, that's just me reading what the words actually say, and not only are they Democrats, they're the Clintons, so of course it would be the worst attack on the Constitution, ever, if they were to push the issue.

#17 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 08:21 PM:

Todd Larason #16: As I see it, the VP's main constitutional function is to be the spare wheel. That being the case, any ex-president serving in the job would precipitate a constitutional crisis should the president die or be removed under the 25th Amendment. I can't, thus, see a two-term ex-president as being eligible for the post.

#18 ::: Adam Rice ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 08:30 PM:

You know, a robot might not be so bad. I got push-polled for a congressional election a few years ago, and the guy at the other end of the phone was only quasi-literate. He couldn't pronounce the names of the people in the race, other politicians his script mentioned, or other middlin'-long words. I corrected him repeatedly.

#19 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 08:38 PM:

Linkmeister #13: I've gotten a mess of Democratic slanted poll/beg letter combinations. It's a funny tactic, like "take this poll to get good and mad, and then maybe you'll send us some money."

abi #4: My money's on Hillary, sowing confusion among her enemies.


#20 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 08:59 PM:

#16: I don't understand what you mean by "the 12th amendment deals with qualifications for holding the office, not for being elected to the office." I think there's a strong presumption that you can't be elected to an office you don't qualify (in the Constitutional sense) for. You only qualify for president if you

1. Are 35 years of age (Art. II, Sec. 1)
2. A natural born citizen (Art. II, Sec. 1)
3. Have lived in the US for the last 14 years (Art. II, Sec. 1)
4. Have not been elected to President twice, or once if you finished out more than two years of someone else's presidency. (Amendment 22)

You only qualify for vice president if you can also qualify for President (Amendment 12). Bill fails test #4, so he can't be elected VP.

There's been various theorizing about whether appointed VPs count as the 22nd Amendment only talks about "No person... shall be elected". The thought goes that if Hillary's VP resigned, she could appoint Bill to be the new VP. My thought is that there's very little chance of this happening, and even less chance of the Senate confirming the nominee.

#21 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 09:15 PM:

If robots were eligible, I think I'd prefer to vote for a Racter AI programmed with the collected speeches of Barbara Jordan.

#22 ::: Dorothy Winsor ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 09:26 PM:

I live in Iowa, so I sympathize with folks in New Hampshire. I get at least half a dozen phone calls a day, not to mention the stuff that comes in the mail. It's all deeply annoying. Oh well. Only 2 1/2 weeks until the caucus and then we can go back to being ignored. Not that anyone running for office actually listened to us anyway.

#23 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 09:39 PM:

There's a neat little flash-quiz at news.com.au, which lets Australians find out which of your lot they'd vote for. Unfortunately, my first choice according to this device isn't actually a candidate, but then, the Australian version of the quiz didn't get my prefs right anyhow.

You guys need a Kevin. Kevin from Australia ratified the Kyoto protocol, Kevin from Papua New Guinea told the American delegate to either lead or get out of the way at Bali (great bit of diplomacy that - a perfectly-timed FOAD) - are there no Kevins in America?

#24 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 09:57 PM:

Sadly, the current soft-money-is-fine laws allow almost anything, as long as it's an organization with the stated purpose of pushing a particular issue, rather than any particular candidate who might possibly be supporting that issue. Not that I'm making any excuses for any of the parties involved.

#25 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 10:03 PM:

Third Earl of Cooley @ #21: I'd vote for her in a second. I'd have moved to Austin to vote for her for state, then US, rep. If there were ever anyone I'd have allowed to be my moral compass, she was it.

**sigh**

#26 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 10:30 PM:

Apparently I'm voting for Al Gore.

#27 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 10:31 PM:

There was a discussion recently about whether there were term limits for the office of VP. It isn't mentioned in the amendment limiting presidential terms ....

#28 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 10:41 PM:

Dorothy Winsor #22: I'm confused. I thought the election for President of the US was next November. But in Iowa it's only two and a half weeks to the caucus? Is that the parties at State level choosing who they're going to vote for as their Presidential candidate at the party convention?

And this has to be done a year out or so? Sheesh.

#29 ::: Randall ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 10:52 PM:

Vian @23: couldn't Kevin have told the Canadian delegate to get out of the way, too? We would have cheered.

#30 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 11:15 PM:

I think we need a fourth law of robotics:

A robot will not perform a push pull, even if commanded by another human or another robot.

If Huckabee were to be arrested tomorrow for child pornography, would that lower your opinion of him?

Hypothetically speaking, of course...

#31 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 11:18 PM:

Dave L @ 28

Yes, yes, and yes.
It's a long way to November.

#32 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 11:22 PM:

#28 Dave:

I thought the election for President of the US was next November. But in Iowa it's only two and a half weeks to the caucus? Is that the parties at State level choosing who they're going to vote for as their Presidential candidate at the party convention?

Here's what's happening:

Next summer there will be two conventions, one Democratic, one Republican, to choose each party's candidate. Those candidates will campaign through September and October.

