November 06, 2004
Via Angus Dwyer I come across this Slate column on the legality of seccession. (Answer: No.) Slate links to this group of folks who want British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington to secede. I'm obliged, then, to remind folks of these two posts
by co-blogger Amanda Butler arguing that a western secession would be unstoppable/unstopped as a practical matter.
I happen to disagree quite severely (an off-blog argument is what spawned those posts in the first place) but Amanda's argument are worth reading.
(Careful readers will also recall that Amanda had very little sympathy for Killington VT, which had contemplated seceding to New Hampshire.)
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PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all. Please be seated. Yesterday I pledged to reach out to the whole nation, and today I'm breaking that pledge. Welcome.
This week the voters of America set the direction of our nation for the next four years. I'm honored by the support of my fellow citizens and I'm ready for the job. This is George W. Bush, reporting for duty (laughter). I also look forward to working with the present Congress and the new Congress that will arrive in April. I congratulate the men and women who have just been elected to the House, the Senate, and the Santa Maria. I will join with old friends and new friends to make progress for all Americans, whether you voted for me, or you voted for the terrorists.
Our government also needs the very best intelligence, especially in a time of war. Therefore, it is unclear to me why I have been re-elected. In the election of 2004, large issues were set before our country. They were discussed every day on the campaign. With the campaign over, Americans are expecting a bipartisan effort and results. I've asked my speechwriters to come up with a line that will make it sound like I'm willing to compromise, when in fact it doesn't really mean that at all. Here it comes: "I'll reach out to everyone who shares our goals." Sounds good, right? I'm eager to start the work ahead. I'm looking forward to serving this country for four more years, or at least until I get sleepy.
I want to thank you all in the press corps for your hard work in the campaign. Especially the people at Fox News. I told you that the other day and I really meant it. I appreciate the hard work of the press corps. We all put in long hours and you were away from your families for a long period of time. But the country's better off when we have a vigorous and free press covering our elections, and thanks for your work. Now I'll answer a few questions. Rusty?
Q. Mr. President -- thank you. As you look at your second term, how much is the war in Iraq going to cost? Do you intend to send more troops or bring troops home? And in the Middle East more broadly, do you agree with Tony Blair that revitalizing the Middle East peace process is the single most pressing political issue facing the world?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Now that I've got the will of the people at my back, I'm going to start enforcing the one-question rule. That was three questions.
Q. Are you serious?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes. There goes your one question. You wasted it. Next? Skipper?
Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Will you seek a consensus candidate for the Supreme Court if there's an opening?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thanks. There's no vacancy for the Supreme Court. I will deal with the vacancy when there is one. There is no vacancy. All twelve justices are alive and well. I told the people on the campaign trail that I'll pick somebody who knows the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law -- you might have heard that several times -- and I meant what I said. If people are interested in knowing the kind of judges I'll pick, look at the Patriot Act. Next question. Elvis?
Q. Thank you, Mr. President. I know you haven't had a chance to learn this, but it appears that Yasser Arafat has passed away.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Is he on the Supreme Court? So there's a vacancy now?
Q. No, sir. He's the leader of the Palestinians.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Really? They're the people fighting with Israel, right? I get them mixed up with the Pakistanis. And Periwinkle, my favorite shade of green.
Q. Yes, sir. I was just wondering if I could get your initial reaction, and also your thoughts on perhaps working with a new generation of Palestinian leadership.
PRESIDENT BUSH: My first reaction is God bless his soul. And my second reaction is that I really hope they don't make me go on a plane to his funeral. I hate flying. Spot, you're next.
Q. Thank you, Mr. President. On foreign policy, do you believe that America has an image problem in the world right now because of your efforts in response to the 9/11 attack?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Listen, I've made some very hard decisions -- decisions to protect ourselves, decisions to spread peace and freedom -- and I understand that in certain capitals and certain countries, those decisions were not popular. But the decisions -- they were hard. Hard decisions, Spot. Hard decisions. I laid out a doctrine that said if you harbor a terrorist, you're equally as guilty as the terrorist. And if you think about terrorists, you're equally as guilty as the terrorists. And if you sneeze, you're equally as guilty as the terrorists. And that doctrine was ignored by the Taliban and we removed the Taliban. And it was ignored by the Democratic voters of Ohio, and we removed the Democratic voters of Ohio.
