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September 08, 2008

Comments

If we're hoping that the media will do their job and not be cowed by the McCain campaign, MSNBC's knuckling under to complaints about Olbermann and Matthews is not a good sign. The McCain-media love affair may have gone through a rough patch, but with a little domestic abuse McCain seems to be getting it back on track.

"I also believe (in a reversal since Iraq) that voters will generally act rationally assuming the press informs them what’s going on. Indeed, most of you probably feel this way too — if you didn’t think ideas and arguments actually mattered, why bother reading or commenting?"

I believe some voters will act rationally, and some won't. I comment here because this is a select crowd; I don't comment randomly at random blogs in innocent faith that all sets of blog readers are identical, any more than I believe the whole set of voters is homogenous with selected sets.

In fact, I think that idea is ridiculous.

Do I have faith that enough "rational" (by my standards) voters can be found for my candidates to win nationally? Well, I have hopes that it can happen now and again, in the right circumstances, but I can't say that I agree with your appraisal as a flat statement that "voters will generally act rationally"; I don't believe that's particularly true of lots of voters.

"But in this respect, Palin isn't even in Obama's ballpark -- she's completely unknown."

Not any more.

A couple of points, but then i'm out for the night.

For a specific example, I think the gas tax thing was very hope reassuring. I think Yglesias had a post on this but the press was very good about noting how stupid it was. And voila, public support went down.

Second, i think the problem with the thomas frank "what's the matter with kansas" argument is that dems haven't really been doing anything that establishes why they would help people economically. (this year, they've been better).

so, these people say "neither party will help economically, so I'll go with the social values party." it would be different if dems had really been out there embracing national health care, etc.

Note how quickly support died for Social Security private accounts.

the press has to do its job, but people vote more rationally than we (and I) often think.

and with that, to bed.

I was heartened by the failure of the gas tax pander to really work ... until I saw the poll numbers on "Drill, Baby, Drill". Suffice it to say that PT Barnum and HL Mencken sure haven't been proved wrong yet.

Have the Democrats given people any reason to treat politics as anything other than American Idol?
After being handed control of Congress in 2006 what have they done with it? Other than an increase in the miniumum wage (which has been more than offset by increasing food/gas prices) what exactly changed in Washington?

So they can blame the media, but the might want to take a good look at themselves too.

It's far from clear what the Dems have to offer for immediate relief on the economic front. The Bush administration has been running with a wide open, skies the limit, damn the consequences fiscal policy since day one, Keynes on steroids with stock options in arms merchants in the back pocket.

So, now that we're in the second recession of the Bush administration, is there anything we can do to juice the economy above and beyond insane military expenditures and lavishing indulgences upon our wealthiest citizens?

Maybe the rest of the world continues to indulges us because they don't know what else to do. It's worked in the past.

I suppose that it is possible that publius genuinely fails to understand why people find Palin attractive.

But it is much more likely that he/she is presenting to not understand so as to produce a more pleasing result.

Go back to the tape: Gov Palin won that crowd before the speech. She didn't even need to open her mouth. Her child, coming grandchild, and open religiosity won over her following.

What's the ancient Greek for "Government by Bright Shiny Things"?

Must end in -cracy. (κρατεια)

Ι'll figure it out by lunch -- we may need it.

Tinselcracy?

"I suppose that it is possible that publius genuinely fails to understand why people find Palin attractive."

I know it's possible I do - or at least am uncertain which/how many/if any of a number of possibilities are correct. Help me out?

What really strikes me here is H.L. Mencken's famous quote:

“No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.” (emphasis added.)

So is now the time we can have a serious discussion about authoritarianism?

I was watching "this week" with george stephanopolous and they were talking about the divide over opinions about Palin. Liberals were annoyed by her politics history and by her accent. Conservatives were empowered by her values and her 'like us' persona. For the moment, it seems like Palin is more energizing to the right than generally loved in the middle... we'll see if that changes. McCains numbers are way up for the moment.

To return to my point, that's been what's killing us D's. The belief among americans that unless someone is 'like them' they aren't trustable. Look at the full-term presidents within my lifetime: Reagen, Bush, Clinton. Although they share only a small connection politically, they all shared a folksy-connection to rural america.

And it seems that rural americans are most comfortable with rural (or at least faux rural) presidents.

Bad Jim is right. After 8 years of reckless, damn-the-consequences "Keynes on steroids" deficit-spending, a new administration won't have any responsible options to stimulate the economy.

But the idiotic news coverage is making it IMPOSSIBLE for either candidate to offer a responsible program. As long as everybody continues to assume that the rest of the world will continue to loan us money indefinitely, any candidate who suggested that we might have to DEAL with our problems would be condemned to lose because of his "negativity".

Right now, all candidates should be getting intensive grilling about the short-term and long-term implications of the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac takeover. In particular, we need to hear Palin discuss that issue NOW. If she needs extensive "briefing" on the subject, that implies that in her entire life she's had little or no curiosity beyond the parochial boundaries of Alaska. (If so, she may not be informed enough to cast a sensible VOTE for Pres/VP on November 4th, let alone qualified to hold one of those offices come January 20th.)

I'm extremely worried that we're falling into the same short-term delusional thinking that afflicts people who live in flood plains. As time passes, few people are left who vividly remember the last flood. The majority begin to believe that it can NEVER flood -- or like New Orleans residents in 2005, that they can "ride it out".

The conventional wisdom was that housing was a sure-fire, almost risk-free investment. Even though average home prices rose far beyond what the average household could afford, all the "experts" said "Don't worry. Be Happy" (e.g. Greenspan re the impossibility of a housing bubble).

Right now, most people seem to view the possibility of a financial collapse on the scale of the 1930's Depression as "impossible". Most voters were probably born in the 1960's or later, and thus have no vivid images, either through personal experience or warnings drummed into their heads by their parents, of how bad it could get.

McCain IS old enough to recall the Depression, and in 2000, part of the reason that he bravely opposed Bush's reckless tax cuts was a gut-level acknowledgment that deficits MATTER. But apparently now McCain's not looking beyond the election; he'll say or do whatever his pollsters tell him is popular, and to hell with the consequences.

Therefore we all dance along assuming that we can live on our national credit card forever. But what if the Chinese decide that instead of continuing to lend money to the U.S so that WE'LL buy their products, they'll give that money to their own people, so that more CHINESE people can afford to buy their products?

