The politics of pettiness

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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91 Responses

  1. Sam M says:

    But don’t both “sides” face this issue, only in different ways. The liberals love to claim a populist mandate, but need elites to actually govern. Conservative love to poo-poo populism, but need popular support to get elected. I suspect the GOP is stoking the populist fires because… their got their asses handed to them in several election in a row. And now, they appear to have turned that around. And the liberals, again, are now facing the anger of the mob that they stoked into a frenzy because now they need to actually govern.

    I hate to be the guy who makes this tired old response, but hasn’t it always been thus?

    Ma, ma, where’s my pa?

    Going to the White House, ha ha ha.


  2. Mike Schilling says:

    Why do you say “these days”? A populist “conservative” movement that sees itself as a victim of the liberal elite goes back at least to Joe McCarthy. What, after all, is “pals around with terrorists” if not a direct quote of Tailgunner Joe from tail-shaker Sarah? At least in those days McCarthy was the hatchet man, not the presidential candidate.Report

    • There have always been populists on either side of the political spectrum. At different times they have had more or less power, influence, etc. “These days” I think would apply to various points in history, but not every point.Report

  3. I have to second Sam – this comment thread can EASILY turn into a back and forth between the conservatives and the liberals where we all cite examples of when the other side was mean, mean, mean going all the way back to Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Not to belittle the post, but what’s really the point? If this is a more pronounced problem on the Right (and I would contest that position) it’s really only because we’re better at it. That alone is not enough reason to feel remorse in my opinion.

    A more productive conversation might be to examine the ways that modern communication has greatly compounded the mudslinging process and the 24-hour news cycle and reality TV have created hungry consumers.Report

  4. Bob says:

    Mob? Mob?

    The Boston Tea Party mob?

    The Old North Bridge mob?

    The Bonus Army mob?

    The 1968 Democratic Convention mob?

    The “I have a dream” speech mob?

    I’ll say one thing for you E.D., you have remained consistent in you distaste for populism.Report

  5. ScottBrown says:

    The answer is simple: Republicans and the right-wing are not conservative in any meaningful sense. White resentment, war-mongering, religious fanaticism and fear-mongering are demagogic qualities, yes, but have nothing to do with any genuine conservative ideology. Until you start to face the fact that the US simply doesn’t have a genuine conservative party, or a coherent conservative tradition, your analyses are going to be simply a matter of batting back and forth the largely meaningless term “conservative” and wondering why it all went so terribly wrong.Report

  6. Koz says:

    “The endless lament over the liberal menace; …

    Liberals are a menace, can’t blame us for that.

    “….the incessant ballyhoo over anything and everything the president does or says;…..”

    Tru dat, got us on that one.

    “…. the irksome victimhood …..”

    That’s the other team’s playbook, not ours.

    “– it all boils down to a propensity toward pettiness. “

    No, it really doesn’t, Erik. That’s assuming that there’s no real substance to the partisan arguing and antagonism, but that’s just not so. For my own part, I like to emphasize that it is the mainstream conservatives and the GOP affiliated with it that have real hope to offer America, and that goes whether I’m talking to liberals, conservatives, or people somewhere in between.

    But, people have a right to participate in political discourse in this country and naturally enough, they have different opinions. There’s contentiousness and ill will. But it’s a profound mistake to think it’s all for no purpose. If the cause of prosperity and limited government will ever get another chance in America, we have to go through phases like this unless liberals give up all participation in the political process to play cribbage (a hugely lucky break for us if it happens).

    If we going to spend our time playing this game instead, we ought to have some respect for its rules, even if sometimes we don’t like them.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Koz says:

      Koz, my point is not that conservatism is at all wrong, or that limited government is wrong, or that the opposition party is wrong – it is that populism is a dangerous game to play, and these particular populist fires have a way of getting out of hand. How far from this current brand of populism is a resurgence of protectionist policy, for instance? Not far I’d wager.Report

      • Koz in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        First of all, the cacophony of political argument is different than the risks of populism. My guess is, your supposition that there is some relationship between them is driven by gut-level distaste for both. In any case, you don’t really offer any argument for the relationship between them.

        As far as your larger point, I could offer several reasons why the resurgence of conservatism over the last year has nothing to do with mob rule, but why? If you don’t like the answer you’ll turn a deaf ear toward it anyway. It calls into question your ability to judge the supposed anti-intellectualism of Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck or whoever it is we’re pissing on this week.

