January 4, 2008

On voting for a candidate because you think other people will like him — AKA The Kerry Mistake.

Back in July 2004, I blogged this email from my son John Althouse Cohen:
You wrote about how everyone watching the convention is imagining how the speeches will seem to someone else, even though it might be that none of those "someone elses" are actually watching the speeches. The same thing happened when Kerry won the primaries. Everyone was voting for him because they thought he would appeal to someone else. And those voters believed at the time that that was the politically savvy thing to do. But it was actually politically disastrous: if everyone was just voting for him because they thought someone else would like him, then NO ONE ACTUALLY LIKED HIM.

One problem is that if you're trying to choose the most "electable" person, I would imagine that you'd be likely to do it by process of elimination -- by ruling out all the candidates with obvious political liabilities. I think this is the number-one reason why Kerry won the primaries: he was the only candidate who didn't seem to have anything particularly wrong with him. Edwards was too inexperienced; Clark was a poor campaigner; Dean seemed kind of insane; Gephardt was too liberal; Lieberman was too conservative. So they choose the one candidate who has no qualities that would really make anyone hate him. The problem is that he also has no qualities that would really make anyone like him either.
Today, John reminds me of that old blog post and sends me this piece from The Plank by Jonathan Cohn:
I'll leave the strategic implications of tonight's outcome to the professional speculators on television. But, as a supporter of progressive causes, I'm struck by how different this feels from the 2004 Iowa race — when the late implosion of the front-runner (Howard Dean) handed the contest to a candidate (John Kerry) whom almost everybody understood to be a severely limited politician and about whom almost nobody was actually enthusiastic.

You can't say that about what just transpired. Barack Obama has a great many people excited about his candidacy – many of them new to the political process or, at least, new to the Democratic Party. He won this race not because the caucus-goers found him the least objectionable alternative, but because they found him the most appealing. They liked his speeches. They liked his ideas. They liked him.

71 comments:

matthew said...

I don't know if this counts as liking him, but I'd rather have Obama as a Law Professor then either Bill or Hillary Clinton.

former law student said...

I liked Dean, although the media hated him. His pep rally yell seemed no weirder than how Steve Ballmer acts at Microsoft pep rallies.

MadisonMan said...

The pep rally yell was only loud because it got into the Right Wing Blogging Echo chamber and the reverb there was really amped.

But isn't there always a politician every 4 years that brings out enthusiastic supporters who are new to the political process? In '04 it was Howard Dean -- remember his novel method of raising money on the internet?

EnigmatiCore said...

Obama has the line of the day so far:

"This feels good. It's just like I imagined it when I was talking to my kindergarten teacher."

rhhardin said...

Obama struck me as like Kerry, in a clip this morning, talking about ``choices and challenges.''

It's the same mindless joining of words that Kerry couldn't resist.

Nothing is ever a single thing. Another word is always added. It feels like it adds weight to an empty predicate.

Kerry always felt he was speaking to posterity. He was channeling Lincoln, but lacked the coal shovel.

Obama is speaking to youth. It's the inexperience demographic.

tightspotkilo said...

The scream was full tilt nutsy fagin all by itself. Nobody echo chambered it or reverbed it.

If Obama manages to actually to win the nomination his chances to win it all will immediately dry up the first time he repeats his intention for an immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq. So, as his viability grows, I'm betting he moderates that one.

Bruce Hayden said...

Yes, Kerry was a politically limited candidate, but the other side is that when the Democrats looked at all the obvious defects in candidates, they missed Kerry's big one - his speech before Congress defaming those fighting and dying in Vietnam.

Blind, because we were at war, and his anti-war antics of the early 1970s did not play well with the general populace, and in particular, with Vietnam vets. I know several of them who held their noses and voted for a Republican for president in that last election for the first time in their lives. All the Vietnam vet votes he lost were likely sufficient to have lost him the election.

