Saturday, 31 January 2004


Will Baude points to this David Brooks column that elevates describing “big mo” to the status of high art. What strikes me most about the process is how completely endogenous it is—everything feeds back onto everything else, starting with the trigger of the otherwise-completely-meaningless behavior of several thousand Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa. In 12 days, John Kerry was translated from being a virtual also-ran to the likely Democratic presidential nominee largely due to the unanticipated behavior of said caucus-goers.

Could the momentum shift yet again? Probably not, with the Dean campaign imploding before our very eyes, Edwards fighting for traction in South Carolina, Lieberman in abject denial, and Clark scrambling for votes in Oklahoma. Kerry may yet fall victim to interneccine attacks, but his rivals’ campaigns may not persist long enough for them to be effective.

Presidential candidate encounters

Most people see presidential candidates at big rallies—my two experiences seeing Presidential fodder in the flesh were at a Clinton-Gore campaign stop in Ocala in 1992 and Harry Browne in Atlanta on Election Day in 2000. Other presidential candidates, however, are more low-key. Take Brian Noggle’s encounter with Michael Badnarik in the basement of a St. Louis pizza parlour, for example.

Badnarik sound familiar? Brock blogged his unusual views on prison rehabilitation below.


Dan Drezner wrote Friday:

Here’s my position—I’m genuinely unsure of who I’m going to vote for. More and more, Bush reminds me of Nixon. He’s not afraid to make the bold move in foreign policy. On domestic policy, Bush seems like he’ll say or do anything, so long as it advances his short-term political advantage. If Karl Rove thought imposing wage and price controls would win Pennsylvania and Michigan for Bush, you’d see an Executive Order within 24 hours. Andrew Sullivan and others have delivered this harangue, so I won’t repeat it.

If—a big if—the Democrats put forward a credible alternative, then I could very well pull the donkey lever.

I’m close to being in the same boat as Dan (well, besides that whole “having a tenure-track job” thing), but I’m probably more likely than he is to pull the Libertarian lever than the “donkey” one.† After listening and watching the Dems, my rough assessment is that either Lieberman or Edwards would make a decent president, Kerry would be borderline, and the rest might as well be LaRouche. If one of those clowns got the nomination, I’d probably feel compelled to vote for George W. Bush, since I really don’t want to convert to Islam and/or learn Arabic. Nothing against Muslims, but my wishy-washy beliefs suit me just fine and I don’t particularly feel like converting.

However, Edwards, Kerry or Lieberman appear sufficiently competent and—more importantly—will be more constrained in their desired profligacy by a Republican Congress than Bush has been; plus, I suspect O’Connor’s mood-swings would be somewhat more conservative with a Democrat in the White House.* While I doubt I’d be sufficiently inclined to vote for any of them, their presence on the ticket would be more than sufficient to demotivate any support I might otherwise have for Bush.

† This is consistent with my finding in my dissertation that politically sophisticated voters whose preferences lean toward third-party candidates or who are interested in registering protest votes engage in conditional strategic behavior.

* An empircally-testable proposition worth writing a conference paper on, methinks.

John Kerry: French non-Toast

Steven Taylor has your weekend edition of the Toast-O-Meter up and running, looking ahead to Tuesday’s seven-state primary.