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Tilting at Windmills

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May 18, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

DOWN THE MEMORY HOLE....I know I'm not the first person to mention this, but the House GOP's newly released "American Families Agenda" is a remarkable piece of work. As recently as two years ago, any Republican document with the word "families" in it would have been crammed full of proposals for parental notification laws, constitutional bans on gay marriage, prayer in public schools, promotion of two-parent families, abstinence-only sex ed, and internet porn crackdowns. But this year? Nada.

The 2008 agenda is remarkable for two reasons. First, the old-school social issues haven't just been deemphasized, they've been completely airbrushed out. It's like some old May Day photo from the Soviet archives. There's a very brief mention of a reward fund for people who turn in porn spammers, but that's it. Unless my code word radar is on the blink, there aren't even any oblique references to abortion, gays, sex-ed, prayer, vouchers, or any of the other usual crowd favorites. You wouldn't know there had ever even been a day when the GOP considered that stuff part of a family agenda.

Second, look at the stuff that is in the agenda. Comp time for workers! Business training for underprivileged women! Health care portability! Anti-obesity programs! SCHIP expansion! If you read the fine print most of these items turn out to be pretty weak tea, but that's not the point. The public face of the party's family agenda is almost pure Democratic-lite technocracy.

And it's not just the House GOP caucus, either. As David Corn points out, John McCain's big fantasy speech about what the country would look like in 2013 after four years of a McCain presidency doesn't make so much as a pro forma nod in the direction of abortion, gay marriage, or any other hot button social issue. They're just gone:

The closest he comes to addressing the priorities of the fundamentalist right is to note the appointment (and confirmation!) of federal judges "who understand that they were not sent there to write our laws but to enforce them."....Any self-respecting social conservative should be enraged. On a day when the California Supreme Court has overturned the gay marriage ban, McCain's speech is insult added to injury.

McCain and the Republican Party obviously have big problems this year. McCain in particular is caught between a rock and a hard place: the core of his appeal is to crossover moderates, which means he can't afford to play culture war games, but if he abandons culture issues entirely he'll forfeit the support of a religious right base that's already suspicious of him.

There's no really good answer to this, and so far, at least, it looks like the GOP has decided not to even bother trying to thread the needle: social issues have been erased from the conservative agenda, and if James Dobson doesn't like it, tough.

Can it work? Barack Obama may be willing to let sleeping dogs lie, but will social conservatives go along for the next six months? Will studied neutrality be enough as the biggest state in the union votes on gay marriage? Will evangelicals hold their tongues on vouchers and nativists hold their tongues on comprehensive immigration reform? Maybe, but all it will take is one high-profile event — a Terry Schiavo, a stem cell breakthrough — to uncork the dam. It's going to be a very nervous six months on the culture war front for McCain.

Kevin Drum 1:29 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (61)

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You should read Dick Morris in the Washington Post today. He thinks the Republican base will turn out no matter what McCain does or doesn't do, or what the Republican Party does or doesn't do. I am skeptical of this assertion, but he makes a good argument nonetheless.

This blurring of distinctions between the positions of the two parties may be evidence of a run to the center by not only McCain, but the legislative Republicans, too, but I don't think it will help the congresscritters.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on May 18, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Well, "compassionate conservatism" fooled the electorate once. I assume they're hoping it will work again.

Posted by: ferg on May 18, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Well, "compassionate conservatism" fooled the electorate once. I assume they're hoping it will work again.

Posted by: ferg on May 18, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

I just LOVE McCain's 2013 Ad....


The Year: 2013

Mid East - Stabilized

Nuclear Terror Threat: Reduced

Border Security: Strengthened

Energy Independence: Advanced

Wasteful Spending: Reformed

Health Care Choice: Delivered

Economic Confidence: Restored

The Year; 2013

The President;: John McCain

This fantasy brought to you by the folks at the Federal Dept. of Making Shit Up.