Let me suggest that the problem was that those at the top of the party across the country were sympathetic to his views on Vietnam, and were of the generation to have been out there spitting on the returning troops - many of whom were only there because they were not in college and so got drafted. This elite didn't see that speech, going to Paris to treat with our enemies, etc., to be as big, if not a bigger, liability than all of the stuff listed above for the other candidates.

Bruce Hayden said...

In Obama's defense, I think he really is smarter than Kerry, likely a lot smarter. Kerry's speeches often seemed to be an empty chaining of phrases, because that was what they were. I have long held that his supposed nuance was mostly being lost.

Obama is probably not be as smart as his fellow Harvard LS grad running for president, but is likely smarter than most of the other candidates.

That doesn't mean that he can't make major mistakes, but rather, that there is a chance that he could grow through this. His biggest problem, in my view (besides being a lot more liberal than the rest of the country) is his inexperience in campaigning, esp. at this level.

ZPS said...

Leave it to Althouse and her constituency to begin comparing Obama to Kerry the day after Iowa. Brilliant leap guys. Uhh...yeah.

I suppose if Edwards would've won, we'd start hearing about his uncanny resemblance to Jimmy Carter.

Anything to marginalize the Democrat!

Middle Class Guy said...

Both Obama and Huckabee won because people liked them. They were personable and they used plain language in talking to the people of Iowa. The others in comparison were stiff as boards. Edwards was the exception. Though he placed second, people saw through his hatred and hypocrisy. Ron Paul only had the ability to raise money. He actually made people in Iowa dislike him.

jeff said...

"Gephardt was too liberal; Lieberman was too conservative"
Oh, for the good old days where Gephardt represented the liberal wing.
"They liked his speeches. They liked his ideas. They liked him."
I can understand the first and last part, but they like his ideas? Anyone have any idea what they are?

zps needs to work on his reading comprehension. Any comparison to Kerry is based on how different the two of them are and are perceived. As of today, he is the front runner, and Kerry was the last nominee so yeah, they are being compared.

former law student said...

zps: Obama is the unKerry -- the one you like, not the one you hold your nose and vote for because you think he is "electable". In this election, Kerry == HRC.

former law student said...

jeff -- if ideas were all that mattered, kucinich would have had 1/3 of the vote.

Bissage said...

(1) The amps of the right wing blogging echo chamber go up to eleven.

(2) Obama’s winning Iowa proves they like him, they really like him.

AJ Lynch said...

"They liked his speeches. They liked his ideas. They liked him." said the pundit.

Can anyone tell me what Obama's ideas entail?

halojones-fan said...

ZPS: Althouse's post is actually supporting Obama, at least in the sense that it's describing one of Kerry's failings and pointing out that it's not the case for Obama.

jeff said...

FLS- yeah, that's my point. I would like to take a random sampling of all the voters and ask what idea they specifically they liked that their guy supported. I wonder if (on both sides) it would be "to bring everyone together".

Invisible Man said...

Can anyone tell me what Obama's ideas entail?

You mean like his idea to provide a Universal Mortgage Credit, simplify IRS filings using existing credit information, a middle-class tax cut, a reform of the Health Insurance industry without a mandate, a cap and trade system for carbon, expansion of AmeriCorps etc. Just take a look at his website, there's a whole lot there than you'll find for any Republican, except maybe Fred Thompson whose put a pretty hefty list of policy ideas forth, even if I disagree with most of them.

Kirby Olson said...

The Democratic caucus system is heavily slanted towards kids in college or just out of college. Not many people have time to spend two hours on a dumb process. Loners and those without real jobs or who haven't got kids yet are what fills the Democratic caucuses, and they go wild over people like Obama.

When the real people trudge out next November to make their sentiments felt, they aren't going to be taken in by Obama's idealism.

Real life demands are such that you want to see someone who isn't all fired up, but someone who is hunkered down, and real. The guy from New Mexico is who all the real people would have been for.

