Monday, February 07, 2005

Vacuum Energy: Ahead of its time

Here is my entry into the past presidents game from January 2004. Here President Bush plays the role of Democratic President Polk and the contemporary Democratic party plays the role of the Whig party. Geoff Metcalf's latest article about the Democratic party is titled Democrats Going the Way of the Whigs. Of course, my post was actually a serious analogy instead of an excuse for bashing the Democrats; on the other hand, I don't have a deadline to meet every week.

A key problem facing the Whig presidential candidates was the need for a sectional straddle over the issues of the day. In other words, they had to be able to tell different parts of the country different things to placate public opinion in order to win enough votes to be elected. To pull this off, the one thing that a candidate obviously needed to avoid was the different sections of the country comparing notes, or at least coming up with some reasonable compromise position when that comparison took place.

Fast forward to 2004 and you see Senator Kerry facing the same problem of a sectional straddle and horrifically botching it since "comparing notes" is a lot easier in 2004 than it was in 1844. Kerry's strategy on gun control is a good example of a botched straddle in action. In the mainstream media, Kerry was the gun-toting hunter that average gun-toting folk could understand and that was flirting with the NRA for its support. In the Senate, Kerry was supporting the assault-weapons ban (presumably something the NRA opposes) on the grounds that it would keep assault weapons out of the hands of terrorists. Presumably this was a great strategy for winning Rosie O'Donnell's vote, but the possibility that the NRA might instantly draw the inference that Kerry was equating gun-owning Americans with terrorists doesn't seem to have crossed Kerry's mind.

The really interesting question that the comparison brings up is what would have happened in the 2004 election if Howard Dean had been nominated instead of John Kerry. Could a newly-nominated Dean have positioned himself for a successful straddle over the issues better than Kerry did?


Blogger Max said...

You (and anybody else who wishes!) are invited to join in on March 5th, as we have the First Annual Blog-A-Marathon. The marathon runs from 6:00PM-12:00AM. If you wish to sign up or get more information, go to The Blog-A-Marathon’s site: and specifically the link: Hope to see you blogging!

5:11 PM  

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