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Mmm...policy

The article keeps insinuating that this will be some kind of political problem for the Kerry campaign, and maybe it will be (I'm unconvinced), but this is what policymaking looks like when it's done by people who are genuinely motivated by a desire to use political power to accomplish something useful. The politics and the opportunism aren't absent -- you need to get power to wield it. But someone's eye is always watching the ball. There's a purpose here and, dare I say it, some hope.

July 14, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

Bush's policies are much more ideologically driven, thus easier to come up with. Bush knows the answer before he sees the problem.
Terrorist attack: State sponsor.
Economic problems: Tax cuts for rich.
Moral issues: Check with Pat Robertson.
See? Easy.
A little more messy when you actually solicit informed people's opinions.

Posted by: epistemology | Jul 14, 2004 4:37:40 PM

"but this is what policymaking looks like when it's done by people who are genuinely motivated by a desire to use political power to accomplish something useful"

Don't you mean: "by a desire to win elections"?

Drool some more, MY, will you? Having task forces with hundreds of members sounds like a logistical nightmare. Policymaking does require teamwork and brainstorming, but there's no reason to believe that a team of 100 wonks will come up with a better proposal for a given issue than, say, 10 leading experts.

Posted by: up | Jul 14, 2004 4:47:28 PM

No surprises here - taking both sides of each issue would require a large staff.

Posted by: Doubtless | Jul 14, 2004 4:48:16 PM

I am trying to understand how keeping every Democratic policy wonk in America feel wanted is going to get Kerry elected. Kerry may be building or reinforcing a liberal establishment, but I think I would enjoy a little more grass roots and bottom-up organization.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jul 14, 2004 4:54:11 PM

up:

No, but 100 wonks will come up with better ideas that 10 ideological political hacks.

Posted by: epistemology | Jul 14, 2004 5:47:41 PM

The funniest part of the article, of course, was:

"'Why is it that after 20 years in United States Senate, John Kerry needs that many people to tell him what he thinks?' Stanzel said."

Hmm... Maybe he investigates the facts because he actually cares about the truth. Unlike Republicans, whose entire policy philosophy is to just believe whatever is in their self-interest to believe, without any regard for truth.

Posted by: JP | Jul 14, 2004 6:45:01 PM

To me, these names mean a lot--and they are very, very, very good names.

Posted by: Brad DeLong | Jul 14, 2004 6:51:55 PM

After reading Kerry's various speeches and coverage of the campaign from atrios, kos, matt's stuff, etc. - I get no sense that the junior Senator from Massachussets cares about anything like 'the truth'.

Newsflash: Kerry wants to be beat Bush.

Were Kerry interested in 'the truth' he would avoid using various wtf? phraseology which, to me, doesn't evoke deeply nuanced thinking, but rather belies a vision without any details.

For example, his {paraphrased} response regarding the domestic situation: "We could be safer than we are today."

I'm not sure which 1 of his 27 or so committes will give him the briefing paper. Hopefully, it will be before November 2.

Posted by: Doubtless | Jul 14, 2004 7:00:59 PM

Ah, sorry trolls.

Why do they hate serious policy aimed at improving people's lives? Are they Trotskyites?

Posted by: praktike | Jul 14, 2004 7:08:37 PM

Well, the whole claim that the Kerry has a bigger team working on policy than GWB is risable. GWB is the president--he has the entire executive branch working for him. As the article states:

"In contrast, President Bush's campaign policy shop is a no-frills affair. Policy director Tim Adams directs about a dozen experts who make sure the campaign is in sync with the vast executive branch that is formulating policy."

In other words, the only reason the Kerry campaign has more people working on policy than the Bush campaign is that the Bush campaign can also command the resources of the executive branch.

Just another example of bs spin by the Republicans and their enablers in the media . . .

Posted by: rea | Jul 14, 2004 7:16:34 PM

Brad DeLong: "To me, these names mean a lot--and they are very, very, very good names." (including, IMO, Brad DeLong)

The best and the brightist IS a motto that the Democrats can display with honor.

We need policy wonks for good ideas that will work, and we need inclusiveness to weed out the bad from the good. And we need participation so that lots of people have a stake in the outcome.

When I read this article late last night, I thought, thank the gods - we're going to regain the momentum on progressive ways to make the lives of Americans truly better.

Stuff to be proud of, not to hide. The lack of policy ideas and different viewpoints does lead to 'groupthink', and BushCo has displayed where that leads.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jul 14, 2004 7:18:17 PM

Hi, praktike, SorryTroll here.

good question.

When can we look forward to hearing some of this "serious policy" from Senator Kerry?

or does it suffice that the committees simply talk amongst themselves?

your obdt serv, &c

SorryTroll

Posted by: SorryTroll | Jul 14, 2004 7:19:05 PM

"When can we look forward to hearing some of this 'serious policy' from Senator Kerry?"

