Of Pork & Barrel: The Ted Stevens Presidency

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by IntellectuallyHonestRhino, May 22, 2018.

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  1. historybuff Well-Known Member

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    It's a possibility.
     
  2. Gentleman Biaggi Understands Wayne Morse Code

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    I gotchu fam
     
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  3. TheImperialTheorist To theorize & imagine worlds of possibilities.

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    How will Gore react to the 9/11 attacks? Will he act, or will he plan? Because every day he doesn't do something, a lot of patriots are going to get pissed.
     
  4. IntellectuallyHonestRhino Well-Known Member

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    Same as in the update. He wants to strike a balance for his domestic agenda, which really falls apart.
     
  5. Blebea Cezar-Iulian Well-Known Member

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    Better in 2008. It would be way interesting to win amidst his corruption trial.
    Let Gore win re-election like Bush in 2004.
     
  6. Calvin Reaganite

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    Wouldn't Ted Stevens be very old by 2004 or 2008, when you consider his health?
     
  7. Herman Gigglethorpe Tough on Squirrels

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    Will Gore take some military action in Afghanistan that's more limited than Bush Jr.'s war?
     
  8. Blebea Cezar-Iulian Well-Known Member

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    Now I also realise it: President at 81 or 85 years? An American "Der Alte"?
     
  9. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

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    This seems to me my day for stumbling onto TL's in which Democrats are presumed to be incapable of handling foreign policy crises they realistically had a good chance of avoiding completely. (The other one is Twists and Turns by Gentleman Biaggi).

    I personally don't think that it is a slam dunk certainty that a Gore Administration would be confronted with the OTL 9/11 strikes because the outgoing Clinton administration was watching Bin Laden as a potential threat very closely, and Gore was personally involved in meetings devoted to that. I think given the warnings that the Bush administration, with very different foreign policy priorities, happened to miss, there was a good chance that Gore would be better warned and would have caught at least some of the actors before or in the act.

    And to assume he would drop the political ball of an attack so very outrageous to the American public, one striking at both NYC and Washington DC, two cities especially relied on by Democrats and deplored by Republicans, seems like egregiously partisan Idiot Ball awarding to me.

    Prior to 9/11 the major buzz for Americans to try to do something about Afghanistan came from the US Left, given the reactionary nature of the Taliban, whereas the Republican controlled US Congress awarded the new fundamentalist regime money for opium poppy eradication. Even if Gore's superior attention to the issues failed to foresee the precise focus of the attack and failed to prevent any aspect of the OTL attacks, he will be far more certain who did the attacks and why; there will be no dithering around trying to blame it on Iraq somehow. The entire world pretty much gave us blessing to do what we wanted to in Afghanistan, and there is very little reason to assume Gore (a man who had himself served in uniform in a combat zone, unlike GW Bush and the vast majority of his inner circle) would not have acted with some dispatch against the Taliban.

    Were I motivated to write a TL in which Gore is a one term wonder thanks to 9/11, I would, rather than assuming based apparently on partisan stereotypes that are at wide variance with reality that he himself mushes things up relative to OTL (and God knows there were plenty of errors in hindsight the Bush administration committed that mere median competence, such as one would expect from Robo-Gore, merely by giving the Pentagon a mission and letting them execute it rather than interfere half for grandstanding and half for ideologically driven transformations of normal policy) focus instead on the Republican attacks on Gore which we can expect would be ramped up to eleven from the already rabid base of the ongoing war on the Clintons. My assumption would be that careful research of who Gore would appoint and what policies he would favor would support the idea that military action under his direction would be competently executed and with a balanced political and legal focus, much more appropriate for the task of an anti-terrorism war than "War on Terror" and ranting against an incoherent and ideologically mutual hate club "Axis of Evil," with a substrate of seeking unaccountable executive power against "Enemy Combatants," the doctrine of "US government is not bound by US law off US soil," accelerated extraordinary rendition, legitimization of torture and other short cuts, followed by a diversion to a completely irrelevant and entirely elective second war that sucks the oxygen out of the anti-al Qaeda campaign.

    YMMV of course, but the premise that Gore would hand over an easy victory against himself by being clueless and trying to minimize the importance of the attacks just looks like partisan wishful thinking to me.