There seems to be a very good chance that whoever assumes the Presidency in 2009 will end up being as unfairly despised as was Herbert Hoover. Either Obama or McCain will be held responsible for a flood that has been rushing down the mountains and growing during the 8 years of Bush's reckless governance, but won't arrive in the valley and drown everybody until after Inauguration Day.

The question for voters is: After the flood, who can best help mobilize the country to WORK TOGETHER to clean up the mess and go on, and not waste all our energy in finding scapegoats to blame?

After observing the temperament and behavior of both men, my bet's on Obama.

I just wanted to say that I think this post is dead-on. I haven't felt this disturbed by the "up-is-down" disconnect between reality and media narrative/public opinion since the Iraq war.

Publius writes:

But right now, people are going wild about her largely on the basis of projection, media images, and a speech. That she could be embraced so widely and so passionately in such a short amount of time makes you wonder about how sturdy the foundations of our democratic process are.

That Palin has been embraced "so widely" is reflected in a spate of recent opinion polls that show positive ratings and a better-than-expected bounce for McCain. That she has been embraced "so passionately" is evidenced by the ecstatic reception she received at the Republican National Convention. But let's not confuse the two phenomena. Only the hardened core of the Republican Party has embraced her passionately; among voters at large she has enjoyed broad-based but shallow support. And among the Democratic faithful, she has inspired an equally passionate response - witness the most successful 24 hours of fundraising in American political history.

There hasn't been just one response to Palin's candidacy, and that's a point that has generally gotten lost in media accounts of reaction to her entry. I'm entirely unsurprised by the reaction from both Democrats and Republicans - Palin was positioned in both political and cultural terms as a polarizing figure. She actually embodies much of what the GOP base believes, and the Dems oppose.

What has, evidently, caused Publius to take a jaundiced view of our political process is less the reaction at the extremes than the response of the broad, disengaged middle. And I'd point out that most undecided voters haven't yet made up their minds because they haven't been paying much attention. Yes, I know. That's tough for political geeks like us to believe. But the conventions have a big impact because for millions of Americans, they signal the start of the season. They provide, for a remarkable number of people, the first sustained look at the candidates and their parties in this election year.

So yes, McCain has his bounce. Why did he benefit so much from selecting Palin? Well, cultural issues had something to do with it. More important, I think, were two other factors. The first is that the media has focused relentlessly on Obama over the past few months. That's largely hurt Obama, despite McCain's vocal complaints. But it also meant that there was little new at the DNC. Similarly, the choice of Biden was solid, but did nothing to challenge expectations. McCain, on the other hand, broke through in two ways. First, he challenged expectations, and made a choice that defied the settled media narrative about his campaign. That excited many casual observers, who loathe Washington and are forever looking for the fresh face and the fearless reformer- a role McCain himself played in 2000, but has since largely forfeited. Of equal importance, McCain put a positive story into wide circulation for the first time in months. Sure, Palin spent all of her time attacking Obama, but what most people saw was Palin, not the attacks. So the DNC reaffirmed what voters suspected; the RNC challenged it. And the GOP got the bigger bounce.

This will be as terrible as Publius suspects if this initial response persists. But for a variety of reasons, I doubt that it will. In fact, I'll venture to predict that by this time next week, Obama will have regained a 2-4 point lead in most polls. That's because Palin has reconfirmed the views of those whose minds were already decided, and made only a shallow impression on most of those in the middle. Ask them today, while that favorable impression lingers, and they'll tell you they're leaning toward McCain. Ask them again in a week, as the novelty of Palin erodes, and other matters are likely to be foremost on their minds and hence determinative. I suspect the sense of national economic crisis will be further crystallized by the bailout of Fannie and Freddie. With the pageantry of the conventions behind us, economic issues will return to the fore. And that favors Obama.

It takes time for these things to sort themselves out. Even the gas tax pander worked at first, generating a positive reaction from an audience feeling pinched at the pump. But the fact-checking of Palin's remarks has already begun. In the coming days, if she continues to lie on the stump about earmarks, reporters will continue to point that out. And the bloom will be off the rose. She'll still help consolidate the base, and among voters for whom cultural issues are paramount, she may even expand it. But for the rest of the electorate, she'll cease to be so compelling a figure.

The electorate is imperfect, but I know of no better means of selecting a government.

XYZ asks: "Have the Democrats given people any reason to treat politics as anything other than American Idol? After being handed control of Congress in 2006 what have they done with it?"

Is there really a long list of feasible good things that they COULD have accomplished, given their razor-thin majority in the Senate (including Lieberman, who votes against the party position on many significant issues)?

Having a President and Congress from different parties can be reasonably productive if both sides are willing to listen and give a little to make progress. I'm not sure that even Henry Clay could have put together compromises if he'd had to deal with GWBush as President.

Isn't the whole point of Obama's campaign that the current poisonous political tit-for-tat in Washington has to stop? (Theoretically, McCain believes that also, although it's hard to see how accusing anybody who disagrees with your policies of not putting "country first" is setting the ground work for a great Kumbaya moment of reformation.)

Mostly the shiny thing. She’s just so different from anyone we’ve ever seen as a VP candidate before. We’ve heard about Obama for almost 2 years now and it seems like Biden has been in the Senate for so long that he came with the building.

I think that will fade pretty fast. At least I hope so given McCain is now up by 10% with likely voters (Gallop). That’s a heck of a bounce.

And I know we’ve talked about all the gains Democrats have made in registered voters, so I really don’t understand this:

In the new survey, more voters call themselves Republicans. Now 48% say they're Democrats or lean to the Democratic Party; 47% say they're Republicans or lean to the GOP.

How is it that Democrats only hold a 1 point lead in (self identified) party affiliation? Yeah, I know its just one poll…

The fact that the party identification numbers are so far from what they've been before suggests to me that the sample for the USA/Gallup Poll was way off from being representative, which would also explain why the numbers are so wacky.

The other polls are showing a GOP Convention bounce, but not a bounce anywhere nearly as big as that one.

I suppose that it is possible that publius genuinely fails to understand why people find Palin attractive.

I'm sure he understands why people find Palin attractive, since the fact that they do, despite knowing nothing substantive about her, is the point of his post.

