Two Nations

I know many of you have become disenchanted with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman over the last few years, mainly because of his support for the war in Iraq. His column in today's Times is the perfect example of why I admire him. He really does believe that we are living in an era in which the responsibilities are extremely great for the United States; that the extraordinary responsibilities to lead the homeland and the world require someone other than George W. Bush. He understands that the nation got it wrong on Tuesday and we could very well pay a high price. His column, in full, below.
Two Nations Under God
by Thomas L. Friedman
New York Times, November 4, 2004

Well, as Grandma used to say, at least I still have my health. ...

I often begin writing columns by interviewing myself. I did that yesterday, asking myself this: Why didn't I feel totally depressed after George H. W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis, or even when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore? Why did I wake up feeling deeply troubled yesterday?

Answer: whatever differences I felt with the elder Bush were over what was the right policy. There was much he ultimately did that I ended up admiring. And when George W. Bush was elected four years ago on a platform of compassionate conservatism, after running from the middle, I assumed the same would be true with him. (Wrong.) But what troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don't just favor different policies than I do - they favor a whole different kind of America. We don't just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is.

Is it a country that does not intrude into people's sexual preferences and the marriage unions they want to make? Is it a country that allows a woman to have control over her body? Is it a country where the line between church and state bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be inviolate? Is it a country where religion doesn't trump science? And, most important, is it a country whose president mobilizes its deep moral energies to unite us - instead of dividing us from one another and from the world?

At one level this election was about nothing. None of the real problems facing the nation were really discussed. But at another level, without warning, it actually became about everything. Partly that happened because so many Supreme Court seats are at stake, and partly because Mr. Bush's base is pushing so hard to legislate social issues and extend the boundaries of religion that it felt as if we were rewriting the Constitution, not electing a president. I felt as if I registered to vote, but when I showed up the Constitutional Convention broke out.

The election results reaffirmed that. Despite an utterly incompetent war performance in Iraq and a stagnant economy, Mr. Bush held onto the same basic core of states that he won four years ago - as if nothing had happened. It seemed as if people were not voting on his performance. It seemed as if they were voting for what team they were on.

This was not an election. This was station identification. I'd bet anything that if the election ballots hadn't had the names Bush and Kerry on them but simply asked instead, "Do you watch Fox TV or read The New York Times?" the Electoral College would have broken the exact same way.

My problem with the Christian fundamentalists supporting Mr. Bush is not their spiritual energy or the fact that I am of a different faith. It is the way in which he and they have used that religious energy to promote divisions and intolerance at home and abroad. I respect that moral energy, but wish that Democrats could find a way to tap it for different ends.

"The Democrats have ceded to Republicans a monopoly on the moral and spiritual sources of American politics," noted the Harvard University political theorist Michael J. Sandel. "They will not recover as a party until they again have candidates who can speak to those moral and spiritual yearnings - but turn them to progressive purposes in domestic policy and foreign affairs."

I've always had a simple motto when it comes to politics: Never put yourself in a position where your party wins only if your country fails. This column will absolutely not be rooting for George Bush to fail so Democrats can make a comeback. If the Democrats make a comeback, it must not be by default, because the country has lapsed into a total mess, but because they have nominated a candidate who can win with a positive message that connects with America's heartland.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of talk that Mr. Bush has a mandate for his far right policies. Yes, he does have a mandate, but he also has a date - a date with history. If Mr. Bush can salvage the war in Iraq, forge a solution for dealing with our entitlements crisis - which can be done only with a bipartisan approach and a more sane fiscal policy - upgrade America's competitiveness, prevent Iran from going nuclear and produce a solution for our energy crunch, history will say that he used his mandate to lead to great effect. If he pushes for still more tax cuts and fails to solve our real problems, his date with history will be a very unpleasant one - no matter what mandate he has.

Friedman says Democrats need to make a comeback by nominating a candidate who can win with a positive message that connects with America's heartland. I have long thought that Friedman personfies everything he thinks should embody a strong Democrat. I went so far as to write his name in on my California presidential primary ballot last March.