Between now and August, when the conventions happen, the states decide on the people who will go to the conventions to select those candidates. The Republicans and the Democrats select their respective convention delegates.

In Iowa, the delegates are chosen in caucuses. In New Hampshire, the delegates are chosen in primary elections. (In New Hampshire, Republicans can vote in the Republican primary, Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary, and Independents can vote in either, as they chose on the day.) Other states choose their delegates in various ways, either caucuses or primaries, or in games of Johnny On A Pony, Musical Chairs, or such other means as they see fit.

No one is votiing for a candidate: they're voting for delgates who have promised to vote for that candidate at the national conventions.

Come the conventions, the delegates vote. If there's no winner on the first ballot, and subsequent ballots, the delegates are generally free to vote for whoever they feel like to be the candidate.

Then we get to the bizarre (but fun) way we vote for president. We don't vote for President, we vote for electors who have promised to vote for a particular candidate when the Electoral College convenes.

That's kinda how we do things.

#33 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 11:24 PM:

Randall @ 29 couldn't Kevin have told the Canadian delegate to get out of the way, too? We would have cheered.

Perhaps, and it pains me to say it, there are some objects so immovable that even a Kevin is no help. Ehu.

Does the American electoral system allow write-in voting? Could Gore be elected against his will, if enough people demanded it? (Yes, I realise the chances of this happening are somehwere between None At All and Lower Than That, but if it did, would he be obliged?) I actually think he does more good outside politics than inside it, but he seems a bright lad, and if he changed his name to Kevin, who knows? He might be just the ticket.

#34 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2007, 11:57 PM:

Dave 28: It's a bloody mess of a frelled-up system, that's what it is. But if we open the box all kinds of nasty things will fly out. So we're stuck.

I like the Australian system, frankly, especially the actual balloting system. But I just don't know if I could get used to the sun going counterclockwise.

#35 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:03 AM:

#3: "I keep getting the Ron Paul robo-calls. They drive me nuts. What? They can't afford volunteers? "

Paul volunteers could well be worse than a robo-call.

#36 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:04 AM:

"Apparently I'm voting for Al Gore."

Looking forward to another Republican administration?

#37 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:09 AM:

#10 - There's a game to play: coming up with the worst prez/vp combo evar. heh.

Isn't that the Republican Party's standard procedure for selecting their nominees? (And if it isn't, then what the hell happened in 2000?)

#38 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:18 AM:

#11: "Leadership is simple -- grab a flag and get out in front. Nobody (except Dodd) seems to understand this."

Dodd doesn't deserve that much credit. According to Greenwald, at least, the idea to put a hold on the FISA bill originated with blogs.

I'm sorry, but if a key Senate tool, used frequently by Republicans, is forgotten or ignored by experienced Democratic Senators until the bloggers raise the suggestion, then I'm not sure how much leadership that actually demonstrates.

#39 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:37 AM:

One of the most entertaining political experiences I ever had was in Colorado when I was 18, I think... They had a caucus system, or something... ...Anyway, the upshot is, somehow I figured to go to a house a few down the block from mine, where about five people (all middleaged) sat around in someone's living room and discussed what we should include in the party platform that year. They elected a guy to be the elector/representative of our miniscule little subdivision of Colorado, and later he'd be going to the state convention to discuss with hundreds of other random guys from various neighborhoods what should be up with the party... It all seemed kind of ridiculous, but interesting. Politics at the tiniest possible level. I remember particularly that one guy was strongly in favor of a plank in the party's statewide platform opposing light pollution. Light pollution! I can't look at an uncapped streetlamp, or fly into a city at night, without thinking of that caucus. And it was so small that everyone treated everyone else seriously and respectfully.

It was really neat.

Then I came to California, and all they want is a button pushed in a booth. Not at all the same.

#40 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 01:48 AM:

Q. Pheevr, #37: The last three Republican presidents have very obviously selected their Veeps as "impeachment insurance" -- make everyone hesitate to initiate impeachment proceedings, no matter how well-warranted, because the heir-apparent would be WORSE.

Bill Clinton actually selected someone who would have been capable of leading the country if anything had happened to him, and look what did.

#41 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:43 AM:

Xopher, the Australian system has its problems, too. I do like preferential voting, but the result can be runaway numbers of candidates and a far more difficult task for the elector, who has to number all the candidates on the ballot (bar the last preference) for the vote to fully count if it goes down to the last distribution of preferences.

On the other hand, very few races are won on anything below the second or third distribution.

#42 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:45 AM:

Fragano @ 17 That being the case, any ex-president serving in the job would precipitate a constitutional crisis should the president die or be removed under the 25th Amendment
Oh yes, absolutely, no disagreement there.
I can't, thus, see a two-term ex-president as being eligible for the post.
And I agree that's probably what the authors of the 22nd amendment meant, but I can't find any way to make the plain meaning of the words say that.

