Post Polls

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The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Kerry getting a very slight apres-convention bounce among registered voters: He pulls a 50 percent to 44 percent win. Prior to the con, he was on the down side of a 48 percent to 46 percent split. Among likely voters, Kerry beats Bush by two points. More analysis here.

Interestingly, Kerry has gained in almost all sub-categories. For instance, before the convention, the Post poll had voters trusting Bush, by a 47 percent to 46 percent edge, to handle the economy. That's now a 52 percent to 41 percent split in favor of Kerry.

These numbers will almost surely flip around come the Republican National Convention. But they also suggest that the five presidential debates, to be held in late September through October, will be particularly important in swinging the election (that there are five of them suggests that they will be incredibly tedious and largely unwatched). And that Kerry supporters, who have actively worked to portray George W. Bush as a few IQ points short of stupid and their own man as nothing less than a protean genius, may see that strategy back fire. After all, it lowers the bar tremendously for Bush, even as a sitting president.

Update: As reader Kari Bruffet helpfully pointed out to me via email, there are only three presidential debates scheduled. That may be three too many, but it's thankfully two less than I suggested above. More information here.

NEXT: Casey Kasem's Next Gig

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  1. joe, you will have a hard time characterizing hte totality of Kerry’s maneuverings around Vietnam as anything other than a cynical long-term plan to establish political viability.

    First, he was opposed to the war. Then he volunteered for it, and took staged home movies of his heroic exploits. Then he came home and said he committed war crimes and lots of other Americans did too. Then he never mentions it in years of being a Senator from a liberal state. Then he runs for President based on his home movies.

    The only consistent thread? Political expediency.

  2. “Jimmy, if your point comparing Kerry’s time in Vietnam to Bush’s time in Texas (and Arkansas, kinda sorta) isn’t as I described it, than what was your point?”

    Read, Joe, read. I’m not gonna write it all again.

    I agree with Gaius. “interesting” because it’s true. I don’t think the man had the whole road to (just short of) the White House planned out. Still, everything he did was for the benefit of how it looked, and at that point, being against the war would get you a lot of votes, of course.

    I don’t think your average “Joe” would have a movie camera in those days. It was indeed planned for political purposes.

  3. thoreau, read the book before you let loose of that fifty. /R

  4. Bush’s time in Texas (and Arkansas, kinda sorta)

    don’t forget alabama! lol…

    Yup, that’s surely the most likely scenario.

    well… i can’t sit here and claim proof. but, heuristically (as all things political must be judged), it makes a great deal of sense. kerry never “nearly died” — his three purple hearts are for a bad bump, a nick, and a minor shrapnel wound. he collected five medals in eight months — a rate that defies all expectation, except that he put in for every medal he could and probably had help getting them. you’ve probably read the cockburn/st clair column at counterpunch which cites an interview with admiral zumwalt, cmdr of naval forces in vietnam, in which he claimed to have had to ‘straitjacket’ kerry for killing too many civilians — and the less-than-flattering recollections of vets who knew kerry in vietnam. the man was plainly trying his best to fashion a conquering hero’s record, and wasn’t modest or restrained in doing so. and why? odds are because he knew early on it was politics for him.

    i won’t vote for bush, certainly — the man’s a disaster — but the fact is that kerry will probably be little improvement. he is just another of these power-mad politicians, and i have little doubt that he (like many others) has manipulated every opportunity he thought he could to pave the path to this campaign — to be the first man in washington, as it were.

  5. Here’s a real eye-opener on the consequences of duopoly control of the debates: http://reclaimdemocracy.org/political_reform/debates_exclusion_issues.html

    This is great ammo for Libertarians.

  6. your theory that denouncing the military, during a time of war, for committing war crimes = “the path of least resistance to political office” is…interesting.

    lol — in this, i am perfectly willing to attribute to kerry an astute reading of his political environment. he was discharged in 1970, and must have easily been able to see on his return that the tide had changed. after all, this was post-1968, and first johnson and then nixon had been elected on the promise of “peace with honor” or some such variation. by 1970, openly anti-war candidates were being elected. so kerry went with the flow, it seems to me.

  7. If I were Kerry, I would perfer a “hard” 48%, over a soft 48%, especially since that is where my opponent (Bush) has had an advantage so far.

  8. “…and repeatedly almost died carrying out…”

    LOL….

    None of Kerry’s “wounds” were remotely life-threatening. Thousands of infantryman shrugged off scratches like them every day any never saw a Purple Heart. The same can be said of the “exploits” that JFKII got the Bronze and Silver Stars for.

