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The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Friday, March 04, 2005

Yglesias gets it half-right, Reynolds agrees with him.

I'll stipulate to the fact that a strong two party system is healthy for America, and that the current decline of the Democrats is decidedly unhealthy, and I'll agree with the Instapundit that any self reflection on the part of the democrats is a good thing. However, I still have a lot of quibbles with Matthew Yglesias:
The "what liberal media?" argument is not exactly being bolstered by The New York Times' decision to use the headline "New Poll Finds Bush Priorities Are Out of Step With Americans."
Nice of you to admit the painfully obvious.

The new poll, does, however, find precisely that.
Nice way to weasel out of an uncomfortable admission.

It also finds that Bush has about the same approval rating -- a slight net positive -- as he had right before the election. Generally speaking, the most noteworthy thing about the poll is the extent of the statis in public opinion. Some of these numbers look absolutely awful for the president. Fifty-two percent of the public thinks the country is on the "wrong track" compared to just 42 who say we're headed in the "right direction." But in late October, that number was an even worse 55-43 split.
Yglesias is stymied! How could this be?! The numbers don't lie, right?

Bush has net negative approval ratings on the economy, on foreign policy, and on Iraq. You would think that would be fatal, but it was the same in late October. Generally speaking, the picture is the same throughout. The numbers make the president look very, very, very weak. But he looked just as weak right before the election, and obviously it didn't work out.(Emphasis mine. - Ed.)
Better luck next time, Matthew. Of course, your obession with obviously flawed poll numbers doesn't suggest that you will expend much effort to win in 2008, so much as expend effort to appear superior.

The upshot, I think, is that the Democratic Party's political problems are really about the Democratic Party and not their opponents.
Shocker. You know what? I've voted Democrat more often than Republican. Why do you think that's changed?

Interestingly, the poll doesn't find much support for the notion that a dash to the right on cultural issues is the way out. They asked "which party comes closer to sharing your view on abortion" and 45 percent said the Democrats to just 35 percent for the Republicans. They asked "which party comes closer to sharing your view on the legal recognition of gay couples," and the Democrats got 42 percent to the GOP's 37 percent.
To that I say, "Let success be thy only proof." Eleven states passed laws against gay marriage last November. I say again: 100% of the states which advanced legislation concerning the definition of marriage as being "only between a man and a woman" passed those measures with flying colors. Those numbers are solid. No margin for error in those "polls."

Which is all by way of returning to my long-time hobbyhorse -- to wit: The Democratic Party's political trouble is explained almost entirely by the fact that the country does not trust it with national security.
Here is where Yglesias is half-right. It's true that most americans do not trust the Democratic party with national defense. The fact that he realizes this is extremely heartening. He's wrong, however, to assume that the poll numbers from the NYT justify his domestic agenda. POLLS ARE ESTIMATES. POLLS AREN'T DEFINITIVE. Elections are definitive. 11 new state laws are definitive. The fact that President Bush was re-elected is proof positive that the country is thinking in a direction different than Matthew and the rest of the democrats.

I think it's great that the dems are rethinking their stratagy. I think it's great that they genuinely want to recapture the essence of American thinking. But this article again demonstrates that they are going about in the wrong manner. It is not the duty of the voting populace to come closer to the democrats. "Mohammed must go to the mountain." (And I appologize for such a horrid metaphor. - Ed.)

It may be possible to weasel into office through some other contrivance, but Democratic positioning on both culture and economics is already reasonably successful. Bush is not wildly popular. (Emphasis mine. - Ed.)
Except for the annoying fact of his re-election. Popular? Nah. 60 million Jesus freaks is all it was. Why is Yglesias nullifying his earlier arguments that the Dems need change? He's right back to the old "We're smarter than the Bush voters" defense.

The obvious growth area is trying to convince people that Democrats can do national security properly. Subscribers can see my thoughts on this in the new print Prospect and non-subscribers should, of course, subscribe.
The obvious growth area is not to "convince" anyone (you still think we're stupid, don't you?) but rather to get onboard the fast moving train of supporting freedom around the world. Historically, democracies rarely wage war with each other. Isn't war bad? I thought the democrats opposed war, right? I thought these guys liked President Kennedy and his concepts of interventionalist liberalism. What happened?

I'll tell you what happened. They started relying on polls in order to win political power rather than democratic ideals to win the peace. And in doing so they ceded all credibility to the Republicans when it comes to making America safer.

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