Obama is for the neophytes.

Kerry must have actually fooled the young with his wind surfing and so on, and his high-sounding rhetoric. But the real people trudged out and voted for someone who was at least real, like them.

Obama is a hollow man, and so is Edwards.

Hillary and Giuliani are the most real of all the candidates.

Someone real is inhabiting those two bodies.

Kirby Olson said...

I should have said, "major" candidates.

Richardson is real, but he's not going to be taken seriously this round.

Palladian said...

"Hillary and Giuliani are the most real of all the candidates."

Athlete's foot, scabies, Brazilian Wandering spiders, vomit, Nazis, pineapple-topped pizza, and Lindsay Lohan are all "real" too. Doesn't make them good.

jeff said...

"You mean like his idea to provide a Universal Mortgage Credit, simplify IRS filings using existing credit information, a middle-class tax cut, a reform of the Health Insurance industry without a mandate, a cap and trade system for carbon, expansion of AmeriCorps etc."

No, I mean HOW?

ZPS said...

Althouse's bolding of "they choose the one candidate who has no qualities that would really make anyone hate him" seems to be her way of telling us that Obama is just like Kerry in that regard. Or maybe it's just me that subconsciously believes that that really is the only reason Obama won. ! Oh no!

But again, why the bolding? Not to get all Maxine on everyone, but...a responsible blogger like Althouse should intervene in this case and tell us what she really thinks instead of aloofly copy/pasting text from other people without any of her own commentary.

And at least one of you jumped on Althouse's suggestion (or at least my interpretation of her suggestion) when rhhardin said:

"Obama struck me as like Kerry, in a clip this morning, talking about ``choices and challenges.''
It's the same mindless joining of words that Kerry couldn't resist."

In the end, I think Althouse thinks that Obama won because there was nothing to hate about him, and I slightly agree. But that's no reason to compare him to Kerry. I hated everything about Kerry long before Iowa 2004.

madawaskan said...

Honestly could you Liberal bastards pass a reading comrehension test for third graders?

Ya monkeys.

Ann's son and Cohn are contrasting Kerry and Obama.

Go look that up.

Should take about a month.

(and by gawd if Doyle's been banned-my Christmas wish came true.)

Piss off you hosers!

{there I feel better.}

madawaskan said...

Damn it- I "found" Doyle-nevermind.

.

Kirk Parker said...

FLS,

"[Dean's] pep rally yell seemed no weirder than how Steve Ballmer acts at Microsoft pep rallies."

OK, but that alone is enough to qualify for involuntary commitment, isn't it? Or at at least a 72-hour observation?

Verso said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

About the bolding. My son put it in and I tried to take it out, but I didn't get it all out. So what you saw was part of another person's bolding — rather meaningless. I should have gotten it all out or left it all in.

Anyway, I just took it all out.

It wasn't all that hard to understand. Was ZPS playing dumb to waste our time or does he really have a reading comprehension problem? Cuz that was really dumb, ZPS.

Verso said...

John (and Jon) make a good point about Kerry in 2004. I was intrigued by this Matt Yglesias post which suggests Obama, if anything, had the opposite problem:

Yglesias:

"One crucial thing Barack Obama did last night was get white people to vote for him. Lots and lots of white people. Iowa's not the kind of place where you can dominate the black vote, plus add on a sliver of white liberals and win a primary. To win -- even in a primary -- you need the support of white people.

"And one thing holding Obama back among both black and white voters has been, I think, a fear that other people won't be willing to vote for a black guy. Winning a primary does a lot to dispel those worries. Winning a majority in a primary would do more, but given the presence of three strong contenders in Iowa that clearly wasn't on the table. The analogy, I think, is to JFK winning the West Virginia primary and showing that a Catholic from Boston could win in a state where there was no urban "ethnic" machine to serve as his base."

former law student said...

