No more years? (Andrew Sullivan edition)

by John Quiggin on September 21, 2004

The idea that the forthcoming US election would be a good one to lose keeps on spreading. Here’s Andrew Sullivan

if Bush wins and heads into a real, live second Vietnam in Iraq, his party will split, the country will become even more bitterly polarized than now (especially if he’s re-elected because he’s not Kerry) and he’ll become another end-of-career Lyndon Johnson.

In my view, any rational supporter of the Republican party should hope for Bush’s defeat, since a victory will be disastrous for all concerned. A Kerry victory would be better for the United States and the world, but not necessarily for the long-term interests of the Democratic party.

Some updates over the fold

A couple more thoughts on this:

First, I’ll say again that the consequences of Bush winning again are so bad that we have to hope for his defeat, whatever the difficulties the Democrats will face in office.

Second, as I said in my first post on this, this kind of view is one that, in practice can only be taken by an outsider. The only Republican defeatists I’ve seen are Brits. As for me, the same argument can be applied, though with less force, in Australia. We’re at the end of an unsustainable housing bubble, and if Labor wins the election, it will have to clean up the mess. A dispassionate outsider might conclude that another term in opposition wouldn’t be so bad. But I really want Howard to lose. It follows, of course, that this kind of argument is irrelevant in practical terms.

But the most important point is the implication for how Kerry should be campaigning. He should be pointing out now, at every opportunity, how bad things are on both Iraq and the fiscal and trade balances. That way the public will be prepared for some decisive action if he gets in. It’s only in the last couple of days that he’s said anything serious about Iraq. As for the budget deficit, it got one line in his convention speech and hasn’t been heard of since.

{ 93 comments }

1

abb1 09.21.04 at 1:04 pm

…rational supporter of the Republican party? Excuse me?

2

Barry 09.21.04 at 1:13 pm

Four more years of looting, four more years of tax cuts for the rich, four more years of right-wing whacko judges, four more years of ‘to oppose the GOP is to oppose America, and God’.

Then, lose by a 60-40 split in the vote (showing that 40% of American voters will reliably screw themselves), keep the House of Representatives and the federal jundiciary, along with a large chunk of the mass media. F*ck up everything that the Democrats do to fix the mess, while blaming them for the mess.

It sounds like a good plan to me.

3

jet 09.21.04 at 1:33 pm

Why would 4 more years of Bush be bad for the Republican party? The rich, while enjoying a higher percentage cut in their tax rates, pay a higher overall percentage of the tax burden than they did in 2000. Iraq has now settled into a stalemate, but with a legitimized government in the Winter with 7,000 Iraqi battle hardened soldiers to enforce their will, the Spring will be bloody and conclusive.

The unemployment rate is about as low as is desireable for growth, the economy’s rate of growth is high and steady.

And it makes the scum bags in France squirm.

Why don’t Republicans want Bush again?

4

bull 09.21.04 at 1:48 pm

As a person who almost always votes Republican but plans to vote for Mr. John this time, the reasons for doing so seem pretty obvious:

1. Divided government would cut down on wasteful spending
2. The new President wouldn’t shrug at torture
3. Big John is a nauseatingly pompous, over-intellectualizing stiff who has no experience as a manager and would not be able to connect on a personal level with people. He would almost certainly be a one-term President. Maybe next time the Republicans would nominate someone whose base principles extend beyond being reelected.

5

Brian Weatherson 09.21.04 at 1:48 pm

I hope some doctoral student is working on a good dissertation in how in the right-wing fantasy view of the world the French became the ultimate bogeyman to be trotted out as part of every diatribe. The Germans I could almost understand – they have a left-wing government and we did go to war with them twice recently – but the French I don’t understand at all.

6

Howard Green 09.21.04 at 1:51 pm

It seems to me that both major parties are unholy alliances: to oversimplify, the GOP between the religous right on one side and more traditional foreign policy and domestic conservatives with an upper class bias on the other; the Democrats between a labor/urban/working class black and brown consituency on the one hand and an educated upper middle class who live in upscale city neighborhoods and nearby cities on the other. The party that loses this election is in danger of fracturing along its essential fault line. The party that wins postpones its day of reckoning.

7

Frank 09.21.04 at 2:12 pm

I hope some doctoral student is working on a good dissertation in how in the right-wing fantasy view of the world the French became the ultimate bogeyman to be trotted out as part of every diatribe. The Germans I could almost understand – they have a left- wing government and we did go to war with them twice recently – but the French I don’t understand at all.

Brian: Having lived in the U.S., Canada, England and Spain, I don’t find it surprising at all. There is a certain smugness about France that rubs people in all these countries the wrong way. I can sense it myself… and I am both leftwing and a Frenchman. On the other hand, the stereotypes of America, England and Spain in various of the above countries are hardly more complimentary, or rational. For North Americans, France represents all of continental Europe, a place to visit but not to trust. I think they picked it up from the English.

8

Barry 09.21.04 at 2:38 pm

Jet, all that I can say is – Wow!

9

harry 09.21.04 at 2:43 pm

I would favour a Bush victory on the grounds that it would be a one-term Presidnecy and give the midterms in both houses to the Dems, except for the fact that the Dems have shown over and over again their extraordinary facility for throwing these things away. So, should I prefer Kerry, and a Republican landslide in both houses in 2006? That is what Kerry’s supporters are offering us, quite independently of bull’s 3rd point, which is correct.

10

Chris 09.21.04 at 2:48 pm

I don’t really see how Bush’s reelection would be bad for Republicans, either. It’s likely that in his secondd term, he will feel freer to work on social conservative policies, thereby solidifying the ultra-conservative base. At the same time, the American people, with their eyes firmly veiled by fear and propagandad, have shown little capacity to find fault in Bush, with his ratings on Iraq going up! as the outlook gets worse. If they American people reelect him, I will have even less confidence in them. With a Republican majority in both houses, a Republican President, a conservative court, and Bush’s ability to make Iran, Syria, or North Korea look like the next great threat, I’m afraid that all Bush will do is piss Democrats off even more.

Democrats haven’t shown that they are capable of capitalizing on Bush’s many mistakes, either.

11

ajay 09.21.04 at 2:56 pm

Iraq has now settled into a stalemate, but with a legitimized government in the Winter with 7,000 Iraqi battle hardened soldiers to enforce their will, the Spring will be bloody and conclusive.

