Rudy Giuliani

Bush Street vs. Kerry Avenue

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In the September Atlantic, Michael Barone explains why "the coming election may be the most important in generations" (as the subhead says), why "Bush versus Kerry may represent America's most momentous electoral choice since FDR versus Wendell Wilkie–if not since Abraham Lincoln versus George McClellan" (as the pull-quote–really more of a pull-paraphrase–on the second page puts it). When the co-author of The Almanac of American Politics makes this sort of claim, you tend to pay attention. But the article (not online yet) does not quite deliver on the promise.

"The gap between the two candidates is substantial in virtually every area," Barone writes. A lot hinges on how you define substantial and virtually, I guess, but this seems like an overstatement in light of the important similarities between the candidates.

"On domestic matters Bush has governed further to the right than many anticipated he would," Barone continues. Again, it depends what you mean by many, but there has been a great deal of disenchantment on the right with Bush's big-government "conservatism."

Barone also claims that under Kerry, "domestic spending might be increased more than Bush would allow." I suppose it might, but since Bush's fiscal restraint often has been likened to that of an inebriated seaman, it's hard to see how Kerry could be worse, especially since he'd be fighting a Republican-controlled House and (probably) Senate.

Add to these eyebrow-raising assertions Barone's placement of Rudy Giuliani in the "libertarian" wing of the Republican Party, and you start to wonder if he's putting us on. As a clincher, Barone brings in Robert Frost:

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood," begins one of Robert Frost's most famous poems. One cannot say with certainty where the Bush or the Kerry road would actually take us, but the divergence is not just rhetorical but real–and very wide indeed.

One cannot say with certainty what Barone was thinking when he wrote this piece, but by the time he got to the conclusion he clearly was not interested in the road less traveled by.

NEXT: Whose DNA?

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  1. I just hope for a divided government run by different parties so they can’t do much damage. The problem is when one party, Dem or Repub, gets too much power, their worst tendencies become enabled.

  2. it’s hard to see how Kerry could be worse, especially since he’d be fighting a Republican-controlled House and (probably) Senate.

    I suspect we would start to see a lot of compromises where the Repubs would propose $10B in new spending, the Dems would want $20B, so they would compromise on $25B.

    Certainly Kerry would add upward pressure on spending, and I see no real reason to believe that a Dem in the White House would change the political calculations of Repubs in the Congress (namely, that spending will improve their re-election chances, but restraint will not).

    With Kerry, you can also kiss any chance of tax relief good-bye. Sure, he promises a middle-class tax cut, but we all know that means, at best, more social engineering via the tax code.

    My constant refrain on Kerry and Bush on domestic policy: Bad as Bush is, Kerry is as bad or worse.

  3. What are you trying to say, Jesse? That the only difference between them was that Wilkie could walk?

    Perhaps now someone can splain to me the difference between Shrub and Lurch.

    R C Dean

    “….so they would compromise on $25B.”

    That does seem to be the new definition of compromise. Or as I like to say “bipartisanshit”.

  4. “I suspect we would start to see a lot of compromises where the Repubs would propose $10B in new spending, the Dems would want $20B, so they would compromise on $25B”

    Given the recent example of the 1990s, I suspect that Republicans’fondness for increased spending would quickly evaporate without W in the White House.

    Aren’t you always giving credit for the spending restraint in the 1990s to the Republican Congress, RC? In fact, that “restraint” was, in practice, a willingness to live within the budget limits set under the divided government of old Bush’s last term.

  5. That does seem to be the new definition of compromise.

    Its depressingly common, actually. Each side has a different wish list, so they compromise by giving each other everything they want.

  6. When you compare them on the Bilderberger/globalist/Northeastern elite scale – as I have chez blog – there isn’t much difference. However, the big difference would be not so much in how they’d rule us, but in the wider context.

    If Bush wins it’ll be four more years of $hrubCo, Diebold stole the election, etc. etc. Only, even more shrill. If this happens, I’d suggest investing in mental health facilities.

    If Kerry wins those who’ve rocked back and forth for four years screaming $hrub! will win.

  7. Damn, last time is saw the word “Bilderberger,” it was in a LaRouchie newsletter.

  8. Damn, last time I saw the word “Bilderberger,” it was in a LaRouchie newsletter.

  9. I agree that gridlock is probably what we need for the country, but I perceive John Kerry as another Jimmy Carter. After four years, the country would be begging for someone with leadership skills. Ronald Reagan looked so good because Jimmy Carter was so bad.

  10. Jimmy Carter was president as the country realigned out from under his party. Kerry will be president as the country is realigning towards his party.

  11. Damn, last time is saw the word “Bilderberger,” it was in a LaRouchie newsletter.

    Well, joe, you need to remember that surfing is fundamental: Sen. John Edwards’ standout “performance” at the super-secret Bilderberg meeting in Italy last month may have been a key reason for his selection as John Kerry’s vice presidential running mate, according to the New York Times

    Be sure and read the excerpt from the NYT article and, for extra credit, read the other links provided. I link to that WND article in my comparison of the two candidates.

  12. R C Dean writes: “I suspect we would start to see a lot of compromises where the Repubs would propose $10B in new spending, the Dems would want $20B, so they would compromise on $25B.”

    Sorry to break it to you, but that’s what’s been happening under Bush.

  13. Glad to see R.C. Dean has figured out that Republican control of Congress offers little hope for restraining big government.

    Since he sees the shortcomings of the Republicans in Congress, it is hard to see why he is so favorable to George W Bush, the biggest big government Republican.

  14. “On domestic matters Bush has governed further to the right than many anticipated he would,”

    In what ways? People keep making this claim and they never seem to explain it, they just assume one knows what they are talking about. As far as I am concerned he has not governed nearly as far to the right as he should have. He signed McCain-Feingold, he let Teddy Kennedy write the education bill, the tax cuts were not the fundamental reforms he could have proposed, and he accepted that stupid sunset provision in order to get them passed. Now I understand why joe or Nancy Pelosi might think him too far to the right, but would you really expect them not to?

  15. America’s most momentous electoral choice since FDR versus Wendell Wilkie

    What the hell, Barone? Wilkie was the paradigmatic me-too candidate.

  16. My sense is that when people refer to Bush as “right,” they’re talking about cultural issues and regulation, not fiscal policy. Look at his appointments to the bench.

  17. Jimmy Carter was president as the country realigned out from under his party. Kerry will be president as the country is realigning towards his party.

    *chuckle*

    *snort*

    MWAH-HA-HA-ha-ha-ha!

  18. Joe-

    You mean that he’s trying to appoint people to the bench that take seriously what the law and the Constitution actually say, is far right?

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