Larry David figures out "undecided voters"

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Larry David figures out "undecided voters"

Postby Brendan » Thu Sep 16, 04 1:05pm

This appeared as an NYT editorial by Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Chris and others on this board seem to be big fans of him and his humor, so I figured I'd share it. Quite funny.



Are You Undecided? Or Not?

September 16, 2004
By LARRY DAVID

Los Angeles - I'd like to address this to the Undecideds: I'm on to you. You may be fooling everyone else with your little "undecided" act, but you're not fooling me. You know perfectly well whom you're voting for. The only reason you say you're undecided is that it's a cheap ploy to get attention. How do I know? Because I'm the most indecisive person in the world. I set the template, baby, and you're not passing the smell test.

You want to see real undecided? Go out to dinner with me sometime. I'll show you undecided. I look at the menu for 20 minutes, ask everybody what they're ordering, and then, finally, after I copy someone, wind up dashing into the kitchen to tell the waiter I've changed my mind.

Do a little shoe shopping with me. I guarantee you won't be able to stand it. The black ones. No, the brown ones. No, the black ones. Several of my relationships have ended in shoe stores, with women slipping out, unnoticed, never to be seen again. I even got thrown out of a poker game once because I sat there, paralyzed, unable to decide whether or not to fold. It wasn't a pretty sight, but at least it was genuine, not a bluff, like you people.

Oh, I've observed you in action. I've sat next to you at dinner parties and watched while everyone talked themselves silly, trying to get you on board. But you wouldn't budge, would you? You almost seemed to take some pleasure from it, just like my 8-year-old when she makes me beg her to take her medicine, you rascals.

The other night I saw a whole gaggle of you on TV in a focus group. You really liked chatting with professional pollster Frank Luntz, didn't you? He seemed very interested in what you had to say. Afterward, I could imagine all of you piling into a bus and heading for Denny's to discuss your exciting evening with Frank. I could see all of you staying friends even after the election. Maybe go on some trips together. Perhaps a wine tour of Tuscany. On bicycles! Oh, the life of the Undecided. Too bad they can't hold these presidential elections more often. Ah, well, you'll just have to make do.

The truth is, Undecideds, you're getting on our nerves. We Decideds hate all the attention you're getting and that you're jerking us around. Anyone who can't make up his or her mind at this point in the campaign should forget about the election entirely, buy a pint of ice cream and get into bed.

We'd love to tell you to take a hike, but we're afraid to alienate you. If we really had any brains, we wouldn't spend another second on you, but on the people who can truly make a difference: the "unlikely" voters. And there are millions more of them than there are of you. Those people aren't after attention, they're just incredibly lazy. The only way they'll register to vote is if someone shows up at their door with a form. And then the only way they'll actually vote is if you carry them to the booth.

Not only are they lazy, they're also indifferent. They just don't believe that voting can have an effect on their lives. Well, it just so happens that right after I voted for the first time, I landed myself a big fat job in Hollywood, a biopsy came back benign and I met my future wife as soon as I walked out of the voting booth. Coincidence? You decide.

Larry David appears in the HBO series "Curb Your
Enthusiasm."


http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/16/opinion/16david.html?ex=1096338142&ei=1&en=2275fb3baca563af
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Postby Chris » Fri Sep 17, 04 12:00am

Both funny and true. Voter turnout will be a much larger factor than convincing the undecideds come November.

Unrelated, but still political... I'm a little surprised that it's taken this long for Kerry to get around to pointing out the economic problems that Bush has left us in. The best thing the government could possibly do for the economy in the long term is to spend in a fiscally responsible manner and provide a strong infrastructure for business to succeed. Couple that with a well-educated workforce and you have the possibility of being a global leader over the next hundred years.

The fastest road to full economic recovery and expansion is to balance the budget and provide the sound financial footing necessary to tackle the looming Social Security crisis and healthcare as well as having the resources to build and maintain our information and physical infrastructure. Believe it or not, this may be my greatest criticism of Bush. While his lack of ability to comprehend what the potential negative impact of the Iraq War would be is absolutely mind-boggling (but representative of the rampant anti-intellectualism that pervades the vast majority of the country, and the base from which he draws his power), but this mistake is recoverable.