In the end, I think Althouse thinks that Obama won because there was nothing to hate about him

But consider the massive, record-setting turnout. Generally, people turn out in numbers like that to support the candidate they like. This is midwinter in Iowa you know. Staying home by the fire and watching a bowl game is more appealing. The only exception is if they truly hated Hillary and wanted to keep her from winning. Do 2/3 of Democrats hate and despise HRC? Or do they like other candidates more?

Revenant said...

The pep rally yell was only loud because it got into the Right Wing Blogging Echo chamber and the reverb there was really amped.

Nah, it sounded goofy in the original version, too. He came off like a pro wrestler promising to get even at the big cage match next Sunday. Never, ever yell into a microphone.

ZPS said...

Fine. The Republicans are right and the Liberal bastard is wrong. I guess it was just me. I believe that most people voted for Obama because there's nothing to hate about him. And, of course, because of white guilt.

He hasn't said anything that would make me believe he has anything more specific to offer as President than Hillary or Rudy...two of Ann's faves. And because Obama is anti-war, it was my knee jerk reaction to assume Ann would be inclined to criticize him....even if that means incorrectly comparing him to Kerry.

If that's liberal reading comprehension, what would conservative reading comprehension entail?

LoafingOaf said...

tightspotkilo said: If Obama manages to actually to win the nomination his chances to win it all will immediately dry up the first time he repeats his intention for an immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq. So, as his viability grows, I'm betting he moderates that one.

Obama's been calling for a phased - not immediate - withdrawal all along.

Blake said...

ZPS,

You're hardly the only liberal in this thread. You're just the only one who had trouble with it.

Someone who had the same problem on the other side of the aisle probably would have come to the same conclusion: "Ann's saying Obama only won because people think others will like him."

As someone not invested in either side particularly, my thoughts usually run toward "Why are some people so obsessed with what Althouse thinks?" (I know the answer, of course but it's not very satisfying.)

Althouse is very idiosyncratic in the way she thinks (or as she portrays that here). The whole thing about reluctantly voting for Hilary, for example. Some clearly see it as a big set up, a pretense to liberalism or Democrat-ism, so that she can pull a big switch as election day approaches. I see it as tracking perfectly with her earlier voting stories (such as for Carter).

I'm not the premiere Althouse-ologist by any means, but I'd think that presuming she had that kind of influence, she would find it creepy and weird for a bunch of people to say, "Yes, Althouse is voting this way and so must we!"

But for some, all is politics and political games.

ZPS said...

Now of course, without the bolding, it reads differently. Funny how that ONE line was inadvertently bolded. I used it to make what was a reasonable argument...and now it's unbolded. I don't know how to read. Funny.

"So they choose the one candidate who has no qualities that would really make anyone hate him."

Love,
ZPS

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
An Edjamikated Redneck said...

"Why are some people so obsessed with what Althouse thinks?"

I can tell you, that as a registered independant, who basically votes Republican, but leans Libertarian, I like to know what Ann thinks about the candidates because of her, shall we say 'checkered' past voting record.

How many times have we heard that 33% of the country are Dems; 33% are Repubs and the final 33% swings back and forth and decides elections?

Ann is an articulate (and CLEAN) member of that 33%; it is the folks who think along the same lines as she does who will probably decide the next election.

EnigmatiCore said...

"I believe that most people voted for Obama because there's nothing to hate about him. And, of course, because of white guilt. "

I can picture the scene, playing out in countless Iowan abodes early yesterday evening.

Honey?

Yes?

I am thinking about heading down to the Democratic Caucuses to vote for Obama.

Why would you do that? It is freezing cold outside! And the house is nice and cozy!

Well, I was just thinking that there is nothing I absolutely hate about the guy. I have to act on this!

Are you sure?

Yes I am. Besides, I feel really guilty about being white and all. Join me?

Now that you mention it, it is really awkward being white and all. And I don't hate him either. Let's go!

John Stodder said...