Posted by: dweb on May 18, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

If the Republicans play Democrat-lite, they are dead. The Republicans were Democrat-lite right on up to the Goldwater revolution: "We're just like the Dems, only cheaper." This didn't work with the voters then, and won't again. The Republicans did not become a winning party until they developed a distinctive message.

They are really between a rock and a hard place. All of their distinctive negative messages have turned into electoral losers: gay bashing, immigrant bashing, colored bashing, wog bashing, education bashing. They never really had a positive message, apart from a few atmospherics associated with the inimitable persona of Ronald Reagan. (Not that they haven't kept on trying to imitate it!)

If they run pedal to the metal, they'll mobilize their white men for a final time, get 47% of the vote, and dig themselves deeper into a hole. If they go D-lite, they'll get 43% of the vote, and have stopped digging. (Numbers are impressionistic.) In the short term, they have no alternative between these two nasty choices.

In the longer term? Look to Huckabee. He might not be their Messiah, but he is their John the Baptist.

Posted by: Joe S. on May 18, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Just proves that despite appearances to the contrary, the Republican Party is the less ideological one, and whatever it does is meant to serve only one purpose- gain and strengthen the hold on power for a select group of people.

Posted by: gregor on May 18, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, am I the only one suspicious of the timing and of this report?

Here is how this goes.

1. Release a report detailing a fair & reasonable agenda for families.

2. Democrats will support the report because after all, the agenda is fair and reasonable.

3. Hard line Republicans will call the report Anti-American and use it to browbeat Democrats for their refusal to support and uphold traditional American values in favor of some kind of latte-drinking, Cuba-loving, benighted socialist pipe dream.

4. It works. The Republicans take the moderate voters who believe the "fair and reasonable" line, and get enough mileage out of the one-issue issue voters to win the November election by a hair--again.

5. Shelve the report. Why change course now? They already won the election, and may even be able to use the same technique again, to buy a few votes in the next one.

Posted by: erica on May 18, 2008 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: mhr on May 18, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Nope, California will unleash the homophobic beasts, and they will win because of Democratic timidity.

Posted by: K on May 18, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Please, Please put Huckabee on the ticket. Gomer Pyle is a train wreck in waiting...yea, he's likeable and all; but he's a freakin' goober. He will be sticking his feet in his mouth left and right...did you see Meet the Press? He's clueless and he's a loose cannon. Yes, the dems want him on the ticket...let the laughter ensue...

Posted by: SomeCallMeJerry on May 18, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing the "conservatives" do or say will ever drill through the mile-thick skulls of people like Drum, who go on believing, and dutifully writing, that rank-and-file conservatives actually have any principles besides a loathing for liberals and liberalism. They will line up and vote for McCain because he isn't a Democrat, isn't a liberal, and voting for him is the best way of sticking it to the liberals. The only -- only -- thing dampening their enthusiasm for McCain is that they can see he is probably going to lose.

Posted by: MG on May 18, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Happy 17th Anniversary, Kevin and Marian!

(My wife and I got married that same day, so it's easy for me to keep track of.)

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on May 18, 2008 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, we have deficits? Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, we have inflation and high taxes? -Charley Reese

Lets stop the charade.

Posted by: Jet on May 18, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the rampant dishonesty of Republicans, I am reminded of George Orwell's words:

"They will construct your sentences for you, and at need they will perform
the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself."

As for the beleaguered disturbingly hawkish flip-flopper McCain, I chuckled reading this bit
on democrats.com and think his chances with the presidency could be doomed:

"...On May 6, nearly 1/4 of Republicans in Indiana and North Carolina voted for Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, or "other."

"Ron Paul remains in the GOP primary race, and may support the Libertarian candidate if he gets snubbed at the Republican convention. (Paul gained national fame as the Libertarian candidate for President in 1988, and spoke at the Libertarian convention in 2004.)