If he is re-elected President and makes his tax-cuts permanent without any spending cuts (apparently his M.O.), our country may be put in a place where we have to spend ten years in fiscal purgatory just to come out even. We were projected to have a surplus of $5.5 trillion in ten years when Clinton left office. If the tax cuts are made permanent, we will have a $5.5 trilion debt in ten years, a swing of $11 trillion. That means Bush will have spent around $44,000 per person in this country that we will have to pay back in addition to the taxes necessary to pay the yearly bills.

If you had a credit card debt of $44,000 projected in ten years, would you change your lifestyle slightly? Especially when all it would take would be a slight change right now to cut it all out? Even if the middle and working class tax cuts are made permanent, restoring the previous tax rate to the top 2% of income earners in this country would almost completely alleviate this crisis, have almost no reduction in consumer spending, and instead cause a rebound in capital investment as investors become more confident of the country's ability to maintain it's economic growth. Plus the attractiveness of government bonds as a sucking force from other capital investment declines as well. If I was in this tax bracket, I would more than willingly sacrifice a small amount of money for the better good of my country.

I know no one is still reading this at this point, but it comes from an interview I saw on Charlie Rose with Robert Reich about his new book. I have absolutely no confidence in Bush to handle the economic policy of America. The best way to solve problems is to surround yourself with smart people that disagree with each other and listen to their arguments. Then, the one that makes the most sense is the policy that is adopted. The hallmark of this administration is to only surround the President with people who will not challenge pre-existing ideas. Like 'tax cuts good! More taxes bad!' See any of his town hall meetings on the campaign trail where all who attended had to sign loyalty oaths as evidence.

This is way too long, but I will stop now.
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Postby Brendan » Fri Sep 17, 04 9:29pm

I could go into a long explanation, but, essentially, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I understand the principles behind trickle-down economics and a lot of people get behind it b/c they don't really understand, so they assume it's "thinking outside of the box". Yeah, take less from the wealthy and corporations and they will take that money and reinvest it. However, once you realize that this means screwing about 98% of Americans, it takes a toll on the economy. And these wealthy people are wealthy for a reason: they stay away from bad investments. If the economy is tanking they save their money and that makes it worse. Give $10,000 to a person who makes $500,00 a year, and they'll put it in the bank for a rainy day. Give $10,000 to someone on welfare, and they'll spend it all within the week, ON SHIT THAT THEY NEED! Which scenario helps the economy? Take a wild guess. Besides, if trickle down economics did work, it would take years to feel its effect. That's why selling the tax cuts as a "short-term stimulus" makes me wonder if maybe living in Europe isn't such a bad option.

Yes, this has become a long post as well, but I think the thing that makes me resent Bush more than anything else, is that he had a chance, after 9/11, to really do some good in the world. Even though most of the world still thought of us as arrogant asses before, 9/11 actually gave us a chance to get most of the world on our side to seriously take on terroist networks and make the world safer. But instead, he and his neoconservative puppetmasters used it to push through the afforementioned tax cuts and put us in a state of perpetual war that will always be cited for them skirting the basic checks and balances of the constitution as well as drumming up support amongst the "But he's so decisive" crowd.

Yeah, I'm gonna stop now before I lose my entire night.
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Postby Chris » Fri Sep 17, 04 10:53pm

It's almost disturbing how similar our thoughts are on this issue. It's almost like we've used some sort of cunning logic to not just absorb all that's told to us, and instead we've decided to (Say it like Charles Heston fighting off an ape captor!) think... for... ourselves!!!!!

Or we're related....

On the "he's so decisive" note, did you catch the Pat Buchanon on the Daily Show? While it was creepy that I agreed with Pat Buchanon (that's how far out there Bush is), he was saying that the reason people like Bush is that he "exudes confidence".

"So does Mr. T!" screamed Stewart.

Point well made, Jon. Being decisive just means you can be wrong faster.
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Postby Brendan » Sat Sep 18, 04 10:08am

Yeah, I started feeling dirty because I was agreeing with Pat Buchanon. But Buchanon and even people like John McCain are still vestiges of what the Republican party used to be. They had some moderates and some wackos, but they mostly stood for state's rights and reduced government. Now the Republicans had transformed into a group of people that want America to regress to the ideals of Old Europe: concentrated wealth/power and a huge military to kick the ass of anyone who threatens that wealth/power.