John Kerry was burdened by the reputation of appearing to be much, much smarter than he really was. He had Lincoln's face but Warren G. Harding's mind.

Kerry was a free-ride preppie with conventional 1970s liberal views who parlayed his vague fame into the Democratic nomination in a year when the field was extremely weak. He was the quintessential "old whore" who hung around long enough to become respectable within the Dem establishment. But the inability of Kerry, Kerry's campaign or the Democratic leadership to even conceive that he might have to answer for his "Genghis Khan" testimony was a sign of groupthink at its worst. The Swift-boaters' funding was dodgy, but their most devasting message was absolutely true, because it was a recording of Kerry's own words.

But you know what? All of this is a bad memory. Obama won Iowa. He won it big. He won in a predominantly white state. He won by running a smart campaign. He is actually smart, not pretend-smart.

His next challenge will be to survive the coming Clinton onslaught. Those who think he's too inexperienced to run foreign policy or defend the country will have their views confirmed or refuted after Clinton's done with him. If Obama retains his composure and keeps plugging away, we'll know he is plenty tough enough and up to the challenge of being president.

ZPS said...

Wikipedia:

According to Shelby Steele, white guilt is "a form of self-congratulation, where whites initiate 'compassionate policies' toward people of color, to showcase their innocence to racism"

EnigmatiCore said...

Well, damn. That settles it then! No lesser authority on the matter than Shelby Steele!

Doug said...

Hillary and Giuliani are the most real of all the candidates.

Oh, jeez, are you kidding me? Giuliani is a cartoon of his own design; he's no more "real" than the CGI characters in Pixar movies. He's not a person at all, just a robot that shows up to repeat "9/11, 9/11" over and over again. If he hadn't been mayor on 9/11, he wouldn't even show up on film right now.

EnigmatiCore said...

"If he hadn't been mayor on 9/11"

Well, that and the whole revitalizing the city that was considered to be beyond revitalization.

ZPS said...

"Whites (and American institutions) must acknowledge historical racism to show themselves redeemed by it, but once they acknowledge it, they lose moral authority over everything having to do with race, equality, social justice, poverty and so on. [...] The authority they lose transfers to the 'victims' of historical racism and becomes their great power in society. This is why white guilt is quite literally the same thing as black power."

"So they choose the one candidate who has no qualities that would really make anyone hate him."

EnigmatiCore said...

Or they decide to go out on a cold winter's night to support the candidate who appeals to them.

Which explanation is simpler?

I wish there was a razor or something we could use to cut through this confusion...

ZPS said...

Confusing?

"White guilt is "a form of self-congratulation, where whites initiate "compassionate policies" toward people of color, to showcase their innocence to racism."

"(In 1972) temperatures dipped below zero across most of the state. The weather forced about one-fourth of Iowa's 99 counties to postpone their Democratic caucuses up to two days after the scheduled date.

"The forecast for Thursday (2007) is much better. Temperatures will be in the 20s during the day and dip just below that as the caucuses begin, according to the Des Moines Register."

...hardly.

John Stodder said...

Enigmatic Core, you are cracking me up.

Why would anyone expect a bunch of Iowans to suddenly be motivated by a spasm of white guilt? They've had more than 40 years to exorcise their consciences.

A lot of Obama's voters were born in the '70s and '80s. What sins against other races would be agitating them right now?

Cedarford said...

I really really like Obama!

I really, really like my neighbors Tom & Kelly. They are great people. Smart, friendly, articulate. Tom's stories are soaring and spellbinding. He is a construction company owner. Kelly is head of art and graphics and has final ad approval for art and style with her clients - at a medium-sized newspaper.

God, I really, really like them. So does my wife. So do nearly everyone I know.

I do not want Kelly running for mayor, though. She has no experience in any town business. And I would not get on a helicopter with Tom with my family. Though he just solo'd, and I really, really like him, I wouldn't trust a ride with him with my family's life in the balance on simply liking him. Too much at stake until he shows he can do the flying well, with more flight hours.