"The Libertarians just got a credible candidate, former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), who has been a strong critic of Bush's dictatorial policies. Barr's candidacy is freaking out Sean Hannity because Barr could be a "spoiler" like Ralph Nader in 2000.

"And to make matters worse, hard core Republican Theocrats want to see McCain lose so they can run Mike Huckabee against President Obama in 2012."

Posted by: consider wisely always on May 18, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

If they are running on this platform then maybe Obama will have to ask HRC for Veep.

Posted by: Micheline on May 18, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone, including Dems, are running for the "little person", it is simply equilibrium in progress.

In eight years, maybe four, believe me politicians will be running for the "wealthy person".

Progressives and conservatives claim the "new start", but voters know better. We are already past the next four years, our production cycles are established, we have assigned the costs and benefits of government.

Now comes the uncertain part, economic planning for the return of conservatives in four or eight years.

How many elections cycles have we gone through on this blog alone? Ten years worth in this blog's memory. Yet here we are, Obama's constituents thinking they will get their turn, but their turn is already priced in.

These economic switches are built in to the economic system, been there for 200 years, even earlier.

Posted by: Matt on May 18, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

As you say, Rock-- meet Hard Place. It'll get comical when the Republicans decide that in order to get more than one percent of the African-American vote they'll have to say publicly that racism is a bad thing.

Posted by: MattF on May 18, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

This may be the best shot that McCain has got. Right now, it looks like he'll hold the base of the party, including states ranging from Idaho, Montana, and Texas to the Deep South, even if the margins are closer than last time--barring some unforeseen event, like a third party surge, of course. The difficulty will be in trying to win states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Iowa, to name a few. Assuming there's not a complete collapse among the Republican base, allowing Obama to win with double-digit margins, his trick will be to try to pick off enough moderates and Independents that he can squeak by. Ignoring the culture wars looks like the best way he can do that.

But then, perhaps this is all moot. Perhaps Obama and the Democrats really are headed for a landslide. I certainly hope so.

Posted by: Brian on May 18, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Just another example of reality having a well known liberal bias.

Posted by: redterror on May 18, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe this will be dubya's most important legacy: he's turned the GOP into the DLC.

Off Topic: does anyone know if Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe have any executive experience? I could look it up, but I just read Ignatius' column about Obama's VP choices and thought chosing either of these ladies would be a good peace offering to Hillary's supporters.

Posted by: loki on May 18, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Sure hope someone notices the idiocy on the front page of the op/ed in todays Indianapolis Star.

Written by an associate professor at Notre Dame.

You won't believe your eyes.


Posted by: jharp on May 18, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to see Obama use some of his zillions of $$ to support some Dobson-style interest groups, who could shred McBush from his Right.

Oh the fun we are going to have this fall...

Posted by: craigie on May 18, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Brian's analyis is a good one, and also underscores why Barry's continued problem with white working class voters is so potentially problematic. But we can't really say that, can we, because otherwise 1. It will sound racist, and 2. It will mean Hillary's been right all along. And of course, for many PA posters, which is worse --- 1 or 2 -- is a toss up.

Posted by: Pat on May 18, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK


I went to the Indy Star, looked at their headlines. The headline is "Indy Gets Boost in Super Bowl Bid"

The link you posted was an economic analysis of gasoline distribution.

Posted by: Matt on May 18, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

I read where statistics on Americans now are that 49% are between ages 25-60, 16% are older, and 35% are younger.
This could be mean a lot of votes for Barack Obama and bode well for us.

Posted by: consider wisely always on May 18, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Brian's analysis is a good one. It applies, but then it applied to my father in 1950, my great great great grandfather in 1787, and applied all the way through the history.

Why are we still applying it? McCain is going to pick off the voters who have already priced in an Obama win. These votes have already adjusted their income to minimize the impact, and they are supporting Obama, not because they like Obama, but because they adjusted their portfolio.

