Thursday, November 4

Powerline has a few excellent posts of late.

Edwards' speech? Bad. It was the first campaign speech of 2008 - "too long and with little grace," as Powerline put it. Someone else pointed out- and I can't remember who- that Edwards didn't even bother to congratulate the president, but continued with his Two Americas, "the battle has just begun" rhetoric. He's not doing much to advance the cause of unity.

Kerry's speech? I thought it was great, but Powerline and Captain's Quarters had a few reservations. From Powerline:

In many ways, it was an excellent speech and the Senator expressed some fine sentiments. However, it seems to me that in the past, the losing candidate always had some kind words for the victor and would also express his support and future cooperation. Kerry didn't really do either of these things. But, hey, we're a deeply divided country now.

Fair enough. I still thought he said all I was hoping he would say about closing up our divisions. But let's make something clear. Someone else I read earlier- again, I can't recall whom (I guess my brain has taken a vacation)- noted that, yes, the country is divided, but it is divided in Republicans' favor. I'm trying to say this as graciously as possible- Democrats need to accept that the American electorate has rejected some of their ideas, despite the party's best efforts to win folks over.

We have sent the message that our interests will not take a back seat to Europe's, that we approve of the President's social conservatism, that we disapprove of Dean-style radicalism, that we favor decisiveness, and that we are resolutely determined to win the War on Terror (to the extent that it is winnable) and bring the effort in Iraq to a swift and stable conclusion. We're not for turning and we're not for global tests.

I'm hopeful, but doubtful, that Democrats will do some serious soul-searching and realize that they need to reconsider some positions or stop expecting to win elections. It's not mature, productive or wise to imply or outright state that the majority of voters are idiots because they disagree with the Democratic platform.

Dems need to accept responsibility for much of the bitterness and divisiveness we saw in the campaign just past. Let's start with getting rid of Michael Moore and the Soros wing, please? For everyone's sake. By and large those people and their notions scare most Americans. When you have the same talking points as Osama bin Laden and British tabloids, you ought to know you have a problem.

It was often claimed that the GOP was trying to divide America with issues such as gay marriage. Yet Americans are more united in their opposition to gay marriage than on most other issues.

But I'll be realistic. My warm fuzzies are fading. Do I really think a spirit of unity can last? Sadly, no. 9/11 didn't even bring us together for very long. As CNN said today, just wait till the battle over a Supreme Court nomination starts to heat up.

I read Ann Coulter mainly for entertainment, but she has a really good column today. I agree with Ann that it seems odd that while Bush's campaign focused on shoring up its base and apparently succeeded by doing so, it chose not to employ more vigorously moral issues that are widely supported. She notes that moral values rated as a more crucial issue than the War on Terror, yet the war was the focus of the campaign.

But I don't think I can honestly agree with Ann's implication that the election was close because Bush wasn't conservative enough (as much as I'd like to). Where else would conservative voters go? And it's not as though they weren't about as energized as they could be.

There are so many possible arguments and explanations here, and I'll point out that the foreign and domestic issues are not mutually exclusive. That is, Rove and the Bush team often found ways to use the war and social issues, just not always in overt ways. Who am I to second-guess a winning strategy, anyway, and what on earth do I know about running campaigns?

But back to the speeches. Cheney's? Good. He called the results a clear mandate (and Bush said it was a broad victory). Bold move, but I figure the Bush team figures they have to say that because the Dems aren't about to play nice. If voters aren't reminded they've given the president a mandate, Democrats will surely try to water down Bush's momentum.

Bush's speech? Excellent. It was the same kind of soaring rhetoric we've come to expect from speechwriter Mike Gerson. Beautiful, beautiful stuff that has inspired me for four years and seriously caused me to consider speechwriting as a career. I thought the direct address to Kerry's supporters - "I will need your support, and I will work to earn it" - was well done, and I liked the unexpected closing remarks about Texas. Good touch.

As far as a couple of other things I've been thinking about, Powerline is absolutely right in saying the networks had a double-standard in calling states. It seemed Tuesday night that some states (Nevada, New Mexico, perhaps even Iowa, vote counting problems notwithstanding) could have been called more quickly but the networks were unwilling to apply a uniform standard because of the effects those projections would have.

A friend of mine noted that PA was called with 10-15% of the vote in, yet as actual results came in it got closer and closer, eventually ending up with Kerry capturing 51%. Far less risky calls could have been made- e.g. Mississippi (even California, Fox) and, yes, NV, NM and IA- but were delayed. Did they really believe those exit polls that showed a tight race in Mississippi, a state that passed its marriage amendment with 88% of the vote?

After Fox and NBC called Ohio for Bush, the White House said (as I noted earlier) they were waiting for just one more state to be called. The networks all refused to do it, knowing it would effectively force them to call the election for Bush.

Tom Brokaw on Letterman Wednesday night even admitted as much. His justification made no sense, though- "We don't declare winners," he said, claiming NBC was just out to report what happened. They didn't want to declare anything with Kerry apparently intending to contest the results in Ohio.

NBC had no trouble reporting "what happened" all throughout the night, except when it became obvious that it was time to project Bush the winner in states that would put him over 270.

Indeed, *even* Fox (with Bush at 269 after its call of Ohio) seemed quite hesitant to call another state for the president and thus push him over the top. (I think) Fox refused to call Nevada until after Kerry had phoned Bush to concede (even after all the other nets had called Nevada for Bush). Ostensibly, the networks were trying not to politicize the process, but their paranoia drove them to some bizarre and inconsistent behavior.

Even now, CNN and NBC haven't called New Mexico. Come on, folks. And Iowa, get the dang votes counted.

And one last thing. I was watching CBS Tuesday night/Wednesday morning when Rather issued his now-famous (in the blogosphere) criticism of bloggers. I reacted viscerally but, perhaps because I was so tired, didn't blog about it. I'm glad others did. Here's what he said, via Powerline, via Ace of Spades:

DAN RATHER: One would expect that the blogging machine which the White House and the Bush-Cheney campaign has used for any number of purposes over their four years will start now, if it hasn't started already, to say, listen, Kerry-Edwards, for the good of the country, need to concede.

ED BRADLEY: I'm sure it's started already. If we could tune into the Internet ummm.. can't they? -- Ace] we'd see that people are already saying that now. That's certainly the drum the White House is beating.

I'm waiting on my check from Karl Rove for allowing him to use me. Any day now, Karl, any day.

The McAuliffe and Pelosi bunch need to go.

And this, from Captain's Quarters, is just kind of sad.

Let's all go watch the two JibJab cartoons again and put this thing behind us, shall we?


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