    I might have voted Dean as an ABB candidate, but the Demos lost any chance of getting my vote when they chose Kerry.

  9. Joe raises an interesting point, though rather stupidly. The plane that Bush flew was an F-102a interceptor, a rather tricky plane. He had 300 hours in the F-102a, as well as dozens more in the T-33 jet trainer and others. He was judged an uncommonly fine pilot and flew night missions as well. And anyone who thinks there was ever any such thing as a “routine” flight in these Century-series beasts, quite simply, knows nothing about aviation.

    Mr. Kerry, by contrast, was shot at on several occasions in his four months in-country, but he was not shot at every day or anything like it.

    I do wonder what the actuaries might say about the relative risks. The answer might surprise those whose bellies are not already sloshing with hate toward the Moron/Evil Genius in the White House.

  10. In 1992 Bush lost and Clinton won. Ever since military service will not decide an election. It does not matter and the meida should get over it.

  11. I do wonder what the actuaries might say about the relative risks.

    and i do wonder how it could possibly matter to anyone, regardless of the answer.

    but then, i wonder how people are entertained by cars going in a circle. and both my wonders probably have more to do with the outcome of the election than, say, deficit financing projections.

  12. Well, based on the actuaries, I guess we can say that Bush did the brave thing by flying airplanes in Texas, while Kerry did the cowardly thing by requesting assignment to the swift boats in Vietnam.

    This just in: Four legs are good and two legs are better! Details at 6 on the Oceania Newspeak News Channel.

  13. I actually did some studies of fatality rates in the F-102, and non-combat fatality rates in jet aircraft in the Vietnam era, and there is no doubt that George Bush had a greater risk of being killed during his service than did the average serviceman who went to Vietnam. Operational losses have been higher than combat losses in jet fighters for quite some time. Bush lost two squadron mates to accidents while he was in the guard.

    In addition, the case can be made that Bush had every reason to believe he could be going to Vietnam when he volunteered to fly F-102’s, since at the time he volunteered, his TANG unit was on active rotation into the Vietnam theater.

    Also, the case can be made that Kerry volunteered for the Navy to AVOID combat. It was actually quite common back then to join the Navy to avoid combat in Vietnam, rather than be drafted as an infantryman. And in fact, Kerry’s first two years in uniform were spent on the Gridley, sailing into the Philippines, New Zealand, and the Gulf of Tonkin. At the time Kerry volunteered for Swift Boats, they were doing coastal patrols which were also pretty much combat-free. After he was assigned to Swift Boat their role was changed to river patrol.

    But to be fair, once Kerry was on that Swift Boat patrolling rivers, he was in far more danger than Bush. Those patrols were damned dangerous. But then, Kerry was only there for four months before he used his third purple heart as a ticket home.

    I don’t disparage Kerry’s service at all. He did a dangerous job, and seems to have done it well. What I object to is his attempt to make his four months of service the equivalent of being MacArthur. Let’s get it straight – Kerry was a junior officer for four months. This confers upon him no special knowledge or ability to be Commander in Chief. He did a very specialized job for a few months and went home. The attempt to inflate this into master of all matters military is just ridiculous.

    And, his constant trumpeting of his heroism is unseemly. Senators Inoyue and Kerry (Bob) both have Medals of Honor, and you don’t hear them going on and on about their service. John McCain spent years in a Vietnamese tiger cage and suffered torture when he could have gone home, but he refused to leave without his men. But when he ran for President, you didn’t hear the constant refrains of how heroic he was. Not from his mouth, you didn’t.

    But Kerry is something else. He can’t shut up about his Swift Boat service. He salutes at the convention, ‘reporting for duty’. They even tried to find a Swift Boat to put in the convention, for God’s sake. Enough already. Real heroes don’t go around telling people how heroic they are.

  14. Joe, I wonder what difference a war record had when you elected Clinton over a shot-down WWII pilot, and then again when you elected Clinton over a guy who lost the use of his arm in Italy? You Democrats will champion anything, even Vietnam heroesm, as long as the government checks keep coming.

  15. Enough already. Real heroes don’t go around telling people how heroic they are.

    agreed — it’s sickening how each side uses arrogant militarism as a virtue — bush on who he’s killing now, kerry on who he killed then.

    how can anyone view these campaigns — which, as assiduously micromanaged by poll and focus group to pander to the dominant aspects of the demotic mood, are some the clearest mirrors of the american public mainstream available at any time — as anything but a complete confirmation of the basic current american mindset as paranoid, chauvanistic and bloodthirsty?

    it’s profoundly sad, imo.