And the Mr. T line was great. Everything positive said about Bush is that he exudes certain qualities, but to my recollection, he's never used any of those qualities for good. Maybe he shouldn't have been so decisive when it came to alienating the remaining dozen countries whose support actually would have made a difference. Everything about Bush is his image and that's solely why he's up in the polls. To his campaign's credit, they'll done an excellent job of cultivating that image and destroying Kerry's. WHY WON'T HE FIGHT BACK AND POINT OUT ALL OF THE EVIL SHIT BUSH HAS DONE! I don't get it. Dole and Gore played the nice guy and look what happened. He has so much ammunition on them. And here's an idea: explain to people the $87 billion vote and maybe that will get people to start realizing that the media doesn't really have a liberal bias and that O'Reilly and Hannity are actively lying to each and every one of your easily malleable, logic-devoid brains. How is Kerry an indecisive flip-flopper when he's also the most liberal senator? Wouldn't that take some sort of conviction? Or maybe both accusations are false. Maybe flip-flopping over a span of TEN years is a good thing, considering the world and the country are constantly changing. And how is it that the Bush campaign can get away with telling us that America is still under grave danger to be attacked again yet, "He's doing such a great job on the war on terror", especially when the focus has clearly shifted away from terrorists. You say that you wanted to liberate some people, take a look at Sudan where genocide has been going on for years. Or Africa where ignorance about AIDS has lead to millions of unnecessary deaths. There's actually a belief among many Africans that having sex with a virgin will cure you.

I love Jon Stewart and the Daily Show, but it shouldn't be the best source for the truth. They point out basic flaws in people's statements and show video evidence of people lying, yet no one else picks up on that story.

I think I have to go lay down for a little while. This whole stating-the-obvious thing wears me out.
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Postby Chris » Sat Sep 18, 04 11:57pm

For awhile the whole John Kerry campaign really started to scare me. I thought it was going to be butt of the same joke Norm MacDonald told on SNL Weekend Update eight years ago:

"Congratulations to Bob Dole for doing what most thought was impossible. Re-electing Bill Clinton."

However, it could be doing what I thought most challenger campaigns should do in this age of pundits. For whatever reason, just like the stock market, campaigns are not measured by whether or not they effectively disseminate their ideas for America's future, but instead by their momentum. What is momentum is the political or stock sense? Exceeding expectations.

Stocks that beat the market expectations go up. Those that don't go down. Even if you just made a gazillion dollars profit, if analysts determine that you should have made a gazillion and one - you have disappointed and investors will sell.

In the political arena, everybody was expecting whoever came out of the primary process to keep on rolling and make some serious headway against the President. If you remember, early in the year the press was bombarded with stories about how they rolled over for the Iraq War, and they were embarrassed. They wanted someone to take Bush out for making fools of them, and then denying them the access they had gotten used to under Clinton and Bush I.

When Kerry emerged, they began pumping him up and almost gave the election a sense of inevitability. The expectations were rising, leaving only one outcome: disappointment. Then, as he did not fulfill these great expectations, the pundits and editors would begin piling on.

I have always thought that a challenger should almost tank his campaign until mid to late September and then come on strong. Steadily lower expectations, and then watch the collective pundit blowj*b when you turn things around. You get all sorts of credit for "resurrecting" a dead campaign, you are seen as a great leader who "took charge" and fought back when your back was against the wall. (Incidently, this was the character trait Time was shown when they did a huge piece on him a few months ago. Now everyone can point back to it and say - "See!!!")

It worked for him before in the primaries, and I think it will work again here. Why this optimism? Well, there is a track record. And also, every time I see someone interview one of his advisors and they are asked "Why isn't Kerry fighting back? Why isn't he explaining to people that the Bush people are so disgustingly distorting the truth? (They never say "lie", as that would be reflective of their "liberal bias".)" The advisors never answer the question well, they just sit back and smile. They say things like he will or don't worry.

Have you noticed how Kerry has been hitting back hard the past week or so? Have you noticed that recent polls suggest that Kerry has nearly eliminated the post-convention bounce for Bush?