And of course, and the Iraq issue is one that people disagreed with. And so here's what I will do. I will reach out to others and explain why I make the decisions I make. Okay? I will reach out. But you cannot lead this world and our country to a better tomorrow unless you have a vision of a better tomorrow, and I've got one based upon a great faith that people do want to be free and live in democracy. Except Tom Daschle, who probably wants to go live in a cave by now with Osama. Rover?
Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Your victory at the polls came about in part because of strong support from people of faith, in particular people of really quite rabid faith. And Senator Kerry drew some of his strongest support from infidels and others who do not attend religious services. What do you make of this religious divide, it seems, becoming a political divide in this country? And what do you say to those who are concerned about the role of a faith they do not share in public life and in your policies?
PRESIDENT BUSH: My answer to people is that I will be your president regardless of your faith. I don't expect you to agree with me, necessarily, on religion. As a matter of fact, no president should ever try to impose religion on our society. The great tradition of America is one where people can worship the way they want to worship. And if they choose not to worship, well, by golly, despite that I won't let you work, receive welfare benefits, or attend the public schools, you're just as patriotic as your neighbor. Tuna on rye?
Q. Thank you. Mr. President, you were disappointed, angry, even high on crack, 12 years ago when the voters denied your father a second term. I'm interested in your conversation with him yesterday as you were walking to the Oval Office. And also whether you feel more free to do any one thing in a second term that perhaps you were politically constrained from doing in a first.
PRESIDENT BUSH: That's two questions, Tuna on rye. You're testing me. I'm the leader of the free world, and you're testing me, Tuna. Not a good idea. What was your first question again?
Q. Your father.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, I think he would make an excellent new leader of the Palestinians. Yes.
Q. Your conversation with him?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I told him to take a nap. I was worried about him staying up too late.
Q. Do you feel more free?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Once my dad is sleeping? Sure. That's when I can have my friends over and we can have a little, uh, party, if that's what you would call it. As long as we're quiet and don't wake him.
Q. Politically, I mean. Do you feel more free?
PRESIDENT BUSH: There's something refreshing about coming off an election, even more refreshing since we all got some sleep last night. After hundreds of speeches and three -- three! -- debates and interviews and the whole process, where you keep basically saying the same thing over and over again, that when -- when that -- when you win, there is a -- a feeling that the people have spoken and embraced your point of view. And that's what I intend to tell the Congress, that I made it clear what I intend to do as the president; now let's work -- and the people, in the red states, made it clear what they wanted -- now let's work together. And it's one of the wonderful -- it's one of the -- it's like earning capital. Like last year, when my timber business earned $86. Earning capital. It's a great feeling. A feeling of ownership. Like Social Security.
You ask, do I feel free? Let me put it to you this way. I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That's what happened in -- after the 2000 election. I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election, and I'm going to spend it for -- for what -- for those big stuffed bears at the carnival. Like skeeball tickets. For rainbow slinkies and little army men, and Ring Pops. And what I told the people I'd spend it on -- Social Security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror. We will continue to do our duty to help feed the hungry. And I'm looking forward to it, I really am. I like feeding the hungry. It's fun.
It's a been a fantastic experience, campaigning across the country. You've seen it from one perspective; I've seen it from another. I saw you standing there at the last, final rally in Texas, to my right over there. I was observing you observe, and then I observed you observe me observe you observe, and then I observed you observe me observe you observe me observe you observe. And then I observed you observe me observe you observe me observe you observe me observe you observe. And so forth.
Now, to finish this up, I've got a question for you. For Skeeter and Scooter and Fritzi and Rambo and Peanut and Clark Bar and Hot Dog and Jake & The Yasser Ara-Fat Man and Lucky and Gumbo and Fish Stick. How many of you are going to be here for a second term, please raise your hand. (Laughter.) Gosh, we're going to have a lot of fun then. (Laughter.) Thank you all.