Yes, it will.
(The bloody conclusion which I anticipate is possibly different from the bloody conclusion which you anticipate.)

12

abb1 09.21.04 at 3:11 pm

That is what Kerry’s supporters are offering us, quite independently of bull’s 3rd point, which is correct.

Hmm, wasn’t he a lieutenant governor and DA (or assistant DA?) in MA? Doesn’t it count for “experience as a manager”?

13

Chance the Gardener 09.21.04 at 3:22 pm


I would favour a Bush victory on the grounds that it would be a one-term Presidnecy

Despite his campaign strategy of running away from his first term, if Bush won, he would not, by definition, be a one term presidency.

And you really, honestly think that Kerry would be just as bad as this guy? Best thing a president can do is get the hell out of the way. Gridlock is fine with me. Clinton had gridlock, didn’t get much done on his agenda, and we had long years of prosperity.

Boring, nuanced, and somewhat ineffective is not such a bad thing right now.

Stubborn and ignorant is a bad thing right now.

And we don’t have four more years to let Bush dig himself a bigger hole. Something needs to be done now.

14

Jonathan Edelstein 09.21.04 at 3:34 pm

The idea that the forthcoming US election would be a good one to lose keeps on spreading.

I’m very, very skeptical of arguments that follow from the premise that things have to get worse before they get better. Most of the time, the first happens but the second doesn’t.

15

Katherine 09.21.04 at 3:39 pm

It was also widely thought that given the Florida meshugas, the last election would be a good one to lose.

Any Democrats feel that way now?

History is unpredictable. And the scandals some expect will not happen with a Republican Congress unwilling to do real investigation and factfinding. The press, even if it were good and competent enough to keep the stories going on its own, which it’s not, will run into a brick wall of selectively classified information.

16

Matt 09.21.04 at 3:51 pm

I’m always suspicious about ‘worse is better’ arguments. Generally, better is better.

17

Giles 09.21.04 at 3:56 pm

I’d have thought this thesis that this would be a good election to loose is one of the reasons why the Democrats will loose; the whole idea stinks of laziness and incomptence – if you don’t have any ideas about how to sort out the problems the country is likely to face in the next 4 years you shouldn’t be standing for government.

“I hope some doctoral student is working on a good dissertation in how in the right-wing fantasy view of the world the French became the ultimate bogeyman”

Well a good place to start would be here:-
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/09/19/wniger19.xml

A more insteresting question would be to ask why France has become the standard bearer of leftist intellectuals when it has a right wing government and the electorate has few qualms about casting its lot in with semi fascists.

18

AlanB. 09.21.04 at 3:56 pm

The losing is better thing seems to be based on the assumption that 2 or four more years of Bush would make it glaringly obvious that he has messed up everything he touches and we would be better off without him. What exactly are you expecting to see happen that would not make it more obvious than it is now? He talks tough and idealistic on foreign policy, and that gets him 24-25 percent of the electorate. He talks to Jesus, that gets him another 24-25%. What makes you think this would change?

19

AlanB. 09.21.04 at 4:08 pm

The losing is better thing seems to be based on the assumption that 2 or four more years of Bush would make it glaringly obvious that he has messed up everything he touches and we would be better off without him. What exactly are you expecting to see happen that would not make it more obvious than it is now? He talks tough and idealistic on foreign policy, and that gets him 24-25 percent of the electorate. He talks to Jesus, that gets him another 24-25%. What makes you think this would change?

20

Jeffrey Davis 09.21.04 at 4:09 pm

I’m a liberal Democrat, and I’d like to see Bush lose, but the idea that any election is good to lose is pure sour grapes. CW doesn’t have a good recent record. CW was that Clinton would be a 1 termer. CW was that his tax policies would bring about a recession.

21

bob mcmanus 09.21.04 at 4:24 pm

“What makes you think this would change?”

Currency collapse? Nuclear exchange?

Things can get better by getting worse if things get really really bad. Is the world better or worse off for WWII? Uhh, the people who died, and the immediate survivors were worse off, but are the societies after fifty years?

Of course most don’t plan these kinda thngs, and you try to avoid or postpone them as long as possible. I see Kerry as holding the catastrophe off, but not doing the structural changes that would prevent them. One term, and then DeLay and Coburn and Santorum take the world over the cliff.

1)The resurgence of Dixie with the romance of Pickett’s Charge; 2) Resource depletion and competition for what remains; 3) The baby boomers aging and the stress on the welfare state; 4) China ; 5)Failed states in the Middle East 6) The Bush doctrine paper of 2002, about American world dominance.

Having just watched a thirty year plan for conservative ascendancy come to fruition, the idea of a fifty year plan involving an engineered catastrophe is not so absurd.

22

roger 09.21.04 at 4:26 pm

Quiggen needs to read his Robert Merton about cumulative advantage. Remaining virtuously out of power while you watch the people in power “screw up” (presuming you have a safe place to watch from) is a certain path to irrelevance. It seemed to be Kerry’s strategy in this election, and you can see how well it has served him so far. …

23

Kostya 09.21.04 at 4:36 pm

The Democrats, despite their spendthrift label, have often played the role of “clean-up lady” for the Republican’s self-induced economic messes (Roosevelt, Kennedy, Clinton). A Kerry term would be spent largely extricating the US from foreign ensnarlments, repairing diplomatic fences and cleaning up the domestic balance sheet. On the other hand, an IMF economist has colourfully suggested “fiscal Armageddon” hitting the US economy as early as 2006. Now that would be a mess to clean up!

24

abb1 09.21.04 at 4:51 pm

The losing is better thing seems to be based on the assumption that 2 or four more years of Bush would make it glaringly obvious that he has messed up everything he touches and we would be better off without him. What exactly are you expecting to see happen that would not make it more obvious than it is now?

Some real hardship, obvious drop in real income or a series of terrorist acts inside the US.

Bush has one and only one thing going for him now: no terrorist acts inside the US after 9/11. Or, at least, it’s a common perception.

This is the only advantage Bush has in this election, but it’s a huge one.

25

Leo Casey 09.21.04 at 4:53 pm

It never ceases to amaze me that, no matter how worse the “worse” gets, and Bush is right up at the top of the list for American “worses,” there is always someone who will argue “the worse, the better.” Enough already. If there is a need to make cantankerous argument for the sake of cantankerousness, find a new topic.

