Maureen Dowd, "A Vice President Without Border, Bordering on Lunacy" the sort of thing the New York Times thinks you'll pay for, June 24
If you start with false premises about how the mind of the voter works, you'll reason your way to a concession speech. You can watch precisely how Michael Dukakis and Al Gore did that here . They listed all their best facts and figures, their positions and policy statements, their 17-point plans for every issue. Their goal was to convince voters that they had the most to offer -- in the language of economics, that they offered the greatest marginal utility. Perhaps they would have won if everyone were Alan Greenspan (although even Greenspan got emotional about irrational exuberance).
WHEN you're a child psychologist, every problem looks like a wet mattress! Gore was boring, wonky. A stiff. Didn't Maureen Dowd tell us so?
We might add that he won the 2000 election.
Professor Westen is aware of that fact. Gore won, but then his boring wonkiness, his insistence on taking the "high ground," cost him his suit before a Court which issued a baseless and corrupt decision. Damn you, Al Gore!
Have we made our point already? Has Professor Westen made it for us? Democrats like Westen seem intent, not just on fighting the last war, but on doing so even after they've lost the next one. Has Obama "dropped in the polls" because he got all wonkified an' stuff an stopped being sexy? I don't know. The one undeniable fact I can add to the discussion is this: I, like millions of my fellow Americans, haven't watched a minute of those clownfests, and if I chose to the fact that somebody started rattling off facts instead of wowing me with folksy charm or a come-hither stare would make me more likely to listen to him, not less. In this I may be an atypical American, but I doubt I'm too far from the average person watching the candidates debate a half a year before the first primary. Maybe the Obama Brain Trusters want to use the debates to show their man has a grasp of the issues. Maybe they figure he can turn on the charm on the stump. Maybe it's the full moon. I don't know. Maybe Democrats, who've been complaining about the trivialization of our national elections for thirty years, should stop joining the chorus calling for their candidates to morph into Ronald F. Reagan.
Then again, maybe it's something else entirely. Westen:
The one who is using it is John Edwards, who voters saw as the winner of the last debate, but who the East Coast media have run a concerted effort to take out of the race -- first by pretending that he wasn't in it, describing it as a two-way contest between a white woman and a black man, and failing to mention in most articles that the usual presumptive favorite, the vice-presidential nominee from the last election, was even in the race; then by amplifying a concerted GOP effort to portray him as feminine and hypocritical (as if the Kennedys couldn't talk about poverty or the minimum wage until they sold their compound on the Cape), and now describing his years studying and speaking about poverty -- not exactly an obvious issue to champion if you want to win an election -- bashing immigrants is much better for the polls, if not for the soul -- as a political ploy and perhaps a misuse of funds.
Edwards wins debates, but the Press attacks him on trivialities. Hmmmm. Sorta like Al Gore?
Oh, speaking of Breck Girls, here's MoDo:
I've always thought Cheney was way out there--the most Voldemort-like official I've run across. But even in my harshest musings about the vice president, I never imagined that he would declare himself not only above the law, not only above the president, but actually his own dark planet...
The answer here, Maureen, is that it's your imagination which is found wanting.
It's a new level of gall, to avoid accountability by saying you're part of a legislative branch that you've spent six years trying to weaken.
No it isn't; it's precisely the same level of gall Cheney's exhibited since he really was a legislator, where he made Dick Armey appear both warm and reasonable. How'd you miss it before now, apart from your overriding concern with earthtones and hair care? Cheney's latest legal shenanigans are entirely of a piece with the claim of "executive privilege" he's been wrapped in like an individual cheese-food slice since the first months of his administration. "Executive privilege" is an invention of the Nixon administration, Maureen, and you and I are both old enough to remember it, though you're much better preserved.
The press attacks on Gore were pernicious and unceasing, and those responsible are mostly still around. It's not up to John Edwards to "defend himself" against similar attacks. It's up to everyone who wants to restore a modicum of seriousness to quit criticizing candidates for talking about issues and start demanding a better Press.