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know Randy Barnett is too busy to respond to this now, but I thought in light of recent provocations by Prof. Bainbridge I would invite libertarians to join...the dark side of the force. I mean, the Democratic party. It is...your destiny (spooky wiggling fingers). Look at me, reliable Democratic voter! I support 2nd amendment rights, think drugs should be legalized, support means testing of social security, and think running permanent trilion-dollar deficits is a bad idea. What's more, I favor the elimination of all agricultural and industrial subsidies! And free trade! And abortion rights! I think people should be allowed to form unions, and also not form unions. I don't think it's good that the teacher's unions should forever stymie potential reforms in the US educational system, but I also think NCLB is an invasive federal program wedded to testing for its own sake, which imposes costs on the states and doesn't supply federal money to pay for them. I think market-based solutions to environmental problems, such as pollution credits, can be great, in the context of stern enforcement of existing environmental protections. I don't think the feds should subsidize grazing, logging, or mining on government-owned lands. I favor innovative traffic-mitigation schemes involving variable road pricing! Ooh, ooh, and I think prostitution and gambling should be legal! And I love gay marriage! Come here, gay marriage, I'm going to give you a big wet kiss. And the firm separation of church and state! But I don't support hate crime laws. Nor do I think the government should force private businesses to hire homosexuals if they don't want to, because they are gay-hating nuts or something! Go on, be gay-hating nuts, I say! Just leave actual gay people alone, and let them have fancy weddings with Vera Wang gowns and little packets of pastel-colored Jordan almonds, if they want.
I happen to think that appealling libertarian voters-- in the short-run-- is suicide for either party. (Witness Matthew Yglesias's astute observation that it all came down to whether Ohio swing voters hated the decline of manufacturing or gay marriage more.)
But look-- I, and a non-trivial number of people who think like me, are up for grabs. Give me a party that shows actual commitment to letting people manage their own lives without getting in one another's way, and a lot of pent-up and unused partisan political enthusiasm will come boiling out, whether that's Belle Waring or Waddling Thunder.
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When Ralph Nader decided to run again in 2004, Democrats quickly assumed an "attack Ralph" approach to his candidacy. Though the decision to fight Nader was perhaps understandable in the wake of the 2000 election results, this NY Times article confirms my belief that the Democrats might have been much more effective with a "praise Ralph" strategy.
The Times article starts with the perhaps unsurprising suggestion that, this time around, 2/3 of Nader "sympathizers decided that defeating President Bush was more important than casting a symbolic vote for Mr. Nader's progressive agenda." However, this turned out to be inconsequential since Nader's "platform never drew much attention, in part because of the distraction of some Democrats' fight to keep Mr. Nader off the ballot in key states."
Imagine if, instead of attacking Ralph's candidacy, the Democrats had praised Nader for spotlighting issues like the environment and corporate misconduct, for talking about social justice and citizen's rights. Despite Bush's troubled environmental record and the corporate scandals on his watch, Kerry never really even tried to make these issues a significant part of the campaign. And yet there is good reason to believe that these issues resonate with two demographic groups that most strongly supported Bush: rural voters and suburban women (see my prior post on the import and impact of the female vote).
The Democrats should have appreciated that all elections involving a sitting President ultimately become a referendum on the incumbent. Even if a visible and vocal Nader might have siphoned some progressive votes away from Kerry, the more consequential impact of Nader's attacks on Bush on issues like the environment and corporate misconduct likely would have been softening Bush's support among many groups that Kerry clearly failed to reach.
In addition, consider how a visible and vocal Nader might have changed broader perceptions about the candidates. With Nader advocating extremely progressive positions on health care and labor issues, it would have been much harder for Bush to effectively label Kerry as sitting on the "far left bank" of American politics. To swing voters, who must in some sense be moderates, Kerry might have appeared as the moderate candidate between the extremes of Bush and Nader.
One thing I remember learning in history class is that few prevail in two-front wars. This proved true in presidential politics in 1992 when George H.W. Bush lost to the two-fronted attacks of Clinton and Perot. If the Democrats had made Nader an ally rather than an enemy, history might have repeated itself again. Actually, it did: the Democrats became the ones fighting the two-front war, and they lost.
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