26

bob mcmanus 09.21.04 at 4:58 pm

“A Kerry victory would be better for the United States and the world”

Umm, those interests do not necessarily coincide. America, with 5% of the world’s population, currently consumes at least 25% of the world’s resources. Or something like that. As an American, I think I would prefer that that relationship endure for fifty more years, see post below on positional goods.

We too easily assume incompetence. Bush is an idiot, but I could easily see Cheney desiring ME oil to remain in the ground while America increases its military advantage. Thus chaos in Iraq, soon to be chaos in Iran.

I expect Bush to be much more radical in a second term. As an American, I am still thinking about it, but the rest of the world should root for him to lose.

27

Russkie 09.21.04 at 5:01 pm

John Q. wrote:

In my view, any rational supporter of the Republican party should hope for Bush’s defeat, since a victory will be disastrous for all concerned.

What a wonderfully condescending remark….

Quiggin’s absolute certainty that he knows what’s best is to be expected. But does he really think that Republicans are likely to agree with him by virtue of being thoughtful? Or is he just making a cheap rhetorical point by pretending that it’s possible to disagree with him about other things but not possible to disagree about Bush?

28

shinypenny 09.21.04 at 5:05 pm

The worst thing about a Kerry presidency for me will be having to sit through all the Republican whines about how Kerry “lost Iraq”. As if it wasn’t lost from the moment they chose to invade the way they did.

But honestly, I don’t think the country and the world can afford another Bush presidency. His foolish supporters will spin any narrow margin of victory as a massive mandate and approval of their policies first term. God knows what will happen then. I imagine attacks on Iran and/or Syria since BushCo is as blind as bats.

29

a different chris 09.21.04 at 5:11 pm

So Mr. Sullivan has finally found a way to pull the lever for Kerry: “A vote for Kerry in the short term is actually a vote that will destroy the entire Democratic Party in the long term! And meanwhile I have the utmost confidence that the Republican Party will come to their senses on gay rights!!”

Well, I’ll take it. But I really don’t want him on our side, thank you.

30

W. Kiernan 09.21.04 at 5:30 pm

I’ll repost here what I just posted at Atrios:

* begin quote

That’s one of the stupidest fucking things I’ve ever read in my entire life. So we’re supposed to sit back and let that pinch-eyed illiterate moron in the White House demolish the national economy, get us mired in God knows how many more pointless wars, draft our kids and get them killed, rob us of the Social Security program for which we’ve been paying our entire adult lives, jack working people’s taxes sky high in order to liberate millionaires from having to pay any taxes whatsoever, and pack the Supreme Court with fundamentalist mental cases – we’re supposed to cheerfully endure all that just to mess up Republican electoral chances in 2006 and 2008? Fuck that shit.

* end quote

to which I’ll add: You foreigners are pretty good with sitting back and looking at this mess in the U.S.A. dispassionately, can’t you? I imagine I could dream up a few scenarios where your God damned countries get run through a meat grinder tomorrow for some implausible conjectural benefit in the distant future.

31

Ray Davis 09.21.04 at 5:33 pm

Give ’em enough rope and you’ll be hogtied on the way to the gallows.

The Bush team has followed the same simple strategy since long before the 2000 primaries: Whenever you see a chance for more power, grab it. The more power you have, the easier it is to deal with any consequences.

My reading of history validates this approach.

Do you honestly feel you have more room to manoeuvre against a coalition of plutocrats and fundamentalists now, after four years of annulled liberties, repressed information, ignored regulation, media consolidation, and vastly increased national debt, and with ever less tax money coming from those who can best afford it? Do you honestly feel you’ll have more room to manoeuvre after four years more of the same?

Rope-a-dope only works if you’re in condition to take a lot of punches. Middle-class America isn’t.

32

harry 09.21.04 at 5:36 pm

Did the people who are accusing John of saying that ‘worse is better’ read the same post I did? He thinks worse is going to hapen regardless, and that the Dems would probably make things less worse, which would be good for everyone except the Dems because the Dems will, by being in power, get the blame and have to deal with fracturing within their own ranks.

bq. And you really, honestly think that Kerry would be just as bad as this guy?

That’s really not what is at issue here. What’s at issue is the medium term dynamic effects of a Bush victory versus a Kerry victory. I don’t know what they’ll be, and the rest of my comment indicates that. If the Dems were more clued up I’d have more confidence that they could take advantage of another Bush term. But then if they were more clued up they’d have nominated anyone but Gore and someone other than Kerry.

33

jet 09.21.04 at 5:40 pm

Anyone who doesn’t understand why those in the US, especially conservatives, dislike France, needs to read up on Franco-US relations over the last 50 years. For me you can start with France’s insistence that the US not only stop engaging with Ho-Chi Men but that the US help France retake Vietnam.

Another strange observation is many people on this thread don’t seem to comprehend that a significant number of people in the US completely support the war in Iraq. It may be a mess, but many believe it is an honest effort at making the world a better place and will pay major dividends. So if you are going to argue against that, calling Bush an idiot or accusing Cheney of wanting the oil just makes your target audience not only ignore you, but write you off as a crank.

Oh and Kostya, when you say that Roosevelt “cleaned up” Hoover’s mess, don’t forget that the fascists/socialists policies implemented by Roosevelt kept the US economy at negative growth and then slow growth while the fascists in the rest of the world had recovered and were going strong.

34

Tom 09.21.04 at 5:40 pm

The “maybe its better if we lose sentiment”, is one I understand although it will not prevent me from working to elect as many democrats as possible.

I have watched in shock and horror as the Bush gang spin their way out of accepting blame for any of their policy mistakes. They have convinced a large part of the American public that Saddam ordered the 9/11 attack and that Iraq was an immediate threat to the greatest military power the world has ever seen. I am certain that after what these guys have accomplished in the media they will certainly be able to spin the upcoming loss of Iraq, Afghanistan and our own domestic financial crisis as the Democrats fault. Americans will undoubtedly notice these problems some time next Summer and will instinctively take it out on the sitting president. Fox News will help them get the facts straight.

The financial crisis is what really concerns me because as Americans we seem to have developed the capacity for inflicting massive civilian casualties on far away peoples without letting it get us down (so long as our kids aren’t being drafted), but an economic crisis that threatens our wallets is another matter. People will take it very personally when they fully realize the dire shape that our entitlement programs are in. As Paul O’Neil found out before he was so unceremoniously shown the door, we will be looking at effective tax rates above 60% in order to save these programs and maintain the Bush tax cuts by 2010. That 60% figure was from Bush’s treasury department and it scared the crap out of Secretary O’Neil. There will be a backlash against somebody when the people figure out what O’Neil and a growing list of economists have already figured out. We are in trouble and the captain of the ship won’t change course because he thinks it signals weakness.