  16. The ABC/Wash Post Poll is worthless: In its pre-convention poll which found support among registered voters for Kerry at 48% and for Bush at 46% the sample population was 34% percent Democrat, 33% Republican, and 29% independent voters.

    In its latest poll, which shows Kerry at 50% and Bush at 44% among registered voters, the sample population was 39% Democrat, 29% Republican and 26% independent. I highly doubt that the convention resulted in a 5% increase in the percentage of Democrats.

    The initial sample was more in line with actual figures, and the “bump” can be attributed wholly to a misrepresentative sample of voters. Moreover, a 5% increase in Demoncrats and only a 2% increase in Kerry’s vote share does not really bode well for Kerry.

  17. Gaius-

    You seem to frequently lament the fact that your average citizen has the right to vote. If we assume, for the sake of argument, that this is in fact a bad thing, and also leave aside the enormous practical obstacles to changing that fact, what kind of system would you want to have in place? Would only a handful of people have the right to vote?

    Or would you want a system like the British Parliament (back when the Lords were mostly hereditary and actually had some power), where the average citizen gets to vote for part of the gov’t but the elite get to control the rest? How would membership in the elite be determined?

    Representative government, for all of its flaws, seems to be better than the other choices that I can think of. What other choices do you see?

  18. thoreau — if we could somehow turn back the clock on our political system (indeed, our whole civilization), that would be interesting — but that isn’t going to happen. i think this history is rather a one-way street with little or no opportunity for turning around. i observe, lament and comment — but i have no notion of “fixing” anything.

    i don’t lament the idea of the modest representational government, such as the british parliament — indeed, such a system was a sort of genius. i lament what it has (inevitably?) degraded into. all limitation or moderation is gone. the people have come to believe that instruments of collective will — elections or markets, usually — somehow will yield the Correct Answer, just as the people once believed in the divine inspiration of monarchs. and when that is so, what need of limitation in their power? and so we have slowly destroyed the aristocracy, just as the athenians and romans once did.

    in combination with the adoption of antiethical nihilism as the western credo — and as part of a broader trend in the last century as western civ cuts all links to its foundations — i don’t think it matters what form of government we think is best because i don’t think we have a choice. we are going to *get* authoritarianism by popular mandate.

  19. indeed, in many respects, we already have it. all that remains is for one of these demagogues to halt the elections.

  20. I do wonder what the actuaries might say about the relative risks. The answer might surprise those whose bellies are not already sloshing with hate toward the Moron/Evil Genius in the White House.

    Yeah, and if I run from a fight and drive off at 90 mph, I’m being brave because I’m far more likely to die in a car accident than in a bar fight. I’ll say pulling string to get into the TANG is braver than volunteering for the Navy when you can convince my girlfriend that running from a fight is braver than standing my ground because of actuarial risks.

  21. ed,

    You’re right I didn’t hear the Lieberman speech. Rurmor has it he is not on the ticket but as you can tell I’m not too current on the Dems.

  22. OK, so there’s no point in turning back the clock, and we’re doomed to authoritarian rule. Fine. But what about after the next revolution, however many centuries away that might be. If you were one of the new founders establishing a new government out of the ashes of the dictatorship, what would you establish?

    You seemed to indicate that you liked the division between the aristocracy and the commoners. OK, what would be the criteria for being considered part of the aristocracy? Would it be hereditary? Or would you have to earn membership? How would people earn it? Military service? Property ownership? Income? Education? What?

    And would you want an even split of power between the masses and the aristocrats, or would the commoners only be consulted on a handful of matters while the aristocrats run the rest?

  23. Mo,

    You are so correct. Volunteering for the Navy is braver.

    Shooting innocent civilians (if it happened) in the back is not.

  24. BTW the historical record shows that Dewey Canyon and Winter Soldier were at least 90% lies. (Probably more but all the lies cannot be verified as such)

    Now how will it look to have you’re candidate assocated with verified liars. Oh, yeah, add Wilson to the bunch. I guess he is back on the bus.

    As far as anyone can tell the war crimes that were testified to in ’71 by a bunch of anti-Americans never happened. We sold out the Vietnamese based on the lies of one John ‘ffn Kerry and his anti-American friends.

    Now it is possible he was mistaken. Fine.

    Where is the apology? I’ve made mine. Numerous times.

    You can’t actually believe Middle America is going to buy this stuff? Too many vets out there (me among them) who were on Kerry’s side in ’71 remember. And we are telling current vets.

    Bush in a landlide.

    No Vietnam War baby killer for President.

