Seth Masket on Westen
This is classic post hoc reasoning that doesn’t even belong in an undergraduate essay in an intro-level class, no less on the Sunday op/ed pages. The reasoning goes: Mondale ran, Mondale lost, therefore Mondale was lacking some important qualities [insert whatever qualities you like in people]. One major factor that is being ignored here, of course, is the economy. Mondale ran against a popular incumbent during an enormous economic boom. Are we to believe that Bill Clinton would have defeated Reagan in 1984?
Another point: Did Nixon “read the emotions of the electorate” in 1968? Did he “articulate a vision and a set of values”? Or did he just happen to run in a year when the incumbent party’s candidate was suffering from his association with a slowing economy and a deeply unpopular war?
Yet another point: Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000! No, that certainly doesn’t make him president, but nor does it demonstrate that the voters rejected him due to his purported inabilities to read emotions or articulate visions.
Still another point: Yes, Ronald Reagan possessed some excellent public speaking skills, but that didn’t help him when the economy was floundering during his first term. His approval ratings dropped into the 30s in 1983. Maybe in all the economic turmoil, he briefly forgot how to read emotions and articulate visions.
Indeed. With Jonathan Bernstein writing for the Washington Post and John Sides and Monkey Cage company recently added to the American Prospect, I’d say it’s about time somebody gave this guy a bigger platform.