October 15, 2006

Party politics.

Here's a Week in Review piece by David Kirkpatrick about shifting partisan allegiance:
In recent Harris Interactive polls, the number of respondents who refuse to acknowledge a preference for either party has risen to about 25 percent of the electorate from about 12 percent for most of the last decade.

Much of this increase in independents, he said, is probably accounted for by former Republican voters not quite willing to say they lean Democratic, but also unlikely to turn out this year.
Probably? What about all the Democrats -- myself included -- who lost their party affiliation over 9/11. Does anyone even want to get out my vote? Actually, I'm contacted by the Democratic party constantly. They're desperately pushing me to vote. Governor Doyle's campaign just sent me a form to apply to vote by mail. ("Anyone in Wisconsin can vote by mail... No special reason required.") Actually, there's a good chance I won't vote!

Back to Kirkpatrick:
[P]olls showing Democrats poised for big gains this fall in both chambers of Congress are reigniting the debate: Can Democrats crack apart the Reagan coalition of white blue-collar workers, evangelical Protestants, Southerners and chambers of commerce? Or will shifts in population toward the outer suburbs, the South and the West combine with the Democrats’ secular, liberal Northeastern image to keep the party a minority in national elections for years to come?...

The Democrats’ hope is that the war changes the reputations of the two parties in a way that may ultimately lead to remaking their constituencies as well...

“Iraq is the squandering of the national security premium the Republicans have been living on,” [Democratic pollster Ruy] Teixeira said. The Republicans’ failure at “standing up” to foreign threats, he argued, had diminished their credibility on a whole cluster of “values” issues like “standing up for what is right” as well.

That, he contended, is vindicating his argument for a Democratic ascendance: if the Democrats can cut their margin of defeat among white workers, they can build a durable national majority from their coalition of professionals, women, African-Americans and the fast-growing Hispanic population. Although Mr. Bush’s popularity with Hispanics at one time threatened to dislodge them from the Democratic bloc, the Republican moves this year to build a wall along the Mexican border has effectively pushed them back.

“That is fatal,” Mr. Teixeira said.
It's a grisly business, this definition and manipulation of voting blocs.

42 comments:

Too Many Jims said...

With the caveat that it is a long time until election day (yada yada), if the Dems do win the House i doubt that this will "lead to remaking their constituencies" though it will give Dems the opportunity to remake them. If Dems do win it will be because of a movement against Republicans not toward Dems.

tjl said...

"if the Dems do win the House i doubt that this will "lead to remaking their constituencies"

If the Dems had hopes of remaking their constituencies, the way to do it would be to demonstrate moderation, pragmatism, and a willingness to work with the White House to find a new consensus on the GWOT. Is this likely to happen?

Judging by the comments of those who would become committee chairs if the Dems take Congress, the answer is no. With so much pent-up anger on the left, we're more likely to have an incredibly toxic settling of scores. Protracted investigations, resolutions of no confidence, perhaps impeachment -- the new Congress will be less interested in winning over centrists than in rewarding the Democratic base.

The results are not likely to add more centrists to the Dem coalition.

JSF said...

As a former dem, I remember how important it was for them to hold onto the New Deal coalition. Growing up in NYC, it was a facet of local politics. With the purge of Sen. Leiberman, the "New New" democrats are willing to sacrifice the Jews in their vision of a nrew coalition. The modern Dems are not for anything, they are against everything. Parties win by coalitions and ideas, the modern dems are displaying neither

Doyle said...

It's called democracy, Ann.

Just because not everyone else was as ready as you were to sacrifice our ideals after 9/11, it doesn't make the electoral process a grisly business.

It's beautiful!

Too Many Jims said...

If the Dems had hopes of remaking their constituencies, the way to do it would be to demonstrate moderation, pragmatism, and a willingness to work with the White House to find a new consensus on the GWOT. Is this likely to happen?

I agree with you on this. More importantly, for the long term success of the GWOT it is important for both parties to work together on the issue. While the comments of some Dems does not make this look promising, neither do the comments of some Republicans (e.g. "Dems are more interested in protecting terrorists than protecting Americans.").

David said...

It is a "grisly" affair to interpret events to suit ones political goals! Kirkpatrick is trying to read facts from a crystal ball. Extrapolating voter preferences based on whether the public is compelled to vote or not is comparable to rolling dice at a Vegas craps table.