I've always hated, but have had to accept, the idea that the vote for president is the most 'personal' vote people cast. What is really so personal about it? Of course it's the head-of-state role of the president, and its attendent 'daddy (or 'mommy') role. Once the dominating broadcast model of television finally takes its proper place on the dung heap of history, this may be a little less pronounced. Let's hope so. I wouldn't choose a doctor or dentist because 'he's a dad' or 'she has a beehive hairdo like ___', but a president has to be both doctor and symbol. Too bad people forget about the 'doctor' part...

I don't think I can get any more cynical than I am about American politics. I still think the odds are against it, but if McCain/Palin wins this election, that means that ever steeper decline for the US is not a W Bush diversion, but a confirmed trend. If that happens, congratulations 'conservatives'! You have got your wish.

OCSteve:

It's tough to say because USA Today doesn't believe that newspapers should, you know, convey information to their readers. So there's no context for a statement that, taken at face value, is entirely meaningless.

Gallup itself provides marginally more context, although it looks like they're holding the detailed numbers on partisan affiliation for release this afternoon or tomorrow morning. The key here would seem to be the construction of the question, and its placement in the overall survey. Most gauges of partisan affiliation offer an explicit third choice - independent - which this one clearly did not. So, in the context of a survey of presidential preferences, asking voters whether they "lean" Republican or Democrat is tantamount to asking them how they're going to vote. (I strongly suspect that if Gallup had been surveying them on preferences in local congressional races, we would have seen a very different result.) For these numbers to mean anything at all, you'd have to make a third choice explicit, or not prompt voters to volunteer which way they 'lean.' That's the kind of survey which has consistently shown a large pro-Democrat margin.

Even so, the survey preserves a substantial partisan gap. Bear in mind that the same poll found a 50-46% lead for McCain, widening to 54-44% when restricted to likely voters. Since USA Today has an editorial policy against telling its users anything useful, or conveying statistical information through non-graphical methods, we don't know which set of data produced the 48-47% numbers - was it registered voters, or likely voters? If it was the former, then McCain is enjoying 3% more support than the GOP, and Obama 2% less than the Dems. If it was the latter, then McCain gets a 6-point boost, and Obama suffers a 3-point drop.

That's actually good news for Democrats. When voters tell pollsters they support one party but are leaning toward voting for the other party's candidate, their vote preferences are usually still in flux. It's another datum pointing toward the inescapable conclusion that McCain's current bump is likely transitory and driven by images - even at the peak of the post-convention surge, the Democrats have preserved the narrowest of leads on partisan preference, which is a much better gauge of where voters are on the issues. So what Obama has to do is convince voters that he believes, well, what he believes. McCain and Palin, on the other hand, are left trying to convince voters that they believe things they don't actually believe, because their actual stances on policy matters (and, for the most part, even on cultural issues) are less popular than Obama's. That's a tough spot.

Palin and Obama both have star power -- the new term being tossed around these days being each one is a "rock star."

That seems to be what the public wants in today's style-over-substance wolrd -- witness their respective covers on Us Weekly and People.

Sure, Palin is an unknown. But I'd suggest we were halfway through the primary season before Obama started becoming known to Democratic voters, which leads me to believe he is still fairly unknown to voters at large who don't blog, read newspapers or watch cable news.

We've all been raising McCain about how Palin wasn't properly vetted. It may not matter, however, unless their is a monster in her closet; even Jeremiah Wright didn't do much damage to Obama in retrospect.

When you view everything through a Democratic lense, it is dangerous. I realized Palin had energized McCain's base but wasn't sure how appealing she would be to Independents. Are we beginning to see answers to her Independent appeal in today's USA Today/Gallup poll that has McCain leading Obama, 54-44?

This poll was taken over the weekend, Friday to Sunday, so it obviously reflects a post-convention bounce. But is there more to it than that?

And what are the issues that will turn this campaign?

Right now, voters don't seem very issue-driven. How else can you explain the appeal of an extremist like Palin?

I think publius has found the answer: surface politics.

Still, given the economy is as bad as it's been in recent memory, I shudder to think that voters will cast ballots against their self-interest. Convention bounce or no, it's stunning that a credible polling outfit such as Gallup would have Obama down by 10 points amid headlines of rising unemployment and record numbers of foreclosures.

As a diehard Democrat, I have tired of all this what's-wrong-with-Palin talk. Perhaps a front-pager could pose this question: What is Obama doing wrong?


The media coverage of polls actually gives pollsters an incentive to conduct bad polls. The more wildly your results swing, the more attention the media pay, since the swings provide something to write about and attempt to analyze. Even better is to have a poll result that deviates substantially from those of other pollsters. If six pollsters show a gap less than the margin of error, but one shows an 8-point lead, which one gets the headlines?

...is it really all about Steve Schmidt-style small things?

It absolutely is. It's about $4 gas, while the rest of the world pays twice that, and while our econony loses jobs at a fearful rate, and while our banks fail in droves, and while wages decrease, and while the wealthy increase their share of the wealth, and while our civil liberties are eroded, and while our international standing is trashed, and it's still about $4 gas.

...voters will generally act rationally assuming the press informs them what’s going on.

Voters will act in what they believe to be their own personal self interest and that means tax cuts and cheap gas. Even if the press gives them the facts they will not read the facts. They listen to the lies because the lies are saying what they want to hear.

Based on OCSteve's observation on party ID, I'd suggest that the big swing in this latest Gallup poll is due to response bias. Actually, publius, I think that this is what causes most convention bounces. After one of these conventions, the respective party is energized and more likely to talk to a pollster on the phone. That's enough to create the illusory shift.

KCinDC: I understand your point about a pollster's desire to make news. However, in the end, these polls would risk too much if they risk their credibility.

The Gallup name is too strong of a brand for them to say, "Let's create some news and put McCain up by 10." Which is not to say that poll is skewed or wrong or infallible.

What is it they always say about these polls -- that they are a snapshot in time? I'd suggest that Gallup's snapshot is just that and let's see the results when Palinmania settles down.

Sadly, I agree with Bil H: "Voters will act in what they believe to be their own personal self interest and that means tax cuts and cheap gas" -- even if it means buying into lies.

Team Obama needs to do a better job of tapping into these self-interests -- ridiculing McCain's judgment over selecting Palin just isn't cutting it, especially when the Alaskan governor has made such a good first impression.

