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Thread: While the Democrats brawl.......

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default While the Democrats brawl.......

    Having regained some force in Pennsylvania, the tornado of insult and innuendo that is the Democratic Party’s nomination fight will now touch down in four more states. But while Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama regroup this week, John McCain is off doing something that, while lacking the same kind of drama, has a significance of its own. Mr. McCain and his advisers decided this week to embark on a tour of some of the places that symbolize the fragility of America’s promise, even if they aren’t the kind of places that Republicans often go: Selma, Ala.; Youngstown, Ohio; New Orleans; Inez, Ky., the Appalachian town where Lyndon Johnson once touted his War on Poverty.

    There’s plenty of political artifice here, of course, and Democrats have been quick to deride the tour as a cynical publicity stunt. In a blast e-mail, the Democratic National Committee pointed out, for instance, that Youngstown is far better off today for having received the kind of congressional earmarks that Mr. McCain has vowed to veto if he becomes president. (Now there’s an interesting strategy for the fall: “Vote Democrat, the Party of Pork.”) But Mr. McCain’s hard-luck tour should not be so blithely dismissed, if for no other reason that it may reveal something about his theory of the electorate that presages a break with his party’s recent past.

    Although it seems like it was about 100 years ago, you’ll recall that George W. Bush ran as a “compassionate conservative” in 2000, hoping to blunt the Democratic advantage among some suburban voters. But then came the stark blue and red electoral map that seemed to illustrate American’s hardened cultural divisions, followed closely by the standoff in Florida, and by the time they finally captured Washington, Mr. Bush and his famed strategist, Karl Rove, seemed to have adopted a different way of looking at the world. Mr. Rove’s new theory was that the unaligned American middle had effectively disappeared. The country was more party-identified than it had been before, he said, and the vast majority of Americans had split between two rival factions, a blue team and a red team. The party that won, at least in the short term, would not be the party that persuaded the rare species of swing voter who remained but instead would be the one that most efficiently turned out its own ideological base.

    Mr. Rove was the latest in a long line of almost mystical theorists to captivate Washington, and even partisan Democrats — those who saw themselves as part of an ascendant progressive movement — accepted his version of the political moment. I can recall Eli Pariser, the brilliant young leader of MoveOn.org, sketching for me a graph that told pretty much the same story, with Democrats and Republicans represented on adjacent arcs and almost no one living in between. Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the founder of the Daily Kos, the most influential liberal blog in America, chided Democrats for chasing the “mythical middle.” Americans already lived in one ideological camp or the other, the bloggers insisted, and all you really had to do was give voice to their ideological convictions.

    For anyone who had spent much time actually talking to voters, this theory never seemed very convincing, and the events of recent years would seem to have partly discredited it. After the war in Iraq sputtered and Mr. Bush’s agenda veered right in every respect, the president hemorrhaged support, his approval rating dropping to historic lows in a period of months. Who were these voters abandoning their president — core Republicans? Or were they uncommitted voters whom Mr. Rove and his rivals had mistakenly presumed to be firmly in the Republican camp? Similarly, were all the voters who kicked conservatives out of Congress in 2006 partisan Democrats? Or is it more likely that they were centrist voters who’d simply had enough with Bush’s tilted agenda?

    In fact, the fastest-growing bloc of American voters remains independent, meaning that more Americans than at any time in modern history are consciously choosing not to affiliate with a party. Pollsters tell us that some segment of these voters tends to be economically conservative, socially libertarian and concerned about national security. And the evidence suggests that while they may vote with one party or another for a period of time, they are essentially free agents, open to an argument and deeply suspicious of party orthodoxies. These are the suburban and exurban voters we have called “Reagan Democrats” or “Perot voters,” and they are potentially decisive in any American election.

    Which brings us back to Mr. McCain and his tour. Democrats scoff that Mr. McCain is a man running against the moment. He’s pro-war at a time of growing skepticism over Iraq; he’s a free marketeer at a time of heightened worry over the economy; he’s a symbol of America’s past at a time when all anyone can talk about is the technological future. All of this no doubt concerns the McCain team. But he is also a candidate who enjoys, perhaps more than any other Washington politician, a reputation as a reformer who puts country above party, even when his views are unpopular. And while Mr. McCain may have little chance of winning over black voters in Selma or union guys in Youngstown, his stops there are sending a signal to independent voters that he isn’t as doctrinaire as his primary campaign might have suggested and that he intends to run the kind of broad, truly national campaign that Mr. Obama has promised for his party.

    The truth is that the electorate was never as binary as Karl Rove or MoveOn told us it was. And the bad news for Democrats, as they continue to rip each other on the nightly news, is that, unlike some of his fellow Republicans, John McCain seems to know it.

    While the Democrats Brawl - The Caucus - Politics - New York Times Blog
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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Karl Rove being the pudgy fuck working on McSame's campaign.
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