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Away Day

I'm off to go meet my dad who's in town for the weekend, so don't expect much in the way of posts. I don't have a great deal to say, either, except this: Right now would be a bad time to become overconfident. Bush could easily recover some of his poise for the next two debates, though the issue terrain should be more favorable to Kerry. Expectations are so heavily leaning toward John Edwards that the slightest failings could generate positive coverage for Cheney. Must crucially, people need to avoid the mistake made after the Democratic Convention of sitting on our laurels. Kerry needs to stay on the offensive.

October 2, 2004 | Permalink


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» Why do "expectations" always hurt Democrats? from Majikthise
Before the spin, we thought high expectations were a good thing. When did the entire punditocracy decide that high expectations were terrible and contempt was a blessing in disguise? In the world of debate spin, everyone agrees that the slightest [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 2, 2004 4:16:34 PM


Agreed, we can't let our guard down. Chimp's handlers will be watching the debate video with him, and every time he looks agitated, they'll pinch his nipples. And each time he does something good, they'll give him a banana.

In other words, we should expect a much more composed monkey for the next debate. They'll tell him to stand still, don't smirk, look presidential, etc. They'll say to him, "Remember, li'l Chimp, this is just play acting."

Posted by: poputonian | Oct 2, 2004 11:33:19 AM

Would it be acceptable to maintain a posture of guarded optimism? I'm trying to calibrate my feelings here exactly -- this is important.

Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Oct 2, 2004 12:28:24 PM

I think what we saw in the debate was a Bush approach that we won't see again. It's Rove's approach versus Hughes' approach.

The Rove approach is to try to look intelligent. Name drop folks like A.Q. Khan and places like Darfur and North Korea. Look like you're paying attention, i.e. you're being Presidential about a key issue in the election. Well, Bush screwed the pooch on that one. He name dropped but mostly dropped the ball after that in trying to enunciate his administration's successes and future policy goals on these topics.

This is why I think Karen Hughes was anuerism-level livid on TV after the debate. Her boy looked like a fool and she was seriously pissed. I don't think she was pissed at Bush, I think she was pissed at Rove.

Hughes' approach has always been to water things down for Bush. It's pretty well known that she takes the already watered-down speeches written for Bush and distills them even further for him. What Hughes' approach ends up being is you get George Bush being George Bush regardless of the issues. It's the faux-folksy, smirking, ear-waggling George Bush that conned so many people in 2000 into thinking he would be a good President. That's the Hughes approach.

More at my blog.

Posted by: Patrick | Oct 2, 2004 1:00:13 PM

I agree, excessive confidence could easily mean Kerry's downfall. I mean the man comes off as condescending even when he thinks he's in a deficit, the underdog. In some ways, Bush's lack of substantial pride may work to his advantage in re-inventing himself. But also aren't Democrats today, in their corporate DLC, neoliberal platform of militarism and charity, sort of resigned to being defensive by default? To pretend otherwise could be disastrous.

Posted by: Matt Christie | Oct 2, 2004 2:20:28 PM

Kerry also needs to re-work his talking points; stop blaming Bush for stuff that Kerry wouldn't fix anyway, and focus on what Bush really has gotten wrong.

Posted by: PG | Oct 2, 2004 2:52:31 PM

Push back on the expectations. Lets remember what the Weekly Standard was saying earlier.

Win or lose, one thing is certain about the election: When they debate, Dick Cheney is going to beat the holy heck out of John Edwards.

Even factoring in the high expectations for Cheney, the vice presidential debate will be a blowout. Edwards is a smart, slick lawyer who occasionally fumbles important policy details (such as when he forgot what DOMA was during a New Hampshire debate). Cheney is the most competent vice president in recent memory, a tranquil and immovable presence, and a detail machine. Their tilt should make Quayle-Bentsen look like a squeaker.

Posted by: david1234 | Oct 2, 2004 3:06:25 PM

I agree with Patrick, but watering down and distillation are opposites.

I agree that excessive confidence should be guarded against, just as the recent defeatism should have been.

I'm barely even a sports fan, but sports metaphors are right on the money in competitive situations. Basketball is best because the so-called momentum can switch three to five times in the course of a game, but unless it's a blowout only the last five minutes count. To me the last ten days or so will decide it.

From a philosophy-of-science POV, we should all remember that even in physics, complex realities cannot be predicted. I also doubt that we even have good measures of the present state of the system any more, if we ever did. (To say nothing of the likelihood that there are Republican plants and tools in even the "legit" polling world, just as we know there are in journalism).