        About the supposed resurgence of protectionism, check out Daniel Larison. It’s one of his repeated laments that such a thing hasn’t happened when it should have. But if you support the health care bill, why do you care about protectionism anyway?Report

      • Art Deco in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        I cannot help but note that ‘populism’ is never properly defined in your remarks.Report

  7. E.D. – you are worrying about the wrong thing. Again.Report

  8. Bob says:

    Perhaps we can agree that lynching qualifies as mob behavior. Political speech, not so much.

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Bob says:

      Political speech is not mob behavior. Nor is that the point. The point is that populism has unintended consequences, primarily in the way populism transforms into a movement led – typically – by a very strong, centralized figure. I believe this sort of movement is anathema to the cause of limited government. The trick with grassroots is that while it remains decentralized it is true to its initial cause, but it almost inevitably becomes centralized, spear-headed, etc. Etc.Report

      • Bob in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        “Political speech is not mob behavior. Nor is that the point. The point is that populism has unintended consequences, primarily in the way populism transforms into a movement led – typically – by a very strong, centralized figure. I believe this sort of movement is anathema to the cause of limited government. The trick with grassroots is that while it remains decentralized it is true to its initial cause, but it almost inevitably becomes centralized, spear-headed, etc. Etc.”

        “Political speech is not mob behavior.” We agree there.

        “Nor is that the point.” It is my point.

        “…populism has unintended consequences….” Well, that does not really define much of anything. Unintended consequences are rife in human endeavors.

        “…primarily in the way populism transforms into a movement led – typically – by a very strong, centralized figure.” I’m guessing you have in mind folks like Berry Goldwater, William Buckley or Ronald Reagan. But really, I don’t find your position here illuminating. Point to a successful political movement that is not reliant on strong leadership. Many of us on the Right fault Obama in this area. Strong leadership is vital in politics. Especially in America today with its closely divided electorate.

        “I believe this sort of movement is anathema to the cause of limited government.” Why? Isn’t the restoration of limited government the goal of the populist Tea Party? Historically populist movements, in America, do look to government to redress their issues. But if the issue is restoring limited government it seems perfectly possible that a populist movement could achieve such a success. If populist movements of the late 18th and early 20th century could achieve most of their goals, abolish the gold standard, popular election of Senators, graduated income tax, regulation of railroads and other businesses, it certainly is in the realm of possibility that a populist movement to limit government could achieve success. The problem with the limited government crowd, notice I do not say mob, is that when in power they forget all about limited government policies. In that respect it will be interesting to see how the Tea Party plays on social issues.

        “The trick with grassroots is that while it remains decentralized it is true to its initial cause….” I would say the real trick would be to remain decentralized and successful.Report

  9. Sam M says:

    I think that you are correct to identify this as pettiness. But in the end, what’s tha alternative you suggest? I know it’s not popular to say, but I am pretty much an elitist. I think most people are wrong about most things. And I do not think that what we need to do is more widely distribute studies from Cato and Brookings and CAP so people are more fully informed. What we need are effective leaders.

    For instance, I want to legalize drugs. For a lot of reasons, but mostly because I think that making them illegal causes an inordinate amount of social destruction. But you know what? Most people disagree with me about that. They just do. They will trot out a guy on meth and some kid who flushed his life down the toilet by smoking weed, or whatever, and my arguments don’t stand a chance. Because people are wrong. And I am right.

    So what you do is put together a coalition of people who generally agree with you, and you take shots at the people who oppose you.

    I think most people who have been really effective at “messaging” have known this. I think people like Bill Buckley knew this. No, I don’t think he is exactly like Rush Limbaugh, but I do think he understood that while some people could be persuaded, others needed to be led. And part of leadership is getting people to oppose the other side. Some people do it with more class than others. But I think it’s fair to say that both sides of the aisle have long had their pointy headed intellectuals in the think tanks and elite media, and they had their attack dogs. And they had people in charge of attacking the other side for having attack dogs.

    I understand that you are not some partisan hack, but you generally have a political team. You play a role on that team, and roles evolve. But generally speaking, you are part of a larger machine just like the rest of us. And the team doesn’t win unless everyone does their job. And some people are tasked with being petty.

    Can it be otherwise? Do you really see a future in which politics happens in thoughtful salons animated by good arguments? Or a past in which that happened?Report

    • 62across in reply to Sam M says:

      Finding common cause is not dependent on thoughtful salons.

