Memo To: Democrats
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: If Kerry Loses...
In today’s “Week in Review” section of the New York Times, Adam Nagourney, the paper’s national political correspondent, writes a plausible account of what happens if Kerry loses on Nov. 2. His lead: “As far as most Democrats are concerned, their side won the White House in 2000. And as far as most Democrats are concerned, given the state of the economy and the war in Iraq, they should win it again a week from Tuesday.” If Kerry loses, “the Democratic Party would be in for another bout of recrimination, self-examination and transformation.” Of course, if the President loses, the GOP will not have to do any soul-searching. It knows the neo-cons took a shot at conquering the world, with Iraq to set the stage with a “cakewalk” on that global adventure, and that it wasn’t such a hot idea after all.
My Wall Street clients at least know that for more than a year I have been sizing up the political chessboard and predicting that the closer we get to Election Day, the worse things will be in Iraq and the President’s re-election, and the better things will be in the national economy in support of the President’s re-election. (It's okay, but not as good as I thought it would be.)
I was an early enthusiast for Howard Dean as an anti-war candidate, even before he skyrocketed to frontrunner status, but I persistently warned the Deaniacs that his domestic agenda had to be drastically amended if he hoped to follow through. Dean came across in the Iowa caucuses as being fanatically committed to balancing the budget by raising taxes – and flamed out in the caucuses in favor of Senator Kerry, who promised middle-class tax cuts to be paid by upper-class tax hikes. With his primordial scream, Dr. Dean took himself out of contention and Kerry became the antiwar candidate (kind of) and the moderate on taxes and spending (sort of).
It’s actually surprising that Kerry is running neck-and-neck with the President at this stage because he has done so little to address the economic problems of the United States – and the world – in any meaningful fashion. No wonder. The Democratic Establishment still has it in its head that President Clinton had a successful two terms because he raised taxes in 1993, after promising not to. As anyone who reads these memos knows, I have been sorely tempted to vote for Kerry (and may still do so), but am horrified when I hear speculation on the people he might choose to run economic policies. Alan Blinder of Princeton to replace Alan Greenspan as Fed chairman? (Boo). Steven Rattner, a Wall Street austerian as Treasury Secretary (Ugh). These are the kinds of men who led the Democratic Party into the wilderness, moving into the vacuum when Republicans went for Ronald Reagan and economic growth on classical, supply-side principles.
Senator Kerry might still win, even with the neo-Keynesians on his back, but it won’t be by much. My recommendation is that win or lose, you Democrats should submit yourself to “another bout of recrimination, self-examination and transformation” on why it was so difficult, when it should have been easy. I'm available for consultation and will happily travel if the price is right. There was a time when I called the Democratic Party "home."