As soon as you open your ears and listen to what he's saying?

Posted by: rea | Jul 14, 2004 7:47:03 PM

Are they good enough names:

A) To draw Wall Street to the Democratic side, or at least reassure it to a state of quiet neutrality

B) To reassure Libertarians on Tax, Spending, Deficit, and Trade policies

C) To come up with a program that is salable in the general election

D) To come up a program that can be enacted in a very bitterly-divided Congress

Regardless of what MY might want, politics is not the art of good ideas, but the art of the possible

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jul 14, 2004 7:51:24 PM

Maybe the "sorry troll" should look at the myriad of policy positions that can be found on the Kerry website (click one of the hundreds of buttons you see around the web, guy; that'll take you right there).

Posted by: Linkmeister | Jul 14, 2004 8:16:37 PM

Sounds better the GWB’s policy approach as described by Paul O’Neill and John DiIulio

According to O’Neill, policy decisions are determined not by careful weighing of an issue's complexities, analysis and debate are out. O'Neill spoke about the complete politicization of the policy making process. Experts were ignored if their views conflicted with pre-conceived political or ideological notions.

Same thing with DiIulio.

"There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus," says DiIulio. "What you’ve got is everything—and I mean everything—being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."

"I heard many, many staff discussions but not three meaningful, substantive policy discussions," he writes. "There were no actual policy white papers on domestic issues. There were, truth be told, only a couple of people in the West Wing who worried at all about policy substance and analysis, and they were even more overworked than the stereotypical nonstop, twenty-hour-a-day White House staff. Every modern presidency moves on the fly, but on social policy and related issues, the lack of even basic policy knowledge, and the only casual interest in knowing more, was somewhat breathtaking: discussions by fairly senior people who meant Medicaid but were talking Medicare; near-instant shifts from discussing any actual policy pros and cons to discussing political communications, media strategy, et cetera. Even quite junior staff would sometimes hear quite senior staff pooh-pooh any need to dig deeper for pertinent information on a given issue."

Posted by: JAL | Jul 14, 2004 8:44:47 PM


www.johnkerry.org ~ 1st Hundred Days ~

John Ashcroft has launched an all-out assault on individual rights, allowing for a wholesale invasion of attorney-client conversations, e-mails and telephone calls. Immediately after the election, John Kerry will name a new Attorney General whose name is not John Ashcroft.

My God! Now that's a policy with some specifics.


We will also fight to protect women’s rights, civil rights and workers rights and enforce anti-trust laws.

Hmmmmm.... this seems a bit light on, you know, specifics and stuff. Other than 'fighting', but there's not real way to know what kind of 'fighting' John Kerry is talking about here.

So far ... we're up to an Attorney-General not named 'John Ashcroft' for Kerry specifics.

I'll go back and check to see if there's a Kerry plan to have somebody other than "Condoleeza Rice" named as National Security Advisor.

Posted by: SorryTroll | Jul 14, 2004 8:58:12 PM

The trolls are so used to one person's opinions becoming everyone they know's opinions (dittoheads, Fox watchers, etc.) that they can't comprehend policy being formed as a developed consensus of many people's opinions. It's pretty obvious.

Posted by: donna | Jul 14, 2004 9:13:44 PM

Are they good enough names:
A) To draw Wall Street to the Democratic side, or at least reassure it to a state of quiet neutrality

I think it's generaly accepted that WallStreet pretty heavily Democratic. Once heard Goldman and Sachs described as a hotbed of limonsine liberalism. Only very recently, with the consolidation of power by the Republicans, has WallStreet really "warmed" to Bush.

In fact, when a bunch of folks were insisting that Bush replace O'neil with a wallstreet guy, Jim Kramer quiped that there just aren't that many Republicans on WallStreet.

Posted by: WillieStyle | Jul 14, 2004 9:28:04 PM

well, trolls, I suggest that for starters you try to wrap your heads around Kerry's ideas on health care, his expressed willingness to sister souljah the teachers' unions and reform teacher pay and promotion, his environmental ideas, etc. There's a world out there.

Oh, btw, anyone remember the name of Bush's top domestic policy advisor?

Bueller?

Posted by: praktike | Jul 15, 2004 3:06:48 AM

From Rea: "Well, the whole claim that the Kerry has a bigger team working on policy than GWB is risable. GWB is the president--he has the entire executive branch working for him."

In Theory GW has the entire executive branch working for him. Enquiring minds have been wanting to know why he doesn't use them. State Dept. excluded from Iraq. EPA reports trashed when they say anything negative about smokestacks, mining, logging, air quality around Ground Zero. The Treasury Dept is MIA, making one wonder if it has been merged with Commerce.

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