And I really, really like Obama....but he lacks the experience for me to trust putting may family and my nation in his hands. His soaring oratory and likeability nonwithstanding.

And Huckabee, selected by Iowas partisan activists for the same reason on the opposite end of the spectrum - an articulate, likeable god-fearing man with soaring oratory and not much else - I have the same reservations about.

EnigmatiCore said...

"Temperatures will be in the 20s during the day and dip just below that as the caucuses begin, according to the Des Moines Register."

They are Iowans, not Alaskans. When it is in the teens, it is still bloody cold for them.

Strange, but true!

Joshua said...

Well, that and the whole revitalizing the city that was considered to be beyond revitalization.

Not really.

http://nymag.com/news/features/41550/index1.html

tightspotkilo said...

"If he hadn't been mayor on 9/11"

Well, that and the whole revitalizing the city that was considered to be beyond revitalization.


And if he hadn't spent the 1980s busting up the Mafia and sending them off to prison.

EnigmatiCore said...

Sorry, Joshua, but that article is a lot of revisionist history.

But what do I know. I only lived on Long Island during the time in question.

John Stodder said...

The article Joshua links us to...and this happens so often, we have to invent a word for it...actually 100 percent backs up the claim that Giuliani is responsible for "revitalizing the city that was considered to be beyond revitalization."

I mean, of course, it should come as a great shock to people that New York magazine writers don't love Rudy Giuliani. So in this case, the author (Chris Smith) does his best to dilute the unchallengable accomplishments of the Giuliani years. But he does so mostly by focusing on Rudy's silly feuds, demands he be given credit, ugly personal life, and some marginal statistical disputes with a few of his claims. His second term sagged. Yeah, that's never happened. A predecessor and his successor try to diminish his accomplishments. Omigod! Do you think maybe there are other politicians who want credit? Or is Rudy the only one?

The big picture remains, as Smith repeatedly acknowledges: Giuliani shook up a complacent, inertia-bound political culture in New York and in doing so dramatically reduced crime, cut welfare rolls and improved the business climate. He was also a great "face" for New York; every time he clowned around on SNL or on talk shows, he was delivering a message that reassured business, residents and tourists.

Rudy might lose the election. If he gets the nomination and runs against Obama, I will probably vote for Obama. The management-style issues pointed out in the piece are certainly fair game in assessing whether he could be a good president.

But what Giuliani did for NY is not arguable. And the piece Joshua linked to...doesn't argue! Even though he implied that it did.

Hint to left-wing commenters: When you link an article that is supposed to prove your point, read it first. Just in case someone like me decides not to take your word for it.

ZPS said...

If turning Manhattan into a trough of subpar entertainment and sugar highs for obese tourists while trading out minorities and low income workers for white upper class hipster elites and 10 million dollar studio apartments means "revitalization"...ok.

As far me, I'd rather have a few extra murders and hookers instead of a crooked adulterous mayor's version of "family fun."

Bissage said...

Well folks, there you have it! Some people love the sound of broken windows.

John Stodder said...

As far me, I'd rather have a few extra murders and hookers instead of a crooked adulterous mayor's version of "family fun."

So which candidate is closest to your platform?

ZPS said...

I think Obama is closest to my platform.

Revenant said...

I think Obama is closest to my platform.

Somehow I don't expect to see Obama running on the "more murder, less family-friendliness in our cities" platform anytime soon.

Trooper York said...

As a Knick fan, I don't think I can bring myself to vote for someone who looks so much like Reggie Miller.

EnigmatiCore said...

"As far me, I'd rather have a few extra murders and hookers instead of a crooked adulterous mayor's version of "family fun.""

Just... wow.

How compassionate. No white guilt for you-- you would rather the NY poor (predominantly black) who tended to be the victims of the murders there, to be at greater risk of being murdered than the city to be family friendly.

