You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

October 31, 2010

Democratic Blame Calculus

By: John Caruso

[ This is the third in a series of related articles; see here and here for the first two. ]

It's come to my attention that on this 10th anniversary of the 2000 election, there are some people out there who feel confusion and uncertainty regarding who exactly was responsible for Al Gore's loss.  So as a public service I thought it would be helpful to write up the set of heuristics used by Democrats and other fault-laying liberals to assign blame—the Democratic Blame Calculus (DBC), as I call it.  I've organized the DBC into the hierarchical classes below, ranked based on the relative frequency and severity with which the designated groups or individuals are targeted by right-thinking Democrats for searing castigation for their transgressions against Al Gore's presidential prospects.  Let's take a look, shall we?


1) Ralph Nader
2) The 2.9 million people who voted for Ralph Nader


1) The Supreme Court
2) George Bush
3) Katherine Harris (may be removed from this class in the future due to increasing obscurity)


1) Al Gore


1) Bill Clinton
2) Joe Lieberman
3) The Democratic Party


1) ~200,000 Democrats in Florida who voted for George Bush
2) Millions of Democrats throughout the nation who voted for George Bush
3) ~1 million Democrats who didn't vote at all in Florida
4) Republican voters in general
5) People who voted for any of the seven other political parties in Florida whose totals exceeded the 543-vote difference between Gore and Bush
6) The entire non-voting American public

(I know this may seem complex, but I've actually left out a few of the more subtle variations to make it simpler; for instance, advanced Democrats can split their blame vortex long enough to co-blame Nader and the Supreme Court.  They'll almost invariably send the primary blame stream Naderward, though, and Democratic acolytes will always opt to blame Nader over any other target, so the DBC class hierarchy reflects this shared tendency.)

This handy reference will help resolve many of the vexing conundrums that might otherwise bamboozle anyone who hasn't fully absorbed the intricate blame algorithm of Democrats.  For instance, which of the following groups was most responsible for Al Gore's loss: 1) 97,488 Florida Nader voters, including Greens, Democrats, Republicans, and independents;  2) ~200,000 Florida Democrats who voted for George Bush; or 3) ~1 million Florida Democrats who didn't vote at all?  The untrained observer would naturally pick 2 or 3, but a quick glance at the DBC makes it crystal clear that the correct answer is number 1.  Surprising!

Or let's say a former non-voter who'd never had any affiliation with the Democrats was inspired by Nader and the Green Party to enter politics in 2000, register as a Green, and vote for Nader; were they actually more responsible for electing Al Gore than a lifelong Democrat who sat home on election day eating day-old pizza and watching Simpsons reruns?  Again, this question will likely mislead the unitiated into a wrong and Democrat-displeasing answer, but it's not even a close call once you've fully absorbed the blame calculus.

And finally: who was more responsible for making sure Al Gore received enough votes in 2000—Al Gore, or Ralph Nader?  Now, this may seem tricky on the surface given our natural human tendency to assume that each candidate in an election is ultimately responsible for convincing people to vote for them, but it's actually the simplest question of all.  Even the most cursory glance at the DBC will tell you that nobody in the entire country was more responsible for Al Gore's electoral fortunes than Ralph Nader.  See?  It's easy and fun.

So if you've ever found yourself perplexed by the arcane internal logic of Democratic blaming, I think you'll find the DBC an invaluable guide to the crucial issue of who exactly should be held responsible for Al Gore's loss in the 2000 election, and therefore every bad thing that's happened since then in the United States (and indeed the entire world, and possibly other planets in the solar system as well).  According to Democrats, that is.

— John Caruso

Posted at October 31, 2010 03:01 PM

It seems like the 'mainstream media' should be in one of your classes. If you're a fan of the Daily Howler you'd put them in at least Class 1, if not Class 0.

Posted by: Colin at October 31, 2010 04:57 PM

If you broaden the focus a bit from responsiblity for Gore's loss to responsibility for what Bush wrought, you can include another Class 5 constiuency: Senate Democrats.