Alan Hamilton @20: I agree with your presumption that "you can't be elected to an office you don't qualify for", but I disagree with your 4th qualification. By my reading, that's not a 4th qualification for holding the office; rather, that's an additional qualification for being elected to the office, over and above being qualified to hold the office.

And no, I don't actually think any of the people involved meant it that way, and I don't think it would be a good thing if anybody tried to test it.

#43 ::: zzatz ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:48 AM:

Lee #40: Last three Republican administrations? Have you forgotten Agnew? Impeachment insurance doesn't always work.

That example is worth remembering, because it shows the importance of getting rid of the VP first. It's also worth remembering a time when the Washington Post and NY Times hired and *backed up* real reporters. And a time when Democrats in the Senate had backbones.

I nominate "Democratic Leadership Conference" for the oxymoron of the year.

#44 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 02:50 AM:

James @32 Between now and August, when the conventions happen, the states decide on the people who will go to the conventions to select those candidates.
For the Democratic party at least, there are also a slew of delegates who aren't selected by voters in any even semi-direct way, and who aren't necessarily pledged to any candidate; these are generally called "superdelegates", and are Party officials, members of Congress, and the like. Typically they make up nearly 20% of the convention and could, in a closely contested nomination, be pretty important.

I don't know if the Republican party has anything similar, but I'd be surprised if they didn't.

#45 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:04 AM:

vian @33: one could make a somewhat strong case that there is no such thing as "the American electoral system", at least in the sense you're asking about it. All the elections where normal people go and vote are run by individual states or subdivisions thereof, under state laws. There has been increasing Federal-forced conformity in some ways, mostly for good reasons -- civil rights laws in the 1960s, further rules to ease voter registration difficulties in the 1990s, mostly failed (IMHO) attempts to ensure counting integrity following the 2000 election -- but questions like "are write-in votes allowed?" are state questions.

There are at least 5 states where write-in votes are not allowed in any races (Oklahoma and Hawaii are the two I'm sure of; Oklahoma is where I grew up and Hawaii is the state that won the Supreme Court decision saying they didn't have to allow them). There may be more states that allow them in most cases but don't for President.

In fact, it's unclear how a write-in vote for President would work, since as alluded to above you aren't actually voting for President: you're voting for a slate of electors who have pledged to vote for a particular slate of President and Vice Presidential candidates. A real write-in vote for President would have to be a write-in slate of Electors, which would be a list of names ranging in length from 3 (in the smallest population states) to 55 (in California).

(Not directly relevant, but somewhat related, and a hot-button issue for me: the individual states are also responsible for deciding what qualifies a political party or non-party candidate as ballot-worthy, and those rules vary hugely by state. I believe they're especially loose in New York -- New Yorkers, how many presidential choices did you have in 2004? In Oklahoma, there were just 2. And remember, no write-ins there either. But hey, at least they no longer invalidate your whole ballot if you attempt a write-in for one race. That's an improvement, right?)

On the other hand, remember those electors I mentioned? They do actually vote for President and Vice President, and although they're pledged to vote for particular people, and various state laws attempt to make those pledges legally binding, the prevailing opinion seems to be that they can actually vote for whomever they choose. It's possible a state could punish them for it -- opinions on that seem to be divided -- but the vote would still count. So if you could convince the electors to vote for Gore, you'd be all set.

Well, all except for convincing him to actually do the job.

#46 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:07 AM:

Jon H @36:
Looking forward to another Republican administration?

As I am not a US citizen, merely a compulsive quiz taker, my predilections matter not one whit.

#48 ::: spike ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 04:22 AM:

As regards push robots, and neatly covering the apparent difference between american political parties, can I recommend this [milkandcookies.com] song.

#49 ::: John Dallman ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 05:52 AM:

Pity that a Baptist Minister has to resort to dirty tricks to slime his opponents.

Err, sorry? There are some grounds for expecting a minister of religion to behave in a morally superior manner to other political candidates? A minister of religion who's standing for political office?

#50 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:24 AM:

John @ #49:

Well, there are some, but they are fairly faint and rely more on an inherent sense of superior clergy ethics than anything based in fact.

#51 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 06:42 AM:

I am delighted to know that there is a website called milkandcookies.com.

#52 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 07:09 AM:

Why I am allergic to the notion of clergy as politicians: The Rev Ian Paisley. I think the broadcasting ban during the Troubles should have covered him too.

Mind you, he appears to be improving as a politician, at long last. He may, before he goes, manage to undo some of the tremendous damage he did to his society.

And anyone who can use the phrase "the devil's buttermilk" with a straight face has something going for him.

#53 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 07:22 AM:

Well, Romney's gotten (most folks think) caught playing monkey games with push polls before, and before Huckabee hired that spectacular jackass Ed Rollins I'd've said he was the most likely suspect, because this would tar his two biggest threats at once.

