Wednesday, October 27, 2004


The punditry gap

Has the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne been reading li'l ol' Simply Appalling? I'm beginning to wonder.

It was only a month ago that a Post writer was proclaiming "the enthusiasm gap," which essentially said that Bush supporters were more fervent in their support for Bush than Kerry supporters were for Kerry. I've repeatedly denounced this idea, and today E.J. Dionne has noticed what he calls "the intensity gap."

In the torrent of polling information released over the weekend, the most significant finding was this one: John Kerry's supporters are more likely than George W. Bush's to believe that this year's election is the most important of their lifetimes.

According to Newsweek's poll, 37 percent of Kerry's voters felt this way, compared with only 27 percent of Bush's. Of the rest, 40 percent of Kerry supporters thought 2004 was more important than most other elections, while 35 percent of Bush's backers did. ....

As a political matter, this intensity gap suggests that even if Bush has been successful in mobilizing the Republican Party's political base, he has been even more successful in mobilizing Democrats.

Dionne wastes the rest of his column explaining why "Bush-hatred" is rational.

Peter Beinart, editor of The New Republic and monthly columnist for the Post, has definitely not been reading Simply Appalling. He's proclaiming (wrongly) "the end of the 'Jewish vote.'"

No matter who wins on Tuesday, commentators will likely sift through the exit polling and declare that, in at least one respect, President Bush failed. Early this year some Republicans boasted that Bush would realign Jewish American politics -- ending the community's 80-year love affair with the Democratic Party. In recent weeks, however, with polls showing most Jews planning to vote for John Kerry, the brash predictions have stopped. Jewish Democrats are poised to declare victory, to announce that Bush's overtures have come to naught.

But that won't be true. Because while President Bush hasn't realigned the Jewish vote, he has done something even more intriguing: He has ended it.

.... This year, for probably the first time, Orthodox Jews will vote like "traditionalist" Christians. Conservative, Reform and non-affiliated Jews, on the other hand, will vote like secular, or "modernist," Christians. And the Jewish vote, in a meaningful sense, will cease to exist.

What Beinart has apparently not noticed is that the Orthodox Jews in Israel are not exactly in synch with their more secular counterparts. But he manages to hold onto his illusion despite the fact that—

Orthodox Jews make up less than 10 percent of the American Jewish population, so even though they will probably vote overwhelmingly for President Bush, he will still overwhelmingly lose the Jewish vote as a whole.

I don't ordinarily read The New Republic, but after reading Beinart's column, I couldn't resist taking a peek at the magazine he edits. What I discovered is that their writers must be paid by the word. Seldom outside the realm of politics have I encountered more verbosity to say so little.

In 2500 words or more Reithan Salam analyzes the expected "post-election intra-party bloodletting" by the Republicans. I'll save you an arduous read. If Bush loses, Salam thinks that Karl Rove's strategy will be discredited. Duh!

He also says of Sens. Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar that they will be despised for their "moderation"—

The reason to throw the moderate Midwesterners together is that both will be among the most hated and despised Republicans alive after November 2 if Kerry manages to defeat Bush. Why? Because both have been named, again and again, by Kerry as the kind of Republicans he can get down with and even name to his cabinet. For obvious reasons, this is evidence of high treason.

On Iraq, Hagel and Lugar are seen as the great dissenters. (Rhode Island's Senator Lincoln Chaffee is also a dissenter, but he's considered too crazy to worry about.) Despite the fact that both ultimately supported the president on the use-of-force resolution, Hagel and Lugar have been sharply critical of the administration's failures in international diplomacy and postwar planning--so much so that Hagel, a hard-edged social conservative with small government views, has been dubbed the Republican senator from France by National Review's John J. Miller. Pretty devastating.

"Senator from France"? Simply devastating. Well, I'll grant that neither Hagel nor Lugar will be elevated to the Presidency in 2008, but not because they displayed a dab of sense.

Oh, but wait.

Then again, it's possible that a Bush defeat will lead Republicans to repudiate Bush's foreign policy. That's the long-term bet Hagel seems to be making. After the election, there might be a good deal of serious soul-searching on foreign policy, and Republicans might move en masse back to the Scowcroftian realism that defined George H.W. Bush's presidency.
You think?

Salam is not sure if there is such a thing as a neoconservative, but if there is, they're going to suffer after the election.

Whether or not there is any such thing as a neoconservative, in light of the heterogeneity of views among those described as neoconservatives, anyone remotely identifiable as a neoconservative will almost certainly suffer recriminations if Bush loses.

He thinks a "preemptive strike" is going to be launched against McCain and Giuliani. He doesn't say by whom, since Karl Rove will be gone and the neocons will be gone. Pat Robertson maybe?

Salam claims that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld will go into retirement, and that Jeb Bush will abandon any claim to the throne, along with any other Republican governor who fails to deliver his state. Is the synonym for "obvious" "obvious"?

Finally, Salam concludes,

While some will blame Bush's defeat on Rove or various disloyal or incompetent Republicans, most will blame Bush.

Is he talking about the Republican leadership? They may not be the sharpest tacks in the cushion, but not one of them thinks that Bush has enough sense to be responsible for anything. But maybe he has a point. Republicans do believe in executing the mentally handicapped.

Salam pens his article under a heading of "bloodletting." He certainly has no idea what a Republican bloodletting looks like.

But back to the pundits. These are the guys on the so-called "moderate left." How can they be so clueless? Are they hoping to make an appearance on Fox, where they will be paid by the radical right?

Related posts:
The silliness of polls: The "enthusiasm gap"
Why Kerry's going to beat Bush in November
Is the Republican volcano about to erupt?

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