    Because it turns out that our soldiers weren’t baby killers. Except maybe John ‘fffn Kerry who (if he was telling the truth) may be the only one (excepting prosecuted incidents).

  25. thoreau — i struggle to answer your question because i don’t see how i or anyone has any choice in the matter. i don’t really have an ideological opinion on the morality/immorality of a particular form of government. parliamentary, monarchic, demotic — all have good and bad points (though it is outright heresy to say so these days, surely).

    i suppose i have libertarian leanings because i wish in futility to turn back the clock on the encroachment of authoritarianism — to try to hold it off until i’m dead. don’t think it’ll wait that long, unfortunately. 🙂

    what i particularly fear about demotic is the prospect of violence. every demotic system i have been able to learn anything about seems to have ended in incredible carnage — more so than other transitions because of the empowerment and involvement of the mob. so thinking, i observe the increasing vitriol between leftist and rightist zealots — most of whom have only shallow ideas of what they’re fighting for and against — very warily.

  26. gaius marius,

    Markets give me what I want. Through exchange.

    What is wrong with that answer? The Chi Coms seem to prefer it to their former system.

  27. gaius marius,

    It appears the left is fighting for a system that produces poorer results than the current system. This lack of results is rather well known among 60% of Americans.

    I do see a way out of your dilema. You can beat both systems by an early death. That’ll teach ’em.

  28. Markets give me what I want

    indeed, the highest praise in a hyperindividualistic society. 🙂

    i’m not making a value judgement on markets. they’re marvelous devices, better than central planning for certain outcomes. (i’m enamored myself — i work in finance.) i’m simply saying that belief in them has been taken to ridiculous extremes — when you have folks considering seriously that terrorism markets can predict the future, things have gone into the absurd. and yet few if any would contradict the idea that the day’s buys and sells constitute a “discounting” of future events — i.e., they produce the Right Answer.

    that’s exactly what the people of the 17th c believed their divinely-ordained kings to be able to do, and what 15th c christians believed the pope capable of. it’s foolishness, of course — but no one can admit it.

    that extent of belief in elections and markets is as clear a sign of demoticism run to the ridiulous as anything you’ll see.

  29. gm,

    I don’t believe in markets. I’ve actually seen them.

    Which is better than Communism. (as I understand it there has yet to be a TRUE communist society).

    Evidently you are unaware of the Bayes Theorum for classifying the trustworthyness of information. The market is a form of that theory. Admitedly it doesn’t always produce good results but even at 90 to 95% it is better than most human systems.

    The really cool thing about markets and insurance companies: given long enough to operate they self correct.

  30. I don’t believe in markets.

    mr simon, you said this — and then promptly contradicted it with the rest of your post.

    as it happens, i’m familiar with bayes theorem — but that doesn’t make your abstracted reduction of the market into a statistical interference set any less a statement of faith.

  31. gm,

    Are you telling me that if I want a microprocessor and some transistors to make something that no one has thought of before I can’t do it?

    The market allows me to get or make anything within the limits of current technology and my pocket book. And the forces at work continually drive down prices.

    If I ask the market for a dollars worth of food in exchange for the dollar in my hand the market delivers (at 99.9+% delivery rate and 90+% satisfaction). If I ask the King what can he do? If he wants to he can give me a morsel or throw a banquet. But what can a King do for 300 million?

    The deal is the market DOES deliver what the King can’t enough food to eat for every one according to their individual taste. Unless the King interferes.

  32. gm,

    That was sarcasm. It is true though. Markets which are in fact in existence do not require belief because they exist. And work.

    I contrast that to communism which requires belief and never works.

    See you need not believe in markets to use them. Their existance and function is independent of belief. People trade.

  33. gm,

    First we start with empirical results. Then we work back to theory.

    The market is a statistical Bayes like test. The strength of belief is just calibrated in dollars rather than percent.

    Because there are gains to be made from being right people put extra effort into gathering information. You see truth be told I don’t believe markets are truly fundamental. They are close. What is fundamental is self interest.

    I guess that is the part you don’t like.

    Study your typical monkey band. Human politics is no different. Every one wants a better trap and a better position. All else flows from this.

    The societies where self interest is strongest eat the best – our problems become too much food not too little. Even our poor are fat. In the course of human events this is considered unusual.

  34. Hmmm….the neocons were just trumpeting a USA Today poll showing ~Bush~ getting an alleged after convention bounce.

    But if you understand the concept of “margin of error,” and have been looking at ~all~ of the polls, you really can’t say with any level of certainly that the convention changed a thing. This race is ~almost certainly~ still a statistical dead heat. We can’t say who is really, truly leading right now.