When the current administration goes it alone they are cowboys who should consult the world. When the administration consults the world they are pilloried for not going it alone!

The hole-in-the-ground where the WTC towers once stood, may have a symbolic memorial yet: the hopes and dreams of a democratic party return to power! The U.S. needs forward thinking leaders who have a vision not a pack of yapping dogs with 20/20 hindsight afraid to venture out of their gated communities.

DaveG said...

"Dems are more interested in protecting terrorists than protecting Americans.")

No, Dems (and Repubs) are more interested in protecting their incumbencies than protecting Americans.

The other day on the highway, I was out in the "fast lane" stuck behind a couple of drivers that really didn't get it. As I poked along behind their obstruction, another car came flying up behind me, lights flashing and impatient swerving around, apparently in the belief that he could do a better job of working around the obstructions. Fine, thought I. I moved over to let him by, then pulled back in behind him. Was he any better at getting his way than I was? Of course not, but I hoped that he might just learn the futility of having tantrums and making adolescent noise when confronted with obstructions. And what did I lose in allowing him the chance to lead and fail? Not a damn thing. It's not like he was going anywhere fast either.

This, to me, is a metaphor for the 2006 elections. Fine, sez I. You want a chance to make a high visibility failure of yourself? Have at it, my man, have at it. We'll be right here behind you, sniping away at your futile efforts. As they say, payback's a bitch. Maybe you can learn something from it.

PatCA said...

This is classic pre-election purposeful blather. Of course they are ignoring disaffected Democrats like us--we are the swing voters this time, and the NYT wants us to stay home!

The Drill SGT said...

Other than the fact that I think it would hurt our chances of succeeding in Iraq, I'd almost like for the Dem's to take the House. I think that ultimately their demonstration of infantile behavior would decrease their chances of an 08 victory.

PatCA said...

And check out the website of the independent pollster, LOL!

http://www.emergingdemocraticmajorityweblog.com/about/

The Drill SGT said...

Patca,

I almost made a comment about the overall occupation (I would not call something I equate to reading runes and bird entrails a profession) that Ruy represents.

I think of a professional pollster as somebody who develops fair objective questions and then conducts a survey using proven scientific methods. I don't see how these Shamans can serve their customers effectively if they are clearly biased on one side of the debate. Other than push polling I guess.

RogerA said...

I find myself agreeing with Instapundit's weekend political musings along with those of Drill SGT--The GOP congress has done absolutely nothing in the face of such impending train wrecks as health care, social security, immigration and the like. Instead they pass flag burning amendments, Terry Schiavo legislation, DOMA and other trite legislation.

What policies that have rallied voters to the GOP are more those of the Executive than the congress. A party entrusted with total control of the government has only themselves to blame for electoral losses.

Should the Democrats take control of one or even both houses of congress, Bush still has the veto pen,and the democratic majority won't be big enough to override a veto.

We are in for two more years of immobilsme.

Ann Althouse said...

PatCa: The NYT calls him a Democratic pollster, and I preserved that identificaion in the excerpt.

Gerry said...

Ann,

I hope you do decide to vote, even if you decide not to vote in certain races.

In fact, a great way to send a message to one (or both) parties is to find down-ballot members of the party who are taking stances contrary to the stances the party takes that alienates you, and vote for them while not voting for the upper-ballot candidates who's toes are on the party line.

Ann Althouse said...

Gerry: At present, there is no candidate I am interested in voting for, and I'm annoyed at being bullied to vote by the same-sex marriage and death penalty questions. And since I don't have a party affiliation anymore, it's hard to have a preference in many of the little races.

PatCA said...

Ann, it's not you--it's the NYT that seems to be downplaying some pretty relevant information, like how his polling correlates exactly to his book/agenda.

Kirk Parker said...

Drill SGT, I'm with you, except that it's not just Iraq they would put in jeopardy. It's not that I don't think our overall foreign policy couldn't use some improvements, it's that the D's want to push is in the opposite direction.

Donald Douglas said...

I hope you do vote, because apathy -- particularly among highly educated professionals like yourself -- is a democracy killer.