On January 6, 2001 a joint session of Congress met to certify the electoral vote. Twenty Democratic members of the House, mostly from the Congressional Black Caucus, individually rose to challenge the Electoral College results based on credible allegations of voter disenfranchisement--primarily targeting the African-American community--in Florida. However, not one single Democratic senator chose to sponsor the objections and so the challenge died for procedural reasons.

Sure, had the challenge moved forward the ultimate result likely would have been the House of Representatives declaring Bush the winner, but the Democrats would have given clear notice that they would not be easily rolled over. This, in turn, may have put the brakes on some of what subsequently transpired under the Bush agenda.

Posted by: jm at October 31, 2010 08:58 PM

Baby John,

Molten prime tension, “calculus” finding dimension for virgins and math.

I was hoping for a really cool graphic but not really.

The scent is near pornographic between suburban dreams of “bullfights on acid” and who eats the “Baby Ruth” turd at the bottom of the pool wearing a respirator.

more please

Posted by: go heavy, go hydraulic at October 31, 2010 10:56 PM

After seeing what the donkeys produce when given every advantage, I feel vindicated in voting Green when possible.

I'll be sure to be carrying the self-evident superiority of Lesser of Two Evilism uppermost in my mind when the fix goes in on foreclosure fraud (Look Forward, Not Backward), and the attacks on Iran begin. Shouldn't have long to wait.

Posted by: JerseyJeffersonian at October 31, 2010 11:16 PM

Dems don't blame Republicans or non-voters? I try to avoid Dems, but from my various encounters that seems like a fantastical notion. What I hear is "...the idiots who voted for Bush..." And non-voters are routinely scolded and condemned by the entire voting herd as useless lifeforms who should not even be allowed to speak about politics. This Nader as martyr talk seems like a big pity party to me, self-pity from naderites that is. At the highest levels of Donkery I'm sure there are some people who whine about Nader, but I bet most Dem voters don't even know who Nader is, let alone the nuance of FL 2000.

I was living in FL in 2000, which was my first year of eligibility to surrender my volition and conscience to the Emperor through a popularity contest....can't remember what I did, ate cold pizza or something, but after Sportscenter was over I watched the hoopla for a few minutes and I was hoping the election would come down to one vote so I'd have a good story to tell.

Posted by: marcus at November 1, 2010 01:36 AM

Yeah but al Goraida is making a lot of money on global warming so he didn't need to be president.

Posted by: Rob Payne at November 1, 2010 02:22 AM

terminologically speaking, instead of "calculus", I would have preferred "algorithm" or "heuristic"

Posted by: Freddy el Desfibradddor at November 1, 2010 07:17 AM

By whatever terminology one prefers, I'm attempting to apply the 2000 election analysis to the current election.

Although the results are not in, the following outcomes seem likely:

The American voters who say they are against gridlock will vote for gridlock.

The American voters who say they are against partisan bickering will vote for partisan bickering.

The American voters who say they are for middle-class interests will vote against middle-class interests.

Conclusion: American voters are not responsible because they are insane, and, under are system of justice, should be committed to mental institutions, not prison.

Posted by: Paul Avery at November 1, 2010 12:15 PM

Marcus, I think the point may have eluded you here. The Democrat pros evince the anti-zen archer attitude. When the zen archer misses the target, he first turns and seeks the source of the error within himself. When the Democrat pol fails in the electoral effort, instead of examining whether he has made a positive case for himself or herself either in rhetoric, or far more importantly, in actions when in office, they seek someone else to blame. You can clearly see the efforts emanating from the White House to get an early start on this: Rahm and his "fucking retards" quote dismissing the seriousness and legitimate disgruntlement of the left end of the Democrats; Gibbs and his disparaging remarks about the Professional Lefties; the unresponsiveness of the White House to pretty much any and all left criticism about policy formulation and nominations.