These voters that McCain is going after had already decided, four years ago, that we would return to the other economic system. McCain needs to make sure their bets are taken care of.

See, we run for cover even before the party extremes start the BS about this being a new start. We determine the political outcome by counter cyclical adjustments.

The only politician that ever balances this act is the classic liberal, he picks off a bunch of betters from each side of the middle, and the classic liberal works to dampen this cycle. It is the classic liberal who managed to avoid the civil war for 60 years, at the expense of two wars with the British Empire.

Posted by: Matt on May 18, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

This is why there needs to be 527s out there letting all the religious-right wingnuts know that McCain and company has thrown them under the bus. Dobson, Robertson, and the rest of the God-crew aren't needed this year, at least as far as the GOP is concerned.

Why there isn't some astroturf "evangelical" group hitting on this issue amazes me. The evangelicals should know that the GOP considers their issues important only when it's convenient. If they knew that, they'd stay home in Nov in droves and McCain and the rest of the Klown Klan would lose by a huge order of magnitude.

Exploiting every weakness of your opponent is a necessary component to winning.

Posted by: afferent input on May 18, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

The electoral votes of Iowa and Ohio were up for grabs in 1787? Neat trick.

Posted by: Pat on May 18, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK


It would be interesting to know who paid how much to have that piece of crap written. The Indystar should be ashamed for publishing such an obviously bogus bit of propaganda. At the very least the byline at the bottom should include the name of the organization that paid the assistant prof to write it.

Does Notre Dame have any rules governing the academic integrity of its teachers?

Posted by: Stuart on May 18, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Health Care Choice: Delivered

Really? The health care problem is that there aren't enough choices?

Posted by: DonBoy on May 18, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK


I checked the Indy numbers against the State of California estimates here:


The Indy author is mostly correct, it is you and the other poster who are incorrect.

These numbers are easy to check, LKevin Drum checks them all the time, and each time they show the same result, Anti-oil industry rantnravers do not do math.

Ten years from now you will be ranting the same rant and we sill be calculating the cost we assign to poor voters who believe you.

Posted by: Matt on May 18, 2008 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

They'll always have "Star Wars".

Posted by: R.L. on May 18, 2008 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Obama will have plenty to deal with just with the gun issue, particularly if he picks anti-gun ranter Governor Rendell as his running mate.

Posted by: Brad on May 18, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

sadly, if obama becomes any more pro-gun, allegations of him being a secret muslim will frighten the wingnuts into further hysteria.

Posted by: on May 18, 2008 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

btw brad ... someone downpage already discredited your obama-hamas smear, so it looks like you'll have to retract your statements. ...

isn't it bad form to be wrong so often in one day and continue posting? even ignorant uneducable fuckwits like ex-lib took a day or so off when their lies were demonstrable.

Posted by: on May 18, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

"If they are running on this platform...."

This is the question every GOP candidate should be asked, will the GOP platform be modified to reflect these changes in rhetoric? if not, why not?

Posted by: jhm on May 18, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

The mistake the wingnuts are making in California is qualifying the anti-gay initiative for the November ballot, when all the democrats in the world will be voting. They should have held off until the filing deadline, so it would be on an off-year primary ballot, when republicans vote in far higher percentages than democrats.

Posted by: anandine on May 18, 2008 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

"...federal judges "who understand that they were not sent there to write our laws but to enforce them."

Actually, the judiciary's responsibility is to INTERPRET the laws... This is high school civics class. I can't imagine any public servant who doesn't know this... never mind a long term Senator who is running for President. It's really quite distressing.

Posted by: Jim g on May 18, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

That depends on what they want to accomplish. If they want the best chance to pass the ammendment, the off-year primary would be better. If they want to use the ammendment to motivate right-wing voters and tilt close races Republican, then putting on the general ballot is best.

Since this is California, it won't help them shift the state as a whole over to McCain. It might help them save a House seat or keep their margin in the state legislature from slipping too far.