As for the partisan dynamics, I'm not too trusting of the inferences from these poll numbers. In 2000, political independents were 41 percent of the electoral, with the remainder of voters slightly favoring the Democrats (measured by the National Election Studies 2000 update). If we disaggregate from independents those who "decline to state" perhaps the Harris numbers make sense. For the most part, though, by 2004 a crop of independents switched over to the GOP to get on the G.W. bandwagon (so that independents declined to about 33 percent of the electorate). Now that Iraq's a drain on the party, soft identifiers are slinking back to the partisan never-never land of noncommital. I don't follow these numbers too closely, in any case (or at least enough to have some reaonable authority during lectures), because the U.S. has clearly been in a dealignment phase for last few decades (also known as postmaterialism, where historical economic party cleavages are less salient to the electorate), and neither party has been able to sustain a long-term party majority at all levels of government. Some have recently argued that the GOP is threatening to do so -- for example, John Micklethwait and Adrian Woodridge at The Economist published "The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America" a couple of years back, arguing for a coming Republican majority -- though Iraq and GOP incompetence/scandals have dampened the party's trend toward partisan hegemony. GOP-ers can probably still likely prevail in the values divide if they keep one of the chambers this November and crack down on ethical waywards in the party. A shakeout at the top wouldn't hurt either -- Hastert is no Gingrich in the vision department.

Burkean Reflections

Ann Althouse said...

Donald: I'm not at all apathetic about politics. Look, I write about it every day! Where did I ever say I was apathetic?

Jimmy said...

Ann,

You should still vote. If you don't like any of the candidates, send in a blank ballot. That way you can register your dipleasure with the two parties.

DookOfURL said...

Hmmmmm. It appears some here may be ready for NOTA. Yes, that's None Of The Above. There are many like you, just go here to find them. Nevada has it, Australia has it. Russia used to have it before the Duma slapped it down. Massachusetts is thinking about it. Further discussion of NOTA can be found here.

Donald Douglas said...

You do! But cannot one demonstrate engaged efficacy in online political communication but still be apathetic on other modes of participation (e.g., voting)? Or, perhaps I should have said you were alienated from voting, right, which, in large numbers, is also unhealthy for the democracy. Your response, in any case, raises some interesting queries: Will the health of the republic be sustained by law bloggers and the like who comment daily on the events of the realm, kind of like a fifth estate? Or, is voting more than electing officials to office, but is in fact a solidary enterprise whereby action is paired with (patriotic) symbolism to demostrate support for the regime? In any case, I hope you vote! Maybe your ballot will clinch some contest further down the ticket, or perhaps some statewide ballot measure goes down to a recount, with every last vote being crucial? Take care.

Burkean Reflections

dklittl said...

Kirk, minor improvements you say. That's a bit of an understatement. This country needs a rethinking of a great deal of our strategy, since NO ONE has shown any anecdotal or statistical evidence that we are in fact winning. If Iraq is the central front of the War on Terror, then we are just barely avoiding getting routed. This Republican talking point that the "Democrats are worse" is simplified and silly, and shows no grasp of the fact that until we find a way to win, all options should be on the table, and not just the "stay the course" which isn't winning.

Simon said...

Doyle said...
"It's called democracy, Ann ... it doesn't make the electoral process a grisly business. It's beautiful!"

We'll see if you still think that if the dems get absolutely shellacked on election day. Par for this particular course, for the Democrats, is taking back the House and the Senate by sizable margins. Failure to accomplish the margins, in this electoral environment, may be victory by TKO, but it is a resounding defeat. And worse yet, if you fail to take back one or both chambers, that is of course fatal.

We all like to talk up the virtues of the democratic system when we think it's about to ratify our own choices, but when we lose, silence ensues. After election 2004, it was many months before you'd find a liberal anywhere who thought that the general public was anything other than a bunch of complete morons, because the public rejected them; look to see the same thing if they blow it this year.

Joan said...

This Republican talking point that the "Democrats are worse" is simplified and silly

But the Democrats are worse. They have no policies of their own, they are just opposed to Bush's policies. Laundry lists of nice-sounding objectives are not policies. If the Democrats take the House and initiate impeachment proceedings against the president, in wartime, I don't even want to speculate on how much damage that will do to US interests at home and abroad. The fact that Democrats are even talking about impeachment shows how misplaced their priorities are.

The Republicans don't deserve to win, but the American people don't deserve to lose the way we will if Democrats control Congress.

Revenant said...

Donald,

At the state or national level an individual vote is essentially worthless. What is worth something is the ability to influence large numbers of voters.

