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Sunday Politics Column; Warner in New Hampshire

The Politics column in Sunday's Post is online here:  "Cities Show All Politics Is Local by Weighing In on Iraq."

Saturday's Post looked at Virginia Gov. Mark Warner's (D) recent trip to New Hampshire.  Excerpt:  "Warner, prohibited by Virginia law from seeking a second term, will leave office in two months amid considerable speculation about his plans. Those plans were at the forefront of the discussion Friday as Warner parried questions from activists, local elected officials and reporters about whether he'll seek the presidency."

Read the story:  "Warner Visits N.H. Amid Much Speculation."

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 20, 2005; 3:33 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

On a larger level, of course I agree. One of
Howard Dean's most memorable campaign lines was
"You can't trust Republicans with your money!"

And of course this reflects the growing consensus (even
among many Republicans) that tax cuts to the wealthy
don't stimulate economic growth or create jobs.

It's a message that doubtless played very well in the suburban/
exurban areas of Virginia that Kaine peeled off of Bush's base.

It's the message of a competent manager -- and there are signs
indeed that Americans are yearning for competence in government
and getting tired of base-firing ideological slash-and-burn.

And, of course, it's a message of consolidation and unity, the
kind of thing said by the nominee after a bruising primary fight.

My concern is that it's too early out for these kind of soothing
messages -- and also because these messages have a flip side.

Michael Dukakis made his competent management of the Boston
statehouse the centerpiece of his presidential campaign --
practically daring anyone to challenge it. Since no executive
regime is perfectly run or equally satisfies all constituents,
turns out it wasn't all that difficult to poke holes in the
Massachussets Miracle -- which you know, is absolutely fair game.

But by trumpeting himself as some kind of micromanaging
superhero of bureaucracy, Dukakis allowed this to become
much more politically damaging than it needed to be.

Likewise, John Kerry made a colossal blunder by allowing his Vietnam
service to become the centerpiece of his campaign. He wasn't any
"war hero," he was a commissioned lieutenant who parlayed some minor
wounds into Purple Hearts and saw far less action than many vets.
While the Swift Boaters deserve no defense, it was still inevitable
that his "Reporting For Duty" schtick would inflame the class
resentment still smouldering in the Vietnam vet community, causing
Kerry's "heroism" to be challenged by the experience of many grunts.

My point here with these two cautionary tales is that there are some
things in politics that you can't -- and shouldn't -- try to run away
from. When Dukakis, in the last week of the general election, dropped
his competent management theme and started passionately selling the
ol' time Democratic religion, his polls started to tick up. And had
Kerry pitched himself instead as the Reluctant Warrior and stood by
his leadership of VVAW, he might have appeared more credible on Iraq.

The '08 primary season promises to be just as partisan, passionate
and intense as '04 before it. While Howard Dean -- that Rockefeller
Republican in antiwar drag -- first touched on the message that you're
articulating here, William, he also taught Democrats that the most
essential prerequisite for high office is the possession of a spine.


Posted by: rmck1 | November 21, 2005 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Bob -

here's where I think Warner is going with this.
He's certainly a Democrat, and isn't trying not to be.
The idea is to frame the discussion in the light that the parties & candidates as they currently stand have put it in, as opposed to the way it may have traditionally been thought of.

Let's use fiscal responsibility as an example.
Used to be, this was a Republican hallmark.
Not anymore, either in Virginia or nationally.
It was a Democrat who came in, made the tough decisions, and built the team that put VA back in the black after a Republican regime bankrupted us.
We've seen the spending problems nationally by the current administration, and their hypocrtical ability to continue to expand the taxpayer-funded payroll of the federal government while claiming to be for its reduction.

Showing people that if you haven't been paying attention, and you're going to the polls and voting (R) because you think they'll take better care of your hard-earned money, guess what - in 2005, you're probably wrong.

Show people that responsibly shaping the future takes more than an "economic expansion" slogan and a tax cut.

Refocusing on education, because that's where the future lives, and the current administration is botching it.

Sound fiscal management from a guy who's a self-made millionaire, a guy who knows that sometimes solutions cost money, and sometimes that means taxes.

Remind people that the Democratic party can create a future of opportunity for everyone who is now the face of America, and not attempt to return us to the suburban Christian moralism of the 50s, where opportunity was "for white men only."

Let people take a look at who the sides REALLY are now - what Democrats and Republicans really stand for - and decide for themselves where the future is brightest.

Posted by: William Edwards | November 21, 2005 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Oops ... speak of the devil.

Biden's not ruling out a filibuster if Alito doesn't *cough*
"clear up" his '85 position on Warren Court decisions.

In Richard Ben Cramer's indispensible chronicle of the '88
race, "What It Takes," it's clear that Biden's Borkery on
Judiciary is what juiced him up for a presidential run.