Posted by: tanstaafl on May 18, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

So sorry, mr. 5:54 p.m. anonymous coward, you are quite wrong. Go look 'downpage' and see.

And by the way, nice job of ignoring the collapse of the Rubin smear against McCain.

Posted by: Brad on May 18, 2008 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

70,000+ at Obama Portland,Or. Rally!

Posted by: R.L. on May 18, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP's problems don't end with the potential loss of the evangelicals, either. In fact, I might agree to a large extent with the person upthread who said the fundies will still turn out to vote for him...which they will if their preachers tell them to do it, and their preachers aren't men of god but rather political power brokers. If they see even the smallest personal advantage in mobilizing the troops for McCain, they'll do it, knowing full well that none of their cherished "social agenda" items will receive even the most perfunctory attention.

No, their biggest problem is that for 40 years, GOP campaign strategy has been based on three primary legs: fear (of the Soviets, of black people and foreigners, of terrorists), Vietnam (and how if not for the DFH liberal "appeasers" we would have won - a primary reason they chose to do Iraq, whether they even realize it or not), and low taxes/fiscal responsibility. Starting in the 80s, they added a fourth leg: "family values". They've flogged fear of terrorists to death for 6 years so that it no longer has any effect, and the old standby of racist campaigning is going to be a lot harder to fly under the radar against a black candidate (not that it will stop them...I fully expect them to be shouting "but he's a N****R...OOGA BOOGA!!!" from the podium by the time the convention rolls around...but I just don't think it will play the same today as it did in the 60s). They can't have a fight over who was doing what during Vietnam with a man who was a child at the time...though we've seen the attempt to re-frame things through that lens via Bill Ayers (and expect the media to grant an assist on this at every turn, since the media hasn't had to learn how to cover a campaign through any lens other than Vietnam for 40 years, either). As for the fiscal responsibility/low taxes stuff...well, any fool can see they've pissed away money like a drunken sailor for 8 years running, and even the folks who think of nothing but how much they pay in taxes realize that the piddling $600 they got from Bush hasn't touched the thousands of dollars per year that their living expenses have risen...again, in large part thanks to Republican fiscal irresponsibility. And as for the "family values" angle...the parade of GOP sex offenders and felons of the past several years makes that a bad bet, too.

In other words, the GOP is sailing into what, for them, are totally uncharted waters, where none of their old campaign crutches can be expected to perform as they have in the past. And there's no one in the party - not a soul - who knows how to campaign on anything else, because for 40 years, they've never had to. Another advantage they've enjoyed is timid opponents...they've become accustomed to not having to make sense, because they have so rarely been opposed by anyone who turn it back on them. That's not the case this time around, from all indications.

In short, my advice is to invest heavily in popcorn futures, because this is going to be a helluva good show.

Posted by: Jennifer on May 18, 2008 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

You should read Dick Morris in the Washington Post today. He thinks the Republican base will turn out no matter what McCain does or doesn't do, or what the Republican Party does or doesn't do. I am skeptical of this assertion, but he makes a good argument nonetheless.

If Dick Morris had been right about anything in the past decade, I might consider listening to him. At this point, he's purely a propagandist for the Republicans and I pay him no more attention than I do Karl Rove.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on May 18, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

So sorry, mr. 5:54 p.m. anonymous coward, you are quite wrong. Go look 'downpage' and see.
Posted by: Brad

do you mean the thread where you confuse Hamas with Hezbollah ... likely because all sand niggers look the same to you? That's the logic that allowed bush to confuse the low-information foxnews brownshirts that saddam and osama were the same.

Nice try, chickenshit, but you only continue to embarrass yourself. try posting at wingnut sites ... their readership is generally stupider, and less likely to call you on racist and factually inaccurate bullshit.

Posted by: on May 18, 2008 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, the return of the anonymous coward. Full of bluster and insults, and zero evidence. I'm happy to admit whenever I make a mistake, it's not a sign of weakness, because unlike yourself I value truth and honor.