In other words, a difference from basketball is that we don't even know what the score is. So compare it to poker, where some of the cards are unknown to anyone. (BTW, everyone here should go to www.bartcop.com occasionally just to cleanse yourselves of your elitist slime. A big poker player.)


The Nov. 2 poll is the only one that means anything.

Posted by: zizka | Oct 2, 2004 3:34:27 PM

One thing is certain: David1234 is talking out of his butt.

Posted by: zizka | Oct 2, 2004 3:35:58 PM

Its hard to expect Cheney to defeat Edwards in any way.

Edwards is a trial lawyer. And a spectacularly good one at that.

I think Cheney will fight Edwards to a draw and there won't be any bounce as a result.

Cheney will be much more aggressive saying Bush will keep the country safer than Kerry.

Edwards will not directly say either that Kerry will keep the country safer than Bush or that Cheny's statement is not true.

Edwards will say its un-American to even make the claim and look like he has something to hide.

If Edwards cannot say Kerry/Edwards can do a better job preventing terrorism than Bush/Cheney then we are heading towards another Dukakis rape disaster.

Posted by: Hugh Breiner | Oct 2, 2004 3:51:25 PM

Uh-huh. Prod the "tranquil" vice president on a subject like energy policy or Saddam's alleged connections to al Qaeda or what he actually knew about Saddam's nuclear capability versus what he said in 2002 and he'll issue a "Fuck you!" and pop an aneurysm.

Posted by: Meteor Blades | Oct 2, 2004 5:35:52 PM

"When they debate, Dick Cheney is going to beat the holy heck out of John Edwards."

Its clearly against my interest to raise Cheney expectations, but I think this is dead on. I think Cheney comes out ripping into Kerry hard and doesn't stop all night. Cheney is far more intelligent than Edwards and will wipe Edwards all over the floor.

If I'm wrong, I'll be terribly disappointed, but I don't think I'm wrong.

I do think that both Cheney and Edwards will make the Bush Kerry debates look like junior high.

Posted by: Reg | Oct 2, 2004 5:53:08 PM

"Cheney is far more intelligent than Edwards and will wipe Edwards all over the floor."

Not true. You don't accomplish what Edwards accomplished as a trial lawyer without both having lots of brains and being very slick as a debater . . .

Posted by: rea | Oct 2, 2004 6:01:16 PM

also, I am sure that a dirty trick offense is in store at some point in the next 30 days.

Posted by: Christopher Brandow | Oct 2, 2004 6:09:15 PM

Reg, you are not credible or even plausible as an arbiter of intelligence. Sorry, but you just aren't.

Edwards has to be ready for anything and he has to go on the attack immediately. There are lots of holes in Bush's security/military performance.

Posted by: zizka | Oct 2, 2004 6:20:15 PM

I agree with the wingnuts. Cheney is the best debater since Cicero.

Especially when you get him going about how Saddam and Osama were secret lovers who moved chemical weapons to Syria. He's masterful.

Posted by: EH | Oct 2, 2004 6:20:31 PM

I'd put it differently: We should definitely not be complacent; but if anything we need to exude MORE confidence, not less, over Kerry's candidacy.

Posted by: JW | Oct 2, 2004 6:23:23 PM

Oh bullshit. Cheney was a good debater in 2000 when he had to defend ... nothing. Edwards should study Foer and Ackerman's TNR article The Radical: What Dick Cheney Really Believes and be prepared to hit the big cholesterol ball right between the eyes. Dick Cheney is the biggest tyrant in the history of America, the man who manipulated national intelligence data because he wanted to invade an oil-rich country. Edwards will clean his clock.

Posted by: poputonian | Oct 2, 2004 6:39:11 PM

"You don't accomplish what Edwards accomplished as a trial lawyer without both having lots of brains and being very slick as a debater"

I am a fetus, and I see the light, I feel a cool breeze, oh that mean old doctor is giving me cerebral palsy! Make him stop! Heeeelllpp!

Seriouly, I don't think he's dumb, I don't think he is in the same league as Cheney. He hasn't been thinking about the issues his whole life, as Cheney has, and I think Cheney outranks him in pure brainpower by a substantial margin.

Also, you don't get in Harvard Business school being a dim bulb either, but I don't think Bush has above average intelligence. Same with Edwards and UNC law school.

"Reg, you are not credible or even plausible as an arbiter of intelligence."

Heh, oh yeah, Republicans are all ignorant hillbillys constantly fooled by evil businessmen or evil businessmen bought off by corporate money. My bad.

