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Chapter 12: In Which I Am Actually Asked for My Opinion...

A question from a reader:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Brooklyn Heights is getting blitzed today.
Date: Sun, 29 Feb 2004 06:28:00 EST
From: XXXXXX
To: mark.schmitt.decembrist@earthlink.net


We have to decide Kerry or Edwards. Do you have an opinion you wish to esxpress?
S____
Brooklyn Heights


__________________________

Interestingly, my own neighborhood, Cobble Hill, just south of Brooklyn Heights, has NOT been getting blitzed. In fact, I have to remind myself to go vote tomorrow. We have received not one phone call, not one robo-call, not one piece of mail, not one canvasser. We have not seen one poster or one TV ad for any of the Democratic primary candidates. And yet we are on every list imaginable. We used to get robo-called by Howard Dean almost daily, despite what I thought was my very public criticism. Very strange.

Anyway, I don't think I've been shy about expressing my opinion, which is basically great respect for Senator Edwards. I liked the way he talked about tax policy from the very beginning of his campaign (i.e., talking about how favoring investment income over work income is "the most radical idea since socialism") and the way he has talked about poverty in the later stages of his campaign. And I'm extremely impressed at his ability to not flinch at the rise of Dean, unlike General Clark, who let his whole campaign be a reaction to Dean, instead of justified on its own terms. Edwards has shown a lot of discipline.

So I will vote for Edwards, probably just as a way of acknowledging his language, his positive campaign, his future, and perhaps the idea that he should be Kerry's running mate. But I won't shed a tear if/when Kerry wins. He's done a remarkably good job since taking command of his campaign last fall, almost entirely without mistakes. And I don't put too much weight on any distinction between Edwards and Kerry on the elusive quality of "electability." Yes, Edwards might have an easier time in Southern Ohio, Northern Florida, West Virginia, and some other key areas of potential swing states. (He would not win North Carolina and that's not the point.) But Kerry has a little more experience with big-time national-level politics -- he was a major target in 1996 -- he's a superb debater, and I feel a little more confidence that he can deal with $100 million worth of crap without crumbling. I've also begun to think about who can actually govern the country after the election, because if the new president faces an instant backlash, as Clinton did in 1994, it will be almost as disastrous as if Bush wins. That's going to be a major topic of this weblog in the next few weeks. I have a little more confidence in Kerry's ability to do some of the things that a Democrat will need to do in order to govern successfully, but again, it's a guess.

So my opinion winds up reading like a New York Times editorial, with lovely things to say about both candidates, and an endorsement so mild that it probably has no impact. But that's fine. We are fortunate to have two candidates with the right values, comparable but very different political skills, and very good chances to win in in November, whether they run together or not.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on March 1, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

Matt Yglesias raised the point about Edwards that it would be undesireable to nominate a candidate who can be derided as too young or too inexperienced. The Bush team will push continunity in the war on terror. They will want the voters to "stay the course."

Granted, Kerry is also vulnerable to this line of attack.

When it comes to governing effectively, I think the Clinton example will be looked at as a cautionary tale. Any democratic administration in 2005 will certainly be somewhat of a reaction to the hierarchical, controlled Bush White House, but Kerry/Edwards would do well to avoid the ad hoc collegial atmosphere of the early Clinton administration. Both men are senators, and I'm not sure that either brings with them a particular advantage over the other when it comes to setting up an administration, though Kerry does have a longer history in DC.

I'm unfortunate enough to live in a state with a late primary. I will certainly vote for Edwards if he's still afloat, but Super Tuesday looks to be a bad day for him. Anything can happen, but we all know what's most likely.

Posted by: Kennedy | Mar 2, 2004 1:51:59 AM

There will be a backlash, or rather,
a concerted attack, from the moment that
the Dem wins.

It doesn't matter who the Dem winner is.
Relentless and savage attack worked quite
well for the GOP - it got them Congress in '94,
it kept Clinton occupied during his term,
and it cut Gore's legs from underneath him
from the start of his campaign.

They'll do it again.

Posted by: Barry | Mar 2, 2004 8:09:50 PM

Well, it seems we have a nominee now...

Posted by: Kennedy | Mar 3, 2004 12:14:36 AM

drukarki

Posted by: drukarki | Dec 9, 2004 8:50:16 PM