Atrios and Ogged apparently don’t watch enough sports. Atrios wrote,

Who here thinks Howard Dean can beat Bush? Why Ted, you ignorant slut, Fred Flintstone could take Bush with Barney Rubble as his campaign manager. Wesley Clark should stop saying that he needs to be the nominee because someone needs to be able to match Bush at foreign policy. What Clark should say is that Joey Tribiani could match Bush at foreign policy, though he, Clark, has the most experience. Stop acknowledging that Bush is strong on anything. He’s a big loser. He’s a miserable failure. He’s lost 3 million jobs. He got us into a screwed up war. Our soldiers are being killed by terrorists. The Middle East is a mess. Afghanistan is a mess. OBL is alive. Hussein is alive.


Koppel asked them to raise their hands if they thought Dean could beat Bush. They didn’t. Idiots – you should be willing to say that a SLUG could beat Bush.

Ogged says this is “Exactly right.”

Leaving aside the factual basis of the Democratic talking points–every one of those things except the 3 million jobs could have been said about Bill Clinton in 1996–that would be a strategically inept position to adopt.

As anyone who has watched good sports coaches knows, you’re supposed to poor-mouth yourself and talk up the opposition. When Bear Bryant was facing a pitiful opponent, he always talked about how great the other team was and how tough it would be. “That Vanderbilt, they sure do have some mighty smart football players. And, after losing 43 in a row, you know they’ll be up for this game. The Good Lord willing, we might be able to keep it close.” Lowering expectations is simply smart strategy [Democrat for “strategery”? -ed.].

Plus, on the not exactly implausible chance that Bush is reelected, one wouldn’t want to have been defeated by someone who ostensibly could have been beaten by a slug, no?

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, Afghanistan War, Middle East, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Gabe Posey says:

    Great point. One that is, yes, sadly missed by the Dems. But remember, Bear Bryant had something that the Dems don’t: a millimeter of humility. Yes, he was a braggart. Yes, he was ragingly overconfident. But then, yes, he was a winner.

    Even a little humility is better than none at all. My Scrawl today deals with Wesley Clark and his decision to base U.S. foreign policy on the perfidy of the EU.

  2. ogged says:

    So what should they be saying, James? Here’s the comment I posted in response to yours over at Unfogged:

    This actually gets complicated quickly. The Democrats are fighting two things: low expectations for GW and the sense that his re-election is inevitable. They need to raise expectations of GW personally, while reiterating the fact that he’s failed. I don’t think they’re going to have any luck raising expectations, so they should pound the failures and tie them to the entire Bush operation. The point of raising their hands would have been to say: the American people are smart; they understand that although GW is a likable guy, his people are going off in a million directions and have bungled every major policy area–of course he’s beatable.

  3. James Joyner says:


    Convinving one’s own side that it can win is important, and can be done in fundraisers and party events. But as a public matter, I’d say that it’s going to be an uphill fight because Bush is popular and he’s a wartime president. And then run against his weaknesses.

  4. Steven says:

    I think you just reminded me why I don’t read Atrios.

    Part of the problem with the thesis is that it is going to be difficult for the Dem’s to convince the general public, and especially the swing voters, that Bush is a failure economically if the Dow hits 10k and stays in the neigborhood, if GDP continues to grow and if there is even modest job growth. All of which are reasonable possibilities.

  5. Ha Ha.

    I LOVE getting beaten by slugs. 🙂

  6. nathan says:

    The only thing about your counter-assertion is that in sports, the winner is decided on the playing field, by prowess. The election is determined by what people think. The election isn’t a contest of playing ability, it is more like the BCS, where perception is reality. So as much as I abhor Atrios’ politics, I think he’s right: emphasizing that someone “needs to be as strong as Bush” just acknowledges that Bush is strong.
    Luckily, the Democrat candidates don’t listen to Atrios.

  7. Paul says:

    And the little thing like the 3 million jobs lost is a MYTH.