So how goes the Rubin smear against McCain? How goes the "no preconditions" Obama pledge? Still refuse to admit the truth? Of course you do!

By the way, nice racial slur you decided to toss into the discussion. A real class act, aren't you?

Posted by: Brad on May 18, 2008 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

'You should read Dick Morris in the Washington Post today. He thinks the Republican base will turn out no matter what McCain does or doesn't do, or what the Republican Party does or doesn't do. I am skeptical of this assertion, but he makes a good argument nonetheless.'

"If Dick Morris had been right about anything in the past decade, I might consider listening to him. At this point, he's purely a propagandist for the Republicans and I pay him no more attention than I do Karl Rove."

Let's hope the Obama campaign agrees with you. But I doubt they're that intellectually-challenged.

Posted by: neill on May 18, 2008 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Hypocritically (given their supposed opposition to welfare etc.), Republicans have long supported substantial deductions for dependents, the child tax credits, etc. Why should a single person earning 20k subsidize the children of a couple earning 60k between them? Responsible governments around the world should deliberately suppress the birth rate, not encourage it (and most of the claims about the "dangers" of low population growth are fallacious. Note for example that each person on average consumes the same as they produce, and so more of them can't support retirees better or etc. (The relevant factor is average percentage of a person's life spent as a producer, you can't get around that.) This pans out for example in the extra effort needed to raise the children, nullifying the supposed extra help they provide in the future to their retiring parents.


Posted by: Neil B. on May 18, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

The change in policy statements just shows the Conservative Bush Republicans don't really believe in anything in particular.

They'll blow like the wind, like advertising copy, and change in whatever way is needed.

That they sound like Democrats just means Dems are winning.

In the east Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky will be battle-ground states. Does McCain have a better chance there? What does Obama have to do to get those states?

Posted by: MarkH on May 18, 2008 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how many conservatives actually read a post like this and realize that it's about the conservatives not wanting to do shit to protect regular people, and having to fake it. I don't mean to find fault with Kevin's writing, but rather with conservatives' obliviousness.

Remember that LA Times article about the scientific study discovering the inherited difference between the liberal brain and the conservative brain? I'd sum it up this way: conservatives suffer from the illusion of believing that just because they were convinced of something in the past, they must still be right, no matter what evidence or arguments people offer- they become convinced and then just stay convinced because it's their nature. For a lot of them, Bush could almost go on TV and eat a baby alive, and they'd refuse to acknowledge it.

Posted by: Swan on May 18, 2008 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

swan, where to begin?

On issues across the board, I attempt to carefully argue issues and asked pointed questions in an attempt to progress mutual understanding on both sides.

What do I generally receive in return from illiberal posters?

I get silence.

I get called names.

I get my motives questioned.

Do I get meaningful engagement? Very rarely.

I believe because illiberal posters are more interested in shutting down genuine debate than engaging in it.

Posted by: neill on May 18, 2008 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Off Topic: does anyone know if Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe have any executive experience? I could look it up, but I just read Ignatius' column about Obama's VP choices and thought chosing either of these ladies would be a good peace offering to Hillary's supporters."

loki@2.58. Both Senators from Maine are Republicans. I think we have some good DEMOCRATIC women Senators if that's what Obama wants to run with.

However, I'm against nominating a Senator as VP as it takes a precious Dem vote away. I think a governor - like Brian Schweitzer of Montana or, god help us, my "Governor Bill" - would be the best match for Obama.

Posted by: phoebes in santa fe on May 18, 2008 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican base will turn out because those family values issues have been moved from the national Republican agenda to the individual states. In California, for instance, an initiative banning gay marriage will be on the ballot.

