Comments: Getting It Wrong

Getting information about Kerry from any place other than his official site is almost impossible. There are short references that he is giving a speech at a specific place, but nothing about the content of the speech.

I realize that watching the pResident talk is always good for a laugh, but it would be nice to have something more than a sound bite.

I've seen good coverage of Clinton and Gore recently, but people seem to overlook Kerry unless he has a sporting accident.

Posted by Bryan at July 1, 2004 06:46 PM

Anne: I love your rants. And you're right, though I think I'm going to focus a bit more on writing letters to print publications, which get more readership than my blog....

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at July 1, 2004 09:44 PM

Bryan - I hear a little about Kerry's speeches on NPR but you're right, he's not getting anything like the coverage the presumptive Democratic candidate should be getting. No wonder he's a 'fuzzy' picture in the public's mind.

Jonathan - A couple of points:

#1 - Thank you, she said, blushing.
#2 - Based on the referrals I get from HNN, I'd say your blog gets decent readership, but the intent is more than just readers we can reach directly. (I'm not racking up readers in the hundreds of thousands or anything, after all.) It's the ripple effect.

One or two people talk about something, a couple more people mention it to friends, and before you know it, everyone knows all about the subject under discussion. (I've learned an astonishing amount about an amazing variety of things from that blogosphere effect.)

But letters are good, too. :) Of course.

Posted by Anne at July 2, 2004 08:51 AM

Running "against" isn't good enough. We have to be for something.

Okay, here's how I see it. We're trying to capture the pyromaniacs who've set fire to our ship of state. Right now we just need the fire put out, and that might take awhile (four years, even!). After that we can worry about what type of wood to use in repairing it.

Posted by Elayne Riggs at July 5, 2004 02:57 PM

And that's certainly worth doing, Elayne, but I stand by what I said. In four years, we could be sitting here complaining that Kerry didn't do what we want but we're only justified in taking that stance if we tell him what we want now, before he's in office.

Really, it's nothing more than common sense and common manners. You wouldn't 'hire' the lowliest employee without giving them a clear idea of what results you expected, would you? I certainly think a candidate for the presidency is entitled to at least that much.

I mean, it's all very well to shove the man into the Oval Office and say, "Fix it!" but exactly what do we mean by that?

Do we leave Iraq, regardless of the consequences and what about those permanent military bases we hoped to establish? Waht is our real need for such things in the Middle East and is there more behind that need than guaranteeing our ongoing access to oil?

And what about Afghanistan? We've created a nice mess there, too, you know. Do we give the desperate and begging interim government real support, real muscle to finish the job? And how do we do it? Alone or though the UN?

When do we want USofA military force used in the world? Under what circumstances are we willing to intervene in another country's affairs? (If Darfur breaks into all-out genocide, do we want to step in or are we okay with the UN's usual 2,000 or so troops? If a real military force is needed, is this country up to a third war or are wec content with whatever action the UN does or doesn't take?)

(What about the UN? Just how serious is the USofA about having a real forum for monitoring matters of international interest around the world? The UN, as it stands today, is far from perfect, but are we justified in bypassing it and trying to make NATO the real international power in the world? And if we say, 'yes' are USofA citizens committed to paying attention to what the USofA and its NATO allies are up to in the same way we should take responsibility for what our government does domestically?)

How much of USofA military force is to be used to support USofA corporate moves into other countries? And how much of the CIA's efforts are to be directed toward helping USofA corporations be successful in other countries? (Do you even know how much has been allocated in the past?)

What about oil? How much of our efforts in the next eight years should be put toward developing internal sources of fossil fuels and how much toward alternative fuel sources and if alternative, what about your lifestyle are you willing to give up to support this endeavor?

What about those billions of dollars allocated for "reconstruction" in Iraq that haven't been spent? Should that money still go toward Iraq, should we spend it elsewhere in the world, or should we spend it on domestic programs and if so, which ones?

What about education, unemployement, Medicare, Social Security, and the environment? What do we want from Kerry on those fronts?

I posted before (no time to look for the link now) in a book review that a survey of campaign promises made and kept by presidents since WWII proves that presidents make serious attempts to keep the campaign promises that get them into office.

We have to stop abdicating responsibility for how this country is run, what's done with our armed forces, and where the money is spent, and the right time to make our wants clear is when politicians are campaigning for office.

Posted by Anne at July 5, 2004 10:26 PM

Anne, if we're serious about giving Kerry marching orders, we're going to have to make sure he has troops: Congress. Most of Bill Clinton's term was spent vetoing really bad Republican initiatives, for which I was always grateful, but which didn't add up to much in the way of leadership or momentum or a legacy.

The high incumbency reelection rate of Congress (98% last time I saw numbers, highest in the industrialized world) makes it difficult to envision rapid change, but there have been quick shifts before, and the Senate, in particular, is a pretty close thing. No, I don't have a strategy, just a problem.

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at July 5, 2004 11:08 PM

Anne - If Kerry would make you an assistant secretary of (energy, state, defense), I'd consider voting for him. I'm still on the fence and that would push me his way!