Guess they learned another thing from Bush - undertake preemptive strikes. In this case, they're setting up the left as the ogres; if they're not actively undermining the establishment Dems through primary challenges, they're undermining the enthusiasm of the base with their endless bitching, those treacherous lefties! That'll be the new Blame Calculus.

So the historical perspective of the post is helpful in anticipating the argumentation that the Dem pols will advance as to why the left is poisonous, out of touch, and ultimately dispensable. You see, in order to be electable, they need to move to the RIGHT. In the Gore-Nader example, the electoral failure was the fault of those lefty cranks who were even beyond the pale of the party; but now, the enemy is the entire left wing of the party, 'cuz they're really just as bad as those Naderite/Green scum. The pols WANT to move to the right, because it makes it easier for them to latch onto the special interest teat. When they are tasked with working for the interests of the citizenry, well that's just too hard.

And considering where we are in the slide towards corporatocracy, the pols' assessment isn't difficult to credit, for their own self-interest at least. But where does that leave the rest of us? Should we fall into line to make life easy for the pols? Uh, no. But expect the blame game to sprout the new wrinkles I predict.

Posted by: JerseyJeffersonian at November 1, 2010 12:15 PM

I agree with Marcus. I don't watch TV or read political or news sites or listen to radio too and I haven't heard any of this Democrats blaming Nader stuff! It's obviously the naderite's making this stuff up because, uh, because, FUCK YOU!

Posted by: AlanSmithee at November 1, 2010 12:56 PM

I like this part: "Or let's say a former non-voter who'd never had any affiliation with the Democrats was inspired by Nader and the Green Party to enter politics in 2000...." because I often wonder whether Nader being in the race actually enhanced Gore's total. No one ever mentions the possibility, but it shouldn't be ruled out.

We all knew the outlines of what was coming down before election day 2000; voters in FL not less than elsewhere. I'm sure, for instance, that I'm not the only one who remembers vote-swapping initiatives in that election (vote for Gore in FL, I promise to vote for Nader in CO, or wherever).

So what's to say that maybe there were a few thousand votes in that FL pool who were energized to register by Nader, but in the end agreed with the "lesser-evil" view and punched the ballot for Gore?

It seems like a basic point, but I have literally never heard it expressed by anyone anywhere. I think this has to do with how we ignore that most voters aren't and don't - but could and ought to.

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at November 1, 2010 02:37 PM

"....and I haven't heard any of this Democrats blaming Nader stuff!"

Oh, please Alan. You've posted on every thread having to do with this subject since, since, well, 2000.

Personally, I blame IOZ.

Posted by: Ralph Nader at November 1, 2010 09:20 PM

EVERYBODY'S a Naderite at some point or other over at digby's. I know I've been accused of it more than once.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 1, 2010 09:59 PM

I don't hear Nader-bashing in the real world from friends, because they aren't political fanatics (with one or two exceptions and for them the fanaticism is on other issues). But it's pretty common online. At "Electrolite", a blog I used to read, there were some really passionate Nader-haters. You see some at digby's blog. I'm too chicken to defend Nader at Obsidian Wings.

And coincidentally, dsquared's post at "Crooked Timber" has prodded some Nader-haters into action in the comments section--


Posted by: Donald Johnson at November 1, 2010 11:42 PM

I remember Gore being criticized for trying to distance himself from Clinton. Does that count as a Class 3 blame or is it some kind of acrobatic Class 4 blame?

Posted by: ChrisV82 at November 1, 2010 11:52 PM

I see a paper placemat in the making here. You know the ones they used to have at Howard Johnson's with the riddles and connect the dots. Fun times...