35

jlw 09.21.04 at 5:44 pm

We’re I safely tucked away in a remote corner of the world–a New Zealand sheep farm, or a cabin on the Chilean coast–I’d be rooting for another Bush term. Knocking those American pricks down a notch or two would serve them right, and DUIbya’s just the man to do it. After the shit hits the fan, and those culturally conservative Midwesterners realize that their life savings–hell, the entire social structure they were counting on–was traded away for a handful of not-so-magic beans by their man Bush, maybe they wouldn’t be such arrogant we’re-living-in-God’s-country bastards.

But I can’t convince my wife to adopt the exile’s lifestyle. So whatever storm’s a-comin’, we’ll be riding it out in the good ol’ U. S. of A. And I’m terrified.

36

jlw 09.21.04 at 5:51 pm

Make that “Were I . . .”

[lousy proofreading]

37

CalDem 09.21.04 at 6:05 pm

Those espousing this view just have no idea how bad these people are. Go look at the record of Negroponte and Cheney and others in central america in the 80s. There is nothing to stop them from dissappearing people, open vote fraud, and detention camps for subversives. Remember, every time we have thought the Bush administration could go no lower, they have found a way to exceed our expectations in the worst way.

38

la 09.21.04 at 6:20 pm

Americas fate is the fate of the world. The American military keeps sea lanes open, fights wars, enforces trade agreements. Who will take this over? China? Good luck.

I for one am sick of playing parent to everyone. No benefits flow to the US for this.

I suggest that we cut the rest of the world lose and let them have at it. It will come to that anyway and maybe we can stay out of it long enough not to be lambasted.

Bush needs to go.

39

michael otsuka 09.21.04 at 6:23 pm

For some reason the post that started this off reminds me of the following:

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best…

And…always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the light side of life…

If life seems jolly rotten
There’s something you’ve forgotten
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you’re feeling in the dumps
Don’t be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing.

And…always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the light side of life…

For life is quite absurd
And death’s the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin – give the audience a grin
Enjoy it – it’s your last chance anyhow.

So always look on the bright side of death
Just before you draw your terminal breath

Life’s a piece of shit
When you look at it
Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true.
You’ll see it’s all a show
Keep ’em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

And always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the right side of life…
(Come on guys, cheer up!)
Always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the bright side of life…
(Worse things happen at sea, you know.)
Always look on the bright side of life…
(I mean – what have you got to lose?)
(You know, you come from nothing – you’re going back to nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing!)
Always look on the right side of life…

_words and music by Eric Idle_

40

daudder 09.21.04 at 6:29 pm

I believe the party losing the election risks being torn apart by its comepting factions: the dem’s with the centrist DNC vs Deaniacs vs the hard(est) left; the GOP will have to face up to its extreme culture warriors vs fiscal conservatives vs emerging moderates.
It is not going to be pretty for eithe party

41

jet 09.21.04 at 6:45 pm

As for thet looming problem the US faces, its European styled social-welfare collapse, Bush is probably the answer. We certainly need to change something, as watching the slow humiliating collapse of the European social programs shows the dangers we face and we’ve only managed to put off the issue this long thanks to the incredible amouts of growth in the 80’s and 90’s (and now).

But the problem is that Social Security pays back what you pay in after about 7 years. But you don’t die in 7 years, you keep collecting for an average of 14 years. And the gap is just going to increase with science. So the real answer is to stop the cylce of workers directly giving cash to the retirees and allow the workers to invest their money. Even at moderate interest rates, their personal SS will amount to much more than what SS pays now, on average.

And low and behold, this is just what Bush wants to do. After all it is really the only option, as France shows us. France’s tax rate is at about 54% and can’t go any higher without completely stopping growth and turning up employment even higher. So we should take a cew from the frogs and stop being everyone’s daddy. Social programs for the hopelessly retarded, and let the rest of us make it on our own.

42

abb1 09.21.04 at 7:05 pm

Bob,
Umm, those interests do not necessarily coincide. America, with 5% of the world’s population, currently consumes at least 25% of the world’s resources. Or something like that. As an American, I think I would prefer that that relationship endure for fifty more years, see post below on positional goods.

Are you talking about George Kennan’s most famous quote? This is in 1948:

…Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.

43

bob mcmanus 09.21.04 at 7:30 pm

Not specifically, abb1. Nice quote though.

“Not about oil?” Shit. It had better be about oil.

44

nanook 09.21.04 at 8:18 pm

I feel so punch-drunk ashamed of my country right now and all the murder and chaos it has created in the name of “freedom.” I have worked and donated as never before to try to defeat Bush this election, only to doubt that Kerry can pull it off, no matter how wasteful, corrupt, and downright lawless this administration is. The only thing that gives me any comfort is the large perspective: I think of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, how corruption and poor management at home and overextending themselves with imperialism finally led to them losing it all. Sadly, it took over 400 years. But when I look at how George blew through a record surplus and put us into a record deficit in only 4 years, all the while eroding any tax base by excusing the rich and corporate America and ignoring the Walmartification of wage levels (heard a stat on NPR last night: one out of 3 Americans earns less than $8.75/hour; don’t know if it’s true, but that REALLY erodes your tax base), I believe he could seriously bankrupt the country given another four, never mind make us pariahs with the rest of the world. Then what? Well, if the US is reduced to a third-world country, we will finally have to stop the shameless imperialist adventuring that lines the pockets of oil companies, the moneyed elite, and the Halliburtons of our world while doing squat for the average American whose cousin or brother is dying in some sandy far-away place. (THAT is why the rich are supposed to pay more–they GET more from our system. How exactly does a Wal-Mart worker benefit from the installation of 14 enduring military bases in Iraq?)
Then this torture-excusing, God-lovin’, self-righteous, country-invadin’, regime-changin’, dictator-lovin’ (unless he uncoopratively controls big oil) entity will finally collapse. We will have the Dickensian comfort of being ‘umble but ‘onest, and I won’t have to feel this shame at being American. As the Tao says, “The ten thousand things rise and fall,” and I have no doubt that Bush’s re-election will speed things up. These historical and philosophical perspectives are hard to maintain, though. And that’s why I’ll be driving to a battleground state on Election Day (see drivetovictory.com) to ferry for Kerry. Lesser of two evils? Give me a break.

