(Dispatch from an alternate quantum probable universe: For every quantum probability that is not actualized in our universe, an alternate universe exists in which it is. In one such universe John Kerry won Ohio and became the 44th President of the United States. This is the blog entry for October 23, 2008 from that alternative universe. I’m not sure how I accessed it, but clearly the politics in that world are quite different than ours)
What a difference four years makes! As the campaign comes down to the last two weeks, the polls indicate that we are almost certain to have another one term President, the first time in modern history that two Presidents in row served only one term. The reason is clear: Iraq. In 2004 voters rejected George W. Bush because of a growing mistrust of a policy in Iraq that appeared arrogant, ignorant and harmful to US interests. John Kerry promised to get the US out of Iraq and repair our status in the world.
Unfortunately, the effort to withdraw hit a roadblock in 2006 as Iraq plunged into all out civil war. Kerry’s decision to reinforce troop levels, while supported by Republicans, created disillusion among the Democratic base. The GOP argued that if Bush had won, Iraq would not have had the upturn in violence, and this is proof that Kerry is a poor commander in chief. The Democrats, however, charged Kerry with continuing the war he promised to end.
Early this year things were looking better for the President. Kerry could report that his escalation had indeed brought stability, and that now the US was looking at a chance for peace with honor — an ironic turn of a phrase that Richard Nixon used to use. However, the damage was done. Republican hopeful George Allen put together a solid primary campaign to easily defeat his rivals Romney, McCain and Guiliani. The Allen-Guiliani ticket looks poised not only to win the traditional Republican states, but also could make inroads in Democratic strongholds like Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and elsewhere.
President Kerry, not a young man anyway, has started to look old beyond his years on the campaign trail. After besting George W. Bush in debates in 2004, he seemed tired and almost resigned to defeat as he battled Senator Allen. John Edwards did, by all polls after the debate, defeat Guiliani. But Clintonesque rumors of scandal have hurt his reputation.
Then came the October surprise. President Kerry had been hoping that the good economic news of the last year would make the pitch that despite the trouble in Iraq, success there and an economic upsurge meant that Kerry’s policies were working. There was even hope that, given the large number of Republican seats up for re-election in this year’s Senate race, the Democrats could regain control of the Senate. They had a horrible year in 2006 when the electorate punished the Democrats for Kerry’s problems. Now, however, it appears that an almost certain President Allen will have strong majorities in the House and Senate.
The surprise, of course, was the financial crisis caused by banking problems resulting from how the housing bubble burst. This was not Kerry’s fault, but his efforts to blame the GOP Congress haven’t stuck. He was the one talking up the economy, after all.
I admit, four years ago I was enthused by Kerry’s victory. The former Vietnam vet who opposed that war could now perform some kind of karmic justice by leading us out of another, very similar, foreign policy fiasco. And, to be sure, I don’t think there was much Kerry could have done to prevent it. If George W. Bush had been re-elected, he may have suffered a similar fate. Dealing with a fiercely partisan Republican led Congress, Kerry was limited in what he could accomplish domestically.
Senator Joe Biden, one time a Presidential hopeful himself, was philosophical as he talked with Larry King the other night, probably being a bit more honest than most Democrats would want this late in the campaign. He acknowledged that a likely Kerry defeat and the prospects of an Allen landslide sweeping in stunning Republican majorities has created a sense of gloom among the party. But politics goes on, he noted. He said he wasn’t going to fall into a dismal mood. With the Republicans in charge of everything, 2010 could be a very good Democratic year. He argued that young Democrats, like the still barely known Barack Obama from Illinois, could rejuvenate the party in the future (though with a name like that, and I believe his middle name is Hussein, it’s unlikely given America’s mood now he could ever actually run for the top office — he’s black too). “Sometimes losing an election is bad in the short term, but good for the long term,” he said. Larry King quipped that from anyone other than Biden he’d have seen such a comment as spin on steroids. But he believed Biden meant it.
Perhaps. It’s hard to see any silver lining for the Democrats this year. President Kerry will campaign on, seeking some way to the magic number of 270 electoral votes, while the Allen camp whispers about a landslide rivaling Reagan’s of 1980 (though not quite 1984). Is it sometimes better in the long term to lose an election? Time will tell.
(Dispatch from an alternate universe ends: The quantum connection between the universe where Kerry won in 2004 and this universe is fading…I’m afraid this is the only entry I could retrieve.)