And all those hookers? They were someone's daughter. If you have one, now or in the future, you might want to think about if you want there to be more prostitution, or less. Because the efforts of Giuliani decreased prostitution, not just moved it elsewhere.

EnigmatiCore said...

"I think Obama is closest to my platform."

That's just white guilt talking. Mustn't be cold enough where you are to keep it bottled up.

ZPS said...

"...you would rather the NY poor (predominantly black) who tended to be the victims of the murders there, to be at greater risk of being murdered than the city to be family friendly."

Actually, no.

To be serious (surprise surprise, the muder/hooker comment was a joke), I'd prefer the people who once lived in New York to have had the chance to live and thrive and evolve there, the place they called home. Instead, droves of them were and continue to be flushed out of the city and into the Southern States where crime rates (New Orleans, Atlanta, etc.) soar year after year.

I believe in solving problems where they exist. Not moving them somewhere else where they remain just as big if not bigger problems. But hey, New York is fun now. And rent for a 200 sq. ft studio is $5000/month. Thanks, Rudy.

John Stodder said...

Instead, droves of them were and continue to be flushed out of the city and into the Southern States where crime rates (New Orleans, Atlanta, etc.) soar year after year.

Huh?

Any data to back this up?

I've not read much about Giuliani's "flushing" program. Please provide a link. And you say it's still in effect? Hm, that could be very damaging politically for both Giuliani and Bloomberg.

If there was a shred of truth to it.

BTW, I understand the concept of gentrification, which is going on in every major city, including New Orleans and Atlanta. You seem to be describing something else, more like London's program of transporting criminals and other undesirables to Australia as a form of sentencing.

Revenant said...

They were someone's daughter. If you have one, now or in the future, you might want to think about if you want there to be more prostitution, or less.

The realistic question is whether you want there to be prostitution in which women are marginalized and easily abused -- i.e., illegal prostitution -- or prostitution in which the women have legal recourse -- i.e., legal prostitution. It isn't a matter of "more" or "less".

Joshua said...

The big picture remains, as Smith repeatedly acknowledges: Giuliani shook up a complacent, inertia-bound political culture in New York and in doing so dramatically reduced crime, cut welfare rolls and improved the business climate.

Crime and welfare rolls were already on the downswing, and the business climate was improving all over the country.

The murder rate dropped 74 percent. But murders also dropped 73 percent in San Diego; killings were down 70 percent in Austin, 59 percent in Honolulu, and 56 percent in Boston. None of those miracles, however, was accompanied by a cult of personality forming around the relevant mayor....

....But the rest of the story illustrates the sleight of hand Giuliani uses to embellish his record. “His welfare people matched the city data with the State Department of Labor data, and basically found that people were working already,” says Ester Fuchs, a Columbia University professor of public affairs whom Bloomberg hired to evaluate city government when he was elected. “So they found fraud, sent out letters, people left the rolls—and they were instantly employed!” Weeding out fraud is an inarguable achievement, but Giuliani makes it sound as if he also created a robust jobs program.


The point is that Rudy Giuliani was the fortunate beneficiary of national trends, not the instigator of a unique NY renaissance. Note to John Stodder: learn the difference between correlation and causation, rather than dismissing the distinction as a minor statistical dispute, and more importantly, read a source article before you claim it confirms your biases.

Blake said...

Rev,

Did Giuliani make prostitution more illegal?

EnigmatiCore said...

"To be serious (surprise surprise, the muder/hooker comment was a joke), I'd prefer the people who once lived in New York to have had the chance to live and thrive and evolve there, the place they called home. Instead, droves of them were and continue to be flushed out of the city and into the Southern States where crime rates (New Orleans, Atlanta, etc.) soar year after year."

I hate to break this to you-- New Orleans had a crime problem long before Rudy cleaned up NY. And you know what? NY's improvement did not make NO worse.

