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Wednesday, November 05, 2003  

Politics: On the campaign trail

  • Confederate flag remark becomes snafu
  • Democratic contender for the presidency Howard Dean has some 'plaining to do in regard to a remark he made during a debate that might lead some people to believe he is sympathetic to neo-Confederates.

    BOSTON (AP) - Howard Dean, under fire from his Democratic rivals, stubbornly refused to apologize Tuesday night for saying the party must court Southerners with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.

    ``Were you wrong, Howard? Were you wrong to say that?'' Sen. John Edwards challenged the former Vermont governor in a hot, hip campaign debate.

    ``No, I wasn't, John Edwards,'' Dean shot back, adding that to win, Democrats must appeal to working-class white voters in the South who consistently support Republicans ``against their own economic interests.''

    The exchange was the sharpest of the night in a debate that generally veered away from campaign issues such as Iraq and the economy, and into areas of interest to younger voters.

    . . .Sekou Diyday, 25, a supermarket buyer, confronted Dean with the question about the Confederate flag and comments the former governor had made over the weekend in an interview with the Des Moines Register.

    ``I was extremely offended,'' Diyday said. ``Could you please explain to me how you plan on being sensitive to needs and issues regarding slavery and African-Americans after making a comment of that nature,'' he said to applause from the audience.

    Though I believe Dean's remark could be interpreted as insensitive, I don't think he meant to appeal to racist sentiments. I interpret his comment to mean that poor and working-class white people should be recruited by the Democratic Party instead of written off as belonging to the GOP. After all, their economic interest is as neglected by the Republicans as those of people of color. To me, the question is not whether these people should be informed about why they should become Democrats, but how to convince them. For too long, Southern whites have been encouraged to identify with the GOP on the basis of race alone.

    Dennis at Republicans for Dean interpreted the remark much as I did.

    In my view, I think Dean was trying to reach out to Southern voters, particular white, southern, blue-collar men (aka, NASCAR Dads) who left the Democratic party years ago. He is trying to reach them on economic issues such as health care. It also shows that he is not simply the candidate of the "latte class" as the media has portrayed him.

    I think it is a wise strategy. He knows that these are people that have been hurt by the recent economic downturn and maybe dissatisfied with Bush right now. It shows that he is willing to reach out to all Americans, even in areas that political pu[n]dits think are not Dem[o]cratic-friendly areas.

    Read the rest of the article and decide whether Dean's perspective is offensive or not for yourself.

  • GOP takes governor's seat in Mississippi
  • The more things change, the more things stay the same. The election of a far Right Republican as governor of Mississippi proves it again.

    JACKSON, Miss. - Former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour captured the governorship Tuesday, pulling out victory in a hard fought race against Democratic incumbent Ronnie Musgrove.

    . . .With almost 90 percent of the state's precincts reporting, Barbour had 53 percent to Musgrove's 45 percent.

    People at Musgrove's party at Old Capitol Inn watched silently, some with tears in their eyes, as Barbour gave a televised address. Barbour said Musgrove called him and conceded the race after midnight.

    "There has been no greater honor than serving the people of Mississippi as a public servant," Musgrove told supporters about 12:30 a.m. "I thank them."

    Some had said governor's races Tuesday in Mississippi and Kentucky could indicate President Bush's popularity headed into the 2004 federal elections. Bush campaigned Saturday for gubernatorial candidates in both states. Republican Ernie Fletcher won in Kentucky.

    I am ambivalent about this loss. Musgrove's identity as a Democrat was often wearing the label only. His positions on many issues are just as conservative as Barbour's. Would a Democrat who is not afraid to embrace liberal positions have fared better? I don't know. But, being a Democrat who dare not act like one doesn't seem to have done Musgrove much good.

    The change I refer to above is the inclusion of a previously excluded segment of Mississippi's population in the electorate -- African-Americans. The results have been disappointing. Continuing educational inequities make it unlikely that segment of the electorate grasps the issues as well as it should, as demonstrated by the vote reaffirming the Confederate flag as the state emblem. Voter turnout among blacks is comparatively low. A long tradition of kowtowing to white power results in some African-Americans supporting candidates who are reactionary, including Sen. Trent Lott. This situation is a strong reminder that the work of the full enfranchisement of African-Americans in the South as far from over.

  • Machines, SCOTUS and regrets
  • Zizka has some thoughts on what the voting machine debacle may mean.

    I haven't been paying a lot of attention to the voting machine question, but when we talk suspiciously the possibility of cancelling the 2004 election, here's another scenario to consider. I'm wondering whether the Diebold machines are part of a multi-step plan, and that they're preparing for the Democratic challenges already. Suppose this happens:

    1. Bush wins again, including a lot of Diebold states.

    2. Dems find anomalies and question the honesty of the election, but more vigorously than in 2000.

    3. Just as they did in 2000, the Republican operatives come back twice as strong and claim that the Democrats do not trust the democratic process and are trying to steal the election.

    4. As in 2000, there's some kind of arbitrary, coup-d'etat-type resolution to Bush's advantage.

    The beauty of this for the Republicans is that **their own cheating** could ultimately provide the pretext for a sort of coup d'etat, if it doesn't succeed in winning outright by cheating.

    I also believe the U.S. Supreme Court's interference in Bush v. Gore set an awful precedent. The message sent was that ending an election is more important than whether the election was conducted fairly. At least some of the justices will live to regret the day they made that decision.

    5:40 PM