Now I don't know - Huckabee apparently has a Giuliani- or GWB-level nasty with a press-friendly demeanor thing going on, according to local reporters in Arkansas, and Rollins has what amounts to political tourettes (his comeback to the Republican fold after he worked for Perot was Christie Whitman's gubernatorial race, but on his victory lap he told the press he paid off the black clergy to suppress their congregations' votes).

There are some grounds for expecting a minister of religion to behave in a morally superior manner to other political candidates?

Well, hypothetically, since he says his policies are based on his strongly-held religious beliefs and that he believes those to have been dictated by God, it would be awkward to flipflop.

Like, say, having undocumented-friendly policies when you're the governor of a state with a lot of poultry processing plants because it's the morally right thing to do and then demanding that they all be summarily deported once you get into a national primary.

#54 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 07:54 AM:

Q. Pheevr @37: my vote for the nightmare ticket in the current elections? Try Huckabee/Santorum. Think it would fly with the base?

#55 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 08:16 AM:

Re Lee 40:The last three Republican presidents have very obviously selected their Veeps as "impeachment insurance" -- make everyone hesitate to initiate impeachment proceedings, no matter how well-warranted, because the heir-apparent would be WORSE.


Is the '96 run of Dole/Kemp an aberration then?

#56 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 08:46 AM:

My assumption would be that no candidate paid for the call, and that the firm making the calls does so on a "you pay us, we use your script, you don't pay us, we use our script" basis, which would (under the soft money rules about pushing specific issues) be completely lawful.

My take on "worst ticket" would be Guiliani/Cheney.

#57 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 08:55 AM:

Q. Pheevr @37 (quoting Earl Cooley III @10): "There's a game to play: coming up with the worst prez/vp combo evar. heh." Isn't that the Republican Party's standard procedure for selecting their nominees? (And if it isn't, then what the hell happened in 2000?)

IIRC from rather jocularly-toned news articles published between mid-'99 and mid-2k, what happened was that the Republican party's leadership decided that in order to find a solid, principled veep, someone should vet all the qualified likely figures to make sure there weren't any sleeping seeds of scandal that could come back to bite them in the ass later. And so one by one, all of these hopeful second-string politicians sat down to confidentially divulge all of their hidden dark secrets to... Dick Cheney.

Who emerged from the process with the conclusion that all of those other guys just had too many potential liabilities, and that as much as it pained him to return to arduous public service, there was really no other logical alternative but for him to step into the post. Of the people who'd told him their dark secrets, not a single one protested his decision, though possibly there were a lot of nervous sideways glances for a while.

#58 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 09:19 AM:

Our invaluable ABC Radio National has a shortish program every week called Rear Vision, wherein they attempt to fill in the historical background of contemporary issues in a clear and engaging way. The most recent one — originally broadcast 16th December, repeated on the 18th — was called 'Hail to the Chief' and attempted "to unravel the complex mysteries of the US presidential [voting] system". That link takes you to the page that has a transcript as well as a downloadable MP3 and a streaming audio link (the latter two seem to expire, but the transcript remains). They were both explaining what happens now, and how & why it developed over time.

Over the last month, the subjects have been: Economic embrace: China and the US; Kurdish nationalism; Beyond Kyoto; and Benazir Bhutto. The other historical program is Hindsight, usually picking odd & interesting, or topical, subjects from Australian history to cover.

#59 ::: jean vpxi ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:35 AM:

#27 PJ Evans re term limits for the office of VP.
VP term is probably self-limiting; it's been reviled from the very beginning: "My country in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived... " John Adams to Abigail Adams (quote from David McCullough's _John Adams_)
#40 Lee re VPs as impeachment insurance... That resonates. Scary.

#60 ::: jean vpxi ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:38 AM:

But I forgot what I was really going to say, which is it kills me when LOCAL candidates do the robo-call. Why would I vote in a city council candidate who can't even pick up the phone (or get volunteers) to call his/her own puny constituency?

I hang up on 'em all; they're just telemarketers.

#61 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:49 AM:

The reason I mention the Baptist Minister thing (#49 et seq.) is because Huckabee makes a big thing about it. It shows his basic hypocrisy.


#62 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:33 PM:

Charlie #54:

I suspect that much of the Making Light base would consider flying in response to such a ticket, though mostly just one-way.

Lee #40:

I don't quite see the pattern. Bush/Quayle looked like impeachment insurance to me, and spoke very badly of Bush's judgement, since it's hard to imagine Quayle being a respected or effective president. But Reagan/Bush seemed about as credible as Clinton/Gore, in the sense that Bush plausibly had the qualifications and connections and understanding needed to step in as president, if necessary. And Dole/Kemp doesn't look all that much like impeachment insurance, either; again, Kemp had the connections and experience to at least not be totally out of his depth if he were dropped into the presidency.

GWBush/Cheney is a bit different, because originally, it looked like W was the good looking but dumb front man, and Cheney was the adult supervision. That pretty clearly didn't work out, but it's not clear to me that Cheney would be any worse as a president than Bush; I suspect Cheney takes more of the overt, unpopular claims on executive power and such, but I've seen no indication of disagreement between them on these issues.