Regardless of whether or not Ann votes the election will go the same. Her comments on the election, on the other hand, might have an actual effect.

Simon said...

Revenant said...
"At the state or national level an individual vote is essentially worthless.

Tell that to Dino Rossi, who formally lost the Washington governorship for want of a commuter train's contents of individual votes (the final difference between the two candidates was 129).

Donald Douglas said...

Revenant:

That's a simple statement, really. I guess you don't understand the meaning of "solidary." There's a personal payoff to voting and one contributes to the vitality of the democracy by fulfilling their civic responsibility. Not only that, if everyone were to attempt to ride free on the voting efforts of others then the system would collapse (nobody would vote if they followed your reasoning). Beside, 537 votes out of 6 million decided the difference in Florida in 2000 (after which even the most jaded media consultants conceded the essential worth of each and every vote). Local elections are often decided by just a handful of voters, including congressional races. Mobilizing voters is important, sure, but each person can make a difference.

Burkean Reflections

Sloanasaurus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sloanasaurus said...

How exactly do these polling companies actually conduct their polls. If they use the telephone, they may run into problems. My family uses caller ID to screen every call. If a call shows up as an unknown caller, we generally let the call go to voice mail. Thus, we would never answer a poll. This is new compared to 20 years ago, when caller ID was just a fantasy.

In my own unscientific poll, I have found that most people who live like myself (in a burb with kids and a wife), do the same thing regarding phone calls. In contrast, my 70 year old parents don't really understand caller ID and still answer every call.

Simon said...

Sloan,
Well, the thing to consider is that opinion polls are skewed by the mere fact that the people who answer are usually people with strong opinions. A poll of a thousand registered voters is a poll of the first thousand people willing and able to take a half hour out of their evening to discuss politics out of a list of several thousand names. The vast majority of the electorate has little interest in politics, certainly not enough to spend time talking to an opinion pollster, which means that the people who are answering are the people who have a strong opinion one way or another on political issues. Hence, opinion polls by their very nature are skewed, not necessarily in a partisan sense, but away from the people who actually decide the election.

Revenant said...

simon,

"At the state or national level an individual vote is essentially worthless.

Tell that to Dino Rossi, who formally lost the Washington governorship for want of a commuter train's contents of individual votes (the final difference between the two candidates was 129).

Which demonstrates my point. Unless the winner wins by a single vote, no individual vote mattered. And in the event that the winner DOES win by a single vote, the election will be decided by whichever side has the better lawyers and judges, as new votes are discovered and old votes thrown away on technicalities.

The only elections a single vote really matters in are ones with only a few hundred or thousand votes. Every election has what amounts to a margin of error. Any individual vote is dwarfed by that margin, in large elections. From a purely rational perspective, I'm more likely to die in a car crash while driving to the polls than I am to affect the outcome of the election by voting.

donald,

There's a personal payoff to voting and one contributes to the vitality of the democracy by fulfilling their civic responsibility.

My only civic responsibility is to accept the legitimacy of the government that is elected (unless of course the election is rigged). I have no more obligation to vote than the Republican and Democratic parties have to run candidates that I want to vote for.

537 votes out of 6 million decided the difference in Florida in 2000

Even if one were to assume that the election was decided by those 537 votes rather than by the nine votes of the Supreme Court justices, only one vote -- the one which puts one candidate's total over that of the other -- makes the difference. The rest are just padding.

Furthermore, in the 2000 election the critical votes were in Florida. Even if an argument could be made that "every vote counted" in Florida, it didn't in the other 49 states. So again, the odds of my vote mattering are astronomical -- it would require a squeaker finish, in the state I happen to live in, in an election in which the other 49 states have effectively reached an electoral tie. That has never happened to either myself nor any of my ancestors.

stealthlawprof said...

Let me add my voice to those discouraging Ann (and anyone else) from abstaining from voting. I doubt many politicians read the raw numbers rather than the percentages. Thus, no message of dissatisfaction is received from non-voters. My recommendation is to scatter votes among third parties wherever possible when the major parties fail to field suitable candidates. Perhaps I am tilting at windmills, but there are enough people who care but who are dissatisfied that a message could be delivered. I would like to think that a sudden, random vote in the 5+% range for an array of third party candidates would be noticed.

tom faranda said...