      You know, I’d like to legalize drugs, too. Probably for a lot of the same reasons you do.

      However, I’m finding it impossible to imagine forming any kind of coalition with you to get that to happen. Not because you’re not on the same “team” as me, but because of blitheness of your dismissal of all opposing views and the importance you apparently place on demonizing the opposition.

      So, shackled to a zero-sum mindset where your team must “win”, you’ve lost an opportunity to make a change for the better. That’s too bad, really.Report

      • Sam M in reply to 62across says:

        “However, I’m finding it impossible to imagine forming any kind of coalition with you to get that to happen.”

        That doesn’t matter. At all. to either one of us. Because the fact of the matter is, if every single person in the country who wanted to legalize drugs voted on that issue and that issue alone, we would all amount to a hill of beans. BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO LEGALIZE DRUGS.

        So we could roam in the wilderness for 40 years and wait for people to come around. Or, you know, engage in actual politics. A lot of which involves being petty. That way, some people might not vote FOR us, but AGAINST our enemies.

        That’s the problem we elitists face. Like it or not.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Sam M says:

      I welcome strong leadership, and I’m not against taking shots at the other side, or arguing passionately for your cause (or against the other guys). I just think that populism is the wrong vehicle. Maybe a dash of it here or there, but not outright, full-blooded populism. And not at the expense of integrity.Report

  10. Rufus says:

    “Populism is the sword of revolution and radical change. It is the predecessor of the guillotine and the gulags. It is not conservative in any historical sense, whether or not it manifests itself in the right-wing.”

    One one hand, I applaud this sentence because I’d agree that populism has not historically been conservative, or not anything I’d call conservative. But there have been some pretty violent and populist counterrevolutions in history, right? I’d agree they were right-wing without being conservative; nevertheless, there has been a decent amount of reactionary populism in the last 200 years as well, and often with results similar to the revolutionary variety. Maybe the Tea Party seems petty because it’s a counterrevolution without a revolution.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Rufus says:

      Indeed, Rufus. But that is also what I’m driving at. Populism is a better vehicle for revolution than for limiting the state, and typically at the end of a populist uprising (either leftist or right-wing) there is a consolidation of government power. The pigs take over the farm. Meet the new boss same as….Report

      • Art Deco in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        American populism was an agrarian movement and the policy measure it most favored was reflating the currency. I fail to see how the ‘consolidation of government power’ after 1932 can be attributed to it.Report

  11. Louis B. says:

    What is the “mob”? A euphemistic term implying that common people are knuckle-dragging Cro-Magnons who would brainlessly and amorphously overrun anything good and true were it not for the wise, dispassionate people at the top. Populism, distilled down to its essence, is merely rooting for those who are being screwed over, rather than those doing the screwing.

    Majority rule has, well, major drawbacks, but that Athenian democracy you malign (without directly referring to it, but the implication is there)? Created a society far freer than anything we have today, or indeed, the kind of society you seem to be vouching for. Yes, there were victims such as Socrates, but they were mostly anomalies. It’s doubtful gadflies like him would have gotten anywhere in their ideal societies.

    The assertion that populism is one step away from pitchforks and the gulag is especially insulting. Populism does not require a despot. That’s a non sequitur. Despots and demagogues are mostly unnecessary parasites who latch on to popular movements to benefit themselves and their buddies. These two phenomena are sometimes compabtible, but seldom inseparable.

    Perhaps radicalism and populism are incompabtible with conservatism. I’m not sure. But if this is the case, it is an indictment of conservatism and not the other way around.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Louis B. says:

      First of all, I’m not maligning either the Cro-Magnon masses, the Cro-Magnons themselves, or the Athenians – though I would dispute the “freer than anything we have now” bit on grounds that, well, that’s ludicrous. However, when lots of generally bright, thoughtful, independent people get all whipped up into a populist frenzy (or a mob, for that matter) they can change. Become less reasonable. Become more like followers than individuals. I mean, this is not anything profound or new I’m saying. This has been played out time and time again throughout the course of history, almost always with bad results.