Let the Bush attacks take their toll. As long as they hit early enough, people will tire of them, and then when Kerry gets rolling, everyone will be just "amazed" by his turnaround. America loves to jump on the surging horse. See: every pop culture phenomenon of the past 20 years.

I hope. Or Kerry's just a huge idiot.
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Postby greg » Sun Sep 26, 04 1:18pm

I'm going to leave a relatively short post here, if that's ok. This seems like the "Long Post Zone." I just want to note that Arnold Schwarzen (whatever, you know who I mean) and Bill Clinton would each win this election. So, why can't they run? The Clinton thing especially bothers me. Term limitations are premised on the notion that we are too stupid to avoid constantly re-electing a shitty guy and making him a dictator. Was this a huge problem in the century and a half before the amendment was made?
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Postby Brendan » Sun Sep 26, 04 4:46pm

I'm almost through with following politics. All of the politicians in this NYT article admitted that they only voted for the tax cut b/c of the spin the Republicans would put on it. I especially loathe the heartless comment at the end:



September 23, 2004
Deal in Congress to Keep Tax Cuts, Widening Deficit
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 - Putting aside efforts to control the federal deficit before the elections, Republican and Democratic leaders agreed Wednesday to extend $145 billion worth of tax cuts sought by President Bush without trying to pay for them.

At a House-Senate conference committee, Democratic lawmakers abandoned efforts to pay for the measures by either imposing a surcharge on wealthy families or closing corporate tax shelters.

"I wish we could pay for them, but this is a political problem and we have people up for re-election,'' said Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. "If you have to explain that you voted for these tax cuts because they benefit the middle class and against them because of the deficit, you've got a problem.''

Fearful of being attacked as supporters of higher taxes, Democrats said they would go along with an unpaid five-year extension of the $1,000 child tax credit; a four-year extension of tax breaks intended to reduce the so-called marriage penalty on two-income families; and a six-year extension of a provision that allowed more people to qualify for the lowest tax rate of 10 percent.

Even as they pushed for the cuts that will add to the federal budget deficit, House Republican lawmakers said Wednesday that they hoped to have a vote soon on a constitutional amendment that would require the government to balance the budget by 2010, except if the country is at war.

That proposed amendment has no chance of becoming law, but it would conflict with even the Bush administration's rosiest goals for reducing the deficit, which is expected to hit $420 billion this year, a record. Mr. Bush has promised only to cut the deficit in half by 2009.

Approval of the tax cut package is a significant victory for Mr. Bush, who champions the extension of the cuts at every campaign stop but whose wishes had been thwarted by Democrats and a handful of Republican moderates in the Senate.

As recently as July, the moderates demanded that such tax cuts be paid for either with budget cuts or with higher taxes in other areas. By teaming up with Democrats, the Republican moderates prevented their own party leaders and the Bush administration from getting their way.

But with the election nearing, Congressional Democrats said they would not let themselves be branded as supporters of tax increases, which would occur if the expiring provisions were not renewed.

Senator John Kerry, their party's presidential nominee, has said he supports extension of the tax reductions, though he would roll back Mr. Bush's tax cuts for the top 2 percent of income earners, families with annual incomes above $200,000.

Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the Senate Democratic leader, announced this week that he would support a five-year extension of the cuts even if they were not paid for.

With Democrats capitulating to the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, the handful of Republican holdouts have quietly surrendered as well.

The Republican rebels - Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine - infuriated Mr. Bush and many Republican leaders. But their ability to block action evaporated without the votes of Democrats.

The result of the reversal on the part of the Democrats and the Republican moderates is likely to be a tax measure that will last longer and increase federal deficits more than a two-year extension that Republican Senate leaders offered this summer. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that debt will climb by $2.3 trillion over the next 10 years, and that making all Mr. Bush's tax cuts permanent would cost an additional $1.9 trillion by the end of 2014.

In the conference committee, House and Senate Republicans added about $13 billion worth of business tax breaks, the biggest of which was a renewal of the investment tax credit for research and development.

House Republican conferees also rejected a proposed amendment by Senator Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas, that would expand the number of poor families eligible for a refundable child tax credit. That measure would have cost $7 billion over 10 years.