Am I missing some sense of what you're thinking here?

#63 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 12:57 PM:

Could it have been "Common Sense Issues Inc"? They've been robocalling for Huckabee in Iowa and are part of a network of dirty pool organizations .


#64 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 01:01 PM:

My bet: Should Hilary win the election, she will nominate Bill for the next open position on the Supreme Court...

#65 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 01:49 PM:

Lori, do you think so? I'd bet on Hillary selecting Obama as the next Supreme Court justice. He'd be quite good at it, and he'd never run for president again!

(I'm sure I read that suggestion somewhere first, but for the life of me I can't recall where.)

#66 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:04 PM:

In contrast, according to a report from NH heard today, both Hillary and McCain are using actual, local people, to do the push poll calling to their neighbors.

The good news today, along with Dodd's great action yesterday (and fie and feh and foo upon Reid and Co. and their big payoffs from the telecom lobbyists), is that Colorado has de-commissioned the electronic voting machines.

This action, like Dodd's, came about through the efforts of only a few, but dedicated, individuals.

Therefore, individuals do make a difference.

Recall, there are something like 39 states out there still with those diebold and ilk voting machines.

Love, C.

#67 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:07 PM:

They are saying now that McCain's gonna get NH, and it's gonna be Hillary v. McCain.

Love, C.

#68 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:15 PM:

LMB MacAlister @25: . I'd have moved to Austin to vote for her for state, then US, rep.

I think you'd have done better to move to Houston... :)

We stood on the same line once, for the restroom at the Superdrum in Austin. She was just behind me, on a pair of canes. When I noticed, I hung back and muttered, "You go on ahead, m'am," till she grumped past me. I'm sure I annoyed the hell out of her, but some things I just couldn't do, ever, one of them being go ahead of Barbara Jordan through any door.

#69 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:55 PM:

#63: Could it have been "Common Sense Issues Inc"?

It could very well have been.

#70 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:57 PM:

#67: They are saying now that McCain's gonna get NH, and it's gonna be Hillary v. McCain.

Who's "they"?

McCain got New Hampshire in 2000, but it wasn't McCain vs. Gore.

#71 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 03:59 PM:

Oh, and one of the Google ads in the sidebar right now says, "Elect a man of integrity
Stop electing liars for presidents Vote for Mike Huckabee"

Integrity. Right. I got yer integrity right here.

#72 ::: Dave MB ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 04:39 PM:

The Democratic activist blog Blue Hampshire has a thread on this calls and whether they might be illegal (they have discovered this thread):

http://www.bluehampshire.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=2785

#73 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 05:00 PM:

Albatross @#62:

I figure Bush Senior's VP spot was a reward for his "service beneath the call of duty" as CIA chief and "informal negotiator", during Carter's Iranian hostage crisis.

#74 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 07:35 PM:

Being in the Presidential line of succession does not guarantee the ability to succeed to the presidency. If a person in line is ineligible for the presidency, say, because of foreign birth, that person is skipped over. Two current cabinet members, Gutierrez (Commerce) and Chao (Labor) are ineligible for this reason.

#75 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 08:29 PM:

Dave@28: the weakness of a called-election system (i.e., most parliamentaries) is that the ruling party can call an election when it likes the odds; unless they are so hated that they have no preferred spots within whatever time limit is mandated, they have an advantage. The weakness of a fixed-election system (as in the U.S.) is that people will start campaigning earlier and earlier, to try to establish themselves before someone else does; worse, the states (which individually set primary dates) are so convinced that they have to be early in the race (lest they lose influence/money/...) that they have been setting dates earlier and earlier. New Hampshire has a law that says the relevant state official must hold the primary some time \before/ anyone else's, so they've backed up from late Feb to early Jan in response. (I forget whether Iowa has a similar law.)
     In 1968, RFK considered California (late May or early June) important; now CA has moved to early Feb to avoid being irrelevant (not in raw delegate count, but in the self-fulfilling assumption that they'll vote for whoever is leading), and virtually all the other states have joined them.

Xopher: there is one better way: tell NH to fsck itself and mandate a system of rotating block primaries.

zzatz@43: I was around then; Agnew was a payoff, not impeachment insurance. It's possible the rest of the party didn't know he was a crook, and his having defeated a blatant segregationist (for the MD governorship) was something that still appealed to the Repubs back then.

#76 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 08:47 PM:

Charlie at 54: I think Huckabee/Santorum (eeewww, gross) would insure a Republican loss. The fundies and war-mongers would adore it, and anyone of sanity still considering voting Republican would either not vote, or see the light and vote Dem.

Let's go for it!

#77 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 09:49 PM:

#38 --

Yeah, Dodd isn't showing that much leadership. But everybody else is showing *zero* leadership.

It shows.