      Now – I’ll grant that non-violent populism can have benefits as a resistance movement, which is why this post is not aimed so much at the tea-partiers themselves, but at the petty pundits and political elites who do their best to continually manipulate the situation in their favor. That’s the bunch to watch out for. The non-violent movements (civil rights, Ghandi’s thing, Nelson Mandela, etc.) are wonderful expressions of populism and rebirth. I have nothing against these. And their leaders were generally not petty at all, but fiercely passionate about a dire and important cause. They were seeking to restore something important. What irks me so about this movement is not the tea parties at all, but rather the cynical people attempting to harness them. Even the most well-intentioned movements can be distorted and misused by ill-intentioned or dishonest leaders.Report

      • mike farmer in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        They aren’t listening to leaders — that’s the beauty.

        They listened to Dylan — don’t follow leaders and watch the parking meters.Report

      • Louis B. in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Thanks for the reply, Erik.

        First of all, I’m not maligning either the Cro-Magnon masses, the Cro-Magnons themselves, or the Athenians – though I would dispute the “freer than anything we have now” bit on grounds that, well, that’s ludicrous.

        I’ll concede that “freer than anything we have today” is something of an exaggeration, but the reality was far from the Madisonian clichés that form the basis of the modern arguments against “mob rule”.

        However, when lots of generally bright, thoughtful, independent people get all whipped up into a populist frenzy (or a mob, for that matter) they can change.

        A “populist frenzy”, as you put it, can be dangerous, but that’s because of the “frenzy” and not the “populist”. There have been frenzied movements throughout history seeking to maintain and advance privilege, with even greater ill effects than their populist counterparts.

        What irks me so about this movement is not the tea parties at all, but rather the cynical people attempting to harness them. Even the most well-intentioned movements can be distorted and misused by ill-intentioned or dishonest leaders.

        There’s not much to disagree with here, except for the fact that this directly contradicts your earlier argument that despotism and demagogy are intrinsic to populism rather than a corruption of it.

        Have youself a good one.Report

      • Art Deco in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Nelson Mandela was not, after 1961, and advocate of non-violence. Chief Gatsha Buthelezi was to the extent that he was against equipment of an insurgency against the Government of South Africa; irregulars supporting the African National Congress and those supporting Inkatha were nevertheless engaged in wretched gang violence in rural Natal during the period running from 1985 to 1994. Mob violence, including the ‘necklacing’ of suspected collaborators by adherents of the African National Congress and the United Democratic Front was fairly routine in urban townships in South Africa during those years (and endorsed by Mrs. Mandela).Report

  12. mike farmer says:

    This also works as the pettiness of politics.Report

  13. Bill Kilgore says:

    I think where I see a problem with this analysis is that it presumes that “the conservative party” is focused on preserving the existing order- whatever that may be. For that reason, it would follow that a conservative party can’t be in league with the mob because the mob (as a general matter) wants nothing to do with the existing order. I’m not sure that such a framework functions well in the American context.

    The reason I say that is that I believe that America went through an enormous political change during the FDR portion of the program, with a continuance of that effort, to varying degrees, ever since. As such, what American conservatives are “protecting” is, in many ways, already gone in the political sense. Moreover, the actual “conservative” party in such a framework would be the Democrats, who are looking to prevent change to the New Dealism that currently forms the foundation of American politics. Viewed in this way, out current “conservative” party isn’t really all that conservative. In fact, it seeks great change of the existing political order. As such, it’s comfort with the mob is understandable given their ultimate objectives.

    The problem, of course, is that the Republicans are conservative in terms of their social agenda (speaking generally of course.) As such, the concerns regarding the mob remain valid. Unfortunately, they aren’t quite as simple as they would be in a “typical” setting where conservatives are trying to preserve both a political and a social order.

    In short, this is America, we do things differently-and the traditional western paradigms don’t always fit. Of course, I could be wrong- that happened to me once in the ’70s and the events of that day still haunt me.Report

    • Bob Cheeks in reply to Bill Kilgore says:

      Great post Mr. Kilgore!Report

    • Rufus in reply to Bill Kilgore says:

      Let me say first that this is a great analysis of the present situation.

      However, I’m always skeptical of claims that America’s politics are sui generis. Certainly, history never repeats itself, but it often rhymes, as the old line goes.

      So, we’re saying that the Tea Party movement is both socially/religiously conservative, but wants to radically change the political situation back to what it was before the left made sweeping changes? (Do I have that right?)