45

Gar Lipow 09.21.04 at 8:19 pm

Uh the idea that Democrats or even progressives could gain anything from a Bush victory strikes me as quite mad.

You are assuming that Democrats could ever win an election again regardless of how many people voted for them. You think voter “reform” and the new voting machines are bad this year, wait until you see them after four more years of a Bush presidency. Not to mention “anti-fraud” measures aimed at reducing the votes of non-white voters.

Of course I’m assuming with a Bush presidency that we will have free elections in four years to steal, and that could way too optimistic.

What ever the exact method, if Bush is re-elected in four years we will have a one party state – perhaps pre-reform Mexico rather than former Soviet Union, but a one party state none the less. Hell, Grover Norquist is essentially boasting of this.

46

Cryptic Ned 09.21.04 at 8:51 pm

A more insteresting question would be to ask why France has become the standard bearer of leftist intellectuals when it has a right wing government and the electorate has few qualms about casting its lot in with semi fascists.

That would be because the most prominent leftist intellectuals are from France. It has nothing to do with emulating their political system.

47

Barry 09.21.04 at 9:15 pm

In terms of parties getting torn apart over internal divisions, I’d bet on the losing party having the worse of it. The winning party has plenty of rewards to hand out, with the promise of more. The losing party has sh*t to hand out, plus the promise of more.

48

disgruntled taxpayer 09.21.04 at 9:22 pm

The only advantage to a second term Bush Presidency would be to see his Pet Goat” look one more time after someone in the newsmedia finally asks him if his daughters plan on enlisting to “fight the war on terror”.”

49

El Gringo Loco 09.21.04 at 10:24 pm

“The losing is better thing seems to be based on the assumption that 2 or four more years of Bush would make it glaringly obvious that he has messed up everything he touches and we would be better off without him. What exactly are you expecting to see happen that would not make it more obvious than it is now?”

Bingo. The real diabolical genius of what the Bushies have been up to for the last four years is that they’ve created a template that their base can use to understand any disaster that comes down the pike as not Bush’s fault. Anything that goes wrong can be blamed on some combination of Clinton, liberals, and “obstructionist” Democrats in Congress. The fact that all these “reasons” are completely ludicrous is neither here nor there.

Also, keep in mind that historically countries tend to be more, rather than less, receptive to authoritarianism after major disasters. If Bush is re-elected and there is a devaluation of the dollar or a nuclear explosion in a U.S. city – both very real possibilities – then it’s pretty unlikely that the people will suddenly rise up and demand accountable government, vibrant democratic institutions, and more cautious military policy. That is precisely what societies under great stress never do. And it’s not like America has proven especially resilient in this regard since 9/11.

So, no, I don’t really buy the “losing-might-be-ok” argument. It presumes a degree of level-headedness in the U.S. electorate that is unrealistic in both historical and political terms.

50

aenglish 09.22.04 at 12:14 am

You are making the false assumption that the Busheviks would allow a fair election in 2008. Four more years to fix the system means the end of democracy in the U.S. and the beginning of theocratic dictatorship.

Similar calculations about letting the other side take over and bear responsibility for the mess were made in a certain central European country in 1933. It did not turn out very well.

51

aenglish 09.22.04 at 12:14 am

You are making the false assumption that the Busheviks would allow a fair election in 2008. Four more years to fix the system means the end of democracy in the U.S. and the beginning of theocratic dictatorship.

Similar calculations about letting the other side take over and bear responsibility for the mess were made in a certain central European country in 1933. It did not turn out very well.

52

aenglish 09.22.04 at 12:15 am

You are making the false assumption that the Busheviks would allow a fair election in 2008. Four more years to fix the system means the end of democracy in the U.S. and the beginning of theocratic dictatorship.

Similar calculations about letting the other side take over and bear responsibility for the mess were made in a certain central European country in 1933. It did not turn out very well.

53

George 09.22.04 at 12:41 am

“I hope some doctoral student is working on a good dissertation in how in the right-wing fantasy view of the world the French became the ultimate bogeyman”

A friend of mine jokes that France’s problem is that we’ve never beat them in a war.

In all seriousness, there’s a vivid perception in the US that we Americans have shed a lot of blood for the sake of the French in the past century, helping to liberate their country twice (the second time in a war they were unwilling to fight themselves), for which the French are singularly ungrateful — even contemptuous. The French owe what influence they have today to the Anglo-American decision to rehabilitate France as a great power, to serve as a buffer against Germany. What other earthly reason could be given for France as a permanent and charter member of the UNSC? The American attitude might best be summed up by the reaction of Dean Rusk to De Gaulle’s decision to withdraw from NATO, which went something like: “Shall we take our dead home from Normandy as well?”

PS: Jet, I was with you up till you called FDR a fascist. You might have an economic argument (state capitalism, say), but given the real fascists of the age, that’s an apalling comparison.

54

Aurochs & Angels 09.22.04 at 1:01 am

Nanook writes: “Then this torture-excusing, God-lovin’, self-righteous, country-invadin’, regime-changin’, dictator-lovin’ (unless he uncoopratively controls big oil) entity will finally collapse.”

Ah, time to play that old Sesame Street game: One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others. Excusing torture: bad. Being self-rightous: bad. Loving dictators: bad, at least if you mean loving them qua dictators. Etc.

But loving God? Well, it’s pointless if he doesn’t exist; but if he does, I can’t imagine why Nanook would object to anyone loving him.

55

Giles 09.22.04 at 1:03 am

on the other hand its worth bearing in mind that the French helped fund the war of independence, gave away the louisiana purchase and French thinking underpinned much of the US constition.

I think the French just feel they’re owed alot of compound interest on the financial side and and eternal debt of gratitude on the intellectual side.

56

George 09.22.04 at 1:50 am

All true, giles. To this day, I’ve read, France’s is the first name to be read at diplomatic occasions and such, since they were the first nation to recognize the sovereignty of the United States. Some argue that the US wouldn’t exist but for French support during the Revolutionary War. And the intellectual debt of the founding fathers to French thinkers is undeniable.

