I think it was the smart move by Anthony Weiner to concede the Democratic primary, which should improve his prospects of being elected mayor of New York in 2009. For those of you outside the NY area, the way the Democratic mayoral primary works is that if any candidate fails to get 40 percent of the vote, there is a run-off election between the top two finishers. In the 2001 race for mayor, Fernando Ferrer received the most votes in the initial primary, but then lost a bitter, racially-charged run-off to Mark Green. The primary divided the Democrats for the general election, which helped political novice Michael Bloomberg become mayor. This time around, the chronically unlucky Ferrer received 39.95 percent of the vote in the initial primary. He’s right below the threshold with absentee ballots remaining to be counted. But Weiner decided to concede rather than force a run-off which he would probably lose while making many enemies, especially among minority voters. So now Weiner comes off looking like he did the gracious thing to unify the party, which should help the 41 year-old with Democrats four years from now. Ferrer is going to be trounced by the generally popular Mayor Bloomberg in the general election anyway. Ferrer is a completely implausible candidate who, among other idiotic ideas, wants to resurrect a stock transfer tax. Weiner gained momentum in the final weeks of the campaign with a proposal for a middle class tax break and budget cuts. Should Bloomberg go on to win this year as expected, it would mean that Republicans would have won four straight elections in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a five-to-one margin. Even if you take into account that Bloomberg isn’t really a Republican, it is still staggering, given that “Republican” is a dirty word in most parts of the city. In fact, never in its history has New York City had 16 straight years of Republican mayors. Once Ferrer loses, it seems that Weiner could make the case that the Democrats need a more reasonable, mainstream, candidate like him to recapture Gracie Mansion. Obviously, a lot can happen in four years (a Bloomberg victory seemed like a long shot even weeks before the election in 2001), but I think I’d give Weiner the early edge in 2009, once Bloomberg is forced out by term limits.
Mark Helprin has this piece in the Wall Street Journal today that is along the lines of what he has been writing about over the past several years. Namely, that the United States military has not received proper funding, which has forced us to fight the Iraq War on the cheap and leaves us vulnerable to the future threat of a rising China. He concludes:
The war in Iraq has been poorly planned and executed from the beginning, and now, like a hurricane over warm water, the insurgency is in a position to take immense energy from the fundamental divisions in that nation. The rise of Chinese military power, although lately noted, has met with no response. America’s borders are open, its cities vulnerable, its civil defense nonexistent, its armies stretched thin. We have taken only deeply inadequate steps to prepare for and forestall a viral pandemic that by the testimony of experts is a high probability and could kill scores of millions in this country alone. That we do not see relatively simple and necessary courses of action, and are not led and inspired to them, represents a catastrophic failure of leadership that bridges party lines.
Perhaps this and previous administrations have had an effective policy just too difficult to comprehend because they have ingeniously sheltered it under the pretense of their incompetence. But failing that, the legacy of this generation’s presidents will be promiscuous declarations and alliances, badly defined war aims, opportunities inexplicably forgone, ill-supported troops sent into the field, a country at risk without adequate civil protections, and a military shaped to fight neither the last war nor this one nor the next.
In his most recent column, Tom Friedman writes:
Mr. Bush got a mandate, almost a blank check, to rule from 9/11 that he never really earned at the polls. Unfortunately, he used that mandate not simply to confront the terrorists but to take a radically uncompassionate conservative agenda – on taxes, stem cells, the environment and foreign treaties – that was going nowhere before 9/11, and drive it into a post-9/11 world.
I guess Friedman decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story. Whatever you may think of the Bush agenda (on taxes, stem cells, the environment and foreign treaties), the issues had all been addressed prior to 9/11.
Bush signed the first of his major tax cuts on June 7, 2001. His remarks at the signing ceremony can be viewed here.
The debate was and has been about whether to expand federal funding for stem cell research. Bush said he would support expanding it on a limited basis, but that was in August of 2001. His position did not change after 9/11, and he effectively shelved the stem cell debate until earlier this year.
The Environment and Foreign Treaties:
I can only assume that by this Friedman means Bush’s rejection of the Kyoto Treaty. But that happened in March of 2001.
Furthermore, after 9/11, Bush used his mandate to get the bipartisan No Child Left Behind through Congress, with the support of none other than Sen. Ted Kennedy. The bill was passed in Congress in December 2001 and Bush signed it in January of 2002. And in December of 2003, Bush signed the multi-trillion dollar Medicare prescription drug plan. I happen to have opposed these bills, but even Friedman would be hard pressed to argue that they represent a “a radically uncompassionate conservative agenda.”
My latest article on Rudy Giuliani and Hurricane Katrina is up on Tech Central Station and can be read here.
Given the events of the early part of this decade, there is a strong likelihood that whoever succeeds President Bush will face at least one national crisis. Handicappers of the 2008 election have been debating whether conservatives would ever allow the Republican Party to nominate Giuliani as their presidential candidate, because he holds liberal views on abortion and gay rights.
But in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, even the most ardent social conservatives should examine whether in the hierarchy of issues it is more important to choose a leader who would best be able to respond to an event such as a biological attack, which would require split-second decision making to save lives. There is simply no politician in the nation who has proven to be a better leader in times of crisis than Giuliani. That’s why America needs him.
There’s a lot of nonsense coming out of the far left in the wake of Katrina, and they’ll be more to come. The worst that I’ve seen comes from The Brad Blog who contemplated starting a crusade to discourage blue staters from giving to hurricane victims because they were in red states. You can read the whole tirade here, but this is the gist:
So why was I thinking of starting a movement against giving aid to the stricken areas?
Because these are red states. They voted for Bush. These ninnies obviously wanted these policies, and they deserve to live with the consequences of their votes.
A large part of me still believes that many of these W-worshipping numbskulls deserve to suffer and to die. They brought it on themselves. Let them look to Jayzuss for aid: It’s time they stopped leeching off the more productive blue staters.
(Californians stupidly give much more to the federal government than we receive from it; the money flows in a very different direction in the red states.)
So, at least, I started to write. But then (to paraphrase the old song) I thought I’d better think it out again.
Many of the victims, the ones who have suffered the most, are poor. The hardest hit were the blue state folk living among the red state maniacs. New Orleans, we should note, went heavily for Kerry.
And that’s why we must help. Although it was very tempting to say otherwise.
I’m not going to waste my time refuting this absurdity point by point, but it is amazing to me that there are people out there who allow their hatred of Bush to become more powerful than any other emotion or impulse they may have. Liberals are supposed to be the compassionate ones, and yet this Brad fellow has to consider the red-state/blue-state divide in deciding whether it’s appropriate to give aid to people whose lives have been shattered and are still at risk.