      Thinking of the 19th century, this reminds me vaguely of the Ultras, who wanted to change the French political situation back to what it was avant le déluge, while also lashing out against the institutions of liberal democracy they felt make France especially vulnerable to left-wing subversion: the press, the academies, intellectuals, secularism, liberal politicians and all the usual suspects.

      Certainly, the Ultras were quite different from the Tea Party in that they hated Constitutional democracy, while the Tea Party seems to embrace it! But, the stuff about “taking the country back” from the radical left that has subverted its institutions from within, changing the political system back to the status quo ante, and thus returning to the nation’s original sacred mission: all of this is pretty much stock reactionary boilerplate. I guess the major qualification to make here is that reactionaries are quite often authoritarians, while the Tea Partiers aren’t- although, I think Mr. Kain’s point is that such movements are susceptible to the lure of the demagogue. But for all of their anti-populism, there were more than a few popular reactionary movements throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, some of them quite successful, and all of which were characterized by wanting to “take back” their countries from the radical left-wing intriguers and return to a vaguely-defined political status quo ante, strengthened by a restored religious traditionalism.

      This, of course, is what distinguishes reactionaries from conservatives: your average Tory is terrified of radical change in either direction, for the very good reasons that Mister Kain has outlined. But reactionaries want change.Report

      • Bob Cheeks in reply to Rufus says:

        Rufus, I like your analysis. However, my critique is that it may probe to deeply in that the TP Movement while expanding is rather shallow and I don’t say that derogatorily.
        Simply said, the TPers are reacting to Dear Leader’s programs; HCR, crap and trade, wacko enviro stuff, etc. I think they thought they were getting an “open” administration, end the wars, and that the “hope and change” meant that the unwashed weren’t going to get as screwed as usual.
        Actually, I’m rather impressed they figured “O” out so soon and have managed to mount opposition. From a couple of experiences, at least in my area, these folks are lower-middle class, union members, and either ‘conservative’ or just converted to ‘conservatism’.
        I’ve never seen a political movement, and I mean His Oness, rise up, get elected and end up in the crapper so quickly. This is phenomenal.Report

        • Rufus in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

          Yeah, I guess my question about the Tea Party would be if they really want to go back to the time before FDR, or just to before Obama.

          To be honest, I’m not that amazed by their response. It seems par for the course now that, within days of a Republican being elected, liberals suddenly “realize” he’s a racist, religious fanatic, warmongering hick who hates women; and as soon as a Democrat gets elected, conservatives suddenly “realize” that he’s an elitist, egghead, statist, wimpy, left-wing radical surrender monkey who hates capitalism. To be honest, it’s getting to be a bit too predictable, even when the charges have merit.Report

          • Bob Cheeks in reply to Rufus says:

            Well, Rufus, don’t be despondent, it’s just politics. If the radical left woulda gotten HCR, or their version of it, we’d be toast…so the fight goes on a little longer. Maybe, with prayer, we won’t end up Romania West.
            Me, I got Jesus, so there’s a certain eschatological overtone.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Bill Kilgore says:

      Put simply, what Bill is saying is that the American welfare state such as it is has been established and is now accepted and valued by the political center in this country (“Keep your DAMN gummint hands off my MEDICARE!”), which renders conservatives’ policy positions radical, or at least outside the status quo mainstream. Which makes the true believers unconservative in their conservatism. And about all of which, Bill is absolutely correct.Report

  14. Katherine says:

    Yes on the opposition to pettiness. But no on the opposition to populism.

    Canada had a populist conservative party, once. Unlike the current one, they had a basic level of sincerity and principles and were in favour of more popular involvement in government. In a country with an extremely high degree of political apathy, I think some of their proposals – such as bringing any proposal signed on to by at least 3% of the population before the House of Commons – would have been valuable in getting people more interested in what our government is doing. To me, populism is no more or less than saying a government should listen to the people in between elections, and not just pander to them once every four years (or here, intermittently every 2 to 5 years) and the political system should create more avenues for the public to effectively make themselves heard.Report

  15. zic says:

    The closest I can come to an answer is that conservatives have fallen into the trap of modern politics – which is to say, they’ve become petty. Extraordinarily petty.

    Somewhat like the tone of your take on Michelle Obama’s efforts to fight child obesity?Report

  16. dexter45 says:

    I have two questions for Mr. Cheeks. Question number one is: If the TPers are so smart, why didn’t they see the damage that Baby Bush was doing to the country? Question number two is: Are you channeling Swift?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to dexter45 says:

      The TPers left the Republican party in droves in 2006.