#78 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 09:59 PM:

zzatz, #40: The last three Republican presidents have been Bush II (Cheney), Bush I (Quayle), and Reagan (Bush I). Okay, make it the last two Republican administrations. :-)

Am I the only person who'd like to see ALL the primaries, in all the different states, happen on the same day? "Super Tuesday" with a vengeance!

#79 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 10:11 PM:

Lee 78: Yeah, well, I suggested that they all happen on February 29. But there are serious problems with that too.

#80 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 12:06 AM:

CHip #75: An additional weakness of a fixed-term electoral system is that the executive - whether elected directly or indirectly - is effectively impossible to remove during its term of office.

Bush has, by the account of all and sundry, broken the laws of the United States, trashed its Constitution, vastly exceeded his powers, abducted even citizens for imprisonment without trial or cause, permitted and authorised torture, and lost an war that was unnecessary in the first place, and an ignominious series of idiotic blunders in the second. He got into this war by telling comprehensive barefaced lies.

As a result of this behaviour, (a) his opponents had a landslide win in the elections to the Legislature and (b) he now has approval ratings among electors of around 30%. But he's still there!

A Parliamentary party consists of members whose most important aim is to form the next government, or at least not to go into opposition forever, or at the very least, not to get booted out of their own seats by an electorate outraged at the behaviour of their Parliamentary leaders - for the electorate can and does hold them directly responsible for that behaviour.

The instant the Opposition scents wavering support on the Government back bench for a Cabinet or a Prime Minister over some policy or other, it'll pull a censure motion on that policy. There's one almost every sitting day. And here's the thing: anything less than total solidarity behind a PM and Cabinet on that policy is the kiss of death. Censure motions are never won by the Opposition, but that's not the point. The Government party room has to talk about them, and the PM has to listen to what the Party room is saying. He can't not.

If he doesn't, the censure motion still won't succeed, but backbench MPs don't like being ignored, especially if they're nervously eyeing a shrinking margin. If the PM overdraws on their goodwill - and how much of that they'll have is purely a pragmatic calculation - he'll be asked, fairly politely at first, but increasingly - if he wouldn't rather be spending more time with his family. This will not be about whether he's broken the law. It will about whether he has the confidence of his own party and the country. That's all. But isn't that enough?

Nobody had the balls to tap Howard on the shoulder as soon as it was obvious that the country wouldn't wear his so-called Work Choices legislation. The back bench did belatedly get him to back off, but it was too late - the election was too close, and they couldn't switch horses by then.

That failure to ditch the policy, and if the PM wouldn't play, then the PM himself, cost the Liberal Party government by a landslide. The remaining Liberals, now in Opposition, are licking their wounds and sorely regretting not telling Johnnie to pull his head in earlier. It probably wouldn't have saved them in the sense of electing them to government again, but it would have saved some of their seats. As it is, they might be looking at ten years in Opposition. They won't be making that mistake again any time soon.

If there is a fixed term executive, the chief executive can't be tossed for being a tosser. And that's the problem.

#81 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2007, 03:43 PM:

Madeline @ 39: I attended my party caucus in El Paso, Texas one year, and actually got sent as a delegate to the county convention. The same year the other party's convention got overrun by Pat Robertson delegates. Those guys have all the fun.

Constance @ 67: They are saying now that McCain's gonna get NH, and it's gonna be Hillary v. McCain.

That seems rather simplistic. Last I heard McCain isn't expected to do much of anything in Iowa despite endorsements; even if he places first in NH he doesn't have much money for the rest of the primary season; and Giuliani is betting on a win in California to give him some traction.

#82 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 01:55 AM:

At #27, P J Evans asks about term limits for the office of VP.

No, there aren't. A quick check of the World Almanac Book of Facts' page on Vice Presidents of the U.S. shows that none of them have ever served more than two terms. Even though FDR served more than three terms (he died early in the fourth), his first Veep, John Nance Gardner, only served two; then Henry Wallace was VP for FDR's 3rd term, and Harry Truman for the 4th, which is how Truman became President.

The really interesting bit of Vice-Presidential trivia relating to this is that there was one Veep who served two consecutive terms, but under two different Presidents.

I'll Rot-13 this for those who want to guess before looking it up:

Trbetr Pyvagba jnf Ivpr Cerfvqrag qhevat Gubznf Wrssrefba'f frpbaq grez *naq* Wnzrf Znqvfba'f svefg grez, naq guhf freirq sebz Znepu Rvtugrra Uhaqerq naq Svir gb Znepu Guveq Rvtugrra Uhaqerq naq Guvegrra.

Ab, gung'f abg gur Trbetr Pyvagba sebz Shaxnqryvp, abe jnf ur nal eryngvba gb Ovyy naq Uvyynel.

#83 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:37 AM:

There's only one way I can see that it would be Constitutional for a former two-full-term president (be his name Bill or George, anything but Sue... well, maybe Sue some day too). It would go like this.