It would be impossible to assign relative weights to the French contribution to American independence and the American contributions to French independence. The biggest difference, of course, is that WWII occurred within living memory. There’s gotta be some kind of stature of limitations on these things.

57

George 09.22.04 at 1:52 am

Whoops: stature = statute.

58

Cranky Observer 09.22.04 at 2:39 am

how in the right-wing fantasy view of the world the French became the ultimate bogeyman to be trotted out as part of every diatribe. The Germans I could almost understand – they have a left-wing government and we did go to war with them twice recently – but the French I don’t understand at all.

As a moderately left-of-center American I wondered much the same myself. Until I spent 4 years working in an organization run by Frenchmen from elite universities.

The right gets so much traction out of the perfidious French stereotype because it is 80% accurate.

Cranky

59

Keith Gaughan 09.22.04 at 2:57 am

*There’s gotta be some kind of statur^Hte of limitations on these things.*

I’m Irish, and as far as most of us are concerned the SoL hasn’t quite run out on The Enemy. :-)

*Until I spent 4 years working in an organization run by Frenchmen from elite universities.*

In fairness, go up to Jean-Pierre de Gaulle on the street and ask him how he feels about the people who go the Les Grandes Écoles, and I think you’ll find he’ll agree.

People who go to elite schools tend to be rather like that anyway anywhere you go.

60

WeSaferThemHealthier 09.22.04 at 3:03 am

Cranky,

What parts of it are accurate?

61

Randolph Fritz 09.22.04 at 3:08 am

I’ve had business policy arguments that I could only win by letting bad policies play out, but there *are* lives on the line, here. I’d hate for us liberals to “win” the argument after a few thousand more deaths.

Besides, the international and domestic policies that the Bushies are likely to give us in the next four years could easily be a century of trouble.

62

chris borthwick 09.22.04 at 5:19 am

Mind you, there are some things to be said in favour of George Bush. Given that he’s an imperialist religious maniac, just think of the state the world would be in if he was all that and efficient with it. It’s not inconceivable that a slightly smarter president might have succeeded in the Iraq adventure and given America confidence that it could do whatever the hell it wanted to, which would really have been cause for general panic. If you’re in a small pub with a mean drunk, you want it to be someone who falls over a lot.
And on the Statute of Limitations thing, I was in Ireland a couple of years ago for a conference and we were given a reception just out of Dublin at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, a marvellous seventeenth-century pile. Taking a flute of champagne from the waiter, I remarked to him “Nice place you’ve got here.”
He replied “It’s not ours. _They_ built it.”
He could, I suppose, have meant it the way Lenin did in London when he was pointing out to a friend “This is their British Museum” and “This is their houses of parliament,” meaning by ‘them’ not the English but the capitalists, but I tend to doubt it.

63

George 09.22.04 at 6:26 am

From the examples given, sounds like national gratitude has a shelf life of about a decade, while national emnity is forever.

64

paul 09.22.04 at 7:39 am

<quote>Bush has one and only one thing going for him now: no terrorist acts inside the US after 9/11. Or, at least, it’s a common perception.

This is the only advantage Bush has in this election, but it’s a huge one.</quote>

How much of that is due to anything he has done? If the theory that the WTC attacks were as much or more about solidifying Al Queda’s base that about attacking the US, they didn’t need to conduct another attack. It’s not like we have found anyone caught in the act.

65

Speed King 09.22.04 at 8:12 am

It’s not really a matter of “if” Bush wins: Ohio is gone, Florida is gone, Pennsylvania is going. It’s entirely possible that, outside of the Pacific states and New England/New York, Kerry will win only Illinois.

Proceeding from the virtual certainty of a Bush victory, what can we expect?

Well, remember that in 1972, Nixon won 49 states. If Iraq turns into Vietnam, that will greatly increase support for the war. Each casualty increases the desire for revenge. Each beheading is increasing support for the war, now.

I think we can avoid an Argentina-style meltdown for longer than the IMF thinks. China et al will want to prop us up as long as possible.

The Democrats will pick up seats in 2006, but not quite enough to win control of the House.

Bush will become even more bored and withdrawn than he is now. By 2006 he will be essentially a no-show.

There may be a draft, and Roe vs. Wade may be overturned.

66

Kostya 09.22.04 at 10:00 am

jet,

You write:
don’t forget that the fascists/socialists policies implemented by Roosevelt kept the US economy at negative growth and then slow growth while the fascists in the rest of the world had recovered and were going strong.

I’m not sure what you call slow growth? Or why you think Hitler and Stalin had the answer?

Year %Change in GNP President
———————————-
1930 – 9.4% Hoover
1931 – 8.5 Hoover
1932 -13.4 Hoover
1933 – 2.1 Hoov/Roos
1934 + 7.7 Roosevelt
1935 + 8.1 Roosevelt
1936 +14.1 Roosevelt
1937 + 5.0 Roosevelt
1938 – 4.5 Roosevelt
1939 + 7.9 Roosevelt

67

abb1 09.22.04 at 10:20 am

Paul,
How much of that is due to anything he has done?

I certainly agree that he doesn’t deserve any credit, but politically they played it very well: they set expectations for various catastrophic calamities including possibilty for a nuclear explosion (definitely for a ‘dirty bomb’) – and they’ve beaten these expectations.

So, their argument is simple, it goes something like this: it may seem that we screwed everything up, but apparently we did something right because at least there wasn’t a nuclear explosion in the US so far, and if you want to keep it this way – vote for us. Apparently it sounds convincing enough.

68

Barry 09.22.04 at 12:01 pm

George: ” …helping to liberate their country [France] twice (the second time in a war they were unwilling to fight themselves),…”

Last I heard, French military deaths were ~200K in WWII. Proportionately, much higher than US deaths.

69

jet 09.22.04 at 4:05 pm

George:
I wasn’t calling FDR a fascist, although his exception number of terms certainly fitted the day, I was calling his policies similiar to what was being done in Germany, Japan, and Russia. Fix fixing, employment quotas, state granted monopolies, were all fixtures of fascist (same as sociolist) policies. And it is a strange arguement that these helped the economy. The only realy debate is over how much they harmed the economy.

Also, it might further the French debate to ponder why, in WWII, 10 times as many Frenchmen joined the German SS as joined the French resistance. And don’t forget the US clashes with the French Vichy army, 100,000 men strong and fighting for the Germans.

