August 10, 2004

History Links of the Day

I've been feeling a bit lazy of late, and my reviews of The Manchurian Candidate and The Village are probably never going to be finished. (The short version: The Manchurian Candidate is nowhere near as good as the original, but it's not a bad movie. The Village is really bad.) For now, then, here are some history-related links:

  • Mark Schmitt has a nice article on TAP Online about the unintended consequences of congressional reform.
  • The New York Times discusses how iconic sites from the civil rights movement are now entering the world of tourism.
  • The Telegraph has published a nice obituary of Janet Chisholm, who played a key role in the spy ring centered around Oleg Penkovskii in the 1960s.
  • In The Chicago Tribune, James Warren discusses the historical value of the Nixon tapes, and an AP reporter comments on new revelations from the tapes about Nixon's Vietnam policy.
  • In The Washington Post, Anne Applebaum reviews a book on the myths of Napoleon's 1812 Russian campaign, and Frances FitzGerald discusses a collection of excerpts from foreign history textbooks.

Today's National Journal features a column by Charlie Cook with the best news on polling data I've seen in months. We've known for a long time that Bush's poll numbers are kind of anomalous: higher than those of the recent presidents beaten for reelection, but lower than those of the presidents who won a second term. I've been encouraged, but not fully convinced, by claims that Kerry will have the advantage in November, since undecided voters tend to break for the challenger in campaigns where there's an incumbent; I think there's something to this analysis (to put it mildly), but I worry that opinions are so polarized this year that election results may not follow the usual pattern. The polling data cited by Cook has helped allay my fears a little, however. When you pool all the data from this year's AP/IPSOS poll for undecided voters, Cook points out, the signs don't look good for Bush. 74% of undecided voters believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. 68% of undecided voters think that President Bush is doing a bad job as president. Cook's conclusion:

But with those major caveats and disclaimers now safely out of the way, President Bush must have a change in the dynamics and the fundamentals of this race if he is to win a second term. The sluggishly recovering economy and renewed violence in Iraq don't seem likely to positively affect this race, but something needs to happen. It is extremely unlikely that President Bush will get much more than one-fourth of the undecided vote, and if that is the case, he will need to be walking into Election Day with a clear lead of perhaps three percentage points.

This election is certainly not over, but for me, it will be a matter of watching for events or circumstances that will fundamentally change the existing equation -- one that for now favors a challenger over an incumbent.

We can only hope!

Posted by Ed at August 10, 2004 11:29 AM


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