President-to-be-named-later (but let's for the sake of argument say hir initials are H.C.) serves one full term and is re-elected along with hir original running mate/Vice President for a second term. After two more years, six years total of H.C.'s Presidency, with half of the second term completed, the V.P. dies or resigns. With less than two years to serve as Vice President, the VP to be appointed would still not be able to serve more than ten years as President even if H.C. up and died as soon as the new Veep was sworn in.

(This takes us back to 1999. The thought occured to me and some other folks that if Bill Clinton had resigned sometime after, say, January 21st of that year, and Al Gore became President then, Gore could still have run for President in 2000 and in 2004 and would now, in December 2007, be close to finishing his ninth year in office, with one more to go that would squeak him in under the ten-year limit, for a term that would expire at noon of January 20, 2009. Of course it never happened, at least not in our timeline. But it's an alternate history to think about.)

What would have to happen for this to be H.C.'s spouse is that -- since the Constitution insists that the President and Vice President be from different states* and since there are also laws against nepotism ** -- that H.C. and spouse would have to divorce and set up households in different states first. And all that is true whether H.C.'s spouse is already a former President or not; that part's relevant *only* if you're trying to game the ten-year limit.

So I don't see this happening, and getting past Congress' approval, much less the approval of the pundits in the media and, nowadays, assorted blogs. Certainly not with a certain H.C. currently in the news and hir spouse, after everything their marriage has already survived.

*Even this is debatable. The Constitution really says that electors may not vote for a Presidential candidate and a Vice-Presidential candidate from the same state. (More specifically, it says, in Amendment 12, that an elector may only vote for no more than one such candidate from the elector's own state. In other words, if I were an elector from, say, West Virginia, and the Presidential candidate and hir running mate from the party I had been elected to vote for were both also from West Virginia, I could only vote for one of them. In the other case I would either have to abstain or vote for someone from another state.

And even so, there are ways of getting around that. Not long ago, a Vice Presidential candidate (let's call him D.C.) who happened to be a resident of the same state as his Presidential running-mate (whom we'll call G.W.B., and their state TX) simply decided to "move". He also owned property in another state (which we'll call WY) and decided to register to vote there instead of TX, thus removing the Constitutional problem for the electors from TX, which has quite a few votes in the Electoral College. (It's not such an issue for the electors from WY, which has a much smaller population, but it removed the obstacle for them, too.)

I don't find anything about this requirement in Amendment 22, regarding the appointment/approval of a V.P. when that office becomes open. This is not something we can ever really know until it happens and the Supreme Court weighs in on the legality of it. Don't hold your breath, though.

** Such as naming your brother to your Cabinet. Which no one thought to make illegal until after someone did it.

#84 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:17 AM:

Can a former two-term president who is appointed to a high cabinet position (say, Secretary of State, for example) regain the presidency via the order of presidential succession authorized by the Presidential Succession Act of 1947?

#85 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:50 AM:

Xopher #79 - ...suggested that they all happen on February 29. But there are serious problems with that too.

Like in 2100?

#86 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 02:30 PM:

Earl Cooley #84: What the 22nd Amendment prohibits is the election of a president for more than two terms (or a total length of service of one day less than 10 years, if the president in question took office as a result of the death of their predecessor). It doesn't say anything about the scenario you've set out.

#87 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 04:20 PM:

#70: The "They Say"ers are, naturally, They Who Make Their Living By Mostly Getting It Wrong and Forgetting All About It.

Radio, the blogosphere, etc., have been all a-twitter, all the time, re the Lieberman endorsement of McCain, and how this has given McCain a Great Bump, and now he's probably gonna be It.

I tend to listen to radio most of the day since I work at home.

Love, C.

#88 ::: Dylan O'Donnell ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 07:56 PM:

Lois Fundis @82: The really interesting bit of Vice-Presidential trivia relating to this is that there was one Veep who served two consecutive terms, but under two different Presidents.

By my understanding, there have been two.

#89 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 08:54 PM:

#83: Nevertheless there's nothing in that alternate timeline to convince us that Gore would have run any better a campaign than the one he ran in 2000.

It would have been far more difficult to steal the election if Gore'd been able to even take his own dayemed state. He made nothing but bad choices, starting with his choice of running mate in order to distance himself as far as possible from the tainted Clinton.


#90 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 09:09 PM:

Please. I never stated that "I" am saying that McCain is going to take NH, and be the pub candidate against dem Hillary. That's what those who get extraordinary monies to spout their opinions were saying the day after Lieberman endorsed McCain.

Yeah.

What I recall is what Lieberman did for Gore in 2000.

#91 ::: Iain Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 09:27 PM:

Jean @ 60: Have you considered volunteering to make phone calls for your favoured candidate?

#92 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 09:29 PM:

Dave@80: The US can toss a tosser; videt Nixon. Not long after his departure, I was discussing the case with a USian living in the UK; she said the line in that relatively stable parliamentary democracy was that the US was fortunate not to have the UK's ]looseness[. (I don't know whether Italians think their rapidly-spinning govt is a good thing or a bad thing.)