As long as everybody continues to assume that the rest of the world will continue to loan us money indefinitely
The matter of borrowing from China to conduct a war for access to oil China wants for itself, as well as overextending personal credit to maintain the illusion of abundant consumption, if logic has any meaning on the global stage, can only lead to a narrow set of conclusions, none of which promise peaceful prosperity.
It is neither difficult not pleasant to imagine McCain’s frenzied unfocused flailing response.
Nor is it difficult, although by contrast almost comforting, to imagine Obama’s steadying sober gaze directing our attention to difficult but productive priorities, and calling on our best efforts to help one another find a way through.

But back on thread, what we need to untangle the byzantine Screwtape-like calculations made in the McCain camp (viz. using Ms. Hilton as a demeaning signifier [with front-rank status among cultural symbols] and then pulling their very own Paris-analogue bunny out of the electoral hat as a Paris we can believe in) is a Pynchon or Borges.

Glitterocracy?

One thing can be said confidently: the Republicans are selling style (as practiced by Rush Limbaugh) without nourishing substance; the Democrats are offering constructive substance with style (as, say, practiced by a Gene Kelly).

How is it that Democrats only hold a 1 point lead in (self identified) party affiliation? Yeah, I know its just one poll…

Kevin Drum had an extensive series of posts on this some years ago, but the upshot is: during the 80s and (in particular) the 90s, a lot of people who we'd identify as liberals based on their political viewpoints -- and, IIRC, their voting patterns -- ceased self-identifying as either "liberal" or as "Democrat". IIRC again, the disparity reached around 15-20%, so the fact that Democrats have reached parity is, in fact, huge news.

"Voters will act in what they believe to be their own personal self interest and that means tax cuts and cheap gas"

Bacevich says it's ALL about this. He says it's the root of all our political, economic and militaristic dysfunction. I think that interview is one of the most clear minded and straightforwards synopses of our current state even if I'd disagree with him about the solutions.

Bedtime, do you have any examples of pollsters that have suffered because of loss of credibility? I'm not suggesting a conspiracy, just noting that there's almost no incentive for pollsters to seek accuracy (especially since accuracy is unknowable) and plenty of incentive to be the outlier.

The publicity a pollster gets relates to how exciting the result is, not to how accurate it is. There are plenty of polls showing a small lead or a tie for McCain. There is one showing a 10-point lead -- the size of which is determined by the "likely voter" screening used by the pollster. Which poll is getting the headlines?

Even if pollsters do everything perfectly, there's still sampling error. Remember than 1 in 20 polls is going to be outside the 95% confidence interval, just because of randomness. Since surprising results get headlines, polls that are among those erroneous 5% are much more likely to make a splash.

KC: Have no such evidence. I just think pollsters would have to value their credibility above all us or risk becoming the boy who cried wolf.

That said, it seems like there is as much art as there is science with modern-day polling.

I'd love to see what those so-called internal polls are showing right now. I'd bet they're telling the McCain camp to keep Palin front and center. She was supposed to go to Alaska after the convention to "get her affairs in order" and study up, but it looks like the McCain campaign sees she is too valuable right now to stay out of any single news cycle.

Interesting, too, that so far McCain and Palin have campaigned jointly. I think they have to keep doing that or risk McCain looking irrelevant.

For a specific example, I think the gas tax thing was very hope reassuring. I think Yglesias had a post on this but the press was very good about noting how stupid it was. And voila, public support went down.

Maybe, but that seems like the kind of thing that could only happen to a Democrat in America. Fact-checking of Republicans must be 'fair and balanced'.

The Palin bounce will remain until the media front-page every time she tells a blatant lie (ie so far, every time she gives a speech). That is, probably until the election.

KC, before I forget, thanks to the link about the MSNBC reshuffling.

Something was in the air when they kept Olbermann back in New York during the Republican National Convention.

MSNBC has never figured out what it wants to be. And just when it looked like they wanted to brand themselves as the left-wing alternative to FOX, they do this.

I'm not sure they caved into the right wing as much as it shows the power of Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams, two old-school journalists who seem to view MSNBC as NBC's redheaded stepchild.

This quote from the Times story was telling: "MSNBC is behaving like a heroin addict," one senior staff member observed. "They’re living from fix to fix and swearing they’ll go into rehab the next week."


Sure feels like civilization at the crossroads. Will the nation face its challenges with honesty and moral courage, or will it shut down its apparatus of awareness and demand an ephemeral comfort?

Obama’s campaign is predicated on the former. Willfully blind narcissistic self-righteousness as promoted by the MSM depends upon the latter.

Am I fortunate to be nearer to death than most? I can only hope not.

Carleton: Every time I see an Obama surrogate question or criticize Palin, the McCain camp jumps on it as a show of sexism -- which seems sexist unto itself.

These criticisms might have more bite if they come from Hillary. But for her message to resonate, I think she needs to do some campaigning with Obama -- campaigning by herself just isn't a big story these days.

Well, now the campaign begins in earnest.

The Joker in the deck right now is: How long can Palin be kept under house arrest and not allowed to be questioned by the press? And will the public utterances scripted for her be successfully diversionary?

felix: "Will the nation face its challenges with honesty and moral courage, or will it shut down its apparatus of awareness and demand an ephemeral comfort?"

Given that this is the same country that elected George W. Bush to a second term, I don't think we can count on any nationwide self-examination.

Bill H had it right upthread: During an extreme economic downturn, I think Dems need to focus on the voting public's self interests.

Obama needs to pivot from his "Change We Can Belive In" of the primary campaign to "Change We Need" for the GE.

What's the ancient Greek for "Government by Bright Shiny Things"?

Must end in -cracy.

The root of "cracy" has something to do with force. Gyalisterarchy?

Given that their entire campaign seems to be McCarthy with a dash of MacArthur, if the R's win this one - and today's polls certainly seem to show they've got some momentum - it will be a sad statement about the American electorate.

Maybe, but that seems like the kind of thing that could only happen to a Democrat in America.

I agree. If Clinton had been with Obama on the gas tax holiday, the media would not have called McCain on it. It's one of several examples of Clinton selflessly sacrificing her own reputation to help Obama (another being the Wright attacks, which she allowed him to handle early rather than much closer to November).

Has there ever been a ticket where the presidential candidate is so outshone by the VP? How long can McCain really continue to campaign as Palin's sidekick without starting to look unpresidential?