Posted by: Reg | Oct 2, 2004 6:45:35 PM

I am a fetus, and I see the light, I feel a cool breeze, oh that mean old doctor is giving me cerebral palsy! Make him stop! Heeeelllpp!

Really, Reg, while you act like someone with cerebral palsy, it's just because you're really, really dumb. Claiming that you're excused because of a disability ain't gonna wash.

Edwards will, as he must, treat this as the toughest trial of his life. But he has some very good weapons at his disposal. The Energy Task Force. Halliburton. The scaremongering about reconstituting a nuclear program in Iraq. Lies, and lies, and lies from Cheney.

But there's one thing we can be sure of: Cheney knows the facts in a way Bush doesn't. Because he's been making the policy since 2001.

Posted by: ahem | Oct 2, 2004 7:18:01 PM

Since you obviously don't know what I'm talking about, I'll explain. Here's a summary:

In 1985, a 31-year-old North Carolina lawyer named John Edwards stood before a jury and channeled the words of an unborn baby girl.

Referring to an hour-by-hour record of a fetal heartbeat monitor, Mr. Edwards told the jury: "She said at 3, `I'm fine.' She said at 4, `I'm having a little trouble, but I'm doing O.K.' Five, she said, `I'm having problems.' At 5:30, she said, `I need out.' "

But the obstetrician, he argued in an artful blend of science and passion, failed to heed the call. By waiting 90 more minutes to perform a breech delivery, rather than immediately performing a Caesarean section, Mr. Edwards said, the doctor permanently damaged the girl's brain.

"She speaks to you through me," the lawyer went on in his closing argument. "And I have to tell you right now — I didn't plan to talk about this — right now I feel her. I feel her presence. She's inside me, and she's talking to you."

The jury came back with a $6.5 million verdict in the cerebral palsy case, and Mr. Edwards established his reputation as the state's most feared plaintiff's lawyer.

In the decade that followed, Mr. Edwards filed at least 20 similar lawsuits against doctors and hospitals in deliveries gone wrong, winning verdicts and settlements of more than $60 million, typically keeping about a third.

Posted by: Reg | Oct 2, 2004 8:22:47 PM

"You don't accomplish what Edwards accomplished as a trial lawyer without both having lots of brains and being very slick as a debater"

Partially debatable actually.

In typical litigation, which lasts for months and sometimes years, a team of counsel and consultants will plan, plan and plan again. He's not out there taking down big-medical all by himself. He is well spoken, however and is for the most part trustworthy, if that is at all possible for an attorney/politican. The Kerry/Edwards ticket must assemble the appropriate team members to be able to have a chance between now and next month.

So, the current poll numbers mean nothing and the numbers taken tomorrow will mean less than nothing. What will matter is what happens between now and November 2 regarding Home Security. How much that will favor either party is negligible at this time too - it just shouldn't happen if America does not become overconfident. Just remember that just because we're all paranoid, doesn't mean that they're not after us.

Ahem, ahem, but the assertion that Because he's been making the policy since 2001

should actually be interpreted as

he's been helping the policy sincce 2001, which everybody should respect.

Posted by: Drew - Dallas, TX | Oct 2, 2004 8:51:06 PM

Hey MY, I have a screenplay I'd like to shop to your pops: Dikembe and Jabi go to Burger King. What do you think?

Posted by: Carleton | Oct 2, 2004 9:27:01 PM

Hopefully Bush will keep hammering the nonsence about asking permision from the UN in order for the US to move.
Everybodies heard it before and it sounds desperate and lame, making it in character, for the tone of their champaign.

Posted by: Parise | Oct 2, 2004 9:45:22 PM

One thing is certain: David1234 is talking out of his butt.

Actually, I think he was joking.

Cheney is far more intelligent than Edwards and will wipe Edwards all over the floor.

This is just obviously wrong. Being a successful trial lawyer is hard, and Edwards was the best of the best. I'm sure Cheney is reasonably intelligent as well, but if he were a genius he wouldn't have failed out of college.

Posted by: JP | Oct 2, 2004 10:10:25 PM

I agree with MY's post. I don't want to get into the question of whether Cheney will kick Edwards's ass or vice versa. The important thing to remember is that it's still an uphill struggle. Voters still stereotype Democrats as softish on terrorism, the media still dislikes Kerry, and the Republicans are still a devastatingly effective election-winning machine. To win the election, I think the Democrats must keep hitting the Repubs hard: repeat the talking points fervently, don't let smears go unanswered, and go into the debates ready to rock. It's definitely possible, but it's not gonna be easy.

Posted by: ChristianPinko | Oct 2, 2004 10:50:22 PM

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