      They might have left in droves in 2004 had the Democrats not done everything in their power to piss off pretty much every single special interest they had. Maybe they could have nominated Dean and won. Or Gephardt. Or even “not John Kerry” would have had a shot at beating Bush.Report

    • historystudent in reply to dexter45 says:

      Some definitely saw the damage and did not support Bush again. Unfortunately, not enough did to keep him from winning a second term.Report

      • Bo in reply to historystudent says:

        Funny. As I remember it, Bush got a lot more votes in 2004 than 2000. And not by a few either; I’m remembering like 11-12 million more.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Bo says:

          Two Words: JOHN FREAKIN’ KERRYReport

          • Bo in reply to Jaybird says:

            Well, Kerry got about 6-7 million more votes than Gore did in 2000 too. I’m not sure who, if they had won the Democratic primary, you wouldn’t be referring to as FIRSTNAME FREAKIN’ LASTNAME today.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Bo says:

              Dick Gephardt.

              I’d probably be referring to him as “Our Commander In Chief”.

              Naw, just kidding. I’d probably be calling him Gephardtrotsky or something. But, and here’s the point, he would have been less godawful than Kerry.Report

              • Bo in reply to Jaybird says:

                You realize that Gephardt is currently a consultant for Goldman Sachs, right?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Bo says:

                And Kerry’s a Senator.

                But Gephardt would have likely been a two-termer.Report

              • Bo in reply to Jaybird says:

                I just thought it made the Trotsky reference funnier.

                But no, he would’ve got creamed worse if anything. It’s easy to forget, since he’s rehabilitated his image in the interim by lobbying for Goldman Sachs and against acknowledging the Armenian Genocide (thassa joke son), that he was a serial flip-flopper, a porkaholic, and, worst of all, a mind-bendingly borrrrrring candidate. Like making Kerry look like MLK boring.Report

              • JosephFM in reply to Bo says:

                Yeah – I gotta be honest. I liked the guy, and he did have a much more populist approach to things, but he would not have done any better than Kerry did.

                But then, I voted for John Edwards in the primary, so feel free to disregard my opinion.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Bo says:

                See, that’s not how I look at it. I ask myself “would Gephardt have lost a single state that Kerry won?” and reach the answer “nope”.

                Then I ask “would he have gotten Ohio?”Report

              • Bo in reply to Bo says:

                See, to the first question I’d answer, ‘Definitely New Hampshire, possibly Wisconsin and Pennsylvania’, which leads to the second answer being ‘Probably not, especially since Ohio was a gay marriage ballot measure state. But without New Hampshire, just adding Ohio isn’t enough to win anyway.’

                And that’s just the view from the starting blocks; obviously, the hundreds of millions spent to get you talking about JOHN FREAKIN’ KERRY would have been spent to get you talking about DICK FREAKIN’ GEPHARDT instead, and I won’t pretend to guess how that river would have run.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Bo says:

                I doubt that Dick Gephardt would have said “I voted for it before I voted against it”, nor would his wife have announced that she too is African-American, nor would he have run as hard as he could with the whole “I’M A VIETNAM VETERAN UNLIKE GEORGE BUSH” thing which may have avoided the whole 60 Minutes paperwork scandal (which, lemme tell ya, did not help with the whole “liberal media” thing).

                John Kerry was an awful, awful candidate. I don’t think that Gephardt would have been.Report

              • Bo in reply to Bo says:

                This is exactly the sort of thing that I hate to speculate on. But it’s noteworthy that the reason that Gephardt placed 4th in the Iowa caucus (and thus never got the chance) was because … he ran a lousy campaign. I have no doubt Gephardt would have made a completely different set of mistakes if he had the chance, but the argument for less seems a bit speculative.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Bo says:

                Gephardt came in 4th in Iowa because he was the sacrifice the Democratic machine made… they had to throw somebody’s body on the grenade that was Howard Dean and it turned out to be poor Gephardt.

                “Hey, I know… The Republicans like military stuff, right??? Let’s run a real, live Vietnam Vet!” was, apparently, the thinking.