  35. gaius marius,

    I have been told that the people with the keffyahs actually exist and that they and a bunch of their friends have decided that the right thing to do is to kill Americans wherever they find them even at the cost of their own lives.

    I mean, I know. All that Islam stuff sounds so silly and totally unlikely. Well we took that attitude towards a certain German in the 1920s. Better safe than sorry don’t you think? Once bitten twice shy and all that.

  36. Mark,

    You are quite right.

    What we can say is that in elections where there was little or no post convention bounce the challenger lost.

    Not looking good for Kerry. Not looking good at all.

  37. db says:

    “Might as well continue the rich tradition of diverting attention away from the tough questions and make it a campaign of chest thumping.

    Ever see monkeys play politics before? If not now is your chance.

  38. thoreau says:

    Speaking as somebody who thinks Kerry is the lesser evil, if Bush wants to campaign on Kerry’s Vietnam War record I will gladly pledge $50 toward Bush’s campaign (contingent on the money being spent only for ads that bring up the Vietnam War).

    As some one else has pointed out. You ought to read the book first.

    All this stuff about positions hardening and the race being tight is bunk. The best face you can put on it is the summer disinterest in politics.

    The worst face? Bush in a landslide.

  39. gaius marius says:

    agreed — it’s sickening how each side uses arrogant militarism as a virtue — bush on who he’s killing now, kerry on who he killed then.

    This is not sad. It is the alpha male thing. We want some one capable of murder but not too often.

    We want to know if the alpha male will kill to protect us. And that we are safe from him. Think David and Goliath.

    You know you sound like some one who doesn’t like being human. The alternative is dust. Which do you prefer?

    Well any way I hope either you find your utopia or you reconcile to living with the monkeys.

  40. M. Simon-

    Well, one way or another I hope Bush starts bringing up Vietnam. If you’re right and Kerry has a lot of skeletons in his closet to answer for then the truth will come out and Kerry will suffer for it. If you’re wrong, and there isn’t anything more to say than what’s widely known already, then Bush will suffer for bringing it up.

    Either way, I think the best way to resolve these matters is an open discussion.

    And I agree with your comments to Gaius. It’s all well and good to say that representative government produces some lousy results. We already know this. It’s all well and good to say that representative government is not always synonymous with freedom, and that societies with representative governments have sometimes come to violent ends. All these things are known. The problem is that none of the other systems seem to offer much in the way of peace, freedom, and prosperity either, at least not to the extent that Western nations with representative governments have enjoyed in the past century.

    (Before somebody invokes up Godwin’s Law by bringing up Germany in the 1930’s, a single party seizing power and imposing totalitarian rule is hardly representative government, even if that party did win its seats in an open election. Such a phenomenon is the collapse of representative government, not the normal operation of representative government.)

  41. m simon —

    i’d like to address the dozen or so posts 🙂 you’ve put together here, but i think it’s best if i simply say this:

    almost everything you said there fits a profile of a doctrine — not a full philosophy, but a doctrine — that i consider to be near its zenith today in western society.

    the constant simplifications by abstraction and refusal to acknowledge chaotic complexity, the virtuous “alpha male” (reinterpreted and reduced without nuance as ‘might makes right’), the unquestionable primacy of self-interest, the marketplace as a mathematical model and playground for avarice, the notion that markets “exist” and anything else essentially doesn’t — that is a loose school of thought (which you share with many very intelligent, powerful people) that is the product of a march of emancipation, individualism and abstraction that is the story of the rise of western civilization. now in the twilight of that story, these concepts are both fundamental to the way we think and absurd in the lengths to which we apply them.

    but that will pass in time. the transience of these concepts is perhaps more fluid that you might suspect.

    i’m not going to be able to convince you to dump your entire mindset — so i won’t try. bu i do appreciate your comments.

  42. The problem is that none of the other systems seem to offer much in the way of peace, freedom, and prosperity either, at least not to the extent that Western nations with representative governments have enjoyed in the past century.

    thoreau, you say many things i agree with, but on this we disagree. first off, i might note that we don’t have a representative government anymore — that would imply independent representatives, and we don’t have that. we have poll-watchers and perpetual campaigns. we have democracy, not representation.

    but, more relevantly — all forms of government, under the right circumstances, can offer prosperity. france boomed under the sun king. england shone with their limited parliamentary system. america came of age under democracy. even dictators can be beloved and beneficial — under the right circumstances.

    to say that only our way is always the best way is a bit of reductive, revisionist american arrogance too frequently subscribed to by both right and left, imo, under the banner of nationalism.

    aristocratic/oligarchic systems are that which most of mankind has been ruled by for most of time — it is the natural state, if such a thing can be said to exist, and not democracy — and mankind has flourished for millennia underneath them. if anything, while democracy may be beautiful, it is fleeting and its end destructive — which comes to your next point:

    a single party seizing power and imposing totalitarian rule is hardly representative government

    no — but it is often the direct consequence of it, as plato noted in book 8 of his ‘republic’.