All this stuff about how not voting means you're not carrying out your civic duty is crap. If you have no one to vote for, then it's ridiculous to vote. I frequently do not vote for members of the two major parties, because in New York, neither party reflects my values.

Other then voting for Bush, this will be the first time in almost ten years that I pull the lever for a major party candidate in NY (voting for Spencer against Hillary).

Abstaining from voting is perfectly legitimate.

Simon said...

Abstaining from voting is perfectly legitimate if you honestly don't believe that one party (or candidate) is worse than the other. And if that's what you think, I would argue that you're actually doing the community a favor, because we all lose a little when ignorant people vote.

This stuff about "I don't see any difference between the major parties" should have died with Al Gore's presidential campaign, but like Gore's aspirations, it seems to keep rising from the dead. In 2000, you had a lot of people who claimed they saw no difference between a Gore administration and a Bush administration. I'm willing to bet that they do now.

People can certainly engage in civic participation by means other than voting. Ann does so daily through this blog. But voting is vital. If neiher candidate excites you, work out which is the greater evil and vote to defeat it.

Donald Douglas said...

Revenant:

Look, I don't disagree with your numbers: One single vote, obviously, is all that's needed to win an election. You skirt the bigger issue, however. Why vote? Why do people take the time to learn the issues, register, trudge on down to the voting station on election day (or a get an absentee ballot in advance) and vote? You state in your first comment that at "the state or national level an individual vote is essentially worthless." Yet, if people were purely rational, utility maximizers, according to your logic, voting would not be in one's self interest. There are other reasons why people vote. Even people who lack political efficacy, who doubt they can affect the outcome of a race or that their vote doesn't really matter, may still vote out of a sense of civic duty. Basically, you've got an extremely narrow view of this notion of civic responsibility, which reflects your free-rider mentality: Let the rest of the masses spend their time on voting and elections, right? As for the parties, you're wrong: If the parties were not obligated to run candidates for office they wouldn't exist. Political scientists have long argued that democracy is unthinkable save in terms of the parties. So far, no better vehicle has emerged to aggregate voter preferences and put comprehensive policy proposals before the people.

Tom:

That's your right to abstain from voting, but voting as a civic responsibility is not "crap." Tell that to all the civil rights pioneers or veterans of the country's wars who've considered the right to vote as the true measure of citizenship.

Burkean Reflections

Eli Blake said...

Actually Ann, it is very interesting that post 9/11 you have been driven away from the Democratic party. I have gone the other way-- pre 9/11 I was certainly a Democrat though more of a centrist one, and happy to just vote in elections (and in some of those I voted for Republicans if I though they were the better candidate). However the fact that the President used the spectre of 9/11 to stifle debate on other issues repelled me so that in 2002 I became a precinct committeeman and am now active in state politics. I've not voted for a single Republican since 9/11.

Further, the way the war on terrorism has been conducted has led me to a far more serious conclusion: that conservatives simply cannot be trusted to fight radical Islam. I wrote a (fairly lengthy) guest post on it on the blog 'Belle of the Brawl' here (linked Why conservatives cannot be trusted to lead the war on terror but the heart of the argument boils down to these two paragraphs:

But though Norquist’s contacts were of the out in the open variety, there is something much more sinister that has not been talked about openly, but perhaps it is time to talk about it openly. A fighter is only as good as his or her heart. So let’s look at the heart of conservatism in terms of the fight against radical Islam. Consider that in fact these Islamicists have much the same social agenda as conservatism: A theological outlook in which morality is the foundation for society, in which schools and other social institutions are based on a religious underpinning, and in which such perceived immorality as abortion, pornography, pre-marital or extra-marital sex and homosexuality is elevated to the level of a serious crime, sometimes even punishable by death. Islamicists also espouse a society in which government is fundamentally weak and real decisions are made by a council of Clerics, and religious institutions also oversee and decide on the distribution of social welfare. Prayers are offered in every classroom, scriptural doctrine including creationism is taught masquerading as science, women are expected to remain virginal and pure until marriage and then be subservient to their husbands, and political campaigns are conducted through mosques. True, the name of God is different, but the basic structure is very much the same as what some social conservatives would like America to be like. The Islamicists are fighting against having a secular government, so why would Americans who are against having a secular government put much of their heart into the fight?