Your argument actually suggests that you \can't/ toss a tosser; unlike (e.g.) Thatcher, Howard rode his party down to defeat. ~Similarly, Bush is wholeheartedly supported by party figures, presumably because they figure that supporting the President is the only thing they can do; they certainly don't have anything like a program otherwise. It would be interesting to see what would happen if Australia had as effective a set of demagogues as the US now does; you might be immune due to a history of demagogues, or you might not.

#93 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 10:34 PM:

I've got a question for the politically inclined... what do you think Ron Paul is going to do with all that money? There is no way in hell that the Republican party is going to name him as its Presidential candidate. So -- what?

#94 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2007, 11:51 PM:

I hope Ron Paul runs as an Independent and spends his money on a cutthroat media campaign. And I hope he convinces Independents to run in local races. I hope they're really, really effective at convincing like-minded people to vote for them.

Rather than, you know, Republicans.

#95 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 12:45 AM:

CHip: Aw, c'mon. Nixon was about to be arraigned and prosecuted for actual crimes, for which he had to be pardoned later. Howard and Thatcher were never accused of that, and both in their day had been eminently successful politicians whose major crimes were unpopular (and, yes, unfair) policy at the ends of their careers and not knowing when to quit. I don't think any PM who had to rely on the day-to-day support of a Parliamentary majority could have survived the blunders and incompetence that Bush has displayed.

#96 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 05:15 AM:

Lizzy, #93: "Huckabee/Paul. Not your lesser evil."

#97 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 05:22 AM:

Ooops, sorry. Didn't mean to repeat that. But, seriously, while the R's might not go for Paul as presidential candidate, veep seems perfectly possible.

#98 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2007, 09:20 PM:

Can't be Tancredo. He withdrew today.

#99 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2007, 11:06 AM:

Dave: incorrect. Nixon was about to be brought up for impeachment, which is the Constitutional process for removing tossers (or anyone else the majority is pissed at -- see (e.g.) Bill Clinton or Andrew Johnson); it's orthogonal to criminal prosecution, which Ford preempted by his "pardon". (There was some controversy over whether it was possible to pardon someone before a conviction, but nobody was willing to bring a criminal case as a test.)

It's arguable that a parliamentary system (even a districted one like the UK's, as opposed to a purely list-based one like Israel's) makes it easier to change top figures (or figureheads) but harder to change \policy/, since it gives additional leverage to the party council (who may or may not represent broad constituencies). Some Republicans think they'd still have overt control of in both houses (to exercise as perniciously as they did previously) if they'd been able to get rid of Bush; others figure their defense of Bush is the only thing keeping them in their seats.

#100 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2007, 10:11 PM:

Our friends in Michigan are now getting these calls.

Wait for 'em! See if you can record 'em!

#101 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2007, 06:14 AM:

CHip: See your "incorrect" and raise you a "you misunderstood me". I do not mean by "tosser" a criminal, which Nixon was, all bar that he was never brought before a jury of his peers. I mean an incompetent, dumbass, dismal failure. The operative words, it appears to me, are "high crimes and misdemeanors", which raises the bar considerably higher than mere gross incompetence. I believe there is a supermajority required, too, which raises it still further.

Bush is an incompetent. There's no sort of doubt that the electorate thinks so, and no sort of doubt that he has been a disaster. But you can't get rid of him. A Prime Minister of Australia or Britain who had presided over Katrina, the Iraq War and its run-up, or simply had approval ratings in the low 30's, would be tapped. Not tried before the Legislature, not indicted, not brought up on charges. Someone in his own party would tell him, he'd do the numbers, and then he'd go, unless he was a complete moron. If the latter, it'd cost his party more, but he'd still go.

Howard just lost an election - and his seat, too, though that was only the icing on the cake. His party thought he could come back from the dead, but "dead" in this case means personal approval ratings in the middle forties, with one really unpopular policy among quite a lot of generally acceptable ones. Iraq was never an issue - we only have 500-odd troops there, and so far no combat casualties. The electorate seems to actually approve of Afghanistan, though how long that will last is anyone's guess. On most other policies, the former Opposition was only playing mirror games.

On whether throwing Bush out of office would change the policies of the Republican Party, I defer to your judgement. No doubt it would not. But being able to remove him by the process above rather than formal impeachment would rid you of a malign nincompoop, which is something, surely?

#102 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2007, 11:51 AM:

Dave: But being able to remove him by the process above rather than formal impeachment would rid you of a malign nincompoop, which is something, surely?

Not if you recognize that it would also have saddled us with a malign jackass in place of the Great Triangulator; remember that Newt Gingrich's "Contract [on] America" took both houses in 1994. (No, I'm not especially fond of Clinton. Yes, Gingrich would have been a lot worse. This has been a certifiable opinion; YMMV, depending on the relative thicknesses of our tinfoil hats.)

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