TAPPED

THE TRUTH ABOUT...

THE TRUTH ABOUT IRAN MIGHT WORK -- BUT WILL DEMS TELL IT? Matt, Ezra, and Garance all give very thoughtful answers to my question below about Iran -- no question, arguments about cost and effectiveness should certainly prove more effective this time around. My concern, however, is that some Dems -- primarily the presidential contenders and their advisers, and we all know who I'm talking about here -- won't see it our way.

MITT ROMNEY CHANNELS...

MITT ROMNEY CHANNELS JOHN EDWARDS. This is a bit of an old story already, but I think it's still worth noting for the historical record, since I haven't seen it noted elsewhere, that John Edwards, not Mitt Romney, was the first presidential candidate to propose making health insurance mandatory. Romney's just the first to get that approach to health care policy enacted into law -- an outcome attributable to the difference between being a senator from a conservative state and the governor of a liberal one.

--Garance Franke-Ruta

WHITE REPUBLICANS' BLACK REPUBLICAN PROBLEM.

WHITE REPUBLICANS' BLACK REPUBLICAN PROBLEM. Here's an interesting preview of a forthcoming article by a Yale economist demonstrating that "white Republicans nationally are 25 percentage points more likely on average to vote for the Democratic senatorial candidate when the GOP hopeful is black," and that there is no noticeable boost in black voter turnout when the Republican candidate is black. Similar findings also apply to House and gubernatorial races. The sample size for black GOP senatorial candidates is, needless to say, limited -- the economist, Ebonya Washington, identified and analyzed five such races between 1982 and 2000.

BUT WHY? ...

BUT WHY? The Urban Institute's C. Eugene Stuerle writes:

a postwar boom in the U.S. labor force is just now ending. Since around 1950, the percentage of adults who worked rose almost every year except in recessions. But now the great swell of working boomers is starting to retire, and most of the gain in female labor force participation is over. If Americans keep retiring at the same ages they do today, the share of adults who are working will fall markedly. The effect on the economy will be roughly equivalent to increasing the unemployment rate by 3/10 of 1 percent every year for 20 years straight starting in 2008.

PLAYING POLITICS ISN'T...

PLAYING POLITICS ISN'T A POLICY. I'm going to dissent, with Ezra, from the emerging TAPPED line on Iran here and say that any Democrat who comes out and argues that we can't deal with Iran until Bush is out of office will do nothing more than reaffirm to the nth degree the perception that Democrats cannot handle national security matters. Iran is not just an American problem and is not going to go away as an issue if Democrats choose to punt on it. The U.S. did not precipitate this conflict.

THE RETURN OF...

THE RETURN OF POTTERY BARN. I'll second Matt's comments below; so much as George Bush's staggering incompetence should have a prime part in the Democratic production of "No Sequel: Why We Shouldn't Fight Iran," to build the whole argument around Bush himself would be a profoundly unstable edifice for the anti-war camp. Indeed, it would take little more than Bush replacing Don Rumsfeld with some media-recognized vessel of establishment gravitas and hardheaded competence to short-circuit the argument. Imagine if noted warmonger John McCain were ushered into the cabinet, or if some retired general were brought in to replace Dick Cheney.

AS LONG AS...

AS LONG AS YOU LIKE. David Ignatius, aiming to make me love Don Rumsfeld by arguing that he should resign in order to increase public support for the indefinite continuation of the Iraq War, observes that "As bad as things are in Baghdad, America won't be defeated there militarily. But it may be forced into a hasty and chaotic retreat by mounting domestic opposition to its policy." This is one of the truthiest of all elements of the elite conventional wisdom on Iraq. Yes, it's true, insurgents aren't going to inflict some kind of decisive battlefield loss on the US Army.

FIRST THINGS FIRST....

FIRST THINGS FIRST. Greg asks a good question below about the politics of Iran, and I don't have a super-good answer. I would say that the beginning of political wisdom on this topic, however, is a little dose of the old moral clarity. There are two different questions Democratic officeholders can be asking themselves, their staffers, and their consultants.

MORE ON DEMS...

MORE ON DEMS AND IRAN. I see that in last night's post on Iran I inadvertently wrote that Dems should be figuring out how to respond after strikes come. Since the post was meant to make the opposite point -- that Dems should be thinking through how politically to approach Iran now -- a quick clarification is in order. A lot will of course happen between now and any move on Iran.

HOW SHOULD DEMS...

HOW SHOULD DEMS HANDLE IRAN? As depressing as this is, it's never too early for liberals and Dem thinkers to start figuring out how to prevent Dems from dividing if Bush orders, say, limited strikes on Iran. Al Gore and Howard Dean might oppose them, as perhaps will the new and improved John Edwards. But what about other presidential contenders -- Mark Warner, Evan Bayh and Hillary Clinton? (Then there's always Joe Lieberman, who will probably volunteer to sit astride the first falling bomb, Dr. Strangelove style.)

MR. DONKEY SIR....

MR. DONKEY SIR. Commenting on Noam Scheiber's story on Howard Dean, MyDD's Matt Stoller writes:

OFF INTO THE...

OFF INTO THE SUNSET. Budget negotiations within the House GOP conference stalled last week over disputes between moderates, who wanted some boosts in spending, and the Republican Study Committee (RSC) folks, who were pushing for some of their usual litany of draconian caps and budget process changes.

DRAWING KNIVES? The...

DRAWING KNIVES? The Washington Post surveys veteran congressional handicappers and concludes that the Democrats' chances of taking back the House in November remain very slim. I'll let the Midterm Madness folks judge whether the piece is trustworthy or persuasive on the merits; needless to say, it remains the case that structural barriers still do render a takeover a long-shot proposition, even with Democrats enjoying such a politically favorable climate nationwide.

DEMS ARE EITHER...

DEMS ARE EITHER PHONIES OR THEY'RE RADICALS. One of the more devious verbal tricks commentators use on Democrats is to rhetorically box them in: Either Dems are too cautious and scripted, or they're too radical and hate America. Atrios is right when he says of Joe Klein's new book:

I've got nothing against insiders dishing on the Kerry campaign, but the idea that they would dish to Klein to support whatever pernicious and destructive narrative he'll be concocting about how we all hate America demonstrates a tremendous lack of judgment.

THE IDEOLOGY'S THE...

THE IDEOLOGY'S THE THING. I'm not so high on this "Bush wants to bomb Iran to secure his legacy" concept. As we enter into the twighlight years of Bushism, it's important to avoid ascribing problematic elements of the past five years of American governance to Bush's personal idiosyncrasies when, in fact, the real source of the problems are deeper and wider ideological movements. Mark Steyn didn't publish this crazy article on Iran because Bush is looking for a legacy.

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