The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Tuesday, August 31, 2004


An Instant Messenger conversation between myself and Former TFM Roomie Josh...
Josh: I may not agree with much of what he says, but if Giuliani runs against Kerry in '08, Kerry's toast.
TFM: at first blush, i would be concerned about rudy
TFM: but if he runs,
TFM: he'll no longer be "that 9/11 guy"
TFM: and the full rudy wont necessarily sit well with the socially conservative right
Josh: true. But I think the right, if it loses this election, is going to have to become more centrist to stay alive, and Rudy might be their guy. If Kerry wins this, the vietnam vet thing will seem out of touch next to Giuliani's contemporary hero image in '08. The rescue effort after 9/11 produced a new kind of "war hero." I think emerging NY politicians are going to have their own guilded age (hilary included).
Josh: *ll
TFM: i agree that if bush loses the republicans are going to have a bit of an identity crisis... and it'll be brutal... and they could come out of it more moderate, with the rudys and (gasp) ahhnulds taking the lead . . . i think the amount of rudy glow that remains in 08 will be relative to how central an issue combating terrorism will be at that time, and we don't really know yet
Josh: Well, at the same time you could say that Vietnam is no longer relevant, but it still pops up as a campaign issue. The draft was the defining moment for a generation and how you dealt with it is considered a character reference, despite the relative disconnect between vietnam and many contemporary issues. I think 9/11 will be a similar thing. It will outlast any actual policy focus to become a sort of character reference.
TFM: ive thought about that... and with kerry being 60 and mccain 64, this could be the last election where vietnam rears its complicated head . . . i think in terms of service, 9/11 and the following conflicts will have a different sort of role, partially because the people fighting them, even moreso than with 'nam, are not people who are on track for positions of power, but are the products of what amounts to a lower-class backdoor draft, that was one of moore's more effective points in the doc
TFM: couple that with the short attentionspan and memory of the current electorate
Josh: Yes, that's true of firefighers and rescue workers. But not so much the 9/11 widows and children. You can bet there are widows and orphans who will one day get into politics, who will claim it as a defining moment.
TFM: umm... dennis miller?
TFM: hehehe
TFM: ron friggin silver?
TFM: hehe
TFM: the 9/11 families, as we've seen, are politically diverse
TFM: for every lisa beamer there is a jeremy glick
Josh: They are definitely diverse. So are nam vets. I'm sure there's a Rhodes scholar out there right now coming off of a public policy program who lost a parent or a sibling in 9/11 and you can bet when they run for office in a few years, we'll be hearing about it.
TFM: so what are the implications then, are you looking at this more as a future character issue, the foreign policy/natl security historical moment from which future candidates will be judged for their involvement a la vietnam
TFM: we're already seeing post 9/11 posturing against terrorism as a bit of a stick-measuring contest between the two parties, the early coldwar trumanish thing
Josh: It will be a new kind of war hero. Not knowing a 9/11 victim won't be a detractor, but it will have to be treated with respect. And family members and friends of 9/11 victims or rescue workers will definitely get bonus points in the political arena.
TFM: this is something that probably wont really sink in for a couple more election cycles, unless giuliani runs
Josh: probably true. Although Hillary could also lay claim to the whole thing, although her ties to the first administration suggest a pre-terrorist identity.
TFM: the problem with accessing 9/11 heroism, particularly for the republican party, is that the Bush presidency has tied 9/11 so closely to the Iraq war...
TFM: ...and if there's a Republican identity crisis after they lose in november, it's likely that the neocons who "got us into this mess" will lose out
Josh: I agree with you there. It's a problem for Bush. But the same is true of vietnam to an extent. The politicians who ran the war have a controversial legacy, but the people who fought it were relatively clean - they came off as the victims of bad policy, who served honorably.
TFM: that's true, and the same can/will? be said for direct participants in 9/11 heroism
Josh: Yup, and that may extend to veterans of the Iraq war, although without a draft it's a bit more of sketchy situation.
Josh: The inevitibility of involvement seems to be a factor.
TFM: agreed, but it will also be dependent on circumstances at the time of future elections... in 1992, a relatively peaceful time with the end of the cold war, a draft dodger beat a decorated wwii pilot
Josh: Very true. Of course Clinton had one of the best-run campaigns in history. Had he had lesser strategists, he could have been in the shitter on many occasions during that campaign.
Josh: John Kerry's war room sucks by comparison and he's having trouble defending himself despite a stellar record.
TFM: speaking of which i saw 'the war room' a few weeks ago, it was fun watching all the strategery
Josh: Great movie.
TFM: yeah kerry's people need serious work, especially his on-camera spokespeople, it's sad that in this age of instant info that they sometimes get caught off guard the way they do
Josh: I'm reading George Stephanopoulos' book on the Clinton campaign/first term. It's really fascinating.
Josh: Well, Nightline just ended, which generally signals my bedtime. It's been an interesting chat. I'll catch you later.
TFM: yes it has, later dude
Josh: later
Josh, as I've mentioned before, is one of the smarter, more informed people I've ever met. He has a particular interest in the Cold War era, and the culture and media therein, and that explains his interest in the possible analogy with future references to 9/11 experiences by politicians in elections yet to come.


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