I've been having trouble posting (again?!) so I hope this goes through. My last post--about hanging out last night with fellow bloggers Matt Welch
, Amy Alkon
and Mickey Kaus
--is lost to history.
I wake up today and see two different opinions from two ladies who are very disappointed in Tuesday's returns. First, let's turn to Slate and Jane Smiley. I'm afraid it won't be pleasant.
I'm not a big fan of Jane Smiley the novelist, but whenever she writes essays she's much, much worse. (I think there's something in my archives about her take on the upcoming election. Sorry that I haven't learned to link to myself yet.) Her hate is so great it doesn't leave much room for reason.
Rather than argue, I think quoting her will do the job:
...I suppose the good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 million have not....[Her relatives who voted for Bush] are just greedy and full of classic Republican feelings of superiority.
Listen to what the red state citizens say about themselves....They know who they are--they are full of original sin and they have a taste for violence. The blue state citizens make the Rousseauvian mistake of thinking humans are essentially good, and so they never realize when they are about to be slugged from behind....
A generation ago, the big capitalists, who have no morals, as we know ["as we know"--priceless], decided to make use of the religious right in their class war against the middle class....They know no boundaries or rules. They are predatory and resentful, amoral, avaricious, and arrogant.
...red state types love to cheat and intimidate, so we have to assume the worst and call them on it every time....--to always appeal to reason [that's right, reason] and common sense, and the law, even when they can't understand it and don't respond....in addition, we have to remember that threats to democracy from the right always collapse. Whatever their short-term appeal, they are borne of hubris and hatred, and will destroy their purveyors in the end.
So, when you come down to it, nothing to worry about.
Obviously, Smiley is venting. Is there anything missing from her argument? Well, she could have tried to explain why Republican ideas are bad rather than question the motives of those who believe them. (She doesn't believe those who believe them believe them.) More unfortunate, she doesn't spend a second in self-questioning. (She starts with "forget introspection.") Our side? We're too nice, that's our problem.
Jane Smiley can write what she pleases (in our country--this sort of criticism would have gotten her tortured and killed in the countries she opposes us liberating). But that doesn't mean Slate has to publish her. Aside from humiliating Smiley, what purpose does making this rant public accomplish?
A bit more rational, but still pretty wacky, is Arianna Huffington's take. She believes in the old rationalization that the Dems didn't offer a bold enough alternative. As I've stated before, this is the claim of every loser in every election. Sorry, Arianna, if Kerry had tried to pull a Dean, you might have felt better, but he would have lost by a bigger margin. You see, almost all of Bush's base strongly supported the war on terror (including the war in Iraq). Kerry's base was more tenuous--a good portion opposed the war but a significant minority didn't. Kerry had to appeal to both, unless he only wanted two-thirds of his base and little more. So his message had to be "wrong war, wrong time, but I'm the man to fight it to the end." It's a tough message, I admit, but he almost pulled it off.
Huffington also fools herself into thinking she can characterize all issues from her point of view and the voters (not to mention the Republicans) will acquiesce. Here's how she puts it.
"With Iraq burning, WMD missing, jobs at Herbert Hoover-levels, flu shots nowhere to be found, gas prices through the roof, and Osama bin Laden back on the scene looking tanned, rested, and ready to rumble, this should have been a can't-lose election for the Democrats."
Let's break this down a bit, shall we? If there's trouble in Iraq perhaps we need to redouble our efforts, not vote in someone who opposes the war and is looking to get out. As for the WMD argument, the Dems squeezed as much out of that as they could--it's not possession of WMD that count (Britain, France and Israel have them, for instance), it's the threat of Saddam Hussein with them that worries us, and the post-war reports show he was active in trying to get them. Jobs at Herbert Hoover-levels? Putting it that way takes a lot of nerve. Yes, after inheriting a recession and then being hit by 9/11, Bush's net job growth isn't great, but the employment level at present is a perfectly acceptable 5.4%, whereas it was six times greater at the depths of the Depression. Flu shots? Who cares. Gas prices? Last time they went through the roof was when Clinton was president and you (nor I) didn't blame him then. Hey, I thought Bush was so cozy with the Saudis he could get the prices down any time he wanted. I guess all those Michael Moore theories have to be thrown out. As for Osama Bin Laden, he's still alive, but on the run, trapped like a rat (he used to essentially run a country), his top men dead or captured, and his latest message "please stop hitting me." Yet you think Kerry could speak such nonsense in a debate and Bush would just roll over?
Arianna, if you want to win the next election, a little advice. Now is not the time for propaganda, there's no one voting. Now is the time for self-criticism, and please, please don't conclude that you lost because your message didn't get out, or the Republicans were too mean. At least consider, for just a while, that there's something wrong with your ideas.