    After all, where exactly is the contradiction between trying to make the US economy more egalitarian while remaining high powered and a mandate to carry out a war against a bunch of reactionary terrorists who had in quite recent memory been the darlings of the American right? The ordinary usual suspect anti-war crowd is muted because these are the sorts of charlies they have been calling for action against. Properly handled, an America entering a recession (the Dot-Gone crash) can be economically supercharged by wartime expedients--heavy recruiting in the military addresses unemployment; buildup of military infrastructure can further take up employment slack; wartime government powers can control prices and otherwise prevent runaway inflation. An activist interventionist President would find the 9/11 crisis a golden opportunity to gain directing power over business, and defuse in particular Ted Stevens's "He is out to get Us!" message to millionaires.

    None of this means it is ASB that people like Stevens can take Gore down in 2004, or even earlier via impeachment or perhaps assassination. It only means that Gore is not obligated to hand them the rope they hang him with. If Gore does a bang-up competent job as I assume he would be capable of doing and motivated to do, the only way his reelection is not secure is by a massive partisan attack on him that grotesquely misrepresents and inverts his stands and actions, and portrays him as infinitely inferior to the Republican alternative.

    OTL of course the nation was immediately and importunately asked to rally behind our dubiously elected Leader of hitherto dubious legitimacy, because it would be suicidal to quarrel with our President in the face of enemy hostility. (Never mind that that has never been the American way, not during the Civil War, not during the World Wars...supposedly it was time to assume Father Knows Best). The Democrats fell in line, and predictably suffered politically for it in 2002, and the only reason a portion of them were getting feisty in 2004 was the Iraq War; if GW had not started that I daresay his general gravitas might have been presented as something serious. I am quite certain that had Gore held office on September 11, 2001, in the wake of essentially the same attack, we would not be hearing about rallying in unity behind the Leader regardless of party from Republicans. Since Reagan, Republicans have continually demonstrated their belief that they alone are entitled to govern, and Democrats are in their view always illegitimate and inferior, and suspect of outright treason. Rather than calling for unity under the Leader, the majority party in House and Senate would be debating bills of impeachment, continuity in leadership be damned. They'd argue that this terror attack was, along with the 1993 WTC incident (never mind it was handled and its perpetrators caught and tried) and the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing (never mind that the culprit there too was caught and tried, and was a white supremacist American with more in common with the Republicans than Democrats) clear evidence that the Clinton legacy was incompetent.

    I believe Gore could and would handle Afghanistan much more effectively, and that there is a good chance Bin Laden himself might have been killed or caught within the year (it almost happened OTL after all) and that a framework for a less unstable Middle East could be built, perhaps in part via some detente with Iran. But...he might not get the chance because he might be impeached and convicted before the year is out, with Lieberman under pressure to adopt a bipartisan cabinet beholden to close review and direction by the House and Senate, separation of powers be damned. Joe Lieberman showed plenty of signs of being a team player with the Republicans OTL, there is little reason to doubt he would go along with such a squeeze play as long as the Republicans control Congress. Gore I imagine would go to jail on some trumped up charge or other. Knowing a similar fate awaited him should he step out of line I suppose Lieberman would run for Democratic candidate in 2004 if the Republicans judged he would lose, and abstain from running if the Republicans thought he might win, and whoever they anoint in 2004--and with the vote in 2000 as close as presumed here, that might be GW, or it might be his brother Jeb, I leave it to others to debate who else might take their place--hell if the fix is really in, why not Newt Gingrich?