According to studies by Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee, four million low-income families will have reduced benefits from the child tax credit if the law is unchanged.

"These are working people we are trying to help," Senator Lincoln said, adding, "The higher-income taxpayers get enormous benefits from the tax code."

At issue in the case of the child tax credit was the extent to which it should be made available as a refundable payment to low-income families that have no federal tax liability.

To save money in last year's tax bill, Republican lawmakers decided to offer a refundable tax credit to families that earn at least $10,000. But that still left many poor families ineligible, and those numbers would increase because the current law raises the minimum income threshold each year in line with inflation.

"The tax credit is for taxpayers,'' said Senator Don Nickles, Republican of Oklahoma. "If you want to change the welfare system, then change the welfare system.''
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Postby Chris » Sun Sep 26, 04 11:18pm

Re Greg:

I keep waffling about the whole term limits thing. On some level, I think it's ridiculous to force a President out who's just getting good at the job, but on the other hand - after working in radio for a little, I have discovered just how disconnected people are with the world around them. I'm sure that many people would vote for Bush until he is Kaiser, largely because they can't be bothered to do a little research and discover that he is just simply an awful President. Besides, in a nation of almost 300 million people, there has to be someone else out there who can do it. Hell, people would still be voting for Reagan in 2004 if he was eligible. So basically, it's a good defense against the stupidity of the American public. We can still vote Strom Thurmond in for his 82nd consecutive term, however.

If I had to rank constitutional idiocies, I'd place the Electoral College well before this one.

I'd like to hear your follow-up, Greg. I'm not sold on this issue.
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Postby Chris » Sun Sep 26, 04 11:51pm

Re: Brendan

I think this is why I hate the whole political scene. No one has the balls to stand up and say "Taxes are a good thing!" Somehow, the entire American public has just accepted that government is a bad thing.

It boggles my mind that only 12 years ago, Ross Perot, a man who was clearly insane, captured over 20% of the vote by simply explaining how asinine the idea of running a deficit was. HE HAD NO OTHER POINTS!!!!! THAT'S IT!!!

People knew he was insane, but voted for him anyway. Why? Because he bought 30 minute informercials and explained how the growing federal debt would eventually ruin our country in a way greater than whatever Osama bin Laden could throw at us. As we saw, Sept 11th didn't demoralize us, it united us. However, closing schools, abandoning buildings, cutting back on police, turning off every third street light, letting grafitti run wild, forcing class sizes to grow over 50 and forcing them to learn in the hallway from a teacher that has no knowledge of a subject just eats away at a society in a much more insidious way.

We cannot band together to fight off the attacker from out side, because this evil is much harder to grasp for most people. But it is simple to explain. Every time we ask for a tax cut without budget cuts, or we spend $200 billion on a war because we couldn't be bothered to get other countries to help us share the burden, we are taking money from our future to pay for our present. If you asked people if they were willing to take out loans against their children's future earnings to pay for groceries when money really isn't that tight around the house, they would never do it.

I know that I am saying that you can trust the American people to make the right choice if it is explained properly, like Perot did -- a mere post down from saying people are too dumb to be trusted to not elect a bad sitting President, but it makes sense.

Ugh, I wish I could type as fast as I can talk, because I am making too many points in my head to get them all down here. I wish Kerry would just rail against Bush for the budget. This may give him the fresh ammunition to do so. I keep waiting for Kerry to kick into high gear, and I'm giving him until the debates.

Like you said Brendan, this is almost too much to take, but like a glutton, I'll keep following because for some wacky reason I'm interested in my future and in the future of everyone around me. I know that the current administration would be much happier if I just stopped bothering them and let them do what they wanted without all this bothersome questioning, but I'm gonna keep at it. Hopefully, someday I'll be able to make a substantive difference, but until then, I'll merely bide my time, learning what is the right way to do things and the wrong way to do things. Maybe if I yell at enough peole to wake up, or I'm able to change their minds with logic and information, I'll make a little difference. Even if I never will, that's still no good reason to give up.