Since Biden's been a stalwart Iraq war enabler (the go-nowhere
Biden/Lugar Amendment to the Iraq War Resolution was his sop
to many a conscience -- including John Kerry and Howard Dean)
as the earth begins to move out from under that position, he
needs *something* to fire up the base and differentiate himself
from both the Hillary and the Feingold wings of the Party.

If he can drag that knuckledragger off the stage on
the petard of the 14th Amendment a la Bork, I think
I may have to owe him my support in the primary.

Samuel Alito is a clear and present danger to the Republic.


Posted by: rmck1 | November 20, 2005 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Dukakoid ... Ahhh, the ghosts of '88.

I'd only consider Plagiarism Boy if he does something really heroic this year -- like Borking Alito the way he Borked Bork :)

He took the 14th Amendment, spindled it very tightly and stuck it where the sun don't shine :)

A truly beautiful thing to behold ...

Posted by: rmck1 | November 20, 2005 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I like that Novak today wrote that Biden has been upgraded to "probable" in terms of likeliness to run.


Posted by: Novak | November 20, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Naww, I vote for Sarah Silverman.

She's an Equal Opportunity Annoyer :)


Posted by: rmck1 | November 20, 2005 4:31 AM | Report abuse

Bennifer for President!

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | November 19, 2005 10:33 PM | Report abuse

The press's breathless reporting of Warner's every move is striking, but then again, the Washington Post gets to serve as Warner's hometown paper.

I think that Warner's not quite as invincible as many are making him out to be especially when he (1) has never had to win a contested Democratic Primary, (2) he is on the unpopular side of the Iraq debate, (3) his great claim to fame is that he raised taxes to balance a budget (both boring and a little worrisome).

And, let's be honest, he leaves a little to be desired in the looks department.

Posted by: bow_down | November 19, 2005 8:30 PM | Report abuse

i have a really cute picture of Governor Warner in surf trunks at the beach. do you want to see it?

Posted by: aggie | November 19, 2005 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Anyway ... about Warner.

It's way too early to be thinking seriously about '08 (or
maybe it's never too early for some people), so my impressions
aren't exactly solidly formed or anything ... but there was
something that bugged me in the WaPo piece, mentioned several
times -- and reflected in the name of Warner's website.

It's this idea that you can somehow do an end-run around ideology.

"It's not about moving left vs right, it's
about moving forward vs moving backward."

Aside from sounding like cheat codes for a video game
... does this strike anyone else as a little Dukakoid?

"This election's not about ideology. It's about competence."

And then the GOP proceeded to take apart the Massachusetts Miracle.

Or John Kerry, "Reporting For Duty" -- which was the equivalent
of hanging a Kick Me sign on the back of his lieutenant's uniform.

I think we as Democrats need to question the whole
meta-strategy of innoculation. It has a tendency to
backfire in our faces, especially in the post-Clinton era.

Let's return to Warner's motto -- that it's not
about left or right, it's about the future.

First of all, this is disingenuous on its face. Warner might be a
centrist, but as a Democrat he is certainly to the left of the GOP.

Secondly, being "about the future" sounds like one of those
nice focus-tested platitudes that nobody could disagree with
... but unpack it for a moment. It also implies globalization,
secularization, cultural entropy. Push this line too hard and
it might begin to sound like code for anti-traditionalism.

One of the great things Howard Dean's big speeches did was to
connect his brand of progressivism to the finest elements of
American tradition. I think we lose sight of this at our peril.

Just a few thought to start a discussion.


Posted by: rmck1 | November 19, 2005 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm ... I shouldn't comment too much on this as it's off-topic; I
logged in to this thread because I have something to say about Warner.

But I'm puzzled, too. I didn't comment on the governor's
race thread, but I did notice when I skimmed the comments
that they appeared to be a tad more partisan and flamey
than the others. The thread also generated more responses.

You know, that's a tough one. I support moderation, but every
poster wants to know just exactly what counts as "inappropriate" --
which is often impossible for moderators to specifically define.

And I wonder how productive it is to leave up the post
but turn off comments with a slap-on-the-wrist note
when the offending posts could be deleted individually.

Then again ... maybe that's the only even-handed way to end a war.


Posted by: rmck1 | November 19, 2005 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Is The Fix, fixed? I was just trying to read a weblog about his last article. I refreshed my browser, and it is gone. A very interesting discussion, and it was wiped out of the blogosphere...and this post was made:

Editor's Note: Reader comments on this post have been turned off after some inappropriate comments were posted. (Saturday, Nov. 19)

Of course nothing was "inappropriate" just not to his political leaning.

Hey Chris, if you want to masquerade as a blog, be a blog.

Blogs don't delete entries, yet alone a whole diary of them.

Posted by: MWabenaki | November 19, 2005 12:22 PM | Report abuse

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