But here's a thought-- why not replicate what he did in NY elsewhere, so criminals have nowhere to go?

Well, other than Canada or Mexico. But the northern folks can handle it since we're protecting the continent, and the southern folks have been giving us problems so it would be just an even swap.

But I do appreciate you falling back on the 'it was a joke' line. It's always funny to joke about more dead blacks and more hos. Good times, good times.

John Stodder said...

Joshua,

It's a huge article, so you can quote selectively, and so can I. As I said, the writer obviously dislike Giuliani, and gives him only grudging praise because to do otherwise would strip whatever pretense of objectivity he started with.

It is utterly stupid to compare the crime rates of New York with San Diego or Honolulu. Even Boston is an inapt comparison. Giuliani's reputation doesn't just rest on the stats -- although incumbents do earn certain rights when good things happen on their watch; just ask Bill Clinton. The birth-dearth effect on crime was a general phenomenon and that's not a mystery. Giuliani's claim to uniqueness comes from the level of dysfunction in NY's government. His predecessors were all well-intentioned people, but they couldn't battle the bureucracy to any effect. He did it. As the article frequently acknowledges.

This whole debate started because you represented the New York article as a repudiation of Giuliani's mayoral record. I've demonstrated that it wasn't a repudiation of his record at all. No such repudiation can exist because the facts are what they are. You confused the article's grumpy tone with the facts it presented.

ZPS said...

"Any data to back this up?"

Yeah:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/12/nyregion/12census.html?ref=nyregion

Whether or not Giuliani is responsible for the flushing is up to you. But I think you know what my opinion is.

John Stodder said...

That article is a non sequiter to what we were talking about.

1. It's dated 2007. Giuliani was no longer mayor as of 2001.

2. It specifically focuses on black flight. Not Latinos.

3. You're assuming that the black flight from NY is of the working poor out of gentrifying neighborhoods. Maybe, maybe not. In LA, there has also been a long pattern of black flight, but gentrification is a minor factor compared with the growth of the Latino population, including illegal alients willing to work at sub-minimum wages, drying up that part of the job market. There is also racial conflict between blacks and Latinos. Given that blacks have a smaller population, they're the ones who tend to be yielding their neighborhoods.

3. You're also assuming gentrification is a whites-only phenomenon. It's not. Affluent blacks have upgraded many historic neighborhoods in major cities.

4. Middle- and upper-middle class blacks have been going to the suburbs for 25+ years. The old racist covenants that halted this movement are pretty much gone. The blacks that remain in cities are largely seniors and non-intact families -- the people who might want to move, but can't.

I'll add my own wild speculation. The economies of a number of Southern states like North Carolina are booming. With the older cities becoming more and more Latino, and with jobs plentiful in the south where blacks retain a population edge, doesn't it make sense that upwardly mobile black families might give it a try? New York has a brutally high cost of living; the South is a lot cheaper. One of my friends moved out there about seven years ago from LA, and they're loving it. Maybe it's a trend. The article did say black flight was happening in NY "and other cities."

Shorter version: There is a liberal myth that Giuliani was anti-black and was responsible for all police brutality where the victims were black. This is slander without a factual basis. When a moderate politician succeeds in a liberal town, the race card always gets played, and there is a portion of the media and the public ready to believe it.

Doug said...

All this talk about what Giuliani did as NYC mayor might be convincing if he were actually running on any of that, but he isn't. Instead he's trying to position himself as the national-security candidate, which is an absolute joke.

Unless someone can point me to a national-security achievement of Giuliani's other than:

1) Not curling up into the fetal position on 9/11
2) Not showing up for a single meeting of the Iraq Study Group
3) Moving NYC's emergency-response headquarters into the most obvious terrorist target in the entire city

If Giuliani did such a bang-up job as mayor, then great, let him run for mayor again. But he's got no business being president, no matter how thoroughly he's managed to convince himself that he's going to save the country from the Islamofascists.