Glenn Greenwald gives his take on the MSNBC reshuffling. He agrees with KCinDC that the cable network caved into the Right.

KC: That's scary -- earlier I had almost posted that same sentence (12:35 pm).

KCinDC: Some are already calling for flipping the ticket. They have a problem in separating them right now – having them campaign separately. Palin will draw bigger crowds, making McCain look bad (worse).

KC: That's scary -- earlier I had almost posted that same sentence (12:35 pm).

Glitterocracy gets my vote.
A well-turned & useful portmanteau, felix culpa. Right up there with Celebutante.

What's the ancient Greek for "Government by Bright Shiny Things"?

Must end in -cracy. (κρατεια)

That would be plasmacracy (brings in TV vibes too ;-) ), alternatively phainocracy, phenocracy. But 'phainein' also means "to bring to the light of day", which is opposite to what we seek for, while 'to plasma' carries the implication of made up/false/illusory/dummy/mock-up.
---
I wait for the talking point that a GOP administration is the only way to guarantee further loans from China etc. because it is strong and can believably threaten dire consequences, if the [insert racist slur term for 'Chinese'] stop the cash flow. A Democrat* (=weakling) administration on the other hand would be easily intimidated and blackmailed.

*'-ic' deliberately left out.

The L.A. Times ran a very cheering article yesterday on Appalachian swing voters who aren't fooled by Palin:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-women7-2008
sep07,0,2351422.story

I've often heard in the past that when given a choice between a Republican and a Democrat pretending to be a Republican, a voter will go for the real Republican. Does a similar calculation hold when the voter is faced with a Democrat and a Republican pretending to be a Democrat (by supposedly embracing environmentalism, Iraq timetables, opposition to Bush, etc.)?

I'm not cynical about the *purpose* of politics but I am cynical about the *methods*, and becoming ever more so. Obama/Biden had honest, truthful convention speeches full of specific policy proposals and respectful comments about McCain explaining why Obama and his proposals were better. McCain and Palin had speeches full of misleading or downright false attacks on Obama and virtually no policy proposals at all. Obama got a bounce of perhaps 5% but McCain's is more like 10%. When the American people are moved by lies, slander, and vapidity more than honesty, outreach, and solutions, how can one help becoming cynical?

the 'convention bounce' makes sense because (maybe it was the fivethirtyeight.com guys who said this) it's a ton of free advertising for the party; some people are bound to be swayed, more than will be turned off (since their audience would be people who already lean that way to a certain extent). i think this should consist of people who are just starting to pay attention now.

with all the speeches and media attention and official nominations, a convention is like a big splash that says 'the election will now begin', getting the attention of those Dem- or Repub-leaners who (perhaps wisely) haven't been paying attention until now.

The root of "cracy" has something to do with force. Gyalisterarchy?

Excellent suggestion! But take it from a moderately ancient Greek: the word you're all looking for is still Idiocracy.

--TP

But what if the Chinese decide that instead of continuing to lend money to the U.S so that WE'LL buy their products, they'll give that money to their own people, so that more CHINESE people can afford to buy their products?

The Japanese and Europeans will intervene.

I think that part of the attraction of Palin is that she symbolizes a change from the current government too -- and at the same time seems to hold all 'consevative' values dear.

Looking back, the really scary part of the Iraq War was not the war itself, but how quickly Americans accepted and embraced a top-down war.

Until the shooting started with "Shock and Awe," the public really did not embrace the war. Look at the polling data. Around 50% of the public supported the war on its eve.

The nearly unanimous cheerleading for the war came from the media and our political elites, in light of which support, public resistance was actually pretty strong.

The public went from never thinking about Iraq in July 2002 to being whipped up in a frenzy by October 2002

That's not the way I remember it. I remember the public being very cool on the idea of war with Iraq, much cooler than the media or members of Congress. It was only once the war became virtually guaranteed that majorities started falling behind it - and then only on the condition that it be over quickly ("6 days, 6 weeks, I doubt 6 months...") cheaply ("The costs of any intervention would be very small."), wouldn't interfere with our pursuit of OBL and because everybody important kept telling us that Saddam was 45 minutes from hitting London.

I am (really) sad to say I don't think this is about projecting policy preferences on a blank slate. I think there is a large segment of the populace who take this election as seriously as trying some new dish at the deli, and less seriously than a vote for American Idol.

Not everyone can begin to wrap their heads around the connection between how they vote and what happens in our economy, or with our global relationships and security. That is why identity politics work--they are simplistic enough for that population segment to understand.

My fingers are crossed the good fight will be waged on the correct battle field with the proper weaponry.

What's the ancient Greek for "Government by Bright Shiny Things"?

Must end in -cracy.

I'm going with paienion-ocracy: Government by bauble

Fledermaus, how about "government going backwards": palinocracy? (Hat tip to Language Log.)

Fledermaus & KCinDC: black belts in link erudition.

Tom Friedman is on Fresh Air comparing "Drill, baby, drill!" to "Let's stick to typewriters!" -- a "bridge to the 20th century" -- and saying he's very disappointed in John McCain. So at least one Very Serious Person remains lost to McCain.

"Tom Friedman is on Fresh Air comparing 'Drill, baby, drill!' to 'Let's stick to typewriters!'"

He was on Charlie Rose last night (he's touring for his new book), comparing it to the idea of IBM focusing in the Eighties for trying to just sell Selectric typewriters.

He's always been good on the stupidity of not trying to capture the renewable/clean energy/carbon-free energy market with innovation and investment. It's been a main focus of his for many many years, and I gather it's what his new book is about. He's hit McCain, specifically, and the Republicans, repeatedly.

Maybe it really is Britney and Paris all the way down.

Oh come on now ! Whether they love her or hate her, people have PLENTY of evidence to back up their position on Britney !

Less sure about Paris. (though on the not-hating front, a certain campaign ad seems to have done wonders for her image...)

Also to keep in mind when comparing Palin and Obama, is that Obama writes his own speeches. Matt Scully wrote Palin's speech attacking the old boys' club he himself belongs to. It's cynical, for one, and it's generally agreed that writing requires a higher degree of literacy than reading.

You're bootstrapping on Obama's qualifications:

-He is running a successful campaign because he has "substance."
-And he has "substance" because he ran a successful campaign.

"Also to keep in mind when comparing Palin and Obama, is that Obama writes his own speeches."

Mostly.