The fight is good, and no matter how frustrating and demoralizing it may be, we must never give up. Because that day, and it will come... that day when this dark cloud has passed, will be one of the most satisfying in our lives. Their arguments are flawed and they are winning only because they shout. But soon, as their failures mount they will have nowhere else to point their fingers. Unfortunately, their failures may not reach a crisis point for many voters until six months after the election. But what's another impeachment if the Chief Justice already has sewn on the gold stripes to his robe?
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Postby Chris » Sun Sep 26, 04 11:59pm

P.S. Isn't it funny to think that the income tax needed a constitutional amendment to become legal? To think that something so reviled was at one point thought a necessity so great as to justify rewriting the constitution? But, I'll probably say the same thing about flag-burning or gay marriage ten years from now.

By the way, I was once against the balanced budget amendment, but after seeing what can be done, I may actually be for it. Not that it matters, since we'll be at "War" with terrorism as long as the Republicans control the White House.
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Postby dd » Mon Sep 27, 04 12:36am

Terrorists hate our freedom.




Have a cookie.
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Postby bitsy » Mon Sep 27, 04 11:15am

i would just like to add that i'm sitting in calc class and we've been going over homework for 45 minutes. and the class is only 50 minutes long. Because of my boredom, i just noticed a guy in my class who looks a lot like blaine.

at this point i find it very, very interesting. oh sweet release, class is over! hooray!
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term limits, et al

Postby greg » Mon Sep 27, 04 10:07pm

Ok, Chris, you asked for it...here's a long one.
First, I completely agree that the pinnacle of stupidity is the electoral college. Nothing says fairness like making millions of people's votes worthless. Small states? They're protected in Congress and not as outnumbered in national clout as people think.
As for the term limitations:
1) The only - ONLY - time any president stayed longer than two terms while there were no limitations was FDR, during a war (third election was 1940, I believe) and everyone who was alive then and not rich at the time loves him still
2) I disagree that Reagan would still be getting elected, because of a) point #1 above, and b) he WAS re-elected, in the form of his vp...then the shitty fiscal policies caught up, there was no cold war and a dem got in - would've happened to reagan too(heck, if Reagan ran in '88, Dukakis would have hit him with Iran-Contra pretty hard anyway)
3) To elaborate on the above, this is the major reason why I hate term limitations...you end up treating the vp the same as the outgoing pres...as far as I know, the only two-term president vp's to lose were Nixon and Gore, which were unbelievably close - and Gore ran completely away from Clinton. So, you might as well vote in the main guy, since its usually a referendum on him (except Gore, of course...idiot). Isn't this a worse form of stupidity than blindly voting for the incumbent? Blindly voting for the vp of the incumbent just because he was vp?! At least they know what they're getting when its the pres again.
4) As for your Bush point...yes, people are disconnected and yes, some people would vote for him endlessly. But those are people who are so NRA or so pro-life that they will always vote that party. Keep this in mind: as disconnected as voters are, if any democrat of any ability at all ran against Bush, it would be over already and he would be a one-termer. Kerry has a chance, and he's a terrible candidate. That's a strong referendum on the incumbent, and reflects the public's ability to at least know when someone sucks. The fact that Clinton could come out after being away a term and likely blow out this election illustrates this point.
(By the way, that was Clinton's proposal: limit terms at two, then force the person to sit out an election, and then allow him back in...this keeps the intent of the limitation, without completely - um - destroying the country.)

So, I think the negatives (i.e. threat of long-time shitty president) are unwarranted concerns. No historical evidence and no current realistic threat. The positives are great. A president people want - a proven success, in fact, according to some. And, frankly, a chance to avoid some more damage to the country's economy. Positives outweigh unlikely negatives.
Sorry for the below-average argument, but I am doing this quickly and must go to bed.

Pat Buchanan: "It's not like Osama was sitting around with his henchmen in a cave, stumbled across our Bill of Rights and flipped out about freedom. They don't hate our policies, they hate our implementation of them." We must be in bizarro world to agree with him.
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Postby greg » Tue Sep 28, 04 8:34pm

This is funny: Jon Stewart appeared on O'Reilly Factor. Look at the way he handles O'Reilly; he turns everything around - mostly he jokes, but he also makes points (i.e. Why would you boycott France; isn't Saudi Arabia worse?, to which O'Reilly points out that France was supposed to be our friend).
http://www.wonkette.com/archives/the-ostewart-factor-021688.php
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