  43. The polls are all over the place.

    You could be right about the debates. Of course, while Bush gets to play the expectations game re: substance, Kerry gets to play it re: style. If he comes off as less of a prick than Al “Dingell-Norwood” Gore, he “wins.”

  44. Check out the Winter Soldier and Dewey Canyon polls.

    I believe those polls will make a significant difference.

    Then we have 20 Medal of Honor winners come out against Kerry. Follwed in August (very soon) by a book on what his shipmates and fellow officers thought of him.

    He is not going to be looking like a Commander in Chief in September.

    And that is not even dealing with his Senate voting record on military matters.

    It wonders me how any one thinks this guy has a snowballs chance.

    Bush hasn’t even brought out the big guns and he is even.

    And who ever thought Bush would have a personality edge against the likely Democrat? Lieberman has more spark than Kerry.

  45. Format matters. The Bush team knows he cant speak well on his own, so they will make him stick to the old cliches, and keep the banter to an absolute minimum.

    If the Dems want to make a point of Bush’s inability to articulate a position, they should repeatedly air footage of the Russert interview.

  46. The trouble is you guys are thinking like Libertarians (more hope than realism). It is hard for you to imagine the people in the center and what might move them (they have never been your target audience).

    Kerry’s military record and his military votes disqualify him from being president.

    Not to you guys. Not to most of the left. But the center. Clinton’s record was against American interests but as far as we can tell honorable views honorably held. Kerry’s record is going to hurt him very badly.

    We are going to fight the Vietnam War once more. It is not behind us yet.

  47. Please, please, please let M. Simon be right, and the campaign this fall dominated by discussions of the candidates’ military records. Please, please, please.

  48. Really joe? I thought you wanted Kerry to win.

  49. M. Simon, Bush used his big guns back when he unloaded that 60 million dollar ad buy that got him nowhere. And didn’t you watch Lieberman’s firworks at the convention. It had to be the single most boring speech during the four days.

  50. I think it’s more of a lamentation that other important issues will be left behind, unspoken of. Of course, that always happens in a campaign, so nothing new there.

    Might as well continue the rich tradition of diverting attention away from the tough questions and make it a campaign of chest thumping.

    Not sure, but I guess I’d rather that politicians thump their chests than actually get to work on “the issues.” Imagine the mess if they really started in on the tough stuff.

  51. hey Todd!

    ??? huh???? how do you figure? this is one of those really dumb issues. both candidates make the quibbledicks of 1988 seem inspiring (thanks to PJ for the insult).

    this type of fixed position arguments make no sense. those who like bush will defend him, including saying he’s perserving our freedom, keeping us safe, is really smart, etc. those who hate bush (won’t say “those who like kerry”, that would make my keyboard melt) will paint the anyone but bush as a better alternative and show bush to be a right wing extremist. neither side will worry about their own internal hypocracies or that each candidate is full of shit and has totally abandoned free-market, fiscally conservative positions. this is yet another case of that.

    yar.

  52. Whoever it is that keeps declaring that flying planes over Texas is more dangerous than drawing rocket fire on an exposed boat in the middle of a canal through the jungle: you should send that one into the RNC.

  53. five debates? that’s surely a liability for kerry.

    seriously — it can’t have escaped the notice of you all that, in a nation managed by polling and focus groups of the mob, the candidate that most closely resembles a drunk guy on the daytona speedway infield usually has the inside track. demotic systems elect plebes, idiots and the Common Man.

    kerry, god bless him, appears to be/has been characterized as (and in fact may be) a blueblooded aristocrat. bush, despite being just that, has been successfully marketed as just the opposite. and it will work against kerry all the way through.

    were i a kerry handler, i’d request immediately that those five be cut down to two. you don’t want your man up there making bush into a blue-collar sympathy case.

  54. Speaking as somebody who thinks Kerry is the lesser evil, if Bush wants to campaign on Kerry’s Vietnam War record I will gladly pledge $50 toward Bush’s campaign (contingent on the money being spent only for ads that bring up the Vietnam War).