70

jet 09.22.04 at 4:16 pm

Wow, my last post had a lot of typos, whups. Anyways,I wanted to added the main reason I despise Roosevelt is his food subsidy and price fixing made food ridiculously expensive and doomed a generation of poor americans to a third world diet and all the maledies that goes along with that. In Roosevelts rush to help out farmers how many people died or grew up stunted do to lack of a decent diet? A few winters had my grandfather eating nothing but barley soup and stolen eggs as a kid.

71

Cranky Observer 09.22.04 at 4:43 pm

> Cranky,
> What parts of it are accurate?

Well, that would take 4 years to answer ;-(

But basically, the arrogance (whether earned or unearned), dismissiveness, sense of superiority, the constant lecturing about European and world affairs from a presumed position of greater knowledge.

I particularly enjoyed the lectures on European geography. I never let on that due to years of studying WWII in my teens I could draw a detailed map of Europe and most of the major battles thereon from about 1850 to 1945 but it was funny to hear some of the foolish things said by French speakers who didn’t know Chicago from Kansas City.

But you could no doubt say that the same applies to any monied graduate of Princeton or Yale, and you would probably be right. The real issue was the untrustworthiness. The maneuvering and backstabbing were constant. At any instant you knew that what was being discussed/decided in the open was only a facade for the actual decisions made by the French speakers, who had agendas quite different from that of the organization for which they nominally held fiduciary responsibility. And those agendas usually invoved pecuniary gain.

No teamwork, no backup, no support: it was all backstabbing all the time. And from talking to my German and English co-workers, this was pretty much the expected norm in doing business with French speakers.

Cranky

72

abb1 09.22.04 at 5:56 pm

jet,
Also, it might further the French debate to ponder why, in WWII, 10 times as many Frenchmen joined the German SS as joined the French resistance.

I say you’re full of crap, jet. Prove it.

I say there were several hundred thousand Frenchmen in resistance – that’s active, armed members and millions of active supporters.

How many SS volunteers were there? What exactly did it mean to be a ‘volunteer’? What was the choice: either you become a volunteer or … what?

Thanks.

73

jet 09.22.04 at 6:44 pm

-There are the 28,000 who joined the Waffen SS to fight Russians. (they took part in the murder of 100 british POW’s, the murder of every single person in radour-sur-Glane, and who the hell knows what happened in the russian campaign) The French SS were applauded by the Germans for their high motivation and fanaticism…hardly forced behavior.
-The 100,000 in the Vichy army were under indirect SS authority, and the general (Joseph Darnand) was given an SS commission.
-The French resistance, while maybe having a lot of support from the french population, only had a a few thousand members (read 2 thousand). Looks like a lot fo frenchies supported them, just weren’t willing to join them, which makes sense as the resistance was made up mostly of radical idealogical sects.

I don’t offer any links or proof. I leave that for you to research as you will or not, I can not reason you of of a belief you didn’t reason yourself into.

74

McDuff 09.22.04 at 6:56 pm

To quote Eddie Izzard, “I love the French, but sometimes they can be a bit, well, fuckin’ French!”

Which is perfectly true and I understand the sentiment exactly.

On a related note, though, I love the Americans, but sometimes they can be a bit, well, fuckin’ American!

If we’re playing stereotypes against each other, you need to counter every “pompous academic intellecual” in France with an incredibly fat man from Texas wandering around Paris complaining that there’s nowhere to get a decent McDonalds, and if we’re trading obstreperous foreign policies you need to counter France’s opposition to Iraq with the fact that the US only begrudgingly pays UN peacekeeping dues (another habit the US shares with China).

Of course, there is no doubt that this kind of infantile tit-for-tat is ultimately degrading the debate with sweeping generalisations, factual omissions and a complete lack of any attempt at genuine cross-cultural communication. But if you are going to drag it down into the “wahh, but they’re bigger arseholes than we are!” school of childish argument, I feel it only right to argue that, actually, France and America are pretty much level pegging on the Nation Arseholeometer.

So, you know, you can still feel righteously indignant about all the things you don’t like about the French. Just bear in mind that they’re doing the same to you, and they’re justified as well.

75

McDuff 09.22.04 at 6:58 pm

To quote Eddie Izzard, “I love the French, but sometimes they can be a bit, well, fuckin’ French!”

Which is perfectly true and I understand the sentiment exactly.

On a related note, though, I love the Americans, but sometimes they can be a bit, well, fuckin’ American!

If we’re playing stereotypes against each other, you need to counter every “pompous academic intellecual” in France with an incredibly fat man from Texas wandering around Paris complaining that there’s nowhere to get a decent McDonalds, and if we’re trading obstreperous foreign policies you need to counter France’s opposition to Iraq with the fact that the US only begrudgingly pays UN peacekeeping dues (another habit the US shares with China).

Of course, there is no doubt that this kind of infantile tit-for-tat is ultimately degrading the debate with sweeping generalisations, factual omissions and a complete lack of any attempt at genuine cross-cultural communication. But if you are going to drag it down into the “wahh, but they’re bigger arseholes than we are!” school of childish argument, I feel it only right to argue that, actually, France and America are pretty much level pegging on the Nation Arseholeometer.

So, you know, you can still feel righteously indignant about all the things you don’t like about the French. Just bear in mind that they’re doing the same to you, and they’re justified as well.

76

abb1 09.22.04 at 6:58 pm

-The French resistance, while maybe having a lot of support from the french population, only had a a few thousand members (read 2 thousand).

You’ve got to be kidding. You can probably find at least 2 thousand of world-famous people in French resistance.

Look in any encyclopedia, I bet it’s at least a half a million armed fighters. I bet ten times 2 thousands were only killed by the Gestapo. You are way off.

77

jet 09.22.04 at 7:39 pm

500,000? That is double the highest estimate. And the highest estimate includes every nut, whacko, and want-to-be who came out of the woodwork after the war claiming his heroship. More likely the historical number agreed upon by academics is more correct, and the highest number of armed resistance fighters at any one time was 2,000.

Feel free to cite proof next time. I’m not trying to change your mind, but feel free to attempt to change mind, I’m open to evidence.

78

George 09.22.04 at 8:36 pm

Dude, you yourself refused to provide proof for your side of the argument. I happen to agree with your side of the argument, but please: if you don’t deign to provide evidence, you can expect none.