Posted by: demize! at November 2, 2010 04:04 AM

Analysts assert Seeds of Republican 2010 Recapture of Congress sown in 2006

According to an adjective-laden opinion piece published yesterday at Empire Burlesque:

The last, wan hope for real change in the American system was not lost through the imperial dithering of Barack Obama's "Bush-Clinton Terror War Continuity" administration during the past two years. No; those last wan hopes went down the drain in 2006 -- the year that the Democratic Party regained control of Congress ... and promptly made a screeching U-turn on virtually every anti-war, anti-imperialist, pro-liberty, pro-people position it had taken against George W. Bush. The sell-out -- or rather, the pay-off to the corporatist-militarist power factions who actually control the Democrats -- [the MICFiC] -- was immediate, brazen and deeply destructive. It helped entrench the vast abuses of power of the Bush Regime (and its bipartisan predecessors), it guaranteed the deaths of thousands of innocent people in the continuation and expansion of the Terror Wars, and it laid the groundwork for Obama's "Third Bush Administration" of presidential death squads, pointless "surges" in bloody quagmires, remote control slaughter by drone, bristling defenses and relentless expansions of authoritarian power, and cringing, servile capitulation to Big Money on every possible front.

As Bruce Dixon points out in a timely and important piece at Black Agenda Report, the instant the Democrats regained Congressional power in 2006, they immediately jettisoned all talk of impeachment, all investigations of war crimes and the handling of Hurricane Katrina, all impetus for real health care reform, all their previously vociferous opposition to Bush's tax cuts for the rich, and a host of other "dissenting" positions that they had cynically trumpeted in order to manipulate the public's genuine anger and thirst for change.

A personal note: I have used [brackets] in the above quote to indicate the insertion of an acronym for the Military Industrial Congressional Financial Corporate Media Complex - the acronym does not appear in the original article.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at November 2, 2010 07:30 AM

Exactly, mistah charley. The ACTUAL roots of this lack of enthusiasm on the part of the liberals, soon to be laid at the door of the Professional Left, are to be found in the U-turn that you have pointed out through your citations to other posters.

Do all in your power to demotivate your voters, particularly the wave of new and hopeful young citizens who have a HUGE stake in all of those "roads not taken" through a failure to act driven by the most transparently venal reasons, and see what you get. Well, reap the whirlwind.

Posted by: JerseyJeffersonian at November 2, 2010 02:00 PM

Yes the "demotivation" of scads of voters lie at the feet of Mistah Charley's blog posts. Please add another excuse to your roster.

Posted by: demize! at November 2, 2010 02:17 PM

Yes the "demotivation" of scads of voters lie at the feet of Mistah Charley's blog posts. Please add another excuse to your roster.

Posted by: demize! at November 2, 2010 02:17 PM

Well, mistah' charley, that could well be, but I remind you more Democrats helped the reactionary right override Truman's veto of Taft-Hartley than voted against it.

Perhaps the treachery is a feature, not a bug.

Posted by: bobbyp at November 3, 2010 01:06 AM

Nov.3,2010, after the last 22 months the Democrats can ONLY blame themselves for their losses.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 3, 2010 10:50 AM

I didn't know this question was even debated anymore. The ultimate blame rests with the Supreme Court when they stopped the vote count when the GOP started rioting in West Palm Beach. I remember it like it was yesterday.

The Supreme Court threw the doors wide open for GWB to destroy the country just like the Supreme Court is now allowing anyone with enough money to buy our elections.

Don't blame the voters who stayed home. The Supreme Court decision made it here nor there if you voted or not BECAUSE THESE JUDGES STOPPED THE VOTE COUNT AND GAVE THE ELECTION TO GEORGE W. BUSH.

Speaking of Florida, not bad electing a convicted felon who bilked medicare billions of dollars as your governor, and then turning around and electing a supposedly squeaky clean Marco Rubio as your senator. What the fuck are these folks thinking? They must have sun stroke or something.

Posted by: Pat at November 4, 2010 07:24 AM

Pat: Well then, ya got to blame the rest of US too for NOT going out into the streets and SAYING SOMETHING about it, like the Mexicans does.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 5, 2010 02:07 PM