You're asking good questions, but Dr. Dresner is also right. Bill Clinton had a majority in the house for the first 2 years and barely got anything passed (Family Leave) and the whole health care fiasco didn't help him either.

Although there won't be any real ability to override vetoes either.

However, what also matters are the political appointees, especially at the 2d and 3rd tier (I would swing to Bush if he promised Ashcroft would be gone in Jan 05). I can already see at least on the defense and state side some of those Clinton era folks now hanging out on K street or in think tanks starting to come out of hiding with the possibility he might just win.

I'd also add what his is view of the role of the Fed and monetary policy. Where does he come down in the unemploymnet versus inflation debate?

Posted by Col Steve at July 6, 2004 12:57 AM

Jonathan - That's very true, and certainly for all of the energy the On-Line Left is putting out in terms of the Presidential vote, few of us are talking about the necessity of electing a Congress Kerry can work with.

Col Steve - It's not nice to mock people. :)

Seriously, it's no good to "vote for a Democrat" in the vague belief that whatever they do will be more or less what I want done.

First, without some kind of consensus, or majority opinion, about which issues are most important, how is any candidate supposed to actually understand what the voters (not "the money" but the actual voters) want from them?

Second, if I don't tell my candidate what I want, how do I measure how much effort they put into delivering it?

Posted by Anne at July 6, 2004 12:48 PM

Anne- I wasn't mocking, really.

I'm on the fence (although I vote absentee in a state that will go to Kerry anway) - but my wife votes in a swing state and she's undecided as well - she's going to watch both convention speeches and decide (and maybe the debates).

I think you are asking good questions that don't get addressed here inside the beltway, but it is often not the top folks, it's the second/third level managers that can block or push agendas.

Those slots are often handed out as rewards for supporting the right candidate (or as patronage to the folks who have supported the party). While the majority are often decent people, they either bring a personal agenda not in line necessarily with the President's view or have to learn how to negotiate the bureaucracy that they're not very effective for sometime.

I also think a President can generally only get a handful of things done so while long laundry lists of positions may have some value, I'd like to see both candidates publish a Top 5 list that will be the priority for their time and proposed resource allocation for the next 4 years.

Posted by Col Steve at July 6, 2004 02:56 PM

I don't mind someone having a "personal agenda" since that's something none of us are without. Naturally I object to political agendas that don't agree with my positions :) but in truth, what I expect from middle-tier appointees is that they should implement the policies of the Administration that appointed them.

Yes, that means even when, as now, the Administration is one I'm firmly opposed to. If you can't support your boss, find a different job, okay? (f people of conscience refused to lend their aid to organizations or their support to people they don't believe in....)

I agree, yes, a President can only get a handful of things done in four years, but those can be significant things of vast scope. I support your idea of candidates providing a list of their "Top 5" priorities, together with some actual, sensible suggestions for how to implement their stated goals.

With such lists, everyone could easily have seen, before November, 2000, that Bush's idea of "preserving public lands" involved 'preserving' them for corporate development, for instance. So it's not just the list of priorities that matters. It's how the candidate intends to implement that's the real key.

You can create a lot of nice sound-bites around "preserving our heritage" but if you're forced into details, even large-scale details, the truth will come out.

Posted by Anne at July 7, 2004 09:42 AM

P.S. I'd make a terrible Secretary of Defense because I'm sort of of the opinion that killing people is pretty much always wrong. If I felt a war was absolutely necessary and unavoidable, I wouldn't be able to send anyone to fight it unless I went too.

I'd make a horrible Secretary of State because I understand that 'diplomacy' is largely about under-the-table deals and bluffing and I tend to be dismissive of time-wasting strategies that prove little more than how clever I am.

And I'd make a lousy Secretary of Energy because I think the oil companies should be smacked in the head and sent to bed without any dinner.

Common sense says that a significant development on their part into alternative energy sources would be good both for the long-term health of the companies and the planet, but they don't seem to see that.

I can't stand selfish stupidity.

Anyhow, it's worth noting that I'm asking questions, but not providing answers. :) People actually appointed to office should have some answers, don't you think?

Posted by Anne at July 7, 2004 09:49 AM

I don't mind someone having a "personal agenda" since that's something none of us are without. Naturally I object to political agendas that don't agree with my positions :) but in truth, what I expect from middle-tier appointees is that they should implement the policies of the Administration that appointed them.

Anne- that's the problem though. Seen it in both administrations at Defense, State, and the NSC...and with some of the career civil servants, most of whom are good, intelligent people, but know if they don't like a policy from a "turf' perspective, they can often wait out an administration. I know candidates can't in advance list their cabinet picks, but I'd sure like them to talk about how they'd change the culture and processes. Both CP and DR have started this at State and Defense, but it's hard to do.

"I'd make a terrible Secretary of Defense because I'm sort of of the opinion that killing people is pretty much always wrong. If I felt a war was absolutely necessary and unavoidable, I wouldn't be able to send anyone to fight it unless I went too."

That would be a slight problem in your confirmation hearing..

Posted by Col Steve at July 8, 2004 02:05 PM