Why Dick Morris Is Saying a Vote for Kerry Is a Vote for Osama
Blogger Matt Stoller draws attention to a serious problem that's surfaced in election 2004: the attempt by some Republicans to equate a Kerry victory in November with a victory for terrorists, as exemplified in this quotation from Dick Morris:
Every bomb, terror attack, suicide raid or urban guerilla offensive is aimed squarely at ending Bush's political career. Ironically, the real test of American resolve will not be our willingness to stay in Iraq, but our desire to keep Bush in office.
Stoller says: "This is not just regular old partisanship. This is deeper. I remember reading on a message board somewhere a conservative's opinion of why eliminating the Democratic Party would allow for greater diversity. He said, we'll have three parties: libertarians, paleoconservatives, and neoconservatives. This is not just an election, and this is not normal politics."
He's right in saying that this level of partisanship is not normal, but wrong to imply it is unprecedented. It happens every time a cloud is cast over a president's election. It happened after 1948 when Republicans felt that they had somehow been cheated out of the presidency (Dewey was supposed to win, wasn't he?), which prepared the GOP to embrace the extreme rhetoric of Joe McCarthy (as explained in March in an HNN blog entry by the historian of McCarthyism, Thomas Reeves).
It happened again in 1992 when Clinton was elected; Republicans again felt cheated, this time because they believed (perhaps correctly) that Ross Perot had cost them the presidency.
In 2000 it was the Democrats' turn to feel cheated.
Dick Morris and others like him are trying in advance of the 2004 election to delegitimize the Democrats because it's an effective political argument in a country that doesn't pay a whole of attention to issues. It's hot button. It's emotional. It's Ann Coulter gibberish. And it works with a certain percentage of voters.
But I don't think it is something we need be alarmed about. This is nothing a good Democratic landslide can't cure. If we can't get a landslide, at least let's hope that JFK (John Forbes Kerry) can do well enough in the presidential debates to inspire people. It's said that JFK (John F. Kennedy) was able to overcome doubts about his legitimacy as president following the close 1960 election by making a commanding impression on people during the debates. Even people who didn't vote for him had confidence he could handle the job. Within months of his election he was at 70 percent in the polls.
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