    Now it could also be that Republican partisan agitation against Gore would fall short of actual impeachment, and Gore will do his best with the inherent powers of a Presidency that is relentlessly opposed by partisan opposition in control of House and Senate. I would think that it would be hard for him to make himself look good on his own terms so as to flip the House in 2002--the Senate was very close and if Gore can get a midterm bump for good performance despite blatant Republican opposition, the Senate might go his way too, and then we are in a very different TL than this one is set up to aim for. The way for Stevens to prevail would be for Gore to fail to flip the House and Senate--indeed it would go against conventional wisdom for him to ever do so, usually Presidents lose support for their party in the first House election after their inauguration. GW didn't because of the whole Rally Behind the Grownup Leader/War on Terra thing. For a reverse flip the American people would have to judge that they were being taken for a ride by the Republicans, and overcome some structural advantages they were already developing by this point. The author of this TL obviously would not want that to happen so the assumption that Republican obstruction will pay off for them seems the most likely plausible route to the desired goal, and a deepening Republican grip on both houses and on state legislatures and governor offices all seem plausible enough. Either Gore capitulates and agrees to Republican direction that is carefully managed to avoid Gore being able to take credit, he resists and is blamed for not giving in, or perhaps as I suggested he is removed via impeachment, later if not sooner, say immediately after Republicans gain in the House and Senate. The Republicans are unlikely to get the votes for conviction in the Senate unless they persuade a substantial number of Democratic Senators to vote against Gore, but I suspect that would be doable even with rather flimsy evidence, if the mood of the American people were foul enough, especially after Republican gains in 2002.

    As I say--if Gore wins in 2000, I think the high probability thing is that he handles 9/11 visibly better than Bush, and perhaps catches the bad guys before their plot is ripe--which would mean of course he would have no opportunity to grandstand since no one would know what had been averted except perhaps prosecution and jury at the trials of the criminals. Assuming the 9/11 plotters were so slick no one could plausibly find them, Gore will be rabidly attacked by Republicans for not having accomplished the impossible, which every Republican would assure us immediately was entirely possible--something they would have done, slam dunk. At that point I don't know the odds of Gore surviving the first term but he would have a certain if unknown chance at coming out of it with good credit to his name. And another chance of being torn out of office before 2004, or of simply going down to electoral defeat in that year.

    If we assume that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and that the nation, of all parties, rallies to him as they did to Bush OTL, then I think his reelection is a slam dunk, because given bipartisan confidence I believe he would deliver the goods efficiently. The way he loses is the asymmetrical pattern of post-Reagan American partisanship.
     
  10. IntellectuallyHonestRhino Well-Known Member

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    Let's not compare my hero Adenauer with Ted Stevens …
     
  11. Blebea Cezar-Iulian Well-Known Member

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    I perfectly understand and agree with you. It's just a matter of age. At first I wanted to say "an American Hindenburg", but even Hindenburg died sooner than the age Stevens would have if he became President in 2008.
     
  12. IntellectuallyHonestRhino Well-Known Member

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    High Five:

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Herman Gigglethorpe Tough on Squirrels

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    Pork-barrel spending is the secret to long life for American politicians. Just ask Robert Byrd! Without that fatal plane crash, who knows how much longer Ted Stevens could keep going.
     
  14. IntellectuallyHonestRhino Well-Known Member

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    I appreciate your post (including the length. That shows thought and care :)). I will say this; I am not saying that Democrats cannot handle the situation, just that President Gore in his goal of trying to maintain the momentum of his domestic goals makes a blunder relating to the issue. If 9/11 had not occurred and so soon into his Presidency, then surely at this point he would have very high approval ratings. It was more of a political blunder of a president trying to make a name for himself than an indictment of Democrats.

    Hey, don't say anything about wikigod @Gentleman Biaggi! :winkytongue:

    Only @Redcoat and he have such abilities with the magic of wikibox!
     
  15. Blebea Cezar-Iulian Well-Known Member

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  16. IntellectuallyHonestRhino Well-Known Member

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    Hopefully soon. Maybe in a few days, but Iron Eagle also needs an update.
     
  17. Herman Gigglethorpe Tough on Squirrels

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    But so many timelines have already been done on Hitler! The possibilities involving Ted Stevens have not been explored sufficiently on this site. :p

    Who is going to be Ted Stevens's running mate? Will he choose some swing state Republican governor?
     
  18. IntellectuallyHonestRhino Well-Known Member

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    But in Iron Eagle Hitler belongs to an entirely different continent ;).

    But I appreciate your Ted Stevens points. That shall be covered when the time comes (depends on your view of what a swing state is, Reagan 1984 ;))
     
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  19. IntellectuallyHonestRhino Well-Known Member

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    Coming Soon:

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  20. IntellectuallyHonestRhino Well-Known Member

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    Hey guys the next update will have to do with talk radio ;) (the one coming hopefully today)
     
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