The high and low points of the Democratic Convention were, I found, unusually easy to determine. High indeed was the sight and sound of Aretha Franklin singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, and giving it a variation that provided one of those only-in-America moments which do in fact only occur in America. Lower, both in scale and register, was the experience of seeing Roy Hattersley cruising the upper galleries of the ghastly neo-brutalist Madison Square Garden. Mr Hattersley is far too corporeal to be called a ghost, and most delegates wouldn’t have known him from Banquo anyway, but his apparition would, if he were better known, have caused said delegates to put on their garlic. The very last thing that the Democrats need is a reminder of what can happen to a campaign that plays by all the rules of poll, consensus and respectability.
Vol. 14 No. 18 · 24 September 1992
Regarding Christopher Hitchens’s ‘Washington Diary’ of 20 August: yes, it’s true that the argument among the Democrats about moving to the centre was first won by Truman, but that battle was (literally) fought again in Chicago in 1968, when the Democrats nominated Johnson. We Democrats love to re-fight old battles, no matter how bad for us or the nation. As a political scientist, I am (unfortunately) forced to agree with Professor Fair’s prediction of a Bush victory. My model, however, emphasises such factors as white-collar unemployment (unusually high) and thus yields a prediction of the narrowest possible Bush victory: 50.01 per cent of votes cast and only 275 electoral votes. Remember, you heard it here first.
US Institute of Peace, Washington DC
Vol. 14 No. 21 · 5 November 1992
Being a loyal Democrat, I hope that Blair Ewing’s prediction of a narrow Bush victory (Letters, 24 September) is as inaccurate as his statement that Lyndon Johnson was nominated at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. I’m not a political scientist, but I remember clearly that, Johnson having withdrawn from candidacy earlier in the year, and Robert Kennedy having been assassinated, Hubert Humphrey was nominated at the tumultuous Convention.
Vol. 14 No. 23 · 3 December 1992
I ‘heard it here first’ all right. It’s anybody’s guess why a Democrat would write so confidently about Bush’s re-election to the Presidency on 3 November (Letters, 5 November). Mr Ewing should write back and explain.
Vol. 15 No. 1 · 7 January 1993
In response to Joanne Lafler (Letters, 5 November 1992) and J.L. Sievert (Letters, 3 December 1992), let me be the first to eat crow: so much for my prediction of a narrow Bush victory. And I so longed to ascend into the punditocracy. I do not wish to appear to be making excuses, but since J.L. wants to know … being a straight-ticket Democrat doesn’t preclude one from calling the shots as one sees them. I incorporated three erroneous assumptions into my forecasting model: 1. No Perot – I didn’t think he would be so vain as to return; 2. Republicans wage superior campaigns – they have to, because their ideas are usually inferior or pernicious; and 3. economic recovery – I believed the economy would begin to turn in October (as opposed to right now), just in time to save Bush’s aimless Presidency.
United States Institute of Peace,