                It’d be like the Republicans saying “hey, we’ll run Giuliani! Democrats love abortion and gay marriage, right?”Report

              • Bo in reply to Bo says:

                Oh come on Jay; this isn’t 20 dimensional chess between Gephardt, Dean and the Democratic Machine here: Gephardt came in 4th because he couldn’t get enough people to caucus for him. In Iowa. The state directly to the north of his home state. Compared to 2 Yankees and John Edwards. (But hey, he beat Carol Moseley-Braun and Kucinich!) If he couldn’t survive a ‘grenade’ like Dean, he wasn’t going to survive once the artillery came out for real.Report

          • Bob Cheeks in reply to Jaybird says:

            JB’s right. Where do the commie-dems get their candidates…Moscow Centre? I mean jeez!
            Dex, a lotta folks had no problem with killin’ Muslims following 9/11. In fact my only criticism is he shoulda waited, determined that 19 outta 23 or so highjackers came for Saudi Arabia then dealt with our desert dwelling friends in parking a 5 ton nuke over Mecca and Medina; “…here worship this!”
            But I have to agree that Bush the Lesser’s efforts to be a commie-dem as in NCLB and f*cking up Medicare (medicaide?) with a vast increase in commie-dem like spending took my arse outta the party and made me an Independent and proud of it.
            I channel Bodin and other mystics!Report

            • Bo in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              It’s nice to see someone who remembers the good old days of 2004, when the candidate who was going to kill more terrorists (or people of similar religion) was going to win regardless. You know who could’ve beat Bush in 2004? Dick Cheney. That’s who the Dems should have nominated.Report

  17. dexter45 says:

    Totally off subject, but I have more questions for Mr. Cheeks. 1. Where do the fascist-rethugs get their candidates? Did they invent a time machine so they could grab SS officers out of Munich beer halls? 2.How many people would have been in favor of murdering half a million Iraqis if they had known the truth. 3.If the United States had nuked Mecca, how would Cheney, through Haliburton’s no bid contracts, made so much money during his term as torturor in chief? 4.Start channeling because this question is for Bodin. I think Palen is a witch and need to know the best way to get the information I want out of her.
    Finally, and with absolutely no snark, I believe that Baby Bush’s givaway to big pharma was not a dem deal, but another way for the one-percenters to get even more money from the people who actually produce.Report

    • Bob Cheeks in reply to dexter45 says:

      Dexter I dig your delusions, no doubt the product of a public edumacation. Would you let me know which party recv’d the most money from Wall Street in the past couple of elections…I don’t know for sure, I just have feeling. Besides, dude, I’ma independent, I don’t care for either the RINO’s or the commie-dems. But Bush the Lesser was a much better candidate than either Kerry, who btw served in Vietnam, or Algore who is certifiable. Like I said, you people keep getting your candidates from Moscow Centre, and thank you.Report

  18. dexter45 says:

    Mr. Cheeks, I finally get it. You received your profound depth of knowledge at some elitist private school like that other reknowned intellectual- George Bush. It all makes sense now. That was where you learned to ignore 99% of the reputable scientists. Even though you failed to answer any of my questions, I will answer yours. Since I believe that both candidates were bought by Wall Street and considering your political bent will assume your question is rhetorical and without any research say President Obama. I am sure the left will agree to get their candidates from Moscow if you will agree to get yours from Wasilla. Finally, since I answered your questions, would you please answer mine.Report

    • Bob Cheeks in reply to dexter45 says:

      Dex, dude relax!
      I do wish I had a “profound depth of knowledge,” it’d a been a really big help through life. Alas, I’ma autodidact, nothing more.
      I’ve enjoyed throwing a little flammable liquid on your smoldering political embers but the conversations getting redundant. Dex my suggestion, given in spirit of Christian kindness, is to read a little deeper, stop watching the perky Katie Couric, and broaden your philosophical horizons. You’re going to be a walking cliche by the time your forty if this keeps up.
      Finally, I’ll answer one of your questions, but only one: Ms. Palin may or may not win the GOP nomination. If she’s not a RINO or a neocon and she is a conservative, hopefully in the Buchanan mold, I’ll vote for her. If she fails in the above criteria, I won’t vote for her.
      However, she’s way smarter than Dear Leader. Dude, I love you and you take care and please feel free to snipe away, I do enjoy it.Report

      • Bob in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

        Bob, I offer Matthew 7:5 – “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

        To wit, I see your perky Katie Couric and raise you the cloying Sarah.Report

  19. Louis B. says:

    Sometimes I wonder if Mr. Cheeks is for real or an elaborate put-on.

    A glorious sight either way.Report