Honestly, do you TRUST social conservatives to run the war against terror? To paraphrase an old saying, it is hard to get a man to fight very hard against his brother, and social conservatism and radical Islamicism are brothers in spirit if not in fact. I suspect that Grover Norquist is not the only conservative leader who at least at some level sympathizes with Islamic extremists, and we absolutely cannot have such people leading us in our fight against these fanatics. At the end of the day, it is much easier and more natural for a social conservative to order and want to win a war against a secular dictator with a history of socialism like Saddam Hussein than against people who deep down he admires, sympathizes with, and whose society in many ways is the model he would like to see for America.


You see, in the fight against radical Islam, I frankly am coming to the point where I question the patriotism of those who would prefer to continue to bog us down in a ruinous war in Iraq while not putting the full weight of our effort behind catching those who actually attacked us and who will do so again if we don't catch them.

Revenant said...

I frankly am coming to the point where I question the patriotism of those who would prefer to continue to bog us down in a ruinous war in Iraq while not putting the full weight of our effort behind catching those who actually attacked us and who will do so again if we don't catch them.

Al Qaeda are just the latest group of radical Muslims to attack us. If all we worry about is catching them it'll just mean that the next terrorist attack on us will be by a group with a different name. The middle east needs to be remade -- only that will be a long term solution to the problem.

In any case, your concern that Christians and Muslims are "brothers" and will be reluctant to fight ignores the historical reality that nobody loves killing a true believer as much as a true believer of a different faith. An ignorant atheist might not see a difference between living in a Christian-dominated society and living under sharia, but a Christian sure as hell does.

Simon said...

Eli:
"the President used the spectre of 9/11 to stifle debate on other issues"

"Stifle" means "to quell, crush, or end by force; to suppress [or] curb." I must have missed all the dissenters being shepherded off into detention centers. I know that if one thing has characterized American political discourse since 9/11, it's been the complete absence of discord, disharmoy and criticism of the President. Truly, it's been amazing how the left's voice of opposition has been absent, either of its own volition or a result of being "stifled." Sure, there have been some high-profile exceptions like the Cindy Sheehan protest, but she was immediately carted off by the FBI to a reeducation center where she has since learned to love big brother.

I know we're not supposed to doubt the motivations of liberals, that we're supposed to assume that they don't hate America, they just have a different vision of where it's going and how it should get there. But honestly, sometimes I wonder if these people even live in the same America thatI do, let alone understand the first thing about its values and realities. I'll readily agree that they believe in and love what they consider to be "America," I'm just not sure that what they consider to be America is the same as what everyone else who lives here does. "Stifled"? Eli, you simply can't be serious.

Eli Blake said...

Simon:

OK, the big issue. For about a critical two years after 9/11 it was invoked anytime anyone questioned whether or why we should be in Iraq.

Fortunately the President's
'wave the bloody flag of 9/1l' rhetoric has since been effectively neutered because he used it so often that people began to find their voice, but it was certainly there to 'stifle' meaningful debate on Iraq (i.e. 'if you don't support the Iraq war then you support the terrorists.' and other such nonsense.)

Simon said...

Using 9/11 (or anything else) as a debating point, fairly or not, is a very long way from "stifling debate." That you have to defend your position and explain why you believe your interlocutor is wrong is hardly suppression.

Revenant said...

OK, the big issue. For about a critical two years after 9/11 it was invoked anytime anyone questioned whether or why we should be in Iraq

So the moral of this story is, what -- that liberals are a bunch of pussies? Oooo, they mentioned 9/11. I've totally been stifled!

Please. The reason the debate seemed extremely one-sided prior to the invasion is that the Democratic Party leadership agreed with the Bush administration that Hussein's WMD posed a threat to the United States. Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd -- all of them agreed, as of the advent of the war, that (a) Iraq had WMDs (b) Iraq needed to be disarmed, and (c) that Hussein needed to be removed from power.

The Democrats didn't stay silent out of fear of criticism. They stayed silent because they believed the assessments of the Bush and Clinton adminstrations of Iraq were correct. The debate therefore centered not on whether or not Hussein needed to be removed and Iraq disarmed -- the opinion on both had been a nearly-unanimous bipartisan "YES" since the late 90s -- but on whether we needed to get the United Nations involved.

So let's have none of this crap about how Bush "stifled" his critics. Show some goddamned personal responsibility. If you lack the courage of your convictions that's your own fault, not some politician's.