  55. Joe, it’s Jimmy saying it this time. Maybe it’d worthwhile to research whether it would have been safer to be on a swift boat on the Mekong river, or to be flying an F104 Starfighter that was made to be an interceptor, not a ground-attack plane as they were using it. Lots of good pilots were killed during low-level maneuvering flight.

    It’d probably depend, of course on where exactly the boat crew was in Nam, and what squadron one was in as an F104 pilot.

    I don’t know, but the pilot job may have been more dangerous. I do know that it would have been a lot harder (taken a lot more brains, hand-eye coordination and quick reactions). I would give up that the boat captain job would have taken more judgement than the F104 pilot job (which was not in combat). However, judgement is a quality sorely lacking in John Kerry, so, like you said, “bring it on”.

  56. joe,

    has history been suspended for you (and Kerry) during the past 24 years? What Kerry did way back when (including as soon as he returned to bad-mouth his ‘band-of-brothers’) is not as relevant as what he will do if he is elected president. When Bill Clinton was running for office, this same Kerry told everyone to not make Vietnam an issue. Now all he (and his supporters, except may be you) talks about is Vietnam.

    He says precious little of what he will do (so far atleast). Hopefully he will explain to us why France will help us (against their self-interest) if he is the prez.

  57. Jimmy,

    Do you have any harrowing tales about Dan Quayle stubbing his toe on the way to the mess in Indiana?

  58. As for the point of the post, the “bounce in the polls”: Come on, Nick Gillespie, the damn margin of error is bigger than the difference in numbers. That means that the difference is statistically not there.

    Think of a margin of error (assuming I believed the margin was actually that small) like a tolerance.

    It’s like, “hey, the cheap-ass bearings we are getting from China are 1 +/- .02″ inside diameter. They ought to fit on our 0.99 +/- .01″ shafts, right, cause 0.99″ is smaller than 1”?

    No, ya fired.

  59. “Do you have any harrowing tales about Dan Quayle stubbing his toe on the way to the mess in Indiana?”

    What, Joe, no argument regarding the facts of the matter? Like about Vietnam or F104’s?

    I could say I expected better from you, but I’d be lying.

  60. My poll is three points larger than yours.

  61. zorel, history has been suppended for me, because I don’t talk about Kerry’s service in Vietnam enough?

    I believe that the way people face adversity when they’re relatively powerless is a good indication of how they would behave at a challenging job like POTUS. So yes, I do believe that Kerry’s performance under fire – even returning to the hot zone and exposing himself to scoop up a sitting duck comrade – and his willingness to go “on point” in the effort agains the Nixon attack machine provide some insight into the type of performance we’ll see from Kerry when he wins.

  62. FYI,
    I think there are only three presidential debates and one VP debate planned. The site you linked to is an alternative group, not the preferred-by-major-parties Commission on Presidential Debates.

  63. Jon, were you the guy I say sitting by the I-40 on-ramp, with the sign “Out of work pornstar – need $$ for penis enlargement”? ;-} Sorry, I just saw that joke yesterday, so it kind of fit.

    Anyway, to Joe, I am not maintaining that Bush Jr’s joining the Air guard to fly was not a way out of Vietnam. It was, and it’s commendable that Kerry did go. If he had powerful parents, maybe he could have been on a carrier (a whole lot safer).

    However, that wasn’t my point. A second point is about what Kerry did after he came home. If he were really upset about that war being wrong and tragic, well who’s to argue? He was there. But, now he’s back proud of serving in that war, he doesn’t mention any wartime criminal acts that he took part in, and it turns out that most of the action he was involved in those few months were basically part of a campaign commercial for him.

    Let’s see. Kerry was angry enough about VietNam to throw his medals away, yet still proud enough of what he did to hold onto his medals that he really didn’t throw away. OK.

  64. What Kerry did way back when (including as soon as he returned to bad-mouth his ‘band-of-brothers’) is not as relevant as what he will do if he is elected president.

    agreed, of course. and yet, this shit is all that will be seriously discussed because 1) it’s more exciting for the 80% of the public that can’t/won’t understand health care economics, and 2) that same 80% is paranoid as fuck about being killed as they sleep in rural nebraska by faceless people wearing a keffiyeh that don’t exist.

    now perhaps you understand why the classical greek philosophers reviled democracy.

  65. No, Jimmy, the matter you’re trying to raise, the idea that service in a stateside National Guard unit is more dangerous and more honorable than the job Kerry volunteered for, and repeatedly almost died carrying out, is too idiotic to dignify with an actual refutation.

    Anything other than mockery would grant it too much legitimacy. But please, try to get your Congressman to bring it up in front of a bank of microphones.

