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We weren't dumb enough to vote Kerry

Old 11-09-04, 10:55 AM
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We weren't dumb enough to vote Kerry

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/m.../09/do0902.xml

By Mark Steyn
(Filed: 09/11/2004)

Last week, you may recall, I quoted Bob Kerrey - not the Kerry who was running for president, but a fellow senator and Vietnam veteran and a big backer of his near-namesake. This Kerrey was on television a couple of days before the election and claimed to have the pulse of the man in the street.

"I was in Gallia, Ohio, down in the southeastern part of Ohio," he said. "They don't give a damn about the war in Iraq. They're terrified about the loss of their job, health care, their pensions. That's what's bothering them."

I begged to differ: "In fact," I wrote, "the people - in Gallia, Ohio and many other places - understand the relevance of Iraq and Afghanistan to their well-being rather more clearly than the Democratic leadership do."

Just for the record, on Tuesday, in Gallia County, Ohio, George W Bush won 62 per cent of the vote.

It wasn't the economy, stupid. It was the stupidity, stupid. No man is an island, but the Democrats expect voters to act as if they are. Don't think about national security and war and Iraq and Iran and North Korea - that's all way beyond a loser like you. You're too "terrified" about your job to be bothered with the foreign pages. It's practically the Depression out there.

OK, it's not. But it's a recession. OK, it's not. But there aren't any jobs out there. OK, there are. But they're not like the jobs you used to have, when you could go to the mill and do the same job day in day out for 45 years, and it made it so much easier for us come election time because there were large numbers of you all in the same place when we flew in for the campaign stop. But the point is: you are an island, stick to "pocketbook issues", think about yourself.

The Left always used to accuse the Right of appealing to the voters' selfishness, but this year the Dems did and it got them nowhere.

I think there are a couple of lessons here. First, when you're cursed to live in "interesting times", a party has to have something interesting to say. It has to stand for something; it has to have a core identity, not just wonkish programmes. The Dems do have core beliefs - abortion, racial grievances, gay marriage, etc - but unfortunately they're not the kind of thing you can talk about at election time.

In Britain, alas, it's the Tories, under their current Kerrykaze pilot, who are distressingly Democrat-like: full of itsybitsy policies for this and that, irrelevant on the big picture, deeply evasive on Europe. They're also far too timid on the British equivalent of America's "cultural values" - crime and the other "quality of life" issues.

Secondly, assume for a moment that Bob Kerrey was right - that voters in Gallia County really were "terrified about the loss of their job, health care, their pensions". Even if that's true, do you want the government to do anything about it? In many Continental countries, it's all but impossible to lose your job - which is why so many companies are reluctant to hire anyone and Germany's unemployment rate is twice that of America. And once healthcare and pensions are the province of the government, the basic relationship between the citizen and the state is altered. By 2040, Greece's government pension liabilities will be 25 per cent of GDP, as opposed to 6.8 per cent for America, which is quite colossal enough, thank you.

So even if I was "terrified" of losing my job, healthcare, pension, etc, I'd be reluctant to let the government relieve me of my terror. On the Continent, the mainstream parties of Tweedleleft and Tweedleright, having spent half a century ruling more and more issues beyond the subject of debate, can't quite bring themselves to tell the truth to the voters about the looming crisis.

They reckon that the masses have become too used to 35-hour work-weeks, two months of holiday, you leave college at 36, take early retirement at 47, etc, and that they won't take kindly to being told the jig's up. The Daily Mirror may think American voters are "DUMB", but I'll bet in the chancelleries of Europe there are plenty of officials who wish their own electors would occasionally disdain "pocketbook issues". Once you've turned citizens into junkies for government crack, it's very hard to wean them off it.

Thirdly, after listening to John Edwards's Dickensian tales of "two Americas" for months on end, I'm convinced that any red-state county knows more about business than your average Massachusetts senator, tenured Harvard professor or Boston Globe editor. When John Kerry gets his hair done at Cristophe's in Washington for somewhere north of $75, that high-priced stylist is an employee. If he'd ever stopped to have it done for $10 by DeeDee in a hair salon in a small town, he'd discover that she's a one-woman business.

When he goes to his favourite restaurant in Washington, the waiter's an employee. When he drops by a diner on Main Street in some nowhere burg to pretend to eat a hot dog for a photo op, the waitress might well be like the lady who served me lunch on Sunday: she has her own house-cleaning business, but does some part-time work at the local school and a couple of shifts at the diner for a bit of extra cash.

She's a small business, and she knows more about her tax return than Teresa Heinz Kerry knows about hers. Mrs Kerry farms it out to the best advisers money can buy, and they do a grand job: she's one of the richest women in the world and she paid 12 per cent tax last year. It makes no difference whether the tax rate is 20 per cent, 50 per cent or 88 per cent: the Kerrys of the world will still pay 12 per cent.

The American people don't want to be condescended to by ketchup heiresses, billionaire currency speculators, $20-million-a-picture Hollywood pretty boys, and multi-millionaire documentary-makers posing as bluecollar lardbutts.

The Democrats keep talking to people as if they're like John Edwards's 40-year mill-workers, but that's not what work is any more, and a 23-year-old hairdresser can know enough about starting and running a business to be unimpressed at a few footling tax credits dangled in front of her by a 60-year-old lifelong "public servant" lucky enough to be living a grand old life thanks to his billionaire wife's first husband.

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My favorite:
"The Dems do have core beliefs - abortion, racial grievances, gay marriage, etc - but unfortunately they're not the kind of thing you can talk about at election time. "
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Old 11-09-04, 11:02 AM
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First, needs bold.

Second, I thought we'd heard the end of this stuff once the election came, but I guess not.

Almost half the nation voted for Kerry... to say that there wasn't an energy towards him is wrong, especially when you look at his ratings over the course of a year. It wasn't all ABB, that's just what we heard the most early on.
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Old 11-09-04, 11:30 AM
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By the way, when Kerrey was on TV, he <i>mispronounced</i> Gallia.

Way to hammer that point in deeper, Bob.
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Old 11-09-04, 11:49 AM
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This "the other side is dumb" stuff has got to go. The Hollywood left likes to pull this crap, and there's certainly no way I'll support it coming from the right.
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Old 11-09-04, 01:31 PM
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Originally posted by Thor Simpson
Almost half the nation voted for Kerry... to say that there wasn't an energy towards him is wrong, especially when you look at his ratings over the course of a year. It wasn't all ABB, that's just what we heard the most early on.
Sure there was plenty of energy towards him, but I think the article focuses on smaller town America, etc., who were not hugely behind Kerry . . . at least not the way that some may have expected.
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Old 11-09-04, 01:33 PM
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Originally posted by talemyn
Sure there was plenty of energy towards him, but I think the article focuses on smaller town America, etc., who were not hugely behind Kerry . . . at least not the way that some may have expected.
who expected the Kerry vote from small towns?
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Old 11-09-04, 02:33 PM
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Originally posted by Thor Simpson
It wasn't all ABB, that's just what we heard the most early on.
not all but half his votes were supposedly from the ABB crowd while about 1/4 of the presidents were from the ABK crowd. Rather have people voting for someone than against someone else in the bigger picture.. We need candidates people want to vote FOR in the future..
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Old 11-09-04, 02:47 PM
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Originally posted by dick_grayson
who expected the Kerry vote from small towns?
Clearly many of the Kerry supporters given their reaction to the final results.
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Old 11-09-04, 05:23 PM
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Originally posted by dick_grayson
who expected the Kerry vote from small towns?
I dunno, Guardian readers maybe?
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