Ultimately, no absolute proof is possible on this point. It’s subjective: how much actual individual would constitute a national resistance? My own opinion is that France’s decision in 1940 to let the German army occupy their country and capital without a fight ought to have permanently disqualified that nation from its status as a world or even regional power. But post-war, the geopolitical decision was made to rehabilitate France, rather than tear it apart and rebuild it as with Germany and Japan. Thus the Resistance (which was real enough, though of debatable significance) grew into a national myth, overshadowing the much more widespread collaboration of the French government — and nation — with the Nazis.

79

yabonn 09.22.04 at 8:45 pm

I’m open to evidence.

Of course not. You’re right back from one of these “france hating for dummies” sites.

It’s that certain mix of crappy syntax, ridiculous claims, and rabid hatred of france that gives you mental midgets away.

100k fighting for the germans and 2k resistants. You’re making a fool of yourself, you know?

Shoo.

80

George 09.22.04 at 8:47 pm

Dude, you yourself refused to provide proof for your side of the argument. I happen to agree with your side of the argument, but please: if you don’t deign to provide evidence, you can expect none.

Ultimately, no absolute proof is possible on this point. It’s subjective: how much actual individual would constitute a national resistance? My own opinion is that France’s decision in 1940 to let the German army occupy their country and capital without a fight ought to have permanently disqualified that nation from its status as a world or even regional power. But post-war, the geopolitical decision was made to rehabilitate France, rather than tear it apart and rebuild it as with Germany and Japan. Thus the Resistance (which was real enough, though of debatable significance) grew into a national myth, overshadowing the much more widespread collaboration of the French government — and nation — with the Nazis.

81

George 09.22.04 at 8:55 pm

Sorry for the repeat post. At first I got an error screen.

82

jlw 09.22.04 at 9:00 pm

per wikipedia article on the French resistance:

“Estimates range from 5% of French population to about 200,000 active armed members and possibly ten times that of supporters.”

83

John Quiggin 09.22.04 at 9:05 pm

“My own opinion is that France’s decision in 1940 to let the German army occupy their country and capital without a fight ought to have permanently disqualified that nation from its status as a world or even regional power.”

War of 1812?

84

George 09.22.04 at 9:30 pm

There was some fighting involved in that war, I believe. The exact battlefield circumstances that led to the sacking of Washington I do not recall. Defeat, even surrender, is not the same as pre-emptive capitulation.

85

George 09.22.04 at 9:37 pm

There was some fighting in that war, I believe. The exact battlefield circumstances that led to the sacking of Washington, I don’t recall. Defeat, even surrender, is not the same as pre-emptive capitulation.

86

George 09.22.04 at 9:40 pm

John Q: I’ve having some difficulty with the comments system. The first time I post a comment, I get an error screen. If I go back, the comment is not posted. If I reload, the comment is double-posted.

87

Cranky Observer 09.22.04 at 10:05 pm

> with an incredibly fat man from
> Texas wandering around Paris
> complaining that there’s nowhere to
> get a decent McDonalds,

McDuff,
Please go back to my original post. I am aware of the shortcomings of my fellow US citizens in the international arena. Why do you think I sought out an international employer in the first place (and note that I was working at a private manufacturing company, not a university or NGO, so “academics” doesn’t apply here)? Specifically, to broaden my horizons and fill in gaps in my cultural understanding.

Well, some gaps were filled in all right – just not in the direction I expected going in. Also read Frank’s post farther up: if USians, Brits, Canadians, and Spaniards all think poorly of the French (and I would add Germans as well), just maybe the French have the problem and not the others?

Maybe not, but something to think about. In any case, the question was, why do the Repubs have so much success with the “we hate the French” meme. I gave you some reasons why. If you choose to reject them, that is fine, but I think you will then have a bit of difficulty with the question.

Cranky

88

yabonn 09.22.04 at 10:24 pm

(about france defeat in ww2)

Defeat, even surrender, is not the same as pre-emptive capitulation.

… Mind boggling.

There.

Well, i think we’re pretty much rock bottom here. Jerry Lewis, or bad smell maybe…

89

George 09.22.04 at 10:57 pm

Interesting figures. More French casualties than I would have guessed. I do see that asterisk, however, noting that the three sources gave “very different” figures for certain countries, including France, and that the highest estimates were used for the table. Do you know what the low estimates were? I’d also be curious when these deaths occurred. Presumably most military casualties occurred in or after 1944. Is that the case for civilian casualties as well?

In any case, I do not deny that many French lost their lives in WWII, nor do I deny that many French admirably resisted the Nazis against great odds. What I do assert is that many, many more French willingly collaborated with the Nazis, starting with the decision in 1940 to negotiate the indefinite occupation of their own country and capital, up to and including the mass deportation of Jews to death camps.

90

S. Anderson 09.22.04 at 11:21 pm

> 500,000? That is double the
> highest estimate.

From Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Resistance

> Estimates range from 5% of
> French population to about
> 200,000 active armed members and
> possibly ten times that of
> supporters.

The present population of France is 62M. 5% of that is 3.1M. Obviously the population of France was smaller in the 1940s, although I don’t know by how much. Let’s say it was half the present population (it was probably higher than that). 5% of that is 1.5M. So the estimates are 1.5M to 2.0 M supporters, and about 0.2M fighters.

Jet, you look like you’re just pulling your numbers out of thin air. What are your sources?

91

fatwhiteduke 09.22.04 at 11:39 pm

The question “Why is France the bogeyman in US rightwing circles?” has a simple answer, and that is that there are almost no US voters of French descent. The French people are extraordinarily attached to their land and were the only European population that did not migrate en masse to the New World at some point in their history. And why are the Germans so conspicuously un-demonised? Because half the US population can claim German descent. So it all comes down to who you can safely bash. Bash the French – you lose no votes. Bash the Germans, Italians, Poles… (left as an excercise for the reader).

92

George 09.22.04 at 11:49 pm

S. Anderson: thanks for the link. Not to nitpick, but something about that sentence at the bottom of the Wiki page is odd. For one thing, it’s not clear what “estimates” refers to exactly, the actual resistance or phony post-war claimants. The previous sentence is about the phonies, while the reference to “active armed members” implies actual members. Also, I usually see a range of estimates cited from low to high, rather than the other way round.

Don’t mean to be obstinate. Do you have another cite?

93

John Quiggin 09.23.04 at 12:34 am

The Americans and French dislike each other (at least as political stereotypes) because of similarities, not differences.

Comments on this entry are closed.