  66. jimmy, i think you misunderstand the nature of kerry’s 1970s antiwar stance. he was and always will be incredibly, irrationally proud of the killing he did in the name of america in vietnam. he understood, i suspect the evidence shows, that he was engineering a vital component of a successful political career in vietnam — and he was doing so after he got home as well.

    far be it from me to be the nihilistic cynic, but i don’t think anything kerry has done since college has been motivated by much other than his aspirations for power. i suspect that he put in for a medal after every bump and scrape because he knew then that purple hearts are poltiical gold, and he threw them away after coming back because he saw that the path of least resistance to political office was to do so.

    to claim there is inconsistency there is only to misdiagnose the motive, imo. and i say this as one who is likely to vote for him.

  67. Your last comment, Joe, shows that you don’t know anything about military aviation. The F104 was a notoriously dangerous airplane when used in ground attack operations.

    I didn’t say in “a” stateside National Guard unit, I said, as an F104 pilot. Big difference between that and a mess cook.

    Hey, it’s fine if you don’t know anything about this stuff, Joe. However, you said something to the effect of “bring it on” Well, it’s on, man.

    I recall reading “declaring that flying planes over Texas is more dangerous than drawing rocket fire on an exposed boat…” I’m talking about the danger, not the honorable part, as that wasn’t in your post. It’s in mine, though, now. Kerry could not be thought of as honorable by anyone besides his own mother and/or a Catsup heiress. And that’s in the present day, which as people point out here, is what matters.

    Bush did not do the most honorable thing at that time, either. I would trust him much more than I would John Kerry. I just don’t think much of him as a conservative, and therefore won’t vote for him come November.

  68. I’m pretty sure Bush flew F-102s, not F-104s. But Bush’s record of doing so was good, and it appears that the people he served with would support him for Pres, something that Kerry lacks.

    But Kerry’s behaviour: re-enacting his battlefield exploits for an 8 mm camera, playing “infantryman” for the camera, etc., are just plain creapy.

  69. Jimmy, if your point comparing Kerry’s time in Vietnam to Bush’s time in Texas (and Arkansas, kinda sorta) isn’t as I described it, than what was your point?

    Gaius, your theory that denouncing the military, during a time of war, for committing war crimes = “the path of least resistance to political office” is…interesting.

    But of course, we all know that bringing a cheap camera into a war zone, and having a fraction of the pictures produced include shots of yourself, can only be part of a decades-long strategy for gaining political office. Yup, that’s surely the most likely scenario.

  70. if one takes the long view, it’s inevitable and not something to be bemoaned — is there really a good or a bad to that which cannot be helped? in the short term, however, we have the misfortune of being born into the midst of what is usually the most violent stage of civilization.

    again — without taking a value judgement — developments like desegregation and gender equity are symptomatic of the drive of western civ to the end — it is the maximal implementation of Emancipation and Individualism, core themes of our society’s development. and we’ve gone well beyond that into the absurd — equal rights for animals comes to mind immediately.

    regardless of the fact that i find such levelling of the entire demos sentimentally laudable (i’m a product of this civilization, after all) — as an observer of history, i can also see that it is a signal that we are facing decline and the (probably quite violent) end of government by the people.

  71. M. Simon, monkeys don’t recognize property rights. Given your sparkling personality, you probably don’t have enough buddies to keep my friends and I from taking over your house.

    Anyway, we all think that daughter of yours is pretty hot. What are you going to do about it?

    What’s that? We have something called “civilization” to allow us to live differently from monkeys? That’s what I thought.

  72. We have something called “civilization” to allow us to live differently from monkeys?

    lol — working hard to abandon it every day, though. 🙂

  73. Sadly, Gaius, you don’t have to work hard to abandon it. You have to work hard to keep it. Abandoning it is the easiest thing in the world – it’s a slippery think that will dribble between your fingers.

  74. true — it’s irreversible now, in any case. the current of nihilism has built so much momentum in the course of the 20th c that all there is to do it wait and watch for the end and try to protect your family from what violence may arise, imo.

    i smiled ruefully at the other thread having to do with the vatican and its denunciations of the ‘culture of death’ — which, as a layman’s term for nihilism, is certainly what we are embracing. surely the vast majority of americans see these rantings as completely out of touch, or even obscene — but the utterances of ancient institutions are not so easily dismissed, imo.

  75. I wouldn’t be so grim. The destruction of outdated modes can be the first step in their replacement by more relevant, even more humane and civilized, ones. I’m glad we let segregation and old gender roles slip through out fingers, and replaced them with newer social structures.

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