You're bootstrapping on Obama's qualifications:

No, you're confusing the "executive experience" argument with the "substance" argument.


Speaking of surface politics: David Lat is an idiot.

the new ad (via ambinder) called 'The Original Mavericks'. It's effective if you don't know that it's mostly BS. In fact, it does have an air of fiction about it, like an ad for a western (movie) or other product. Note the super-wiffle-butt old guy narration, the deer-in-headlights shot of Palin, the movie trailer graphics, etc. The last line is: 'McCain/Palin: REAL change'.

Thanks, McCain, for continuing the recent GOP tradition of making the US as a whole look humiliated, stupid and ridiculous. Surely that helps, and has helped, keep us more secure in the world. After all, what's our prestige and standing in the rest of the world compared with your being able to chisel a few extra votes and sqeak by in an election? Weasling and spinning on the margins is so old hat: base your *entire campaign* on lies and the crudest identity politics. It's not like anything's really at stake, right?

No, you're confusing the "executive experience" argument with the "substance" argument.
-----
No. His so-called managerial competence is a subset of substance. The writer is basically saying the fact that his campaign gets votes is a reason to vote for him. Moreover, to vote for someone because they had a good GOTV strategy in the caucus states is pure idiocy.

And what does the writer mean "extremely high stress"? Are you kidding? If he fails, he loses an election and gets to go back to his job in the Senate. This "stress" is nothing compared to what he would deal with in negotiations with hostile foreign leaders.

so sorry about the html error(s). SHEESH.

And what does the writer mean "extremely high stress"? Are you kidding? If he fails, he loses an election and gets to go back to his job in the Senate. This "stress" is nothing compared to what he would deal with in negotiations with hostile foreign leaders.

You're right, 'no way'! Running a serious campaign for president, in which every one of the hundreds of decisions you make during every day for at least 2 years may be critical, in which you travel non-stop and sleep little, and everything you say during that time is under the utmost world scrutiny, second only to actually *being* president, is not stressful at all! In fact, being the absolute boss of any $800 million organization is not stressful either, even without the intense press scrutiny.

Are YOU kidding?

The writer is basically saying the fact that his campaign gets votes is a reason to vote for him. Moreover, to vote for someone because they had a good GOTV strategy in the caucus states is pure idiocy.

As if the Obama campaign were just Obama going around giving speeches. As if having a good strategy for winning the nomination (which is more than can be said for the other candidates) were the same as implementing a good strategy over many months. As if a presidential campaign weren't a large organization coordinating and carrying out a lot of tasks simultaneously, and as if such organizations didn't fail much more often than they succeed.

No, his getting votes is not a reason to vote for him. His successfully running a multi-million dollar national organization in a highly competitive environment, though, is a reason to take his executive abilities seriously.

"But Palin’s rise to fame has jarred me a bit."

Sure, it has me too. But then so did Obama's.

The lesson: never underestimate the shallowness of voters be they liberal or be they conservative.

jonnybutter-
You're making my point for me. As you point out, the stress of campaigning is second to the stress of being president. He gets no credit for dealing with the rigors of an election, as being president will be just as rigorous and will involve dire consequences for mistakes.

Let's take a step back here. Can anyone remember any candidate for any elected office trying to pass off their campaign management experience as "executive" experience or even as experience of a substantive nature? Kerry didn't; McCain isn't.

"I'm trying really hard to be President, shouldn't that count for something?"
-Barry Obama

NWNHNH, you are confusing the management competence and substance arguments. The argument for management competence is that he is the titular head of a half-billion dollar campaign that has managed its budget well and has avoided the usual drama, leaking, and interpersonal sniping seen in other large campaigns, such as the Clinton campaign and the McCain campaign. The McCain campaign regularly leaks major interpersonal squabbles, for example from the, what, three former campaign managers. Just last Friday they leaked about who within the campaign should take the blame for the Walter Reed Middle School error.

The argument for substance is that Obama's spent the last eighteen months (and, of course, longer) getting asked about his opinions on the full range of issues facing the country, and having at least not to embarass himself. He has a full set of policy proposals on his website.

Both arguments are tightly connected to Obama's having spent eighteen months campaigning for president, but while they share the same time frame, they remain fundamentally different arguments.

And as to this weird argument about stress and negotiating with foreign leaders: none of the candidates have negotiated with foreign leaders on any contentious issues of national importance. Other than the sitting vice presidents, I don't know who the last nominee was that had such experience; Eisenhower?. The hectic, constant schedule of the campaign isn't easy, minor gaffes can have major impacts, and I think most people might imagine the continuous scrutiny might be stressful. Certainly, McCain is feeling the stress of campaigning five days a week so strongly that he hasn't voted in the Senate in almost six months and he's reportedly taking pills to help him sleep.

jonnybutter- You're making my point for me. As you point out, the stress of campaigning is second to the stress of being president. He gets no credit for dealing with the rigors of an election, as being president will be just as rigorous and will involve dire consequences for mistakes.

This doesn't make sense.

If he CANT handle the stress of an election, then he can't handle the stress of being president. Doing it as an underdog is also a plus.

no way: "And what does the writer mean 'extremely high stress'? Are you kidding? If he fails, he loses an election and gets to go back to his job in the Senate."

Whether you like Obama or not -- just as whether you liked Hillary Clinton or not -- you're ignoring reality if you don't recognize the stress either candidate is/was under as trailblazers. And one can only imagine the death threats Obama receives that we know nothing about.

Warren Terra-

fine, i appreciate the distinction, but then it waters down obama's "substance." under your reasoning, a candidate of substance is one that can be asked a lot of questions without embarrassing himself.

But he HAS embarrassed himself on a number of occasions: "Above my paygrade," "My muslim faith," "Bitter/Cling to guns," the waffle on taking public funds, hiring Rev. Wright as an informal adviser, losing every single debate to Clinton.

As for his latest ("Muslim faith"), if he gets that flustered in a sitdown with the 5'1" Snufalufagas, you have to worry how he would handle putin.

Finally, I agree it is weird to mention the stress of a campaign-- that is why i pointed out that it was silly for the writer to do so.

bonzo-
true, but yes, i am ignoring it... because it won't go away. he'd better get used to it.

You're making my point for me. As you point out, the stress of campaigning is second to the stress of being president. He gets no credit for dealing with the rigors of an election, as being president will be just as rigorous and will involve dire consequences for mistakes.