I love looking at what each states' politicians are putting up on the ballot to encourage (or discourage, as the case may be) participation in the election. Florida's throwing the kitchen sink onto their ballot - From the "Abolition of Alimony Obligations" and "End Corporate Welfare" and "Cut Property Taxes Now", and the "SUPER Exemption Tax Break" to "Florida Children's Right Not to be Abused"(who knew there was any doubt?) and "Florida Children's Right Not to be Molested" (if the latter fails, can the former cover molestion?), and a bunch of health insurance initiatives and funding embryonic stem cell research and another banning it.

Both Obama and Clinton have been going for Republicans. Only, particular Republicans. Moderates. The GOP, OTOH, need the really stupid racists (or sexists, depending on who would get the nomination, but fortunately for Republicans they tend to be the same people) to show up, while keeping the moderates, hence the tax break initiatives mixed with anti-stem cell.

It's all dishonest, and I'm just hoping Obama lives up to his hype.

Posted by: etoufe' on May 19, 2008 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

I guess I'm willing to believe that a lot of voters will not be motivated to come to the polls if they don't feel like they're going to a referendum on conservative Christian issues, and won't also have a compensating motivation to vote against a black man that completely makes up for the lost abortion, etc., one.

Posted by: Swan on May 19, 2008 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

And Democratic women governors.

For example, this one seems quite good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nHp90Z2NJk

Posted by: Michael Robinson on May 19, 2008 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

dweb mentioned the new McCain ad about how wonderful everything will be at the end of McCain's term as president. However he failed to mention that everyone will also get a pony.

What I find most interesting about the ad is that it's narrated by Powers Boothe, who played Jim Jones in a made-for-TV movie in '80. Must be getting really good at handing out the Kool Aid.

note: AFAIK, this was where "drinking the Kool Aid" originated

Posted by: natural cynic on May 19, 2008 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

If you haven't caught on yet, the Republican party is the ultra-liberal, religious party; and the Democratic party is the liberal party.

Is not G. Bush the King of Spenders? Is not the Iraq war the first PC war, the premise being that Iraqis are "just like us?" And so forth.

Posted by: Luther on May 19, 2008 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

McCain has established his bonafides with the leaders of the conservative right, at least to a reasonable extent. They, in return, will deliver the votes when needed. They realize he is the only game in town and will mandate a conservative VP to take over when the time comes. McCain must now turn his attention to the vast unwashed masses in the middle. He must present himself as a thinking man who is reasonable and concerned. And these independents will see him as just that because the media will ignore all the red flags.

Posted by: Milt on May 19, 2008 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK
There's no really good answer to this, and so far, at least, it looks like the GOP has decided not to even bother trying to thread the needle: social issues have been erased from the conservative agenda, and if James Dobson doesn't like it, tough.

Can it work?

Only if the Democrats fall for it. Did playing Republican-lite ever work for the Democrats? No. When the Democrats did it, it was out of fear and desperation, and everyone saw it was fear and desperation, and once the Democrats started doing it the Republicans kept winning until, despite the absence of effective opposition and a tame media, they managed to run the country so badly that the country abandoned them and then, and only then, were the Democrats competitive again.

If this is the way the Republican want to go, its fine by me, but as long as the Democrats don't lose touch with reality and lose the country and don't give the Republicans a free pass, it'll never work for them.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 19, 2008 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Obama's best response:

The GOP has completely flip-flopped on their family agenda. You can't trust a politician nor a party that completely changes direction in order to get your vote.

The GOP's actions over the last eight years show what they truly believe despite what they now say.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on May 19, 2008 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

The numbskulls in the GOP may finally be realizing that the majority of Americans reject their core policies. Most people don't support tax breaks for the wealthy, gutting public schools, criminalizing abortion, demonizing gay people or polluting the environment with impunity. They will deep-six explicit discussion of those wackjob items and instead, try to convince people they are sane. Won't work. Obama is going to eviscerate McCain in the general election - Count on it.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 19, 2008 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Kyna on March 1, 2010 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK



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