And I think the party - and the nation - would be much better off if he thought - SERIOUSLY THOUGHT - about putting down his pen and running for president in 2008. Because by then we're REALLY going to need him.



Fools Paradise

There'll be alot to say in the days and weeks ahead, but for now...

Elton John and the Sylvers say it best.



One Last Prediction...

Kerry wins. Rehnquist resigns for health reasons, and lame-duck Bush appoints his replacement before leaving office, to the screams and howls of the Dems. Whatcha wanna bet? Yeah, a little more serious than taking the W's off the keyboards...

But can he get a confirmation in the Senate? Snowe and Chafee, perhapds even McCain, Hagel and Lugar, may very well balk and prevent it -- but who knows?


The Nick Factor

Wolcott does some predicting...
But for shorthand what I did was take the Nickolodeon Poll for kids, which has correctly predicted the last four elections, and work from there.

The bright youngsters who took part in this poll, 400,000 strong, voted Kerry 57, Bush 43.

Since kids are naturally exuberant, until it's beaten out of them by the System, I shaved off two points from Kerry, gave those two to Bush.

Kerry 55, Bush 45, that's my lighter than air prediction.
About as good a guess and as scientific as, say, the horrible Gallup polls this year. Nick or Gallup? I'll pick Nick! Vote Vote Vote! It's almost over, I hope....


Final Prediction

I had intended to post my final Electoral College prediction on Sunday but decided to wait and take a look at an extra day of polling. Glad I did as today's polls show that John Kerry had a good Sunday.

And so, I present to you - on a wing and a prayer - the electoral map as I expect to see it on Wednesday morning.

Kerry 311
Bush 227

National polling done over the weekend shows a clear trend toward John Kerry. Most notable is the Fox News poll. On Friday, the President was up 5 points in the their poll; Saturday he was up 2; Sunday the contest was tied; today Fox has Kerry up 2. (Now, this could be Fox trying to rally the Republican base - I wouldn't put anything past that network - but with other polls showing improvement for Kerry, the Fox poll might just be somewhat legit.)

The Marist poll, taken on Sunday, shows Kerry up 1.

Yesterday, the CBS/NY Times poll showed Bush ahead of Kerry by 3 points. Today's poll shows the President ahead by only 1 point.

Zogby, the only pollster to get both the 1996 and 2000 elections right, shows Bush up one.

Obviously, John Kerry had an excellent Sunday. I think the Osama bin Laden tape actually helped the Democratic ticket by reminding voters that this President took his eye off the ball by going to Iraq.

The national trend is clearly advantageous for Senator Kerry. I predict he'll win the popular vote 49.5% to 47.5%, with Ralph Nader and other candidates getting the other 4%.

But, as we all know following the 2000 contest, it is the Electoral College that chooses our presidents. It's going to be a close contest in the state-by-state tally. Like the national numbers, polls in the the battleground states seem to be trending toward John Kerry. State by state listings can be found here.

Another poll in Iowa shows Kerry leading early votes there by an 11-point margin, and a Gallup poll in Florida shows the Senator leading early votes in the "Sunshine state" by an 8-point margin. These early numbers do not mean victory for Kerry in these two states, but clearly the Bush team must be shakin' in their cowboy boots.

Do the all these numbers mean a certain victory for Kerry? Of course not. But I am quite a bit more comfortable than I was last week, as it seems undecided and independent voters are breaking for John Kerry.

Turnout is expected to be huge tomorrow. Newly registered voters are expected in higher numbers than in previous presidential contests. How that effects the final outcome remains to be seen.

Tomorrow night promises to be a rollercoaster ride, similar to that night four years ago when the networks were handing the state of Florida to everyone but Oprah Winfrey. I sincerely hope that the election is decided when we get up Wednesday morning. In the mean time, we have one more day of hard work.

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! Make sure family, friends, and co-workers get to the polls tomorrow. Victory is within reach, my friends. It is time to send George W. Bush back to Crawford, Texas.

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