Do you think this is just a rhetorical game? I said that the press scrutiny of a serious candidate for president is second only to that inflicted on the actual president. I don't even know what your 'argument' is! If anyone is making anyone's point, it's you making mine, since you concede that a serious campaign for pres. is 'second to the stress of being president'. So, does it disqualify Obama that he isn't already president??

BTW, it's a commonplace - for many decades, at least - that how you run your campaign is indicative of your managerial skills. It was said about Nixon, and Reagan, and Clinton that I can clearly remember off the top of my head. It's one of the biggest campaign cliches there is, NWNHNH. For a reason.

I have to conclude that you are against Obama for extra-rational reasons, since you cite no rational ones. It must be something really deep, like that his middle name is 'Hussein'.

jonnybutter-

The point is: he doesn't get credit for doing what every other presidential candidate has done-- win his party's nomination. and i'm not impressed by the "stress" he has encountered during the campaign because it will be much worse when he's president.

You're missing the point on management. I agree that campaign management is sometimes indicative of administrative management, but there are notable exceptions (see Bush, G.W... great campaign, horrible president). But this is beside the point. No candidate RUNS on his successful management of the campaign.

Of course you would conclude that I am opposing your messiah because of nefarious reasons. it's only natural. the fact of the matter is: i'm unsure of obama because he lacks any real experience and contrary to CW, he does not articulate his positions very well. furthermore, his nuance often comes across as confusion or hesitation... e.g., his stance on RUS/Georgia. and he will raise taxes on everyone, not just 250k and up, in 2010 when the bush tax cuts expire. finally, the one policy proposal i agree with, universal health care (yes, i have a soul, even though i might not vote for your messiah), has almost no chance of getting done. and he has almost the same position on iraq as mccain. what's the point really?

NWNHNH,
Obama has been asked a lot of questions on a lot of policy and political issues without embarrassing himself. "Not embarrassing himself" includes the concept of not appearing ignorant. That's why I mentioned it with respect to substance.

Your list of gaffes is pretty short and pretty shallow for eighteen months, and most have nothing to do with substance. Your interpretation of them as gaffes is also really quite subjective. As Johnnybutter points out, you are hardly presenting yourself as possessing the most reasoned of objections to Obama's candidacy with your pseudonymous reference to Obama's middle name.

Still, to address the points you raise:
1) "Above my paygrade," - Obama was referring to a theological question, in essence, and saying it wasn't his place to decide. You may not have liked his answer; a lot of people did. This was, perhaps, tenuously about substance.

2) "My muslim faith," - this seems to be all over the wingosphere today, and nowhere on the left blogs. So I http://www.google.com/search?&q=my+muslim+faith+obama>Googled it. And it's a slip - though I assume even you don't think it's a slip that revealed a nefarious hidden truth, as opposed to a failure to include a word such as "alleged". It has all of nothing to do with substance.

3) "Bitter/Cling to guns," - yeah, that was some dumb phrasing, wasn't it. Still, the basic point he was making was an entirely common Thomas Frank argument. And, again, not about substance.

4) the waffle on taking public funds - clumsy political framing perhaps. Pretty well balanced by McCain cheating on public funds in the primaries, and McCain taking $70,000 checks to the RNC from lobbyists. Still, arguably a little substance here.

5) hiring Rev. Wright as an informal adviser - "hiring" as in for no pay. An Obama's perspective on Wright is different, because he recognizes the ecumenical and non-racist community work that has defined Wright's church within the context of the South Side. But, again: not good politics; and not a substance question.

6) losing every single debate to Clinton - well, you may think so. Others might not. And, even so, why not frame it as Clinton winning every debate? Maybe she's just fantastic. And - still - not about substance.

A special bonus slip-up you didn't mention: Obama used a phrase before Aipac that he should have recognized as being loaded, and had to walk it back. And that is about substance.

And I could without half trying list a half-dozen genuinely substantive McCain slip ups. But why bother? It's pretty clear that substance is not what motivates your animus towards Obama.

NWNHNH,
I have a longer response to your 5:38 that got caught in the s.p.a.m. filter (only one link, but it was long, which may have tripped the filter).

Still, I'd love to see a cite for this:

he will raise taxes on everyone, not just 250k and up, in 2010 when the bush tax cuts expire
1) Obama has an income tax plan that will raise taxes on only the top 5%, and lower taxes further on the bottom 90% than will McCain's.

2) The expiring tax cuts that I'm aware of are estate tax cuts. They only affect large estates - the old exemption was the first $600,000, and it's likely been raised since that number applied during the 2001 debate. Not a tax on everyone.

3) Maybe there are other tax cuts expiring; I'm surely no expert. But income tax cuts don't count, as Obama has specified his preferred income tax rates. So what could they be?

Unfortunately, people respond well to Palin because she is rather like a great many of us.

The most interesting polling discussion I've read recently was about that 2003 period in the run up to the Iraq invasion. A Gallup pollster tried the experiment of asking people whether they'd be upset if the US did the opposite of whatever view of impending war they had expressed: that is, the gung-ho war people were asked if the attack didn't happen, would they feel badly. And a very high proportion said no, they wouldn't care. They seemed to be making the assumption that Daddy in Washington knew best. Palin seems to have been similar.

Most citizens have few developed views and vote to get someone in that they trust to understand policy choices for them.

Obama's whole campaign is about winning that trust while overcoming the instinctive obstacle created by his "Otherness." He may yet do it.

Of course you would conclude that I am opposing your messiah because of nefarious reasons.

Not necessarily 'nefarious' reasons, just for-sure not rational - or honest - ones. You have a lot of facts wrong (eg taxes) and your POV seems skewed: even the Bush Administration acted sane and mature compared to Obama's opponent, McCain, vis a vis Georgia.

If I thought there was a chance I could change your mind, I might try to do it. But it's obvious that that would be impossible, even if Obama really WERE a messiah. So, why bother?

"Of course you would conclude that I am opposing your messiah"

It's difficult to view you as credible when you make claims like that about someone who is a complete stranger to you.

McCain is less a maverick than Dubya is a cowboy. Cowboys break mavericks to the saddle, remember. Here">http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3257/2840234337_a216b61ebe.jpg">Here is a billboard I'd like to see.

--TP

"Also to keep in mind when comparing Palin and Obama, is that Obama writes his own speeches."
Mostly.

Did you read the article you linked to, Gary? Obama writes the rough dafts, his crew polishes it up, and he approves the final version.

================

The lesson: never underestimate the shallowness of voters be they liberal or be they conservative.

Do you think that liberals voted for Obama because he's the Magical Negro, not because he's smart, has concrete plans, or any of those DEEP credits:?

"The lesson: never underestimate the shallowness of voters be they liberal or be they conservative."
-------
"Do you think that liberals voted for Obama because he's the Magical Negro, not because he's smart, has concrete plans, or any of those DEEP credits:?"

------------------

Well it depends.

A lot of young people voted for him because it was the cool faddish thing to do. He was new, bright and shiny!

Blacks mostly voted for him out of racial solidarity. He played the race card to make sure he got that vote.

And I suppose a few people may voted for him because he's the Magical Negro, although I never met any who did.


The real problem with trying to argue with people like NWNHNH is that they use a very tired trick: they never tell you who or what they are *for*. The idea is to keep the other 'team' forever both on the defensive, and also guessing what the position of the trickster is, to which the trickster can always say, 'Who said I was _______?' (usually 'a conservative', or 'voting for McCain' or etc. etc.) It's not a tack which would fly on a real Debate Team, since you have to actually defend a stated position, but it works all too well in our current crappy politics. It's kind of like the whole GOP presidential strategy in 2008, in fact. That sad fool McCain even *said* that this election isn't about 'issues'. Wishful thinking!

A lot of young people voted for him because it was the cool faddish thing to do. He was new, bright and shiny!

Blacks mostly voted for him out of racial solidarity. He played the race card to make sure he got that vote.

The young people and blacks that live inside your head get to vote? Really?

I suppose it might be true that young people and blacks living outside your head might vote for the reasons that you describe, but I'd need some sort of evidence before I believed that. You know, something beyond your opinion.

This argument about "experience" misses the point completely. Voters will chose based on the candidate's qualifications (are they capable of leading the nation) and more importantly their ideology (where will they take it if they get the chance).

We know where Obama, McCain or Biden would take the country. Most people have come to the conclusion that each of them is capable of leading the country in any case.

We know very little about Sarah Palin. Social conservatives love her for what little they know of her, liberals hate her for the same reasons. As for qualifications, she could be brilliant or she could be an idiot. We won't know until she starts answering questions.

The objections most of us have to her candidacy isn't that she's inexperienced - it's that she's completely unknown and apparently intends to ride into the 2nd seat that way.

Turbualance,

Were you asleep during the primary campaign?

Obama played the race card against Clinton in order to gain black voter solidarity. His tactic worked and he garnered over 90% of black voters support.

And did you miss the Obama rallies that left several million young people totally enraptured with chills running down their legs? 'We are the ones we've been waiting for' Remember that?

It was played out right in front of the entire nation. Kinda hard to miss.

Now if you were one of the raptured then perhaps you were, and still are, too close to be objective about what happened.

they use a very tired trick: they never tell you who or what they are *for*. The idea is to keep the other 'team' forever both on the defensive

Well, there may well be people who hide their true preference for tactical reasons, but some of us actually just want to point out counter-arguments that haven't been brought up yet, as a way to provide some balance.

Personally, although I voted for Obama in the primary and am planning to vote for him in the general, I would never bother making a pro-Obama comment here because there are already dozens of other people who've taken on that role here. What's much more likely to go missing here are the points that reflect less well on Obama and/or better on McCain.

KenB: "Well, there may well be people who hide their true preference for tactical reasons, but some of us actually just want to point out counter-arguments that haven't been brought up yet, as a way to provide some balance."

I don't see the point of hiding one's true preference -- to me, that's just playing games.

But I certainly see the value in providing counter-arguments -- especially in the midst of such a pro-Obama environment. Still, if, say, you liked his acceptance speech, as I did, why not say so?

Finally, I've been trying to make this point all day. So thanks for chiming in with this: "What's much more likely to go missing here are the points that reflect less well on Obama and/or better on McCain."

If I understand ken correctly, and frankly I'm not sure I care to, Obama is being criticized for (1) capturing the solidarity and community identities of Black folks. He did this, allegedly, by "playing the race card". Darned effective, that card. And for (2) exciting the enthusiasm of voters, including young ones. The cad!

Sure enough, the primary campaign played out in front of the nation. It was hard to miss; I confess that I didn't even try.

I suggest to ken that his objectivity might also be less than he suspects. Because I, for one, am seeing a whole lot of subjectivity.

This isn't directed at anyone in particular . . .

Whether you supported Hillary or Obama in the primaries and whether you support Obama or McCain now -- seeing how you've got a horse in whatever race -- I find none of us can be 100 percent objective.

What's much more likely to go missing here are the points that reflect less well on Obama and/or better on McCain.

That is very true. Remember Obama's FISA vote? The OW discussion was an orgasm of love and adulation. hilzoy in particular lost all control in her wild cheerings of the holy Obama.

The flip side is also certainly true. Occasionally, someone points out that McCain crashed five airplanes and then no one, not a single individual, comes to his defense by pointing out that he really only crashed three and the other two weren't really his fault. I mean, no one except Gary. And me. And a few other people.

It's amazing that Jesse Jackson, Alan Keyes, and so many other black politicians are unable to play the same card.

And speaking of the media, Rachel Maddow's show is premiering right now.

Warra,

Yes Obama played the race card against Clinton. It's already in the history books. Read all about it when you get to college.

But the more important point of this entire conversation is that Obama voters are just as shallow as are Palin voters.

In spite of their star quality crowd pleasing rah rahs, neither one has the experience or qualifications required to be our president. But, like Bush before them, if their campaigns can bamboozle enough people one of them might actually find themselves in the Oval Office some day.

I shudder when I think of the stupidity of my fellow citizens.

What's much more likely to go missing here are the points that reflect less well on Obama and/or better on McCain.

Would that there were more points like that, ones which reflected badly on BO *and* well on McCain - I would breath easier no matter who won the election. I can think of one out of a hundred. Most reflect much worse on McCain. I actually think Obama did kind of fumble during the Georgia political moment, as NWNHNH notes. But of course McCain was actually *dangerous* during that moment, so....what? It's a binary choice. It would be nice if there were more 'balance', but this idea that you can *impose* balance where there really isn't any is kind of ridiculous.

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